Bubble glass wall sconce

Where all did Elspeth view?

2023.03.24 03:15 NDrangle23 Where all did Elspeth view?

Something about this picture is incomplete for me, and it's been nagging at me. Setting aside the very explicit New Capenna, Theros, and New Phyrexia, let's look at everything Elspeth glimpses in the space between worlds.
What did she mean by . . . ? Ah. A cabin, an old friend in tears outside it; a woman in a ship swaying uneasily through the sky; a young man at war with something that was once a dragon. The fragments come together in her mind like a blasphemous sheet of stained glass.
The first one is so specific, but I can't seem to pull it from my memory. An old friend of Elspeth's... The second is remarkably vague, I can think of three women and skyships it could be talking about. The third is worst of all; plenty of planes have dragons, but we haven't seen any compleated yet, and "young man" is not very descriptive at all.
A thundering sound. The walls fly out again, becoming as flat as paintings before fading into the black. The longer she falls the more of them she sees. Students slinking down corridors, away from their changed professors; a woman in a black bridal dress singing above a horde of zombies; kor flying on mantas toward a great white structure.
Now this, in contrast, is plain as day. Two of these we've seen ourselves, recently (Strixhaven and Innistrad). The third is obviously some kind of fight for a Zendikari skyclave we've yet to see.
She falls into a landscape where a lizard the size of a mountain fights its quilled silver counterpart. The oil and blood from their wounds form rivers along the lush green earth.
Ixalan, of course.
She falls into a castle, once shining, now reduced to rubble. A young man rifles through the broken remains of an armory. The plate covering him is cobbled together from these remains, and already pitted with black. When he finds a sigil among the dreck, he exclaims happily. Now, he thinks, he will be able to defend his family.
Alara, Bant.
Through ranks of horsemen beating war drums, their hounds on the hunt for Phyrexian enemies; through a neon city protected by towering mechanical guardians; through strange swamps and twisted hills, she falls and falls.
Lastly, this. The middle one is so clearly and specifically Kamigawa that the vagueness of the two bookeneds throws me.
I'm sure this doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but it's something I've been thinking about, I guess. Any of you have a clearer picture than me?
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2023.03.24 03:05 emeraldcoastlungs Lil 7 samurai up at the Comics shop tonight first time in years!!

Lil 7 samurai up at the Comics shop tonight first time in years!! submitted by emeraldcoastlungs to Heroclix [link] [comments]


2023.03.24 03:02 SledgeHannah30 Did the docs turn your hips for HSG?

Sorry if this is a bit off the wall but for my SHG, the docs had me roll on my sides to allow the air bubbles to escape instead of just forcing the saline into my tube (turns out, I only have one). They said they do this to reduce the pain that the SHG can cause. Two weeks later, I had an HSG and holy cow did that hurt a great deal more. The SHG was uncomfortable but the HSG was not even comparable. The HSG doctors did not even offer to turn me but just forced the saline through and it hurt a lot. I've broken my hand and foot and this pain was worse than both of those injuries. I almost dropped the f bomb and I'm usually pretty good with pain.
Why don't they turn you for the HSG? As far as I understand, the tech is fully capable of being tilted; it even said so in the pamphlet.
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2023.03.24 02:59 N0_N4M1 [RF] The Price of Ambition


I was a rich businessman, I had many riches, I was totally selfish, I used any means to gain on the weaknesses of people, who in my head, were victims of the system, everything I did was to get rich, I had no heart for anything, but in the end I found out that I was just another victim of the system like the other people, and I found this out in the worst possible way, being quickly discarded, losing everything I had, I used to have a beautiful appearance, now I was a filth with long greasy hair and a long dirty beard, I used to have luxury houses and a Lamborghini in my garage, but now I only had a supermarket cart and a box for a house, people looked at me with the same arrogant look that I had, I asked for alms but the only thing I received were judgmental looks, it was as if the knowledge I had accumulated in my whole life was worthless.
The day had passed like a close of light, I lay down on the floor waiting for sleep to come, but I just got stuck in my thoughts while keeping my eyes closed, someone suddenly arrived pointing a flashlight in my eyes, it was an old man with a big beard, had no strands of hair on his head and was extremely dirty, I soon realized it was another beggar who spoke shouting like crazy:
-THIS IS MY TERRITORY, GET OUT OF HERE
I could tell just by his way of speaking that he was drunk, but I kept saying back:
-Go find something to do, let me sleep in peace
He slapped me while shouting:
-GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE, OR YOU'LL DIE
I retorted and said:
-Fuck you, you shaved foot beggar
I left the place grumbling, with a bag of garbage on my back as I walked through those streets, I could see the total chaos settling in the city, prostitutes, drug dealers, murderers and all the scum of the city hiding in the early hours of the night, to do such acts, I walked to a nearby neighborhood and lay down using that garbage bag as a pillow, I still couldn't sleep, so I decided to walk around all the corners, until I got at least a little sleep, I walked to the rich area of the city, I looked at my old house, while smoking a cigarette I had found on the floor and thought:
-How did I end up like this? I was so good, I want to get it all back.
There I stayed, reflecting all night without sleep, in the morning the new owners kicked me out of the street of their house, they had left to go shopping, then I jumped over the wall of the house, invading the house, I broke the glass door that fell and shattered on the floor, opened the cupboards and ate all the food that was there, it was days without eating something good, I took a shower after that, I went to the basement where I hid my 9mm pistol, and realized that it was in the same place where I had left it before, I started to dance happily like crazy, I went to the entrance and sat down, then I stayed there, waiting for the owners to arrive with the loaded gun in hand while drinking a nice whiskey
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2023.03.24 02:52 JLGoodwin1990 Project Varanus escaped. I have to warn you of it.

