Sand pump for summer waves pool
Hell's Itch: For those that suffer from one of the most debiliating post sunburn conditions
2015.05.26 12:46 thapol Hell's Itch: For those that suffer from one of the most debiliating post sunburn conditions
This is not sun poisoning, or a typical reaction from a near-second degree sunburn. Stranger still, it happens days after the burn itself. And it can drive you absolutely insane.
2023.05.30 00:16 Shanochi Best Skills/Classes Builds for Wizard
The wizard class in Tree of Savior embodies the arcane arts, wielding immense magical power. While they may be considered squishy in terms of durability, wizards compensate for this with their devastating area-of-effect (AoE) damage capabilities, making them valuable in group-focused encounters. Their spells can unleash destructive forces that obliterate multiple enemies at once, turning the tide of battle in their favor. However, wizards are not limited to just AoE damage; they also possess significant potential for single-target damage, allowing them to swiftly dispatch powerful foes. As a friendly starting class, wizards provide newcomers with a relatively easy entry point into the game, allowing players to familiarize themselves with the fundamentals of spellcasting. Furthermore, wizards are highly sought after in most content due to their versatile skill set and indispensable role in party dynamics. Their ability to control the battlefield and deal massive damage makes them a crucial asset in various challenging encounters. Wizard classes uses one-handed rod + shield or two-handed staff with trinket. Players can obtain a total of 15 extra skill points from the Magic Association NPC in Klaipeda City (located in the north area before the staircase) between levels 440 and 490.
Please note that the investment of these extra skill points is optional for specific classes. Players will have to optimize their skill builds based on their class combinations. Each player will have a different skill build and playstyle. Thank you.
|Type ||Skills Builds |
|Magic ||5 Magic Shield, 5 Lethargy, 1 Teleportation, and 4 Earthquake |
|Class ||Skills Build ||15 Extra Skill Points (Optional) |
|Pyromancer ||10 Fire Pillar, 5 Enchant Fire, 10 Hell Breath, 15 Flame Ground, and 5 Prominence ||+10 Enchant Fire |
|Cryomancer ||15 Ice Bolt, 15 Ice Pike, 10 Ice Blast, and 5 Frost Pillar ||+15 Ice Wall or +10 Snow Rolling |
|Psychokino ||15 Psychic Pressure, 15 Magnetic Force, 5 Gravity Pole, and 10 Heavy Gravity ||+10 Raise |
|Alchemist ||9 Dig, 15 Gem Roasting, 15 Tincturing, 5 Magnum Opus, and 1 Item Awakening ||N/A |
|Sorcerer ||15 Summoning, 1 Riding, 1 Morph, 8 Summon Salamion, 5 Summon Servant, 5 Evocation, and Desmodus ||+7 Summon Salamion |
|Chronomancer ||10 Quick Cast, 5 Pass, 15 Slow, 14 Stop, and 1 Backmasking ||+1 Stop and +14 Reincarnate |
|Necromancer ||10 Gather Corpse, 5 Create Shoggoth, 3 Flesh Cannon, 1 Flesh Hoop, 1 Disinter, 10 Corpse Tower, 5 Raise Dead, 5 Raise Skull Archer, and 5 Raise Skull Mage ||+7 Flesh Cannon and Flesh Hoop |
|Elementalist (Ice) ||5 Elemental Burst, 15 Hail, 10 Blizzard Storm, and 15 Electrocute ||N/A |
|Elementalist (Fire) ||5 Elemental Burst, 15 Fire Claw, 10 Meteor, and 15 Electrocute ||N/A |
|Elementalist (Electric ||5 Elemental Burst, 15 Electrocute, 10 Lightning Orb, and 15 Hail ||N/A |
|Sage ||14 Micro Dimension, 15 Ultimate Dimension, 1 Blink, 10 Dimension Compression, and 5 Hole of Darkness ||N/A |
|Warlock ||1 Pole of Agony, 15 Invocation, 8 Dark Theurge, 10 Mastema, 1 Evil Sacrifice, 5 Ghastly Trail, and 5 Demon Scratch ||+7 Dark Theurge, and +8 Pole of Agony |
|Featherfoot || || |
|Rune Caster (Casting) ||1 Rune of Destruction, 8 Rune of Earth, 1 Rune of Repulsion, 15 Rune of Justice, 5 Rune of Protection, 5 Rune of Beginning, and 10 Rune of Rock ||+9 Rune of Destruction and +6 Rune of Earth |
|Rune Caster (Channel) ||5 Rune of Destruction, 15 Rune of Repulsion, 15 Rune of Justice, 5 Rune of Protection, 5 Rune of Beginning ||+5 Rune of Destruction and +10 Rune of Gravity |
|Shadowmancer ||10 Shadow Thorn, 15 Shadow Conjuration, 5 Shadow Pool, 10 Shadow Condensation, and 5 Infernal Shadow ||+15 Hallucination |
|Onmyoji (Casting) ||10 Greenwood Shikigami, 15 Howling White Tiger, 10 Wind Shikigami, and 10 Toyou ||+15 Soul Fox Shikigami |
|Onmyoji (Channel) ||15 Soul Fox Shikigami, 15 Howling White Tiger, 1 Greenwood Shikigami, 10 Toyou, and 5 Yin Yang Harmony ||N/A |
|Taoist ||15 Creeping Death Charm, 10 Snow Tempest Charm, 5 Strengthen Charm, 5 Eradication, and 10 Fire Charm ||+15 Divine Punishment |
|Bokor ||15 Curse of Debility, 15 Effigy, 5 Zombify, 5 Samediveve, and 5 Damballa ||N/A |
|Terramancer ||15 Sand Blast, 15 Implosion, 10 Stone Shower, and 5 Horn of Golem ||+10 Rolling Stone and +5 Sand Wall |
|Keraunos ||1 Electric Current, 4 Electric Orb, 15 Lightning Spear, 10 Electrode, 10 Static Field, and 5 Electric Drive ||+11 Electric Orb and +4 Overload |
Level 460 Equipment (Vasilisa)
|Type ||Weapon ||Armor ||Accessories ||Ark ||Weapon (Random Ichor) ||Armor (Random Ichor) ||Set Effect (460) |
|Magic ||Two-handed Staff + Trinket ||Leather Armor ||Triukas ||Divine Retribution ||INT / CON / Critical Rate / Block Penetration ||INT / CON / Critical Rate / Medium Offset ||Balinta |
Level 480 Equipment (Reservoir & Falouros)
|Type ||Weapon ||Armor ||Accessories ||Ark ||Weapon (Random Ichor) ||Armor (Random Ichor) |
|Magic ||Two-handed Staff + Trinket ||Leather Armor ||Triukas ||Divine Retribution ||INT / All-Race / Critical Rate / Perfection ||STR / CON / Critical Rate / All -Race |
|Type ||Assister #1 ||Assister #2 ||Assister #3 ||Assister #4 ||Stats |
|Magic ||Moringponia ||Mirtis ||Ignas ||Helgasercle ||Magic Critical DAmage, AoE Attack Ratio, Accuracy, INT, SPR, and Damage in Challenge Mode |
Best Classes Combination
|Combination ||DPS Type ||Vaivora Vision ||Armor (Fixed Ichor) |
|Onmyoji - Terramancer - Chronomancer ||Casting ||Red Tiger Claw + Stone-Slinger ||Holy Flame |
|Onmyoji - Elementalist - Terramancer ||Casting ||Annihilate + Stone-Slinger ||Holy Flame |
|Elementalist - Pyromancer - Taoist ||AoE ||Fire Bolt + Vigilant Charm ||Overload |
|Pyromancer - Taoist - Chronomancer ||Magic Circle Reset ||Fire Bolt + Vigilant Charm ||Overload |
|Terramancer - Taoist - Chronomancer ||Casting ||Stone-Slinger + Vigilant Charm ||Holy Flame |
|Necromancer - Sorcerer - Chronomancer ||Summoner ||Immortality + Wicked Desire ||Harsh Imperator |
|Pyromancer - Psychokino - Onmyoji ||Channeling ||Fire Bolt + Biased Gravity ||Infinity Blessing |
|Keraunos - Taoist - Chronomancer ||Burst ||Electric Flow + Vigilant Charm ||Overload |
|Bokor - Taoist - Chronomancer ||Burst ||Lewa Advent + Vigilant Charm ||Overload |
|Rune Caster + Terramancer + Chronomancer ||Casting ||Rune of Vigilance + Stone-Slinger ||Holy Flame |
|Shadowmancer - Bokor - Chronomancer ||Burst ||Diffuse Reflection + Lewa Advent ||Overload |
|Cryomancer + Elementalist + Chronomancer ||Casting ||Icy Snow Bubble + Annihilate ||Holy Flame |
|Warlock + Bokor + Chronomancer ||Burst ||Demonische + Lewa Advent ||Overload |
submitted by Shanochi
to TreeofSaviorGlobal [link] [comments]
2023.05.30 00:03 Creole_Kid It finally happened
I was on I-44 today when a blue Chevy pickup was passing. The passenger window rolled down, and a little hand and arm came out and started doing the arm pump. I blew the air horn and got a little wave in return. I smiled for the next 5 or so miles. Made my day.
submitted by Creole_Kid
to Truckers [link] [comments]
2023.05.30 00:02 Square_Opinion_4257 The 'Hot tub time Machine' & it's heater the 'Flux Capacitor'!
| || | submitted by Square_Opinion_4257 to Plumbing [link] [comments]
Hello! Hoping to get some professional advise on my redneck-mobile-wood-fired hot tub time machine project. Please let me know if I am going to blow myself up! Ok here goes...
Heating water with 4x 50' lengths of 1/2" copper pipe wrapped around the outside of the barrel and insulated with ceramic insulation. Using a PVC one way valve on the cold end and a brass one way valve on the hot end.
The concept is using a small Marine battery powered pump (1/10hp did the trick) during active heating from 0 - 40 Celsius but then allowing the heat syphon to take over for quiet, passive circulation given the heater is much lower than the mass of water. It does, infact circulate during testing last fall and I got it up to temperature. I am aware that if the water boils it will expand explosively and so I have a hot water tank's safety release valve (150PSI and/or >100C to trigger). See photos.
200ft of Type L 1/2" copper pipe = 2.42 Gallons of water. Worst case scenario - If all that water turns into steam at once will it overwhelm the pressure release valve pictured on the bottom Right of the back of the heater? Where is my weak point/ what would explode? (Cold end PVC would be my guess) Any other safety measures you could advise?
Questions and comments welcome, I am 2 years into this and friends are tired of hearing about it! ^^
I did observe a banging phenomenon at the tub where the water connects to the 2" hose (pictured) for the jets when I had the pump off for a long period. I suspect this was small amounts of water turning to steam and causing a shock wave/ water hammer. I intend to add a water hammer arrestor on the back end of the heater to prevent damage to the fiberglass tub/ jets.
Additional information: A gas powered water transfer pump will be used with a milk crate rigged to be a crude filter. This tub will be usable anywhere near a body of water where you also have firewood. The 1/10HP pump has a bypass to push through a standard hot tub filter. If chlorine/ bromine is used correctly the water may be drained safely onto grass without damaging local vegetation. Improved tub insulation and a potential pump upgrade are planned to improve heating efficiency. Estimated output is ~ 150K BTU/hr but remains to be proven. I intend to try this out ice fishing!
Thoughts? Will add plywood sides & cover with vinyl plankflooring. 4x 50' 1/2\" Type L copper pipe. Wrapped in ceramic insulation with a 2nd barrel overtop. From Right to left: 150psi/ 100C pressure release valve, Thermometer, 30psi pressure gauge & ball valve to blow out water for winterization. Radiator hose connector to jet hoses. Active heating will use insulated hose and dump into tub directly. 1st Test in Fall 2022!
2023.05.30 00:01 redundantmulligan From Here Appreciation Post
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The "planning to move here" posts are a little wearing. This came up on my FYP and got me nostalgic for popsicle stick ojo de dios, gold bars, Indian School ditch skating (plus the ditch witch), and nearly drowning in the wave pool. submitted by redundantmulligan to Albuquerque [link] [comments]
2023.05.30 00:01 redundantmulligan From Here Appreciation Post
| || |
The "planning to move here" posts are a little wearing. This came up on my FYP and got me nostalgic for popsicle stick ojo de dios, gold bars, Indian School ditch skating (plus the ditch witch), and nearly drowning in the wave pool. submitted by redundantmulligan to Albuquerque [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 23:56 Glinks1234 Survive Somalia
In the heart of Somalia, where the scorching sun meets the vast expanse of the desert, a tale unfolds. A tale of survival, courage, and an unlikely hero named Egal Shidad, a camel herder known for his meekness and aversion to danger. This is the captivating story of "Survive Somalia," a game that plunges you into a world where bravery is tested, and the fate of an entire village hangs in the balance.
Egal Shidad's peaceful existence takes an ominous turn when his tribe, valiantly refusing to bow to the demands of the notorious al-Shabaab, faces an imminent threat. The militant group, known for its iron fist and merciless tactics, seeks revenge for the unpaid taxes. In a bid to protect his kin and livelihood, Egal must embark on a treacherous journey into the unforgiving wilderness, accompanied by his faithful companions: camels, cows, and goats.
Before he ventures into the unknown, Egal Shidad, with a heavy heart, bids an emotional farewell to his beloved family. He gathers his daughter Fadumo and son Farah close, embracing them tightly, their tears merging with the desert sand. His wife and parents look on with a mix of pride and worry, knowing that their once timorous Egal is now thrust into a role that demands courage and resourcefulness.
As the village's legend goes, Egal Shidad's transformation from a timid man to a beacon of hope began with a fateful encounter. In an act of sheer audacity, he almost succeeded in taking down the al-Shabaab leader, Ali Deere, during a secret meeting in the wild. Unfortunately, his plan was foiled, and now al-Shabaab has a dangerous knowledge of Egal's appearance, placing a specific bounty on his head.
The game "Survive Somalia" immerses you in the heart-pounding reality of Egal's struggle. Waves of al-Shabaab attacks crash upon him, the enemy employing sinister tactics ranging from suicide bombings to knife-wielding assaults and hailstorms of bullets. Egal's survival hinges on his ability to navigate this perilous landscape, selling the precious milk and meat from his livestock to earn money for weapons and upgrades.
Drawing strength from his ancestral traditions, Egal sustains himself on the life-giving milk of his camels, just as his forefathers did. Every drop serves as a reminder of his resilience and determination to protect those he holds dear. As his exploits grow, his village, recognizing the immense sacrifice he undertakes, rewards him with monetary compensation for each al-Shabaab member he eliminates from the face of Somalia.
In "Survive Somalia," you step into the shoes of Egal Shidad, becoming the last hope for your village and country. The barren Badiyo of Somalia becomes your battleground, each step fraught with danger and uncertainty. As you face relentless challenges, the fate of an entire community rests upon your shoulders. Will you prove that bravery can emerge from the unlikeliest of sources? Will you write a new chapter in the annals of Somalia's struggle against tyranny?
Embark on this extraordinary journey, where survival intertwines with courage and honor. In "Survive Somalia," become Egal Shidad and etch your name into the sands of time as a testament to the indomitable spirit that refuses to yield in the face of adversity.
submitted by Glinks1234
to SomaliGames [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 23:55 SabbyOfSableWine An alien + human adventure with such shenanigans as poison drinking, befriending dangerous wildlife, and fighting a space pirate. Oh, and they have a huge crush on each other.
I've been having so much fun with this little story. Here's part one if you'd like to read it in its entirety! But to summarize: Vr'ocria and Human Aldrick were sent on a survey mission together. Things went south, Aldrick made sure they were safe, and then Vr'ocria learned what human sleep is and how vulnerable humans are when they sleep. Vr'ocria's people don't sleep, but enter stasis, a form of rest in which they typically stand, and they are still slightly aware of their surroundings. Vr'ocria finds human sleep utterly adorable, and also decided she would protect Aldrick while he slept. And she also developed a massive crush on him. (Her scales turning purple is her version of blushing)
Vr’ocria ran the engine diagnostic again, and again it came back inconclusive. She slammed her fist on the dusty controls. “Blasted thing.” Of course
she got stuck with the rusty, crusty old shuttle pod that no one else wanted. Why did these things always happen to her? She just wanted to do her job!
Not for the first time, she wished she had Human Aldrick for company.
It had been two moon cycles since Vr’ocria had last seen Aldrick. They’d only served on the one away mission together, and once they returned to the ship, they’d been sent their separate ways. They worked in separate departments, after all.
But that didn’t stop her from missing him. She’d only spent a few solar cycles with him, but somehow was already totally enamored by the human–the human who was supposed to be a terrifying, dangerous, nearly indestructible monster.
Vr'ocria had met a handful of humans during her service, and they were all polite enough. But Aldrick was the first human she'd ever spent any extended alone time with. It was on that away mission that Vr’ocria learned what “sleep” was: The human form of rest in which the human becomes completely unconscious, and thus, totally defenseless. Something about learning humans were even able
of being defenseless at all, much less in such a complete way, had changed her entire perspective on them. She’d grown up always being told to fear the humans, the wild, indestructible humans.
She had been nervous enough to quake in her scales, but he was nothing but kind to her. And when she saw him sleep for the first time–planets,
what a blasted cutie. During their few cycles together, she always stood by him when he slept and she went into stasis. Her people were still slightly aware of their surroundings while in stasis, so she would be able to protect him if there was danger.
She couldn’t help but worry about him ever since they separated. Who was going to keep watch while he slept? What if something happened, what if there was an ambush or a ship malfunction and he couldn’t wake up fast enough? She wanted to be there for him…
Vr’ocria cringed at the memory of when she asked her nestmate, Galek, about human mating rituals.
“You want to mate
him? Are you insane?
"No! I mean–well…" Vr'ocria reminded herself to keep her voice down; Aldrick was still sleeping in the next room. "I…Galek, listen–"
"He's a human!" Even through the communicator, she could hear his scales snap. "He's dangerous!"
