Metal drop ceiling tiles
Stuck on earth and looking for a job: Olms and Jewels
2023.06.01 00:42 girl_from_the_crypt Stuck on earth and looking for a job: Olms and Jewels
Coming face to face with people in suits always makes me hyper-aware of how badly I dress. Since I knew I was going to meet up with Mary Markov today, I intentionally put some more effort into my appearance. I picked out a pressed shirt to wear over my leggings. Since it was far too big for me, I threw my wide yellow belt into the mix. Thus satisfied, I called up Elijah Carter and asked whether he wanted to come along. He agreed readily enough so I had him pick me up and drive us over to Mary's office. It was nowhere near the hospital and not in the vicinity of her news channel headquarters either. It was located in a slate gray concrete building that was quite confusing to look at.
No outside observer could have mistaken it for a residential house, for there was hardly a less homely or comfortable place imaginable. It was utterly repellent in its rough, dreary nature. It couldn't have belonged to some kind of business either, though. There were no marked parking spaces for employees, no signs or advertisements. Altogether, it reminded me of something out of a cheap or unfinished video game.
"Sketchy," Eli remarked, eyeing the slab of concrete with a similar lack of enthusiasm. "Looks almost abandoned. How weirdly fitting for a semi-secret government operation."
I nodded. The warm air had taken me by surprise and I found the weight of my jacket suffocating, so I took it off to leave in the car. "What is it?" I asked, noticing the way Elijah squinted at my outfit.
"You don't say." He snorted. "Looking kinda funny there, Shirley."
"I look professional
," I corrected him.
"I suppose." He grinned to himself. "Depends on the profession, though."
We rang the bell and a highly official-looking security guard let us in through the heavy double doors after confirming that Mary Markov was expecting us. He gave the necessary directions, sending us down several flights of stairs. The better part of the building was in fact underground, like with an iceberg. Eli made a remark about how it'd be safer if outsiders weren’t allowed to roam the place by themselves. It seems to be a habit of his to vaguely analyze and point out flaws in the structures of government institutions. Then again, maybe it's just flaws in general he's fascinated with.
Upon arriving outside Mary's office, we were called inside to find her sitting behind her desk. She lifted her head, giving us a polite, if cold, smile. "Good morning. You're on time. Wonderful."
"Would you please give me an honest appraisal of my outfit?" I asked.
The newsreader frowned in confusion, her eyes briefly roaming my form. "You put effort into your appearance today," she concluded. "It's appreciated."
"Wait, what do you mean today
?" I inquired.
"Note also how she did not actually answer your question," Elijah added.
I huffed, flinging myself into one of the chairs in front of Mary's desk. Eli sat down beside me, folding his hands in his lap and leaning back. "Thanks for letting me come with Shirley," he told her.
"Naturally. I assume you're her emotional support human." Mary Markov's lips curled slightly. "At any rate, you had contact with the Collective yourself, so this does concern you. As far as I'm concerned, it can't hurt having an ex-cop in the mix, anyways. Despite the regrettable reasons you had for leaving the force."
Elijah's brows lowered, the muscle in his pronounced jaw twitching. "How do you know about that?"
Mary looked innocent. "It's very important that I'm fully informed, of course. Don't worry. We don't need to go into it, and I don't judge you, either. The effect the incident at that highschool had on you is completely understandable."
"I didn't ask for your assessment." My friend's voice had sharpened. "Can we move on from this?"
"Of course." If the sudden shift in tone had rattled the agent, she wasn't letting it on. Sifting through the neat stack of papers on her desk, she pulled out a thin brown file which she slid over to me. "Miss Shirley, you remember the female member of the Collective we took into custody? She has already been questioned by the local police. Unfortunately, I don't have the authority to lead such an interrogation, but I was
present for it and I want you to have this transcript."
I perked up and began leafing through the folder.
"You may take that with you to read in peace," Mary told me. "But don't expect too much, lest you'll be sorely disappointed. The girl hardly said anything at all. The most helpful information she gave us was a name she kept referencing. Jewel.
At first, we thought it was a sort of code word, but it seems to be what the other person she was with calls themself."
“Jewel,” I echoed.
“Sadly enough, that’s all we have. We’ve never provided our services to anyone of their physical description. There are a couple clues, but they don’t amount to anything helpful. There’s the fact that you met them at a convenience store with relatively high prices. Maybe I’m just grasping at straws, but that could
indicate a cushy financial situation. On top of that, the store is rather far away from here, so they might be an out-of-towner. They also might be able to influence the way others perceive them, considering the way they seemed to hypnotize you in the woods merely by holding eye contact.”
“How come they couldn’t do anything to Frank Preston?”
Mary Markov twinkled at me. “They couldn’t? Huh. That rather intrigues the philosopher in me. Jewel works through eye contact and it is
said that the eyes are the window to the soul.” She cocked her head at me.
“Are you saying Blondie doesn’t have a soul?” Eli asked, raising a skeptical brow. “Is this one of those Plato-Schopenhauer-whatevers?”
The newsreader shrugged artfully, watching my reaction. “We could discuss this for hours on end. I only meant to draw attention to the implied distinction between an organically born entity and a being who was originally an inanimate object.”
“I beg your pardon?” I said slowly.
“Oh, nevermind; that’s neither here nor there.” Her tone told me that she did, in fact, consider it to be both here and
there. Not wanting to go further into this with her, I made a mental note to ask Frankie later.
“There’s more,” I added, trying to gently prepare her for what I was about to say. “I want to get Kit Sutton back.”
Mary’s lips thinned. “Excuse me?”
“I don’t mean for the town to get flooded in the process. I think we can find a solution to help her, if we work together. I’m convinced we can figure something out, but I don’t believe in abandoning her anymore. Which is essentially what we’re doing if we leave her to her fate.”
“You do realize what you’re asking of me? Your former roommate isn’t some kind of minor water spirit. Her father appears to hold tremendous power over the seas, or at the very least our part of it. He has countless similarly dangerous individuals at his service so he might be considered a ruler of sorts, if not a deity.”
“So Kit’s the little mermaid, basically?” Elijah asked, equal parts joking and genuinely intrigued.
Mary grinned an actual, amused grin. “I must ask you to take this seriously, Mr Carter.”
“I am!” he chuckled, raising his hands. “I swear.”
“Anyways, Miss Shirley, the point you make is an individualistic one, but I see why you’re invested in the girl’s fate. I want to help, I do… But we need to proceed with caution. If you can suggest to me some kind of sensible approach, then I’ll do what I can. That’s all the promises I can make at the moment.”
I thanked her and got up, Eli following me as I headed for the door. “Miss Shirley,” Mary called out and I stopped, turning back around to face her. “If you like my style, we could perhaps meet up to go shopping sometime? I could show you some quality stores. It wouldn’t be anytime soon since I’m currently swamped, but I figure—well, just in case you might like to.”
I nodded. “That sounds pleasant enough.”
She smiled brightly and waved us out the door. “Excellent. I’ll be in touch.”
Back inside the car, I tossed the file onto the backseat to read later. “Would you like to go to the beach?” I suggested.
“Why not. Wait, is this for a stroll and ice cream or do you want to kickstart the mermaid-rescue-operation?”
“I can’t see why it shouldn’t be both,” I replied comfortably. “We’ll need to take your flashlight, though.”
"You know I don't like getting myself into trouble unless it's paid."
"Yes, but you also find me endearing and want to protect me from danger, which you can only do by accompanying me."
"You're a terrifying tentacle beast from another dimension. I don't know that I'm all that scared for your safety," he grunted.
I gave him an affronted look. "You have now hurt my feelings."
"Plenty, but I'll forgive you if you come with me."
Elijah Carter sighed deeply but started driving anyway. I let my arm dangle out of the open window, allowing the warming spring air to wash over my skin. The closer we got to the shore, the stronger the scent of salt mixed into the breeze. The cries of seagulls became audible over the sounds of the road and the streaming wind and was finally joined by the crashing of waves when we pulled into a parking spot and got out of the car. Taking along the heavy duty flashlight he always kept in the passenger seat footwell, I led Eli to the mouth of the cave, explaining what Nettie and I had seen along the way. He looked commendably calm, simply turning on the torch and entering alongside me.
The tunnels were just as damp, dim and quiet as the last time. Before long, we had reached the spacious canyon room with the lake at the bottom. "I want to go across and see if there's anything important in the rest of the grotto back there," I reminded him. "Please
hold on to your bearings."
"I'm not repeating your mistakes," he replied gamely. "What do you think? This oughta be connected to the ocean somehow." He let the beam of the torch roam the mirror-like surface of the lake. It seemed almost deceptively quiet. My eyes followed the lengthy stone ledge. Eli stepped close, and after receiving a nod of approval, he grabbed me around the waist and hoisted me onto the rocky protrusion. I straightened up, instantly pressing my back against the wall. A wave of nausea hit me as I glanced at the water below. "Chill," Elijah muttered, climbing after me with ease. "Nothing will happen. You're not gonna fall."
I merely shook my head. "You didn't see what's down there."
"And I won't, because we'll be careful," he answered steadfastly.
I started walking, the warm light of the torch upon my back, illuminating the path ahead. The shelf narrowed as we reached the end. I swiftly clambered down, relieved to place my feet on wider, solid ground once more. Now looking over the lake from the other side, it had an entirely different feel to it. It seemed darker somehow, but also less big—I attributed it to the change in perspective. We were standing in a cramped little nook with two passageways leading off into separate directions behind us. Elijah Carter eyed them pensively. “Which do you reckon?”
I pursed my lips. “The right one. Because it’s right.”
We proceeded into the passage, the tight space pushing us closer together. He had to duck his head, uncomfortably hunching his shoulders, and for once, I was grateful for my own short stature. The corridor seemed to go on forever. The darkness and silence created a feel of unnatural solitude, and for more than once, I got the distinct impression that I must have jumped dimensions again. It was as though Elijah and I were enclosed in some kind of bubble, cut off from everything outside; a place where time was a foreign concept and the only sun was our flashlight. Needless to say, I was distinctly uneasy. I allowed myself to lean back, brushing against Eli’s chest whenever I could. Eventually, I cleared my throat.
“Could you touch me?”
“Just so I still know you’re there.”
His palm came to rest on my shoulder, his thumb digging into one of the tense, painfully rigid muscles of my upper back, forcing it to soften. “Good?”
“Yes, thank you.”
He hummed. “You’re scared.”
This caused my resolve to falter. “Maybe we should turn around after all,” I said quietly. “Who knows how much longer—”
I perked up. Before us, the tunnel grew wider, opening into a large, spacious room. We picked up our pace, tackling the remaining distance in a light jog, and finally found ourselves standing in another hall. The beam of light traveled the floor and high walls, revealing a sight that took our breath away. We were standing in front of another lake, only slightly smaller than the last. The water glittered in violet hues and strange, pale plants climbed up the walls, some of them looking rather like starfish. Multiple rocky protrusions formed an almost complete bridge across its middle. With a bit of light climbing, we'd undoubtedly be able to get to the other side. Wordlessly, Elijah Carter swung himself up onto the platform closest to the edge of the water, pulling me up after him. The flashlight switched hands a couple times as we maneuvered ourselves along.
Soon, we reached the middle of the lake. I risked a glance at the water below. All was still and perfectly quiet. Eli was about to take on the next rock when suddenly, I felt something heavy and gooey drip onto my head from above. I flinched, then slowly pointed the torch up to the ceiling. My stomach dropped. My throat had turned paper-dry, and I frantically tugged on Eli’s arm. He tipped his head back, following my pointing finger. His eyes blew wide and his face fell.
There was a creature clinging to the high walls, its pale, enormous body describing a streamline curve as it pressed itself against the hollowed stone. The closest thing I can compare it to would be a sort of olm, except probably a hundred times larger. Its snout looked large enough to swallow either of us whole. It hung open, secreting a thick fluid that slowly dripped down to hit the rocks or create ripples upon the water. Its blind eyes seemed to be trained on us, and I could spot tiny, sharp teeth lining its maw. It wasn’t moving, not even an inch, but somehow, I knew it was aware of us.
I looked up at Elijah, the panic in his eyes mirroring mine. Both of us had freezed up mid-motion, not daring to take another step. My mind was running wild; I was thinking feverishly. We’d have to turn around for sure, but how? The olm was already highly alert, if we were to start scrambling back to solid ground, it would undoubtedly hear us straight away. Eli looked equal parts terrified and furious, and I could tell he was scolding himself for not thinking to check the entirety of the room before proceeding across the lake. I could understand the sentiment, we’d definitely made a grave mistake. I figured it had been the misleading beauty of the cave hall that had taken our edge off. Glancing over into the direction we’d come from, I found myself wishing to be back in the endless dark corridor. The entrance to the passage seemed miles away.
The olm lifted a three-toed foot, shifting its massive form to a lower spot on the wall. It was taking a tentative step towards us, extending its snout as its body bent into our direction. Elijah had grabbed onto my arm, his fingers clamping around it like a vice. He stayed silent and unmoving, but he held my gaze with clear, sharp eyes.
“Don’t move,” I mouthed, and he gave me a curt nod.
Slowly, I reached around to push my shirt out of the way of my unfurling tentacles. Elijah took a quiet step back to make room for my changing form, something of a resolute expression settling on his face. I opened my mouth, relieved when my teeth acted according to my will and elongated. I didn’t know to what extent I would be able to defend against this absolute giant of an amphibian, but at least it would give us a chance. I took a deep breath, trading glances with Eli once more before darting off to the side, bounding onto the platform next to our current one. Elijah followed suit, grabbing onto one of the limbs I extended to him for support. Despite the swiftness of our movements, we were anything but quiet, and the olm reacted in an instant. It slithered down from the wall, sinking into the lake below to make its way to the rocks we were standing on. As we headed for the next stone, it darted out of the water, splashing wildly as its snout breached the surface. Its jaws snapped at us, missing me by a mere foot as I jumped across the gap between the protrusions. Droplets flew as the creature dropped once more, but instead of retreating, it swam around the platform. Its massive, snake-like body was bobbing up and down as it circled us.
“Oh fuck,” Elijah breathed, his chest heaving. “Keep going! Move, move!”
I took a short running start, then flung myself onto the next rock, using my extra limbs to land safely. I then helped him cross again. The olm rose from the depths of the lake once again, and I lashed at it with one of my tentacles, hitting it on the snout and forcing it to dive underwater again. We kept working our way back towards the other side of the lake, slipping and sliding as we went. The water surrounding us seemed to hum with unrestrained energy, the white salamander’s tail whipping up waves and splashing around. We were finally getting close to solid ground again, or at least it looked like we were for a moment. That’s when the creature took a massive leap, draping itself over the final stepping stone, effectively blocking our path.
“Shit,” Eli hissed beside me as we came to a skittering halt.
I’d have to try and fight this thing. There was no way around it now. I clenched my sweat-laced palms into fist, trying to slow my rapid, shallow breaths. I can do this,
I said to myself. All I’d have to do is send it back into the lake for long enough so we could run back into the tunnel. There was no way the olm would fit through the passage—once we were in there, we’d be relatively safe. I stared at the dripping, writhing animal; stared at its bared needle teeth, and the less hopeful, more realistic part of my brain told me that I would, indeed, probably not be able to do this. Just as I was contemplating the degree of our screwed-ness, an unseen someone called out from behind us. I didn’t understand a word they were saying, but I recognized the language, and more importantly, the voice.
It was bright as a bell, girlish but with a rough, warm edge. Even before I could turn to face her, I knew who it was.
The gigantic amphibian perked up at the sound, lowering its head and withdrawing into the murky depths with a splash. Elijah Carter let go of a long-held breath, dropping his shoulders before tensing up again, realization setting in. He shot me a look of utter disbelief.
“Wow,” the newcomer spoke up again, this time not in the tongue of the deep ones. “You two have to be actually crazy or something to show up here.” X 1 2: deadbeat roommate 3: creepy crush 4: relocation 5: beach concert 6: First date 7: Temp work 8: roommate talk 9: a dismal worldview 10: warehouse 11: staircase 12: explanation 13: hurt 14: hospital 15: ocean 16: diner 17: government work 18: something in the caves 19: shopping cart
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2023.06.01 00:40 Gloomius The Long War's Newcomers; Dracula's Trial: Persona Non Grata (Chapter 5)
This one took longer to get out, not because it was a harder chapter for me to write or anything like that, but because I forgot to post and was busy writing the main story anyways. Challenge me on that, I dare you.
Nothing else really to say. Join the discord. Previous
Fries dragged himself towards the LZs, hoping that someone had somehow waited for him. He could see the area where the dropship had been landed and the troops gathered by the amount of insectoid bodies littering the area. Among them, he could see a shattered CEVA helmet on the ground, the operator or suit nowhere nearby.
He approached slowly, keeping his rifle up and trained on the bodies if they got back up. He went straight for the helmet, picking it up and inspecting it once he reached it. There was a hole in the faceplate and no exit wound, though there was blood, skull fragmentation, and brain matter on both the back of the helmet and faceplate.
“Shit…” Fries muttered, shaking his head as he set the helmet down. He was about to check the area more when his audio sensors picked up hissing in the air.
Fries dove for cover behind the body of one of the insectoids, being sure to cover the breach in his suit. While the mechanical pressurization of the main suit hadn’t been compromised, a blast to the flesh could still prove fatal to the ODST.
He waited for an impact that never came, and instead watched as two Kxa’vara transports flew overhead.
“Well, that ain’t somethin’ we were briefed on…” He mused to himself, standing up and starting to run in the direction he had watched the craft go in. He slung his rifle onto his back and turned up the mechanical assistance in the suit, allowing him to run at an incredible speed for an incredibly long period of time.
He followed in the direction of the craft for what felt like an hour, the suit feeding him nearly pure oxygen to continue at the pace he was at, until he suddenly stopped upon seeing where the two craft were hovering. In the side of a rock face a kilometer or two out that extended around 150 feet into there air, he could make out clay and rock “houses” either carved out of the rock or built up with the clay. He used the suit’s zoom function to scope the place out. Outside of the houses though, Fries couldn’t see anybody or anything. The two ships hovered above it, but there was nothing moving around.
Finally thinking he had enough information, Fries attached a suppressor to his rifle and started moving forward. He had barely gotten four steps forward when he saw more of the insectoid creatures. They were out at the “houses” trying to climb up and reach the dropship. He could make out the tracings of kinetic-plasma fire. He started running towards the “town” before he noticed six or so of the bugs coming towards him.
Without hesitation this time, he raised his rifle and cut them apart, their hard carapaces completely ineffective against the armor-penetrating 4.5x49mm rounds from the ODST’s weapon. He continued forward, reloading his rifle and checking his underbarrel launcher for a round. He wasn’t sure what his plan was, but it involved something with a Kxa’vara ship.
He had run about 100 meters before the next batch of bugs came at him, this time much closer than beforehand. The first one immediately lunged at him and caught his right arm’s utility spike to the skull, going limp as soon as he removed the spike from the skull. The next two creatures caught .388 SP pistol rounds to their heads as they approached, Fries opting to leave his rifle for later engagements. The last one also jumped at him, but was caught by the ODST mid air, slammed onto the ground, and had its head stomped in by a boot.
Fries exhaled sharply while looking at his handiwork before quickly running off in the same direction again, this time at a much faster pace than before. It only took him a few minutes to be within 200 meters of the two craft, which had seemingly not noticed him, despite the ever-growing horde of bugs behind him.
It looked as if there was a closed entrance to the “town”, mainly as there was a large gate surrounded by twenty-foot rock faces. He quickly looked behind him to see where the horde was before he gritted his teeth and jumped, firing his jumpjets as he leapt up. He extended his spike and jammed it into the wall, settling his feet into cracks and divots before pushing off again and firing the jumpjets again. He repeated this process a few times before making it to the top and climbing up to look at the situation.
The two transports were hovering about forty meters away, above the residence area and dumping fire into the bugs below them. He could see right away that Kinetic-Plasma was much less useful against the bugs than his bullets, but they also had infinitely more bullets to fire than he did.
With some semblance of a plan starting to come together in his head, he pulled a disruptor grenade off of his kit and armed it, having the suit start to calculate where he’d have to throw it to hit the first ship. As soon as it was locked in, the suit took complete control over his arm, waiting for Fries’ signal.
He let the suit do its thing and watched as the disruptor grenade flew through the air towards the craft. He regained control of his arm and brought his rifle up, bringing his right arm to the trigger of the underbarrel launcher. As soon as he watched the grenade flash away the enemy’s shields, he fired a 40mm grenade at the gravitational stabilizer he could see. The side of the craft was engulfed in smoke as the HEDP round exploded on contact with the ship’s hull.
Almost immediately, the ship listed to the side, unable to maintain attitude control from the loss of the stabilizer. Fries immediately switched targets and began thinking of what to do for the other transport. His rangefinder gave the range as 43 meters, and Fries’ mind immediately went to a “solution”.
He had another 71 meters per second of fuel left, around eight seconds of hover time in this gravity, or just around enough to get him into the craft.
Taking a deep breath, Fries took a runup before jumping off the ledge he was on and fired the jumpjets, accelerating himself towards the transport. He knew that the energy shields would stop bullets, but they wouldn’t stop him. He extended his utility spike and cranked the arm back, preparing to jam it into the ship’s hull. As soon as he hit the side, he stabbed his arm in, the spike piercing all the way through until his fist hit the craft. He quickly pulled his handgun out and aimed towards the opened door to his right. Surprisingly, nobody came to look at him, as they were too surprised to watch their comrades’ craft go down.
Without warning, the ship tilted over and flew over to support the downed aircraft as insectoid creatures swarmed towards it. Fries sank in closer to the craft as they moved, trying to make sure he was able to stay onboard. It quickly leveled out over the wreck, the gunners at the doors opening up on the approaching horde. The ODST spared no time and crawled along the hull towards the door, the distance seeming an incredibly long 6 feet away. Using his spike and the “hand”holds on the craft, he made it to a point where he could leave his left arm spiked in and still lean into the cabin.
There were two Vakasi on mounted guns firing out of the door opposite him. In the cockpit, a Volaxin and Jokall sat at the sticks, the latter’s scaled, bat-like wings stopping him from seeing further in. He had just drawn his handgun to shoot at the two gunners when he heard one of the pilots yell out, his shields immediately flaring up as a few rounds from the Volaxin’s KP handgun impacted him.
Recognizing the immediate threat, Fries put a bullet into the skull of the pilot. He took note of the bullet tearing its way through his skull and out the glass cockpit as he leaned in further, using the remaining fuel in his jumpjets to give him enough force to remove his left arm from the hull and push into the cabin.