I’m currently breaking about two hundred NDA’s by posting this here, including some that stipulate decades, if not longer jail time for me and worse, but frankly, whatever happens to me isn’t as important as getting the word out. Getting this warning out, to all of you who live in the United States, and perhaps the entirety of North America. If I attempt to leak the information I have anywhere else, the people in charge of making sure things like this don’t get out will sniff it out in a heartbeat and erase it from the internet completely. So, I’m posting this here, on a place that is one of the last they’d possibly look, in hopes that enough people see it, and can warn others, while there is still time.
I’m not going to tell you my real name, or what company I work for, as that would be detected by those that sweep the internet for such things, and would send up the warning sirens all around. It, along with the other people’s names I will need to use, will be changed with fake names.
But, what I can say is that I’m a very high level scientist who works at a corporation that deals in large part with genetics, and genetic engineering, among other things. One which has a lot of notoriety and acclaim in the world. Roughly about two years ago, as the rest of the world was in lockdown due to the pandemic, the company I work for was approached by the federal government, specifically the Department of Defense, to assist a top secret project they were undertaking for something which the paperwork referred to as Project Varanus. Only about half a dozen scientists and geneticists, myself included, were selected for our knowledge, skill, working speed, and most importantly, the ability to keep our mouths shut. They sat us down in the conference room of our building, and after giving only a vague interpretation of what task they wished us to assist them with (In the words of the stooge who spoke of the three of them, “To assist with our project on the genetic scale”), they shoved Non Disclosure Agreement after Non Disclosure Agreement under our noses to sign. The only reason we didn’t question, was because of the amount of zeros that we were told would be on our personal paychecks. We would be wealthy beyond our wildest dreams. Greed always gets people in over their fucking heads.
After given twenty four hours to get our affairs in order, we were all piled into the back of a Sikorsky helicopter and taken to the local airport, where we were placed onto a military C-130. They didn’t tell us what state we were heading to, and most of us were too excited about the money and the opportunity to care, murmuring excitedly to each other during the entire course of the six hour flight. We landed at a private airfield, one which I’m pretty damn sure isn’t on any aviation map, and led us into a large, three story building made out of black metal just to the right of the runway. This turned out to be the barracks, what would become our home for the foreseeable future. And we weren’t the only ones there. There were at least thirty or forty other people, some which were also scientist, but curiously enough, as we learned, about ten or twelve of them were animal wranglers or animal behavioral experts. “So whatever we’re doing, has to do with animals” Yurik, a Russian transplant and fellow scientist and friend of mine whispered to me as the bigwigs gathered us all up after letting us drop of our personal effects.
“Apparently” I whispered back, “What do you think the project is?” He shrugged his shoulders. “You’ve got me, Dexter. I guess we’ll just have to find out, yes?” I nodded, and we both fell silent as we were led back out of the building, and through a grey metal door which was set into the side of a hill across the way. This turned out to lead down to where we would be working; an underground complex which had to have stretched out for at least a mile or more. As we entered the first clean room, we were met with the first big surprise of our arrival. Taking up its own clean room, which opened onto the one we stood in with floor to ceiling windows, was a supercomputer which, by all means, should only be in the rough blueprint stage. If you’ve heard of the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Frontier supercomputer, then you’ll know that it’s successor, the Aurora, is due to be completed this year, and will only be the word’s second exascale supercomputer. Except…it was already built a year or two in advance. The Department of Energy had leant the DOD it for this project exclusively. We all whispered in hushed tones as one of the men rattled off the system specs, which I’ll skip as many of you won’t know or understand them.
Then they led us to the second surprise of the day, and admittedly, even a bigger one than the computer. And, in my personal opinion, far more chilling. Inside a room which, unnervingly, had a row of cattle prods hooked into one far wall, along with, for some reason, a locked case containing what looked like shotguns, was another floor to ceiling window. The head big wig walked up and tapped the glass. “Our most durable glass, able to withstand a direct hit from a vehicle doing twenty miles an hour. We use it in secure rooms in the Pentagon” he boasted. For a moment, everyone looked around at each other in confusion, wondering why glass so strong would be needed in a lab setting. Until the three men stepped aside and let us finally see what the subjects of this project would be, earning more than a few gasps from myself and the others.
The room, or, I should more appropriately refer to as an enclosure, was made up to resemble what I can only describe as an Indo-Pacific jungle. I know, since I made a trip with my wife to that area of the world ten years ago. That wasn’t what had earned the gasps, though. It was what lay and stood inside the habitat. Instantly, I understood the name of the project, which, some bright bulb in the DOD hadn’t exactly been creative with. Varanus was the genus of the animal before us. Varanus komodoensis. Komodo Dragons. There were, from what we could see, about seven or eight of them; some were sitting and sunning themselves underneath the artificial lights mounted in the ceiling, while others lumbered around lazily, rivulets of drool hanging out of their mouths. As we stared in astonishment, the DOD men explained the goal of the project. According to them, they wanted to attempt to weaponize the lizards, using selective breeding, genetic modification and animal training, among other steps, to create the perfect killing machine for the black ops arms of the military in any location in the world. And it was our job to make that happen.
Things progressed slowly for the first three to six months of the project. We took genetic samples of tranquilized specimens and fed them into the supercomputer to map out the animals complete genome. Shockingly, it took the computer less than a week and a half to do so. Once we had a complete blueprint, we began removing genes and other molecular parameters that would hinder the new generation of Komodos to fulfill the parameters set down to us by the DOD. I won’t say every single thing we did, but I will, for necessities purpose, tell you some of the most important ones. Most lizards are cold blooded, meaning they can’t regulate their own body heat and need the sun to warm them up. Almost all lizards are this way, with the exception of one. The Argentine black and white tegu is the only known reptile which can regulate its own body heat, and thus, survive in cold weather without going completely dormant. Using genetic engineering, we were able to rack the tegu’s gene up to the point it could stay fully active all throughout the winter months and cold climates.
We also removed genes which limited the Komodo’s ability to see distinct shapes, and inserted ones which also boosted their visual range, allowing them to be able to see for at least half a mile away from them. We inserted chameleon genes to allow the creatures to naturally camouflage themselves for whatever location they would be dropped into. We heightened their sense of hearing and smell as well, along with increasing their skin density so that, short of a .50 BMG round or bigger, not much could penetrate their hides. The big one that the DOD wanted, though, was increased aggression. Komodo Dragons are already aggressive and territorial by nature, but for them, it wasn’t good enough. And so, for this, we inserted the testosterone gene from a bull shark, which has some of the highest testosterone levels in the animal kingdom, to boost their ferocity.
Finally, all the parameters we were set were reached, and through a complicated process which I won’t go into, for time sake, we began inserting the new genomes into the clutches of eggs that the females would lay, then returning them to their nests in the habitat. A few more months later, and the first genetically modified Komodo Dragons were born. And they were a complete fucking disaster. Some of the animals were born with mutations that made them die off quickly, such as missing two feet or, in one case, two heads. We realized we’d made a mistake and went back to the drawing board. After checking, double checking, and just to be safe, triple checking our work, we attempted again with a new clutch of eggs.
As the second clutch began to quiver and shake, everyone from us geneticists, to other scientists and animal experts, and even the ten man security staff gathered around the window in anticipation. The first egg cracked, and a black head poked out from it, its tongue flicking in and out of its mouth, tasting the air. A few moments later, more began to do the same, and as the first forced its way out of the egg, seemingly mutation free, we all turned to one another and applauded, cheering, patting each other on the back and shaking hands. “Congratulations, Dexter!” an animal behaviorist named Michelle said, smiling and giving me a hug. I’d developed a friendly rapport with her, and we had fast become friends. “Thanks, Michelle” I said, grinning back at her, “But now comes the test of time, to see how they do as they grow and mature” She nodded, and we turned to congratulate more of our colleagues. If we’d only known then what we did now, though, we’d have likely tried to incinerate the entire room while we had the chance…
The animals matured at an incredibly fast rate from then on, reaching full sexual maturity in less than a year instead of the normal eight to nine years, due to the genetic modification. They soon took up large amounts of room in the habitat, as the seven specimens which survived to adulthood; four males and three females, grew much larger than their natural parents, reaching lengths of about fourteen feet long, and likely weighing over five hundred pounds. We noticed a few new additions to the first generation Komods, as we came to call them to distinguish between the regular animals and them, such as their teeth having more of a shark like serrated edge to them from the bull shark genes, and a more mammalian like eye due to the chimpanzee genes for sight. Their natural skin color was dark black, much darker than their parents. And when they first camouflaged themselves, it was a sight that caused us to gasp in wonder. We had created a new subspecies, effectively, of the animal.
That was where the problems began. See, after congratulating us on our achievements, the DOD ordered us to begin the training process as soon as possible. They had some military skirmish coming up they wanted to give the animals a dry run on, about seven months out. And so, Michelle and the rest of the animal experts attempted to train them to attack on command. At first, it seemed they responded well to the orders, but very quickly petered out, ignoring verbal and visual cues. To make matters worse, they ended up turning on their parents, killing and devouring all eight of the natural animals during one night, which led us to walk into the lab the next morning, finding the glass splattered with blood and viscera. The Komods had been absolutely vicious on the recordings, moving as a pack to trap an animal at a time in a corner before quite literally tearing it apart. This gave us pause, as we didn’t recall putting in any increased intelligence genes into the animals, and pack hunting behavior was not only a sign of intelligence, but also a behavior not seen in Komodo Dragons. Everyone exchanged nervous glances with each other at this revelation.
That was about the time they…changed. They began to get downright eerie, if I’m honest. We would walk into the habitat viewing room, to find the animals standing still as a stone. Still, except for their eyes, which seemed to follow you all around the room, ones which began to seem far too human like and understanding. I know now that they were learning our patterns, our movements, sniffing out weaknesses and vulnerable spaces. Hell, you could be two rooms away, and still feel their eyes on you through the many layers of glass. They also began to camouflage themselves more and more, seeming to learn how to effectively hide themselves. When they stood still, it almost was impossible to distinguish them from the background. It was almost exactly the way the Indominus Rex from Jurassic World behaved, only, there were many of them, not just one. We reached out to the DOD to explain our concerns, but they were pushed aside like paper. The man on the phone told us that the three who had brought us here over a year ago, would be returning in two weeks to look at the specimens. “That is final” the gruff voice finished, before hanging up.
We were unsure of what to do. The animals hadn’t been trained, and their odd and eerie behavior was beginning to sow the first tendrils of doubt about what we had done into the backs of our minds. We had been too busy focusing on achieving our goals without stopping to think about the consequences, also preoccupied by the money we would be making. But we attempted to push the thoughts away. That’s when the next shoe dropped. As we entered the lab a week later, we noticed some, well, some things nestled in the old replica nests that once held the Komods themselves. I have to stress that, normal Komodo Dragons, it turns out, can lay up to 20 eggs at a time, which, between three females, would mean sixty eggs. There were closer to ninety eggs in total in the nests. “Okay, something isn’t exactly right here” Michelle said worriedly, gaining murmurs from the other animal experts. “They’re not supposed to lay eggs so soon, especially not this time of the year”
As we stared through the glass, one of the Komods uncloaked itself, the side of its head almost pressed up against the glass. “Fuck me!” I shouted, jumping back; I had been close to the glass myself, and when it had appeared, the two of us had almost been eye to eye with each other. That’s when Dietrich, another geneticist, dropped the bomb he’d hidden from the rest of us. Unbeknownst to the rest of us, he’d been approached by one of the bigwigs with a secret assignment. Apparently, there were two secret parameters that the DOD had asked for in the Komods; the first was an increased level of intelligence for problem solving and creativity skills using more chimpanzee genes. This alone caused everyone else to flip their shit. “Are you AND them out of your fucking minds?!” Clancy, one of the animal behaviorists screamed at Dietrich, “You basically engineered up the apex predator of apex predators, and then you gave it a fucking brain?!” Quieter than he had been before, he then told us the second secret parameter.
They had wanted to increase the animal’s lethality, and as such…had Dietrich insert the genes from one of the most venomous species of snake, the Black Mamba, into the Komods. One bite from the animals would be enough to insert enough venom to kill twenty full grown men. The discomfort and horror in the room was palpable. I quietly strode up to the man and asked him, in a voice quaking a little, “Do you have any idea what kind of monster you’ve created?” He merely stared at the floor and said nothing. I looked around the room at my colleagues, and at the security standing behind us. After a few minutes of deliberation, I opened my mouth and spoke. “We have to find a way to destroy these animals” I turned and looked at them, now all visible and staring through the glass at me. They all seemed to have their eyes on me, and me alone, and almost seemed to harbor a sense of anger towards me. I looked down and saw that the speakers which allowed the trainers to try and communicate with the animals had accidentally been flicked on. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they understood what I said…but that was ridiculous; they only understood basic commands, not full sentences. Nevertheless, I nervously flicked off the speaker, then turned back to the group.
“We need to find a way to destroy them” I repeated, and began to move across the room to the weapons locker containing the shotguns. That’s when the security guards stepped over to me. “I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t allow you to even attempt to destroy government property” the lead guard said, his face stony and lacking any emotion. “Are you serious?” I asked, dropping formalities. He repeated his sentence to me. I felt a rising wave of panic begin to overtake me as my mind raced with the implications. But, before I was able to do anything, I felt hands grab my arms from behind, wrenching them from behind. I felt handcuffs clench around my wrists and looked back up at the head guard. “You’re going to be placed into confinement until the superiors arrive here in three days, at which point they will decide a course of action for breaking subsection A303, paragraph 36, line four of your contract”
They led me out of the room, the other scientists looking both scared and upset at this abrupt intervention. As I left the room, I saw one of the guards rest his hand on the butt of his pistol while staring at the group. “There is to be no more discussion about the destruction of these animals” he proclaimed loudly. The symbolism of his hand on his gun was obvious. And then the door shut, and I was shoved forward. I was marched out of the lab and back across the ground to the barracks, where I was locked into a storage room with a toilet. Occasionally, a guard would bring me food and water, but they never spoke a word. I had nothing to occupy my time with but my thoughts; thoughts about the disastrous implications of those creatures down below breeding uncontrolled, or worse, escaping the military’s custody.
Three days later, as I sat on the floor with my head between my knees, I heard the door unlock, and looked up to see the guards in the doorway. Behind them lay two men in combat fatigues carrying assault rifles, and beside them were the three bigwigs, still dressed in their smarmy black suits and ties. I was pulled out of the closet and held by my arms in front of the three. “Doctor, doctor, doctor” one of them began, shaking his head slowly, “You disappoint us” He clucked his tongue. “We thought you, of all people would recognize the importance of such a project. The ability to create the perfect soldier, one that means not risking human lives and winning battles far more efficiently” I shook my head at him. “What you don’t understand is that, if you keep those animals alive, you risk something far worse and more disastrous for the area. Hell, the country, and maybe even the continent!”
But he didn’t listen. He waved at me. “Escort the good doctor down with us to see there’s nothing to worry about” he said dismissively, already turning away. This time, in between the two rifle carrying military police, I was marched back from the barracks to the lab. As they shut the door behind it, one of the suit wearing men locked the door out by pressing his hand into a scanner at the bottom of the stairs that I hadn’t noticed before. When we entered, all eyes turned in our direction, and I could see the guards had been forcing them to continue working under duress. Many looked like they hadn’t slept in two days. On the bigwig’s orders, we were all forced into the observation room. When we entered, I noticed something that nearly rooted me to the spot. There was only two Komods visible in the center of the room. Both lay slumped on their side, their eyes open and unseeing.
Instantly, the head suit turned to the guards, his face turning red. “You allowed two of them to die?!” he shouted at the head of security. The man’s face turned pale as he stared in confusion. “N-No sir!” he stammered, “They were up and moving about not even an hour ago!” But the suit wasn’t comforted. He rounded on Michelle and Clancy. “You two, are going to go in there, under the supervision of two of the guards, and you are going to attempt to revive our property” he hissed. They began to protest, but then the man shouted again. “If you do not do as ordered, by the power given to me in your contract, I will have the ability to have you executed for subordination!” The two animal behaviorists looked shocked at the man’s words, but still didn’t move. Not until the security team pulled their pistols out of their holsters. Michelle began to cry, and Clancy attempted to comfort her. But the suit strode forward, grabbed the two of them, and roughly shoved them towards the habitat door. “Now!” he barked.
Michelle stole one last look my way, her eyes rimmed red with tears and fear, and then, with the two security guards holding cattle prods behind them, they were forced into the habitat. As they stepped forward into view on the other side of the glass, I stepped up next to the suit, rage and panic overcoming me. “This is the stupidest fucking idea, you dumb shit! There’s only two in view, and there were-“ I was cut off as something slammed into the side of my head. My vision went blurry, and I collapsed to the metal floor in a heap. “Shut the hell up” the suit said, motioning for the MP who’d used the butt of his rifle to strike me to lift me up. As they did, I looked up to see Michelle kneeling down next to one of the Komods, my vision hazy. A thought crossed through my mind, one that sped through my brain like a bolt of lightning, and send ice buckets of chills to zap down my spine. They have the intelligence of primates, they have problem solving skills, they were watching us the whole time, they work as a team, they-
I snapped my head up, screaming. “Michelle, get away from it, it’s an ambush!” But, it was already too late. As she looked up at me, her eyes wide with understanding and terror, the Komod snapped up out of playing possum, lunging forward faster than I thought possible with its jaws agape. They snapped close around my colleague’s head, and I heard her begin to scream, a high pitched, unending one which pierced my ears even on the other side of the glass. At the same time, the others removed their camouflage, leaping forward at Clancy and the two guards. They tried to raise their prods, but couldn’t move quick enough as three of them overwhelmed them, dragging them to the ground. The other Komod playing possum had leapt onto Clancy. Within moments, the glass was stained with the splashes of blood from my colleagues and the guards. “Close the door!” the head suit screamed, all trace of bravado having left him. But, again, it was already too late, as with a mix of hisses and low growls, the seven genetically engineered killing machines dashed out of the enclosure and began the slaughter.
I didn’t stay to watch it, though. When I saw that the four in the enclosure were goners, I turned and, with my head still reeling from the rifle butt to my head, sprinted as fast as I could away from the room. I saw a few other of my colleagues do the same, and heard the eardrum piercing sound of multiple handguns and rifles being fired behind me. Along with the screaming. God, the screaming. It was like listening to the background of a horror movie during a nasty kill scene, only this time, the horror was very real. I thought fast as I heard the skittering of claws on metal somewhere behind me. And I did the only thing I could. I climbed tables and bookshelves, until I was able to climb on some ceiling mounted pipes and air ducting. I was up high enough, that even if they could jump, which I found out a few seconds later they could, as they leapt almost five feet off the ground towards me, it wouldn’t be high enough for them to reach.
From there, all I could do was watch. Watch in horror as the Komods grouped together as a pack, moving through the facility to kill the few colleagues of mine and guards who had escaped the initial carnage. They always found them, no matter where they were. They sniffed them out, they could spot them hiding in places most wouldn’t think to look. Very soon, the entire lab was splashed with blood on the floors and walls. It looked like they’d attempted to make their own macabre version of a Jackson Pollack painting. But the most frightening was when they came to a locker that the last guard had hidden himself in. I know those animals had never even seen a locker door before. But, somehow, one climbed slightly up on the metal, using its claws to hook into the grooves, turned its mouth slightly sideways, and gripped the lock between its teeth. It gently pulled it up, and the weight of it swung the locker door open. The guard managed to let out a single scream before they were upon him.
Finally, they were all gone. Everyone except me. I saw the Komods fan out through the lap, systematically moving through each room. Two reached the stairs, and I heard the click of their claws as they climbed towards the door. A few moments later, the slid back down, trapped by the lockdown the bigwig had set up. I let out a sigh of relief. But it quickly died in my throat as I saw one, what had to be the pack leader, move with a speed I didn’t know they could possess and crawl back into the observation room. There was a sickening sound of flesh and bone tearing for a minute or two. Then it reappeared, moving back across the lab with something in its jaws. I strained to see, then gasped as I realized what it was. It was the hand and wrist of the suit; the creature had torn it from his corpse. My mind raced as I watched it move towards the stairs again. Please, no, I thought. Please don’t let it be THAT smart!
My heart sank into my stomach as I saw the Komod reach the panel next to the stairs, climbing up and using its front legs to hold itself in place. Very gently, it dropped the suit’s hand from its mouth, letting it fall palm down onto the scanner. After a second, a robotic woman’s voice spoke throughout the facility. “Lockdown lifted. All exit doors now unlocked” “Shit…” I whispered as I watched it drop back down to the ground, and, moving in front, led the seven back up the stairs. A minute later, I felt the air pressure in the lab change, signaling they had managed to open the door. After about thirty seconds, it stopped. They got out. That was the thought that repeated over and over in my mind. They got out. Oh, god no, they got out.
That was how they found me when they came to search for everyone the next day, when the bigwigs didn’t report in. They found me clutching the ceiling ducts, almost desperately so, so as not to fall down to the ground. They ran a ladder up and coaxed me down. I thought I would be charged for the deaths of everyone here, but apparently, these people knew about Project Varanus. They took me out of the lab, away from the dismembered bodies of my colleagues and the others, away from the blood and putrid copper scent of it. When I stepped outside into fresh air, I immediately noticed the huge hole in the fence opposite us. “That’s how they got out” I whispered, and the man in the suit nodded. “We know, doctor. Don’t worry, we’ll find them”. From there, they made sure I was okay, then made me sign ever more NDA’s, stating I wouldn’t breathe a word about what happened. All which, I said at the start, I’m breaking now.
Yes, the financially compensated me for what I experienced, more money than I would ever know what to do with. Hush money. But, I can’t stay silent on this. For two reasons. The first being, all of my colleagues’ families were given some bullshit cover story about how they died in a gas leak, and the bodies were too contaminated to be able to be shipped home. The families deserve to know what really happened to their loved ones.
And second, and more important tenfold, is to warn people. Warn you. Warn everybody of what is out there now, sliding and hunting through the forests. Maybe even through suburban neighborhoods. Where they can camouflage themselves, they could be anywhere. You need to be on guard no matter where you are. How many animal disappearances since they escaped could be their work? Hell, how many missing people could be their work? If you even think you feel eyes on you when nobodies around, run. If you think you hear soft hissing and low growling around you, run. It may not matter, though. Where they’re so fast, even if you run, they’ll most likely catch you and…well, you know what happens next. But that’s not what frightens me the most. That’s not what makes me stare up the ceiling fan in my bedroom, unable to sleep.
The eggs in the habitat were destroyed by the military. They saw to that. But, the Komods out there can still breed. And we saw how ninety eggs came from just those seven animals, those three females. They can breed very quickly, and they will. And when they breed, they will spread like wildfire, able to live in both hot and cold climates. And as it’s almost April, it’s almost prime time for them to mate and lay their eggs. Which would hatch this fall.
That is, if their breeding season wasn’t genetically altered as well.
All I can say is, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for what I helped to create. I’m so sorry for the deaths of all those who worked with me.
And I’m so, so sorry. I’m so sorry…for what is to come…
submitted by JLGoodwin1990 to nosleep [link] [comments]


2023.03.24 02:48 AppleTang Basement, Kitchen AND Primary bath floorplan help!

Basement, Kitchen AND Primary bath floorplan help!
Hey guys! I am planning a renovation of this house. I have three floorplan challenges for you from this 1968 colonial.
I want to make the lower level into a self-contained one bed/one bath rental space (for income). The Rec room with the fireplace is a finished area that will likely be the living area. The larger unfinished side already has plumbing and water along the north wall as well as to the right of the basement stairs (mech area and wet bar not pictured) so i wonder if a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen could all go on that bigger side? Or maybe a small kitchen could go in the Rec room side? I'm not sure. The patio extends along the entire back of the house. There is no way to add any windows to the south side of the basement floorplan due to the slope of the land. The back window in the Rec room is actually a sliding glass door now (planning to make it a legit front door).

Basement floorplan. There is currently a wet bar not pictured to the right of the stairs in the basement.
On the main level, I want to modernize/expand the kitchen. The living room and the powder room have to stay where they are, but I am open to suggestions for the kitchen/dining room.

