Large diameter clear heat shrink tubing

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2015.07.18 04:00 DONG_MAGNUM Share your battery wrap designs!


2023.06.10 21:53 steel_magnolia_med Can I splice together wires on the front end harness vs replacing the whole thing?

Can I splice together wires on the front end harness vs replacing the whole thing?
My air conditioning (“AC”) on my Honda CRV 2020 with 50K miles is out, so I took it to the dealership and they diagnosed my car with the front end wire harness connection being broken (they attributed the degradation of the wires to heat damage, due to placement of the wires… seems like a design flaw if that was the cause). See the photo of the nub. I tried getting an after market pigtail connector for just the broken AC connecting a arm, and it was slightly too large when my boyfriend tried to plug it in to the car part where it connects. So I went back to Honda and they said they don’t sell individual pigtail connectors, just the whole front end harness with all of the arms to all of the connecting items. They want $750 to install a whole new front end harness vs fixing just the AC arm. I thought maybe a mechanic could just splice the wires together on the AC arm specifically, but didn’t realize the wires are wrapped in thick stiff insulating tubing. Makes it look a harder to cut off the AC arm, but I know nothing about this.
Would it be possible to just cut the tubing to get the wires to the AC arm off the rest of the new harness, splice the wire ends of the cut AC arm to the wires on the old harness that’s installed in my car to fix the AC connection, vs taking out the whole harness and replacing it with the new harness? I put pictures below of the broken part with the wires sticking out, side by side with the new wire harness. Want to fix this for as cheaply as possible to get through this summer heat, doing my deliveries for work. Thank you!
submitted by steel_magnolia_med to AskMechanics [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 21:25 Smoking-Bandit Hunter x Hunter: Ratings & Thoughts (51 - 60 + Phantom Rouge)

First time watcher, no spoilers beyond the final episode listed, please. And preferably no "hints" of what's to come either. I'm aware seeing the movie where I did is controversial, but please also refrain from telling me whatever it is the movie supposedly "spoiled" for me by seeing it in this order. I have heard they do that, but as of now, I am still unaware of what that would be. Let's keep it that way :)

51. A × Brutal × Battlefield - 4/5 (Basho and Melody is such a funny pairing due to how drastically different they both are, looks AND personality wise. And their discreet outfits make it even funnier. Anyway, Neon's fortune telling ability finally plays a role in the story. Only the ability though, not her as a character. She's just an annoying ditz who's selfishness causes problems for others. In this case, she straight up aided Chrollo with a fortune that'll likely ensure the Phantom Troupe a more successful attack. Speaking of; THAT'S Chrollo? He looks drastically different from before! His face looks way more round. But it probably isn't, and it's only the let down hair that's fooling me.
Oh my lord, seeing the assasin who's been half-eaten by Nen fish was absolutely cursed. But it's supposedly completely painless, which is a bit of a relief, because that actually makes it less cursed. He passes immediately as the fish disappear, so, pretty much instant. That's more merciful than I'd expect of Chrollo. I definitely enjoyed the atmospheric ending where there's no sound effects but only dramatic music during the Phantom Troupe's attack. It struck even harder that "shit's going down" when the music kept playing even during the end credits. Hunterpedia kinda ruined the mood, though...)

52. Assault × And × Impact - 4/5 (I find it kind of endearing how much Light Nostrade has begun to trust Kurapika. He's straight up begging him to stay, not demanding. A much nicer employer than I was lead to believe at first. It's hard to decipher how Kurapika feels, because he acts like it's all business, but I'd wager he's growing a closer connection to the Nostrade family than he realizes. Partially because I'm not sure why Light and Neon would even get so much screentime if that weren't so. Though he was obviously not very happy that Light forced him back just as he was about to face Chrollo. No issue though, since Zeno and Silva is on that case. That was definitely an intense fight, and it shows how powerful the Zoldyck's really are, if even the leader of the Phantom Troupe, the group who has been talked about as all-powerful, is surviving the fight by a hair.
Side note: That's one Albert Einstein-looking ass doctor. I always get suspicious when characters look distinct as opposed to generic, because it naturally makes you assume they'll actually be important, otherwise why would they look unique? That said, this is probably not one of those cases, and he just happened to be a distinct looking background character. Also, I find it amusing that Hisoka isn't even taking part of the attack. He's just looking)

53. Fake × And × Psyche - 4/5 (Illumi's not just ruining things for his brother, but his father and grandpa as well, I see. That was a bit of an anticlimactic end to the fight. It feels a bit weird to see Chrollo so talkative and casual in tone. From the little I've of him, he came off much as more of a calculative man of few words, not someone who would ask smug questions or fall down and groan after a fight. Would sooner expect him to act like it was barely a scratch. The heist plan itself is pretty calculated though. But on the other hand, I also don't get why they bother hosting the entire auction only to pond off fake items, given Chrollo is able to use Owl's shrinking cloth ability. They can just steal the stuff and leave.
Wow, the latter half of this episode sure was depressing (barring Leorio and Zepile getting drunk). Seeing Kurapika defeatedly bid on the Kurta eyes and all that. To be fair, he could have just NOT called Light and mentioned that the auction was active, but I digress. I suppose he'd rather Light owns them than someone else. I'm glad that I finally got to experience the full context of the "Kurapika is now drowning in an indescribable emptiness" meme at last. Also, was Hisoka really trying to call Kurapika while he's within hearing vicinity of the entire Phantom Troupe? I guess it's a GOOD thing Kurapika couldn't pick up)

54. Fortunes × Aren't × Right? - 4/5 (Wow, the animation of Gon and Killua playing around and having an eating contest was oddly expressive. That bit of Kurapika laughing, too. Wholesome moment. Anyway, this episode is mostly just the Phantom Troupe bickering in their hideout, which is entertaining in and of itself, because they thought they were such bigshots, and now they're fretting about ONE guy. There's some infodumping about Meteor City, which is like, a literal giant garbage dump? That people live in? Not much of a "city" if you ask me, though they do say the population is quite large, so there's gotta be housing around there, surely. But all we see of it in this episode is just miles of trash.
Hisoka being discovered as a traitor is an interesting note to leave on, I guess. I liked the little emoticon of himself he texted to Kurapika. ⭐-_-💧)

55. Allies × And × Lies - 3/5 (Hisoka pretending that the Chain User has set a condition on him to avoid suspicion was incredibly clever. It's just amusing to see him play both sides. Much like the previous episode, this is mostly the characters sitting around and strategizing, but this time it's the protagonists. I'm a little confused why Gon asked Kurapika to put a Nen condition on him. Did he want the condition to be that it'll kill him if he squeals, or one that'll kill him if he doesn't do the mission? It's probably the former, but I guessed the latter initially because he seemed unsure about the mission, so he could have wanted a condition that would end him if he didn't do his part, essentially giving him no choice. Also, it's funny that he's doubting that he'll be able to distract the Troupe for one mere second. ONE. A valid concern given how perceptive they are, it's just crazy that even a seconds distraction is a tough task.
That aside, I adored the wholesome moment when Kurapika shows appreciation for his friends and admits that he would never use his Nen dagger on them. Instead, he's just emotionally manipulating them. LOL. Side note: When Neon and her bodyguards were leaving, did Squala and Eliza use telepathy to speak to each other? What the heck was that?)

56. Beloved × And × Beleaguered - 5/5 (LOL at Basho falling in the opening. Anyway, my goodness, this episode is beautiful. The dark sky, the rain, the shiny and dimly lit streets etc. Even the water droplets on glass windows look so good that you have to appreciate them. It all makes it so atmospheric. And it sure helps that the episode itself is very thrilling. I loved that Kurapika called Melody in to help the mission, I really enjoy her. She and Killua stalking the Phantom Troupe together was exciting. I find it amusing that the Phantom Troupe, the most notorious deadly gang of thieves in the world with insane Nen abilities, are casually using public transport.
Kurapika, Gon and Killua tailing the troupe was even more exciting. The chase got so intense and I loved how casually and abruptly it ended with Gon revealing himself to save Kurapika's skin. Pretty convenient that Killua just arrived in the same alley as Kurapika so that he could exit and make them none the wiser that there was a third person there, though. But I liked that too. I thought they were going to lie and say that they were following them because they changed their mind about joining. That would have probably been more clever than pretending to be unaware that the bounty was off.
I can see now why Squala got that scene saying goodbye to his girlfriend in the last episode, and the one here about looking for a new job. It was all to take him away at the end anyway! Dammit! Anyway, while I feel pretty bad for him, I kept thinking more about those poor dogs. I'm glad the Troupe didn't hurt them, and that Squala just let them walk away during the confrontation, but what's gonna happen to them now? Are they going to live as strays in the streets of Yorknew City? That's so sad. Anyway, Kurapika's outfit in this episode is epic)

57. Initiative × And × Law - 4/5 (Why did they play Just Awake on the radio in the beginning of this? Pretty distracting. Regardless, Leorio giving coded clues under the guise of an angry businessman was very clever. I loved everything about this plan. It's so amusing to watch the Phantom Troupe frantically keep on their toes out of fear. It's always satisfying watching characters with such huge egos get humbled. And boy do they get humbled here. Kurapika bosses them around like crazy through the phone, and it's funny how powerless they are to do anything about it. I especially loled when they put Killua on the phone, he started squealing about them planning to disobey, and they immediately yank it away from it.
Nobunaga being happy to see Gon and Killua and still wanting to recruit them was pretty... Nice? Like, he genuinely seemed glad. This is why I think lying about wanting to join them would have been a pretty good angle to take, but I digress. Kurapika mocking Chrollo for being "fooled" by his female disguise is pretty funny given, you know... He still looks and sounds like a woman regardless of the wig)

58. Signal × To × Retreat - 4/5 (That was honestly a pretty anticlimactic end to the arc. Though it's obviously not the end to the Phantom Troupe's story, just the Yorknew arc, so it makes sense that it doesn't feel like a satisfying finale. There's clearly gonna be more. It felt like there was a message here that implies Kurapika's revenge spree is wrong. It's not stated too blunty, but Gon and Killua say that they don't want him to pursue revenge like this, and the fact that the Phantom Troupe were repeatedly more humanized and shown to be like a family who actually care about each other makes me assume that something like that was the intention, and I honestly couldn't agree less. It doesn't matter if Nobunaga is sad about Uvo or Pakunoda cares about Chrollo, these are all still dangerous murders who deserve to be locked up. But since that's impossible given their abilities, I don't think Kurapika would be wrong to exterimate them.
It's pretty funny that I praised Kurapika for not being like a typical hero protagonist with an "I don't kill" rule, but then he goes on to still abide by a classic "honor code" where he'll actually stick to his words, even though he's dealing with, again, dangerous murderers who will continue to murder once released. Though it's still satisfying enough that he managed to kill two of them (even if the latter wasn't direct) and prevented Chrollo from being able to use Nen or see the Troupe again. And I had a huge laugh at Hisoka's baffled reaction to hearing Chrollo's news)

Movie. Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge - 4/5 (That was a suspenseful and atmospheric opening sequence. Illumi was genuinely terrifying when he rushed towards those innocent children. I was thankful when Killua woke up because that meant it was all a dream. But then I realized it was probably a real memory, so, yeah... Very unnerving to say the least. Arguably more unnerving was the flight attendant's face when she got mad at Gon and Killua... That was ghastly. Though I can't say I blame her; Their "argument" was literally about NOTHING.
Kurapika's backstory wasn't as much of a "backstory" as I was expecting, only one day he spent with his friend Pairo. But I don't mind, since it was a nice sequence. I always like to see smug bastards like the ones who harassed Pairo get their ass kicked. It kind of negates the satisfaction when it's revealed that the Elder hired them to do it as a "test" though, but it's amusing enough that Pairo cheated by swapping the eye drop vile, so the Elder was none the wiser that they revealed their eyes publicly. It's pretty zany how having red eyes is something that makes people consider you a "freak" and worthy of literal public ridecule in the middle of the street, though. Like, we know contact lenses exist in this show, since Kurapika has used them. Why wouldn't red contact lenses exist? Also, maybe if Kurapika didn't have massive anime eyes, his red eyes would probably largely go unnoticed. LOL.
Wow, that was just the opening? That took a whole episode worth of time! But it was great stuff. And once the story actually began, I was impressed by how consistently engaging it was, never boring for a moment. I was very into in Killua's arc throughout the film. The show has dealt with his trauma from Illumi's grooming previously, like when he faced Illumi in the Hunter Exam, or when Nobunaga had him and Gon trapped in a room. But it never felt as genuine as it did here. First, his severe jealousy over the fact that Gon made a new friend was interesting. I liked that inner conflict. Second, his genuine fear during the fight against the Uvo and then Illumi puppet felt incredibly genuine and powerful. I don't know what other words to describe it with. Every scene that focuses on this arc was fantastic. Especially when he was running away from the Illumi puppet, only to see Gon dramatically thrown through the window. I actually found it quite emotional when Gon sacrifices himself and gets his eyes stolen from him, and Killua just runs away becuase he doesn't deserve such a friend according to himself. I actually got a little teary eyed at that train scene.
As for the villain of the film, Omokage, I actually found him quite interesting, and his puppet Nen ability was cool. The subtle hints that Retz was somehow connected to him kept me even more interested. I mean, it was pretty obvious, what with her being introduced as a street puppeteer (Although I hate that CG puppet. Ugly), and then finding out that the thief of Kurapika's eyes also makes puppets. Suspicious much? The mystery of it all was very interesting, basically. And the final reveal that Retz is actually just a puppet made of his dead sister was fricking horrifying. The movie definitely raises some unintentional questions about what it really means to be a "puppet" with this abiliy. The puppets are such genuine replicas that they actually have the memories and feelings of the person they're replicating. So technically, aren't they just a copy of the person they're replicating? Although what's depressing is the fact that they are just that; A copy. Even if the Retz puppet has the same memories as Retz, the actual Retz is still, unfortunately, very much not alive.
The heft and oomph of the battles were incredible. It felt much more rough than usual. Specifically in the fight against puppet Illumi when he flung Gon into a wall, as well as the aforementioned "Gon tossed out window" moment. There's even oomph to his teleporting (or just running so fast he's briefly invisible I guess?). Even though it's not the real Illumi, you can really feel how powerful he is. And creepy, what with how he begins by just saying "Ki ki ki ki ki", and moves like a stiff doll.
The same praise goes to the final battle as well. It was kind of all over the place with characters, but I found it cool that Gon and Kurapika fought while blind. And it was pretty epic that, although brief, even Leorio joined in on the fighting. Specifically when he defended Kurapika against puppet Pairo. He tried rushing Omokage, but failed pretty hard. But it was still a badass effort, so I salute it. And I found it pretty amusing how smugly Omokage rejects Kurapika trying to force a Nen condition on him. Chrollo and Pakunoda agreed pretty easily previously, but this guy absolutely refuses with a big fat "NO". LOL. Hisoka (oh yeah, he randomly showed up in the end) fighting the Chrollo puppet was pretty fun to see, given how much he's wanted fight Chrollo. Not the real one, but the best he'll get at the moment, I suppose. The real Phantom Troupe showing up at the end was definitely a "lolwhat?" moment, but nevertheless I thought it was cool, and an interesting way to end. Overall, I do not understand why people hate this movie. This was great. Side note: That tailor from the clothes shop was weird)

59. Bid × And × Haste - 3/5 (I'm gonna be blunt, the new visuals for the intro are NOT that good. There's barely any action going on in it, mostly just shots of characters standing still. Mostly. It's not completely devoid of action, but it certainly can't beat seeing Kurapika fighting, Leorio running, getting yanked by Gon's fishing rod and then Killua casually kicking some butt. Or the Phantom Troupe showcase.
So, what exactly is Gon's plan if he actually gets accepted to clear Greed Island for Battera? The reason he wants to play the game is to find Ging's clue, which he specifically left in a save file. Gon would need to continue the game on that save file, otherwise there's not gonna be a clue in the game. Duh. Anyway, not a lot else happened in this episode, but it was amusing enough to see Gon and Killua train their special abilities. Or rather, Gon's ears repeatedly steam as he's trying to come up with an ability, lol. Killua trying to master electricity kind of fits him, given he has white, spiky hair, and electric bolts/shocks is often depicted as white and spiky)

60. End × And × Beginning - 3/5 (Goodbye Kurapika and Leorio. Melody complimenting Leorio's heartbeat was very wholesome. Anyway, with the two best of the four main characters once again gone, I'm expecting another quality dip. Not that it'll be garbage or anything. This was a semi interesting start to Greed Island, I guess. The screening being so selective does make me more curious of how intense this game can really be. The guy Gon and Killua met there though, Puhat, looks like a fricking muppet. Freaky. I thought the tutorial room looked pretty cool, and I found it amusing that Ging didn't leave a clue whatsoever, he just tricked Gon into playing the game.
So, uh, what exactly was the point of Milluki in the Greed Island auction arc? In 5 short scenes spread out between 23 episodes, he is seen researching Greed Island, going to the auction, bidding and failing, and finally in this epic climax... Going back home in defeat. Arguably the greatest arc in the entire series so far. /s)
submitted by Smoking-Bandit to HunterXHunter [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 21:21 Mikiemax80 Had a weird experience / bug that maybe someone can help with figuring out.

So I’m new to UE and have been trying to Learn UE5
I’m loving it so far and my progress has been pretty good - I’ve only been doing this about 3-4 weeks.
Like most people would do I’ve been following videos on YouTube etc.
So here’s the issue I had:
I created a project and followed the videos for an RPG game - I am currently on about the 20th video or so. I get through about 3-4 videos a day (been about a week since I started this one)
The project is all kept in one place and the folder system within is fairly well organized - per the video. As advised in the video - I Save frequently (probably I hit Ctrl-Shift-S once every 5 mins) and about every 1-2 hrs or so I’ll close and reopen the project.
Yesterday I picked up where I had left off the day before. I started doing the remainder of the inventory system that was being implemented.
However at a certain point in the video I was paying attention to the left panel of the Third Person Cha BP (and the name of a Variable being created.)
When I looked at the tutorial vid I noticed there were a couple variables present that weren’t present in my project. But I hadn’t skipped anything.
I began to investigate and realized these were variables for a bunch of stuff that I had competed the day before but now they were both missing in my project…
upon further checking I noticed I also was missing a couple of functions.
Eventually I checked everything and determined that although I had all the changes I had made earlier that day… large chunks of BP code that I had updated and saved (multiple times) the day before was missing.
I was confused… I was certain I had completed it… but it made no sense - it wasn’t there.
I thought to myself - maybe I was eating and just following the video at this point - perhaps I “felt” I had completed it but my familiarity had only left me with that mistaken idea in order to satisfy myself that everything was fine - I told myself that must be the case (at least for some small portion) so I decided I’d jump back a few videos and see if I missed anything.
So after I determined what was missing I jumped back and redid the tutorial.
Here’s the thing:
As I was re- doing the steps - I became certain I had not omitted anything, I had a clear recollection of completing each step.
Furthermore I had final edit versions on all the ancillary files associated with those sections… eg completed animation montages/input bindings etc. (files which were not created until certain parts of tutorial and then finalized with optimum values or necessary fields later)
So can anyone tell me what might have happened my code?
How Can a project which was saved probably 20-30 times while I completed this work be suddenly missing a bunch of code from a number of different files within the project - but reference files being called or used from that ‘missing’ code are still in the project folders (even though these were created at or after the code was completed)
I’m confused what could have possibly happened.
I’d like to avoid this happening again but to do so I need to know how/why it happened.
submitted by Mikiemax80 to unrealengine [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 21:15 Born-Beach Something twisted crawled out from the edge of the universe. We are not alone.


