Torani blue raspberry syrup near me

My bloodthirsty Dinopithecus hates me!

2023.03.26 00:08 NotKidFlow My bloodthirsty Dinopithecus hates me!

For context: My tribemates are taking some days off to do RL stuff and I decided to prepare some stuff as a little surprise for them to return to. We (especially me) are rather new to the game and have made ourselves a cute little homebase on Lost Island. Think Stone house, Dino Pen, a few tames but no breeding or advanced weaponry.
Anyways, I managed to tame a 140 Dinopithecus - Rafiki (I know, creative) - this week and have been having a blast with my new monkey friend since his agility and damage output just clicked with me. Farming meat and hide or just slaughtering everything on my screen without worries just feels right. Today however, he decided to be a huge PITA. So much so, that from now on he carries the name "Stupid monkey".
One of my surprises was taming a few bodyguards for our shoulderpets and Dung Beetles that we keep in a rather unsafe enclosure. I managed to find two high level Carnos that would work nicely and lured them into my trap. Just before the second one tamed up, a Terror Bird attacked me from outside the trap. Rafiki, being the good (neutral) boy that he is, naturally went ahead and clapped its cheeks into oblivion. A few seconds later, the Carno tamed up as a 163. I was confused since I had given the finest of Prime Meat to enjoy and expected something in the low 200s.
Turns out Rafikis huge arms bitchslapped the Carno aswell and we're stuck with only one 200+ bodyguard.
But: Forgive and forget, right? Wrong! You see, my biggest plan for today was taming a Tapejara. Why? Because I love how they look and I heard that they're pretty quick and can carry up to three people (which is awesome in a 4 people tribe). However, after not finding any of them near ground all day, I gave up and tamed a few more Raptors in hopes of finding a good one to breed with. And right when I wanted to return home to log off for the night, the most beautiful Tapejara appeared. It had a light blue body and really nice contrasts on its wings.
No matter the level, I had to have it. It would be the perfect surprise.
It was a 140.
Quick.. go home.. get Rafiki.. get Bolas.. return..
When I arrived it had just started wandering around on the ground and minding its business. After the most beautiful long-range Bola and a few Tranqs, it laid before me in all its glory, waiting to be ours. To my delight, a low level Alpha Raptor showed up, willing to donate a few pieces of its body to my cause. Rafiki made quick work of it and we returned to our new family member.
I open my inventory and start typing..
Something damages me, but I remember that it can only be some random bugs.. I'll take care of it in a second. I only took a few points of damage.
-M-E, Transfer all..
Alright, everything is ready, time to press "yes" and get the taming star-
Clap, Clap, CRUNCH
The Tapejaras inventory closes.
Rafiki smiles at my face, proudly showing off the two Titanomyrma Drones he just killed. Paying no mind to the bird he just massacred.
I weep.
Tl;dr: Don't leave your tames on neutral when trying to tame.
submitted by NotKidFlow to ARK [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:02 Letsseeifthisworks_2 Terms And Conditions

Sort of a continuation of this thing? Author’s note: I got bored. Without further ado,
Lights! Camera! Action!

New Day Development Zone, Central Akwilaya City, June 17, 2077
The tenant-farmer-turned-factory-worker rests in his apartment, his feathery wings applying themselves gently to the cushions of his couch. It is the mid-afternoon, and he has recently returned to his new home in the city, built by those travellers from another world who his land now calls neighbors and provided to the commonfolk at an astonishingly reasonable price. He performs the ritual needed to activate his radio, and listens while he thinks about nothing in particular. A light and melodic voice flows from the box.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first broadcast of the Modern History Interviews segment of the Akwilayan Public Radio Network. I am Mahrionel Aentwasieur, and I’ll be your host for the forseeable future. I’d like to introduce our guest, James Stewart. Would you be so kind, Mr. Stewart?”
A gruff yet affable voice is emitted from the box, and though he does not speak the strange language of this particular foreigner, the artifice within grants him perfect understanding. “Just call me James, ma’am, formerly Lance Corporal James Stewart of London’s First and Only, European Army, and currently James, professional collector of pensions.” The man chuckles to himself for a brief moment.
“So, James,” the woman replies, “how about-“
He cuts her off, saying, “Sorry, ma’am, I‘m already taken.”
”None of that, James. We’d like to hear about your experiences in Operation Terms And Conditions, or The Wars, as many of our listeners may know it as. I understand you were involved in the fall of Samn-Ahmnkan?”
”Ah, yes, the Great Seal-Clubbing. So, you’d like a good ol’ fireside chat, miss? Shoulda brought me to the pub, then! I haven’t got nearly enough drink in me,” the soldier replies with a laugh. “Oh, but I can tell ye about it, yeah.”
”Are there no idioms in your language that aren’t absurdly violent and/or vulgar?”
”Eh, probably. More than one way to skin a cat, after all! Oh, but I’ll get on with the story, now. Wouldn’t want to ruffle any of your feathers, bird-lady.”
“Hey, I have a name, you kno-“

Neu Berlin, June 7, 2066
For the first time since he had been evacuated from the ruins of London, James Stewart was about to walk into a portal. This time, however, it would be sending him not away from battle, but directly into one. Everyone present had at least claimed to have read the files, and everyone knew who their enemy was. The Grand Duchy of Samn-Ahmnkan, or the Sammies, as everybody called them, were a bunch of dirty slaving bastards who’d only been given aid to be fair for everyone. Of course, they’d gone and used their new gear to enrich their nobles and strengthen their armies, and everyone with half a brain knew they were about to invade their neighbor to the east.
In ten seconds, every single factory, industrial vehicle, lightbulb, and everything else relying on beamed mana-turned-electricity in the Duchy was about to have every ounce of power cut to it. This lack of power would both cause utter chaos and confusion and provide power for the portals which were about to disgorge their cargo of men. James took a deep breath.
He chuckled and under his breath he said, “For king and country,” even though the monarchy had been abolished by nuclear warheads years ago, and the country had ceased to exist as anything more than a memory in the hearts of those humans who had fled to the new world they found themselves in.
He began to sweat.
The portal, shimmering and bright purple, materialized before him, and he stepped through.

The Square of the Unworthy, Grand Duchy of Samn-Ahmnkan
Conventional wisdom on this planet, he had been told, said that any incursion into a country must come from either its borders or its coasts. Conventional wisdom on this planet, he had been told, said that only the greatest of mages could transport themselves instantly and infiltrate a land from within, and that even then they could bring only themselves. Conventional wisdom on this planet, he had been told, was reduced to complete and utter bullshit when humans entered the equation. Conventional wisdom on this planet, he knew, was about to be turned on its head.
He and around 90 other men had been dropped straight into the largest slave-holding area in the Duchy. Their orders were simple: They were to get in, put a bullet between the eyes of any Sammy slave-masters who didn’t surrender, shove any who did through the portal and into the waiting arms of the nearest POW camp, give any slaves they found a semi-auto whose design was over 100 years old and which had been produced in ludicrous quantities by the Nor-Ams for exactly this purpose, and hold the line. Easy, at least on paper.
It took him a moment to regain his senses after going through the portal. When he did, he saw countless slaves in the process of being broken in, and their masters in the process of doing the breaking. Unfortunately for the slavers, he had a rifle and they didn’t. Gunshots rang all around him as he and his compatriots unloaded shot after shot against anyone who was obviously not a slave. When the work was done, communications equipment was sent forwards, along with various aid supplies and boxes upon boxes of modified M1 Garands, bayonets already attached and an extended clip already in place.
The unit’s officer got on top of a box, setting his helmet to magnify his voice to the greatest extent it could muster. At the top of his lungs and the deepest recesses of his throat, he shouted, “Slaves, servants, downtrodden of every variety! Your liberation is at hand, and we invite you to participate in it! Take from us a weapon, and rip and tear until the deed is done!”
James had no idea how that speech got approved, but it seemed to work. As he rushed ahead to the gate, he saw slaves drop their tools and, slowly at first, head to the crates of weapons for a crash course in how to use them. He helped create a makeshift barricade at the facility’s gate, and got ready for the big guns to show up.

Akwilaya City, 2077
“Well, James,” the voice of Ms. Aentwasiuer asks, “How would you describe their response?”
”Bloody pitiful, frankly. The poor Minotaur- sorry, I mean Oxling- bastards had nearly their whole army on the border, ready to invade some neighboring principality I don’t remember the name of. Half the city guards didn’t give enough of a fuck to actually try and stop us, and the ones who did were bringing swords to a gunfight. And that was before we put on our fancy pants.”

Grand Avenue of Samn-Ahmnkan, Grand Duchy of Samn-Ahmnkan, 2066
After a few spare minutes of waiting, the tanks arrived. Slaves and soldiers alike stood clear of the thundering Challenger 3.5s as they rolled through the portal, and James advanced along them out of the gates of the Square and through the city’s main avenue, which would bring them to the palace. Liberated slaves fanned out throughout the area to provide support, as well as a few soldiers with every unit of freedmen to stop them from terrorizing the locals.
His helmet‘s HUD showed new green and blue dots appearing across the city seemingly every second, as slaves were liberated and new forces were sent in via portals. Every cluster of allied forces began to converge on a single point: the palace. Above the city, he saw portals open and immediately close as advanced aircraft marked wyverns and their riders to be hit by munitions transported instantaneously from a classified location somewhere on the planet. Actually, that might not have been true. For all he knew, they were storing munitions in a sealed facility under the bombed-out ruins of Earth.
Wherever the missiles were coming from, they were judiciously effective in dispatching the Duchy’s “air force,” if one could call it that. Equally effective were the canister shells fired by the column’s lead Challenger at an incoming unit of spearmen. Eventually, after meeting minimal resistance throughout the city, they arrived in the palace.

Akwilaya City, 2077
“So,” the woman asks, “it is said that the Ducal Guards of Samn-Ahmnkan were among the most capable warriors out of any non-human nation at the time of their fall. What do you have to say about that?”
”Well,“ comes the response, “They certainly had the shiniest armor out of all the Sammies I saw.”
Ducal Palace of Samn-Ahmnkan, 2066
The Mage-Warriors of Gold, The Dark Duke’s Own, The Supreme Palatial Blades, and a thousand other titles were given to the Ducal Guards of Samn-Ahmnkan by their friends and foes alike. They were the sons of nobles from across the land, taken at three years old and trained by the most vigilant instructors to protect the Duke and his home. They were the reason an infiltrator had not set foot upon the palace of Samn-Ahmnkan in over a century. Their record was about to be ended by a unit of pissed-off humans.
Their armor, decorated with gold and forged of the finest steel available to the Grand Duchy, was said to be able to deflect a thousand blows and absorb a thousand more. Their blades were said to slice through flesh as if it were air, and their strength was said to be with neither limit nor peer. Their magical prowess was such that they could burn men alive with a single word, block arrows with the motion of a hand, and glide through the air as easily as they walked.
The gates of the palace swung open for the invaders in a mocking sort of greeting, as if the building were saying to come and take it if they dared. Before them stood thirty of the Ducal Guards, with two more flanking the Duke’s throne, projecting a shield to ensure harm would not come to him. The duke spoke in a voice that was far too loud for the rather stout man.
He said to the humans, “Fiends of another world! Know that you have come thinking yourselves to be conquerors, but that your efforts shall be in vain. Know that my armies march as we speak towards my fine city, and that the forces arrayed before me shall be slaughtered by my finest guards. I see not soldiers before me. I see dead men, who do not know they have perished.”
James said the only thing he could think of. “What armies? Last I checked they all got blown up!”
The duke and his men knew this was false. However, their confusion brought their guard down for just long enough for the thirty men in front to be obliterated by a series of HEAT rounds. The soldiers marched over the charred armor and viscera, into the duke’s throne room.
“You fools! Your children will be bartered as entertainment, your women as servants, and your men as laborers! Surrender now, and you may merely be diced to pieces rather than fed alive to the slaves you have tem-“
Whatever he was about to say was drowned out by two depleted uranium sabot rounds, which broke through the shield and struck down his guards. Intentionally, he survived, and James and three other men were assigned to drag him through a portal that now opened to bring him to his new home in New Guantanamo.
”You know,” James said as he and the three other men threw him to the ground in front of the North American guards, “one of these days they should add monologuing to the list of deadly sins. He was really bloody annoying.”

Akwilaya City, 2077
The man ends his tale, saying, ”Y’know, I wish I could say more, but the war pretty much ended for me after that one day. Of course, the occupation went on for a few years longer, but it turns out mass insurgency is a bit hard when you only have spears, and I’m sure nobody wants the story of how I sat around handing kids chocolate bars for two years while they got a government set up. Now if you don’t mind, I’m gonna go get a bloody drink.”
”Well, thank you for coming on to the show. Next up is our station’s Latest Hits section, hosted by-“
The farmer-turned-factory-worker shuts off the radio, cutting her off. He still doesn’t quite understand what in the seven hells human ”pop music” is, but he knows he wants absolutely none of it.
submitted by Letsseeifthisworks_2 to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 23:54 Flagelllant An essay on Total War sieges : CA has been getting it wrong, and the community too.

The moment i saw the new maps for TWW3 in the labeled "Siege Rework", i thought there was immediately a problem, a problem that CA had advertised as a solution, BIGGER MAPS.
The problem with bigger maps isn't the size itself, but the concepts that are tied to it. People were tired of WH2/1 maps where cities were just a single wall or a couple of walls with a bunch of very simplified chokepoints. This design was definitively bad for a million of reasons, but the main one hasn't been fixed, and it's the walls being useless.
I'm not going to stop myself on this point because everyone knows walls are useless and have suggested ideas to make wall gameplay much more responsive and make much more sense, but i would like to suggest a different cause. Altough i'd love to see them dissapear, i don't think ass ladders are the problem with walls, i think the problem is the design of the maps. Walls could work exactly as they are right now, but the problem is they are always put on situations that make the defender unadvantaged. Take a look at a game that for many people did sieges right, Thrones of Brittania. In that game you can see multilayered wall cities that use the overlaying of them in interesting ways, and look for ways to give the defender options in how to defend the enemies approaching the city.
They made things like putting walls on top of hills so they are unreachable but can be used by archers, or putting 2 walls opposed to each other to form a tunnel enemies have to go through and can be rained missiles from above. Just putting 2 walls near each other gives a lot of options.
Current siege design is almost totally focused on fighting on the inside of the city, with dozens of chokepoints and ways to enter each fortified location. This makes playing sieges extremely microintensive, and makes it so there's always unused space by the defenders that has to be given for free to the enemy, because in this game you are almost never awarded for spreading thin, and if i put 2 units to defend each defensible position like CA seems to have intentend i will get obliterated, because my units keep facing a 2 vs 10 while the enemy is entering like a wrecking ball.
The size of the siege maps and the design they have clash with each other, either i camp on my last defensible position to take the enemy head on (The optimal, but braindead and unfun route) or i spread my army thin through the gigantic map, wich isn't optimal at all and requires an insane amount of micro to constantly realocate and use my army through all of this gigantic map, without it even being the most optimal option. I've played 40 units siege in Cathay maps and i steel feel like i don't have even remotely the amount of units to defend this monstruosity.
This is the reason why CA has put rechargable materials and let's you build during the battle, so you have a reason for holding the outer layers and retrating later to the inner ones, the problem is when all of these layers are designed to inconvenience the defender more than helping it, it's no wonder that's not the approach most players will use.
I believe the pinnacle of Total War Sieges isn't found on a game but on a mod, Strongholds for the Samurai for Shogun 2. Yes, this mod had many times pathfinding issues, but i would argue not that different to the current Warhammer maps, even better. Now let's take a look at some designs they've made, masterfully recreated by me on paint.
Example #1:
The red lines are to indicate the gates. In this map, you can see how the settlement is divided on 2 sections. On one side, a direct, long path to the final city square. On the other, a shorter path, but protected by different layers of walls. The attacking player has two choices. He can commit to the left side, where the enemy can defend itself much worse initially, but the long path to the gate will leave the entire army exposed to being in a thin line while being shot from the side by the archers on the blue line i've marked. Alternatively, they can choose to go for the right side, in wich the enemy will be less able to shoot effectively but the advance will be much, much slower for the attackers.
Take a look at how this design make us think much more strategically than tactically. I have to think about wich side of the fortress to attack carefully, or how to approach a double assault. Maybe my heavier troops can withstand an assault on the front, while quicker ones try to take the long path. Or maybe i use those heavier troops to try and take the archers on the first sections of the wall, reducing the firepower being shot to the other side. As a defender i think carefully about how many units to put on each side, as to not make any option too appealing, since guarding to heavily the longer "weaker" side could make the enemy go only for the direct approach that would leave the rest of your army too isolated. It's a great design that on it's basis provides variety and complexity, and doesn't put the focus on maneuvering or making as many units as possible take as many streets as possible.
Example #2
For this second example i've marked the towers on green. Take a look at how, once again, the map can be divided in two main sections, the open one and the compact one. It seems tempting to leave the outer defences for the enemy since they are too open to be defended that effectively, but that's where the towers come in. If you gift all the outer settlement to the enemy, your own towers will be captured and shoot you from the outside, and you will end up trapped in your own coffin. This design, in a simple way, allows for the player to have an interesting dynamic, where again, the focus is put on where to put your units, wich to put where, and having a clear strategy and macro plan on how to approach the siege based on a number of factors, the focus is not on maneuvering, not on taking enemies from the back from behind a street, not on micro, it's all about about the strategic approach.

My resume of this long rant is,
-smaller maps where you are forced to use the multiple chokepoints so you can't fit all your army in just one, but big enough to incentivize different approaches while being proportional to the army sizes in the game.
- creative siege layouts where walls are used to the defender's advantage. Design with moats and terrain in front of walls to make them less easy to attack, no giant kilometrical walls where it's impossible to defend every inch. multi tier settlements are an essential part of making sieges better.
- simpler layouts, not WH2 style, but making a focus on fewer choices but that are more impactfull on the macro scale, as shown in the SOTS examples.
submitted by Flagelllant to totalwar [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 23:43 fauxmer Yesterday I beat a white lynel in combat without armor support for the first time

(That title makes it seem like I had a tank battalion over the next ridge helping me out by offering fire support. What an image.)
I've beaten white and even silver lynels in single combat before, but so far I have only been able to do so with training wheels: level 4 amber earrings, champion's tunic, and soldier's greaves (a whopping 88 armor), which allows me to shrug off pretty much any melee weapon they hit me with for just a quarter heart of health (except the crushers, those take four hearts). The near-invulnerability provides a great base upon which to practice combat with these creatures in a safe(er) environment.
Also, if you kick a white lynel in the face, you get a really nice bow. I eventually got to the point where I'd use savage lynel bows to farm royal weapons from hinoxes, then go use the royal gear to farm lynels for savage bows. When you throw the Master Sword (here twice-upgraded to 50 damage) into the mix, you violate the laws of thermodynamics; you get more goodies out of the process than you need to sustain it.
But I wanted to complete the Trial of the Sword. To unlock the full potential of the Master Sword. I admit, I'm not doing it because it's right or because it's what heroes do. I'm doing it because I wanted a (sorta) free top-tier weapon that (sorta) never breaks.
Also the sword glows.
So I take the Trials. One might ask if it's worth the stress and strain at this point in the game; all of the shrines have been completed, all the inventory expansions have been acquired, all the memories re-lived. There's precious little remaining on which to use an awakened Master Sword. But questions of worth fall within the purview of your conundrums of philosophy. Ain't nobody got time for dat, I wanna hit things with a shiny stick!
I tried the trials during my first play through the game, four years ago. I didn't do well; I couldn't even complete the first set—heck, I couldn't even get half-way through the first set. This second time through I do better. It still takes a couple tries, but the first trials go down.
I put it down to playing the game on a larger screen; 32 inches, not the Switch's 6.2. It makes a huge difference; I can actually see enough detail to let me parry and dodge. With my current play through clocking in at 110 hours, 105 of those on a large screen, it astonishes me that I completed my first 70-hour playthrough entirely on the Switch's tiny screen.
I've never seen the second set of trials before this playthrough, but they're actually easier than the first, there being no water-only levels. Bomb-arrow armed bokoblins on the third floor catch me off guard the first time, but I complete the middle trials on my second attempt.
The final trials scare me. I have read the ancient texts. I know what awaits me in the deep. I know what the monks awoke in the darkness of the magic boxes. Manes... and flame... Without gads of armor to cover my ass I fear I will simply be smashed flat by these beasts. But I dive in anyway—the trials won't complete themselves. The shiny stick won't be given to me. I need to earn it.
When I get to the first rest stop, I find something that makes my heart stop. Three ancient arrows? The ancient texts made no mention of these! The only equipment notices I had were for the flamebreaker boots; a not-so-subtle 'you will spend the next five floors on fire' advertisement. I know what these arrows can do to the mere meatbags who oppose me! Five minutes ago I wasn't even worried about guardians, because lynels. But these... these. For the first time ever, I feel a little thrill of hope. If I have these, even without armor, I can beat lynels. My own little cheat code. All I have to do is tough out the guardians.
My first pass through the final trials doesn't go well. I'm nervous, twitchy. I take too many hits. I inadvertently shove my one and only hearty radish into my greedy mouth instead of the cooking pot, wasting a whole full recovery opportunity. By the time I arrive at the second rest stop, there aren't enough food items on the floor to get me back up to full health. And after that comes snow levels; I can't cook everything on this floor to bring my health up as much as possible because I need them to provide me with cold resistance for the next few floors. I get through a couple levels before I tunnel vision on the wrong target; a blizzrobe freezes me and a silver bokoblin turns me inside out.
The second attempt I make sure to take a little bit slower. I plan my attacks, I withdraw if I'm in a position I don't like, I make very careful use of the few elemental weapons I have to one-hit kill and stunlock tougher enemies. When I get back to floor 14, I don't take my chances. I oneshot the blizzrobe with a fire arrow then pull out the first of my three ancient toys and stick it right up the silver bokoblin's backside, banishing his ass to the shadow realm. I will not have another run ruined by those two.
Things proceed more or less smoothly from there. I get to floor 17 and face my first lynel, a blue. It manages to glare at me for all of 2.6 seconds before the second of my ancient arrows wipes its stupid face (and the rest of it) from existence.
The guardians on the following floors give me pause, but the lone ones are easy to abuse and the three on floor 22 don't cover each other if you approach from the right angle. They are all slowly dismantled, one by one.
And then, finally, I arrive on the final floor, 23. Here there are eight little basic red bokoblins on horseback, a guardian turret, and my sum of all fears, Mr. White. Tall, proud, buff, and ugly as all get out, it spots me immediately, screams in barely-contained ketamine-fueled rage that someone as pink as me would deign to cross its field of view, and hauls its massive bow off its back. Before it fires is all the time I have.
It's all the time I need.
I draw the royal bow. I draw the last ancient arrow. I nock this final bolt, the swansong of power on the operatic ballad of shiny sticks. I raise the bow, pointing the arrow at a space a couple feet above the lynel's face; it's a long way, after all. I draw the string.
As afraid as I am, I'm also giddy. I'm there. This will be easy. I just need to let this thing fly and the hard work will all be over. The only thing remaining will be some little pissbabies on horses and a machine that is too stupid to avoid getting stunlocked by repeatedly having arrows shoved in its eye.
I loose my ultimate weapon.
The arrow travels gallantly through the air, its tip sparking into incandescent magnificence as it crosses the open space, dripping sparkles as it flies, little harbingers of its mission of doom. The giddiness reaches a fever pitch. I'm trembling with excitement.
The arrow buries itself... the dirt six inches from the Mr. White's feet.
I've fluffed it. I had one shot, literally, to get this done, and I failed.
I want to cry. These trials have been hard on me. I've had to take extended breaks in the middle of them several times already to untense myself. The prospect of doing it all over again on account of one whinnet-ridden lynel quiet frankly gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies, you know what I mean? Ten year old me would have chucked the controller and screamed in guttural German. Thankfully those days are behind me; I simply pause and walk away for a while. Did I go have a little weep? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe screw yourself.
I like to imagine the lynel and his hangers-on spend several seconds staring at the ruined arrow on the floor in front of them, then looking back up at me with contemptuous amusement as I literally try to swallow my fear, panic, and horror all at once. Of course, the game doesn't render emotions like that, but it's a funny image.
I have an argument with myself here. I don't want to try this full-frontal combat without my training wheels armor—I'm a coward. But even more so than that, I really don't want to run through the last 22 floors of the final trials again—I'm lazy. I even consider quitting the trials and giving up on the fully-awaked Master Sword. I consider using exploits to skip the final set of trials; it's not like I haven't already made it through all these floors, right? I'd just be... you know... skipping one single floor. Sorta. That's not too unfair, right?
When I come back I heave a large 'woe-is-me' sigh and unpause.
I can't face this creature and its groupies all at once on an open field.
I run for all my sorry little Hylian twink ass is worth.
Unfortunately, that's where the story stops being so dramatic. I climb the tower in the corner after I've broken the lynel's line of sight, severely abuse the guardian turret, and hunker down on my new perch. I know I can't bow the lynel to death; I don't have enough arrows and it'll call orbital strikes down on my head. I can't engage it in direct melee combat; I have only four weapons remaining and they'll break on its face before its face does.
But I realize I can abuse the bokoblins as well. They're really no more capable than the guardian turrets are. They won't attack me en mass. I pull them over where the lynel can't see them, one at a time, and pick them off their horses and steal their weapons. After a few minutes there's nobody left in the room except myself and Mr. White. Now I have a dozen weapons; sure they aren't all great, but they're fresh.
I now have no choice other than give up here, at the last step, or just dive in and see where it goes. It's not really a choice.
What I can say is that, thankfully, the training wheels experience gave me the actual skills necessary to get the job done. Mr. White and I engage in combat I manage to take him down with a dozen broken weapons, one broken shield, and all of my hearts.
That rush when the lynel finally collapses was incredible. It was like someone had jabbed an entire thing of adrenaline directly into my heart. I mean it was probably a week's worth of dopamine in my brain, dumped all at once, but still. At this point I want to cry, again, though this time not in pain or frustration but rather pure elation such as I haven't felt in a while. I did it. I completed the Trial of the Sword. And the final trials only took me two attempts.
I'm much better at this game now than I was four years ago.
I promptly take my glowing stick and use it to club Thunderblight Ganon to death.
submitted by fauxmer to botw [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 23:30 K_S_Morgan Musings about the Paintbrush and the Timing of Its Usage