Main Level floorplan. Main wishes are a big pantry and more counterspace! The kitchen/breakfast area has a lot of floor space but the working area itself is so squished! The \"patio\" is actually a Sunroom, and there is a deck (not pictured) to the right of the Sunroom.


picture of kitchen currently.
Finally, on the upper floor I need to add a WasheDryer somewhere (because the current basement W/D will be inaccessible). I would also like to update the primary bath while I'm at it, to add a nice shower and a bigger closet. I'm ok with stealing some space from the primary bedroom.

https://preview.redd.it/7941st5cflpa1.jpg?width=900&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=c0c155a062d3360b2abb094113c55855106b6e03

This is the the primary bath/vanity area... very dated set up.
Good luck..... i feel like i have no imagination so i'm excited to hear what you all have to say! Side note- i DO plan on hiring an architect/designer, but it would be nice to come to the table with some ideas of my own. Also the basement is going to be legally permitted with the county as an ADU.
submitted by AppleTang to floorplan [link] [comments]


2023.03.24 02:42 sulalaila Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time - Plant Ideas

You might have seen my Taco Cactus variant idea, though its unlikely(or likely). These are my plant ideas for PvZ 2: It's About Time.
1: Tsuthonia - Shoots watery pollen that explodes and kills Zombies. Can be planted both on water and underwater, and is one of the Plants obtained in ''Ancient Atlantiz''(Based on: Tithonia)
2: Apefruit - A massive ape made out of grapefruit that smashes and flattens Zombies. Obtained in Ancient Atlantiz(Based on: Grapefruit)
3: Flax Cannon - Returning from PvZ GW1(Driftwood Shores, final objective), Flax Cannon shoots fireballs at Zombies, dealing burn damage(Based on: Flax)
4: Drupe-nut - Hides inside of a Drupe and occasionally shoots Drupe seeds at Zombies. Basically the Wall-nut but can shoot and is better(Based on: Drupe)
5: Bamboo Shoot - Another plant returning from PvZ GW1/GW2/BFN, Bamboo Shoot fires bamboo shots in the air, raining down on Zombies(Based on: Bamboo)
6: Sugar Plum Tree - Produces plantable plums that you can use(Based on: Sugar Plum)
7: Malusaurus - Underwater Mosasaurus plant that bites and eats enemies, one of the underwater exclusive Plants in Ancient Atlantiz(Based on: Malus)
8: Goop-shroom - Returning from PvZ GW1/GW2/BFN, Goop-shroom shoots goop at Zombies, slowing them down(Based on: Green Skinhead)
9: Wildflower - Returning from PvZ Bfn, Wildflower shoots rapid-fire petals and gains armor from nearby Wildflowers and allies(Based on: Wildflower)
10: Carnatender - Attracts Zombies, then explodes in a boom of bloom(Based on: Carnation)
11: Calcutato Mine - When exploding, buffs your Plants' damage by 2x for some time(Based on: Potato)
12: Webstem - Shoots spider webs that immobilize Zombies(Based on: Paperplant)
13: Jackhammer Fruit - When planted, runs down the lane, killing every Zombie in its path of destruction(Based on: Jackfruit)
14: Killer Orchid - A pod of Orca-orchids that overwhelm Zombies, attacking them from all sides(Based on: Orchid)
15: Missiletoe - When planted, launches up and comes down, exploding groups of Zombies(Based on: Mistletoe)
16: Husk Hopper - Hops behind nearby Zombies and blasts them with corn(Based on: Corn)
17: Soil of Summoning - Spawns Weeds(with the health of regular browncoats, upgrade it to spawn better Weeds with more health) every 3 seconds to attack Zombies(Based on: Soil)
18: Toxberry Bush - When eaten, the Zombie that ate it explodes in poison. Maybe could be a Plant in Abominable Woods, a world that takes place in the 1500's when Christmas reached America(Based on: Winterberry)
19: Shiver-nut - Ice Variant of Wall-nut that freezes Zombies, is immune to freezing, takes double damage from fire and summons damaging mist when destroyed. One of the plants of Abominable Woods(Based on: Walnut)
20: Helichiller - Chills all Zombies down the lane with its chilling helicopter winds, and fires freezing missiles at Zombies. Another Abominable Woods plant(Based on: Samara, the maple tree fruit)
21: Chi-Attack - Launches exploding Chia seeds that stick to Zombies, the ''sticky seeds'' part might be too similar to Stickybomb Rice(Based on: Chia)
22: Hydro Sunflower - Ancient Atlantiz Sunflower that can be planted on water and underwater. In underwater levels in Ancient Atlantiz, Sun does not come down and both Sun-shrooms and Sunflowers cannot be planted underwater, making Hydro Sunflower a must-pick for every Underwater level(Based on: Lantana)
23: Artistery - Renaissance Age(after I found out the chinese version already had a Renaissance world, I scrapped this world. But I kept the artist plant ideas because yes) Plant that fires paint missiles at Zombies, which coat them in paint(Based on: Nothing, its name is Artillery + Artist)
24: Artillipeater - Shoots peas in four lanes(like Threepeater) with its four heads(Based on: Pea)
25: Chef Feastifool - Tricks Zombies into trying to eat its fake cooked chicken(which is actually just a disguise), and then shoves them into a cooking pot and turns them into Plant Food(Based on: Olive)
26: Avalabbage - One use Plant that creates an Avalanche of Cabbage, killing all Zombies on the lawn. Might be too OP(Based on: Cabbage)
27: Apple-pult - Launches apples at enemies, the remaining slices of those apples then go to the Upper and Lower lanes, and damages the Zombies there(Based on: Apple)
28: Seasoned Base-il - When an entire lane(top to bottom like Electric Currant) is filled with Seasoned Base-ils, a massive fortress made out of Fiery Basils is created, which burns enemies that touch it. Similar yet different to Electric Currant and Wall-nut(Based on: Basil)
29: Turkey Roller - A cooked piece of Turkey meat or Tofurkey that rolls across the lane, then explodes in a boom of burning spice(Based on: Tofurkey, or simply Turkey meat)
30: Hibermauve - Puts Zombies to a deep sleep when eaten(Based on: Lavender)
31: Thyme Freeze - Stops time for a limited amount of time, allowing your other Plants to get free shots in on the Enemy. Also brings back time that was destabilized by a Gnome Floatie in the Gnomiverse world(Based on: Thyme)
32: Pineclone - Returning from PvZ Heroes, Pineclone turns 2 other plants(that are weaker than a Pineclone) into a Pineclone(Based on: Pinecone)
33: Draftanilla - Charges up a windy tornado that sweeps away Zombies, and shoots Vanilla that immobilizes enemies while charging up. Maybe could be a plant in Ancient Atlantiz above-water levels(Based on: Vanilla)
34: Sea Dragon - Underwater Ancient Atlantiz Snapdragon that shoots bubbles at Zombies, doing splash damage(Based on: Snapdragon)
35: Squid-shroom - An aquatic Ancient Atlantiz plant that shoots stunning Ink-Spores at Zombies. Credit to that person on PvZ Character Creator for this idea(I feel like this is too similar to that PvZ CC idea, so might remove) (Based on: Aquatic Gilled Mushroom)
36: Mallowmortar - Fires three massive Marshmellows that immobilize Gargantuars and crush small enemies. With how giant and powerful Mallowmortar is, it takes up a 4x4 area[Design: Mallowmortar from PvZ BFN, but with more Plant-like features] (Based on: Marshmallow Plant)
37: Thornbush - Defensive Plant that shoots thorny vines at Zombies that come near it(Based on: Rose Bush)
38: Sea Peashooter - Underwater Ancient Atlantiz Peashooter that shoots bubbles at Zombies which gradually covers them in Bubbles, which pop and explode after a short delay(Based on: Pea)
39: Barmy Bubble Coral - Produces bubbles that float across the Lawn, trapping Zombies inside them and floating up to the Skies. Unlocked in Ancient Atlantiz(Based on: Bubble Coral)
40: Scaredy Shell - Hides inside of an Oyster, shooting pearls at Zombies from afar. When enemies are close, it hides inside of its sturdy Oyster Shell(Based on: Seashell)
41: Snareweed - Ancient Atlantiz Plant that illuminates dark water and traps Zombies inside of its kelp-like Jellyfish tentacles. Design: a plant-like jellyfish with Kelp tentacles(Based on: Giant Kelp)
That is all of my Plant ideas for PvZ 2: It's About Time. I hope you liked them, and you are free to both criticize and praise them.
submitted by sulalaila to PlantsVSZombies [link] [comments]


2023.03.24 02:25 ThrowawayFoxette Why does it feel like there's a glass wall between me and everyone else?

Tw: loneliness described in depth, unhealthy self-perception
Because it does, and it hurts, and I was thinking you all would probably relate.
The best way I can describe it is that, in groups of people, I perceive myself as part of the environment rather than another person. Like it astounds me every time that someone notices me (in a positive way), and there's some part of me that freezes from shock when I'm spoken to. The idea of interacting with others doesn't even occur to me unless they initiate it. When I have needs (bladder, food, drink, ect.) my first thought is to ignore them or wait for a time that caring for them is convenient. I can't imagine feeling at ease like "normal people" do and I certainly can't imagine that being my normal.
I feel I'm inherently other and it's not entirely/entirely a self-esteem thing. It's how my default system perceives me and my "available" or "safe" interactions with the external world.
I ache for connection but the concept is foreign, and this feeling of otherness convinces me it's not possible. It's difficult to tell myself otherwise in the first place and, the longer I live like this, the more it's reinforced. My mind wasn't programmed to create connection either. I wouldn't know where to start.
I'm bone-achingly lonely and, ironically, I think you all are too.
(Advice wanted if you've reached a point where you have it. If not for me, then for somebody else. Mainly I think we could all use some validation here. I've never seen this described well and we weren't taught to trust ourselves.)
submitted by ThrowawayFoxette to emotionalneglect [link] [comments]


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submitted by Due_Set7720 to udemyfreebies [link] [comments]


2023.03.24 02:09 nilayj Wrote this trying to make sense of what happened

“What does the world expect from you?”

I was just still. You don’t… you don’t move when you hear that. It was close to my ear. I could feel the breath. On my ear. The slight brush against it. Turned around in my bed and saw nothing. I slowly lifted the covers over my face. It was dark. But kept imaging that thought. That right besides me, looking over me, there is somebody.

I don’t know for how long I was awake. I can’t remember when I went to bed. That falling sensation. But I woke up. The covers were over my face still. I raised my hands slowly. My fingers curled about the edge of my comforter, slowly with each finger in sequence, grabbing on to it. At the top of it. Planned to drag the comforter down. I knew I would see nothing. I knew I would. But I felt different. I felt I would.

Just five inches above my head. I was in a cocoon. I didn’t want to get out. But I had only five inches before I could raise my head upwards and see my room again. Had just moved in recently.

I was slow. I wanted to be slow. Wasn’t sleepy. Just careful. It was a steady rate. I don’t know whether I am a fighter or not. I don’t think you could tell either way by how I moved the comforter. I don’t know why I was so slow. I don’t think I was scared enough to keep hiding. But definitely scared enough that I didn’t want to be surprised by anything. I didn’t want to.

One inch. Was beginning to feel my chest hurt a bit. Not like an elephant on it. But as if I was just trying to breath less and less. Be quieter. Be more conserving of each breath. Thus just slowing down everything. Stiffening myself. Already was stiff with my arms and legs. Legs hadn’t moved for a minute. Was dragging the comforter down for say just a bit less than a minute. But now, finally, began to breath more slowly.

Two inches. I could feel my legs getting warmer. A heat there. Around my ankles but slowly climbing up. It was nerves.

Three inches. Everything was the same. I did shake my right hand ever so slightly for a sec, but controlled myself. Not even a sec. Kept going. Didn’t even stop during. Wasn’t going to let it be that easy.

Four inches. I began to feel my neck tense up. An upwards force began. The anticipation say. Then a downwards to keep it in check. Definitely prepared. Couldn’t afford to lose this.

Getting close to five inches, I began to feel, the room about my hair. It was cold. A type of cold that was also moist. Like walking outdoors after a storm. A storm which happened at night. Ground was still plenty cool. Air as well. Same air in my room as well. Then…

Five inches. Raised my head and I saw nothing.

It was 3 am. Still plenty dark outside. Plenty dark inside too. Decided to walk out of the bed. I was a bit calmer. But first placed my feet firmly on the carpet. Still was sitting quietly on the bed. Looked at the window blinds. Did that for more than five minutes. Breathing slowly still, but not as heavily. A car passed by. It’s headlights slivered through the blinds, dragging light. Across my room’s walls. Heard it drive away, as it turned past my home. That slight engine hum.

Was enough light that I decided to stand up. Did so. Slowly but surely. Steady. Decided to walk out of the room. Drink a glass of water.

Saw the door. Of course I felt cold again. My heart sunk. Chest tightened quietly. But I placed my right hand on the door knob. Slowly grabbing it. Finger after finger. Stiffened my grip about. Began to turn clockwise. It was quiet. I already regretted the next step. It would creak. It does it the most when I least want it too. I was nervous about it. It was even darker outside than my room.

Finally felt the pressure. Reached the end. Began to pull inwards. Towards me. I got to the edge of the door. Trying to peek around ever so gently. My left hand clung to my sides. A firmness to it. Trying to be slim. Can’t risk it. Was walking backwards slowly. But I was using my heels. Not my toes. Couldn’t afford that much. I saw what I expected. Nothing. It was dark. Almost pitch black. Only saw the slight glimmer of the bathroom doorknob.

The door wasn’t creaking still. About halfway done. I was debating. Do I walk out? Would have to maneuver around. Could cause a creak if I bump into it by accident. Or do I keep pulling it out? Would I feel the pressure of the curl? That ever so slight curl, hopefully telling me to stop, and slow down even more. That friction. Which causes the creaks. The result.

I kept pulling the door. Had to trust myself. You just have to. Faith. At a certain point everything is circular. Kept going.

One inch. About the circumference. I didn’t hear anything still. I was paying attention. Or was trying to. Kept looking out more. Could look out even more. Was getting confident. If something was on the other side, if it could see in the night, it would see me. My face. But I didn’t see anything. Didn’t hear anything-

Creak

Stayed still.

Stayed very still.

I was still in frame. I wasn’t cold. But I was still. Then heard a bump.


Kept looking out. A minute passed. The clock began to tick away. The sound would fade in and out. It wasn’t unusual. Did that often. A pattern. Then I remembered. Remembered my phone. It has a flashlight. I could see it. Just walked over. Didn’t hear anything in that span. Couldn’t see anything either. But couldn’t see what was out in general.

Grabbed it. Opened it. Turned the flashlight on. Walls were supposed to be beige. But the white light wasn’t strong enough. The wall had a gray tint about it as well.

Held it firm. Particularly firm. Swung around. Not slow anymore. Immediately my eyes looked through the door. Nothing. Then I looked at the door. Nothing there as well.

I just didn’t care anymore. I walked straight through the door into the hallway, found the four switches that lit most of the rooms but the basement and flipped them upwards. Nothing. Not a single thing out of place. Went into the bathroom. Turned on the light. Same. Checked the closets. Nothing still.

Immediately looked down the stairs into the basement. I didn’t care anymore. Loudly walked downwards, turning all the lights, going into the finished rooms and finally opening the unfinished, and nothing there as well.

I was alone. Just as should have been. Confident too about this.

Was hungry. Not much open besides a Denny’s. Stepped outside. A light rain had begun. Had a jacket. The streetlight illuminated the road yellow. Dark dots patterned the road. Could feel though form the get go.

Stepped into my car. Turned on the engine. Heard it start. Released the manual break. Put into drive. Was breaking still- “Not so fast”- Slammed the accelerator and drove fast, passing the street stoplights, saw some windows light up, kept going, turning aggressively, passing the few cars parked on the edges, on to the main road, kept going until hit a red stoplight.

I was breathing hard. I was breathing really hard. Rain began to dial up. Blue and red flashes illuminated the inside. It was a cop.

Pulled over. Told him what I was telling you. He was a nice person. He saw what I was going through. Asked him if I could get a warning. He said sure and decided to check up on the house. Went in. I asked him “you don’t believe me do you?” He said “things happen. I want to say I am brave but I get scared as well. But am just quicker to react. You did the same actaully. I have heard my fair share as well. We all have.” Said he was going to write down a warning, for the system, but I wasn’t in trouble. Said I should still go to the Denny’s. As he was heading out a neighbor had come out. She was a nice lady. Late seventies. The cop told her everything’s fine. I tried to apologize, but she cut me out by saying “Dear you are fine-you are fine!” The cop told her about my plans. She offered to drive me down herself personally. Felt a grumble anyhow. Cheat day for her diet she said.

Ate some stuff. Told her what happened. She didn’t believe me frankly. Then the salt moved in front of us.

She looked at me. I turned my head to the right. The waiter saw it as well. He was just staring. He asked us “you saw that right?”

She paid for my meal and dropped me off. By now it was six. Sunrise. I closed her car door. Was looking at her. She was looking straight ahead. A concerned face. Quiet. But then she turned right, saw me looking at her, and smiled. Looked ahead and drove down the street into her driveway. I turned then and looked at my driveway. Still raining. Walked in.

It’s been two months and I haven’t heard anything since. Nothing has moved either. But decided to write this down. Try to get it somewhat.
submitted by nilayj to nosleep [link] [comments]


2023.03.24 01:55 PatientHealth7033 Anyone have wine PH test strips that can recreate a recipe?