The moment Gray touches my head, static ripples across my skull. I froth at the mouth. Choke. For a little while, I think I’m probably dying, but then I lose all sense of awareness. I’m falling. I’m breaching the atmosphere of my mind and crashing into a dimension outside of myself, outside of everything.
Images flash. They’re like a film reel, playing across my consciousness from every direction. They’re everywhere. Inescapable. It’s as if I’m inhabiting them, as though they were moments in time and everything from sight, sound and smell are collapsing in on one another like a dying star.
Gray calls this ‘disorienting.’
But then, just when I tell myself I want out— that I can’t take it anymore because my disembodied ghost is about to explode… It slows. The whole process hits the brakes. The visual hurricane calms from a category 5 to a 3, and then settles into a 1.
Moments float to the surface. Others sink out of sight.
Like a sponge, my mind starts absorbing information– everything from quantum physics to the lyrical discography of Shania Twain. Knowledge becomes trivial. As soon as I want to know something, I reach out and take it.
It’s exhilarating.
But then, something catches my attention. It’s a series of shimmering lights in my lake of thought, gleaming jewels that seem to be drawing me toward them. Somehow, I know that these are why I’ve come here. These are what Gray meant for me to find, the so-called truth that would justify all of the abductions, all of the murders.
So I reach out.
Information bombards me. It carpet-bombs my mind, and in the overwhelming chaos of it all, the entire history of the cosmos is laid bare before me.
I see it. I see everything.
Gray and Teal? Not monsters. An alien species called the Vytar. Their technology eclipses humanity’s, and they’ve existed for billions of years. They’ve done remarkable things in that time, everything from mastering hyperlight travel to creating edible spray cheese. They’ve even charted the entirety of the cosmos.
What I’m saying is they've been busy.
But my revelations don’t stop there. No, they keep coming.
I see tragedy.
I see it in the Vytar’s search for answers. In their quest to uncover every nook and cranny of the universe, they come across two devastating discoveries. Firstly, they learn that they are alone in the cosmos. Secondly, they discover their species is going extinct.
It happens like this.
Near the edge of space, a Vytar ship discovers life. But it isn’t intelligent. Far from it. This life is microbial, viral, and it infects the explorers. They toss themselves into quarantine. They’re observed, and a shocking discovery is made– this virus?
Not so bad.
In fact, maybe it’s just what they've been looking for.
Soon, Vytarians across the cosmos are lining up to be infected with the virus. Within a century, their entire species are carriers. It jumps between them like the common cold, but they don’t mind. Not at all. Why? Easy. This virus comes with a satisfaction guarantee: biological immortality.
Now there’s a deal.
The trouble is, these Vytar don’t work like humans do. They don’t have sex and make babies and then sleep and then wake up and do it again. No, these Vytar lay eggs. And only certain members of their species lay eggs. And what’s more? They only lay eggs during a specific molting period at the end of their life cycles.
See what I’m getting at?
Biological immortality or laying eggs. Pick one. You can’t have both if you’re the Vytar. But by the time they figure this out, this virus has infected every last colony of their civilization. Unable to reproduce, their population enters freefall. It develops what’s known as an existential crisis, and if there’s one thing civil society hates, it’s dealing with an existential crisis.
Tempers flare.
Emotions run hot.
This brings us to the crux of the Vytarian dilemma. War.
And lots of it.
Worlds erupt into conflict. Galaxies become battlefields, and whole solar systems are laid to ash. If you thought nuclear weapons were bad, then consider what happens when a moon is kicked out of orbit into the surface of a planet. The bloodshed is immeasurable. As the fighting escalates, the stars themselves become weapons. The Vytar discover that if you can just push one toward instability…. Well, boom.
There goes the neighborhood.
These Vytar? Nothing if not creative.
But it’s just this penchant for outside the box problem solving that massacres their species into the low billions. Over a single millenia, the Vytar are swept from an inter-galactic species, to one inhabiting a single world on the edge of space.
Having met their downfall at the hands of their technology, the surviving Vytar turn toward spiritualism. Cults form. Different sects have different beliefs, but one eventually consumes the rest: The Way of the Chosen. The Way promises an end to Vytarian pain.
No more existential crisis.
No more killing.
All the Vytar need to do is open their hearts and minds to a simple three step program:
  1. Show a little pride. We’re the only intelligent life in the universe, so start acting like it!
  2. Persevere. Immortality is our final test. Keep your chin up!
  3. Ascend. Just make it to the heat death of the universe, and you’ll be granted salvation!
Believe it or not, it’s a big hit.
The Vytarians flock to it in droves because it offers what they need– a sense of purpose, and a break from the emotional turmoil that’s consumed them for decades. In a matter of years, The Way becomes the dominant socio-political force across the Vytarian homeworld, bringing the last of the warring factions together.
It’s a beautiful thing.
But what’s the phrase?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Yeah, that’s it.
Not everybody is a fan of how The Chosen conduct business. But The Chosen make it easy for them– all who disavow their belief system are exiled. It’s for the good of the Vytarians, they say. And maybe they’re right. After all, these are a species of aliens that have seen just what disagreements can lead to.
Fire. Fury. Mass graves and floating corpses in the vacuum of space.
No thank you.
That’s a risk they won’t take.
One of these exiled Vytarians is a scientist. He has no name in the shared memory save for ‘The Heretic,’ and he is both the architect of humanity and the genesis of our greatest threat. In his assessment, the Vytarian extinction is an inevitability. He perceives their current peace as fragile, held up by a corrupt theocracy whose foundations could crumble any moment. Once they do, boom. Back to war. Back to genocide.
It won’t be pretty.
Worse still, when the last of the Vytar perish, so too will the last form of complex intelligence. Their species won’t just die– it’ll be forgotten. The universe will become a barren void, an unconscious minefield of drifting cadavers.
That will be their legacy.
But the Heretic, he’s a mover-and-a-shaker. He’s the sort of individual who likes to solve problems, not create them, and so when he thinks of the Vytarian extinction, when he acknowledges it as a slow-motion inevitability, he isn’t giving up. No, he has a plan. It’s not a great plan, mind you. It’s not even a plan with a high-likelihood of success, and nor, for that matter, is it a plan that’s strictly legal.
But it is a plan.
It goes like this: if the Vytarians are dying out, then something must replace them. There must be intelligent life to take their place, to give warmth to this cold cosmos, and remember their legacy. Since no other intelligent life exists in all the universe, that leaves him a single option.
He’ll just have to make some.
And this Heretic? This mover-and-shaker?
Well, he succeeds.
And really, that’s where this nightmare begins.
The helicopter touches down in a clearing that shouldn’t exist.
I step out to find a forest that’s broken, smoldering, one that’s cleaved in two with a cloud of cinders in its wake. This isn’t how I remember this place. Not at all. I remember a wooden bridge over a lazy creek, and tall trees that–
Somebody’s calling my name. Running toward me.
My boss.
Lisa’s got her phone pressed to one ear and her other hand is frantically waving at me. All around us are government personnel, fellow men-in-black types looking equal parts panicked and terrified. Nice to know I’m not alone.
“Mitchell,” Lisa says, breathless. “Finally! Follow me.”
We take a stroll down the newest gully in America. Pieces of splintered metal scatter the ground, and here and there I see techs in hazmat suits brushing dust from the debris. Above us, the moon is being shrouded by a gigantic tarp. They’re extending it across the entire crash-site, likely hoping they can get it up before foreign satellites move into position and stick their noses into our business.
“Looks like a warzone out here,” I say, loosening my tie. Is it hot out, or is my anxiety just turning my body into a furnace? Tough to say.
Either way, Lisa’s not paying attention.
“Understood, sir. I’ll keep you posted with any and all updates as soon as we have them.” She hangs up her phone and turns to me. “Sorry, did you say something, Mitchell? Tonight’s been a nightmare.”
I can imagine.
As we make our way toward the UAP, Lisa tells me the government’s been hounding her for details.
What exactly did we shoot down?
Are we going to war?
She says we’ve probably got three hours until the media wakes up, and then we’ll need to start beating the journalists back with sticks. “This is a fucking disaster,” she tells me, and she reaches into her jacket and grabs a flask. “Whisky?”
I shake my head. “Haven’t touched the stuff for years.”
“Suit yourself.”
Bottom’s up.
She wipes her mouth and shoves the flask back into her jacket, taking the sort of breath you take when you’ve hit your limit. “I should’ve kept on as an accountant,” she says. “I’d still be in bed right now.”
The closer we get to the UAP, the easier it is to see through the haze of smoke. The craft is no longer just a smudge in the distance. Now I can make out its general shape. Its general size. It looks big enough to pass for a stadium, and round enough to sell the illusion.
“A flying saucer,” Lisa says, shaking her head. “You’d think these aliens never heard of a bad cliche.”
We get to the edge of the perimeter and flash our badges. Three soldiers let us through.
“Listen,” Lisa tells me, putting a hand on my shoulder. “Before we go inside this thing, I want you to take a few deep breaths, okay? We’ve had a couple incidents already.”
“Incidents?” I ask.
“Sure. One guy pissed his pants. Another was taking photos of this… corpse in a vat, and he throws up all over the inside– of the vat, not the corpse. Whatever. Point is, he completely fucked the lab team trying to get a sample.” She runs a hand through her hair. Chuckles darkly. “Luckily, there are about a dozen other corpses where that came from, but still. The smell was awful.”
Vats. Corpses. My stomach does a front flip and I almost take a page out of the photographer’s playbook. “So this is the real deal,” I mutter, pretending this whole thing doesn’t feel uncomfortably familiar. “Aliens actually exist, huh?”
“Just wait,” Lisa says, stepping into the dark of the ship. “This next part is gonna blow your mind.”
The Heretic creates life in his image, using Earth as his petri dish.
His first lifeforms are what you’d call prototypes. Rough drafts. They’re giant reptiles, dinosaurs, and a scattershot of various traits and biology. They’re a means to discover what works and what doesn’t on the path to evolving complex intelligence. He studies them closely. Then he studies them some more.
But what’s the phrase?
Nothing lasts forever.
Yeah, that’s it.
We’ve covered that the Vytarian are an advanced species. We know that they’re no strangers to space, and we’re well aware that their wars wiped out 99% of their population. But what we haven’t covered, is that some toys are still left-over from those wars.
And The Chosen? They possess almost all of them.
One of these is a fleet of surveillance drones, the sort that drift through the cosmos and ping headquarters if they see something suspect. One of these happens to drift by Earth. Can you guess what happens next?
Images of the Heretic’s well, heresy, are transmitted to The Chosen. Minutes later, he gets a collect call from 40 billion light years away.
What is this, the Chosen High Council asks.
Blasphemer, they condemn.
But the Heretic isn’t shocked by this. He knows that according to The Way, the creation of new lifeforms is the exclusive domain of their deity, The Distant One. He knows that what he’s done is criminal. That maybe it’s also considered an affront against all of existence, and that it’s maybe grounds for execution and inviting the wrath of god upon all Vytarians.
Relax, he tells them.
It’s you or us, they say.
I can explain, he tells them.
Don’t bother, they say.
The line goes dead. The Heretic figures he’s got about a handful of weeks before The Chosen arrive to dish out their justice, so he flees to a neighboring star system. While there, he realizes The Chosen were never aiming for him– only his life’s work. A meteor is propelled into the surface of the earth, and the moment it impacts the planet becomes fire. Six trillion lifeforms scream in momentary agony before turning to ash.
The Heretic weeps.
Years pass.
Then centuries.
These turn to millenia, and millenia become eons, and the Heretic decides to risk returning to earth. He wants to find closure for the loss of his creation. He wants to pay his respects. But when he arrives, his sorrow becomes hope. Life, it seems, has survived.
More than that, it has thrived.
Yet this life isn’t the same that he set out to create. No, this life is the biological progeny of tiny balls of fur he created to feed his prototypes. They’re what you and I might call mammals. Except some of these mammals are impressive– they have large brains, opposable thumbs, and what’s more, they look a bit like you and I.
They’re humans. Among the first.
The Heretic is fascinated by these humans. He recognizes they possess complex intelligence, sentience, and a strong sense of adaptability. He observes them as they form social groups, watches as they create the ghosts of language.
Yes, he thinks. This is it. These lifeforms will inherit the universe, and in doing so, immortalize the Vytar in their memories.
But a problem remains. The Chosen.
If they discover the earth is teeming with life, then they’ll circle back and finish the job. This time, they won’t pull punches. The planet will become an asteroid field, and all of its life will be red mist upon the floating rocks.
But what to do?
How to keep humanity alive, to shield it from the overwhelming might of the Vytarian military? It seemed impossible. Equations run through the Heretic’s mind, scenarios infest his thoughts and in not a single one can he fathom succeeding. He has but one spacecraft. No weapons to speak of.
And it occurs to him.
Humans are hardy creatures– adaptable. Given time, they will evolve to reach parity with the Vytarians. Then, their superior numbers could compensate for any gaps in technology. But such a plan hinges upon them getting up to speed, ascending to an evolutionary singularity in which their gains become exponential. He cannot afford to wait millions of years when The Chosen could discover him any day.
No, he’ll need to interfere. Spike the gene pool. Rig the results. He’ll need to give humanity more than a push, he’ll need to throw it down the damn stairs if they have any hope of surviving.
But there’s a way.
Yes, there’s always a way.
He devises a solution called Project Runaway.
It starts by creating a new lifeform. It’s aesthetically identical to a human male, but it’s born from the genetic harvest of thousands of his peers. Each strand of his DNA will be carefully selected for, prioritizing the potential for runaway evolution. Then, these strands will be spliced with Vytarian genes. Not much, but enough to access fragments of the shared memory– the Collective Recall. This will allow the man to gain intuitive understanding of billions of years worth of wisdom. It’ll permit him to think faster. Adapt more quickly.
Then, as this man spreads his genes through the population, his progeny will inherit his DNA. They’ll evolve quicker. Think faster. This is how it works.
This is how humanity inherits the universe.
“Watch your step,” Lisa says, stepping into the UAP.
I follow her inside. For a moment, I’m blinded by the glare of industrial work-lamps. Then my senses are assaulted by a cacophony of sound and movement. We’ve entered a hive of activity. Crowds of people buzz around us, some in biohazard suits, others in military camo.
Where we are is a large circular chamber, one surrounded by dark corridors leading to other locations of the ship. Right now, teams are taping those entrances up with plastic wrap. Other teams are setting up perimeters, hanging pieces of paper above archways labeled A through Z.
“You alright, Mitchell?”
“Are you alright?” Lisa says, and she’s got her arms folded. She’s looking at me like she thinks I’m about to become her newest headache, maybe piss myself all over the deck.
“I’m fine,” I tell her, forcing a smile. “It’s just a lot to take in, you know? Never been in an alien spaceship before.”
“Sure,” she says, lifting an eyebrow. “Join the club. We’re heading down corridor D to find somebody named Major Luca– I was talking to her a few seconds before you showed up. She said she’s got something to show me. Something big.”
“Spare me the suspense, Lis. What are we after?”
“From the sounds of it? Bodies.”
“Bodies?” I say. “Like those corpses you mentioned, the ones in vats?”
“Not quite. According to Luca, these bodies aren’t exactly… Well, they’re not human. Probably.” She punches my arm, gives me a cheeky smirk. “Relax, Mitchell. The Major confirmed they’re already dead– nothing to be scared of. Let’s go.”
She leads us down the corridor labeled D, and every step I take is worse than the last.
My heart is flying. It’s pounding a million beats a minute. I put on my best poker face, nodding along as Lisa briefs me on the UAP, but internally I’m having a breakdown. It’s taking everything I have not to hyperventilate. The further we get into the spacecraft, the more I’m wondering how much of my dreams were dreams.
The more I wonder if all I am is just some clone with a badge.
“What did the bodies look like?” I ask, clearing my throat. “Did these aliens have scales, and tails…and sort of look like lizards?”
Lisa laughs. “No idea. Luca didn’t give me much of a description, but I’d bet money they were little green men. It’d go with the whole flying saucer motif, don’t you think?”
“Yeah,” I swallow. “Suppose it would.”
She chatters on. This, that, something else. Apparently they’ve got an ironclad alibi to deal with the journalists, something banal enough to keep them far away from the crash site. But I’m too deep in my own thoughts to register what is. I’m too deep remembering all the awful aspects of the dream that wasn’t supposed to be real. I’m remembering him.
The Runaway.
And the more I remember, the more I wish I could forget.
The first time the Runway opens his eyes, he’s twenty years old.
He’s laying naked in the jungle, the sun scorching his skin with ultraviolet rays. He sits up. He has no instructions. No guidance. This world is entirely new to him, utterly foreign and in his stomach flutters the first ghosts of adrenaline.
From the outer ring of Saturn, the Heretic watches.
The Runaway rises to his feet. He takes his first shaking, trembling step and stumbles into the grass. He groans. Pain. A new sensation. He gets back up, tries again. It’s harder than it looks, walking when you’ve never done it before, but eventually he gets the picture. For him, it gets easier by the second.
After only an hour, he’s running through the ferns. Climbing trees. And his stomach is screaming.
He must find food.
But what to eat?
By his third hour alive, the Runaway has learned to forage. By his sixth, he’s consumed enough poisonous berries to floor an elephant, and is writhing on the ground. The poison burns his stomach. It makes his tongue swell and his skin glisten with sweat, but as the seconds become minutes, the agony fades to pain fades to healing.
His body is adapting. His digestive systems are hardening themselves against the poison, and soon, the Runaway rises back to his feet.
Evolution has begun.
As the sun sets, the Runaway collects wild game from crude traps. He has begun subconsciously tapping into the Collective Recall, intuitively teaching himself to skin animals, to make fires, to cook flesh for taste and health.
He is learning.
As the week comes to a close, the Runaway is surrounded. A pack of wolves has been hounding him for days, and now they’ve come to deal with this trespasser upon their territory. They circle him. Their teeth gnash, saliva leaking from their jaws. In their throats is a growl, a threat of death, but the Runaway has learned to handle his fear. Now, it serves him.
His muscles tense. His hands flex in and out of fists, and his eyes follow the beasts as they pad the ground. The large one, he thinks. The large wolf will engage, and the rest will follow. But he doesn’t give it time– he dashes forward, faster than even the wolves can react, and he brings his fist down upon the skull of the largest. The animal is stunned. Dazed. He follows up by grabbing its jaws, and pulling with all of his might.
The other wolves flee. They yelp and they scream as their champion falls to the dirt, dead.
The Runaway dresses himself in its hide.
At the end of the month, the Runaway has evolved to the point he barely needs to eat. Twenty calories a day serve him all that he needs. A handful of berries, and he can operate at peak mental and physical capability. By the close of his second month, he no longer needs to breathe. He fishes hundreds of meters below the surface, fighting off sharks for choice morsels swimming in the deep.
On the anniversary of his birth, the Heretic observes that the Runaway no longer ages. His DNA suffers no damage each time it splits. He has become biologically immortal.
After five years, he transcends humanity. The Runaway is now capable of perceiving individual atoms, and by the sixth year of his life, he can manipulate them. Matter becomes his plaything. The laws of physics become little more than suggestions, and so if he wants to fly, then he does. If he wants to reach into the minds of living creatures, he does that too.
The Runaway has become the most powerful lifeform to ever live. But the Heretic is not concerned.
No, he sees what his creation is. He sees that this anomaly, this Runaway is kind. Empathetic. With each passing year his interest in violence wanes. Before long, the Runaway cuts himself off from humanity altogether, unable to stomach their wonton savagery and thirst for blood. Some have taken to worshiping him. Others, reviling.
To him, they are all the same. Misguided, fearful, and ruled by instincts he has learned to see beyond. These humans may as well be a separate species.
To find respite from this chaos, he meditates. Sometimes he does this at the bottom of the sea. Other times he does this atop high, wind-swept peaks. Anywhere his senses are sufficiently assailed to block out the madness of the world around him.
And it’s while meditating on one of these peaks that the Runaway begins looking to the stars. He wonders if there may be more out there.
Is it possible, he thinks aloud, that there are others like me?
Could I find a companion of my own?
And it’s while he’s pondering these thoughts, while he’s gazing into the deepness of space, that he finds something looking back at him. A lizard. Housed within a strange capsule, floating in the outer rings of a celestial body we know as Saturn.
It is the first time he and his maker lock eyes.
Weeks later, the Runaway’s breached the atmosphere of Earth. A month after that, he’s traversed the solar system and made it to the Heretic’s ship. He’s tapping on the hull. The Heretic welcomes him inside.
“Hello,” the Heretic says, in the ancient tongue of man.
The Runaway peers at him. “Hello…” he says slowly, but it is not in the ancient tongue of man. It is in the low bass of Vytarian. “Your language is… strange… but I believe I can master it. Who are you? Why have you been watching… me?”
The Heretic doesn’t see the point of mincing words. He comes clean about everything– after all, the Runaway is capable of looking into his thoughts. What’s the use of playing coy? He starts with the extinction of the Vytarian people, and ends with humanity’s role as inheritors of the universe, and the Runaway’s role in leading them there.
“Have you any questions?” the Heretic asks.
“Many,” the Runaway tells him. “Above all, why do you fear me?”
“I don’t,” the Heretic says.
“You do. I see it reflected in your thoughts.”
“The fear you see reflected in my thoughts,” the Heretic begins, speaking with careful deliberation, “... it does not belong to me. You are viewing fragments of the Collective Recall, a shared knowledge passed down by my people. You are viewing the beliefs of those of us who remain from the Old War– followers of the Way of the Chosen.”
“These followers,” The Runaway says, his expression twisting with shock and horror. “They think of me as a monster– an abomination!”
“Not exactly,” the Heretic tells him. “Strictly, they do not think of you at all. In order to protect my work, I cut myself off from the Collective sometime ago, so all you’re seeing are faint echoes of their dogma. To them, my work is blasphemy. But yes… I believe that should they learn of you, your vast capabilities would indeed frighten them. They would think you a monster.”
“And to you?” The Runaway asks. “What am I to you?”
The Heretic reaches toward the Runaway, claps his shoulder. He smiles in the human way. “I am a barren lifeform, ravaged by a virus that has stolen the hope of my people. I am unable to achieve my biological imperative. Reproduction is beyond me. You ask me what you are to me? You are my legacy.” He slowly, awkwardly performs the human ritual of embrace, wrapping his arms around the Runaway.
You are my son.
I take a breath. It’s brief. Gasping. Gray is standing in front of me, his pupils pulsing, and I’m suddenly aware that his name isn’t Gray it’s Wor. He’s 70 million years old. Not only that, but so is his friend– and his name isn’t Teal, but Kez. They’re both devotees of the Way of the Chosen.
“Did you see?” Wor asks, and he’s no longer using his digital translator. After the thought transference it seems I can understand the Vytarian language, make sense of the various vibrations that previously just seemed like low bass.
“Yes,” I say, leaning forward. “But not everything.” I look up at Wor, and hit him with an accusatory glare. “There’s more to this story, isn’t there? What aren’t you telling me?”
Kez twists his neck to look at us. His pupils are blowing up and shrinking in quick succession– a reaction I now understand to mean I’m pissed. “You have seen enough, human. Prepare for genetic deconstruction and we will be done with this.”
“No!” I exclaim, and I’m surprised to hear my voice rumbling throughout the ship. It’s thunderous. I clear my throat. “No,” I say, and this time my voice is appropriately subdued. Vytarian is apparently a powerful language. “If you want me to jump into a vat and turn into… corpse chili or whatever, then you have to show me it’s worth it.”
The Vytar exchange glances. Wor’s pupils shrink– he’s nervous. Concerned. “To show you more may invite excess unease,” he says. “It was my hope that a brief glance at the history, the origin of everything could provide necessary closure to commence the harvest of your DNA.”
“Look,” I say. “I’ve seen a lot. I know that whatever genetic material you’re grabbing off people is a lot more useful if we’re agreeable. It’s like hunting an animal. Kill it scared, and the meat is tough. It’s a chemical thing– I get that, and I’m telling you that if you show me the rest, I’ll let you do what you need. I’ll play my part.”
“Invalid request,” Kez says. “Such knowledge is beyond your capacity to bear.”
I frown. “It’s him, isn’t it? The Runaway. It’s obvious he’s the source of your fear and this so-called mission to save humanity. Yeah. I might not have all the details, but just looking at your reactions– it’s gotta be. More than that, I can guess you haven’t had much luck dealing with him either.”
Wor and Kez don’t speak a word. Their expressions say everything I need to know.
“The way I figure it,” I continue, getting to my feet and taking a deep breath. “Is that I’m a human too. On some level, I’m like The Runaway, just less… well, terrifying. But maybe there’s something in those visions, something in the Runaway’s actions or his behaviors that only a human could make sense of. Ever think of that? I mean, what if I can help you catch something you’re missing? Isn’t that chance worth taking?”
The Vytar are quiet. They stare at one another for a long while, and their pupils explode in waves of emotion. Kez turns away. He lets out a gruff warble and throws up his arms, cursing Wor and me both.
“What’s his problem?” I ask.
Wor steps forward. He gingerly looks back to his companion, but Kez’s back is turned, hunched over the console in clear disagreement.
“Kez does not wish to harm your mind,” Wor says quietly. “Your story of your sister… this expiring human you call Hope, well, it has moved him. He fears that if I show you the rest of The Runaway’s story it will cause your mind to fracture, shattering your consciousness in such a way that it may not be repaired. There will be no perfect clone. Your sister will find no solace in her dying moments.”
I look at Kez, watch him tap at the console’s controls and I can’t help but feel guilty for judging him so harshly. At the end of the day, he was just looking out for my sister.
But, on the other hand, he also wants to turn me into DNA soup.
“This feels important,” I say to Wor, balling my hands into fists. “If this is really about the fate of humanity, the fate of everything– well, I think Hope would want me to do anything I could to help.” I plaster a weak smile onto my face, trying to hype myself up with fake confidence. “Besides, I can’t imagine it’s that bad, is it?”
Wor places his hands on my temples. Closes his eyes. “You’re right,” he tells me. “You cannot begin to imagine how bad it is.”
submitted by Born-Beach to TheCrypticCompendium [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 20:58 Flashfall Sharing some thoughts before the sub goes dark

Since this sub and some 4000+ others are going dark in 2 days in protest of probably this site's stupidest decision ever, I figure this is probably the last time I'll get to share my pointless thoughts on this game here, so may as well. It doesn't really matter anymore if it's full of awful takes and people just downvote and insult me in the comments, it's been a grand time and I'll miss seeing posts and having discussions over this dEaD gAmE.


Base/Map Design




submitted by Flashfall to Planetside [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 20:57 r3crac New items in Couponsfromchina (10.06.2023 18:57:54)

Image compilation: or
New items in Couponsfromchina database. You can set price alerts.
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submitted by r3crac to couponsfromchina [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 20:07 indiareef A cautionary tale…

A cautionary tale…
I know, as the mod for this subreddit, there are a few things that I will repeat and repeat and repeat ad nauseam as basic truths. My most popular are:
  1. the sensitivity and specificity of CT with contrast establishes that it is absolutely enough to rule in or out chronic pancreatitis. MCCP and early CP are clearly different and can be missed but statistically CT with contrast can be enough.
  2. There is no safe amount of alcohol consumption following ANY pancreatic diagnosis. There will always be patients who can drink and never have issues and some patients will only drink a little and end up with major issues. There is no way to determine susceptibility so the general advice is abstinence across the board. You aren’t the first patient who will try to negotiate alcohol use and won’t be the last but the best advice will always be to stop altogether.
  3. Every patient, every pancreas, every flare is different. What works for me, what foods I can tolerate, how aggressive my disease progression is will always be different than yours. Take the time to track your lifestyle and find your triggers and trends.
  4. Don’t try to force a diagnosis. Don’t try to cram all of your symptoms into one diagnosis. Patients get lost in the shuffle because they have this very personal and emotional list of symptoms but doctors only hear a list of things that they “know” don’t correlate to any one thing. They then stop listening because they’ve decided you’re wrong and that’s the end. It’s incredibly hard to recover from that once a doctor has disregarded your experience. It’s horrific.
But I wanted to focus on that last point today. Because I know I’ve mentioned some recently, in public and private, that I’ve been struggling. A lot. I don’t think I shared what has been going on because I feel like my job here is to provide that safe space for others while not overwhelming others with my own issues. That’s probably not the healthiest coping mechanism but it is what it is. Anyways.
So…I went in for my annual HP/CP screening and we talked about all my new issues. My inability to eat really anything, my growing intolerance to my tube feed formula, a 46lb weight loss in 6 months, feeling full easily, always feeling bloated, absolutely intractable nausea and anorexia, fatigue that has me just completely wiped out. Due to the hereditary pancreatitis, I’m obviously at a higher risk for pancreatic cancer and we’ve already had issues with “masses” being found on CT so everyone is always overcautious. Went in for my screening CT scan with pancreatic protocol and we were completely blindsided by the results. 2 days after the test, I got a phone call from my GI provider on the Sunday before Memorial Day and we were told I’ve developed a large, very complex cyst on/in my left ovary. GI was very clear - this does not look like my normal PCOS cysts and the internal features combined with the fact that my last CT 6 months prior showed no issues with my ovaries. One transvaginal ultrasound later and I’ll be seeing the GYN/ONC surgeon on Thursday. I will almost certainly be losing an ovary but what follows that surgery depends on pathology.
I’m sharing this story because we all just assumed I was sicker because of my pancreas. The symptoms could’ve been just more progressive degenerative effects with my pancreas but they weren’t. And when we thought about it…if I hadn’t expressed my concerns with my severe symptoms, if I hadn’t asked for the better test, if I’d just blown off my symptoms as normal then the end of this story could absolutely be different.
As chronically ill people who also struggle with pain…I think we get used to masking. But, even worse, we get used to ignoring our issues. We hide them more and more because we’ve been mistreated so consistently that a lot of us just learn to suffer. The reality that I’ve said out loud: “I feel so sick but I’d rather die than go to the ER.” is just absolutely horrific. Medical PTSD isn’t just about mental health and the medical community often views it as a feature of their broken system not a flaw. If patients opt out of care because they’ve been so mistreated in the past then it lets them off the hook. I deserve better care. I deserve to not be afraid. You deserve better care. You deserve to feel comfortable seeking help, answers and pain control. If you take away nothing else from this long and rambling post…if you’re concerned about your symptoms then talk about it. Seek help. Ask us here. Call your doctors. You deserve better care and are entitled to it.
submitted by indiareef to pancreatitis [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 19:46 cschuftan NATURE: 1; HUMANITY: 0 ...OR THE OTHER WAY AROUND?