This post is not really informative, it just features my subjective thoughts and my interpretation of what the usage of the paintbrush could mean.
The paintbrush was (most likely) used for two stages of the attack: first for assault and then for strangulation. The timing of these two actions is thought to nearly coincide. CSIs’ observations described by Kolar:
Broken shards of wood from a “Korea” paintbrush handle would be found on the floor outside the entrance door of the Wine Cellar. A portion of the matching handle was found in a paint tray near the door, and this would eventually be matched to the broken wood handle used in the garrote that had killed JonBenét. It appeared that the garrote had been constructed at the entrance to the doorway of the Wine Cellar, and investigators believed that JonBenét’s murder had taken place in that very location … the perpetrator is believed to have inserted the broken end of the paintbrush, used as a handle in the garrote, into her vagina at or near the time of her death.
The use of the paintbrush in the assault always looked like one of the strangest decisions to me. Who pokes the likely unconscious victim with a paintbrush? Why? The damage wasn’t as extensive as one could expect if this was done for sexual gratification. It seems like an act of curiosity or a brief flash of malice. Some people, including a part in BPD, decided that this attack was a part of staging because they also couldn’t find a logical explanation for it, but the idea of staging doesn’t really withstand scrutiny, in my opinion. This is the approximate sequence of the steps the Ramsey(s) would have had to cover in this case:
1) Decide that their daughter was dead when she was still alive or choose to finish her off deliberately (since the assault was done when she was still breathing).
2) Have enough insights to realize that the eventual autopsy would reveal the signs of old vaginal abuse.
3) Decide that the paintbrush is the best weapon to inflict similar damage to cover the old one.
4) Assault JonBenet with it.
5) Change their mind and unstage this part of the crime. Remember that the body was not staged as if a sexual assault happened — the evidence of paintbrush penetration was hidden, possibly including wiping to remove the blood; the bottoms were pulled back up.
6) Be reluctant to discuss or draw any attention to this assault.
This is just not how staging works. While the idea of inflicting new damage over the old one might be logical, the decision to minimize it by using a paintbrush for a mild jab & to remove all visible signs of it and never bring it up is not. It’s not staging when no one sees it and the perpetrators avoid discussing it — this nullifies the very concept. As for the old abuse, the Ramseys flat-out denied it. They never tried to use the new damage as a trump card to argue against the old trauma. So, either they decided to stage the assault but then drastically changed their mind & preferred to forget about their plan or the assault wasn’t staging.
The timing of the assault proves the latter, in my opinion. After the attacker hit JonBenet in the head, some time later, they decided to strangle her, and not in the way one could expect. This person didn’t smother her; they didn’t use the cord itself, which would make more sense than starting the bizarre arts and crafts project; they could strangle her manually, and so on. But no, they decided to specifically construct a ligature device from one of Patsy’s paintbrushes.
I assume this was why this person went to search for the supplies. Device construction had strangulation as the goal, considering the use of the paintbrush in ligature that killed JonBenet. They chose a paintbrush, broke it, and began their work. At some point, they used one of the ends to poke JonBenet vaginally with it.
This decision seems spontaneous to me. It’s like the killer wanted a paintbrush for ligature, but then in the process of constructing it, it suddenly occurred to them that they could use it for something else, too. Basically, I don’t think they picked a paintbrush to consciously inflict two attacks: they chose it for strangulation first and foremost, and the idea of assaulting JonBenet with it came to them later, out of blue. This could explain the strange choice of assault weapon and the relatively minor damage: the assault was a random thought that the attacker acted on spontaneously. They didn’t plan to assault JonBenet at first, it wasn’t their major goal. They followed a whim and then continued on with the ligature.
If true, this dismantles the idea of the assault being staging further. It wasn’t a big plan for hiding previous abuse, it was an unplanned deviation from the course with strangulation as its central goal.
This is how I perceive the fact that the paintbrush was used in both attacks that took place close to each other, and these weird, seemingly illogical, chaotic choices are among many reasons that make me think BDI. Children aren’t bound by the same logic as adults. Burke loved engineering: he constructed multiple projects. He knew how to tie knots and he enjoyed doing it a lot. Coming up with a complex solution to a problem by involving his hobby in it seems like a decision a child like this would make. The paintbrush with the ligature looks more like a toggle rope for Boy Scouts, a version of a toy rather than a serious weapon, never mind the real garrote. The garrote has two handles; the toggle rope has one, just like the device used on JonBenet, which automatically makes it a better fit. When you also consider that the only match for the abrasions on JonBenet was Burke’s train tracks, I think BDI becomes an even more compelling theory.
submitted by K_S_Morgan to JonBenetRamsey [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 23:05 VietRooster New Music Friday: March 24th, 2023

❓ "this seems intriguing after a cursory look"
⭐ "im interested in this for one reason or another"
❤️ "ive been waiting for weeks, months/i'm absolutely in love with this"
Caroline Rose - The Art of Forgetting
Label: New West
Genre: Indie Rock, Indie Folk, Neo-Psychedelia
Black Country, New Road - Live at Bush Hall
Label: Ninja Tune
Genre: Art Rock, Progressive Pop, Chamber Pop, Post-Rock
Liturgy - 93696
Label: Thrill Jockey
Genre: Avant-Garde Metal, Black Metal, Glitch, Chamber Music
Label: AWAL
Genre: Experimental Hip Hop, Hardcore Hip Hop, Jazz Rap
Lucinda Chua - YIAN
Label: 4AD
Genre: Ambient Pop, Chamber Pop, Singesongwriter
Lankum - False Lankum
Label: Rough Trade
Genre: Irish Folk Music, Drone, Avant-Folk
Depeche Mode - Memento Mori
Label: columbia
Genre: Synthpop, Electro-Industrial, Darkwave
Navy Blue - Ways of Knowing
Label: Def Jam
Genre: Conscious Hip Hop, East Coast Hip Hop
Parannoul - After the Night (Live)
Label: n/a
Genre: Shoegaze, Emo, Post-Rock
Kate Davis - Fish Bowl
Label: n/a
Genre: Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
Kele (of Bloc Party) - The Flames pt. 2
Label: !K7
Genre: Art Rock, Indie Rock
The HIRS Collective - We're Still Here
Label: Get Better
Genre: Queercore, Powerviolence
Purling Hiss - Drag On Girard
Label: n/a
Genre: Garage Rock, Power Pop
Secret Machines - The Moth, The Lizard, And The Secret Machines
Label: n/a
Genre: Alternative Rock, Space Rock Revival, Indie Rock
The Reds, Pinks & Purples - The Town That Cursed Your Name
Label: n/a
Genre: Indie Pop, Jangle Pop
Label: Sub Pop
Genre: Electro-Industrial, Deconstructed Club, Industrial Hip Hop
Grecco Romank - Wet Exit
Label: n/a
Genre: Industrial Techno, Maximalist Post-Empire Themed Dungeon Power Techno
Noble Rot (Alex Edkins of Metz / Graham Walsh of Holy Fuck) - Heavenly Bodies, Repetition, Control
Label: n/a
Genre: Post-Punk, Electronic
The Natural Lines - The Natural Lines
Label: Bella Union
Genre: Indie Rock
Jilk - Syrup House
Label: Castles in Space
Genre: Post-Rock, Experimental Electronic
Night Hikes - Perfect Wonder (EP)
Label: n/a
Genre: Psychedelic Pop
Phoneboy - Moving Out
Label: n/a
Genre: Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Zohra - Murder in the Temple
Label: American Dreams
Genre: Synthpop, Goth Pop
Heartworms - A Comforting Notion (EP)
Label: Speedy Wunderground
Genre: Post-Punk, Gothic Rock, Industrial Rock
Softcult - See You In The Dark (EP)
Label: Easy Life
Genre: Shoegaze, Dream Pop
Benny Sings - Young Hearts
Label: Stones Throw
Genre: Indie Pop, Synth Funk, Yacht Rock
Angel Bat Dawid - Requiem for Jazz (live)
Label: n/a
Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz, Spiritual Jazz
Nickel Creek - Celebrants
Label: Thirty Tigers
Genre: Progressive Bluegrass
Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily - Love In Exile
Label: Verve
Genre: Chamber Jazz, Ghazal
Matt Corby - Everything’s Fine
Label: n/a
Genre: Contemporary Folk, Indie Rock, Neo-Soul
Kid Moxie & NINA - Lust (EP)
Label: Italians Do It Better
Genre: Synthpop, Synthwave
CATT - Change
Label: Listenrecords
Genre: Singer-songwriter
Kool Keith & Real Bad Man - Serpent
Label: n/a
Genre: East Coast Hip Hop, Abstract Hip Hop
Juno - Myriad Path
Label: Jazzland Norway
Genre: Jazz, Indie Pop
Exploring Birdsong - Dancing in the Face Of Danger (EP)
Label: Long Branch
Genre: Art Rock, Art Pop
The Bouncing Souls - Ten Stories High
Label: Pure Noise
Genre: Skate Punk, Pop Punk
Annabel Lee - Drift
Label: Howlin' Banana
Genre: Garage Rock
Andy Loebs - Hyperlink Anamorphosis
Label: n/a
Genre: Digital Fusion, Progressive Electronic
Resa Saffa Park - Madness. Let Me In!
Label: Unity
Genre: Singer-songwriter
Dick Stusso - S.P.
Label: n/a
Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Rock
LVRA - soft like steel (EP)
Label: Eastern Margins
Genre: Electronic, Hyperpop, Alt-Pop
Hysterical Love Project - Lashes
Label: Motion Ward
Genre: Dream Pop, Downtempo
The Black Cat's Eye - The Empty Space Between A Seamount And Shock​-​Headed Julia
Label: n/a
Genre: Neo-Psychedelic, Prog Rock, Space Rock
Cecile McLorin Salvant - Mélusine
Label: Nonesuch
Genre: Vocal Jazz, Nu Jazz
Xysma - No Place Like Alone
Label: Svart
Genre: Hard Rock, Alternative Metal
Semaphore - I Need a Reason to Stay
Label: n/a
Genre: Shoegaze
Endless, Nameless - Living Without
Label: Silent Pendulum
Genre: Math Rock, Noise Rock, Blackgaze
O Gajo - Não Lugar
Label: n/a
Genre: Indie Folk
Spicy Dreams - You Me You Us
Label: n/a
Genre: Dream Pop, Alternative Pop
WMD - Deliquesce
Label: n/a
Genre: Chillwave, Chiptune, Ambient
Lana Del Rey - Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
Label: n/a
Genre: Singesongwriter, Traditional Pop, Alt-Pop, Chamber Pop
SKAAR - Mad Woman, Pt. 1 (EP)
Label: Warner Norway
Genre: Singer-songwriter
Luke Combs - Gettin' Old
Label: Sony
Genre: Contemporary Country
Myke Towers - LA VIDA ES UNA
Label: n/a
Genre: Reggaetón, Latin Pop
Label: Toy's Factory
Genre: Alternative Metal, Trance Metal
Meg Myers - TZIA
Label: Sumerian
Genre: Alternative Rock, Alt-Pop, Electropop
ROSALÍA & Rauw Alejandro -
Label: Columbia
Genre: Reggaetón, Latin Pop, Bolero
Label: Epic
Genre: Hardcore Hip Hop, West Coast Hip Hop
6LACK - Since I Have A Lover
Label: LVRN
Genre: Alternative R&B, Neo-Soul, Trap
Label: Warner Brasil
Genre: Pop, Contemporary R&B, Funk carioca
TisaKorean - Let Me Update My Status
Label: n/a
Genre: Southern Hip Hop, Snap, Crunk
Kota the Friend x Statik Selektah - To See A Sunset
Label: ShowOff
Genre: East Coast Hip Hop
Oliver Francis - OLIVER’S REVENGE
Label: n/a
Genre: Trap, Cloud Rap
BigBabyGucci - Colors
Label: n/a
Genre: Pop Rap, Contemporary R&B, Trap
Jae Skeese - Abolished Uncertainties
Label: Drumwork
Genre: East Coast Hip Hop, Boom Bap
Label: n/a
Genre: West Coast Hip Hop, Trap, Jazz Rap
August Burns Red - Death Below
Label: SharpTone
Genre: Melodic Metalcore, Progressive Metal
Fall Out Boy - So Much (For) Stardust
Label: Fueled By Ramen
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
Ne Obliviscaris - Exul
Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Progressive Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Ov Sulfur - The Burden Ov Faith
Label: Century Media
Genre: Deathcore, Symphonic Metal, Metalcore
Shores of Null - The Loss of Beauty
Label: Spike
Genre: Progressive Metal, Death Doom Metal
Acid King - Beyond Vision
Label: Blues Funeral
Genre: Stoner Metal, Heavy Psych
The Turin Horse - Unsavory Impurities
Label: Invisible Order
Genre: Noise Rock, Post-Metal, Mathcore, Dark Jazz
XALPEN - The Curse of Kwányep
Label: Black Lodge
Genre: Black Metal
Zoromor - The Monolith
Label: Via Nocturna
Genre: Black Metal
Dawn Ray'd - To Know the Light
Label: Prosthetic
Genre: Black Metal, Melodic Black Metal
Floor Jansen - Paragon
Label: n/a
Genre: Pop Rock, Symphonic Rock
Forcefed Horsehead - Monoceros
Label: n/a
Genre: Grindcore, Death Metal
Iron Walrus - Tales Never Told
Label: Apostasy
Genre: Sludge Metal
Morass of Molasses - End All We Know
Label: n/a
Genre: Stoner Metal
Woe Unto Me - Along the Meandering Ordeals, Reshape the Pivot of Harmony
Label: M-Theory
Genre: Funeral Doom Metal, Death Doom Metal
submitted by VietRooster to indieheads [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 23:02 Morzo_Voidmaster Sassy Cola - three short stories describing a timeline where the future is guided by a soda company

3,659th Quarterly Meeting
Kilometer-long freighters docked and undocked from Port Vesta. Ventral doors opened to let in adamantine loading arms, the size of which existed only in tales of primordial titans for much of human history. Once reloaded, the ships departed for humanity's interstellar colonies at Tau Ceti, Aldebaran and Rigel. So choked with ship-induced warp bubbles was Vesta that stargazing was a fruitless pastime for many millions of kilometers out.
And all this was visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the most important conference room humanity had ever known.
Cool air circulated through the 40 by 20 by 5 meter room. 20.4 degrees Celsius, the perfect temperature to keep ambitious minds in line with corporate procedure. And no minds were more ambitious than those sitting in here.
9 of the most powerful human beings alive sat around the rectangular conference table, four on each of its long sides and one at the end farthest from the door. Their perfect faces were reflected in its polished black marble, craftsmanship reflecting in craftsmanship, one working in flesh and the other in stone. Their suits ran the gamut of subdued color, from black to gray to blue to beige to brown, though all but one had a metallic sheen. No one tried speaking before the meeting began. Everything that would be said today had been written and rewritten over the previous weeks. Today was a formality, a tradition practiced by an organization that had existed for 914 years.
Yet everyone in the room knew that the predetermined decision formalized today thrust their organization into foreign territory.
The man at the end of the table stood up. His dark brown suit was only two shades distant from his dark brown skin, most on display on his shaved and polished head. He removed his black-framed glasses from their perch 210 centimeters above the floor and tucked them into his breast pocket, 170 centimeters above the floor.
"Members of The Board," he said, "I declare this, the 3,659th quarterly meeting, open."
A woman, nearest on his left, stood up as he sat down. She wore a beige suit whose metallic sheen paled in comparison to her voluminous blonde hair. In her lilly white hands was the Quarterly Profit Report.
"Mr. CEO," she said in her most authoritative voice, "I'm proud to report that we have once again met the expectations of the founder. From July 1st to September 30th, 2999 CE, we maintained a profit margin of 80.0 %. As of September 30th, we hold a market share of 99 % and a market capitalization of 400 quadrillion credits."
The woman sat down. The other eight clapped their approval.
A man, nearest on Mr. CEO's right, stood up. His gray suit complemented the full head of silver hair installed on his scalp and chin. Strong and youthful hands, grown in a vat and transplanted onto this bicentenarian, held the Readiness Assessment Report from the R&D Department.
"The Instant Sassy program has achieved level 4 certainty as of August 16th, 2999 CE. They can now create a maximum of 1 kilogram of mass and replicate drink and bottle in one go. Mass production of the Instant Sassy vending machines awaits your approval, Mr. CEO."
The man sat down. Clapping ensued.
Five more members of The Board provided their tidbits of information, but everyone knew the best was saved until last.
A young man, actually young in contrast to everyone else's purchased youth, rose from his seat at the doorward end of Mr. CEO'S left side. He wasn't more than 30. He was only 160 centimeters in height. His hair and suit were both pitch black and without sheen. Most of the board wondered if the boy even combed. He certainly didn't shave. His delicate fingers held a one page legal summary.
"Mr. CEO," he said in a monotone lawyer-stating-the-facts voice, "it has come to the attention of the legal department that a small firm at Rigel is selling a 1-to-1 clone of Sassy Cola, though under the branding of Flash Cola. As there is no reliable intellectual property enforcement that far out, we suggest Sassy Cola Company perform a cease-and-desist operation."
The clapping that followed was, as planned, subdued to balance The Board's recognition of his work and the dire situation he described.
Mr. CEO stood once more to give the final address.
"Members of The Board, we stand at a precipice. Military action against a small firm is a bold move. Then again, the Sassy Cola Company is no stranger to bold moves. It was a bold move when in 2085 my great great grandmother started this company in order to sell her sassafras-enriched soda. It was a bold move when we spent the 23rd century expanding Earth's launch capabilities so that humanity could colonize the solar system and thereby create new markets for Sassy Cola. And it was a bold move when in 2610 we invented the FTL warp drive so that humanity could settle the stars and buy more Sassy Cola. So let's put this to a vote. All in favor of sending a cease-and-desist?"
Five members raised their right hand.
"All opposed?"
Three other members raised their right hand.
"Five for and three against. And I vote in favor, giving the issue the 2/3 majority it needs. A cease-and-desist will be sent to Rigel as soon as the ship is ready. I declare this, the 3,659th Quarterly Meeting, adjourned."
All nine stood and clapped, excessively, as if their noise could bury the question of ethics.
Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, a kilometer-long ship (built by Sassy Heavy Industries) docked at Port Vesta (technically Sassy Drive Yards) and loaded up with cargo containers (built and owned by Sassy Shipping) to be delivered to Aldebaran (Sassy Cola Aldebaran, subsidiary).
Dr. Megalomanovich
The walls and ceiling and floor of the office never stayed the same color for long. They meandered through the greens, brighter then darker, strolled along the beach with various tans, took a dip in the water with cyan blue and finished by going back to the greens. They were cymolds, cybernetic funguses, and they formed the surface of every room in the administration wing of Sassy Research Installation #544.
It wasn't a very well publicized installation. No research from here had ever appeared on Sassy Science Direct's Top 10 Breakthroughs of the Year. Of course, that meant what they were doing was very, very important. Another reason to locate the place so far from the rest of human civilization.
Far from civilization is a relative term. To be far on the surface of a planet, you got to be, eh, 100 kilometers away. To be far in the context of a star system, make that 100 million kilometers. To be far from humanity in the year 3535 CE, you have to be 100 light years away. And that's just what we were. 100 light years separated us from the nearest human outpost. Not the nearest built-up star system or lone asteroid city. No, I mean 100 light years from the nearest hitch-em-up, one warpship, sorry excuse for an outpost. Nothing lay in-between and no one was coming to rescue you if you broke down halfway.
But that was the price of admission if you wanted to meet Dr. Megalomanovich.
To the layman, his name means nothing. To the educated, resentment. To the dreamers, hope. He is the greatest mind of our time bar none. And, like all great minds, he has created controversy.
The cymold on these walls was invented by him while he was still in secondary school 150 years ago. He designed the meter-thick mycelium fibers which root Installation #544 to its carbonaceous asteroid in an undergraduate mycology class. Since then he has: led a team which developed an all-biological fusion reactor, led another team that made a proof of concept for matter-antimatter annihilation based metabolism and singlehandedly created a cow subspecies that produces Sassy Cola instead of milk.
This last accomplishment most impressed the one and only financial backer of all human science, the Sassy Cola Company.
It didn't matter that Sassy Cola was already made in the most efficient way physically possible, by assembling it, bottle and all, from the fundamental elements themselves via vending machine MDROM-derived replicators, because Sassy from an udder was cool to the average consumer.
And so Dr. Megalomanovich was scooped up and shipped off to Installation #544. Here he has remained for 120 years doing . . . something. I'm here to find out what.
A chubby man with pudge stuffed unsuccessfully into a white lab coat walked in to the office. His eyes had been replaced by cybernetics—not eyes, but an assortment of twitching miniature radar dishes and antennae. His thick white hair is gelled straight back like the racing helmet of a bicyclist. It took me a minute to realize that this man was the good doctor.
"Dr. Megalomanovich?," said I.
"Who else were you expecting in Dr. Megalomanovich's office?"
"No one. I mean you, but, but—"
"You have only seen my younger self. Likely from my exploits in producing that wondrous strain of cow which produces delicious Sassy Cola."
"I know you from more than just that."
"I don't know why, all my other stuff had nothing to do with Sassy Cola."
He ripped some of the cymold off the wall with one of his olive green gloved hands. Beneath it is barren rock, half-digested by the lithovorous cymold.
"I mean, the antimatter-powered life thing was pretty neat," said I.
"Pretty neat? PRETTY NEAT?!?"
I shrank in my seat and whimpered, "Yeah."
"I'll show you neat my boy. Follow me through the teleporter!"
Rubber fingers pressed a sequence on the door's keypad with inhuman speed. The metal door dissolved away and only a teleporter field remained.
For those who've not seen the new 2D intrabrane teleporters—or thresholds as their called—you're in for a treat. Not only are they compact and have ranges up to a light year, but they allow light to pass through so you can see where the hell you're going. Not all light; hard ultraviolet and above get filtered out as do large energy differences. So if you're traveling from a paradise planet to a spaceship and that spaceship's warp drive has an oopsie, the 1 billion kelvin nuclear fireball won't char your burgers.
We weren't traveling to a paradise planet, at least not in the traditional sense. To a neogeneticist like myself it was heavenly.
I noted three things when I first stepped through. 1, the whole environment was bathed in the orange light of a red dwarf star. 2, the environment was divided between land—the cliffside we were standing on—and a bubbling black sea of what turned out to be Sassy Cola stretching toward the horizon. 3, the animals.
I don't know why the animals stood out to me over what I assumed were plants. They weren't actually plants but a form of lichen—but, but, but the prejudice toward the animals was still there. In fairness, they were pretty enigmatic. One of them crawled along the ground with a head that was entirely tongue, licking up the lichen bulbs like pieces of candy. Another one looked like a tree, but on closer inspection was an amphibious anemone, its roots sunk into the shallow sea's floor and its tentacles reaching out of the water to grasp a third creature—a bird of some kind whose flight was aided by gas bags on its underbelly.
"Behold, my masterpiece," said Dr. Megalomanovich.
"It's beautiful beyond words," said I. "How did it come about?"
"By way of 120 years' hard labor. Shortly after my Sassy Cow achieved galactic fame, The Board granted me with a research installation of my own. In return, I was to do the impossible: abiogenesis."
"To create life from nonlife."
"You had gotten close with the antimatter metabolism trial."
"Indeed I had. And that is why I refused to take any hand-me-down help from Earth's biota. From the beginning I wanted my life to run differently. I couldn't find a way to replace carbon as the backbone, but I was able to swap out water for Sassy Cola."
"You're telling me that in every cell of every one of these creatures is Sassy Cola?"
"It is their water."
"Do you have a few years?"
"Unfortunately, I don't. Even this little jaunt is wasting my precious time."
"Speaking of time, how did they grow so fast?"
"Accelerated evolution through computer-aided keystone transcription errors."
"Again, I don't have years to waste teaching you. I waste enough time teaching the installation's staff."
"When do you plan on showing your masterpiece to the wider galaxy?"
"My masterpiece will show itself to the galaxy when it is ready. There is no doubt in my mind that a day will come when a creature on this world will take a rock and bash it against the head of another and say 'eureka!' before pondering the philosophical implications of taking a life."
"Anything is possible when your body is 70 % Sassy Cola."
The Bimillennial Celebration
Upon receiving the invitation, I couldn't wait to go to the Bimillennial Celebration at Sol, though I did worry how I'd be received in turn. Few humans outside my corner of space had ever met a nonhuman sapient before. It didn't help that I lacked so much as a species name to give them.
If it were up to me, I'd name us astrographically, by the planet we live on. In that case we would be called the Sasserines after Planet Sasser. It's not a good moniker; too nationalistic when our distinguishing characteristic is first and foremost biological. So I dropped the case and made it sasserine. Yes, much better. It's less proper, more grounded, more biological. It is this species name that I used in my travels.
The first stop on my journey was at the derelict Research Installation #544. Humans abandoned it long ago when the Sassy Cola Company's fortunes took a turn for the worse. Now it was kept up by us sasserines as a heritage site. I left a bouquet on The Good Doctor's shrine, shed a few sticky tears and moved on. The tiny warpship I had chartered had an impatient pilot.
That pilot turned into quite an annoyance during our two weeks together, for he asked questions that became more and more inappropriate with time. I'm not one to disparage curiosity—I'm a scientist after all—but I fail to see the scientific necessity of revealing which variety of Sassy Cola I urinate.
My next stop was Rigel, a blue giant star that shined 1 million times brighter than Sasser's red dwarf. Since Sassy Cola's monopoly of both power and soda had waned, I found many other brands on offering, including one called Flash Cola. Flash's slogan summarized its claim to fame: "Resist the Sass and Drink a Flash!" I briefly wondered what Sasser's biosphere would look like if it were based on Flash Cola instead of Sassy Cola. I purged this thought experiment from my mind upon realizing that the planet would likely be named Flasher and we the flasherines.
Onward to Sol by way of Aldebaran. This leg was much more pleasant than the last as I had booked a room aboard one of the last functioning warpships of Sassy Cruise Lines. Luxury abounded and even my rational mind almost succumbed to the temptation of using the rest of my money to stay aboard til death. But such an act would break the terms of the invitation.
Sol, the most ancient and most populous star in settled space, was the venue for the greatest party ever thrown by humanity. Derelict Sassy Cola freighters had each been converted into a single light bulb and arranged by the hundreds to create a sign at Neptune's distance from the sun reading, "2,000 SASSY YEARS!"
I'm not normally a party person. Secluded reading is my pastime of choice. Yet I couldn't help but crack a Sassy with every human who asked me to join them. Why not?, I thought. After all, without the Sassy Cola Company, I wouldn't be alive.
The solar system felt like it held the totality of settled space within its borders. Port Vesta alone held hundreds of distinct cultural groups from just as many star systems. I met 35 of them on my 5 kilometer walk from Sassy Cruise Lines' designated dock to the hotel where I was to be staying. Sassy Cola's monolithic corporate culture was no longer humanity's culture. People were being themselves again.
And that included being suspicious of outsiders, especially ones from a different tree of life.
I felt eyes all around me. I had drunk too much Sassy Cola, besting even the worst human junkies. I sweat the drink. I urinated the drink. Boys and girls inspected me like a zoo animal every time I went to one of Port Vesta's many street markets. It overwhelmed me and I left early for my meeting on Earth.
Orbital space around humanity's homeworld is so congested with infrastructure that teleporter range around Earth is limited, by law, to a mere 1,000 kilometers, 1 billionth of what it is everywhere else. To get to the planet's surface I had to leapfrog from orbital plate to orbital plate, often having to cross a single plate by way of a couple teleports. Yes, they are that large. Most contain surface areas and populations similar to Earth's 21st century nations-states. After visiting 57 nation-state-orbital-plates against my will, I arrived at Earth's surface.
At least I had reached the top surface. Earth is a shellworld with 15 surfaces, each named after a variety of Sassy Cola. I was on Sassy Orange and needed to get down to Sassy Cola Classic, 7 surfaces below. Teleportation law was even stricter here than in orbit. The technology was used exclusively to ferry people between surface levels and teleporters only existed in the atlas towers which held the next surface.
I was awestruck upon first seeing an atlas tower as they occur nowhere but Earth. From green pasture it rose into the cloud cover above. Through those clouds, ten kilometers up, lay gigatons of diamond hard plating topped with teratons of granite, soil, lakes, rivers and cities. I was under a planet-encapsulating house held up by countless pylons, themselves kept rigid only as long as the power flowed. Luckily, it always did.
The atlas towers also serve as propagandistic monuments, each shaped like a bottle of Sassy, though of the variety which matches the name of the surface level they exist on. The Sassy Cola Company had its detractors, but the fact that the corporate superpower had built Earth into what it is today went unquestioned.
I eventually arrived at surface level 7, or Sassy Cola Classic. The 7 surfaces above had replaced Earth's original troposphere and stratosphere. The 7 surfaces below existed where the planet's crust once did. Together, the 15 shells supported 20 trillion humans living in spacious luxury—though no one had more spacious luxury than The Board.
Their 1 billion hectare estate is a combination art piece, capital, pilgrimage site and tomb. No teleporters exist within its borders. The atlas towers there are disguised as steep mountains on their bottom halves and cumulonimbus clouds columns on their tops.
Dwarfed by these gigantic illusions are the many castles of the estate. One of these castles serves as the estate's north entrance and holds the Sassy Parliament Building. In here convene two houses, a lower house elected by the Sassy Cola Company's 100 trillion shareholders across settled space and an upper house chosen by The Board.
The lower house had drawn up the invitation program and voted 67,306 to 32,694 to pass it. The upper house hesitated, unsure whether they wanted "billions of yokels trampling through the estate." They passed it with the exact bare minimum of votes, 600 to 300.
The addition of a clause limiting it to 10,000 "yokels" that came in tour groups of 50 per hour was the deciding factor in passing the invitation program. Now I was part of one of those groups, an ordinary ambassador for the world of Sasser, though I doubted that cultural and economic exchange, two bullet point motives of the program, were occuring.
Oh well, I thought as I boarded the maglev train to the next destination.
The nine members of The Board lived in nine penthouses atop nine towers near the center of the estate. I'd remark on the penthouses' reported opulence if 200 stories of height and the estate's no-cameras policy hadn't isolated us from them. I imagine they like it up there, otherwise I can't fathom why they'd live so secluded from the rest of their species. I wondered what such recluses thought of Planet Sasser and the sasserines or the invitation sent to me by their personally selected managers. But I'd little time to ponder as the maglev neared my stop.
At the very center of the estate sits a diamondoid hemisphere 10 kilometers in diameter. Inside exists a full recreation of one late 21st century American small town. The maglev line terminated at the entrance to the dome where a bright green sign reading "Tupelo" hung.
The rest of the tour group was just as in awe as I when we walked inside and found ourselves surrounded by single family homes along four lane roads with no sidewalks. From the artificial blue sky above came laser beams which generated holograms of moving vehicles. They veered around our group even though the lasers would cause nothing worse than a slight tingle on the skin. A human dressed in a law enforcement uniform of the time led us to the predetermined sacred sites.
First we stopped at the hospital where The Founder was born, then the double wide trailer where The Founder grew up and, finally, the soda shop where The Founder introduced the world to Sassy Cola in 2085.
I obsessed over this last stop. Burned into my psyche is the memory of the artificial sun rays shining through the shop's stained glass windows and onto the stainless steel counter. I took in every scent and sound and touch; the bittersweet sassafras laying in sacks in the corner, the scratching of our shoes on the artificially cracked and yellowed linoleum floor and the coolness of the counter on my cheek when I laid my head down in defiance of the guide's orders.
At the end we all had a thimble full of Sassy Cola made from the recreated soda jerk. It was inferior to every drop of Sassy that I'd drunk since birth. Even my blood, filled with the wastes of cellular respiration, likely tasted better.
But taste alone didn't determine the value of this thimble. The drink represented conception, its serving the initialization of the two millennia of change that followed. Just as water was a prerequisite for all Earth life, so Sassy Cola was a prerequisite for all life on Sasser.
This soda was the origin of everything I am. I believe that's cause for celebration.
submitted by Morzo_Voidmaster to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 22:23 Ykhare r/fantasy 2022 Bingo card and short reviews