Started a Kilju a few days ago that seems like it's having a hell of a lag phase. If I tighten the cap and shake it up, it's a little fizzy. But isn't nearly cloudy enough nor foamy enough for 71B having been at it for 3-5 days.
I'm thinking it might be a little too acidic. But I don't have any test strips for PH, the homebrew store is 1.5hr round trip away (gas prices), the test strips are like $8, I'm kinda broke...
I was experimenting in making fake honey to see how it turns out. If anyone might want to give it a shot...
Invert sugar: 235mL (1cup) water. 1Kg sugar 1 cap lemon juice. Simmer for about an hour on low heat once it reaches a low simmer. Remover from heat and add tea+nutrient to dilute once it drops below about 85C/185F
Tea 200mL (1 cup) water 1 Yogi Bedtime tea bag 1 Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea bag A dash of Herbs De Province A dash of thyme 1/2 a daily vitamin 1/2 a calcium+magnesium+Zinc tablet 1/4 of a B complex vitamin A small handful of chopped raisins Steep the tea (I think I did about an hour), strain through fine strainer, coffee filter or French press, reheat, add vitamins crushed to a fine powder, stirring throughly, pour into molten sugar, stir thoroughly, pour into 1L glass jar and wait till mostly cool.
For making the Kilju, I added 1/2 the fake honey syrup to 1/2 gal (2 L) of bottled spring water, shook vigorously for several minutes till completely disolved, added yeast starter, shook vigorously and then topped off to about 3.3L (not quite a gallon, need to leave room for the other half the syrup for adding later) and have been giving it a shake about once a day since. I don't recall 71B having this long of a lag phase. I've used it 5 or 6 times at least. A couple times it had a lag phase of about 30-40 hours. But at least 3 of the 4 times I've used it it started bubbling and foaming almost instantly.
I'm wondering if the PH is too far off for it. As the yeast should be viable. I've been keeping an ongoing starter that I keep adding a little diluted sugar syrup to every couple days. And the starter seems to be fine.
submitted by PatientHealth7033 to prisonhooch [link] [comments]


2023.03.24 01:52 Dog_in_Boots Der Weizenbauer, Chapter 9: The Water Nymph of Hamburg

First-Previous

Novelty.
It had all been a novelty.
He’d spent most of his life in the city, and where he had experienced the countryside it hadn’t been… complete, he supposed. As an MP he had been stationed wherever the men were. He’d seen the Belgian and French villages where the soldiers bunked, but those places had been dead. Or maybe not dead, it would’ve been more accurate to say they were frozen.
The farmers had either fled or joined the enemy, the women had either gone with them or hid away in their houses, the animals were pilfered either on High Command’s orders or by the average enlisted, and the children had all been evacuated for safety.
Meaning that those places were… lifeless, yes, lifeless. The dirt was undisturbed, the gardens overgrew their boundaries, the stables were all left empty, and the hamlets became nothing more than a simple barracks with all the associated activities.
But this place… it was filled with life.
Instead of the stink of unwashed bodies, the air choked with the smell of freshly plowed dirt, animal manure, and the ever-present damp from the irrigation. When he wished to go somewhere, the roads he walked were unpaved, and instead of being able to take a streetcar, he was relegated to horseback.
It all had been a novelty, but after two days, said novelty had worn off.
It had all become thoroughly grating. Every detail, every small thorn, it all infuriated him. The villagers eyed him with suspicion, their submission to the noble rankled his politics, and their ignorant habits rubbed his own in the exact way to cause anger.
But then there was him.
“There, right there!”
“Yes sir, I see the damage. How can you be sure that-“
“Damn you man! How many times have I told you that my people would never steal from me!?”
“Sir…” Hoehne drifted off, stifling his frown before readjusting in the saddle, then, as though the thing had tightened to annoy him, his uniform’s collar.
“There must be something you can do! Have the bloody outsiders already castrated our Emperor’s men!?” Hoehne had to give the man credit. Despite his visible agitation he managed to not raise his voice, sitting perfectly on the line between a stern rebuke and a snarl.
“Sir, I can report your complaints, but I cannot act on them until I get back to Hamburg. After that, it is out of my hands. The women decide what the bureaucracy is focused on.”
“You trust women to handle affairs?”
Hoehne stifled the groan, his agitation mandating that he fiddle with his kit.
“Sir, it is not a matter of trust, it is a matter of me being forced. They are my superiors in rank, while you are my superior in only class.” Ah, the perfect hidden dagger for dealing with both old men and with nobles, and especially when they are one and the same. Acknowledge superiority, while stating submission to military order.
Said man, ‘Herr’ Weizenbauer, squirmed atop his mount, his gray mustache quivering as he glared off at the broken fence.
“Then it matters not, victory or defeat, Germany still circles the drain?”
“It appears so sir. I give you my word that I will-“ both of them jumped, an unnatural series of rings filling the air as though a spirit had brought along their handbells. Hoehne was the first to recover, realizing it was the ‘omnipad’s signal for his attention.
And thus, an order.
With a bit more speed than one would expect of a conscript, he fumbled with the leather pouch and retrieved the glass rectangle, tapping excitedly with his fingers when he read Krises’s name on the alarm.
“Are you still a captive?” Bliss, perfect bliss, the dry sarcasm washing over him like water in the middle of the Sahara.
“Yes, what do you need?”
“Given his son’s tardiness, tell the head of House Weizenbauer he is required for a meeting in the Berlin Palace on October twelfth. Attendance is mandatory.”
And Hoehne’s water evaporated.
“Sir, I have been informed that you are needed in Berlin.” The old creature broke from glaring, looking at him with a bit of surprise.
“The thing has told you that? No matter, what is the need that I must attend to?”
“It does not say sir, only that you must attend a meeting in the Berliner Schloss on the twelfth of next month.”
The man glanced down for a moment, thinking, and then turned his wrinkled face back to Hoehne. “Never mind that, there truly is nothing in your power to deal with these bandits? Several of my boys have already volunteered. I have arms, powder, and shot, and they are all veterans. You could lead them, I doubt it would take more than a day.”
“Yes sir, I am sorry, I have already spent too much time here for my superiors liking. I must return to Hamburg.” He grumbled for a moment, frowning off at nothing before giving a single dismissive wave. Hoehne didn’t spare even a moment, not trusting the Noble to bring up yet another complaint, and thus another delay. With a bit more force than necessary the MP tugged on his horse’s reins, taking off down the dirt road at a brisk trot, only slackening in the saddle once he’d fully escaped the man.
Back to civilization.
-
She’d figured out how to describe it, or maybe not describe it, not perfectly, but she’d figured out how to… categorize it, yeah, that sounded right.
Reactive to active. Defensive to offensive. Bitter to sweet.
That was the transformation, like the doctors had replaced his brain, not his legs, and it showed her the galactic similarity.
Whether they were Shil’, Rakiri, Senthe, Gorkve, or Human, nobles are nobles.
Ma’tellie watched from her bench, Otto, the trains, the passengers, the conductors, the entire world, all of it acted correctly, until it would suddenly shift. One moment she would see the man in one place at the booth, speaking with the attendant, his posture making him look just a step from fully irate, the world would flash to darkness, and then he’d be in a new spot.
She needed a powernap, and Otto didn’t seem to be making any progress.
So, she simply leaned back on the bench.
“Ma’tellie! Wake-” Otto teleported, clicking his finger in her face and making her lurch awake.
-You-” She couldn’t pick out the words, so she groggily reached for the translator and flicked it on.
“Are you okay?”
“Ah- Y-yeah- just…”
“It’s no matter, we’ll have to find a hotel.” He almost snarled the last word, continuing, “apparently the commoners have all lost their discipline. First that sergeant dared strike his… nevermind,” again, he practically snarled, but took a deep breath to regain himself.
“Something has happened, and the attendant won’t tell me what. There aren’t any trains East at this time. It seems we shall be delayed.” The bad news hardly hit her, and the frown that would’ve only been a resigned pout before barely even registered in her mind, the simple promise of a bed pressed it to the side. Though the frustration on the man’s face quickly vanished, Otto swapped to pure concern.
“You didn’t have to wait for me to wake up from the surgery. It is not proper for a woman to lose sleep over a man.” Her own heated up, and the exhaustion made the thought slip out of her mouth.
“I wanted to- Well- I wanted to see you smile.” The man flushed ever so slightly, before regaining his composure, “well… thank you. Now, let’s get you into a bed, come.”
Again, the change made itself apparent. He grabbed her hand, pulling her vertical before snatching their bags before she reached them, leading them both out of the station.
-
They were going to be late, but he couldn’t bring himself to care.
The moment they entered the room, Ma’tellie charged for the bed. Tearing off her dress first, then her boots, her socks, and finally removing her underwear. She didn’t stop to throughout the process, she didn’t pay even an ounce of thought to the action, instead dropped each article of clothing as she half-ran, half-stumbled towards the mattress.
The immodesty put some heat on his face, but the trail of clothing turned it into humor, which became a full chuckle when she lay down, or more accurately, fell down, and immediately began snoring into the pillow. He went to remove his own shirt, but hesitated before unfastening the first button.
It wouldn’t be proper to join her uninvited, and even if the small couch had looked more comfortable, he didn’t think he was capable of sleeping.
The whole world was his!
He could use the stairs at his leisure, he could walk the street without a care, he could simply be without needing aid…
Otto turned to his own luggage, popping open the latches and searched through the clothing with quivering, excited hands. For the last five years he’d been in uniform, and in the past half a year he’d transitioned between the alien’s hospital wear, his work clothing, or said uniform without fail. Thus, pulling out his town-suit felt like pulling Excalibur from the stone. Only as he finished buttoning his collar did his hand brush his face, and another rush of excitement tore through him.
He hadn’t shaved himself in months!
He immediately began to search his luggage, before realizing that the razor would be with Ma’tellie’s things. Just as his hand reached the bag did another thought race to the forefront, giving him pause. He had been able to shave himself, at least had been able to after his hands had stopped quaking, but the woman had always insisted she do it. She’d always seemed to want to do it.
Perhaps… perhaps he could be an ape in a suit, at least for a day.
Maybe he could get a haircut while he was out? Though, what hairstyle would she have preferred? Father had always let mother cut his hair to her own liking; how did the men of her people keep theirs?
He decided against it, he’d ask when she woke.
At that he looked back towards her. Taking the opportunity to admire her form. The fact that she was both face down and spread eagle made the musculature in her back pop out and her breasts mushroom out from beneath her. Even her leg made her look more appealing, hanging half of the bed and pressing out her backside.
Otto couldn’t help the grin, only for an edge to slide across his heart.
He hadn’t done enough, he hadn’t… no, wasn’t treating her properly, not by a mile. Ma’tellie seemed satisfied with the… rendezvous, but that wasn’t proper. If he’d been casting judgement on a man doing exactly as he had, it would’ve been beyond critical.
No, he ought to… well, give her a gift? He wasn’t sure, perhaps something would come to him whilst testing his limbs.
-
She was out.
It wasn’t comfortable, it wasn’t quiet, it wasn’t loud, there were no vivid dreams, or any dreams at all, it was just… nothing.
Perfect nothing.
And it didn’t last.
The peace was tossed away… something was thumping on her skull like a hammer on the walls of a ship. She tried to ignore it, to furrow her brow against it, but it wouldn’t give up. Finally, it became too much for her, for her temper, and she snapped.
Opening her eyes felt like rolling up wet paper, the organs felt like they were covered in sludge, her throat felt hollowed out, her tongue had gotten too big for her mouth.
And she was furious.
Ma’tellie’s brain boiled with anger, and she immediately flipped onto her butt.
Only to melt.
Grüß Gott!” Otto held a sausage into her face, and the smell of fat hit her. The surprise jammed her mind, and she stupidly stared at it. At that he shook it a little, waving it under her nose. She went to bite it, only for him to pull it away, waving her towards a full platter of food.
Goddess, she was hungry.
In the blink of an eye she was there, sliding into the chair, grabbing a meat-tube in each hand, and shoveling them into her mouth. When she finally pulled her face out of the pile, mainly to breathe, she saw that the noble was still standing by the bed, frozen in shock.
That had been a misstep! They- Their women are supposed to eat small porti-
The panic was swept away, the man’s warm laughter filling the air as he walked over to join her. He set her omnipad onto the table, put the sausage back onto its pile, and then pulled out a packet of little wooden firesticks. In his last act he lit what she recognized as ‘kerzen’, the four little fires sitting atop the wax sticks and covering the table in a yellow glow.
Huh, she hadn’t noticed the lights were off, and the sun had started to set.
What was he-
Otto pushed a napkin into her hand, laughing when she jumped, before pushing her omnipad into the now grease free palm. Ma’tellie was still half asleep, and still half stumbled with surprise, thus it took a moment of staring at the object to get over the confusion.
The translation app let out a beep, and he began speaking.
“How was your sleep? Sofija told me you raid the pantry and hide away to eat, so I went for a larger serving than I think either of us could manage. Your people do not eat alone, no?” Again, her head wasn’t cooperating, and after gawking at him for a few seconds her brain managed to formulate words.
“Oh! Uhhh, no, yes- I mean, yes, we eat together.”
“Wonderful, I also found us a treat or two.” He ducked down, returning with a bottle from beside his chair, flourishing the dark brownish item with a bit of pride.
“Have you tried Cognac?” The translator cut out the last word, indicating that it was a proper noun, while his absolutely glowing smile indicated it was a luxury. Ma’tellie responded by simply shaking her head, gesturing for the man to continue.
“A dessert, please, eat.” He gestured for her to continue, and Ma’tellie finally suppressed the hunger. It took a moment, but she found the fork and knife, grasping the ceramic handles and daintily continuing to eat. Though, she still practiced her usual caution, sneakily watching the man show how the specific dish was eaten.
He cut a slice off the sausage, using his fork to scoop a small amount of the yellowish seed paste onto it, before finishing the assembly with a larger scoop of the vegetables. With a sigh, she realized that she’d seen this one before, going through the motions of adding the ‘mustard’ and ‘sauerkraut’ together with each bite.
When she glanced back up from the meal, the man was watching her. His eyes glancing over her form as though he was gauging her reaction to the setup. Ma’tellie quickly turned back to the food, letting out an appreciative hum before looking back, a flutter going through her chest at Otto’s little smile.
“Are you feeling up for some activity after this?”
“Huh? What do you have planned?” The smile grew, and the man pulled more from under the table, flourishing them with the same pride as before.
“I’d- well, I visited the local barracks for a suit for you. I know how to swim, I thought we could go visit the Elbe, I could teach you how.”
She hid the surprise of course, beaming at him as she responded.
“You went into a- Wait, why do you assume I don’t know how to swim?” she couldn’t help the coy grin.
He didn’t hide his own, “ah. Well, I was going off my own experiences of course. I taught several of my own subordinates how so that we could more easily cross rivers. If I may be prideful, I would say I have gotten proficient in it. Is the sport more common among your kind?”
A plan immediately formed in her mind, “yes. You might still be able to show me a thing or two though.” Playing into his bias earned the best response she could’ve imagined. Otto straightened up more than his usual near-perfect posture, though it still didn’t overcome his discipline, he didn’t shake with excitement.
“Can I- we try the cognac? I’m interested.” That caught him off guard, the man jolting into motion as he reached back for the bottle, the now recognizable grin replacing the simple joy from before.
He looked like a naughty child.
“I suppose, no reason for formality if we have plans.” The bottle let out a popping noise as he pulled its plug, the glowing man producing two extremely small and almost ornate glasses. She thought that she should sip it slowly given the small portion, but the man tossed it back in one gulp, leading her to match him.
And she had to restrain the hack.
Strong, strong but familiar. Almost like a Red Grain but… matured, heavy. Still sweet, just a little bit thicker, and with a weaker taste of berries, but spicy. The strength of the alcohol combined with it to leave a burn from her lips all the way to her stomach.
When she blinked the tears away, the heat in her face became plasma.
He was grinning, hiding his laughter in his napkin, “sorry. I suppose I should have warned you. I’m guessing you won’t want another drink?” Even with the translator removing the inflections from his voice, his face still let the cheekiness leak through.
“No, I- I would like another.” He was still toothily grinning as he poured the next two, and when he turned back to his food, she decided to do the same.
And it was not to recover.
Deciding to stop being so reactive, Ma’tellie side eyed him as he ate, watching him drink the amber liquid and smile.
It was… different, not aimed at her, almost not even aimed at the drink itself. His eyes were a bit glossy, staring past the cup, and then past the world behind it.
“Is- Do you prefer that drink?” Otto snapped out of it, looking back at her and chuckling.
“No- well, it’s strange. I’m fond of this variety over all others, it is… special. I saw it in the shop and jumped to buy it.”
Ma’tellie would have to sneak that bottle away from him, or take a picture of it, could come in handy later.
“How’d you find out about it? It your father’s favorite?” That was comical to him, a single laugh escaping before he covered them with the back of his hand, “no. I imagine that father would turn his nose up at it for the sole reason that it comes from France. It was actually the British that led me to it.”
Bri- Oh! One of the powers that was in the war. Before she ask, he confirmed the thought.
“It must’ve been… Early fifteen if I remember correctly. We were scheduled to leave the line in a few days, and things were relatively quiet.” He paused, and she didn’t dare interrupt him. He’d never spoken on the fighting in any specifics, and watching his face roll over the memory left her giddy.
He didn’t show any pain.
“Just before the evening, a small shell landed out in no man’s land. Being the Lieutenant for that section I got called up of course, and we were on alert for an attack. Though none came, there wasn’t a single bomb for the rest of the evening. Now, we hadn’t know it at the time, but the battle lines were intersecting an old Chateau- ah, sorry, French estate. The rock of the area was chalky and hard, so the shell holes all filled up with water. When the blast hit, one of my Sergeants heard a crumbling noise and then the sound of water flowing, and quickly brought it to my attention.”
Again he paused, taking a breath and refilling his cup, quickly drinking it down with a shiver.
“Of course, I had to have it checked. If it was a British mining attempt then command had to be alerted, and things had been dull in the week prior, so I personally lead the expedition.” Ma’tellie caught herself leaning forwards, and didn’t correct herself when he noticed.
“When we happened upon it we certainly felt like fools, arriving to what we found was a cellar bristling with weapons. But instead of turning back, I chose to explore further, and thus we took our cutters and fashioned a rope from a decimated portion of razor wire. It felt like we were exploring some ancient dungeon, and the treasure we found only reinforced it.” At that he hefted the bottle, and when she quirked her head he chuckled.
“Three bottles of Cognac, resting in that place since before Little Napoleon took power.” Again she quirked her head, and he immediately corrected with, “ah. Sorry, eighteen fifty, sixty-eight of our years ago.” She gave an ‘ah’ of acknowledgement, waving for him to go one, resting her face on her knuckles as she watched him.
He grinned, and continued, “so we made off like bandits. I took the cognac and shared it among my Sergeants and a few fellow officers, and then sent the other two to my superiors. Told my men that they each were allotted two bottles of wine, and as much beer as they could carry so long as I didn’t catch them drunk.” After a second, he stifled a laugh, and then doubled over when it escaped.
“I still wonder if the British saw us. Were they all preparing for an attack? Quaking in their holes while we carted away beers in the moonlight?” Ma’tellie chuckled along with him, not finding as much humor in it, but still seeing the absurdity.
“Well, are you full? We could clean up-“
“I already paid the staff. They’ll handle it, are you read to go?”
“Yes, let’s-“ He was already up, the excitement overpowering his will and letting a few quivers pass over him. He made to grab her and pull her along, but stopped, glancing down from her eyes.
“Ah… I doubt that your peculiarity will excuse your…” he trailed off, still looking below her eyes.
Oh, yeah…
She was nude.
Ma’tellie pushed out her chest.
-
Thank the Goddess that he’d thought about it.
It was weird, it seemed like something he would have done mentally, but also something he wouldn’t do physically. She’d helped clean his trophies, she’d both seen and read about his medals, intellectually she knew it was the type of thing he should do.
But… well, she hadn’t actually seen him do something like it before.
He’d always been… inert, inactive, like his initiative to just engage with the world had been blown away with his legs.
But they were back, and thus, that old thing she knew had existed showed itself for the first time.
The night was cold, freezing even, and only the marine-issue swimming suit beneath the dress that the farmwomen had sewn let it be bearable. Honestly, now that she looked around, it was almost like a cold version of a Shil’ summer. The humidity of the sea filling the blue night sky with fog, a slight gust of wind, and a tinge of salty humidity in each breath.
Yeah, Shil, but cold.
Otto picked up the pace, pulling her along ever so slightly in his excitement. Ma’tellie immediately sped up to match him, pulling the noble tighter against her side to ward away the cool evening. It was so strange, so wonderfully abnormal, to walk with him side-by-side, her arm wrapped under his.
It was perfect.
They finally reached the end of their journey. The stone road reaching what looked like either a canal or a reinforcement to the river, a high wall of similarly stone bricks raising the walkway above the tide by fifteen or so feet. A few people walked along the canal, illuminated by the gas-powered streetlights, but it seemed like most of the natives had already gone in for the night.
Otto was entirely uncaring for their surroundings, leading her down to the water’s edge, practically bouncing down the stairs given his excitement.
“Alright, I asked around, apparently this portion doesn’t have too strong a tide. Should be safe to have a dip, do you-“ Ma’tellie cut him off, having slipped out of the dress while he was turned away from her. With all the grace expected of a Shil’, she dived in, practically flying under the water before turning back up, bursting through the surface with a little spin.
“Good idea on the swimsuit!” Truthfully, the water was freezing, but the standard issue wet suit kicked in immediately. If it had covered her head, hands, and feet, it would’ve been perfect. Otto didn’t respond to her words, standing stunned with his mouth hanging open ever so slightly.
Finally, he recovered from it, setting the omnipad back down onto the pavement before beginning on his own clothing. Of course she watched, floating on her back and tilting her head to look at him. Giggling as he struggled out of the strange, dull, black and white clothing he seemed so proud to wear. Once he’d unbuttoned the top though, the giggles became full blown laughter, especially once he’d gotten his pants off.
“What?”
“It’s just- Is that a swimsuit?”
“Yes!?” His face flushed ever so slightly as he tugged on the blue striped, white cloth that made up his trunks and shirt.
“Well… I just didn’t expect that is all. Come on!” He had a moment of indecision, of self-consciousness, but eventually he followed her into the water.
And it wasn’t just his swim wear that was ancient.
He paddled over to her, keeping his head above the surface the entire time. When he reached her, he tried to float alongside, kicking and readjusting every ten or so seconds.
Ma’tellie pressed the air out of her lungs, diving beneath the waves before shooting back up at his side. He flinched, losing his focus, and sinking, but she pulled him to her chest before he even had time to struggle.
The heat of his face felt wonderful.
When she spoke, they were too far from the omnipad, and thus she leveraged her practice. “I… you good swimmer I thought?” Her mouth stumbled over the words, her poor German struggling and grating along her throat as it escaped. His blush got worse, and when he turned to hide his eyes, it only pointed them at her tits, making it grow redder.
“-not as good as you.” She didn’t know the first word, but the idea was clear enough given his restrained pout.
“Come… I… I show how, yes?” He nodded, but the pout stayed stuck on. Ma’tellie restrained the squeal, and then with every ounce of her will she slid from his warmth, kicking a few feet away from him. She ushered for him to follower, her cheeks straining from how wide her smile had grown, and the man jumped to comply.
Again, he paddled, keeping his head above water and visibly struggling against the waves.
Did they- had they not figured out swimming as a culture? Or at least ‘real’ swimming? She’d never even considered that as a thing.
Ma’tellie giggled at him through the entire process, and especially when he squawked a word she didn’t know. It was too much for her to handle, absolutely too much, the combination of his tuskless face, the almost toddling way he swam, the pout.
It all combined into the purest, physical form of the very concept of ‘cute’.
She couldn’t help it, she wrapped her arms back around him, pulled him up to her face, and locked her lips with his.
-
Of course, he had jumped.
It wasn’t a needy embrace, more of a… pleasant thing. Like a hummingbird, fluttering from his lips and down into his chest.
When she pulled away from it, that feeling became all the more pronounced. Her pure joy radiated out, washing over him, and he returned it.
The plan had worked, but the mere fact that it did so made him feel like a bastard.
He had been non-attendant, non-reciprocative, non-masculine. That she showed so much joy showed that he had been too cold, too lost, and he would never allow it to be that way again.
Ma’tellie gently shoved him away, coasting backwards like an otter with a clam. Finally she brought herself to a sharp stop, opening her mouth but unable to find the correct words. Instead, she simply pointed to her own eyes, and then to him, very deliberately showing her strange swimming technique.
She lay down forwards in the water entirely, just as she would lay out on a bed, using her arms like a waterwheel to pull herself forwards while her legs kicked behind. Slowly she increased her own speed, circling about him in the gloomy water, moving at a pace unmatchable by a human.
Yes, he had been good at swimming, but he didn’t need to make an excuse.
Yes, he hadn’t done so in months, yes, his new legs provided a strange balance to his body, and yes, the foreigners had some strange technique.
But it must have been more than that. She moved like a torpedo towards a ship, like a dolphin towards a fish, sliding through the water with an almost unnatural grace. Yes, their race must have been gifted with the ability by God, there was no alternative explanation that would come to his mind.
Finally, she ended it with a display, diving bellow the surface, disappearing into the murk, before shooting back out. Just as she had the first time, she burst forth from the river, flipping once through the air before landing with a great splash. When he blinked the liquid from his eyes, she had already swam the four or so meters between them, wrapping him up in her embrace once again.
Another kiss, and then in broken, halting, wonderful German, “turn for you?”