Human rights: Food for a life or death thought ‘The right of nature’
HRR 682
[TLDR (too long didn’t read): If you are reading this, chances are you care about HR. This Reader is about three arbitrarily-selected issues related to the rights of nature. For a quick overview, just read the bolded text]. Traducitraduire los/les Readers; usautiliser
--The destruction of nature is the destruction of ourselves. (Louis Casado)
Three subthemes (some unsystematic tidbits)
--As Greta Thunberg once put it: “Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling”.
  1. It is clear that having a specific limit, rather than fighting to stop every fraction of a degree in temperature rise, has actually been counterproductive. There is a perennial problem with targets, and that is that they are always still reachable --until they are not! In this way, they can be used to justify inertia right up until it is too late. And this is exactly how fossil-fuel corporations, world leaders and others have used the 1.5C target, that is, as a get-out-of-jail card to justify inaction on emissions. Continuing to present this temperature threshold as doable provides a fig leaf for business as usual. Take it away, and this dangerous jiggery-pokery is exposed for all to see.
  2. Only if the Conference of the Parties (COP) acknowledges that 1.5C is now lost, and that dangerous, all-pervasive climate breakdown is unavoidable, will corporations and governments no longer have anywhere to hide, and no safety net that they can use as an excuse to do little or nothing. (Bill Mcguire)
  3. Pledges made by duty bearers, including funding commitments, are not meaningless yet are not meaningful as results either. Let us not lose our focus and get distracted by comforting words. Biodiversity loss and climate crisis goals must be taken together, and it is action with results that must be demanded! As usual, any good news remains suspect and highly compromised until proven. (David Zakus)
  1. There are a number of issues to which human rights (HR) law has paid inadequate attention. I will mention one here: Energy. While energy for heating and food has been addressed repeatedly by international HR bodies in the context of the right to adequate housing, there has as yet been no recognition of a free-standing right to energy. Given the recognized impact of (the lack of) access to energy on a range of different HRs, it was strongly argued before the current crisis whether there ought to be a solo HR to energy linked to other rights such as the right to housing or to the right to health. However, the linkage between energy and HR has been thrown into sharp dispute by the current crisis as pertains to both individuals and collective rights.
Has the time come to make an argument for a universal human right to energy? (Aiofe Nolan)
  1. If so, five questions here:
· What should this right look like?
· Should it be a right to energy for specific, limited life-sustaining activities (for instance, cooking, home-heating or cleaning) or should it be conceptualized more broadly?
· How may its components --adequacy, availability, access (including affordability), sustainability, appropriateness, acceptability, and quality-- be defined?
· What obligations (progressive, immediate, core, or otherwise) should it impose? and, crucially,
· How may the recognition and implementation of that standard impact on, and be balanced against other HR, on both the here and now and on future generations?
  1. These questions (and their implicit recognition that the right to energy requires careful definition if it is not to undermine other rights) cannot be ignored given the damage done by the established global energy system in relation to ecosystems, as well as the fact that it continues to pose the greatest environmental health hazards to those who have benefited the least from increased energy production.* (A. Nolan)
*: Swapping oil for electricity is just another business opportunity. The question is who controls the production. [The European Union has decided that, after all, nuclear energy has its advantages --among them that of generating profit...] (L. Casado)
Does Nature have Rights? Why not? (Colin Tudge)
  1. The nay-sayers to these questions fall into three main categories:
· First, there are those who say that to grant nature rights is not rational. Morality, in the end, is non-rational, it is said. The idea that Nature has rights is indeed in large measure non-rational. But it is certainly not irrational, meaning mad. Indeed, if we aspire to live in a harmonious world then the idea is entirely rational. It is certainly irrational to reject what is non-rational out of hand.
· Second: Some theologians argue that the idea that Nature has rights is somehow blasphemous. This line of thinking implies that man is in a quite different category from the rest of Nature and further suggests that the norms that attach to us (including the idea of HR) need not and indeed should not apply to the rest.
· Third: Many simply declare, peremptorily, that there should be no rights without responsibilities. But does it mean Nature has responsibilities…?
  1. For the benefit of the hard-heads, we can point out: There are very good practical reasons to declare that Nature has Rights!
Why we should declare that Nature does indeed have Rights
--The concept of Rights helps to prevent abuse and therefore helps to protect.
  1. Human beings need to protect the natural world much better than we do now, because only Nature can protect us against the extremes of Nature. We should protect wild nature for its own sake. It ought to be self-evident. The feeling that Nature really matters should never be overridden. It must be cultivated.
  2. As we look more closely at nature, as indeed Darwin did, we find more and more examples of cooperativeness within species and between species. Overall, Nature is far more cooperative than it is competitive and if it were not so life itself could not have come about. (C. Tudge)
Claudio Schuftan, Ho Chi Minh City
Your comments are welcome at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
All Readers are available at
--John Locke argued that whoever used land most efficiently --which really meant most productively, in material terms-- had the most right to make use of it. Since the white-man’s agriculture produced more food per acre than the native farmers using their own kinds of farming, the ‘incomers’ had more claim on it. (C. Tudge) …?
submitted by cschuftan to HumanRightsDiscourse [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 19:14 micktalian The Gardens of Deathworlders: A Blooming Love (Part 19)

Part 19 Like Angels Falling from the Heavens (Part 1) (Part 18)

"Dropping in 3… 2… 1. Mission initiated." A synthetic voice read the words off of Tensebwse's HUD and his vision was suddenly filled with the familiar sight of metal and polymer panels rushing past him. “Target ETA, 8 minutes.”

“Alright, ladies!” Tens shouted into his comms-link to the Qui’ztar warriors who were about to experience why the Hell Divers had that name. “Hold on tight! When those retro-thrusters kick, they kick hard!”

"Hold on to what?" The deep yet feminine that called back was equal parts excited and nervous, and even held hints of sarcasm.

"Consciousness." Tens chuckled as he felt himself slowly being pushed towards the planets below.

Despite not feeling too much pressure himself, the Nishnabe warrior was keeping a close eye on both his own acceleration gauge as well as the reads out from his trainees. With his suit and control-AI acting as the central node of the networked machines, he had immediate access to the external and internal sensors of every mech he was in formation with. And, like a good pack leader, Ten wasn't at the front of the group, charging ahead, and possibly going beyond the physical limits of the Qui’ztar warrior women. Rather, he was at the back of the formation, letting the first-time jumpers set a pace they could endure, and watching for signs of overexertion. Even though each woman was nearing the absolute peak of their athletic abilities, the strain they were about to feel would be unlike anything they had ever experienced.

"This isn't that bad." It was Hutloxa who made the remark while sounding a bit too confident.

"We're still on the insertion-burn!" Tens fully laughed into the comms. "Verify trajectory and shield integrity, ladies. It's now or never!"

"Drop zone marked, call out when verified!" Captain Marzima's commanding tone was that of an ardent professional as she knew her commanding officer was watching them carefully.

"Drop Mech 1, confirmed!" A cacophony of voices began calling out in sequence until completing at number 19.

"All units confirmed, Lieutenant!" Marz was doing her job with the precision of a trained expert.

"Excellent, Captain!" Though the praise wasn’t necessary, Tens was starting to get excited as he saw the timer for the retro-thrusters slowly counting down. It had been months since his last time falling into hell and he missed the adrenaline rush. “Remember ladies, you need to keep breathing. If you stop breathing you will pass out. The mechs can and will land on their own if they need to but I need you to stay with me for the whole drop. Do you understand me?!?”

“Sir, yes, sir!” All 20 voices shouted back through the comms in perfect synchronization.

Tens could feel as his heart rate picked up in anticipation as his mind became perfectly clear. Only a few hundred meters below him he could clearly see the highlighted outlines of each of the mechanized walkers he was following towards the ground below. Judging by the angle of their approach, the direction of the planet's rotation, and current placement of the day-night terminator line, they would be hitting their drop zone just as the sun would begin to rise. Though that wasn’t necessarily the intention when planning out this training drop onto the Kyim'ayik’s new colony world, the Nishnabe warrior was looking forward to seeing the sunrise on a new planet. As he watched his countdown time slowly inch closer and closer to the fun part, he hoped that even if some of the women got sick, they would enjoy falling into hell and then being greeted by the morning sun.

“Remember what I said, just keep breath-” Tens almost had his own breath knocked out of lungs as his retro-thrusters began to fire. With a glee none of the women were expecting to hear as they were all rocked by the same forces, the young Nishnabe warrior let out a call of unbridled excitement. “Eeee!”

"What! The! Fuck!" One if the women shouted into the comms though, through the strain, it wasn't clear who.

"You got this!" Tens was able to get out in a surprisingly clear tone. "We're only just over 30 m/s2. This isn't even an emergency drop!"

"Come ladies!" Marz's voice, despite the pressure on her body, was just as strong and confident as it was at the very beginning. "You're deathworlders! You're Qui'ztar! You will endure!"

"You'll build up a tolerance with more drops." Tens added, his ear to ear grin audible as he tried to keep the women going. "Sound off! I need to hear you're still with me!"

"Drop… ugh! Drop mech 1! Still breathing!" The first women called out through labored breaths.

"Drop Mech 2! This is great!" The next voice, in stark contrast to the first, sounded like she was having the time of her life.

In sequence, each of the women called out their number and condition, some showing intense strain and others were clearing having a grand time. It didn't matter to Tens if some of them would need more training, or may not even be cut out for these kinds of missions in the future. The only thing the man cared about at this moment was making sure that they all landed safely. Though it only took a few seconds for each woman to signal they were still conscious and aware, and one a second or two between each one speaking, they were burning through the counter down timer just as quickly as they were beginning to burn through the upper atmosphere of the planet below them. Just before Tens's view of the deep blue oceans beneath him were obscured by the building ball of fire and the blue shimmering from his active shielding, a quaint chain of islands caught his eye. When Captain Marzima finally confirmed that she too was still conscious and able to maintain her professional demeanor, the countdown showed less than six minutes until they touched down.

Like angels of fury falling from the heavens, the 21 mechanized combat walker suits tore their way through the building layers of atmosphere, reentry plasma building with each passing moment. The preprogrammed descent path, having been calculated long in advance, coupled with the lack of incoming fire from the ground to ensured the group of first time jumpers and their experienced instructor had no need for evasive actions. In front of them was a clean and clear route, save for a few sparse clouds, which would see them land directly at the chosen site for the new Kyim'ayik colony. Even though something in the back of the man's mind was telling him not to trust the Arnehilians on the planet below, the idea that even the gray demons who had stolen his ancestors from their home weren't all evil warmed his soul. As the formation of mechs came closer and closer to their target, continuing their dramatic descent as if they were an unstoppable force sent by the Gods, the coastal clearing they were heading towards was highlighted by their HUDs.

"By the Matria- oof!" One of the women called out with a mixture of giggling and exhaustion. "It doesn't let up!"

"Just a couple more minutes!" Tens couldn't help the fact his volume was raised. None of them could. All he could do was shout words of encouragement to spur on the few who were still having trouble acclimating to the strain. "I know you're strong! I know you’re capable! Just keep breathing and you'll be the first Qui’ztar to see a sunrise over the shores of new colony world!"

"Yac'tloma! Chuiom! Are you still with me?!?" Marz's slightly more intense yell caused Tens to trigger the cockpit-view of both of the pilots who got called out.

"Yes, Captain!" Yac responded almost instantly and with a surprising amount of strength. "I think… mmm… I'm finally getting used to it."

"Chuiom!" Marzima shouted again just as a hologram of the Qui’ztar in question popped up on Tens's HUD.

"I'll wake her up." Tens chuckled as he sent a signal to Chu's mech to give her some mild stimulation.

"Fucker!" The woman was instantly awake and Tens could see through the holographic display that she wasn't happy. "Did someone just shock me?"

"No napping till after the debrief!" Tens retorted. "Your vitals are fine and we only got a minute or so left. Keep breathing and stay with me!"

Various readouts across Tens’s HUD were running through numbers faster than the holographic display could refresh. From altitude to effective airspeed, the Nishnabe warrior could see that everything was going perfectly and, despite some of his trainees showing signs of serious exhaustion, he was about as happy as he could be at that moment. Though one of the women did stop breathing for just a moment too long, and needed a bit of prodding to wake back up, the health data the man was cycling through indicated everyone seemed fine, no bones had been broken, and the strain hadn’t caused any unforeseen injuries. Regardless of how strong and capable he knew all of these women to be, and the fact that inertial dampers were reducing the felt forces to about a third of what they should be, each of these Qui’ztar deserved to relax after this. With only a few thousand meters per second of relative velocity left to burn off, and the retro-thrusters maintaining a cool 80 meters per second squared of deceleration, they would all get their moment of peace very soon.

“Is that the Arnehilian settlement?” Hutloxa’s voice cut in through the comms. “It looks really small.”

“Yeup, looks like.” Tens answered while bringing the relevant data up on his HUD. “Just a couple bigger buildings that look like greenhouses, some smaller ones that look like civilian structures, and really simple solar heating and wind energy systems.”

“My systems are telling me there aren’t any defensive systems.” Another of the warrior women added with hints of both confusion and doubt in her voice. “I’ve never seen Grays without some kind of weapons.”

“Remember the brief!” Marz shouted into the brief. “These aren’t Grays, they’re Greens. They’re entirely peaceful and they only have a few personal defense weapons that would barely break our skin.”

“I don’t -ugh-” It sounded like Chu was still struggling with the pressure she was under but was beginning to cope. “I don’t like this. Feels like a trap.”

“Their Mayor said he’s tried to keep his people clear of us.” Despite having more reservation about this situation than he cared to admit, Tens almost hoped he would have the opportunity to meet one of these supposedly peaceful Arnehilians. “But we’ll find out if he actually did it. According to the Admiral, the guy is a total softy and doesn’t like telling people what to do.”

“The ground is coming up fast!” One of the women nervously shouted as Tens noticed his relative velocity gauge showed the mach cones surrounding the mechs were about to dissipate and they would be on the ground in the next few seconds.

“Congratulations, ladies!” Tens shouted in reply as he saw the first mech halt its descent less than a meter off the ground before its massive metal feet could impact the soil. One by one each of the mech stopped just before impact and gently set themselves on to the surface of the planet. “That was your first trip into hell and I hope you enjoyed it!”

There was a chorus of cheers, sighs of relief, and what even sounded like a few tears as 19 of the 20 warrior women began to celebrate their accomplishment. As each of the mechanized walkers shed their re-entry assistance systems, the durable and combat tested thrusters impacted the ground in a series of dull thuds, and complete physical control over the suits was given over the pilots. While a many of the over five meter tall goliaths of metal and poly ceramics jumped up and down, throwing their fist in to air in excitement, some of the others had taken up more leaned forward positions to represent the posture their pilots would be in if they were out of their suits and catching their breath. As the orange and purple sunrise crested the horizon, the Nishnabe warrior couldn’t help but take a moment to simply enjoy the scene around him. Though Tens knew the celebration could and would likely keep going until the recovery shuttle landed to pick them up, he couldn’t help but notice that one of the mech seemed to be staring at the treeline of the clearing.

Quickly interfacing with the sensor system networked into his own, it soon became quite obvious what Captain Marzima was staring at. Just a few dozen meters away, just at the edge of the treeline surrounding the clearing, were four beings which were quickly highlighted on Tens’s HUD and registered as Arnehilian biosignatures. With a quick zoom and directed scan, it became immediately obvious that a small group of children had stuck away from settlement to watch the mechs land. Though they looked quite clean, well fed, and properly cared for, Tens couldn’t shake the feeling that these small, dull-gray beings were somehow different from the silver-skinned bastards whom he hated. It may have been the more healthy, full-figured appearance of their more human-like frames, the simple olive-drab clothing they wore, or possibly even just the more natural appearance of their skin, but they didn’t seem evil at all. Despite the somewhat suspicious nature of beings trying to keep themselves hidden, a smile formed on the Nishnabe warrior’s face as he walked his mech over towards them.

“Hey kids! I can see you!” Tens shouted through his suit’s external speaker system which prompted the children to try to duck behind cover. “The sensors already have you tagged as innocent. You don’t have to hide.”

“Report.” Admiral Atxika’s commanding voice cut into the comms link even though she already knew exactly what was going on.

“Ah, just some kids.” Tens quickly replied with an unbothered tone. “Probably got told to stay away and then did what kids do.”

"I'll contact Mayor Harideth and have him come collect these wayward youth." Atxika replied a bit softer. "Make sure they're safe and uninjured. This planet does have its share of predators."

"You got it." There was real excitement from the warrior as he closed the distance to where the children were still cowering behind cover. "Hey kids, are you alright over there?"

The only reply Tens received as he stopped just a few of his mechs long paces away from the treeline was silence. Despite their attire blending surprisingly well with the lush green forest that surrounded them, the children's attempt to hide behind a large bush was weak at worst and endearing at best. Seeing as they were obviously still afraid of the giant metal machine that was standing just a few meters away, Tens took the initiative, lowered his mech down to a kneeling position, and triggered the cockpit opening procedure.

"Don't be scared." Tens shouted with a caring voice from his now open cockpit. "I've got some snacks for you if you come out."

"But… you're an angel…" One of the children was slowly lifting their head above the bush as they spoke.

"And angels only fall on tyrants and oppressors!" Another child added with an absolutely adorable, squeaky voice while joining the first with their head poking above the bush.

Tens shifted his eyes between the two, unsure of how to respond, but very glad that both children seemed perfectly fine beyond their fear and apprehension. As the other two slowly rose, the Nishnabe warrior opened a small compartment in his cockpit and moved to pull out the promised snacks.

"We… we aren't oppressors…" The child who spoke first was clearly still very concerned about why these angels had fallen so close to her settlement. "Are we?…"

"No, no, no!" Tens quickly answered in the sweetest voice he could muster. "You are innocent children, little ones! You have done nothing wrong. Now, you can eat candied fruit, right?"

"Yes!" The two youngest children shouted in perfect, ecstatic unison.

"But…" The first child, though she was now eying the small packets of treats that Tens had in his hand, obviously still had her reservations. "If we aren't oppressors… Why did you fall so close to our village? Are there oppressors nearby?"

"Ooohhh!" The realization of what was scaring the young girl hit the man like a falling brick. "No, no, no, don't worry, sweetheart. We're just training. Angels have to practice falling so we can do our jobs perfectly when we are called to."

"Huh…" The gray, scaly skinned little girl only looked concerned for a second longer before a huge smile formed across her face and her large blue eyes began to sparkle. "I guess that makes sense. And you all were so beautiful as you fell! Like a wing of fire falling to the ground with the fury of the loving Old Gods!"

"The Old Gods?" Tens half asked while motioning for the children to approach and collect their snacks. "But, more importantly, what are your names, little ones?"

"I'm Valerovum." The first child, who was obviously the leader of this group, announced as she guided the rest from behind the bush and towards Tens and his mech. "And this is Teliuva, Carmoni, and Jokiat."

"It is a pleasure to meet you all." The man bowed slightly before handing the snack packets to Val who then distributed them to her posse. "Do your parents know you're out here? I'm sure they're worried about you."

"Umm…." Val and her gang's eyes grew wide as they realized they might get in trouble for wandering so far away from the safety of their village. However, as if on cue, a new voice called out from the forest behind them.

"Valerovum! Teliuva! Carm-" It sounded like a man was desperately crying out for the young children.

"Over here!" Tens shouted back as loud as he could. "They're safe!"

In the few moments it took for rustling of branches and leaves to close the distance to where Tens and the children were waiting, the kids had already opened their snacks and begun savoring the sweet treats as if it were the very first time they had ever eaten something so sweet. When the olive-drap clad Arnehilian Mayor burst through the bramble, he quickly came to a frozen stop as he saw the four children eating their snacks in front of the Nishnabe warrior and his mechanized walker.

"Mayor Harideth!" Jokiat, the smallest of the four children, ran over the older being, wrapped one of his legs in a tight hug, and then offered the packet of candied fruit up towards him. "This angel has the best snacks I've ever had!"

"They aren't-" The Mayor began before quickly cutting himself off. "Oh, is that right, Jokiat?"

"Yes, yes! You have to try one!" The small child raised the packet of snacks even further towards the Mayor’s dull-gray face.

"They're just candied fruits." Tens clarified after seeing the hints of apprehension on Harideth's face. "They're high in vitamins and sugar content."

“Tha- Thank you!” Harideth took one of the slices of dried, semi-hardened fruit from the package then gave Tens a polite bow before patting Jok on the head lovingly. As he took a delicate bit of the sweet treat, his eyes suddenly grew just as wide as the children’s and he looked like he was eating the most delicious thing he had ever tried.

“Good, right?” The Nishnabe warrior was doing his best to be friendly towards these members of a species that, in any other circumstance, he would have already killed. “I always keep a few packets in my mech just in case I get hungry on a mission.”

“This is wonderful!” The mayor confirmed before bowing again and then redirecting his attention towards the group of children. “Now children, we were worried sick about you! There are predators in this forest. Think about how your mothers would cry if something bad were to happen to you. Let’s get you back to the village before one of those predators finds us.”

“I can escort y’all, if yah want.” Tens chimed in with a genuinely pleasant tone and smile on his face. “I wouldn’t want anything happening to these adorable little ones. If there are predators in this forest, they wouldn’t dare try to attack y’all if me and Loud Bark are with you.”

“Oh, that-” Harideth was about to respectfully decline when Jok interrupted him.

“The angels protect the innocent!” The small child’s shout was quickly followed up by the rest of the children repeating the phrase in near perfect unison. “The angels protect the innocent!”

“That…” The Mayor looked down into Jok’s eyes and saw a sense of hope and serenity that touched his soul before he turned back towards Tens. “That would be quite kind and generous of you. I would truly appreciate it.”

“Tsss! Don’t worry about it!” Tens was all smiles at the prospect of being able to witness a truly peaceful Arnehilian settlement. “It’s gonna be another 30 to 40 minutes before the recovery shuttle gets here, another 20 to 30 minutes to load up all my trainees, and then they can just come pick me up from your village. Besides, angels protect the innocent, right?”
submitted by micktalian to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 19:10 reputationgua Reputation Guards: Protect Your Brand from Negative Content

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submitted by reputationgua to u/reputationgua [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 17:25 Seamoose_Art Wasteland (Fallout x NoP)

Heads up! This story is both unpolished and unfinished, and posted here only for the sake of not letting my work go entirely to waste. If you want to continue the story yourself, feel free to do so.
Credit for The Nature of Predators goes to u/spacepaladin15.
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Memory Transcription Subject: Rania, Gojid Civilian
Date [Standardized Human Time]: Error 560 (estimated date: September, 2136)
At first, we assumed it to be an Arxur weapon, but we had plenty of time to get a more detailed look at the object intersecting our FTL trajectory. A mass of energy, far more than a star could emit, yet giving off no light. Gravitational pull was intense, but completely wrong for a black hole. Maybe the remains of a massive warp core accident? Whatever it was, it was directly in our path.
We had ample time before our collision, and nothing we could do. Our course was set, and escape vessels couldn’t be launched during an FTL jump. All that was left was to wait, and pray for a mercifully quick death that we all knew was unlikely. We built our starships to withstand direct assault from Arxur warships. Our deaths would be both inevitable and slow.
I was away from the refugee’s quarters, on the bridge. I couldn’t bear to watch pups cry in terror, as their parents tried hopelessly to ease their fear. The bridge was only marginally better. Some of the crew were facing their imminent death with stoicism. Many were praying. Many were crying. I don’t remember what I was doing when it hit, but I was probably crying too.
Then… then…
Pain, agonizing and blinding pain. No screaming. No noise at all. Silence, darkness, death.
Movement. But I couldn’t possibly move myself. Was I carried?