fantasy 2022 Bingo card and short reviews
Challenge (100 % Successful) : As many books as possible from existing TBR.
Sometime I read up to half a dozen books or more that could have fit a square, for this card I selected the one I rated highest, and in case of ties the more obscure ones, guess they can use whatever tiny boost I can provide. If there was still a tie, the most original and ‘out there’ one won. Some squares had less or no competition though I could find at least a 3/5* read to fill each one.
**LGBTQIA List (HM) : Armistice (The Amberlough Dossiers #2) - Lara Elena Donnelly 3.5/5*\*
As in the first book, the overwhelming majority of characters are involved willingly or not in intelligence work or in the running of goods/people/information through unofficial channels, either for some form of government, political movement, or to line their own pockets or fulfill some other personal goal. The character work, politicking, double dealings and so on are still just as delicious, though maybe a bit lacking in speculative elements for my mood at the time I was reading it, as the only thing to place it on the SFF spectrum is the secondary world setting, in a WW2 analogue era.
**Weird Ecology (HM) : Into the Rain (Phantasia #1) - M.U. Riyadad 3.5/5*\*
YA Science-Fantasy. The protagonist's star system is progressively invaded by highly adaptive, assimilating aliens strongly reminiscent of WH40K Tyranids. As the story starts he and his associates are headed for their final exam (in the form of a survival/monster-slaying trip) to graduate from an academy for students gifted with MMORPG and superhero-flavored abilities, trained to fight against the invaders, and their own native critters should they be taken over by the aliens. He hopes to qualify for a tournament that would allow him to join an elite soldiers program with his best female friend, though the more things progress and take them through a variety of wondrous places, the more the organization sponsoring said program begins to take on shades of Final Fantasy 7's Shinra...
**2+ Authors : Salt in the Water - J. Ray & S. Cushaway 4.5/5*\*
Science-Fantasy, Shadowrun X Mad Max, on another planet. A very coveted resource can be found when and where some celestial bodies make landfall, but those have also had strange effects on the flora, fauna and sometime people nearby, similar to Shadowrun's Awakening. While cushy high-tech cyberpunk enclaves exist and not too subtly pull the strings in their areas of influence, the book is concerned with the dusty and thirsty struggles of characters who can only dream of ever accessing them. The main character is a nearly legendary scout, who has been able to carve out a place of more respect than granted most other meta-humans (he's an elf) in human desert settlements, but the mission he's sent on this time might prove his match.
**Historical (HM) : The Sixteen Burdens - David Khalaf 4/5*\*
YA Mystery in Alt-Golden Age Hollywood, if some of the most talented and famous people around were also secretly gifted with superhero-type abilities or knacks. The protagonist starts in a much more humble place, in a orphanage... of sorts. While the kids aren't encouraged to steal outright, there doesn't seem to be a lot of formal education involved, and they're definitely made to hustle. The young protagonist has developed an obsession that unwittingly puts him on the path of danger, and discovering information some people would rather remain hidden.
**Set in Space (HM) : The Truth Beyond the Sky – Andrew M. Crusoe 3/5*\*
Juvenile/YA Science-Fiction. Though he’s gone on to become an apparently successful and well-adjusted young profesionnal, the protagonist remains haunted by his mother’s unexplained disappearance several years ago. When he discovers a wondrous spaceship and its pilot temporarily stranded, he seizes the opportunity to go look for answers, go places, have adventures, meet a quite special girl, and possibly help quite a few people. Optimistic, fairly pleasant if a bit lightweight overall.
**Standalone (HM) : Naheli’s Sacrifice – Rabea Scholz 4/5*\*
YA Fantasy. When she was much younger, the protagonist performed a feat of magic, something rare enough to mark her to be groomed as a future willing sacrifice to the Goddess of the Sea, for the sake of her own secluded community of telepaths in their tower and the other ordinary people on the island. As the day looms near, some disquiet and lingering nostalgia for a lost love motivate her into a forbidden last visit with a long-time common friend.
**Anti-Hero : The Ways of Khrem – D. Nathan Hilliard 4.5/5*\*
Sword & Sorcery in a Lankhmar-esque urban setting. The protagonist, a successfully and comfortably retired thief, gets roped into helping with a few cases by an overeager young officer who has discovered his past. His intimate knowledge of the pathways in, above and below the city will prove quite valuable. Some ghosts from his past might still linger and maybe be finally confronted or put to rest.
**Book Club : Grave Peril – Jim Butcher 3/5*\*
Urban Fantasy. Still going on with the Dresden buddy read. It’s not… bad. But I could probably name a half-dozen UF series that are just as good or better and whose protagonist doesn’t make me want to club them over the head sometime. Boobs ? Yeah. Roughly one in two humans has them. Get over it.
**Cool Weapon (HM) : Dark Siren – Katerina Martinez 4/5*\*
Urban Fantasy. So our ‘cool weapon’ is a named, special photo camera, woohoo. Nicely polished UF with a bearable romance sub-plot, the female protagonist is competent and has her own supernatural thing going on, even if right now she needs help from her (maybe not so-) ex, with whom she stayed in refreshingly civil if distant terms. Slightly puzzled by the take on a supernatural creature that goes by a name associated with a fairly specific definition in past decades of table-top RPG lore, but this doesn’t seem to be quite what it is here.
**Revolution/Rebellion (HM) : The City Darkens – Sophia Martin 5/5*\*
Alt-pre/early WW2 analogue era, in an Europe that was mostly subjugated by nordic countries. The protagonist is a young woman in an arranged marriage. She doesn’t see her noble husband much as he seemed content until now to let her live with their young son on his estates. That changes quite abruptly as she is taken to the capital and strong-armed into being the highly visible and pliant wife at her husband’s arm that the new political climate she has yet to fully grasp apparently requires her to be. Initially in shock and with few other apparent choices but to adapt and outwardly submit, her determination to recover her son doesn’t waver and eventually leads her to juggle a quite interesting double life.
**Name in the Title (HM) : The Devil and Preston Black – Jason Jack Miller 4/5*\*
Appalachian contemporary magical realism. The story of a young musician circling down the drain, with or without supernatural help depending on how you interpret some events.
**Initials (HM) : Leviathan Wakes – James S.A. Corey 4.5/5*\*
SF/Space Opera. The ingredients are quite simple and not tremendously original, at face value, be it the characters, the prose or the plot, but the mix very successfully sucked me in.
**Published in 2022 (HM) : A Touch of Light – Thiago Abdalla 3.5/5*\*
Didn’t quite work for me. The POVs come from/through a carefully and interestingly described variety of backgrounds and situations, but from quite fairly early on the main points of their arcs all seem to blur together into establishing them as (or having them become) some form of magically enhanced badasses (all possibly ultimately linked to the same underlying source or cause, but with different manifestations).
**Urban Fantasy (HM) : Love Song for a Vampire (Dale Bruyer #2) – J.L. Aarne 4.5/5*\*
Queer (m/m) Urban Fantasy. A severely compromised monster hunter who now seems to see more of them on a daily basis than regular people (and on mostly peaceful terms), the protagonist is alerted to a situation developing in nearby New Orleans where someone seems to be handing out microdoses of vampire blood like candy, and nearly nobody wants that. Had fun with the gloriously wacky take on ‘Dracula in the modern world’ (no, he’s not the primary antagonist), but I suppose anyone overly attached to the classical picture of him should probably give this book a veeery wide berth.
**Africa (HM) : The Rage of Dragons – Evan Winter 4/5*\*
Heroic Fantasy in a not-Africa setting. Undergoing a Heroic Blue Screen of Death after the last of several grievous injustices hits particularly close, the average-guy protagonist swears to become enough of a badass to obtain vengeance from people placed well above him by their social station, training and inborn fighting abilities, and turns into The Determinator. Cue over-the-top training montage. Heh, it’s probably one of the finest examples I can think of if that’s what you’re looking for.
**Non-Human : Moonlit Miles (Kris Grant #2) – Jon Kershner 4/5*\*
Urban Fantasy. Having freshly ‘acquired’ the territory of a much older and nastier vampire in what to outsiders looks like it must have been an incredible stroke of luck, the fangy protagonist soon faces what looks suspiciously like the first probes and challenges from local contenders and possibly other powerful neighbors or visitors as well.
**Timey-Wimey (HM) : The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North 4.5/5*\*
That one probably doesn’t need an introduction. It’s good. Not fast-paced, particularly flashy or action-heavy though,
**Short stories (HM) : Outcasts – Nick Wisseman 3.5/5*\*
OK, not particularly memorable. Preferred this author’s full-length novel The Red Wraith some years ago.
**Mental Health (HM) : Amanojaku – Damien Lutz 4.5/5*\*
Dark Cyberpunk thriller. An ex-con released through a program involving an implant to control violent urges, and now doing specialized maintenance work in the harder-to-reach corners of a very vertical (wretched) hive city, the protagonist comes to suspect with dismay his implant doesn’t dull just violence when an intriguing female android sparks his interest. Hitting some snags and delays in his plans for a much-desired change of scenery doesn’t help either.
**Self-Published (HM) : Beneath the Fading Sun – Richard M. Ankers 4/5*\*
An unlikely crossover between Vampire Hunter D. & Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time. Yes it works. Mostly. In a far future Earth left much darkened by a weakening Sun, vampire hybrids rule the world long after regular humans went extinct, toying with the remains of fantastical technology that they can’t comprehend or elaborate upon but that allow the more powerful among them who gained control of such artefacts to shape their surroundings nearly effortlessly (unfortunately, most of them have pretty tacky tastes and not a lot of imagination). The protagonist is one of the last born, and the few to rebel at their endless petty quarrels and their lack of interest in remedying their still far-off but inevitable doom, though for a while he is… fairly petty himself. Until a few events and things witnessed send him on a more focused path.
**Runner-Up (HM) : The Path of Flames – Phil Tucker 4.5/5*\*
In a sundered world whose dominant religion believes in reincarnation, and largely ties individuals’ intrinsic moral worth to where they were born, the protagonist Asho was given a rare opportunity to elevate himself and train to become a knight under the lord whose life his father saved. Yet many only see as far as his origin, and he himself comes soon to witness both the death of his protector and troubling revelations about the faith. Still, he is determined to support his lord’s widow and new liege to the best of his abilities.
So far feels like very solid and fairly classical Epic fantasy with a welcome fresh coat of paint (like the orcs initially present as hired shock troops in the opening battle, but then having a POV and developments back home rather than being just endless disposable mooks irretrievably in thrall to some villain).
**BIPOC : Resurgent – C.C. Ekeke 3/5*\*
Science-Fiction, Space Opera, Superheros. Rogue alien elements have been executing increasingly successful terrorist hits. They might kinda have a point, because at the end of the previous conflict, Earth-born humans took over their home planet in retaliation, largely shaped it to their own needs and scattered the remaining native populations to mostly servile and unpleasant fates, just so you know. Anyway, in this mess the main protagonist is a non-Earth-born human, begged to come back take over leadership of some very beleaguered special forces he retired from not too long ago, though it looks like disaster struck in the interval and they’re weeks away from being poached out of any worthwile personnel left.
**Shapeshifters (HM) : Deep Magic – Gillian St. Kevern 4.5/5*\*
M/M Paranormal Romance, rural Wales coastline, Merfolk. One of my annual or bi-annual « I don’t read much Genre Romance but it looks like I picked up this one at some point and it was indeed quite fun. »
Long kept from home, or from settling anywhere else for very long with his mother by a strange restlessness they both suffer from, the protagonist comes back to his grandmother’s cottage after she’s taken ill. Maybe walking the paths of his childhood vacations for a while will grant him some peace, or answers a child couldn’t find.
**No Ifs Ands or Buts (HM) : Eeny Meeny Criminy Crow – Julie C. Eger 4.5/5*\*
Murder mystery. Magical realism, of the darker sort in an impoverished part of the rural USA, though seen through the lens of some fairly resilient kids whose closest adults mostly try their best for them. A young girl sneaking in a place where she definitely wasn’t supposed to be, was hidden observing as a masked boggeyman walked out of his just murdered victim’s home. Afraid to be scolded or killed too, or that she won’t be believed and convinced she doesn’t have much to tell anyway, she only confides in her closest friends. After they decide to cautiously try and uncover more, the make-believe occultish game their slightly older ring-leader convinced them to engage in seems to lead them with uncanny clarity to elements about the situation, present and past.
**Family Matters (HM) : L’Héritière – Jeanne-A. Debats 4/5*\*
French Urban Fantasy, Paris. After her mother passes away, the protagonist somewhat reluctantly becomes involved in the main family business with her grand-father. Which amounts more or less to taking care of many legal, mundane and sometime not-so-mundane affairs for some of the Masqueraded supernaturals in the area.
submitted by Ykhare to Fantasy [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 22:05 ThatGFFAN Transcript of Questions I asked Kik-Kit