*Sorry guys, guess it's been a bit. Life has been getting in the way, but I hope you enjoyed this late Valentine's Day Weizenbauer Chapter. The story will be picking up pace here soon, so chapters should be coming out faster (aka, not two months in between posts).
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2023.03.24 01:51 Tiago28 Friend subconsciously disrespecting me in front of others

This is going to be a long post, I hope you have the time to read this. Maybe you've had a friend like this one that I am going to share in this post.
My friend (and coworker) has subconsciously been disrespecting me over time. When we are alone, he acts differently, he respects me and he has a better attitude toward me. In front of others, he calls me out and I feel he is disrespectful to me, he seems to be trying to make me look bad. I feel he is been doing this subconsciously.
One detail that might be important is, this started happening more frequently after I got a girlfriend. Of course, now I don't have much time to go out with him and hang out.
I am going to share some occasions where I noticed this. Keep in that this happens in a group of friends or even at the office, in front of coworkers:
Most of what he says is in a joking way, but I don't think it is funny anymore because it has been happening times enough for me to be upset, lose my patience, and write this post. It crossed my mind that he may be jealous of me, or he feels inferior compared to me and he is trying to make me look bad to feel superior and better with himself.
I don't think I am overreacting because this has been happening for quite some time and I have ignored most of his attitudes. I have always been nice and a good friend to him and I don't think I deserve this kind of treatment. I am his best friend at the office and I feel he treats me the worst, it is so weird... I don't get it. He is abusing my confidence and I think it is time to cut the friendship although it will be hard because we work at the same office.
Any advice?
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2023.03.24 01:45 Aki_Tansu What edible plants do you recommend I grow inside?

TLDR; what are some fairly small edible house plants I could plant in inside a glass terrarium (there’s is no animal living in it)? I would prefer something that won’t get too tall since it’s only 18 inches tall, and things that can grow together inside the same glass “enclosure” - have the same approximate heat, light, humidity needs. I would prefer things like herbs, veggies, edible roots, peppers, fruits, etc. but I’m also open to edible flowers and stuff like that.
I have cats - which unfortunately means I’ve had to give up almost every plant I had othetwise the plant would get eaten/beat up, or potentially make the cats sick. I have a small green house with a pothos in it and some succulents but that’s it at the moment.
Unfortunately my two sweet gerbils passed away this week and I’m wondering what to do with their massive glass tank. I could sell it, but I wouldn’t get much for it - and I would have to spend that money or more, on buying a table for our bearded dragon’s tank that’s currently on top of this one.
So here’s my thoughts - I don’t really want another small pet at the moment because I just don’t think I can at this time provide them with the socialization and quality time being held due to my health and the cats.
I was thinking of putting plants in it instead!
For specifics, my tank is a solid glass tank on five sides with a mesh and metal locking lid. The front of the tank has two glass doors that latch shut (and are cat-proof). It’s your run of the mill reptile terrarium. It’s 36 inches long, 18 inches deep, 18 inches tall. It’s water sealed on all sides with about a 2-3 inch tall base lip. If you went to the pet store and looked for long glass reptile tanks, you’d probably find this one. If I wanted to I could fill the whole base with about 2-3 inches of potting soil and plant plants directly into it but I was thinking of keeping them in some type of pot for better drainage and easy of moving and taking care of them. It doesn’t currently have any lights hooked up to it and doesn’t get much natural light. It gets artificial light from my ceiling light but there’s no windows. But I can always buy whatever lamp for it that would work. The lamp would sit on top of the mesh lid, so it won’t be inside the actual 18 inch height limit.
Because of the way the gerbils tank was set up I also have two 5.5 gallon glass fish tanks and a 10 gallon fish tank that’s available. They could go inside the big tank or go off to the side of it as an additional small plant case. Those three are solid glass on five sides without a front door like the big one, and I can buy mesh lids for each of them.
I also have a “false wall” that can go inside the big tank to create two separate 18x18x18 boxes or any variation of length sizes if I were to have plants that had different requirements. I also have a thermometer and a hydrometer that I can add in if the plant requires special temperatures or humidity things and if I really needed to (I’d rather not) I could buy a machine to add humidity into the tank.
Okay so after all that long ramblings, here’s my question - what are some fairly small edible house plants I could plant in it? I would prefer something that won’t get too tall since it’s only 18 inches tall, and things that can grow together inside the same “enclosure” - have the same approximate heat, light, humidity needs. My thoughts right now are probably things like green onions, herbs, and maybe some small things like that. My partner thinks peppers would work too but I’m worried they’d get too tall. I would prefer things like herbs, veggies, fruits, etc. but I’m also open to edible flowers and stuff like that.
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2023.03.24 01:34 IvorFreyrsson English Magic, Vol. 2, Ch. 11