My first coherent memories started taking shape next to a fire. I couldn’t see, but the warmth and crackling were unmistakable. I tried to move, only to find myself unmoving. Was I in the wreckage of the ship? I felt no pain. Was I already dead?
“Hey, look who’s finally back in the land of the living. Can you hear me?”
A human. The species that started this whole mess. That attacked our cradle, let the Arxur find an easy target. That taunted us with their “Evacuation” cattle roundups. The disgusting mockery of a voice washed over me, tainting my very soul.
That fire must be to roast my flesh. Does it want my fear, before it kills me? It won’t get a single goddamn word, not so much as a noise.
“You… damn, he must still be out of it. Maybe another stimpak..?”
Cli-hsssss. A stabbing pain in my arm, followed by… relief? My arm twitched slightly, but I couldn’t manage anything more. A rushing sound filled my ears, overpowering the growl on my left until it bore me away to unconsciousness.

I woke up on a bed, staring at what must’ve been the ceiling, though all I could see was vague rust-brown shapes in the distance. My body still refused to move. And yet still, somehow, so little pain. Was my nervous system destroyed?
No. Hunger. Brutal, snarling hunger stabbed through my stomach like a dagger. I made a weak noise, remembered where I was, and rapidly forced silence. If it knows I’m awake, it’ll torture me until it lets me die…
“Oh! You— you’re awake again! Can you hear me?”
Don’t make a noise. It might lose interest.
“...No. Dammit. It’s going to starve if it doesn’t fully wake up soon… I can’t afford all these meds for much longer anyway. I’ll just have to… leave this here for it. Maybe it’ll wake again while I’m out.”
And just like that, a rush of movement and it was gone. It worked! I lived… I lived, just so I could starve…

By the graces of the protector. Food. I could smell food, just inches to my right. Can I move to pick it up? Can I move my jaw to eat?
Is it a trap? The human must be trying to fatten me up. Or maybe it didn’t leave at all, and is just waiting in the shadows to see if I take the bait. Or… maybe…
Fuck it. I was already good as dead, I could at least die full. I tried moving my arm, but to no avail. My other arm was no better. Maybe I could move my head?
The world shifted around me, a nauseating whirl of muted colors. But that meant my head could move. I could move… the food was still just barely out of reach. I can almost taste it… it’s so close to my nose…
I let out a weak cry of frustration. I couldn’t help myself. Did the human intend for this torture? The frustration became rage, filling my body like a white-hot star until I—
Trembling, my claw grasped the food. Rage and hunger animated my arm, pushing it forward. Whatever this was, it was soft. It smelled heavenly. I brought it up to my face. My vision was just recovered enough to make out its form; a strayu-like pillow drizzled with a sweet glaze. I tore into it like an animal, barely even tasting. I must not have eaten in days.
Gone in seconds, and the hunger was barely sated. But it was enough energy to force movement with. Slowly, unsteadily, I rose to a sitting position. The world threatened to shift away from under me, but I held, trying to get my bearings.
I’m in… some sort of shack. Bare, rusted sheet metal on the walls; clearly an improvised structure. Other than that oddity, the room was surprisingly normal. No blood dripping from cages, no hunting trophies on the walls. A torn up carpet, a beaten-up table and chair, some cabinets, all illuminated by soft rays of light pouring in from a window over the table. And right next to my little mattress… is that more food? Some sort of orange vegetable. Like the sweet strayu, I ate without even tasting.
Much better. I was still starving, but only metaphorically. I could even move my other arm, though my legs were entirely numb and refused to cooperate no matter how much I pushed them. Could I escape by dragging my body with my arms?
No. I was still too weak. I had to count on the human fattening me up a bit more before I could make a break for it.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Memory Recovery Subject: Nathan Dunne, sole survivor of Vault 111
Date: December 13th, 2287
Just a hair to the right… and… Now. The interloper, a feral dog that had wandered onto the property, dropped without a sound.
I couldn’t afford to attract any attention, so I’d hastily slapped together a silencer for my pipe revolver. An old oil filter, just small enough to not obstruct the scope I’d hastily tied to the top. The gun looked ridiculous, but it got the job done silently. If I attracted any visitors, my alien guest was as good as dead. Nearly a week after finding it, and it still wasn’t waking up consistently.
Now’s not the time for thought. Focus. Now.
The second dog also dropped. The alpha of the pack still hadn’t noticed anything, a miracle. I lined up one last shot… pulled the trigger, and finally let myself breath. That was way too close. Every day without the fence finished was another day of silent stress.
Putting up a fence was easy enough, but putting up a fence QUIETLY was nightmarishly slow work, constantly punctuated by hiding from any would-be visitors. But these dogs had wandered onto the property without even seeing me. Could they smell the alien? I knew Dogmeat could track injuries from a far greater distance…
Fence should've been up yesterday. Back to work.
I’m running out of barbed wire. And screws. And boards. Can I afford another expedition? What if Dogmeat can’t defend him? Not a chance in hell I’m risking any other group learning about this… although Mama Murphy probably knows anyway, doesn’t she. Maybe the Minutemen can—
No. I can’t risk it. I’ll have to improvise. Maybe I can set up a Tesla arc as defense and leave to raid Sunshine Tidings. Rusted metal sheets don’t make for the best walls, but better than nothing.
The sun was still high, so I had some time if I hurried. As I began gathering supplies, a thought crossed my mind. A Tesla arc was better than nothing, and Dogmeat was formidable enough, but… surely if the alien was in serious danger, it could use some self defense. Those spikes weren’t gonna cut it. Maybe that bastard Kellogg’s old .44 would finally get some use?
I grabbed the .44 revolver, a spare arc trap I’d salvaged from Fort Hagan, and some tools. It would have to do. There was already power hooked up to the shack for heating, so wiring the—
The food’s gone.
Dogmeat didn’t eat carrots, so I knew there was only one culprit. The alien must’ve woken up while I was working. It was back asleep now, but at least it got something down. It wouldn’t starve. Thank god.
…right. If it can wake up, this trap is probably more dangerous to it than any invader. I walked back over to the shed, stowed the Tesla arc and tools, and grabbed a handful of vegetables and a water canteen. If it could stomach food, it needed to start putting on weight now to make up for lost time. This would be a start, at least.
I set the food and water on the table (taking care not to break the digital chimera I’d already laid there), and the gun beside the bed. I knew it could reach to there, without a doubt. Maybe toss in a handful more bullets, too; it’s not like I’d ever be able to make myself use the damn thing. I gave one last glance at the alien curled up on a bare mattress before closing the door and setting out.

Memory Transcription Subject: Rania, Gojid Civilian
Date [Standardized Human Time]: Error 560 (estimated date: Unknown)
Help me. Kay-ut. Ki-ra. Protector. Anyone. It’s right there.
When I heard the human coming, I faked sleep hoping it wouldn’t check. As seconds passed, that hope grew thinner and thinner. Clearly, it could see the food was gone. Not that it needed to figure anything out; it could probably see through my deception just looking at me. Ki-yu, trickster; please, let this work. Let me live a moment longer. Noises all around me. Was it laying out torturous weaponry? Was it getting ready to gut me?
Protector. Please. I don’t want to die.
The noise around me stopped. Had the gods heard my prayers? I dared not check; if the human was still there, and I so much as opened an eye, I was dead. But death failed to claim me, and more noises failed to appear, until I finally worked up the courage to take advantage of my blessing and open my eyes.
The human was gone. I was alive. One more look around the room, to make sure it hadn’t—
A gun. A human weapon, close enough to grab. And ammo…
I knew humans were masters at trapping, at deceiving; such was their nature. I stared at the gun, trying to figure out what the trap was.
But I was tired, and hungry, and every sense told me that this wasn’t a trap, but a loaded gun. An answer to my prayers for safety. I couldn’t hold myself back anymore. I picked it up. It felt solid and weighty in my hands, lending some sense of security to the otherwise hopeless situation. Emboldened, I tried to rise to my feet again.
If I grabbed some of the furniture and stood on my good leg, I could just about stay upright without pain. That would have to do for now. Maybe I could use something in this room as a crutch. A leg of the table might do nicely, if I could—
Food. More food, all over the table. A sprawl of alien vegetables, including that orange one I had earlier. A metal jug, probably filled with water. And… is that a translator?
Curiosity overpowered both my hunger and my fear. On closer inspection, it was indeed a translator, one of the older dedicated units. Wired into… some sort of metal armband with a green flickering screen. The craftsmanship was shoddy; some parts were literally held together with insulated tape. Still, it appeared to be powered on and functional.
If I wasn’t in so much danger… I’d love to get a better look at what the human did with this thing. To wire Federation tech directly into one of their devices, and make it work…
My attention drifted back to the bounty laid out on the table before me. It could all be poisoned, but I’d already eaten the human’s food; what harm could it do to be full?

Sweeter than the orange one, but not as filling. Kind of mushy. Now no longer starving, I began to savor my meal slightly more. The green fruit was next, the one nearly the size of my skull. Upon breaking open the shell, it turned out to be pinkish red inside, and so juicy that I didn’t even need the water in the jug.
Bitter, but strangely satisfying. Next was a massive purple flower, which I could only guess was supposed to be food as well. The taste was unpleasant, but it felt bizarrely good to eat. Maybe a medicinal herb?
Why would the human give me a medicinal herb?
I’d been circling around the question for some time now. Why the food? Why the gun? Why the lack of gutting? Even if those supposed “empathy tests” weren’t faked, our species were at war! Did it not know?
Well-fed prey made for better-tasting prey, but a gun did not feed. A translator did not feed. Did it really want to talk to me? I weighed my options.
Option 1: Run. Impossible to do in my current state. Even with a large head start, even with uninjured legs, humans were nothing if not persistent; my odds were not all too favorable. And where would I go, anyway?
Option 2: Hide. Impossible to do in any state. Humans were perceptive and cunning. Nothing short of divine protection would hide me. And again, where would I go afterwards?
Option 3: Fight. I had a loaded gun, but for all I knew it was only there to lure me into a false sense of security. And besides, did I really expect to outfight a predator?
Option 4: Talk. It wasn’t likely, but maybe the human would have some sympathy (or at least fake some sympathy to keep up appearances). I was already injured, and it hadn’t torn me apart already; it clearly had something else in mind. Maybe the translator was involved in its “Something else”?
I didn’t… like that last option, but it seemed a hair better than shooting on sight when the human came back. Maybe I was forsaking the protection of the gods, forsaking my fellow Gojid. But none of the options were without risk, and I had to try something bold if I wanted to survive.
A noise from outside roused me from my thoughts. It’s coming. Time to make your choice.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Memory Recovery Subject: Nathan Dunne, sole survivor of Vault 111
Date: December 13th, 2287
Halfway through the outbound trip, I realized I’d forgotten my pip-boy at camp. I’d taken both off, while working on wiring in that translator to the spare one from Vault 81. Having no way of assessing potential injuries simply would not do.
Halfway through the return trip, I realized I’d brought Dogmeat with me instead of leaving him to guard. I managed to make myself move a little faster. That .44 was no guarantee of safety, not if the alien simply couldn’t get up.
Once back, I could at least be sure that nothing happened. No blue blood seeping through the shack’s foundation. I grabbed the pip-boy, ordered Dogmeat to patrol, and prepared to leave before the daylight faded.
That’s a bit cold, isn’t it? Leaving without even checking on your guest?
I was leaving so I could build a fence for its protection, but… a quick check couldn’t hurt. Just to make sure nothing happened, right? Yeah. Sure. I had the time. Though maybe barging straight in wasn’t the brightest idea, not when I had just given it a revolver.
I knocked twice, and tried to lower my voice to a more soothing register. I had no idea if my hacked-together translator abomination would work, so tone was key. Before I could even speak, I heard a wild scrambling from the inside.
“Don’t— please don’t k-kill me, human, I’ll… I’ll do anything.”
…I guess I should be glad the translator worked? What the hell was that?
“I’m not gonna hurt you. I promise. Is it OK with you if I come inside?”
“I… Y-Yes.”
I gave Dogmeat a strong look to stay back, and cracked open the door. The terrified sniveling over the translator couldn’t have prepared me for what met my gaze.
A few weeks ago, I’d heard a heart-wrenching noise while poking around the edge of the glowing sea; a lone radstag doe, torn literally in half by a deathclaw. The beast was scared off by an approaching Vertibird, leaving the doe to wail helplessly until I put it out of its misery.
I had nothing else I could compare the alien to. It was shaking like an aspen leaf, eyes screwed shut and body curled up against the wall. The gun was still technically in its hand (claw?), but pointed at nothing. Just looking at the thing made me feel helpless.
But I brought it back from the brink of death. Soothing terror would surely be easier than saving its life.

Memory Transcription Subject: Rania, Gojid Civilian
Date [Standardized Human Time]: Error 560 (estimated date: Unknown)
Protector. Please, give me strength. It’s… It’s going to…
No. It just wants to talk. Rania, get a hold of yourself.
I cracked open an eye. Tears largely blinded me from the horrifying details of the predator, but the human still towered over me, casting an engulfing shadow over my weakened form. It was all I could do to not further embarrass myself with incoherent pleading.
It seemed to take notice of my fear, crouching down to roughly eye level.
“You’re OK. I’m not going to hurt you, no matter what. What’s your name?”
“R-Rania.” I forced another eye open. The human had moved itself to a chair. Soft daylight illuminated a pair of forward-facing eyes, but no predatory scowl. It had an expression which could be mistaken for solemn sympathy on another species. But it had no reason not to be sincere. There was no other audience, nor anything I could do to escape. Could it really be concerned?
“Rania. My name is Nate. Can you tell me… what you are?”
“Just Nate? I— I thought humans had two names.”
“Oh, uhh… Nathan Dunne. I just go by Nate.”
I noticed a distinct look of confusion engulf the human’s face. Actually, I started to notice a lot of things. It wasn’t just the building and translator that were so clearly improvised. It— Nate’s armor was clearly not standard-issue anything. Nor the weapon on his side, some sort of pistol made seemingly from scrap.
He didn’t look like a UN soldier, nor a civilian of any type. And… just now… did he ask what I was? How could he not know?
“I’m a… I’m a G—Gojid. Does that mean anything to you?”
He shook his head, which even I knew was a human gesture for no. “Not as such. I might need to work out some issues with the translator, though, so don't count on it meaning—”
“The Federation? The cradle? Venlil? Arxur? UN?”
A bizarre shudder passed through Nate. “I know about the UN, though I can’t imagine how they’re relevant now… and no to the rest.”
“I can’t imagine how they’re relevant”!? What the hell could that mean?
“What— what does the UN mean to you?”
Again, that shudder, like a shadow cast over his soul. “They were a global group, trying to keep international peace. When the first Resource wars sparked… they collapsed like a house of cards. 2052. I was 12. After that, it…” he trailed off, before forcing himself to speak. “It all went to hell. As you can see.”
I couldn’t speak for shock. Predators were deceitful by their nature, yet I knew in my heart his words were sincere. It was plain as day, etched across his face. And if so… What the hell? What the hell!? What was any of that?
“As you can see? What do you mean?”
“Can you walk?”
Should I reveal my weakness? I don’t see any way he couldn’t notice my condition by now, so maybe I can get some sympathy for it?
“I… no, I don’t think so…”
“Then I can carry you outside. If you want, I mean. You’ll see what I meant by ‘went to hell’ real quickly.”
He’d have to… oh Protector, if he chose to carry me to slaughter, there’d be nothing I could do. But by this point, my fear was starting to wear thin from weariness. Curiosity was slowly taking the upper hand.
“S-show me.”
And just like that, the world moved out from under me. Instinctively, I grasped the human’s artificial pelt like a pup clinging to its mother. Light flooded my still tearstained eyes. I blinked them clear, and looked out on the world.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Memory Transcription Subject: Rania, Gojid Civilian
Date [Standardized Human Time]: Error 560 (estimated date: Unknown)
Was this Earth? This couldn’t be Earth. Earth was green, wasn’t it?
Yellow foliage, grey trees. A soft blue sky, intermittently broken up by concrete highways that towered towards the clouds. And on the horizon, the mammoth corpse of a city, a metal carcass that dominated the skyline.
No green. No life. Not even wind. The whole scene was eerily still, seemingly frozen in time.
Unable to make sense of the wider world, my attention drifted closer. A ring of ramshackle fencing, a larger building that I might mistake for a house. An ancient hand-worked water pump. A plot of vegetables. A beast with glistening fangs, bounding towards—
“Dogmeat, no. Stay.”
Somehow, impossibly, the beast heeded the command, slowing down enough for me to get a better look at my imminent demise. Long brown fur with black markings, a swishing tail, a red fabric tied around its neck. Forward-facing eyes gleaming with hideous intelligence. It sat down, tilting its head and letting out a shrill whine.
“You still haven’t met Dogmeat yet, have you— Rania? Rania!”
I couldn’t breathe. It was looking straight at me. I thought the human was terrifying, but this thing made it look harmless. Did Nate not realize the danger he was in?
“N— No! Please… don’t let it…”
“It’s not going to hurt you either. You’re OK. Breathe.” Nate turned slightly, shielding the beast from view. “Here. We can go back inside if he scares you too much.” I managed to choke out an affirmation, and felt darkness overtake me as we rushed back into the relative safety of the shack. The door clicked shut, sealing the beast outside.
“Rania, talk to me. Can you breathe?”
“Please… please don’t feed me to it…”
Nate’s eyes went wide, and his hand rose to cover his mouth. I didn’t know much human body language (aside from the vicious snarl they called a smile), but shock was a constant across almost every species. His eyes cast around the room wildly, his breathing becoming erratic before he managed to regain control.
“Rania, I— I’m not going to feed you to him. You— listen, I won’t even let him in. It’s safe here.” He clearly had something else to say, and silently struggled with the words for a moment before finding his phrasing. “Can you tell me why you’re so scared? What happened before I found you?”
The words took several moments to consciously register, but their effect was immediate. If Nate was trying to startle me out of my fear, he couldn’t have done a better job. When I spoke, it was with startling clarity as fear was replaced by near-indignant confusion.
“How could I not be scared? You’re predators. Even if… even if you really don’t want to kill me, seeing injured prey must be a powerful temptation to your instincts, no? Not to mention the invasion of the cradle; even if you do have empathy, why try to save an enemy species?”
A few moments of stillness, and then I mimicked his previous motion of shock as I realized what I’d done. If he somehow didn’t know the situation with the Gojid before, he did now. Even prey empathy didn’t extend to their sworn enemies. My stupid thoughtless rambling meant I was good as dead.
“Rania.” Nate’s words were slow, soft, and measured. “I don’t know where you come from or what the situation is out… up there. But I can promise you this.” He tapped my shoulder, snapping me out of my terrified reverie and forcing me to pay full attention. “I’m never going to hurt you. I’ll keep it safe here, as long as it takes for you to heal. You can hold me to that.”
“Safe… even safe from that monster..?”
Nate looked deeply hurt, but quickly covered it up with his previous expression of concern. “Yes. I wish I could prove to you that my dog is friendly, but… if he scares you that much, I’ll find somewhere else for him.”
He stole a glance out the window, before turning back to me. “Listen. I need to get some supplies for the fence while there’s still light. I’ll take Dogmeat with me. Do you know how to use this?” He gestured towards the gun, still sitting where I’d carelessly let it slip from my claws minutes earlier.
Apparently seeing straight through my lie, he bent down to show me. “Here, you just need to pull back the hammer. Finger over the trigger, and line up these sights on your target. Only pull the trigger when you know you have your shot.”
Nate stood up, putting one hand on the door before remembering something. “If you start hurting, you can use this.” He set a syringe down on the table. “Just stab wherever it hurts. The pack’ll do the rest for you. I’ll be back at sundown.”
And just like that, he was gone.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Memory Transcription Subject: Rania, Gojid Civilian
Date [Standardized Human Time]: Error 560 (estimated date: Unknown)
For a while, I just sat there, gun in hand and mind slowly dissolving from all the new information weighing it down. But boredom is a powerful thing, and even injured as I was, restlessness started to take hold.
With the beast gone, and gun in hand, I started convincing myself that it might be a good idea to get another look at the land. I needed to know what I had to work with in case… something happened. And I swore I saw a vegetable garden earlier. Curiosity was getting the better of me.
I tested my legs again. One was sore, but shockingly capable. The other was still burning when I applied pressure, and swaddled in bandages. I didn’t particularly feel like knowing what was under there. One leg would have to do. I didn’t need my legs to shoot, after all.
Cautiously, without making a sound, I cracked the door open. Nobody was out there. I took one shaky step. Then another. Inch by silent sore inch, I made my way over to the “house”.
Like everything out here, it was a rough-hewn heap of rusted metal and thick planks of wood. On closer inspection, however, some care had clearly been put into making it insulated. The windows even had glass (albeit covered in dust), rather than the screen mesh in my shack. This must be where the human lives.
What could Nate be hiding from me?
My curiosity burned brighter than the pain in my leg as I ambled towards the door. Unlocked. I peeked inside.
Thick layers of carpet. A fireplace on the wall, a couple paintings. A mattress much better-maintained than mine, pushed up under one of the windows.
No blood dripping from cages. No hunting trophies on the walls. No indication that this was the lair of a predator. If not for the construction materials, it could be mistaken for a house back on the cradle. It even has refrigeration and lights, without a functional power grid. I guess that predatory cunning comes in handy.
I already knew what the fridge must be filled with. I made the decision not to look. It’d be better if Nate didn’t know I was here, and that’d be pretty hard to hide with vomit all over his carpet. I couldn’t stop myself from looking in one of the cabinets, though. The thing was stuffed with cans of food, nearly full to bursting. Some were clearly homemade, some looked like they’d been excavated from the dirt. Maybe they had been.
My good leg was starting to ache, cutting my exploration short. With no small hesitation, I forced myself back outside, back to the shack where I could rest up a bit.

I was only steps away from the door when a horrifying sight stopped me in my tracks. Dead animals, three of them. Sickly looking things, but recognizably the same species as that ‘Dogmeat’. I couldn’t look away. Was Nate hunting before I woke up? I stepped closer, morbid curiosity dowsing my pain. I don’t see any bite marks. And… predators don’t eat other predators.

Did he kill them to protect me?
Humans were apex predators on their planet. It couldn’t have been self-defense. Nor could it have been hunger, if he’d just left them to rot. So… what other reasons would he have to fight?
I looked closer, my eyes meeting a series of glassy stares. Two of them looked literally skin and bones, but the third looked a lot like Dogmeat. Mouth closed, eyes staring up at the sky unseeing. I almost felt bad for it.
“I wish I could prove to you that my dog is friendly, but… if he scares you that much, I’ll find somewhere else for him.”
Did Nate feel any conflict, having to shoot them on my behalf? Was he going to shoot Dogmeat too, just to ease my fears? He clearly cared about the beast, but if he thought “keeping me safe” meant…

No. I wouldn’t let it come to that. I had to overcome my fear. If I wanted to survive, I needed to be stronger.
Reaching out to the body, arm trembling, I ran a claw down its side. It was soft… still warm, too. The thought that this predator had been alive so recently, only to be put down for my safety, managed to elicit a twinge of sorrow. That feeling, hold on to that. Force it through your fear.
My movements got bolder, even exploring the rows of sharp teeth hidden by a clenched jaw. And the soft fur on its underbelly… its long tail, which sat limp and unmoving on the dust. I could feel my fear begin to fade more and more with every second I sat next to the body of this predator.
Eventually, I forced myself to rise. As I walked back to my bed, I stole one last glance backwards. Instead of horrifying predators, all I saw was a family of three. That they had to die so I could live… the thought filled me with a strange sense of shame.
I couldn’t stand there forever. My poor legs wouldn’t allow it. Back to the bed, step by shaky step.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Memory Recovery Subject: Nathan Dunne, sole survivor of Vault 111
Date: December 13th, 2287
Hauling sheet metal was no easy task, even with the help of a dog. It was dark by the time I got home; I’d missed my appointment with the sunset by nearly half an hour.
Supplies stowed away, armor shed, weapons holstered. I rummaged around the fridge for a radstag fry I’d prepared a couple days ago. I didn’t have the energy to cook, and I still needed to check in with Rania. Dogmeat hovered around my ankles, performing his best puppy impression.
These might be the last meals you get to eat with him. I gave a few scraps for his unconvincing performance.
I knew the minutemen would take good care of him, and Valentine could make good use of his nose. But saying goodbye would be a challenge. He’d had my back practically since I escaped Vault 111, and casting him aside felt like nothing short of a betrayal.
The radstag felt like sawdust in my mouth. I tossed the rest of it to Dogmeat, who looked up quizzically rather than digging in. I knew he was wondering why I was being so generous all of a sudden, but I wasn’t ready to break the news to him yet.

