Dirt bike trailer tie down system

MTB Bellingham

2013.05.22 00:20 Janununuh MTB Bellingham

A subreddit for discussion of the Galbraith Mountain trail system in Bellingham, WA, USA, or any other surrounding MTB locations.
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2023.03.27 03:07 ArcanicTruth Test

u/n3eon
This is the essay i made, i pinged you here cause my DMs weren't working and i couldn't private message you.
I wanted to see if this post is factually accurate or not. I really don't wanna spread misinformation and I don't pay much attention to Japan so i can't really know if i got my facts right.
Start of essay:
The story of NORTHEPTION. An APAC Japanese rags to riches story.
Disclaimer: This org has a very long history and im not really familiar with the Pre-BLAST system of Japanese R6 History. There may be a few parts i get wrong or looked over incorrectly so please forgive my errors as Japan is not a region i actively monitor.
I'm also not gonna go thru the whole history of this organization since this org has been in siege for 4 years with 4 years of constant roster changes. If i were to describe everything here, it would be a 10K word post and I'm not doing that lol.
So, why did i make this post? It's cause this roster story is INSANE. As i was researching more and more, I found myself to be baffled at what this roster did. This roster has it all. Upsets, revenge, failure, redemption, high stake moments, rags to riches. It's one of the most beautiful stories I have ever seen in Esports and i hope you will enjoy me explaining it to you!
Enjoy the post!
So your starting your day. You get your premium coffee because your a relatively wealthy Japanese citizen that owns an Esports organization called NORTHEPTION. Your looking into siege esports for a possible investment. As weeks go by, you finally see this team, this Japanese roster. A team just won the Japenese CL S10 Qualifiers. They are orgless. They look promising so you decide to sign the team on October 5th, 2019. You feel happy as you are now in the Siege ecosystem and the players are delighted by having their first org. Little did you know, that this would be the most roller-coaster of a decision you have ever made in your life.

2019-2020

The team is formidable but they aren't dominant either. As the league gets incrementally more competitive, NORTHEPTION are forced to make more and more roster changes. They made 10+ roster changes in these 3 years.
The only players that you need to know from this hectic constant roster change frenzy time period is CoPaHiPo and most importantly, Febar CoPaHiPo joined on October 12th of 2019 while Febar joined this roster on June 5th 2020.

The team's first real tournament in 2020

APAC tournaments in 2020 are vastly different then NA, EU, or LATAM tournaments. APAC prioritizes grassroots expansion, ensuring that everyone who is good can play. Thie leads to T1, T2, and T3 Japanese teams playing against each other constantly.
In Japanese R6 Esports, there is a tournament called the "Japanese Invitational". The Japanese Invitational is, in short, an Tier-1 thru Tier-3 open tournament for the best T3-T2 Japanese teams to battle thru qualifiers to win. After they qualify for it thru Opens, they have to go into playoffs with stronger Tier-1/Tier-2/Tier-3 teams. The highest placed non-tier Tier-1 team at the event will qualify.
So they're obviously gonna try to win this thing. After making constant roster changes, they go thru the open qualifiers and actually get first in the open. They beat every other team and even the best Non-T1 Japan team, Senguku. NORTHEPTION after an upset, are qualified for Japanese playoffs with the potential to make relegations if they are the highest placed Non-Tier 1 team.
Their competitors are a Tier-3 Japanese team named Eva. Eva gets bracket blessed and gets a Tier-3 team in the first round while NORTHEPTION gets a Tier-1 team in the first round. It's extremely unfair to say the least...
In October of 2020, they fail to qualify for relegations after they get beaten by guts gaming 2-1 in the first round while Eva beats their Tier-3 matchup in the first round. It's very unfair to NORTHEPTION and Eva ends up losing to Tier-1 teams just like NORTHEPTION did but since Eva made it to round 2, they end up going to relegation qualifiers.
This is heartbreaking to come so far only to get screwed by an unfair bracket. This drains the team's mental and puts them in a dark and rough spot.

Constant failure in 2020-2021

Days after failing to qualify for rels, this shining T3 team gets their best players poached at the end of 2020.
  • Febar leaves NORTHEPTION and he leaves to go join one of the best T2 Japanese teams, Senguku. This T2 team will head to relegation against a Tier-1 team at the end of 2021.
  • CoPaHiPo leaves NORTHEPTION for another Japanese team.
Since NORTHEPTION proved themselves in 2020. They got invited to the new Japan League that's apart of the new FACEIT League for 2021.
After losing their best players at the end of 2020, NORTHEPTION aren't competitive enough for the 2021 Japanese teams that year. They don't make 2021 relegations for APAC North after getting grouped. They even get relegated from their own league. The roster has run it's course. It's time to wipe it.

The Roster Rebuild after failure

So, you've just been relegated. What do u do? You scrap the roster of it's worst parts, probably keep the best player on the roster and rebuild.
Remember the 2 ex-north players i told you to remember about earlier? Rebar? Well, he got dropped just before relegations and the team didn't wanna play with him over another player. Ironically, that T2 roster ends up losing to a team called "Reject" and they end up getting promoted to PL.
So what now? You scrap the whole roster and start a foundation with Fmr player RebaCurrent player Marol and pick up 3 of the best players that you saw promise in.
  • There was a T3 roster called "ORTHROS GRIT" that went thru Opens qualifiers for a 2021 Japanese event. This was a relatively new rookie t3 team of aspiring new players that qualified thru Opens. Surprisingly, they beat NORTHEPTION and top their group (2nd) to go to playoffs. They are against Tier-1 FAV Gaming in round 1. Everyone thinks, oh, FAV are gonna destroy them 2-0. What ends up happening is that FAV get 0-7'd on their first map then bring it back 8-6, 8-6 on the 2 other maps to win it. These rookies had potential. (2/5ths of Orth Grit had joined Fnatic later on and 1 other is in PL)
NORTHEPTION during the rebuild sign the 2 promising rookies from the Orthros Grit roster Vbort and Tyopi and then they finish it off with a signing of CoPaHiPo who previously played with Febar on NORTHEPTION years ago.
NORTHEPTION basically starts over again in T3 with an experienced trio of Marol/FebaCoPaHiPo + 2 new promising rookies. This is the roster in March of 2022.
1 month later in April... Turmoil strikes the roster in the heart. Vbort is so good that he gets invited to a Japanese Tier-2 team named IGZIST so he obviously takes that offer. The now 4 man roster decides to drop Marol too. It turns to a 3 man roster. What makes the timing so harsh is that the open quals for Japan's national league is in 2 weeks so they need to find players FAST.
They do open tryouts, similar to the one Beastcoast/CAG did in 2022 where they put out a google docs page on twitter and ask for your rank and any scrim clips you have. From these open tryouts, they signed a player with no competitive experience, "Nina", on April 28th of 2022. Little did they know at the time that this high risk pickup ended up becoming the best player on the roster. A very similar story in North America with DarkZero player Panbazou.
  • NORTHEPTION's 5th ended up being a temporary Ex-CAG Pro player named "Shokei". He had experience and would make a good temporary slot in. Sort of like J90/Lags slotting in for Soniqs in North America. It was never supposed to be permanent, only to make sure that they could play.
Now a rushed and newly made Japanese T3 team, they move to enter their first competition in the new format.

Testing out the new roste1st Japan Nationals of 2022

  • 2022 Japanese Competitive Format Explained: The format is a T2 League that has Tier-1 teams in it. All teams in this round-robbin league are automatically invited to the "Japanese League Playoffs". The top 5 in the league immediately skip "Japanese Playoffs Groups" and move straight into playoffs. T3 teams can enter the "Japanese Playoffs Group" stage by going thru a grassroots open qualifiers. After winning playoffs, the T3 teams play in groups with the non-top 5 Japan League teams. At the end of the year, the highest placed Non-Tier 1 team gets to play in APAC North Relegation. This is an exceptionally designed grassroots system that allows T1, T2, T3 teams or basically anyone to prove themselves 3X a year.
  • BIG DISCLAIMER:For simplism purposes, I'll rename "Japanese Invitationals/Championships" to "Japanese Nationals" so you, the viewer, can keep track easier (trust me it's easier). The top 5 T2 teams from the Japan League skip over groups and go to nationals playoffs. Bottom 5 T2 Japanese teams go to Nationals groups with the T3 teams that qualified from the Japan Nationals open qualifiers. It's much easier on your brain if you think about it like that.
Back to the post!
This Nationals was the most important tournament in all of Japan. NORTHEPTION all wanna prove themselves. This was where all the pressure was building up towards. So with the 2 new additions to the roster (that they added in a rush), they nervously went into the open qualifiers for T2 Japan not knowing how it would go.
NORTHEPTION with their new roster, get into the Japan Nationals thru the open qualfier. They play Bo3s and do well. They aren't dominant since they lose a map and went overtime alot but they 2-0'd most teams. They get 1st in opens which surprises the Japanese community.
As an added bonus for getting 1st thru the Nationals Open, NORTHEPTION have now qualified for Japanese relegations at the end of the year just from getting 1st at the beginning of the year. They already secured a huge W but the streak doesn't end here.
After they get 1st in the open qualifiers, they go to Japanese Nationals Playoffs with much better teams and a Tier-1 team named "Reject". They beat the Tier-1 APAC North team in 2 seperate Bo1s. 7-2, 8-6.
They also throw 2 rounds against the worst team in their group, leading them to winning in overtime. They get 2 points instead of 3 points. They end up missing getting out of groups by a single point, because they threw 2 rounds. It's expected to throw rounds if your a new team since your comms aren't perfect. They showed their glimpse of potential with this new roster from beating this 8th place Tier-1 APAC North team twice but sadly it wasn't enough.

Post-Tournament Changes

So since Shokei was just a sub, they have to pick up another player to replace him. While they did well and had upsets, they still weren't content with barely getting eliminated in groups.
They do open tryouts, again! to get the new 5th player. Post a tryout google docs on twitter, run the scrim partners, evaluate, yada yada yada, you know, the usual. They told themselves, Since the no-experience player Nina was such an insane pickup, then why wouldn't a second fresh rookie be good? Lets take a fresh new mechanical promising player with lots of motivation to play and teach them how to play comp. So they picked up a second person with no experience.
They pick up ShuReap from the google docs tryout page. ShuReap has no competitive experience except for an open qualfiers where he obliterated another team in a Bo3 7-1, 7-2. All the team knows is that this guy is mechanically gifted and has high ranked stats. Little did they know that they got even more lucky. ShuReap is better than Nina who was already a monster mechanically 🤣🤣🤣🤣

The 2nd Nationals Tournament

They have this new roster. Time for Japan Nationals for stage 2 of 2022. They're eager to test this new roster.
They have to go thru the open qualifiers again. Instead of losing a map and constantly going into overtime like last time, they utterly massacre the competition. They don't even go into O.T to win games like last time. You can visually see the improvement.
Now that they finished destroying the open qualifiers to get 1st, they go into groups where they got grouped last time. This was the real test to see if the roster improved, by hitting a new high. So what happened in groups with this new T3 team?
Well, They dominate their group. They only lose once and it's a massive throw in overtime 6-8 against a T2 Team. They win most other games in regulation and come out comfortably on top with a first place group finish. Now they move out of the frying pan into the fire, literally... They have to verse 2 APAC Pro League teams back to back. Fnatic and then, if they win that, Reject who has since made roster changes to become better. Fnatic is Neo-Guts gaming who basically cut the old NORTHEPTION out of relegations in 2020. There's bad blood here.
So what happens? They 2-0 Fnatic and 2-0 Reject 😭. Granted, they were close maps but it was still a 2-0. So now they're at the Grandfinals after 2-0'ing 2 pro Teams. They are up against SCARZ, who are a T2 Japanese team. You'd think that this T3 team would win after beating 2 Tier-1 teams dominantly right? Nope. SCARZ 2-0'd NORTHEPTION in the grand final. Not even a map going to O.T. They came in a disappointing 2nd place after having a miracle run in Japanese Nationals. Granted, SCARZ were the best Japanese T2 Team but it still stung.
No one could deny that they massively improved but would they be able to conquer a relegation battle for the third Japanese Nationals?

After stage 2, they prepare for relegations

  • After stage 2, the Japanese Nationals format changed. Stage 3 playoffs for Japan Nationals doesn't exist. All that exists are relegations for the bottom 5 Japanese Nationals teams.
  • "B-b-but u/ArcanicTruth i thought there were no relegations at the end of 2022?" Yeah that confused me too. It's what i also thought lmao. It's apparently not for Tier-2 leagues. There's gonna be "auto-promotions" to get into the Japanese league for 2023. It ended up being code for saying there are still relegations for Japan since they're gonna directly get the 8 best Japanese teams so were gonna find out who they are thru Japanese nationals.
T3 teams had to play the open quals in the 3rd Japanese Nationals to get to relegations but NORTHEPTION already qualified from the first nationals so there was no point for them to play and reveal their strats.
The Reject roster that placed 3rd in APAC North ended up being bottom 5 in the Japanese Nationals league. So they ended up having to play relegations 😭. If they wanted to get auto-promoted, there's a chance would have to relegate this team in a Tier-1 vs Tier-3 match.

Despair, Doubt, and Fear creep in just before the climax

Now, beating 2 pro league teams as a T3 team is a major accomplishment. If Japan's richest orgs were not keeping an eye on the roster before, they were definitely were now after the nationals performance. So, Fnatic decides to pick up one of NORTHEPTION's players. "Tyopi". One of their best players are now suddenly gone. NORTHEPTION were in trouble having such a deep impactful roster change months before the most important esports match of their lives. They've had pressure before but definitely not like this.
Here's where it gets even more crazy. NORTHEPTION, for months, prepared for relegations. Their long-time player, CoPaHiPo, LEAVES the team to go to the reject roster they were training months to beat. Bro just abandoned his friends for the enemy 😭.
All that is left of this former T3 David vs Goliath roster is Febar and his insanely gifted ranked stars that he taught how to play the entry role competitively, Nina and ShuReap.
NORTHEPTION do open tryouts again. They can't resist their ways and pick up ANOTHER unknown rookie player called "YuKiz". This guy has at least been recorded to be on a team by Liquidpedia. He's definitely extremely inexperienced, enough to be counted as a new competitive player.
They need some experience tho, so the pick up "Wendyzera". He is a former player (that they dropped in 2021 after getting relegated) as a stand-in for the relegation battle. They dropped him before so the hopes/morale are not as high coming into relegations.

The climax of 2022

Japanese Relegation Format Explained: The bottom two Tier-2 Japanese teams play eliminate each other in relegation. The winner moves to relegation group stage. There are 2 groups of five. Group A/B. The 5 bottom Nationals teams over the year and the top 6 winners of the open qualifiers for stage 1, 2, and 3 of Japanese Nationals. These teams will end up in different groups. If you get 1st in your group, you get auto qualified for 2023 (2 teams). Both 2nd placed teams from Group A & B play a Bo3. If you place 3rd-5th in your group then you get eliminated from the tournament.
The groups get announced and the pro league team, Reject, is in the other group. For them, this is a blessing. If they can beat some of middle of the pack Tier-1 teams then they can surely beat Tier-2 teams, right? Well... No. They barely survive groups and end up getting 2nd place. The NORTHEPTION curse strikes again where they can't beat Tier-2 teams.
Now they have to verse the 2nd place teams on the other group. The NORTHEPTION players check to see who it is and probably recoiled in horror. The universe is having a laugh. It's the reject roster, a Tier-1 team, and they TIED in points with the T2 IGZIST team. Both have 10 points. So the tiebreaker goes to round count and IGZIST won ONLY 1 MORE ROUND to get placed first 🤣🤣🤣. The gods wanted a drama filled revenge relegation match. A match where careers would end are against former teamates and friends, a NORTHEPTION member of 3 years who abandoned this roster to go to the enemy team.
They get to work for a passionate drama revenge match. It reminds Febar of when he was dropped just before APAC North relegations in 2021. As much as this is an Esports match, it's also deeply personal with drama. NORTHEPTION with a new roster have only a couple weeks to practice for an important relegation match.
It's game day. The match happens. Here are the chronological map results.
  • Map 1. NORTHEPTION wins 7-4
  • Map 2. Reject wins 7-5
  • Map 3. NORTHEPTION wins 7-3
NORTHEPTION pulls an Upset and relegates a top 3 APAC North team from Tier-1 while being a T3 roster. The "reject" roster was a roster that was 8th place in stage 1, 5th place in stage 2, and was currently 3rd place at the time in stage 3. NORTHEPTION relegated a top 3 APAC.N team and stole their spot like a bunch of badasses.

2023 NORTHEPTION

  • NORTHEPTION have to do open tryouts AGAIN, with a google docs page to replace Wendyzera because he was only a stand-in. This time, they don't pick up a complete ranked star but gifted player that has at least some comp history. NORTHEPTION picked up the best player from the 2nd best T3 Japanese roster "Father's Back", Sayochan. This guy was a top 5 rated entry player in Japanese Nationals Playoffs with T1 pros in it. He's the only who went overwhelmingly positive on entry when his whole team went negative on entry. He has lots of experience too so he was needed to fill that void on the team. I think he's 22 so he's been playing for a long time.
NORTHEPTION are now, officially, a Tier-1 team. It's been 4 years since that coffee but it was worth it. Now they are in a league again. Febar is finally in Tier-1 after getting dropped just before his relegation match. With google docs, Febar surrounded himself with 4 mechanically cracked players, 3 of which were unknown rookie players that he has personally developed with coaching staff. This roster is now fully complete and ready for 2023.
With their new roster, they enter the new BLAST Japan League as a registered Tier-1 team for the first time. They also have the easiest group on-paper. NORTHEPTION is in groups with Fav Gaming. Febar's roster beats Fav causing Fav to get grouped. NORTHEPTION move into playoffs and have to fight CAG, the best Japanese team historically who look really scary with new roster pickups.
I, again, kid you not, They come into playoffs and 2-0 the historical best Japanese team, CAG. It's not even close, it's a dominant victory that can be credited to the insane entry firepower of this roster. They outgunned Chibisu/Arcully/Blackray. It was a massacre.
This team will verse CREST next for a copahagen major spot on April 1st. Personally, i think NORTHEPTION are actually gonna lose because of the curse. They always win against Tier-1 teams and lose against Tier-2 teams. I know crest is technically Tier-1 but still, it's Tier-1 in name only, since they literally just got into Tier-1 a couple months ago.

Conclusion

NORTHEPTION will go down as one of the most inspiring APAC stories in Rainbow six siege if they can make it to the major. They skipped Tier-2 and relegated a top 3 APAC North team as a Tier-3 team. They decided that they weren't gonna try to get failed players who's only choice it was to join a T3 team but instead try to develop their own talent from mechanically gifted players they found thru an open tryout google docs method 😭🤣. It still baffles me how they found such good players thru Google docs, i absolutely love this roster's tryout process.
Out of all the T1/T2/T3 APAC rosters in siege, this one has the best storyline imo. I hope you enjoyed reading a story as rare as this one! Check out this roster on April 1st to see them verse CREST gaming for a major spot!
submitted by ArcanicTruth to sandboxtest [link] [comments]


2023.03.27 01:50 MaestroPolo [H] Hundreds of games humble and fanatical games [W] PayPal, amazon.com/amazon.ca/steam gift cards, total war/stellaris/hearts of iron 4 dlcs i dont already own

NOTE: UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED ALL MY GAMES WERE PURCHASED IN NA (US) AND THAT'S WHERE THEY'LL BE LOCKED IF THERE IS A REGION LOCK
***I will NOT go first unless you have more rep than me**\*
Resellers are welcome, but please don't lowball, I know the value of my games - all fees on resellers
My PayPal is US, so any fees on you. If u send money without covering the fees, I will refund the money minus any fees charged by PayPal
NOTE: due to recent wave of humble bans i only trade keys now with the understanding that those keys sold will be for your personal use
PLEASE do not lowball. While I obviously DO NOT expect full retail price for my games as they were bundled, if you can't beat reseller prices on the sub I will have no choice but to refuse the offer.
Finally, this list is both my backlog and spares so we may value games differently!
Some are of high value to me because they are part of my backlog so I will swap them only for other games I intend to play
My complete list of game keys + source updated 03/26/2023
Humble weekly + pre-choice monthly bundles
Humble choice
  1. December 2019 - 7 choices left out of: PHANTOM DOCTRINE, DEAD IN VINLAND, HORIZON CHASE TURBO, DARK FUTURE: BLOOD RED STATES, X-MORPH: DEFENSE, AEGIS DEFENDERS, DESERT CHILD
  2. February 2020 - 2 choices left out of: ELIZA, THE HEX, WARSTONE TD, UNDERHERO
  3. March 2020 - 1 choice left out of: EXAPUNKS, NIFFELHEIM, ETHERBORN
  4. May 2020 - 1 choice left out of: RISE OF INDUSTRY, WARHAMMER 40,000: GLADIUS - RELICS OF WAR, THE SWORDS OF DITTO: MORMO'S CURSE
  5. June 2020 - 3 choices left out of: GRID™ - ULTIMATE EDITION, MEN OF WAR: ASSAULT SQUAD 2 - WARCHEST EDITION, STYGIAN: REIGN OF THE OLD ONES, OVERLOAD, THE KING'S BIRD
  6. July 2020 - 5 choices left out of: RAILWAY EMPIRE, BEAT HAZARD 2, SIGMA THEORY: GLOBAL COLD WAR, DON'T ESCAPE: 4 DAYS TO SURVIVE, VERLET SWING, BASINGSTOKE, EARTHLOCK
  7. August 2020 - 5 choices left out of: VAMPYR, GENESIS ALPHA ONE DELUXE EDITION, AUTOMACHEF, THROUGH THE DARKEST OF TIMES, THE COMA 2: VICIOUS SISTERS
  8. September 2020 - 3 choices left out of: lethal league blaze, YOOKA-LAYLEE AND THE IMPOSSIBLE LAIR, the occupation
  9. October 2020 - 2 choices left out of: THE SUICIDE OF RACHEL FOSTER, THE UNCERTAIN: LAST QUIET DAY
  10. November 2020 - 5 choices left out of: DARKSBURG, TSIOQUE, ROVER MECHANIC SIMULATOR, YOUROPA, TOWNSMEN - A KINGDOM REBUILT
  11. December 2020 - 4 choices left out of: ZWEI: THE ARGES ADVENTURE, ZWEI: THE ILVARD INSURRECTION, TABLETOP PLAYGROUND, STRUGGLING
  12. February 2021 - 6 choice left out of: ENDLESS SPACE® 2 - DIGITAL DELUXE EDITION, MOVING OUT, THE WILD EIGHT, WEREWOLF: THE APOCALYPSE HEART OF THE FOREST, LOVECRAFT'S UNTOLD STORIES, IRIS AND THE GIANT
  13. March 2021 - 8 choices left out of: CONTROL STANDARD EDITION, ELEX, WWE 2K BATTLEGROUNDS, HOTSHOT RACING, PEAKY BLINDERS: MASTERMIND, CYBER HOOK, BOREAL BLADE, AGELESS
  14. April 2021 - 6 choices left out of: SNIPER GHOST WARRIOR CONTRACTS, SHENMUE III, MAIN ASSEMBLY, ROCK OF AGES 3: MAKE & BREAK, AVEN COLONY, COLT CANYON
  15. June 2021 - 6 choices left out of: SID MEIER’S CIVILIZATION® VI PLATINUM EDITION, WORMS RUMBLE + LEGENDS PACK DLC, MILKY WAY PRINCE - THE VAMPIRE STAR, DESOLATE, PAW PAW PAW, DISJUNCTION (GOG KEY)
  16. July 2021 - 5 choices left out of: HAMMERTING, NIMBATUS - THE SPACE DRONE CONSTRUCTOR, S.W.I.N.E. HD REMASTER, DEADLY DAYS, ADOM (ANCIENT DOMAINS OF MYSTERY
  17. August 2021 - 5 choices left out of: AS FAR AS THE EYE, CEPHEUS PROTOCOL, NOWHERE PROPHET, BLUE FIRE, ENCODYA (GOG key)
  18. September 2021 - 3 choices left out of: narita boy, heaven's vault, fort triumph
  19. November 2021 - 1 choice left out of: MÖBIUS FRONT '83
  20. December 2021 - 10 choices left out of: ENDZONE - A WORLD APART, BEYOND THE WIRE, PARTISANS 1941, THE SURVIVALISTS, LACUNA - A SCI-FI NOIR ADVENTURE, 8 DOORS, GREAK: MEMORIES OF AZUR, FLING TO THE FINISH, TOHU, VOIDIGO
  21. March 2022 - DESPERADOS III, NICKELODEON ALL-STAR BRAWL, THE DARK PICTURES ANTHOLOGY: MAN OF MEDAN, RED SOLSTICE 2: SURVIVORS, POLICE STORIES, EVAN'S REMAINS
  22. November 2022 - KINGDOMS OF AMALUR: RE-RECKONING - FATE EDITION (might keep), shadow tactics aiko's choice, roboquest (might keep), eldest souls, unmetal, raji an ancient epic, morbid the seven acolytes
  23. December 2022 - wasteland 3, greedfall, first class trouble, backbone, blade assault, super magbot
  24. January 2023 - doom eternal, tribes of midgard (might keep), encased, grow song of the evertree, conan chop chop, the serpent rogue
Fanatical
Yet more leftovers
Steam wish list (I value games at their lowest sale prices)
Indiegameswap rep #1: https://www.reddit.com/IGSRep/comments/92rf1i/maestropolos_igs_rep_page_2/
Indiegameswap rep #2: https://www.reddit.com/IGSRep/comments/7rwadk/maestropolos_igs_rep_page/?ref=share&ref_source=link
Indiegameswap rep #3: https://www.reddit.com/IGSRep/comments/b5b6r8/maestropolos_igs_rep_page_3/
Steamgameswap rep page 1: https://www.reddit.com/sgsflaicomments/7owlgy/flair_profile_umaestropolo/
Steamgameswap rep page 2: https://www.reddit.com/sgsflaicomments/8xl0jn/flair_profile_umaestropolo/
Steamgameswap rep page 3: https://www.reddit.com/sgsflaicomments/adzqls/flair_profile_umaestropolo/
Steamgameswap rep page 4 (most recent): https://www.reddit.com/sgsflaicomments/cy34os/flair\\\_profile\\\_umaestropolo/
Steam profile: https://steamcommunity.com/id/MaestroPolo/
Giftcardexchange rep: https://www.reddit.com/GCXRep/comments/c6eku1/umaestropolo\\\_gcx\\\_rep\\\_profile/
Steam wish list (I value games at their lowest sale prices)
submitted by MaestroPolo to SteamGameSwap [link] [comments]


2023.03.27 01:42 ButteredCroissant04 My answers to the Questionnaire. Please type me if you have the chance.