"He's nice! When the away mission went wrong he made sure we were safe and–" her voice caught when she remembered the way Aldrick strolled fearlessly through a thunderstorm, one warm hand gripping her wrist, unflinching at every thunderclap and lightning strike in the sky that rattled her to her core, as he led them to a cave for shelter.
Galek sighed. "Vr'ocria, let it go. We are not compatible with humans, they do things differently anyway. They don't mate."
Vr'ocria stilled. "They don't?"
"No. Well, kind of? Ugh, why am I even telling you this…"
"Because I'm your favorite nestmate," Vr'ocria grinned.
"Shut up." There was no bite to his words. "Anyway, what I mean is that humans usually court each other first, and then
mate. I think they call it 'marriage.' But that's all I know."
She hummed in thought. "This is good to know."
"Vr'ocria, I mean it." Galek was back in protective-nestmate-mode. "Drop it, it's a terrible idea. Humans are…it's just a bad idea, okay?"
"I'm not gonna do anything," she mumbled. And what if he doesn't even like me anyway?
Her scales faded to a faint red and her shoulders slumped at the thought. Back in the present, she absent-mindedly flicked through the controls on the cracked panel in front of her. Maybe Galek was right, and she should just stay away from Aldrick altogether. “Agent Vr’ocria, report.”
Vr’ocria jumped at the tinny voice that suddenly filled the cabin. She pressed the comm button. “Commander, this pod is–” she stopped herself from using a few choice words– “in a state of engine malfunction. I can’t even diagnose a problem. I’m not going anywhere in this thing.” ”Stand by.”
Vr’ocria drummed her fingers on the consol. ”Agent Vr’ocria, you’ve been reassigned to shuttle pod Delta. You will join a crewmate there.”
That’s right, Delta was a two-person pod. She groaned inwardly at the prospect of working with someone else in such a cramped space.
Vr’ocria tried not to drag her feet as she approached the Delta pod. The loading door was already open, and she climbed inside. “Hello? I’ve been re–”
She turned towards the cockpit, and her scales flashed to purple in record time. “Aldrick?”
The human was beaming as he maneuvered through the tight space to approach her. “It’s so good to see you again!”
“What are you doing here?” she asked, silently urging her scales to go back to green. “Aren’t you in engineering?”
He shrugged, suddenly looking everywhere except her face. “I uh..I asked to be transferred to the survey department.”
His cheeks turned pink. They seemed to do that a lot. Vr’ocria really needed to ask the ship’s doctor if that was normal for humans or if he was getting sick. “Engineering just wasn’t doing it for me, y’know? Needed a change of pace. I volunteered for that one survey mission and it turns out I liked it, so why not try it full time?" He turned back towards the cockpit. “We should get going! I think this mission is gonna be more fun than the last one. The planet we've been assigned has a more stable atmosphere, so fewer storms."
So she and Aldrick would be working together, alone, again. Vr'ocria swallowed hard before following him to the cockpit. Oh, planets, why
did these things always happen to her?
The trip to planet Theta-7 was quiet. Aldrick occasionally tried to engage her in conversation, but Vr'ocria pretended to be engrossed in her file pad. Guilt prodded her spine with every one-word answer and noncommittal grunt, but she was determined to keep her distance. Aldrick eventually fell quiet, and her scales nearly curled in on themselves in shame.
She avoided looking in his direction, but she still heard the sound of his canteen unscrewing and the slosh of liquid as he took a sip. Her nostrils flared at the odd, bitter-sable scent.
When she realized she recognized the smell, her eyes blew wide and she whirled to face him, dropping her pad. "What are you doing?" She nearly shrieked.
Aldrick lowered the canteen from his lips, looking startled. "Uh…drinking my coffee?"
"Coffee?" Another foreign word. "That's remfrylie! It's a deadly poison!" Her blood was rushing through her veins so fast she feared her scales would start to swell.
Aldrick laughed. Laughed?
Her scales turned yellow and stood on end. "What is this?" She asked indignantly.
"I'm so sorry, Vr'ocria," he rubbed his eyes, still chortling. "I forgot, I should've warned you–humans call remfrylie 'coffee.' It's a beverage, we drink it. The caffeine in it gives us a boost of energy."
She stared at him.
As if making a point, he took another big gulp from the canteen, and smiled at her. "See? Totally fine."
Slowly, her blood slowed and her scales laid back down. But there was still a thrill of fear deep inside her–she'd become so enamored with him that she'd forgotten how dangerous he was. Drinking pure poison?
Just for a boost of energy?
She turned away, embarrassed, a little afraid, and a little angry at him for scaring her like that. She bent over to pick up her pad from where it fell at her feet and went back to mindlessly flicking through her files.
Fabric rustled as Aldrick shifted in the seat next to her. "Hey," he said softly, "I really am sorry for scaring you. I didn't mean to do that."
"It's okay." Her voice was clipped and short.
Aldrick was quiet for a moment. "Is everything okay?" He asked slowly. "Have I…I mean, have I done something to offend you? I'm really sorry if–"
Guilt washed over her again. "No, no you haven't done anything." She finally looked over and tried for a weak smile. Now that she was actually looking
at him, she could see the way he'd turned his whole body to face her, his fingers fidgeting at the edge of his seat and his warm brown eyes filled with worry.
Oh, that's right, humans had color in their eyes. Her people only had large black pupils, but humans had pupils with–what's the word–an "iris." She'd seen humans with brightly colored irises before, and while she found them beautiful, they also freaked her out. It was just so very strange.
But Aldrick's eyes…
The brown was a little closer to her own black, making them feel more familiar. In the tiny, cramped cabin, she realized that this was the first time she'd ever gotten a chance to really study his eyes up close. The brown seemed to swirl, and she noticed that there were layers of shades and colors floating around his pupils. And when natural light from a sun shining through the window hit them just right–
Aldrick cleared his throat awkwardly and turned to face forwards again. "Looks like we're here."
Vr'ocria looked forward and saw Theta-7's solar system quickly approaching. Oh, right. They had a mission to do.
Theta-7 was warm, just how she liked it. The sand, not so much. She tightened her boot laces twice to keep sand from finding its way inside.
The mission, thankfully, went smoothly. Walk, scan, record. Walk, scan, record. Being out in the field was different from working aboard the ship like she usually did, but she found she enjoyed it. With the agreeable weather, she quite liked the peaceful repetitiveness of the work.
Although, things were still awkward between her and Aldrick. She fought the urge to make excuses to drift away from him–since it was just the two of them, they needed to remain within eyesight of each other in case anything happened. As a result, she had a front row seat to Aldrick’s human antics. He climbed trees like it was nothing, crossed a stream by easily hopping from boulder to boulder, nibbled on plants he claimed were edible but that still made Vr’ocria’s scales ripple with unease, and even insisted on approaching a ferocious, furry creature with his hand outstretched and cooing “Hi kitty! Hi baby! Come here, let me give you scritchies, come on–”
Vr’ocria didn’t know what a “kitty” was, but a baby it definitely
wasn’t. “Aldrick, please,” she called weakly.
“But she’s so cute!”
“It’s got claws! And look at its big teeth!”
Aldrick grinned as the creature crept closer. Its head came to Aldrick’s hip from where he knelt, still reaching out with his fingers and making a scratching motion in the air. “Naw, she’s just a little baby,
aren’t you sweetie? Come ‘ere!”
Vr’ocria trembled on the spot as the creature was finally within arm’s reach of Aldrick. He began scratching its sandy-colored head, and to her disbelief, the creature closed its big eyes and leaned into his touch. “Oh, yes,” Aldrick positively giggled, “you’re such a sweet little baby, aren’t you?”
Vr’ocria could only stare, stunned, as he continued scratching the creature’s head, then its cheek and chin–extremely close
to its massive fangs.
“All kitties like scritchies, huh?” he cooed at the…kitty.
Okay, they were kind of cute. It,
she corrected herself. The ”kitty”
was cute. Not him. Definitely not.
She didn’t notice her scales flushing a soft pink as she watched him nearly pull the “kitty” into his lap, beaming and petting it. A gentle smile crossed her lips.
Aldrick glanced over at her and tilted his head. “You’re pink. That’s new, I haven’t seen that color on you before.”
Vr’ocria’s blood froze and her scales immediately flashed to purple. Blast. Shit. Fuck.
Great, now she was picking up human curse words.
He blinked at the sudden change in color.
"Oh it’s–” she coughed, “it’s nothing. Just the heat, I think.”
“Are you okay?” He eased away from the creature as he stood, and it darted off into a hole in the rocks. “Do we need to take a break?” Stop being so NICE,
she growled inwardly. “No no,” she squeaked instead. “I’m fine. Let’s keep going.” She buried her head in her scanner and walked briskly towards the next scanning zone.
When night fell, the two of them made their way back to the shuttle pod. They still had scanning to do, but it wasn’t safe to work through the night, so they agreed it was best for them to take rest inside the pod.
Once they were safely inside, Aldrick laid out what he called a “bedroll” on the floor of the cockpit, between the two pilot seats. Still dressed in his uniform, he laid down and shifted until he appeared as comfortable as he could get. Tugging a blanket over himself, he glanced toward Vr’ocria. “Well...good night.”
“Sleep well,” she murmured. She stood in the short aisle in front of him, facing the door, and began to enter stasis. Despite how much she’d come to struggle with her feelings for him, she was still determined to protect him while he slept.
It was in the middle of the night when Vr’ocria snapped back to full awareness. Thud.
There it was again. Shuffle shuffle.
She whirled around and threw herself on top of Aldrick, clapping a hand over his mouth as he jerked awake with a muffled shout.
“Shh!” she hissed. “Something’s out there.”
He stared up at her with wide eyes as she slowly removed her hand. She didn’t move from her position on top of him as she looked up and around the cabin, trying to discern where the sound was coming from. Thud.
“The door,” Aldrick whispered, looking over her shoulder.
There was one last thud,
then a beeping sound. ”Shit!”
Without warning, Aldrick was grabbing her shoulders and flipping them so that he was on top, and before she could even react, there was a core-rattling BOOM.
She couldn’t hear herself scream as a shockwave blew fire and debris over them, and then everything went dark.
Vr’ocria groaned as she came to, her head pounding. She found herself sprawled in the sand, looking up at the night sky. She slowly pushed herself into a sitting position, her limbs heavy. “What…” when her eyes focused, she gasped in horror.
The side of the shuttle pod where the door used to be now had a big hole blasted through it. Debris and supplies were strewn out across the ground, and judging by the drag marks, it looked like someone had dragged her body out and thrown her haphazardly into the sand.
She leapt to her feet, stumbled, fell, and jumped up again. Forcing her legs to steady under her, she stormed into the pod, and came face-to-face with a Norvidian pirate.
” she roared, drawing her fist back and punching him right in the face. He yelped and dropped the thing he was dragging, and with horror, she realized it was Aldrick.
Something deep and primal flooded through her veins, and she grabbed the Norvidian's head. She slammed it against the wall, once, twice, three times, before dropping him to the ground, where he oozed yellow blood.
“Well that was fucking scary.”
Vr’ocria snapped out of her haze.
Aldrick was struggling to climb to his feet, and she darted forward to catch him before his face hit the floor. “Oh planets, oh my–Aldrick, are you alright?”
He rubbed a hand over his face, still looking dazed. “Yeah, I think–I think I’m okay.” He laughed, and it sounded a little hysterical. “Did you kill that guy?”
She looked over at the pirate, and somehow, she felt no remorse. “I hope so,” she growled. Logically, she knew the pirate was probably just tossing the two of them outside so he could raid their supplies. But the sight of him dragging a limp and pale Aldrick was burned into her memory, and her bright yellow scales rippled with rage.
“Jesus, you’re fucking scary when you’re angry.” He laughed again. “It’s kinda hot.” He turned pink and his face twisted in an expression she didn’t recognize. “Uh, pretend I didn’t say that.”
Vr’ocria didn’t know what it meant for something to be “hot,” so she played along and pretended she didn’t hear that. “We need to get you cleaned up,” she said instead. “Can you stand?”
Aldrick started to shift his legs, then went tense and dropped his head to her shoulder with a groan. It was then that Vr’ocria was able to lean forward enough to see his back, and she gasped.
The back of his shirt was in tatters, stained red with blood. Cuts and burns raced across his skin, and Vr’ocria knew that if she had taken the blast like that, she would be dead.
“Aldrick–” her throat felt thick, “Your back…shit
His breathing was ragged against her shoulder. “Hurts like a bitch,” he ground out, “but it won’t kill me. Just need to disinfect and bandage it.”
She laid him down on his stomach as gently as possible and rushed to the cockpit, praying that the first aid kit was undamaged. “Thank the planets,” she breathed as her fingers closed around the handle of an intact box.
She tried to steady her shaking fingers as she gingerly cut his shirt away and began dressing the wounds according to the kit’s instructions for treating humans. She also dressed the few injuries that ran down the back of his legs. Luckily–or unluckily–the damage was concentrated on his back. While she worked, she could see his muscles tense tight enough to crack, his teeth grinding and his hands clenched into fists so tight that his knuckles were white. She knew there had to be painkillers in the first aid kit, but she wanted to get his wounds dressed as fast as possible to prevent him from bleeding anymore. All she could do in the meantime was whisper quiet apologies.
Once she’d gotten him bandaged up, she finally dug through the kit. “Here,” she said as she fumbled with a bottle, “I found some pain killers, they’re supposed to be fast acting. You just let them dissolve in your mouth.”
She could tell he was in too much pain to move, so she held two of the pills up to his lips. He let her feed them to him, and after a few moments, he visibly began to relax. “Oh, that’s good shit,” he slurred into the floor.
“Feel better?” Vr’ocria asked hopefully.
“Yeah.” His voice was still crackly and weak. “Still aches a bit, but I don’t wanna scream about it anymore.”
“Good.” She stood and draped a blanket over him. “Now, stay put and don’t try to move. I need to figure out how to get us out of here.”
The shuttle pod wasn’t going anywhere any time soon. When she investigated the control panel, she found that the blast had knocked out communications, and their personal communicators were wrecked as well. “Great,” she mumbled.
Making her way back outside, she glanced around until she saw the pirate’s tiny craft a distance away. He must’ve landed out there so we wouldn’t hear him,
she mused. She was reluctant to leave Aldrick alone, but she jogged the distance and pried the door open. The thing was a rust bucket, stinky and creaky, and she quickly decided she didn’t want to risk loading Aldrick up in that thing. What to do, what to do…
Then she remembered: There was a survey outpost a few kilometers from here. She could take him there for professional treatment, rest, and to contact their ship.
When she got back to the pod, Aldrick was standing, leaning against the wall.
"How are you feeling?" She asked as she approached.
His eyes seemed clearer now as he looked up at her. "I've been worse," he said with a crooked smile.
Vr'ocria thanked the planets for human durability.
She let out a breath. "There's a survey outpost near here, due east. It's a few hours' walk. Do you think you can make it?"
Rather than answering, he stooped to pick up a blanket from the floor, shook out the dirt and debris, and threw it around his shoulders to cover his naked torso. "Let's go." He hopped easily out of the pod, and Vr'ocria could only shake her head in disbelief as she followed him. Humans truly were unbreakable.
It was still nighttime, but the clouds in the sky had cleared to reveal two big, bright moons that illuminated their way. Vr'ocria kept a close eye on Aldrick as they walked. While at first he seemed totally unaffected by his wounds now that they'd been dressed, she was beginning to notice the tight lines around his eyes, his white knuckles where he fisted the blanket, and the way each step he took was just a little shaky.
After walking in silence for nearly an hour, she finally found her voice. "Thank you," she said quietly, "for saving me back there."
He looked at her with those warm brown eyes and she thought she would melt. "Anytime."
Stupid purple scales.
They were halfway to the outpost when Aldrick collapsed. His knees hit the ground and Vr'ocria darted forward with a yelp to catch him before he went all the way down.
"Aldrick!" She shook him. "Look at me! Hey, hey…"
But all he could do was groan as his head lolled in her hands, slumping forward so that he sagged against her. Vr'ocria tried not to panic, but her scales stood on end anyway. "Aldrick!" This time her voice cracked. Okay, okay, calm down, he's gonna be fine, he's human, it's gonna be okay…
But doubt still twinged in her spine.
She ruffled her scales. Snap out of it.
"Okay. Aldrick," she took his face in her hands, "I need to put you on my back, but you'll have to help me."
He didn't respond.
She slapped him.
"Ow!" His eyes shot open. "Jesus, woman–" "Look at me.
I need to put you on my back, and you have to help me."
He blinked, eyes still cloudy, but finally nodded. It took some maneuvering, but Vr'ocria finally got him situated on her back–"piggy back style," he called it. She held his legs around her waist, and used the blanket to tie him to her. She could feel his warmth and heartbeat from where he was pressed against her back. His breath ghosted across the nape of her neck, sending tingles over her scales.
She tightened her grip around his knees as she walked. My human.
"You're pink again," Aldrick mumbled behind her ear.
Vr'ocria pressed on.
By the time they reached the outpost, her back was aching and her feet were sore, but she didn't care. She waved down the watchmen, and within minutes they were being swarmed by a med team. Aldrick was now fully unconscious and much too pale, and the medics wasted no time loading him up on a stretcher and carrying him to the med bay. When they tried to insist that Vr'ocria go to a separate room for evaluation, she snarled and snapped her yellow scales until they backed off.
She wasn't leaving Aldrick's side for a minute.
By the next morning, the med team had worked their magic and Aldrick was sleeping peacefully. He was curled on his side like he usually did, his face free of lines, lips parted, softly sighing with each breath. Stupid human and his stupid cute sleeping.
She brushed his hair from his face, gently trailing her fingers across his cheek. Human skin was much softer compared to her scales, and warmer too. Aldrick had once explained that humans are "mammals," creatures that were "warm blooded." Her people were "cold blooded." Maybe that explained why she always wanted to touch him, hold him, feel his warmth…
Aldrick shifted and sighed, and her breath caught as he leaned into her hand. His eyes cracked open and he gazed blearily up at her. "Hi," he croaked.