“Is it OK with you if I come in?”
The voice responding sounded completely different. Still recognizably Rania, but without the terrified quivering I’d expected. “Yes. We need to talk.”
I slipped inside, taking care not to let out too much heat. The figure facing me, while again still undoubtedly Rania, was otherwise unrecognizable. Sitting up straight, unshaking, looking directly at me. A far cry from the poor creature I’d talked to when I left. He (he? I decided to assume it was male, given the voice from the translator) turned his head slightly to the side, leaving one eye to meet both of mine in what I assumed was an intense stare for a person with side-facing eyes.
“Nate.” Rania’s voice was thick with determination. “I’ve decided… I want to get used to Dogmeat. If he’s really as friendly as you say, you shouldn’t have to get rid of him just because of my fear.”
It was all I could do to suppress a full-bodied sigh of relief. If he’s on the fence on this decision, showing my joy would force his hand. I have to stay calm. “Can I ask why?”
“I, uh… I found the other predators. The feral ones. The ones you shot.”
“And I… I don’t want you to have to do the same for him. It doesn’t…” The quivering returned in shades, but he continued. “Even if you meant ‘find somewhere else for him’ literally, you shouldn’t have to do that for my sake.”
“I…” I buried my face in my hands, trying to beat back tears. “Thank you. I couldn’t imagine having to… thank you. I can still keep him away from you if you’re scared. You shouldn’t have to live in fear.”
Rania shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Actually, I was thinking I should… you know, get used to him, not just tolerate him from a distance. Face my fear head-on. Just… not tonight, OK?”
For all that quivering, he’s a lot braver than I thought he’d be.
“Yeah. We can get something worked out later. Right now, you need to rest. I’m not just talking about tonight; you’re still injured. Best you can do right now is rest and eat. Which reminds me… The vegetables I brought you earlier. How were they? Any you really liked?”
“Oh, uhhh… yeah, the orange one was really nice. And that red mushy one wasn’t so pleasant; I could eat it anyway to get full, but I’d rather not. Why do you have so many vegetables, anyway?”
Why wouldn’t I? “What do you mean?”
“Well, I thought… predators eat flesh, right? Were you growing them for decoration? I mean… it was nice to see something green and growing out here, but that seems like a lot of effort!”
I couldn’t manage a verbal response to this. All I could give was a baffled stare, which Rania seemed to interpret as a threat.
“I— I didn’t mean to insult you—”
“No, no, it’s just…” I rubbed my eyes. Hauling sheet metal had sapped all my energy, but I couldn’t just let this slide. “I mean… humans aren’t obligate carnivores. Most predators aren’t; even deathclaws forage for mutfruit when they can. Or does the word ‘predator’ mean something else to you?”
It was Rania’s turn for a blank stare, and I began to wonder if I’d just said something insulting. He looked down, mumbling something the translator couldn’t catch, then turned his attention back. “I think we should talk about this later. I need to rest.”
I knew it was a flimsy excuse (I could practically see his mind overheating as he stared back into the ground), but he wasn’t exactly wrong. I bid my farewell with a solemn nod.

The moon cast a picturesque blue light through the windows, giving just enough illumination to fend off sleep. On its own, the meager light couldn’t fight off the exhaustion radiating through my muscles, but Rania’s bizarre outburst was also keeping me up.
Not knowing about the history of our planet was perfectly reasonable, given his alien identity. Being so scared of humans despite apparently knowing about them was strange, but nothing a bit of trauma couldn’t induce. But even schoolchildren knew the basics of the food chain, and I found it hard to believe that a space-faring alien race would be less knowledgeable about ecology than the local population of raiders. Even with no education at all, certain things were obvious by observation.
If nothing else, Rania was right about one thing. We will need to talk about this later.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[Continued in comments]
submitted by Seamoose_Art to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 16:33 WolfLeviathan9000 Why am I so insecure about my tastes / what I enjoy? (20M)

(Firstly, I just want to apologize for this post being a bit long, I'm just trying to express each and every one of my thoughts on this issue of mine in as thorough of a manner as possible. Also, I should state that although this is an issue that really does deeply impact my mental health, the primary reason I feel like this sub is the best place to post this is due to the fact that every other place I thought of to post it (advice, vent, etc.) seem to have either clear rules that my post breaks, or rules that are worded just vaguely enough for me to not be sure.)
When I hear even the smallest, slightest criticism towards something I enjoy, I immediately feel like it’s the absolute worst thing ever and that I’m an idiot and there’s something wrong with me for enjoying it. For instance, one of my favorite games of all time is Half-Life 2. That game got AMAZING critical reception and countless awards. Some people, however, claim that it doesn’t hold up today and is overrated. When I say some people, I mean what is probably about 1 in every 50 people who have played it. But to ME, it feels like 49,999 in every 50,000.
Seriously, even the smallest criticisms towards the things I enjoy are enough to make me feel so bad about my enjoyment of them that I suddenly don’t want to play/watch/listen to/whatever that particular thing for like 2 weeks straight. Even if it’s a poor criticism that doesn’t make sense, it STILL makes me feel insecure. Hell, a couple years ago, I was in a discord call, playing a game with a friend of mine, and a few of his discord friends who I didn’t even know the NAMES of, and have never even heard of since. They were basically complete strangers to me. Yet, one of them stated that an ITEM from a game I like had a stupid name, and that TINY LITTLE COMMENT was enough to make me feel slightly upset. Let me restate that for you: Someone who was basically a complete stranger to me said that an ITEM from a game that I like had a stupid name, and that was enough to make me feel upset. I’m dead serious, my problem is that bad.
Sometimes it doesn't even have to be an actual criticism to get under my skin. Someone could just say something as simple as "I dislike [insert thing I like here]" And it's enough to make me think "Oh god, do they dislike it because they're smarter than me and are able to analyze it better than me, and realize why that particular thing is actually garbage???"
It also really doesn’t help that it feels as though a very large majority of the time, when I was growing up, whenever I developed an interest in a new “thing”, it was always through experiencing whatever is usually almost universally agreed upon by the fanbase to be the worst entry or version of whatever that thing is. For example, growing up, I got into the Transformers franchise through the live action Michael Bay movies, which seem to be constantly trashed by movie critics and fans alike, and I also got into Indiana Jones through Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which the entire fanbase seems to agree is the absolute worst movie in the series. I’m a big fan of horror, because when I was very young, I used to watch lots of let’s plays of shitty early 2010s indie horror games and listen to tons of creepypasta narrations on YouTube. To this day, I still go back and watch Markiplier’s old horror game let’s plays from time to time, and unironically enjoy creepypastas and other internet horror stories. However, as I previously stated, a lot of those games were really terrible looking back, and creepypastas and other internet urban legends are so heavily criticized and trashed that even the very word “creepypasta” seems to have negative connotations tied to it. And that makes me feel bad for enjoying them.
I really haven’t seen that many movies in my life, but I find that I end up enjoying probably about 9 out of every 10 movies I see. In fact, one of my favorite “once in a while” special activities that I enjoy doing with friends and/or family is going to the movie theater. I like the atmosphere of the lobby, the food, the smells, the lights, the overall “aesthetic”, and even things as simple as getting real comfortable in my seat and watching the previews. But despite all this, I really can’t say I like movies as a whole that much, and I rarely find myself interested in watching new movies, at the theater (Hell, I’d even argue that I’m more excited for the theater itself than the actual movie) OR at home. Why? Like I’ve said before, I find myself coming out of almost every single movie, out of the few that I have seen in my life, thinking “That was pretty good! I enjoyed that a lot!” But then when I get home, I scroll the internet and start seeing reviews for the very same movie I watched, and it feels like 99.999% of the time, EVERYONE is shitting on it. It makes me feel like there’s something wrong with me for enjoying it, and it makes me feel bad. It makes me want to just stop watching movies altogether. So this whole problem is actually causing me to deprive myself of new, fun experiences and discovering new areas of my own happiness. Not just in movies, They just work best for an example in this context, but in everything. This problem also partially makes me want to actually avoid thinking critically about why I enjoy certain things, because I’m afraid of slowly realizing that the things I enjoy, upon closer inspection, are terrible and I’m a moron for enjoying them.
Sometimes even the original creator of said "thing" considers their creation, which I enjoy, to be terrible. For instance, there's this song on YouTube I really love, but the creator of the song considers it to be "one of the worst fucking songs I ever created". When it reaches the point that even the CREATOR says it sucks, that feeling of me being wrong and stupid for enjoying it exacerbates tremendously.
Sometimes I try to think to myself “Okay, maybe the things I enjoy really are “objectively bad”. But even if they are, so what? Is there really a problem with having “bad taste?” And that’s when I start coming across these internet armchair psychologists who try to tell me that the things you enjoy somehow tie into and reflect on things like your inner psychology, your values, your background and upbringing, etc. and therefore if you have bad taste, there’s something wrong with you, you’re a bad person, and you’re everything that’s wrong with society. (I’m paraphrasing, but you get my point) There was a franchise of games I used to love, and my favorite game in that franchise happened to be the one that half of the fanbase seemed to absolutely hate. I read a comment on that particular game’s subreddit, explaining why they enjoyed the “worst” game in that franchise. Some guy replied to him, basically telling him that the original commenter was satisfied with less, and therefore he was the reason that these big game companies are able to keep getting away producing terrible low-quality broken games (or something like that. Again, paraphrasing.) And I fear that he’s right. Our enjoyment of that game is inherently a bad thing and we should feel bad about it. Often times, these criticisms also give me a feeling as though the person giving them is trying to "debunk" my reasons for enjoying a particular thing, and that feeling really REALLY gets under my skin.
I know trolling assholes on the internet are the last people you want to listen to when it comes to these sorts of things, but for some reason, I still can’t help but worry that deep down they’re actually right, and everything I enjoy really is terrible, I have terrible taste, there’s something wrong with me, I’m a bad person, and I should feel bad about it. I’ve had these insecurities all my life, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve actually realized it due to the fact that it was worsening, and it wasn’t until the last few months that I got the idea to attempt to reach out to anyone in order to figure out why I have this problem and how I can stop it.
Sometimes, I read and hear criticisms towards things I like that are worded in a very harsh, hostile, angry manner, and THOSE ones instead make me react with irrational anger. Sometimes those types of criticisms make me feel so upset that I start imagining myself lashing out in anger towards those critics by taking a blunt object and hitting them with it. I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out why that’s a problem. Although I think this particular aspect of my problem ties into another separate issue I have, which I might talk about another time.
Why do I let other people’s opinions have so much power over my enjoyment of the things that make me happy?
I feel like this whole problem most likely ties into an even grander issue I have, which I’ll touch on more in (what will probably be) my next reddit post.
So why do I have this issue? Are all those internet assholes and critics really right? Is there really a problem with me enjoying things that aren’t “objectively” good, and therefore there’s something wrong with me? And if not, how do I stop feeling this way?
submitted by WolfLeviathan9000 to mentalhealth [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 16:30 khoafraelich789 Off-Road Comparison: Ford Bronco Sasquatch vs Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Xtreme Recon

Off-Road Comparison: Ford Bronco Sasquatch vs Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Xtreme Recon
Jeep and Ford take different approaches to 35" off-road packages, each with specific strengths.
Elle Alder: Jeepers creepers, look at that Bronco! We’ve got a mightily rubbered matchup today, mates. Before us are the Ford Bronco Badlands Sasquatch and the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Xtreme Recon 392. Riding 35” tires, big suspension, and uhh, ‘comparable power,’ these off-roaders represent quite nearly the most capable of their breed.

Clayton Seams: Nearly, but we are short one carnivore: the Ford Bronco Raptor. The muscled-up Braptor was not available to pair up with the Wrangler 392, so we’re making do with the still-incredibly capable Ford Bronco Badlands Sasquatch. The ‘Squatch can’t match the big Raptor for high-speed off-roading or acceleration, but it’s a closer rival to the Jeep Rubicon — or it would be, were it not for the badge on the Jeep’s hood that says “392”. Those three little numbers make a very big difference.

EA: Very big. Converted from cubic inches, the big Jeep’s V8 measures 6.4 litres displacement. It’s straight off-road muscle, but fortunately for Ford, this comparison is really about the platforms beneath. The arrival of the new Bronco has unquestionably challenged Jeep’s trailhead throne, and the big question is how the two match up on road and trail.

Assessed as equals, these rigs offer similar but distinct skill sets at a similar price point. The V6-equipped 2023 Ford Bronco Sasquatch comes in from $72,189 with destination, or $74,289 as tested. A V6-powered 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Xtreme Recon arrives from $67,480, from $78,495 configured with the good stuff, or a mighty $116,890 for the tested 392 V8 with one-touch power top and all of the goodies.

CS: Mechanically, the largest difference between the two is the front suspension. Jeep famously hangs a solid front axle under the front of every Wrangler and Gladiator, while the Bronco uses an independent front suspension setup. Out back, both use burly live axles and coil springs. Both of these are real 4x4s built largely in the traditional way with body-on-frame construction, two-speed transfer cases, and are specced up with huge 35” tall tires. Underhood, the Bronco can be specced with a turbocharged 2.3-litre inline-four (the one to have), a 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6 like our tester, or the top-dog 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that you only get in the Raptor version.

EA: Jeep’s modern reputation was built on six naturally aspirated cylinders, and the available 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 — by no means a powerhouse — is plenty of power for the platform. Its 285 hp and 260 lb-ft bounce and crawl with a reputation for reliability and serviceability, making it an entirely respectable path. Standard today is a 2.0-litre turbo-four producing 270 hp and 295 lb-ft, an efficient commuter for the lifestyle crowd but perhaps not to the tastes of NA traditionalists. Manual transmissions are available in some Wrangler trims, but don’t expect to see many of them amid the usual ZF eight-speed automatic configurations.

The 6.4-litre in the Wrangler 392 is the naturally aspirated gasoline powerplant seen in the Ram 2500 and Dodge Scat Packs, tuned here to deliver 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. It’s a fun option with a silly sound and an expensive gasoline habit — and also entirely overkill. Accelerating in 4.5 seconds on solid axles and wobbly sidewalls is a skittery affair.

Ford Canada hasn’t dared make any Bronco Raptors available for comparison with the 392, so in the interest of fairness we’ll overlook the Jeep’s obvious power advantage and treat it as a Rubicon Xtreme Recon — a comparatively priced suspension and goodie package available with everything you see here, less the 470-horsepower V8.

CS: While you’re commanding that muscle-car V8 through the trails, you’re sitting in a 2023 cockpit like no other. The exposed door hinges mean the doors swing freely with no stops to easily keep them from hitting cars next to you. There’s more visible painted steel in this interior than a 1985 Toyota Starlet, and the windshield appears almost vertical in front of you. Sure it has Stellantis’s latest uConnect touchscreen system, Alpine premium nine-speaker audio, and heated front seats complete with fetching Rubicon embroidery. But even when compared to the equally rugged Bronco, the Wrangler interior feels like a throwback to an earlier time. The cabin is noticeably narrower than the Bronco, the dash is more vertical, and it still knocks your ankle with its long door harness. It is certainly a Jeep.

Conversely, the Bronco interior manages all of the rugged off-road looks and sacrifices nothing in practicality over a ‘normal’ SUV on the inside. The cabin feels more modern, the touchscreen is much larger than that in the Jeep, and the quality of materials throughout the cabin is superior to the Jeep’s. Despite costing as much as a luxury sedan, both of these SUVs have rubber floors — not carpet — for easier washing after a muddy day on the trails. One gripe would be that the chunky grab handle is located on the dash and not higher on the A-pillar. This makes it easier for passengers to grab during “oh heck” moments, but less helpful for shorter people using it to hoist themselves into the cabin.

EA: Fording is a loss for the Bronco. Ford says that the Sasquatch is good for the same 85-cm (33.5 in.) water crossings that the Jeep is rated for, but that V6 engine leaves its alternator low and vulnerable to rushing water. The Wrangler, meanwhile, mounts its alternators up high and clear of water, and an optional water-diverting intake provides further protection from overenthusiastic gulps — albeit at the compromise of a seriously hefty hood.

That weight shouldn’t be surprising, however, for nothing about either of these rigs is in any way light. Exact figures vary depending on configuration, but equipped with V6s, the Bronco Sasquatch curbs around 5,100 lbs; the Wrangler Xtreme Recon at ~5,200 lbs.

Similar as these curb weights are, the two SUVs carry their weight very differently. The Bronco’s independent front and overall construction feel lighter, whereas the unsprung mass of the Jeep’s solid Dana 210 front axle (an electronically modernized 44 variant) renders a more precarious highway drive and more heaving sensations on the trails. With that handling shortcoming comes confidence in durability, however, and I’d certainly rather have the option of running that solid axle up a log for a backwoods wheel swap than wince at the mercy of a mud-footed jack under the Bronco.

Such weight doesn’t assure invulnerability, however. While both the Sasquatch and Xtreme Recon packages equip these SUVs with underbody shielding in vulnerable areas, it does leave a little to be desired. Hesitant gut impressions of the Bronco’s under-sump shielding and the Jeep’s fuel-tank cladding will hold most stock drivers to the side of caution.

CS: But to get to those trails where fording depth, breakover angle, and tire height matter, you probably have to commute there on pavement. And in that asphalt environment where these vehicles will spend easily 90 per cent of their time, these SUVs are severely out of their element. To be fair, the 392 Wrangler is the first Wrangler that’s ever been fun to drive on the street, thanks specifically to its outrageous muscle-car power and NASCAR soundtrack. But the Wrangler is sketchy to drive at speeds in a way that no other modern ‘car’ is. Those huge meats and solid front axle make for a decidedly wobbly experience on pavement, and drivers must constantly steer a Jeep in its lane on the highway to keep it pointed between the lines. Wind noise is strong at speed, though it faces competition from the droning mud tires and the 392’s dual-exit exhaust. On the plus side, the steering wheel turns easily even with those massive tires, and the ride is cushy-smooth across rough pavement because, of course it is. And that’s before we talk about the fuel economy which is good only when compared to a TRX. Even with gentle driving, you can expect to average around 14 L/100 km at best, and you won’t get that number without a tailwind and some luck.

Compared to the Jeep, the Bronco is a serene experience much in the way that skydiving would feel calm after going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The independent front suspension allows the Bronco to do novel things like track straight down a highway lane. Although the exhaust is markedly more subdued (granted, the V6 Wrangler is similarly tame), the Bronco’s seats are not as comfy as the Wrangler’s and the ride is a bit harsher over highway bumps. That said, I vastly prefer the Bronco’s stereo, and if I had to take one of these on a road trip, I’d choose the Bronco.

EA: As a single vehicle to live with every day, I must reluctantly agree that the Ford takes it. The Bronco is significantly more ‘car’ than the Jeep, and carries itself along the commute with far shinier technological comforts as well. Nicely appointed and priced to compete directly with the Wrango-dango, it’s simply a better truck for the roads of today.

Still, neither vehicle should be looked to as a commuter. These trucks are large, inefficient, and costly toys better suited to a multi-vehicle family. Relegated to a secondary role for off-road play days, the Jeep is doubtless the hardier, more trustworthy, more capable, and more customizable rig. The Bronco makes trails more accessible, but it’s no old-fashioned, hard-knockin’ Wrangler.

Source: driving ca
submitted by khoafraelich789 to CarInformationNews [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 16:20 Random_Trinidadian The First Contact War

Yea... I was there when the invasion began.
It was so long ago, yet I remember it like it was yesterday. Back then, we only had to worry about nuclear hell fire destroying out species. A result of mad men acting like children with the perverbial big red button. Yet despite this, we tried to live our lives the best way we could. Just trying to survive our own petty struggles that came with day to day life.
Back then, I was just a huble taxi driver, driving about my city, just trying to make a honest living. Iwas actually in my cab when I saw the first ships break through the clouds and begin their attack. I could still remember the screams of people when they began to open fire, destroying building as if they were nothing but toys.
I didn't even know how I was able to escape that blood bath, all I could remember was jumping into my car and hitting the gas as hard as I could. It was just all a big blur, I could see people running as the first ships landed and began to deploy their troops. That's when I saw them... Big ugly bastards dressed in black armor and carrying weapons ....weapons they used on the fleeing people as they tried to get away.
I guess I was one of the lucky ones, cause I was able to get away and didn't stop driving until I reached the mountains. For the first two days, I wondered around the Forrest. I was too afraid to sleep, as I feared what ever those things were would find me. I could hear jets and other aircraft flying overhead, but I could see them through the trees.
It was on my third day however, I ended up being discovered by a group of soldiers as I walked along the road. I guess I must had been more exhausted than I thought, cause the next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital bed inside of a large tent filled with doctors and patients.
I could see both soldiers and regular people being treated for various types of injuries. I could hear the sounds of helicopters and vehicles coming from outside, while doctors and nurses did what they could.
Eventually, I found out the true extent of what was going on and I have to admit, I could not believe what I was hearing. I think I even chuckled a bit when I was told that actual aliens were invading the planet. But I soon realized that was all too real, as I the camp I was now in was across a river from another city. A city that was now in complete ruin and was still burning.
Apparently, similar scenes we're taking place all over the world, as more and more ships landed and deployed troops. They... Who ever THEY were, never announced who they were, but it soon became clear to us this was not just an invasion, it was a extermination. As they killed everything and everyone in their way, even if they tried to escape.
Obviously, we were not to keen on becoming extinct and we fought back.... We fought back hard. The nuclear powers unleased their arsenal on the "Invaders", numerous mushroom clouds rising into the air as ballistic and cruise missiles found their targets. I guess that the invaders were not expecting such a a response, as their ships proved to be no match for our rather "Primitive" nuclear weapons. But the fighting continued and eventually, I would end up volunteering with a group calling itself the "15th Volunteer Regiment."
I became a gunner on a old Patton Tank, something that the army pulled out of storage as the war continued. I could remember the first battle I took part in, a small town somewhere in western Texas. We were to go in to releave a detachment of Mexican Soldiers who has been trying to retake the town for the last month.
I could remember when I saw one of the Alien Mech Suits appeared and began to open fire. I could also remember just how I felt when I saw the bastard burst into flames after taking a HEAT round to it's chest. I didn't feel anything for who or what ever had being sinsude that contraption, they were monsters for what they had done and they all deserved to die. It was also during that time that I finally got a good look at just who had invaded.... They looked just like us! But they were completely bald with some kind of tattoo pattern on their heads with impossibly pale skin and eyes that were nothing but whites. Yet we still did not know their name or what they called themselves.
Eventually, North America was cleared and my unit was then sent south to help in the fighting in those regions. Again, I saw the death and destruction the invades had caused. I saw entire towns filled with bodies, many of whom had wounds that suggested they were trying to run away when they were killed. We fought our way down and eventually linked up with the Brazilians and took part in the Battle of the Plate.
For Fives years, we continued to fight. Eventually making it to Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and finally India. The 15th was there and were were all hell bent on making those bastards pay. By then, the suits in the lab had managed to reverse engineer some of the weapons we that were captured and we were now using tanks with large Lazer cannons, attack aircraft with used some kind of.... Anti-gravity engines, we even had mech suits of our own. But for the 15th, we still used the old Pattons and even a few T-72 we were able to acquire when some Nigerians joined our group.
Then.... Came the Battle of Rangoon.... The last major battle of the war. The invaders had set up some kind of base Intelligence believed to be their main operations center. Once again, al nuclear strike was used to soften their defences and we began to advance. We didn't beat the bastards.... We slaughtered them.
Mexico City... Caracas.... Largos.... Nice.... We remembered.... We remembered what we saw and what they did. We were not going to give them the luxury of Mercy... They were going to pay for what they did.
Five days of absolute hell... But eventually we took the command base and by extension, ended the war. The Rangoon Base was their last stronghold on the planet and we destroyed it. The war was won, but at a heavy cost.
Two billion people were dead, the atmosphere was now heavily irradiated due to the use of nuclear weapons. There was a very real fear of famine due farm land bring destroyed due to the fighting. The next twenty years following the war were not easy, but eventually were were able to rebuild and with the Technology the Invaders left behind. But.... We were not done....
We knew that it could only be a matter of time before they came back and we might not be so lucky. So we began to build up our militaries once again and untied them to form the United Earth Defence Forces. The ships were captured, the few they were, became the basis for a new Space Navy. We soon began to build ships of our own, build bases on other planets and designed new weapons. We never found out the name of our would be attackers, but my people will not soon forget them. We want to find them and show them the true consiquences of their actions.
"So why are you telling me this, ambassador?"
Ever since we became part of the Galactic community, my government have been trying to find out who had attacked us. So far, we have ether been meet with silence or some vauge legend.
"But what purpose would getting revenge serve at this point?"
You would not be saying that if what happened to my people, happened to yours. There is one thing you need to know about my people.... We don't like it when others bully us and we will do everything in our power to hit back at those who hurt us. So ... Will your people help us?
"You humans are driven too much by you emotions."
It what got us through the War and the many skirmishes with your people. Need I remind you who supported your government during your civil war? You owe us.
"And if my government refuses to help?"
It's in their best interest that they do. So will you help us?
"I... Will speak with them when I return home."
You do that... We will speak later.
submitted by Random_Trinidadian to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 15:59 lafras-h Is this good advice for newbies?: Is this home-distilling hobby really for me?