  1. Brief description: I am 18 years old, male. I have a bit of a quiet personality generally, and a little reclusive, but I can easily switch it up to be fun and energetic when I’m comfortable or if a situation calls for it. I’ve tried a few things in my life so far, like american football, piano, solitaire, video games, and I like to keep myself entertained by doing any of my hobbies (whatever i feel like at the time) and through watching youtube videos or texting my friends. I’ve always been a bit of a weird mix between a nerd and a jock, and I’ve been obsessed with paleontology, art, and biology for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been a very independent person who doesn’t really mind going off on his own, but I also like to be with my friends a lot. My biggest problem would be my insecurity with my relationships, since I’m not the best at forming or maintaining them.
  2. Mental health: I don’t have any mental illnesses that I’m aware of, and am relatively healthy, or at least averagely healthy for my age.
  3. My upbringing and childhood: I had a very religious upbringing coming from a christian household. As a kid, I didn’t really care too much about that, I was pretty neutral - I was a “go along to get along” kid. If something didn’t make sense to me, I would question it and either get an answer, or be told off. I eventually learned that sometimes it’s best to keep quiet and just nod my head. This made me into a very reserved person who thought about things a lot by himself without necessarily talking about them. I wasn’t the greatest with other people, and I often lacked tact or social aptitude beyond being an energetic kid. It sounds weird, but I would have described myself as a child as very reserved but energetic. I would often have friends who didn’t actually know anything about me because I would refuse to open up, but then I would lead them into fun activities and we would all have a good time regardless, so I would say I still had a good childhood. Still, I was pretty reckless and I sort of just did what I wanted to do, even if I realized that no one else would join me. I remember getting into many fistfights at school, fighting off my bullies, falling out of the tops of trees, riding too fast on my bike and slamming into pavement - I got into a LOT of trouble for this. I was the kid who you would go to to beat someone up in the school lunch yard, but also the kid who would read books under his desk during class. Most of my classmates would come to me for academic help, and a few would turn to me for my other, more reckless help. I was also very empathetic to people, and I remember I would spend many hours texting random strangers (often adults online) with depression to make them feel better. In retrospect, this was probably dangerous for the 10, maybe 11 year old me, but at the time all I wanted was to be there for them.
  4. Weekend: If I were to spend a weekend entirely by myself, I would feel lonely unless I had something to do. If I had access to my games in this scenario, or if I could take my bike out, or had a long tv show to watch, I would be perfectly fine. I suppose as long as I’m stimulated I don’t mind being alone.
  5. My relationship to my movement and surroundings: I’m very comfortable in my own body and have great balance and control over it. I also am very comfortable with my surroundings and tend to be very aware of things. I’m not at all accident prone and am usually very good at navigating my surroundings. I am a fan of sports and the outdoors, and love to participate in them with my friends (unless I don’t know what I’m doing, in which case I’ll be too embarrassed to join!). I’m very articulate with my hands, and I love to build and design things. In fact, my career prospect is currently as a product designer, because it incorporates a lot of what I love to do. However, my favorite thing is a peaceful environment, and I love quiet moments outside the best. Just sitting under a tree with the breeze blowing over me, not a word spoken, and just chilling is best.
  6. Curiosity: I have always been a very curious person. I would have many, many questions about how the world worked, and even today I find myself questioning many things. The internet is often my best friend, and I would use it to research many things (including mbti back in quarantine). I am the kind of person who wrestles with ideas and concepts in his head over and over again until I think that they are perfect. I hate it when something is almost right but there is just something wrong, so I tend to pour a lot of mental energy into reworking an idea or concept until that wrong thing makes sense. I do this for things around me that I don’t understand, as well as concepts in my head that I’m trying to flesh out. Some examples are when I see something that I think shouldn’t work, I’ll be curious about it, or the fact that I’m working on a world-building project with some friends and coming up with concepts for events, races, and locations.
  7. Leadership: Generally I don’t like taking the spotlight, the commitment, and responsibility of a leadership position if I don't have to. However, if taking the position would be beneficial to my long term plans, or if I notice that no one else is capable of taking the role, I will naturally assume the position without complaint. I’m the kind of leader who focuses on the wellbeing of my team, because their involvement and mental state directly affect their performance and efficiency.
  8. My relationship with art: I’m an artist. I’ve had a few sketchbooks over the years and I like to draw people and objects best. I’m not the greatest artist in the world, but I really enjoy it. There’s something about the fine detail and complexity being boiled down into a simple formula that just works for me, and I love refining my skill and seeing it improve and impress people. In this way, my favorite art is the technically challenging that I know took a lot of work to do - I love to examine its work and aesthetic. Semi realism is pretty cool I would say, and I hope I’ll be good enough at art to be impressed with my own work one day.
  9. My relationship with the past, present, and future: The past is a good way to remember lessons and remember not to do stupid things you used to do. The present is what exists and what will affect the future. The future is what will happen and can be altered by actions taken in the present if you’re astute enough. I don’t really think about the past too much unless I’m introspecting, I mostly consider the present. The future I sometimes think about if I have something I want to accomplish, so that I know what I need to do in the present to make that future more likely to occur.
  10. When people ask help from me: I will consider who they are and what it is they are actually asking for. I tend to help people if what they are asking is within my capabilities, and if I trust them. With strangers I will always be skeptical and a little suspicious since I don’t want to be scammed or tricked. However, I do want to help people if possible. I won’t generally go out of my way, or above and beyond, but I;m not so cold hearted as to ignore someone asking for help right in front of me.
  11. Logical consistency: I like things in my mind to be orderly, organized, and make sense. The outside world is full of cool things that don’t always work in my head, and I find that the only way to take advantage of something is to first understand how that thing works. For example, you could have a screwdriver and a screw in a plank of wood, but if you don’t understand what it is that you’re supposed to do, or how it works, you may end up using that screwdriver as a hammer instead and it wouldn’t work. So, even if I tend to be messy on the outside, I need to keep my inside organized so that I know where to go in my brain and what information to use when a situation presents itself to me.
  12. Efficiency and productivity: I’m quite a lazy person myself, so I can’t really say- but if I do decide to get off the couch and do a task, I will generally pick the more efficient route to completion, if not just for the sake of getting it done quickly and correctly so that I can return to being lazy and not have to get up to do it again later.
  13. Control: I’m a bit more of a “live and let live” sort of person. Unless it’s my job to control people, I typically just keep to myself or my friend group and vibe. Of course, I’m not necessarily opposed to it, I just don’t find a good reason to do so most of the time. I’d rather save my energy for having fun or doing things that interest me.
  14. My Hobbies: I’ve had many hobbies over the years, but the ones I return to consistently are: drawing, writing poems, snowboarding, biking, singing, playing video games, playing board and card games and reading manga/manhua. I like them because they’re fun and stimulating. They spread out multiple parts of me, and I can choose to express an emotional aspect of myself in poetry, or I can choose to be an adrenaline junky and go as fast as I can on my snowboard down the mountain, or I can relax in my room and read manga for a few hours. It’s just whatever is fun to me.
  15. My learning style: I’m good at copying things I see - I’ve frequently found myself intently observing someone performing something that I don’t understand and breaking down their movements in my head to replicate. Would that be considered visual? I generally rely on my eyes and body to break down what I see and replicate it into a simple concept for me to practice. So, I tend to struggle when there is nothing for me to look at, or nothing to understand beyond “memorize this” or “do this over and over again”. Probably because it’s super boring and I mentally check out. I prefer things that stimulate me, so I’m good at creative things and physical things best. I’m also not bad in the logic department, but even though I’m not bad at it, it still depends if the topic itself is interesting to me or not.
  16. Strategizing: When it comes to strategizing I’m pretty hit or miss honestly. It’s not my strongest skill at all and I’m very inconsistent. I find that I’m really good at first, but then start to fail as the event progresses. I’ve been trying to improve by playing chess, reading related content or watching videos, meditating, and actively considering strategies in my head rather than bulldozing my way through a situation. I typically have enough confidence in my raw skills and adaptability to wing things, but if I am placed in a situation where I’m not so confident, then I naturally revert to my poor strategizing skills. I’ve seen some significant improvement, but I’m still a little bit impatient.
  17. Important things to me: I value personal peace, my family and friends, enjoyment of life, and living without any regrets. I want to look back on my life on my deathbed and not have to worry about “what ifs”.
  18. My fears: I fear abandonment, the loss of my loved ones, the people I love beginning to hate me or grow apart, being powerless to stop something, embarrassing myself, and y’know, general things that have the potential to seriously harm or even kill me. I also worry about not being able to fulfill my idea of living without regrets, and sometimes wonder if there was anything I could have done differently to better set myself on that path.
  19. My highs and lows: When I’m at my best, I’m sociable, energetic, empathetic, highly competent, and enjoying myself. I’m confident in my skills and knowledge, and that I am able to solve anything that comes my way. I like to lean on my humor a lot and love to make people laugh, to make them comfortable. When I’m in my lows, I’m highly reclusive, or alternatively, attention seeking in a bad way. This is when I’m “trolling” on the internet, because I’m dealing with feelings I otherwise don’t know how to handle other than expressing them negatively. All I want is someone to acknowledge me in any way, but when they do I don’t know how to handle it and I self-destruct into mean humor, or just being plain mean. I become very suspicious of the relationships I’m in and find myself sabotaging my own relationships. I’m critical and temperamental, and I lose my capacity for energy and empathy. I become incredibly selfish and mean, if I talk at all.
  20. My attachment to reality: I’m very comfortable in reality, but it’s also a little bit boring. So yeah, I daydream very often. I like to generate images in my head and create worlds and characters to run around in. I imagine it as being a room in my headspace where I have utter control over, while delegating my normal human processes to my subconscious so that I can focus on my imaginings. In this state I also like to think about concepts or ideas I haven’t fully fleshed out or focused on yet, because I can visualize them and play with them privately without being interrupted. I generally still have some level of awareness around me, but I can go so deep into my imagination that I forget about reality at times and have to “wake up”. It’s just me spacing out for a little bit to think, but it happens often enough that I took notice of it. However, I don’t mind because it’s fun and helpful. Especially since I like to draw, I can easily visualize what I want to make in my head and manipulate it. I mentioned I was doing a world-building exercise with my friends earlier in this page, and I used my imagination to simulate that world to see what would naturally happen next, given the variables I implemented. I use my headspace for stuff like that.
  21. What I would do in a blank, empty room: Well, I’d probably spend a bit of time questioning why I am in there in the first place, but let’s assume that I already know that and have accepted my fate to be stuck in there. In this case, I’d probably stare at the wall and try to enter my headspace to see if there’s anything entertaining I can imagine for a little bit. After a little while of that I’d probably get bored and come back out. I might try to sleep to pass the time, or just mess with my body and see if I can entertain myself by dancing or singing or jumping off the wall or whatever. Just anything to keep me entertained. Realistically, I would probably go insane along with every other normal human trapped in such a situation.
  22. My decisiveness: I have a small overthinking issue when there is a lot of information to process and many potential paths to consider, but when I make a decision I tend to stand by it unless I can see that my decision is wrong and should be changed. I’m able to adapt, but I’ll try to keep with the general idea of the decision I made.
  23. Processing emotions: I am notoriously poor in my friend group with understanding my emotions. I have trouble identifying or accepting them at times, so I tend to say “To hell with this” and just “feel” normally because it’s a huge pain in the butt to think about them. Though, I understand the importance of emotional development, so when I have quiet time to myself, I think it through, maybe express what I feel to someone I trust so that they can help me decipher my feelings. I’ve definitely vented a lot to my most trusted friends, and I’ve found that it helps because only when I talk about it do I finally understand what is happening to my emotions sometimes.
  24. Appeasing others: I don’t see the point in arguing with people sometimes if they won’t listen or if I have nothing to gain by making them understand. So I like to just nod and agree or not even do anything sometimes just so that we can move on and that I won’t have to deal with it.
  25. Rule breaking: I generally respect authority and rules. Getting caught breaking rules just leads to trouble, which is just a hassle I don’t want to deal with. I would rather stay under the radar and not have to deal with annoying consequences. In the same way though, if breaking a rule results in an easier route for me with less hassle, I have no qualms breaking that rule. I guess you could say I operate on an energy efficiency system, where I choose whatever leads to less energy being spent.
  26. My ideal life: a peaceful, enjoyable life with my friends where I have full autonomy over my life and decisions, where I can choose to go to a sick party or to stay home in my underwear and do absolutely nothing - full financial independence to be able to do whatever I please, to kick back, relax, and enjoy the peaceful life with the people I care about.
submitted by ButteredCroissant04 to MbtiTypeMe [link] [comments]


2023.03.27 01:22 reddituser1990 Can I Leave my dirt bike on my hitch carrier for a few days?

Can I Leave my dirt bike on my hitch carrier for a few days?
I have my 250lb dirt bike on a hitch carrier that is rated for 600lbs. My air-suspension equipped vehicle has a tongue weight limit of 700lbs. I like to ride Saturday's and Wednesday's so when I come back from Saturday, I usually unload the bike and the carrier for storage. I then re-install the hitch carrier on Wed morning for riding. The vehicle does not move between these periods. I use tie down straps and turnbuckles.
Is it structurally safe to leave my hitch carrier (with bike) installed on my vehicle? Are there any concerns for leaving it on there for 4 days straight or maybe a bit longer like a week?
I have a carrier just like this one using turnbuckles as pictured:

https://preview.redd.it/qeaufgqw26qa1.png?width=963&format=png&auto=webp&s=31f41bc18dffd10d3bbcadeb0570d58f6bb9add1
submitted by reddituser1990 to Dirtbikes [link] [comments]


2023.03.27 01:06 4ShotBot My Roommate is Slenderman: Part 22 (Act 3)

Part 21: https://www.reddit.com/Viidith22/comments/11jmouq/my_roommate_is_slenderman_part_21_act_3/
I raised an unsteady hand, then put it down, “I’m sorry, I’m still not sure what it is I’d even be agreeing to. What’s going on in there?”
“About half of everyone who knows what’s going on in Tenyit Lane is in there.”
“So government conspiracy theories? I think I’d like to go home.”
“You have to know what’s going on, he kidnapped you too, you must’ve seen what I had on that computer.”
“No, I–” My mind flashed back to that morning, I’d woken up, seen the laptop open, no file transfer notification, “I mean, maybe, but I was too drunk to remember anything I read.”
“Darren wouldn’t have known that though. Just come in, we have evidence I’m not bullshitting. I mean, look at you, 30 minutes ago, you ate that asshole’s arm, you killed a man, and look at you. So just give it a chance, maybe I’m right, maybe shit around here is off, maybe, just maybe, the government is keeping a close eye on all of us for some crazy reason.” He pulled a necklace from under his shirt, “See how this crystal glows?”
“I’ll grant you your other points, but if you’re trying to tell me something that could have an LED in it is magic, buddy you are not preaching to the right choir.”
“Here,” He pulled it off his neck, unwrapped the twine, and handed me the bare crystal, “Look at it closely, as it’s sitting in your hand, just look at it.”
Rolling my eyes, I humored him. But, there was nothing there, looking into the glowing blue crystal was akin to looking at scuffed glass. I could see my hand straight through the entire gem, “Weir-”
“Now, close your eyes, and focus on your hand.”
I turned to face him, chin down, eyebrow raised, “You did not just ask me to do that.”
“No, seriously, just do it. If nothing happens, I’ll take you home. But, if you do feel it, you have to agree to join us.”
I gazed out in front of us, staring at the ten-foot concrete wall, “Okay.” I faced him, “If I feel anything, I’ll come in.”
He looked excited for a moment, before catching on, sighing, “Alright, that’ll have to do, but you have to stay and talk with a couple people at least.”
I took my turn to sigh, “Fine.” Closing my eyes, I focused on my hand, only a few seconds passed before I noticed it. It felt like something was taking up the empty space inside the atoms that made up who I was. Like the emptiness between the electrons and the nuclei was being filled. But as I focused more, a new sensation came through, like a magnet, the energy was being pushed away from something inside of me. Like an immune system fighting off a disease, the energy was halted, and whatever was inside me grew more aggressive.
I dropped it, my eyes sprung open, and I threw the door off its hinges, wanting, needing to get away from it. I shook my body, rubbed my face, and silently cursed to myself as I stamped in circles, trying as hard as I could to forget the maddening sensation.
I heard something from Scott’s direction, “WHAT!”
I finally stopped, staring at him as he spoke, “Just come inside with me, it’ll all make sense, it must’ve rejected you or something.”
“OR SOMETHING!? Oh that’s rich! You think I’m going to follow you in after!..” I took a breath, trying to think, “Whatever the FUCK that was!?”
His face lost all emotion, “YES GODDAMNIT! You said you would! Now you’re going to follow me inside, and we’re going to discuss everything! Do I make myself clear!?”
“The fuck we are!”
He made his way over to me, “Jesus Christ! Despite EVERYTHING, we couldn’t be more different!” He calmed, putting his hands on my shoulders, “Now, we’re gonna go in there, have a talk with the others, and you’ll understand everything. Do you hear me?” He stared uncomfortably into my eyes.
Despite his serious expression, his eyes were flat, like a dead fish. Yet, there was something relaxing in them, “Yeah, I uh… sure. Let’s have a talk, I agreed to it and all.” Following behind him, we made our way into a house, then down a set of stairs to the basement, which is where he pushed a tool cabinet aside, and we made our way down a set of stairs.
“How lo–”
“Let’s just make it down, then you can ask.”
About 10 steps down, I could hear the sound of laughter, before we eventually made it to an underground mancave. It had to be a good 20-30 feet below the road.
A couple of people went quiet as we reached the bottom, where ten or so people were gathered. An older woman made her way to us, the second person being a younger man, a mid-20s artistic type. He probably listened to The Beatles, and turned on Beethoven when his friends got in the car for the sake of it.
“Welcome Joseph, seems you’re new to town, and already sticking your nose in all sorts of government secrets. They sure have been slacking.”
“What the hell was on Scott’s laptop?”
A couple of seats scooted, and a few more voices went low, “Scott? You had unencrypted data on your computer?”
“He brought it to my, or Darren’s computer shop, when he was erm… still alive.”
The 20 something was about to say something when the woman’s tone quieted, approaching a whisper, “Allow me to get this straight Scott, you not only had freely accessible data on your computer, highly incriminating data that could rat all of us out, you also took it to a computer shop. It would be greatly appreciated if you could explain every little detail involving that.” She gripped one of his shoulders, and I could see the pain grow on his face. Then, she turned to me, smiling, “As for you, I need you to tell Brandon here everything that happened at, wherever you two came from. Don’t miss any details, we haven’t seen Scott in a couple of days, and everything around here goes by word of mouth.” She waved me off Scott following behind.
“Alright, let’s hit the bar, you can tell me everything there.” His voice sauntered as he pointed his thumb to an indent in the concrete wall to the right.
“God, that sounds amazing.”
-----------------------------------------------------
“Really? That’s everything that brought you two here?”
“Yeah.” I said, finishing off my second pint of whiskey, “Guess it kind of explains why I can drink so much, but I’m still iffy. What do you think?” Without hesitation, he grabbed my arm and sliced a bit of skin off my forearm. I shot it back, “Hey! What the FUCK!”
“Pull your arm back out, let’s have a look.”
I eyed him, putting my arm out in front of me, “So wha-” as I stared at my arm, I hesitated. It was already clotted and scabbed over. Which reminded me of the hole that’d been stabbed into me. I pulled my shirt up, seeing there was only a tiny scab left, and there was already extensive scarring around it. “I-I need to sit down.”
“You uh, you already are.”
“Then I need to lay down.” I stood, hyperventilating.
He slowly helped me to a couch, asking a little too politely for everyone to get out of the way, then leaning me down.
As my head hit the arm-rest, my brain pounded like I stood up too fast with a caffeine headache after a bender. My vision blurred and the room was too bright. All of the days events played on a loop, running through my mind at the speed of sound, only stopping momentarily to focus on the most traumatic events.
Eventually, my breathing slowed, my vision cleared, and my mind became more tolerable. “I-I need to l-leave. I don’t belong here. I need to go back to my life. I have to–”
“Didn’t you just ea– or ki… Isn’t your boss dead now?”
“I… need to get back home. This isn’t where I should be. I need to get back to Te…” My mind was struggling to latch onto something. Something familiar, yet completely foreign, like a language you’ve heard of but never learned. “I need to leave this place.”
“Hey, is he alright?” I heard Scott ask.
I rolled to my left side as much as I could to look at him, “What do you think?” Right as he went to open his mouth, “I want you to take me home, right now. I came in like I said I would, but this place, I just… I can’t. I’m sure I might help at some capacity, but honestly, I don’t want any part in what you guys are doing. There’s nothing for me here.”
He glanced at Brandon, who took him aside. A couple minutes later, he came back, “Look, we can’t have you leave just yet. There’s too much we’d be risking. So we need to ensure you won’t tell anyone.”
“So what, you’re gonna bug my phone and shit?”
“Actually, we’re going to rewrite your memories of getting here. As well as my name. Everyone else here uses an alias, but, well, you’re gonna forget my real name so it doesn’t matter too much.”
“Is it safe?”
“Well, you’ve already been through a similar process a few times, you should be fine.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
His eyelids flattened, “Just follow me.”
My memories around that point in time get distorted. I remember someone sitting me in a chair, then them holding my head between their hands, and in the moment I forgot Scott’s name as well as a few other details. Then I was blindfolded, and ended up at my house. At the time it felt like I’d just been on a long drive after the whole Darren situation.
I wanted to drink, I wanted to simply stop existing, I wanted everything to end. The next couple hours are still a haze, though I presume it was mainly due to the alcohol consumption as opposed to anything else. However, one aspect of that day/night has stuck with me, parts of it haunt my dreams, other parts relieve me to this day, and I honestly can’t say whether or not I’m glad I made the decision. But no matter how much I think on it, I can’t take it back. It was something about sitting on the couch, then I set the bottles on the coffee table. Then I was in the kitchen holding the business card with a D on it. I think it was shortly after that when I grabbed the bag from my junk drawer and downed the whole bag of mushrooms.
I remember after 20 minutes or so a strange sense of anxiety washed over me, and my stomach twisted. I stumbled my way to the bathroom, convinced the shitty whiskey was finally getting to me. I laid in front of the toilet for a good while, waiting for something to come up, when my vision grew wavy, then a crash of euphoria hit me and I started giggling. Feeling better, I headed to the couch to throw something on.
A short while later, a new wave slammed into me and I couldn’t see anything I was looking at anymore. Tears streamed down my face as kaleidoscopes twisted in my eyes. The swirling color took on a life of its own as it no longer had regard for spacetime. I could suddenly feel each eternity between the seconds of reality. My brain was working at the pace of a supercomputer, causing me to age a millenia a minute. My mind was malleable, reforming lost neural connections, and I could feel each fiber reconnect, causing lost memories to surge their way through my mindseye. My body was fused with the couch, all I could do was sit and experience. My mind was suddenly just that, floating consciousness in a vibrant void, and even my brain was simply along for the ride, running calculation after calculation with no regard for my conscious self. I was no longer crying, but the universe was, even the universe was simply another piece of a much grander design, simply an electron in the atom that was our multiverse.
For a few minutes, my eyes were able to focus again, I could process my surroundings with minimal distortion. Patting my face, I felt water still pouring from my eyes. I wiped it away with my shirt, then grabbed a blanket and pillow from my room, laid on the couch, and went back to the show. But before I could focus on the screen, my brain leapt forward, crashing hard into a tidal wave of emotion and colors.
Once again, I was no longer me, but simply a bundle of chemistry and experiences. While no definitive memories resurface, I recalled clumps, as if I’d dropped too much flour into my soup at once. Terry, Jane, a murder, Maerod, 7/11, seemingly random details broke surface tension, revealing a broad variety of emotions, agony, hope, loss, rage. I could only feel my vocal chords giving way, but no sounds made it to my ears, because they no longer existed in that moment. I had no control over it, and in that moment the truth dropped out of the sky, splattering my sense of self. “I” was simply a construct that no longer held weight to my brain. It was going to do its thing, the mind has already made its decision before the conscious self has allowed it to surface. The subconscious influences the conscious, while the conscious can choose to focus on something, the subconscious is what’s really pulling the strings, which–
Before I could finish the thought, the water gave out from under me, and I was suddenly drowning. All coherent thought had left me, nothing but pure emotions left, I think I screamed as I cried, but I still couldn’t hear anything. Despite that, an added shakiness came to my twisting vision periodically.
I’m not sure when I resurfaced, the coming hangover coupled with how mentally checked out I was by the end of the trip made it hard to tell. But I did eventually wake up, suffice it to say, my pillow was drenched, and I had to get a new couch.
I threw my pillow, blanket, and clothes in the wash after coming to. I felt hollow, not quite empty as emptiness implies a feeling of something that’s supposed to be there being gone. But that wasn’t it, hollow as if that’s how it was supposed to be.
I sat in the shower as it rained over me. I scrubbed slowly, trying to get the smell of piss out of my skin. I couldn’t believe myself.
After my shower of shame, I got dressed. As I left the bathroom, I did it again, “Hey Terry–” Which jogged loose a compilation of memories. My mindseye was flooded with experiences in a shabby apartment. Watching anime with a distorted fragment of a person. Cooking as two familiar voices discussed something. Then the big one came, the first time he revealed himself to me. The memory was blurred, like a moving analog camera, but the emotions were strong.
I stumbled my way to the living room, sitting on the floor beside the coffee table. As the memories faded back into being just that, I glanced to my left, noticing that strange card with the D on it. I grabbed it, flipping the card in my hand several times, then bit my lip, glancing to my right at the office door. I wanted to gain access to whatever private data the town had on me. But I knew they wouldn’t keep it online, too easy for the wrong person to snag it.
They might keep it on paper, but I can’t just ask for something like that. Clearly I’m not supposed to have any memories. So where can I go that’ll have the data I need? I dwelled on the thought for a moment, then, It might be a long shot, but if Darren… I shivered. If Darren left the laptop at the shop, I might have a chance. Whatever was on there was bad enough he was willing to kill me. Which means… I sighed in disdain, I have to see ‘him’ after I’m done.
I didn’t know where ‘he’ lived, but if I was lucky, there was a chance I could find some residual gps data when I got a hold of one of the laptops.
Grabbing a hoodie, I made my way out the door, heading out on foot due to the snow that had accumulated.
When I got there a few minutes later, the door was locked. Then I remembered how I’d gotten in just a couple days prior. Grabbing the bottom of the single window sill, I yanked up as hard as I could, hoping to break it free of the ice. Something definitely broke, but it was a more metallic sound than I’d expected. Quickly climbing through, I saw the lock had bent and tore the screws out of the window. The clanging had come from the lock piece dropping to the ground.
Shaking my head, I made my way to the desk the laptops had been. But unfortunately, they were already gone. I kicked a chair, wanting to get more pissed at the situation, but the emotional impact from the night before wouldn’t allow it. I searched each cabinet, hoping to come across anything that could point me in the right direction. Unfortunately, he hadn’t left a trace, so I hopped back out the window to try and think something else up.
If the drive from his house to one of the walls was about 15 minutes or so, and the drive from there to my house was about 10… My thoughts trailed off, Weren’t they supposed to warp my memory? Could it be the same thing as earlier? I shook it off, trying to focus, So, about 10 minutes from my house to a wall, which means... I glanced back at the shop, taking in the large concrete construct behind it for seemingly the first time. Then, I glanced down my right side at the “entrance” to town only a few blocks away, right past the bar. Trying to focus my mind, I pieced together a mental list of houses that could fit the parameters I had. In doing so, I came up with a list of four different streets, then I headed back home, threw some chains on my car, and left for the first street.
--------------------
By the third street, I started to get nervous. I thought my short look at it while leaving wasn’t enough to go off of, or that they might’ve warped my memories of the place. Or even if I found the place, the murders had already been reported. But by the time I got to the end of that street, I found the house I was looking for. It looked untouched, so I parked and went up to the door. Opening the door caused a memory to overtake me. I saw Jane, her body just laying there, head missing, cold blood pooled into a murky puddle of depression. As it passed, despite the nausea that followed the memory, everything in the house was clean. The house smelled like pine and gingerbread. Whoever had cleaned the place didn’t matter, I ran through the house searching for one of the laptops.
It took some time, but I eventually found it in his locked dresser. Running downstairs, I bolted out the door just for the ground to disappear, and suddenly, the gray sky was in front of me. The laptop slid from my fingers just before my head made contact with the doorframe, nearly knocking me out. I staggered to my feet, being cautious to not slip on the ice under the snow. Looking around, there was a small indent in the field of white. Walking over to it, I picked it back up, flipping the computer open, thankful to see it was still alive.
Sliding it under the cushion of my back seat, I got in my car, and was just about to turn the key when a sudden knocking at a window nearly gave me a heart attack. I turned the ignition, rolling the window down. Looking over at the man at the passenger side window, I couldn’t help but feel my heart drop. He looked serious, like a business man out on duty… in the snow.
“Can I help you? Erm…”
“The name’s Donavan, and I believe that depends entirely on whether or not you could answer a few of my questions.”
I blew out my nose, “I uh, no, not particularly, I’ve–”
“Got somewhere to be? I’m sure you do, and so do I. May I?” He gestured to the door handle.
“I’m sure I don’t want anything you’re selling, so may I go.”
He pulled out his phone, scrolling while he talked, “Unless you’d like me showing this to the police, I think it’d be mutually beneficial if you allowed me into your vehicle while we had our discussion. Wouldn’t you agree?” He flipped the phone, showing me a short video compilation of me eating Darren, as well as killing one of the other guys.
Despite my desire to get as far away from the man as possible, I unlocked the door, “Sure, get in, dickswab.”
----------------------
“Now then, might you be able to explain something that’s been itching at the back of my mind?”
“Please my good sir, there is no such need to display your extended understanding of the English lexicon in such a manner.”
“The least you could do is take me the slightest bit seriously.”
“Look man, you blackmailed me into letting you into my car, I’m sorry if I’m not ‘like, so totally stoked’ to talk right now.” I turned right, he’d instructed me to just go around the same few blocks until we were done.
“Alright then, who gave you this?”
I glanced over, seeing the card with the italicized D on it, “Ah, I see, you broke into my house. Pretty sure that’s a crime.”
He looked down his nose at me, I could almost see his imaginary glasses slide down a bit, “Just answer the question.”
“It came with a small package. I wasn’t even home when it was dropped off.”
“Is this the one to which you’re referring?” He held the small brown package with no label, along with the small bag that I’d so recently… emptied the contents of,
“I think what’s going on here is pretty obvious.”
“Do you?”
“I’m really not part of any one of the “third parties,” this town seems to love hosting. I’m just trying to figure out why everyone seems to have it out for me.” Remembering Scott, I glanced in the rearview mirror, wanting to get to whatever secrets that laptop held.
He also glanced in the rearview mirror, but I got the sense it was for another reason, “You know, it’s difficult to add something to a machine that’s already running. You can’t just cut a live wire when you need to add a new resistor. You can’t throw a turbo in a car while it’s on. You can’t swap a normal trigger for a hair trigger while shooting the gun. You gotta set it down, make sure everything’s stopped and cool, then you can go in and meticulously add or replace a part to whatever needs it. But the thing about new parts is, you can’t immediately leave them be, you gotta keep an eye on them, make sure they aren’t faulty. Even if you have a manufacturer’s guarantee, sometimes you get a bad part.”
“Aaaaand.”
“Well, as it turns out, that’s exactly what we have. But when a replaced part is internal, and you don’t have a check engine light, well you have to rely on the effects of the engine as a whole. See, if anything has gone wrong since you added the new part. Well, you know what happens when it’s discovered a part is faulty I’m sure.”
“Sooooo…”
“So, that car you noticed a little while back, that’s why it’s following us. The effects are starting to show.” I checked the rearview mirror again, sure enough, there was a car following us, a black two door with tinted windows and a glossy finish, “Which brings me back to this card, I’m a reasonable man, if you tell me who gave you this card, I’m willing to help push this ahem side effect, under the rug.”
“Listen, I really don’t know. I was telling you the truth.” I hesitated, thinking it over, “But, if you, ‘push it under the rug,’ as you so delicately put it, I can help you find whoever sent me the package. Deal?”
“And what cards are you willing to show me to nudge me along?”
“He sent me a package once, clearly he has contacts here given the lack of any shipping details. Which says he must also know the me from yestermonth. If he has personal ties to me, there must be a way for me to lure him out.”
He smirked, “You’d really screw over the person that resurfaced your memories?”
“Anyone who has people here but refuses to save me isn’t really worth getting killed over.”
He stared at me for the rest of the block, then glanced the rearview mirror, “Well damn, I suppose I can’t argue that logic.” He pulled out a pen and small piece of paper, scribbled something down, then, “You can pull over here.” We’d reached the front of the house we started our ride in front of, “Here, call me if you get any leads, we’ll do our part to keep things under wraps.” He stopped halfway out the door, “And hey, if you do your part well enough, you might even be allowed deeper in the engine.” Then he was off, calling someone as he walked down the street.
“Yeah, whatever metaphor-man.” I crumbled up the paper and tossed it in the back, driving home in silence to finally get into what the hell was going on.
Part 23: Coming (relatively) soon.
submitted by 4ShotBot to Viidith22 [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 23:54 TheBlankestPage Respect Higgs Monaghan! (Death Stranding)

Respect Higgs Monaghan, AKA: The "Man in the Golden Mask"

"So how 'bout it? Aren't you getting tired of the grind? Isn't this what you have been waiting for, all this time? ...A game over?!"
Biography
Higgs Monaghan, potentially born as or at times assuming the alias of Peter Englert, is an ex-porter (essentially, courier) and the leader of the terrorist/separatist faction, 'Homo Demens', in the post-apocalyptic continental United States of America envisioned in Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding. Higgs is one of many of the few remaining living humans to possess a disease called DOOMS, a condition which deeply intertwines its infectee with the now thin layer between life and death. While all DOOMS carriers share the symptom of having vivid nightmares of the end of the world, each one can also develop special abilities tied to their connection to The Beach, the land between this life and the next. In Higgs's case, his abilities are amplified by two things: the death of those around him, and the blessing of a certain individual. While it's unknown what exactly Higgs was capable of with his DOOMS alone, beyond a precognition to the normally invisible undead Beached Things (BTs), the aforementioned blessing boosted his link to The Beach in such a manner to allow him to manifest and control the presence of the age-inducing Timefall weather phenomenon, and also the multitude of tar-like monstrosities it was capable of producing, all via his trademark golden mask made of pure Chiralium (time itself, crystalized). He is also able to perform jumps between The Beach and Earth in a manner resembling teleportation, an ability otherwise only possessed by one known DOOMS carrier, and can 'hover' above the ground by modifying the Chiral density in the air around him. Top it all off with heavy implications that, much like the game's protagonist, Sam Bridges, Higgs is a 'repatriate', meaning that in most circumstances he can re-connect his soul to his dead body and resurrect without a scratch on him. This, however, is never demonstrated on-screen.
In Death Stranding, he serves as the game's primary antagonist, seemingly pulling the strings (sometimes literally) behind every obstacle Sam faces, be it mundane or ethereal (well, except for all of the heavy-lifting and hiking, that's on the apocalypse). The two porters ultimately come to a final stand-off on Sam's sister's, Amelie's, portion of The Beach, where after a desperate fist fight, Higgs is left quite literally stranded on The Beach and cut off from his DOOMS powers, his only way out a P90 left behind by the woman he scarred from neck to toe...
And then we got a trailer for Death Stranding 2.