Neither of the two Vakasi had enough time to turn around and raise their weapons before Fries had kicked the first one out, immediately turning on the other one and putting a bullet into his chest/neck carapace. His shields flared again as another round struck him. He quickly whipped around, ducking to the side and raising his pistol towards the cockpit.
The HUD quickly flashed a 46% warning as a few more KP rounds passed nearby the ODST, initiating the shield sensors.
He fired a few rounds at where he assumed the Jokall was, the bullets failing to penetrate the metal wall separating the cabin from the cockpit. Knowing that neither of them could currently shoot each other with the weapons they had out without coming through the door gap, he holstered his pistol and raised his rifle, aiming at the same spot on the metal wall as before. He fired six times into it, knowing he had successfully penetrated the wall when the ship suddenly listed forward. Quickly moving into the cockpit, he pulled the nearest body away from the controls and off their chair, immediately putting himself in control.
Unlike what he was hoping for, it wasn’t controlled by a joystick, but instead a floating sphere. It had holes in it like a bowling ball and glowing lines snaking across it, the ODST able to see no reason for them other than aesthetic purposes.
He grabbed onto the sphere and pulled back, failing to do anything other than partially pull the sphere out of the “gravity track” it was in. He attempted to pull up by rotating the ball towards himself, immediately causing the craft to snap its nose up to almost the exact degree he had just rotated the sphere to at incredible speeds.
He let out a small yelp as he started to rapidly lose altitude, the engines seemingly powered off suddenly.
He rotated the ball again, trying to level the craft out, but wound up tilting too far to the side. The sudden shift caused him to lose grip on the ball and brush one of the lines on it. The craft immediately accelerated towards where the nose was pointing; just below the horizon. He grabbed hold of the ball again, now somewhat having an idea of what to do.
He was about to start angling the craft when the starboard side caught something and threw him out of the seat, twisting the craft out of position and sending it to the ground. Fries had already curled himself into a ball as much as the ECS would allow, the suit’s thick armor keeping him from getting as tight as he wanted to be.
He uncurled and stood before the craft had even come to a stop, trying to find a good standing position to fight from while standing on the side of the glass canopy of the transport. Clearly, the craft had stayed on its side during the crash. He brought his rifle to his shoulder and started moving towards the door.
Almost immediately he could hear the skittering of legs on metal, and two of the smaller insectoids dropped into the cabin. Wasting no time, he brought the rifle up and shot them, moving out of the cockpit and pulling himself out of the cabin and on top of the craft.
He looked around and froze up, immediately seeing that the craft was surrounded by insectoids. In front of him, two large bugs looked at him. They towered above everything else, being an easy 12 feet in height.
While he was trying to think of his next course of action, he realized that the bugs were not advancing on him. They were all holding around 30 meters out from the wreck.
“Well? Come on then!” He yelled out, putting a fresh magazine into his rifle.
Still, the creatures didn’t move. He kept his eyes on the big ones, waiting to see if they would make the first move.
“Computer, recharge shielding. Prepare to use shields to counter direct hand-to-hand impacts.” He whispered in his helmet, using the time they were paused to ready himself for one final engagement.
He almost opened fire as he saw the two big creatures shift. However, they moved off to the side instead of towards him, though none of the smaller ones did anything. He was trying to gauge what they were doing when he noticed a creature, one he would hesitate to call “humanoid” but definitely bipedal, tentatively approaching past the big creatures.
It was still some thirty meters away when the ODST zeroed his rifle onto it. He restrained himself from pulling the trigger, but instead used his suit’s imaging systems to get a better look at the creature.
Surprisingly, it was very familiar in a vague part of his mind. Though he was sure he hadn’t seen one of these before, something told him that it was very familiar.
“Computer… bring up helmetcam footage of March 27th, 23:47…” He muttered, trying to pay attention to both the creatures around him and the HUD footage.
He watched through the footage, still keeping his rifle on the slowly approaching creature. He had nearly given up on finding anything and shutting off the video when he noticed something that again nearly made him shoot the creature.
He watched as he entered Zeta Zero, the ship’s main meltdown runaway room, where four CEVA Marines were guarding the door, two inside and two outside. A scientist and a medical officer were also inside, also wearing EVA suits. In the middle of the room, strapped down to a medical bed with metal clamps, was the empath.
The empath was a bit different from the creature now only 20 meters away, but they were most certainly the same creature.
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2023.06.01 00:35 Dismal-Jellyfish A big short in Treasurys? Traders are building up bets around a debt ceiling resolution
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Speculators have been building up a “historically massive” short position in U.S. Treasury futures ahead of what could be $1 trillion of new debt issuance on the heels of a debt-ceiling resolution, according to Macquarie’s sales and trading global macro strategy desk. https://preview.redd.it/7q1m4idoba3b1.png?width=905&format=png&auto=webp&s=e72aec2dec4818df0d80f0c32263aba593f4d93e
Bond speculators have been taking up a large number of short positions in 2-year, 5-year and 10-year Treasury futures TY00, -0.05% (see chart), according to the Macquarie team, which pinpointed the combined tally of contracts at nearly 3 million as of late May, or the most since 2000.
The buildup matters because much of Wall Street has been focused on the brief spike in yields on some Treasury bills due in early June to above 7%, or climbing U.S. sovereign CDS spreads as the U.S. teetered toward the brink of a default.
But Macquarie’s team thinks the more important development tied to the debt-ceiling fight has been the significant number of wagers in Treasury futures in the past three weeks.
A look at Commodity Futures Trading Commission data shows an explosion of speculation taking hold in Treasury futures, which Macquarie’s team led by Thierry Wizman pegged as the biggest buildup in short interest in 10-year Treasury futures since 2000. So has been the combined short interest in 2-year, 5-year and 10-year futures.
Short bets are a wager that prices for a stock or bond will fall. Since bond prices and yields move in the opposite direction, fixed-income speculators would be focused on the potential for yields to climb when new Treasury supply outstrips demand.
The Macquarie team said the heavy positioning likely reflect traders “attempting to hedge away or sidestep the inevitable issuance of new bonds,” in a Wednesday trading desk note.
Positioning for a flood
Like others on Wall Street, Macquarie’s team expects heavy U.S. Treasury issuance of $500 billion to $1 trillion over the next few weeks or months, once the debt-limit deal is written into law.
“Markets are trying to get ahead of that as much a s possible,” said George Catrambone, head of fixed income and head of trading at DWS Group, in a phone interview Wednesday, adding that some investors are factoring in higher Treasury yields.
“But I don’t think anyone is quite sure where the demand is going to be,” he said.
Catrambone also said it’s hard to pin any single rationale to open futures contracts. He pointed to other “crosscurrents” at play in markets, including that Congress still has yet to do its part to increase the debt-ceiling.
Investors also aren’t clear on the path lower for inflation to the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual target, he said, or about the mixed signals from Federal Reserve officials on if there will be another rate hike in June, or a pause.
What’s more, the Treasury might consider getting creative to keep markets on an even keel, including by issuing 5-month bills or other maturities that suit investor needs, Catrambone said.
How it could backfire
Wizman’s team at Macquarie thinks there’s potential for short positions in Treasury futures to backfire if a flood of issuance from a debt-ceiling increase doesn’t cause Treasury yields to rise.
They pointed out that the 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, 3.647% climbed to about 3.8% in late May from about 3.4% over the past two weeks.
Given the climb, “we’re not convinced that yields can rise further into the issuance of new bonds,” the team said. They also expect “pent-up demand” for Treasury debt to keep yields in check, given the lack of new supply since the $31.4 trillion debt-limit was breached in January.
“So from a technician’s perspective, that’s a setup for a short squeeze that takes the 10-year and 5-year yields back to around 3.5%, with a little help from somedownbeat U.S. data over the next few weeks.”
Treasury yields were mostly lower Wednesday, as were stocks, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.41% down 0.4%, the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.61% off 0.6% and the Nasdaq Composite Index down 0.6%, according to FactSet.
The 10-year Treasury was at 3.636% at the end of May, booking its biggest monthly yield climb since February, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
- A bunch of Wall Street gamblers have made a historically hefty bet against U.S. Treasury futures, with new debt issuance looming large - sounds familiar, huh?
- Poking the Bear: They've got nearly 3 million short positions on 2, 5, and 10-year futures, the biggest pile-on since Y2K. I guess they're expecting bond yields to climb when the new supply drops.
- Why You Should Care: Now, some are watching the spike in yields and the U.S. flirtation with default but Macquarie's team reckons the real game-changer is this swell of Treasury futures shorts.
- Riding the Wave: This could be traders trying to "hedge away" or dodge the flood of new bonds coming our way - between $500 billion to $1 trillion worth, once the debt-limit deal is law.
- The Plot Twist: But what if the yields don't climb as expected?
- We might be staring at a short squeeze in the Treasury market, driving 10-year and 5-year yields back to around 3.5%.
BONUS, Remember everyone is SHITTING on hedge funds right now: https://preview.redd.it/y8fmxhetca3b1.png?width=606&format=png&auto=webp&s=4032c096b372a8ff624bd32f5333c2bb88546738 https://preview.redd.it/j3yd0aavca3b1.png?width=608&format=png&auto=webp&s=527ffb878842d511755040cfbc78c7c40e653f4d https://preview.redd.it/tpz4ho7yca3b1.png?width=610&format=png&auto=webp&s=09cac610c19ca0518023146dad6415f10189f3d6 \"Staff at FSOC member agencies have been working to improve monitoring systems to identify potential emerging financial stability risks posed by highly-leveraged hedge funds. Work in this regard has been focused primarily on common, broad practices and activities, rather than on individual institutions. For example, based on a recent pilot data collection, a significant share of bilateral repo transactions collateralized by Treasury securities – a key source of hedge fund leverage – appear to be traded with zero haircuts.\" https://preview.redd.it/iyepqym2da3b1.png?width=607&format=png&auto=webp&s=caf2bb261e3e1ad8b5df60c9b299dc492dc86691 https://preview.redd.it/84n9mbt7da3b1.png?width=610&format=png&auto=webp&s=840cb42e3a5ec756fd01a0cf1d0a00919586bf24
I am glad under secretary for domestic finance Nellie Liang brought up clearinghouses!
Gary the other day
"It does concern me that retail investors were shut out at a fateful time, but again, there's a balance, they had to protect the clearinghouse as well."
- Gary Gensler, SEC Chairman.
Jessica Wachter Chief Economist SEC:
"The proposed amendments would require that the clearing agency mark positions to market at least daily, monitor risk on an ongoing basis & have the capability to collect margin depending on changes in clearinghouse conditions, such as a breach of risk capacity"
"the proposed amendments to this rule would require that a covered clearing agency’s risk-based margin system monitor intraday exposure on an ongoing basis and include the authority and operational capacity to make intraday margin calls as frequently as circumstances warrant"
Haoxiang Zhu Director Division of Trading on proposed SEC changes:
"The changes would provide that the margin system must monitor intraday exposure and further specify the circumstances in which a covered clearing agency must have the authority and operational capacity to make intraday margin calls"
SEC Commissioner Crenshaw:
"Margin calls are sometimes pointed to as a source of procyclicality" "This change ensures that covered clearing agencies are aware of intraday exposures that may arise, rather than potentially remaining unaware of them and delaying any ability to react until end of day."
2023.06.01 00:31 Jay2KWinger Account of a Parley
The little cluster of rocks wasn't much, but the cabling and paneling and sundries that had lashed them all together marked them as being a part of the asteroid belt known as the Reef. It was a nest of scum, the sorts that had been banned or kicked out of the Tangled Shore, that even The Spider didn't want to associate with. Because it was where the worst sorts filtered down to, the locals called the area "The Trench." Awoken enforcers never went near it, unless they had numbers and firepower at their backs.
In recent months, the Trench had become more crowded. Ships of all stripes had parked around it-- Eliksni ketches and Cabal cruisers, Awoken galliots and Arcadian shuttles. The makes meant little, as they were frequently stolen. The livery and banners they flew all varied, but there were two specific ones worth noting. One was blue and bore a sigil of a broken sword stabbed into a stylized crown, the other black and portrayed a stylized Eliksni skull with an upper jaw full of jagged teeth. The banners of House Salvation and the pirate lord Gresdin Sawtooth.
A skiff dropped out of a short-range jump and docked itself between a sloop and a cobbled-together transport, both of which had their old livery scored and scratched away. As the skiff's captain disembarked, he could see that crews were already at work painting Sawtooth's standard onto them. A vandal stepped out in front of him, crashing into him, but the vandal took one look and thought better of finishing their scowl, instead scuttling away to another ship.
Similar reactions followed, even from a few of the Legionless Cabal that plodded the walkways of the Trench. But soon enough, the skiff captain approached the Trench's topmost suite of cabins. Two Eliksni guards glared at him, but he stared them down in kind, until one turned and barked into the cabin, "Tell them the Technomancer's back."
But the Technomancer-- a Fallen reaver named Bansiks-- raised his bulky mechanical arm and shoved the two House Salvation Elites out of his way as he barged into the cabin. His synthesized voice rasped as he approached the high table. "Lord Gresdin," he called.
Several other figures were clustered around the table, turning toward him as he approached. One was just Kalsek, one of Gresdin's lieutenants, bristling with indignation-- but not just from Bansiks's interruption, the Technomancer could tell. Kalsek was more angry about the two interlopers at the table. Both were Eliksni, and one towered over all present at the table, wearing scarred armor and clutched in his lower hands was a heavily modified forge hammer, the head of which glowed with Scorch energy. He stood behind an older Eliksni seated at the table, but Bansiks could see the lightly-armored elder's own scarred body beneath the faded, priestly robes he wore. Both wore the blue banner of House Salvation.
He knew them both by reputation. The giant was, despite his size, the lesser of the two, a retainer to the elder. One of the many outcasts of the scattered House of Scars, he had become a reaver in his way, taking part in pirate raids and eventually seeking more glory for himself in the Last Attempt at conquering the human City. He had been captured along with many others and languished in the Prison of Elders, but had escaped along with so many others when the Prison had fallen, and eventually came to House Salvation, eager to smash the wretches that had defeated his people and imprisoned him. But in the end, Brekkis the Breaker was simply a brute to his core.
On the other hand, the elder, Morsik, was a former archon of a lesser House that had long ago fractured and fallen apart, one who had suffered much abuse in the time since, but largely at the hands of Lightbearers and the Reef folk. Drawn to Eramis by the promise of a reborn Riis, he had become a very effective recruiter for his new House, speaking in an almost hypnotic fashion as he whipped up the furor and fervor for revenge against the Lights for the pain they'd all experienced. It worked so well, it was little wonder why they called him the Demagogue.
Seated at the midle of the table, opposite the entry to the chamber, was a broad-shouldered, barrel-chested Eliksni. A bandolier strapped across his chest had several Shock pistols at hand, and though they were blocked by the table, Bansiks knew there was an array of swords and knives and similar bladed weaponry around his waist. His Ether-mask had a twice-bifurcated crest, two flanges of which twisted forward and down, almost like tusks, while the other two were bent into horns. The front of his mask had its grill wrought to resemble a mouthful of jagged fangs. He wore his own black standard, with one upper hand resting on the grip of his namesake sword, a zweihander with a jagged edge. Gresdin Sawtooth, pirate lord of the Trench, looked up at him.
"Bansiks," Gresdin acknowledged. But then he turned back to the House Salvation envoys. "For all she demands of me and mine, Eramis could not come herself, and sends you instead?"
"Eramiskel," Brekkis growled.
But the pirate lord slapped his palm on the table. "Not my Kell," he snarled back. "She disrespects me like this, she does not get that wisp of respect from me in turn."
The brute glowered down at him. "No one--"
"No one sends a thug like you unless they're trying to send a message," Gresdin interrupted. He turned his gaze instead to Morsik, dismissing the retainer immediately. "The Shipstealer expects much from me, and all the other crews that berth in my Trench." A rasping snarl rattled in his throat. "Running down and looking for old relics, but what does she offer in return? A vague threat that we will be allowed to live?"
"Eramiskel has been given purpose." Morsik's voice was soft, quiet, the kind that forced the listener to strain to hear, and to thus better absorb his words. "To revisit the pain our people have suffered upon those who inflicted it."
"Lightbearers," Brekkis snarled.
"You know better than others, Lord Gresdin," the Demagogue continued, "that our people are plagued by weakness. Those with the means to lift us up simply won't make the decisions necessary to shape a place for us to live. No one, apart from Eramiskel."
"She wants trinkets that grant their bearers power," Bansiks rumbled, and raised a relic in his hand, setting it on the table in front of the pirate lord. "Iriks is dead," he told him. Brekkis made a move to reach for the lantern-like relic, but the Technomancer's bulky synthetic arm twitched up and extruded a blade that touched the brute's throat. "That's not for you."
Morsik's expression did not change, but there was the impression of a frown. "Eramiskel has asked for the relics."
"This is not the new Riis that Eramis ruled," Gresdin picked up the relic and passed it to Kalsek. "You are in the Trench, and this is my domain. Not even the Lightbearers dare come here. What makes you think you can make demands of me?"
The Demagogue placed two hands on the table as he ponderously rose, his scarred, aged body trembling some as he did so. Brekkis moved to assist him, but Morsik waved him off. The elder Eliksni stood with an almost regal air, and then slapped a hand down on the table. Cobalt blue ice crystals rippled outward from where he struck, spreading across the table, and then the floor, flash-freezing Kalsek in place, relic included. As the pirate lord bellowed in fury, Brekkis slapped aside Bansiks's blade and grabbed him by the throat.
"You think you have power," Morsik murmurred, as he lifted his hand, letting the pirate see the Splinter embedded in the gauntlet he wore. "But you do not. And there is a power beyond even this, which eclipses even the Light."
To the former archon's surprise, however, Gresdin began laughing. "Your House kneels to the Black Gale. But the Gale is not here--"
At which point, red SIVA clouds snaked out of Bansiks's gauntlet, winding around Brekkis and pinning him to the floor with hardened cables of metal. As this happened, the Technomancer raised his synthetic arm and the blade unfolded as the barrel of a cannon emerged from it. Morsik stared this down, raising his hands carefully. The Stasis crystals receded, Kalsek staggering as he was freed, and Gresdin arose from his chair, hefting his namesake sword to one shoulder with a speed that belied its weight.
"--and Gresdin Sawtooth bows to no one."
Morsik inclined his head thoughtfully. "How would you like to strike down the Reef folk?"
The Lord of the Trench paused, lowering his sword briefly, though not fully. "Explain."
"The man-folk and their Lightbearers have plagued our people since the moment we first reached this star. But only one of their Houses has ever enslaved Eliksni." The Demagogue spread his hands. "The House of Sov." Gresdin stared him down, but then glanced at Bansiks, gesturing subtly with a spare hand. The Technomancer lowered his cannon, but left Brekkis pinned under SIVA tendrils. With a nod, Morsik continued, "The apologists will say the broken Weavers swore oaths, but oaths made under duress are not binding, as they proved later when they rebelled."
"A rebellion that got them all killed," Kalsek pointed out.
"Because the man-folk will never let Eliksni live unless they kneel to their Lightbearers and to the Traitor Machine," Morsik spat. "If we start to rise back up, they send their ghouls to slaughter us."
Gresdin grunted again. "No one dares attack the Trench. Even the Lightbearers stay away." But he looked over as Bansiks shook his head.
"The Lightbearers have pirate hunters now," he reported. "Not only have they taken out several of the ketchkilers, they are hunting relics like that," he indicated the lantern in Kalsek's hands.
Gresdin chewed on that thought for a moment before Morsik folded his lower hands over his belly, the other set behind his back. "The relics have power. The old crews knew this." He eyed the pirate lord. "You broke from your House because your Kell was weak. House Blades was renowned for its prowess in battle, but Yovariskel had been too cautious to join the Last Attempt, and Koussakskel is too cowardly to seek the glory you crave. You earned your place as Lord of the Trench as befits your old House's ways.
"You have supporters in House Blades," Morsik continued. "They grumble and whisper and want their glories, but Koussakskel holds them back. A bold move on your part-- scouring the Reef of House Sov-- would galvanize them. They would flock to your banner. And Eramiskel would honor your deeds, and offer you pride of place as High Baron in her House, as admiral of Salvation's ketch fleet."
The pirate lord mulled this over, while Kalsek argued, "Why should Lord Gresdin lower himself to serve a kell who failed her House? The Lights defeated her, her House was scattered." But the expression on Gresdin's face told that he'd already taken the bait, and now the Demagogue just needed to reel him in.
"Perhaps her House had been weak," Morsik suggested. "And with you at her side to assure the strength of her followers..."
Bansiks looked at Gresdin, who regarded the elder with a long stare. Then, with a ponderous move, he planted the end of his jagged zweihander on the floor, and nodded to the cyborg Eliksni. The Technomancer stepped back from Brekkis as the cabling binding him down dissolved back into clouds of nanites, which withdrew into the tanks on his back.
"Then let us speak," Gresdin Sawtooth smiled, "of what your Kell will do for me."
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2023.06.01 00:24 Reptani Pray the Conquistadores, Ch. 13: Broken Puppet
Next Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly.
— Langston Hughes Catalogue Description Self-Monitoring Behavioural Management Report: Casimir Szymański, Scazim Institute of Science and Technology - English Translation Date: 15 Summer-2 3429 (Standard Parimthian Calendar) November 23rd, 2162 (Gregorian Calendar) Held by: The UK National Archives, Kew Legal status: Public Record(s)
My father worshipped a fabricated, pagan prophet.
The Senghavi of the Parimthian Empire are principally joined under the ditheistic religion called Siedi, which I do not subscribe to. Of course, the Senghavi's literature, art, and faith flooded the whole of Earth upon their arrival a century ago. From this ocean of civilised culture, my degenerate species drew a sample, claimed it as our own, and polluted it with a distorted, appropriated, dumbed-down doctrine.
The central figure in this corrupt sample of Siedi was a man whom my father called Jesus Christ. He was said to have offered himself as a sacrifice that could be made to a single God. It was a final sacrifice, one beyond lambs or cattle or people. One that would atone for humanity's sins, so that we could have the free choice between the eternal presence of God and the eternal absence of "Him."
My father dressed himself in black, with a standing collar whose white fabric was exposed at the centre. That much, I could recall. He preached to hopeful humans in what was called a church,
though I did not know what he was preaching. At the very least, my childhood is fuzzy in that regard.
The pain that throbbed through my skull, after the blonde savage had slammed my head against the ridges of the airlock, faded into the background. I could not focus; perhaps, I thought, one of their improvised explosives had gone off by accident. There was blue Senghavi blood staining my dress shirt. The rush of air escaping into vacuum pierced my ears.