She smiled. "Hi."
"You're still pink," he observed. "Are you okay? Did you get checked out?" Blast all the planets.
"I'm okay," she assured him. "My people turn pink when…when, um…I-I'll tell you another time," she stuttered. Galek was going to kill her.
Aldrick reached up to take her hand from where it still rested on his cheek. "Thank you for taking care of me."
She squeezed his hand. "Anytime." This got so much longer than I thought it would 😂 How do we feel about one more part where these two idiots finally admit their feelings for one another?
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2023.05.29 23:52 painful_diarrhea How much is sand?
Need to get sand to level area for an above ground pool, does anyone know where to get cheap sand for this? Preferably around St. Peter’s area but anywhere around stl would be fine
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to StLouis [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 23:49 anclough62 Taking the family to the zoo this summer. Looking for recommendations for hotels with the best pools.
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2023.05.29 23:46 earthandwildflowers What was the general opinion amongst your family + friends + community about going to swimming pools?
Hey everyone. I am just trying to understand what it was like for you growing up, especially if you were a girl. Did your family take you swimming in the summer, or go to the beach? Were you allowed to wear whatever bathing suit you wanted, or did your parents try to make you cover up at an early age, even to swim? I grew up with swimming and great memories, and I can't imagine not teaching my child to swim or forcing her to wear long sleeves to swim. I have seen some Muslims at my local swimming pool in the past, but the women either wear a really tacky and ugly Burkini, or they do not go in the water at all. Last summer I saw one woman wearing pants and a hoodie, standing outside of the pool as her son and daughter swam. They wore normal bathing suits. I know some moms from the masjid have pool passes and take their kids, but I feel like summer fun activities are something Muslim moms generally try to avoid. If you are in the west, what was/is your experience like?
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2023.05.29 23:38 Bookieslove23 Thoughts on summer
I forgot how depressing summer really is. To go on socials and seeing everyone living it up. Half the people I’m friends with are on a cruise, at the beach, by the pool, and all of them are hanging out with friends. Meanwhile I’m alone AF with nothing to do and I just feel my life crumbling around me. I’m just having the hardest month ever. I feel so isolated, I have no social life at all, my financial situation is hit I buy stuff to feel happy but that just makes the situation worse, I have no clue what I’m supposed to do with my life, I’ve received over 20 job rejections saying I don’t qualify when there are no qualifications, and I’m just nearing the end of my rope. I’m just so frustrated and angry. Not to mention I can’t find a therapist around me. So reaching out for help is going swell.
Sorry I had to vent to someone. I’m sure my online friends are sick of their depressing AF friend. Who cries out for help without flat out asking, because she doesn’t want to be an inconvenience.
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to depression [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 23:37 CatsInTrenchcoats Peacekeeping Pt.2
An additional thanks to u/An_Insufferable_NEWT
for letting me borrow one of his characters.
...And now for the conclusion.
= = =
Evelra swore. They had come here to uplift humanity from barbarism, not let the powers that be enable humanity’s worst elements while the selfsame Noble cunts indulged in their own pubescent masturbatory power fantasies. Fuck this.
She thought to herself with a growl and flicked her comms channel to all units.
“All forces, this is Captain Evelra. The goddess-damned governess’s private militia have opened fire on the civies. Arrest those brother-fucking [bastards]
on sight before they can fuck this mess up any further!” She barked over the comms, a bit of local English slipping into her words. She couldn’t call them stiffs; the latter had more class than this.
“Capt, we’ve got three APCs in militia markings barreling down the road in front of the Governess’s mansion from the west. ETA 30 seconds. This is about to get messy.” Prex’s voice cut in with a false calm lent by years of experience.
Evelra could feel the material of her suit creak as her hands briefly tightened into hardened fists. “All west side Pods converge on Pod 7, support Lieutenant Eleynor. Eastern Pods, evac the civies. And Prex? Keep the late arrivals occupied. Don’t let these fuckers get another shot off.” She growled, her Second giving a brief click of acknowledgement over the comms before switching channels to give orders of her own.
Turning back to face Isaiah, Evelra reached a hand down to grab the elder by his medical exoskeleton and hoisted him to his feet. “Looks like the Governess ran out of patience. Get your people out of here, we’ll deal with this.” She explained brusquely, jabbing one finger towards the eastern side of the boulevard. She could apologize for womanhandling him later, right now every second counted.
The moment she was sure he had his feet under him, the marine captain let go and tried to move on Eleynor’s position with all due haste. “Out of the way! MOVE!” Evelra shouted as she strode forward, the sea of humans doing their best to get out of her path. Already, people were starting to scramble as panic spread like wildfire. She could hear the cries of terror and confusion all around her; shouted orders from the protest organizers and her own marines were almost inaudible against the din as they tried to control the chaos.
As she neared pod 7’s position, a horrifying scene unfolded before her. In the shadow of the buildings, at least a dozen of the protesters were currently on fire. Harsh yellow and orange flames rose from the flailing figures to form hazy gray clouds of smoke that hung heavy in the air. Even more humans were covered in burn marks and charred clothes. One woman just sat there, trembling and numb from shock as she stared her bloody arm; the melted remains of her synthetic shirt peeling away with boiled skin. Amidst the chaos, the other protesters were doing everything from trying to help the wounded and burning to running in panic and terror; the latter creating a solid wave of bodies in front of Evelra as they stumbled over one another to flee the danger.
From out of sight, she saw one of the Governess’ militia-kitted thugs go flying; only to watch them get back up and charge in to fight whom Evelra assumed to be Pod 7. Shil’vati might be stronger, but when equally equipped, outnumbered and against human reflexes she knew that fight wasn’t going to end well for her girls if the rest of the western Pods didn’t reach them soon. Then, one of the militiamen stepped forward towards the crowd.
As he strode boldly through the mayhem, Evelra could only watch while one of the protesters tried to confront him; the tide of humans preventing the marine captain from intervening. Inaudible words were exchanged, the protester shouting something as they gesticulated wildly. The Governess’ thug merely responded with two swift strikes of his rifle butt, first to the gut, then to the back of the head, the other man dropping like an anchor. In the distance, out of the corner of her eye, she numbly noted that the rest of the governess’ thugs had arrived and were using their APCs as cover between them and the Pods under Prexith’s command.
Evelra felt her gut sink as the militiamen shouldered his rifle once more, stepping out of the building’s shadow to take aim at the crowd. “EVERYBODY DOWN!” The marine captain roared as she planted her feet and pulled her sidearm in one smooth, practiced motion. Drawing a bead on the Governess’ thug, the panicked crowd tried to clear out of her way; but there were just too many people. She wasn’t going to make it in time. No, no more. Not-
The militiaman’s head disappeared.
A split second later, the now infamously familiar thunderous crack and echoing roar of a large bore human chemical ballistic rifle rolled over them as the corpse spasmed on its feet; a shockwave visibly rippling through the suit it was wearing. “SNIPER!”
Somebody bellowed. It might have been her, but in that moment she honestly couldn’t tell. As the headless body crumpled to the ground in a fountain of red, the same gun roared out again… and again. In the distance she could see two sudden sprays of red splatter up the sides of the Militia APCs, one right after the other.
The echoes of gunfire galvanized the crowd into a further panic, a stampede of human protesters slamming into Evelra in their attempt to get away from the violence. For a moment, the marine captain thought she was going to get dragged under by the wave, but then they rolled past her, leaving her staggering into the clear. With the screaming of the crowd now behind her and her ears still ringing from gunshots it was oddly quiet once more, save for the groans of the wounded.
Not letting herself fall into the lull, Evelra kept moving forward only to nearly gag at the smell as she approached the corner of the building. Like a Blue Grail left in the summer sun for a week, the air was heavy with a putrid smoke, reminiscent of the scent of death itself. Quickly sealing her helmet, she took a shuddering breath of fresh air before looking up just in time to see a pair of the Governess’s thugs get bodily tackled into the pavement by Eleynor. The rest of treasonous Militia were either surrendering or trying to run like the Deep-Minder itself was behind them as more Marine Pods came charging around nearby street corners.
Watching the last treasonous bastards eat pavement, the marine captain strode up to the Militaman’s corpse and picked up his blood-stained rifle. Quickly turning the weapon over in her hands, Evelra took one look at its settings and nearly threw the gun away in disgust. Medium power, maximum dispersal. Against even the most basic of modern armor, such settings would be practically useless; but would make for a decent, if imprecise, fire starter. Which is exactly what they’d done. Of course, leave it to the humans to figure out how to turn the most basic of weapons into a tool of terror.
She thought bitterly, adjusting the beam spread back to something more logical before strapping it’s sling to her harness.
Now properly armed for anything else the Deep-Minder might decide to throw at her, Evelra flicked open her wrist-mounted omnipad, the integrated AR display in her helmet seamlessly linking to it. A couple quick taps later and the captain had an outgoing call. As the phone line rang in her ear, she tried not to tap her foot, every second feeling like ten.
“911, what’s your emer-”
Before the woman on the other end could even finish her sentence, Evelra interrupted her. “This is Captain Evelra of the Imperial Marines, 4032nd company. We have at least a dozen, I repeat, at least
a dozen critically injured burn victims at the corner of 3rd and Main. I need emergency Medivac for the critically wounded.” She barked into the mic.
There was a momentary pause on the other end accompanied by the sounds of a physical keyboard before shortly being followed by a muffled “Fuck.”
Evelra shifted impatiently as one second dragged into the next. “Is something the matter?” The marine growled.
“Ahh… No ma’am.” The other woman’s voice was uncertain for a moment before steadying back out. “Just bypassing some red tape. Consider it done. ETA, ten minutes.” She said with a thermocast firmness. Evelra briefly considered hounding the woman for what exactly she meant by ‘red tape’ but decided against it. She sounded confident in her statement and ultimately there was nothing else Evelra could do about it at the moment.
“I’m going to hold you to that.” The marine captain growled before hanging up. One down.
Looking up, she glanced over the growing crowd of Marines. Already, some of her girls were pulling out medkits and burn patches as they moved to help injured protesters; her AR display highlighting their ranks and names.
“Sergeant Quixana!” Evelra barked over the din.
“Ma’am!” The medic shouted back over one shoulder, barely looking up from the burn victim she was currently treating.
“We have civilian medivac for the burn victims inbound, ETA ten minutes. You have command over Triage. Anyone in critical condition they can’t airlift out is your responsibility. Clear?” She commanded, watching the Governess’s thugs like a shark as her girls disarmed and secured them. At this point, Evelra honestly didn’t expect them to try anything else; but as always with humans, one never quite
knew what they’d do.
“Affirmative!” Quixana replied. Taking a moment to ensure the woman she was treating wasn’t in immediate danger, the medic ushered another marine over to help and began shouting orders of her own. Two down.
Satisfied that the situation was under control, Evelra keyed into her comms again.
A couple moments later, the other woman’s voice came to life in her earpiece. “After the gunshots went off, the little fuckers started stumbling over each other to try and surrender. What in the Deep just happened?” Despite the horror around her, Evelra gave a short, mirthless chuckle. “Seems a certain… somebody
decided to more than just ‘play’ at being security. And seeing as I still have my head, they’re not a complete bloodthirsty idiot.”
“You certain it’s… them?”
Prex asked, a hint of dubiousness in her voice.
“Given that there’s one of the Governess’s thugs sans their head while I still have mine? Yeah. About as certain as I can be. Fits what little we know about their M.O.” Evelra shot back.
There were several long moments of silence before her subordinate let out a low whistle. “Make that three. I’ve got two more over here. Definitely explains why the little Turoxes were so fucking panicky. What now Cap?”
“How many of your Pods do you need to secure your prisoners?” Evelra asked.
“Less than half. They’re more terrified of stepping back into the sights of that sniper than anything else, I think.” Prexith snorted, a dry hint of amusement in her voice.
“Take as many as you think you can spare from guard duty and go arrest the Governess. Alive. Though preventing her from causing any more damage takes priority. Clear?” Evelra’s voice was firm, the unspoken message clear. Try not to kill the bitch if at all possible, but ice her tits if she’s going to make this a problem.
“As a laser lens. Prex out.”
When the line clicked dead, the marine captain took a deep breath and tried to center herself. Now came the hard part.
= = =
Evelra stopped outside the governess’ office and took a deep breath to steady herself. Within two hours of getting the fiasco under control, one Agent Lohun had arrived… along with three Pods of Death’s Head Commandos. Upon giving him her report, the petite male had thanked her and politely requested that she remain in her quarters until further notice. The marine captain had known better than to try and test those
particular boundaries. It was only now, three days later, that she’d been summoned once more.
In spite of the not quite lockdown state that was currently in effect, word still traveled. Her orders to arrest the governess had been upheld and the bitch had been transferred out to some Interior facility goddess knows where. A minimal local press release had happened; condemning the governess’ actions and requesting cooperation with the authorities as they investigated the incident. Things were still tense, but the daily gathering of thousands of protesters had dwindled to a hundred or so of the most stubborn.
With a little shake to clear her head, Evelra opened the office door and stepped through. Behind the governess’ massive polished wooden desk sat Lohun. The petite male was almost comically out of place; his simple take on the Interior uniform clashing with the room’s ostentatious opulence. Rumor had it that since he was investigating the room’s previous owner, he’d simply co-opted the office rather than bother to set up another workspace elsewhere. Looking up from his omnipad and what she assumed was a proverbial mountain of reports, the Agent gave her a tired nod of acknowledgement.
“Good. You’re here. Please, take a seat Captain D’saari.” He said, gesturing to a much simpler chair in front of the desk. Wincing internally at his usage of her long-abandoned family name, Evelra complied and settled into the offered seat in silence as she tried not to look at the silent woman in the corner with the three-eyed skull mask. Lohun gave his omnipad one last glance before setting it down and letting his carefully focused gaze settle onto her.
“Six deaths.” He stated simply, letting the fact hang there in the air for a moment. “Only half of which were not the aggressors in this situation. That could have gone much, much
worse. A job well done Captain.”
Evelra gave an awkward shrug. “Without the… unsolicited fire support it would have been. My girls just did the mop up.”
Lohun hummed, double-checking something on his omni-pad. “About that. The audio logs between you and your second indicated a certain familiarity with this assumed insurgent sniper, yet I can’t find any combat reports that you two share featuring any opposition with this kind of firepower. Care to explain what I’m missing here?” He asked calmly, a polite smile on his face; the Commando in the corner shifting her weight slightly.
A bundle of nerves did somersaults in her gut as she felt her throat go dry. “Ah, yeah. About… one local year ago we had a human male turn up dead. Clear signs of abuse. Autopsy report indicated he had both Nightfel and Viagra in him at the time of death. I had my suspicions, but the ensuing investigation never turned up any evidence.” The marine captain grimaced, scratching at one tusk with her thumbnail. “A few months later, A pod on a routine patrol got ambushed. All three of their heads were blown clean off. Big gun. I think you can guess what we found when we cleared out their belongings.”
“Nightfel and Viagra.” Lohun said cooly, his face grim.
Evelra nodded. “Yeah. The Governess covered the whole thing up in the name of keeping the peace. Released a statement that the young man’s murderers had been found and executed while redacting my report.”
Briefly adding a few notes on his omnipad, the Interior agent gave her a careful look. “Why didn’t you report this breach of protocol to the Interior?”
“Because it worked.” Evelra sighed. “Approval ratings ticked up, minor incidents went down. Didn’t hurt that I also publicly doubled down on mandatory etiquette training for my girls. I’ve seen enough of the Empire’s bureaucracy over the years to know better than to stir up the seabed over something like this. Justice was served, even if it was in a less than ideal manner.”
“And what about the young man’s family?” Lohun pressed, his gaze tightening.
Coughing slightly to clear her throat, Evelra looked away as she felt her cheeks heat up. “Officially, they were given the same story as everyone else. However, I… I may have taken one Shel to visit their home and correct that mistake. They deserved to know.” She finished quietly, leaning forward in her chair to look down at the ground. Anywhere but at the male in front of her.
After several agonizingly long moments of silence, the marine captain glanced up to catch sight of Lohun slowly starting to nod. “Good. That’s good. We can work with that.”
At his words, Evelra let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. In response, a ghost of a smile pulled at the edges of Lohun’s face. “Yes, you can relax now. You’re here to help me fix this mess, not to have your tits burned off.”
Evelra bobbed her head, eager for the change of topic. “Gladly. What can I do?”
The ghost of a smile on Lohun’s face broadened slightly, hovering on the edge of a smirk. “Simple. You will be taking over as the Local Governess.” The marine captain felt her jaw go slack as the Interior Agent calmly continued along as if he was discussing something as simple as dinner reservations.
“Of course, there’s a plethora of steps to take along the way. In recognition of your service to the citizens of the empire, you will be promoted two ranks to Lieutenant Colonel and discharged with full honors. We’ll then need somebody to fill your current position. One Sergeant… Prexith Van’sar, your current second, should do nicely. With her service record she's certainly earned herself a commission, I think.” He scoffed in amusement, shaking his head at some distant thought. “Deep, her accolades are almost as impressive as her penchant for avoiding promotions. It’s my hope though that continuing to work with you should be enough to dissuade her of that particular tendency.”
Lohun finally took a proper pause, as if he was only now taking in her shock. “Is something the matter Captain D’saari?”
As Evelra heard him refer to her by her family name again something inside her broke. The sheer absurdity of it all was just too much, and a noise of amusement escaped her mouth. It started as a snort, before growing into a full-on barks of laughter as Evelra shook her head in disbelief. “I- I’m sorry, but you want me
, the legally disowned, stiff-sprung cunt to be a local governess?
Goddess, you all must be getting desperate if you’re willing to dredge up the cast-off chaff of the noble houses.”