Higgs

Due to the nature of Higgs's DOOMS ability, this thread will be split between the strength, skills and durability he himself displays, as well as the strength of some of the "Catcher" BTs he is capable of summoning and controlling.
Strength:
Durability:
Speed:
Miscellaneous:
Weather Manipulation
One of the abilities gifted to him by a certain individual, Higgs is capable of generating the time-sapping Timefall at will. A single drop of Timefall can form a wrinkle on skin, or kill an entire hair follicle to its root.
Beached Thing Manipulation
Another ability granted by the individual, Higgs can freely summon the strange tar-like substance that leaks in from The Beach, as well as call forth the invisible Beached Things (BTs) themselves to congregate on an area, even forming larger, more powerful and tangible entities called Catchers. Though he seems to typically use his Chiralium mask as a conduit, he has been shown to be capable of summoning them through various other showy means.
A special note: Technically, any non-repatriate human killed and consumed by a Catcher BT will cause a volatile reaction between the living and dead that forms a 'Voidout'. This massive explosion is akin to a nuclear detonation and can and has leveled entire cities.

Octopus (α)

The first 'Catcher' Beached Thing we witness Higgs summon, during his confrontation with Sam at Port Knot City. It takes on the form of a grotesque mass of tentacles, and while technically Sam could encounter this BT before by being caught by any other regular BTs, this special 'alpha' variant is unique to Higgs, and is recognizable by its Chiralium-covered face, which greatly resembles Higgs's mask.
Strength:
Durability:
Speed:

Quad (α)

Later, when Sam is transporting his coworker codenamed 'Mama' to her estranged sister, the two encounter Higgs again, who proceeds to summon another Catcher BT, this time in the shape and form of a lion with an oily tentacle mane. Much like its predecessor, this is a special variant of Catcher BT noticeable for its golden Chiralium carapace.
Strength:
Durability:
Speed:

Titan

First encountered briefly at the beginning of the game as the creature that consumes Sam's fellow Porter Igor Frank and causes a Voidout, killing them both, this hulking creature made of both tar and Chiralium alike is Higgs's ace in the hole - his self-described 'final boss'. (Funnily enough, not the final boss.) Its strength only skyrockets when the powerful Extinction Entity Amelie Bridges is unwittingly featured as its mantlepiece.
Strength:
Durability:
Miscellaneous:
submitted by TheBlankestPage to respectthreads [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 23:38 lets-split-up HELP WANTED: eight rules for housesitting a mansion

1. NEVER look at the gardener
2. Enter doors only after knocking
3. The clocks need daily winding
4. House staff and visitors must mask.
5. Every statue in the Long Hall must be COMPLETELY covered
6. Rule three repeats for the grandfather clock; set again before leaving
7. Wrong deliveries occur daily!
.... Only accept on the second attempt, not the first or third
.... Run the package to the center of the hedge maze.
.... Leave the maze within five minutes.
8. Depart Kilgore Court for any video calls; video and photography are strictly prohibited!
I reviewed the list of rules from the advert one more time as I stepped off the bus. Crumbling stone walls bordered austere Victorian houses lining the narrow street. At the top of the hill, the current caretaker for Kilgore Court, Pim Perrin, met me beside a towering wrought-iron gate. Small and straight-backed in a gray suit, he would have cut a dapper figure were it not for the ostentatious beaked and feathered mask that covered his face.
“Good morning, Sam Miller,” said Pim, extending a wrinkled hand. “Your references claim you excel at following instructions to the letter, and have never broken a rule.”
“Correct. I am task-oriented. People call me computer-like.” I shrugged. Less flattering terms had been used for me. Inflexible. Anal-retentive. I was not popular with classmates, who disliked my perfect obedience to all posted signs and placards.
“That is just what we need here, Sam. Now...” Pim reached into a bag and from it pulled a feathered mask identical to his own, but newer. “Wear at all times, except in the sitter’s quarters.”
“Why?” I nearly asked, but caught myself. Who was I to question the whims of the wealthy? Especially at the generous pay I was being offered for my three week stint while Mr. Kilgore and his staff went overseas.
I heard the smile in Pim’s voice as he said, “It’s all right for you to ask questions. Mr. Kilgore is a bit of an eccentric. Anyone who enters the house, even for a short time, must wear a mask. The magpie mask represents the sitter. Any other questions?”
I mentally reviewed the rules. “Never look at the gardener?”
“He is superb at his work but has an unusual deformity and becomes violent if anyone sees it. It is unlikely you will meet him, but if your paths cross, just keep your eyes averted and he won’t bother you.”
Peculiar, but if the man excelled at his job, perhaps his skills were worth the inconvenience of his idiosyncrasies.
The remaining rules seemed self-explanatory, except, “Rule seven, the delivery...”
“Oh, THAT.” He chuckled. “If you’re still curious in three weeks, I’ll tell you. Just be sure to leave the maze quickly. There are some flora at the center that induce pretty powerful hallucinogenic effects after more than a few minutes. Nothing bad will happen to you if you stay longer, but…”
“I will set a stopwatch.”
“Good. The regular staff will attend to most things when they get back. Your presence is mostly for the packages and winding the clocks. Beyond these rules, the rest of the time you may spend at your leisure.”
“Really? It’s that simple?”
“It’s that simple,” Pim agreed.
The House
An ornate staircase wound upwards, flanked by towering columns stretching to a domed ceiling. The view outside the windows showed a dazzling sea of green dotted with flowers like stars, and topiary animals dancing among them.
Pim showed me a coat room with extra masks for visitors. He led me through each area of the mansion, knocking at each door, winding the clocks, and lastly checking all the dustcovers in the Long Hall. Having finished nearly everything in under an hour, he took me out to the garden, where despite the beautiful greenery, the odor of rot wafted to us.
“Carrion flowers,” explained Pim, sweeping his arm toward a variety of strange blossoms with spotted red petals as large as my arms. “Their blossoms mimic the smell of decaying flesh. We have a greenhouse, too, full of orchids in the genus Bulbophyl—” His fingers caught my arm.
A dark shape lumbered in our periphery.
I almost turned my head—
“Rule one,” hissed Pim, his grip nearly cutting off my circulation.
I kept my face resolutely forward, resisting the urge to flick my eyes to the lurching figure at my periphery… The gardener swung something trunk-like—an arm? A gardening tool? I couldn’t make out any features without looking.
“Face forward,” said Pim. “Do. Not. Look.”
A moment later the gardener shuffled off.
Pim released my arm. “Apologies,” he said. “That surprised me. I don’t remember this ever happening.”
“It’s all right. I probably would have looked if you hadn’t reminded me.”
“Just be alert when you are in the garden and averting your eyes will become second nature. Come. I’ll show you the sitter’s quarters, and then we will be done for the day.”
Sitter’s Quarters
The sitter’s quarters was a separate suite of rooms with a little balcony, a private bathroom with a clawfoot tub, a study, and its own kitchen and laundry. This suite belonged to Pim himself, though he told me, “It is for the sitter’s use, and while I am away, you will be the sitter, so use it as your own.”
Strange pictures hung on the wall. One, “The Bone Closet,” depicted an ordinary closet door opening to a scribble of black, scrawled circles that might have been eyes peering out. Another, “Statues,” showed a figure in the Long Hall reaching from under a dustcover, seemingly trying to grab a visitor by the ankle. The most disturbing, “Skinless Man,” depicted a figure who appeared to be stitched from a patchwork of skins, bits of him dropping away while he sewed on a new piece at his belly. Pim told me the artworks had all been rendered by the original caretaker, also named Pim Perrin (apparently the name was passed like a title). From an old black and white photo, the original caretaker was Pim’s opposite in every respect, towering and obese where Pim was dainty. His face was also grotesquely disfigured. As for Pim—while he informed me that in this suite, masking was not required, still, he kept his on, as much part of his uniform as his jacket and tie.
One door in the suite led to a chamber that did not match the gothic décor: a security room, with monitors to the front gate, veranda, and porch.
“The CCTV system is finicky but you need not worry unless there is a break-in. Should any emergency arise, call me before anyone else, even the authorities.” Pim took from his pocket the heavy brass key to the house, which he placed into my hand. Then he pointed to a prominently framed list of rules on the wall. “Obey them all, Sam. From now on, the rules are your software.”
Day One:
After performing my allotted tasks, I took out my laptop (no wifi—but I found I could connect with my phone as a hotspot) and typed up this post. I was in the middle of describing the pictures when the doorbell rang—so loudly it made me jump. I nearly rushed to answer, but then remembered rule 7. Absurdly, I had to ignore the initial delivery attempt. The rules are your software. The package I accepted on the second delivery was large and heavy. I held my breath against the smell of the carrion flowers and brought it to the center of the maze.
I did not encounter the gardener.
Day Two:
The Long Hall contains dozens of shrouded statues beneath its gold-gilded fresco ceiling. The heavy dustcovers are always slipping off, hence rule 5, “Every statue in the Long Hall must be COMPLETELY covered.” I was about halfway through checking the covers when behind me came a soft whispery—shhhhlllp. At first I thought it was a draft, but when it happened again, I looked back and noticed the arrangement of the statues had changed. One of the tall sheeted shapes was now closer to me than it had been a moment ago.
Thinking I’d imagined it, I turned back to my task.
Shlllllp.
The hairs on my neck stood straight. Even though I knew it was foolish, I could not get out of my head the artwork of a hand reaching out to drag in the nearest passerby. Still, I tried to ignore it and continued my task—
Shhhhhpt.
I whirled, and choked back a scream. A dozen of the shrouded statues loomed around me. The nearest had its arm extended, fingers poking from beneath the sheet, scarcely on inch from my face, so close I glimpsed actual fingerprints swirled into the marble. A diamond glittered on its finger. My stomach clenched, and I nearly fled, but my habit of obedience whispered: Rule 5. I forced my shaking fingers to tug the sheet over the statue until it was entirely covered. After checking the rest of them, I rushed for the door. Knock, whispered Rule 2 in my mind. As soon as I did, it was like a sigh went out of the room. I cast one final look back.
The statues were all in their original positions.
Day Three:
A rule was broken.
When the doorbell rang for the second delivery attempt, the driver shuffled his feet and asked, embarrassed, “Uh… say, do you think I could use your bathroom real quick?”
After consulting the rules, I retrieved a mask from the foyer cloakroom. “Put this on.”
“Oh, is there like, a party or something?” He laughed, turning over the elaborate mask—a goat that vaguely resembled his goateed face—before putting it on. “How do I look?”
I ushered him to the sitter’s quarters bathroom. My only goal was to get him in and out. After a very quick few sounds, the toilet flushed, and he emerged, raving about the fluffiness of the hand towels. I escorted him back out the front door to his delivery truck, relieved to watch him drive away. Afterward, I delivered the package to the maze, then made myself tea while reading some notes written by the original caretaker.
Judging by the ravings (they were in an old journal I’d found in the study), the man was quite insane. A common thread—various books and articles on the shelves detailed how members of the Kilgore family had gone mad or missing over the generations. And not only family. Supposedly, quite a few visitors had died mysteriously or disappeared—including a bride on her wedding day (reminding me of the ring I had seen on the marble finger of the hand reaching for me). “Most of the reason Kilgore Court is booked for weddings and events is because people hope to see the lights flicker or an apparition float by,” Pim told me yesterday, after I called about the statues. “And sometimes the staff oblige by tinkering with the electricity or wobbling the tables.” He’d insisted the moving statues was a hallucination brought on by the hedge maze flora outside the Long Hall’s windows, and advised that chamomile tea would mitigate the effect—
DING-DONG!
I ignored the ringing as I finished my tea. Then I went to use the bathroom—
I froze.
A small black phone lay on the edge of the sink.
“Shit,” I hissed, snatching it up. The ringing hadn’t been the third attempt. I darted to the CCTV.
On the screen, the driver was at the front door, banging. He flung his hands up and then walked down the porch steps and round to the garden.
I rushed downstairs, scrambling to fasten my mask. A horrible feeling churned in the pit of my stomach. My feet flew over the marble floor as I dashed to the veranda and down the garden steps.
At the bottom of the steps, I froze.
The driver stood in the grass, keys dangling in his limp fingers, looking—
I shut my eyes. “Hey! Hey, you!” I shouted. “Visitors are prohibited from being out here!”
The driver ignored me. I staggered forward until I reached him and grabbed hold of him. His body was rigid, as if rigor mortis had set in; it felt as if he had flexed steel for muscles. I tried to tug him, but a strange sound came from his lips—a sort of chuckle. A stench made me gag—the man’s bowels had loosened. And beneath the reek was something else—putrid like old meat. I let go of him and dry heaved. And that’s when I saw it. Not looked at it. Thank God, I only glimpsed it from the corner of my eye, because if I had really looked, I doubt I’d have been able to tear myself away. The gardener stood at my periphery—broad-shouldered and enormous, with a face far too long and slick, oily skin. Like liquified flesh.
The driver was petrified, twitching and giggling while the gardener took a lurching step forward—
“Huuuuuuuughhhhhhh…”
A sound between a bellow and a moan shook the air.
I panicked, slipping on the wet grass, dropping the driver’s phone and scrambling back, mostly navigating by feel until my knuckles slammed up against the veranda steps. I scrabbled up, barely remembering to knock before entering and then dashing up to my quarters. “Ohgodohgodohgod!” I dialed Pim, hands shaking. “Rule one!” I burst. “Rule one! He—he—he—"
“Slow down, Sam—" After listening to my babble, Pim interrupted with: “Let me check the veranda camera—"
My fingers were already dancing over the keys, bringing up footage. The veranda camera only caught the back of the driver, still standing just as I had left him, viewed from behind as he gripped his keys and stared, his posture taut as a hare about to bolt.
Suddenly, he jerked the keys up to his face and jammed them into his eyes—
I clapped a hand to my mouth.
“Sam? Sam are you there—”
“He… he’s stabbing his own eyes….”
The keys kept jamming in and out.
“Sam.” Pim’s voice was cool, calming, as if speaking to a child. “What you see on your screen, and what I see on my phone screen, are different. They’re different because you’ve just come out of the maze. Look out the window. Do you see anything in the driveway?”
I tore my gaze away from the CCTV and looked outside the window. “N-no.”
“If the driver had blinded himself his van would still be there. He obviously needs his eyeballs to drive.” Pim spoke dryly. “You’re imagining things. Drink some chamomile tea and then look at the cameras again. There’s nothing there—"
DING-DONG!
“Oh!” I bolted upright. “Maybe that’s him now—”
“STOP!” Pim almost yelped. “Rule seven! Third delivery!
“O-oh…” I stammered, chastised.
“That was too close… No slip ups, Sam. Ever. Break a rule, and we have to let you go. You won’t have the money to move out of your parents’ basement. They want you out, right?”
How was it Pim Perrin knew about that? Had I mentioned it in the interview? Or… of course. The address I put on my application was the same as my parents’. He was a very astute man, very exacting. Like me. But whereas Pim was successful, I had failed at all my previous employment attempts, and at good relations with my family, because I am too rigid, too… inflexible. I am only good at obeying rules. If I cannot succeed at this job, with its simple rules, then I can succeed at nothing. I drank the chamomile Pim suggested and, after collecting myself, set the grandfather clock and departed. There was no trace of the driver out front—only the tracks of the delivery van. Whatever I’d imagined I’d seen was too nightmarish to be real. But if I did not wish to be susceptible to the same influences that I suspected drove the original caretaker mad, I’d have to be careful to spend as little time in proximity to the garden as possible, confining myself mostly to the sitter’s quarters.
House Rules
That night I had a dream in which I stood in the study, and the pictures were much more vivid, each moving as if alive as I reached out to the rules sign and flipped it over. On the reverse were explanations for each of the heretofore inexplicable rules:
1. NEVER look at the gardener—the sight induces unbound terror and madness
2. Enter doors only after knocking—un-knocked doors lead to the bone closet
3. The clocks need daily winding—their chimes cast the veil
4. House staff and visitors must mask—the skinless man stalks the unmasked! There is no escaping the skinless man
I woke in a cold sweat, and hurried to scribble what I’d read before I could forget. It was only then that I noticed a hidden meaning embedded in the rules. A message designed, I was sure, by the same hand that painted all those bizarre images that had wormed their way into my dreams. The mansion’s original caretaker spent a lifetime exposed to the maze’s hallucinogenic effects, and perhaps that worked permanently into his brain, as I suspected it was beginning to work into mine.
I took the first word of each rule and the punctuation and put them together to decipher his warning:
NEVER enter the house. Every Rule Wrong! Only run. Leave. Depart!
Nor did his warning end there. He embedded one more secret—the secret of what he believed to be the true nature of this grand old mansion. If you want to know what it is, just remove the numbers and read the first letter of each line.
submitted by lets-split-up to nosleep [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 23:15 calvarez Helmet head to head comparison: Shoei Neotec II vs Schuberth C5

I’ve had a Shoei Neotec II for about two and a half years. It has always been ok, not great. I had a couple of little annoyances with it, and the Sena electronics in it, so when I saw a C5 at the dealer, I had to try it on. I wanted it immediately, particularly after a short trial ride. Here’s my review after a month and about 18-22 hours with it on my head, in conditions from around 50 degrees to Miami at 85 and slightly humid. Usage varied from errands around town to 120+ on the highway. I’ve been making mental notes of differences and writing them down after rides.
About me: I’ve been riding all my life, estimating around half a million miles. I’ve ridden everything from a variety of dirt bikes, to several super bikes, and full dress touring bikes. The current love of my life is rather pedestrian; a KTM 390 Adventure. I also tested these helmets on a Zero and a couple of other bikes I was able to put a leg over. I’m super picky about gear comfort and willing to pay for perfection (as well as shop for hours, maybe days).
TL;DR: The C5 is a clear winner in nearly every measure. Now, details, in no particular order…
The Schuberth’s dark shield goes lower, so there’s better sun protection. You can put two fingers well into the gap on the Shoei, and barely one on the Schuberth. This is particularly interesting when you add another advantage with the Schuberth; the face opening is vertically larger, particularly having the chin lower, with an angle on the chin bar that makes it easier to see the dash. I have to tilt my head down on most bikes to see the dash with the Shoei. But the huge sun shield in the C5 still provides more protection. Usage of both of them is different, but both are equally good. One is at the bottom of the helmet, the other on the side, no big deal either way.
The Schuberth’s main clear shield remembers its position when you open/close the chin bar. So for errands and lots of stops, you don’t have to fiddle with it repeatedly. I like this a lot. I do use my bike for lots of errands where I just flip the face open and leave it on.
I like the “city” face shield vent mode for all my slow speed riding in most weather. Schuberth’s city vent position is super obvious and there’s a tight click from that to the sealed position. On the Shoei the vent mode is too tiny, and vague-feeling.
The Schuberth shield has large tabs to open and close it on both sides. Shoei has one small tab on the left, so you can’t easily use it while holding the clutch in. Which is when I most want to, coming to a stop or maneuvering slowly in a parking lot.
You can lock the Schuberth’s chin bar in the up position (a positive lever lock, not just a detent). This is useful in some low and medium speed situations. While the Shoei will sort of hold there by friction, it has come down by itself in certain maneuvers and head movements. This is jarring at best, and could be dangerous.
There is more ventilation in the Schuberth, both in amount of air, and options. Particularly, the chin bar has two vents that you can control. One shoots air straight in towards your face through a filter, and the other sends it up over the shield, then over your brow and out the back. In cold weather you can use that to keep things from getting stuffy, but close the other one so cold air isn’t coming at your face. Is the filter dumb? Sorta, if you think of it like a dust filter. But I’ve had pieces of a bee get shot onto my face through the vents before.
Both have equally good chin curtain options and neck rolls that feel really comfortable. The interior fabric of the Schuberth is ridiculously luxurious. The Shoei felt super soft, and then when I touched the Schuberth in comparison, it was like a cloud. But both are quite good in that area though.
On the electronics, the current-gen Sena SC2 blows away the old SRL2. This is understandable, since the Shoei’s SRL2 unit is over four year old tech, from the SMH10 type units. The SC2 in the Schuberth is comparable to the SMH50, with the HD speakers, full mesh, etc etc. One minor annoyance is that the SC2 remote on the side of the helmet is not wired. It takes a 2016 battery, and powers off when not used for some time (not sure, but it’s quite a while). There’s a short delay (2-3 seconds) when it has to power back on. But there’s a verbal “remote connected” signal that does a good job of letting you know. On the plus side, the SC2 buttons are far more obvious to feel in gloves, and give more feedback when pressed. The SRL buttons were a constant challenge for me. The SRL has its charging port on the bottom, which is as retarded as it sounds, so you can’t set the helmet down on its bottom while charging. Seriously. Also it’s an old-style micro USB port. The SC2 has a modern USB-C port on the back.
The speakers in both helmets needed foam to move them in towards my ears. I have a more oval head so both helmets have extra room on the sides of my head. I bought the Sena universal foam kit to solve this for the Schuberth. I don’t recall whether Shoei included foam, but I had to modify that one too. The standalone Sena kits do include foam. Schuberth also sells additional interior padding kits also, and I may get one, to get a tighter fit. They are stupid expensive though.
The Shoei has a microphone position that I prefer. That said, in practice, people I talk to have said both sound just fine. In my mind, the Shuberth is too far from my mouth, but maybe that’s just mental (appears to be). There is an advantage in that the Shoei microphone often catches on the chin being pulled down. Overall the reports from people I talk to on the phone are very positive, one person said she thinks the C5 has less wind noise with the shield in the full closed position.
EDIT: Added a clarification that the Shoei has the Sena SRL2.
submitted by calvarez to motorcycles [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 22:40 ubergeek77 Let's talk about Nebula's Android permissions

TL;DR - Nebula is currently violating Google's developer best practices by making all permissions mandatory. This was probably developer oversight rather than malicious intent. The only permission that should be mandatory is Files and Media. The rest should be made optional in a future Nebula update.
Like some of you, I was bothered by the way Nebula handles permissions on Android. I am a security professional and privacy enthusiast. Part of my job is advising app developers on secure development practices, including and especially regarding use of dangerous app permissions. So naturally, I wanted to see exactly why Nebula asks for permissions like it does.
To be clear, this is not a smear post. I am not trying to drag Nreal through the dirt. And in fact, Nebula's use of these permissions are not as bad as some of you might think. However, Nreal is definitely making some mistakes here, so I wanted to get a discussion going and hopefully convince Nreal to be just a little bit more mindful with their app.
This will be a long post, and it will be technical, so buckle up :)
The main issue is that, if you deny any permission Nebula asks for, you cannot use the app. Nebula forces you to accept all permissions as a condition of use. This effectively holds your permissions hostage, and violates developer best practices set by Google which state that the user's decision must be respected:
If you must declare a permission, always respect the user's decision and provide a way to gracefully degrade your app's experience.
But what permissions does Nebula ask for, and why does it need them?
Below, I will list out permissions Nebula asks for, NrealAssistant's previous responses to why each one is needed, and my insights on each one.
Phone (android.permission.READ_PHONE_STATE)
Nreal's explanation:
when you have a phone call coming while you are using Nebula, there would be pop-up in Nebula, you can answer it from Nebula.
It's true that this permission is needed to detect phone calls, but it also exposes other information to the app that some users might not be comfortable with sharing. Allowing this permission will also grant access to your phone number, your carrier information, and if you are on Android 9 (the oldest version of Android that Nebula supports), your device IMEI number.
This does not mean Nreal is actively trying to read this information. The way Android is designed, this permission is all-or-nothing, so Nreal does not have much of a choice. However, this permission should be optional. There is no reason it should be forced on users to allow it as a condition for using the app. Doing so raises suspicion, as I'm sure Nreal is familiar.
Personally, I am not interested in taking calls from the glasses. Many others aren't either. I very firmly believe that Nreal must make this permission optional to do right by its users.
Camera (android.permission.CAMERA)
Nreal's explanation:
to use the camera from nreal devices, such as when you take video with Nreal Light, the virtual screen and real world can be captured together
Due to how permissions are designed in Android, allowing this CAMERA permission also grants access to all integrated cameras on the Android device. This means your front facing camera, and even your selfie camera. If I were a user of an Nreal Light, I would have to give this a pass, because yes, Nreal needs this permission to use the Camera2 API and access the Nreal Light's camera over USB.
However, much like the phone permission, making this mandatory to use the app draws suspicion. The Nreal Air doesn't have a camera at all. There is a very large percentage of Nebula's users that are forced to allow this permission, but won't be able to use it. And if I am a user of an Nreal Light, I don't need this permission unless I am recording. Someone's phone camera is a very sensitive thing. Access to the camera should not be asked for so casually.
Once again, in order to do right by their users, Nreal must make this permission optional.
Microphone (android.permission.RECORD_AUDIO)
Nreal's explanation:
when you share your screen to your friends from Nebula, you can have voice call with your friends together, for this scene the microphone from glasses needed;
I am assuming this is used for the microphone on the Nreal glasses. Sure, this permission is needed for that, but it also grants access to the phone's own internal microphone, allowing Nebula to record audio at any time without user input. Recent versions of Android have added an indicator light to warn you if an app is using the microphone, but even then, it is still allowed to record.
I don't intend to call people from within Nebula. I don't think Nreal is interested in secretly recording their users, but once again... forcing this permission draws suspicion. Nreal, you must make this permission optional.
Files and Media (android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE, android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE)
Nreal's explanation:
required such as your photo showed in the photo gallery from Nebula;
I am going to give Nreal a pass on this one. NrealAssistant may not have known this, but this permission is also needed to load .obb's from /sdcard/Android, which Nebula needs. However, it is not up front about this; Nreal probably could have saved themselves some headache if they communicated this very valid use case with their users. Access to individual files is also protected by scoped storage on Android 11 and up, so I am not too worried about this one.
However, I can very clearly see that Nebula is logging to external storage. They are using Tencent's xlog format and the logs are encrypted, but they are still relatively easy for other apps on the device to intercept, modify, or delete. Apps have their own protected app directory in /data/data for a reason. Nreal - my advice to you is to stop logging to /sdcard/Android and instead log to /data/data.
In any case, out of all of the permissions Nebula asks for, Files and Media is the only one that has a valid reason for being requested during initial setup.
Overall, I don't think Nreal had any malicious intent in structuring the permissions this way. I believe these decisions were made either due to oversights as a result of this being an evolving product line, or due to developer inexperience. Maybe even a combination of both.
The camera permission hints to me that this permission system was made with the Nreal Light in mind, then never revisited after the Nreal Air was launched. Leftover code, if you will.
As for the remark about developer inexperience, I think there is a slight chance they ask for these permissions ahead of time, because they do not have any in-glasses flow to "stop and request permission." The MR code probably makes an assumption that it can do "whatever it wants," which is why Nebula is so overreaching with its permissions. But, there is a solution to this, and as a responsible app developer, Nreal should make changes here.
Nreal, if you didn't know, you can request permissions from Unity on an as-needed basis. I am slightly suspect that you actually didn't know this. This would explain why all the permissions are requested in native Android code before the app hands off control to the Unity mixed reality experience. Well, now you know :)
On the flipside, if this was intentional, and you were thinking you didn't want to "pull users out of MR to allow a permission" - why? These are some very highly privileged permissions you are asking for, and users should have full control over what they want to allow regardless of how it impacts the experience. Plus, I'd estimate that 60% of users won't even use the features these permissions are needed for, and Nreal Air users can't even use the camera features at all.
And, even if a user wants to allow a permission later, the phone is the controller. It's already in the user's hand. For example, if someone is trying to use the microphone from within Nebula, all you have to do is show a message in MR that says "please look at your phone and allow this permission to use this feature," then show the prompt on your phone. Same goes for toggling the call notification feature. Make it a toggle that requests the permission when the feature is enabled, but not during first-time setup (or at least make it optional during first time setup). This isn't a VR headset, so all we have to do is look down. We don't even need to take the glasses off.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope this feedback reaches the right people. I have seen the permissions debacle go on for long enough, so I am really hopeful that this is the final push the Nreal team needed to get this fixed once and for all.
submitted by ubergeek77 to nreal [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 22:20 gamelord12 PAX East 2023 games and impressions

In past years, I had written up a thread like this for the Linux gaming subreddit, but Steam Deck compatibility is so good these days that asking developers if their games will support Linux has become nearly irrelevant. Several of the games I demoed this year were run off of Steam Decks, and it's basically my assumption that most or all of these games will work via Proton. Normally I list these in the order that I enjoyed them, but my predictions with regards to the games' quality as final products has been so far off in the past that I'll just list them all alphabetically and then put my favorites at the bottom. I attended PAX with my brother and a friend of ours, so sometimes you'll see additional thoughts from them. Note that I didn't stop to see games I had already seen in past years, like Alien Hominid: Invasion, The Last Worker, or 30XX.

Alone in the Dark

One of the worst demos I've ever played. I'm sure the final game will be just fine, and I'm still excited to see it, no thanks to this demo that was basically just a walking simulator section where you play as a child. Immediately after this prologue chapter, implied by the ending trailer, was quite clearly where the game starts for real, but they didn't let us play that part. Honestly, it would have been better not to have a demo at all. Luckily I didn't wait in a long line to play it.

Another Space Opera

This is a side scrolling 2D action game where you aim with the right stick. It felt like they wanted me to play tactically, and they give me a dodge roll on defense, but once you get significantly outnumbered, I felt like I was missing some crucial information on how to play the game. Overall, it felt pretty good, but I wasn't floored by what I played.

Astro Colony

This game will not be done this year. It's a 3D automation and survival game like Factorio. The tutorial did a poor job of guiding me where to go, but the developer was there to show me what I was misunderstanding. In the course of a PAX demo, this is one of those games where, even if it was more finished, it would be difficult to really see the full loop of what it has to offer, but I'm intrigued enough to check back in with this game down the line.

Atlas Fallen

The gist of this game is that it's God of War plus Horizon. It's got monsters in the overworld, they drop materials when they die, and you craft upgrades with those drops. If you want particular drops, you hunt particular monsters. There's a rudimentary conversation system for quests to send you out into the open world, and when you're actually in combat, it plays like the more aerial older God of War games, including the chain blades (at least, that's my read on it, but I'm admittedly not the most familiar with God of War). There's a Devil Trigger esque bar that fills up during combat, and the higher it gets, the more damage you do and the more damage you take, but you can spend it on equippable special moves at certain thresholds on the bar. I enjoyed it, but it's another one of those games that takes a while to see the whole loop.

Animal Well

The metroidvania from publisher Big Mode. It seemed totally competent in its platforming, but the lack of instruction that they gave you reminded me of Axiom Verge. I didn't care for Axiom Verge by the mid game, because they were content to let you get really lost. I got the sense that this game has that in common, but it's impossible to tell that for sure from a 15 minute demo.

Backpack Hero

I know this game has gotten some buzz over its early access period, but this is the first time I've played it, and it's deserved. Some UI bugs made it difficult to learn in a 20 minute demo, but combining the Resident Evil 4 inventory system with stat-based bonuses depending on their location is brilliant. My brother is calling this his game of the show.