Perhaps it was thirst of water, which binds most sapient beings—the Sons of Liberty had reached an agreement with the Colonial Defence Force to allow spacecraft delivering food, water, and medical aid, only to unleash the anti-collision lasers of this cursed spaceliner upon those very ships.
Or perhaps it was the explosion, as I initially thought, an inadvertent complication which had wrought injury and death over my countrymen, and which had forced the terrorist savages to attempt to patch up the many hull breaches left by debris.
Or perhaps it was simply the stress of betraying, in my desperate efforts to save everyone from this senseless violence, the greatest secret of the Senghavi Terrans: our antimatter research. Word of it had likely been forwarded already, hundreds of light-years away, to that pink-hued marble which was Parimth itself.
Or perhaps it was all three; thirst, explosion, and stress. In any case, my mind shut it all out, and something lost from my childhood flashed before me: We're standing on the cracked street of the Vennec Human Reservation. In the distance, the Senghavi's white, glassy spires reach above the clouds, their accents of luminescence dim in the broad daylight. I hold a ball in my palm. It's wrapped in white leather held together with red stitching. I toss it to Dad. Instead of his clerical uniform, he wears the normal "T-shirt" and "cargo shorts." Along with the clerical getup, they are just two of the many sorts of clothing which the Senghavi have invented for humanity. I toss the ball to Dad, and he swings a primitive wooden bat. The ball goes soaring, further than he meant to. He jogs down the road to retrieve it, then gives me the wooden bat. The breeze ruffles his hair just as he ruffles mine with his hand. "Now, you try," he says. "It's just practice, that's all." For some reason, he lifts one leg in the air, then pitches the ball to me. I swing. The impact of the ball shakes through the wood, and it goes careening off to the left. "I did it!" I yell. "But it went out of bounds." "Heyyyy, that's not bad," Dad says with a reassuring voice. "Good job, just try to go a little more right next time." Mom comes out onto the front porch, the breeze ruffling her dress as she waves to Dad. "Dinner's ready, and Mom's pie is... almost ready." I stare blankly at her until I realise that she is talking about her Mom, Grandma, who is the best at making pumpkin pie. "The pie!" I shout, running and jumping to the front door. "I totally forgot about that!" I am ready to speed my way through dinner just so I can get to dessert, but Dad stops me before my first bite. Of course, I think. We need to say grace. Me, Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa all hold hands, thanking God for our food, and then dig in. But Mom and Dad just talk about work, and I am too focused on finishing my food quickly to pitch in. Finally—Grandma's pie! When you bite into the soft, smooth filling, you can instantly tell it's been made with fresh pumpkins, not the boring canned ones. The taste of cinnamon and spice is balanced out perfectly with the coolness of the whipped cream. The flavour spreads through my tongue and nostrils, filling my entire brain with a feeling of amazing-ness. If I wrote the Simple-Speak Dictionary for Senghavi Terrans, I'd put Grandma's pie next to the translation of "perfection." I should save a slice, I think, for the Senghavi kid. Even though it's only been a week since I met him through the playground fence, we already told each other where we live, and I want to get to know him more. He doesn't live on the Vennec Human Reservation, but his house is just a bike-ride away in Fellye Neighborhood. I wonder if anyone's ever given pumpkin pie to an alien before. Even though humans only invented it fifty years ago, it makes me feel proud of my species! When Mom tucks me into bed, kissing my forehead, I tell her what I'm going to do. "Oh, you wild thing," she coos. "You're so much like your father. And you have his eyes, you know? Just stay safe." "Don't worry, I'll do my best."
>! "Good night. I love you."
>! "I love you, too, Mom," I say. I hug her tightly from my bed, and a warm, fuzzy feeling blossoms within me. I can hardly fall asleep in my excitement.
!< Luckily, Fellye Neighborhood doesn't take apartheid that seriously, and I don't think anybody cares about an eight year-old human riding his bicycle around the gates. Next evening, I do just that, peddling out of the Reservation's entrance into the violet dusk. When I get to Mensim's address, I ring the hi-tech front doorbell, and a really tall Senghavi shows up. "Oh, dear," she says in Parimthian. "A barbarian hatchling—by what name do you go?" "I'm Casimir," I say nervously. I don't pay that much attention in school, but I know just enough Parimthian to talk to the Senghavi woman. "Are you Mrs. Munghazi? Is Mensim fe Munghazi here? I got two slices of pie. You can have one, too!" She looks at me suspiciously, antennae twitching. "That would be Teacher Munghazi to you; I know not why you natives invented these odd 'Mister' and 'Missis' honorifics. Hold on—Ghanvati! A native hatchling stands at our doorstep!" Ghanvati must be Mensim's dad. I wonder where his other moms are; only one has shown up to the door. Ghanvati shows up with two of them—they are both shorter and daintier than Teacher Munghazi, their raptorial forelimbs folded shyly against their bodies. In front of the group of three is Mensim, and I involuntarily gasped with excitement. "Mensim!" "This is your new companion?" Ghanvati asks Mensim. Mensim's papery forewings flicker with affirmation. "I met him at school." "What, pray tell, is the point of apartheid if it does not actually keep natives away from Senghavi?" whines one of Ghanvati's wives. Ghanvati's antennae droop as if to say "I don't know," while Mensim lifts my arms, inspecting me like I am a test animal in a mad scientist's laboratory. "How do you guys not get cut all the time?" he asks, tracing his tarsal hairs over my bare skin. "You're so fleshy!" "I do get cut all the time," I giggled. "We just use band-aids. Oh, do you wanna eat a pumpkin pie?" It turned out that pumpkin pie is bad for alien stomachs. Mensim had to go to the bathroom for a long time, and three of his moms got mad at me. When I got back, Dad and Mom were arguing. I snuck close to the back porch, making sure they couldn't hear me. "Yes, they leave some people alone," Dad said. "Obviously, they can't spy on every single human who believes in human religions. But Katarzyna, they still need people to make an example out of, and I don't want to be that person!" "Casimir is a responsible kid," Mom retorts. "I told him he can't tell anyone what you do, and he listens to me." "He's eight years old. You can't just let him wander around aliens with a secret that could have me killed! Or have you killed!" Mom cups Dad's cheek and looks him in the eye. She's a lot shorter than him. "Look, love. You're a great father, and I think it's amazing that you spend time with him. But you're the only person he talks to. You know just as well as I do that he needs to talk to other kids! It's not healthy; even Teacher Perevvoxath agreed. And now he finally has a friend." Dad sighs, running his hands through his black hair. My hair. "You really think aliens are a substitute for human interaction?"
>! "I think every human needs a person they can talk to, and Casimir found one. If you really care about him, stop preaching for a while! Your church isn't gonna die without you. It'll be okay."
!< The next day, I visit Mensim's house after school again. And the next day after that, and the next after that. His dad Ghanvati is formally named Engineer Munghazi. I am to call his moms Teacher Munghazi, Teacher Munghazi, Teacher Munghazi, Accountant Munghazi, Priestess Munghazi, Doctor Munghazi, and Maidservant Munghazi. A couple weeks later, Mensim and I are lounging together on his couch, watching a Parimthian war movie. The main characters are fighting against the evil forces of the Imperium of Orion. Under his head capsule, Mensim is munching something called Synth-Fruit, which is imported from a faraway planet called Mryi. I eat Pop-Tarts, which I'm pretty sure are toxic to him. "Come on, just give me one," Mensim exclaims, reaching over to steal the sweet snacks from me. "It can't be that bad!" I lift the Pop-Tarts away from him, laughing. "Stoppit, you're attacking me! Pay attention to the movie, or I'm gonna shoot you!" "But I just want one..." "It's gonna poison you, and you're gonna get your weird alien throw-up all over me!" Priestess Munghazi, the oldest of his moms, bursts into the living room, her jewellery clinking over her clerical cape. "Your sister conveyed to me quite the disturbing piece of news, Mensim," Priestess Munghazi cries. "The father of Casimir is a priest of a most barbarous and evil perversion of the Siedi faith. Ghanvati and I spoke, and we agreed that you are not to consort with this primitive, pagan savage any longer." I drop my crumbly Pop-Tart on the couch, confused at the sudden order. "But Priestess Munghazi, I'm not dangerous or evil. I'm just a kid." "Nonsense! You are dangerous; your father is a barbarian worshipper of this evil, primate paganism that is called Christianity, and a most woeful effect is begot that even self-respecting Senghavi have 'gone native,' as they say. Mensim, if you continue to consort with this native spawn, I will be impelled to inform the Siedi Court, and they may by chance see to it that he is executed!" "W-Wait!" Mensim says, holding up the remote to pause our movie. He gets off of me, suddenly losing interest in my Pop-Tart, his vestigial forewings rising with concern. "Please, Mother. I promise he won't be any trouble." My blood runs cold. Dad, executed? Just because what he believes in isn't "civilised" enough? Actually, I thought that Mom told him to stop preaching for a while. Mensim scrambles to *his father's sleeping quarters, and I trail frantically after him.* "Father," Mensim says. "Is Casimir's father's job so ghastly that he should be executed by the Siedi Court?" "We can't just let the natives spread the same barbarous religions that they used to kill each other," Ghanvati replies, his secondary arms clasped together. "It's a threat to safe, moral society. Priestess Munghazi told me his father spreads evil and paganism. I have no reason not to trust the oldest of your mothers." "But Casimir's my best friend! If you tell the Siedi Court about his father, I'll... I'll run away! I'll hate you!" Distressed vibrations emanate through the floor beneath my feet; Mensim's antennae and papery forewings and hindwings go limp. Something like lilies and the earthy scent of rain fills the air. "My dearest Mensim," Ghanvati says softly, dipping his head capsule with compassion. "I will hold off, just this once. It would be apt of you not to cause me to reconsider." "T-thank you, Engineer Munghazi," I say, wiping my own tears. "My dad's not a bad person, I promise." After confronting his dad, Mensim and I keep on watching movies and playing digital games. He always wins when we wrestle, but I still haven't given up (even though Priestess Munghazi always tells us to stop roughhousing). I even bring my Lego pieces to his house. He doesn't know what Legos are, but later, in his sleeping quarters, we build together. He makes a cool-looking spaceship that he calls a "negative energy generator." "Hey, you took all the cool black and grey pieces," I complain. "Now I can't finish my army base!" "This is cooler than your army base," Mensim says proudly. "Father used to work in one. It uses the superposition of squeezed vacuum states to produce a field of negative energy density." "I have no idea what that means, but that sounds really smart." "No kidding! It's how people make wormholes and fly all the way to other stars." "Well, my army guys could beat your negative energy-thingy. They have machine guns." "My guys could just fly a [~million billion trillion kilometres] away, and yours can't do anything about it!" "Then your guys are wimps. But my guys aren't. Because they're the Army!"
>! We also explore the pine forest in his backyard. Within just two more weeks, we have uncovered all sorts of interesting things, like a piece of a real human skull. One time, we found a human foot sculpted and smoothed out of stone—who would make such a thing?—and a dead metal device with the icon of a bitten-out-of apple printed on it.
!< There were also other human body parts made out of ancient stone, too: the cracked half of a man's face buried a foot deep, a muscly arm sticking out of the soil. Even a private part, which I snickered at, though Mensim seemed unfazed. There is something else we start to do. My parents have given me "the talk," and Mensim told me that his parents gave him the Senghavi version of it. And so even as we talk and play in the woods, we experiment—because we are curious, and why should we not be? A fragment of a memory in the forest; Mensim's raptorial forelimbs are set on my shoulders as his compound eyes look into my primate eyes, and he says, "You cannot tell anyone about this. Anyone. Absolutely no one." I don't know how, but Priestess Munghazi learned of what we were doing, and now she expresses anger and disgust alike, her wings and antennae wild and rigid. Ghanvati is the same. Mensim and I... We're actually making them reconsider their decision not to tell the Siedi Court about my dad. A fragment of a memory... I feel like I am in space, stranded aboard a spaceliner that has been hijacked by terrorists, its atmosphere venting amid a backdrop of violence... But I am not, I am in the forest that Mensim and I talked and played in; I am in Mensim's home, terrified as I am yelled at by Ghanvati, whose compassion no longer shines through, accompanied by Priestess Munghazi. "By the names of the Gods, it's those false, pagan corruptions which humans have named as their religions, that are spouted by your father," Priestess Munghazi spits. I am teary-eyed and snot-nosed from guilt and embarrassment. "How horrid is the link between the state of barbarism and a most revolting and shameful propensity for bizarre and perverted behaviour!" Then I am in my own family's living room, and the mom I love so dearly yells at me, too, but my father is quieter and only seems disappointed. This must be the first time in my life that I have felt true shame, I think; the kind that leaves you with an emptiness inside. Like the whole point of existing just vanished inside of me. The worst part is that I cannot even lean on Mom's shoulder, because she is distressed—because she knows what will happen— "This is all on you, Casimir!" she screeches, tears in her eyes. "All on you!" I remember telling Priestess Munghazi that 'I'm not dangerous or evil; I'm just a kid,' but now I can't be sure anymore. I can tell I am different in the eyes of my family. They are disgusted by me. It is my fault, after all, that Priestess Munghazi tells the Siedi Court of my father's evil, barbaric Christian teachings. The Parimthian soldiers bring my father to the gallows. Their snow-white exoskeletons gleam under a burning sun. They have dressed him in his clerical uniform, and the camera is close enough that I can see his cross necklace. I have been grounded in my room; still, I have a television to see the live broadcast. Hanging works for primates and mantids alike. It happens in the Forum of Movvaeti, the venue for public events in our area, where my father is a lesser criminal compared to the native leaders and Senghavi malcontents who have dissented from Colonial Governor Nieve fe Skellth. He is joined with seven other convicts, three humans and four Senghavi, and their crimes are read to the crowd—blasphemy, paganism, monogamy, witchcraft, seditious libel, insulting the Parimthian Crown, treason against the Parimthian Crown, and refusal to quarter Parimthian soldiers. Why? None of this feels right. Why should my father be killed because of what he says and believes? Why can't these people be judged with fairness, rather than at the whim of some distant space emperor? Not only have I been grounded, but I grow cold without my mother's touch. I want to hold someone's hand while watching Dad lose his life, but nobody is there. Mom brings me food, but she doesn't even look at me. Why can't she look at me? Why can't she speak to me? I just want things to be the way they used to be, when Dad would help me practise hitting a ball with a bat on the street. I watch him turn down a caped, bejewelled priestess of the Siedi faith, who thought she could make my dad accept their Gods before his death. Before a modest crowd of humans and Senghavi alike, all eight of the convicts have their arms and legs bound with rope. I am begging myself to turn the TV off, but I can't bring myself to. The Senghavi executioner uses some kind of hi-tech display to remove the supports from beneath the convicts' feet. My stomach flips over inside of me, a nausea of shame filling my body. I can't deny it any longer. This is my fault—this is why my family avoids me—this is why they are disgusted by me—and Dad falls and his head jerks when the noose goes taut. As he hangs there, I cannot tell for how long he remains alive. My insides are cold. After the broadcast ends, after night falls and I sit in the moonlight spilling faintly through my windows, that is when it all comes out. I sob alone. I scream for Mom to help me and be there for me, but she does not come. Her harsh voice resonates through my memory; this is all on me. I am a disgrace to everyone I love, and that is why they have left me here. Why they avoid me as if I am a disease. The only thing I want is to see Dad again, but he is gone forever. I curl up on my room floor. What is this? What is this loneliness? This stinging hatred I feel against myself? No one, human or mantid, will be there for me. I cry until my throat cannot ache any more harshly, until my eyes cannot sting any more painfully, and then I go cold inside, my body shivering in the moonlight. I retreat into my happy memories with Dad until it is too painful to bear. I wish so dearly I could end it all, to take my own life and join Dad in the heaven that he believed in. There is a belt in my closet that I can use on myself in the way the Siedi Court killed Dad. But beneath the sickly well of shame, the nausea and crushing humiliation at the stupid antics of Mensim and I, with which Mom's brief gaze pierces me—beneath the weight of knowing that I will never fill the torturous vacuum Dad left, knowing that I am a foul and disgusting son to the mother I so desperately need, that I see no end to the infinite river of anxiety and guilt pouring through the hole left in my heart—beneath my isolation and my longing for human touch—something breaks inside of me. An emptiness of purpose. There is no point in going on, and I feel nothing, not even the desire to stop living. There is one exception: A hatred of myself, and of the humans I loved as family. One day, Mom appears in my doorway, and she just stands there. Before, I would've welcomed being offered interaction with her beyond just receiving food, but now I am numb, my eyes all out of tears to cry. "Pack your things," she says, her voice flat. She still doesn't look at me; the eyes she once said I inherited from Dad, she now shuns. "You're going to a residential school." Indigenous Residential Schools; that is what Colonial Governor Nieve fe Skellth calls them, I think. They're for human kids who have trouble letting go of their "savage" roots; kids that the normal schools aren't enough to civilise. Schools that show you how to act Senghavi, to think Senghavi, to... be Senghavi. There was a human kid in normal school whose sister went there, but they said that something had happened to her there; something in that residential school had changed her before she finally returned. But I feel no fear as I pack my clothes into my bags. Every time I look in my bedroom mirror, a violent feeling rushes to my chest, only to dissipate into the hatred-tinged numbness I have grown so used to. Finally, the time comes to depart. In the early morning, I am already aboard the autonomous public transport. It pulls out of the cracked street I once played with Dad in, passing by the entrance of Fellye Neighborhood, driving off into the fiery, violet Terran dawn. I see my faded reflection in the window, and my chest jumps with revulsion. So I look down, fidgeting with my touchpad—then the numbness abruptly leaves, and my tears fall once again. Forgive me for all the redaction, Doctor Morgthax. While I will not disclose what I wrote, you are correct, as always, about the act of writing. There is some semblance of psychological relief in typing one's sullen inner thoughts onto a touchpad. As if one can be heard without being heard.
By the time I drifted back to reality, my mouth and lips dry from dehydration, the hijackers had patched up the holes punched through the hull by the accidental explosion. Plenty of Senghavi passengers were spilling cerulean blood from beneath their exoskeletal coverings; though they were all alive, they needed medical attention.
Two hundred-something Senghavi civilians aboard this luxury spaceliner, and none had yet died. That stroke of luck offered me a glimmer of hope.
Pavok, the child, was emitting vibrations through the floor in his despair, the smell of rain and lilies becoming evident to me. It is starkly fascinating, the evolutionary dissimilarity between how native Terrans and Senghavi Terrans cry.
Those ships were delivering medical aid and critical provisions to the passengers, Commander Lokprel barked, the neutrino signals that encoded his gruff voice coming out from the intercom. Why did you laser them?
"Stop playing games," Jake snapped wearily into his radio. I recalled that his full name was Jacob Weaver, as Commander Lokprel had mentioned. A drop of blood streaked down his face. "We know what you're up to."
Paranoia will get you nowhere, Jacob. If we don't work with each other, you won't survive. We have detected an explosion aboard the spaceliner. Is anyone dead?
"Not yet," Jake growled. "But Fenni Svim will be if your forces keep approaching!"
Fenni Svim—the Senghavi from the Vellir Veneti Physics Lab, against whose skull Jake had pressed his pistol to halt the CDF's initial approach, hours ago—stiffened in her seat. I had never known the nuclear researcher very well before this barbarous event, but I prayed to the Gods of Siedi (whom I do not really believe in) that she would be okay.
Many of the passengers were still being kept by the windows to deter snipers. They included Pavok, behind whom Khadija stood guard.
"Sorry for attacking you," Jake suddenly said to me, his voice worn-out. "It's like Khadija said. The bugs know that humans are strong when they're united. It's why they try to play us against ourselves, to ally with just some of us, to try to make us hate each other; to hate ourselves. It's how they tore the United States apart. Everything they do... It's to make us ashamed of our species, our own culture, to lose hope in the future. If we were united, Casimir... they'd be terrified of us. And make no mistake—we're uniting again."
"E-even if what you say about mankind is true," I croaked, "Our species would not have settled anywhere but Earth. Our culture and history would still have been negligible and primitive, the richness and complexity of the Senghavi, still greater by many orders of magnitude."
"Casimir, did you go to one of the Indigenous Residential Schools?" Khadija asked.
"Y-yes," I managed, dusting off my formal wear and cleaning my glasses. "I was sent to one as a child. They are for those of us savage natives which conventional education could not sufficiently civilise."
Khadija's eyes softened with compassion, and she gestured to my wrist. "I asked because of that code on your wrist. I've heard about some of the things that happen in those places. The cruelty; the abuse."
I glanced at the abstract identification code tattooed onto my skin, faded with time. I hadn't thought about it in ages; it was but a remnant of my childhood, and I never paid it any attention.
"Residential schooling is necessary and proper," I tell her. "It is similar to human-mantid apartheid in its purpose; it keeps the public safe from savagery. "
"If we get out of this alive, I'm gonna take you with me to Russia," she said, wiping sweat from her brow. "Specifically, Moscow. It's where I lived after the fall of Türkiye. Man controls it, not the Senghavi."
I was already aware that a vast, untamed region named Zvorriu-Sai, located in Earth's northeastern quarter-sphere, is called Russia in simple-speak. A decade ago, Nieve fe Skellth had tried to civilise the hunter-gatherers who lived there, but his troops starved and froze in the snow.
It was with the multitude of planetary habitat fabricators that his army had been using that the native primates of Zvorriu-Sai constructed such cities as Moscow or Saint Petersburg.
"Russian civilization goes back over a millennium," Khadija explained. "I don't give a fuck about what the Senghavi have built on this planet; Russian architecture is my favourite, hands down. Anyway, it's the most stable and self-sufficient of the ten countries we've got left. Hard to invade, you know? It's seen better days, but the cities are nice, the economy is good. I think you'll find it's a hell of a lot less 'savage' than whatever the fuck the Parimthian Empire is doing."
To corroborate her claims, she showed me a photo from the gallery of her cracked, dusty touchpad. Before a busy canal, the waters tinted orange by a rising sun, a more relaxed version of her smiled into the camera alongside some human of the phenotype I had seen in the video of Tokyo. Looming over them was an intricate, palatial structure topped with colourful, onion-shaped domes.
"How... quaint," I replied, unsure of what to say, though it ignited dry laughter in Khadija.
"Looks like we got a communiqué from the UN," another hijacker announced, his mask still covering his face. I couldn't place his accent at all. He held up his own touchpad, displaying photos of the Colonial Governor herself—Perellanth fe Sumur—flanked by armed UN military personnel. They were clad in urban camouflage that was marred with blood. The black, plant-like extraterrestrial gazed defeatedly in the sterile lighting.