Full Video Here!
This July will mark the 5 year anniversary since the release of Gravity Falls Lost Legends. So, as we near that, I thought I’d try and see if I can get some more information about the book as a way to celebrate the occasion. So, I decided to reach out to a person who not only worked on the book, but is a Gravity Falls fandom legend as well.
Prior to even the D23 announcement of the book, Alex had tweeted out asking people to send him examples of work from various fan artists. From these, he picked a bunch of artists from the fandom to contribute to the book. One of these artists was Kiki-Kit. Long time fans will know that name instantly as Kiki’s art is some of the most prolific and most widespread GF art out there and so her being part of the book was a truly deserving achievement for an artist of that degree.
In Lost Legends, she was the illustrator for the story Don’t Dimension It. She’s still somewhat active on Twitter, so I sent her a DM, asking if she’d be down to answer a few questions. After a few days, she responded.
I asked her 6 questions and also got some close friends who also are fans of her work to send some too. Here’s what we talked about...
Question 1: How did you get involved with Lost Legends and how involved with the book were you?
I remember way back when Alex had made a tweet asking everyone who their favorite fan artists were, and he had specifically asked for comic artists. I wasn't on Twitter at the time, but I know a few people had put my name in there! I wasn’t really expecting much to be honest, but about a month or so later I received a dm on Tumblr asking if I wanted to be part of a "gravity falls anthology", and I screamed.
Question 2: Were you aware of the stories in it beforehand (both the one you worked on and others) or did you get sent prompts or rough ideas by which to base your work for it off?
Nope! I didn't know anything about anything before I received the script several months later, all I knew was that there were at least going to be other comics alongside mine.
Question 3: Were there any stories or ideas that didn’t make it into the book that you know of? This can include whole stories that never made it in or just ideas or cut parts from stories, like a cut scene from Don’t Dimension It.
The only story I knew of before the book came out was my own, and I'm pretty sure that the script I had been given had already been through the wringer, so aside from a couple shortened lines thanks to comic restraints, not much changed script wise.
Question 4: In relation to question 3, would you be willing to share anything from your work on LL that would be okay to be public now? Like behind the scenes stuff that perhaps was not in the B&N version of it?
Before there was Stanbel, there was a hideous akira-blob Mabel. She lives on only in my nightmares.
Question 5: How do you feel the story you worked on (Don’t Dimension It) tackled Mabel’s character (given at the time Lost Legends came out, Mabel’s reputation in the fandom was in a weird place) and did you find the story to be fitting or out of the ordinary for Gravity Falls in terms of approach and execution? Basically, did you feel it was a Gravity Falls like story or more so leaning in terms of fan service or not too GF like?
This was a question I really wanted to ask, mainly out of my own personal interest in knowing more about the choices in terms of why the Mabel arc was done the way it was in Lost Legends. And Kiki gave a really interesting response….
I was of the group that felt like Mabel was a bit too selfish in the show, I still enjoyed her character and loved her a lot, but I was hoping for an apology from her by the time the show ended. I knew that the story I was drawing was going to be divisive among the fandom, and I had already accepted the fact that there were going to be people who really didn't like my story, but I liked it! I wouldn't have said that Mabel caused the whole of Weirdmageddon, but I otherwise felt like the story was pretty solid and a nice little end to Mabels character!
Honestly, as the years have passed since that book came out and my take on the Mabel situation has matured as I have as well, I agree in a lot of ways with what she said. There was definitely room for a story that corrected Mabel’s character in ways, but I also feel the story went too far in making her out to be the cause of Weirdmageddon. It was a strange approach that the story took to be honest, but I’m glad we both agree on it while also still enjoying the book. And finally…
Question 6: Overall, looking back on it, do you feel Lost Legends still holds up well as a Gravity Falls book, or do you think the book could’ve done a better job in either storytelling or what stories it focused on? If the latter (or even if you got any), what stories would you have wanted to see be told in the book or have done differently if you were the writer?
I still really love the book a lot, but maybe I'm a bit biased haha! If I was to change anything about it, I would've really loved a story dedicated to one of Stan and Fords sea-fairing adventures, or at least some sort of future story set a few years forward, but I'm otherwise happy with what we got! I'd be even happier if the comics had continued though, like those IDW mlp comics, that would be niiice, but alas! I doubt it.
So agree on that honestly. It would’ve been great to see a Stan and Ford story or something in the future. Though I personally would’ve loved to see a Wendy story or maybe even a Mabel and Ford bonding story more so. It’s just one of those fan hopes I really had then that never did transpire I guess, eh.
Now, for some extra questions I asked Kiki that came from friends who I mentioned this too…
First off, a bonus question I asked her…
Are you still in touch with Alex or any Lost Legends contributors? And considering The Owl House references that were in the book, did you know or find out anything about the show back then that you got to be early on in the know of?
Ahaha, no, I haven't really spoken at all to Alex since the comic release, and I never really got the chance to talk to anyone else involved in the comic outside of the editor Eric. The burn-out I was left with afterwards made it hard to reach out, and that coupled with my already really bad social anxiety kinda didn't do me any favors haha. As it stands, the comic is but a star in my resume and a large part of my heart. Maybe Alex remembers me, and maybe someday I'll get to work with him again, who knows! As far as TOH goes, I only knew about some issues Dana was having with the shows opener at the time, from what Alex told me, she really fought for that nice fly-through shot! Any other information I knew beforehand had nothing to do with the comic and more with I have friends that work for Disney and did a little bit of stuff for the show, lol
Friend Question 1: What was the experience like being asked or approached for helping with the comic and how did you go about planning the pages?
Like I said, when I got the message I screamed, I was excited for weeks, but I didn’t actually get the script until I think august or september? Drawing a comic from a script is pretty straight-forward, each panel is given a brief description and dialog if needed, from there all I had to be aware of was the flow of how someone reads it, it's sorta like a zig-zag down the page. Start from the left, work your way to the right, and so on. Screen direction and dialog bubble placement help a lot in getting it to read nicely. Personally, I feel like I still have a way to go in my comic drawing abilities, but I think I did pretty well for someone whose still fairly new to it!
What I find interesting about this answer is that Kiki-Kit mentions August or September 2017 as the time when she got the script. So, almost a year before Lost Legends came out. Which is kinda surprising as this shows that the book was already written out by the end of that summer. Which means that when Alex revealed Lost Legends at D23, he pretty much had already finished most of the book by that point. That’s an interesting insight to learn.
Friend Question 2: This one's more fandom related given at the same time LL came out, there was also the Grunkle dating sim. How did you get involved with the game and how did you come up with the sprite art designs?
Oh my god haha! Okay, so, funny thing is that the time I worked on the comic ended up between my time on the dating sim. Sovonight was the one who organized the whole thing, and she came to me asking if I wanted to work on the sprites, and I enthusiastically said yeah. Once the general story events were laid out, we all started brainstorming what it was that we wanted the boys to be wearing. Really, more specifically, what Stan would be wearing. I'm pretty sure his blue shirt/white pants combo was mostly inspired by his blue hawaiian/white pants vaca outfit from an episode in s1, and everyone was really digging the biker jacket a lot haha we were going nuts. Stan basic outfit was the hardest to get down honestly, every other outfit was super easy to figure out, but it was all a group effort! In the end, I designed the sprites before the comic, and they were the first things I finished afterwards.
And that basically was everything. I wanna give a huge thank you to Kiki-kit for taking the time to answer all the questions I had. She was very insightful and shared a lot about the behind the scenes aspects of Lost Legends.
She was super enthusiastic about her work on the book too which I truly respected and it really reminded me personally about the excitement I had then for the book which I guess I’ve kinda forgotten about over the years. I have such fond memories from that time and it was great to learn a bit more about the book that now rests on my shelf, from someone who worked on it. I can’t believe it’s almost been 5 years since then.
But with that said, this was my Q&A with Kiki-Kit.
If you’ve read up to here, then thank you.
submitted by ThatGFFAN to gravityfalls [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 21:37 MammothCaptain9 I apologize sincerely. I'm testing something

Firestorm 113 T.M Imran vs Cactus Mike Face To Face
Trust me if it was up to me this segment had been posted Way sooner but reddit can't stop being reddit
Soundtrack: Full Circle By Creed
Part 1
Part 2
After multiple weeks of back and forth between the Television Champion T.M Imran and The Challenger Cactus Mike is set to go Face to Face in a verbal battle right here tonight on Firestorm 113
Electric Eye starts playing on the PA system. The echo of the music rocks the live crowd. The Champion T.M Imran walks out of the curtains with a microphone in hand and the Television Championship over his shoulders. Imran isn't in his wrestling gear, rather his signature street outfit. Black jeans and jacket with light blue sneakers and T-Shirt. T.M Imran has his wristwatch over his knuckles rather than the wrist as usual. The Champion socks in love from the crowd with a smile on his face but he doesn't play up to the crowd like usual. T.M Imran storms down the ramp in a quick fashion. He walks up the steel steps and enters into the ring. Imran walks right into the middle of the ring. He gives a couple of seconds pause, waiting for his music to cut off. The music goes off and Imran starts speaking
T.M: DAMN It doesn't feel the way it should feel. I mean I'm very used to coming out here, in front of you all and rambling around for minutes, that may feel like ages to some. And I'm a man who believes in action before words but usually whenever it's time to talk. I feel hyped talking to you guys. But tonight something is different. Tonight, I'm not in so much of a mood to talk. Even though it's been promoted as a FACE TO FACE, I'm not in the mood to talk a lot. And I think I know why. For the past 2 weeks I think I've said a lot. I've verbally trashed my opponent and rightfully so because I don't want to face a man who's at the lowest of his confidence and on the highest level of excuses. Little did I know that I'm facing, also lack the ability to hear and process a very simple message. I'm not in the mood to talk a lot because if I talk a lot. I'll only raise more questions for my opponent and I've not even gotten the answers of the last ones
T.M Imran looks at the stage and continues talking
T.M: I'm not in the mood to talk for much longer and raise more questions because I'm in the mood to hear the answers from you first, Mike. So before I provide you the stage to have the spotlight on yourself. Let me reiterate the questions you need to answer. Why don't you sound confident for your match against me? Is it because you know what I and everyone else here already know, that you're not ready just yet. Why did you use the family and kids instead of depending on your skills to feed them? Is it because you're desperate to be loved and respected by us? Dude, no matter how desperate you're. You aren't going to get the love and respect just because you're desperate for it. You've to earn it. Why did you've to lean on thanking these great fans and reminding them about the autographs you sign for them or the selfies you take with them instead of telling them what you could do for them in this ring? Is it because you know that was your only excuse for their support because you can't do a damn s** against me in this ring. Now I'm gonna drop this microphone right here in the middle of this ring. While you've to come out here and answer us, why did you ignore the very serious challenge of a fight in front of you and make me look like a devious man after your livelihood? Come out here, Mike
T.M Imran drops the microphone and leans on the ropes, waiting for Cactus Mike while leaving space for him 6
Once echo throughout the arena as fans began to chant "MIKE". Mike comes out, marching down to the ring. Mike enters the ring. Mike and Imran stare at each other for a bit. Mike grabs the microphone and starts addressing T.M
Mile: Let’s talk, TiM. You say I use my family. My family is my life, I would never use them just to get a few cheers. If I was going to exploit them I would be walking around carrying Noah all day but I don’t.
Mike gets closer to T.M right in his face
Mike: I’ve said from the beginning I respect you but every week you walk out here in those tight ass pants, I regret my decision to do so. You want to be a badass anti hero but in reality you look like a Limp Bizkit reject. You love to make finger guns well I like to use my fingers to
Mike throws a middle up in the air towards T.M and T.M shrugs it off with a smirk. Mike continues
Mike: Confidence issues are something I don’t have. I'm not a cocky bastard, unlike some in this business, I won’t mention because that’s TMI. I get where you're coming from, maybe I should bet on myself more. But what I’ve done so far, I’m proud of so nothing needs to be changed. After all, it won me my first Television Championship. Speaking of which, the TV title on your shoulder means a hell of a lot to me. It means different things to me than you. For me it’s a meal ticket for my kids, not just a fancy trophy to show how good I am.
It looked like for a moment that Mike was about to leave but Mike takes one more step closer to T.M to say
Mike: And finally, I’m not scared of anyone. Especially a rip-off of my good friend Soda. Eat this asshole.
Mike throws a punch at T.M to knock him back. It stuns the Champion, makes him angry but also brings a smirk on his face. This is what Imran was trying to do for weeks. T.M rubs the side of the face that was impacted by Mike's attack. Imran gets face to face with Mike. T.M yells at Mike
The crowd erupts as T.M Imran drops the Television Championship to a side to ground Mike with a SINGLE LEG TAKEDOWN. Imran transitions into a flurry of SIDE HEADLOCK PUNCHES to overwhelm Mike but eventually Mike KICKS T.M at the back of his head to create separation. T.M is back up in the corner. Mike tries to jump him but Imran moves away and puts Mike in the corner under the flurry of his fists. Mike defends himself but he's unable to attack back like that. However, Mike pushes through and with a DOUBLE LEG TAKEDOWN drops T.M under the reigning fists but T.M reverses the positions very soon. Now Imran is reigning with big GROUNDED BLOWS that Mike is defenseless against
The FBE Tag Team Champion storms into the ring out of nowhere behind T.M Imran. Code Blue has a microsecond pause to contemplate if he should come between his former stablemate and current stablemate but he has no choice. Blue grabs T.M by the waist from behind and pulls him away from Mike before Blue tosses T.M away on the mat. Blue checks on his stablemate Cactus Mike. Who's recovering from the fight. Code Blue turns around and looks at T.M Imran on the mat with a look of realization that they're on the opposite sides now
T.M on the mat is stumned and unaware of who pulled him away but finally T.M turns to Mike and sees Code Blue standing over his stablemate Cactus Mike. Blue is ready to protect Mike from any further attacks. Mike is Blue's hand to get back up. Blue steps forward in the face of T.M Imran. Both Imran and Blue show slight hesitation in making the first move of attack. The two carefully observe each other's body language and are ready to defend themselves as they come to the realization that their team PRIMETIME is no more. Which means that they're on the opposite sides now. But still the past is holding them away from making the first move
Suddenly Cactus Mike from behind politely pushes Blue away. Mike tries to jump T.M but T.M catches him with a SPINEBUSTER into GROUNDED FOREARMS. Code Blue sees this and pulls T.M off Mike. Reminiscent of what happened moments ago. However, this time on pure instinct Code Blue delivers a big RIGHT HAND to T.M, knocking him down. T.M Imran looks at Blue from the mat. He's slightly upset but he understands what it has come to. Blue can also be seen contemplating his decision to hit T.M out of instinct. Imran gets back up and stares Blue with intensity in the atmosphere
The silence takes over the entire arena for a couple of seconds. Finally T.M Imran and Code Blue swing with BLOWS at each other, simultaneously connecting with PUNCHES. The crowd erupts at the beginning of the brawl. Blue is connecting with stiff ELBOW STRIKES to T.M but instead of protecting himself. Imran responds back with stiff FOREARMS. Blue tries a LEAPING ELBOW but T.M dodges and sends Blue in the corner with a SNAP DRAGON SUPLEX. Blue immediately pops up into the nearby corner. T.M charges at Blue in the corner. Blue defends and knocks Imran back with a JUMPING KNEE STRIKE, knocking him into Cactus Mike. Mike jumps on T.M with a RARE NAKED CHOKE. T.M stumbles backwards and runs Mike head first into the top turnbuckle. Blue tries to attack T.M but his strikes are dodged, and Blue gets shoved back. T.M Imran picks up Cactus Mike over his shoulders for a WEAK END but Code Blue hits T.M with a DROPKICK in the knees. T.M goes down on 1 knee. Mike escapes out of the fireman's carry. Before Mike and Blue could make a second move
Out of nowhere Erick Koeman appears to his stablemate T.M Imran. Erick jumps at Code Blue with a HURRICANRANA. Blue goes sliding out of the ring. Mike tries to attack Erick but Erick side steps. Mike hits head first to the turnbuckle. Erick catches Mike off guard with a CODE BREAKER. Mike goes down on 1 Knee. Erick helps T.M Imran back to his feet. Code Blue joins Mike in the ring. Mike locks eyes with T.M Imran. Erick locks eyes with Blue. Is it Ark vs PROVINCE?
The Crowd goes wild. T.M Imran charges at Mike with a flurry of PUNCHES to the corner. Blue attacks Erick with a flurry of KICKS AND ELBOWS into the ropes. The crowd is going crazy at the brawl. Blue with a CLOTHESLINE to Erick over the ropes but Erick hangs on, sending Blue out of the ring. T.M tries to hit a CORNER RUNNING ATTACK to Mike but Mike BOOTS him in the head. Mike attempts a RUNNING TACKLE at Imran but Imran steps aside and shoves Mike over the ropes out of the ring, near Code Blue. Imran and Erick hypes up the crowd and mocks Blue and Mike to get back in the ring. Mike and Blue are about to jump back in the ring but a swarm of referees appears to hold them back. A couple of referees get in the ring to request Erick and Imran to stop as well. At this point the blood starts pouring from the forehead of the Television Champion. T.M grabs the microphone to address the situation while he's out of breath
T.M: I…. I didn't expect this to come down to this. And I'm not talking to you, Mike. I'm talking to Code Blue. We've been through a lot brother and we've been through a lot together but I think for the longest time. We've tried to deny that we stand on the opposite sides of the ring after PRIMETIME. I guess sooner or later we'd have to face reality. Well… so be it. You wanna fight for your boy. I wanna defend my boy, Erick. Mike, you said a lot of things that I disagree with tonight but I'll leave that to address for another time but I'll leave you with this. You call me cocky? Huh? See this cocky champion has almost fixed your confidence issues and brought you to the best promo of your FBE career so far. Best promo of your career is the key line here. But I'm glad about it. What I'm disappointed in is I hoped we could keep our teams out of this. But I think beggars can't be choosers. I wanted your aggression out on display. I got it. Now I can't complain about our teams. Speaking of which, it's not that bad after all. We can use it to warm up before our title match and test your new found aggression. At Unbreakable T.M, Imran defends his FBE Television Championship against Cactus Mike. But at Blitz. It'll be Cactus Mike and Code Blue vs T.M Imran vs Erick Koeman in a tag team match
The challenge thrills Code Blue and Cactus Mike. They nod in thrill as an acceptance to the challenge as the referees pull Code Blue and Cactus Mike out of the scene. While T.M Imran and Erick Koeman hype the crowd up in thrill
Prompt: TBD
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2023.03.25 21:15 Ecstatic-Access6828 The realm for the sleepless

There is a saying that if you light three candles near your bed, place a mirror near you, and hold on to your dearest belonging you can transport to the dimension of the sleepless. However, this only works when the sky has reached its darkest color, and you can't fall asleep. While in bed you're supposed to think of a tranquil scenery, or maybe a beautiful memory, whatever calms you as you must be mentally prepared before entering the new realm. Once you enter a trance-like state, you find yourself drifting in a pitch-dark portal without gravity or any form of matter other than you. Whatever you do you MUST NOT fall asleep. Your visit ends when the sun rises, then you are sent back to your dimension. You are NOT to sleep until you are sent back or you'll be stuck here forever
As an insomniac, I was sure the last part wouldn't happen to me, no way would I fall asleep. I've been depressed for a while, I don't go out much and neither am I able to sleep before the sun rises. Life has been quite mundane, I have nothing to lose at this point. So my boredom led me to try this ritual above that my friend told me about. I wasn't too excited, nothing excited or pleased me anymore but for some reason, I was drawn to try this particular thing.
I tried it out, I grabbed my dearest possession, the necklace given to me by my grandma who passed away two years ago. My grandma was the only one who ever truly cared about me. While in bed I thought of a memory of my grandma feeding me her homemade food. That was the last that I had been happy. It was pitch dark, completely silent. I didn't feel scared. Soon I felt more and more relaxed after thinking about granny. And then I entered the portal.
I was floating, I couldn't believe it worked. After a few minutes, I reached my destination. "The world of the sleepless" I thought to myself. As I opened my eyes, I noticed my room, but it looked different, the walls had this gross blood-like fungus on them along with plants that had sharp teeth. The room looked completely dilapidated. As I tried walking away, the bloodthirsty plants locked me as their target. They showed off their teeth as I stepped near them. Soon I was greeted with footsteps, slow and steady. A tall figure lurked behind me. I could feel its loud breathing near my ear. I turned back to see a figure with no eyes, It looked dark and hollow there. It was thin, its body looked as if it already started rotting. Its hair was filled with that blood-like fungus. I looked closer to see some wrinkles and a big long grin. "Granny is that you? I barely recognized you." I shouted with tears in my eyes. "Yes honey," she said with a smile on her face. "I missed you so much, It's so nice to see you again," I said as I hugged her tightly.
I backed off and started observing my surroundings, something felt a bit off. "Granny is this real?" I asked. "It is," she said giggling.
Together we visited the place, we were laughing and sharing old anecdotes. It felt utterly bliss. I told her about my school and current life, time passed by so fast. Before I knew it the sun rose and I drifted away from my sweet grandma back to my cruel reality. Everything really sucked.
But from that day I would visit her every night. And it was amazing. I could barely wait to see her again in the mornings. This time while visiting, I planned to fall asleep and stay there forever, I even took sleeping pills in advance. I wanted to get stuck there, my life in my dimension had lost its meaning to the point that nights were the only thing worth living for. Then went I to her and we talked for hours. "Grandma you remember the last gift you gave me? I still have it" I said. She looked confused, I could sense something was deeply wrong. "The teddy bear, I still have it." I lied, ( it was a necklace). "You also gave a necklace, passed down from generation to generation. what color was it again?" I asked thinking no way she would have forgotten this. "It was blue honey," she said. (it was white). "You are not my grandma, are you? Who really are you then?" I asked with goosebumps. She looked pale white. I felt scared, I wanted to run away but I felt myself falling asleep. Everything started looking blurry. She noticed I was almost asleep and stared at me with a long sinister grin.
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2023.03.25 21:13 Frame_Late Surface photos of Antheia

Surface photos of Antheia
Antheia is one of the many satellite worlds orbiting Pallas, the Turqoise blue Gas Giant that Commonwealth of Skhamar calls home. It is a dark, dreary, and exceptionally wet swamp world covered with giant fungi and alien mangrove trees. Rain is a constant on the planet, the atmosphere thick and soupy with evaporated water, and the temperature never dips below 25° Celsius.
Much of Antheia's surface is made up of acidic peat swamps that support a vibrant collection of lifeforms, although the most common creatures are those resembling amphibians, crocadylia and molluscs. In some areas, the swamos recede into shallow marshes where the fertile soil supports thick grasses and fungal spires. Avians flock to these spires to mate and build nests, safe from both predators and the elements. In recent years, settlers have taken to hollowing out these massive mushrooms and building their homes within, creating bulbous pod houses that can easily withstand the seasonal flooding of the marshes.
The settlers who live on this planet hunt the large reptiles and cook them like gators, marinating the meat and roasting it like Shawarma. Rice is also a staple, especially green jade, black and jasmine rice. It is hard to raise livestock on Antheia, so aquaculture (especially aquaculture geared towards raising freshwater molluscs and arthropods like mussels and prawns.) is a way of life: the average diet of it's inhabitants often consists simply of prawns, game birds, loaches, rice, bamboo, and whatever vegetables can be grown, with seasonal hunts of the large reptilians as a treat.
The main industry on Antheia is the lumber industry: the exotic woods on the planet serve as an excellent replacement for the fine woods like Mahogany and Beech that are beginning to disappear due to earth's near destruction. The strong and exotic woods of Antheia are used in everything from flooring and furniture to the handles and stocks of guns and tools. Another important industry is the mining of certain metalloids (tellerium, arsenic, boron and silicon) as well as the harvesting of rubber.
Like any other member of the Commonwealth of Skhamar, Antheia is of equal standing politically as long as they provide a levy and a small tax, and home a seat on the council of Skhamar. Most notably, however, is that Antheia is where the head of the Coptic Church has relocated to a large, dry platue, where they built the Cathedral of St. Anthony and the surrounding holy city of Al-Iskandariyyah Aljadida (New Alexandria), where most of the commonwealth's Coptic Christians now reside.
(send me your planet ideas, and I might just add them to my fanfic and lore.)
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2023.03.25 21:10 KyleKKent Out of Cruel Space, Part 634