Big Boy Boxing

Holy cow, this was the surprise of the show for me. Remember how Cuphead's first reveal was in a montage of Microsoft games for like 4 seconds and everyone screamed at their TVs, "WAIT A SECOND!!! GO BACK!!"? Well, that's Big Boy Boxing. It's Punch-Out done in the modern era with gorgeous pixel art animation, and while it ditches the 3 round structure of Punch-Out, it just admits that these are boss fights in its level structure, like a Cuphead. Note that I never played the SNES or Wii Punch-Out games, so maybe it's less impressive if you've played those, but I loved it.

C-Wars

Interesting concept that just wasn't working for me in execution. It's a story-focused roguelite that had way too wordy of a tutorial and yet I still felt lost afterward. Basically combat plays out in real time on a 2D sidescrolling plane, and you can step forward to attack and step back to dodge. Unfortunately, enemies were way too tanky, and I would frequently run out of ammo without understanding what I could have been doing differently. Maybe the tutorial just needs to be tidied up and I was doing something dumb, but I barely got to see any of this game as a result. I think I passed by someone playing it later, and there was an isometric combat mission as well, so I'm not sure how that part of the game plays.

A Corgi's Cozy Hike

Just a simple 3D platformer where you play as a Corgi who can glide for some reason. There's sort of a Crackdown orb mechanic that allows you to climb higher as you progress. It felt reasonably good to play, but climbing up some walls could be problematic, and the demo stations themselves had frame rate and tearing issues that made it nearly nauseating to look at. It's cute, but not much more than that.

Elsie

A Mega Man X esque roguelike with a parry mechanic. The parry seems pretty cool, but there were times where I unsuccessfully parried but thought I was successful until I saw my health had depleted anyway. A few too many mechanics revolved around percent chance and chance-based bullet spread for my tastes, and it reminded me that, for as much as I enjoyed its predecessor, I still haven't picked up 30XX yet. I should pick up 30XX when I get home.

Endcycle Vs.

This is a multiplayer Mega Man Battle Network combat game. It doesn't quite have the card system, and the loadouts it replaced them with feels a little more like an arcade button masher than a tactical thinking man's game, but also I only got less than 20 minutes to make that evaluation, so take it with a grain of salt. This game reminded me that I still have One Step From Eden, untouched, in my Steam library, and even having not played it, if I were a betting man, I'd bet it's a better version of this. On looking up the store page for this game, it appears to have actually released last year.

Friends vs. Friends

The first game this reminded me of was 007: Agent Under Fire multiplayer, with modifiers turned on, but also keep in mind that I think about that game more than most people. It's an old school 6th gen esque shooter, aimed at 1v1 or 2v2, with a card system that basically lets you turn on cheat codes mid match. I had a lot of fun with it. Unfortunately there's an XP system between matches that was visibly disabled for the PAX demo, so if they're targeting online with neither LAN nor split-screen, that means this will be yet another body in a giant pile of dead online-only games a month and a half after launch. I'd happily pick this up if I had the option to just goof off with 3 friends without having to worry about their servers though. Looking through their Steam forums, they acknowledged the desire for local play, but I'll wait until I can see the whites of the eyes of the feature before I pull the trigger and buy the game.

Loco Motive

In perhaps the best title for a game at the show, this is a point and click adventure game about a whodunnit for a murder on a train. I'm not usually into this style of adventure game, but the pixel hunting aspect of it seems fairly reduced by highlighting all interactive elements in the scene, and both the animation and writing are excellent. The demo had no voice acting, but the final game supposedly will.

Mina the Hollower

The game plays as well as you'd expect from the reveal videos. Very satisfying to play, and the burrow mechanic is very versatile. Tough but fair. I liked the chain weapon best of the three that were offered. The demo was over too quickly.

Outcast 2: A New Beginning

I know this is a sequel to a cult classic, but I never played that one, so this is new to me. This is an open world action RPG that feels a lot like Mass Effect if Shepard was a lot more like Guardians of the Galaxy's Star Lord. It's got a decent sense of humor to the writing, and the combat felt like it could use some tuning, but I had a good time. Getting around with the jetpack, and there are several ways to do so, felt really good, with some Just Cause 3 glider inspiration behind it.

Tempest Rising

I've never played more than a couple of missions of Command & Conquer in my life, but my friend tells me this game was basically C&C3 verbatim. I'm just fine with that, since EA doesn't make those games anymore, even though I'd rather see this genre explore a more controller-friendly path. Still, I love StarCraft II, and this game hit me right in the nostalgia centers for SCII. Unlike Alone in the Dark, this was basically the perfect demo level to show me the unit variety and base building while also allowing me to get away with being bad at the game.

Trail Out

Apparently this game came out last year, and I didn't even notice. No one really makes racing games for normies like me anymore, but this one is made for me. Shortcuts, destruction, liberally encouraging you to slam into your fellow racers, and local multiplayer, allegedly with online multiplayer on its way (according to Steam forums). I had a big dumb smile on my face the whole time I was playing it, despite the fact that the frame rate dropped with enough physics objects on screen. This is all I need, right down to the soundtrack that feels like it was imported from 2005. Don't give me open world racers with real cars and realistic handling…this is what I've wanted more of for the past 20 years, but the genre largely forgot about me.

Undisputed

This game feels like the boxing game for boxing fans. I'm not a boxing fan, but I can be entertained if a fight is on the TV at the bar. There's a lot of location based damage, and managing your stamina is super important. I'm not entirely sure how the numbers behind the scenes work, but they're sure to put most, if not all, of it on the screen. At some point, even though the location health where I got hit wasn't empty, I took some kind of critical hit and went down, and then you play a mini game with the triggers to get back up. I enjoyed my time with the demo despite not understanding why I lost, and boy did I get smoked.

Untitled Train Game (THQ Nordic)

I couldn't tell you for the life of me where the train is in this game, but it's eerily close to Company of Heroes. Given the focus on your small squad and the ability to tactical pause and issue commands, I'd also say it's got a lot in common with Commandos. It's obviously still got time left to bake in development, and the one thing I'd like to see most is something in the UI that denotes each character's firing ranges.

Wargroove 2

I just got into Wargroove 1 recently, and in fact, it's been the game I've been playing while waiting in line for other things at PAX. This sequel has new commanders and a roguelike mode. Each mission in the roguelike mode is an endurance test for your army to survive, and there are few opportunities to replenish them. I don't know that I need to say anything more. That first game is superb.

Wreckreation

This game feels like Burnout, but it's also supposed to have Trackmania DNA. The demo gave you options for three different modes, and I chose the one labeled "race". It felt great, but the track was pretty boring. My brother played the mode that seemed most like the Trackmania mode, but he was underwhelmed and said it was mostly just placing small ramps in the middle of the track. I'm sure the full game is more sophisticated than that, but the demo didn't let our imaginations run wild. There were takedowns too, but going from past experience of Three Fields games, it probably won't have local multiplayer or about 3 other things that are important to me. Time will tell.

Xenotilt

Apparently the sequel to a game called Demon's Tilt, this is a game billing itself as a pinball game crossed with a bullet hell, but in practice, it's mostly just pinball. I found it to be easy to lose track of where the ball teleports to when it switches between boards, but it's definitely more fun than your Windows XP Space Cadet pinball.
So if I had to pick the highlights of the show, they'd be Trail Out, Big Boy Boxing, and Backpack Hero, but again, a lot of that is influenced by what I've seen or haven't seen before. PAX East has been on a decline since the live service era, in my opinion, and it only accelerated in the COVID era, so after attending more than 10 of these, this might be the last one I go to for a while. Maybe more exhibitors will fill out the hall in the future, like the old days, but now it's a bit sparse with Microsoft, Sony, TinyBuild, AnnaPurna, and others pulling out. Plus I competed in perhaps the worst Guilty Gear Strive tournament here at PAX, which was single elimination, first to 1, on consoles with none of the DLC characters unlocked (and I'm a Goldlewis main). We also attended a panel about how the Gamecube was the best console ever, and the panel assembled an "essential" list of 15 games that included Kirby Air Ride but not F-Zero GX. So between that and the Guilty Gear tournament, the cops may not even allow PAX back next year, because those are some egregious crimes.
If anyone else attended and wanted to shout out some games and impressions, do so here.
submitted by gamelord12 to Games [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 22:09 AndieFlare Writes that Micah X Gaius fic where Micah is a girl AU (Marvelous you cowards!)

Look if anyone's played Rune Factory 3 we've all wanted an option to date/court the guys, since that game can be kinda - Micah's a little well - the guys flirt with Micah anyway. If Micah were just given a gender-swapped Avatar or a sister
(Apparently Aaron and Aria are twins but never appear in game, Marvelous you cowards) - like how RF2 did with the future-gen kids. But then used that as a sprite to court the guys, Gaius would never stop flirting with a 'female' Micah. Though of course we had the 'everyone is already tied down to someone' scenario like Gaius with Evelyn and while some people ship them -
(I like Gaius and Evelyn they're perfectly oblivious for each other) (But I like my dumb actually-hard working dwarf unlike how in RF4 we got sacked with Bado... Ugh honor system.)
Maybe in the Another Episode/After Stories we'll get an AU Glimpse of a same-sex marriage or gender-bent Micah being a sort of a comedic tone, as with in RF4 Special they gave us Venti as a 'secret bonus' marriageable bachelorette but only for her 'Another Episode/Another Story/After Story/ episode/ It may not have been a playable scenario where you could have seen her newlywed event or even marry Venti - but for those want a glimpse of a small cutscene of 'what could have been'.
RF3 Special could write up abunch of scenarios like that with other characters expanding the story (my favorite waifu is Sakuya I think her romance path is pretty solid on its own but I want to see how they expand it in the Newlywed Mode and Another Episode as they tend to lean towards more romance and make up for some missing plot holes.)
For the 'special episodes/newlywed' content - even if it's not main game stuff. What would you hope to be added that you can unlock as post-game content? Even if you had to play through the game and marry all the bachelorettes, do new game plus to get the extra content - would you do it? Just curious.
Here's a link - https://archiveofourown.org/works/46030420/chapters/115867987
submitted by AndieFlare to runefactory [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 21:19 Jaded_Gold2514 I'm 23 years old and make $103k at a non-profit in a HOCL city.

Section One: Assets and Debt
Retirement Balance: $5,173.90 in a 401k and $45 in a Roth IRA. The 401k balance represents 9 months of contributions. I opened the IRA in high school and haven't contributed anything since.
Equity if you're a homeowner: N/A
Savings account balance: $5,012 in HYSA and $4,860 in savings account. $1,520 in vacation savings, and $230 in moving sinking fund.
Checking account balance: $5,600 in main checking account.
Credit card debt: I pay my cards off in full twice a month when I get paid. I use a Chase Sapphire Preferred for the majority of my expenses but keep my wifi recurring bill on my oldest card.
Student loan debt: $26,000 for a degree in the field I currently work in. I went to a very expensive private school that was mostly covered by scholarship and financial aid. Additionally, my parents took out a $25,000 loan to help pay for my degree. I have BEGGED my parents to let me pay them back for some of these loans (since they are private and my federal loans are on pause) but its extremely important to them that they helped contribute to my education.
I track my expenses on Mint.
Section Two: Income Progression: (buckle up its a long one)
2016: paid canvasser in high school on political campaigns. $15 an hour but hours/campaigns were inconsistent.
2017-2018: barista (15 hrs a week @ $15 an hour+tips)+ work study job ($15 an hour)
That summer did an internship program that paid for housing+provided a stipend ($800 a month).
2018-2019: Interned at a non-profit ($15 an hour) part-time. Worked as a resident advisor and got a food stipend in addition to free housing. That summer I worked the front desk at a gym on the weekends ($15 an hour), worked a research job on campus that covered my housing (20 hrs a week), and interned 24 hours a week ($15 an hour).
2019-2020 Worked at the gym, worked for the school as an RA, and then interned in the Spring as well.($15 an hour)
2020: Working 30 hours a week at my internship while going to school virtually full-time.
2021: In March I am extremely burnt out and am scared I won’t be able to get my shit together and graduate. Quit my job and got a short-term nannying gig to cover rent+expenses($20 an hour). Got a full-time job offer for an entry-level consulting role in May. Was offered $56,000 and got a small raise to $60,000.
2022: Really hate my job. Start casually applying and got a job offer at my current org. Was offered $85,000 but with an end-of-year COLA was $92,000 by EOY 2022.
2023: Got a promotion and a senior title. I’m now making $103,000 a year.
Main Job Monthly Take Home: $5558
Side Gig Monthly Take Home: $depends
I started babysitting in college and would babysit 2-4 times a month. In March it’ll be $300 which I’m putting towards my vacation fund.
Section Three: Expenses
Monthly
Rent: $1,110 for 1 bedroom in a 2-bedroom apartment utilities included.
Renters insurance: $15 a month
Wifi: $33 for my portion
Retirement contribution: $130 taken from my paycheck (company matches this)
Savings contribution: $540 or 10% of my take-home pay
Therapy copay- $80 a month
Health Insurance: Covered 100% by work
Apple storage: $3
Groceries ~ Roughly $300 but I love to host so sometimes more
Donations (please specify if monthly or annual):
$25 monthly reoccurring to color of change
$30 monthly reoccurring to DC abortion fund
~$20-30 a month in cash for when people on the street ask for money.
Annual expenses
One Medical: $199
Annual Capital bike share membership: $95
Credit Card: $95 (really worth it)
Paid hobbies: I’m an endurance athlete but have already purchased expensive gear. I use my company’s quarterly $250 wellness stipend to cover race fees+ and any one-off purchases. I use my office gym+public recreation centers.
Day 1 Tuesday:
5:30 am: I wake up but decide its too cold to go outside and that morning workout will happen tonight.
7:00 am: Finally get up and reheat homemade refried beans for breakfast (savory breakfast ftw) and read. I fall asleep for 30 minutes (I call these morning naps) and barely have enough time to shower before therapy. I have a $20 copay. (Included in monthly expenses)
10:00 am: walk to the office. I settle into work with all the free beverages.
1:00 pm: I put together a desk salad from stuff I brought from home and eat while watching a webinar.
5:30 pm: I walk to cvs on my way home and buy dishwasher pods. (**$10 for my half)**I get two since they are buy one get one. I realize in the CVS that I forgot to bring a hair tie but I don’t want to buy a new pack just for one. I text my friend who lives nearby and go to her apartment.
6:30 pm: I visit for a while and then walk over to the pool. There is no entrance fee since it’s a public facility.
7:45 pm: I’m out and showered and realize if I hustle I can make it for at least half of weekly trivia. I call an Uber. ($11). At trivia I just get a club soda even though I really want a sandwich and fries. ($5 for soda water+tip). We win! I forgo the free celebratory shot bc school night+empty/exercised stomach.
9:00 pm: My friend drives me home and we catch up in the alley behind my apartment. My roommate offers some soup that he made but its not enough and I end up eating more refried beans.
10:00 pm: I read 3 pages of a book before falling asleep with my kindle in my hand.

Day 2 Wednesday
5:45 am: Wake up, brush teeth, choke down some apple sauce and I’m out the door for a workout. I come back home to shower, change, and bike to meet 2 friends for coffee/breakfast near my office.
8:00 am: By far the best part of living in a city is having friends in close proximity. I get a bagel sandwich and a black coffee ($11.84). I come into work and book some misc. work travel. I have a bit of a crisis that I don’t have any practical luggage for work travel. I look at Kate Spade, Everlane, Dagne Dover, Lululemon for weekender bags. I have pretty impulsive spending tendencies but am on a big anti-lifestyle creep campaign right now.
1:00 pm: Office has pizza in recognition of March Madness. I get a slice to supplement the salad I brought from home. The pizza isn’t great which I make a big mental note for next time.
3:00 pm: I hit the wall and all I want to do is browse!!!
5:30 pm: I take the train to meet my friend for dinner close to her office. I have to reload my transit card. ($20). We get burgers and then she drives me home. ($15)
1:00 am: I can’t fall asleep which is pretty rare for me.
($46.84)
Day 3 Thursday
7:00 am: I sleep in and make breakfast at home. I’m stressed about work deliverables so I quickly take a shower and bike to work. At my desk by 8 AM.
1:00 pm: It's a really nice day out so I bring the salad I brought from home to the public park near my office and eat there. I bring my laptop in case something comes up but take a half hour after eating to read on my kindle. I finish my book and am tempted to buy the next in the series, but instead, I’ll just wait for my turn through the public library.
5:00 pm: I would love to work a bit longer but have hit a wall and am useless. I go downstairs and do a 30-minute ride on the office gym peloton and then do a pretty basic core routine. Despite exercising a lot, I’m pretty weak and lack a ton of core strength so these cross-training sessions are important. I used to do a lot of studio fitness but found the energy to not be my vibe and many instructors to be rude and dismissive.
6:00 pm: As I’m heading out, I run into a friend who is also leaving his office. I haven’t seen him in a while and it's a great surprise! He lives close to my neighborhood so we walk together.
6:30 pm: I shower because I’m meeting some friends at a drag show tonight. I’m exhausted and want to skip. I make some eggs and then go take a nap.
9:00 pm: I take the bus over to the bar and meet my friends. There aren’t a ton of women there but it’s a nice vibe. My friend buys me a drink since he knows how hard it was for me to commit to late-night plans, and also has a ton of singles so we can tip the queens. I run into a woman whom I’ve seen before, and she asks if we want to get coffee. I get the impression that she wants to be friends (lesbian problems!!!).
11:00 pm: I mooch on my friend's uber and walk home. I text my friend's boyfriend to split the Uber but he said don’t worry about it.
Day 4 Friday
8:00 am: I sleep in after a later night. I take a shower and get ready for work. I wear the wrong jacket and am freezing. I enter the office and raid the shared fridge for yogurt and fruit.
1:00 pm: I’m only working a half day today because of some comp time I need to use up from last week. Normally I wouldn’t go into the office on a Friday but they are doing construction outside of my apartment and I know I would focus better outside of my home. The return to the office is completely voluntary and I prefer going in to working from home. At the same time, I would be pissed if my employer mandated office days.
2:00 pm: I get lunch at Chipotle ($14.03) before my waxing appointment. I get my eyebrows done next door. ($23 with a $10 tip). It's raining so I take the bus home.
3:30 I get a text from a family canceling a babysitting job for tonight. I'm really bummed but send some feelers out to try to get together with people. I'm thankful I don't depend on babysitting money anymore.
5:00 pm: I walk to a brewery nearby to meet some friends. I get two 5 oz beers and some appetizers for the table to split. My friend brings their mom which is fun. ($37.62). On my way out I got proper dinner to go ($22.07)
Day 5 Saturday
7:30 am: I have some friends running a race so I get up and meet my friends at a designated spot. We have speakers and cheer for everyone for several hours. I buy Starbucks egg bites and a coffee for me and a sandwich and coffee for a friend. I have to refill my app. ($25).
11:30 am: After the race, we meet up with everyone and go grab lunch. Someone else pays for the uber, and my friend's mom generously picks up the tab for lunch.
4:00 pm: I walk home with a friend but we stop at a grocery store so I can buy Rice Krispies, food coloring, and marshmallows for a treat I’m bringing to a party later tonight. ($13.36)
5:00 pm: I make the rice crispy treats as well as a bright green margarita for an st Patricks day party. I lie down for a few hours before the party.
8:00 pm: I take the bus over to my friend's house. I realize I didn’t eat a real dinner but convinced a few people to go in on a pizza. Another friend goes and picks it up. ($6 for my portion). I end up staying longer than planned and take an uber home. ($14.20)
Day 6 Sunday
9:30 am: A little hungover. I make breakfast and coffee but go back to bed.
2:00 pm: I finally decide it's time to be a real person. I get up and take the train uptown to the public pool.
4:00 pm: I swim for an hour and then head out. On my way to the train station, I get a tea ($4.26) which is objectively overpriced and ridiculous but hot herbal tea on a cold Sunday just hits.
5:00 There is some maintenance on the train and I have to wait for a shuttle or bus back to my place. I’m going out of town early this week and decide I’m not meal-prepping or cooking just for one day. There is a chipotle near the train station. As I’m walking over, I stopped by a woman asking for change. I have no cash but offer to buy her dinner. She gets a large sandwich combo ($23.11). She says that she is $20 short of a hotel room and asks if I can get money out of an ATM for her. I go to CVS where I also buy her shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and deodorant. ($19.11) My card isn’t working with the ATM. I try to see if I can add my debit card to my apple wallet so I can get cash back from CVS for buying gum ($1.97) but it doesn’t work. I end up getting a $50 visa gift card. ($56.95 with activation fee). She is upset I wasn’t able to give her cash and yells at me. I hand over the stuff but just feel weird about the situation and our interaction.
6:00 pm: I ended up missing the bus and have to go a bit further than intended. I still haven’t grabbed dinner yet (rip my chipotle plans) and grab a salad from a generic fast-casual place. ($13.51)
8:00 pm: When my roommate comes home I debrief on the situation at the train station but tell him I bought a woman dinner- not that I also spent $70 at CVS. He said that he and several friends have seen that woman before and that she has the story for everyone. I hope my $50 helps her nonetheless.
10:00 pm: I download a new book from the library and fall asleep.
Day 7 Monday
5:30 am: I get up, pack my stuff for the whole day, and go and work out. I bike to the pool and get ready for work there.
8:00 am: I’m OOO for the rest of the week and am under a big crunch to get everything done. I get to work early and settle in with provided breakfast.
12:30 pm: I was in back-to-back meetings this morning but need to run an errand across town. Normally I would bike but I uber so I can work from the backseat. ($12.38) I pick up birthday cupcakes for a friend (someone else paid for them) and then hail an uber back to the office. ($8.94). On my way in I Sweetgreen but am able to expense because of a particular meeting I was in.
6:00 pm: My friend and I take the train uptown for a friend's birthday party. I get one beer ($11.54 with tip) but the rest of the food and drink were covered by my friend's parents.
10:00 pm: My friends and I take the train back and I grab a bike to make it the rest of the way.
Weekly total: $383.69
Reflections:
This felt like a very typical week of spending for me. I try to follow the 50/30/20 rule, but proportional to my income my rent is pretty low- so I don’t mind spending money especially to be social and in the company with others. It may not feel like it from this library, but the (ongoing) pandemic was (and is) disruptive to my life/routines and I have had a really hard time getting out of the house for a while. I’m glad that is no longer the case.
A few months ago I think this spending would have come as a shock but I downloaded MINT at the beginning of the year and am now way more on top of my spending. Lifestyle creep is so real, and I feel it. So I’m doing as much as possible to live a full and well-balanced life within my means.
I constantly am confronted with things I want to buy but the more I learn about values based spending (Her First 100k on Instagram) I realize that these items won't get me closer to the things that make me happy. To me those are my hobbies, traveling, and spending time with friends. My mom has never bought a name-brand thing full-price in her life, and I know that I've been influenced by others to love and want name-brand things. I'm proud anytime I resist the impulse to get something, especially if it is an item that many other people have.
Edit to add:
I know my salary is ridiculous — especially for the field and my age. Tbh, I was just lucky I found an org with a great culture+benefits+work life balance. I definitely operate from a scarcity mindset around money. There were many times in college when I had less than $20 to my name. It feels good to not be there anymore.
submitted by Jaded_Gold2514 to MoneyDiariesACTIVE [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 21:11 ProfessorNox Character development shifted onto items...again?

I don't really want to spend an inordinate amount of time expanding on this, so I'll try to make it quick.
The reason why Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls had to create Legendaries the way it did is because devs had almost nothing to work with from D3 Vanilla, at least in terms of interesting character development.
No skill trees existed. No satisfying gameplay loop was present for character progression, as players never made meaningful choices while leveling since skills were all unlocked & respecs were free at any time.
What was left? Items. Drops which, unfortunately, were bland and uninspiring. There were no breakpoints or tradeoffs to juggle, while everything revolved around universal defensive stats and a trifecta of IAS/Crit/Crit Damage, with occasional resource generation/cost reduction that let people "cheat" expensive abilities into longer uptime.
Items were everything, so Reaper of Souls had to shift character development onto them. The devs that inherited D3 realized the core of the game was structured such that players had zero opportunity to make any choice beyond the pair of pants they were wearing. Legendary items replaced character builds/talents almost entirely, and achieved something decent enough to compensate.
And it worked, for Diablo 3. That decision salvaged a hopelessly bad system.
What I'm trying to wrap my head around is how, of all the possible systems to go with, Diablo 4 decided to borrow Diablo 3's almost nonexistent character development, with a core system of unfinished or useless skills that only become powerful enough to justify using once you assemble some set of Legendary powers associated with them. How the hell did that happen?
I can come up with a dozen ways to make skills interesting without Legendaries, while leveraging other core character development ideas. It doesn't take that much time to map out how to implement this, either.
For instance, here's a simple 10-minute concept visual from a while ago: Stat breakpoints modify the behavior of skills. This basic system allows various kinds of Whirlwind Barbs, with new effects/power being unlocked as players attain certain stat thresholds. A purpose of gear and levels/stat allocation is to provide what you need to hit the breakpoints you're interested in. It's pretty straightforward, but there are options and gameplay depth because of combinatorics.
However, the existence of an interesting baseline skill system doesn't mean you can't enhance Whirlwind even further through Legendary items: it just means your character is interesting even without them, as opposed to tying all of Whirlwind's power into random drops.
I find myself frustrated with Diablo IV's skill tree, because there's very little there that makes me feel like I have a well-developed character. That only happens when I'm graced by the gods with a tailored, pre-planned, top down design Legendary that enables a certain skill to function at all.
It feels so backwards. It's like I'm just playing catch-up to find drops that can remedy the base skills, looking for ANY spice to enhance the bland taste of the slop my plate was filled with.
So yeah.
I don't get it. How did we get here?
D3 had a very specific problem, and it developed a very specific solution for it. D4 didn't have that problem, and yet feels like it was designed backwards from D3's desperate solution.
submitted by ProfessorNox to Diablo [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 21:01 SJDude13 I think my sister’s boyfriend (M44) is infatuated with my son (M13).