The UN had captured her! The Crown's decision to appoint a Vire as the leader of a Senghavi colony had been no small event. I was certain that after all the talk of Senghavi Terran independence, then followed by the Colonial Governor's capture, His Imperial Majesty regretted his progressivist decision.
"We... We did it!" Jake exclaimed, his voice disbelieving. "We took down Perellanth!"
You achieved nothing, Commander Lokprel retorted over the intercom. Not beyond the promotion of Benghoviu fe Prim to Acting Colonial Governor. If you kill Governor Sumur, Governor Benghoviu will become the permanent Colonial Governor as per the chain of command, and he will carry on the fine work of his predecessor.
Jake seemed to consider that situation a fair one, and he nodded to himself subtly. "Okay, sure. But if you do nothing, we'll still kill our first hostage."
What I can promise you is that Delegate Essintsya fe Baryn will submit an Act to the Forum of Delegates to recognize the sovereignty of the UN. It will be deliberated over for months, but it is your only realistic option. In return, we demand that you allow the passengers injured by one of your explosives to board CDF medical ships.
I recalled that the Forum of Delegates had voted Benghoviu fe Prim as Vice Colonial Governor just a year ago. And before even that, the Senghavi who lived on Vennec—my home continent on Earth—had popularly elected the ever-prudent Essintsya fe Baryn to the Forum. She was quite the economic liberal, as her sort was called.
Delegate Baryn's statements on the social contract between a people and their government, as well as her rejection that the Parimthian Crown ruled by divine right, had resonated deeply with me.
Jake's eyes hardened, and he turned his radio back on. "I said no games!"
There are no games here, Jacob! We only aim to preserve as much sapient life as possible. And you are out of options.
The hijacker who had shown Colonial Governor Sumur's prison photo gave Jake a withering look. "We're dragging this on, man. I don't want anyone to die."
"Don't talk to me about death, Ramiro. Not after what happened in the US."
The so-called United States of America... called Gholo Vieda in Parimthian. That region was Nieve fe Skellth's last successful conquest before he attempted to take on the vast, snowy expanses of Zvorriu-Sai. I wondered if, like Khadija's experience in Türkiye in the Niethvahi region, Jake had witnessed firsthand the cultural assimilation and political integration of Gholo Vieda into the rest of Parimthian Earth.
The conquest of Gholo Vieda and Niethvahi were the great accomplishments of Perellanth's predecessor, of course; but, in my opinion, the devotion of the (now captured) Perellanth to the causes of liberty, reason, equality, and sapientism far outshadowed anything that Nieve had done. I am certain, however, that the Parimthian Crown disagrees.
In any case, my faith in CDF Commander Lokprel loth Fonvie had not risen. Perhaps that was a good thing; otherwise, I might have regretted betraying the knowledge of antimatter research in order to elicit a more competent Parimthian intervention.
More security forces took up positions around the spaceliner, each ship split sharply into sunlight and shadow amid the black of space. The hijacker called Ramiro pointed to a series of smaller craft, which seemed to be pulling away from the luxury spaceliner. Escape pods!
"Hostages are falling through our fingers," Ramiro said. "We need to do something."
"Go to the rear," Khadija ordered. "Stop anyone else from sneaking out!"
Jake's radio crackled with the voice of someone in the cockpit. We've intercepted a neutrino transmission from the new guy, Benghoviu fe Prim. He's calling for some kind of emergency council at the highest levels in the Parimthian Empire.
I scoffed internally. The Crown would intervene for the sake of investigating all this talk of antimatter, whose alluring utility had hitherto been confined to theory and fiction. But it was doubtful that His Imperial Majesty would agree to an emergency council for the sake of his colonists' security and well-being. As (relatively) progressivist as he was in policy, he was still very much a punitive emperor, not a rewarding one.
"I told the commander to stop advancing—dammit!" Jake spat. "We're only letting medical craft get any closer. Fire at the corvettes!"
Affirmative, his radio crackled. Targets in sight.
The spaceliner's anti-collision lasers flashed against several faraway spacecraft. A succession of oxygen-fueled fires, each lasting for a [~split-second] against the vacuum of space, flared in the distance. Even so, the growing array of naval craft began to close in upon us again, surrounding the spaceliner in every dimension.
Switching again to the neutrino-connected channel, Jake gave a disgusted scowl. "Are you deaf, Commander? If your people keep getting closer, the deal is off!"
The more you fire, the closer we will get, *Lokprel said. *We are just making sure it is safe for the medical craft. As long as you refrain from harming them, we will not hurt you.
The hijacker in the cockpit radioed to Jake again, her voice sounding more alarmed.
We're picking up a massive object on our scanners. It's headed our way.
"How massive are we talking?" Jake asked.
It's... some kind of warship, I think. Over a hundred times our size.
"You're joking, right?"
"A Parimthian spacecraft carrier," murmured a soft, whimpery voice.
It was Fenni Svim again, her praying raptorial forelimbs tucked close in fear.
"The Imperial Parimthian Navy?" I asked. "They're really here?"
"Y-you shouldn't act surprised," Fenni said. "I know you were speaking to someone on the P-Parimthian side. You leaked our greatest secret, Casimir."
"What's she talking about, dude?" Khadija asked. Suspicion of betrayal lingered in her dark eyes. She had believed the lie that I was only calling a loved one when I contacted Mensim, >! who is at present an agent of Parimth!<; she had trusted me, and defended me against Jake's wrath.
I didn't answer. The very reason we needed antimatter was that the colonists' outerspace spanned but a meagre few millionths of the Parimthian Empire's total volume. I did not know what exactly a spacecraft carrier one hundred times the size of our spaceliner could do for the hostages, but it would be far more competent than the comparatively flimsy Colonial Defence Force.
Finally, after so many years of strategic modesty in the administration of the Crown's distant colony, of his Earth, as His Imperial Majesty suffered expense upon expense in countering the Imperium of Orion... Parimth had sent a warship of the Imperial Parimthian Navy, here in full force!
There was no need to inquire as to its distance; I could see it through my window. It was far enough that I could view the whole of its great form. Senghavi architecture, of course, is usually round, white, and glassy, traced with glowing accents; however, the imperial warship was boxy and shadowy black, visible only by the silhouette that it carved into the beaming sun.
Already, dozens of smaller craft—operated by some of the finest Senghavi pilots in the Milky Way—began spilling out from the spacecraft carrier, moving in the shadow of their gargantuan mothership. As even the hostage passengers became aware of its presence, the muted chatter and whimpering, which had been ambient across the aisles of the spaceliner, finally ceased.
Because of me, all of us—colonists and savages alike—were, for the first time in a decade, going to face a military intervention by Parimth itself.
submitted by Reptani
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2023.06.01 00:20 tburto33 WE need to be better as a community.
I know its been ranted ragged, but why is the community/ranked so bad? Finally broke into diamond in 2's. Just trying to get my diamond rewards before end of season. I got off work, warm up, play a few casual games, and then swap over to ranked. Normally play with friends, same rank, but decided I can surely get my last 5 wins solo. Boy was I delusional.
First game guy just stopped playing for no reason in middle of match while were tied 1-1 with 3 mins left until he just disconnected. No problem still in diamond on to the next one.
Second game teammate instantly abandons at first kickoff. Dropped back to plat3 after that one. Still feeling fine about it, get these bad games out of the way and move on.
Third game, I don't even think he knew I existed, there was only the ball. Even put away 2 own goals just to score I guess. Then after an almost third own goal he decided to just FF and leave.
Like I don't even know what to say anymore. Guess lesson learned and guess I won't solo que ever again in ranked.
From other posts on here I know it doesn't get any better the higher you go, but can we all as players and a community just do better?
Would it be nice if the Psyonix made changes to punish things like this harsher? Sure, but I doubt they care enough to do so. As good as Rocket League is, Epic owns Psyonix and it isn't their top priority, probably won't ever be.
However, we could make things better for each other by just caring a little more and realizing that just because you don't care about losing MMR your teammates might. You are stuck with your team for 5-6 mins, suck it up. Then move on.
If your not ready to que, then don't. It's that simple.
If a game isn't going great, do your best to turn it around rather than throw a fit.
If your teammates don't want to FF, just ride it out and keep going.
Realize this is a team game. If you don't want a teammate then go play Duels. That is what that game mode is there for.
Outside of smurfs (whole other problem) if you are the same rank as your team, then as much as you like to think you are better you aren't. If you were you would be in a higher rank.
Stop being overly toxic or spamming chat. There is no reason for it. I am all for a little "What A Save!" every now and then as it is a competitive game, but its over done to the point most people have chat turned off.
Finally just because you think you can do flashy stuff, no body cares if you can't consistently do something. Go try your flip reset in casual. I want to see you put that great pass I threw in the back of the net accurately rather than you fall from the ceiling and give the ball away for the umpteenth time.
Thank you for listening to my TED talk and lets all try to be better teammates because if we don't change things no one will. Who knows if we are better and the game grows because of it, then maybe the things we complain about constantly might get some attention.
submitted by tburto33
to RocketLeague [link] [comments]
2023.06.01 00:17 Twayneeded Nov 2021
I worked from home today because the kids' school was having a teacher work day. It was a decent day. When I am alone with the kids they don't really argue too much and even if they do I am there to help them. It seems like I have a better relationship with my kids and my children don't misbehave as badly when it is just me taking care of them. They really ratchet things up when their mother is home. Wife came home and she is nearing the end of her academic degree plan. Had to have an HVAC repairman come try and fix our heater. He shocked himself 3 times. Wife has had problems with her Dr office adding stress to her day meaning that she was in a bad mood and let me know it. She spent all afternoon in the bedroom while I dealt with the kids, cooked supper, did the dishes, washed clothes, and did the laundry. We took the kids for a short walk after supper without the dogs because it was already getting dark. I gave the kids baths and they went to bed on time. Wife stayed up late working on schoolwork and I went to sleep alone.
Woke up with ychild in bed. Wife was already up and griping about something. Getting gripped out 1st thing in the morning always starts off the day in a bad mood. Work was uneventful but productive. Got home and cleaned off the kitchen table (of course there wasn't a single square inch of available space on it for the past 1 1/2 weeks) none of the mess was mine it was all wifes/kids projects.I cleaned it so that she would have a space to make cookies with the kids like she promised. Trying to make her day a little easier knowing that had she gone in there with the table like that it would have been bad and also knowing that there were things on the table so I knew that I would get blamed for any misplaced objects. My prediction came through when she came into the kitchen and thanked me for cleaning the table but immediately started griping about missing items and how she had wished she had cleaned it to show she would know where they are. This always happens and is one of the main reasons I cannot declutter our house. It just leads to more gripping. If I clean or don't clean I'm gonna get bitched out. Wife had to head to town quickly to pick up an Rx so we went with her. I had not yet started supper so I put everything up so we could have it the next day and we all went into town together and ate supper in the van. She also got some negative comments on some of her schoolwork so she was in a bad mood x2 because of an incident with her dr's nurse. Wife stayed in the bedroom working on schoolwork while I got the kids dressed in their PJ's and put them to bed about 15 min late. I walked into the bedroom and she was searching for socks for the kids in the laundry hamper. When she was done I took the hamper into the living room and matched them all then put them up. I then played on my computer. Wife went into the kitchen at about 9:45. I went in there about 10 min later and asked her if there was anything I could do for her. She said no then asked me if I saw her come into the kitcher. I said yes and she started gripping that I should have come in there sooner to help her cause she was now almost done. She started complaining that the only time she gets to relax is when she is laying down on her phone in bed (nevermind the number of times i come into the bedroom to find her watching TV or on facebook on her computer.)
I was only on my computer for about 30 min. Its not like I spend all day doing nothing but she makes me feel like I do nothing at all. A common mantra in this house is the wife saying "I never get any help" and "I cannot keep this house clean by myself" when she literally hasn't done any cleaning since her parents visited last month and I still did most of the cleaning. The only time she cleans is when someone is coming over. Needless to say I am feeling very resentful and unloved. We haven't shown any affection to each other since a month ago. Some Days when things are decent (not good just not bad) I wonder if it's a mistake to be considering divorce but days like today are more common and remind me of why I want one. I couldn't sleep due to drinking some tea at supper so I got out of bed and sat on the couch until 1am.
Woke up this morning very tired and sleepy with ychild in bed with me. Wife was already in a mood and I was gripped out for "not listening" she then proceeding to account for 3-4 times recently that I have asked her a question that she had already told me an answer in a previous conversation. So once again I get to start the day in a bad mood. I feel compelled to kiss her and tell her I love her now or she will get upset. I did that then came back inside for something and she got upset when I didn't go back and give another hug/kiss. No way am I gonna do that while being bitched out so I just walked out the door. Great start to the day. Got the kids from school and came home. Cooked supper and took out the trash. Got the kids into bed but ychild talked herself into falling asleep in our bed. Wife said she would move her but of course didn't and ychild slept in our bed all night long.
Woke up with ychild in bed with me. kissed and told her i loved her before work. Had a decent day at work and left to pick up the kids. This was my last day picking the kids up from school and we stopped for ice cream on the way home. We were supposed to walk the dogs before I started supper. I told my wife this but she was on the phone with her mother about her job offer. 25 min later and it was getting close to supper time and she was still on the phone.I decided it was too close to supper to walk and then cook. Wife came out and I told her that. she got upset and we ended up having a small walk. I got back and cooked supper and we all ate at the kitchen table. Wife disappeared back into the bedroom to work on schoolwork. I put the kids to bed on time and then got on my computer. Wife started working on the kids lunches and I asked if there was anything i could do. She said no. Then the bedtime ritual started. This all happened within 20min. I came to bed and turned the lights out. When my wife came back she bitched at me cause she had left one of the lights on on purpose. Then she zinged me for not paying attention when she told me about her medication a few days ago. Then she complained that I had missed a bag of trash in the bedroom. Then she accidentally slammed the bathroom door and got mad when I asked if she did that on purpose. Then she cussed at me when she complained about the bed hurting her back and I suggested a sleep study. Despite all of this I really felt the need to try and cuddle with her. I rolled over and she immediately asked if she needed to turn off her phone. I told her no but she could if she wanted to, then she complained that this is the only time she gets to relax and then immediately jumped up cursing because she forgot to put the clothes from the washer into the dryer. I rolled over and put my mask on to fall asleep. I knew I would get hurt but I couldn't help myself. It took me a while to go to sleep because of the pain in my heart and the lack of love.
I worked from home today so i did not have to wake up as early. Wife woke up and got the kids ready. Wife had a full one sided conversation with ychild in our bed while i was trying to sleep. I feel like she was resentful for me being able to sleep in and her having to get up so she did it as a way to wake me up and keep me from being able to sleep. The kids yelled goodbye and the wife left without so much as a word or touch. I had a decent day at work. The HVAC repair man showed up early.I was going to go and pick up the kids at 11:00 but we decided to just get powerhouse(aftercare) at the school instead also for monday. I could have gone and picked up the kids but didn't because they were already scheduled and I thought we had already paid. Wife got mad at me for that. She was really late because it was her last day of DT and she had people say goodbye to her then went to pick up the kids. We decided to eat at the new seafood place then went and picked up groceries. We got home and put the groceries away and watched some shows on the couch. She got upset because I was on my phone (so was she) and said she watched more of the tv than I did. I tried to get the kids in bed but she overruled me because it was the weekend. The kids stayed up and eventually convinced her to go to bed with her. I slept alone but honestly I think I prefer that now.
Woke up alone. Had a decent day and went to Ychilds 1st birthday invite party. Wife made appointments for both kids to get the flu and covid vaccine. We had a great time at the party and socialized for the 1st time in a long time. We had to leave early to get to the pharmacy for the vaccines. When we got there the pharmacist told us we were scheduled for the flu only. It greatly upset the wife and she flew into a rage. Canceled both appointments. We got back to the car and she was yelling, screaming, and violently hitting her phone on the steering wheel. I told her to be an example to kids and she told me to "kiss her ass." She is angry the whole ride home. She started getting loud with me multiple times and I asked her not to talk to me like that. Apparently, asking her to speak to me politely instead of raising her voice at me is not giving her grace. Saying that I never give her grace when she talks nasty to me. saying that I do it all the time to her and she never says a word. I told her to speak up next time and she says she does and just gets bitched out. I am at my wits end. She is being very nasty to me and then puts the blame on me instead of realizing how she is treating me and accepting blame. A really nice day totally
ruined by her temper. We ended up having cereal for supper and going for custard afterwards. We stayed up late and the kids convinced my wife to go sleep with them.
Woke up by myself again. After wife got up we ended up going to the new donut store for breakfast and we stopped off at walmart on the way home. When we got home I noticed my radiator was leaking.I went to oriellys to buy some stop leak. We got back and I put on jumanji and then beethoven. Ochild really loved jumani. We were having a decent time. Today I did 4 loads of laundry, bathed the dog, cleaned the aquarium, cooked supper, and cleaned the guest bathroom. Of course wife got onto me when I did the kids laundry because i missed 1 shirt and 4 socks out of ychilds room. After supper we played a board game. Then the kids had a bath and I was chastised when I went in there to talk to the kids after my wife was yelling at them. I am not supposed to step in except when I am supposed to of course I have no idea when that is supposed to be. Kids went to bed a little late. I slept by myself.
Woke up by myself. Got up early even though I am working from home to help my wife with kids and take the dog to the vet. Wife started gripping about me not doing anything to help with the kids. I don't understand because she gets them ready at the last minute. That's usually when I am getting together also. She doesn't tell me or let me ask what she needs help with. Just grips after the fact. Dropped the dog off and returned to work. Picked the dog back up and returned to work again. Wife got home late due to her new job onboarding and flu vaccine. We had mcdonalds for supper and the kids went to bed really late. ychild spent the evening with wife because she wasn't feeling well. Since both the kids were up past their bedtime wife went to sleep with them.
Woke up early because I am still stuck on the old schedule. Wife came in and got herself ready for her 1st day. I got up, helped with the kids and got the dogs ready (surgery) then went to work. work was ok. Came home and cooked supper. The evening was uneventful.
Ychild got sick so I worked from home. We were both asleep when wife came into the room. She then had a loud conversation/argument with ochild in the room. waking up ychild and me. If I were to wake them up when they were sleeping in I would get bitched up one side and down the other. Seems like she does it all the time. Took Ychild to the dr and she was covid negative thankfully. Wife came home and the day went ok. She was tired so we watched netflix. I cooked supper and did the dishes. We got the kids in bed a little late. Wife went to bed a little early. I went into the bathroom to get some medicine shortly after. Wife was visibly upset when I came in. I really don't understand why and she wouldn't tell me. Eventually she said that she didn't expect me there. It made me feel really hurt. I felt like she not only didn't want me there but actually got mad that I showed my face. Maybe she thought I was going to lay down with her
but if that was so it would be no reason to get mad, I know she plays on her phone in bed and that's her relaxation time. Either way it was totally uncalled for and if that's how she is going to make me feel I don't see a point in staying together. storm came rolling in and ychild woke up so she had to go sleep with them.
Holiday today so I stayed home. I could hear the wife yelling at the kids trying to get ready. So I got up to help.
Skipped some days because nothing happened. Nothing good or bad. At bedtime my wife was getting lunch ready. She has been a little stressed lately due to her computer HD failing and EDTPA coming back for revisions. Her professor didn't come to her appointment to help. I helped make the kids lunches. The kids' clothes were still sitting in the chair (apparently it's my job.) I offered to help get the kids clothes together. She very sarcastically said she would welcome the help if I could turn on a light so she could see. I know it doesn't sound bad on paper but she was very hateful and hurtful. When I asked her not to talk to me like that she responded that she didn't need a lecture right now. I just want to be spoken to with respect and love not hate and vitriol.
Not journaling everyday because things aren't as bad everyday. Yesterday I did the laundry for the entire house. This morning I got up. my wife had already left for the grocery store to pick up groceries. I got up with Ychild. She got home and we unloaded the groceries. I relaxed in the living room. and she started cleaning the kitchen. I always hate days like this because anytime she cleans I get to hear her bitch and moan and the state of things. I am the only one to clean the house/kitchen for the last 6 months, actually even longer,for as long as she has been in college or working. It is not messy, it's just not up to her standards. Plus most of the mess is hers. She does projects and things but doesn't clean up afterward. When I get in to clean, if I move things around or put up her things I get yelled at. It feels like a handicap because the only one that can truly clean is her and when she doesn clean I feel like crap because she spends the whole time
mouthing and bitching about me because it isn't clean enough to suit her. And if I try to go in and help or clean another part of the house I get bitched at again because "i'm only cleaning because she is upset" she doesn't seem to notice the hours of cleaning I do when she is not around or is concentrating on other things.
We left on the 23rd (my birthday) to go down to Carthage for the weekend. The holiday went well with minimal fussing. Friday the 26 came and my wife surprised me with a weekend getaway sans kids. her family pissed her off right when we left. we get to our BnD and then leave to do some shopping. We went way too long, ate supper,and drove to longview. She had thought that we would just spend the weekend together. I wanted to get physical. I take her to a sex shop and she gets embarrased and refuses to look at anything or consider any toys. Our sexlife is laughable and practically non-existant. You would figure if someone was trying to save their marriage they would at least attempt to spice things up. I got upset and we went back to our cabin. I am tired and we just go to sleep. Wife makes us take a bath in the morning. We wash each other, then when we get out she changes into a negligee. She tells me I am not allowed to do any oral on her and that it will be the last time I see her in a G string. Totally sexy right? I had put some nice smelling lotion on my privates and she made a comment about how that would taste ( thinking I might get some oral) but instead she just led me to the bed and got on top. She has sex with me and I find it difficult to finish becuase she is clearly not enjoying it and refused to do any foreplay. We leave for the day and walk around Jefferson. Get back and start drinking wine and painting. She gets drunk enough to make a move and changes into another negligee. I feel like I almost forced her to let me eat her out after I gave her oral. She says I am not allowed to kiss her. we eventually start having some decent sex but she cannot stand much of the physical aspect and eventually it just shift to the standard missionary. I cannot finish and she gets up. I tell her i'll finish myself off if she will help. She starts cleaning and doesn't care when I get upset. We eventually have a small heart to heart where she tells me she is resentful
for the way my parents treated her and I was very pacifist instead of confrontational with my parents. She tells me she watches squirting videos and masturbates in the bath (lied to me when she says she doesnt masterbate.) She clearly has very strong issues with sexual intimacy and refused to do anything I wanted. She thought it was a successful weekend and I'm thinking it just shows how far apart we are and how little in common we have. multiple times just both of us on our phones because we have nothing to talk about. We go back and pick up the kids and it takes forever to get home. When we do I find the dog with something sticking out of her chest.