After the younger Haarthuu had left, Elizabet and I simply sat a while, discussing the decidedly odd interaction.
“I mean, she certainly seems nice, but I worry that she may try to come between us. I know you say that she won’t, but the fear is still there,” Elizabet said, hugging her arms.
“Hey, now,” I said softly. “The word is can’t. She can’t come between us. I love you, Elizabet. Not anyone else. Don’t forget that,” I said, gently stroking her arm.
She smiled and leaned into my chest, and I lay down, holding her to me. “There’s no force here that will keep me from loving you. Nobody could possibly come between us. That’s not a worry you should ever have,” I said, running my fingers through her auburn hair.
She sighed softly and snuggled close to me. “I will trust your word. I still think we will have to tread carefully when it comes to her. I don’t want us to unintentionally hurt her,” she said softly.
“Neither do I. Let’s get some sleep, okay?” I asked.
Elizabet sat up, removing her habit. I gazed longingly at her beautiful body, and undressed. We curled up in the bed, and she pressed my face into her warm cleavage. Sighing contentedly, I snuggled in, and let my exhaustion take me into dreams.
*********
The next morning, I was so stiff and sore that I could barely move. My back hurt intensely from pulling my new bow as much as I had, and my shoulders creaked and protested loudly every time I tried to move them. Ullr was correct. I was extremely sore.
“Well, that’s the last time I do that,” I said.
“Do what? “Elizabet asked as she bent over to retrieve her habit. I tried unsuccessfully to grab her ass, my arms seemingly being several hundred pounds of dead weight.
“Shoot like that. I can barely move. I’ll be alright in a bit, I just need to get myself up and moving,” I said, standing slowly.
Several joints in my body protested, creaking loudly and popping even louder as I stood beside the bed. I slowly dressed myself, planning to accompany Elizabet to breakfast. As I stomped my feet into my boots, we heard a knock at both doors.
Elizabet and I looked at each other, shrugged and we each opened a door.
“Hi Mr. Ivor! We brought you some breakfast,” Ahte-tan said.
“Hi, Elizabet. I brought you guys some breakfast. Would you mind if we all ate together?” Liss-ran said.
I started laughing and Elizabet covered her mouth in an attempt to stifle her mirth. Ahte-tan looked confused until he peered around me to see Liss-ran at the other door.
“Hi, Liss-ran! Have you come to have breakfast, too?” the child said happily, a broad smile on his face.
“Hello, Ahte-tan,” Liss-ran said sweetly. It looks like we all had the same idea, huh?” She looked up at Elizabet, smiling. “I say we should all have breakfast together. What does everyone think?” she asked.
“All of us, Liss-ran?” I asked.
“Sure! I’ve not had much chance to even get to know Talah-ma’at, much less the boys, so why not?” she said happily. “Also… I’ve not gotten to know much about you or Miss Elizabet. I think that would be a smart thing for family to do, right?” she added, somewhat embarrassed as her skin flushed.
“Absolutely, Liss-ran. Where would be the best place for seven people to eat?” Elizabet asked.
“With any kind of privacy? Outside. Unless one of you knows of somewhere more secluded?” Liss-ran posed.
“Well, it’s kind of cold out right now. I’d be fine, but the rest of you might not be.” I said, thinking. “How about my workshop? It’s not very far, and it’s more than big enough. What do you think, Elizabet?” I asked.
After a moment, she nodded. “Talah-ma’at?” she called, “We’re all going to Ivor’s workshop for breakfast with Liss-ran. Are you coming?”
“Absolutely! I’ll pick up a bit more food, and meet you there,” Talah-ma’at answered.
With that settled, I grabbed my bow, using the stave as a staff and we slowly made our way towards my workshop, my muscles and joints protesting every step of the way. My boys kept up a veritable torrent of chatter with us as we slowly walked.
After a few minutes, I opened the door to my workshop, pausing to remove the shield from the lamps I had installed. Liss-ran set the food she had brought on the central table that Loki had made, and looked around.
“So this is your workshop? What do you do here?” she asked as she walked around, inspecting each station, pausing to look at what would become my new Bag.
“Well, as you can see, I’m making a new bag there. It’s taken me a couple weeks to get this far. It will replace the one I have here” -I set my smaller red Bag down next to it- “as it will be several times the size of this one,” I said.
“This one is big enough that I could fit in it. Why is it taking so long to make? I don’t understand,” she said.
Elizabet chuckled lightly and watched. “It’s taking so long to make because I’m trying to figure out how much energy it’s going to take to replicate this,” I said as I reached into my Bag and pulled out the Dire Bear pelt.
“How did… Where did that come from? What is that bag?” Liss-ran asked, her eyes wide.
“This is a Bag of Holding, and I made it the same day I arrived on Chaia. It’s about full, and I need to replace it. It currently holds three of these” -I stuffed the pelt back into the Bag- “pelts, a full set of camp gear, several bundles of firewood, a bunch of stones, about my bodyweight in raw and dried meat, a couple of knives, both of my guns, and some fingers,” I said, and Elizabet recoiled from the Bag.
“Fingers? Fingers, Ivor? Why do you have fingers in the Bag?” she asked, horrified.
“Remember the idiots in Nogogard? The one that wanted to eat my boys? I took his third and fourth fingers from both hands. Stuffed them in the Bag, and kind of forgot about them,” I said sheepishly. “I should probably send those back to him,” I mused aloud.
“Ugh. No, just… just forget they’re there, okay? That’s morbid,” she said, holding her hand to her stomach.
Liss-ran had paled at the mention of the fingers, and stared at me in shock. “You… why did you take his fingers?” she asked.
“To put it bluntly, he wanted to eat Ahte-naah. I threatened him and warned him off, but he decided to press his luck. Along with a fellow Guard, they broke into the room we were sleeping in, and I beat them back, shredding my right arm in the process, when I punched through the floor. They got in a few good hits, though. I was extremely lucky that night. I took the one man’s fingers, making good on the promise I’d made earlier that day. I was going to take his hands, but I decided to be kind. He can still feed himself,” I said.
Liss-ran stared in shock and horror. “People do that?”
“Some do, yes. It’s something I had heard of while I was in the Guild underneath Gnok. I thought it was disgusting even then,” Elizabet said, barely repressing a shudder.
“Yeah. I was pretty incensed that it was even a thought in his head. I nearly killed him on the spot, but I was trying to be a bit more calm. We see how well that worked out,” I said wryly. “Anyway, let’s see about making some more space for my family, yeah?” I said, looking around.
Since the workshop was more or less a rectangular affair, I had some room to work with. I looked at the table and decided it would be best if I simply expanded it. I Shaped the table to be a bit lower in order to better accommodate the kids, then added another four feet to its length. I Duplicated the wooden chair several times over, and set them around the table. As an added flourish, I decided to Shape a lamp in the center of the table, complete with little designs in the shade, depicting a large, happy blended family sitting around a table for a meal. I walked outside, picking up one of the rounded waste stones, made a Light that was about as intense as a pair of candles, and made it flicker like fire. Setting it in the holder, and placing the shade over it, the designs were backlit to great effect. It almost looked like they were laughing and talking in the light.
“There we are. A table and chairs for my entire family. There’s room for Blainaut, Thaddeus and any partner they may decide to take, as well. Maybe we can make this our dining area for larger, more private, family meals?” I asked.
The kids were in awe of what I’d done, as was Liss-ran. Elizabet simply smiled as she watched me work, as she’d seen me do things like the before. The others hadn’t.
I was looking around, deep in thought, when Talah-ma’at came in, accompanied by Blainaut and Thaddeus, each carrying a tray of different foods.
“Oh! I see you’ve expanded the table. Good move, Ivor,” the lithe Lizardfolk woman remarked as she came in.
“Welcome! Blainaut, Thaddeus, this is my workshop. And, if everyone agrees, how about we make this our family dining area? I can find a way to cover or hide my work, if needed,” I said proudly.
Nodding appreciatively, Blainaut said, “Well! I’d no idea you were this industrious, my friend. Or that you had interests and skills this broad. I think this might be an excellent place for us to have meetings and family gatherings. What do you think, Thaddeus?”
Thaddeus looked around and smiled. “Ah say t’would be a right nice place. We should do this more,” the younger man said.
“I’ve a few more touches, and it’ll be done. Don’t worry, it won’t take much out of me to do,” I said excitedly.
I picked up the few sconces I had abandoned in my search to make the blacklight solution. Since they were made of mostly clear crystal, I figured they’d make decent windows. I took them and some waste stone to my open window, and Shaped window panes out of the sconces, and fittings out of the stone, and set them in the wide window I’d made previously, Fusing them in place. I figured I’d make a sign while I was at it, and across the top of the window panes I Shaped the words “Ivor's Workshop”, and in two of the side panes I put the words “Open” and “Closed”, respectively. Hollowing out a small recess above each letter on the top, I placed a low-intensity blacklight stone in each that would illuminate just the letters, and did the same for the “Open” and “Closed” panes, as well, but only making one stone that I could switch to the correct pane as needed. I set the stone in the “Closed” position.
“There! Now I’ve got a proper shop and can take orders. What do we think?” I said, turning to my family.
They all stood or sat there, in open-mouthed shock.
“What? What’d I do?” I asked in confusion.
“You know, he never ceases to amaze me?” Blainaut said to Elizabet.
“I know. Me too,” she replied. “Ivor, just how did you come up with this? I would never have even thought about using the crystals here in such a manner, let alone with the blacklights. Just…how?”
“I dunno. I guess I wanted a taste of Earth here. It isn’t the same, not quite, but it’s similar” -I sat down in one of the chairs- “to almost any storefront you’d find in most cities in my world. I always wanted my own shop. Now I have one,” I said simply.
“So, you mean to tell me that stores on Earth have crystal windows that are lit by these blacklights?” Blainaut asked.
“No, the windows are glass, and they’ll have lights made of neon tubes or something similar,” I replied.
“All the windows are glass on Earth. Most signage that is meant to be seen at night is neon or lit up in some way. Here. If it still works, I’ll show you,” I said, reaching into my Bag, removing an old backpack.
I sighed. I’d not thought about my phone or headset or anything technological from Earth since I’d arrived. Hopefully, it still had some charge to it. Or my backup power pack did, at least. I walked over to one of the workstations, setting the backpack down. Digging through the bag, I pulled out my kilt, and unrolled it, revealing my phone and power pack. I pulled a power cable out of a pocket of my kilt, and turned on my phone.
While it booted, I walked back to the table and sat down. I laid the phone down, screen up, on the table, and waited. The screen went magenta, and I heard the familiar T-Mobile jingle, which startled everyone around me. I smiled, and the phone completed its cycle, coming up to my home screen. I still had almost a full charge after a couple months of not being used. That would change in a few minutes, but it was good to see.
I waited a couple seconds, seeing that no service was found. My heart sank in my chest as the last hope I had of telling my mom and sisters, friends and relations, that I was okay evaporated like smoke in the wind.
“Well, I don’t know why I expected any different, but here we go,” I murmured as the entire group crowded around me.
I opened my pictures, finding a series I had taken of a cousin’s business shortly after he had set it up.
“This is Louisville. A city in my home state. This is my cousin’s storefront on the day he opened. The windows are glass, and that sign there is a neon sign. When electricity -or caged lightning, don’t ask- is fed into that sign, it excites a very specific gas inside those glass tubes, and they glow.” I swiped to another picture, “And this is that same sign at night, lit up,” I explained, sniffling.
Elizabet laid her head on my shoulder, and hugged me gently. She pointed at a car, and asked, “What’s that? It looks…mean.”
“That’s a car. My car, specifically. Blainaut, do you remember when I told you I had things that could travel forty leagues in a couple of hours? This is one of them. My world doesn’t have magic of any kind. We rely on technology, such as this object in my hand, to help us in our daily life,” I said, tears flowing down my cheeks, getting lost in my beard.
“Ivor, you didn’t have to show us this. It’s okay. I believed you, you know,” Elizabet said softly.
“I know,” I sniffled, “I guess I wanted to see my home world again. Even if only in a picture,” I said, smiling.
“A picture? You mean, like a portrait?” Blainaut asked. I nodded. “Can that device make a portrait?” he asked, his hand rubbing his chin in thought.
“Yeah. I can take a picture or a video -a moving picture with sound. Why?” I asked.
“Make one of us. We’re your family, right? Take a picture of us all. That way you have both worlds,” he said softly.
“Heh. I’d never even considered that. Part of me wasn’t going to ever get my phone out again, but I guess that part got overridden. Let me make a stand for it. This time I’ll be in the picture,” I said, rising.
I explained how the picture taking worked to my family, warning them that they may have a bright light in their eyes, then shaped a stand to hold my phone at the perfect angle, set it up to take a picture on a delay, and pushed the button. I raced back to my seat, put my arm around Elizabet, and told everyone to smile at the light.
CLICK
The flash momentarily blinded everyone at the table, and I got up to see my picture. There we all were, one big, happy, smiling family. Sitting at the table, about to have a good meal. I sighed, and brought it back, showing everyone the photo.
The Lizardfolk were almost terrified at how real it looked. They were intensely curious, however, and got over their fear quickly. The Humans at the table were in awe at the technology, and said as much.
“Ivor, this is incredible. Something like this would revolutionize our world. Do you know that?” Blainaut exclaimed in wonder.
“Yeah, I know. Which is precisely why I’ll never let it be Duplicated. Chaia isn’t ready for this. Chaia may never be ready for this. It would require a special network of towers and machinery just to make it work. I can’t, in good conscience, let it loose upon this world,” I said somberly.
“You told me when we arrived in the Lizardfolk territory that you had music on this device. Could we hear some?” asked Elizabet.
“Music? On that thing? I’d like to hear that, actually,” Blainaut said.
“Really? Well, I guess so. Would you guys please set out the food while I see if I have something that would be okay?” I asked.
The others nodded, and I sifted through my vast library to find something that would be pleasant, and not angry-sounding, like the majority of my music. In the end, I settled on a selection of classical guitar pieces to play. No lyrics, just pleasant guitar in various styles.
“Here we are. Some calm breakfast music for my family,” I said as I pushed play.
Immediately, the room was filled with beautiful music coming from my phone, and I began getting myself a decent helping of breakfast. The rest of the group were too busy staring at my phone. I smiled, waiting for the first song to finish, then paused it.
“Well?”
“Ivor… That was simply beautiful. What was that?” Elizabet asked, her voice soft and emotional.
“Old ballads from a country called Ireland. I had a friend that played guitar, and he gifted me a copy of some of his music. He couldn’t sing worth a damn, but he could play a guitar as easily as ringing a bell. Would you like to hear more?” I asked.
A chorus of affirmations later, and I had pressed play again. I began to eat, and the rest of the group did the same.
We ate and I told stories from my home, in good spirits and even better company.
submitted by IvorFreyrsson to Words_From_Ivor [link] [comments]


2023.03.24 01:33 Bladeocity_ 22 [M4F] - Virginia/Anywhere/Online - Looking for That Player 2 To Spend Those Long Cozy Gaming Nights With❣️🎮

I've only posted on this subreddit a few times before and I have been going back and forth on it for a long while now. I think maybe it's because of the fact that if I did, I would be fully admitting to myself just how lonely I actually am. But there's really no point in trying to mask and run away from the glaring truth, so, here I am again. Taa-daah!
As most people on here are, or I assume, given the context of the subreddit, I am a person who's unfortunately lived the forever alone lifestyle, well, for most of my life. The last person I was close with was way back in the 6th grade (I'm a fourth year in college), and the closest I've had since then was those types of friends that would talk and hang out with you during class time, but the second the bell rings, instant transmission, they gone now. And if we're talking about my love life, well, let's just say the fact that I still haven't had my first kiss yet, should paint a good picture (or lack thereof I suppose) of that.
But I'm not trying to make this some sort of pity party for me, but rather to shed some background as to what I hope, fingers criss crossed, twisting and turning, and looping around each other, for what I want to potentially get out of this. Of course, having a girlfriend would be spectacular, but the second part in the word "girlfriend" is just as important, if not even more so. I'm tired of getting up everyday, doing college work, video editing (small time Youtuber), watching YouTube and playing video games, going to work (if I have a job at a given time if I'm not focusing on university), and going to bed, and rinse and repeat all alone.
I want that to change. I want to spend time watching stupid things with someone, having my butt kicked in Smash even though I've been playing it for years, arguing over which anime opening is better than another for no reason other than it being a means to spend time hearing each other's voice. To go out dates, to laugh, to explore, to cuddle, to do the things that come after that if you catch my drift (or technically before the cuddling, or both), and so much more. But every attempt I made well ehhhhh, well its led me to here.
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Here's a little bit of description about me 😁:
https://imgur.com/a/KDvNYqx (A few more face pics are avaliable in the link provided)
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My hobbies and interests ❤:
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I feel like a bit of an ass writing this next part, as if I'm placing some kind of order on what kind of people I accept or don't accept, and that is not my intention in the slightest, but there are things that I am looking for in a person, just so I know that we can get along quite well, instead of me ending up talking to someone I have very little likelihood of jiving with. I don't waste anyone's time, including whoever is reading this.
Some of the things I'm looking for 🔍:
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And that's about it for now. Like I said before, I've only ever posted on here a few times before, so I don't know if I checked off everything that I should have said in a post like this, but hopefully (man I've been saying that word a lot here), this was enough to catch your attention and be willing to give a potential friendship/relationship with a guy like me, and if not I understand, and hope you find whatever you're looking for in someone else here. But if I have caught your eye, feel free to message me. It's been a long and lonely 22 years, and you'd probably make a wonderful change of pace.
Until then, bye! 🤗
submitted by Bladeocity_ to ForeverAloneDating [link] [comments]