The following is a modernized version of the advice given in the Newbies Corner of Aussie distiller forum (dated 2013)- it follows the same sort of fictional dialogue with a lot of the original text but structured to include home continuous distillation as an option. I hope this is considered fair use – plz tell me what you think, which parts are good, bad, missing, or just plain wrong:
Is this home-distilling hobby really for me?
This is probably something you have been contemplating since you first read, heard, or watched a show about home distilling. As with most hobbies, you need to go over the pros and cons of why you want to get into it, and what kind of time and costs are involved in getting set up, and continuing the hobby. By the end of this write up you should have enough information to decide whether or not this is something for you!
What do you want to get out of this hobby? First things first. What do you want to get out of distilling?

Do you just want a quick and easy way to get alcohol?
Do you want to make a quality drop that will beat the price and taste of commercial products?

Think about that for a second, and when you're ready, we can move on.
- I know what I want!
Alright then! That is all fine and dandy, but I think we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Do you want to be an early adopter of cutting-edge modern technology or do you want to make it the old-fashioned way, like you may have seen on shows like Moonshiners?
So you want to use the bleeding edge of modern technology? Yes? Let's move on then.
What kind of price will I be looking at, you ask?
A smart, automated, micro air-cooled reflux continuous still will set you back $500 shipped.
- Holy s\**!*
Does that seem expensive to you? If so, you may want to re-think your options. But before that, think of it this way. That price pales in comparison to what you can spend on commercial products. For example, a quick search shows that $500 of alcohol is approximately 10 to 20 bottles of Jack Daniels depending on your country. Once you've finished that alcohol, that's it. You have to buy more. It ain't going to fill itself back up.
Now let's look at the still price again. $500.It's a once-off equipment price that you spend. From there on out you only pay for your ingredients, and you can make as much alcohol as you, your family, your friends, etc can ever think of drinking.
Okay, so after pondering that for a while and consulting the minister of finance, let's move on.
- Sorry, I don't want to spend that much!
Okay, so that's not for you.
-How about less technology and more work, is that less expensive?
Yes, It can be...
Do you want to make spirit that you can use as vodka, a base for gin, in mixes, or with essences designed to emulate commercial spirits, including whiskeys or brandy(a neutral spirit), or do you want to make traditional authentic whiskey/whisky/rum/etc (a flavored spirit)?
If you want to make a neutral spirit, your best bet is to go with a reflux still. We won't go into too much detail with the different types of stills as there is plenty of that around. We just want to work out whether or not you have the time and money to go the traditional route into this hobby.
If you want to make an authentic flavored spirit (whiskey/whisky/rum/etc) a pot still would be a good starting place.
So, have you decided what you want? Yes? Let's move on then.
- I want to make a neutral spirit!
Okay, so for making a neutral spirit, we want to go with a reflux still. This will make a neutral/flavorless spirit that you can mix with flavors. But don't get too ahead of yourself just yet.
If you don't have the skills to build your own, you will likely be looking at buying one. There are many online stores where you can get exactly what you want. They will be more than happy to recommend the best piece of equipment for your needs.
What kind of price will I be looking at, you ask? Going by some stores, a basic 2" reflux still and a boiler will set you back around ~$800 delivered.
- Double Holy s\**!*
Yes, sometimes new technology can do more for less money... but wait, if we go real old school the next option is a pot still.
Searching online you can find a small pot still for under $100, or you could DIY a keg still for under $150
.- That's more like it!
I thought it might be more appealing to you...What's the catch, you say?
Well, a pot still (and a reflux still to a lesser extent) needs a lot of manual mundane repetitive tasks and both need a lot of boring babysitting, watching it the whole time. Basically, block off a long weekend to run a decent haul. And half your need a lot of space to work in and you don’t want kids running around your still.
Also with a pot still you won't be able to make the quality neutral you would with a reflux or continuous still. That doesn't necessarily mean that you can't get close to a neutral spirit that could be used for flavoring, but if it was that simple, we would all be recommending the cheaper pot still.
A pot still is great for many recipes such as authentic bourbon, whisky, rum, etc. This essentially removes the need to purchase essences from your homebrew shop or mixes for your vodka.
- If I don't need to buy essences, then why would I even bother spending the money on a continuous still or even reflux still?
That's a good question. The reason people use a continuous still (or even reflux still) is because it is very easy to produce a product superior to what you can buy commercially (which was our original goal). Then you can use it as vodka, a base for gin, in mixes, or with essences designed to emulate commercial spirits, including whiskeys or brandy.
Making a simple, sugar wash, is almost failproof, running it through the continuous still is something anyone can manage. Much like reading instructions on the packet of 2-minute noodles.
If you want to make a rum/whisky/etc to run through a pot still, you will need to make a wash that requires experience, and a lot of extra work, whether that is adding grains to the fermenter, or even mashing the grains for a specific time and temperature, your risk of failure is significant when you have no experience.
We've covered the basic startup costs for each type of product so far.
The more expensive reflux still, the convenient continuous still, and the cheapest pot still. Now, that's not to say you can’t build a cheap reflux still (or find a used one for sale), but as a guide, that is what you are looking for in a nice quality still.
So, for argument's sake, you have a limit to spend on equipment and you have decided that you don't care, you're going to get a still no matter what.
-Okay. I've got my still decided. Do I get free alcohol now?
It doesn't quite work like that, sorry. Depending on the still you chose, you will need to make a wash to run through the still.
-Let me guess...more money?
Correct! You're learning fast. You will need a fermenter or a barrel that you can use to make your wash in. These pop up all the time on gumtree, eBay, etc or you might be able to pick one up for cheap (<$30) at your homebrew shop. Really it can be any size, but the bigger the better, you can always make half batches, but you cannot make more than what you have space for. HDPE 200L(55gal) barrels are cheap and handy.
-Easy enough...
Now, you can go to the homebrew shop and drop $10 on some turbo yeast, $10 on some sugar and go home and follow the directions, but chances are it won't be what you're looking for.
We like to use basic recipes that don't rely on a super-yeast that was designed for making fuel.
There are simple recipes such as a Tomato Paste Wash which can be made for <$10 and will make a nice neutral spirit when run through a continuous or reflux still.
-That sounds fine. I've read some recipes and know what I want. Now do I get that sweet nectar?
We're almost there. We've covered the basic costs of equipment and recipes, but we haven't covered the other cost. Time.
For starters, you need to ferment the wash. This can take anywhere from 3-14 days, or even longer, depending on the conditions you ferment in. We will keep that time range for now so you can get an idea of how long this whole process takes.
You've got your wash, it has fermented out, and you're reading to distill it! It's the big day! You're prepared to distill your first wash.
-What do I do now?
Well, this is where the cutting edge of modern technology starts making a big difference. With a smart, automated, micro air-cooled reflux continuous still, you just drop in the feed tube, drop your waste tube in a waste bucket, place your collection jars, and turn on the still, you can get this done in less than 5 minutes, then you come back later to collect a jar of your sweet nectar...That’s it! done! However...
With a pot or reflux still, to get that authentic traditional experience, set aside the whole day, and get a good book.
First, we need to siphon off the wash so you don’t put sediment in the boiler, once filled, get everything set up. This is the quickest part so far. If you are good, you can get this done in less than 15 minutes. After your condenser hoses are attached, the wash is in the boiler and the still is clamped on the keg, we can turn on our gas or electric element.
-Wooo! Finally!! Wait.. my condenser hoses?
For a pot or reflux still, you will need a water supply to cool the alcohol vapors as they come out of the still. This can either be your garden hose or a pump in a rainwater tank or container. Obviously, these are more costs that you need to factor in. A pump is good for recirculating water, but then you need to invest in a pump ($50) and you need a container to hold a large volume of water. ($50+). Or if you want, you can run it straight out the tap, but that can get wasteful.
Obviously an air-cooled continuous still does not need water, it uses the incoming wash for most of the cooling.
-Okay, that's easy enough. Now, back to the distilling. So, how long will it be? 30mins? An hour?
If only...We need to discuss a couple more things first.
Stripping runs and Spirit runs.
-Who and what?!
A stripping run is a process of stripping all the alcohol out of your wash to create "low wines". This process depends on the type of still you run but can take anywhere from 2-6 hours. Maybe more. Once you have stripped the wash, you put your "low wines" back into the still for the spirit run.
A spirit run is a process of making a good quality end product out of your low wines. This process also depends on the equipment and can take anywhere from 4-12 hours. When you are finished, you will have something that is drinkable, once diluted to a sane ABV%.
-Okay, so that is a lot longer than I thought. Can't I just do a spirit run and not strip it?
Yes, you can. But even in a reflux still, you might not get as good a spirit as you would from doing a stripping run first, but it is possible to do and you will save the time of doing multiple runs. This is something that relates back to the first couple of questions of whether you want something easy or something that will be of great quality.
Fortunately a continuous still solve this stripping/spirit run dilemma as it includes a stripping run section (“Analyzer”) and a spirit run section (“Rectifier”) all in one still so it can run from an un-cleared wash without a need for siphoning to a something that is of great quality, all in one go – so easy - no fuss.
-Well, for a pot or reflux still that is a long process. Can I just start it up before work and when I come home turn it off?
No, no, and no!
Pot and reflux stills are manual batch stills, you have a lot of ethanol all boiling at vapor temperature, and a failing water line or leak can quickly fill the room with enough ethanol vapor to reach an explosive level(LEL). The still is dumb and cannot watch itself. You must watch the still and be in eyesight range at all times. You need to routinely check your water flow and your distillate flow rate (a sudden drop may indicate a leak or lack of water) You need to be there if anything goes wrong, and you need to change over the collection jars when they get full. And you need to switch off before the boiler boils dry - so no drinking and passing out on the job!
The traditional tools of this hobby require full involvement. If you can't make the commitment to spend a day with your pot and reflux still, you might want to consider a smart, automated, micro air-cooled reflux continuous still, it is both intrinsically safe (only boils a tiny amount of ethanol at a time, the feed is the coolant so if the coolant stops then so does the feed) and is fully automated (it is smart and watches itself). You can even set the run time so it won’t overflow the collection jar when it gets full. So you can set it up, so you can run a 200-liter barrel and all you do is spend 2 minutes a day to take off almost 2 liters of 90% ABV each day for 10 days, and if you forget a day it will automatically stop itself before it overflows or runs dry.
-Alright. So I know what I want to use, the wash I want to make. Is there anything else this will cost me?
There are a few other things you will need.
  1. An alcometer to measure your alcohol strength. *recommended
  2. A hydrometer to measure your wash sugar content. *Optional
  3. Privacy. You don't want everyone and their dog to know what you are doing! This is your little secret.
  4. Time and patience. This isn't a hobby that happens overnight. There is a lot of reading and questioning. There is a lot of time that will be spent just waiting for the wash to finish, or the still to do its thing.
-Are we done yet?
Yes. If you have gotten to this point, and you have still decided that you want a still even after all the costs and time involved, then you are on your way to a great hobby. As I have said throughout the write-up, we have only just touched the surface of the distilling world. There is a library worth of information that you can read, and most likely will need to read to get on your way to a final product.
Read through the topics in the sidebar and posts to learn more about the types of stills and how they work, keeping in mind the prices involved in getting them set up.
We don't want to scare you off, because we love doing this, it is very rewarding to sit down after a long day, sip on something that you have put money and time into, and just think "I made this." The feeling doesn't get any better.
You get to make exactly what you want, how you want, and for a cheaper cost than the stores, it just takes time and a start-up investment. I would like to personally wish you luck with your decision and hope that you take as much pride in your product as we all do here. Remember, read, read, and read. Ask, ask, and ask some more. You will find everything you will need here and more. Don't be afraid to ask a question, but most of the "beginner" questions you might have will be found right here.
submitted by lafras-h to Distilling [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 15:00 girl_from_the_crypt Stuck on earth and looking for a job: We're summoning a sea goddess

If I’d had any idea that the same six ladies who had been cooking and serving me meals and beverages were secretly a coven, I… well, I probably would have kept going there anyways. We’d arranged to meet after hours together with my savior human and Elijah Carter to go down to the grotto. The witches were already waiting for us outside the unlit neon sign. They were wearing the same matching dresses that constituted their mildly out-of-date yet undoubtedly elegant diner uniforms. With them, swaying and light on his feet like a tiny golden bird, was Frankie Preston.
I skipped up to him to give him a hug. He rolled his eyes, then wrapped his arms around me rather tightly. “Hey Sunshine. Oh. He-ey,” he added to Nettie when she came up behind us. “We’re good, right?”
“I said so, didn’t I,” she replied evenly. “I gotta stick to my word now, for better or for worse.”
“You know, I like you just fine. I was being an asshole for no reason. It’s not gonna happen again.”
“It better not,” she said, shrugging sweetly while not bothering to hide the threatening undertone in her response.
“Right,” Rhonda chimed in, looking slightly uncomfortable. “I understand you got a nixie or mermaid needs rescuing…”
“Precisely. You’re sure this is manageable for your coven?” I ventured.
“I’m not sure about anything. But I told you we’d see what we can do.” She gave me a generous smile. “You’re getting the friends-and-family-discount.” She reached over to ruffle Fran’s hair. He groaned, then moved over to me to make room for Nettie as she sidled up to the ladies.
I slid my hand into his. He grinned. “Demanding, you.”
I withdrew. “Sorry.”
“Oh, brother,” he grumbled, snatching back my hand. “Sure stand out from this crowd tonight, don’t I?” he asked jokingly, nodding at the gathering.
“You stand out most of the time.” I perked up when Mae-Lynn pointed out another, decidedly taller figure approaching. Eli was wearing a longer coat, shielding himself from the nightly chill carried to us upon the breeze. His hands were buried in his pockets and his shoulders hunched, but a smile crossed his face nevertheless when he spotted us. "Good to see you. How've you been?"
I traded uncertain glances with Nettie, then Fran. "Busy," I concluded, answering for the three of us.
"I'm glad you came," my savior human supplied.
"I don't know if I can be of much use," he muttered, allowing her to wrap her arms around him for a moment.
Rhonda waved him off. "Sure you can. Let's get going, now that we're all here."
Our group began to head down to the beach. Dim moonlight illuminated our path through the streets and across the sandy expanse, guiding us along with the sound of tossing waves drawing nearer. The smell of salt hung heavily above us, the wind tugged on our clothes and tousled our hair. We were a strange procession as we climbed over the rocks and down to the mouth of the cave. Had anybody seen us, I wouldn't know what they'd have made of it. I glanced over at Nettie to find her shivering. Whether it was due to the crisp spring night temperature or the excitement of the moment I couldn't tell. Instead, I reached for her hand. "Are you alright?"
She gave me a wavering nod. Flicking on her lime green flashlight, she allowed the bright beam to cut through the darkness. Her thumb rubbed over the stickers adorning the shaft of the small torch—a piece of memorabilia from our early years. "I put those there," I reminded her, pointing them out.
"Oh, I know," she deadpanned. "That was the same week I gave you all those handicraft supplies. Never again. You know how long it took to pry off the dozens of googly eyes you glued to the toilet seat?"
"It was artful. I thought you'd like them."
She snorted, lightly batting my shoulder. "Of course you did." Her chest heaved as she took a deep, cleansing breath. "Okay. Let's go."
Elijah and I led the way ahead, the former carrying his own heavy flashlight which he kept trained on the ground at our feet. We tried to stay as close together as possible, wary of the slippery surface we were walking on. The further we proceeded, the more anxious we became. Eli hid it masterfully, the only thing that gave away his apprehension being the vein that bulged on his forehead. I could feel his tension, though. It was in his shoulders, the stiff way he held his neck, in the force of his grip on the torch. It almost looked like he was trying to crush it.
The witches appeared to be nowhere near as impressed. They moved forward with a relaxed sort of confidence, casually stepping over puddles in their paths as though they were merely skirting around tables at the diner. Their attitude was mirrored by Frankie. I couldn’t help but glance back at him over my shoulder every couple seconds, his wheat-blond locks bouncing around his head with each of his spirited steps. Nettie Peterson, hanging from my arm, followed my gaze and let out a low grunt. “That boy is entirely too cheerful right now,” she muttered, only to squeak when she nearly tripped over a small rock. “Lord, I hope you know where we’re going.”
“Sure we do,” Elijah replied from up front.
“Approximately,” I added.
We weaved our way through the tunnels, trying to recall the way to the corpse cave. Rhonda had told us she wanted to see Kit Sutton’s mother. In a strange way, I was looking forward to seeing the sleeping giantess again. Despite the horror she was surrounded with, her sight had left a deep impression on me. The coven was chatting to each other in the back, their hushed voices the only sound to break the otherwise clammy, uneasy silence. Until we heard it.
A voice carried through the darkness, sweet and bell-bright with a heated, gravelly undertone. Her song filled the washed out corridors, echoing off the rounded stone walls and riding the ripples of the lake we were currently passing by. The words were in a foreign tongue, but I would have recognized my roommate’s singing anywhere.
Nettie tensed up, her arm around mine turning to stone. I could hear the hitch in her breath, taking note of the way her eyes grew wide in the lamplight. Our whole group had come to a halt in the middle of the large cave room, glancing about in awe as we tried to locate the source of the voice. It sounded like it was coming from everywhere at once, an omnipresent melancholy with just the hint of a fury in it. Like a calm, slow river with a strong, rapid undercurrent. I listened in rapture, my gaze fixed on my savior human’s elegant profile. Her lower lip trembled ever so slightly, its gloss capturing the warm sheen.
"Kit!" she suddenly called out.
The song broke off, leaving only eerie silence.
"Are you there?" my best friend shouted again, her voice nearly breaking.
Everything was still for another beat. Then we heard stones shift and clatter, followed by naked feet slapping the wet ground. We turned around, and there, standing beneath the arch of one of the side tunnels, was Kit Sutton. Nettie let out a sharp cry, broke free from my hold and ran towards her, wrapping her arms around the taller woman's neck. Kit stared down at her in shock before throwing her arms around her, burying one hand in her long, dark coils of hair and pressing the other to the small of her back. Anabel, who works the kitchen at the diner, let out a soft coo. We stayed back for the two of them to have their moment before my savior human eventually disentangled herself.
"You're very wet," she told Kit, inspecting her now damp sweater.
My roommate's lips curled. "I mean, you hugged me pretty close, so…"
Nettie smacked her upper arm. "Idiot," she whispered, her tone warm and gentle.
The smile faded from Kit's face as her eyes roamed the small crowd, settling on me. "What are you doing here? I told you not to come back, and now you've actually brought more people?"
"Kit, this is the coven from the diner. Coven, this is the water spirit I told you about." I turned to Rhonda, who nodded and took a step forward.
"We came to see if we can't do something about your situation," she told her.
Kit scrunched her brows. "You guys are a coven?"
"They are," I supplied. "And they managed to hold off my stalker with their magic so they're pretty serious about it. That reminds me; I have a stalker now. Anyways, they want to see your mom."
My roommate looked beyond skeptical. "You know this is dangerous, right?"
Hailey groaned. "Girl, we've been in this for a long-ass time. Either you let us see what we can do or you don't, but don't think for a moment that we're ignorant."
Kit threw up her arms. "Fine. Come along then. I warned you."
She started marching ahead, her impossibly long hair trailing behind her like a veil. Nettie had to be careful not to step on it as she walked alongside her, the two having linked hands. When we reached the corpse room, my savior human looked like she was about to faint. The sight once again sent a cold chill down my spine and I instinctively looked over at Eli Carter. His face was scrunched up, his brows knitted as he attempted to keep his eyes trained on the ground. Frankie on the other hand appeared to be rather interested, his gaze roaming the hall. The coven didn’t seem to care whatsoever, instead following Kit to the water hole where the enormous statuesque creature was resting.
“Woah,” Nettie said eloquently as she leaned over to look into the depths of the pond. “That’s your mom?”
Kit Sutton gave a brief, unspirited nod. “She is, actually. Quite a bit bigger than me but yeah. Well, I don’t see how this is—” She fell silent when the six ladies started to round the pit, exchanging knowing glances as they reached for each others’ hands. “What? What now, what are we doing?” she stammered, taking a step back and slightly raising her barnacle-covered arms.
Hailey turned to her with an encouraging smile. “We could wake her up. I really think we could.”
For a moment, she didn’t respond. “You think that’d help?” she then asked.
“Would it help to have a giant sea goddess up against your father?” Rhonda deadpanned. “Of course it would. He clearly had a problem with her, else he wouldn’t have done that. He felt threatened, most likely. You might not be able to fight back against him yourself, but she ought to tip the scales.”
“Great idea,” Frankie said, earning a proud nod from the older waitress. “It’s a good rule of thumb. If you’re too weak, you just find someone strong and scary to hide behind.” He beamed at me. “You’re so pretty, Eva.”
Kit snorted, looking a little more at ease but still uncertain. “You guys know I’ve actually never spoken with her, right? What if she’s, like, feral? Maybe she won’t want to help me; she could just make things worse.”
“Worse?” Nettie Peterson blurted out. “Girl, you’re grounded for a hundred years! It doesn’t get much worse than that.”
“Good point.”
“Glad we agree,” Mae-Lynn crisply chimed in. “Okay now, everyone join hands, go on.” She reached out for us and we gathered around the pool. Nettie entwined her fingers with mine on my left while Aliyah, the oldest of the witches from the looks of it, took her place on my right. She told Frankie to stay out of the circle, giving him an apologetic smile as she sent him off to wait on the side. “Sorry, sweetie,” she told him over her shoulder. “But having an inorganic link might disturb the chain.”
“So what now?” Elijah asked.
“All of you just close your eyes and clear your minds. Don’t think of anything, like you’re meditating. You’ve got to stay calm. I’m gonna borrow what I energy I can from your minds and use it for the big girl,” Rhonda told us, pointing her chin at the motionless giantess in the water down below. “Now, what Blue here says is true, so if this works, we’ll just all bolt, okay? We wake up the water queen and then we leg it.” She nodded to Kit. “You have the best chances at dealing with her on your own. I’m optimistic overall but she’s been locked inside her own body for God knows how long. She’s likely to be confused and we don’t want to make her feel ganged up on.”
“That actually makes sense,” my roommate conceded, brightening up a bit.
“Everybody ready?” Rhonda asked, receiving scattered nods and mumbles of affirmation. Bracing herself, she rolled her shoulders and proceeded to raise her voice, beginning to murmur something I could not understand. It sounded like a human language, but not any one that I knew. My heart was beginning to beat a little faster, her rhythmic cadence reminding me of the beating of a drum. I couldn't help it. I took a peek at Rhonda, my stomach sinking when I saw her face.
Her eyes were wide open and had rolled back into her head, leaving only the white to fill the eerie, void spaces. Her body was trembling as if there were invisible hands shaking her by the shoulders. The veins and arteries on her face and neck were standing out, weirdly discolored. The longer I looked at them, the darker they became until eventually turning black entirely. They were pulsating, the blood pumping through them at a powerful, forcible pace.
I pressed my eyes shut once more, trying to clear my mind despite the image sticking with me. Focus on nothing, focus on nothing…
It turned out to be quite difficult. I've never tried to actively empty my head before, not like this. Something always kept popping in, disturbing the peace up there. Unwanted thoughts of Jewel's tears, the Devourer Of Worlds, my intestines quelling from my stomach pushed their way into the void I was trying desperately to create. When it wasn't that, it was the image of Frankie's beautifully coordinated movements. I briefly allowed my eyes to flutter open once again to turn and sneak a glance at the waiter. He was sitting cross-legged on the rocky ground, busy tossing pebbles at the slimed-up corpses to see if they stuck. Forcing myself to concentrate, I tried to picture what "nothing" would even look like.
Probably all black. Light had to be absent after all. Endless; no ceiling, no floor, nothing to stand on and nothing overhead. Nothing to hear, see, smell or feel. Nothing at all; nowhere.
Around me, I felt the air in the room beginning to heat. The grating of stone upon stone penetrated my ears in the most uncomfortable way, but this time, I was determined not to muck it up. My facial muscles straining as I clenched my lids and mouth shut, I tried to ignore the sound of water beginning to bubble nearby. The pond was hissing as if it were a pot of boiling soup, splashes and dripping noises overtaking the silence. Rhonda's voice rose higher and higher, bouncing off the hollowed cavern walls and coming back with three times the volume. Goosebumps threatened to break out on my arms, the hairs on the back of my neck already standing up. I had lost my sense of space—I had no idea who was standing beside me anymore, I could barely feel their hands in mine; their touch was a foreign sensation I was only distantly aware of.
There truly was nothing there. Nothing but Rhonda's chanting. It filled every nook and cranny of my mind, coming from everywhere around me. My pulse was fluttering as if dancing to its rhythm. My heart was pounding like a drum to the best of its cadence. A faint sense of panic was whispering to me at the edge of my conscience, but it was unable to perturb the nothing. There was a veil before my inner eye that could not be lifted anymore.
And then, all of a sudden, one of the hands I was holding was wrenched from my grasp as a scream interrupted the incantative chorus. "Run!" Rhonda cried out.
My eyes flew open, instantly coming to rest on the pond. The water's surface was bulging, looking like a stretched out balloon about to burst. It formed a strained, blue dome, as from beneath it, two enormous hands rose to break its ceiling.
"She's coming!" Kit yelled out, her face a contorted grimace of hope and horror. "Get out of here! Hurry!" Shoving Nettie and Eli towards the exit, she rallied our group.
Frankie had jumped up and snatched my hand, already dragging me into the direction of the corridor. I craned my neck to look behind me, only for him to pull harder. "This room is gonna be flooded in, like, a moment! You wanna drown?" my waiter shouted, largely into my ear. I was still a bit dazed, the mental fog from the ritual not yet having let up. I really didn't have the time to come to, though. The ground was shaken by a sudden, massive earthquake. The walls began to shudder, drops of water raining down on us from all sides along with tiny pebbles coming loose from up above.
"Get out of here!" Kit bellowed, her voice so loud it came close to cracking.
Rhonda and the rest of her coven were already crowding the mouth of the cave room, racing out into the tunnel single file. I, Frankie and Elijah followed on their heels, the latter ducking his head as he slipped through the opening. Nettie kept looking back over her shoulder. I yelled her name at the same time as Kit shouted at her to leave. Eli Carter was already fumbling with his flashlight and grabbed her wrist with his other hand to drag her into the corridor with us. "You need to—"
"I know," she interrupted him, tearing herself loose and breaking into a sprint.
And thus, we ran. Somehow, it was a lot easier to find the way back than I'd expected. Before I even had the time to process the twists and turns in our path, we were already standing outside the cave again. The stale air from inside was replaced with the fresh smell of salt and the roaring of restless waves. My heart was pounding like a sledgehammer, my blood singing in my veins.
"We can't stay here," Eli hollered as he emerged behind us. "When that thing stands up, the whole cave is gonna break in! Move!"
Nettie Peterson let out a high-pitched whine but readily hurried along as the ten of us scrambled up the sand and boulders, away from the grotto and the shore. We finally came to a halt a safe distance away on one of the cliffs, overlooking the scene. For a moment, the only sound disrupting the nightly symphony was our joint heavy breathing.
Then the sound of massive rocks shifting and cracking reached our ears. From the grotto, a vibration spread through the ground all the way over to where we were standing. The mouth of the cave began to crumble, bits of stone falling down and sealing the opening. Then the whole cave began to split. My savior human grabbed onto my arm, her fingernails digging into my skin. "She'll be okay, right?"
"For sure," I said, ignoring my pulse thrumming in my ears.
Time to call Mary Markov again.
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
20: olms and Jewels
21: long hair
22: recruitment
23: waitresses
24: dollhouse
25: burning plastic
26: fog dimension
submitted by girl_from_the_crypt to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 13:25 Professional_Prune11 Human Trauma Section Thirteen: Human Savage