I am not the OP. Original post is by u/throwalllthewayawayy in TrueOffMyChest
TW: Mentions of past abuse, grooming, very creepy behavior towards a child, and pedophilia (per the third update)
Mood Spoiler: Extremely concerning and disturbing, but hopeful for OOP and her son
~~~
Original (Recovered with Unddit) - Mar. 14, 2023
I think my sister’s boyfriend (M44) is infatuated with my son (M13).
Throwaway since my sister's boyfriend is an avid Reddit user. This might be a long one, so bear with me.
I (F38) am a single mother living on a waitress salary. Times are tough right now, and due to unforeseen circumstances, I’ve had to move in with my sister for the past couple months. It’s not an ideal situation, but I’m doing my best.
I have an ex husband (M40) who is emotionally abusive, hence the divorce. We share custody of my incredible son (let’s call him Roman, 13) who has been so understanding of our financial situation, even at his age. I love him more than I love myself. He is kind and intelligent. He stole my ex-husband’s face (unfortunately), so he’s beautiful. Every mama will say their son is beautiful, but my kid really is stunningly gorgeous. The amount of adults my age and older who have given him the creepy and unwarranted “He’s going to be a heartbreaker in a few years” comments would alarm you. He has ADHD, but maintains decent grades. He plays a sport and is good at it. He’s got lots of friends who he visits often, and vice versa. Despite the changes in our living situation, he is thriving, and I’d do anything to keep that up.
My sister (let’s call her Sarah, 42) and her boyfriend (let’s call him David, 44) are well off and live in a massive house. My sister was happy to take me in, but her boyfriend David…not so much — which I completely understand. I offered to pay rent, but my sister won’t have any of it, so I do chores around the house and cook as often as my work schedule will let me. I never saw much of David anyway — he was often at the bar with his friends, or working, or locked in his room playing video games. When we did see each other, he acted like I didn't exist.
My son Roman was staying with his dad for a while as I was figuring things out, and I was worried about David’s attitude once my son moved in with us. I talked to David and promised him that Roman would be respectful and well-behaved, but he was weird about it and shrugged me off.
Then David met Roman.
David is absolutely fascinated with my kid. His disposition changed so quickly that it gave me whiplash. Suddenly, he stopped locking himself in his room and has decided to spend time with us…well, mostly my son. He helps Roman with his homework. He watches all of Roman’s favorite shows so that they can talk about them together. He buys him food and gifts. My sister Sarah is over-the-moon; she’s been telling me about how us moving in has been the best thing for their relationship, because David is happier now.
I thought it was sweet at first. But in the back of my head, I think something more nefarious could be going on.
To paint a clearer picture, I’ve noted some other changes I’ve noticed that I can’t decide whether they’re innocent or not.
  1. David texts my son often, which wouldn’t be weird, except he does it while he’s at school. The texts themselves aren’t weird at all, but David lightly scolds him for not replying sometimes.
  2. Before my son moved in, David was rarely ever home during the afternoon/evenings. He’d stay out after work and go drinking with his buddies until late in the night, a habit he’s had for years, according to my sister. Now, he’s home ALL THE TIME. He gets home before Roman gets off the bus (around 3:15pm if he's not at practice) and stays home all day, even offering to “babysit” while I’m working through the evening. He still drinks, just in the house.
  3. Last Wednesday, I woke up to use the bathroom during the middle of the night. To get to the bathroom, you have to pass by my son’s room. I was surprised to see that the door was closed all the way, since Roman always likes it open because his room gets hot at night. Also, he has been staying up late texting his friends lately, which has caused him to sleep through his alarm and miss the bus some days. So that night, I opened the door to let the air in and make sure he was asleep, and there was David. Standing by Roman’s bed. In the dark. He stated that he was looking for his cellphone, but I saw him jump with anxiety when I opened the door. He left quickly, muttering something about how it might be in the kitchen. Why would his phone be in my son’s room? And why was the door closed?
  4. David offers to drive my son everywhere he needs to go. Only him. School (if he misses the bus), practice, his friends’ houses. This is the same man who wouldn’t lift a finger for me until my son moved in. It’s been incredibly helpful since I’m not home often, but a part of me wonders if he’s doing it for the wrong reasons.
  5. I caught David doing Roman’s laundry, resulting in a few articles of clothing going missing. This one irritated me because I make my son do his own laundry. I asked him not do this, but his excuse is that he is trying to save water. I don’t know how to fight him on this, since it’s his house.
I am terrified to bring this up to my sister. Am I reading into things too much? Am I silly for worrying that he might have ulterior motives? If I tell my sister and she gets angry and there’s nothing going on, she’ll kick us out and we’ll be homeless…
~~~
First Update - Mar. 15, 2023
Update: I think my sister’s boyfriend (M44) is infatuated with my son (M13).
Hi all. First, i want to thank you all for your responses and suggestions. I am so overwhelmed by the replies and was unable to read them all, but I'm glad (and terrified) to see that I'm not going crazy, that there is something wrong. I also want to thank those who shared their experiences with being groomed/sexually assaulted, as it opened my eyes to a lot of things.
Second, I'd like to clarify a few things. I did not let my child in David's car after the bedroom incident. I would never do that. After this occurrence, tied with the laundry situation, I began to take note of David's behavior, which was when I started putting the pieces together. I came to Reddit shortly after…and here we are, unfortunately.
Third, I'd like to address a couple questions I've seen.
  1. David is not on any sex offender registry.
  2. By "saving water", David meant that he combines loads of laundry, meaning that he'll do his laundry AND Roman's laundry in the same load. The laundry that I've seen go missing are mostly socks, which is typical, even when Roman was doing his own laundry. But then, Roman told me that he was missing a couple shirts and a pair of underwear. That alarmed me, since this only happened once David started doing his laundry. Massive red flag.
  3. The texts between really are innocent — David asking him what he wants for dinner, what time he should pick him up, discussing shows they've been watching. But based on his other behavior, it's clearly a grooming tactic and I’ll be sure that it stops immediately. No way in hell should he be texting my kid at school.
  4. The bedroom situation, in clearer detail. I peeked in to make sure that Roman was asleep, and David was at the foot of his bed. The room was of course pitch black, and I was groggy as hell, so I didn't even register that it was him until he pushed past me to leave. I checked on my son afterwards. He was still asleep, and the blankets were fully over him. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but maybe I'd just intervened at the right moment. I made sure his door was open, and I left my door open as well so I could listen for any footsteps. I could not sleep after that happened. It wasn’t sitting right with me.
None of these are excuses. Like I said, eyes are wide open now.
Fourth, I'll discuss everything with my son tonight once I get off work. A lot of you said it was a good idea, and I was already planning on doing it. He has not been acting strange in any way and is his usual happy self, but that doesn't mean that David hasn't done anything yet. That reality is terrifying to me and I pray that's not the case. I pretty much have a clear idea on what to say to him, but I am not sure if I should explicitly tell him that I found David in his room, or that he might be stealing his clothing. Any suggestions on how to go about this conversation are welcome.
Fifth, I fully plan to confront David and talk to my sister Sarah about this. I am not a doormat, and I will do anything to keep my son safe. David is on a church retreat and thankfully has not been home for a few days. I've decided to speak with my sister first, in case David twists my words or manipulates her into believing that nothing is wrong. And once he returns, I'll confront him based on how my sister reacts. Any other suggestions on how to go about it are welcome as well.
Sixth, I've read your suggestions about setting up cameras, checking for cameras, drug testing my son, and finding his missing articles of clothing. I plan on buying cameras and drug testing him once we have a conversation. I did look for cameras and found nothing, but I’ll look again. I am terrified of what I might see if I end up finding Roman’s missing clothing, but I know it’s just a reality that I have to face…that people can be so disgustingly vile to a child.
Lastly, I know I need to get out of this house. I know that. I'm working on it. If I could pack everything up tonight and do it, I would. I’d send him to live with my ex husband, but he’s abusive toward my son and me (more so toward me, but still). I’ve considered your suggestions about looking into homeless shelters, and I’m leaning toward making arrangements for that after I confront David. I'm a good mom, but I know I'm not the best mom. This past week has been hell. I should've intervened earlier. I regret that.
Thank you for listening. I'll update once I follow through with my plans.
~~~
Second Update - Mar. 19, 2023
Update 2: I think my sister's boyfriend (M44) is infatuated with my son (M13).
Hi all, this is my second update. My first post got removed, but you can find it. Apparently, it made its way to TikTok and Instagram, which I’m not sure how to feel about, but it’s too late to take back now.
In the past four days, I spoke with my sister Sarah, her boyfriend David, and my son Roman, all separately. One went well, two didn’t. I have a lot to get off my chest, so this might be long. There’s a TLDR at the bottom.
My first conversation was with my son, which occurred the night I posted my first update. In fear of this post getting removed like my first one, I’ll have to censor myself, but I think you’ll understand what I’m referring to when I say that I asked my son the serious and explicit questions. Roman adamantly denied that David ever did anything to him. He seemed surprised that I asked. He said he would’ve told me if he had. I believe him. I know he could be lying, but I’m trying to take his word for it. My son and I have a very open and transparent relationship. The first time my ex husband ever verbally abused him, he came straight to me and told me about it. My guard is up, but I have to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Like you all advised me, I didn’t bring up the bedroom or laundry situation. But I was honest with him and told him that David’s behavior toward him was inappropriate. We had a talk about boundaries, saying no, consent, etc. I drilled into him that David is not to drive him anywhere, text him anymore, and be around him alone under any circumstances. I also explained what grooming is, and that it’s what David has been doing to him. He said he knew about it through a school assembly. Then, he said something that broke my heart. He apologized for letting David treat him that way, that he “shouldn’t have fell for it” (his exact words). I assured him that none of it was his fault. I want to make it clear that David is not preying on him because of how he looks or how he acts, he is doing it because he is a predator and they prey on the vulnerable.
Honestly, I could tell that the conversation had left him a little shell-shocked. To know that the person you liked and trusted isn’t who you thought he was would leave any kid rattled. For the entire rest of the night, he followed me around like a lost puppy. It did break my heart a little, to see him like that, but I don’t want him to feel a false sense of security around David, so I have no regrets about it.
Sarah was next. I knew it would turn into an argument before the conversation even began. It’s always been that way with her. My sister is nice, but not kind. She’ll take you in off the street, but then throw it back in your face if you cross her. So I knew what I was getting into, but I had to do it not only for my kid’s sake, but for hers. This is not a man I want her to be with, have children with, nor do I want him in our family.
I told her that I was uncomfortable with the way David acts around Roman, and that I think it’s a lot deeper than what he portrays it to be. I mentioned that I didn’t like the gift giving and the constant texting, and I brought up the bedroom and laundry incidents. Like I predicted, she was more offended that I was accusing her boyfriend of grooming my son. She didn’t see how that was proof of anything. “Do you know how many socks and pairs of underwear I’ve lost while doing laundry? It’s probably stuck somewhere in the dryer.”
The more I expressed my concerns, the more defensive she got. She thinks I’m…manic, essentially. She said that as soon as things get good for me (roof over my head, food in the fridge, a steady job) I intentionally screw it up because deep down I don’t think I deserve happiness. That she tries to help me every time, but I end up stabbing her in the back, like I am right now.
So, she doesn’t believe me. That’s her prerogative, fine. I told her that I won’t be staying at her house much longer, and that I don’t want David around my kid anymore, that we’ll be keeping to ourselves for the rest of my short time here. She’s letting me stay, surprisingly, but she said she’s glad to see me go. She swore up and down that David would never hurt Roman, and that she was sad to see their relationship ruined over an accusation with no real basis. That I shouldn’t let my self destructive behavior and my “bipolar paranoia” get in the way of other people’s happiness. And that I better not accuse her boyfriend of being a predator anymore. Essentially, she kept shifting the blame onto me, so I ended it there.
Oh, and she told me that she wants reimbursement for things like clothing and grocery shopping, because apparently we are draining her wallet with buying so much food (Yes, an eighth grader going through a growth spurt eats a lot. Shocker!). But I apologized and said I’d buy his and my groceries from now on.
David came back from his church retreat Friday morning, which is when I confronted him. I was very upset, so I didn’t go easy on him. He was thrown off by my hostility, but once he understood what I was implying, his demeanor shifted. “Sit down, sit down, let’s talk about it,” he kept saying, except he was the one who was nervous and looked like he was on the brink of a panic attack.
I kept my composure. I asked him why he was in my son’s room in the middle of the night with the door shut. He gave me the same excuse, that he was looking for his cellphone. I asked him why he couldn’t have gone for it in the morning. He said that he set the alarm to 5am for work, and that he didn’t want it to go off with my son in the room and wake him up. I asked him why he was standing over my son’s bed. He admitted that he was trying to wake him up and ask him if he’d seen his phone. Did he not just say that he didn’t want the alarm to wake him up? I asked him what on Earth would compel him to think it is okay to wake up my child in the middle of the night to help him look for a cellphone. He said he wasn’t thinking straight, and that he was sorry.
I asked him about the missing laundry as well. He adamantly denied what I was implying. He said that his and my sister’s clothing get lost in the laundry all the time. That he would help me find my son’s missing clothing. All while apologizing profusely.
I’ll admit, I was thrown off by how apologetic he was, and it made me a little soft. I thanked him for letting us stay in his house, and I apologized for not setting boundaries earlier, but I told him that from now on, I didn’t feel comfortable with him being around my son. No more driving him places, buying him gifts, texting him, helping him with homework, doing his laundry, etc. I essentially told him that he is no longer allowed to be alone with my son or touch his things under any circumstances.
He broke down in tears. He was hysterical. The thought of me believing that he is preying on my son made him miserable. That he’d never do that. He said, “I love him like a father loves a son.” When reading my original post, a lot of you believed the same thing at first. So did I. But I just…don’t like the way David looks at him. Yes, I see the kindness in his eyes toward my son as he helps him with homework or watches a show with him, but there is a nuance of something covetous and sinister that I can’t shake off.
Anyway, I told him that it’s unhealthy for him to be so fixated on a child, and that he cannot depend on my kid for happiness. I told him that we’d be leaving very soon (more on that later). I didn’t tell him where or when it was happening. He asked if there was anything he could do to rectify the situation. He suggested that the four of us sit down and talk about it. I declined. I reiterated that he is not allowed near my kid anymore and left it at that.
A small part of me feels like I was too harsh on him overall. Maybe he was just looking for his phone. Maybe it’s a coincidence that articles of clothing are missing. But he was on his knees, sobbing, like I had just pulled the rug out from underneath him. For a child he hasn’t known for that long. I don’t think he was devastated that I’d accused him of being a predator, he was devastated that I revoked his access to my child. I’m not stupid. I once witnessed this man argue with my sister — brutal, verbal assaults from both sides, which ended in my sister crying. He didn’t shed a tear.
For my peace of mind (and yours), I have been watching Roman like a hawk. When I’m home, he’s with me. When I’m not home, he’s at a trusted friend’s house, or again, with me. I actually took him to work with me this morning, which he wasn’t thrilled about, but whatever. I made him block David’s number, of course. We haven’t been in the house since Friday, but as some of you suggested, I will sleep in his room at night instead of making him sleep in my room. I’ll be honest, I decided to hold off on drug testing him, because I really do not think David has been drugging him. My son is naturally a heavy sleeper and has always had issues waking up for school, even before we moved into my sister’s house. I checked his text messages, and from what I’ve seen, he’s never texted David at night. He’s usually up texting his friends in a group chat.
Like you all suggested, I purchased a nanny cam, specifically the one where you can watch the footage on your smartphone. I wasn’t expecting it to be so pricy…I ordered them on Wednesday, and they are due to arrive tonight or Monday morning. I’ll put it in my son’s room and review it every day. I’m really nervous because there’s a possibility that I’ll see something odious and I don’t know if I can handle that.
Lots of you have voiced your concerns for my kid. From what I’ve seen and from what he’s told me, he’s doing fine! We have been staying at a motel for the weekend, now that David has returned from his church retreat. I wasn’t taking any chances. $56 a night, and a little sketchy, but I don’t want to complain. Again, despite the situation, his mood has been a lot better than mine has. He thinks a motel is the same as a hotel, so to him, it’s like we’re on a mini vacation. It’s mind-blowing how kids can be so resilient, even in the most unnerving situations.
The majority of you have told me to go to a women’s shelter. I looked into this, and while it’s an option, the closest one to where I live is more than an hour away. I don’t have a car. I can take the bus — my usual mode of transportation — but that disrupts his commute to school, and my commute to work. It’s still winter and freezing cold where I live, so I’d rather watch him like a hawk than live on the street and subject him to the cold weather. And I am not taking him back to my ex husband’s house. There’s a reason why he left, and why I divorced him.
Which brings me to some good news. I applied for public housing a loooong while back and I am in the process of getting approved! They contacted me for documentation (which I submitted) and I got "verified” so I think that’s a good sign? I’m very fortunate, since I know waitlists can be long sometimes.
I can’t believe I’m holding it together so well, but I’m proud of myself. I think I’m doing everything I can. Thank you for listening. I’ll update again shortly with hopefully better news.
TLDR; currently at motel after confronting sister and her boyfriend. Reactions were brutal. Son is safe and nothing bad has happened to him. Camera has been purchased and will be set up and reviewed daily once I return, and a deep search of David’s room will be conducted once I get the opportunity. Currently getting approved for public housing, which will be my ticket out.
Edit: This goes without saying, but I will of course talk to my son before putting a camera in his room.
~~~
***IMPORTANT EDIT:**\* OOP has posted a new update since I made this post. I got permission from the mods of this sub to add it here, so I'll post it below. Be warned, it is very disturbing.
Third Update - Mar. 26, 2023
Update 3: I think my sister's boyfriend (M44) is infatuated with my son (M13).
Hi, all, this is my third update. Another long one, so TLDR at the bottom. I have both bad news and good (really good!) news. Due to the bad news, I'm not mentally doing the best right now, so I’m sorry if this is scrambled, because I don’t really know where to start. I’m angry, hurt, disgusted, and as all of my emotions begin to pile upon each other, I’m beginning to spiral a bit. And before anyone begins to worry, I’ll put it out there now that my son is doing okay.
I guess I’ll start off by saying that my son and I weren’t in the house much, up until Friday of this week. We’d been staying at a local motel that’s decently close to his school and where I work. I am a waitress at a restaurant, and my manager knows I’m dealing with housing issues, so he’s been a bit understanding with me when I call out. But when you don’t work, you don’t get paid — and between the Lyfts, takeouts, and motel costs, my wallet isn’t doing so great, but I’m 100% making it work, and I have no regrets.
But since we weren’t at the house, things sort of escalated a bit. David’s number is blocked on Roman’s phone, but he found him on TikTok and Instagram on Monday night and messaged him there. Nothing explicit in the messages, just things like:
Did you block my number?
I really miss talking to you, is everything okay?
Maybe in the future, we can talk to each other again. I’m sorry if I upset you or your mom.
Are you and your mom safe? Where are you staying?
Respond to me when you get a moment. I have something important to tell you.
And many more like that, just him begging my son for a conversation.
I was livid when my son showed me. I think what set me off the most is that I know David messaged him because he thought my kid would respond without telling me. He thinks they have some secret, private relationship right under my nose that I’m interfering with. I’m pretty sure that’s why he hasn't kicked me out of his house. He's not mad, just miserable and desperate for some sort of contact. I feel like no matter how hard I pull my son away from David, he’s refusing to let go.
We blocked the Instagram and TikTok accounts immediately, and I screenshotted the messages (I'm trying to keep a record of everything). I asked Roman to delete his Snapchat account, just in case, but he didn't want to do that (I’m 99% sure he has a girl on there that he likes). I let that slide because he came straight to me about the other accounts, and he agreed not to add any new accounts on Snapchat or post anything that gave away our location for the time being.
This entire ordeal upset my son. He broke down in tears when he came back from school the next day. That hurt a lot to see. I don't know if I expressed this, but Roman genuinely liked David, and they got along well. Maybe my kid saw him as a father figure, since he was shunned and neglected by my ex-husband. I think I underestimated the mental toll it would take on him from having to cut David off completely, and then block him when he reached out privately. Someone noted that I should get him into therapy soon. I plan on doing that once we are securely living on our own and I find the money for it. It's definitely a priority.
David’s harassment spilled over to me, too. He called me multiple times and texted me things like:
Let me know when you’re back so we can resolve this.
Am I allowed to attend Roman's baseball game on Thursday with you? I'd like to support him.
Can you please answer? I'd really love to talk, just us. I'm sorry if I gave you both the wrong impression.
I didn’t block his number on my phone. I figured that the more he talked, the more likely he’d continue to incriminate himself and I could use his words against him. I didn't answer a single one of his questions, but I let him know that if he contacted my kid ever again or if he showed up to his school or any events that I'd go straight to the police.
And that’s not an empty threat, either. Unbeknownst to him, I am getting the police involved because I now have solid evidence that this man has a sick obsession with my child.
This is the bad news, and I’ll forewarn you that if you’re easily triggered, please don’t read any further (or at least skip this and the next two paragraphs). I want to thank you all for confirming my suspicions in the first post, because I found something heinous. I mentioned that I planned to set up a camera in Roman’s room. I asked for his permission first, and he said he didn’t care since we’re barely in the house anymore. The camera I chose is motion sensitive and links the footage to my iPhone, so I can watch it anywhere. The camera was set up on Sunday night as soon as I received the package, and I hid it above the doorframe, so that it overlooked the entire room. You can’t see it unless you use a ladder. I didn't get anything for a couple days; I was randomly notified of movement in the room, but saw nothing when I looked at the footage.
But on Wednesday evening, at around six, David came into my son’s room, stood there for a moment, and then left — no longer than a minute. An hour-ish later, he returned and started going through his drawers. He picked up a specific garment and left within less than two minutes.
I wanted to throw up. I didn’t sleep that entire night at the motel. The following day, I had someone cover my shift, which gave me the opportunity to do a deep search of David’s room while he was at work and my son was at school. I found the article of clothing inside of his pillowcase, on top of the pillow, right where he would lay his head to rest at night. I was so sick to my stomach that it took me almost two hours to confiscate that article of clothing and check it for evidence. I won’t elaborate, but you can infer what I mean. I was nauseated the entire time. All I could do was put on gloves, throw it into a ziplock bag, and shove it into my closet. I didn’t want to look at it or even think about it. I still don’t. That answers the question of why David was so insistent on doing my kid’s laundry. Who knows how long this has been going on?
I've been ruminating on the next steps to take. Besides my main priority — going to the police — my other priority is telling my sister Sarah. We are obviously not on the best terms right now. She found out that I confronted her boyfriend last week, and she is livid. How dare I accuse him of grooming my son. Apparently, he’s not the same man he was after we left, and returned to his old habits. He was back to going to bars with his friends every evening. His drinking got worse. He had stopped coming home early from work and dragged himself through the door at almost midnight — if he even bothered coming home, that is. And he was no longer affectionate toward her. Apparently, it’s my fault he’s depressed again. If those aren't red flags, I don't know what is. I can't tell if she is in denial, or if she can't actually see them.
But what she's most concerned about is that David hasn't been home since Thursday. He went to work, came home briefly, then left again without telling her when he’d be back. In my head, that makes sense; he knows that either she or I took the garment that was inside of his pillowcase, and now he’s afraid to come home. It confirms all of my suspicions.
I will tell my sister everything, though, probably tonight or tomorrow. I have no idea how to go about it, and I guess I'm nervous about her reaction. She's still convinced that I’m having a manic episode. I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 many years ago, and I take medication to manage it. If I go off of my meds, my mania will progressively get worse until I spiral into psychosis. So her concerns are valid (I put her through a lot back when I wasn’t stable) but that's not the current case for me right now. I have tangible proof and video proof of her boyfriend being a creep. I can bring up the camera footage, but then I have the issue of not getting either of their consent to put a camera in their house, and I don’t know how well that would go over with her, even if it was for a good reason. I just know that if I were in her shoes, I would be grateful that my boyfriend — potential fiancé — was outed as a predator before I got engaged to him. She’s pretty much past the age of having children, but has plans to adopt in the distant future…so I have to tell her, somehow.
My son and I have been back in the house since Friday night. My sister still isn’t kicking me out, but she doesn’t want me here anymore. She’s made that very clear. The only reason why I haven't packed our things and left is because, again, David is gone. He won't tell anyone his whereabouts and has turned off his location on his phone, according to my sister. She thinks he might be crashing on a friend’s couch — something he’s done multiple times in the past. I think he knows I’m onto him. But his absence means that I can stay at the house for now. I’m still watching my kid like a hawk and staying hyper vigilant. Still sleeping in his room, taking him to work with me, etc. I can live with the hostility from my sister as long as he is safe, especially since we won’t be here for much longer.
Which leads me to the good news! I got approved for public housing! I won’t share too many details, but I will share the most important one — we’ll get to move in in a little over three weeks. There are a lot of logistics that I need to work out (the school bus system, a mode of transportation to work, etc) but I'm glad that something is working out in my favor after this week of hell. The constant vigilance is exhausting, and I can't wait to be in a safer environment.
I guess all I really have left to say is that I’m not sure how to go about providing the evidence I have to the police. When I give them what I have, they’ll start some kind of investigation, right? I’m just nervous that I could get into trouble for the camera. And the messaging; that counts as harassment, right? Do I tell my sister everything before I go to the police? Any advice you can give is welcome, because I’ve never been in a situation like this before, and I don’t want to mess it up. Just because I am leaving does not mean that I’m letting David get away with what he’s done.
Thank you all for your unwavering support. I'm having a hard time right now, but I'll update as soon as I can. Thank you for listening.
TLDR; found David harassing my son via messages and caught him on camera taking my son’s clothing. Will provide evidence to the police so they can build a case. Am planning on telling my sister everything. Got approved for housing, and will be moving out very soon.
ETA: Thank you for the overwhelming advice. I put the clothing into a paper bag; I had no idea how plastic could affect it. I will make copies of the texts and the camera footage. I will not be telling my sister anything for the time being, and I am going to the police tomorrow. I am looking into getting a lawyer as well. Roman's school has already been informed that I am the only guardian allowed to pick him up. He will be staying with a friend tomorrow night, and once I save a little money I will move us back to the motel.
~~~
Reminder - I am NOT the original poster. Don't forget that commenting on the original posts is not allowed.
submitted by SJDude13 to BestofRedditorUpdates [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 20:25 Puzzleheaded-Past169 Her (23F) ex boyfriend (26M) attacked her because she was talking to me (27M)

So to give some context I started seeing this woman a few weeks ago. Amazing woman we both share the same interests and we really hit it off and she wants to see more of me. So she's been really distant lately and she calls me at work one day last week and tells me the reason for this is because her ex wants to get back together with her and she's conflicted. On the one hand she wants to see the potential that me and her could have, on the other hand she wants to see if he's changed.
So to give some background about their relationship. They were together for 4 years and it was her first adult relationship. I recently just found this out but during that whole time he has never had a job, he does things on the side such as painting and photography but nothing to fully sustain himself. He ended up breaking things off with her because his jealousy got the better of him. Before they broke up they had a photography business together.
Fast forward to yesterday, a friend and I went to an event where local musicians were playing and both her and him were there because they have the photography business and were taking pictures of the artist. Me and her were talking a lot and I didn't even notice but apparently he didn't like the chemistry that we displayed. It lasted late into the night and I told her I wasn't planning on staying for the hold time so we hugged and I left. She calls me this morning and we were on the phone for probably 2 hours. Right after I left he immediately asks who I am and she explains who I am and our dynamic.
He then begins to start yelling at her at the venue in front of everyone and pushes her down causing her to break the camera that belongs to the owner of the venue. He felt like she should have introduced me to him and let it be known that she was going to stay with him. He doesn't have a car so she drove them to the event and after all of that happens she drives him back to his place. He then proceeds to physically drag her out of the car and tells her that he never wants to see her again. So I tell her that for 4 years she's been suffering emotional, financial and now physical abuse and that she needs to cut all ties immediately no questions asked. I tell her that under no circumstances whether he felt threatened by me or not should he have ever put his hands on you and that this shouldn't escalate any further.
I've just never been put in a situation like this, she tells me that I've been a great support system for her and that I show her everything that she wish she would have gotten. I just don't know where I go from here.
TLDR: I was kinda in a love triangle and the other person attacked the woman because he was insecure and it's a lot for me to process.
submitted by Puzzleheaded-Past169 to relationship_advice [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 20:24 FiauraTanks Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (FanFic) - Final (Nature of Predators FanFic)

Back First
As I discovered yesterday I will have to be more precise when posting these in the future, yes there is something else in the words but apparently you cannot edit the title of the post on this website, good to know.
Anyway, I thank you all for your comments so far, they brightened my days this week. Please, let me know what you think when you finish, I would be delighted to hear it; good or bad.

Memory Transcription: Captain Neil Campbell, United Nations ‘Black Watch’ Company #4
Date [standardized human time]: December 4, 2136
“Make very shot count, we don’t have much left!” Campbell shouted over his radio then fired at a couple of muzzle flashes in the night. Many of his troopers were using their night vision gear while others hadn’t brought it with them or had seen it shot to pieces in the fighting.
The difference between them and their enemy, they could pull back, regroup and come back. Campbell's troopers were running out of lines to retreat to. Slowly their ring around their anti-orbital interceptors had gotten tighter and tighter. Their sams fired their final missiles at a fighter and managed a final air kill. The fighter crashing into the Black Watch’s previous position now occupied by Arxur, turning them into a trail of flames, ash, and body parts.
The world around Campbell was loud chaos. Yet to him, it wasn't chaotic, it was a strange symphony, one he had prepared for and rehearsed all his life.
Campbell pulled up his rifle and fired off a few shots on his queue. Next to him a trooper was using an Arxur weapon, his own weapon having run out of ammunition. Only one mortar was still firing but Campbell wondered how many shells they had left. The Mortar was located behind them, at their "Keep". The final defense line.
Campbell saw a trooper stand up with a light AA missile only to get torn apart by a plasma shot to his face. The Arxur had learned suppression fire was useless against the discipline of the watch. Instead, they would fire off shots for their attention and then deliver a plasma shot to try to kill whoever retaliated.
Campbell picked up the missile and took aim, then sprung, fired the shot and got down before a plasma bolt whizzed where he had been seconds before. He was rewarded with an explosion and the follow up boom of a gunship slamming into the ground. The feeling of magnetism died around him.
As if the electricity in the air were suddenly ripped away. Campbell knew that was the railgun being de-powered. Its generator hit and that left them with no anti-orbital guns left or interceptors. Finally the Arxur could launch a bomb on their site and they could not stop it.
“Whose left, sound off!” His final twenty troopers replied, one after the other. He had to listen carefully above the echoes of gunshots. The original ninety-nine plus him and the Americans, reduced to twenty.
“Fall back to the keep, all troopers, fall back to the Keep.” Campbell repeated and started to move through their indentations in the ground, not really trenches but enough one could stay lower than the plane of the ground. Just enough for cover, they did not have proper time to build a real trenchline sadly.
Campbell checked his pocket for his dead man's switch, he turned it on and wrapped his belt around it to hold the switch down, then shoved it into his pocket.
They moved for the communications tent, it had an overhang of rock to cover them from above. The engineers had built a ring around it, through solid granite to make trench in the rock. Those that got there would form their final line of defense.
Campbell felt his arm, the cybernetic take another hit and fly off into the pre-dawn darkness. He shifted and resisted the instinct to go find it. It was lost to the brush and fog of war now. He arrived at the keep with his sidearm firing shot after shot, having to reload it one handed.
Only eight troopers made it to the line. Zim came charging out, firing a pistol and screaming in defiance, “Die Predator Scum!” She dove into the trench next to Campbell and continued to rise and fire, fumbling to reload when the rifle failed to keep shooting.
Campbell tossed her the last grenade he had, no longer really able to pull the pin. "Make it count!"
Zip grabbed it, yanked the pin, and chucked the time-bomb, right into a charging Arxur’s mouth and he swallowed before being torn into mist and shrapnel. Those standing near him getting peppered with the fragments pushing out of their comrade.
Campbell fired off his pistol as shape after shape of gray appeared from the darkness. The gunshots near him slowly getting fewer and fewer.
Zim laid against the trench wall beside him, pulling the trigger of her rifle. She was bleeding from an uncountable number of places and her dominant arm was hanging by her side. She was using one of her insectoid legs in place of the unnaturally twisted limp. She was bleeding from multiple places. Her rifle clicked, Campbell paused to reach over and unload the magazine for her, then slammed a new one in and she racked the bolt as he patted her on the head to indicate it was good to go.