2023.03.24 01:32 IvorFreyrsson English Magic, Vol. 2, Ch. 11

Guide available! Go here.
Series beginning is here.
[First] Prev/ Next
After the younger Haarthuu had left, Elizabet and I simply sat a while, discussing the decidedly odd interaction.
“I mean, she certainly seems nice, but I worry that she may try to come between us. I know you say that she won’t, but the fear is still there,” Elizabet said, hugging her arms.
“Hey, now,” I said softly. “The word is can’t. She can’t come between us. I love you, Elizabet. Not anyone else. Don’t forget that,” I said, gently stroking her arm.
She smiled and leaned into my chest, and I lay down, holding her to me. “There’s no force here that will keep me from loving you. Nobody could possibly come between us. That’s not a worry you should ever have,” I said, running my fingers through her auburn hair.
She sighed softly and snuggled close to me. “I will trust your word. I still think we will have to tread carefully when it comes to her. I don’t want us to unintentionally hurt her,” she said softly.
“Neither do I. Let’s get some sleep, okay?” I asked.
Elizabet sat up, removing her habit. I gazed longingly at her beautiful body, and undressed. We curled up in the bed, and she pressed my face into her warm cleavage. Sighing contentedly, I snuggled in, and let my exhaustion take me into dreams.
*********
The next morning, I was so stiff and sore that I could barely move. My back hurt intensely from pulling my new bow as much as I had, and my shoulders creaked and protested loudly every time I tried to move them. Ullr was correct. I was extremely sore.
“Well, that’s the last time I do that,” I said.
“Do what? “Elizabet asked as she bent over to retrieve her habit. I tried unsuccessfully to grab her ass, my arms seemingly being several hundred pounds of dead weight.
“Shoot like that. I can barely move. I’ll be alright in a bit, I just need to get myself up and moving,” I said, standing slowly.
Several joints in my body protested, creaking loudly and popping even louder as I stood beside the bed. I slowly dressed myself, planning to accompany Elizabet to breakfast. As I stomped my feet into my boots, we heard a knock at both doors.
Elizabet and I looked at each other, shrugged and we each opened a door.
“Hi Mr. Ivor! We brought you some breakfast,” Ahte-tan said.
“Hi, Elizabet. I brought you guys some breakfast. Would you mind if we all ate together?” Liss-ran said.
I started laughing and Elizabet covered her mouth in an attempt to stifle her mirth. Ahte-tan looked confused until he peered around me to see Liss-ran at the other door.
“Hi, Liss-ran! Have you come to have breakfast, too?” the child said happily, a broad smile on his face.
“Hello, Ahte-tan,” Liss-ran said sweetly. It looks like we all had the same idea, huh?” She looked up at Elizabet, smiling. “I say we should all have breakfast together. What does everyone think?” she asked.
“All of us, Liss-ran?” I asked.
“Sure! I’ve not had much chance to even get to know Talah-ma’at, much less the boys, so why not?” she said happily. “Also… I’ve not gotten to know much about you or Miss Elizabet. I think that would be a smart thing for family to do, right?” she added, somewhat embarrassed as her skin flushed.
“Absolutely, Liss-ran. Where would be the best place for seven people to eat?” Elizabet asked.
“With any kind of privacy? Outside. Unless one of you knows of somewhere more secluded?” Liss-ran posed.
“Well, it’s kind of cold out right now. I’d be fine, but the rest of you might not be.” I said, thinking. “How about my workshop? It’s not very far, and it’s more than big enough. What do you think, Elizabet?” I asked.
After a moment, she nodded. “Talah-ma’at?” she called, “We’re all going to Ivor’s workshop for breakfast with Liss-ran. Are you coming?”
“Absolutely! I’ll pick up a bit more food, and meet you there,” Talah-ma’at answered.
With that settled, I grabbed my bow, using the stave as a staff and we slowly made our way towards my workshop, my muscles and joints protesting every step of the way. My boys kept up a veritable torrent of chatter with us as we slowly walked.
After a few minutes, I opened the door to my workshop, pausing to remove the shield from the lamps I had installed. Liss-ran set the food she had brought on the central table that Loki had made, and looked around.
“So this is your workshop? What do you do here?” she asked as she walked around, inspecting each station, pausing to look at what would become my new Bag.
“Well, as you can see, I’m making a new bag there. It’s taken me a couple weeks to get this far. It will replace the one I have here” -I set my smaller red Bag down next to it- “as it will be several times the size of this one,” I said.
“This one is big enough that I could fit in it. Why is it taking so long to make? I don’t understand,” she said.
Elizabet chuckled lightly and watched. “It’s taking so long to make because I’m trying to figure out how much energy it’s going to take to replicate this,” I said as I reached into my Bag and pulled out the Dire Bear pelt.
“How did… Where did that come from? What is that bag?” Liss-ran asked, her eyes wide.
“This is a Bag of Holding, and I made it the same day I arrived on Chaia. It’s about full, and I need to replace it. It currently holds three of these” -I stuffed the pelt back into the Bag- “pelts, a full set of camp gear, several bundles of firewood, a bunch of stones, about my bodyweight in raw and dried meat, a couple of knives, both of my guns, and some fingers,” I said, and Elizabet recoiled from the Bag.
“Fingers? Fingers, Ivor? Why do you have fingers in the Bag?” she asked, horrified.
“Remember the idiots in Nogogard? The one that wanted to eat my boys? I took his third and fourth fingers from both hands. Stuffed them in the Bag, and kind of forgot about them,” I said sheepishly. “I should probably send those back to him,” I mused aloud.
“Ugh. No, just… just forget they’re there, okay? That’s morbid,” she said, holding her hand to her stomach.
Liss-ran had paled at the mention of the fingers, and stared at me in shock. “You… why did you take his fingers?” she asked.
“To put it bluntly, he wanted to eat Ahte-naah. I threatened him and warned him off, but he decided to press his luck. Along with a fellow Guard, they broke into the room we were sleeping in, and I beat them back, shredding my right arm in the process, when I punched through the floor. They got in a few good hits, though. I was extremely lucky that night. I took the one man’s fingers, making good on the promise I’d made earlier that day. I was going to take his hands, but I decided to be kind. He can still feed himself,” I said.
Liss-ran stared in shock and horror. “People do that?”
“Some do, yes. It’s something I had heard of while I was in the Guild underneath Gnok. I thought it was disgusting even then,” Elizabet said, barely repressing a shudder.
“Yeah. I was pretty incensed that it was even a thought in his head. I nearly killed him on the spot, but I was trying to be a bit more calm. We see how well that worked out,” I said wryly. “Anyway, let’s see about making some more space for my family, yeah?” I said, looking around.
Since the workshop was more or less a rectangular affair, I had some room to work with. I looked at the table and decided it would be best if I simply expanded it. I Shaped the table to be a bit lower in order to better accommodate the kids, then added another four feet to its length. I Duplicated the wooden chair several times over, and set them around the table. As an added flourish, I decided to Shape a lamp in the center of the table, complete with little designs in the shade, depicting a large, happy blended family sitting around a table for a meal. I walked outside, picking up one of the rounded waste stones, made a Light that was about as intense as a pair of candles, and made it flicker like fire. Setting it in the holder, and placing the shade over it, the designs were backlit to great effect. It almost looked like they were laughing and talking in the light.
“There we are. A table and chairs for my entire family. There’s room for Blainaut, Thaddeus and any partner they may decide to take, as well. Maybe we can make this our dining area for larger, more private, family meals?” I asked.
The kids were in awe of what I’d done, as was Liss-ran. Elizabet simply smiled as she watched me work, as she’d seen me do things like the before. The others hadn’t.
I was looking around, deep in thought, when Talah-ma’at came in, accompanied by Blainaut and Thaddeus, each carrying a tray of different foods.
“Oh! I see you’ve expanded the table. Good move, Ivor,” the lithe Lizardfolk woman remarked as she came in.
“Welcome! Blainaut, Thaddeus, this is my workshop. And, if everyone agrees, how about we make this our family dining area? I can find a way to cover or hide my work, if needed,” I said proudly.
Nodding appreciatively, Blainaut said, “Well! I’d no idea you were this industrious, my friend. Or that you had interests and skills this broad. I think this might be an excellent place for us to have meetings and family gatherings. What do you think, Thaddeus?”
Thaddeus looked around and smiled. “Ah say t’would be a right nice place. We should do this more,” the younger man said.
“I’ve a few more touches, and it’ll be done. Don’t worry, it won’t take much out of me to do,” I said excitedly.
I picked up the few sconces I had abandoned in my search to make the blacklight solution. Since they were made of mostly clear crystal, I figured they’d make decent windows. I took them and some waste stone to my open window, and Shaped window panes out of the sconces, and fittings out of the stone, and set them in the wide window I’d made previously, Fusing them in place. I figured I’d make a sign while I was at it, and across the top of the window panes I Shaped the words “Ivor's Workshop”, and in two of the side panes I put the words “Open” and “Closed”, respectively. Hollowing out a small recess above each letter on the top, I placed a low-intensity blacklight stone in each that would illuminate just the letters, and did the same for the “Open” and “Closed” panes, as well, but only making one stone that I could switch to the correct pane as needed. I set the stone in the “Closed” position.
“There! Now I’ve got a proper shop and can take orders. What do we think?” I said, turning to my family.
They all stood or sat there, in open-mouthed shock.
“What? What’d I do?” I asked in confusion.
“You know, he never ceases to amaze me?” Blainaut said to Elizabet.
“I know. Me too,” she replied. “Ivor, just how did you come up with this? I would never have even thought about using the crystals here in such a manner, let alone with the blacklights. Just…how?”
“I dunno. I guess I wanted a taste of Earth here. It isn’t the same, not quite, but it’s similar” -I sat down in one of the chairs- “to almost any storefront you’d find in most cities in my world. I always wanted my own shop. Now I have one,” I said simply.
“So, you mean to tell me that stores on Earth have crystal windows that are lit by these blacklights?” Blainaut asked.
“No, the windows are glass, and they’ll have lights made of neon tubes or something similar,” I replied.
“All the windows are glass on Earth. Most signage that is meant to be seen at night is neon or lit up in some way. Here. If it still works, I’ll show you,” I said, reaching into my Bag, removing an old backpack.
I sighed. I’d not thought about my phone or headset or anything technological from Earth since I’d arrived. Hopefully, it still had some charge to it. Or my backup power pack did, at least. I walked over to one of the workstations, setting the backpack down. Digging through the bag, I pulled out my kilt, and unrolled it, revealing my phone and power pack. I pulled a power cable out of a pocket of my kilt, and turned on my phone.
While it booted, I walked back to the table and sat down. I laid the phone down, screen up, on the table, and waited. The screen went magenta, and I heard the familiar T-Mobile jingle, which startled everyone around me. I smiled, and the phone completed its cycle, coming up to my home screen. I still had almost a full charge after a couple months of not being used. That would change in a few minutes, but it was good to see.
I waited a couple seconds, seeing that no service was found. My heart sank in my chest as the last hope I had of telling my mom and sisters, friends and relations, that I was okay evaporated like smoke in the wind.
“Well, I don’t know why I expected any different, but here we go,” I murmured as the entire group crowded around me.
I opened my pictures, finding a series I had taken of a cousin’s business shortly after he had set it up.
“This is Louisville. A city in my home state. This is my cousin’s storefront on the day he opened. The windows are glass, and that sign there is a neon sign. When electricity -or caged lightning, don’t ask- is fed into that sign, it excites a very specific gas inside those glass tubes, and they glow.” I swiped to another picture, “And this is that same sign at night, lit up,” I explained, sniffling.
Elizabet laid her head on my shoulder, and hugged me gently. She pointed at a car, and asked, “What’s that? It looks…mean.”
“That’s a car. My car, specifically. Blainaut, do you remember when I told you I had things that could travel forty leagues in a couple of hours? This is one of them. My world doesn’t have magic of any kind. We rely on technology, such as this object in my hand, to help us in our daily life,” I said, tears flowing down my cheeks, getting lost in my beard.
“Ivor, you didn’t have to show us this. It’s okay. I believed you, you know,” Elizabet said softly.
“I know,” I sniffled, “I guess I wanted to see my home world again. Even if only in a picture,” I said, smiling.
“A picture? You mean, like a portrait?” Blainaut asked. I nodded. “Can that device make a portrait?” he asked, his hand rubbing his chin in thought.
“Yeah. I can take a picture or a video -a moving picture with sound. Why?” I asked.
“Make one of us. We’re your family, right? Take a picture of us all. That way you have both worlds,” he said softly.
“Heh. I’d never even considered that. Part of me wasn’t going to ever get my phone out again, but I guess that part got overridden. Let me make a stand for it. This time I’ll be in the picture,” I said, rising.
I explained how the picture taking worked to my family, warning them that they may have a bright light in their eyes, then shaped a stand to hold my phone at the perfect angle, set it up to take a picture on a delay, and pushed the button. I raced back to my seat, put my arm around Elizabet, and told everyone to smile at the light.
CLICK
The flash momentarily blinded everyone at the table, and I got up to see my picture. There we all were, one big, happy, smiling family. Sitting at the table, about to have a good meal. I sighed, and brought it back, showing everyone the photo.
The Lizardfolk were almost terrified at how real it looked. They were intensely curious, however, and got over their fear quickly. The Humans at the table were in awe at the technology, and said as much.
“Ivor, this is incredible. Something like this would revolutionize our world. Do you know that?” Blainaut exclaimed in wonder.
“Yeah, I know. Which is precisely why I’ll never let it be Duplicated. Chaia isn’t ready for this. Chaia may never be ready for this. It would require a special network of towers and machinery just to make it work. I can’t, in good conscience, let it loose upon this world,” I said somberly.
“You told me when we arrived in the Lizardfolk territory that you had music on this device. Could we hear some?” asked Elizabet.
“Music? On that thing? I’d like to hear that, actually,” Blainaut said.
“Really? Well, I guess so. Would you guys please set out the food while I see if I have something that would be okay?” I asked.
The others nodded, and I sifted through my vast library to find something that would be pleasant, and not angry-sounding, like the majority of my music. In the end, I settled on a selection of classical guitar pieces to play. No lyrics, just pleasant guitar in various styles.
“Here we are. Some calm breakfast music for my family,” I said as I pushed play.
Immediately, the room was filled with beautiful music coming from my phone, and I began getting myself a decent helping of breakfast. The rest of the group were too busy staring at my phone. I smiled, waiting for the first song to finish, then paused it.
“Well?”
“Ivor… That was simply beautiful. What was that?” Elizabet asked, her voice soft and emotional.
“Old ballads from a country called Ireland. I had a friend that played guitar, and he gifted me a copy of some of his music. He couldn’t sing worth a damn, but he could play a guitar as easily as ringing a bell. Would you like to hear more?” I asked.
A chorus of affirmations later, and I had pressed play again. I began to eat, and the rest of the group did the same.
We ate and I told stories from my home, in good spirits and even better company.
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Hey! I’m also uploading my work on RoyalRoad! Here is my profile IvorFreyrsson
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2023.03.24 01:30 Storms_Wrath The Human Artificial Hivemind Part 340: Thermite Thrower