Hello, my buds. I hope you all had a good week. This week we have Shiksie and Martinez having a meeting with the Director. This chapter will be setting up the big goal for Martinez going forwards, it will be something he has to balance with his time with friends, Lysa, and some other characters you have yet to meet yet.

To Shikisies disappointment she had to stop her conversation with Martinez to take the call from the Director. As far as she was able to tell her conversation with Martinez was going very well; It seemed that the two of them were genuinely starting to build a connection of some sort, even if it was small and likely fragile. Having Martinez open up to her and rely on her at all was still very pleasing.
When she answered the phone from the director, Shiksies' hackles stood on end the moment he started speaking. There was no form of care or concern in his voice; every word was filled with venom and spite. It was evident enough that the director was furious at the human because every hiss and growl in his tone was not directed at her but at Martinez. He demanded that Her and Martinez report to his office as fast as possible.
Shiksie attempted to explain the situation with how Martinez was having a hard time with trauma and likely should not be subjected to more hostility at the moment, but the director was hearing none of it. He would not budge on the matter, snapping that he would ship both of them off-world in a heartbeat if they weren't in front of his desk within the hour.
Shiksie hung her head low. While she might have some pull in the trauma unit, when it came to the director she was just another number on a spreadsheet the man. Just another worker who was either an asset or a liability. She had enough experience with the political game higher-ups in the GU had to play to see their careers advance, and the director was no different.
Both she and Harnsis had their own bone to pick with the Director, him having kept them in their current positions longer than they should have been. All because he would dangle some promise of a promotion or a new certification opportunity in front of them. The director had always been good at the carrot or the stick method of leadership. Likely that was one of the reasons he had been in charge of two different hospitals over the course of the last 40 standard cycles.
The amount of ire Martinez had drawn from the director was shocking to her, never in all her time on the station had anyone been called to his office for anything other than a meet and greet, or a cordial goodbye. The fight Martinez was involved in must have ruffled the feathers of some big-time players in the GU to have the directors so up in arms. Either that or the director had some big plans she would much rather Martinez stay out of; Navigating the politics of the GU was a ruthless game, no one should step into without a certain type of conviction or goal already in their mind.
Shiksie turned her attention back to Martinez. He was still lazily seated on the bench, his lustrous brown eyes tracking her intently. Clearly, he had heard her half of the conversation and was displeased by it. The sorrow pooling in his vibrant eyes made her heart ache. No one should look that downtrodden in their life.
Even if the two of them butted heads when they had first met, it would be a cold day in whatever hell the director believed in before she let that man break her apprentice more than whatever events in his past had already done.
“So how much of that did you hear?” Shiksies asked while she tucked away her datapad.
“Enough to know I am likely screwed,” Martinez sighed, his shoulders slumping to match the rest of his woeful appearance.
“Oh come on,” Shiksie said as she walked up to Martinez. She gently placed one of her hands on his shoulder, and Martinez made no effort at all to stop her or even pull away. Shiksie was uncertain if she should feel relieved or horrified that Martinez had just let her touch him with no reaction at all.
“We are both requested, I'm certain it won't be that bad,” She said.
Martinez looked back up at her and sighed. He could see Shiksie was trying, but he doubted anything good would come of this meeting. He figured from the intensity Shiksie had been arguing with the director, this meeting was likely to be the most legendary reaming he had ever received. It would make any fight he and the Marines had on navy ships look like a light talking to.
“Not like I have any choice in the matter, '' Martinez replied flippantly. Having surrendered to the fact that his fate was already out of his control. He had dealt with enough incidents in the Human navy to know fighting in town was a huge no-no. He could not even fathom the depths of the hole he had dug for himself by having fought several aliens while being the only human in several light years.
Martinez stood up and gently pushed Shiksies hand off his shoulder. He took a deep breath and centered himself. The voices of his drill instructors and his former sergeants rang loudly in his mind.
“Keep your bearing”
It was something he had fairly mastered at this point. The director might have surprised him when they first met, but this time Martinez knew what he looked like and was ready for him.
“Let’s get this over with,” Martinez said as he turned and walked back towards the building.
Shiksie trailed behind Martinez as they walked towards the director's office, her ears fluttered around catching passing glimpses of every conversation they neared. The other residents and workers of Draun took no notice of the two of them as they passed, as they saw it today was just another day at the office.
Shiksies nose scrunched as they got closer to the elevators leading up to the Director's office. Martinez was clearly starting to worry more than he had at the start of the day. The sheer amount of sweat and pheromones pouring off him was choking, even with her using a scent blocker the amount of anxiety and worry crawling on him was palpable. A sickening haze of rot, sweat, and Martinez’s pine smell coated the air around him.
Once they had reached the elevator, Shiksie caught a glimpse of Martinez’s eyes as he turned back towards the door. The blank look on his face was unnerving, sending her hackles up on end. He looked more like the walking dead than the strong-willed human she knew he was.
His vibrant brown eyes bored through her and everything else in the hospital. It was obvious he had looked at her, but it did not seem like his eyes were focused on anything at all. A vapid blank expression coated his face like a vile doppelganger had replaced him.
As the elevator lurched upwards, Shiksie held her breath, trying to keep the potency of Martinez’s scent from overtaking her. Luckily whatever mood he was in right now was not a talkative one. The excruciatingly long elevator ride up to the top floor was filled with deathly silence.
Once they were in front of the Director's large wooden office doors, Martinez paused. Without Harnsis here to lead him into the belly of the beast he figured he would do it himself, and he was not about to have Shiksie go in there without him. She seemed upset by the whole ordeal already, and he did not want her to cause more trouble for him, or herself.
Martinez slammed his fist on the door, the heavy impacts of his fist vibrating throughout the entire floor.
He looked back at Shiksie, she nervously rolled the tip of her tail between her hands while holding it just in front of her shapely waist. Her ears slightly drooped, and her deep blue eyes held that icy glare he had seen every day since he had arrived.
A wry smile curled on his lips as he turned back towards the door. Martinez wondered if this would be the first time Shiksie had ever stood before someone in charge of her for anything negative. She did not seem like the type to ever cause any sort of trouble; He had no doubt that she was nervous, as getting a read on the enigmatic Catwoman was getting easier by the day.
“Come in,” The growling voice of the director sounded out, vibrating the massive wood doors on their hinges.
Martinez parted the door and entered the room. He was not certain why he thought it was what he should do, maybe it was just some kind of ingrained behavior for reporting in anywhere.
Each one of his steps was a calculated march, not a single piece of wasted motion as walked with purpose, right in front of the Director's desk. His heels clicked together as he assumed a crisp position of attention in front of the large lizard-like alien.
Shiksie watched in confusion as Martinez marched proudly into the room, his mannerisms juxtaposed to the anxiety she could nearly taste rolling off him. She quickly trailed in behind him and took a far less crisp stance next to the human. She wrapped one hand in the other and held them in front of her waist, her tail tucked low behind one of her legs.
“You called for us Sir,” Shiksie said.
The massive black-scaled alien leaned forwards on his desk, his elbows causing the desk frame to bow, creaking underneath his massive frame. His knife-like claws tapped loudly on the thick armor-like plates on his chest. He narrowed his fours greenish-yellow eyes on Martinez, and let out a deep guttural growl.
“I did, I am glad the two of you made it here so quickly” the Director grumbled. “We have much to discuss”
“Of course Sir,” Shiksie replied “We would not want to keep you waiting”
“Take a seat,” the Director huffed while gesturing to the two chairs across from him.
The two of them slid into the chairs. Martinez sat up straight as if there was a rod of iron built into his spine. Martinez looked back at the Director's horrifying predatory eyes, doing everything he could to keep his bearing from breaking. He was shuffling his feet in his shoes and biting down on his tongue. Even though from the moment he entered his heart regrettably started racing, a primal fear of the Director's appearance, began to well up inside of him.
“Now then onto business, there is no point in keeping you here longer than I have to” the Director growled.
He reached into his desk and pulled out an incredibly large data pad, nearly the size of a small television; The device was obviously custom-made for the man, as it had a bulkier build than any other datapad either of them had ever seen.
The Director turned his attention to the data pad and resumed speaking “Martinez, do you remember what I told you when you first arrived here?”
“I am fairly confident that you instructed me to not cause any trouble, Sir,” Martinez replied in a nearly robotic monotone voice.
He nodded his head and turned the data pad around, so Shiksie and Martinez could see the video he had pulled up on the galactic union's video-sharing site. The title caught both Martinez’s and Shiksies attention “Human Savage and Vein Slicer nearly kill”
“Tell me then, would hospitalizing two people count as causing trouble?” The director hissed
Cold sweat formed on Martinez's back as the video began to play. Lysa and his fight against the aliens had been fully captured in remarkably high definition. Her graceful dodges and strikes against the alien. Followed quickly by his relentless assault on the alien.
Martinez’s bruised arm throbbed as he saw the alien breaking its hand on it, the loud crunch of its bones causing whoever recorded the video to gasp. Then came the part that had Martinez’s heart shuddering. What he initially thought was a quick violent act of striking back, appeared far different in the framing of the video.
A monstrous glint filled his eyes on the video feed as he slowly approached his reeling opponent, not an ounce of humanity in his body as he stalked toward his injured prey. Martinez gripped his pants tightly, his knuckles going white as the moment approached. A deafening crunch sounded out as his fist connected with the alien's jaw, sending the creature collapsing to the ground.
The alien recording wretched in the background, the muttered words of “What kind of savage would do that” played just before the director cut the video off.
Shiksie watched the video in fascination. Martinez and the alien fighting alongside him was a surreal thing to watch; any doubt she had in her mind about how dangerous Martinez could be was gone. The fight was brutal and efficient, Martinez hardly looked like a living being in those brief moments. Each action was so well practiced and focused it shook Shiksie to the core.
Her eyes wandered over to Martinez; the mystery of the Human's past only grew further. Along with that, she had noticed in the fight something else. While he looked like a beast on a rampage, he had stepped in between the Aviex and the Urintal without a moment's hesitation. She wondered how Martinez had met the Aviex he had thrown himself into a fight for. She knew the two of them were on a date, but the way he acted so quickly was not the actions someone would take with a total stranger, at least in her eyes.
She thought back to their conversation about this even earlier. Martinez did tell her he was unsure why he jumped in so willingly to protect the Aviex woman, but actually seeing the fight unfold only made that comment all the more bizarre.
“I would definitely say that would count as causing trouble sir” Martinez grumbled
“Good, we are on the same page then,” the director replied. Before he tossed the datapad onto his desk.
“According to the regulations that I was given when you were assigned to me. I am acting as your current commanding officer. Therefore the issue of any punishment you will receive has been handed to me,” The director said as he pointed his knife-like claw at Martinez.
“Sir, why would he be getting punished? He did nothing wrong” Shiksie protested. “The police even decided that this was self-defense”
The director's eyes darted over to Shiksie, cutting into her icy gaze. “I am well aware of what the police have to say about the event” The director snapped. The bestial man took a moment and drew in a sharp breath. “As for your question it is because I have a job to do, so does he,” he sighed.
The director stood up to his full height. The director's three-meter tall frame towered over them both, nearly touching the ceiling. He wandered over towards the side of the room, his gaze trailing along a series of pictures hanging on. The pictures depicted the previous directors of Draun station. Each looked so wildly different from one another that it was hard for Martinez to believe.
“Do either of you have any idea what my job even is?” The director asked while tracing his claw along the multitude of pictures. “Or the job of all of the previous directors?”
“No, not really sir,” Martinez replied. Curious as to what the director was getting at.
Shiksie was well aware of the Director's job and did not trust him for that reason. He might do his best to keep you from being messed with by the public, but that protection came at a price.
He turned around and sighed. “My main concern is the optics and the interactions of Draun station and the public,'' He said, gesturing towards the widows behind his desk. “Said simply I have not been a doctor in a long time, I am more of a politician”
That makes sense, Martinez thought. Even in the Military the higher in rank you rose, the more politics you had to play.
“This incident is volatile and I have to act accordingly” He grumbled while walking closer to the two of them. He placed himself between the two of them, draping his massive clawed hands on the back of their chairs.
“Martinez as of right now is not an asset, he is a liability” The director hissed. His blazing hot breath rolled over both of them. Both of their bodies quivered in their seats under the mere presence of the director. “I have to make some actions to fix that”
“Sir That's not fair. So what if he got into a fight,” Shiskie managed to squeak.
“Fair is not what I care about. I need results, and something good to say to the press, and the human ambassador breathing down my neck,” The director snapped.
“So what punishment are you going to give to me sir?” Martinez asked.
“Martinez, stop, don't just accept a punishment. You did nothing wrong” Shiksie protested. Trying to keep Martinez out of whatever the director had planned.
Martinez shot a fiery glance at her, She recoiled slightly when she caught his gaze.
“I appreciate your concern Shiksie, but it's not our call what happens. It's the Directors,” Martinez growled.
The director chuckled deeply, his booming voice causing both of them to choke slightly under the pressure. The Director started stomping toward his seat on the far side.
“You know Martinez, I thought I saw something in you when you first got here,” The director said as he lowered himself back down into the chair. ”That glower you just gave shows me you will be able to see through what I have in mind for you”
“Sir please don't punish Martinez, there has to be something else you can do '' Shiksie hissed
The director held up his hand towards Shiksie “Can you stop, and let me finish” The director growled “I know you care about him and I would rather not punish him, but this is not your place to intervene or comment. I will ask for your opinion when I want it”
Shiksies ears flattened back down against her head, she shrank down into her chair and clawed at her own shirt. The reality of facing the director was far different than her imagination could have ever produced. She wanted to keep Martinez safe, but now at the moment of truth, she felt worthless.
Dammit Shiksie, stop talking. Don't go down with me, you idiot, Martinez thought.
The director looked back towards Martinez “You on the other hand I have plans for you. You will be a golden goose for myself and this station. If we play our cards right you will also get that damned ambassador of my back. That rank and file bitch thinks just because you are human, she has the right to make calls about my staff”
Martinez had no idea there even was a human ambassador on Draun, but apparently the human government had been busy in the last few months.
“What do you mean sir?” Martinez asked.
The director chuckled and pulled out a few pieces of paper from his desk and pushed them towards Martinez. “Read those while I explain my plan”
Martinez grabbed the stack of papers and started to read over them. While Shiksie carefully leaned over to get a look at the papers for herself.
“So with you having been involved in this fight, I have that bitch of an ambassador, the media, and a few representatives from town hall eager for a comment or an interview from me. Along with all of them wanting me to remove you from my station and send you back to the Navy” The director growled. “I am not going to give them what they want”
“Ok so you are not wanting to get rid of me, and whatever is in here is supposed to help with that?” Martinez questioned turning to the next page.
The director nodded “That is correct, and what you have there are the enrolment forms for the ‘Interspecies trauma nursing license program’”
The director gave a wicked grin to the two of them as they continued to read the paperwork. “I am going to not punish you, I am going to make you into an asset that will be too valuable for them to possibly get rid of”
“Wait sir, are you wanting Martinez to enroll for his ITN?” Shiksie asked.
“That is the plan, and I am giving Martinez an accelerated timeline to complete the program,” The director replied
“But Martinez is so new, you need years of experience as a basic tech before you even consider going for this license” Shiskies replied, looking at Martinez who was still flipping through the program's outline.
“Normally yes, but Martinez is a Human EMT, has combat experience, and has some of the best ITNs the GU has ever seen training him. Therefore I am giving him one standard cycle to get it” The director replied.
Shiksie shot up to her feet, her claws reflexively extending out of her hands. “One standard? Are you insane!?” Shiskie yelled. Drawing both Martinez’s and the Director's full attention. “That license takes most people two cycles at least to get!”
“Shiksie, calm down,” Martinez said.
Shiksies eyes snapped down towards Martinez, his eyes were not the vacant stare they were when they entered. They were full of that usual fire she was used to seeing, she glared at him flabbergasted that Martinez could even consider agreeing to this. “No, I will not calm down. He might be saying this is not a punishment, but all he is trying to do is use you as some political pawn, can't you see that?” She hissed.
Martinez grabbed hold of her hand, “Shiksie stop, I am well aware of what he is saying. Now sit back down”
Shiksie nearly melted under his burning gaze and the gentle pull on her hand, directing her to take a seat. She looked between Martinez and the growling director. a wave of realization of how out of line she just was, rolled over her. She sat back down in her seat shrinking down trying to be forgotten about in this situation.
“I am sorry about my outburst sir,” Shiksie grumbled.
“It's fine, I understand your concern over this,” The director replied “Just don't lose your head, I know you better than that”
The director turned his attention back to Martinez “So Henry Martinez, I have two weeks until I am going to be in front of the press about the incident. You have until then to pass your first test for the program” The director said “That will give me something I can show them, and keep them from demanding proof of your enrolment”
“That makes sense, how will the testing be taking place?” Martinez questioned.
“It will be a written test at the local university, I will be there overseeing it to ensure no one else takes it for you,” the director said, his gaze cutting into Shiksie. “Do you think you can do it?”
Shiksie glared back at the director for the insinuation. She would never cheat on those tests, it would do no good for anyone if she did. Martinez would have a difficult time passing, but she thinks he might be able to do it.
Martinez took a few moments to finish reading the documents the director had given him. They outlined every step of the program; each test, chapter, and class was well documented and clear as day. This was something he had never thought was even possible when he arrived, he was not even aware of the full scope of the GU licensing process; He had been brought in as more of a Human advisor than anything. Now he thought if he could leave here with this license he might not even have to go back to the Navy, or even Earth for that matter. He could go anywhere in the galaxy to work, the sky would literally be the limit.
He looked up at the director with a raging inferno of motivation blazing in his chest; something Martinez had not felt burning this hot in many years. “I can do this,” He said proudly. “It's far better than what I thought you were going to do to me”
“That's likely very true, My other option was sending you back to the Navy. ” The director chuckled “Shiksie you are going to ensure he studies and is ready for a test every week, do you understand?”
“I..I...I understand sir” Shiksie replied, barely able to contain her own volatile mixture of emotions about the situation. A mixture of embarrassment, rage, and anxiety swirled inside her like a deep whirlpool sucking her body down into its depths.
“Good, So I will handle the paperwork and try to keep the press off you Martinez,” The directors said. He stood up and gestured for them to do the same. Afterward, Shiksie and Martinez stood. The director looked between the two of them, pointing his claw at them “This conversation never happened, Martinez was already in the program if anyone ever asks, do you understand?”
“Yes sir,” Martinez replied.
“I understand sir,” Shiksie grumbled.
“Perfect, for now, get back to work. Oh and Martinez, stay out of trouble this time. I can't keep the press off you forever, and they are ravenous to get a hold of you”
Martinez nodded his understanding.
“Good now, get out of my office, I have a lot of paperwork to do now,” The Director said, a sneering grin crawling onto his face, revealing his massive rows of sharp teeth.
The two of them turned and exited the office as quickly as possible. Once they were out in the hallway both of their hearts took a moment to settle. Martinez looked over at Shiksie ready to tell her how that went way better than he hoped, and how excited he was to tackle this new challenge. When he turned his heart sputtered, ice forming in his veins; Shiksie was looming over him in a way he had never had the feline alien do before.
Shiksie was overflowing with emotions, all of them directed at Martinez. She could not understand how he was so stupid as to take a deal like that. Nor could she understand why he was so calm about what he had in front of him, both of which had rage, and confusion boiling out of her.
“You… you… you fucking idiot!” Shiksie hissed, Her long fangs fully on display as she stepped closer to Martinez. “How can someone be so smart, and at the same time so stupid?”
Martinez backed up away from Shiksie until he felt the cold wall against his back. Shiksie gracefully stepped closer to him. Close enough both of them could feel the heat rolling off the other.
“What? I took my punishment?” Martinez quickly replied, holding both of his hands up so Shiksie could see them. He looked back at her and was confused beyond all reckoning. Her body language was strange even for her. Her ears were tucked, her tail was swaying, and her eyes were no longer cold at all. They were staring unyielding into his, filled with an odd gentle concern.
“We could have tried to get you out of it,” Shiksie groaned “This isn’t the human military, you don't have to take that”
Martinez put his hand on her shoulder and pushed her gently away. To his surprise, Shiksie did not try to stay that close to him, she just backed away as he gently pressed her shoulders.
“Look Shiksie, I took the offer because I thought it was a good deal. Yeah, so what if I will have a lot of work, I'm used to that” Martinez said.
Shiksie pressed her head into her own hands, “It's not just that. That is its own problem. Now the director is going to use you for playing politics.” She groaned
Martinez scratched the back of his head, and gave her an awkward smile “Yeah I know. I am not exactly happy that he will likely use me as some kind of showpiece, but it could be worse”
Shiksie sighed, Doing what she could to calm herself down, her mind racing to think of how Martinez could possibly master an entire three months of school in two weeks. She remembered something she had at her den. She still has all of her notes from when she got her license.
“What are you doing tomorrow night?” Shiksie asked. As she dragged her hands down across her face.
“Well I was planning on getting some groceries, maybe watch a movie or something. Why?” Martinez replied.
“Perfect, you are going to come over to my den. I'm going to help you study,” Shiksie purred.