The vestiges of dawn's light peaked over the top of the Caldera and they fought on. The entire ridge had been turned to rock-slides burying Arxur under them, now showing the desecration of nature's beauty turned into carnage. A forest fire had started and was burning out as the napalm and diesel fuel had done their job.
Black Watch lay strewn with hundreds of Arxur bodies around them. Campbell stopped hearing the crack of ’s rifle. “See you on the other side, .” Campbell felt a pang of regret for the Tilfish Mayor whom he had voluntold to be here. She was gone now, no longer could the Arxur make her suffer and she had died for her people. "You became the bravest I ever knew."
A whoosh and the feeling of extreme heat behind him had him ducking for cover. It was then he realized he couldn’t hear anything but ringing in his ears. He looked back to see the cave entrance collapsed, likely under the emergency explosives by Thompson. His helmet fell to the ground, the camera pointed back at him, watching him now as he worked down the trench firing his pistol, using the weight of it to count his remaining rounds.
A rush of adrenaline was pushing him on, despite the fact he could no longer see out of one of his eyes, half his vision just gone. He lost count of his ammo and the number of Arxur that had fallen to him.
To him it just meant he no longer had to close an eye to aim.
He saw an Arxur, nearly upon him. He pulled up his pistol and it did not fire, he looked at it to see the slide in the locked back position. Without hesitating he threw the weapon at the approaching Arxur. It smacked into the gray’s face and caused it to stagger away from aiming the rifle at him and instead to fall over when the footing became untenable.
Campbell grabbed an Arxur weapon on the ground. Just as the Arxur he hit with the pistol sat up, he put a plasma-bolt through its skull. He continued firing shot after shot, hating the slower rate of fire and feeling of heat coming off the weapon. Campbell sent three more Arxur to the ground.
Finally the rifle clicked as six Arxur approached his weapons upon him. He was bleeding from a searing burning on his temple. His shoulder had been punched but without the cybernetic arm, it didn’t make much difference. Campbell knew he was beat and fell back onto his butt, sitting down and laying against rock wall behind him.
He felt the switch in his pocket shift and went to grab it, the belt was still holding it place, just barely. It would only take a shove against it to push the belt off now. He set the switch under his thigh, against his hamstring. He secured the switch under his leg. He was sitting there, taking out his nearly empty flask of whiskey. The sounds of battle died down as he swirled the remaining liquid inside. He looked down to see his body armor had stopped three rounds by sheer luck. The rounds had hit in vastly different spots and he hadn't even noticed he'd been hit since the cyber arm had been shot off. Somehow, none had penetrated him. “Human, it is over. Surrender.”
He looked up at the speaking Arxur and considered it. They looked as exhausted as he did. Several of them were sporting wounds and bandages, thrown back into combat. He nodded to the Arxur as he slumped against the trench wall.
“Up.” One of them commanded.
Campbell laughed much to the Arxur's confusion. Campbell ignored him and casually unscrewed his whiskey flask with his lips. He took the last swig of his favorite malt. While the reptile got frustrated and jumped into the trench with him. He dropped the empty flask onto the ground between his legs and made a show of reaching for it.
“No… I don’t think I will.” He replied, sitting up and holding the detonator for the Arxur to see. His thumb now holding down the dead-man's switch. All the explosives for Sims special surprise ready to go. The Arxur looked horrified at him holding the dead man’s switch. “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit.” He spoke, two Arxur shots rang out, bullets piercing his heart and lungs. They did not know it was a bomb that would go off if he leg go of the switch.
They watched the beeping light of the switch roll between Campbell's legs to ting against his flask in the dirt. Then the light stopped.
The world as the Arxur knew it became fire, fury, and flashes. A series of explosions rippled across the Caldera. Everything a military explosives expert with a forty year long career knew how to do, was exploding.
One explosion would go off, only to set off a container of fuel to add a fireball to it and the heat would trigger several rounds of Tilfish weapons they had seized from the heat cooking it off, giving off a plasma ball. The scene repeated over and over again. Anfo, deisel fuel, incendiary rounds, Tilfish plasma, and grenades no one could carry, turned into a final send off. The Arxur scrambled to get out only to be hit by more explosives as the keep turned to a rock-slide. They had been very careful and precise to not set the charges in a way to cave in the tunnels their flock whom they were protecting were in. No explosives were within 100 meters of the entrance or any part of the tunnel that might strain it. The recording started to fade from the virtual reality simulation.
----------------------------------
The Teacher’s Voice took over for the recording as she turned the speaker off. Her adult version of events was much more graphic than her students but it gave her extra insight into a time when all was war and chaos. The Tilfish teacher had to be prepared to answer their questions and try to tone it down for the children.
This was something the Tilfish knew she would have to steel herself for if she was to witness the events and answers her pupil’s questions. She read from the script provided by the museum to bring the class out of the simulation. As child after child ranging from grade one to four, took off their VR helmet when their individual specialized version was finished depending upon age, species, and culture.
“But Campbell was turned to ash along with most of the rest of the Black Watch bodies and Arxur on the surface. The death toll was 99 Black Watch, 11 3rd Armored Cavalry, and 1 Tilfish Mayor for 9,729 Arxur Dead, 1,277 Wounded, and 303 Missing.
"Leftenant Williams would be found in the destroyed hull of the Eisenhower IFV. He had tried to get the vehicle working before his injuries put him unconscious again. In the state of his concussion he did not realize the vehicle was inoperable. He was found alive and rushed to a UN ship for emergency medical attention. He would survive and become a teacher like me.
"Two days after Campbell’s last stand; Tia, Jellio, Cleland and Hanover would make their way into the cave to join the refugees inside. On their way in, they would find the artifact of the battle, the only surviving part of any of the Black Watch members." The teacher had to smile, avoiding the fact she meant in the literal apart of their body sense. The children would realize it at some point.
"All total survivors who had been inside the Caldera; 30 Arxur raiders, 22 of the Black Watch Company #4, twenty of which were the ones escorting the civilians into the caves. In addition to this, 1 3rd Cavalry Tanker, and 4,200 Tilfish Civilians plus 2 Tilfish Volunteers.”
Sitting in the museum were fifty children from a variety of species. A system of AI that approximated things based upon eyewitness accounts, algorithms, photographs, and footage available to create all the memory engrams. Then turned it into a more enchanting story with less blood and violence than the events that their teacher watched.
This exhibit before them was called, “The Black Watch.” It was carefully curated and preserved by the Tilfish Cultural History Restoration Society. The hand was really most of a cybernetic human arm from nearly one hundred years ago. It was inside a stasis field, still wrapped in the fragments of military fatigues it was found in. The hand was placed upright into a supporting mold and the fingers had been made into an approximation of a thumbs up.
An alarm went off as the Tilfish teacher reached down to look at her phone, 3:00 pm local time. “Alright class, let’s get to the transports so we can get all of you home.” As the children filed out, three approached the glass case and looked at the cybernetic hand inside.
On the outside, near the wrist of the human cybernetic arm were words inscribed there.
‘A Scot loved a Yank, that is how your grandmothers met. Remember, from them, it matters not what you look like inside or out, but what you do that you should be judged by.’
The words were faded on the inscription but the stasis field had managed to keep them legible since the arm was found. A holographic display called up while the three near the glass to show the arm in it's absolute pristine state it had once been in.
The three children were all of different species as they leaned in close, the human broke their silence. “So it really did happen like great-grandma said it did.”
The Tilfish smiled, “Well yes, we wouldn't be here if our ancestors were not taking cover in those tunnels. We have pictures of our family in there before our grandparents met.” They both turned to their friend, Julless.
The Arxur looked down in shame, she looked away from her friends and rubbed at the back of her hand nervously, “My… ancestor was there, trying to kill your’s.”
Leia Cleland reached up and lifted up Julless’s head to face her two friends, she still tried to look away as they both smiled at Julless warmly and nodded, “Yes but that is in the past and you are not those people.” Leia smiled as Helena stepped forward on her many legs. “Yeah, look, you are our friend and honestly, that is all that counts with us. Come on, let’s not miss the transport, maybe it can stop at the park. We can play predator and prey if you want.”
Juless smiled at Julia and turned from the Tilfish to the Human, “Hey don’t look at me, I’ll have fun so long as you don’t actually bite me or my sister.”
The group took a moment to take in everything around them. The various pieces of history on display for a single battle called, Tal Reach's Last Stand.
The room full of artifacts from that day had fascinated the children. The broken down and nearly destroyed Eisenhower IFV. Pictures of where Williams had laid and the armored vehicle crews happy and doing maintenance. The display read: "A Tank is a Tanker's Home."
The next display was a blood stained bible surrounded photographs of Grissen and O’Malley talking. Footage from O'Malley's helmet set on the desk, played with audio to headphones to show the conversation they had. The display was called: "Found friends, now in heaven."
Dozens of pieces of combat footage on a variety of screens though many were covered due to their graphic nature with an age warning next to them.
One that was left open was the harrowing walk of the recon squad survivors to get through the booby-trapped caves. The entire film was nearly two hours long and showed the footage from the helmets of them traversing the caves. It was a horror movie but suddenly turned into a relief when the radios could penetrate the rock and call down. A horror movie with a happy ending full of hugs and cheers called, "A Walk through The Shadow of Death".
The twisted remains of Thompson’s radio. The recon squad fire-team B’s detonator. Dozens of dog tags from the various members were on display with the cannon to the War Kitty sitting across the length of the display, a piece of wood and several insectoid stations to sit on as a new bench. Literally sitting upon a piece of history to show it's size and weight.
“Oh come on, Leia, Juless would never. My sister is just teasing, come on, the last one to the transport is a rotten egg!” Helena grabbed onto Juless’s clawed hand and Leia’s human one with her mandibles leading them through the halls at a brisk pace from where the centerpiece of Tal Reach's Last Stand.
"A Highlander’s Hand."
submitted by FiauraTanks to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 20:23 Myrandall Mom called me selfish for being mad about my husband’s murder

This is a repost sub. I am not the original poster. The OP is Beefc4kePantyh0se.
Fun fact to cover up spoilers for mobile users: Pluto's Gate is an ancient religious site in Turkey built on top of a cave which emits toxic gases, hence its use as a ritual passage to the underworld. Ritual animal sacrifices were common at the site. Animals would be thrown into the cave and pulled back out with ropes that had been tied to them. Archaeologists noted that the fumes emitted from the cavern still maintain their deadly properties as they recorded passing birds, attracted by the warm air, suffocated after breathing the toxic fumes.
Themes and trigger warning(s): emotional abuse, death of a spouse
Mood: ongoing misery

Is this behavior common? - 12 Jan 2022 in /raisedbynarcissists

I am just recently learning about npd and I am now thinking my mom might be covert npd. Idk. Definitely has traits of it.
One thing she seems incapable of is complimenting me & leaving it at that. It is always followed by some criticism ….either outright or in the form of “helpful advice”.
Also, if i come to her with anything that has upset me, she will one up me and turn it into how much worse she has had to deal with in her life. If i ever try to turn the focus back to myself, she gets mad and puts me down for “everything having to be about you”.
But nothing is ever about me.
She plays the role of the martyr always. She is very beautiful & charming and no one would probably even believe me if i told them how mean, selfish, & childish she can be. EVERYONE always praises her to me.
I am not a child. I am 44 f. I look back now at my childhood and am kind of appalled at her behavior. Or that she made it this far in life. Does this sound like possibly covert npd?

Mom called me selfish for being mad about my husband’s murder. - 27 Sep 2022 in /raisedbynarcissists

I am just wanting to vent. My whole life if i ever had a need or a want, my mom shamed me and called me selfish. I have never even known how to be mad because i was taught to feel immediate deep shame for it.
Well, I have been working hard on myself & finally feeling like I deserve to exist as much as other people do.
My husband was randomly murdered after walking the dog 4 months ago the number of murders has doubled since then. My city does nothing so i called the mayor out on social media when he made a post joking about crime in adjacent cities.
He hid it. My husband was murdered and he hid my comment so I have been raising hell. Because i should.
My mom asked me to visit her and she NEVER does that, so i left my friends and went because it seemed like she was actually trying to be a mom.
Turns out she is just embarrassed by me. She told me i was disgustingly selfish to get upset with the mayor because a lot if other people have been murdered too. So i should stop acting like i am special.
I think you guys will understand. Thx
Update: Actually the mayor chose to call husband’s brother, who lives in Texas & ask HIM how he feels about how the case is going. Then told my representative to instruct me of office hours where i can walk in and “request” a meeting the proper way. Is this real life?!
I have chosen to stop giving any attention to the mayor entirely.
I said she had done nothing to help me. I have raised $20k for the crimestoppers pay out, gotten up a billboard, gotten post office mailers sent to every address in the 3k person neighborhood where it happened, i am cleaning out his hoarder pack rat home, i am still working, i am stapling up flyers all over the hood while people yell at me and take them down in front of me. My sister forbids me to let my niece know her uncle is dead or i won’t get to see her. My brother bas not even acknowledged that it happened. I hate my family lol
Who keeps the truth about something like this from a kid??? Sister, mom, brother, all trying to hush it up. Why is the whole family intent on downplaying/hiding his murder? That’s so out of touch it’s almost suspicious.
She says it is too traumatic because my niece has dealt with too much. Well all the things my niece is dealing with stem from the fact that my sister chose to unnecessarily move to Vietnam for work during the Delta outbreak. I am so mad. It’s not fair. My niece is about to turn 10 and will be back in town for Christmas. She loved David. She knew him before anyone in my family did because we were best friends for several years before dating. She didn’t get to go to the memorial even though there were pictures if them in the slide. My sister took away her chance to mourn with everyone else & she will never get that back.

My mom has lived 10 minutes from me for 4 years but has never asked where I live. - 27 Oct 2022 in /emotionalneglect

So, yesterday I went by my mom’s house because i have packages sent there. (I am in the hood so things disappear). For the first time in the over 4 years I was my husband, it finally crossed her mind that she doesn’t even know where i live. She acted like it was my fault & I pointed out that she had literally not once bothered to care or ask until just then. My husband was murdered 5 months ago by a stranger while walking the dog. and he was a pack rat. I have been dealing with cleaning the house, PLUS all that goes along with a murder (it’s a lot) by myself. But my point here is my husband was dead for 5 months & some days before my mom even brought up where do i live. She has known the whole time that i have been massively overwhelmed & struggling. It just pisses me off. I deserve much better & I really believe that now.

I am having panic attacks again being double teamed by nmom & n sis - 04 Jan 2023 in /raisedbynarcissists

I honest to god do not know how i survived my childhood after this last week. I tried to stand up for myself on social media. Well, it made “the family” be shown in a negative light & they have teamed up against me. I just… i have been waking up with panic attacks and they continue throughout the day. They are just so cruel and I am beside myself with the level of gaslighting. Anyway, I am an adult and have years of therapy and tools to help me cope. Yet within one week of being around them again and my whole nervous system is shot. I feel so fucking crazy even though I swear I yam the only one being logical. I hate it so much and I am actually really so sad for what little me went through. Also impressed because it is hell to be around.
Reminder that this is a repost sub. I am not the original poster.
submitted by Myrandall to BestofRedditorUpdates [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 19:29 RubyRedYoshi The science compendium for seedlings and plants

Hey everyone! I wanted to take a block of time to write out some of the knowledge I've gained through growing hydroponic strawberries, gardening, trees, and so on. I'm sure many of you already know a good chunk of the upcoming information, but this is to put it all in writing in one place, or for those who maybe don't know the science behind it. Fair warning, this will be a very long post.
There's been a few times I've been asked "Why are my plants suffering" in one form or another (mostly on Hydroponics). Relative to here, this typically would be in the seedling phase and less so in the soil phase of our plants lives. Alternatively, I've also been asked how to optimize input metrics. This also ties into the former question.
Plants care about a variety of input factors. The major ones I'll mention are: Light, temperature, humidity, food (fertilizer), soil composition, and water (media type factors in). These aren't the only factors, but these are the most relevant to this board.
Getting right into it,

Light
Plants require photons to undergo photosynthesis. This is a fancy way of saying they need light to eat carbon. All plants have a maximum light saturation amount (though are fine if the light provided is higher) as well as a minimum required amount per day of light they need. This will vary by crop type as well as variety type within a specific crop, though less so with varietal changes as opposed to different crops.
Plants fall into one of three sub categories for light: low light, medium light, high light. For all light crops, the units of measurement we like to use are mol / m2 / day. This is a measurement of the quantity of photons from the visible light spectrum (700-400nm wavelength) which have hit a given part of the plant over a day. Slightly digressing a bit, I'll talk about artificial light first as the above units of measurement make sense by doing so. Then I'll tie this back into the sun.
When looking at artificial lights, many vendors list micromol / m2 / sec values at given heights. As an example, if you click on the second subpicture, you'll see it shows a "PPFD Map" at 8", 10" and 12" heights. Notice that for each map where the height increases, the numbers within the grid decrease. This is because light intensity drops following an inverse square law against distance. Light likes to spread out the further away from a source it is. When we talk about artificial lights, we're talking about a few (tens to a hundred) watts of power. The sun by comparison is 3.68 x 1026 watts! You'll also notice that as you move further away from the center of the light fixture, the numbers drop. This is because light spreads out in a cone shape away from its source (assuming there's reflectors built into the light fixture), otherwise light is omnidirectional from its source.
What this summarizes to is from artificial lights, each individual diode outputs a certain number of photons. Photons which then hit a plant are additive from all sources of light. There's more overlapping cones in the center of a light fixture than there are at the end of a fixture, and there's more light diodes closer to the plant in the center of a fixture as compared to the end of a single fixture.
Back to the light requirements, low light requiring crops such as microgreens and lettuces like to receive 8-15 mol / m2 / day of light. Medium light crops such as soft berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc. like to receive 17-25 mol / m2 / day of light, and high light crops like tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc. like to receive 30+ mol / m2 / day of light. Again, all crops are fine with receiving more light. For artificial light we don't provide much more since artificial lights require electricity to operate.
Now, to convert between the two aforementioned units of measurement: micromol / m2 / sec mol / m2 / day, we first take the former (lets say we start with a value of 500 micromol / m2 / day for this example) and multiply it by 60 seconds, and again by 60 minutes.
500 x 60 x 60 = 1,800,000 micromol / m2 / hour
Then we need to multiply 1,800,000 by the number of hours the artificial light fixture is on for, let's say for example it's 15 hours.
1,800,000 x 15 = 27,000,000 micromol / m2 / day
Finally we need to multiply by 10-6 as this is the units difference between micromol and mol.
27,000,000 x 10-6 = 27 mol / m2 / day.
This means a light outputting 500 micromol / m2 / second at a given height and turned on for 15 hours each day would be fine for growing low and medium light crops. Either moving the light a bit closer to a plant, or keeping the light on for longer would make it suitable for high light crops. But this brings me to another sub point within light, photoperiod.
All plants have optimal photoperiods. Simply put, this is the duration per day a light is on and the plants are photosynthesizing. The best analogy I've heard is to imagine your plant is running a marathon while being bathed in light. Just like us, we need to eventually stop and rest. Nighttime allows for this, so you don't want necessarily to bathe your plant in light for too long each day (there's some caveats to this with some crop and variety types, see Alaskan cabbage for example).
Now as for the sun. Here's a neat calculator for the sun's micromol output at a given time of any day. You will need to fill out all of the boxes accordingly (and they don't have to be ultra precise) for where your location is. If you run the numbers for Winnipeg, you'll find that on a clear June 21st day, the sun outputs 70+ mol / m2 / day of light over the whole day, while on a clear December 21st day it's closer to 8 mol / m2 / day. This also will tell you when the sun would provide enough light for the varying crop types over a given day. Once we get into October through to late February, there's not enough photons regardless of temperature outside for some crop types! The best part about the sun is because it's so powerful, it doesn't follow the same setbacks as artificial light. Remember the PPFD map earlier where those values dropped fairly substantially on the 2" increments? The sun is so powerful that a 7' tall cornstalk outdoors would see no measurable difference in the quantity of photons from the top of the plant all the way to the bottom. As a side note, any plant or structure that shades out whatever it is you're trying to grow will reduce photon count to near 0 while in shade. You can factor that in to the calculator above.
That's an important point to make as well, the whole plant needs its daily minimum. If the lower portions of a plant (think a 18-24" tall tomato plant before planting in the garden) don't get enough light, the plant will kill off the lower leaves once higher ones are out and closer to more photons. Leaves are the most effective at photosynthesis, but the entire plant above ground needs to meet minimum light each day.
Another factor to consider is your windows. Low-E glass, greatly reduces the amount of photons from the sun coming into your building. A telltale sign of your plants not receiving enough light is if they are leggy in appearance (they get tall but skinny at the same time, maybe they fall over, and don't have a lot of leaves while doing so).
Obviously, starting peppers and tomatoes in February / March doesn't allow us to put them outside for the sun, so artificial lights may be needed in addition to the sun. If the next question you ask is along the lines of "which light is a good light to use?", any grow light will work fine if you're not looking to optimize growth at a commercial level. What you ideally want is a light with high efficiency denoted by mmol / watts. LED lights can approach 3-4 mmol / watt, and all this means is how many photons that fixture puts out against how much electricity is needed. The higher the number, the more light you put out with the same amount of electricity. Ideally if you see a good enough grow light on sale, it should work fine.
For further reading, you'll want to check into light spectrum and photomorphogenesis, but this goes into optimizing artificial lights which aren't as necessary if you plan on growing under the sun at all.

Temperature and humidity
This won't be as long of a section as light. Plants usually fall into two temperature categories. Lower temperature crops such as lettuce and day neutral variety strawberries like to sit around 20 degrees during the day, and go down to 10 degrees at night. Higher temperature crops such as tomatoes, peppers and corn like to be well into the 20's (some varieties into the 30's) and down to about 16 degrees at night. This is more for when they begin their flowering / fruiting phase as otherwise you should follow the directions on the back of the seed packets, or from the nursery. Unless you're looking at climate controlled grows, mother nature will give us what she gives us! This is also another reason we see people not planting in their gardens until June, and it's because of the night time temperatures potentially still being too cold for some plants (nevermind possible frosts).
Humidity is an important factor as well as this directly impacts a plant's rate of evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration is the rate at which a plant consumes water, and by extension nutrients. The lower the humidity is the more a plant consumes. If the plant consumes too fast, you'll run into nutrient problems! Optimal humidity for most plants is between 40-60% (more varieties are closer to the 60% mark), though some require even higher nighttime humidity values. When starting from seed in February / March, ensure your plants have enough humidity in the room, as our winter indoor humidity levels are often too low! This transitions nicely into -

Nutrients (food)
There's very long writeups on this topic. I won't make this section a novel (but I might get close to it)! For nutrients, there's a few that matter:
Primary: (N)itrogen, (P)hosphorous, (K)Potassium, (S)ulphur
Secondary: (S)ulphur, (Ca)lcium, (Mg)Magnesium
Micronutrients: (B)oron, (Zn)Zinc, (Co)pper, (Mn)Manganese, (Fe)Iron, (there are more than just these five, though research is ongoing as to which ones and in what quantity)
--Note, Sulphur depending on plant type is either a primary or a secondary nutrient.
There's a law of minimums involved which says whichever nutrient is the lowest available, the plant will grow to capacity of the lowest available element.

Out of the three main primary nutrients,
Nitrogen is needed to increase above ground plant tissue growth. The more of this you have (to a point), the faster your plants will shoot out new leaves, stems, branches, etc.
Phosphorous has a few roles, but the big one is to spur new root growth. When sprouting from seed, after the plants start growing their first true leaves (the one after the initial two out of the "ground"), phosphorous is a good nutrient to begin feeding to plants to encourage initial root growth.
Potassium has a critical role in aiding nutrient movement through the plant. In essence they're like the red blood cells if a plant had red blood cells! Potassium also encourages flowering and helps to increase yields from flowering plants.

One thing I want to emphasize on the nutrients is the "primary, secondary and micro" titles are potentially a bit misleading. These are not named in order of importance, but rather in order of quantity typically consumed. The quantity of manganese you'd potentially add to a garden would be vastly lower than the quantity of say potassium over a given time period. I can not recommend fertilizer blends to you as there's a whole host of factors you ideally want to consider first. That said, if you're not looking to really dive into the details, a 20-20-20 or equivalent is fine (mostly) so long as you follow the directions on the label. Composting is a parallel option as this is more for soil amending rather than fertilizing. That said, for example, dead leaves from last year as well as blades of grass will hold nutrients from the prior year, and those nutrients over time are broken down and recycled back into the new growth. The breakdown in soil is called "organic matter". Organic matter requires microbes and bacteria to further break down into rich topsoil and nutrients. Fortunately, soil has these microbes and bacteria! You absolutely want to have some organic matter in your soils!
One excellent nutrient resource I've found is Haifa. They've got tons of articles on fertilizers, feeding schedules, some plants even have pictures of what the various deficiencies look like. I'd highly recommend them as a resource.
Another thing to keep in mind is potting soil, coco coir, or any other starting media that's not actual dirt from the ground outside is substrate. These initial medias either don't have any or have very little fertilizers in them. They are not meant to sustain plants for long without further fertilization applications. If you start plants months in advance of transplanting into your soil garden without using soil, you will need to fertilize in the time period prior to planting. Even with soil you may want to fertilize, but this again takes me into the next topic.

Soils
This is again potentially another very long topic. In the interests of again keeping it not novel length, I'd always recommend sending in some of your soil for analysis. Farmers Edge is one lab in Winnipeg which will run soil analysis, but they're not the only one. Depending on which package you opt for (and in my personal opinion, the first one should always be the complete so you know all there is nutrient wise to test for), you will receive an analysis showing how much of each element you have in your soil at the time of sampling. You'll also see how much salt, organic matter, pH, and more is in there. Once you know what's in your soil, you can then look at different fertilizer blends to more properly amend your garden.
Most garden plant roots stick in the top 12" of soil, so it's usually not necessary to test below 12". You likely don't need to test below 6", though I'm not a soil scientist so don't take my word as gospel here!
Here's where the complexity comes in! The first thing to look at is soil pH. Why? Because pH affects nutrient intake. And to add to this, nutrients themselves compete with each other for uptake! Some nutrients are cations (nutrients with a positive electrical charge), and some are anions (negative charge). Cations like calcium, boron, and iron (there's more) compete with each other for intake, and the same is true for anions against each other. It's also unfortunately not easy to permanently raise or lower soil pH as it would take a lot of acid or base to do so over many many many years. The best way to go about setting your pH is to add soil with values closer to ideal. Ideal pH for most plants are typically around a pH of 6.5 +- 0.5 (there are exceptions, blueberries are a good example here of liking even more acidic soil). That said, plants can still grow somewhat out of the ideal range relatively fine, but knowing what's going on and how to help amend based on your soil results will help a long way!
The next thing to look at is sodium levels. Sodium is one element that plants do not like. Again using a line I heard years ago, think of when we eat a salty pizza. You get thirsty. Sodium has the same idea going on in a plant where the cells can't handle sodium and die off. Too much sodium in your soils will lead to negative effects. Fortunately, rain over time will wash salts to a lower level in the soil, but there's also research suggesting Humic Acid works well in reducing sodium in your soil. It will also reduce potassium, so keep that in mind if you choose to use humic acid.
Another metric on the soil analysis results will be organic matter. If needed, adding compost or pete to the garden will raise total organic matter metrics, you ideally don't want to be too much below 5%. Just keep in mind these "soils" will have their own nutrient values and pH!
One of the better ways to fertilize your garden (if using synthetic fertilizer) is through drip line fertigation. This keeps the water close to the ground so winds don't blow off your solution, and you're able to dissolve powdered nutrient solution into the water. It's certainly not the only way however. Should you choose to go this way, many of the big fertilizer companies (PlantProd is one example) and their local resellers will provide guidance on the blend, quantity and distribution rates. They will also ask for a soil analysis which you can provide.
There are many PDF's and maps available through Manitoba's Ag department online which show not only soil composition but nutrient quantities over large areas. For example, the Red River Basin typically is high in calcium on account of all of the limestone in the ground. Your local area may be different, but areas with limestone do not typically need to add calcium to their gardens. The Red River Basin also typically (but not everywhere) is low in manganese which usually means we need to amend our growing areas.

Water
The obvious point is to make sure you water your plants but don't overwater them. Again unless you're doing a climate controlled grow, mother nature gives what she gives. However for seedlings, many don't like to constantly have wet feet. There are exceptions to this rule based on plant type, but make sure you read up on what plants like what. Substrate (potting soil) is designed to not hold as much water as clay soils such that the seedling roots don't constantly sit in wet conditions. When you do water, you ideally want to thoroughly water the plant so water saturates the entire media. Don't constantly shallow water.
Beyond the obvious however, there's two other things I want to mention. The first is what water does to the nutrients in the soil. When it excessively rains, salts in the soil (things like sodium, potassium, calcium) will be pushed further into the ground away from the roots of a plant. Even in calcium rich soils, you could see calcium deficiencies because of excessive rain (this happened last year - 2022). Alternatively when its a drier year, salts are pulled more towards the surface and are then more concentrated around the roots of a plant. This is one of the reasons to not overwater a plant as you not only potentially drown them, but you push their food further away from their roots.
Secondly, what's in your water other than the pure water itself (H2O) will end up in your soil. If your water source is well water (for example) and you have high sodium concentrations, you will drive up the sodium concentrations in your soil with each successive watering you do. The lower the concentrations in your water, the longer it takes to build up. Rain is also mostly pure, and will wash concentrations down over time. There's a Sodium Absorption Ratio formula that comes into play for how much sodium is too much sodium? If the end result is under 3, it's fine. Anything over 9 is not suitable for long term agricultural watering. Note that this ratio breaks down when your three elements are all very low numbers. For those in the city of Winnipeg, the city conducts general testing typically once a year. Water high in calcium carbonate will also further drive up the pH of your soil. Water can be sent in for testing the same as soil. ALS laboratories near the corner of highway #1 and highway #59 in Winnipeg is one outfit that tests water, but again, they're not the only option.


I want to reiterate, there's a lot more information around these topics that I didn't include in this post. It would take weeks to really dig into any of them. As well, there are other more organic methods other than synthetic fertilizers which can be used for soil gardens. I mention synthetic fertilizers as part of my growing world deals with strawberries in hydroponics. Another example would be humidity and why it plays such a critical role. Specifically its related to which nutrient elements are mobile and immobile elements and how they are transported around in the plant based on humidity, and how humidity and airflow or lack of it can cause or alleviate Edema.
I hope that some of you find this post informative, and potentially helpful in growing your gardens!
submitted by RubyRedYoshi to ManitobaGardening [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 19:19 Twi19 Aerthrandir's Letter to Lilissen: #1

17 Seabright Drive
Marsember, Cormyr
19 Uktar, 736 BC
The envelope is lumpy- inside, along with several sheets of parchment, is a deep green seashell, streaked with black.

Dear Meriada,

Oh, I have missed you dearly.
It is deeply fortunate that your letter came when it did- as you settle in from travel, I’m about to depart. Well, depart again- it’s been quite a busy year since the mist has let us go. I’ve attached a rough itinerary of my travels for the next few months- mail about a week ahead of where I’ll be, and I will most likely receive it.
I have so much to tell you I’m not sure where to start- so I’ll take your cue here, and begin with the obvious. Strahd, and the aftermath thereof.
I am glad to hear your nightmares have abated- though it seems you fought tooth and nail to put them back where they belonged. I do not envy you the task- though it does make me happy to see you approaching it with the same rigor and determination you bring to the rest of your life. Let that long shadow pass, it will not forever keep us in its shade.For my part, I’ve had a different problem. I left Barovia bright-eyed and keen as a razor, ready to shred my old life and start anew- stop living in the past and accept what wonders mortality and time had to give me.Life, as ever, was not that simple.
I gathered myself and trekked off to Aufstra, determined that I’d shatter all the chains tying me to the past in one fell swoop- rip the bandage off, get it all over with. I’d set fire to my past life as easily as I set fire to my cabin- and then I’d finally be free. Free to…
Free to do something. I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Honestly, I’m not sure I was thinking, period.
I made it to Aufstra’s ruins- and at first everything was going according to plan. I’d read, before, in some book or another, that people need closure on things that they never saw die. I figured that if I actually walked into the place, saw what time and neglect had made of what I had once loved, that that would be the push I’d need to move on. Get on with things, go enjoy my phenomenal magical power and my immense wealth and my gorgeous girlfriend. Stop dwelling on things, like a damn fool.