Lohun merely quirked an eyebrow at her before briefly consulting his omnipad again. “So that explains the three separate attempts to change your last name… aannd
probably why all three of them never went anywhere.” He let out a small humph as a flicker of distaste crossed his face. “An easy enough fix.”
“Goddess. You’re serious.” Evelra muttered as she slumped back in her chair, trying to process the implications. “Ok. Why me?” She asked, throwing a hand wide.
The Interior agent’s gaze focused in on her as he leaned forward onto the table, steepling his fingers. “Because Captain, over the past three days I have spent an exhaustive amount of time interviewing and interrogating people to get a better handle on what happened and why.
Your name came up just as, if not, more frequently than the governess’s; and rarely in a negative light. From both Shil’vati and
humans. Deep, even some of the ones that looked like they wanted to spit in my face refused to speak ill of you. Do you understand how goddess-damned rare that is?” Lohun finished, his voice raised and projected, not quite reaching an actual shout.
Evelra was sorely tempted to argue. She’d spent most of her adult life trying to get as far away from the nobility and politics as she could, as nothing good in her life had ever come from them. Then her conversation with Isaiah flashed through her mind. Fuck.
The marine captain let out a disgusted groan of frustration as she rubbed her face with one hand. “Alright… but how?” She asked, her brain fervently grasping at straws. “I mean no offense, but… isn’t that a little outside your authority as an Interior Agent?..”
Once more, a slight grin pulled at the agent’s face. “Ah yes. Perhaps some reintroductions are in order. Independent Investigator Lohun Vey’elquiese of the Empress’s own and an Agent of her Interior. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lady Evelra?..” He said smoothly, letting the end of his sentence hang as he leaned across the massive table to offer a petite fist.
For one long moment, Evelra’s brain short-circuited. The petite little male sitting across from her answered to only perhaps a dozen people in the entire Empire, and had the authority to make individuals such as system governesses simply disappear. Of course, abuse of said power carried the death penalty, not that one of the Empress’s own handpicked agents were likely to make that kind of mistake. Suddenly, the three pods of Death’s Head Commandos accompanying him made much, much
After a couple seconds of slight panic, her brain caught back up and she processed the question he’d carefully interwoven into his reintroduction. Taking a moment to think, she settled on her answer. With a slight smile of her own, she reached out her hand to tap her knuckles to his.
“Van’sar. Evelra Van’sar. And the pleasure is all mine Investigator.”
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2023.05.29 23:31 _shadowjumper Missing Neutral
[USA for reference] Previous home owner ran 220V to a pool pump using the black/white conductors of 12/2 Romex for L1 and L2, no neutral. I discovered this when trying to upgrade to a smart timer that needs 110V to run the device itself. The wall has 110V nearby. Do you think it would be OK to use Neutral from there to run the 110V computer timer or would that cause the other (non pool pump) circuit to become imbalanced?
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2023.05.29 23:28 ralo_ramone An Otherworldly Scholar [LitRPG, Isekai] - Chapter 7
As the pack of Black Wolves swarmed the Wendigo, Elincia and I crawled behind the ferns trying to get away from the fight. Part of me knew I was being a burden to Elincia. With her night vision and elvish agility, she could probably break through the circle of Black Wolves.
The fight intensified, the chaotic barking of the wolves was deafening and the screeching cries of the Wendigo filled the valley as it clawed and crushed the lesser monsters in its wake.
Suddenly, a Black Wolf landed in front of us. Elincia's eyes were wide open and her face blanched, devoid of the little color it naturally had. The Black Wolf was wounded, its hind legs broken and its ribs exposed like white knives protruding through its skin. Elincia nocked an arrow but she wasn’t fast enough. The wolf let out a long howl before the arrow landed between its eyes.
Elincia’s eyes reflected pure and distilled terror as the Wendigo leaned over the ferns, just by our side, with its eyes fixed on the corpse of the Black Wolf. For a brief moment, the moon lit up the body of the monster. It was a tall bipedal creature with leathery slate-black skin. Its limbs were long and gnarled, and ended in long brackish claws. Its face was covered by an ivory deer-like skull. The slits in the skull revealed two bloodshot eyes that surveyed the surroundings with ill intent.
The System description said that the Wendigo was once a powerful shaman who got turned into a monster by corrupted mana. A shiver ran down my spine as I wondered what kind of unholy metamorphosis had created such a creature.
The Wendigo waded the fern bed, just above our hideout. I could hear the Wendigo’s heavy breathing above my head. The smell of rot was almost unbearable. Elincia covered her mouth with both hands as the creature’s arm touched the ground a few centimeters from my leg. I changed the weight of my body and tried to fold my leg. A twig broke under my hand. [Awareness]: You have been spotted.
The Wendigo’s eyes snapped directly to Elincia and before I realized what I was doing, I pulled the trigger, shooting point blank directly into the creature’s head. The muzzle flash lit the forest for an instant and my ears rang. The Wendigo stumbled back, burying its claws on a tree to not fall. The creature clung there as the blood poured from its shattered skull.
“Gottem!” I yelled, thinking the Wendigo was as good as dead.
Elincia grabbed the neck of my jacket and pulled me back through the ferns just as the Wendigo raked its claws in a deadly arc just a few centimeters from my face. The creature screeched in anger.
“How in the flying spaghetti monster is that fucker’s alive?!” I said as Elincia pushed me behind a boulder, out of the Wendigo’s reach.
“I don’t know what spell you just used, but stay put.” The woman yelled but her voice came muffled under the insistent ringing in my ears. Luckily, [Awareness] helped piece together what she had said.
Without waiting for any confirmation she turned around and ran through the forest, putting some distance between herself and the Wendigo. Elincia’s bright emerald eyes shone behind the bushes as she nocked an arrow and pointed at the creature. I noted a surge of mana emerging from the woman's body and the arrow head shone with a silvery gleam. She let go and the arrow whistled with an unnaturally high pitch, burying deep into the wendigo's calf. Piercing Arrow. [Identify] Basic archery skill that improves the projectile’s piercing capacity.
The Wendigo’s screech rocked my spine and I knew I needed to put an end to the fight quickly. If the creature had enough defense to withstand a point blank shot, it should also have similar offensive capabilities.
Ignoring Elincia’s commands, I peeked over the boulder. The forest was pitch-black and the skeletal figure of the Wendigo blended with the trees.
“Come on, Robert, use your head.”
I hoped Elincia’s night vision didn’t make her eyes too sensitive to bright lights.
Pushing the mana out of my body I conjured a cold blue flame in the palm of my hand that illuminated the forest around me. Shredded corpses of a dozen Black Wolves covered the landscape.
The Wendigo stopped in its tracks and turned its head towards the flame of mana in my hand.
Without hesitation, I raised the muzzle of my shotgun and fired. The spray of metal shredded through the Wendigo’s spidery arm, leaving it hanging from a single tendon. The wound was gruesome but it wasn’t enough to stop it. The Wendigo glared at me and crossed the distance between us in a heartbeat.
With no time to reload, I dropped the shotgun and reached for my knife.
My hand closed around the handle of my knife and set my mana free. A swirl of shining blue particles surrounded me and turned the small knife into a blazing shortsword that lit the forest around me.
[Swordsmanship] injected information directly into my brain. Distance, speed, trajectory. The Wendigo tried to tear me apart but I sidestepped to the right just in time to dodge, then, I hacked diagonally but the mana sword bounced off the Wendigo's healthy arm, leaving only a small scratch.
It was harder than the Elder Black Wolf.
My mana sword was enough to cut the skin of the creature, I only needed more power. I poured even more mana into my knife turning it into a blue beacon in the dark casting the shadows of the forest away. The mana blade grew until it was the length of a two handed sword.
Blood stained the Wendigo’s cracked skull and its wounded arm flailed around lifelessly. It might not be weak to buckshot but it was weak to magic. And I had a lot of magic. The Wendigo followed me with its gleaming red eyes. Its movements were cautious but I didn’t let my guard down. I had to fight defensively. If the monster reached me once, it was over.
Suddenly, an arrow bounced off the Wendigo’s skin. The creature seemed to forget about me because it turned around and bolted towards Elincia. Just as the Black Wolf had attacked me back in the ravine, the Wendigo seemed to prioritize the weaker combatant.
“Run, now!” Elincia yelled at me. She stood her ground, nocking a second arrow and aiming at the three meter tall creature running her way.
“You run!” I replied as I ran behind the Wendigo while [Awareness] fed a stream of information directly into my brain. I couldn’t let it reach Elincia.
There was no time to retrieve and reload my shotgun and no time to experiment with [Mana Manipulation]. I remembered my new skill. [Stun Gaze].
Without even reading the skill’s description, I looked at the Wendigo and activated [Stun Gaze]. The spell hit the creature and bounced back at me. A stabbing pain shot through my eye, and into my brain. I let out a grunt of pain and pressed my free hand against my face. Skill failed! Wendigo Lv.39 cannot be stunned. [Identify] Your level is too low to perform this action successfully.
[Stun Gaze] seemed to anger the Wendigo because it tried to stop its frantic race towards Elincia, stumbling on its ruined arm and crashing against a tree. I pumped even more mana into my knife and the blade got longer, broader, and heavier. Part of my brain wondered why a mana blade could have weight if the mana itself was weightless, but the wounded screech of the Wendigo silenced my thoughts.
I couldn’t allow fear to paralyze me if I wanted to save Elincia. [Awareness]: Frightened status, resisted.
I let my mana flow free, further increasing its length until it was hard to wield. Suddenly, I felt as if I had been thrown into an ice-cold pool. A shiver ran down my spine and I knew I couldn’t sustain my technique for long. My mana pool was getting dry. You have obtained Mana Depletion (Advanced). Temporary
I ignored the system prompt. The Wendigo towered over me and tried to reach me with its sharp claws. I blocked with my mana sword and with a furious strike, I shredded the Wendigo’s claws. The creature staggered back as I waved the sword around like a giant torch on its face.
Another shiver ran down my spine, threatening to lock my joints in place, and I knew I didn’t have much mana left at all.
I used [Stun Gaze] again and braced for the pain. The spell ricocheted back at me and I felt a stabbing sensation in my eye. This time, the Wendigo froze for a millisecond, just enough for my [Swordsmanship] to find an opening. I slashed downward from left to right, putting all my strength in a single attack.
The blade sliced through the Wendigo’s skin, meeting more resistance as it went deeper into the creature’s body until it lodged deep within its chest. Instinctively, I tried to retrieve the sword but it was stuck. I closed my eyes and waited for the Wendigo’s claws to shred my body. But the blow didn’t arrive.
Dark crimson bloom of blood stained the Wendigo's hide, illuminated by the fading light of the mana blade. The Wendigo produced one last weak screech and fell to the ground just as the light of my blade failed. Level up! Level up! Level up! Level up! Level up! You have obtained Mana Depletion (Critical). Temporary
My vision blurred and my legs faltered, the only thing that kept me on foot was the mana sword stuck in the Wendigo’s spine. When my last speck of mana was burned, the blade disappeared and I fell back but before I could hit the ground, Elincia caught me.
“We fucking did it!” Elincia said with a frenzied smile on her face. Then, she wrapped me in a tight hug that pushed all the air out of my lungs. I couldn’t help but notice how strong her arms were.
If I had to guess, she had leveled up a couple of times.
I didn't want the embrace to end but Elincia pushed me back and helped me sit on the forest bed. The moonlight shone a hole in the canopy, casting silver sparkles on her hair. She smiled enthusiastically and patted my back with a little too much strength.
“I swear I thought we were dead, but then you raised the metal thingy and bam! One arm less! You were pretty cool out there.” Elincia beamed. Her chest went up and down at an alarming rate and she had to take a moment to calm down. “I think I’m still a little deaf.” She added with a smile from ear to ear.
Leveling up was a hell of a drug.
“Praise me more.” I rasped as I let out a weak laugh. Both my body and my mana pool felt like a piñata at a children’s party.
Elincia’s expression suddenly became serious and a shadow of embarrassment flirted with her face. “Thanks for not ditching me back there, and I’m sorry if I was too harsh with you. You are a good man, Robert Clarke.”
I didn't know how to answer. It had been quite a while since I had received a compliment and my brain was too tired after being overfed by [Awareness]. I mumbled something unintelligible. Not even [Master of Languages] could help me to find the right words, however, I didn’t have to search more because a sudden prompt slapped my field of vision. New title acquired! Hot for Teacher. [Identify] Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad, I’m hot for teacher.
“I’m not a pathetic dude who falls for the first girl that talks nice to me…” I stuttered as my consciousness slowly slipped away. The edges of my sight slowly blurred. You have obtained Denial Lv.1. Temporary.
“Oh, fuck off.”
Elincia’s worried face floated in front of me. “Rob? Are you okay? If you talk in your weird language I can’t understand.” She said with a hint of panic in her voice.
It might come off as judgmental and foolish, but I didn’t believe in love at first sight. It seemed too frivolous to me. No matter how cute, funny, and caring Elincia was, there was no way I was falling for her. And there was the fact she had a kid and, probably, a husband. You have obtained Denial Lv.2. Temporary.
I wanted to fight back, fight against the idea I was falling in love, but my mouth couldn’t move anymore. The world around me darkened and my body became too heavy to sit straight. Elincia tried to keep me awake, first softly hitting my cheeks then shaking my shoulders. I tried to growl but no sound came through my lips.
“Rob? Rob? Don’t close your eyes, Rob.” Elincia said.
But I was so tired.
Elincia frantically searched her pouch for a small vial of translucent liquid. She pulled the cork and smelled the contents. Whatever scent she was looking for, it seemed to make the grade. Elincia opened my mouth and poured a drop beneath my tongue. I felt the effects of the potion spreading through my body, filling the hole inside my mana pool if only a little bit.
The last thing I heard before losing consciousness was Elincia’s concerned voice.
* * * * * *
I woke up with the first rays of sunlight next to the remains of a campfire. More specifically, my [Awareness] skill awakened me with a stream of information filling my brain. The sound of the birds, the position of the sun, my bodily condition. I ignored it all. I felt drained. If a creature wanted to eat me I couldn’t do much to defend myself.
No. I had made the decision to stay in this world, now I had to face the consequences of my actions. Begrudgingly I opened my eyes just to find Elincia sitting on the other side of the campfire, by her side there was my shotgun and my knife.
“Morning.” I greeted, stiffly sitting up and taking a long sip from my water bottle.
“Morning, hero.” She greeted me with one of her mischievous smiles. However, this time I noted a hint of mistrust in her voice.
“Something happened?” I cautiously asked. After receiving that silly title from the System I had dropped like a sack of potatoes. I glanced at Elincia, searching for answers, and I couldn’t help but notice both my weapons were on her side of the campfire.
“Look, I’m not accusing you of lying or anything, but you are not a Scholar.” Elincia said with a conflicted tone. “After what you did to the Wendigo last night I know you have a fairly high level. What are you really? A Runeblade? A Spellblade?”
“What do you mean?” I asked cautiously.
Elincia’s bow rested on her lap.
“Killing a Wendigo isn’t a feat a low level Scholar could achieve, I’m not that dumb. So tell me what those skills were.” Elincia replied pointing at my weapons. “Your explosive spell pierced through the Wendigo’s skin but Scholars can’t learn Elemental magic. Much less such powerful spells. Same goes for your [Mana Blade]. That’s a Spellblade skill, not a Scholar skill.”
I stretched my back and drank another sip from my water bottle while [Awareness] filled my brain with information. Elincia’s accusations revealed that she couldn’t peek into my status screen. It was a relief to know the System had some sort of privacy settings in place considering my last title, but privacy also made things more difficult.
“The artifact you have next to you is called a shotgun. It is a non-magical item that shoots high speed metal pellets created by a… Tinkerer.” I explained but Elincias facial gesture still showed doubts. “You probably tried to use it but it doesn’t have ammo in it. You can’t shoot a bow without an arrow nor can you shoot a shotgun without one of these.” I added pulling one of the remaining two shells from my pocket.
“Explain.” She said.
Next, I proceeded to explain how to operate the shotgun. Elincia opened the barrels and I explained how the explosive powder sent the pellets through the barrel at ridiculously high speeds.
“I’m not going to perform a demonstration because I only have two shells left. Without ammo, a shotgun is as good as a club.” I said as Elincia tried the mechanism without a shell inside the chamber. Bow and arrow safety might be similar to trigger discipline because Elincia kept the muzzle away from any of us and only put the finger on the trigger when she was going to shoot.
“What about the [Mana Blade]? There is no way your knife is a magic item, no matter how much mana I poured into it I couldn’t make it work.” Elincia continued with the interrogation.
“What do you mean? That was [Mana Manipulation].” I replied, summoning a small mana knife in the palm of my hand with the leftover magic power I had. Elincia’s mouth gaped.
“You are mana depleted! You are not supposed to be able to do that!” The half-elf woman jumped on her feet. “You can’t materialize a magic blade without the proper skill!”
I shrugged my shoulders and shaped a second mana knife.
I already suspected that my mana pool was something out of the ordinary and now I knew to what degree. The amount of mana I had was probably thanks to the System. The thought of telling her about my world crossed my mind. A world without magic, without classes, and without skills. A world where one had to practice for years and years to become minimally proficient at any task. I wanted to tell Elincia about the marvels of the modern world but I feared she took it as the words of a madman.
People who claimed to have traveled to other dimensions were deemed crazy back on Earth. In these lands it couldn't be much different. For Elincia, a systemless world might sound like a thing from fantasy.
In another situation I would’ve dismissed the allegations calling them baseless, however, deep down I wanted Elincia to believe in me. I scratched my chin, deep in thought. Actually, there was something I could try that might prove that I was a Scholar.
I used [Identify] on her. Name: Elincia Rosebud, Half-Elf (Light-Footed, Night Vision). Class: Alchemist Lv.26 Titles: Governess, Wild Child, Bad Reputation, Loner, Copper Alchemist, Favorite Teacher (5). Passive: Archery Lv.3, Tracking Lv.5, Farsight Lv.1, Foraging Lv.5, Purify Water. Skills: Potion Crafting Lv.3, True Shot Lv.1, Piercing Shot Lv.1.