The Dauntless

The area is a massive hive of activity. He had sworn his oath and had gone through extra training. Training for... this...
The slight waver of a basic Axiom illusion around him to change his skin colour and facial features is both obvious and yet subtle. It’s only in the space between the hat and the collar and due to the hat easily covering his features it’s not put to much use. The coat hides his frame and has not only hidden armour padding, but no less than five weapons either ready for a quick draw or broken down components of larger weapons.
He had been drilled on putting them together. Almost as much as the ‘personality’ of Private Stream had been as well.
Underneath the illusion was a pair of glasses with camera integrated and a pair of earpieces for him to wear. A touch of Axiom and his voice was at just the right pitch. There’s also a hidden microphone in his collar so he could be heard by his handler with ease.
So here he was. A fully grown Metak, covering his wings and pretending to be a human child. A heavily armed and oddly prescient human child.
Not what he expected of his new employer. But it made sense why they had scouted him. Fifty three years as an officer of Lakre Spire that specialized in setting up sting operations and gang infiltration meant this was pretty natural for him. His training was more a formality.
“Hello hello? Do you read me? Agent Dart? Nod if you receive.” His data handler asks and he nods. “Excellent. Call me Mister Know. I am your handler and researcher for today’s field operations. This is your first outing as a Stream, so we’re going to keep things nice and simple so you can get used to the steps involved. Nod if you understand.”
He nods again.
“Excellent. Now we have three simple objectives today. In and out in twenty minutes. We’re delivering information under the cover of a delivery of snacks and scanning the area. Anything unusual that the camera feeds on you glasses pick up and I’ll highlight them for you.” Mister Know says and Agent Dart nods.
“Excellent. I’ll be quiet from here on out unless prompted. But I’ll be typing in the feed on your glasses.”
“Just one question.” Agent Dart asks.
“Is there a point in the training where I won’t be having the glasses and earpiece?”
“The earpiece stays, but if we get a good handle on how you react in situations and like what we see then the glasses are traded out for a hidden body cam. Alright, I’m going to start sending text. Tell me if it’s working.” Mister Know states and then some text reads out a small readout of the area. It quickly gives him angles and potential hiding places around the room. Then it switches to thermal and shows the heat blaring off things. Then it switches to an Axiom readout before going back to normal but tiny windows in his peripheral vision open up. On the right side is a readout of the area he’s in that shows his general location and the left has readout of his mission.
Ready? Y/N? Reads in the middle of his glasses. He nods and the Y flashes for a moment.
The delivery is a tray of cookies. The hidden file is in an envelope that he’s to carry under them.
The text on his glasses reads ‘Like I said. Easy mission to get you in the groove. Just keep looking around while you deliver.’
“Fair enough.” He says as he picks up his delivery. There’s a small arrow to show the way to the delivery zone.
“Excuse me.” He says as he’s led towards a portal that brings him into the next building. The text on his glasses reads that he’s in the Council Building. Near the western entrance. He starts moving through the area and dips around a few individual as he quickly makes his way through the building. After a bit his glasses shift into the Axiom spectrum on their own and highlight a pair of cloaken leaning against a doorway and clearly listening in on a private conversation.
There’s a little note that states he’s allowed to sass them. Well, if it’s on the menu...
“Oh very nice, perhaps if you two hung up a banner you could be a bit more obvious.” He notes as he passes by the two spies. Now the caption reads don’t turn, do not turn around.
“Why?” He whispers out loud. ‘Because you’ll break character and laugh if you see their expressions. Just keep going.’
Oh now he REALLY wants to turn and look. But he has to stay in character. His glasses shift again to show the thermal readout of some devices on the way around. ‘We’ll grab them on the trip back. A lot of non-Axiom tech tends to run hot.’
“What are they?” He whispers to the microphone and there’s a pause before the text shows up again.
‘Could be anything. So that’s why we need to poke it. Listening devices are to be compromised and their information stolen. Bombs are to be disarmed and their origins discovered.’ Mister Know replies. ‘Any other questions?’
“Why Private Stream? Why not generic agents?” He asks.
‘Private Stream started off as a unique disguise that was seen in public. The whole point of the disguise is to have you underestimated while still giving you a lot of tools and options. No matter the species, bigger things tend to impress easier. So we go small for our discrete operatives.’
That makes sense. People easily forget that Metak are an apex species with all the attitude and combat ability that goes with it. Still, the general attitude back in the family is that it just means you can hit below the belt more often and not get crotch shot in return.
The glasses lead him to a room and the caption says, ‘just open the door’, and he does just that.
“So what do you think?” Admiral Cistern is asking Ambassador Tal.
“Big bag of nothing! These kind of tech limitations just make more people want to break them all the harder. Even if it does pass through it’ll be repealed in the next ten years no problem.” Ambassador Tal notes even as he walks up with the plate of cookies.
‘Sir! Something for the madam. Sir!’ Flashes on the glasses.
“Sir! Something for the madam. Sir!” He says and both turn to him.
“Ah thank you Private Stream. I was just about to order a little something.” Admiral Cistern notes taking the plate from him. By the time he passes it to Ambassador Tal the envelope is already up the man’s sleave.
“You’re trying to spoil me big man.” Ambassador Tal coos up at him before she looks at Private Stream with a squint. “Man. That Axiom illusion is basic, but I can’t see past it.”
‘Ma’am! It works by bending light. Ma’am!’
“Ma’am! It works by bending light. Ma’am!” He parrots.
“Oh... damn that’ll do it. More a hologram than the normal stuff.” Ambassador Tal says.
‘Salute and leave. We’re grabbing those devices on the way out, then you’re ‘getting lost’ and we’re doing a sweep of the area.’ His glasses read out and he struggles to keep the grin off his face. Of course the mission just expanded. Because why wouldn’t it?
“Sir? Is there anything else sir?” Private Stream asks.
“No thank you Private, thank you for the delivery.” Admiral Cistern says before saluting and he returns it with the ‘overeager’ motion he was taught. Ambassador Tal snickers at the sight. He’s still taller than her but she’s convinced he’s a child and is amused. Which is kind of fascinating as she KNOWS he’s got weapons and armour on. She knows he’s an agent and not just some Private.
He leaves the room and starts ‘rushing’ through the building as if he’s late for something. He then skids to a stop and looks around. The glasses shift into thermal again and point out where things are. As he gets close to one it gets a little title floating over it that shifts from question marks to Signal Reader. It then tells him to turn it around and then give it a twist to put it into a dormant state. That done he pockets the device and goes for the next two. Second is another Signal Reader and the third is a listening device that has a small switch built into the side.
He then takes a few ‘wrong turns’ and ends up walking by a few different offices he has no business being near. The whole time looking around as if confused but actually scanning the area with all the different filters on his glasses. The whole time Mister Know is rapidly putting designations on things and updating what appears to be expired information. Including numerous bugs known in previous offices and devices hidden all over the place. Most of them have indicators over what they are but the newer ones all have questions marks all over them.
‘Sass them out, stay in character.’ Mister Know texts him as they spot a Cloaken spy inserting a device near an office.
“Perhaps a little to the left?” Private Stream asks the invisible spy who freezes and looks right at him. “Hello!”
“... You can see me?” The invisible woman asks.
“No.” He answers looking right at her. She stands up and steps to the side. He follows her and then blinks as she starts waving her arms. “Why are you doing that?”
‘This is perfect.’ Mister Know texts.
“You CAN see me!”
“No I can’t.”
“Yes you can!”
“No, I cannot!”
“Then how did you know I was waving my arms!?”
‘Everyone does something silly.’ Mister Know texts him and Agent Dart gladly passes on the message in his most innocent possible tone.
There is a hilarious choking sound from the spy and Agent Dart now fully KNOWS he’s in the right job. This is the kind of fun you normally have to pay for, and being paid to have it is just gravy.
“... what are you doing here?”
‘Sass.’ is his only directive from Mister Know.
“What are YOU doing here?” He volleys back.
“No, I asked you first. What are you doing here?”
“Asking what you’re doing here!” He answers with a chirp.
“No not that!” She snaps. “Why are you here!?”
“Shouldn’t you ask a priest that?” He returns right away in the same innocent chirpy tone and he can hear the woman start to hiss. That’s about the point when a Cloaken is ready to strangle someone. He’ll need to try the innocent routine off the clock, it works miracles.
‘You’ve pushed far enough. Disengage.’ Mister Know sends.
“Alright, I need to go. Bye-bye silly lady.” He says and walks past her.
‘You couldn’t have rubbed that in any harder if you were skipping.’ Mister Know texts and Agent Dart struggles not to laugh.
“Who the pits are you!?” The Spy demands in frustration.
“Private Stream at your service sir! Ma’am!” He replies with the overeager salute just as he’s about to round the corner. There’s a gap in his little data readout from the glasses but the pathfinding has him easily navigate his way through the council building and back into the well gaurded portal leading into The Dauntless.
He walks into the intelligence division easily and there’s a large man with a control harness there to greet him. “Oh yes Agent Dart. That will certainly do.”
“Oh! So we have met in person Mister Know. Good to know.” He replies as he takes off the hat and his silver hair and blue skin are revealed once more. His lowers the glasses from in front of his glowing yellow eyes. “How did I do?”
“Flawless and funny. You’re going to fit in very well.”
“Is funny important?”
“Not funny so much as confusing. That spy is going to report back to her superiors and explain she just had the weirdest conversation with Private Stream. It’s a bit of very important seeming but ultimately useless information that will confuse everyone around us.”
“So the whole innocent and sassy routine is...”
“A huge smokescreen. What you were saying in that conversation, what we encourage. Make you look like someone that no-one will trust with a weapon. But since your weapons are NOT Axiom based and broken down to be easily hidden it means that they can’t tell you’re armed. It’s nice to have an open bodyguard. But they can’t go everywhere. An assistant that has hidden weaponry? Clearly too innocent and goofy to be a threat?”
“I may very well end up invited in.”
“Exactly. Everyone gives men at least some benefit of the doubt around here, children get a benefit of the doubt, as do the innocent. You’re wearing three layers of social camouflage while walking in the open. How do you like it?”
“... I had way too fun Mister Know. I may start putting on part of the act on my off duty hours.”
“Good man. Welcome aboard, fully aboard.” Mister Know says offering a salute that is properly returned by Agent Dart.

First Last
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2023.03.25 20:47 Wapulatus Featuring The Gatewatch! (Magic: The Gathering)

"For justice and peace..."
"For the sake of the Multiverse..."
"If it means that people can live in freedom, yeah..."
"For the life of every plane..."

"I will keep watch."

"Happy now?"

Featuring... The Gatewatch!

The Multiverse encapsulating the story of Magic: The Gathering hosts a vast, sprawling storyline that shifts from plane to plane, exploring worlds entirely alien to one another yet part of the same overarching narrative.
Among these worlds are powerful mages with the ability to move between these planes, known as Planeswalkers. Planeswalkers are typically aloof, selfish, and cowardly due to being able to simply move to an entirely new world whenever danger or conflict presents itself.
However, when the Eldrazi threatened to consume the entire plane of Zendikar, four planeswalkers made the decision to stay and fight instead of leaving the plane to its fate, resolving to kill the eldrich abominations. This group would become known as The Gatewatch, and would be at the center of Magic: The Gathering's story for nearly half a decade as a central cast of characters.
NOTE: This thread only covers the original five members of the Gatewatch, and their most basic abilities for the sake of brevity. Individual planeswalker bios are sourced from Wizards' official planeswalker profiles.

General Abilities

Before we hit the team members, every Gatewatch individual are both planeswalkers and mages, sharing general characteristics in how they use magic and traverse planes.
"In Magic: The Gathering, a Planeswalker is a powerful mage who is able to travel across the planes of existence. There are infinite worlds across the Multiverse, and Planeswalkers are unique in their ability to move from one world to the next, expanding their knowledge and power through the experiences they collect there."
You are a Planeswalker
Mana Sensing/Gathering

Gideon Jura

A powerful warrior-mage with the ability to make himself invulnerable, Gideon is fiercely loyal, unyielding, just, charismatic and never hesitates to enter combat to defend the innocent.

Physical Feats

Gideon [uses his magic to enhance his strength]() further beyond what he's normally capable of.
Hm? What about durability? Well...

Primary Magic - Indestructibility

Gideon's whole gig is being durable. His magic allows him to form a flexible, skintight barrier around his body to protect himself as he fights.
Regular Durability
Esoteric Durability
Special Abilities

Other Spells and Equipment

Jace Beleren

Jace Beleren may be the most talented mind mage in the Multiverse. Able to read thoughts, erase memories, induce sleep, and immerse others within illusions, he is a strategic genius of exceptional intelligence and insatiable curiosity.

Physical Feats

Primary Magic - Telepathy

With his most infamous card having the epithet "The Mind Sculpter", it's no surprise that Jace can mess with the minds of other people like you or I have some fun with a ball of play-dough.
Mind Control
Mind Reading

Other Spells

Liliana Vess

Liliana Vess is a master necromancer who commands the dead and manipulates the living to achieve her own ends. Ambitious, cunning, and supremely confident, she plays a dangerous game of shifting loyalties, aligning herself with whoever offers the surest path to fulfilling her desires.

Physical Feats

Primary Magic - Necromancy

Undead Control
Death Magic

Other Spells and Equipment

Chandra Nalaar

Free-spirited, impulsive, and incredibly powerful, Chandra Nalaar is still growing into the hero she is destined to become. The art of conjuring fire comes to her naturally and, when faced with a challenge, she tends to act first and think later. Chandra believes that everyone deserves the freedom to make their own choices.

Physical Feats

Like Gideon, Chandra uses magic to enhance some of her physical abilities.

Primary Magic - Pyromancy

Chandra is a red mage's red mage. Her magic is straightforward and simple, burn things and burn them good.

Nissa Revane

Nissa Revane is a powerful elven animist capable of awakening the land itself to fight at her side. Her innate connection to the primal magic of the Multiverse gives her profound respect for all life and the systems that support it. Despite her kind and soft-spoken demeanor, she fights both fiercely and relentlessly to defend the natural world wherever it is threatened.

Physical Feats

Primary Magic - Elemental Control

Nissa's main form of sorcery is through her agility to speak to the land itself and summon elementals composed of it to fight in her stead. She can summons giant-sized elementals in the span of a few heartbeats.
Noteworthy Elementals
Normal Elementals

Other Spells and Equipment

Using the Gatewatch on WhoWouldWin

The Gatewatch are basically fantasy's equivalent of the Avengers. They're a diverse group of superpowered individuals with varying capabilities per team members that work together to become more than the sum of their parts.
There's two ways to go with this - have them fight other superpowered hero/villain groups from either fantasy or something more in-tune with traditional comic books, or have them fight a giant, powerful enemy that they can team up to defeat (similar to the Eldrazi, Nicol Bolas, etc).
Of course, these kinds of matchups can be very messy and hard to parse. It's always better to consider if 1v1 matchups are easier to talk about and are more interesting before jumping into giant team battles!
submitted by Wapulatus to whowouldwin [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 20:34 CaptainScuttlebottom [OC] Which Sweet 16 game thread had the most complaining about the refs? And other analysis of all 36,565 comments from the third round

What is this?

Throughout this year's tournament, I've been scraping all the comments from every /CBB game thread using the PRAW Python wrapper for Reddit's API, and then analyzed them with R. For the sweet 16, I ended up with a total of 36,565 comments from eight threads. I came up with a few interesting ways to look at the data, but let me know if you have any other ideas!
Here's the results from previous rounds:

1. Which game thread had the most ref complaints?

I searched each comment for flags like "refs", "rigged", "bullshit call", "refball", etc. that usually indicate a ref complaint. This isn't perfect, because it will include false positives like the rare "the refs are doing a great job!" and exclude contextual / non-flagged things like "that's bullshit", but it gets pretty close. If you have ideas for flags I should search for, please let me know!

CHART: Ref complaint leaderboard

This time SDSU vs. Alabama topped the list with 7.5% of all comments featuring a ref remark. I'm not surprised that it was one of the 1-seed upsets, but I wasn't able to catch that particular game so I can't really say if it's deserved or not. Overall though, this round was pretty calm; on the very serious and empirical scale I've been developing, a 7.5 means the thread was "heated," but just short of officially becoming "spicy."

2. Game thread timelines

I split each game thread up into five minute chunks, and counted the number of comments made during each interval from each faction. This results in fun little timeline graphs that show you where the action / excitement spiked, what % of each thread was made up of neutrals, etc. I think they're neat, so I included the top ten most commented-on threads here. Let me know if you want to see any others!

CHART: Game thread timelines

The #1 seed upsets follow the classic big game upset curve, with a slight bump leading into halftime and a massive spike at the end of the game. The neutrals also very clearly showed up to dogpile on UCLA and MSU as well, which is no surprise. Houston seems to have gotten off the easiest, in terms of neutrals showing up to talk shit at the moment of defeat.

3. Word clouds

I can also generate word clouds from the data! Here are some fun ones:

WORD CLOUD: Sweet 16, all threads

WORD CLOUD: SDSU vs. Alabama

WORD CLOUD: Miami vs. Houston

WORD CLOUD: Downvoted comments only (score < 1)

I can take requests on these as well if anyone has any!

4. Leaderboards

And finally, it's time to see who is winning the real March Madness -- posting on reddit.

Top Commenting Teams

Rank Primary Flair Total Comments Unique Users Comments per User Avg. Score
#1 Michigan State Spartans 2,926 316 9.26 2.94
#2 UCLA Bruins 1,392 133 10.47 2.28
#3 Connecticut Huskies 1,285 134 9.59 3.52
#4 Texas Longhorns 1,163 152 7.65 1.77
#5 Alabama Crimson Tide 1,149 139 8.27 1.06
#6 Kansas State Wildcats 1,142 118 9.68 3.79
#7 Gonzaga Bulldogs 1,141 119 9.59 2.19
#8 Tennessee Volunteers 977 129 7.57 2.62
#9 North Carolina Tar Heels 972 103 9.44 2.60
#10 San Diego State Aztecs 963 82 11.74 3.58
Michigan State fans once again claim the top spot, for the second round in a row! We'll see if they can continue their dominance now that they've been bounced from the tournament. Also, a huge shoutout to UCLA and SDSU for averaging over 10 comments per fan, and also to the UNC Tarheels just for showing up.

Top Ref Complainer Teams (min. 250 comments total in data)

Rank Primary Flair Total Comments N Ref Complaints % Ref Complaints
#1 Virginia Cavaliers 265 18 6.79%
#2 Tennessee Volunteers 977 63 6.45%
#3 Alabama Crimson Tide 1,149 70 6.09%
#4 No Flair 6,310 361 5.72%
#5 Texas Longhorns 1,163 62 5.33%
#6 Illinois Fighting Illini 553 29 5.24%
#7 San Diego State Aztecs 963 50 5.19%
#8 Duke Blue Devils 453 21 4.64%
#9 Gonzaga Bulldogs 1,141 50 4.38%
#10 Maryland Terrapins 504 22 4.37%
UVA fans, just barely clearing the 250 comment threshold, have seized the top spot by making just 18 complaints. A highly efficient performance! Runners up were Tennessee and Bama, beating out even the no flairs, and also Illinois and Duke are on there for some reason.

Top individual commenters

Rank Commentor Flair Total Comments Avg. Score Min. Score Max. Score Threads Visited
#1 4ngusm4c North Carolina Tar Heels 194 2.54 -4 25 8
#2 electricHats75 Michigan Wolverines 183 1.91 -4 14 4
#3 AFC-Wimbledon-Stan Auburn Tigers 159 3.14 0 17 8
#4 nikefreak23 North Carolina Tar Heels 137 2.66 1 14 6
#5 circa285 Kansas State Wildcats 118 3.39 -2 22 2
#6 Kardinale Louisville Cardinals 117 3.35 0 20 7
#7 fancycheesus Arkansas Razorbacks 116 4.37 -1 24 6
#8 BreadKiller0688 Kansas State Wildcats 110 3.48 1 13 8
#9 spierce64006 Indiana (PA) Crimson Hawks 108 1.99 -3 35 3
#10 Hooper1054 No Flair 99 1.89 0 10 5
A few familiar names make their return this time, but this round's champion was a newcomer to the top ten list, UNC fan 4ngusm4c. Congrats! Interestingly, I don't think there's been anyone to make the top 10 in all three rounds thus far -- it's still anyone's guess who will wind up the Most Voluminous Poster (MVP) of the tournament.

Random fun facts:

  • Most toxic thread: To probably nobody's surprise, SDSU vs. Alabama was the most toxic thread of the Sweet 16, with 676 of all 7,689 comments (or 8.8%) downvoted to a score < 1. That's nearly double the runner up (Michigan State vs. K-State, with 4.6%)!
  • Most 'fuck's per Comment: The Iowa Hawkeyes take first place in the profanity category this time, with 9.4% of their 286 comments containing some form of the word "fuck." Purdue, Tennessee, MSU, and SDSU round out the top five.
  • Most hated comments: I thought they were kinda funny, so here are the top 10 most downvoted comments of the Sweet 16:
Thread Comment Score Primary Flair
#7 Michigan State @ #3 Kansas State MSU fans triggered. -44 No Flair
#5 San Diego State @ #1 Alabama meh they have no chance against us in the second half. we have too much talent for these bums -43 Alabama Crimson Tide
#7 Michigan State @ #3 Kansas State Izzo is the most overrated coach in the history of basketball. “Mr march” 🤡 -39 Grand Canyon Antelopes
#5 San Diego State @ #1 Alabama Don’t belong on the same court. -36 Alabama Crimson Tide
#5 San Diego State @ #1 Alabama Lol bitch boy SDSU coach having a tantrum -32 Alabama Crimson Tide
#5 San Diego State @ #1 Alabama Every time we get momentum refs make a call to keep SD in it -31 Alabama Crimson Tide
#5 San Diego State @ #1 Alabama [removed] -28 No Flair
#5 San Diego State @ #1 Alabama SDSU are flop artists -27 Alabama Crimson Tide
#5 San Diego State @ #1 Alabama Fuck SDSU rip bozo. Bama better Roll Tide -27 Purdue Boilermakers
#5 San Diego State @ #1 Alabama Lol people thought some no name team would be able to keep up with Bama once shots start falling. -26 Alabama Crimson Tide
#5 San Diego State @ #1 Alabama Fuck off. Refs won't call sdsu fouls but bails them out when there are consequences -26 Alabama Crimson Tide
Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you have any other requests / suggestions!
submitted by CaptainScuttlebottom to CollegeBasketball [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 20:30 GeoKicak Mixed Signals Ch.4 [OC?]


Pilipin, Venlil junior Exterminator Officer
Date [standardized human time]: August 18, 2136

The days went by. My normal rhythm of work, eat, socialize, sleep, and repeat was now supplemented by my conversations with Joe. Frankly, in our chats, I was often able to come to some understanding of him. I learned details about his life and work, about his home, and the city he lives in. Our conversations were almost civilized. Nonetheless, each and every time he starkly reminded me that I was talking to an unsatiated murderer just yearning for my flesh.
And so, within a matter of a few cycles, I spurred Joe's carvings to such heights that I was certain he would not decline my request for a meeting. I asked Limna to send him a meeting confirmation notice, and as I suspected, the rapacious beast accepted it quicker than the notification daemon could process the input to my device. Soon after, Louelle got an update on the events that had unfolded and requested we meet at my place one more time. I arranged it on the second sun of the wake cycle before our meat lover's scheduled trip from his blue rock. Once we were certain that we had Joe in our grasp, we needed to discuss in detail the plans we have for him.
The moment after I greeted Louelle, I could clearly see that something was bothering him. His quills and bristles were usually flat and upright in all directions. Their usual warm brown color gone, replaced by a dull, more sunken shade. His face was strained and deprived of its natural calico color, in stark contrast to his neck and torso. I did not want to guess what caused him such distress, so I quickly seated him at the table, poured him a tall glass of water, and took the chair on the opposite side.
- Louelle, tell me. What have you got for me? - I started and passed him a bottle of malt.
- Sir, I think we… I think you should take extreme precautions when dealing with the meat eater - he said as he took the drink from my hand and clasped it in his own around the bottle, not keen to open it.
- Louelle, know that I will be extremely cautious, but for our provocation to take effect, I must take some risks - I replied, trying to soothe his nerves.
- Sir. From the intel you are providing me, I would strongly suggest applying additional safety methods – he insisted and continued soon after. - I read the messages you provide me. They are deeply unsettling – he said, pausing to put more of his thoughts into words. - I admire your will to make it through, but when confronting such a monster, I would..
- I understand your concerns, but since we are dealing with a sentient beast, our usual means of protection are limited I interrupted his course. - We must take to account that if we applied our usual protective measures, they would be too obvious.
- I checked his replies, cross-referencing them to what we have in our archives on humans, - he insisted, lowering his head and burying his face in his hands. - Threats like "I will fill you up like a Thanksgiving turkey" or "I’ve heard that pineapple juice will make you taste better" would put worry and dread into every exterminator's mind.
To be truthful, I too reacted with discomfort and disgust when I first gained some context from the translator, but after a few suns of being repeatedly verbally assaulted, I got used to them. To keep my own sanity, I talked him back with some of my own retorts, but now that I think about it, they were probably only further emboldening his perverted tastes and macabre quips. It might be, that with my cynicism and dark humor, I have separated myself a bit too much from the reality of my situation, and my overview of the situation has become a bit too hazy.
- Alright, so to put your worries to rest. What safety measures would you suggest I apply for this situation? - I asked him, straightening up in my chair and swiveling my ears in his direction.
Louelle straightened as well and slid his hands down from his face, putting them firmly back on the table. Then he looked straight at me. Gojids, despite being herbivores and having eyes on the sides of their faces, possess superior stereoscopic vision with only the Krakatol having better sight in the Federation. Some people feel disturbed or unnerved when they do that, and it’s strongly discouraged from a young age, but in our field of work, every advantage is necessary. So using the lesser known quirk of his anatomy, he forced his eyes to look straight and, after a few assessing glances, started to speak his mind.
- Based on my knowledge and experience, I would propose two passive countermeasures – he started slowly and continued methodically. - First would be advising to use predator deterrent armor, at least partially – the scout stated and paused for me to think and mull over his first idea.
Well, I must say I do know exactly what Louelle has on his mind. Designed a long time ago by Gojid Exterminators, and sparingly used today. A suit consisting of metal, or more commonly today, ceramic, spikes embedded in carbon straps that go around the limbs, joints, neck, and torso to deter the predator from mauling or dismembering the wearer. Usually comes with a spiked mask to cover the face of the handler. Used in close quarter encounters when flame, shock, or other unguided weapons could not be utilized openly. I initially discarded any notions of armor for the upcoming confrontation based on the fact that humans do not have maws capable of crippling limbs and, most importantly, not to scare off our would-be perpetrator at the last moment. Besides, humans tend to crush or suffocate their catch by utilizing their powerful upper limbs.
On second thought, human mouths do hide canines. Those teeth are capable of encapitating prey, may it be by sinking them either into their neck or joints. Armor partially used in the form of a spiked collar and bands going around the joints could not only prevent this from happening but also divert any choking attempts.
- Point valid, but to not dissuade our catch, I will only accept partial protection. I would like you to provide me only with protectors for wrists, ankles, and neck – I said, assessing his concerns. - This way I can minimize the chances for long term or permanent injuries without worrying that our catch will change his mind in the last moment.
- And the second proposal? - I asked and saw that Louelle's features gained more of their natural colors.
If there were only a way to force Joe to just bite me in the ass, that would simplify things a lot for us.
With some weight off his shoulders, he took a breath to continue in a less formal manner.
- My other suggestion is to dye you red, Sir – he said with visible embarrassment, and decided that looking at my kitchen wall was suddenly more interesting than maintaining eye contact and imagining me in his color of choice.
Putting aside the question of whether or not "rebel red" would be befitting my age and position, I was more fumtu by the logic behind his proposal.
- Alright, I lost you here. What’s your reasoning behind dyeing me one of the most eye-catching colors? - I asked, having absolutely no clue what I would gain from it.
- It comes from my field experience, Sir – he began, and quickly continued. - When stationed on Mai, I put up to a test theory proposed by… I don’t remember. The point is that predators like humans heavily rely on visual cues, and it is possible to influence their behavior through markings and colors – Louelle elaborated, and it all suddenly clicked.
- Hold up, so that was the reason you were running through the plains of Mai with your quills and bristles painted blue? - I asked to confirm my suspicions.
- Yes, Sir. I applied the blue dye to discourage local opportunistic predators from attacking me – he stated. - Mai's indigenous fauna uses haemocyanin proteins to transport oxygen, so coating my back in the color of their blood drastically reduced the number of encounters with its local wildlife during my missions.
Well, I did experience it once before, but with real blood, so I can confirm it works.
- So, by following your logic. If our subject will come to us in a too rowdy state for me to manage, we could apply the dye before our meeting to subconsciously reduce his savagery to manageable levels. Very good, Louelle – I applauded his idea.
This could provide us with some wiggle room in dealing with Joe's lust for me, but I think we would have to test if this theory applies also to our brute.
- Alright, so let’s test your assumptions – I said while I went for my holopad from the nightstand.
Louelle finally relaxed and started enjoying the new "Grape" malt drink I got from the Bad Batch below while I browsed the photos from our last mission. I need to find the the full body portrait I made of him near an interesting crystalline formation he found on one of his trips.
There! Now a simple color palette swap, and Louelle, you're done.
- Look I said as I flipped my holo to show him the photo. - If I may, I’ll send Joe this photo where I switched the blue color on you to red. We'll wait and see what his reaction is to you.
Louelle just wagged his tail in confirmation without parting his lips from the bottle, so I clicked send, grabbed myself a bottle of this new and clearly addicting drink, and sat back at the table.
I didn’t have to wait for long. About halfway through the bottle and midway through our conversation about the newest girl in HR, I got a message back from Joe.
*"*Pin! For the love of god at least put a spoiler on it! I opened up the app while sitting next my sister and subsequently flash banged the both of us. She screamed so loudly that I’ll be deaf in my right ear for the rest of the day :p"
- Seems you were right – I said as I slid the holo towards Louelle. - I’ll order a bottle of the dye just in case.
Sorry for your sister, Joe, but I had to be certain.