I am trying to work on her when my daughter comes out there and the dog jumps up and runs to her. She starts freaking out and i try and get ychild to come to me, unfortunately i did yell because i was scared of her getting stabbed by the dog. Of course she freezes up screaming as the dog is trying to get to her. I end up having to go to her and pick her up. As I am trying to take her to the garage I fall and bust my knee. This starts a big fight because I am now hurt, angry, and yelling while also trying to find out what's wrong with the dog. Eventually I discovered that the dog had forced herself inside the metal loop of a small childs butterfly net. I end up cutting it off her with some wire cutters. My knee is now busted and my wife and I have been fighting because she feels like when I am angry and hurt is the best time to keep getting in my face and talking shit about me. Just makes me want to seek a divorce all the more. She thinks this weekend was a success and all I can see is the end. I was angry when I went back out to her van and hit the open door button too hard and dented it. No real excuse but I wish she didn't pile on my problems by yelling at me in front of the kids while I'm trying to discipline them. I wasn't abusing them or being physical in any way but my wife will not allow for any dissent from the way she wants to raise the kids. I feel like I am not a father. I am allowed no say in raising them. The kids can just yell/scream/cry and my wife will come to the rescue, preventing me from actually doing any good or teaching them to understand right/wrong. It's her way or the highway. Dec 2021
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2023.06.01 00:12 xReckersx1 My Clan's first tile race layout - what could be improved?
2023.06.01 00:01 EagleWithGuns Attach Top Track of Metal Stud Partition to Ceiling Grid?
Alright, interested to get some opinions on this as I'm getting a divide between the opinions of design professionals and guys in the field on this one. I am a Building Inspector in California.
So the question is this. Single partition wall being added to an existing structure, fastened to floor, one interior, and one exterior wall. The top track was only run to the ceiling grid for the suspended T-bar ceiling, not all the way up to the actual roof. Then, not running any bracing, they ran screws through the T-bar grid itself.
I saw this and called it out as a correction, both missing a brace and for attaching the top track to the grid. We are in Seismic Zone D, so according to ASTM 580 that wouldn't work. The carpenter argued with me and said that attaching to the T-bar was "standard practice" in the industry.
Now, the wall is only about 12 feet long and 8 feet tall, so it's not the biggest deal, but I want to make sure I'm right in the future. They are going to make the corrections.
submitted by EagleWithGuns
to BuildingCodes [link] [comments]
2023.05.31 23:54 Aggravating-Koala726 Improving Church Sound
Hi everyone, I wanted to reach out for some advice on improving the sound at my church. I'm a 19-year-old bassist/keyboardist based in Nigeria, and I've become really interested in the mixing/production aspect of our church sound.
I've attached some images
to give you an idea of our current speaker setup. Please note that our auditorium is shaped luke an L with the altar being at the intersection. We have a combination of full-range speakers, mid-range speakers, floor monitors, and subs. However, we're facing some challenges with our acoustic environment. We lack soundproofing, and our church has a PVC ceiling, tiled floors, concrete walls, and plastic chairs. Additionally, the ceiling is quite high, and our current speaker placement doesn't work well in this space, resulting in a lot of reverb and delay issues.
Given our limited budget, we've had to make do with what we have. We recently managed to get an X32 Rack for sound control, but it took a while to get the budget approved due to the challenging economic situation here in Nigeria. Our FOH engineers are doing their best with the equipment available, but I'm curious to hear different perspectives on our setup.
What changes would you make to improve the sound if this was all you had to work with? Alternatively, if you had no choice but to work within a tight budget, what budget-friendly purchases or strategies would you consider?
I appreciate any insights or suggestions you can provide. Thank you in advance for your help!
submitted by Aggravating-Koala726
to livesound [link] [comments]
2023.05.31 23:53 Huth_S0lo Recommended path forward - Kitchen sink clogged
Looking for a recommended way to approach this situation. I live in a house built in 1960. Pipes are obviously old, but still in tact. As of last night, the kitchen sink wont drain. The kitchen is newer construction that is on plastic pipe, which T's in to the original drain at a 90 degree angle about 2 feet up from the floor. The drain has a vent at the roof. So basically there are two ways to enter the pipe. From within the kitchen, going through the plastic pipe, and then down the 90 degree bend. Or directly from the vent on the roof, which is original galvanized pipe.
We had this exact same problem about 2.5 years ago. I believe the plumber on that occasion snaked it from the roof. I dont remember how long it took, but I know it wasnt a super easy snake job. It maybe would have been if they had of started from the roof first; but hard to say for sure.
Last night I tried to use my handheld snake from the kitchen, with no success. But bear in mind this is a little crappy handheld. This morning I called out a plumber. He tried from the kitchen with his beefcake snake with no success. I mentioned to him the last time the plumber had success from the roof. He told me their insurance no longer allows this. I dont think he was lying, and it seems pretty valid. So at that point, I tried my shitty handheld from the roof; again with no success. I was getting it pretty well down the pipe. But the thin metal was just not strong enough to prevent it from flipping over itself.
The plumber had his coworker come out, to check the pipe with a camera. Essentially their answer is to be expected. They want to descale the pipe, and then hydrojet it. So first part of this post is trying to getting a sanity check on their pricing. They want $2600 for the descalling, and then another $1400 for the hydrojetting. They did say that hydrojetting alone would likely solve the problem for now.
Now, with that all said, they showed me the video. And although I do totally agree that it COULD use both of those things, I also think it wasnt that bad that another short term fix of snaking it wouldnt be able to resolve it. I just know that they were not going to be able to offer that, and my handheld snake isnt going to cut it.
At this point, I need to figure out a practical path forward. I think my options are:
- Attempt to drano it with a gel drano, used from the roof. I know for sure if I put it in from the vent, its going to drop right down to the problem area.
- Buy/Rent a more powerful snake.
- Find another plumber who is willing to try to snake it from the roof.
- Hydrojet it alone
- Descale and hydrojet it
I'm sure opinions will vary widely here. But I'd really like to see what everyone thinks.
submitted by Huth_S0lo
to Plumbing [link] [comments]
2023.05.31 23:53 beechcraft10 A discussion of station aesthetics
Tl:Dr NYC subway stations could look a lot better.
The stations of the NYC subway carry an incredibly distinct look when comparing them with other subways around the world. Some of them have a lot of beauty in them. In a lot more though, I feel that this beauty is hidden through a couple of means.
The most obvious of this is decay. I don’t think this needs to be explained further. Less obviously, are two design components that I think are currently missing from our stations. The first one is flooring. The cheap concrete floors of most stations often give a dated look, not in line with modern transportation systems around the world. On top of this, they do a poor job of reflecting light, which can contribute to the dinghy look that many stations have. While the bathroom tile floors are a step in the right direction, when poorly maintained they add to the overall grimey ness.
What I think could make a drastic improvement in the design of our subway stations is lighting. There are two facets to this. The first is lighting color. The new softer lights of ESI stations are great and should be more widespread throughout our system. The second more important facet is utilizing lighting to better bring out the immense size of some of our stations. The example I’d like to use to share a theoretical implementation of this is the space above the 7 train platform at Times Square. This space is huge and contains many interesting engineering elements that could be showcased better. Rather than doing that, this space is left dark, which in my perception makes the overall space of that area feel more claustrophobic. A change I had mind to open this place up would be to move the 7 train platform lights there to the ceiling at the top of this open space. I feel that on the platform level, this could especially bring out the size and space that is right above peoples heads. There are many other locations throughout the system where something like this could be done.
Anyway, just wanted to share my thoughts with you all, and see what some of you may think.
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to nycrail [link] [comments]
2023.05.31 23:46 AnimeOcCreator77 Ochi Ochi no Mi [Drop-Drop Fruit]
Appearance: A black lemon-shaped with yellow arrow-shaped swirls coating its skin, topped with a white stem with two red thorns pointing in opposite directions
This fruit gifts the eater the ability to change the gravitational pull of anyone and anything they touch in any direction, making them a Dropping User
In-Depth The user can change the gravitational pull of whatever any part of their body comes in contact with, even separate from their own actual body such as hair, clipped nails, and even saliva and blood. The effect of the user's ability is doubling the gravitational pull on their contacted target in any direction they think of, wether increasing their gravity downwards, upwards, sideways, or even to a specific point in space
The user can apply their abilities to themself to alter their own gravity for a form of flying as "directional falling" with precise timing, or simply use their abilities to walk up walls and ceilings with ease. The duration of gravity depends on the strength of the impact done by the user and the weight of the target, although using more of their body on contact can increase the duration even if for a brief moment
Awakening: Endless Dropper The user after awakening their abilities is now able to create actual wells of gravity in designated points in space they choose via contact or activation where their body was, and can last for as long as the user is conscious. This gifts them with even greater power to create gravitational traps and effects that they can become immune to or utilize to enhance their own abilities with much stronger gravity they can wield
Weaknesses • Standard Devil Fruit weaknesses apply
Techniques Downtown Rise: User quickly touches an opponent and has them 'drop' upwards and then down after a brief period of time, slamming them into the ground
Flying Swat: User slaps a target to 'drop' them sideways or backwards at high speeds where they may crash into others or the environment
Blade Cruise: User cuts themself with a bladed weapon and has it 'drop' towards their opponents at fast speeds or ride it like a board to a destination at high speeds. The user may prefer to use straight trajectories with this technique due to the velocity the blade can accumulate and be hard to change the gravity of mid-drop
Monochrome Hole: User breathes out a large amount of air from their lungs to create an invisible gas that triggers whoever or whatever touches it to 'drop' towards or away from the center of it, depending on the user changing the gravitational pull of their own breath
Zero Point Body: User makes themself a gravitational well, causing them to be pulled in all directions by their own powers and gift them a form of weightlessness due to their own powers being twice as strong as normal gravity. This allows them to move at extraordinary speeds with no resistance or weight, as well as letting surrounding materials from their environment follow them and their movements in a way or be covered with them to form an amor around themself while retaining their weightlessness
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2023.05.31 23:45 ELPatrick39 New Home Owner that bit more that they could chew.
This is mostly a rant, but I (32M) recently purchased a 1961 year old 2000sqft home in the suburbs of the midwest USA. The Inspection was good, but now im 1 week before I and my partner (26F) move in and im getting other inspections that were not part of the initial Home Inspection to further evaluate the health of the home. The most recent results has me regretting buying the home. Asbestos in the entire basement popcorn ceiling. Water damage and mold on the basement that was finished DIY by the last owner, which wasnt visible before due to the last owners cosmetic repair work.
Now im just super bummed and stressed thinking that I need to repair everything before we move in. My partner says that I worry too much and we are fine to save up and repair as the years go by. Im not at all handy so any repairs we would have to pay a contractor for.
Did I drop the ball in the first Inspection during the contingency? Probably. Anyway, i needed to get that off my chest, even if it was to strangers on the internet.
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2023.05.31 23:43 crispytime29 2023 Jazz Draft Prospect Power Rankings
*Sorry if the formatting isn't great* Reddit's text editor is butt cheeks.
The draft is less than a month away. After the combine, we've seen a shift in prospects. The following is my completely unqualified and unprofessional opinion of the current power rankings. This is not in general, but keeping the Jazz in mind completely and basing it off their needs and fit. So here ya go...
1) Victor Wembanyama (8'7" 105lbs Unicorn - Deltron 750)
Victor wouldn't drop to 9 even if it cured cancer.
2) Scoot Henderson (6'3" PG - G-League Ignite)
Hoping that Scoot falls to 9 is like hoping the Celtics come back to take their series against the Heat in game 8 of the ECF
3) Brandon Miller (6'9" SF - Alabama)
Yeah I wish...
4) Amen Thompson (6'7" PG/SG - Overtime Elite)
Amen falling to 9 is about the same odds as me getting a girlfriend in the next 6 months. Basically zero.
5) Ausar Thompson (6'7" SG/SF - Overtime Elite)
Wishful thinking to get him at #9 but not impossible. He's an amazing athlete that seems to have a well-polished game with star potential. Some scouts are claiming he's better than his brother Amen, but only time will tell.
6) Taylor Hendricks (6'8" PF - UCF)
The guy is rocketing up the board and at this point, grabbing him at 9 might end up being a stretch. Great 3 point shooter, scorer, and hyper-athletic big. The guy at one point seemed to be a sleeper hit, but is now getting good attention and is climbing fast.
7) Anthony Black (6'5" PG/SG - Arkansas)
Admittedly I am still a little hesitant on Black, but I'm coming around to him. There's a good chance he'll be available at #9. He's a great defensive combo guard that needs to polish his shooting. Seems like a good locker room guy and he has good size.
8) Cason Wallace (6'2" PG - Kentucky)
Probably my favorite player in the draft. He has less star potential than the players listed above, but seems to be one of the lowest-risk players in the draft. I get a Marcus smart/mike conley vibe from him, though he likely won't reach the peak that Conley did. Love the lockdown defense and potential to become a great playmaker in the future.
9) Jarace Walker (6'9" PF - Houston)
Arguably the best big in the draft after Wembanyama. He's developing a 3 point shot to have him help stretch the floor. Place this guy next to Walker Kessler and we could have an extremely young and unstoppable 4-5 combo down in the paint. I just have him lower because he is slightly derivative of Kessler. But still worth taking at 9 if he's available.
10) Cam Whitmore (6'5" SF - Villanova)
The more time goes on, the more worried I get about Whitmore. We've seen players similar to him that rely on athleticism and natural talent that ended up bombing in the NBA. Guys like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Bennett, Josh Jackson just to name a few. Not saying that's guaranteed, but the guy just doesn't have a knack for the game that others above in this list do. I genuinely hope he does well for whoever he ends up with though.
11) Gradey Dick (6'6" SG/SF - Kansas)
I'm not rock solid on Dick at #9. His ability to score is impressive and his ability to fit right up into a tight system and satisfy his teammates is worth noting. He is going to have to soak for a little bit before we know how big he can be long-term. He is also known to work long and hard to make sure he does his part. But he also comes across as one that can only do so much long-term, sometimes you want something with a little bit more of a natural feel.
12) Leonard Miller (6'9" PF - G-League Ignite)
He's a long guy with some raw talent that's climbing up the board fast. One of the most intriguing things about Miller was his jump from last year to this year. Last year looking lost, this year he's looking like he could be the real deal. Good amount of potential here that could fit as a good stretch 4 in Utah's system. Rumors have it that the Jazz are pretty high on him and my prediction is that if he's available at 16 we'll take him.
13) Kobe Bufkin (6'4" PG/SG - Michigan)
Another player who has been climbing quickly and has gone from a mid-to-high twenties player up to the late lottery. He shows a lot of promise to develop into a good player in today's NBA being a good scorer with quickness and agility to get the ball to the hoop. He's my guy at 16 if we go for a big guy at 9 and if he's available which is no longer a guarantee.
14) Keyonte George (6'4" SG - Baylor)
A player who was starting to fall before having a good showing at the combine. Seems to have a pretty solid shot and ability to score. He's a decent 2-way guard that seems like a more built and less explosive Jordan Clarkson.
15) Nick Smith Jr. (6'5" PG/SG - Arkansas)
Another big question mark. Seemed to be one of the most hyped prospects going into college and due to injury had a shortened and unimpressive season with Arkansas. Seems to have the body and mindset for the NBA, but talent just hasn't been proven yet.
16) GG (Gregory) Jackson (6'9" PF - South Carolina)
A very intriguing pick at 16. He has some growing up to do mentally but he also impressed at the combine and in his first and only season with South Carolina. Seems to be a prospect that will either shine and be a steal or sink and be a bust with little in between. He's an incredible offensive talent with the ability to hold his own on the defensive end. Comparable to Taylor Hendricks but he's also a higher risk than Hendricks.
17) Brice Sensabaugh (6'6" SG/SF - Ohio State)
Comes across as a guy that needs the right coach to develop well. Immaculate offensive game with some major concerns on the defensive end. If a coach can help him on D, he could be an absolute steal. But it's important to understand that his defense needs some work if he wants to stay in the league.
18) Jett Howard (6'7" SG/SF - Michigan)
Good strength an shot maker who because of his upbringing has always been around NBA minds (His dad is Juwan Howard, one time all star and 18 year NBA player). He doesn't seem to be a shoe-in fantastic player but has the work ethic and the mindset to succeed in the NBA. Needs to work on consistency on the offensive end if he wants to be a difference maker in the league.
19) Jordan Hawkins (6'5" SG - Uconn)
I'm not 100% sold on Hawkins at 16. He's a solid player with good intangibles but does give some pretty strong Jalen Suggs vibes. Good enough player, but also not quite built for the NBA. He has the heart and effort to make it in the league, but there are definitely higher upside players available at 16.
20) Jalen Hood-Schifino (6'6" PG/SG - Indiana)
Solid guard with some hype and some naysayers. Seems to be somewhat decisive. He absolutely has the heart and size to compete, but consistency on the offensive end is a problem. Some games he's looking incredible, and other games he looks like a benchwarmer. It's hard to predict how he's going to pan out. (Also the latest ESPN mock draft have the Jazz taking him at 9??? Horrible take in my book, I think there are better players available at 16)
21) Kris Murray (6'8" SF/PF - Iowa)
One of my favorite players in this year's draft, though one that I have to admit probably isn't a great pick at 16. He has a higher floor but lower ceiling than a lot of other guys around this point in the draft making him a safe but probably not earth shattering pick. All around solid player that could be a valuable bench piece on a good team.
22) Sidy Cissoko (6'7" SF - G-League Ignite)
A possible sleeper who was outshined by his teammate Scoot Henderson who's a guaranteed top 3 pick. He's a solid sized wing who can also play a small ball power forward. His effort on defense makes him likely to get playing time early on. Athleticism isn't fantastic and tends to use his size to get what he wants on the court. A risk at 16, a no-brainer at 28. Hard to predict where he'll land.
23) Noah Clowney (6'10 PF/C - Alabama)
Likely not an immediate impact in the NBA but has the potential to be really good down the road. He's primarily a stretch 4 who can also play center if he puts on some weight. He moves well and has a raw game that's worth taking a chance on. Unfortunately he's too high risk for 16 but probably won't fall to 28 either.
24) Maxwell Lewis (6'7" SG/SF - Pepperdine)
A possible sleeper pick. He's a solid 3&D player with good length that needs to add a little more weight. Not an elite athlete, but he's still able to score by making smart plays getting to the basket. His 3 point shot is looking solid, and if it translates to the NBA he could be an impact player off the bench pretty quick. Another one that likely won't be there at 28 but also may not be worth taking at 16.
25) Dariq Whitehead (6'4" SG/SF - Duke)
Poor guy has had bad luck. Talent of a top 10 pick, but 2 foot surgeries have set him back from reaching his potential. Has a knack for the game and is a good perimeter defender, but recent play shows that he may just end up being a 3&D type guy. But injury history and questions regarding how he'll recover from existing injuries put him back on the list.
26) Dereck Lively II (7'1" C - Duke)
This is one that is higher than 26 on regular power rankings, but for the Jazz he just doesn't make a ton of sense unless he somehow falls to 28 which likely won't happen.
27) Bilal Coulibaly (6'8" SF - France)
One of the bigger question marks in this draft. Taking him at 16 is a definite stretch but at 28 might be worth it. He's long but skinny and has consistency issues making him the question mark he is. It's really hard to know if his game will translate to the league or not.
28) Brandin Podziemski (6'5" SG - Santa Clara)
I really like the idea of taking a risk on Podziemski at 28. He's another player that won big time at the combine. After his first year in the NCAA he was thought to be a nobody before transferring to Santa Clara where he dominated. He's far from athletic, but has good Basketball IQ and is a deadly scorer. He's a slight risk at 28, but one I think worth taking if he's available at 28. Could be a Kyle Korver type player in the future.
29) Trayce Jackson-Davis (6'9" PF - Indiana)
One of the most physically gifted athletes in this draft, 6-9 with a 7-2 wingspan weighing in at 240, this guy is ready for the NBA in that way. In terms of play, probably not as much. His play style is traditional center, but he's a little undersized and that style of play is on its way out. He seems to be highly competitive and wants to be successful which will help him in the next level, just needs to start developing a shot if he wants to be a long term piece in the league. But if he does that, he could be a steal at 28)
30) Colby Jones (6'6" SG/SF - Xavier)
A safer pick at 28 if he's available. His play style has been compared to Josh Hart as the type of player that does a little bit of everything without being incredible at any one thing. A safe bet if we're looking for a role player off the bench at 28.
31) Olivier-Maxence Prosper (6'8" PF - Marquette)
One of the biggest winners from the combine. He was thought to be a mid-to-late second rounder that has blasted into late first discussions. He played extremely well against his peers and is now looking to be more polished than once thought. High energy and great size contributes make him worth seriously considering if available at 28.
32) Julian Phillips (6'7" SG/SF - Tennessee)
Phillips is slowly working his way up the draft ladder, once thought to be a mid second rounder is now cracking the late 1st. He has good length but needs to put on some weight if he wants to stay healthy. He's not a good 3 point shooter and would really need to develop on that end to get playing time, but the athleticism and explosiveness make him really intriguing at 28.
33) Jamie Jaquez Jr. (6'7" SF - UCLA)
The last on the list here that I would be okay with the Jazz taking a chance on at 28. He's an all-around solid player that proved to be one of the best with UCLA over the last 4 years. He has good size and seems to be fairly polished. Reason he's this low is potential ceiling doesn't seem to be very high. Could be a good bench piece for us, but also doesn't seem to be one that has the potential to be a long-term player for any team in the league.
34) Bobi Klintman (6'10" PF - Wake Forest)
High risk, high reward type player. There are others I like better at 28, but Bobi wouldn't be a waste. He's a 6-10 stretch four with a great 3 point shot but does not quite seem to be NBA ready. With the right development staff he could turn out to be solid, but I expect him to spend some time in the G-league for his first year or two.
35) Rayan Rupert (6'7" SG/SF - New Zealand)
I do not understand the hype behind Rupert. He's athletic, has a great wingspan and he's young. On the other hand, he played backup minutes in New Zealand averaging barely over 6 points a game. That on top of injuries and I don't see why he's projected to go as high as our 16th pick.
36) James Nnaji (6'10" C - Barcelona)
I like Nnaji, but I'm not sold on him for our 28th pick. He gives me Azibukie vibes but with more potential. He he has great athleticism and size, but would need a lot of time to develop. I feel like we would be better off finding a backup center in free agency.