Elincia’s potion pouch hit my face before I could react, breaking the skill contact and vanishing her character sheet.
“Hey! Are you identifying me?” She said in an unusually high pitch.
The half-elf cheeks were fiery red, contrasting with her usual paleness. While her hand searched for another projectile to throw in my direction, I pondered about my findings. Elincia’s skills and passives were fairly low level compared to her class level. It was possible both numbers were independent from each other. Class level might rise by gaining experience from monsters while passives and skills might grow by mastering said skills.
A twig hit my forehead, crashing my train of thought. At least I had discovered the etiquette regarding identifying other people. Despite the fact I would’ve died of shame if someone saw my titles, I tried to identify Elincia one more time as vengeance for the twig.
“Okay, okay, okay! You are a Scholar, I believe you! I’ll fulfill my part of the bargain. I’ll take you to Farcrest.” Elincia said, trying to regain some composure. She was still red as a beet. “But that doesn’t mean I completely trust you, hero.”
____________ First Prev
____________ Discord Royal Road
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2023.05.29 23:20 DarkLordJurasus USAgent and the USAvengers #18- Passover Special
USAgent and the USAvengers Volume 4: Healing Passover Special
Written by: u/DarkLordJurasus
Edited by: u/PresidentWerewolf
I look out at the highway, the sound of the radio blending into the noise of cars on asphalt. Up ahead is a sign for a rest stop in half a mile. For a moment, I debate not saying anything, merely shifting my aching leg to try letting it straighten and allow the car to continue forward. Walter is stressed enough as is; being trapped in New Jersey traffic will only make it worse.
I grab ahold of the front seat passenger chair, and attempt to shift my body to a more leaning position. I get one leg up before letting out a moan. Pain blossoms through my oblique muscles as I stop.
Hearing me, Walter asks, “Are you okay?”
Shifting back into the sitting position, I wave him off, “Yea, yea. I’m fine. Healing just sucks. Can we possibly stop soon? I need to stand up and walk off my soreness.”
Doug gives a curt nod, quickly putting on his right blinker to change lanes. Walter doesn’t immediately respond. For a moment, he is quiet, and then he says, “Listen, if you aren’t feeling up to the trip, it's okay. There is a Passover Seder hosted by a synagogue near our base, I can go there for the holidays.”
I quickly reply, “No, I’m fine. We calculated the time for a lot of stops and the doctor said as long as I walk around every hour to hour and a half, I should be fine.”
Trying to lighten the mood, Doug added on, “Yea. I was promised a chance to try your mom’s homemade macaroons. You aren’t taking that away from me.”
All Walter replied with was a hesitant, “Okay.”
It’s strange, Walter’s response. Well, his hesitation in general is weird. Is he worried to see his parents again? It would be the first time he saw them since becoming Stingray, but that isn’t it. His hesitation mostly comes around Doug and me coming. It can’t be him trying to keep us away from his Jewish identity. He’s the one who invited us, and he had never been shy about discussing his beliefs before.
I try to brush the thought from my mind. I don’t want to push Walter. If he is feeling so uncomfortable now, any attempt to figure out what he is thinking will only lead to him getting defensive. Instead, I just let it go, pretending I haven’t noticed his weird behavior, and listen to the news. In business news, earlier today Tinkerer Technologies announced their initiative to begin making technology that will help protect private citizens from superhuman threats. This corresponded with a press statement by company founder Phineas Mason. In the statement, Phineas wrote, “Tinkerer Technologies is not trying to disparage the technology being created on behest of the US government in regards to the danger superhumans may pose. It must be remembered that Tinkerer Technologies were the main industry working with the government on the USAvengers project and had a direct hand in both the Detroit Steel armor and the Modern American Initiative. The problem is, Sentinels and the USAvengers can only be part of the solution. A situation with a superhuman can turn volatile in a moment. We’ve seen this with both dangerous, violent criminals and innocents who lost control of their powers. As such, it is imperative that the average citizen has the tools to neutralize deadly situations as they wait for the police, a Sentinel, or the USAvengers to arrive.”
Walter turns off the radio at this, his back straight as a pencil. At the same time, he begins to pull into the parking lot of the rest stop. He parks the car in silence, the fact he turned off the radio not mentioned by anyone in the car. We all know why. The wording was polite, but the message behind Phineas’ words are clear: mutants are dangerous and should be feared.
As the car stops, Doug clears his throat and says, “I’m going inside to the bathroom and to grab an Iced Tea for the road. Anyone want anything?”
Walter responds, “I’m good.”
Doug merely looks at Walter for a moment, I can’t see his eyes, but I can only guess he was looking him over, worried about Walter’s behavior. After a moment, Doug nods and turns back to me, “You want anything?”
“Sure,” I reply, “Grab me a coffee.”
Getting out of the car, Doug double checks, “Two milk, one Splenda?”
I hum in the affirmative. Doug closes the door to the car and begins to walk towards the rest stop.
I move to leave the car myself, my hand unclasping the seatbelt from its holder. Taking a deep breath, Walter says, “Wait…I…we need to talk before you get out.”
I’m silent, unsure what to say or do in this situation. I’m worried, what’s going on? Why is Walter so nervous?
Walter’s hands drift from the steering wheel to his side, limp. “Two days ago my mom called me. Originally we thought my grandpa wasn’t coming to Passover. For as long as I knew him, he always flew to Israel for Passover specifically and celebrated the holiday with his sister’s family. Earlier last week his sister’s daughter called him to cancel. It seems that one of my cousins just had a preemie and Passover took a backseat as they are dealing with the surprise of having the child early.”
“Why is this a bad thing?” I ask.
Walter sighs, “It’s not, I love my grandpa, he’s great, he’s just, well he is so far liberal that we used to joke Bernie Sanders went to him for policy ideas. When I told him I wanted to go to a military college, he spent over a year trying to convince me otherwise. He even offered to pay for all 4 years of my college out of his own pocket just to stop me.”
Understanding sinks in; his grandfather is not going to like me, not in the slightest. The only thing I can say in response is, “Oh.”
Walter looks down, “Yea. He is probably going to challenge you. Mom said he promised to not make a scene, but to him, anything short of not punching you like he is Captain America punching Hitler is not making a scene.”
“Do you not want me to go?” I ask, trying to keep the nervousness out of my voice. I know Walter is still wary of me due to my usage of the M-slur, not that I could blame him. If I was him, I would have dropped me as a friend as soon as I got out of a coma. I don’t want to cause conflict, and I would understand if Walter doesn’t feel comfortable with me there, all things considered, but it would still hurt. I can currently only count three people as my friends, and with how badly I screwed up my friendship with Lemar, I hate the idea that my friendship with Walter is also irreparable.
“No.” Doug says quickly, almost too quickly, “It’s not like that. It’s just, I know you are planning to go to group therapy with Lemar to work out your issues, and I don’t want you to be placed into a situation where a stranger confronts you over your actions before you're ready for it. If you don’t feel up to being interrogated, then I can easily turn this car around and we can claim the flu or some other bullshit.”
I think about what Walter said. He’s not entirely wrong. While I know what I said is wrong, and I know that it was derogatory and discriminatory, I also know that I haven’t done enough to fix the issue. I’ve thought about that day often, my mind replaying the events over and over, but I haven’t verbalized much of it to others. I can play out the words I will say when questioned on it, but that means nothing when emotions run high. Wasn’t it during high emotions that I showed my true colors in the first place?
My hand is shaking, from my emotions or from the lack of movement, I’m not quite sure. I don’t think I can do this, I barely was coherent enough to discuss it with my friends, how can I try speaking about it in front of others? Would I try explaining it after I apologize, to further go into how I am trying to work harder in the future to change, or would that be considered justifying the behavior? For a moment, the thought of turning the car around sounds like the right choice. Walter is right, I’m not ready for a confrontation, I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.
And yet, I also know turning the car around is impossible. Ignoring how selfish it would be to Walter, the fact of the matter is that I can’t keep running from the backlash. I can’t keep pretending that the real world consequences to my actions will avoid me. I have to face the music.
“I want to go.” I manage to gasp out in a whisper. Instantly, I feel better and I feel worse. It feels like a weight has been lifted, like I’m no longer testing fate or Odin or anyone else who might exist, but at the same time, a new tension builds anticipation. This is not going to be fun, but it’s something I need to do.
Two days later, the three of us arrive at Walter’s parents’ house dressed up. Even from the other side of the door, I can easily hear the noises of children yelling and oven alarms going off. On my head is a yarmulke, a small brown cap. Walter did tell Doug and me that it was okay for us not to wear it, but if I’m being invited to celebrate someone’s culture and religion, I want to be as respectful as possible while doing so.
Walter knocks on the door and a young woman comes to the door. She looks younger than Walter, maybe in her mid to late thirties. She wears a dark blue dress with a silver Star of David necklace. Seeing David, she hugs him. “It’s good to see you. Mom was terrified when you disappeared and then showed up as a superhero.”
Blushing a bit, Walter responds, “You know I would have told you guys if I could.”
The girl smiles softly. “I know that, but try telling that to mom.”
Walter stops for a moment, his body freezing. “Fuck,” he says before running inside, calling for his mother.
Seeing Doug’s and my confusion, the girl explains, “There’s no more powerful force than a Jewish mother’s guilt, and for the stunt you guys pulled, well Walter is going to be reminded of that fact.”
Awkwardly I nod, my hands almost trapped at my side. It’s hard enough for me to lie to Lemar about why I disappeared for months on end; I didn’t even think of how hard it was for Walter to lie to his family.
Doug, either recovering from the awkwardness first or not having felt it in the first place, holds out his hand, “Hi, I’m Doug.”
Shaking his hand, the woman replies, “Detroit Steel right?” Not waiting for a response, she continues, “I’m Alli.”
My mind instantly clicks. This is Walter’s younger sister, the one who is a Social Studies teacher in Pennsylvania. Holding out my own hand, I say, “I’m John.”
Alli’s smile gets slightly tighter, her lips paling from tension, “Welcome to our house.” She turns around and quickly gestures for us to get inside. The fact she didn’t shake my hand isn’t lost on me, but if passive-aggressiveness is the worst of my treatment tonight, well, it would be more than I deserve.
Walking inside, we are on a small wooden platform, a single step to the left required to get to the downstairs, a staircase in front of us exiting into the living room. A young kid runs by and runs over my foot. I let out a small gasp as pain reverberates up my leg. I lean harder on my cane.
“Baruch Lavie Melamed! Apologize this instant.”
The young boy stops and stares at me. I feel tears welling in my eyes from the pain, but I try my best to keep my face clean. “Sorry for running over your foot.”
Trying to keep the pain from bleeding into my voice, I respond, “It’s fine.”
My voice must not have been as nonchalant as I hoped as both Alli and Baruch stay still for a moment before Alli nods and says, “Go back to playing.”
The kid's mouth splits in half with a smile and he runs off. Alli turns to me, her expression changed to one much softer, “Are you okay?”
I close my eyes for a minute, my leg pulsating. Opening them again, I wave her off, “Yea, barely even felt it.”
It’s obvious she does not believe me, her eyes frozen on my hunched over form. I mentally hold my breath; I don’t want her to come and help. I don’t need the pity, I can’t handle the pity. I’m goddamn USAgent, if she has to pity someone, I can show her hundreds of people who need it more. I’d rather she treat me with the disdained indifference of before, it's what I deserve after all.
Doug comes to my rescue, grabbing ahold of my elbow and saying, “It’s fine, I’m used to carrying his dead weight.” He says it with a slight chuckle, one that is so forced, it almost sounded like a cough.
Alli nods and begins to walk up the stairs. I go to follow, but Doug doesn’t move. In my ear, he whispers, “Listen, if you can’t handle this, we can go. I’ll drive you back to the hotel and pick up Walter later.”
I whisper back, “I’m good.”
Doug nods and begins to help me up the stairs, “Please don’t push yourself. The last thing we need is for you to backtrack.”
I give my own nod, wondering if Doug meant physically or mentally backtracking.
An hour later, we are all gathered around a large table, prayer books in hand, as Walter and his family chant Hebrew and English. My book is open, and I attempt to make the same sounds coming out of everyone else’s mouths, but my heart isn’t in it. I’m too busy looking at the table through the corner of my eyes.
Once again, I have to wonder: how selfish am I truly? I knew Walter had a big family, unlike Doug and myself, but I never truly thought of how much he had to give up for the USAvengers. Sure, being in the military requires sacrifices, but the USAvengers is more. How many secrets has he had to keep from his loved ones? How does he feel knowing they can be at risk due to his role as government hero?
Glancing around the table, my eyes freeze at an older man. He wears a full black suit with a dark blue yarmulke and a white scarf like object that Alli told me earlier was a tallit. His eyes meet mine, the dark brown pupils dilating, the same glare he has been giving me all night reappearing.
I learned that he is the grandpa, Benjamin Newell, and while silent towards me, his disgust is extremely evident. I don’t fault him though. Walter explained to me last night that his brother and parents died in the Holocaust, and that since then, his grandfather has fought against injustice and bigotry.
I attempt to stare down at the book, but it is too late as Benjamin clears his throat, his eyes never leaving mine.
The prayer, I believe it is called the Four Questions, is stopped as everyone turns to look at him. He closes his book and puts it down, his movement demanding a presence.
“Well,” he says slowly, spit pooling in the corners of the mouth, “I’m done ignoring the elephant in the room.”
Walter’s mom, Leia Newell, is quick to admonish her father, but he cuts her off, “No. If one breaks bread with a Nazi, they are a Nazi. I’m not breaking matzah with a bigot, especially not during a sacred holiday.”
I nod my head, “I understand that.” All the desire I had to explain or justify myself disappears immediately as I realize how wrong it would be to do so here. This isn’t a family dinner, this is a holiday, and I, an outsider, am harming it by making others uncomfortable. There are times and places to make a stand, but today is not one of them.
I turn to Leia and say, “Thank you for inviting me.”
I grab my cane and Doug gets up, supporting me by my elbow. Benjamin scoffs, “Look at him, another bigot who can’t deal with conflict. Go back to hurting the innocent.”
Walter gets up also, his chair scratching against the wooden floor, “I knew this was a bad idea. I knew that you wouldn’t give John a chance to show that he is working to be better. I just thought you would do it before or after we eat, not ruin dinner in the process.”
Benjamin laughs, “I’m sorry Walter, I know he is your friend, and I respect that, but cut the crap about him trying to be better. If he was trying, he would stop sullying the legacy of Captain America and quit. Captain America was a man who had the first segregated battalion. Captain America came and prayed at synagogues all throughout the country in protest when America forced Jewish refugees back to Germany. Your friend runs when someone points out his bigotry.”
I stop walking and turn around, the movement so fast that my cane hits my leg in the process. I’m tired of being compared to Steve fucking Rogers, the man with the goddamn plan. I’m tired of seeing him in my dreams, admonishing me, I’m tired of living in his shadows.
“You’re right.” I say, my eyes meeting his, “I’m not Captain America, there will never be another Captain America. I’m not the perfect representation of the dream of an united America, I’m a flawed human being.”
“So quit.” Benjamin replies.
This time I laugh, a bitter taste on my tongue, “You think that will fix anything? The USAvengers project is too expensive to fail, and I can assure you, the next guy will be much worse to supers than I can ever dream of being. Kelly’s support and power has only grown since the Power Broker appeared, and there is no chance in hell that he won’t be picking the next USAgent. At least I’m trying to get past my biases and prejudices, I can assure you the next guy won’t put in the same effort.”
“If you are trying to be better, why run with your tail behind your legs? Explain that, talk to us, running is for cowards who can’t take living in the real world.”
Looking down, I say, “I was trying to not ruin your dinner.”
Benjamin responds, “Well, according to this one,” he points his finger at Walter, “I already did so, so you might as well explain yourself.”
I nod and say, “I’m scared. Mutants, superhumans, they can do things no one else can, and I wouldn’t be able to stop them. I’d be defenseless, and that terrifies me. I know logically it is unfair, that very few superhumans are powerful enough to kill others with no effort, and out of that small population, even fewer are violent, but the heart often doesn’t listen to the mind. I was at ground zero for Ultron, and I saw the strength and brutality of both superhumans, and the foes they fight, and despite my military training, I was unable to do anything.”
Benjamin opens his mouth to respond, but I continue, “Me saying a slur, it was a long time coming, I just refused to see it. I hid my fear of supers, refusing to talk about the Avengers or vigilantes like Spider-Man before I became USAgent. I told myself this was due to my anger at not being helped during the Ultron Incident, and that was definitely part of it, but that fear was there all along. Then I became USAgent, I thought my fear would disappear, I would be able to defend myself and others, but then the dinosaurs attacked New York. I almost died on three occasions, and yet I saw the supers I fought with kill and slaughter the dinosaurs like they were tissue paper. I was already close to a panic attack upon realizing my friends were probably turned into dinosaurs, but the realization, that despite everything, I’m still too weak to protect myself and those I care about, well it broke me, and a disgusting and dark part of myself, a part of myself I hope I never see again, came out.”
Benjamin eyes me up and down before saying, “Fear does not justify bigotry.”
“I know.” I respond softly.
He continues, “What you did is despicable.”
“I agree.” I say.
He leans forward, “Most people don’t get second chances, and very few deserve a third chance. Do you understand that?”
I shake my head, “I do. I won’t let you, or my friends down.”
Sitting back in his seat, he smiles, “Well then, sit down, the soup is getting cold and I want to eat before midnight.”
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2023.05.29 23:19 Ok_Move3987 Invest In Your People to Prepare for an AI-driven Future
From the industrial to the digital revolution, the introduction of new technology has always changed the way we work and the products and services we need. Artificial intelligence, especially generative AI such as ChatGPT, is the next wave of radical transformation. While AI is certainly a buzzword, we understand that it will have a deep impact on how companies do business. PwC reported that 54 percent of CEOs are already feeling the impact of AI within their organizations, and the White House held a summit in early May to discuss these and other growing concerns about AI with leaders from major tech companies such as Microsoft and Google.