Except.
Except when I woke up on my first morning there, I found the Aufstran sun still shone as brightly and kindly as it had when I was a child. The waves were still crystal blue. And, given a century to recover, the ruins had been reclaimed by vegetation and time to where they were the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. Toppled, yes. But still striking in their simple majesty.
Meriada, I fell back in love.
More accurately, it was as though I’d never left- I cleared out a living space near the ruins of my family’s home, and soon I was taking morning swims on the same beach that I had every day since I was able to walk. I read books that time and damp had yet to ruin, I explored toppled buildings like I was a teenager searching intently for old coins and ancient ghosts. It was… perfect.
It didn’t help that the ruins contained an absolute glut of information relevant to my historical work- I’d been dreaming of coming back here for decades, so it was very easy to get drawn into a dozen different projects now that I was actually back. Soon I was spending my days taking rubbings of toppled gravestones and using long lengths of twine to reconstruct the paths that the old streets once followed. It was an archeological dig, where I could set my own agenda and follow my own whims. It was nostalgia and duty and grief all rolled into one.I could’ve stayed there forever, Meriada. Why would I ever leave?
I had money to buy essential supplies whenever it came up- preserved food, flour, cooking oil. I had the power to intimidate or kill whatever threats came my way. And I had the magic to check in occasionally with my loved ones, so they’d know I was alive and… okay. And I had enough work to do that I could bury myself forever and never, ever have to think about wolves or ghouls or the sound a friend made when she went up in flames.
It was perfect. It was pure. It was the worst fucking decision I could’ve ever made.
And so four months passed, summer fading to autumn, as I laid down in my grave and began spooning dirt back onto my coffin. I was making splendid progress on my work, my skin was tan and warm, and I could start to see the sun-streaks in my hair again. I had started outgrowing my little makeshift camp, and was seriously considering refurbishing one of the less ruined buildings and making a home here.
But fortunately, even though I am so often a moth to folly’s candle, there are other lights in this world. And four of them served to draw me out of my fugue.Two, you’re quite familiar with- a pair of tieflings, who both stalwartly refused to let me drown in my self-imposed isolation.
Amity, I expected- she’d given me a number of scrolls of Dream before my trip, and I treasured each nighttime visit I had with her like fourteen-karat gold. She’s taken a much more sensible and interesting path than me, you know- she’s a monster hunter now, like Ezmerelda. Odd that there seems to be a niche for brilliant spellcasters with awesome leg prosthetics, but she’s filling it well. Medium, spirit channeler, savior of those too weak to save themselves- I can’t count the number of times I was pulled away from study for a quick chat or a consult about a particular monster’s weaknesses. I half-resented the interruption, then- now I am eternally thankful for it.
But Lucian- I did not expect him to do as much as he did. When we’d parted, I’d left him a sending stone- both as a practical measure and a gesture of care and connection. I had expected that he would, at best, not throw it away- and that I might be able to catch him occasionally and find out how he was doing every year or two.What I had not expected was that we would end up talking as often as we did.
At first, it was mostly bookkeeping and business. I sent him a message to make sure he’d made it to Waterdeep alright. He sent me one asking for help with a letter of reference when he needed to open a bank account. And so on. We kept a respectful distance.
And then, one night, I got very, very drunk on a store of Captain Salamander’s worst rum, and sent him no less than nine Sendings at about three in the morning. I don’t remember what they were about- he does, but he refuses to tell me. Says it’s for my own good, which is not a sentiment you want to hear from *Lucian.* Regardless, when I had woken up the next morning, Lucian sent me a message asking what, precisely, was my problem. When I hastily and shamedly explained, his next Sending was whatever the equivalent is of twenty-five words of hysterical laughter.
And then we kept in touch. He would ask me about my day and the progression of my “nerd shit”, while I’d try to keep abreast of his latest exploits in Waterdeep and his dealings with the aftermath of Barovia. (Meriada, I think you may find that you’re not alone in your quest to put horrible dreams back in their place.) It was informal and intermittent and vulgar. And it may have helped save my life.
As for the other two lights, and the shock to action which brought me out of that horrible place? Well, I’ll have to expand on those next time- I have actually run out of parchment, which is probably a sign from the gods of brevity that I’ve gone a bit overboard. Be well, Meriada, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Your friend, always,

Aerthrandir Aereal

PS: On the topic of a ward against fire- I’ve done some research, and will pass along more as I learn. For now, it appears you’re far from the first to wish for such a thing- though finding fire immunity looks to be a difficult task. If I were you, I would look into certain artifacts resonant with the Elemental Plane of Fire, as well as a few of the items forged by the Cult of Tiamat during their attempt at resurrecting the goddess. I think, regrettably, that any attempt at a perfect ward will mean mastering fire, not defying it. Good luck.
PSS: I hope you like the shell.
High Elf Lore Bard 7, Bladesinger Wizard 6
submitted by Twi19 to LettersfromAerth [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 19:12 Ytumith I just had the most fun gaming experience in the last four hours and wanted to share:

This story starts out fairly simple but becomes ridiculous later on.
The crew assembled when Captain Ashford, a concealed pirate lord, made his way over a desert planet on the homebrewed solar system called "Feller's Bastard Star". It named after a long gone "Feller" dynasty which aimed to build a solar collector base around the entire star, speak Dyson sphere in our language. In the downtrodden, rude language of imperialists this fringe-world and project that was never finished is just called "Bastard Star" because it's half station, half star.
This system has mostly desert worlds, specifically Feller 2, which is in turn the megalomanic project of a Waaghboss Ork who steals spacecraft from any faction and crashes them into the sand world. His goal: Create the ultimate "Rokk" in the size of a planet.
Something about this solar system breeds megalomaniacs.
This ork warband has captured three of the four party members. Captain Ashford however is so far unaware of the orks and the rest of his soon to be crew. His goal is another: Having fetched a star ship key from the black market, he sees his great chance of fame and glory. The hasty xeno merchant gave him the coordinates and rushed away on it's merry way. Captain Ashford followed this course, and happened upon a sandy world through which he wandered and at times crawled.
Slying away from ork patrols, he finally arrives at a small ork camp. A slave camp in which all other crewmen and some alien slaves are "storaged" along with a pile of their former possessions.
The Voidmaster Log Malakai in particular is not happy about his situation and breaks a cage beam with the strength of his machine arm, drawing the full two brain cells of possible attention from an ork guard. Thinking quickly, Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator Carthus Lambda-2 assembles a primitve thrown weapon from his prison bed by throwing the entire prison bed at the ork.
This is when Captain Ashford strikes and eliminates the ork with a plasma blast from behind. The goop sprouting carcass topples over, dropping a comically large radio.Navigator Seth Almagam, called "Grim" due to his strange antics, who was also previously captive uses the radio to confuse ork command which is as simple as shouting something and dropping the device.
They proceed to team up and free a small group of eldar warriors from their cages, who in turn temporarily ally with them to break free from the slave camp. Using the radio of the ork guard, they make ork command believe that the eldar have broken free, which is true after all.
As Game Master and Reader, we can not be sure which plan Ashford had with blaming it on the eldar, but we can only assume that a profound rivalry to the ancient alien empire exists.The great bail-out happens as planned.
Grotzs are being shot and scared to death by the Navigator. Using Micro Grenades, a more well-armored ork guard explodes inside his own metal casing. Finally, the angry Explorator Carthus finds his trusty servo-skull "H.U.B." integrated into a shoddy ork turret and wired with it's hover exhausts to orkish sensor machinery.The Ork mechanic who wired the skull up to the turret had added a small sign for the skull to read: It depicted a human and an ork, and the words "shoot" "not shoot", which the servo skull obviously ignored.
Freed from the orkish slavery, HUB returned into service of Carthus and helped him take aim on another ork turret. In a swift scoped attack, the ork gunner is missed- but enough time is bought for the Navigator to teleport behind him and drop a final load of micro krak-grenades into the turret.
The eldar have by then been forgotten and are only mentioned briefly by another player in the second session- entering not only game mechanical but also contextual stealth successfully. We might see them again later.
For now, the crew has stolen an Ork Truck, which is when the hastily imported Rulework of another table top game "Gaslands" came into play. The truck itself is a puzzle and trap filled one-page-dungeon of it's kind. Playing bluegrass on the table top audio, the GM explained the "features" of the truck:
Fully build in hot-air cooler, red button, speed holes, comfort-tinted frontal windshield to withstand both the radiation of the sun and oncomming rock walls.
A drawn control panel is shown to the voidmaster who was decided to be the driver for the time being due to his over average agility score. Due to the orkish nature of vehicle design, only the co-pilot has an actual view to the front, making this a dungeon puzzle for one player and a ralley simulator for the other.
This control panel contains levers, pedals and a red button. Of course he started slow, after all the GM had just explained the Gear and Hazard system of Gaslands. (You can only make narrow turns or swerving manouvers in lower gear without entering dangerous maneuvering)
On the back of the truck, Grim the navigator and carthus the tech priest hold position and act as gunners with their starter equipment.
Then curiosity won and the big red button is pressed. Tune up table audio to a more apt rock and roll theme. The ork truck is accelerated with the condensed chemical brutality of whatever it is that orks consider fuel. Blue flames burst out of perforated mufflers, bending them in uneven angles.Sand is catapulted to the back, and the device cranks up into fifth gear. Parts of the quickly hand sketched control board explode, giving the player only estimations of the current gear that the vehicle is in. The crew on top, who need to hold their guns and balance, obtain a negative modifier on ballistic checks.
And of course hordes of orks on buggies and carts chase after them, jumping over cliffs and ramps, the entire madmax fetish of the GM comes into play.
The chase through scrapfields and cactus oasis reduces the loot with each failed handling skill, finally Grim, of all players, is overtaken by greed and decides to stop shooting orks and holds on to the looted bags of xeno tech that is shaken with each turn and driven maneuver.
As the designated driver Lok makes turns left and right, and experiments with the levers, he finds out that the levers are for turn signals. The right one being a flashing red light, the left one an indirect command for a gretchin to hold a red signal torch out of a hatch on the side of the vehicle.
Because in the fast pace of combined puzzle and Gaslands-chase, the turn signals are frequently ignored. This angers the gretchin who visits the cockpit through a small hatch and realizes that he is being stolen by humans along with the truck.
Stressed, the voidmaster tries to intimdate what greenish goblin: "Shut up!" But fails his intimidation throw and the gretching returns into the inner workings of the machine."Now where was this safety fuse?" He asks loudly. All players realize that this little gremlin is about to sabotage their escape- the captain yells "We have a blind passager!""I am not blind!" The gretchin complains.Dropping a photonic grenade into the same hatch that the little xeno went into the captain asks "How about now?"A flash emerges through the bolted cracks and rims along the engine casing.This is when I decided to write down the story because I was laughing.
Captain Ashfords recognizes an ork truck with two heavily armed "boys" emerge from a nearby dune and orders the tech priest, whose name he at that point does not even know yet, to take them out.A bonus on the ballistic check, but also an astonishing righteous fury hit vaporize the front wheels of the attacking vehicle, sending orks flying. Another proof that a lasgun is more than a flashlight if aimed correctly.One ork manages to fire a shot at the heroes' car mid-air but is then run over by another chasing buggy as soon as he contacts sandy desert ground. The other ork lands headfirst on the chasing buggy and gets back up, thrilled by the "WAAAGH!" of his orky brethern.
Finally, the chase climaxes as they reach Captain Ashford's bounty: A dictator class cruiser, buried for thousands of years in the sand, from a time when the system was inhabited by humans. They manage to rush their stolen truck into the frontal torpedo tube of the ship's prow. Looted since millennia, there is no weapon installed and instead they crash right into the hallways of the ship. Orkish pursuers at times do not make the hawk-jump and crash into the prow, atomized by their speed and imperial ceramic armor.
With only two scrap-made carts on their tails, the crew escapes into the depths of the cruiser and shakes them off, advancing on foot. The previously stunned engine gretchin is now enthralled to their group.
Finally they reach the ingition altar, and the key is inserted.It follows a puzzle that is difficult in ways that average players would never comprehend. An active listening challenge, in which nothing else but the uberduck text to speech voice of the voice labled as the "burgerking rapper" is giving them a comprehension summary task. It explains the perils of the previous crew in what is, and I man up to this because I am responsible, a slight joke on cost of the Jamaican accent, which is fairly hard to understand on it's own. But if you throw in a mix of shadowrun "chummer" lingo, German and obscure 90's hip hop references you end up in a wall of spoken text that rushes over you and leaves only a state of absolute confusion.
Excusingly the GM proclaims that thousand year old low gothic is hard to understand.
After successful tech use the techpriest manages to obtain all the voice files. Of course the GM saw this happening and adds voice files into the selection of player-replayable files, that are mild taunts against the tech priest, even more obscure references and a rap that decries the imperial navy as loosers and proclaims servitor pirates to be the winner.
Finally Grim the navigator, of all people, manages to use what little buzzwords he can understand and ties together a story of what must have happened: The previous crew was killed or went missing, servitor crew was frozen in stasis and the ship went into hibernating. The entire ship belonged to pirates, making captain Ashford drop his facade and openly proclaim that he is a freebooter.
This is the start of the "Arcadia's" adventure along the fringes of sector Koronus and a great feud between a Warghboss and a reaver pirate captain.
Long story short: If you make a devils bargain with the GM about getting a very good starter ship, you will still have to fight for it.
submitted by Ytumith to 40krpg [link] [comments]


2023.03.26 19:10 Express_Ad_6664 A Morphing Universe Chapter 5.1 (Animorphs/Nature of Predators crossover)

Kolshian Homeworld ‘Aafa’, 8th September 2136
Rushing through the corridors of the governance hall, Cilany desperately attempted to keep hold of her data slate. This would be the story of a lifetime! She had originally come to Aafa to report on the planned attack on Earth, once news broke that the humans had survived. That the conquering beasts had superior weaponry, and had clearly amassed a significant fleet, was enough to upset the Federations’ pre-existing plans. Cilany had bluffed her way onto a diplomatic courier in the hopes of getting a front row seat to the summit of Federation leadership.
The news had come mid-flight that the humans had struck Gojid space, along with claims of several races fighting alongside the predators. There was even mention of some ‘Inter-Species Union’. Last Cilany had heard, the Cradle itself was under attack, this latest update coming just as her ship arrived in the Aafa system. She had immediately found an itinerary for the upcoming meetings, and waited for the discussions to begin.
All of her plans, and those of everyone on Aafa, had been turned upside down by the arrival of a human vessel in the system. Appearing two light-hours from Aafa, it had approached in a manner designed to let the Kolshians know it was there. When challenged by the defence fleet, a transmission had come from the gigantic tree-like vessel, broadcast across all channels. It showed a prey creature with dark grey-blue flesh and a short, crushing beak. Nodules and spines of bone protruded from its skin, and it seemed to be comprised of nothing but muscle. Flanking it were a pink-furred creature with a long snout, and a Mazic-like creature with two trunks. Standing a little to the left of the spined creature was Governor Tarva of the Venlil. This had shocked Cilany, as she had assumed that the leader of a conquered species would have either been executed (likely being eaten alive) or enslaved. Most shocking of all, the three unknown species were taller than the woolly leader. The blue-grey beast had spoken, their voice deep and rumbling with occasional hoots.
“Greetings, people of the Federation. I am Clan Lord Ulcalna Zhor-Latt, ambassador of the Covenant of Zhulrin. We are here as diplomatic representatives of the Inter-Species Union, on a mission of peace. We know that there is a summit taking place on this world, in which you plan to make war upon one of our member states, the Federation of Human Systems. It is our intention to find a peaceful alternative. We have brought with us an ambassador of the humans, who will explain to you exactly how this conflict can be avoided. You may attempt to prevent the discharge of our duties, but we will be heard. This is your one and only chance at peace.”
And that was that. The implicit threat conveyed by the mighty warship had prevented the Kolshian forces from engaging, while the apparent prey creature with long pink fur had continued the declaration. This ‘Ambassador Voronsk of the Rishtaln’ had explained that the assembled representatives of the ‘ISU’ would meet with the Federation Council. One would give a speech explaining who they were, the human ambassador would give an account of what was happening in Gojid space, and then they would return to their ship within half an hour. Cilany had heard that the assembled leaders had argued over whether to allow the human to speak, with many siding with Jerulim of the Krakotl and demanding that they blow the human ship out of the sky.
Then the Zurulian representative had pointed out the unpleasant truth: if the humans and their ‘allies’ were denied access, they would likely just bomb Aafa. If their representatives were killed, they would bomb Aafa. If the ‘diplomats’ were allowed to land and they attacked Federation citizens, it would destroy any attempt by the predators to deceive them. And besides, if they let the human talk, there was the possibility of gaining vital information about their plans.
So now, Cilany was rushing to the council chamber to get first-hand footage and live notes of the first act of predatory diplomacy in Federation history. From what she had picked up on the way, the diplomatic entourage had caused quite the stir when they exited their shuttle, though why was not clear. Panting, Cilany arrived at the door to the chamber. The area around the speakers’ podium was filled with Kolshian soldiers, nervously brandishing their weapons. Seating herself in the public gallery, along with maybe six other journalists brave enough to be in the same room as a predator. Surprisingly enough, there were many more ambassadors in the chamber than she would have thought. Cilany had just turned her pad on when the doors to the main podium opened. Into the room strode a veritable menagerie of new species. And at least four were predators.
The first into the room were two large reptilian bipeds, towering over the assembled guards much as the Arxur would. Their bodies were lined with blades, and their taloned digits clutched at their waists, as if reaching for weapons that were not there. They moved to the sides, taking up positions to the left and right of the speakers’ podium. From the position of their eyes, Cilany could see they were prey. The way they had placed themselves suggested they were guards, but why would the humans use prey as security?
Following behind came the rest of the ‘ISU’ representatives. On the left were the three creatures from the original message, and this time Cilany could see the entirety of their bodies. The Rishtaln moved with a sort of loping grace, and Cilany could almost imagine this pink prey creature sinking those wide spatulate nails into the flesh of an attacking predator. There was just something… menacing about how they moved. The grey creature who had identified themselves as ‘Clan Lord Ulcalna’ was larger in person than she had previously thought, their head easily level with that of an Arxur. The bony spines running along their back rose upon entering the chamber, some sort of threat display? Cilany could not think why a prey creature would feel the need to threaten fellow prey. And those arms… they looked capable of breaking a Mazic in half.
Perhaps the most horrifying was the quadruped with the twin trunks. They were surrounded by three bipedal creatures the size of a Venlil, with rust-red feathers and hooked beaks, their forward eyes betraying their predatory nature. Strangely, the beasts seemed to be holding data slates in their clawed hands. The four-legged prey showed no signs of fear or hesitation, seeming almost to swagger as the ambassadors entered the chamber. And the feathered beasts were not the only shocking sight. To the right of the party, a tall predator with purple-grey fur spotted with black and a short muzzle walked in front of a bright yellow creature that reminded Cilany of a Kolshian, save for its pot-belly and four large tentacles where the Kolshians had only two. Bringing up the rear was a tan biped whose long tail ended in a mass of long spines. If the position of its eyes did not make its diet clear, the two long fangs protruding from its lips did.
These seven species surrounded four central figures. Tarva was immediately recognisable, walking right next to the dark-skinned human. How could she be that close to a predator and not be whimpering in terror? The human ‘ambassador’ was tall, with some sort of form-fitting garment obscuring most of its near-black skin. A cloak with what looked like a stylised star-chart printed on it flowed from its back as its binocular eyes swept over the assembled dignitaries. On its left, a blue-furred quadruped with a long, bladed tail followed, their twin stalk eyes mimicking the humans’ predatory gaze. On their right was the tallest biped Cilany had ever seen, standing at least eight feet tall at the shoulder, with its long, branching antlers reaching even higher. Four yellow eyes, two side-mounted, two front-facing, took in the entire chamber as the green-furred creature marched forward. Four long arms extended from its torso, holding claws more terrible than even those of the Arxur. Cilany could only stare in shock at the advancing party. How could the humans have allies, and how were the prey creatures not terrified?
The ‘diplomatic party’ arranged themselves around the podium, as Clan Lord Ulcalna climbed the steps up to where the microphone stood. The spiked blue-grey biped looked out at the crowd of fearful and confused prey, cleared their throat, and then spoke.
“Greetings, representatives of the Galactic Federation. I am Clan Lord Ulcalna Zhor-Latt, representative of Clan Suraln, and ambassador of the Covenant of Zhulrin to the Inter-Species Union. With me are Ambassador Ansur-Telen-Noran of the Andalite Electorate, Visser 19 of the Yeerk Republican Committee, Emissary Elone of the Nimthyl Command, Ambassador Voronsk of the Rishtalishk Congress, Designate Harri Walln of the Manper Imperium, Speaker Zon-Das-Rop of the United Kelvar Sapients and his aides, councillor Roshanat of the Leeran Shoal, and Captain Williams of the FHS. First contact between our two interstellar coalitions has led to bloodshed, and it is our hope that by explaining who we are and where we come from, we may prevent further death”.
Cilany began taking notes as the Federation ambassadors looked on in trepidation. One new predator species they could understand, but one with the support of several other species was unimaginable. Even if the new prey species were slaves or thralls, it still gave the humans greater resources and numbers than previously thought. And it certainly does not explain the other predators…
“The Inter-Species Union is an intergovernmental organisation consisting of nineteen full members and seven associate members. There are also twenty-three species with whom we have close diplomatic ties, and thirteen species within our combined territory whom we have no formal contact.”
As the ‘Clan Lord’ inserted a data-storage of some kind into the view screen, Cilany considered what the Federation had just learned. There was another multi-species body in the galaxy, smaller but still highly advanced, if the reports from Gojid space were anything to go by. Most worrying of all, it included several predatory species. While the flesh eaters likely dominated their prey members, the sharing of power between them had… concerning implications.
An image appeared on the screen and Cilany’s heart stopped. There were at least twenty different species in the image, which appeared to be some sort of social gathering or reception. At least six were obvious predators, and there were some, such as a long insectoid with four stalk-eyes, which gave Cilany a sinking feeling in her stomach.
“The Union was formed approximately one-hundred and thirty years ago, with five founding members: the Andalites, humans, Yeerks, Hork-Bajir, and Taxxons. My own species joined fifteen years later, the ninth to do so. It was envisioned as a peace-keeping force, as well as a platform for inter-species cooperation. Through the trade of resources and technology, members enjoy security and comfort, with the assistance of other species in the improvement of their infrastructure and completion of large projects. To say nothing of cultural enrichment and the exchange of luxury goods.”
Now that got Cilanys’ attention. The humans were not only members of a multi-species alliance, but were founding members? How had that happened, given the anti-social tendencies of predators? And why had prey creatures allied with them in the first place? Clearly, they were tainted by their proximity to the flesh eaters, especially given the ‘cultural exchange’. The image changed, showing a map of the galaxy. Cilany stared at the two coloured masses filling the majority of the image. One she recognised as Federation space. The other, about one third the size, touched what she could only assume was Venlil space. This group of predators and their thralls control a significant territory. Striking Earth won’t be enough, the Federation will need to actually go to war with a force equal to a third of itself. And if we need to contend with the Arxur as well…
“Through the efforts of Expeditionary Corps, the ISU have explored and colonised a significant volume of the galaxy, especially given the relatively short time it has existed. But there are dangers in this galaxy, and so each and every member is pledged to support and aid their fellows in a time of war or other crisis. This has allowed for a period of peace that has been more or less interrupted for over a century. In addition to keeping the peace, the Union has dedicated itself to spread life through out its territory. It is thus that we come to the pride of the ISU: its Terraforming Initiative.”
The screen changed once again, displaying two images side by side. One was of a rocky, inhospitable planet, the sort that every system had. The other was of a green and brown world spotted with blue, clearly life-supporting. Cilany looked closer. The stars in the background were the same, and the landmasses of the habitable planet matched formations and high points on the barren one. Did this mean…? Blessed divines!
“The exchange of technologies between member states includes technologies for environmental modification and atmospheric synthesis. The same energies that power our ships and weaponry can be turned towards generating magnetospheres, and other requirements for a world to support life. Through the introduction of specific plant and animal species, we can create ecosystems that maintain what technology began. Thus, every system held by the Union contains at least one inhabited planet with a population of ten million or more.”
Gasps filled the chamber. Cilany herself could think well enough to continue her notes. The ISU modified planets to make them habitable. Such a thing was beyond the Federations’ capabilities. They could maintain their worlds, but it required significant investment, used only for homeworlds and major colonies. And if every one of the Union’s systems was habitable… then their population and industry must be much higher than anyone had thought.
“And with that introduction, I bring us all back to the reason we are here: the recent conflict between the Gojid Union and ourselves. I leave it to the human ambassador to give an account of how this happened, and to lead the efforts in finding a peaceful solution.”
With that, Ulcalna turned and strode from the podium as the human walked up to it, along with Governor Tarva. The predator reached down to adjust the microphone, looked up at the shocked Federation ambassadors, and then spoke.
“I am Noah Williams, designated ambassador of the Federation of Humans Systems. And I come in the hopes of preventing an escalation in the hostilities that have arisen in recent weeks.”
The human paused, as if to consider its words, then continued.
“For eons, humanity looked up at the stars with wonder and hope, creating a thousand thousand different stories and mythologies to explain the majesty of the night sky. As we advanced and learned of the nature of the cosmos, we wondered what the worlds orbiting those distant points of light were like. Was there life out there, were there people on those worlds, were there others like us? Much as we had gazed at the horizon in earlier times, and wondered what peoples and new lands were out there, what adventures awaited us. And then we actually met intelligent life”. The human slowly spread their arms wide, encompassing the nine bizarre species that had accompanied them. Cilany typed frantically, taking down every impression and thought that popped into her head. Here it came, the humans’ boasting of how prey were inferior and needed their guiding hand.
“And despite any physical differences, such as diet and appearance, not to mention cultural values, we found friends. Some species were more aggressive than others, some terrifying, heck, the Yeerks tried to enslave us before we even had interstellar travel.” The human gestured at the massive antlered biped. Cilany took note of that, as everyone else stared in shock. So, the four-eyed creature was a predator after all. But if they had tried to enslave humanity pre-spaceflight, how had the humans won? Suddenly, it hit her. Friends. The human had referred to these other species, including the prey, as friends. Not allies, for that was a relationship of convenience, but friends. Including a species that had tried to enslave them. What in the name of sanity is going on?
“Even through all of that, we helped to form a community of star-faring races, all working together to nurture life in this galaxy and work for the mutual benefit of all. Through the exchange of technology and knowledge, all species thrived. The galactic peace was upheld, the common defence assured, and worlds that had been nothing but barren rock were turned into lush gardens. Imagine our shock, when we came to this region of space, and found a full-blown war in progress.” The human looked straight at Chief Nikonus. It occurred to Cilany that Governor Tarva had likely told the humans who the influential members of the council were. But why look at the unofficial leader of the Federation with… distain?
“A war in which a species of carnivorous reptilians was committing genocide against every other species in the area, even going so far as to keep those species as livestock, like something out of a bad novel. And what is more, the local species were unlikely to accept our aid, simply because of our diet.” That stopped Cilany cold. Had the human really just suggested they would have… helped the Federation? Why? What was more, the human seemed to think of their predatory nature as irrelevant to how species interacted. She immediately began typing. Could it be that the humans thought of the Arxur as a bigger threat than the Federation…?
“But, we thought, no matter. We had established calm, cordial relations with the Venlil, and begun introducing technologies and ways of thinking that would enable them to better assimilate into the wider galactic community. We even began repairing the damage they had done to their ecosystems.” Now that was shocking. Had the humans really shared their powerful technology with the Venlil? The way the human had spoken, it was almost as if they expected that Tarva would discard her peoples’ long history with the Federation to join a group of predators and their ‘allies’. And what was that bit about damaged ecosystems?
“Then suddenly, we discovered that there was a species of warlike brutes, known as the Gojid, right on our doorstep. That the local coalition of species had, apparently, taken one look at our pre-Space Age world and decided to commit genocide, in violation of all civilised standards of behaviour. And the way we found this out is particularly telling.” Cilany saw many of the representatives bristle at the blatant hypocrisy of the predator. For her own part, she was confused. The human had decried warfare and genocide as evil. Yet almost two hundred years ago, they had committed such acts. And given how the human referred to the Gojid as ‘warlike brutes’, and doesn’t seem to empathise with our fear, is it possible that they intend to exterminate them?
“During an Arxur attack on one of the Venlil border stations, a human soldier on secondment to the Venlil garrison, along with his Venlil partner, were separated from the rest of the defending force. They were taken aboard a Gojid ship, and subjected to treatment that violates every code of military ethics held sacred in civilised space. And before you start claiming that I have no proof, Andalite mind-transcription tech really is a marvel.”
The human inserted its own device into the screen and a video appeared. It showed a cage of some sort, and there, standing in the foreground, was Sovlin. A four fingered hand was visible to the right-side and Cilany realised something. This was the view through the eyes of a human.
“Please, I keep telling you, my people came to Venlil Prime in peace! We’re helping them, giving them technology to repair their world, improving their defences. Our allies…”
Sovlin lashed out with a clawed paw and there was a cry of pain. The view abruptly moved.
“Predator lies! You monstrous flesh eaters have enslaved the Venlil! They are now your cattle, and if you think that I will permit your species to blight my people, you truly are insane!”
The image shifted again, suggesting the passage of time. The human seemed to be looking at the floor of its cage.
“Please. I need to eat. Surely there’s something, anything, you can feed me…”
A shock baton appeared momentarily on the screen and there was a horrifying scream.
“Disgusting predator. As if I would feed your degenerate appetite. What kind of beast do you take me for?”
The image cut out. The human ambassador stared up at the horrified Federation members.
“We have more than seven days of similar memories. Beatings. Torture. Starvation. An attempt to rape the Venlil Slaneks’ mind with the Gojids’ hateful ideology. That this Captain Sovlin refused to even feed his prisoner demonstrates the utter depravity of the Gojid military. That Prime Minister Piri did not turn him over to us immediately, or even send a message deploring his actions, but instead began mustering her fleet shows that this taint extends to the entire Gojid culture. It also says something about those species they associate with. Can you truly blame us for punishing the kind of behaviour that would have earned Sovlin the death penalty anywhere in ISU space?”
She saw shock sweep the chamber. The human had just hinted that their species followed some sort of ethical code, defying every piece of evidence on their psychology. Where was this code when they were gassing children? And how could Sovlin have fed his prisoner? There was no flesh aboard their ships, other than the crew. Did the humans expect Sovlin to butcher members of his own crew? Her heart stopped. No one had heard from Sovlin since the war began, if the humans captured him…. Be safe, old friend.
Cilany could see the Ambassador Jerulim was on the verge of exploding in rage at the predators’ words. Chief Nikonus clearly saw it to, as he immediately interjected. “Surely, ambassador, you understand our reluctance to tolerate a predator species on our border, especially given the inherently violent nature of such sapients.” The human ambassador fixed Nikonus with their piercing gaze, causing the Kolshian leader to stop.
“We appreciate that the Arxur have been terrorising you for over a century, but that does not excuse attempting to exterminate every species of carnivorous sapients you find, Chief Nikonus. Not to mention the ecocidal campaign the Gojid Union has been waging since before the Arxur were even an issue”. That last part caught Cilany, and everyone else, off guard. Are they talking about exterminators? But that’s a key aspect of any civilisation. Jerulim finally could not contain himself.
“You dare act as if you are sapient? You are predators, festering tumours of death and pain! No predator is capable of higher intelligence, and the idea that they have any place in the universe is obscene!” Clan Lord Ulcalna snorted in a way that reminded Cilany of a roar, silencing the Krakotl. The human, no longer being heckled, turned to the avian, a fearsome look upon their savage features.
“Ambassador, the disproportionate number of herbivorous sapients in this area of space does not change the fact that the Federation has no right to decide who is and is not considered sapient. And I find it disheartening that the Gojids’ perverse anti-predator ideology has tainted more species.” Disproportionate number…? The implications of that statement occurred to Cilany at roughly the same moment as they did the Farsul Ambassador. High Elder Darq stood, and mustering her courage, asked the same question as Cilany. “W-w-what do you mean, disproportionate?”
The look on the humans’ face was almost…amused. “Ambassador, to the best of my knowledge, approximately three-quarters of all know sapient species consume meat in some form. Of those, about one third eat nothing but meat”. The entire chamber went silent with shock. Surely that was not possible, predators could not make the majority of sapient races. Darq could only splutter at that, and Cilany did not blame her. The Farsul responded. “Then why is the universe not filled with rampaging predators, endlessly hunting for prey? Why are there not a hundred warring races fighting over our worlds, as we cower in fear?”