37) Andre Jackson Jr. (6'6" SF - UConn)
A definite project player that was a good piece in UConn's national championship run. He would be worth investing in if we had a second round pick, but he's just not quite NBA ready yet.
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2023.05.31 23:42 KevWill Trying to decide if I need to call the HVAC company back out for a very small leak
Our second floor unit had a significant leak over the weekend which resulted in the first floor ceiling getting drenched to the point where I had to cut out the drywall to figure out where the leak was coming from. I couldn't find it, but the guy came out yesterday and determined that the glue connecting the PVC pipe to the unit wore out (20 year old unit) and he reglued it. Since I still have a hole in the ceiling I've been monitoring the area. The significant leak has stopped, but I noticed a periodic drop of water appearing on the black insulation around the PVC pipe. I put a plastic bin under it for an hour and it amounts to about 6 drops of water over an hour's time.
Is this normal? Is it going to do any damage over time? Should I have them come back out and address it?
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2023.05.31 23:39 Badlr 37 [M4F] Belgium, online. A guy taking a chance 😝 looking for friendship
Hi there, Gonna take my chance on dropping a post here ☺️ I just came back from some drinks with friends and still wide awake looking for a nice chat. I’m a 37yo Belgian guy into music (mostly metal and rock), playing music ( all sorts on the bass plus vocals), stories (sci-fi, thriller, horror, writing (I write short stories, a book,… mostly horror, thriller or sci-fi and sometimes erotic as well), games (classic board games or video games like AC, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider… ) If you are someone interested in those things too, I’d love it! Though anyone can come have a chat. I don’t bite (yet) 😝 Feel free to dm me and tell me a bit about you xxx I too will answer any question you have for me as my introduction might’ve been a bit too short ☺️ Here/see you soon 🤘🏻
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2023.05.31 23:30 JonathanRedding Ghost Word Pt. 2
Continued from Pt. 1, which can be found at: Pt 1: https://www.reddit.com/Horror_stories/comments/13wymkl/ghost_word_pt_1/ WARNING: This story contains depictions of non-consensual sex and gun violence.
Lyle found himself on foot, the valise at his side, the night air crisp and noisy. He realized he was ravenous. No surprise there, he hadn’t had anything to eat or drink in twenty-six hours. The late evening traffic was brisk around the campus, and as he passed a roving pack of students Lyle realized it was Thursday night*. Thirsty Thursdays*.
In keeping with ancient tradition, the majority of undergraduates avoided Friday morning classes at all costs, preferring to begin their weekend revels on Thursday nights. Lyle followed his feet. He imagined power emanating from the briefcase at his side, thrumming up his arm. He felt, for perhaps the first time in a life of shrinking uncertainty, boundless
And it felt extraordinary.
Somewhere inside of him a notion was forming that he did not dare articulate. But he followed his feet. The easy ebb and flow of walk signals, the pleasantly cool night air, the passing chatter, even the occasional car-horn—which in the past had never failed to startle him, jittery as he was—seemed buoyant and agreeable. The night was his. He realized he was sloping gently downhill, as he followed his feet. He realized he knew exactly where he was going. He found himself before O’Flaherty’s Pub, with its sandwich-board blaring LADIES NIGHT 1/2 WELL DRINKS -- TRUST ME YOU CAN DANCE
in electric pink loops. It felt only natural to step beneath the awning, swing wide the knotted mahogany door, and enter the din.
The ham-hock manning security—probably a redshirt lineman in his off-season—turned toward Lyle on autopilot, one hand reaching out as a question formed on his lips, lemme see some ID.
Lyle made no attempt to reach for his wallet because he knew the inevitable would happen when the bouncer took in his face, which he did a half second later. A tiny beat of recognition flickered and was gone, and the bouncer turned away. No need to card the old dude. Good luck navigating the vicissitudes of adult life, you Mongoloid,
Lyle thought. The jag off had a Black & Mild tucked up behind one ear, Lyle felt an insane urge to snatch it off his head and break it in half. He did not do well with the pretend authority of chunky, dead-eyed adolescents. But I’m not here for him.
Lyle wove his way into the evening crush with the delicate, shuffling little steps he always used in crowds. By fits and starts he made his way deeper, deeper, winding toward the back bar, the one with the full-length mirror. That was her favorite. O’Flaherty’s had a Crosley jukebox, wood-paneled and coin-operated, reaching for vintage but stuffed to the gills with Bluetooth and wi-fi and digital memory and whatever else. A woman’s voice was booming out of it, an empty pop ballad gussied up by her big, operatic sound. Lyle tried to think of the singer’s name, but couldn’t. He squeezed into a narrow gap at the back bar.
Darby was flirting as she mixed a rum-and-coke for a gawky, dough-faced kid in a flat-cap and a Harrington jacket. On the few occasions he had come out on Darby missions, Lyle had stayed well back from the bar, waiting for drink service at one of the small cafe tables lining the billiard room. But tonight, he wasn’t here to watch.
Darby handed off the drink and caught sight of Lyle. He winced—he could read the surprise, even discomfort, on her face. But she was tending bar, and she was quick on her feet, and she rearranged her expression into a smile. She held up a finger—*one sec—*to which Lyle nodded, as she took flat-cap’s (father’s) Amex back to the register and opened up a tab.
Lyle enjoyed watching her walk. Enjoyed looking at her from the back, or in profile. He usually saw her face, in class, big brown doe eyes and very pale, freckled skin. A shade away from clear
, he had heard her joke once, to James, as she had invited him to touch the roadmap of blue veins on her inner arm. That had enraged Lyle—the sudden, unwelcome image of James with those long creamy legs locked over his waist, his long, slow thrusts.
Because he restrained himself from ogling her in class, it was a pleasure to come to O’Flaherty’s during her shifts and watch her as she worked. Darby was not the first of what Lyle thought of as his “favorites”. Every year or two there was a fresh, irresistible young thing, for him to think about, alone, late at night. One of the unspoken perks of professordom was the constant influx of eye-candy, of short skirts and long legs and high asses and pert young tits. In his mind’s eye it was an endless profusion of imagined aureoles, of wondering about their panties—boy-briefs or frilly little whatsits or g-strings or none at all
—and even if Lyle never slept with them there was an intense eroticism in holding power over these girls he could never have bedded in his own college years. In pushing that term paper over the failing line and waiting, deliciously waiting, for them to come to his office hour and plead.
Only Darby’s work was reasonably competent, so even that grimy thrill was denied him.
Darby finished up with the register and came over, the pale of her neck stark against her tight black t-shirt. O’FLAHERTY’S was printed on it in green, the name stretched to accommodate her bust. Her hair frazzled at the temples; she’d been working hard. Just a little dirty, that’s how I like you,
“Dr. L! We missed you today, thought maybe you caught the gunk. You all right?” Darby beamed her big smile at him, a gift of the gods (and of immaculate orthodontics).
“I’m fine, Darby, thanks. Just a communication mix-up. I’m sorry you all waited.”
She kept smiling, seemed to be waiting for more. He didn’t give it to her.
“Well—can I get you anything?”
Lyle hesitated, trying to think of a manly drink, something urbane and—professorial.
“Scotch-rocks. A double.”
Darby continued to stare at him, expectantly. “Any… particular poison, or-?”
Lyle glanced up, made a show of studying the bottles arrayed behind her. He knew nothing about scotch. Stupid.
He settled on Johnnie Walker Black, and Darby poured his drink.
Lyle realized his heart was racing. Darby set the drink in front of him and he downed half of it in one swallow. He managed to keep his face neutral as the liquor seared his throat.
“This is a—little bit of a departure, for you, huh?” Darby indicated the scotch.
She must have known he heard her but she raised her voice anyway. The music had changed to a British pop group with a lot of electronic undertones, trying to sound haunting.
“The scotch,” she said. “Don’t you always order lemon drop martinis? When you come in?” Busted.
Two bright red circles appeared high on his cheeks.
“You know, it, it depends,” he replied. “Depends on my mood. And you—you make a hell of a lemon drop martini, here.” Fucking idiot
, he thought. They make the same Goddamn lemon drop martini as everybody else and she knows it.
Darby was smooth, though. Graceful. She rolled right past it. “I wondered why you never came over and said hi.”
“Well I don’t want to, you know, be a bother. You’re working. It’s always busy. And I’ve been coming here for years, off and on. You get used to seeing students out on the town. I try to give them their space.”
“Oh.” Her smile reappeared. “Well I’m glad you came over. Let me know if I can get you anything else?” She was already angling away.
“How was class today?” Lyle didn’t want to let her go. She glanced down the bar, she had customers waiting.
“It was great, really great,” she hurried her answer. She was giving him the brush-off. “James did great. He’s an awesome teacher. Awesome guy.”
“You know, I’d been meaning to ask you, about James…” Lyle leaned in, conspiratorially. Darby’s smile was faltering, but courtesy won out and she leaned in to hear.
“Are you fucking him?”
Darby recoiled, as though he had spit on her.
“Do you laugh at me, when you do it? When you fuck, do you laugh at the scabby, horn-dog professor?”
Darby’s breath hitched in her chest, she looked like she was about to cry. She took a step back. She looked down the bar, and then past him—toward the door. Bouncer,
he thought. She’s looking for the bouncer.
“I think you need to—” she began.
Then Lyle said the Word. The alien Word, meant to be moaned, easy as pie, really, when you thought about it, how the sounds flowed together. The Word that meant libido.
Darby froze. Her pupils flickered, Lyle saw, they constricted down to pinpricks, and then dilated as wide as they could go, swallowing the puppy-dog brown of her irises. Her face went slack. That wide, expensive smile vanished, and her mouth hung slightly open.
“Moisten your lips, Darby,” he said.
Her tongue slid out, pink and supple, and she obeyed. Oh, my God, she OBEYED.
Lyle’s penis twitched in his pants, he realized he was painfully erect, his balls aching. He realized he had been, had been since—since I said the Word
—since he had
her and a cruel, savage sense of triumph shook him, he felt his pulse hammering in his veins, he felt like standing up on the bar and— ROARING I want to ROAR at this dewy twat and all her imbecilic peers—
But instead, he took his cock firmly in his hand, through the cheap fabric of his Ross trousers, squeezed himself, and said—
“What are we going to do with you, Darby?” #
Lyle fucked her in the alleyway behind O’Flaherty’s. That meant hurrying more than he liked, the dumpster provided cover but the blocks surrounding the campus were too well policed. It was all right, though. Now that he was armed with the libido-Word, the next time could be more leisurely.
He took her in. All of her. The small, surprisingly dark nipples, nothing like he’d imagined. The fine, black hairs on the nape of her neck, the peach fuzz of her freckled low back, her inner thighs. Her panties were white briefs with green stitching, they were covered with tiny frogs. He tugged them down, and nuzzled her there. He left hickeys, on her ass, her mons. Her smooth, exquisite young cunt.
Lyle took her from behind and saw the groggy confusion in her dilated eyes, the amazement*—*and through that the pleasure
, the unsuspected, unwanted, violating pleasure
that jolted moans out of her.
Lyle sucked her neck, bit it, hard enough to sting. She gave a tiny mewl as she came, and her spasm triggered him also. Lyle buried himself to the hilt in her, finished in her, and felt— Like a king. Like a GOD.
They stayed there as the minutes stretched out, panting, still joined. He savored her, until his own tumescence vanished, and he slipped out. Lyle patted her derriere.
“Get dressed and get back to work, Darby,” he said. “We don’t want you to get in trouble.”
She jerked her head, drunkenly, from side to side, as though she were trying to shake water out of her ears. Lyle breathed deep, in through his nose, the fine scents of the city. Fried food nearby, probably the Thai joint catty-corner to the pub. He stood and admired, as Darby tugged her frog-panties back up those long pale legs.
“I’ll see you in class.”
Darby stared blankly at him as he took up his suitcase, turned, and strode into the night. #
When Lyle opened his eyes the next morning, he was only mildly surprised to discover that he felt no guilt at all. The sun streamed in, the world was up and running, coffee was calling, and by God he felt fine.
He sat up in bed, stretched. He glanced at the alarm clock, that hateful sentinel, now toothless—10:27AM. The mattress was bare, beneath him. He’d never washed the sheets. Puddled on the floor were yesterday’s clothes. He resisted the urge to tidy them up. Later.
He padded to the bathroom and went about his ablutions, brushed his teeth, took out his shaving kit. He had used the sleep-Word on himself again, last night. After. After!
He let the memories wash over him. Her smell: the tang of sweat, bar-odors, the undercurrent of peach soap. The taste
of her! And then the feast, afterward. He had followed his nose to Great Elephant Thai, wolfed down a plate of kai thot,
fried to a crisp and dripping oil*.* It may have been the finest meal of his life.
And he had had such dreams!
Dreams of Darby, and of favorites past. Dreams of fucking and of wealth and of slights avenged and of respectful, deferential looks, dreams of voices falling silent when he entered a room, of every eye on him. A song lyric drifted into his head, something from his childhood, a favorite of his father’s one long summer, repeated ad nauseam on the fourteen-hour drive down to Savannah.
“Twenty years a’crawlin’… were bottled up in Tommy… he wasn’t holding nothin’ back, he let ‘em have it all
…” Lyle sang, full voice, into the morning. A stupid grin spread over his face, as he wicked away the last patch of Barbasol, the careful spot right over his Adam’s apple, and rinsed his razor. He took a long look at Mirror-Lyle, looked into his eyes. He almost always avoided a close examination of his reflection, force of habit, but today he was a new man, and he wanted to take that man’s measure.
“Everyone… considered him… THE COWARD OOOF… the COUNTYYYY
Something else surfaced, then, in his memory, something that cranked the wattage down on his smile. He didn’t get all of it, just a glimpse, like a dorsal fin rising above the water. He had dreamed of more than power and sex. There had been something else. Lyle had a vague red recollection of tangled depths and faceless figures. His mind offered up a fleeting image of a crumbling stone structure, of keening wind and squat pillars; and of a great broken vault overhead, through which could be seen a blasted sky.
Lyle charged his phone as he brewed up a fresh pot. It had run out of juice somewhere during yesterday’s festivities, and when it finally powered up again it began to vibrate against the Formica tabletop in his dining nook. He ignored the first two pulses, but the phone insistently continued, not with the regular rhythm of an incoming call, but rather the inconsistent bursts of message notifications trickling in from the cloud. He tapped the touchscreen, and saw he had seven missed calls: one from a colleague, yesterday; and six from James, each one with a voicemail attached. The most recent of these had come just twenty minutes ago.
Lyle sipped on his coffee as he retrieved the briefcase from beneath his bed. He sat at his dinette and removed the fascicle, easily finding the rigid page. He opened it, and this time the new Word was waiting for him below the first, long entry: the entry corresponding to the letter “A” itself. This Word was angry, Ks and Zs, a hornet-word, serpent-word. Lyle looked to the white space, where the definition would arise. He pricked his forefinger with the tip of a steak knife and squeezed out two droplets of blood.
Lyle sipped. Lyle thought. Greek, then Latin, now German.
Was it moving forward in time? He wondered again about those first shapes he had seen, in the library. The more he tried to remember the more he doubted they had been in Greek. Something older, maybe. Phoenician syllabary?
He would likely never know. But the Words were changing. The book
And there was this: both of the—*spells, they’re spells, let’s cut the shit—*both of the Words it had given him so far had been…
“Intuitive,” he said finally. “Useful.
Like it knew.”
Lyle took down the last foil sleeve of blueberry Pop Tarts from his cupboard. Pauper’s breakfast
, he thought, but not for much longer
. He searched through his contacts until he found the number for the Chancellor’s office. He thumbed the little blue phone icon beside it.
Lyle had just started boxing up his things when James burst into his office, perfectly symmetrical face distorted by fury, his generous features made ugly. Ah, the righteousness of youth.
James took in the dense sheaf of Staples boxes, waiting to be folded; took in the bare walls, the stacked diplomas and photographs.
“What the fuck is this?”
“Emergency leave,” Lyle answered with a dismissive wave. “I’ve had a family crisis. I’m afraid I have to attend to it. Professor Chole will be taking over my workload for the remainder of the semester, I’m sure she’ll be in touch—"
“What did you do to Darby? What the fuck did you do?
” James spoke with the husky, quaking tone of pure adrenaline. He was just barely restraining himself from lunging across the desk, Lyle realized. He took the younger man in with bemused calm. He let the moment stretch out.
“Therese called me,” James continued, the words throttling out of him. “Darby’s roommate. She came home last night, she has—bruises, all over her, little, little *bites—*she won’t speak
, she just sits there and cries,
but she said your name. It’s the only
thing she said. What did you do to her, Lyle? Did you rape her?”
“Dr. Hereford,” Lyle replied.
James craned forward. “What?”
*“*You don’t get to call me Lyle.”
Lower, now, almost a whisper: “Tell me what you did to her.”
“I made her come,” Lyle said. “And she fucking loved it.
lunge then, he screamed and he leapt across the desk, coming down on Lyle in a tangle of thrashing limbs and rabbit punches, the two of them toppling Lyle’s chair, compressing awkwardly into the tight space between desk and wall. James kicked hard off of the gray metal drawers, managing to end up on top. His hands found Lyle’s throat and began to squeeze. Lyle felt himself constricting, felt the energy draining out of him, pinned, as he lost oxygen. He noticed the curds of spittle at the corners of James’s snarling mouth. He started to see spots in the periphery of his vision, and as he slapped ineffectually at James’s face he thought am I going to die here—?
Lyle dug down for the last of his strength. The Word chose me
. This wasn’t the end. Couldn’t be the end. He extended his leg as far as it would go, and used the distance to drive his knee, hard, into James’s crotch. A grunting exhale was propelled out of the younger man*.* Lyle pulled back to do it again; James squeezed his thighs together to block, and when he did, he compromised his balance. He took one hand off Lyle’s throat and thrust out his arm to catch himself as be began to roll, allowing Lyle to draw in a long, ragged breath.
Then Lyle spoke the Word.
The der zorn-Word.
The word that meant anger
, that meant rage,
that meant WRATH. # “Son.
Son, you’re bleeding, let me—let me help you, come on. Son, it’s gonna be okay, come on, now— “
The campus policeman approaches James like a dog that might be rabid, that slow hunched posture with arms wide, except for the policeman it’s only one arm because his right hand is flush up against his service weapon and his thumb snaps
the little thumbsnap and it’s a very small noise but it’s so loud
in James’s head and he shakes it, his head, does James, from side to side, in herks and jerks, like a dog that might be rabid, now, like there’s water in his ears and he’s trying to shake it out, is James, and the policeman is coming on and speaking in clear precise syllables that explode behind James’s temples, clusterbomb-words, and the cop is speaking but he’s hearing another voice, is James, and it’s Lyle’s voice, it’s Dr. L’s voice, not Lyle never Lyle
, and Dr. L’s voice is saying snakebit you’re snakebit she fucking LOVED it
and James touches his own face now and it must be true because there’s blood on his face and when he blinks his blink is heavy and liquid like he just dropped Visine in there but the thing is but only but except it’s blood and he’s bleeding from the eyes,
is James, and now the policeman is right on top of him saying “son what happened can you hear me respond if you can hear me” and James hears the exploding words all right and he blinks and blood oozes from the corners of his eyes and the cop is changing
now, in the blood, his face is BOILING
and now it’s Darby’s face on the policeman and she opens her mouth and her head cranes back and she’s ruined inside OH FUCK SHE’S RUINED INSIDE SHOT HERSELF SHE SHOT HERSELF SHE’S SHOT
and now it’s DR L IT’S DR L SCREAMING SNAKEBIT SNAKEBIT SNAKEBIT—
James rears back and head-butts the campus cop as hard as he can, the smooth acne-less center of James’s forehead connecting with the soft cartilage of the policeman’s nose. A sick crunch
echoes in the lobby of the Humanities building, a young woman close enough to hear it vomits on the floor, it is the first puking incident of the day but not the last.
The cop recoils with a sick moan, in his surprise clapping his hands to his shattered nose; in that moment James bellows
, an awful inarticulate animal sound of hate, and yanks the policeman’s service piece free of his holster.
The handful of rubbernecking students freeze as James shoots the policeman in the face.
The policeman’s name is (was) Lou, the students know, and he is (was) genial and well-liked. A silent second passes in the lobby, and then the screaming begins.
James dips down and pulls two spare clips out of Lou’s belt. He pockets them. When James looks up, he doesn’t see fleeing students.
He sees Dr. L.
A gaggle of Dr. L’s. A school, a clutch, a murder. He sees laughing Dr. L’s running in every direction, diving behind furniture, breaking for the street or hurtling into the stairwells. One Dr. L dives behind the reception desk. James starts after him on wooden legs.
When he reaches the desk, there is Dr. L beneath it, a cell phone in his hand, cackling. James shoots him in the stomach. Dr. L keeps right on laughing, howling
with it now, whatever it is must be hilarious
, a real knee-slapper, then James remembers its him
, Dr. L is laughing at him
so James shoots him again, shoots him so he’ll stop
but there are so many more
Lyle Hereford, Ph.D., rested his browning forearms on the wrought iron railing of his third-floor balcony. He looked out over the Gulf of Mexico. The breeze was warm and gentle, suffusing, but it no longer calmed him. He took no notice of it. He was lost, as he was always now lost, in thought.
The one, lone thought.
It had taken a little less than two weeks for James’s horrific shooting spree to drop out of the news. The demands for GUN CONTROL NOW (or, conversely, for guns in every classroom) receded and were shelved for the next go-round. Politicians took to the field and unfurled their heraldry for the usual pro-forma skirmishes. Then, mercifully, a Cabinet official fucked somebody he really shouldn’t have and the national discourse (such as it was) barreled off, like a dog chasing a ball that its owner had only pretended to throw. As to why a handsome, popular, well-adjusted student should suddenly snap and murder sixteen of his fellows? The theories ranged from medically reasonable (an inoperable tumor which could not be verified via autopsy, as James’s brains had been removed by the responding tactical unit); to the paranoiac (James had been the subject of a Manchurian Candidate-style CIA/NSA/Acronym-of-your-choice experiment gone horribly wrong); to the Occult (the Devil made him do it).
Lyle had enjoyed that last one.
What Lyle had not
enjoyed was that some of the conspiracy theorists, and even some of the legitimate press, had mentioned him by name. He had disappeared, after all, on an auspicious and chaotic day, to manage a crisis no one could verify involving a family no one could find. It had not been difficult to remain ahead of any enterprising investigators, though. Not with the Words.