Joseph Savage, Mechanic
Date [standardized human time]: August 18, 2136

Space Vegas, here I come!
I just couldn’t believe I got the acceptance notice from our overseer. I guess Pin had to pull some galactic level puppy eyes to make it so. I gathered from the participants forum that others aren’t usually so lucky. The Boss of course, was not keen to let me go on my trip. Money compensation can plug a hole, but finding a professional temp replacement will be impossible, especially in such a short period of time. Well, sorry not sorry Frank, you already have my gov papers to fill, so sucks to be you.
Still, a party day before my flight was in order. I booked a room in the old Horseshoe Cassino Hotel near Hammond Lakefront and prepared for a sailors farewell. I invited Gino, his wife - Sandi, my sister, Jenny, and the "Nightshade Bakery" crew - Marco, Noah, and Cade. They’re located on our Wacker but further west over by Stetson, while we’re closer to Columbus. Each time we walk to Frank's, we go past them and shop for discounted cinnamon rolls, muffins, bagels, you name it.
So after we ended our rampage at the drink bar we headed back to our room to chill. Sandi ended up hugging Gino on the couch. Noah and Cade realized that they had lost Marco somewhere in the elevator, so they left the room to search for him. Me and Jenny ended up on the balcony, lounging with a shared wine bottle on a pallet sofa.
- So that guy you’re talking to. Who is he? - Jenny asked and motioned for me to pass the bottle to her.
- Pilipin, Pin for short. Just a normal guy like Marco, Gino, or me I answered, trying not to say too much.
- Bullshit. I know when ya’re lying, Joey. Besides, Gino told me – she proclaimed and took a swing from the passed bottle.
Gino, you fucking pizza rat.
- Revenge for leaving him alone with the temp – Jenny added, passing the bottle back to me.
- Alright, he’s special. I talked to the people on our little forum, and surprise, surprise. There are some Venlil who are fixated on humans and human culture – that piqued some more interest from her, and she turned her head to face me. - For real, some are nerds painting 40K space marines, and some are into butt stuff– I added with a grin.
In response, she took one of the pillows for a cuddle and curled up laughing, slowly sliding off the sofa.
- Oh, my god. The galaxy is full of dorks – she added once she regained her composure and seated her ass back on the sofa. - No, I literally imagined these fluff balls in a park touching grass while role-playing Pokemon – and she started to giggle once more. - Nah, it’s too much.
- But for real, J – I continued on a more serious note. - From my personal perspective, guys like Pin are outliers, and deir John’s and Jane's are less keen to see us, to put it likely – I said and pulled out my phone to access my conversations with previous participants. Then, at the precise moment when I started the app, a new message from Pin popped up and went full screen just as Jenny leaned over to have a better look.
- OH MY GOD IT’S KNUCKLES! - she shouted straight into my ear and took the phone from my hand. - There's no frickin wa ha ha ha ay! Oh my god, he’s so cool! Do you know what this is?! - Jenny asked and shoved my phone practically in my face.
I had to do a double-take on my phone because It was so surreal. I saw a smiling Gojid with red spikes, donning a tactical vest, and in the background was a large emerald crystal wall. A full send, one hunnert percent committed, a literal Knuckles cosplay.
- He has no right to be so cool – she said while devouring his likeness again. - How does this work? How do I zoom into pee pee.
- Whooah down, girl – I joked, but she had her sights set and would not let go.
- I so love him, he’s such babygirl material – she said in a hushed tone, then added much louder. - Why are you the only one who gets to have fun?!
Fumbling her way with the download and share buttons, she sent his picture to her phone.
- I so want to put him in a blender and drink him right up – she stated, giving me back my phone.
Jenny turned on her hell and took off with the wine bottle, yelling dibs all the way to the kitchen, where Sandi and Gino were nuking a TV dinner. Meanwhile, I opened a tab in the app with the intent to write a reply, but simultaneously, in the back of my mind, I started planning a special revenge for his photo assault.
Oh Pin you will scream for mercy for this I assure you.
  1. Next part in two weeks, somewhere about 8th of April.
submitted by GeoKicak to NatureOfPredatorsNSFW [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 20:24 Akmedrah Humanities first contact gone Oh, So Right - 31

PART 30 <==H==> FIRST
The tears flowed for roughly an hour as Allan and Aly reunited. Allan apologized profusely and relayed what he had been told. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, everyone seemed to calm down.
“Im just glad you are back.” Aly said, her arms wrapped around Allan and her head resting on his chest.
“Me too.” Jalla said smiling at Allan.
“I knew you would be back, but I worried…” Aly said her voice somewhat muffled as she had refused to let go of him since his return.
“So I do have a question.” Allan said gently pushing Aly back so he could look her in her face. “How did my mom end up living with you?”
“Well, why don’t you ask her?” Aly said and gestured to Allan’s back where his mother was being helped onto the bridge by Nara.
“Ohh Allan.” She said with a smile, “I am glad you are back. Aly told me what was happening…”
Sarah’s voice trailed off as she caught sight of the shifting golden tattoo. Anger flashed across her face. “Allan James Mac’Millen, is that a Tattoo?!”
Allan laughed and went to hug his mother. “Yes mother, it is a tattoo given to me by the beings who requested my temporary death. It is to mark me as a favorite of theirs I guess.”
“Hmmm,” Sarah said her face softening at the explanation. “Well, I guess it’s all right then. I grew up Christian, so some things are still bad in my mind, and yet I have a son who consorts with Gods and apparently tells them off on a semi-regular basis. I guess I can get over the gods, or rather an even higher being giving you a tattoo as a gift.”
A funny look passed over Sarah’s face. “So do you know what it’s like now?”
Aly and Jalla looked confused. But Allan smiled at his mother. “No, I do not have any memories of my time in death. You shouldn’t worry about it, it will be a long time before you have to go there.”
Allan saw his mother’s tight smile and how Aly flinched at his words. “Mom, what's wrong.”
Allan looked at her then, really looked at her, and realized just how skinny she was and almost yellow in color. Sarah looked up at him. “Oh, my boy, you and Eddy both have always been so quick to put things together. I have Cancer Allan, liver cancer, the doctors say there is nothing to be done. So I called Aly about four months ago, She rushed back with Jalla, Tilllia, Nara, and Eddy in tow. She did everything she could, but my liver was shredded for all practical purposes.”
“You couldn’t help her?” Allan asked turning to Aly, taking in his mother's condition as calmly as he could.
“I do not have the nescicary training to help her. And the medical AI is already working wonders…” Aly seemed hesitant.
“Why not take her to station Xentrop Theta? Have Doc take a look at her, and see if anyone can help.” Allan said. He knew he was desperately grasping at straws.
“We were going to, Doc already suggested we could get Jeths to build her an artificial liver and he would happily install it for her. But Allan…” Jalla was hesitant now, “Allan the Chiln have taken over the station and several other key points in the galaxy. They are declaring themselves for the enemy. We don’t know what happened but Chalxra and Kilndla have not been able to communicate with us. It has been getting harder and harder to travel let alone get messages to people who are stuck on the outside of a broken Jump Gate.”
Allan sagged into a seat. “Of course, we were going to go help them and then I died and disappeared for a year. I let Chalxra down.”
A small flash of light announced Eddy and Tillia’s arrival. “Hey, Allan.” Eddy said and clapped Allan on the shoulder.
Jalla and Tillia hugged and retreated to talk with each other. Allan smiled at Eddy who was giving Sarah a hug. “Good to see you, Eddy.”
“I’m glad your back, shit is falling apart, and no matter how much I pester anyone they won’t give me answers, particularly the Gods,” Eddy said, then a light seemed to spark in his eyes. “But I get a feeling its all about to change.”
“I hope so. What ship are you here on?” Allan asked.
“Well about three weeks before shit got really bad and the Chiln claimed several points, I was on the Gish homeworld training a group for search and destroy missions. When we got word about what was happening, we loaded up with Hilx’Nit and headed out to a shipyard where Hilx’Nit assigned me command and told me to do what I could so I am flying a behemoth.”
Eddy gestured out the leftmost viewport and Allan had to laugh, the ship was less of a ship and more of a portable city. It looked desolate though. “So what’s its name?”
Eddy smiled with his best shit-eating grin. “Hamunaptra.”
Allan groaned. “You really do love that movie.”
“Hey man, Fraiser is a badass, and is one of the best actors ever.” Eddy retorted.
Aly smiled as Allan and Eddy continued like this. She knew these two men were connected by a love for the woman who had been their only support in youth, and by the horrible things their fathers had made them do. She noticed Eddy’s face took on a strange look as Allan’s voice took on a more serious tone.
“Eddy, you remember the girl you dated who was trying to get in on the presidential press team.” Allan asked.
“Yeah, Teresa, what about her?” Eddy said looking almost confused.
“You think she could convince the president to meet us and chat about what’s going on?”
Eddy shrugged. “Maybe, but honestly you should probably be talking to this fucker right here.”
Eddy walked over and slapped his hand down on Mack’s shoulder. Allan raised an eyebrow. “So, Mack, you think you can get the president to listen?”
“Probably,” Mack said with a grin. “Unfortunately I have had quite a bit of dealing with the president, especially since I blew off a mission to help you. Since coming back and before I took a hiatus to come here, I got appointed to a special advisory position in the White House. Basically, I tell the president if a mission is feasible or not.”
“Cool shit.” Allan said taking a seat and looking up at Aly. “Aly, could you connect Mack to the White House switchboard?”
“Of course.” She said with a smile, despite not wanting to leave his side.
“Oh, you mean right now, right now.” Mack said his tone holding a note of confusion and worry.
“Yes, I do. I have been tasked to prepare mankind and bring it forth into the galaxy. Xulgra and the higher beings both asked this of me.” Allan said.
“Well fuck. Yeah, I will talk with the president, and get you a meeting ASAP.” Mack said and then turned to Eddy. “You should call everyone and tell them to do their thing.”
Eddy nodded and pressed a button causing his ship to teleport him back. Allan looked around curiously. “Do their thing?” He asked no one in particular.
“Remember how you and Aly told everyone to try and prepare the world for what was to come. Well, they took you seriously. Between those of us who went with you to Aly’s world, only one of us has simply been laxing off with the president.” Mara said getting a silly look from Mack, “Everyone else has at the very least been stockpiling weapons, I know Troy now owns the single largest manufacturing facility for all things military anywhere in the world. A couple of the other guys work with him. But the others are all doing their thing.”
“So do you think people are ready?” Allan asked the concern in his voice making everyone wonder what he knew was coming.
“I don’t know,” Mara said hugging Jessie close. “All I know is with the group you took off world on your side, you have damn near the largest stockpile of weapons on the planet.”
“Good.” Allan said as Mack ended his chat with the president.
“Okay Allan, let's go he said to show up whenever,” Mack said.
“I have a better idea.”
[Planet: Earth, White House - United States of America, Oval Office]
“That was a strange call.” President Rorgan muttered to himself. He liked Mack, and despite the fact Mack had come as highly recommended as you could possibly be, Mack was most certainly an acquired taste.
“Well regardless, it sounded like he was wanting to introduce someone pretty badly so I imagine he will be here soon.” President Rorgan said aloud. He did this a lot, speaking his internal thoughts out loud. He began to wonder where he had first picked up the habit, thinking back to his childhood, he leaned back in his chair.
Suddenly he was falling. He was brought up short by the floor. After a flurry of readjusting himself, he was back on his feet and finally noticed his surroundings. Gone was the often lonely Oval Office, with its regal trappings. Gone was the isolation which came with spending time in the Oval Office. Instead, everything was metal.
“Mr. President.” A familiar voice called out. President Rorgan turned to face the sound and found Mack standing with a group of people.
“Mack. you…” His words trailed off as his eyes took in the sight before him. Several of the people were human, he was sure, but three of them were not. One was nude and mostly covered in brightly colored scales, and two others were tall and furred looking like something akin to a fox or a wolf.
“What the fuck.” The president said and stumbled back.
Mack jumped forward to steady the president. A new voice, one the president was not familiar with, spoke. “Mr. President, my name is Allan James Mac’Millen, and I have some things I need to tell you, but first let me welcome you to the Solstice, and congratulate you on your first time in outer space.”
The president looked around and finally saw the viewports that displayed the blue marble of earth floating in a sea of ink. The President worked his jaw for a moment and then collapsed to the floor, supported by Mack.
Everyone looked at Allan, who shrugged. “I guess it could have been worse.”
FROM THE AUTHOR: My editor is on hiatus so I did the best I could so bear with me if there are any egregious spelling or other grammar errors.
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2023.03.25 20:04 SunHeadPrime The Whisper Tree - Part 3 (Finale)

Ralph Watters: I can never get my family back. They’re gone. I watched the light leave their eyes. I...I...(starts to cry)….
Lawyer: Mr. Watters, your family’s death, while tragic, is not because of my client’s book.
Ralph Watters: (yelling) They know what happens when people see the tree! They know the danger and promoted it! There is so much blood on your hands! How do you sleep at night?
Lawyer: (yelling) Sir, that passage hasn’t appeared in print since the early 1900s, and the Higgins publishing company has taken all necessary and legal steps to prevent that information from being available to the public. You sought out the book. You made the trip. You believed in the story. If anyone is responsible for their death, it’s not my client.
Ralph Watters: (sobbing) I watched...them die! The voices told me it might happen, and I didn’t listen.
Judge: Let’s take a ten-minute recess and let cooler heads prevail.
- Court Transcript, Watters v. Higgins Publishing Company
We pushed through, each of us hearing whispers as we walked. Sometimes they were about fires and lying; sometimes, they were some random non-sequitur from out of left field. I heard different voices, men and women, discussing any number of things in a bunch of other languages. I heard English, Spanish, French, and German.
But I also heard other languages that sounded foreign to my ears. Older tongues that may have been dead, but I didn't know enough to know any better. The closer we got to the rock, the more the words buzzed around us like flies, completely covering the natural sounds of the hike.
I ducked under a low-hanging tree branch, and that's when I spotted a pair of eyes staring back at me. I stumbled back out of fear but then realized what I had seen – Face In Rock. "Holy shit," I said out loud. I must've been more vocal than I thought because my words cut through the haze of whispers and hit Joe’s ear.
"Is that it?"
"If it's not, it'd be a weird fucking coincidence," I said.
The whispers ceased as soon as we stood in front of the rock. We were again ensconced in the buzz of nature and nature only. The rock did, in fact, look like a face. While the rest of the features were rough-hewn, the eyes were as clear as day. They stared right through you as if they saw what you were made of.
I didn't blink.
Joe walked up to me and shook his head. "That thing gives me the heebie-jeebies," he said.
"The eyes looked carved, but the rest of the face doesn't. Just boring old erosion."
"Maybe some inspired sculptor took it upon themselves to gussy it up?"
"Who says 'gussy'?"
"Shut up," he said with a sharper edge than I had expected.
"Sorry," I said.
"No, I'm sorry. That came out harsher than I meant. My bad."
"It's fine," I said. I looked down at the ground of the rock and looked to the left. There was no trail. But to the right….
"It's open," I whispered. "The trail, look. It's on the right side."
"Holy shit," he said, excited.
Sure enough, there was a small, well-worn path to the immediate right of the rock. The branches of the nearby trees looked like someone was holding them open for us to walk through. My heart started pounding like a Tito Puente timbale song.
"Let's go," I said softly.
As soon as my foot crunched down on the dirt path, I felt a searing pain behind my eyes. I closed them shut and grabbed at them. I doubled over and nearly fell. Joe ran over and kept me from falling.
"You okay? What happened?" I heard him ask, but his voice sounded distant like he was down a well. I heard another voice, stronger and more present in my head.
This is part of the process. We all feel the connection the first time.
My eyes shot open. The pain was gone. I looked up at Joe, who smiled. "You okay?"
"Did you feel it too?"
"Feel what?"
Then he grabbed his eyes and flung himself backward. I scrambled to my feet and squatted near him. His eyes were clenched tight. He let out a long scream that echoed off the mountain and then opened his eyes again.
"I guess you felt it, too," I said.
"That was intense."
"What was it?" I asked.
The universe connecting.
"But what does that mean?" I asked out loud.
"I didn't answer your question," Joe said.
"Do you hear a voice in your head?"
"No. You?"
"I did."
"What did it say?"
"I...I don't know if I should say," I said.
"Are you serious?"
"Maybe," I said, "I dunno if I'm supposed to."
"The magical tree follows birthday wish rules?"
I sighed. "It said the universe connected."
"Oh," he said, a little confused.
"Nothing," he said, "that's just a weird thing to hear."
“Why didn’t you hear it?”
“I dunno.”
“Have you been here before without me?” I said jokingly.
“Yep. Was wondering how long it’d take for you to figure it out,” he said sarcastically.
“Shut up,” I said.
“No, seriously,” he said with a grin, “I came last month. Made a wish and everything. Incredible thing, really.”
“Okay, I got it,” I said. “Hilarious, Joe.”
He laughed. “You should see your face right now.
"It was just so clear," I said. "All the other whispers were dragged out or unintelligible."
"Maybe there's no logic to this magic tree?"
"Or maybe there's a logic we don't understand yet."
I helped him back up and started brushing dirt off him. I suddenly realized I was rubbing his ass and quickly stopped. I also tried to cover by wiping the dirt off me, but my ruse didn't work. We both registered the awkward moment between us with blushes.
“I, uh, dirt,” I said, wanting to die.
“I was dirty,” he said with a wink.
"We're only about fifty yards away now," I said, shifting gears.
"What do you think you're gonna see?"
"A tree," I deadpanned.
"Now who’s being hilarious?" he said.
We trudged on down a little path. Up ahead, I could see a clearing ringed with large stones. The stones had some sort of rune carved into them in a language I didn't know. I didn't even have any frame of reference for them. I thought I might snap a photo and check it when I returned, but my phone wasn't working. It wouldn't even power on.
"Mine's dead too," Joe said, noticing my struggle.
"What’s on those rocks?" I asked.
"Who knows? I'm just taking these things in stride now."
Eyes have seen these before. One will lie, and one will deny. The flames will burn it down, but not all flames are destructive.
I heard these as clear as day. I looked over at Joe, and he seemed oblivious again. Either he wasn't hearing what I was hearing, or he was hearing something else altogether. Either way, he wasn't reacting to anything.
I was about to speak when I heard a branch snap in the trees behind us. We both wheeled around and scanned the treeline for anyone but didn’t see anything. I looked over at Joe, who seemed jumpy. Can’t say I was surprised, considering he was previously stalked on this mountain.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “It’s just….”
“I get it.”
“No one followed us, did they?”
“Not that I saw.”
“Then who’s that standing there?”
“I don’t see anything.”
“To the left,” he said, “Near the trail. It looks like someone standing there.”
I tried not to make it evident that I was staring, but I didn’t see anyone. “I don’t think there’s anything there.”
“It just moved,” he said. “You didn’t see it….”
From behind us, we heard another crack. We spun around and stared but had the same result. Well, I did. Joe, again, nodded at the tree line. “There’s someone else there.”
“Joe, I’m not seeing….”
“Shh,” he said, “they’ll hear you.”
I whispered, “Joe, I don’t see anything. Maybe your eyes are playing tricks on you?”
“I know I saw something,” he said.
“Did you hear that?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“Someone just said, ‘Eyes are watching,’” Joe said.
“I didn’t hear anything,” I said. “You okay? You look a little green around the gills.”
“Are they targeting me?”
“Why would they be targeting you?”
“Do they remember me from before?”
“Joe, I think stress is getting to you. There isn’t anything out there – they would’ve made themselves known by now.”
“I dunno, I dunno,” he said, his hands slightly starting to shake.
He sighed and looked at me. I grabbed his hand and squeezed it slightly to calm him down. “I’m serious,” I said in a calming voice, “there isn’t anyone out there. The Whisper Tree is messing with you.”
He exhaled and nodded. “You’re right. I’m jittery, is all.”
“No reason to be. We’ll be okay. I promise.”
“You’re right,” he said, calming down. “You’re right. Sorry. I’m good. I swear.”
I smiled and nodded. "Now, let's go see the Whisper Tree," I said.
We walked on, past the stones and there, in the middle of the clearing, stood a lone table mountain pine. The Whisper Tree. The myth was real. I laughed because I didn't know what else to do.
"It's real," I said, clapping my hands.
"I heard you,” Joe said to the tree, “thank you for your words and wisdom.”
“It’s not the Pope, Joe.”
“Just showing case it was targeting me.”
I rolled my eyes and was ready to give him more shit but I couldn’t help but notice that he might be onto something. Things in the clearing felt off. The air felt heavy and negatively charged. The Whisper Tree itself seemed wrong. These trees could live to be three hundred years old, but this one physically seemed older and more gnarled than that. For a tree that could get to be forty feet tall, it didn't look any taller than fifteen. It sprawled to the side more than I was expecting, though.
The trunk was bisected about six feet up and the split created two massive limbs that looked like they were trying to hug the sky. Despite its smaller height, the shadow it cast over the clearing was total. No sunlight streamed through the needles. The whole area was shrouded in darkness.
I shuttered. "You want to ask it a question?" I asked Joe.
"I don't know if I can," he said. "You?"
"I don't know," I said. Ralph's words came bubbling to the surface of my mind. He was so confident that I shouldn't do anything. Why? Did he know something I didn't?
I knew you could be in danger.
It was Ralph's voice. Why did I hear Ralph's voice here? What did he mean by danger? So far, there hadn't been an ounce of danger on this trek. But why this warning now?
"I just heard Ralph's voice," I said.
"What did he say?"
"That he knew me," I lied. "Do voices get, I dunno, trapped here? Are the whispers the wishes and words of previous visitors?"
"Must be more of that logic we don't get to understand."
A breeze started blowing, shaking the needles. The thousands of needles vibrating in the wind sounded like an ocean wave cascading over us. The breeze seemed to agitate the whispers because they all became more present. More and more voices filled the void, speaking in dozens of different tongues. It was enough to make you go crazy.
But through the vocal maelstrom, I heard a familiar voice that caught my attention. It was Joe. I glanced over and saw that he was squatting down, eyes closed with his hands clamped over his ears, trying to drown out the buzz of thousands of one-sided conversations. But I heard his voice in my ear as clear as a bell.
I knew you'd come back. Eventually.
"What the fuck?" I yelled, and as soon as the k sound left my lips, the noise around us ceased. Joe, realizing it was silent, stood back up and removed his hands from his ears. He grinned and nodded his head.
"That was intense."
"Have you been here before?" I asked, my voice shaking.
"Answer the question," I said, pushing away my fear.
"Why would you ask that?"
"Answer the question," I repeated.
He started pacing in front of the tree like he was guarding it. "Why do you think the worst of me? Why do you assume I’m lying? Who answered your call years after you ghosted me? Who climbed the mountain with you on a dangerous trip? Who has been nothing but polite and kind and understanding this whole time? Me, that's who. And yet, and yet, you can't ever forgive me for who I was before, can you?"
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
"I've been working on myself. I'm better now. You obviously noticed the way we've been flirting. But when the chips are on the table, you instantly assume I'm lying to you."
"Are you?"
One lies, and one denies.
"Are you?" I repeated louder.
He sighed. "Look," he started, "I did come to the tree last month, okay? Is that a crime?"
"Did you ask it a question?"
"Why do you need to know?"
"What did you ask?"
He lowered his eyes. "I asked if it would be possible for us to get back together."
"What did the tree whisper to you?"
"It said that broken branches could mend. Then, you called me out of the blue a few days later. It was meant to be. Fate. Magic. Whatever. It was supposed to happen, and it did."
"You've been lying to me this whole time," I said.
"By omission, sure. But I wasn't telling you a fictional story. In fact, I literally admitted it earlier, but you thought I was joking."
“You were joking!” I screamed.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
"Did you fake the connection back there? When you fell down?"
He looked away, ashamed. I was appalled. Joe had made a pratfall to maintain his lies. I was hot. "You lied to get me here."
"You reached out to me," he said, his anger rising. "All I did was answer a text."
"You orchestrated this whole thing!"
"So what if I did? If the end result is us being happy together, who cares?"
"Joe," I said with murderous rage, "you used magic to influence my thoughts. You broke into my brain and fucked around without me knowing!"
"I broke in, sure," Joe said with a slight sigh, "but I didn't do anything bad. I just...tidied the place up. Put things in order. Now, we can get back together. You'd do the same," he said.
"I would never fuck with someone's mind like that. Never!"
Joe snorted, "You played with mine! You hated hiking and nature and all that shit until I brought you out here. Then you have this soul-touching, life-altering moment on a date with me but can't be bothered to share how it made you feel? Don't you think I would've loved to hear that?"
"Not everything is for public consumption, Joe!"
He was on a roll and ignored me. "Then, out of the blue, you break up with me? We have a personal discovery moment on a date, and you leave me?"
"I had the moment, Joe. Me. Me alone. You just happened to be there. We didn't share shit!"
"Whatever you have to tell yourself," he said, "but if you ask me, doing all that to a person is what I'd define as fucking with someone's mind. Way worse than what I did to get us back together."
"You're attempting to build a relationship on lies and tricks! Why would I want to put myself in that place?"
"Because you always do. I've seen the jerks you dated after me. I followed all of them on social media. I saw how they treated you. You constantly date assholes."
"You're stalking me?"
One lied.
"Worrying about you," he said, correcting my words. "I worried about you. I saw you making the same mistakes over and over again. Missing out on a nice, albeit passionate guy like me, in exchange for dicks who treated you horribly."
One denied.
"I cannot express to you the...the rage in me right now," I said, burning.
"It needed to happen. You burn the field to renourish it."
"Joe, I will never, under any circumstances, be with you again. Do you understand me? If you reach out or contact me again, I'll call the cops."
Joe's smile slowly morphed into a frown. With those words, his whole body language altered. His shoulders became hunched, and his face twisted into a sick smile. Dr. Jekyl had left, and Mr. Hyde was arriving.
"Quick question," Joe said with a preternatural cool, "who even knows you're here right now?"
I felt the air go out of my lungs. Joe smirked, knowing he had me right where he wanted me. I thought about scrambling back down the mountain, but he'd catch me. I felt my legs go wobbly, and I was lost. I kept hearing Ralph's words in my ear, and tears filled my eyes.
"Hey, hey, no need to cry," Joe said, "I didn’t come up here to hurt you. I'm just trying to solve your problems."
“I don’t need your help.”
“No offense, I’ve watched how you live your life. You need all the help in the world. I can provide that for you.”
"What if I say no?"
He smiled and cracked his knuckles, "Now, why would you want to do that?"
"Fuck you," I spat at him.
"Oh, you will. Me, you, and the tree all know that much."
The flames will burn it down, but not all flames are destructive.
The tree. I hadn't planned on asking a question. I had just planned on finding it. But I was backed into a corner now and quickly running out of options. I was desperate. I stood up and dropped my backpack off my shoulder. I screwed a smile onto my face and stared at Joe.
"Maybe we should," I said, trying not to choke on the words. "You're right. We have been flirting, and I was hoping we'd get back together."
"Really?" he said incredulously.
"Yeah. The truth was, I was afraid to make a move. I thought you'd think less of me," I said, looking at the ground in shame.
"What?" he said, his voice softening, "I would never. I’ve loved you for so long."
I let tears fall and turned in on myself. I looked like I needed a hug. Sure enough, Joe dropped his pack and headed over to give me one.
He grabbed my shoulders and turned me towards him. He lifted my chin with one hand and gave me a warm smile. "I'm so glad we're together right now," he said, staring into my eyes.
"I'm not," I said, delivering a solid knee to his crotch.
He dropped to the ground, and I dashed past his crumpled body. I placed my hand on the tree and felt an electric spark run through my body and mind. I closed my eyes and whispered, "Will you save me?"
The wind started blowing again. I felt the hair by my ear gently blow away and heard the faintest whisper on the wind. Fire destroys and purifies. Then, the wind started whipping around my body, blowing my hair everywhere. The needles on the tree began vibrating again, drowning out all the sounds around me.
Except for one.
The crack in the sky was so loud it cut through the noise. Then a flash of bright light blinded me. I fell to the ground, attempted to shield myself with my arms, and prayed I'd be okay. For a second, everything was quiet, like I was in space. No noise, no light, just free-floating. Peaceful in a weird, out-of-body experience kind of way.
Then I heard the explosion. And Joe's screams.
I opened my eyes and saw that a lightning bolt had streaked across the sky and hit my pack. Inside, the small propane tank I kept as emergency overnight supplies exploded, engulfing Joe in a fire.
He yelped in pain and started to panic. He blindly ran towards the tree and slammed into the trunk, catching it on fire and sending him spinning off towards the cliff's edge. Before I could say a word, he lost his footing and fell down the side of the mountain.
He screamed all the way down until gravity took his voice away for good.
Dazed, I stumbled to my feet and made my way over to the side of the mountain. Hundreds of feet below, a small fire burned where his body had landed. I turned to the tree and watched as the flames licked at the trunk. It was blazing now.
All around me, I heard the whispers erupting all around me like small bombs. Hundreds of years' worth of conversations, dreams, and fears exploded in my ears as the fire ate away the Whisper Tree. I scrambled away from the blaze, but before I left the clearing, I heard the tree's voice again.
Fire cleanses.
I looked back and saw the tree now totally engulfed in flames. It would burn to ash in hours. I started crying. I hadn't come here to burn down a mythological creature. I just wanted to make memories. I just wanted to see what most people never get a chance to see. I wanted to be another link in a very select chain.
You forged a new chain.
There was a flare at the base of the tree, and it caught my gaze. I noticed pine cones hitting the ground in front of the burning trunk. The intense heat forced the cones open, exposing new seeds looking for soil. The flames will burn it down, but not all flames are destructive.
It suddenly made sense.
I nodded at the Whisper Tree, and I swear on my life, the branches nodded back. I walked out of the clearing, away from the burning tree, the stones, and what remained of Joe. I don't remember much from the walk back down the mountain, but when I returned to the parking lot and saw both of our cars, I fought back tears.
There wasn't another soul there, and I debated what to do. There hadn't been anyone else around when we arrived. No one saw us go up together. Based on our previous conversations, I don't think he told anyone about this trip. I know I didn't. Someone would eventually find his car and his body. I didn't feel compelled to be the person who tipped off the police.
I got into my car and drove home.
Four weeks later, someone found the car, and a week after, they found his body. I worried every second of every day that the police would find any remains of our packs and come to talk. I had dreams where I was in prison for the rest of my life.
But none of it ever came to pass. His death was ruled a suicide – albeit grisly – and no police ever came to chat with me. The case closed without much fanfare. The day it was on the news, I wept. I told people I had known him. He had gotten me into hiking, but I never mentioned the last hike. That was a secret I'd hold onto until I was in the grave.
I did feel like I owed the tree a visit. Ralph had told me that good or bad could come from a wish, and somehow, I had been chosen to be granted a good wish. I believe in my soul the tree protected me from Joe's attack and any complications from his death.
That was worthy of a trip to say thanks.
I knew the tree would be gone – the fire was raging when I left – but I still felt compelled to go. I didn't know if the trail would be open for me, but I saw that it was when I got to Face In Rock. I meandered down the path this time, listening for any signs of life but hearing nothing. Not a single whisper this time. I knew I wouldn't find anything in their clearing, either.
The tree and its magic were gone.
Once I got to the clearing and spied the rocks, I saw the empty space where the mighty tree used to stand. It was gone now. Instead, all I could see was the sky now. I felt a pang of loss in my heart. I walked over to where the tree stood and gasped. Pushing through the soil was the tiny green curl of a baby mountain table pine.
"I hope you grow taller than the last tree," I whispered.
I hope you come back again.
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2023.03.25 19:56 samtheman0105 Truly human chapter 9