The human looked at Darq with what Cilany could only call derision. “Because, Ambassador, contrary to your interpretation of the facts, predators are not innately warlike. Despite what the amateurs you call ‘scientists’ may think, violence on the scale you witnessed during your ‘observation’ of Earth is not humanity’s natural state. To put it bluntly, that six-year conflict, which we call World War Two, was the single largest war in our history, and the worst thing we have ever done to ourselves.”
The human swept their predatory gaze across the chamber. “By the standards of human scholarship, the volume of data collected and the degree of actual analysis is inadequate. In a conflict that lasted six years, you have data from maybe a month, if that. There was no attempt to consider an alternative viewpoint, no attempt to even discover what the war was about. You criticise us for killing millions of our own kind, and then treat murdering billions of innocent people as some sort of moral right”.
From her vantage point, Cilany could see Nikonus rallying after the humans’ dismissal of Federation culture. “You speak of civilisation and morality, yet your government refers to itself as collection of smaller entities. It is clear that you are not unified as a species, and as recent events show, you have not yet put aside your warmongering ways.” Cilany agreed with the Kolshians’ words. Still, there was something in the humans’ statement about ‘insufficient analysis’. The way they had spoken of this ‘World War Two’, definitely suggested a more complex narrative than Federation scholars had thought.
Below, the human was issuing a rebuttal of Nikonus’ accusations. “My species is united, Chief Nikonus. However, our history has taught us that the more people a government attempts to control, the greater the strain on that government, causing instability. One must also consider the imperialistic sentiments such large states tend to provoke. Thus, every human colony is in effect a separate polity in itself, being effectively autonomous save for three areas of government: the military, major laws, and colonisation efforts. Each colony elects its’ own ruling body, and that group provides a representative to the Conclave, the ruling body of the FHS Government.”
The human pressed a few buttons on the podium and another video appeared. It seemed to show a view of inter-planetary space with several orbital stations. There were cylindrical structures with some form of outer framework of girders, about five of them, dominating the foreground. For some reason, the inner cylinder seemed to be revolving inside the frame. The backdrop was taken up by what looked to be a large ring of some sort, canted at an angle, the inner edge a blurry mix of blue, green and white. Cilany thought that it may have been spinning, but why… A ship appeared, flying away from the camera towards one of the cylinders. Cilany held her breath. If the ship was about the size of a cruiser, as it likely was given the lack of visible viewports, then those cylinders were more than twenty times the size of any Federation station, save for asteroid bases. And that ring… it was much larger that the cylinders…
“Even with our terraforming technology, ambassadors, there is only so much habitable space a solar system can have. Not to mention the fact that our colonists need somewhere to live while the process is carried out. Thus, for every citizen living on a planet, there are at least three who call one of our space-habitats home. What this means ambassadors, is that even our smallest colonies have populations of nine billion or more. The Sol system, for example, has enough space habitats to house eleven times the population of Earth. Given the administrative strain such populations present, you can understand why we… decentralise our government.”
The sheer scale of the industry needed to create such things, Cilany could not believe it. If this was real, then the humans not only had a higher population than even the most pessimistic projections, but they could turn that construction industry to building warships. Which meant… they’d be able to replace losses faster than the Federation every could.
President Cupo of the Mazic signalled that he wished to speak. Quickly taking a photo of the tan quadruped, Cilany considered the positive optics of someone other than the three founding species speaking. Whatever Cupo said, it helped to signal Federation unity. “So, human, your people are still divided into factions. Are your…allies similarly disunified?” Now that, Cilany thought, was a good question. Surely, if a species was not united within itself, its’ bonds with other species would be fragile. This could allow the Federation to fracture the ISU, if they applied the right pressure.
The human shook their head, possibly signalling negation. “Every species is different, ambassador, and thus each member of the ISU maintains a different form of government. The Andalites, for example, appoint a Prince or Governor to oversee each of their colonies, reporting directly to the Electorate.” They gestured to the blue creature with the bladed tail. “The Andalites were spacefaring more than a thousand years ago. It was they who held the Yeerks at bay, and in many ways were our first alien allies. Also, on a ship-to-ship basis, their military is arguably the most powerful in the Union. It’s their environmental tech and hyperstrong meta-materials, above all else, that allow Union orbital habitats to be as large as they are.”
Many were taken aback by this, Cilany included. Elder Darq spoke out, clearly intrigued by this social dynamic. The alliance between humans and Andalites flew in the face of all accepted scientific understanding of how predators and prey interacted. “But why ally with them in the first place? I would think that your urge to control and dominate would lead you to integrate them into your structure, in a subservient role”. Cilany found herself disagreeing with that sentiment. The human had spoken of a community of species, and had suggested that the conquering practices of their past were considered immoral by the current leadership. Could it be, she thought, that the humans have put their baser urges behind them?
The human seemed almost offended by Darqs’ words. “Because, Ambassador Darq, we are not conquerors. And attempting to rule them would be pointless, because they are not the same species of us. Their psychology and biological imperatives are very different. What is necessary for one species could even be harmful for another. We have found that interfering in the development and culture of other species, trying to shape them into something they are not, always leads to instability and bloodshed. Every species has the right to self-determination. Those thirteen species with whom we have no contact are not advanced enough to interact with without causing massive societal disruption. Ultimately, every species must develop its’ own way of doing things. We can supply guidance and technology, but direct intervention in the affairs of another species is wrong.”
It was then that Jerulim let loose yet another of his outbursts. “You decry direct intervention as immoral, but what are you doing to the Gojid?! Are you not occupying their worlds, are you not even now butchering them, and using other prey species to do it?” The Krakotl spread his wings, as if daring the human to contradict him. “All of this is beside the point! All this discussion of human politics and history is meaningless! What matters is that these predators have attacked a member of the Federation, without provocation, and are even now slaughtering the Gojid as they do their own people!”
The human sighed, looking around at the Federation ambassadors, while their fellow diplomats gave the Krakotl what could only be looks of disapproval. Cilany had just finished taking note of Jerulims’ hysterical speech, when the human gave their reply. “We have only acted in defence of ourselves and the preservation of galactic order, and even then, we have used the minimum degree of force necessary. The Gojid plotted to attack us, we simply struck first”. Jerulim was not done. Cilany started wondering exactly how he had become an ambassador in the first place. “If that was the case, you would have simply struck the military bases. But no, you invaded their colonies and their homeworld. You have not risen above the conquering ways of your past”.
Cilany could see that the human was growing more and more agitated. Is it going to attack? “If that is the case, then why have we not eradicated the Gojid? It really would not have been all that difficult, given the forces we can bring to bear”. Jerulim sneered. “I would think that was obvious. You want to take cattle, to feed your aberrant appetites, to gain new tastes of flesh. The other prey species you have met are too strong for you to conquer, so you thought you could take the Gojid as livestock!”
There was a long pause. Then the human looked straight at Jerulim. Now that is a sign of predatory dominance if I ever saw one, Cilany thought. “I see. You are assuming that we are like the Arxur. Well, let me explain something to you, primitive. The eating of fellow sapients is one of the greatest taboos in human culture, going back to before our first cities. Even the token data you collected during the darkest time in our history should show you that. And on that subject, I find the Federations’ condemning humanity over a single pre-space conflict to be hypocritical. All species go through such times before developing interstellar travel. Only those uplifted before such a stage in their development continue such behaviour, as they have not had the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.”
Again, the human had returned to the subject of this World War. Clearly, it had been a complicated situation, with nuances which the humans believed had not been appreciated by the Federation. Still, what could possibly lead them to think all species committed such horrors, or that uplifts are more likely to do so?
“As for ‘new tastes’, Earth is one of the most biologically diverse planets in known space. We have enough variety from her alone, not to mention the foods available through interstellar trade. Those members of the ISU who are herbivores, ‘prey’ as you so crudely put it, do not share your unreasoning fear of predators, and so have no problem with us feeding off animals they do not utilise. So, if we did decide to utterly destroy the Gojid, there would be no need to take prisoners or round up the civilians. We would not even need to deploy troops to the surface. We could simply atomise their cities from orbit, unleash bioweapons, or just, well, blow up the planet”.
Cilany heard the gasps of every ambassador in the chamber. Blow up a planet? The power required for such a thing, an entire glassing fleet didn’t have that much firepower. Nikonus broke the stunned silence. “That joke is not funny, ambassador. To suggest annihilating an entire habitable planet…” The humans’ gaze shifted. “On the contrary, Chief Nikonus, I am not joking. Or lying. The primary weapons of the most powerful warships we have, fired at full power, could crack the crust of the Cradle like glass, and that is if the atmosphere didn’t simply ignite.”
There was a stunned silence at that. Cilany quickly began taking down her thoughts at these unpleasant revelations. The humans have either overcome their base hungers or otherwise have discarded us as cattle for practical reasons. This means they have no need to take captives, save out of some form of rudimentary compassion… Their prey allies lack any instinctual fear of predators, suggesting high aggression: possible similarities in culture allowing humans to overlook their diet… Human weapons not being used at full power, implying that they do indeed exhibit restraint: why do so if the Gojid wanted to exterminate them…? The human looked around the chamber. They seemed exasperated, as if there was something the Federation did not understand.
“What I do not understand, ambassadors, is why you expect the Gojid to receive special treatment. Regardless of what ecological role their pre-sapient ancestors had, all space-faring species must be held to the same standards. And quite frankly, their behaviour illustrates why uplifting species, as the Gojid likely were, is wrong. Giving a culture that is still going through its savage phase advanced technology, before it has had the opportunity to work through its aggression as we did, can only lead to destruction. From our perspective, the situation is fairly simple: The Gojid attempted to exterminate a sentient species. Thus, they must be disciplined. The fact that we were the species they attempted to murder doesn’t really affect matters, other than shortening the debate over what to do about it.”
Cilany saw Nikonus stand once more, the Kolshian clearly agitated. That was understandable, the human had been hurling criticism at the guiding tenants of civilised life for the entire meeting. “What do you mean, it shortened the debate, ambassador? Surely the mere presence of an… aggressive species would demand prompt action.”
Once again, the human appeared exasperated. “What I mean, Chief Nikonus, is that usually there would be an extended period of discussion within the Conclave, and of course the leaders of the wider ISU. Arguments would be put forward for and against military intervention, the chances of establishing peaceful diplomatic relations with the government in question, whether there is a danger of falling into the trap of imperialism. No one wants a war if it can be avoided. But the Gojid’s savagery made everything much simpler. They made their murderous intentions clear, and Captain Sovlin’s actions demonstrated that any diplomats sent to seek a peaceful solution would be tortured to death. Which really only left one option: render the uncivilised brutes incapable of harming anyone. Our allies offered us military aid, thus allowing us to maintain our pre-existing commitments in other sectors of space, and here we are”.
Cilany paused to consider that. The humans would not have attacked the Gojid if they had not felt threatened. For a species as aggressive as them, there was only really one response to the apparent threat: eliminate that threat. Really, it was a sign of their restraint that they had not glassed the Cradle out of hand. That was when she heard it.
“Bullshit!”
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2023.03.26 19:05 Jcb112 Wearing Power Armor to a Magic School (23/?)

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“So, does that weapon of yours have a name?” The wolf inquired with unrestrained enthusiasm. If his voice didn't already give it away, then the ferocious wagging of his tail most certainly did.
“There’s… a lot of nomenclature involved, but for the purposes of this conversation I’ll try to keep it brief. We call it a gun, Thalmin.”
The gun.
A tool as varied in complexity as the problems it was designed to solve.
An answer to a question that has been asked in a thousand different languages, over a thousand different ways, across a thousand different eras.
A question that ultimately boiled down to a single, simple, sentence:
What is the most effective way to kill?
For most of human history, and the Nexus it seems, the answer was almost always reliant on solutions as simple and as limiting as the hands that gripped them. From the club to the blade and the spear to the polearm, strength and skill had proven itself time and time again as the only reliable means to achieving this deceptively simple end. Acting as the indisputable limiting factor to any who attempted to answer this age old question.
This placed a hard limit on things. Most notably, it restricted scalability and accessibility.
Civilization, however, wasn’t ever content on leaving a question of such importance answered so half-heartedly.
The Nexus seemed to stumble upon a better answer to this question by virtue of their inherent gifts, extending their effective reach, and embracing the natural advantage afforded to them in the form of mana manipulation.
Humanity, however, wasn’t so fortunate.
We didn’t have the ability to summon lightning, earthquakes, and magic missiles right out of the gate. We didn’t have the privilege of evolving a second, unseen set of limbs through which to manipulate the world around us in ways previously inconceivable.
All we had to our name was a set of two gangly hands, ending in those five, blunted, wiry digits.
But that didn’t stop us. In fact, it was those very ‘limitations’ that forced us to think outside the box.
As what we lacked in claws, in fangs, in venom, or in magics, we made up for in deductive reasoning and innovation.
For all it took was a simple mix of chemistry and metallurgy for the tides to truly shift, and by the advent of industry, that shifting tide had all but become an unassailable wave leading to nearly two millennia worth of further refinements and unprecedented advancements.
Two millenia, that saw us starting off with bamboo tubes with some spicy powder, before arriving at fifth generation composalite with a veritable buffet of chemical propellants and magnetic accelerants to choose from.
Although unlike the Nexus, what we had wasn’t a force multiplier exclusive to a select few, nor one that was gatekept behind ancient tomes and hidden spells.
What we had was a weapon. One that only took two hands, a good eye, some bullets, and a tempered resolve to wield. A weapon that with a single squeeze of a trigger, was capable of bringing forth to the table a destructive potential once locked behind decades of training and practice. A weapon which was capable of bringing that same destructive potential to bear consistently and without fail, until you ran out of bullets or resolve.
This weapon wasn’t rare, either. It wasn’t locked away in a far flung tower to be handed and gifted to adventurers daring and brave enough to make the long, perilous journey. Nor was it talked about under hushed breaths within the dark corners of taverns or the deepest depths of a scholar’s study.
It was as common, or perhaps even more common, than your average spear. It was so ubiquitous that there were, at the present era, enough of them to arm every single human currently alive more than a hundred times over.
Humanity, with all of its so-called ‘shortcomings’ with a lack of magic, mana, or other such natural ‘gifts’, had answered this age-old question with the ultimate testament to its indomitable resolve. A resolve which was only satisfied so long as the envelope kept being pushed. To forever address and re-address all of life’s questions, especially the ones that were so crucial to its continued survival.
To do anything but innovate, to be satisfied with the current standard, was to invite stagnation to begin its inevitable creep.
“So, what would you like to know about guns?” I asked Thalmin with an excitable grin underneath my helmet, the wave of underlying anxiousness that had lingered from the battle being supplanted somewhat by this new hyperfixation. A part of me knew this was a temporary distraction from the uneasy feeling still welling within my gut, but another part of me knew there was no point in allowing it to eat at me more than it already had. Or, at least that’s what I told myself.
“Well first off-”
“Can we see it?” Thacea, surprisingly, interjected with a great deal of apprehension, cutting off Thalmin before he could even finish his sentence.
Both Thalmin and I turned to face each other in a small bout of disbelief, but just as quickly turned back to Thacea with a toothy grin on both of our respective faces.
The avian, however, didn’t seem to share in either of our enthusiastic spirits.
We made our way over to the sofas and lounge chairs, set against the backdrop of the deep orange rays of the dwindling sunlight. It was here that I once more found myself palming my holster, and the magnetic locks that kept my sidearm virtually impossible to rip from my side.
The only real way of doing so would be to disable the suit’s power supply, which really did give a whole new meaning to prying it from my cold dead hands.
“Alright.” I spoke to no one in particular as I flicked open the maglocks, only for my heart to flutter. This… wasn’t the fluttering of excitement, however. I knew how that felt, and this wasn’t it. It took me a second to recompose myself before I realized what it was, as that uneasy feeling of gut-churning vertigo came back with a vengeance only to disappear again as soon as it began. My breath hitched for a moment, my shaky hands taking a second to steady themselves. My mind didn’t immediately register it, but the feeling was undeniably similar to when I’d first unlocked the pistol from my side back in the gardens.
I refused to let it get to me however. It was literally just one engagement, I was fine.
Resuming the motions that had all but been drilled into muscle memory by this point, I pulled out the gun in a single swift motion, the weapon’s safeties automatically set by default as paired with the suit’s current threat alert status.
As expected, both Thacea and Thalmin’s gazes were utterly transfixed by the decidedly simple weapon held firmly in my hand.
Though it was clear to me that it wasn’t its design or ornamentation that caught their eye, but the raw destructive potential it held within such a small, compact, and unassuming form.
They’d seen what it was capable of after all.
They knew it could kill.
And it was clear from Thacea’s piercing gaze that she was trying to dissect it, even before I started explaining anything.
With Thacea seemingly caught in a trance, it was Thalmin who broke the awed silence with a question I thought I could anticipate coming from a mile away.
Emphasis on the thought part.
“Well, two observations first and foremost. One, that’s a very unassuming name for such an impressive weapon. Two, that’s a very bland and frankly, uninspired design for such an impressive weapon. All of this leads me to believe that the people of your realm do not know the ways of the aesthetic arts as it applies to weapons crafting and design.” The lupinor mercenary prince had put his all into roasting my gun. So unexpected was this response that I was caught completely off guard.
Though it was clear by the tone of his voice, and by the exaggerated expressions on his lupine face, that this was more a facetious jab than anything.
“And I like it that way.” The prince quickly added with a sly smirk. “Flashiness does not a good weapon make.” He spoke resolutely. “I know a good weapon when I see one. A masterfully crafted blade and a mana-imbued artifice, needs only speak for itself in the heat of battle. I judge a good weapon the same way I judge a soldier’s character: by their actions and not their boisterous displays. The moment a weapon attempts to speak outside of its intended role, is the moment that weapon loses all pretenses of its original purpose, relegating it to becoming more of a decorative piece than a functional tool. The design of a weapon ultimately speaks volumes to the values of its people of origin. Which in your case Emma… means that my respect for your people yet again grows stronger.”
I couldn’t help but to feel the inklings of a grin forming across my face at the lupinor prince’s bait-and-switch. “Well Thalmin, if you think this thing is bland, I don’t know what you’d make of some of the ergonomic monstrosities some of the psychos back at home had come up with over the years.” I chuckled, my whole body shuddering at the thought of some of the freak designs humanity had come up with over the millennium. “Compared to what’s being passed off as standard issue nowadays, this thing is borderline art.” I spoke off handedly, which seemed to catch Thacea’s attention, but not enough to elicit any questions or comments just yet as she merely looked on with that same apprehensive look of dread.
Thalmin, however, seemed content enough to continue with an unrestrained bout of enthusiasm. “Let’s leave that discussion for another day, for now, I want to know just how this gun of yours works, Emma. I think that's what we're both dying to hear!” The Lupinor’s eyes met my own, giving me a look that could best be described as a cross between the ravenous hunger of a fully-fledged predator and a half-grown pup’s insistence on begging for seconds.
It was clear we were beating around the bush up to this point, so I made no further pretenses in delaying the inevitable, as I placed my gun on the table for both to clearly see. “You can look, but just don’t touch it.” I warned, taking stock of the ravenous gaze of the mercenary prince as I did so. “I’m serious. I apologize if I might come across as patronizing when I say this: but this is a weapon, and where I come from, there’s an expectation of level-headed awareness and respect that must be observed when handling any weapon. Especially guns.”
Thalmin’s expressions changed somewhat, whilst still very much ravenous to learn, his gaze shifted towards something of a more reserved one. As if that explanation had triggered something else in his mind. “The sign of a good warrior lies in the respect for their weapon, this extends beyond its use and maintenance, to its treatment within contexts not bound to the scope of battle. I understand your caution, Emma, and I respect it. Please, proceed.”
“There’s… a lot to unpack.” I began with a deep breath. “It’s been two thousand years since the inception of the gun, and a great deal has changed over that course of time. It would be a lie to say that some fundamentals haven’t changed either. But I’ll try my best to break it down. What you see in front of you is a specific class of gun that falls into an overarching category we refer to as kinetic-based weapons systems, or KWS’ for short.”
“I’m starting to see that your culture seems to have a rather unhealthy affinity for abbreviations, Emma. Dare I say it, it’s almost as if you abhor long-winded titles, yet still desire to maintain it in your own convoluted ways.” Thalmin briefly interrupted with a dry chuckle, before raising a single hand for me to continue; that one gesture was perhaps the closest he got to living up to his noble heritage thus far.
Well, he isn’t wrong… I thought to myself, before moving onward just as swiftly. “At its core, KWS’ work by accelerating a solid-state projectile at high velocities towards its intended target. The end goal, as you can imagine, is usually to inflict damage through penetration for the purposes of neutralization.”
“Like a bow or a crossbow?” Thalmin interjected once more, this time however it was done in a clear attempt to understand, as he attempted to tie the concept to something he had some familiarity with.
“Fundamentally, yes. They both accelerate a solid-state object towards a target. However, there’s a component of that description that places bows, crossbows, and any mechanically-charged weapon into its own sub-category.”
“That component being?”
“The fact that contemporary KWS’ are defined by the accelerant component being anything other than mechanical. And by mechanical, I mean a user’s strength. The draw of a bowstring, the cranking of a crossbow’s winches, all of that qualifies as mechanical-charging as it relies on the user putting in the energy to fire the projectile forwards. In effect, any kinetic weapon which relies on the direct or compound translation of physical strength to kinetic energy, is no longer really utilized and so isn’t classified as a contemporary KWS.” I explained as best I could, which led to more questions on the part of the lupinor.
“You’re speaking as if you’re leading up to an explanation that involves mana.” The mercenary prince spoke bluntly. “If it isn’t for, in your words, mechanical charging, then what other method is there to propel a projectile forwards? It’s at this point that I’d expect a Nexian mage to come in to enlighten us on the wonders of mana-imbued weaponry. But-” The lupinor prince paused for effect, as if to emphasize the point he was making. “I understand that mana is dangerous and entirely unheard of in your realm. So, and this is not my attempt to sound like Ilunor-” He leaned in forwards, his eyes practically inches away from the gun at this point. “Pray tell, what exactly is causing this hidden projectile to surge forwards at speeds reserved only for the mana-imbued weapons of the Nexian outer guards?”
The wolf was very much animated at this point, his tonality, his expressions, everything about him was trying desperately to understand a weapon so far removed from his reality.
Which gave me pause as Thacea seemed to be doing the exact opposite, as she sat there, completely unflinching, her eyes still glued to the weapon sitting idly on the wooden coffee table.
“You’re right, Thalmin.” I acknowledge the wolf’s assertions with a single nod. “There’s no mana involved. In fact, I think you could tell by the lack of any ‘mana-fields’ around it when idle and in use.” I shuddered as my mind went back to the battle for the split second, only for me to force those images out of my head as quickly as they’d apparated. “All that’s involved is a clever manipulation of the laws of the natural world, and a game of trial and error that stretches back over two thousand years.”
I decided that the best way to move forward, the best way to truly hammer home the core fundamentals of how the gun worked was by visually demonstrating it.
Without the actual discharge aspect of it of course.
I removed the gun’s ‘magazine’, placing it butt first on the table, as I palmed one of the few physical indents on the device, releasing just one of the immaculately-packaged ‘rounds’ that would’ve seemed entirely foreign to anyone born prior to the 25th century.
Advancements in material sciences, applied chemistry, and in the reliability of military-grade electronics, coupled with centuries of aggregated datasets across hundreds of wars had made what was once a fragile and expensive novelty into something that had now all but phased out the traditional firearm.
This shift was subtle, adoption having been staggered, until a certain point where it all seemed to happen at once; akin to any other paradigm shift in human technology.
Caseless became the standard, electronic firing mechanisms and electrothermal-chemical technologies supplanted traditional mechanical actions, barring a few exceptional circumstances.
This mission, almost being one of them.
“This.” I held the ‘round’ between my fingers, pinching what amounted to a rectangular pellet that looked as if it’d come straight out of a stack of those hi-chew candies. “Is both the projectile, and what we call the ‘propellant’, basically the stuff that allows the projectile to be pushed forwards.” I started simply, before I began pointing at the aforementioned parts which made up the cartridge. “Whilst its design has changed over the years, the fundamental principles have remained more or less the same. You ignite the propellant, causing a controlled explosion, which pushes the projectile forward.” I explained succinctly, yet still felt as if I’d let down over two thousand years of ballistics experts and gun enthusiasts alike. Having reduced their lives’ works and passions into a single, simplified sentence.
It was at this point that Thalmin’s expressions began to shift. His excitement had become restrained, his perky ears remained as they were, but seemed tense as they refused to flutter about as they usually did with every cock of his head. Something started to click inside of the wolf, as his questions began reflecting his newfound understanding of the terrifying weapon sat benignly in front of him.
“So if I’m to understand this correctly.” He began, his voice retaining its curiosity, but with its excitement dampening down towards a more reserved one of concern. “That small little-”
“Cartridge.” I quickly added.
“-Cartridge.” The wolf mimed back, before continuing. “Barely the size of one quarter of my finger, is what killed the null?!” His voice shook, not in fear, but moreso in disbelief.
“Well, yes, the bullet did. Which, given current technologies, is what makes up most of the cartridge nowadays.” I attempted to explain.
This would be the perfect time to slip in the I bought the whole bullet, and I intend on using the WHOLE bullet joke. But I knew this wasn’t the time or the place for it.
“Right.” The wolf nodded several times over, though still looked as if he was somewhat lost. “I think I get it-”
“What Emma means is that a single cartridge contains both the projectile and the accelerator. The projectile takes a portion of the weight and size, and by the same logic, the accelerator, be it a powder, a solid, or what have you, must also share that same space. That’s why a point was made in order to delineate between the bullet and the rest of the cartridge.” Thacea blurted out in a string of words that carried with it a heaviness of intense realization that mimicked the shock and awe from our discussions regarding the nature of human technologies the previous night. It was honestly quite jarring hearing the explanation coming out of the avian’s beak, given that everything she said was entirely accurate, at least to the extent of what I’d divulged thus far. This meant that she’d sat there, absorbing every last scrap of information, without misunderstanding a single beat.
“That’s… all entirely accurate, princess.” I reaffirmed, my tone of voice clearly relaying just how impressed I was from the avian’s deductive reasoning skills.
With that being said, it wasn’t surprising that Thacea temporarily took the reins of the conversation over from Thalmin as her piercing gaze now landed on the gun and the cartridge I held between my fingers. “To delve deeper into the specifics of this weapon… am I correct in assuming that these cartridges are single-use?”
“When discussing this specific type of cartridge, yes.” I answered simply, which seemed to elicit a slight twitch of the avian’s feathers.
“And am I correct in assuming that there exists some complex… mana-less mechanism by which this propellant is ignited?”
“That’s a given for all guns, but the complexity really depends on the specific system each model uses.”
There was a sudden pause as Thacea seemed to be taking everything in. Her eyes never once deviating from its fixated gaze on the cartridge I still held between my fingers.
“Emma, if you’ll allow me to begin another line of questioning, I would like to inquire further into the specifics behind the implications of your statements regarding this weapon’s model.” Thacea began, before diving deep. “The existence of models implies other competing smithies with similar weapons. However, the nature of this weapon seems to be so very… precise. It seems more akin to a hyper specialized artifice, one which a team of leading blacksmiths would find challenging to make, let alone a competing number of smithies. This is not to mention how I am being led to believe that this weapon is being utilized en masse, given your mentioning of this particular model being a standard issued weapon. Which brings me to my next point…” The avian took a deep, sharp breath. “Emma, are you implying that this model of weapon, and others like it, are the standard weapon-of-carry for the soldiers of your realm?”
It was clear to me now what had been gnawing at the princess throughout this entire conversation. And it was clear that only one answer would address this gnawing anxiety, as I took a deep breath in before responding simply, and bluntly.
“Yes.”
The color from the pair’s faces had all but been drained at that answer. Or at least, I assumed that was what the puffing up of Thacea’s feathers and the deep sullen whine from Thalmin meant.
It was with this revelation that Thalmin had firmly placed his entire muzzle into the crook of his hands. I could see his pupils dilating, his leg starting to shake in place, as the ramifications of this revelation started to sink in.
“Every soldier’s a battlemage.” He spoke under hushed breaths to himself.
“Correction, every soldier equipped with outer-guard grade enchanted equipment and near-tier artificed weaponry.” Thacea quickly added in a series of deep, resonant coos.
“What… what of swords? Surely your people couldn’t have just done away with melee combat.” The wolf continued to mutter out, his mind clearly going through the wringer as he tried to visualize a whole world, an entire realm, armed with the same ranged weapons. “What sort of combat is fought when everyone fights on the same playing field as a Nexian Outer-Guardsman? I can’t even begin to visualize…” The wolf trailed off, which prompted Thacea to take his place. The poor wolf clearly began entering a series of internalized crises as the avian spoke.
“The only limiting factor I see is that this weapon, unlike swords and enchanted armaments, is rendered entirely useless without these cartridges.” The avian deduced. “To deploy an army armed exclusively with such weapons must require an immense number of these cartridges, which leads me to the disturbing thought of a society that places an inordinate amount of time, effort, energy, on such an esoteric fixation.” The avian turned to face me now, piercing eyes of genuine concern and disbelief meeting my own. As if to ask me by virtue of this one question if humanity was actually sane.
“But we do… and all I can tell you right now is that we have more than enough to supply our armies for decades-long campaigns if we needed to, and that’s just the active stores.”
“But why?” Thacea snapped back.
“Because we have no other choice.” I expressed emphatically. “We weren’t born with the advantages afforded to everyone else. We weren’t magically imbued with the ability to fly, to summon lightning, to crack open the earth with a single glance, but we always wanted to, and so we did. And when I say we didn’t have a choice, I don’t mean that this was done out of desperation, but rather, out of a natural extension of our developmental trajectory. The state of affairs we find ourselves in is a direct result of a society that thrives on continued innovation out of necessity and in response to new, unprecedented challenges. This has always been the case with humankind, and it continues to be the case as we press onward.”
Another silence descended on the room after I’d made my case. A silence which emphasized the sheer dread on the pair’s faces as they both slowly came to terms with these series of earth-shattering revelations on their own terms.
“I’d say you pressed onwards in a way that far superseded what anyone could’ve ever expected from a mana-less civilization, Emma.” Thalmin turned to me with a tired, exasperated smile. As if trying to mask the growing level of apprehension still welling within him.
I shrugged, all the while trying to make sure I was still forcing out a more amenable tone of voice. “It’s the only way we know how to press on.”
“Well for your sakes, and for your realm’s sakes, and for the sake of all those who have yet to have bent under the weight of the Nexus’ yoke… I hope you don’t stop.” Thalmin’s tone slowly entered one of a confident sincerity. It was clear what he was hinting at, as difficult as it was for him to really put it into words. That fiery zeal of resistance, that open discontent with the Nexus, there was only one thing he could be hinting at with that brazen statement.
“We have no intent on changing our direction or momentum anytime soon.” I shot back with a confident nod.
“With all of that being said… you need some rest, Emma.” Thacea urged, gesturing towards the rapidly setting sun as she did so.
“But, I need to head over to the weapons inspection-”
“We can’t afford you to crash at the weapons inspection, Emma. We need you in tip top shape, so come on, it’s time to rotate out.” Thalmin urged with a toothy grin of reassurance.
“Like we said, Emma. We’ll watch over you while you rest.” Thacea quickly added.
“Besides! There’s a good…” Thalmin paused, reaching over to grab what looked to be a similar variant of the pocket watch I saw Thacea pulling out earlier in the dining hall. “Four? Five hours to rest before the night’s end?”
I let out a massive sigh as I regarded the pair with weary, worn out eyes.
Who was I kidding, I fucking needed the sleep.
“Alright, I think I’ll catch three or four hours of shuteye.” I managed out through a yawn. “Should give me about an hour for the weapons inspection.”
With a group sentiment of agreement, I began walking off, my sights set on the tent, and the cold hard flexible composite floor that called my name.
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(Author’s Note: Hey guys! This chapter was a huge challenge to write as I know that there's a lot of buildup and thus expectations regarding the matter of Emma's weapon! It went through quite a few changes and edits, in order to make sure that all the details and characterizations were alright, I really hope what I have now lives up to expectations! :D The next Chapter is already up on Patreon if you guys are interested in getting early access to future chapters!)
[If you guys want to help support me and these stories, here's my ko-fi ! And my Patreon for early chapter releases (Chapter 24 of this story is already out on there!)]
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