The question for talent and people leaders is not if, but when and how AI will impact their organizations. A key part of the solution is investing in your people through training, upskilling and apprenticeships. Organizations that take a strategic approach to integrating and working with evolving AI technologies now will be well-positioned to make the most of this fast-approaching revolution. The Next Digital Transformation
AI’s impact will be felt across many industries and role types within organizations, including engineering, marketing, finance, legal, human resources and customer service. Similar to how the digital transformation of the past few decades necessitated that all types of businesses become tech-driven, over the next few years, every business is going to have to figure out how AI can integrate into what they do. This will necessitate working with and hiring employees who understand how AI functions and have the skills to help integrate it into a company’s strategy, processes and systems on a technical level. For talent managers, this will also mean reconsideration of your broader talent strategy when it comes to sourcing, hiring and development.
Peter Schwartz, a futurist who also serves as the senior vice president of strategic planning at Salesforce, wrote in 2018 about how AI will create jobs. He compared the AI revolution to the revolution brought on by ATMs in the 1960s, writing, “Of course, a teller of the 1960s couldn’t just step into one of today’s bank jobs—not without a lot of retraining. And that’s the challenge new technology brings. There’s no difficulty in finding an open job, but it’s hard to find people for the jobs that exist.” Finding the Perfect Match Between Human Creativity and Machine Efficiency
While AI won’t necessarily replace jobs, it will provide opportunities for employees to develop and use a different set of skills on the job. Companies need to brainstorm and strategize about how to integrate AI into their work and think about what opportunities it opens up for new products and processes. AI is not just a computer doing a human's job, but a collaboration between humans and computing power that creates results that drive efficiency, innovation and business growth.
In commentary for McKinsey & Co., Michael Chui, Roger Roberts and Lareina Yee reminded readers that generative AI tools are not meant to work without human intervention, though they may imperceptibly approximate human interaction and labor as they grow more sophisticated. They wrote, “In many cases, [AI tools] are most powerful in combination with humans, augmenting their capabilities and enabling them to get work done faster and better.”
As you work AI into your business, you will also need to define who is responsible for building, implementing, managing and analyzing it. This may necessitate working with and training a group of employees with a very specific set of technical skills.
- Provide Employees with the Next Generation of Skills—Now
As your company adapts to an AI-driven business world, you may find that you are looking for employees, especially entry-level and midlevel engineers, managers, and data analysts, with a highly in-demand skill set that does not yet fully exist. As such, to effectively and flexibly plan for the future, organizations can consider turning to a latent talent pool: Their current employees. Schwartz wrote, “Even as old tasks disappear, new ones will emerge. The jobs of the future will be built around those tasks. Companies will need to help their employees upgrade their proficiency and gain the necessary new skills.”
Your current employees already understand your products, company culture and processes. Adding on-the-job training, such as through an apprenticeship program, is an additive, cost-effective way to supercharge your talent pipeline and ensure your employees have the skills your organization needs to succeed in the future.
In this nascent moment, as use of AI becomes more widespread, organizations need to take a creative and strategic approach toward how to use it. Just as companies must be curious and adaptable in a new AI-driven landscape, so must employees. Organizations that invest in and engage employee curiosity and ambition will be well-equipped to succeed in the future. View Poll
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2023.05.29 23:07 TheExDreamGrill [25/f] Looking for friends
Hello, Names Emily, just looking for some friends and more chat buddies on here to entertain me through this week. DMs open :)
I enjoy gaming a bit, and I love camping and plan to camp more this summer. I also enjoy spending my days by my pool or hanging out with my husband and his friends.
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2023.05.29 23:06 ahawk_one Long Time Solo/Flawless Dungeon Runner's Thoughts on the new Dungeon, and Dungeon Difficulty in General (TLDR at the bottom)
Preamble I primarily play Hunter, so this is from my perspective as a Hunter player. Dungeons are probably close to my favorite thing in this game. They're topped only by new raids and secret missions. Although generally I like the secret missions a little less than the dungeons (with the exception of Presage which was one of my favorite activities in the game when it was in the game). I'm not the best player in the game, and I experience good days and bad days. So usually my solo/flawlesses take about a week from the point where I start my attempts to getting the completion. The only exception to this was Spire of the Watcher for reasons I'll discuss later. The important point for the preamble is that I didn't complete Spire until last season, even though I made more than a few solid attempts during the week it launched and the weeks after. I just couldn't figure out a strat I was comfortable with for Persys.
There has been a lot of chat on this sub and others (and in my group lobbies) about this most recent dungeon's difficulty and it's boss HP scaling. Players like Gladd have made rant videos about the HP bars of the bosses (which is notable only because he usually opts to talk shit on people for things being too easy rather than too difficult). I myself spent the first two days of the dungeon's launch in three different 3-5 hour clears because I was helping out friends and figuring out the dungeon and DPS options. And then, I started my solo attempts. And while I haven't yet quite gotten my rhythm down for the final boss, I can reliably get to her solo now in less time than the first successful clear of the first boss took with a group. I also find that even though I haven't figure out how to consistently stay alive in her room yet, her shields are not all they're cracked up to be. I'm not even using Arbalest and they seem to go down quicker than some Barrier Champs... And this is what prompted me to write this post. Because I think people see things like final damage values in a certain light, and then they correllate that to their experience of fighting for hours without stopping to think about alternative explanations for what they're seeing and experiencing.
And don't get me wrong. It's brutal the first time. The second time. And the third time. Ghosts of the Deep (GotD) has the largest quantity of endlessly intense add phases I've seen since Prophecy. Not even Duality can hold a candle to the sheer volume of enemies you'll defeat by the end of a normal run of GotD. So I'm going to discuss add pressure, discuss boss HP values, number of phases to get the kill, mechanics with a kill timer vs. mechanics without one, and "artificial difficulty" (and probably some other things). So buckle up, because we're gonna be here for a while.
Difficulty of Dungeons in General
First, lets just talk about difficulty in general in a pre-GotD world. And to do that, I think a bit of a history lesson is in order.
A thing that everyone should keep in mind when evaluating dungeons is that Shattered Throne (ST) as the first came about in an era before we could customize mods in our armor, and long before 3.0 anything was even dreamed of as a possibility. ST came about when the most "efficient" solo strat for killing the final boss was to sit on a pillar and plunk away at her with an infinite ammo Whisper of the Worm. And back then, this dungeon was a slog. Getting to the first boss (The Ogre) was tedious, even though it wasn't too hard. The Ogre itself though would wipe groups because they didn't understand how to pick up the buffs or how to stay alive in a room with little to no cover and a boss that would pin you to the wall with it's eyebeam if it got line of sight on you. Even now, this boss room can still fuck you up if you aren't paying attention and don't treat the Ogre with respect. Back then, this was a 3-4 phase kill IF you had 21% Delirium (which didn't even come out until two seasons after ST launched).
Once you got to the final boss, Dul Incaru's room is still one of the most bullshit boss arenas I've ever fought in. It's small, you've got three fucking huge HP sink knights, a million Psions and a Hive Witch that deletes you if she can see you for more than a second or two. I don't know how people did this fight without Anarchy to chain down the knights, but man was this fight hard to just stay alive in. But if you could, then you were rewarded with a fairly easy 1-2 phase boss (depending on which meta you were playing in) because the damage buff from the Knights buffed your damage significantly. But it also had a timer that would just kill you if you didn't cleanse yourself or kill the boss. Oh and cleansing required you to jump on an exposed plate in the middle and then shoot a crystal with the HP of a yellow bar enemy before you died.
If this all sounds reasonable by comparison, remember that you could only do Shattered Throne one week out of the month (once every three weeks). So yea, it was easier by comparison because you couldn't just run it any time you pleased so it HAD to be easier so that people could actually complete it in a given Strong Curse Week.
Pit of Heresy
IDK what to say about Pit other than that it was my favorite for a long time because I liked how it used verticality to make things feel immense. This dungeon suffered from (and still suffers from) bugs and inconsistent enemy behaviors in the first encounter and the totem encounter. This was also my first solo flawless (I had gotten ST solo, but not flawless). Pit was very approachable as a solo flawless, and I would still recommend it to most people looking to try one out for the first time, because it only has one actual boss encounter. The opening encounter is about as easy as ST's was, but a lot more fun because you could sword fly around.
The maze with the Ogres is the first time I heard people say that dungeons were using "artificial difficulty" (there's that term...). But this encounter is not even a little bit hard IF you take the time to learn a route to go. If you didn't do that and just floundered around complaining about the ogres being too strong and doing too much damage, then this encounter was the bane of your existance. And to this day, if I join Pit groups most of the time at least one if not both of the other people have no clue how to navigate this area. But once you have your route mapped and know that you can punch jump to move quicker with a ball, this mini encounter becomes a breeze as you just run from one to the next in the space of a couple minutes. But you can't do that unless you come in and actually practice and learn the route, learn how to kill the Hive in the caves, and learn how to get past Ogres that are in front of you. And this takes believing that it was possible to do.
The Totems is the true test. So many people would refuse to do this encounter without the ball dupe cheese and would swear it's impossible. For my part, on my clear I would kill two knights and bring two balls back and dunk both to get only one add wave. Which is still somewhat of a cheese, but it doesn't just skip the encounter. This encounter was the second place I heard people say the dungeon was just too hard for no reason. And sure, at first this encounter was extremely hard. It is probably still one of the harder plate defense encounters in the game (if you play it correctly) simply because of how many things you have to juggle to get through it. We're talking a stacking debuff that kills you if it gets too high, a totem that kills you if you don't touch it every few seconds, boomer knights raining death from above, endless waves of acolytes throwing thousands of solar grenades at you while thrall and exploding thrall rushed to push you off the plate. Oh and you had to kill mini-boss knights to get the ball to dunk. And yea, everyone would just cheese this encounter because back then it was the latest version of the "this is too hard and unfair" encounter.
The maze that came next also still throws people for a loop, and again required you to practice your route so you could navigate it safely. If you don't know your way around, then this part could take a long time and you might die many times trying to find your way. But again, just like the Ogres, once you know the way through, it's a piece of cake assuming you can platform past swinging pendulums.
And after all that, the final boss was not too bad. The adds were nowhere near as oppressive as they were at the totem, and the mini-bosses were all close by and in set spawn locations so you didn't have to run all over the place like in the opening encounter. The only part of this that was somewhat difficult was the actual dps phase because there was a timer to it, but you didn't get to see the timer. The boss would swing his huge flaming sword and leave piles of fire everywhere and cursed thrall would come in from all sides and you could only damage him while being in the middle.
For this I remember distinctly choosing to just go with Celstial Golden Gun and Anarchy with the plan to just blap him once, stick two Anarchy's to him and then kill Thrall. This took me like 5 phases to do (I think... It's been a while... but it was at least 5, possibly 6), but because it was consistent and I could do the rest of the fight easily with my other weapons, I went with it.
Overall, once I did this dungeon once solo, I immediately jumped back in (as soon as I was done) to do the solo flawless attempt in one go. And it was easy the whole way except for totems.
Prophecy was brutal. Prophecy was the first one to take me a week to do. I lived in that dungeon all week and I swear it was impossible without god roll Falling Guillotine, god roll heavy GL, and Trinity Ghoul with the catalyst and Witherhoard. There is so much RNG in these fights that it's not even funny. And I remember seeing many threads back then complaining that this new dungeon, while cool, used RNG to create "artificial difficulty".
The first boss had RNG affecting which motes you needed to deposit and how the shadows moved when you banked those motes. He had at the time some of the most oppressive add pressure in the game and he'd boop you off if you got careless for even half a second. This fight was SOOO easy to get yourself stuck in a position that you couldn't get out of and die... Oh and about 1/2 way through the damage phase he summoned a couple dozen goblins to make him immune, so you had to save you super for that so that you could kill them quickly without just losing half the phase... Oh and his shield would block your damage and swords. You had to hot swap Witherhoard with a Guilliotine back and forth to get him down in any kind of remotely quick time, and I'm pretty sure this was a 4-5 phase when I was first learning it and I got it down to a 2-3 phase by the time I was done. But the add phases in between those DPS phases took forever because of how the mote spawning worked and just how many fucking psions he threw at you. Sometimes you even had ot purposely kill the mote spawning Knights to spawn the wrong motes just so that you could alleviate some of the pressure. So sure, this fight only took 2-3 phases once you had it down... but it still took for fucking ever because of what happened in-between.
The Desert is boring. idk what else to say about it other than Trinity Ghoul shit on it.
The Cube Room required Trinity Ghoul. If you didn't have it, you weren't clearing the Acolytes and their Eyeblasts in time. We didn't have Jolt, ignite, or easy access to volatile. But the add pressure was such that you'd think we did... Trin Ghoul with Catalyst was the closet thing you could get to that.
This fight has it all. Minimal cover, many holes to fall to your death on accident, endless waves of strong enemies, snipers that spawn above you and when you kill knights, knights on the ground with you when you kill snipers. You had to kill two snipers to spawn two knights to get orbs. But the moment the knights died, the snipers respawned, and the acolytes spawned endlessly with their eyes. So as soon as you picked up all your motes and now had no weapons, there was shit spawning all around and snipers bearing down. Oh and I forgot to mention that Toland spawned randomly and sometimes on the ceiling (which I STILL to this day do not understand how to choose a side when he's on the ceiling). If he was on the ceiling, your 6 room run was now an 8 room run. Oh and the room it drops you into, and the color of motes you'd need are completely random. Some rooms were equal, some rooms favored light motes, some favored dark. So you could get a room that favored light motes, but you needed dark motes and there might be only 1 or 2 places to stand to be able to spawn those motes... So when you finally get to the "boss" it's easy sure... again because everything else was so damn hard that a hard boss at the end would have just been beyond cruel...
Rainbow Road is pretty, but I hate it because it's just long and boring when you're soloing it. Don't sparrow because you might fall.
Final boss was the definition of a nightmare and early on you were LUCKY to get a group that could three phase this thing... Most groups were going to do four, possibly five, maybe even six if things went horribly wrong.
It has everything we had in the last encounters. Random mote colors needed, random rooms being dropped into, and absurd add pressure the likes of which had not been seen in 3 man content to that point. On top of that, there was literally no where to hide because the boss was in all three corners bearing down on you. So you had to start this encounter off knowing where the psions and knights spawn ahead of time, planting witherhoard on them before they spawn and then deleting them to create the correct color within a minute or you would get overwhelmed instantly and have literally nowhere safe to hide. There was not one single part of any of those rooms that you could hide in for more than a couple of seconds until you cleared off one of the bosses AND killed the Ogre that spawned in his place.
Once you finished all three sides, you were off to DPS where we have a boss designed to thwart Well of Radiance by not only teleporting away down a long room full of platforms to jump to and Taken hobgoblin snipers, but also by throwing a teleport wall at you. You had to flawless this room solo if you were going to have a shot at 5 phasing this boss. I remember mastering my jumps and making sure I was getting double Witherhoard stacks on him (tagging him and putting one on the ground) at every platform he teleported to, while juggling the platforming, the snipers and his teleport death wave. And at the end of the run, you got a chance to dump some heavy into him (also briefly at the beginning to, but you needed to leave early to get ahead of the teleports and enemy spawns).
For most solo completions, this was a five phase boss or more. There might have been some streamers out there who could get him to four. I'm sure having mountain top and not killing yourself on accident with it was part of those loadouts (I didn't have it so that wasn't an option).
This dungeon was a nightmare to solo and even now I imagine the final boss is quite challenging to solo flawless, even if you can probably kill it in far fewer phases now due to power creep.
Modern Dungeons This brings us to what I call the Modern Dungeons, which is Grasp of Avarice (GoA), Duality, Spire of the Watcher (SotW), and Ghosts of the Deep. We're going to spend less time here because these ones all have one crucial factor in play that the previous three didn't. They are all tuned with modern abilities and weapons in mind. So their bosses will be tankier than bosses of the previous three which were tuned for different times and different metas.
Grasp of Avarice
Released too early. Everything through the sparrow race is fantastic, but the Servitor and final boss fights drag on needlessly. I firmly believe this dungeon was originally scheduled to release with Season of Plunder, but was bumped up to release early because they wanted to pad out the anniversary pack due to Witch Queen being delayed.
This dungeon is very easy assuming you can do two things: complete the sparrow section and deal with the sniper shank in the final boss room. This shank that respawned every damage phase has as much HP as a Hero Nightfall boss. He's tanky as fuck, hard to hit, no crits, and he hits you for half your HP if you let him see you. So unless you had heavy to burn on him, you were doing what I did which was sticking the Scorch Cannon blast to him and charging it up to detonate. Killing this Shank alone for every boss attempt took more time than it took me to kill the Ogre at the first part of the dungeon. Between this guy and the boss tier vandal that also spawned with him, this boss had easily 5x as much HP as any other boss (if we think of these two guys like the shields on the bosses in GotD).
I hate this dungeon, but I love the theme.
While the final fight was plagued by bugs, this dungeon was awesome. It put pressure on you the whole way but also gave you space to breath where you needed it. All the encounters were about managing add spawns and racing the red world timer. I don't like the Dungeon overall because the teleporting that you do between bosses can leave members of your fireteam behind, and there just isn't much going on in the maps in general. It's very bland looking. But I loved the fights and I love the Calus voicelines.
Spire of the Watcher
I was so excited to get a Vex dungeon and Rasputin themed stuff. But damn was this dungeon a letdown overall. The chasing the node mechanic is a fantastic solo mechanic, but it sucks in group play because you end up with just one person doing it while everyone else just does adds. This is the same problem that RoN had, but that's a different topic. It's just not a good group play mechanic, and so in groups this dungeon just kind of sucks because you're stuck going at the speed of whoever is doing the nodes...
For solo play, this dungeon was mostly fine. The first half of it is a cakewalk once you have the nodes memorized.