Afterthoughts/other news.
How goes it my buds? I just sent my other book of to my Editor to get that one ready for print/sale. Expect word on that soon-soonish TM. It will be ready fully in a few months.
In other stuff, I am looking forwards to having Martinez have to essentially play politics, go to college and balance the rest of his new life at Draun. He is in for a lot of "Adapt or die" sort of situations.

Updoot if you liked the story and lemme know what you thought of this weeks chapter.
Next week we are going to have Martinez facing the true extent of Shiksies near neurotic studying and dedication to learning about every alien she can.

Your bud


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2023.06.10 13:19 DivineRetribution8 The King and His Slut [ Guilty Gear Fanfic]

“Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this just came,” said Slayer with an expression that was unreadable as usual. “You two are no longer at the top.”
The revelation was a harsh one, but the duo to whom it involved remained stoic as befitting of their statuses and personalities. Sol Badguy, one of the most accomplished and infamous bounty hunters in the world, shifted in his seat and rubbed his chin. Right next to him, Leo Whitefang, Second King of Illyria, brushed his beard ponderously.
“So this is it, huh?” said Sol. “Figures.”
“This is an outrage,” Leo proclaimed. “Who could ever surpass us?”
During this peace and quiet time where the flame of war was a memory of the past, Sol and Leo had teamed up with the goal of becoming the number one pornstar in Neo New York where the industry was booming. Things went smoothly at first despite their lack of experience. Aside from being hailed as the heroes who saved humanity, both possessed impressive figures that easily caught the attention if not the desire of every beholding man.
In the years after his temporary retirement, Sol’s appearance had also adapted to accommodate his new job. Even Leo was shocked to see how much Sol had changed since they began their career together. The shoulder he leaned on right now had become out of shape to the point even his closest friends might have trouble recognizing it. His belly was bulging with fat while the muscles across his body had been rearranged at the buttock and thigh regions. These alterations were anything but natural, however. Being the first Gear, Sol had learned to modify his body at will, and this was him putting this new ability to good use.
That the celebrated war veterans, and two sexiest men in the kingdom, could ever be unseated was almost unthinkable. Moreover, Leo was so used to being number one that the very idea of being second to someone else made him fidgety which he hid by pretending to groom his beard instead.
“Chipp Zanuff and Nagoriyuki,” said Slayer. The immortal vampire himself was a former pornstar who rose to the top and stayed there for years. Eventually, he got bored and quit, turning to pursue targets of his own interest instead. When Sol and Leo started, Slayer came out of retirement to act as their teacher and manager, as well as the director of the porn videos the two were making. Their relationship was productive as long as Sol and Leo did as they were told, which was only twenty percent of the time.
Both Sol and Leo nearly gagged. It was easy to see why they got deranked. Chipp was popular for his nimble body that made him an ideal bdsm partner while Nagoriyuki was a legendary booty clapper who left piles of cum inflated men in his wake. They were the ultimate power couple as far as the media was concerned.
“That doesn’t sound right at all,” said Leo, growling. “How could those two overcome us? We've a few years more experience than them so they shouldn't have caught up so fast.”
“Has our popularity declined because of something we did?” asked Sol.
Being pornstar celebrities meant a lot to the two and they took this very seriously. In the last five years, Sol and Leo had played in dozens of videos in which they and their clients had great times together ranging from cuddling to kissing, vanilla sex to BDSM. These videos posted on social media gained millions of views and quickly became the topic everyone talked about. Two world saviors becoming pornstars and then boyfriends. Who could have known?
“Not exactly,” said Slayer calmly. “You two dandy gentlemen once shone brighter than any star in the sky, but time has changed and you are simply falling behind by doing the same thing. You two got to the top because of your deeds in the previous conflict rather than because you are doing better than others. Without diversification and improvement, stagnation is inevitable.”
“What do you suggest we should do to remedy this?” asked Leo. “Are we just going to let this slip? The Second King must not know defeat.”
“How about we do what the fans have been suggesting all this time?” asked Slayer. By that, he meant a steamy session between the two men themselves. So far, Leo and Sol had been more content with banging each other behind closed doors and then let the rumors circulate. It was a good thing to keep the public guessing. It made both of them appear more desirable than ever.
“That’s private,” said Leo quickly. “Think of something else.”
“No need,” said Sol firmly. “It’s time to make it public.”
“Are you sure about this?” asked Leo, surprised that his boyfriend would agree so readily. Being an outlaw for a very long time, Sol was more flexible when it came to decision-making. Meanwhile, Leo could not shake away the duties of being part of the ruling triumvirate.
“Sure as hell,” said Sol, grinning. His thick ass shifted towards Leo and the king suddenly found his personal space on the sofa narrowed down and was forced to sit awkwardly with his legs crossed. “Come on, Leo. Are you a lion, or are you a scaredy cat?”
Leo slapped Sol’s hineys, causing them to bounce like rubber. The amount of fat Sol distributed in there was remarkable. Each of Leo’s hands was large enough to hold and crush the skull of a man, and yet even with both of them combined Leo hardly get a grip when he attempted to seize Sol’s ass. Despite the overly endowed midsection and thigh, Sol never had any problem walking or sitting or slapping his huge ass on his clients. Then again, this was the man who fucked Justice before, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“Say that again and I will have your tongue on my dinner plate.”
Ever since coming out of the closet, the two had earned admiration from one another through deeds and understanding. Their love
“Alright then, looks like we have come to an agreement,” said Slayer. “Let’s all make it work together.”
The next day, at the square in downtown Manhattan, Sol and Leo presented themselves in front of a huge crowd. Nothing had been released to the audience regarding their intention yet, so that got many people guessing. For the very least, it all but confirmed the rumors about their homosexual relationship and how they essentially considered each other as lovers.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Slayer announced via a loudspeaker to get everyone’s attention. “It is no secret that I have lived for a very long time. Yet, in all my life, I have not come across something so magnificent that I cannot help but bow down and worship. I hereby present to you, the greatest wonders of our age.”
It took only a second for Leo and Sol to strip down to their skin by ripping out whatever clothes they were wearing and tossing them into the crowd. A huge cheer erupted from the audience, followed by massive displays of awes and adoration. People scrambled for tatters of fabric tossed aside by the two greatest heroes. As they looked up, they groveled at the sight - the undisputable display of peak humanity.
“You ready for this?” asked Leo, brandishing his twelve-inch cock before his subjects. It was a spear fit for a king. He had gone easy on most of his clients so far, going only 50% at most. But he would not hold back this time.
“I was going to ask the same thing,” replied Sol. He had made himself for this. His buttcheeks shook and vibrated with every step he made, the fat within rippling with vehemence. “Feel free to tap out any time you want.”
“As if the king would ever back down from a challenge,” Leo laughed. “I shall gladly add your name to my little notebook of those I have bested. It shall be written in larger letters, but not by much.”
“Looks like things are heating up,” Slayer remarked. The show was about to commence and he was in charge of commentary while his lovely assistants filmed the whole thing from multiple different angles. “Who do you think is going to come out on top after this? Sol Badguy the infamous Flame of Corruption or Leo Whitefang your beloved Second King of Illyria. Cast your vote in the ballot and we shall see the result.”
For the first round, Sol went on all fours while Leo stood behind him. After showing off his massive dick one more time and receiving encouragement from the restless crowd, Leo got into position. Normally when doing this with a client, he would give his warning first as well as ask for how deep they were comfortable with. Neither was needed here, so he initiated with a powerful thrust right away. A normal person would have been punctured by this, but Sol’s huge ass absorbed the shock like a sponge.
Leo’s dick came all the way inside, digging deep into Sol’s ass and then finally entering his system. Sol was out of breath for a moment, but he quickly recovered. It was as though an unstoppable force had met an immovable object. Such was the size of Sol’s thick ass that it took the blow without receiving any damage from it. All the fat it contained led to a yieldy texture that could expand and contort with ease, thus accommodating the gigantic foreign object.
“Is that the best you’ve got, old man?” asked Sol, panting.
“Old man?” Leo barked. “You are older than I am.”
“I am not the one acting like an old man,” said Sol.
“You will be acting like one once I am done with you,” Leo warned.
“Promise?” Sol chuckled.
“Looks like we are starting out in doggy style,” Slayer commented. “A good hit by Leo, I must say. My good friend Vlad the Impaler would be so proud if he were seeing this. But Sol is not backing off. Let’s see how long he can take it.”
Bristled by Sol’s taunting, Leo shot his dick forward as hard as he could but found the task more difficult imagined than done. The further it went, the harder it was for the cock to move either in or out, and sideway was completely out of the picture. With each penetration, Leo felt as though he was stabbing a sword into the mud. Still, his pride compelled him to go on. He was a conqueror and nothing could be beyond his rule as long as he put some real effort into it.
The extraordinary amount of fat Sol had allocated in his inflated and bulging buttcheeks was put to good use. Sol grinned as he felt the pace of the cock slow down, thinking that Leo was running out of juice in the first round. His hope was dashed when his boyfriend came back with a series of powerful thrusts that saw Leo go back and forth rapidly like an engine.
“Urrghh!” Sol groaned. The effect of getting fucked was taking its toll and his initial composure was eroding with each penetration Leo made. “I didn’t expect that. My guard was down.”
“I am full of surprises,” Leo declared. “Like all my opponents, you will learn to respect that.”
“Leo seems to have the upper hand with a series of powerful thrusts that even Bedman would have felt through his bed,” said Slayer excitedly. “Very dandy indeed. Boy oh boy, that ass is the thickest I have seen in three centuries, but that isn’t going to be enough to withstand Leo’s fury. How can Sol recover from this?”
The audience marveled at the show. For most of them, sex was a mundane thing borne out of love, desire, and the need for reproduction. What Sol and Leo were doing here, on the other hand, was art in its highest form. From the current angle, the crowd was amazed by just how large Sol’s ass was. Each buttock was about easily the size of a bowling ball, so large that they could take in Leo’s dick in its entirety - no other human could be on the receiving end of that spear without getting split in half.
As the favor turned towards the great king, the crowd cheered. Emboldened by his responsibility as a ruler to not disappoint his people, Leo went even harder, throwing his cock and himself with so much force that the ground beneath them shook and cracked. Sol’s butts wobbled and vibrated like jellies under the constant assault.
“HERE IT IS!” Leo declared loudly. That moment he had been waiting for was upon him. All the build-up was coming to this. Now was the time to release. “READY OR NOT, I AM CUMMING FOR YOU!”
“Oh crap,” Sol cursed. Suddenly, he felt not ready for this. He had underestimated Leo’s prowess and resolve, and now he found himself at the mercy of his opponent. “You gotta be kidding me.”
When the orgasm came, it was with a titanic bang. Both men came at the same time, the only difference was how they managed it. Leo Whitefang held his ground by digging his feet and knees into the concrete floor, leaving a crack upon it in the process. The recoil packed as much strength as that of a howitzer, but the Second King proved resilient against this and did not move an inch during the climax.
Despite using both his hands and knees to do the same thing, Sol failed to get a firm grip and, with his mind already rendered incoherent by his partner’s expertly-delivered thrusts into his ass, the former bounty hunter was the one who lost his position. He was blasted forward and slammed into a lamppost, crushing it with his amplified hineys.
As Sol flew across the air, a trail of cum juice marked his arc - that of Leo. It was the biggest orgasm he had had in years, an experience he always cherished and ever tried to improve upon. Yet, finding worthy opponents these days was hard. Sol Badguy with his body-shifting shenanigan was the first person in a long time against whom Leo could afford to go all out. The people whooped and whistled as they were draped in the holy fluid of their liege.
“An explosive finish,” Slayer remarked. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have our winner: Leo Whitefang. All that fat in Sol Badguy’s buttcheeks couldn’t save him at the end, and it is your beloved king who is the last man standing.”
Sol slammed the ground in frustration. “Damn it, I had it close.”
“Hahahaha, that’s only the fifteenth time I have heard that from those I have bested,” Leo laughed.
“Are you spent, old geezer?” asked Sol. “Because I can go for another round. What do you say?”
“The king is never spent,” said Leo. “And due to popular demand by my loyal subjects who are cheering my name, I gladly accept the challenge.”
“We have a round two, folks,” Slayer commented. “It’s not over yet. Will Sol Badguy even the score, or shall Leo Whitefang prove to be the undisputed champion?”
For this time, the heroic duo settled with a more intimate position. As Leo lay down on his back, his massive dick shot upward like a pillar ready to impale with extreme prejudice anything that dared threatened the king. Sol then took up his position on top of him, his giant ass now bearing down on its rival ready to exact vengeance.
Taking charge of the pace, Sol brought down his gigantic ass and Leo’s impressive cock swiftly disappeared among the mass of fat and meat. In this state, both men’s asses were on full display for the audience to see. While previously Leo had been the one to dictate where the sexual intercourse would lead, the missionary position allowed both men to become active with Sol able to take on a more active role due to gravity.
The sex was back and forth. Sol and Leo embraced one another and their dirty parts collided. Leo’s dick continued its journey inside and out of Sol’s thick ass at a dazzling pace. The friction it created was so intense that had either man been wearing clothes, they would have caught on fire. The ground shuddered and then shattered underneath them.
“We are on even ground now!” Sol boisterously stated. It felt great to be on the offensive again instead of waiting for his opponent to dry out themselves. “Let’s see if you still have it.”
“If I do, you are wearing the Apron of Shame for a week,” said Leo.
“Show me your claws then,” Sol boomed. His voice cracked as a new wave of sensations hit him, reducing his voice to gratuitous moanings.
“Both are going in really hard,” Slayer commented. “With those huge butts in the way, I can’t see a thing from this angle. Those two jiggling melons are getting in the way. Where did he get those in the first place? Jeez, I blame That Man for that one. Regardless, seeing what is happening to the ground right now, I can safely say that things are quite intense in there.”
As the battle went on, Sol and Leo grew hotter and hornier. They shared a passionate kiss in front of the crowd, hands rubbing on each other’s chest and hair. But in the end, it was Sol who came out on top, quite literally and figuratively. The orgasm was just as vehemence as the first one, but instead of Sol being blasted away, it was Leo who got crushed under the weight.
Once again cum juice spewed forth but it was blocked by Sol’s humongous bottoms bearing down on Leo’s dick. The result was a depressing downpour instead of a fountain. Leo’s plan to bless his subjects was thus thwarted.
“Damn, you are good one,” Leo admitted.
“Rare to hear that from you,” said Sol.
“I speak the fact,” said Leo. “No commoner can hope to best the king.”
“So has been said,” Sol replied.
“We are now even,” Leo declared. “I will not walk away with a clear victory. Are you ready for another round?”
Sol gave his boyfriend a devilish grin. “Bring it on! I can do this all day.”
The contest of sexual might continued for hours until both were exhausted. By then, they had garnered much adoration from not only the audience but the porn star community at large. Slayer was pleased that the whole thing was captured from many different angles, for Sol’s thick ass occasionally got in the way of the main action. With this, the career of Sol Badguy and Leo Whitefang could only rise from here.
submitted by DivineRetribution8 to GayShortStories [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 12:57 Starsong67 Sampling Efficiently: A Guide to Reclaiming Thargoid Systems

So, as you (probably) know, Tissue Sampling in bulk is an incredibly efficient way to clear Thargoid-populated systems. But, how do you grab them in enough quantity quickly enough to make a difference? After many hours of trial, error and occasional explosion, I've managed to nail down a strategy that reliably produces me 180-200 samples per hour working alone. And in the interests of humanity, here's the result of my hard work!
The main idea is an Imperial Cutter with a fast-regenerating shield that can tank the Scout you'll be sampling and as many corrosion resistant cargo racks and research limpets as possible. With the ablility to launch 10 limpets at once and 80 slots for samples + 64 extra limpets/overflow space, it can gather a large amount of tissue samples quickly. In terms of your own options, you'll want to choose Gimballed Enhanced AX Multi-Cannons, as they're the best way to clear Scouts. Additionally, a Caustic Sink can replace the Heat Sink if you've got access to one. For players who lack engineering materials, the only critical parts that need unlocking/engineering are the shields and the CRCRs. Everything else can just be taken up to G2/3 or whatever is available.
THE STRATEGY: Load up with 144 limpets and fly to the Control system you're trying to help clear. If you're hyperdicted by Interceptors on the way, just outrun them - if you're hyperdicted by a Glaive, your multicannons should be able to kill it. When you get there, drop into normal space and wait a few minutes for a "Frame Shift Anomaly Detected" warning and a ghost contact to appear on your radar. (Whilst you're waiting, go into Settings-Graphics-Display and set Frame Rate Cap to 30 FPS. Annoyingly, this is the only known way to mitigate a glitch that causes up to three-quarters of your limpets to return with no sample.) This contact is the Interceptor - you don't want it to notice you! Boost away until it disappears off your radar, then come to a stop again. Wait another minute or two for a second anomaly warning. These are the Scouts you want to sample. Two of them will spawn - kill one, and launch all your research limpets at the other. Sit fairly still with 4 pips to SYS whilst the Scout flies around, firing more limpets whenever they come back. Periodically, another pair of Scouts will spawn. Kill them with your AXMCs. Continue sampling until you have filled your acceptable quota or ran out of limpets. The safety threshold is 80 samples if you want to avoid taking any damage, but if you're bold you can go beyond this - I regularly go up to 120+ samples with a very low risk to my thrusters, FSD or shields, but doing this has a high risk of breaking your cockpit canopy!
WHAT TO DO WITH THE SAMPLES: You'll need to store or sell the samples to a fleet carrier in the general area, since it's not practical to try and move a sampling ship 80+LY to a rescue ship every run. This means that if you don't own one yourself, you'll need to join in with someone who does. The targets change as systems are recaptured and the Thursday updates happen, but at the moment (and likely for several days) a good opportunity is to sell samples collected in HIP 25679 to the [AXI] Invicta (X5Q-83N) in Trianguli Sector LR-W b1-2 to support the recapture attempt in 25679.
submitted by Starsong67 to EliteDangerous [link] [comments]

2023.06.10 10:13 stel1234 [Meta] The /r/mashups community has spoken. Starting June 12, this subreddit will go dark indefinitely due to API policies that effectively kill third-party apps.

TL;DR /mashups will go dark indefinitely, starting June 12. Only first place will be announced from the current bi-weekly contest.


On May 31, 2023, Reddit announced new pricing for API usage in third-party apps.
Starting July 1, third-party app developers will have to pay an exorbitant amount of money once they exceed the usage limits of the free tier. One figure cited was $12,000 per 50 million API requests, which is significantly higher than the $166 per 50 million API calls Imgur is charging (Christian Selig, lead developer of Apollo). This is a quick turnaround that caught developers off-guard.
Adding insult to injury, Reddit leadership has responded in a way that is tone deaf and dishonest at best, and slanderous at worst, to fellow app developers (see "Bizarre allegations"). This includes the recent AMA that took place.
As a result, popular third-party apps, such as Reddit Is Fun and Apollo, are planning to shut down on June 30.
Multiple contest mode polls on /mashups have shown that a sizable number of users are on mobile, with Reddit Is Fun and Apollo being the most popular third-party apps. Both are targeted by the policy.
Based on /SaveThirdPartyApps's pinned post, killing third-party apps will have several negative consequences:
/Modcoord also listed the three areas that need to be addressed for the blackouts to conclude: API technical issues, accessibility for blind people, and parity in access to NSFW content.
With all this in mind, several subreddits will be going dark on June 12 to protest the API policy.

/mashups community decision

The /mashups community ran a contest mode vote over a 48 hour period from June 6-8 to determine how we will respond on June 12. The results* were:
Based on the results, the /mashups community overwhelmingly chose to go dark indefinitely starting on June 12. In the event an admin or mod wants to cast doubt, we have receipts.
If you've read other subreddits shamelessly copying the /SaveThirdPartyApps post verbatim in their statement to go dark, you would have already known most of this.
I write separately to discuss the cultural impact of mashups and how this protest is woven into that fabric.
* You may see these number show up slightly differently due to vote fuzzing, but are close within +/- 5 upvotes on page reload.

Cultural impact in the past

I think a discussion of cultural impact starts with a simple question: When you think of mashups, what crosses your mind?
One might see it at a basic level as simply a vocal over a different instrumental. Another might see it as two well-known songs mixed together. Many of our users might think of it as a fusion of several different sources together with transitions in between (Girl Talk). Others might have experienced it during the early 2000s in the form of bastard pop. There are also others who may have heard complex sampling that's so well-made that they don't know they're hearing mashups (Pretty Lights, Fatboy Slim, Coldcut, The Avalanches, etc.). Some even look at it as a commentary on culture (Negativland, Evolution Control Committee). Regardless of how you first experienced it, mashups evoke a certain excitement when sources you know fit like a glove to the point that it sounds like quality art.
In the early 2000s, there was no YouTube and no social media the same way there is today. There were peer to peer file sharing services (Morpheus, Kazaa, LimeWire, etc.) and forums (Gybo). Computers were getting to the point where they were powerful enough for remixing to be affordable to the average consumer.
This meant that mashups were more underground, and gradually came to the surface through word-of-mouth circulation and bootleg releases. Some were mainstream, to include Can't Get Blue Monday Outta My Head (Kurtis Rush).
Back in August 2002, published an article that termed this phenomenon as "bootleg culture". This article can also be accessed as of this writing. At that time, 2ManyDJs tried to get their work cleared by labels and failed. Eventually, their work circulated over the Internet and became mashup classics. The article points out Smells Like Booty by 2ManyDJs, Stroke Of Genie-us by Freelance Hellraiser, and George Gets His Freak On by Kurtis Rush, which are all all-timers. This playlist on RateYourMusic lists more mashups from that time and earlier.
Later in the article, Salon calls out mashups as a form of cultural commentary back in the late 80s/early 90s:
Mash-ups were typically created as statements about pop culture and the media juggernaut that surrounds us, not as fodder for the dance floor.
It also calls out mashups in the early 2000s as a "subcultural movement that has threatened the status quo". To put it another way, bootlegs and mashups took on a form of cultural resistance in getting to a point where more and more producers could make mixes that could circulate like popular art outside the labels.
Bootie Mashup was founded in San Francisco in 2003 to become the first and biggest mashup party worldwide. It's about to turn 20 years old. I don't remember if "we ruin your favorite song" was a slogan directly tied to Bootie, but I know it was worn as a badge of honor.
The Grey Album would soon follow in continuing this cultural movement in 2004, and then Girl Talk in 2006. At the same time, the popularity of mashups led to a mainstream mashup album in 2004 in the form of Collision Course.

Cultural impact today

At this point, you're probably asking why I mention all of this.
Today's mashups are more mainstream with social media, as well as both audio and video sharing services. There is an expectation of high quality with recognizable sources.
However, there is still a subtle element of cultural resistance in poking fun of pop music and how much the music industry (and others) lean on nostalgia to create hits. Flowers is a modern clone of I Will Survive. Blinding Lights leans on 80s production and rhythms (some comparing it to Take On Me). Good 4 U is similar to Misery Business. Sweetest Pie lifts the progression from Between The Sheets. Break My Soul is inspired by 90s dance. And so on.
As for mashups, the Four Chord Song and Pachelbel Rant both immediately come to mind as classics in poking fun of similar chord progressions in pop.
Influences are everywhere, and Reddit too, in their song and dance, seems to be channeling Twitter's progression with their latest move to charge an exorbitant amount for their API. Even the AMA responses have a similar tone. Capitalist tendencies won't die as long as there are investors to feed them. And when one company makes a move to see how much they can get away with, others emulate. Just look at when the headphone jack was removed from smartphones, starting with Apple. For these companies, YOLO would not stand for You Only Live Once, but You Obviously Lack Originality.
This protest of Reddit channels the same kind of energy that mashup creators had in poking fun of pop culture and threatening the status quo by creating something different than what the music industry was creating. The genre clashes we create are a part of this movement. Mashups are a part of cultural resistance. And we, as a community, are ready to take this on.
So go ahead, sing the lyrics of your favorite mashups from the rooftops. Let's sign the Four Chord Song. Pachebel's Rant. Boulevard of Broken Songs. Even the chorus lyrics from Call Me A Hole would work nicely as a message towards Reddit leadership. The control they want to impose is too much.
And once we're done partying, and June 12 approaches, the lights fade to black and we continue to sing as we walk out. /mashups will go dark. Reddit had their chance to keep many of us as users, and now they failed us.
All that said, make sure you follow the plan /Save3rdPartyApps set out: Complain, Spread the word, Boycott, and Don't Be A Jerk.
Thank you all for taking part in an incredible journey.
submitted by stel1234 to mashups [link] [comments]

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submitted by MYPRESSUREVESSEL to u/MYPRESSUREVESSEL [link] [comments]

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