And there had been so many more Words. Words in French and Finnish and Russian and Spanish and Mandarin. Words that meant envy
and, perhaps the most potent yet, a Word that meant stupid.
Lyle had employed that one against a statie who pulled him over as he crossed the Louisiana line, coming through Vicksburg. The guy had been six-two, maybe two-twenty, with sharp, curious eyes sunk deep in his skull. Lyle hadn’t liked the way he had looked at him, so he used the Word. Now the statie—*Edmonds was his name, Trooper Edmonds—*was six-two, two-twenty of drooling simpleton, probably staring at a wall somewhere in the nearest brain injury ward and driving the resident neurologists absolutely bugshit.
By the time Lyle made it to a quiet, lazy town on the Cajun Riviera and decided to set a spell, he had traded in his Acura for a Beemer and was carrying close to a hundred and twelve thousand dollars in cash. He had also acquired a 9mm Ruger and a shotgun with a pistol grip (the dealer had called it a snake charmer
just before Lyle killed him). None of that matters now, though.
All that mattered was the Word. Which, he had come to realize, was the last
Because the book was alive,
of course, had always been alive, Lyle knew that. Hadn’t let himself come right out and say it, but he knew. It had slept, maybe, possibly, until he woke it, with his touch, with his blood, but if it slept, it woke up thirsty*.* The book was always ready with the next Word, the next thing he would need. The book was collaborating
with him. It was dancing
with him, and at first he had thought he was the one leading, but now he knew better.
Lyle felt it. Felt it—pulling
on him. All the time. Felt it in the room behind him, pulling
, knew that he would go back in, sooner or later, go back in, and open the book, the book that has been leading him. Knew that he would open its hundreds of pages, because it was longer now, because it had grown
, because it was three inches thick and the front plating had vanished and it wasn’t pretending to be a dictionary anymore.
He knew that he would open it and on every single page, centered, would be a single Word, the last Word, the Word that he will say, that he must
say, sooner or later, and under it swirling in blood, blood that must be the book’s own, the final explication, the final command, the final meaning, and God, oh God, Lyle was afraid, because the last Word was DOOR
submitted by JonathanRedding
to Horror_stories [link] [comments]
2023.05.31 23:29 Unlikely-Reference69 Too much acid on keg?
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I got some pretty dirty kegs that i bought from anothe brewery, pretty bad mistake they were the most dirtiest things i have seen, so i used about 2 omz per gallon of ac101(caustic made by ecolab) and the same amount of nitric/ phosphoric acid, that coupled with my spray ball (i opened all the kegs) and my cip pump manage to clean all the dirt, but i was sealing again the kegs to run it on the keg washer to wash/sanitize and pressure and i saw 1 keg out of the 24 that has some black dots on the bottom, also looking at the emanel(not sure what to call the layer of proteccion inside the keg) it has like acid drop but some didnt make it to the bare metal, its this keg for trashing? submitted by Unlikely-Reference69 to TheBrewery [link] [comments]
2023.05.31 23:27 JonathanRedding Ghost Word Pt 1.
Hello all! I'm a screenwriter and longtime lover of horror prose, taking some time during the strike to polish up old unpublished pieces and maybe embark on some new ones. This is the first I'm sharing publicly -- it's a nasty piece of work, about a nasty little man who receives a power he really shouldn't have. Most of my stories aren't like this, but Lyle Hereford insisted upon himself, and I haven't yet managed to forget him. It's also a bit lengthy, about 8600 words (30ish manuscript pages). I'm posting it in two parts. WARNING: This story contains depictions of non-consensual sex and gun violence.
By Jonathan Redding
----------- ghost word 1. (noun) A previously unknown word appearing in a dictionary or list of words, often by error--but sometimes by design.
Lyle Hereford laid there, slick and frightened, and thought about the Word.
He rolled his head to the right, to the nightstand beside his narrow bed, saw the flat green numerals pronounce it 3:17AM. On another night he might have thought of the Gospel According to John, at that hour, or more obscurely, of the Weird Sisters, of the Walpurgisnacht.
Sleeplessness was a condition of his pinched, brittle being*.* Tonight he lay there sweating, insomnia buzzing in his thighs, his hamstrings. The inevitable heartburn seethed in his concave chest, and he thought about the Word.
The Word was not with him.
He thought about it sitting, inert, on the small rolling desk, in his office, across the city. Thought about the urban glow, blotting out the stars, seeping in the window, slanting though the low-bid venetian blinds the first contractors must have installed and none of those cheap bastards at the University ever bothered to replace, the blinds that always tear at their thin top fixtures, that Lyle mends with tight sleeves of Scotch tape. He thought about the city’s ambient nightlight seeping in, and falling, across the side desk, across the Word. He thought about the binding. Cream, once, probably, soft and blameless. Faded to no-color, now. An old traveler. But what was
it? And how had it come to be there?
How did it come to rest on that shelf, that groaning, overburdened, mid-century plank?
Lyle imagined someone slipping into the library, furtive, mounting the stair, the tome swinging against them, tucked in a messenger bag. Some faceless someone, head down, hood up, sunglasses in the dim. Lyle pictured them skirting around the encyclopedias and the medieval histories and bypassing the long rows of technical manuals and the corridors of Euclidean geometry and enzymology and theoretical economics and arriving at the neglected, quaint, neat rows of purest Reference: the Dictionaries.
Lyle had gone to consult the Oxford English Dictionary. Specifically the 1989 Second Edition, magnificent in twenty volumes; a tool with which he insisted each of his students familiarize themselves. On this day he had sought out the second volume specifically, the one beginning with B.B.C
James, that young Turk, had challenged his interpretation of a passage of Taming of the Shrew.
It turned on the etymology of the word bonnie
. Tried to score off me, in front of the whole class, that smug little prick.
James, graduate student par excellence
. James of the falling black hair, perpetually obscuring his face, terminating above his perfect smile. James who was such a favorite among the bouncing, giggling undergraduates. James who found it easy to excel, in any environment, who found it very difficult to accept Lyle’s criticisms, Lyle’s guidance. James was many things Lyle was not, had never been, and Lyle knew it. But James had not yet learned to survive in academia. James was going to discover that you did not score points off Lyle Hereford, Ph.D., and Lyle would see to it that it happened painfully. In the town square, as it were. It would have to be just a touch humiliating.
Lyle thought. She has to see it.
Yes. Just the right amount of condescension to really cut into him, to make it memorable.
Only Lyle never found his ammunition in the second volume beginning with B.B.C.
because his interest was diverted. He never queried the etymology of bonnie
in the compressed italics of lexicalese, never perused the examples from John Donne and Sir Thomas Aquinas and the Cursor Mundi
behind their truncated century marks, because something else caught his eye. Something that shouldn’t have been there. Tucked in between the seventh and eighth volumes (Interval
respectively, he knew) was a tattered book, somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred pages, grayed to nothing, the color of a shroud. Lyle reached down, placed his index finger atop the book’s spine, and drew it from the shelf. He gave it a cursory glance—the cover lettering had been savaged by time, but fragments of the lower half survived: PART A—ANT # OXFO D 1877
“What in the world
,” Lyle said. The library swallowed the sound, took it into the mute stillness of itself, into its hush. What he held in his hands was not genuine—could not be genuine. The original OED was printed like this, piecemeal, in what were called fascicles. But not this soon, God, not this soon! They hadn’t even started!
The first fascicle of the OED, the very first product of their seventy-year odyssey, the publication that made the London philologia realize they had bit off quite a bit more than they could chew, was designated A-Ant
. It was a rare bird, a thing to be coveted. It was valuable.
It was first printed in 1884.
Lyle had always thought it a clever, tiny nod of Orwell’s, lost to the mass of readers: that the OED should rule for a century, before Newspeak replaced it. This, then, if it was what it purported to be, what the front cover claimed it to be, was early. Seven whole years early. A misprint,
he thought. Has to be
. That would change the valuation—this could be one-of-a-kind. Not that Lyle would dream of selling such a book. Before this moment, he wouldn’t even have allowed himself to dream of holding
such a book. He checked for a barcode, a borrower’s card. He found neither. What is it DOING here?
He had let it fall open at random, there, among the stacks, a single water-damaged page stood up like a cowlick, he gingerly pressed it flat. The type within was much more preserved than the weathered front-plating. He scanned, gliding over the forms: aglist, aglitter, aglomerular, aglopened, aglossal, aglow-
That was when he had seen the Word.
Though it wasn’t the Word itself, that had drawn his attention. It was the empty white, beneath it. The dictionary game was all about spatial economy. Column inches and abbreviations. In forty-seven years of nebbish quietude, forty-seven years of slow vanishing into a wilderness of text, Lyle Hereford, Ph.D., had never encountered empty white space in the body of a dictionary. Thus, first, the white. Then he had looked above it.
The Word did not begin with the letter “A”.
The Word did not conform to any structural schema that Lyle recognized. There was no easily discernible root in the Romance lineage, nor the Germanic, nor even the primordial Oriental or Sanskrit Anglicizations which the casual peruser of the Mahabharata
or of Patanjali’s Sutras
might intuitively place. The Word began with the character “X”, and proceeded from there to a feral enjambment of consonants and choked, almost Hebraic “Y’s”. It possessed no other vowels. Merely the Word, this strange word, had greeted Lyle. No origin, pronunciation, part-of-speech. No definition. Merely the Word, and the white beneath, there in the stacks.
Lyle brushed his thumb across the Word. Looking back, now, he couldn’t really say why. It was the sort of automatic, immediate impulse that you don’t question until it’s complete. It came over him like a yawn. He felt the thin whisper of the paper beneath his skin, he traced the Word from its first syllable to its eighth and final and
A kind of WRETCH,
a spasm, behind his eyes, within his temples, his core, the cilia of his inner ears. His stomach flopped over queasily in his abdomen and he clenched his ass, just ahead of a hot dart of pressure, a hot sharp dart of pressure, gas and a tincture of liquid, a foul egg smell, he fought to hold it—
Tremoring in his calves, his whole body strained, the feeble musculature flared from his neck, his weak chin pressed down and his gorge rose. Warm coppery blood pattered and trickled over his lips. Lyle’s nose was bleeding. The fit—whatever it was—began to pass, and Lyle looked down through watering eyes to the object in his hands.
“What in the Christ-?”
The library remained silent, the book remained still, the Word remained inscrutable. He noticed the spatter, low on the page, of his blood, obscuring the column inches, smearing over agnathous.
He gathered up a shirt cuff in his hand, squeezed it to his nose—*that’s never coming out—*and awkwardly sat, pooling the book in his lap. He reached down with his other cuff to dab at the page, mitigate the damage. That is when, Lyle now thought, he may have gone mad.
The beads of blood began to crawl up the page.
The traversal of the droplets wasn’t smooth, wasn’t a rolling
. They jerked upward in spurs—they forked
, like lightning. They crept laterally, then cut upward again, the spastic scribbling of an unseen hand. Lyle became aware that his body was rigid, his breath held, his eyes dry and pained, he stared unblinking. Sweat stood out on the crenellations of his widow’s peak, his acne-scarred brow. His ruptured sinus oozed, his sleeve was warm and sodden. The bloodbolts reached the inexplicable white gap. Swirled into the emptiness. Beneath the Word the blood swirled. It arranged itself.
It formed shapes.
It formed letters
Lyle had made a sound, then, something between a sob and a laugh and a scream—
—snakebit it’s a snakebit sound—
*—*rupturing the stillness, a harsh throaty sound, reeding through the library, and then he clapped the book shut and fled.
“But I didn’t drop it, did I?” he asked the green numerals. They showed 4:07AM. Time always slid, on sleepless nights. He thought it one of their worst qualities.
“I ran. I ran from it*.* But my hands… my hands wouldn’t let it go.”
Lyle sat up in bed. Only when the sheets peeled away from his back did he realize he was perspiring. He stripped the damp bedclothes and shambled across the room, to his small closet. He bent to his hamper, deposited the sheets inside, closed the latch with a discrete click.
He took a fresh button-up and crisp slacks down from their hangers, and he began to dress.
Lyle barely heard as the starter of his aging Acura chugged, and whinnied, and finally caught. He floated across town, the CD player in the dash resumed Rachmaninov’s Prelude in C sharp minor
, the volume hovered at the bottom edge of audibility. It did not pierce the veil of Lyle’s exhaustion. His memory, the vision of the mounting blood, felt unreal. The marine layer had rolled in with the night’s cool, heightening the strangeness. Occasionally headlights swam up out of the fog, the vague shapes of alien drivers flickered and were gone. Lyle had passed through a membrane—*a glass, darkly—*and everything normal was rendered strange, as though the laws underpinning the universe had grown suddenly elastic. His fatigue coupled with the new fact of the Word to cast a surreal pall over the familiar streets. He wondered, at each car he passed, about the journey of the driver. Was it possible that just beneath the frequency of his attention there was a whole world of men on grim, predawn errands? Men confronting mad and impossible things, men fallen through unsuspected cracks in their comfortable facade? And just where in the wild blue fuck had it come
Lyle made it, not without difficulty, to the faculty lot. He parked askew—someone’s sure to bitch about that
he thought, and tittered*—*and walked his scuttling walk across the plaza toward the Humanities complex, fumbling for his keycard. His footsteps seemed to echo off of nothing but haze. The fog encroached, he felt as though it watched him.
His office was a shabby, cramped afterthought on the fourth floor. He turned the bolt behind him as he entered, resting his weary head against the door. He thumped it, once—his forehead, that is—against the wood. He crossed to his chair, the brown faux leather cracked and peeling, and sat heavily. The office was cheaply appointed, but pristine. No tchotchkes or personal touches were in evidence, with the exception of some of Lyle’s own (stark, black-and-white) photography. The book he had found, the impossible book, was not alphabetized on his shelves with the others. It sat alone. Nothing shared, with it, the small rolling side-desk, which Lyle pulled to himself. He reached for the book, heart pounding, hands tremoring. He breathed deeply, closed his eyes. Mastered himself. By and by, the shaking passed. He opened his eyes to look, again, upon the Word. First there’s fear, of course there’s fear, but then... but
Then, perhaps, there was room for curiosity. He had found this thing, this extraordinary thing, or perhaps, just possibly…
“It found me
. Maybe it was--meant
. For me.”
And if it were, that might make it—would
make it—the first thing, the first special thing, that had ever been meant,
for Lyle Hereford, Ph.D. He opened the book, the tremor in his hands barely perceptible, now. He sought out the Ag’s—aglow, aglist, aglitter
—and found them easily enough. He stared, eyes bulging, straining, at the page.
The Word was gone.
Nothing. No fractal X’s and Y’s, no phantom space, no broken line. Smooth, black column inches, the rhythms of the dictionary, nothing out of place.
“No—no, no, no—” Lyle flipped the page, aggressively, almost tearing it from the binding, another, another, flipped them, faster and faster, scanning, rapidly scanning, seeking white space.
you, no, it was here
, you were just
here, I didn’t imagine
you you cocksucker come back
here and talk
to me— “
He flipped forward, the opposite direction, toward the front of the fascicle, when he felt something under the pad of his thumb. It was—a shift in the texture, a vibration—a definite, awful, sly
little movement. He felt the thing change
, somehow. Lyle froze. He held perfectly still—*snake, snake in my hands, subtle subtle snake—*then he slid his thumb, just his thumb, the tiniest hair, a fraction of an inch, over the page-ends. Rasped his thumb, along the margin of the book. *Something, there’s something, right there—*he rasped again. Felt it. Toward the back. A water-damaged page. Lyle seized on it, almost eagerly, letting the book part around it. It stood up like a cowlick. He pressed it carefully down, closed his eyes. Lyle felt a curious swirl of anxiety and hope. He was afraid. Afraid to see it again.
He needed to see it again. He needed to know.
He opened his eyes. He scanned the page, now, a completely different section of the fascicle. Amputee, ampyx, amrel, amrita, amry, amsel.
Faster, faster… There
Crowded into the bottom-right corner. An empty, white space. Above it, a Word.
This one began with an LN, and to the litany of Y’s had been added double-Us. The same layout: no explicatory text below, nothing else. The single, unpronounceable Word.
“There you are,” Lyle whispered. He turned to his computer, felt for the green button along the back of his monitor, pressed it. He thumbed the spacebar on his keyboard. The desktop awoke mid a staccato burst of tiny electronic clicks, followed by the usual cheery synth-tone. Lyle set a yellow legal pad on his lap, popped the well-chewed end of a mechanical pencil into his mouth, clenched it between his teeth. He tugged open a gray metal desk drawer, hideous and utilitarian, pawed around inside until he found what he wanted, closed it again. He turned back to the Word.
“Tell me a secret,” he said. His voice was queerly pitched, hollow. He hardly recognized it. He held up the small object taken from his desk, held it up above the page, showed it to the Word. It was a pushpin. Tell me.
Lyle pricked the ball of his middle finger, blood welled into a fat bead. He turned his hand over, held the blood above the white, watched it distend, watched it fall. This time there was no lightning, no crawl. This time it sizzled
, as though he had dropped it on a skillet. It sizzled, bubbled, on the white, then separated, it raised blood-red letters below the Word. Characters. This time, Lyle was ready. It’s Attic Greek,
he realized. The characters stood out in the elegant script of the Septuagint, the language of Alexander the Great. The language that, at one time, had conquered the world, and had later been conquered in turn. A language of emperors, and of slaves. Lyle sucked on his bleeding finger as he hunched over the legal pad, copying out the unfamiliar letters:
It was a matter of a few moments to download a keyboard for ancient Greek characters on the desktop. A few more to pull up Google, find a translator widget, and hunt-and-peck his way to the answer. The cursor blinked beside the translation. The word beneath the Word, the Greek extraction written in blood, fat and placid and banal:
Lyle felt a flush of disappointment. He had expected something
, he realized. Some kernel of an answer. The name of a daemon, or of a god. A celestial body, perhaps. And why Greek? If it was printed in the nineteenth century, printed in English
in the nineteenth century? Lyle turned back to the fascicle but the blood was gone. He brushed a cautious knuckle across the white gap and found it dry. Thirsty,
he thought. You feel thirsty.
The language of Alexander, and of Oedipus Rex, and of Aristotle. He considered the Word. Sleep.
A definition? Was the book itself carrying some kind of, what, repository, fragments of a lost language, preserved by some oblique arcana? The work of a secret society, or a cult? Some Rosicrucian gimmickry? He looked down at the white space, the secret-keeping space, awakened by blood. Considered, again, the crooked syllables, the LM, the double-X, the Y’s and double-U’s. Sleep.
Sleep was a word with a certain beauty. Especially for the chronic insomniac. A beauty and a kind of longing. Sleep.
The LM, the double-X, the Y’s and the double-U’s. Strange, riotous Word.
“Sleep is a beautiful word.” Lyly was unaware that he had spoken aloud. The LM, the double-X, in the middle, the double-X.
It occurred to him that this
Word, too, was beautiful. Beautiful and possessed of a kind of interior sense
, Lyle realized. A kind of logic. When you think about it.
The double-X, a kind of sluggish, sloughing sound in the middle. A collapse
, to link the long consonants, as if the effort of producing the Word were too much for one’s throat, all at once. The LM, the double-X, the double-U’s. Lyle opened his mouth, still unaware. The Word intensified, in his field of vision, came into a sharp focus. The rest of the page somehow fell
around it. Lyle wondered if he was being hypnotized. There was no more color in the world, he knew how to say the Word, the Word was teaching
him, patiently, to say it, he opened his mouth not knowing and he said the Word that meant Sleep and— #
Lyle awoke on the floor of his office. He shook his head, once, experimentally. He winced—his left temple was sore; a bruise was coming on. Did I fall? Black out?
The fascicle was still on his side-desk. It was closed, now. His computer was dark and quiet, hibernating. All at once he remembered—*oh, my God—*it wasn’t a definition or a repository or a code—
“It’s a command,”
he croaked, his voice husky in the stillness. Everything clicked
, almost audibly, like tumblers turning in his head. It was a command,
and that made the book something else, that made the book something very much else indeed, oh, oh God, that makes it something else
. What time is it?
The sun hadn’t risen, the streetlights still slanted through his shitty, frail blinds. Traffic had picked up though, he could hear it outside, and he felt—incredible, I feel incredible—fine,
other than the bump on his noggin and a few cricks in his shoulders, his neck, Lyle felt like a million bucks. He pawed at his phone. He carried it in his front-left pocket, and if he had fallen on it it might have—
The phone showed 9:44PM. He had slept, all right. He ran the math. He had been at his desk, it had been maybe five thirty… It put me to sleep for sixteen hours?
Lyle have never slept that long in his life, to the best of his knowledge*.* It was enough to make him want to weep. He’d been just an anxious little bedwetter when his long war against insomnia began, and the notion of simply saying a Word, a beautiful Word, and dropping off like a stone—
He crossed to his office door, turned the bolt. Opened it. A sticky-note was affixed to the outside: Dr. L, wasn’t able to get ahold of you today, hope you feel better. Walked the class through Act III, reiterated their assignments re: Marlowe comparison & cut them loose, will check in tomorrow first thing.
It was James’s fluid cursive. Even his penmanship was pretty*.*
Lyle turned his attention back to the fascicle. He picked it up carefully, reverently. He felt a surge of glee, an unbridled joy at the power in his hands. When he closed his eyes he could still see the sleep-Word, the constellation of unwieldy letters stood out bright and vivid. His heart raced with the implications of his discovery—something else something else it’s something else—
The term Grimoire
drifted hazily across his consciousness.
He rasped his thumb along the margins and felt immediately the bristle of the damaged page, somewhere in the center. He held the book upright and let it fall open, the single page left standing. He smoothed it carefully down. He looked upon the book.
The empty white stood out easily, in the center column, the exact mid-point. Above it was yet another Word, this one shorter, beginning with an A and three O’s, a sound meant to be moaned. Lyle rummaged for another push-pin in his desk. He pricked his ring-finger, this time—*spread the love, I might be doing this a lot—*and smeared a sizzling patina of blood onto the white paper. The red letters formed on the page, he couldn’t wait for them, he was greedy
for them— That isn’t Greek,
Lyle realized. The new Word was explicated in a much more familiar—and, curiously, more recent—tongue. The new Word was translated in Latin.
libido Was the first Word I saw translated into Greek?
he wondered. When I ran from the library, from the blood, the first time, were those Greek letters?
He couldn’t be sure, it had happened so quickly, and hysteria warped the memory.
He couldn’t be sure, no. But he didn’t think so.
“Libido,” he pronounced into the quiet of the office. “Lust. Desire.” He stood there a long moment, lost in thought. Finally he reached beneath his desk and pulled out a slender leather briefcase. He wouldn’t leave it at the office again, not— Not knowing what it can do.