The Harpy Boss is where everyone talks about the dungeon becoming a slog... but again this is a slog the player is in control of. The ask is to hit all the nodes to trigger damage, then you break a couple dozen eyes to render the boss vulnerable. The main thing people get stuck on is killing these eyes in a reasonable amount of time, but if you can do it then this boss was 2-3 phasable at launch with artifact mods. Currently it's about 4 phases on my Hunter, 5 if I make mistakes. But chaining the nodes together takes almost no time, so this fight overall has been reduced to a 20min fight at max, even if I do do a short 5th damage phase to chip off the last little bit of HP. But like Pit of Heresy from before, it requires you to memorize a route and a rhythm that allows you to do the nodes quickly. If you don't do that, then this fight will take an eternity.
For the final fight, I got very frustrated because I couldn't figure out a good damage setup, and I couldn't find any guides that didn't use gear swapping for hunters. It's frustrating because I think that while this is certainly optimal, it discourages creative problems solving that could lead to figuring out the best ways to actually do the encounter. I'm always feeling like were one or two patches away from this being nerfed (kind of how they nerfed it in Trials of Osiris). Once Strand came out, the mobility and damage resistance made this fight infinitely more approachable, and the super + a magazine of Xeno had this guy down in 5 quick phases. The only thing that would slow me down was if I had to farm for heavy ammo.
The hardest part of this fight by far is getting the first 5 red cable nodes hit. But again, this is something that the player can master if they spend time to actually study the fight. Just running in blind every time and raging at it for being "unfair" and "artificially difficult" will not get it done. But if you take time to figure out how to manipulate the supplicant spawns, then you can do this easily and you don't even need woven mail.
I don't like DPS on this boss because Wyverns are just too hard to precision hit without a mouse, so I feel forced to use non-precision weapons. I don't mind this sometimes, but for a solo boss I think restricting the player in this way is not good design.
Ghosts of the Deep And now we're here. And if you've read this far, thank you. Don't worry, this will be short.
If we look back over the history of things, we can see that it wasn't uncommon for dungeon bosses to either have large HP pools, long mechanics phases, ammo/time sink enemies, bullshit ways to die, etc. It's just how these things go. And over time, all of them were moved into farmable status once we had time to figure out the best ways to do them.
They are vulnerable to anti barrier. They melt to almost any super hit. But the critical part is that damage done to shields shows up in your total damage done. And since they take bonus damage from some things.... while they might go down easy with the right weapons, you'll still see numbers like 12million on damage because of the damage being done to the shields.
As I said near the beginning, I spent many multi hour attempts on these because we were using machine guns, and even when we'd wipe we'd get insane damage numbers. And I know for a fact that my Commemoration, no matter how good it is, doesn't do the dps that those numbers suggested. So stop acting like these bosses have HUGE HP values. They don't have any larger of HP values than any other dungeon boss on average. You're not doing 9million damage with your LMGs/Linears and a super. You weren't doing that against raid bosses, and you're not doing it here. This is simple deductive reasoning. For example one Light-Light-Heavy combo of Lament will destroy more than half of the first bosses' shield, if not completely destroy it. Lament combo does not do 1mil damage. But it does do close to that to his shield.
So the reality is that we don't actually know the HP values of the bosses. No one does. Anyone saying that do that doesn't have a reliable way to account for inflated shield hp/damage is wrong.
The solution then is not to complain that the bosses have too much HP, but to figure out ways of dealing with the shields. I just watched someone strip off the final bosses' shield with one Gathering Storm and a Levi Breath shot or two (and no he wasn't using Star Eater's either... He was using Assassin's Cowl and never swapped). He did enough damage that this boss was four phasable comfortably if you made no mistakes.
My own kill of the first boss also makes it feel like it's four phasable with no mistakes. But probably five phases typically while solo. And this puts them on par for other bosses in dungeon history. And like those bosses... a year or two from now, the new meta of the future will probably shit on these bosses and we'll be 1-2 phasing them and complaining that they're too easy.
The Add Pressure
What makes these fights drag is the adds. You have to have a build that shreds adds FAST. Because of RoN and all of last season, everyone is defaulting to LMGs for this and then wondering why the bosses take an eternity to kill... Add pressure also makes getting the mechanics done quickly very difficult until you spend enough time with the bosses to understand the spawns well enough to abuse them in your favor. Once you can do that, you can blitz through the mechanics in no-time and that (just like the bosses from ST, Pit, Prophecy, Duality, and Spire) is where you save time in your run. That is how you take your runtime down from 2-4 hours to 1.5 hours. Because if you take a long time to kill the adds, or if the adds are constantly forcing you to hide to recover HP, then you are adding time to the run that you don't need to add to the run. And it makes the boss phases feel worse because you spent 10 minutes getting to the phase, only for it to be over at 7% of their HP bar damaged. But if you practice getting that in between time down to 3-5min, and figure out a good weapon loadout... you find that in the time it took you to do two damage phases before for 7% each, you're doing four phases of 10-15% or more. And that's when it starts to shine through as possible.
Closing Thoughts I don't know what I'd use on a Warlock or Titan because I don't play them much. But you need to find ways to stay alive. You can heal yourself with sublcass abilities and mods. And you can do DPS with things other than what you see on a stream or a youtube video. If you've done these before, then you know how to solve this problem.
There is no such thing as "artificial difficulty". This term refers to challenges that the player feels frustrated by to an unreasonable degree. But all difficulty is artificial. It's all scripted to be a certain difficulty or not. A boss having a lot of HP is no more artificial than a boss having less HP but a long ass mechanics phase. Or very low HP but very short windows for DPS. The bosses in GotD have extremely long DPS phases for how little is actually happening during those phases. All they do is attack you, move around, and spawn some Thrall. And you have what feels like 30-40 seconds of time to shoot at them... So Bungie "artificially" reduced the difficulty there by making the phase take long enough that you have time to deal with the adds and the shield and then still have a comparable amount of time to hit the real HP bar (compared to other dungeons). But right now, it's all fresh and new. And right now you aren't comfortable in the arena. And right now it feels unfair. But it won't in a month or three.
You heard it here first. My predication is that this dungeon will be talked about as one of the easiest released in a long time. And I believe this will be said of it before The Final Shape launches.
So I believe in you Guardian. You can do this. It is made to challenge you to solve the problem. If your solution isn't working, then come up with another one. You don't need a streamer to tell you how to play, or how to do a build. Don't just go for only safety because that too will add full hours to your run that you don't have to spend. Get comfortable with being aggressive. Learn to love riding the red blinking HP line between awesome and despair, and get in there!
TLDR: Ghosts of the Deep is not even remotely out of band compared to previous dungeons in their given release metas. Many dungeons have been outpaced by power creep, but all of them were brutally hard to solo/solo-flawless in their day.
submitted by ahawk_one
to DestinyTheGame [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 23:06 ArazoII Death of a Spaceman's GPU
So, last November I bought an entry level gpu to get into star citizen. It was a bare minimum requirement buy. (RTX 2060). Over the past few months it's been working ok running at 1080 because you cant get much more than that. Definitely not the best. Seemed like after each gpu update I'd have more and more issues and it would perform less each time. People would tell me it's my rig because it was and older setup. So I spent some money and upgraded my board cpu and memory and everything was good. I logged many many hours in the ptu and pu with some friends having fun. Fast forward to the last day of Invictus out of nowhere it started Fram dropping like crazy. From around 60 fps to 0 then back up. Almost like waves every few seconds it would just freeze and come back. It was towards the end of the night so I decided to call it. Thinking the next day is defence con and I'd just wait til then because that's what I have been really waiting for. I really wanted to get a hold of a vulture and do some salvage missions. We'll, come the next day I turn on my computer and got nothing from the screen. Nothing. Just a power on no input on my screen. I checked the cables. Tried different ones. Even tried the different ports. Nothing. So begrudgingly I plugged into the motherboard and restarted. There it was. Working again. I could see my desktop again. I went into device manager and my card was there. It was reading like it should just no output. I thought to myself "great, it's dead" I tried updating bios, reinstalling drivers and tried different pcie ports. I got nothing. So here I am, sitting looking at a game I can't play any farther than sitting in a room at spawn. Looking like an old 1920s film stuttering away around 1-3 fps. "Just go buy another one." *sad, lol. Coming into summer time in the desert , my electric bill is about to be almost triple. My income has been cut by almost $300 a month for some bs that I have no control over. It seems like everything is catching up to me all at the same time. EVERYTHING has gone up in price. From gas and food to utilities and insurances. Unfortunately it doesn't look like I will be replacing it anytime soon. So, for now, my poor spaceman will be living out his foreseeable existence out at Beautiful Glen Station. Sitting in his hab, knowing an ORIGIN 325 is sitting in the hangar, not able to take him home. Not knowing when or if he will ever leave. Let this be a lesson to all that read this. No matter what your fiscal situation. Save up if you have to and think twice before making a purchase. And never ever buy a used gpu.
submitted by ArazoII
to starcitizen [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 23:05 eiramired Ignite the Ashes Prologue - End of an Era
Nine years following the execution of the old Sovereign, the four dukedoms of Augustein teeter on the brink of combustion.
Excess magic ore mining has resulted in unstable regions of shifting trees, violent storms, and a creeping plague of stillness that leaves everything frozen in time. Watchmen struggle to fend off the relentless attacks of Aberrations, while strict regulations on magic ore force aspiring magicians to sacrifice their own finite reserves at the cost of their health and, ultimately, their lives.
Amara is the sole survivor of a series of magic experiments ordered by the old Sovereign. Left with a reduced lifespan and an unnatural magic with the unique ability to progress, Amara is determined to live out the rest of her life to its fullest.
She’s going out like an explosion, and she’ll make sure that no one can look away.
This is a character focused, slow-burn high fantasy story with progression and light LitRPG elements that become prominent after the introductory arc, which spans through chapter 20.
It features flawed and morally ambiguous characters, unreliable narrators, and some darker elements, but there are plenty of lighter moments as well!
Prologue - End of an Era Rosenfell Palace, Helisturn, Arcvale Dukedom of Augustein, Year 986
The palace halls glowed in the evening light. The last rays of sunlight filtered through cracked and broken windows, outlining piles of debris in gold. Clouds of dust rose from broken pillars and walls, shimmering as they drifted over cold, limp figures strewn about like fallen leaves. The plush red carpet, once bright and soft as snow, had been torn and shredded beyond recognition. Dark splotches littered its surface, many areas now beginning to dry and crack while still others remained moist to the touch.
A few hours ago, when the sun had still hung suspended in the clear blue sky, the palace walls had been trapped in a flurry of motion. The ringing of metal against metal, the pounding of heavy footsteps, and the shrill sounds of screams had echoed throughout the space as an invading wave of violence swept the pristine halls. Now, in the aftermath, an unnatural stillness had come to replace the rush.
A young man turned the corner, whistling an old folk song to himself as he walked. He wore an electric blue uniform that was crumpled and ripped around its edges. The color was mirrored by the single glove he wore on his left hand. His right hand was bare, and a lingering ultramarine light outlined a string of letters and numbers across his skin.
One particularly large stain covered nearly the entire stomach region of his uniform, a dark rust red that crumbled slightly whenever the man moved. A few stray splotches of the same color dotted his messy hair and tan skin, but the man made no motion to wipe the droplets off. Nor did he move to clean the equally bloodied spear strapped behind his back, the metal glinting in the sunlight. He simply strode forward with the laxness of a casual stroll, his eyes drifting about the ruined hallway and still corpses.
Finally, after he’d passed by shattered portraits and kicked aside a few bodies blocking the way with his boots, the man came to a halt.
“Oh, there it is.”
Crouching down, the man picked up a single glove lying in a dark pool of viscous liquid. He shook it a few times, and the fabric made a squelching noise. He frowned. The glove was so stained that barely any of the original blue color remained, but on closer inspection, the cloth itself seemed to be holding up well enough. Shrugging, the man slid it on, hiding the glowing numbers that were only just beginning to fade from the back of his hand.
ALLEN Magic Reserves: 101,897 / 122,043 Maximum Output: 13 Variability: 6
AFFINITIES Energy: 50% Minor Motion: 100% Major Form: 50% Minor Perception: 25% Basic Emotions: 50% Minor Mind: 25% Basic Time: 0% None Probability: 0% None
1 ACTIVE ATTUNEMENT
The man in question turned at the sound of his name being called. He raised an eyebrow at the sight of a similarly dressed soldier running forward, who halted when he saw the wreckage within the hallway. Henry’s eyes swept across the scattered bodies, and after a moment of hesitation, he continued forward with careful steps.
The two of them had been watchmen in the same area before Allen had been promoted to Duke Valister’s personal guard, and they’d reunited during the coup’s planning stages. The man was rather friendly, even excessively so at times, and he’d always treated Allen with a somewhat uncomfortable degree of reverence despite being older. But then again, magical prowess always trumped age when it came to respect.
Henry came to a stop a few feet away. In comparison to Allen, his uniform, while still stained and rumpled, was in significantly better condition, and his two gloves were a plain brown rather than blue. He frowned when his eyes fell on Allen’s very bloody glove, shuddering slightly.
“Isn’t that uncomfortable?”
Allen stretched his fingers in response, and the gloves made a squishy sound. “Eh, it still works fine.” He took a moment to assess the other man, cocking his head to the side and grinning at Henry’s poorly concealed disgust. “What, you squeamish?”
“I’m not,” Henry insisted, not meeting his eyes. Allen took a step forward. The other man’s fidgeting was even more obvious up close, and now that he paid more attention, his pale skin had taken on a greenish hue. Allen’s eyes briefly swept over the scattered bodies before returning again. He raised an eyebrow.
“Need me to use emotion magic?”
That made Henry’s head snap up, eyes widening in alarm. “I didn’t know you had an affinity—no wait, that’s not the point.” He shook his head and cleared his throat. “I’m fine, I swear! I’m just, uh, more used to fighting Aberrations.” Not humans.
“It’s just a minor affinity, but I’ve gotten pretty good with it.” Allen shrugged. “Fair enough. Anyway, what’re you doing here?”
“We’re supposed to report to the throne room,” Henry explained. “I came to get you.”
Allen hummed in response. He turned and began to slowly head back down the hallway, Henry following at his heels. “So Raymoth’s dead, right?”
Henry’s eyes darted around nervously, as if he was worried a ghost would appear at the mere utterance of the name. He nodded and cleared his throat. “Yeah, uh, I heard Duke Valister and Duchess Rosevale both did it.”
Allen whistled. “Oh really? Figured it’d just be the Duchess.” Then again, Duke Valister’s disdain for the former Sovereign was well known among his guards. Hell, Allen was half convinced the main reason the Duke had joined the alliance at all was to be part of the Raymoth family’s demise.
Turning the corner, Allen continued down a wider hallway that was in significantly better condition than the one they’d just been in. Not as much direct fighting had taken place there, and any that did had been over fast enough to minimize the mess. Allen glanced around as they walked, but he couldn’t see any other soldiers around. He guessed most didn’t want to risk disrespecting the new Sovereign. He didn’t know her very well, but from the few times he’d seen Duchess Rosevale before and during the coup, he’d understood why her soldiers were so convinced of her victory. She moved with a silent, unyielding assuredness, as if she already was
For a few minutes neither of the two spoke as they continued to weave their way through the admittedly large palace. Allen didn’t even know what half the rooms were for; he’d probably go crazy if he had to live somewhere like this.
Allen could feel Henry’s eyes watching him, and he turned his head back, eyebrow raised. “What?”
The other man coughed and looked away. “Sorry, it’s just…” his voice trailed. “Did you hear about the notes?”
Allen frowned and slowed his pace. “What notes?”
Henry stared at the ground ahead of them uncomfortably. “When they ransacked Sove—Duke
Raymoth’s,” he corrected, “—notes, they found some really…disturbing stuff. Something about magic experiments going on in northern Vanstead, kidnapping kids, stuff like that.” He swallowed, voice quieting to barely above a whisper. “But the thing is, they showed the notes to the Duke and Duchess, but they said it didn’t concern them. I heard—I heard Duke Valister even said it’d be interesting to keep an eye on them.”
That sounded exactly like something the Duke would say. The two of them turned another corner. Allen also didn’t doubt for a second that the Raymoths would’ve been involved in something like that. Aldridge Raymoth had gone a bit off the deep end in the past decade, and continued magic experiments on children sounded exactly like the sort of thing he would resort to.
“Do you really think they’re gonna let them continue?” Henry asked, voice visibly distressed. Surely the new regime will be better than that
, was the unspoken thought.
Before Allen could respond, however, a third voice interrupted them.
The two came to a halt as a new figure stepped forward from behind a pillar. Allen frowned in recognition.
Desmond Reinford was one of the commanding officers of the Rosevales’ troops. He was around the same age as Allen, but the similarities stopped there. His uniform, as opposed to blue, was a deep red color that contrasted against his dark skin and hair. The man stood slightly shorter than average, but had such impeccable posture that he often seemed taller, unlike Allen who perpetually slouched. His uniform was crisp and without a single stain or tear in sight, and the sheathed rapier at his waist looked equally pristine. If Allen hadn’t seen the man during the coup, he would’ve thought that he hadn’t fought at all.
What most stood out, however, were the man’s gloves. They were a pure, stark white that almost seemed to glow in the quickly dimming hallway. Allen stared at them.
“Looks like someone
Henry nudged his elbow, but Allen didn’t stop staring. His friend laughed nervously. “Sorry sir, we, uh, got lost in the hallways?”
“I dropped my glove,” Allen said bluntly. He pointed at the stained glove in question. It was beginning to dry now, and the fabric was a little stiff.
Desmond met his gaze, eyes cold and sharp. Allen heard Henry swallow beside him.