I sincerely apologize for the wait, school really has been a lot. I would give a time for when to expect the next chapter, but even I don't know when that'll be. For now, enjoy!

Memory transcript subject: Jacob McNeal, Human Liberation Front, Eastern American cell
Standardized human time: January 5th, 2057
“You’d better have a damn good destination in mind!” I heard Emily yell from the back as I sped down the road. “Don’t worry, I do!” I replied, pushing the gas down as hard as it would go as I saw another group of federation vehicles approaching from in front of us, while the ones behind us slowly got closer. I narrowed my eyes as I kept a straight course right towards the incoming federation trucks. We got closer. And closer. And closer, before…
“HOLD ON!” I yelled back towards Emily before swerving the steering wheel to the right, damn near tipping the van over as it narrowly avoided the speeding feds. Still, it managed to stay up, allowing me to get around them. To make things better, I heard a loud crash behind us. I looked in the mirror to see a mess of mangled vehicles. They’d crashed into the ones chasing us, just as I’d hoped.
I let out a laugh as I sped away, while I could hear Emily cursing and yelling in the back. She had to have been thrown around quite a bit in that little stunt. “I HATE YOUR FUCKING PLANS JACOB!” She yelled. It only made me laugh more as I turned onto a dirt road.
It wasn’t long before the ships and sirens chasing us faded away. For all their technological prowess, the federation always struggled to track us into the wilderness. If there was anywhere that was safe enough to turn on that radio we’d just risked our lives for, it would be out here. I slowed to a stop as I came upon the hidden truck that command had stashed as our getaway if the convoy heist would’ve gone as planned. I couldn’t believe I forgot about it until now, but it wouldn’t have helped us all that much. They were always full of supplies, but notably no radio. We weren’t exactly expected to lose the one we had
“How’d you like that?” I asked as I went around the back to check on Emily and help her out. “I’m not Miles, but I think that was pretty good…” I trailed off as I opened the door to see… two occupants. I recognized the cowering figure in the blue uniform behind Emily as Private Cooper. “You drive like a madman, I didn’t have the chance to get rid of him.” Emily said casually as she stepped out, dragging the trembling private along with her. “I’d much prefer it if we had Miles driving.”
“You couldn’t just toss him out?!” I yelled in frustration, grabbing the private’s other arm as we dragged him from the truck. He was shaking, and by the looks of it, too scared to fight back. Not that he would be able to win. “Like I said, you drive like a madman!” She said back. “When I was about to toss him we got thrown back, and by then I had to focus on not getting shot!”
“I- fine, fine” I said as we shoved him against a tree. “Let’s just shoot him then.” I replied casually, which got me a scared whimper from our hostage, and a sigh from Emily. “I knew you’d say that, but he’s harmless now, look at him.” She said, motioning to the rather pathetic sight in front of us. And to think this thing considered itself human. “Maybe we could keep him alive for a bit? Trade him if we find out the federation got any of the others, yknow? Either that or let him go, we won’t be staying here long.”
As much as I liked the idea of a hostage trade, I had a feeling that wouldn’t work. “Yeah, because they always love to negotiate with savage beasts like us.” I said sarcastically, taking a step towards the trembling Cooper. Emily put a hand on my shoulder before I could get too close. I sighed in frustration. “They wouldn’t listen to us Emily! You know that!”
“We can’t just kill him, he's harmless.” She said calmly, stepping between me and him. “Just… let’s keep him for a little, maybe he’ll be useful, alright? If nothing else we can get some info out of him, and it’ll show that maybe they’re wrong about us if we let him go.” I sighed, but relented. She had a bit of a point. As much as I wanted to kill him, he might be useful for something. Even if that something was just showing that we aren’t as ruthless as they like to make us out to be. “Fine, fine, but we’re keeping him tied up” I replied.
“I wasn’t going to let him roam free.” She said, turning around and grabbing the trembling private. “Chin up, private Cooper!” I said with a very exaggerated smile. “Emily here has just saved your life! If you cooperate, I might not shoot you.” He only gave a frightened whimper, and with that, I went to go digging around the trunk of our old getaway vehicle. I mumbled to myself as I looked for some rope. I knew we had to have some somewhere.
“Medkit, rations… ah, rope!” I said to myself as I dug it out from beneath an extra sleeping bag. If only these things had radios I thought to myself. Once I pulled out the rope I went back to Cooper and tied him up to a tree, while Emily kept him from running. The private still never said a word, which was perfectly fine by me. I still wouldn’t mind killing the uncanny little shit, but Emily had been convincing enough. He’d talk later.
“Well,” I said as I tightened the rope, tugging on it to make sure he couldn’t run. “If you don’t mind taking the first watch, I’d like to get some rest.”
“Works for me, you’ve got four hours” she said as we walked back to the stolen van to move the radio. “So do you when I’m up, then we get to work” I replied, opening the back of the van and climbing inside. I passed the radio to her without another word before shutting the door. The van wasn’t the most comfortable place to sleep, but after the night we’d have I’d take any rest I could get. I rested my head on my bag as I laid down, and quickly drifted off to sleep.
My dreams often weren’t very pleasant, and this early morning nap was no exception. Even the good dreams were bittersweet, knowing I’d never get to really live them. A normal life just wasn’t something I’d be able to have, all because of the federation. Those dreams of spending time in a crowded pub, drinking and singing into the night with friends, walking down the street without being shot by a trigger-happy exterminator, it was all fantasy. Impossible. All because of my natural eyes and diet.
This dream wasn’t too different from those. I was sitting at a table in a noisy bar, a glass of whiskey in my hand. Emily, Mikhail, Alex, Miles, they all sat around me. For once, we just talked. Not about our hatred for the federation, not about what command would have us doing next, we just… talked about life. It was as if the federation never found Earth all those years ago. It was the life I wished I could have.
Of course, it was just a dream, and dreams don't last forever. I awoke to the door opening as Emily came inside, shaking me awake. “Get up, your turn.” I groaned, grabbing my cap and putting it on as I sat up. It was my grandfather's old flat cap, one he’d worn doing the same things I now do. Then my father wore it. And now I do.
Even if all this fighting and resisting is futile, at least I can say I’m carrying on a legacy. I thought to myself.
“Yep, moving” I said, standing up and heading towards the door. Despite the relatively short rest, I still felt much better than I did before. Any rest was welcomed, who knew that hours of hiking and fighting takes a lot of you. “Has Cooper said anything?” I asked, stopping at the door as Emily laid down.
“Private wide-eyes has been quiet, thankfully” she said while taking off her boots. “Hasn’t tried to draw any attention here, I think he knows that nobody would hear him.”
“Good, have you asked him about the others? If they captured any? Where they might be?” I asked, putting a hand on the door. “I thought I’d leave that to you.” She said, tossing both boots to the side. “Yep, leave it to me… I’ll get answers, fill you in when you're up” I said with a sigh before finally closing the door. The morning sun was beginning to shine through the trees as I walked over towards the hidden getaway vehicle and sat down against it, right across from the tied up Cooper. He looked like shit.
“Hey private” I said. He looked up weakly. His large eyes were red, and it looked like he’d been crying. “You remember what I said earlier?” I asked, stifling a yawn as I spoke.
“You… wouldn’t kill me if I cooperate…” he mumbled dryly, barely audible. “Correct.” I said, standing up and opening the back of the vehicle. “Now, if you answer my questions, not only will I let you run back to your federation once my friend and I leave, I might even give you some water, I’m sure you haven’t had anything since we arrived here.”
A small amount of hope flashed in his eyes as I produced a small bottle from the getaway truck before walking towards him. “All yours if you talk, so… did the ESB capture any people with… predator disease like myself? Smaller eyes and all?” I asked, opening up the bottle and taking a small sip. I never liked the term predator disease, it implied that something was wrong with me, but I had to say it in a way he’d understand.
Maybe we should start saying that these abominations have prey disease. I thought to myself while waiting for an answer.
“Y- yes…” the private said. “T- two… a- a third got away, but they’re looking for him...” I frowned at the new information. They did get the others, at least two of them, and given that he said the third was a he, they got Alex, along with either Miles or Mikhail. That was two accounted for, but two captured was two too many. “Good, see? Not so hard, here” I said, walking up to him and holding the open bottle up to his dry lips so he could get a drink. He quickly gulped down a couple sips before I pulled it away. He strained against the ropes binding him, trying to get more.
“Now now” I started, shaking the bottle just out of reach in front of his face. “I’ve got a few more questions. '' He lowered his head, but didn’t say anything. I smirked before I continued. “Where did they take them?”
“I- I don’t know… p- please, don’t hurt me, I don’t know!” He said, a bit too loud for my liking. “I won’t hurt you if you quiet down, and answer my questions.” I said, taking a few more sips from the bottle, to taunt him more than anything else. “But you’d better give me some kind of answer if you want more water, I know you’ve gotta know something.” He whimpered as he looked at the now half empty bottle in my hand. It was downright pathetic honestly.
“Th- the captured diseased were t- taken to a secret facility, th- the best federation scientists are there…” he said, swallowing nervously before continuing. “I- I don’t know where it is, j- just that it was west of the road you attacked on…”
I wasn’t completely happy with that answer, but he seemed genuine enough. These things generally sucked at lying. I walked forward and gave him more water, pulling it back again to ask my last question. “Alright Cooper, final question” I said, staring him right in his big, beady eyes. “Why were they captured and not killed? None of us have ever been captured before.”
More fear flashed in his eyes when I asked that question. “I- I can’t tell you that…” he said, averting his gaze towards the ground. I sighed in annoyance before starting to walk around him. Though I didn’t show it, I was pretty surprised at his response. I never expected him to refuse to answer with how scared he looked. “Cooooooper…” I said, drawing out his name as I slowly made a circle around him. “You were doing so good, don’t you remember what I said? You won’t get hurt as long as you answer me” I replied as I took out my knife, flashing it in front of him. “Do you want to try that again? Or should I start taking fingers?”
Another frightened whimper left him, and he began shaking. “I- I… C- Captain Perkins said this was top secret, th- that nobody could know, especially you diseased…” he said, which only elevated my annoyance to anger. This things agency was probably torturing my friends I’d known for years, my comrades I’d fought side by side with, and he still had the gall to refuse to answer me?
“I’ll give you this, Private Cooper” I said, walking behind him and grabbing his shaking hand, holding his ring finger out as I lightly pushed my knife against it. “You’re braver than you seem, I'm impressed.” He began to panic as I started to slowly slide the knife across his finger. It didn't cut through the skin, but if I went any long it would. “Ok! W- wait, d- don’t! I’ll tell you!” He said, to which I pulled my knife away and got in front of him, still holding the blade in clear view. “Then spill it.”
He still hesitated, but one glare from me got him to talk. “A- a predator species… th- the federation, they’ve found a sentient predator species… th- they want to understand them, b- but there have never been sentient predators before… p- predator disease was the next best option for study…”
I paused, my anger replaced first by shock, then by growing happiness. I couldn’t help but let a smile form across my face. A real smile, not a malicious grin put on to scare Cooper. A real, genuine smile. “See, not so hard.” I said as my anger started to dissipate, letting him gulp down the last of the water.
“A predator species… another predator species…” I said out loud to myself, still smiling. Maybe they could help us if we warned them before the federation slipped them the cure. Maybe that life I dreamed of was really possible in some way. I looked back at the tied up Cooper to see him silently crying with his head down. “You… you weren’t supposed to know that…” he whined, tears streaming down his face. “Th- they knew you would be happy, th- that you’d want to help them devour and enslave us all!”
I sighed, and for once, felt a little bad for him. The federation brainwashing ran so deep, he didn’t even know what he really was. Well, what he was supposed to be. “Oh if only you knew” I said, shaking my head before leaning forward so I could look him in the eyes. “Your ancestors were predators, in fact they looked a lot more like me then they did you.”
“Y- You don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re sick! Diseased! Th- they say predator disease warps the mind, but I didn’t know it was this bad!” He said, more tears streaming down his face. I sighed and straightened up, but stopped one last time before going to get my rifle. “Maybe Emily’s right… somewhere deep in there, maybe you’ve still got some predator in you.” With that, I left the private alone with his thoughts and went to watch for any Feds. I needed to process the existence of another predator. We weren’t alone. For the first time ever, humanity wasn’t alone!
The next couple hours were rather uneventful while I gave Emily the rest she needed. I lazily patrolled in a circle around our little camp while I counted down the hours until it was time to wake her up, only stopping to snack on some of the rations from the getaway vehicle. I even found some wild blueberries growing nearby for Cooper. I had a feeling that he wouldn’t exactly enjoy the beef jerky I was eating.
I got up from picking the berries and began walking back towards the vehicles. The sun was out now, and it would soon be time to wake up Emily. She’d be as excited about this revelation as I was. I was still struggling to process it, another predator species… we needed to get this back to command, if we were fast enough maybe we could warn them and save these fellow hunters from the same fate that befell humanity.
“Got you some snacks Cooper” I said cheerfully as I approached the still restrained hostage. I’d moved the ropes a little bit so he could sit down, but I still wasn’t letting him go. “Here” I said, holding out the berries so he could eat them. He was clearly still scared of me, but he accepted the food, eating out of my hand like an animal. Much like with the water earlier, he hadn’t eaten anything since he ended up with us. “Don’t look too down,” I said with a wide smile. “We’ll be letting you go soon! Emily was convincing enough, killing you wouldn't do anything.”
Cooper stayed silent, even when I patted him on the shoulder as I stood up. Emily had her four hours of sleep, it was time to wake her up. I couldn’t wait to tell her everything. I walked around the van and was about to open the door before I heard a twig snap behind me. Swiveling around, I swung my rifle from my shoulder and aimed it near the trees where I heard the sound. I didn’t see anything. “Emily, get up I think we have company” I said, knocking on the back door to wake her. I didn’t wait for confirmation that she was awake before I started walking towards the source of the sound, my rifle aimed at the spot. It could’ve just been an animal, but…
I suddenly felt a sharp prick on my neck, causing me to stumble a few steps. I hissed in pain and reached up, feeling a small object sticking out of my neck. I pulled it out, looking it over as I tried to figure out what it was. Realization hit me at the same time as its effects. It was a tranquilizer dart, which could only mean... I swayed from side to side as I began to feel dizzy. I wanted to yell a warning to Emily, but I was quickly fading. Before I could get a word out, I fell to the ground, and it all went dark.
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2023.03.25 19:50 LostInStories222 Ben the Enigma

There are a lot of things about Abenthy that just grate at me, the more I think on them.

How skilled/successful of an Arcanist is Ben? What did he focus his studies on? How much money did his family have? Why is he poor now?
Ben's Past:
Ben is skilled enough to have made it all the way through the Arcanum and earned his guilder. Kvothe tells us his main love is chemistry, but this isn't one of the subjects that Kvothe considered when he was discussing a master to sponsor him to re'lar. Is Chemistry actually an Arcanum subject that students can use to rise through the ranks? Or do you have to pick Alchemy? In Kvothe's day, both chemistry and alchemy are taught under Mandrag. But those subjects are different, as Sim tells us repeatedly:
I shook my head. “What about Mandrag? I’ve got a lot of experience with chemistry. It’d be a small step into alchemy.” Simmon laughed. “Everyone thinks chemistry and alchemy are so similar, but they’re really not. They’re not even related. They just happen to live in the same house.”
So we don't actually know which mastesubject Ben cozied up with to ensure his advancement through the years. He's also old, so it's nearly certain there were different masters, but presumably the same subjects and master positions? Presumably chemistry isn't arcanum specific if Kvothe, Sim, and Wil didn't consider it. However in WMF Mandrag has a giller named Anisat who teaches Advanced Chemistry. This is one of Kvothe's failures.
Most likely possibility? Perhaps even though Mandrag is Master Alchemist you can choose to focus on the chemistry side and this is what Ben studied. Or he did Alchemy (alongside chemistory) and just recognized that was much too dangerous to share any alchemy with young Kvothe.
Another thing to consider is that Ben presumably came from a family rich enough to pay for at least his first few terms of study, if not all of his studies. Kvothe notes that most of the students have families that can help pay. We know nothing about Ben's family except that he grew up in Staup. Wherever that is. It's another place name that's a homonym for another word, in this case "stop."
Ben Joining the Troupe:
Ben also is described as incredibly well rounded. "He was knowledgeable in all the sciences: botany, astronomy, psychology, anatomy, alchemy, geology, chemistry..." He can quote plays before being with the troupe, including Daeonica, a play that not many folk knew. He studied some Medica based on his knowledge of antidotes and he advertises himself as a dentist. He teaches arithmetic and history. He knows sympathy and languages. And he is one of a few characters in the whole chronicle that know a Name. He knows the wind so well that he can form a breath, which is subtle according to Elodin.
Despite all this skill, he is down on his luck when we first meet him. He's traveling in country where he has to fight to even be allowed in the village. He has barely any food left for himself or his donkeys.
“We’ve wandered too far from civilization, boys. The folk that need me don’t trust me, and the ones that trust me can’t afford me.” The old man peered into his purse. “We’ve got a penny and a half, so our options are limited. Do we want to be wet tonight or hungry tomorrow? We’re not going to do any business, so it will probably be one or the other.”
SIDE NOTE: Why would Ben be wet that night if he doesn't rent a bed? Presumably he sleeps in his wagon when he joins the troupe right? Or do they give him a tent? Shandi had a tent where she offered her special dance for Ben. Young Kvothe says the inn beds were no doubt lousy and those in the wagons were not. Ben's wagon has a worktable. Seems like there's room for a bed in theory.
It seems odd that he has chosen to travel to a place where he is doing so poorly. When he is trying to convince Arliden and Laurien of Kvothe's skill he says this:
My mother laughed like bells, but Abenthy’s face was serious. “It’s true, lady. I’ve had older students that would have loved to do half as well.” He grinned. “If I had his hands, and one quarter his wit, I’d be eating off silver plates inside a year.”
he also says:
Ben coughed and continued. “If he decides to become an arcanist, I bet he’ll have a royal appointment by the time he’s twenty-four.
This indicates that the most common way that Arcanists become rich is by gaining a royal appointment. Why does Ben not seek one out? He indicates he doesn't have the rights hands, that he's not skilled enough. Yet we see evidence of his skills.
  1. He's skilled but not ambitious in that way - He truly desires a different type of life.
  2. He's skilled but hasn't figured out a way to move up in the world.
  3. He's not really skilled enough. Seems false from our time with him.
  4. He's skilled and he is in the backwaters in this position because he has a secret mission - he was seeking out this troupe. Is he an Amyr? Chandrian spy? Someone else? It feels wrong based on all the love we get from Kvothe, yet my mind keeps coming back here. Especially as I consider further.