He placed the fascicle inside, locked the briefcase, and killed the grating fluorescents overhead. As he left the office he crumpled James’s sticky note in his fist and let it fall.
CONTINUED IN PT. 2: https://www.reddit.com/Horror_stories/comments/13wyq9j/ghost_word_pt_2/
submitted by JonathanRedding
to Horror_stories [link] [comments]
2023.05.31 23:25 neonit42 empty containers
so for some reason I have kitchen and bedroom containers empty. no items at all, no matter how many containers I searched. I'm quite sure this is a mod issue, but I just don't know what mod could cause that. any help?
mod = ModManager, mod = CheatMenuRB, mod = AzaDesertTiles, mod = AzaMountainTiles, mod = Cookie\_Tiles, mod = Diederiks Tile Palooza, mod = DylansTiles, mod = EN\_Newburbs, mod = EN\_Flags, mod = FantaStreetTiles\_01, mod = FearsFunkyTiles, mod = ManikRetexture\_Clean\_Tiles, mod = melos\_tiles\_for\_miles\_pack, mod = OujinjinTiles, mod = PertsPartyTiles, mod = simonMDsTiles, mod = SkizotsTiles, mod = TileFixes, mod = TryhonestyTiles, mod = iverytiles\_01, mod = tkTiles\_01, mod = 10YL\_RC, mod = 10YL\_KINGSMOUTH, mod = 10YL\_MAPS, mod = 10YL\_SAVEYOURSTATION, mod = XRoadsGunExpo, mod = Authentic Z - Current, mod = BedfordFalls, mod = Bendys Bunker v2, mod = Blackwood, mod = Checkpoint\_1, mod = Checkpoint\_2, mod = Checkpoint\_3, mod = Checkpoint\_4, mod = Checkpoint\_5, mod = Checkpoint\_6, mod = Chinatown, mod = Crossroads Checkpoint, mod = Cruise boat, mod = CruiseShip, mod = Desert, mod = EVAC\_Louisville, mod = EVAC\_Muldraugh, mod = EdsAutoSalvage, mod = EerieCountry, mod = ForagingZ, mod = FortKnoxLinked, mod = FORTREDSTONE, mod = Fort Rock Ridge, mod = Fort Waterfront, mod = GreenHellCommunityCenter, mod = InGameMaps, mod = InGameMaps\_Vanilla, mod = InGameMaps\_WestPointExpansion, mod = WestPointExpansion, mod = InGameMaps\_EerieCountry, mod = InGameMaps\_FortKnoxLinked, mod = InGameMaps\_FortKnoxRoad, mod = FortKnoxRoad, mod = InGameMaps\_FortRedstone, mod = Lighthousematrioshka, mod = Insurgent, mod = LincolnRegionalAirport, mod = LouisvilleBridgeSpawn, mod = Louisville\_Quarantine\_Zone, mod = metro, mod = military fuel depot, mod = MonkeysStartScenarioBase, mod = MonkeysStartScenarioBikerBackwardsCompatibilityPatch, mod = MuldraughCheckpoint, mod = OccupiedLouisvilleSpawnpoints12, mod = Otr, mod = OtrSR, mod = RV\_Interior\_MP, mod = RabbitHashKY, mod = RavenCreek, mod = SpawnsRC, mod = rbr, mod = rbrA2, mod = Riverwood, mod = RMH, mod = RosewoodVHSGunStores, mod = Sailors - Custom Spawn Mod -, mod = SaveOurStation\_KnoxCountry, mod = SecretZ\_v3, mod = RavenCreekEerieCompatibleSlocanLake, mod = RavenCreekEerieCompatibleSlocanLakeIngameMap, mod = TrimbleCountyPowerStation, mod = Legacy\_California, mod = Legacy\_Louisiana, mod = Legacy\_Vinegrove, mod = BRDM2, mod = UH60Helicopter, mod = UH60HelicopterSPspawns, mod = fol\_Take\_A\_Bath, mod = 67commando, mod = 78amgeneralM35A2, mod = 78amgeneralM49A2C, mod = 78amgeneralM50A3, mod = 78amgeneralM62, mod = 82oshkoshM911, mod = 86fordE150, mod = KI5VansExtra, mod = 86oshkoshP19A, mod = 87cruiser, mod = 90fordF350ambulance, mod = 92amgeneralM998, mod = 97bushmaster, mod = 10YearsLaterOccupations, mod = ProfessionFramework, mod = 10YearsLaterOccupationsSpawnItems, mod = 10yearslaterwrecksonly, mod = Alex, mod = Alex2, mod = ADRENALINE\_MOD, mod = AkyHair, mod = blkt\_crosshair, mod = blkt\_fonts, mod = ammomaker, mod = am\_bc, mod = hironiimenu, mod = Arsenal(26)GunFighter\[MAIN MOD 2.0\], mod = amclub, mod = tsarslib, mod = autotsartrailers, mod = ATA\_Bus, mod = ATA\_Jeep, mod = AZAGRAFFITI, mod = VISIBLE\_BACKPACK\_BACKGROUND, mod = BarricadeHurtZombies, mod = BarricadedWorld, mod = BatteryJumpstarter, mod = BetterFlashlights, mod = bettermasks, mod = bettermasks\_WMPatch, mod = WorkingMasks, mod = Better crowbar, mod = BetterSortCC, mod = Betterhandwash, mod = BB\_Cammo, mod = BB\_Utils, mod = BreakIntoTears, mod = ddBritaSoundFix, mod = BritaModelTweak, mod = Brita\_2, mod = BritasArmor\_Rig\_PawPaw\_Patch, mod = Brita, mod = DJ\_BritaPatch, mod = TheWorkshop(new version), mod = VOICE\_FRAMEWORK, mod = BuildOneByOne, mod = pz-bzoukhotbar, mod = bcUtils, mod = CAV\_Brawler, mod = Camo Netting, mod = CanteensAndBottles, mod = CDOI, mod = ChevalDeFrise, mod = Chloe Price, mod = ChristmasTime, mod = claimSH, mod = cleanashes, mod = MoreCLR\_desc4mood, mod = ClothesBoxRedux, mod = ClothingPreset, mod = BB\_CommonSense, mod = isoContainers, mod = ContainmentOperator\_Profession, mod = CraftHelperContinued, mod = MetalDrumRainCollector, mod = SteamCraftableEyepatches, mod = ARNHOutfits, mod = UniformsNH, mod = craftingEnhancedCore, mod = cremation, mod = DRLStandalone, mod = FH, mod = DRAW\_ON\_MAP, mod = DryFishMod, mod = waterPipes, mod = ducksBZSF, mod = DylansZombieLoot, mod = DynamicMining, mod = DynamicMonolog, mod = EasyConfigChucked, mod = eggonsAllDoorsAreYours, mod = eggonsModdingUtils, mod = EQUIPMENT\_UI, mod = EntertainYourself, mod = EssentialCrafting, mod = MezzHairColors, mod = EverythingHasAName, mod = ExerciseWithGear, mod = ExpandedHelicopterEvents, mod = ExtraMapSymbols, mod = ExtraMapSymbolsUI, mod = EN\_Flags\_Craft, mod = ExtraNoise's TV Channel 13, mod = FWOFitnessWorkoutOverhaul, mod = FWOBenchPress&Treadmill, mod = FancyHandwork, mod = FasterHoodOpening, mod = FearTheSun, mod = FencingKits, mod = firegastrail, mod = FAKRemodel, mod = FixCapacityOverlap, mod = FixTooltipLag, mod = FuelAPI, mod = FUMOTH, mod = FunctionalChainsaw, mod = GenRange, mod = Glow Sticks, mod = GunSuicide, mod = GunFighter\_Radial\_Menu, mod = HEADGEAR, mod = CAR, mod = HHair, mod = HSPR, mod = HealthPlus, mod = IBM-EB, mod = ImprovedBuildMenuFallen, mod = ItemTweakerAPI, mod = ImmersiveOverlaysRetextureLessIntrusiveVersion, mod = Improved\_Blood\_Ffects, mod = Improved\_Fire\_And\_Smoke\_Ffects, mod = improvedhairmenu, mod = ImprovisedBackpacks, mod = ImprovisedGlass, mod = IndustrialOvenFix, mod = RiskyInspectWeapon, mod = INVENTORY\_TETRIS, mod = ItemTweakerAPIExtraClothingAddon, mod = jumpThroughWindows, mod = kamaz53949, mod = Kate Marsh, mod = KitdeCostura, mod = KnifeAction, mod = KnivesCutClothesAndHair, mod = Lifestyle, mod = Lingering Voices, mod = LongLifeBulbs, mod = LuckyPlushies, mod = lumberjackshirtsrecolored, mod = M113\_APC\_by\_Papa\_Chad, mod = MaintenanceImprovesRepair, mod = MapLegendUI, mod = MapSymbolSizeSlider, mod = mileage-expansion, mod = MGRS (FMCCYAYFGLE), mod = Military\_Tool\_Kit, mod = MiniHealthPanel, mod = MinimalDisplayBars, mod = PSiMusic, mod = truemusic, mod = MoarCanOpeners, mod = modoptions, mod = MoodleDog, mod = MoodleFramework, mod = MonkeysStartScenarioJaap, mod = MonkeysStartScenarioRV, mod = FRUsedCars, mod = MonkeysStartScenarioBikerAutoTsarMotorclub, mod = MoreBuilds, mod = More Builds Plus, mod = More Gloves, mod = MMS, mod = MoreMaps, mod = mccsMod, mod = MusicfortheEndOP, mod = MusicfortheEndEX, mod = DDU\_NamedMaps, mod = necoarcmask, mod = NepBatteryColor, mod = NepEngineColor, mod = newcontainers, mod = Anim\_HandTorch, mod = M998NH, mod = NightVisionChucked, mod = eris\_nightvision\_goggles, mod = NVG, mod = NVAPI, mod = nattachments, mod = noirrsling, mod = OutTheWindow, mod = PaddedArmor, mod = PwSleepingbags, mod = PLLoot, mod = HarmonicaLS, mod = MilPoncho, mod = postapoc\_occupations, mod = projcardz, mod = PushFurniture, mod = RCExplosivesZ, mod = RDC\_Z777, mod = RainCleansBlood, mod = RainWash, mod = ReactiveSoundEvents, mod = RealShoulderHolsters, mod = RebalancedPropMoving, mod = ReloadAllMagazines, mod = RemoveDebris, mod = RenameContainers, mod = REORDER\_CONTAINERS, mod = REORDER\_THE\_HOTBAR, mod = JSRetroBooks, mod = rideabletrucks, mod = RotatorsLib, mod = RusGarments, mod = SaveOurStation\_Core, mod = satchelwithbagsIT, mod = SavottaBackpacks, mod = ScavengingSkillFixed, mod = seifuku, mod = ScrapArmor(new version), mod = ScrapArmorTweaks, mod = scrapcec, mod = ScrapGuns(new version), mod = ScrapWeapons(new version), mod = ScrapWeaponsMagazineFix, mod = ScreamerZRare, mod = ServingPlates, mod = BLTAnnotations, mod = Shoutsound, mod = SimpleConvertToBritaSRC, mod = SimplePlayablePianos4150, mod = UIAPI, mod = SkillRecoveryJournal, mod = Skizots Visible Boxes and Garbage2, mod = SIB3402, mod = sleeponit, mod = SlowConsumption, mod = snowiswaterbeta, mod = TieOnSpearheads, mod = SpnOpenCloth, mod = SpnHair, mod = spraypaintEDIT, mod = MetroLifestyleAddonSkill, mod = StalkerLifestyleAddonSkill, mod = SteamPoweredGenerator, mod = DropRollMod, mod = SuperbSurvivorsContinued, mod = SBM, mod = 2622297867, mod = Swatpack, mod = AnimSync, mod = tactorgsol, mod = Tariq's Beards, mod = DivisionBackpack, mod = TheEngineer, mod = Amputation2, mod = P4TidyUpMeister, mod = TileFixes\_ParkingGateNoStop, mod = TomClancyProfessions, mod = Trash and Corpses But Just The Interactive Trash, mod = TreesHaveLoot, mod = TrueCrouching, mod = Metro-Exodus-Music-Pack, mod = reality's\_music, mod = EDGERUNNERS\_music\_mod, mod = TrueActionsPatch4173, mod = TMC\_TrueActions, mod = TurnOffTVRadioFromContextMenu, mod = DRK\_1, mod = UndeadSuvivor, mod = UnderCoverOfDarkness, mod = unstacklogsontheground, mod = AlicesMultiWearVanilla, mod = VestsandOveralls, mod = Video\_Game\_Consoles, mod = VGC\_Addon\_GameBoyGames, mod = mrnvsbhltr, mod = VisibleHolster\_rexexture\_black, mod = VOICES, mod = rSemiTruck, mod = LexxRigsExtra, mod = WZ531\_APC, mod = WalkieTalkieModelsB41, mod = rWaterTrailerSemi, mod = rWaterTrailer, mod = WaterPipes Plus, mod = TheStar, mod = Wheelbarrow, mod = FC4WT, mod = WorkingVending, mod = YakiHSBasegameTexture, mod = YakiHS, mod = YouDriveISleep, mod = ZRemoteDoorControlSystemUIVol1, mod = VaccinDrReapers, mod = addTrailerHome\_RV\_Interior\_MP, mod = ahzbritagrayskins, mod = clothesboxskirtmeshfix, mod = errorMagnifier, mod = ezDirt, mod = sDayZ.MinimalDisplayBars, mod = uaz2206, mod = zReBetterLockpicking, mod = QNW\_Ladder, mod = QNW\_QNWLibrary, mod = Mirror\_avator, mod = BetterMakeup, mod = Replace Bandage,
submitted by neonit42
to projectzomboid [link] [comments]
2023.05.31 23:16 AslandusTheLaster Wyn-OWLS admins say you should touch some grass
Original prompt: [WP] Humanity has advanced to the point they live entirely online. You disconnect offline into a physical body for a government expedition. Report everything you’ve discovered about the offline world. (link
) I was halfway through a dragon-slaying quest with my guild when the message arrived. Apparently I'd been selected to take part in an "expedition", and if I didn't log out of Wyn-Life's Open World Life Simulator (Wyn-Owls for short), then I'd be ejected by force. My guild was supportive, as always, but none of them hid the fact that they had no idea what it meant.
About a day later, I discovered I'd been added to a messaging group with the other expedition members. Looking around the existing messages, the feelings among the group seemed mixed. Some, who had grown up hearing family members' stories of The Time Before were excited to see the world outside. Others were skeptical, thinking of the physical world as being just like Wyn-Owls, except they couldn't hack the system to fly or turn the world pink.
Personally, I was among the skeptics. I'd seen the physical world, but only during the recommended physical exercise periods. What I'd seen wasn't anything special, a chamber with solid gray walls I couldn't punch through, a few glowing LEDs, a few pieces of furniture for dealing with bodily functions while outside our life-support modules... Spending a matter of weeks out there just seemed like a miserable chore. Still, Wyn-Life had given the order, and they controlled both Wyn-Owls and the life support modules, so we didn't have much choice in the matter.
My preparations for the expedition were... Well, nonexistent, frankly. They could force me out of the OWLS, but they couldn't make me leave the bunker, so I didn't plan to. After a few days, they'd have to let us back in, so I planned to just sit around eating microbe chips and waiting to be allowed back online.
When the day finally came, I had been in the middle of figuring out the alchemy system, attempting to create a potion that would allow me to breathe underwater. It was slightly jarring to go from carefully measuring out colorful chemicals to coughing up faux-amniotic fluid on the concrete floor of my bunker, but I quickly pulled myself together and settled in to wait it out.
Well, I tried to. After about ten minutes of stretching and milling around my bedroom (accompanied by the usual cacophony of my joints cracking and popping after days of disuse), the lights shut off and a small rectangle lit up. Some kind of handheld communication device had been created in my 3D printer while I was still in Wyn-Owls, and was now blinking in a desperate gambit to draw my attention. I took a look at it, and wasn't particularly impressed. It was far less convenient than the communication windows in the OWLS, but I would have to accept the inconvenience since the physical world apparently wasn't sophisticated enough to have communication windows.
The communicators defaulted to a group chat with the other expedition members, who seemed to be in a similar state. Even the ones who had been excited before were terrified. We didn't even have light switches, so the lights going out all at once seemed like a borderline apocalyptic scenario. As we were speculating about what they were going to ask us to do, the LEDs near the floor began blinking in sequence, directing me toward the door.
I considered sticking with my plan of sitting around, but decided against it. Doing so in the dark wasn't what I'd had in mind, and who knew what else Wyn-Life would pull to make us do their bidding? Instead, I quickly got dressed in the drab clothes of the physical world and stepped out of my room for the first time in over a year.
My parents' bedroom was active, with the lights visible behind the door, but locked as usual. Grandparents, same story. Siblings, surprise surprise, also locked. Honestly, I wasn't entirely sure all of them were still alive (or any of them for that matter), but they still answered my messages within a few days of them being sent, so I assumed they were. Sure, there were rumors that Wyn-Life could maintain a person's consciousness inside Wyn-Owls even if their physical body died, but I'd assumed they were wrong. After all, Wyn-Owls basically was the world these days, so why would they bother having us leave to do physicals and such if we didn't need our bodies? I quickly realized I had gotten distracted, and returned to my path.
The lights led me out of my family dormitory, and past the doors of our neighbors. I had met many of them in passing, but I was only 14. It wasn't expected that we'd get married until the Pairing Day of our 25th year, so I had plenty of time to decide which of the girls in the community I disliked the least.
As I continued to follow the lights, I passed the common room where community gatherings were held back in the Dark Times, before Wyn-Owls was properly set up. Nowadays it was basically obsolete, OWLS made gatherings easier and much more interesting, but the automated maintenance systems still kept the room in good condition just in case.
Finally, I reached what looked like a destination. It wasn't a gate to the outside, but one of the old armories. Not to say that it was just a stockpile of ancient weapons, though it did have a fair few of those, it also contained its own more sophisticated 3D printers with access to weapon schematics. As I entered, two items had just been finished, hot off the printers. One was a Holo-Rifle, identical to the standard guns used in Wyn-Owls for marksmanship and hunting. I had little doubt that was intentional, though I wasn't sure whether they'd modeled the guns in the simulation after the real thing, or built the real thing based off how their virtual guns worked. I had never been a big fan of them personally, they were pretty bulky and the light beams they fired didn't have as much impact as I would've preferred, but if Wyn-Life thought I might need it then I'd take it with me.
The other item was an Omnitool. The handle was easy to keep a grip on, which was good given that the liquid metal that formed the actual operative instrument was still shifting around like crazy. It formed a blade, a weighted hammer, a segmented whip, a crook and a surprisingly long baton before retreating into the handle. I was more familiar with this tool, it was a lot of fun to play around with, and you could pull off some crazy stunts in the tournament arena if you used it well, but for the expedition I had to assume they intended it to be a multitool and not a wacky weapon. I carefully stowed the tool in my pocket as the lights dimmed again, and the LEDs on the floor began guiding me to a new destination.
I passed the old cafeteria, where food used to be served regularly before the nutrient synthesizers were installed in our rooms. They still saw some use during events, and the hydroponically-grown food was always a nice treat compared to flavorless paste the synthesizers usually produced, but I did not miss the lines we had to wait in.
Finally, it seemed I'd reached a door I'd never seen the other side of. The Big Door, which led to parts unknown. I'd wondered when I was younger what was on the other side, but had since lost interest. Now, though, it opened, and behind it was... a stairway. There was also an elevator, but the lights weren't directing me to it and the buttons didn't respond when I pressed them, so I assumed it hadn't been maintained properly and began climbing the stairs.
The staircase was enormous, and as I climbed I passed other doors that I could only assume led to other Wyn-Life community bunkers. Door after door, I climbed what must have been dozens of flights worth of stairs until I reached an even bigger door. After a few seconds, a klaxon sounded while a spinning red light filled the room and the door began to open. Behind it was an airlock, and I stepped inside, the door to the bunker sealing behind me before the door on the other side opened. We'd all been taught about The War, so I'd almost expected a burnt-out hellscape to be waiting beyond the door, but as the outside came into view, it quickly became apparent that that wasn't the case.
The light was absolutely blinding. I had always wondered why the comfortable level of illumination was only 5% of what the settings allowed, but seeing how bright the outside was, it made a bit more sense. After all, the basic design for the bunker had almost certainly been made back when people were still living out here, so this must have been the standard for the original designers. The air also seemed strangely... rich? It was moist, and felt a bit thick, but also significantly more pleasant to breathe than the air from the corridors I'd just left. As strange as it may sound, it almost felt like it was the first time I'd gotten to properly use my lungs.
As my eyes adjusted, I noticed just how strange everything looked. Even the most exotic servers and alien worlds generally had a familiar feel, sort of like recolors or alterations of objects from other places in the Wyn-Owls. Even just looking at the plant life from the entryway of the bunker, it seemed... off.
The first thing I noticed were the trees. Evergreens so tall that they seemed to touch the clouds, with no low-hanging branches that would allow anyone to climb them. I was already missing the ability to fly, it would've made examining the treetops much easier. Closer to the ground there were ferns, vines covered in thorns, and... A plant with fur on its leaves? It seemed the outside was a bit too strange to rely on just a written report, I desperately needed to take some screenshots to accompany it. Nobody would believe me if I just told them about this stuff!
I almost immediately realized that the physical world didn't support screenshots, much to my chagrin. Since my communicator gave me access to the messaging system, I wondered if I could use it to get around this limitation as well.
After touching it in a few places and a few ways, I found a way to open a menu offering different functions. I flicked through the various options, and stopped on photography. The device was a bit finicky, so it took me a few tries to get a good shot, but I did manage to get some clear pictures. I quickly began drafting a report, as I took my first step onto the ground outside. The ground sank in a little under my foot, nearly causing me to fall over. The soft ground only added to the alien feel of the outside, as if I was walking on the skin of some giant animal instead of nice, solid tile flooring.
Still, it wasn't altogether unpleasant, and I bandied around the idea of taking off my shoes to feel the soft ground with my feet before noticing all the debris that would probably have impaled my feet if I did. As I submitted my first report, I was already considering what direction to explore first. No HUD icons, no quest markers, no actual objectives aside from "look around and report what you find", and no advice to be had apart from that of other idiots who were in the exact same situation. It was terrifying, and also somewhat exhilarating, but it seemed that I would need to carve my own path for the foreseeable future.
submitted by AslandusTheLaster
to AslandusTheLaster [link] [comments]