“I see,” the man said. He gestured down the hallway, where the large, heavy throne room doors stood in the distance. Their deep mahogany surface shone, the light highlighting the intricate carvings detailing Augustein’s myths. All three of the major houses’ crests were carved into the wood, though where the banner of the ruling house would normally hang was empty, soon to be replaced with a new dynasty. Allen couldn’t help but wonder if they’d get a new door, one with the Valister’s crest replacing the Raymoths. Coups had happened plenty of times in their history, but never had one of the three major houses been completely decimated like this.
“The Sovereign is giving promotions and rewards to those of us who fought in the coup,” Desmond said. “I suggest you go before all the ore is taken.” Without another word, the man turned and strode away, likely to check the rest of the palace for stragglers, Allen guessed.
Beside him, Henry’s eyes lit up at the mention of magic ore, only to immediately deflate when the rest of Desmond’s words settled. Allen slapped him on the back.
“Don’t worry, they’ve probably got specific ore rations set aside for everyone. No way they’d just let us take them in a free for all.” Allen was frankly impressed that they were giving away ore at all, considering how stingy the nobility was with it.
Henry looked hopeful at that. “You think?”
Allen nodded. “Yeah, don’t worry. He’s just being an asshole.”
The other man winced slightly. His eyes darted around. “Uh, maybe you shouldn’t say that out loud? Especially, especially if he’s a Rose now.”
“Oh he definitely is.” No one wore white gloves but the Roses, the elite soldiers who served the Sovereign directly and were the most effective at combating Aberrations. All of them were certified as court magicians, and they were handpicked by the Sovereign. Considering the old Sovereign was now dead and a significant chunk of the former Roses had gone down with him, Allen guessed Duchess Rosevale was combing through her personal guard for people to promote. As far as he knew, Desmond had already passed the court magician test, so he would’ve been an easy pick.
He cracked his shoulder and sighed. The adrenaline rush from the coup had been fading for a while now, but now that the sun had nearly set fully and the shadows of the hallway had grown to engulf a majority of its surface, a new wave of exhaustion was settling into his bones.
“Come on, let’s hurry up,” he said. Henry nodded and hurried behind him.
As they passed by a tall window, Allen took a moment to glance outside. A few sprays of stars were visible in the darkening sky, and he could see city lights glowing in the distance as the lamplighters made their rounds. It was, by all accounts, a peaceful night, one that continued completely divorced from the happenings in the palace.
Surely the whole city would’ve heard about the coup. Allen wondered if even now, citizens were huddled together in their homes, or if they stood outside straining their necks to see what was happening in the palace. Waiting to learn the fate of the country.
Allen peeled his eyes away, facing forward and continuing down the hallway towards the throne room.
— Penrith, Vanstead Dukedom of Augustein Year 995
High up in the watchtower, the villagers looked like a dark stream flowing between the buildings and flooding down the dirt road, some running south, others crossing streets for final traveling preparations and goodbyes.
Two nights ago, the forest had swallowed the village north of them. The watchman had seen it happen, had witnessed the ground tremble and the branches snake out, enveloping the homes, growing and then shrinking, twisting and dancing among the perfectly still buildings. He was almost glad no one had been outside, because that way he didn’t have to see the victims. But then, if the residents of those homes were outdoors, perhaps they would’ve managed to escape.
Or maybe he had
seen the bodies and simply hadn’t recognized them, hadn’t managed to distinguish them from the twisted trunks and undulating ground. The warping of the forest was no more merciful to any living creatures who stumbled upon it, and the watchman, for all his years observing the shifting trees, couldn’t say with confidence that he’d be able to tell a corpse apart.
The man leaned forward against the wooden railing, peering down at the commotion. Given the speed the forest had moved at, he estimated they had a week at most before this town, too, was consumed. His own single bag lay packed near the front door of his home, ready to be picked up at a moment’s notice. Though he estimated most would be gone within the next three days, maybe excluding some particularly stubborn folks, the watchman didn’t plan on escaping until everyone else was gone first. Useless sentiment though it may be, he still had his pride.
The waves of people finally began to thin down as the current crowd left, leaving behind the remaining villagers. About twice as many people had left that day than the day before, the watchman estimated.
He sighed and shook his head. Now that the chaos had died down, those lingering on the streets continued with their business. His eyes glanced down at his watch, and he realized his shift had ended three minutes ago.
The watchman stepped back from the railing and stretched his arms. Maybe he’d stop by the tavern. Wallace, the owner, was adamant about keeping it open until “the last damn day we got,” which he appreciated. Just as he turned to go, however, a flash of orange caught his eye. He frowned and leaned over the wooden railing to peer further down the streets.
There, entering from the southern gates, a figure moved opposite to the direction the fleeing stream had taken.
A young woman was walking leisurely forward, her short wavy hair glinting as it caught the rays of sunlight. The lack of panic, hurry, or fear in her eyes made the watchman blink. There was only casual curiosity, as though she had simply been on a stroll and ran across an interesting plant. Her medium brown complexion was somewhat rare in northern Vanstead; perhaps she was from the south and hadn’t heard about the forest creeping closer? The watchman didn’t know how else to make sense of someone deliberately choosing to enter the town at such a time.
The closer the woman approached, the more details became evident. The watchman’s eyes widened.
The woman’s bare arms were covered in scars. Long, jagged lines and thin, thread-like marks. Raised bursts and patches of wrinkled and pulled skin. Some scars had an almost systematic pattern to them, neat and intentioned, while others were so chaotically scattered that it was impossible to differentiate where one began and another one ended.
For several moments the watchman simply stared at her, unable to peel his eyes away, when a sudden movement broke him out of his trance. The woman was waving enthusiastically in his direction.
Brow furrowed, the watchman watched as the woman ran up to the base of the tower, moving deceptively fast. She grinned up at him, beaming and utterly uncaring of the twisting forest approaching in the distance or of the half empty village and the stares she was already receiving.
Head tilted back, her green eyes seemed to glow in the light.
“Hey, can you give me some directions?”
Next Royal Road Patreon
Hello, I hope you're enjoying the story so far! I decided to finally post here after lurking for a while now. I'm planning on slowly posting all the chapters I've already published on Royal Road, one per day so I don't spam the sub.
Fair warning, I absolutely suck at formatting things on Reddit (trying to format this chapter was a struggle), so sorry in advance for any formatting issues.
Thanks for reading!
submitted by eiramired
to HFY [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 23:03 Comfortable-Bat-4072 A Practical Tourist Guide to Pyrrhia. Part 1: Pyrrhia.
The first serial format with which even the most inexperienced tourist would be able to orient himself across the continent.
It is also excellent for more experienced tourists and for those who have already visited the fascinating continent, of course!
Today's first episode will be dedicated to a general guide to Pyrrhia, its general geography and where to go on vacation.
Pyrrhia is one of two currently known continents in the world and is similar in size to Pantala. Despite this, no one has yet bothered to measure it in meters, but we can reasonably say that it is larger than North America.
It is so huge that it would take an adult dragon several days to cross it from side to side. Considering the fact that we don't know the average flight speed of an adult dragon (and nobody is stupid enough to go and measure it), this doesn't help humans much.
The fact that it looks like a dragon in shape (like Pantala) can only be a coincidence.
The Pyrrhan climate is extremely varied, but mainly fertile and suitable for hosting herds of large animals in large quantities.
The fact that all these different and opposite climates coexist together and are perfectly separated can only be a coincidence (otherwise how did you divide the territory, eh?)
The eastern part is considerably more prosperous, especially considering that its forests are continuously watered by the clouds that form on the only noteworthy mountain range: the Claws of the Clouds Mountains. The Jade Mountain is part of it: the highest mountain on the continent and which vaguely resembles the head of a demon with two horns. The height of these mountains varies from a useless pebble to a monstrous titanity towering above the clouds.
These mountains are part of the Sky Kingdom, which is unjustifiably bigger than the other kingdoms because yes.
These mountains almost perfectly separate the east and west, moving from the "wing" of the island to the "underbelly".
On the "butt" and on the "hind limb" there are two clusters of rainy and far too humid environments for any normal person (or dragon): the jungle (the Rainforest Kingdom) and an incredibly stable mile-long swamp (the Mud Kingdom, which by necessity of the plot does not follow the normal laws of the marshes which say that in a few years they transform into an earthy plain but so be it).
The jungle is much more thriving than other rainforests like the Amazon and Borneo, perhaps because dragons don't have chainsaws.
The swamp, on the other hand, is very simply a large swamp, neither more nor less. If you like crocodiles and mosquitoes, this is for you.
Fun fact: the Mud Kingdom has been the guest of numerous episodes of "Naked and Afraid" (only on Discovery Channel).
The "tail" ends in a large archipelago dotted with small islets with a tropical climate and suitable for being invaded by tourists in the summer (if it weren't for the storms), with a few large islands important enough to have a name.
This place is a heaven on earth, with clear waters, nature and sunshine (except for the sharks, but who cares).
The west of the continent is occupied by two totally opposite macro-regions.
The "belly" is occupied by the vast desert that is the Kingdom of Sand. It is a desert. Stop. A sandy desert. And hot. And full of poisonous creatures like the inhabitants.
The "head" instead, for unspecified reasons (saying "work of magic" is not enough) is occupied by a frozen and snowy wasteland that collides with the sands of the desert below. It is the Ice Kingdom, where any creature not used to -30 degrees below zero will have a short life. But there are penguins, which is always good and right.
The "front limb" was once occupied by the Kingdom of Night, which has disappeared underwater due to global warming caused by its inhabitants' bonfires. It was very dark and rocky, a very large chain of canyons and territories of black stone interspersed with lush forests.
Probably the continent hates the Nightwings, as their later homeland was also destroyed. It was a horrendous island full of ash, smoke and inhospitable rocks, with a very comfortable active volcano near which it liked to destroy everything (why it didn't make the island fertile as usually happens with volcanoes is not yet understood).
Considering that the Nightwings have moved to the aforementioned jungle, I would advise its inhabitants to pack up and leave, before, I don't know, an earthquake, tsunami or tornado destroys that as well.
The sea around the continent is completely absent of islands and mainland outlets, so much so that it is extremely difficult to get there by flying, since one cannot even land for a second to rest and have a coffee break. Judging by the eerie figures of sea serpents and krakens on the maps though, we can say that flying is perhaps
We can say that that's all folks.
See you at the next episode with "Inhabitants of Pyrrhia and their curious habits"
submitted by Comfortable-Bat-4072
to WingsOfFire [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 23:03 YippieYiYi BABY'S ARM HOLDING AN APPLE Chapter 1
BABY’S ARM HOLDING AN APPLE
The Bird of Paradise had been on the front steps for a year and wasn’t getting enough sun, it hadn’t produced a single flower. I got the two-wheeler, but couldn’t get the pot on by myself. There’s a young guy on the sidewalk walking towards me. He’s got on one of those yellow visibility vests, no shirt underneath, a pair of black nylon basketball shorts and heavy work boots. He’s carrying a backpack over one shoulder. He must work for the city. He’s tall and thin with a wiry body. It’s hard to see his face, he’s got a baseball cap on with a Florida Gator’s logo, and a pair of dark sunglasses.
“Hola yourself, I was born here.”
“Sorry, can you give me a hand moving this plant?”
I hold the dolly and he pushes the plant onto it so I can tip it back. I push it to the backyard, he follows and helps get if off.
“Where do you want it?”
“In the corner, it’ll get a lot more sun there.”
He wiggles it into place and says “How’s that?”
“Perfect! Thanks a lot! Can I offer you a beer?”
He follows me into the house and I motion to the couch. The soccer game is still on the TV.
I grab a couple of Dos Equis and sit next to him.
“What’s your name?”
“Hi, Carlos. I’m Rick. Do you work for the city?”
“Yeah, Public Works.”
“Cool. What do you do?”
“Whatever they tell me. Usually just put out traffic cones, stand with a flag to warn people to slow down, sometimes dig ditches.”
“You live in the neighborhood?”
“Yeah, I just moved back with my mom for summer break, she’s on the next block. I don’t have a car so my boss pics me up and drops me off in front of the church.”
“How old are you?”
He takes off his hat and sunglasses and puts them on the coffee table. I can see his face now. Beautiful soft features, a wispy mustache, and long straight hair he had tucked under the hat. His skin is cafe-au-lait, probably tanned darker from being in the sun all day. He’s skinny, but his muscles are defined. I try not to stare, but I can’t help it. There’s a large bulge in the front of his shorts, but I’m pretty sure it’s his cell phone.
“I didn’t mean to insult you assuming you spoke Spanish, but you do look Latino, and a lot of the road crews just speak Spanish”
“Nah, I was just playing with you. Both my parents are from Columbia, but I was born here. I speak enough to get by, but I’d probably be lost if I ever went there. We don’t speak Spanish at home. It just took me by surprise, I go to FSU, everyone there assumes I must speak English.”
He’s lying back on the couch, the vest wide open, his arms crossed behind his head, looking completely relaxed. I see a beautiful happy trail leading down his shorts and tufts of dark hair under his arms, but try to distract myself with the soccer game.
“You want another beer?”
I head to the kitchen, grab the beers and a can of mixed nuts.
I put the nuts on the coffee table and he grabs a handful. I don’t think he’s really watching the soccer game, it’s a re-cap of the 2022 World Cup. I see him looking around the room.
“Where’s the head?”
“That door there”
The bathroom opens right onto the living room, one thing I didn’t like about the house when I was house-hunting, but it was in a great neighborhood close to the beach. I can hear him pissing, a really strong stream like young guys have. He didn’t close the door. I hear a piece of toilet paper torn, he must be wiping the tip of his dick. I like when guys do that, I always do. I’m the type that washes my hands before I piss so I don’t get my dick dirty. He flushes then washes his hands.
“I hope you don’t mind I used your towel in there.”
He settles back on the couch, doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere.
“You wanna smoke a joint?” he asks.
“Sure, I’ve got a little time. I don’t have to be at work for a couple hours.”
“Where do you work?”
“I work a couple nights a week at Massage Envy downtown. I’m a critical care nurse but I needed a break after the pandemic, and I had my massage license anyway. That’s how I put myself through nursing school.”
“How’d you end up in this little town?”
“My father passed recently. I ended up inheriting enough money to move out of the state and buy a house. I had vacationed here and loved it, so I decided to move here. I love being able to walk to the beach and downtown.”
“You own the house?”
“Shit, how old are you?”
“No way! You’re 27, own your own house, and work just a couple nights a week? Must be nice.”
“Like I said, I inherited some money. I still don’t know where it all came from, my parents never had much. My mother passed away a while ago, then after my dad died, I started getting statements from all these investment accounts in his name. It’s enough to take a break, but I’m going to have to get a job eventually, not sure if I’ll go back to nursing, though, I’m thinking maybe something else, just not sure what.”
Carlos lights the joint and passes it to me. I take a hit and get up to get an ashtray. I take a couple more hits and sit down, passing the joint back to him. As I’m walking back to the couch I can’t help but notice how incredibly handsome he is, in that kinda sweet, kinda rough way that always gets me. We finish the joint and make small talk about the World Cup.
“You dropped a couple.”
Without thinking I reach over and brush the peanuts from his crotch. He grabs my hand, pushing it away, and glares at me. I was embarrassed and stunned (and stoned). Slowly the glare turned into a small smile, and he put my hand back.
I was struck dumb, but started feeling his crotch. It wasn’t his cell phone. I was rubbing up and down through the fabric and felt it swell.
“Here, let me make it easier”
Carlos raised his butt and lowered his shorts and boxers to his knees and sat back down. His boxers were black with yellow smiley faces.
“Jeez! That thing’s as big as a baby’s arm holding an apple!”
Carlos burst out laughing. “What did you say?”
“I said your dick’s as big as a baby’s arm holding an apple. You’ve never heard that expression?”
“No, never. I guess us Spanish speakers don’t use it” he kidded.
“Maybe it’s a regional euphemism, it sounds southern though. Not sure where I first heard it.”
I swear, this guy was packing. Not only thick, but long, and the head was massive. I couldn’t stop staring. He was holding it and asked me to jerk him off. I turned towards him and put both my hands on it and started pumping. He grabbed the back of my head and forced it down. I got the head in my mouth but there was no way I was going to take any more. I kept pumping with my hands and he quickly came. I couldn’t swallow fast enough, my mouth filled and his cum spilled out of my lips onto the couch.
“God, I needed that. I don’t usually fool around with guys, but you seem cool.”
He pulled an elastic from his pocket, tied his hair back and told me to stand up. I stood in front of him and he dropped my shorts and started kissing my thighs. He took his time, licking and sucking my balls till he finally started on my dick. There was a thread of pre-cum he pulled off and wiped on his shorts. I’d never been too concerned with my dick size, it seemed pretty good and I’d never had any complaints, but I felt like a little kid compared to his.
“Sorry I’m not as big as you.” I felt stupid as soon as I said it.
“Shut up, it’s a pain. No one can blow me, and my girlfriend only lets me put it halfway in. Worst part is when I take a dump, I’ve got to hold it up so it doesn’t hang in the toilet water. Yours is the perfect size for blowing and fucking, so don’t get all self-conscious on me.”
“You have a girlfriend?”
“Shut up and let me blow you.”
So I did. He licked it clean and pulled up my shorts and started zipping them.
I don’t trust anyone pulling a zipper up anywhere near my dick. I got the foreskin caught in it once when I was a kid and can still feel the pain.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be careful with this beauty, I’m gonna want to use it again I think.”
“What about this girlfriend?”
“Just a girl I was seeing at school, we went out together a lot, but I think it was more of a FWB deal. She lives in California so I won’t see her till next fall. Why she wanted to go to college in Florida is beyond me.”
“I’ve gotta get ready to go to work, you wanna stop by tomorrow on your way home?”
He smiles. “Sure.”
“So I guess you’ll be massaging a bunch of hot guys tonight, huh?”
“Fat chance. I’ve got three bookings, two women and one man, all over 70. One has sciatica, the other scoliosis, and the guy has weakness in his legs so I stretch and massage them to stimulate the nerves.”
I shower to get the smell of beer and pot off me, and grab a bite to eat before heading over to the massage studio.
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