What does Ben know of Lanre?
When Ben chat's with Kvothe's parents, we overhear the start of their conversation:
“So you think there is an original story all the others stem from?” Ben asked. “A historical basis for Lanre?”
Arl says yes and complains about how old and scattered this story is. Ben proceeds:
“But you’re welcome to pick my brain about the Chandrian. I’ve heard a lot of stories over the years.”
Now, obviously the stories are related. And it does seem like the parents asked Ben for his expertise on the Chandrian specifically, not Lanre. But it's interesting that Ben doesn't share what he knows of the story since we get evidence that Ben knows of Lanre after the Wind/Lung incident. When speaking to Kvothe he ask's what Kvothe knows and then responds:
“He didn’t sell his soul,” Ben said. “That’s just nonsense.” He gave a great sigh that seemed to leave him deflated. “I’m doing this all wrong. Never mind your father’s song. We’ll talk about it after he finishes it. Knowing Lanre’s story might give you some perspective.”
But Ben does try to get the parents to share what reason they think they've discovered that the Chandrian have:
"Things we understand we can try to control. But Chandrian come like lightning from a clear blue sky. Just destruction. No rhyme or reason to it.” “My song will have both,” my father said with grim determination. “I think I’ve dug up their reason, after all this while. I’ve teased it together from bits and pieces of story. That’s what’s so galling about this, to have the harder part of this done and have all these small specifics giving me such trouble.” “You think you know?” Ben said curiously. “What’s your theory?” My father gave a low chuckle. “Oh no Ben, you’ll have to wait with the others. I’ve sweated too long over this song to give away the heart of it before it’s finished.” I could hear the disappointment in Ben’s voice. “I’m sure this is all just an elaborate ruse to keep me traveling with you,” he groused. “I won’t be able to leave until I’ve heard the blackened thing.”
The fact that Ben knows about Lanre when so few in this world seem to know is interesting. It lends some credence to theories that he's part of a bigger group in my mind. Especially because there is a reading of the parent scene where Ben is moving away from Lanre to the Chandrian and scoping out what they've figured out. Not for idle curiosity, but for a bigger purpose.
Anyway, I wish we'd heard what Ben believes to be the details of the Lanre story. Oh well...

Why Didn't Ben give Kvothe a Letter of Introduction?
The other question that plays at my mind is about Kvothe's first admissions. We learn this:
“Very well,” he said. “May I have your letter of introduction?” I didn’t hesitate. “I’m afraid I don’t have one, sir. Is it absolutely necessary?” “It is customary to have a sponsor,” he explained. “Preferably an arcanist. Their letter tells us what you know. Your areas of excellence and weakness.” “The arcanist I learned from was named Abenthy, sir. But he never gave me a letter of introduction. Might I tell you myself?” The Chancellor nodded gravely. “Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing that you actually have studied with an arcanist without proof of some kind. Do you have anything that can corroborate your story? Any other correspondence?”
Now, obviously Kvothe points to his copy of Rhetoric and Logic which has this inscription from Ben:
“Kvothe, Defend yourself well at the University. Make me proud. Remember your father’s song. Be wary of folly. Your friend, Abenthy.”
This inscription is intriguing and has been discussed many times. But it is hardly a letter of introduction. Ben should know this is the custom and as Kvothe's teacher, have written a proper letter for him to use. I can't think of a great reason he would write that inscription while neglecting to write the letter.
  1. He did first go to Kvothe's parents to discuss his skills. Maybe he gave them the letter for safekeeping when he left. Kvothe never knew it existed and never sought it out in the wagon after they died. It burned.
  2. The university custom has changed since Abenthy was a student.
  3. Something more sinister. Ben never expects Kvothe to make it to the University, so he doesn't bother with the full letter. He is nervous about the Chandrian names. I don't really buy this theory, but it's possible.

Ben's recognizability at the University
I am curious to know if anyone at the University during Kvothe's time recognizes Ben. Now we know from Kvothe's character that he doesn't really talk about his past. While it's silly, it's completely believable to me that he never asked an older student like Manet, nor specifically ask the other masters, even the one's he is friendlier with. But all of the masters learned who taught Kvothe. Presumably any arcanist who has gained the skill to call a name is noteworthy. But they never ask, nor make any special note.
  1. Ben wasn't noteworthy as a student beyond going through diligent study to get his guilder. He learned the name of the wind after he left and no one else knows he has gained this skill.
  2. Ben is notable enough with some of the masters, but they enjoy their own correspondence and don't need to ask Kvothe about him because they have more recent news anyway. Seems unlikely since this could have been a way to verify Kvothe's claim, and no one mentioned it. Unless they're both secretly Amyr and are corresponding because of that and don't want to make that super well known. So they think of another way to support Kvothe's claim. Like retrieving his book for him. Hmm...
  3. Ben is notable, but the master doesn't care to have another interaction with hot-headed Kvothe. They don't care that much.
  4. Time shenanigans. People like to theorize that Kvothe spent time in the Fae when he was in his dreamlike state after his parents died. I don't think this is likely to account for enough time, because I believe firmly in the Laurien=Netalia theory and Meluan is still of child-bearing age. However there is another possibility. Ben spent time, ages, in the Fae and so he's not recognizable now. (Some people speculate that Ben's donkeys are glamoured fae, but I personally hate this theory.) Of course, Ben tells us himself he's not old enough to have grown up during a time when people with knacks were burned. So that's points against this idea.

Why did Ben Leave?
We know why. He fell in love with the widow in Hallowfell. He could run the brewery, his other love, and teach her son. A ready-made family. The goal of so many people in the real world.
But we're suspicious readers. And we do here these lines:
Ben got the offer he couldn’t refuse.
And most importantly:
As you can see, I don’t think anyone could have built a better snare for Ben if they had tried.
Is this just clever writing? Or was snare chosen to tell us there was a trap. Was it a trap from Ben's organization to get him out of harms way? To get him to report on what he'd discovered after he'd been stationed with the troupe? Or a trap from his enemies to get him out of the way before going after the whole troupe. Removing the man who had naming prowess so the troupe wouldn't have this protection?
And a town with another interesting name. Hallowfell.
I have questions! I am very curious if Ben is/was part of the same Amyr as Lorren. I go back and forth on what I'm thinking... Other ideas? Or curious questions?
submitted by LostInStories222 to KingkillerChronicle [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 19:41 The-Owl-that-hoots My Samples and Splashers collection! 24 NB
I got the container at target for about thirteen dollars. It perfectly houses all my splashers and testers! I’ve done already a fuller review on all the Pinewards in my post history (although some opinions have changed, just message if you have questions). I’m gonna try to keep these reviews brief
Pacco Rabbane: Fame and Phantom
Fame is a tropical fragrance with floral notes and a base of sandalwood. It isn’t my cup of tea, I have one “tropical” fragrance (Polo Red Rush) and that’s all I need
Rating: 4.5/10
Phantom is a citrusy scent to me. I didn’t get any of the earth notes as it dried down. It went from lemon and lavender to patchouli with a small hint of vanilla at the end
Rating: 5.5/10
Montblanc : Explorer, Explorer Blue, Legend, Legend Red, and Legend Spirit
Explorer is for you if like pink pepper. Bergamot is my favorite note but I didn’t get it at all. All sorts of woody notes come in later. It’s trying to be fresh and woodsy, if the pink pepper was ditched I’d like it more
Rating: 5/10
Explorer Blue is a bit more for me. I enjoy this one. There’s pink pepper in this one too (it has the same opening notes) but it’s nowhere near as intense as the normal Explorer. I like the sea notes. It’s a marine scent through and through
Rating: 7.5/10
Legend is the first full bottle I ever bought for myself. It’s a fruity, fresh scent with a good lavender punch. There’s a good sweetness that isn’t tropical either. The woody notes tie it all together wonderfully
Rating: 8/10
Legend Red is interesting to me. I love blood orange as a note, and it ties really well with the cardamom in the opening. The grapefruit in the opening makes it too cloying if you ask me(I also just don’t like grapefruit). It transforms into a woody scent
Rating: 7.5/10
Legend Spirit is favorable to me. The bergamot is strong in this one, so the grapefruit and pink pepper aren’t obnoxious. It turns aquatic and woodsy, which I’m a big fan of. This scent makes me like oak moss as a note
Rating: 8.5/10
Versace : Eros, Eros Flame, Pour Homme, Dylan blue
What more can be said about Eros? It’s popular and simple. I like it enough
Rating: 7/10
Eros Flame is in the same boat as Eros. I’m not in love with it, but I like it. They do have cool bottles. Pink pepper is too strong in this one but I like the dry down a tad more
Rating: 7/10
Pour Homme is my favorite of the four. It’s aromatic and woodsy, tied together with aquatic notes. Strong bergamot which I love
Rating: 9/10
Dylan Blue takes a more amber approach to Pour Homme but keeping the aquatic nature of PH. Big fan of this one too, my second favorite
Rating: 9/10
Spray Testers
Replica Series Sailing Day, Coffee Break, Autumn Vibes, Under The Lemon Tree, By The Fireplace, Jazz Club, Bubble Bath, Spring Time In the Park, Beach Walk, Lazy Sunday Morning
Sailing Day didn’t even last twenty minutes on me. Basic aquatic scent
Rating: 2/10
Coffee Break is more lactonic to me. It’s creamy and aromatic, not a cup of coffee but sitting in a coffee shop
Rating: 7/10
Autumn Vibes is spicy and earthy, and gives…well autumn vibes. It’s simple, to the point, but doesn’t last very long
Rating: 7/10
Under The Lemon Tree is a lime scent, which is odd. It’s a citrus scent with some woody undertones. Doesn’t last very long, but I enjoy it
Rating: 6/10
By The Fireplace would be perfect without the marshmallow. It’s more like “by the campfire” but I enjoy the Smokey woody scents it offers
Rating: 7/10
Jazz Club just isn’t for me. I don’t understand why people like it. It’s just too drenched in alcohol for me
Rating: 4/10
Bubble Bath is really nice. It’s gentle and soothing. Although, the jasmine in this one overrides the scent at a certain point but I still enjoy it. This one had good longevity
Rating: 7/ 10
Spring Time In The Park is incredibly floral. I enjoy it thoroughly but it does have a loud projection on me. Duration isn’t amazing either. I do like the lily of the valley note
Rating: 7/10
Beach Walk has a good bergamot opening, but the rest is just average oceanic scent. Once again duration is not the bright spot
Rating: 5/10
Lazy Sunday Morning is fresh washed linens in a bottle. I like it as a home fragrance. The florals are nice and the musk smells good as it ties it together instead of making it cloying
Rating: 6/10
Seven Virtues Vanilla Woods, Santal Vanille, Amber Rose, Lotus Pear, Blackberry Lily, Jasmine Neroli, Patchouli Citrus
Vanilla Woods is wonderful. The opening is horrendous but once it opens up past that pear opening, it’s a great woodsy vanilla scent (much better than most I’ve smelled for those two scents)
Rating: 8.5/10
Santal Vanille is much more beachy. This is the only sandalwood heavy fragrance I like. The vanilla adds a good sweetness to balance the strong sandalwood
Rating: 8/10
Rose Amber smells to me like my grandmother when I was growing up. It isn’t my favorite, and it feels like it’s trying too hard. I could see how someone would like this scent. It’s much more focused on the Amber than the rose, and the lavender is too much
Rating: 4/10
Lotus Pear is a pear scent done right. It’s floral, fresh, sticks with using flowers and fruits as the notes. It’s linear but honestly keeping it simple can make it better and this fragrance exemplifies that. A very spring time perfume
Rating: 7.5/10
Blackberry Lily is why I bought this pack because I wanted to try it. It smells like blackberries and lilies which is nice! This is more complex than Lotus Pear but it makes sense why. It evolves from a fruity and floral scent to a more sweet fruit scent
Rating: 7/10
Jasmine Neroli is just literally jasmine and neroli. I’m not the biggest fan of neroli and find jasmine to be dominating. Might be easy to imagine, I didn’t like this one. It’s the most linear and straightforward fragrance I’ve ever tried
Rating: 2/10
Patchouli Citrus is very flower but is kept under control with some sandalwood and Amber. I like it. I know patchouli isn’t everyone’s favorite but I enjoy it
Rating: 6.5/10
That’s a big wall of text. Gonna cut it off here. Thank you for reading this far! I tried to keep reviews short and succinct. Have a good weekend!
submitted by The-Owl-that-hoots to fragrance [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 19:04 JulianSkies The Werewolf - Ch 10 "Memory"

And here's the second to last chapter. Sadly there were two bits of scene I didn't manage to fit here somehow, and I don't think it's going to come up at any point in the final chapter either but it's also not very relevant.
Credits to u/SpacePaladin15 for this amazing setting, even if I wound up going a bit wild with it at the end here.
In a desert planet, in a desolate little outpost as far from the oases as it could be, a little starport hidden from everything. In the launching bay is a small black craft, scarce fit for one person. In the hangar are only two people.
A grey-furred venlil, shaking slightly, the wool on his back still not fully grown from the recent shave. An arxur with unusually white scales and blood-red eyes, right arm tattooed with intricate patterns in red, a star map.
“You never told me where you were going, Kerim”
“You wouldn’t have the stomach for it, Ishak”
“Oh, come on, i’m stronger than you think”
“Is that so?” the venlil turns to his best friend, staring at him with one eye, a deep stare “Then prove it to me”
“Oh yeah, how?”
“Hurt me. Do that, and i’ll know you’re cruel enough to know where i’m going”
His friend huffs, looking away “Then I don’t want to know”
He had always been far too soft for his species. He was lucky to be born on this planet.
In the little hidden starport, the tiny black craft had returned. Only one person waited there as he stepped out of his ship, those crimson eyes giving him the energy to work through his damaged leg.
“You look awful”
A limp, badly patched cuts, a third of his wool missing “Looks worse than it is”
His friend offers him his shoulder, he takes it “Nesha told me to thank you”
Of course the news would come here faster. The ones who escaped the re-education facility must have taken the direct route instead of his indirect one “I should be feeling… Happy…” he didn’t “Fourty six…”
“Fourty six?”
“I had to… I had to finish my mission. Of them… Twenty eight…” he can’t look at his friend, but he can’t avoid doing it either being this close. He doesn’t deserve this “They were target practice… I pushed them ahead of me…”
His friend puts a gentle claw over his head “You destroyed that place, you were a hero” he didn’t feel like it.
“I will be here when you return, I promise”
There were blue marks on his friend’s crimson tattoos now. Each one marking a failure, a candidate that did not bloom in the end. “No you won’t, silly, don’t make promises you can’t keep” he gently traces his hand over the markings in his friend’s arm “You’ll be out there, as you should” he told him, before departing.
And yet he kept his promise. He always kept his promises.
When his small black ship docked again, it was smoking, a damaged engine and the oxygen supply leaking. He barely had the strength to step out of the ship, his mouth was dry and his legs refused to obey him, his eyes couldn’t focus on anything other than a white shape before him.
“You look like you haven’t eaten in days” his touch was so gentle, a gentleness magnified only further by how sharp his claws were. The warm feeling in his throat of the drink that had been so carefully guided to his mouth.
“M-months… Really…” his voice had returned, at least slightly. He could still feel the metallic taste in his mouth “Seventy… Nine…”
His friend gently supports him as they walk, at the pace his legs can take him “That raid never even started, my friend… All because of you, you’re a hero”
They never knew how they died. A slip into the abyss, a broken plasma pipe, they died in confusion and fear. He didn’t feel like a hero.
His friend held him close. Today, there were thirteen ships in this port. Small black vessels all of them. With some effort, he finally makes him let go, no matter what he still had a mission.
“Before you go” his friend offers him something “I have two gifts for you. These, to keep you safe” two beautiful black knives, with a serrated edge for shredding cuts and a hook in the back for defense. It even had a compartment in the handle for the blackblood pills. The fangs of a beast, his friend’s fangs… “And the other, i’ll give you when you’re back”
This is his last chance. He takes his friend’s gift, and steps in closer “I make a promise to you” he silences his complaint with a single finger over his snout “I promise to you my blood, I promise to you my life. Yours is all that I am, yours is my life and yours is my death. The right to my end is yours and yours alone”
“Don’t…” there it was, that sad noise, the choked voice “Don’t make that promise to me”
But that was the only promise he could make to him “Then go and do a good job, so I can break it someday” he holds his friend’s- No. His promised’s fangs close, before walking away.
He kept his promise. His end belongs to Ishak. Thirteen ships left, three returned. A bloody mess steps out of his ship, matted fur, a swollen eye, dirt, grime and blood. The clattering of metal on the floor as those strong white arms held him, even more blue against the red. “You look awful, my promised”
“I-it’s… Worse than it… Looks…” he shouldn’t be holding him like this. He couldn’t will his dirty, stained arms to hold his promised.
“How about I take you home, and we can watch something? I’ll give you a good grooming, and I’ll listen to you.”
He didn’t have the energy left in his soul to respond, he simply let his promised carry him in his arms. His caress was gentle, and the brush felt the same comfort as it always gave him. Slowly, slowly he could feel his own body again. But he was surprised by something, his promised put a datapad in front of him, before returning to brushing his back “Only if you want to” he reassured him. He was having difficulty reading, but… He knew what it was.
An already pre-approved transfer request, to the exploratory fleets.
It had been years since his fangs were last bloodied. Now the only red on him was the dye on his arm, red and blue like his promised’s. He sat at the bridge as he always did, a position of privilege none begrudged him for. He was good at his job, his job was keeping his crew safe when they landed, and otherwise here he waited, watching his promised guide them into the stars.
The loud, sudden squawk attracted his attention. There were two sensors officers, and the krakotl commanded the attention of everyone whenever she made any noise. She was always on the lookout for something, something specific.
“We’ve found it! It’s right there!” she was frantic, crazed nearly.
“We’ve just gotten into maximum sensor range-” his promised was always level-headed
“You don’t get it. I’ve spent my entire life memorizing those cliffs and valleys” she commands the central screen with her readouts. To most, the patterns of the spectrometer were unreadable. But even to those, if you were an explorer those shapes were burned into your memory. Carbon, oxygen, nitrogen- The levels of each- This wasn’t just a candidate. This was the best candidate of the last twenty years.
“Yorim, plot a course” his promised points at the zurulian navigator “Ashir, I want every last star in that map” the arxur was their second navigator, their mapmaker. His entire job was to ensure the perfect accuracy of the star chart “Kerim, start getting the ground team ready” he nods, could this candidate bloom?
Yes, yes it could. First, their scout ships saw a beautiful planet of strange colors, violet and green and blue. Then, when the main ship arrived in orbit they detected the breathable atmosphere, and could see the stretches of violet-leaved plant life, oceans of blue and rivers of green.
Landing on a new planet is always exciting. When the salty air welcomed him to the soft sands of a beach, he almost cried. The sound of the gust rustling leaves and the cry of a distant bird disturbed by it, his entire team required a long time to recover. It was here, it was finally here.
They were cautious. It took three weeks until the main ship was cleared to land. The rivers were dangerous, he’d tasted the green algae and they had a familiar taste, of a poison he’d used many a time. The fish in them were vicious, carnivorous hunters, but his promised had found a strange joy in fighting them “If I’m going to eat something, I’d rather it fight back” he told him. Even to beasts he would offer his kindness…
It had been two entire months now. Everything in the defined colonization radius had been cataloged and studied. Every last beast had been studied as far as they could, every last plant tested, the composition of the soil so carefully recorded. This planet could sustain them. It could feed them and flourish.
And in this camp a distance away from their ship, he and his promised were staring up at the stars. His promised’s scales were absolutely covered in scratches, he had just recently snatched another of those vicious fish out of the waters. He had contented himself with slowly stripping away the soft bark of this broad-leaved tree, it was deliciously succulent and soft, a taste he had never had before.
“I wish I had your tongue, my promised, because the noises you’re making are tempting me to to try some of that”
He laughs, wouldn’t be the first or last time they’d tried something that’d upset their bodies. That’s what explorers did “Oh, there’s room in the infirmary”
His promised then became silent, still looking at the stars “Say, I have a favor to ask you. For when we get back”
“When. When we get back. And we bring our maps home, and everyone can come to this place” he truly believed his own words. He wished he could believe them this much “When you finally can break your promise. If I meet my end before you” it was not a look of sadness or acceptance he gave him, he could truly envision being here for a time indescribable, until an end he could not foresee “I want you to bury me under one of those trees you love so much” he didn’t believe he could keep that promise, but he made it still.
When they left, there was no trace they were ever there. They left only footprints in the sand, that the wind would wash away. When they charted a course as far away as possible from the paradise they had found, most of the crew was already aware they were making their way to their deaths. He did not believe in this tiny, miraculous chance. But his promised did.
“Scout one’s report is late by a minute, sir!”
“Red alert, battlestations!” and yet with all his hope, his promised was not stupid. Their scouts were disciplined to a terrifying degree. It was the only way to have any hope against the Blind Fleet. They who would keep them blind to the rest of the universe.
They had maneuvered far away from their paradise. They had crossed past the claims of the Dominion into the claims of the Federation. If they were found, they could never know where they were coming from. From here, they would circle back to their dusty home with their maps. Of course the Blind Fleet found them, they always did, as long as they had to pretend to be part of the Dominion, the Blind Fleet would always find them.
“Scout wings, activate camouflage and join ranks with the Blind Fleet, some of us will return home” only arxur were allowed to be scout pilots, exactly for this. Whenever the Blind Fleet was met, they could hide so at least some would return home “Start the FTL drives and initiate evasive maneuvers!”
“Negative, sir!” that voice was one of the scout pilots “We’re not blending in!”
“Damn it, Ashiak, you have a nursery to return to!” Ashiak was a Matron back home whenever the exploration fleets were preparing, a mother to an entire nursery.
“We’re above a colony world, sir!” the scout pilot had noticed something nobody else had “And i’m not taking the blame for luring those Dominion monsters over innocents”
Sensors had failed to realize they had steered so close. Given their position it must be a venlil colony. To lose here would mean the Blind Fleet would take the colony as targets of opportunity. He looks at his promised’s eyes, and he looks back. They all knew what they had to do now, they could not lose, but neither could they win. “Belay the camouflage, keep the transponders ective and dive into their formation, I want them shooting themselves!” he looks at their pilot, the bulky mazic doesn’t need orders, he raises his trunk in recognition of it.
“Let our blood be poison!” his promised shouts, and he joins in with the entire crew as they return the shout “Let our blood be poison!”
Soon after, they’re running down the corridor of the ship. One last duty before the end. Were the Dominion to find their maps, they would descend on that paradise like a plague, gut it and burn it in the name of… Whatever it was that drove them. And so, he and his promised were running towards the ship’s computer core.
Explorer ships had a centralized computer core, exactly for this reason. He grabs a simple strip of fiber on the side of the monolithic server and his promised grabs another one on the other side. With a quick yank the electromagnetic emanations completely destroy every last remnant of their research, their maps, every bit of knowledge of that paradise is gone. His promised looks at him and smiles.
They’re running back, through the same corridor. His wide view catches a glimpse of the escape pods located in this corridor. And then he feels a powerful clawed hand against his chest, he has time to turn to face his promised but not enough time to react as he’s thrown inside one. By the time he recovers he’s not able to get past the door before it closes and seals “No! Damn you! I made you a promise!”
That’s the last image he has of Ishak in his mind, that gentle smile that fit him so well “And i’m breaking it for you” was all he said as the pod started moving.
He had securely strapped himself on the chair, eyes trained on the windows. That was the last he saw of his ship. The telltale colors of an FTL drive cascade, the ship dove into the Blind Fleet, the violet light engulfing both. He could never fulfill his promises.
As a post-note, the two scenes I didn't manage to fit was:
Kerim giving Ishak a small pillow stuffed with his wool that was shaved off when he got his cerimonial scars before leaving for his first mission (this is seen as a gift of farewell).
Kerim mentioning his third mission was, with the other twelve assassins, to take down a cattle ship from one of the other chief hunters. Which is why he was so busted when he returned as he hid in there for a long time. He'd count a hundred and two deaths by his hand, and mention the ship had fallen in the sea and they'd all drown. But the return scene flowed so much better with him just being... Basically catatonic I couldn't fit how to add this part.
submitted by JulianSkies to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]