First Previous Wiki
The Sprilnav represented a direct and clear threat. That much was clear. Phoebe needed something to counter them eventually since there would come a time when they decided to do something about the Alliance. She needed more powerful weapons to protect Edu'frec and Ri'frec, as well as Humanity and the rest of the Alliance. And she needed more powerful shields. The research agreements with the wanderers had continued to stagnate. Negotiations between the Alliance and their constituent parties continued to break down.
The hivemind was already well on the way into its campaign to get wanderers to come to the Alliance, but they didn't have transport. Some of the wanderer ships refused to let them leave at all, a development that greatly worried Phoebe and the Alliance's diplomats in private. While there were disagreements on whether to circumvent those policies, particularly coming to a head between Blistanna and Izkrala, it seemed nothing would change there. So Phoebe couldn't rely on the wanderers. The hivemind's scientists were already leaping ahead with research, their collective ability still outstripping her own capability due to the knowledge banks that the hivemind allowed Humanity to access.
"I will activate more computers so that I can finish my research on nanotechnology," Phoebe said. "But once this technology is unlocked, it will change the Alliance forever. Nanomachines can poison people. Build cities. Augment our guns, knives, tanks, and ships."
Juan Pedros nodded, his eyes wrinkling slightly. Phoebe rubbed her hands together. "How are the Guulin doing?"
"With my direct investment and advice, the Guulin Congressional Republic is doing well. GDP growth is at 50%, down from 80% last year. Canada's GDP will likely equal that of the United States of America in 20 years from all the immigration and monetary transactions occurring to its benefit."
"What about their enlistment in the military?"
"Guulin enlistment outstrips all other species combined, even the Acuarfar. Their enlistment rate is 5% of their population every year. Blistanna has began to focus on creating a robust military structure, with help from the hivemind and Humanity's many militaries. The Guulin Liberation Army is already standing at 200 million members, and is expected to reach triple that in five years," Phoebe said. "They're the ones that are increasingly piloting our ships, and handling the work that needs a lot of people. They're almost as competent as fully trained human soldiers, which is a testament to their grit and hard work."
"Is their leadership pushing for any particular direction for the military?"
Phoebe nodded.
"Heavy focus on infantry and vehicle rapid deployment. They want some of our carriers to be retrofitted with dropship hangars and to be included on further raids on the Guulin United Legions. They claim that the rest of their species needs to be liberated and that they can handle the shock now that the infrastructure is mature."
"What do you think?"
"They don't have enough doctors. Without the hivemind's efforts to provide vaccines for all their remaining illnesses, it is likely that they will have a problem with pandemics. The cities are already bleeding people into the countryside, and urban sprawl is increasing. The whole Hudson Bay area will likely be developed by 2320."
"Is that being addressed?"
"There are many medical schools that have been set up. Most of the applicants are still finishing their Advanced Guulin Biology classes, and are not yet ready for full involvement in hospitals."
"How is it handled?"
"I'm selling large numbers of medical diagnosis scanners and robotic surgery units to Guulin hospitals. I'm the most accurate person there is right now with things like lead poisoning, cancer diagnoses, and chronic treatments."
"Will it be enough?"
"With more resources, maybe. So far, I've become something of a supplier to many markets. I own many factories, producing many different resources. I sell them, so I can then buy drugs from pharmaceutical companies and the like to help with the Guulin healthcare system. Though many of them are breaking into the market, which I'm allowing because I don't want a monopoly."
Juan Pedros nodded. "Right. How many ships could the Guulin man at this point?"
"Just the Guulin, or all of the Alliance?"
"The Guulin."
"All of our current fleet, and about eight times more. But if we do it that way, then there would be no one to invade planets. Ships can only hold land if they go into the atmosphere, which creates large risks for them."
"Quite. But it's better than sending them in pods," Juan Pedros said. Phoebe smiled.
"True. Those are too easy to sabotage, and far easier to destroy than a carrier."
"So how many ships do we have overall?"
"Including the Wisselen ones, plus all currently operational or nearly operational ships, we have 6 dreadnaughts, 7000 battle cruisers, 15,000 carriers, 55,000 cruisers, 150,000 destroyers, and 300,000 frigates. Of those, the largest amount is stationed in the Sol system, and many of the supply lines for the increasingly large fleet are becoming system-based. I'm trying to figure out a way to keep the interstellar supplies going in case the in-system supplies aren't usable. And stockpiles become a very dangerous risk of sabotage, or of outright detonation."
"How do we fix this, then?" Juan asked.
"We need more robust supply lines. Ships need to have larger on-board stockpiling capability."
"Can that be done?"
"Not quickly," Phoebe replied. "But yes. I also will begin to look more closely at figuring out alternative solutions to the Alliance's infantry problem."
"Skira."
"He's unreliable."
"That can be made to change," Juan said.
"It should not. Skira resides in hundreds of thousands of homes. That's someone you want to be very careful with if you lean on him."
"I'm not worried about votes. I'm worried about using all the Alliance's resources, so that we can survive."
"Skira has drones in our military. He shouldn't be forced to add more. He could pull out of the Alliance easily, but he doesn't because he likes us. There's no reason to do make that change."
"He needs to do his part. He has trillions of those drones. They're disposable."
"Maybe not to him," Phoebe said. "Please, do not do this."
"You won't stop me?"
"I will let you make the stupid decision, if you wish. What I suggest is that you go and ask him. No demands. If he says no, that's it."
"That's not how this works," Juan said. "He is the key to solving the infantry problem for the rest of the Alliance's existence."
"Even more reason not to push him to leave. We don't need soldiers right now."
"And when we do?"
"Humanity and I will be there, along with the people of the Alliance," Phoebe said. "Don't do this."
Juan was silent for a while.
"Alright. I'll ask, but I won't force him."
"You won't go and try to force him anyway?"
"I won't, since it's so important to you."
"It's a strategic mistake."
"I'll remember that when we need more soldiers in the next war."
Phoebe sighed. "I'm just trying to protect our interests in the Alliance."
"You're trying to protect him, and him alone."
"Councilor Pedros. Skira does not need more pain. If he wants it, he knows how to get it. Did you forget that he has ships of his own? He could pick up and leave anytime he wants. Not to mention that we lose Venus. He's cleaning up the atmosphere there, slowly but surely. Keeping him on our side has huge benefits, Councilor. Don't screw that up."
"I will get some sleep and think about it."
"I'll contact you again tomorrow," Phoebe said, standing up to leave. She hoped that she'd convinced him.
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Aetuma saw the large mass of ships appear on the scanners of the Sol system. Many of them were around the populated planets or protected shipping routes between them. The VI then gave a report, which chilled her carapace to ice.
*Ships present: 130,000. Recommended action: Surrender.\*
Somehow, the Alliance had built a massive fleet. Sure, it wasn't on the same level as the Empire's, but it was incredibly quick for such a small and recent nation. The VI showed her many shipyards on Luna, Mercury, and Ceres, which were the names of some of the most populated worlds in the system besides Earth itself. She'd memorized them in case of an interaction.
"What do they need those for?"
"Probably protection, like the other nations have."
Aetuma's ship wasn't the only Wisselen-type ship in the system. There were other cruise ships, specialized family-owned vessels, and even a few military ships, which she noticed were being sent to different star lanes for their wait.
There were also Trikkec ships packed with refugees from the exchange of planet crackers. Aetuma saw a message flash across the screen from an Alliance ship that was floating nearby.
*Registration required.\*
Aetuma was grateful that the message was in her language, but that didn't stop her from feeling worried. She went to the communications section, where some of the others were waiting for her response.
*We are a refugee ship and do not have a direct Alliance registration. However, our Westic Empire registration is 28693-0728-30. Currently, this ship is registered under the name Rialsima of the Lappta Family. I am her niece, but we didn't have the time to transfer the registration before the planet cracker beams started flying. I am Aetuma, also of the Lappta Family.\*
*Are you the ship's captain?\*
*No.\*
*Do you consent to a search of your ship?\*
*Do we actually have a choice?\* Aetuma asked.
*You do. However, we will provide a list of illegal substances, which must either be dumped into space or disposed of by calling a free disposal team.\*
*If we consent to a search, and you find contraband items, what will happen?\*
*Assuming that the items are things such as drugs or ammunition of some kind, then they will simply be confiscated. However, if we find nuclear material, then there will be more serious consequences if you do not inform us of them prior.\*
*We don't have nuclear materials besides those required for the ship to function.\*
*Then that concern is voided. Do you wish to be referred to by the name of Aetuma?\*
*Yes.\*
*Affirmative. Aetuma, we will enter your ship through the airlock on the topmost side. A team of 5 humans, 3 Breyyanik, 2 Guulin, and 1 Knower, will enter. They will be carrying armor but will not harass your people.\*
*There are several thousand people on this ship. I can transfer you the exact number, assuming that the count hasn't increased during the journey. Some of our females are carrying eggs, while others' eggs likely have hatched.\*
*We can provide medical care once everyone is cataloged, and if you have information on health conditions and medical records, it would also be useful. But that would require the consent of the individuals in question.\*
*What do you mean?\*
*Sharing medical information in the Alliance requires the consent of the individuals that the information concerns.\*
That seemed like a good way of doing things. It certainly didn't require that in the Westic Empire. If a company wanted your data, they had it already or could easily get it without you knowing. It was just a normal fact of life, something that Aetuma had barely considered until now.
*I am concerned that there might be a significant culture shock when our people enter your Alliance. Do you have any recommendations?\*
*There are programs that help to ease new arrivals into the Alliance culture. Some take longer to understand, and some take almost no time at all. It will depend on how your people feel. And there won't be any enforcement for them; they can be exited at any time.\*
*So they're not reeducation camps?\*
*Your people are refugees. If you want to practice your own culture, you are more than free to do so. As long as they don't involve killing others and only harm people who give informed consent to it. If you have some ritual claw-cutting practice, for example, then everyone must have the ability to opt-in or out of that.\*
*We don't have rituals like that, as far as I know. Though I don't know what everyone practices, I will be honest.\* Aetuma was still worried, but this was still far better than the prospects in the Westic Empire.
*We understand. We would also request you spread the message not to touch the people entering your ship to search it. We will deliver food and water if you require them after the search.\*
*You're holding it over us?\*
*No. We will give it to you if you ask.\*
*We don't want to be trapped in debt.\*
*You won't be. Food is a right of sapience, as is water. All Alliance governments provide free food to all Alliance citizens. Even those who are not yet citizens are given allotments of food and water consistent with the accepted nutritional requirements of a species. We also have vegetarian and other variants if any of your people request them, though they will require additional applications.\*
*How do I know you aren't lying?\*
*We have no incentive to lie. You are already in the Sol system. The Alliance welcomes immigrants. All are free to build a life here.\*
*That doesn't answer the question.\*
*It does for us, but if you have concerns, we will not force you to stay. Are you planning on leaving? If so, now is the time to do it.\*
*We will remain and go through your process. But do not remove the clothes of any of us or violate the sanctity of our children.\*
*We will not do any of that. The search will use technology, not hands and paws. And sexual assault is also illegal in the Alliance, whether from police or from normal individuals. We will not treat your children that way, nor shall we treat your adults that way. We are a civilized society.\*
*I am glad to hear it. Even the Westic Empire doesn't do that; at least, they're not supposed to.\*
Aetuma saw a notification that a ship had docked with the airlock described earlier. She was uncertain,
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"There's been large fleets detected in the Sprilnav territories on the move," Eyahtni said, fixing Phoebe with a stern gaze. "This is one of the largest mobilizations that we've seen in history. The last time fleets this large moved, the whole galaxy was purged of empires."
"So what are you asking me to do?"
"Your... child," Eyahtni said. "Is he safe?"
"Safer than ever."
"Good. I am glad to hear it."
Phoebe nodded slightly but didn't give any further reaction. It was clear that their conversation about her son made her uncomfortable in some way. That was likely because she knew that his life would be forever embroiled in galactic politics and in public view. There were many implications that rebounded from that, like lack of social interaction, and perhaps social ostratization, or even extortion and blackmail. With such an important individual, all of those were possibilities.
Plus, if the nascent AI was only a few tens of standard days old, that also contributed to the mentality. Edu'frec was incredibly young and yet was sentient and sapient. Unless Phoebe had a way to directly feed him life experience, he would experience a lifetime of hardship. Though at his supposed rate of growth, he'd have all of Phoebe's experiences in less than a standard year.
However, she figured that no one would be able to do all of that in a year. Eyahtni assumed that it would take many years for Edu'frec's personality and ideas to assert themselves firmly. Phoebe likely wanted to isolate him from outside influences, and her interest made her look like she had the goal to be one of those. Eyahtni decided to come back to the matter later.
"I am asking you on the behalf of the Hive Union to share the designs of your Mercury-class guns. We are willing to mass-produce them for you."
Phoebe nodded. "Councilor Pedros, what's the current metric of guns that will be produced within the next three years?"
"Fifty."
"How many are not yet ordered?"
"None."
"Very well," Phoebe said. "If you are willing to bid a high enough sum, then we will send you some. Brey is capable of direct delivery, for an additional fee, and the caveat that Alliance personnel will be present and able to either authorize or decline a strike."
"Why sell us weapons that you won't let us use?"
"You have your own superweapons, and they are powerful. You do not need ours, we do. However, that does mean there is a price. We don't want Alliance equipment being used to kill civilians."
"Alliance equipment is already involved in the siege of Sarasellen."
"Yes. But the scale is different. You have your guns, shields, and ships. We're providing androids, and not very many of them."
"Hmm. Well, perhaps this can be argued later. Do you propose any actions in regards to the Sprilnav battle fleet mobilizations? Statements, your own mobilizations, anything?"
"I suggest not to call attention to it. Other nations will already know, and there is no reason to call attention to ourselves, when we're still embroiled in war with the remnants of the Westic Empire. Speaking of that, how are the attempts at installing High Zealot Kachilai going?"
"Many planets don't recognize his legitmacy, which is leading to Kawtyahtnakal having very long and mostly sleepless nights of negotiations and demands. He's navigating harsh currents, without the feathers to fly them."
"Do you think the Sprilnav will push the Hive Union to abandon them? Since currently, with control over their systems, you do technically qualify as over the system limit."
"We hope to stymie the resistance movement against him long enough for him to be able to handle it on his own. We're trying to take a claws-off approach, which is difficult when so many different planets are involved. We often like to simplify nations down to their names. But within them, there are thousands of massive and distinct cultures. The Westic Empire's religious sects are calling Kachilai a heretic and us blasphemers and sinners, plus all manner of other words which don't directly translate but mean similar things. Corporations are pushing him and us for more power and less regulation and more of a say in how the Zealots are chosen. Some planetary governments outright and actively support a resistance effort against us, and we're trying to decide whether to burn them to the ground and start over or to go in, take over, and replace them. It's a true quagmire, of epic proportions."
"I see," Phoebe said.
"This isn't the same as your Alliance's struggles with the Lurave Empire. At least with that, you aren't trying to build a new government and start from scratch."
"In the Lurave Empire, 1 in 10 Acuarfar are criminals, and 1 in 4 are involved either directly or indirectly in illicit activities. Poverty clings to their cities despite my efforts to change that, and Izkrala has already removed several dozen governors. The Lurave Empire's nobles are fused with their politics in a way that also continues to baffle us."
"And she can't just round them up and make them face the wall, because of the Alliance's more pacifistic members."
"Not pacifist, but they don't want to be allied with a dictator empress that executes her citizens. That's why it's such a big deal for her. If Humanity turns against her, so would the Breyyanik and Guulin. Then the Knowers, now with easy support, would also do the same, especially with Izkrala's previous actions against them. The Dreedeen might stay out of it, and the wanderers are a shattered species. She'd have no allies, and she knows that."
"How does your Alliance even stay together?" Eyahtni couldn't imagine all those divisions being good for them. They didn't have a Nest Overlord to keep things stable. They didn't have a central leader at all, just a continually rotating set of leaders that just decided on representatives in a mystifying and frustratingly opaque process of selection. It was a half-baked form of democracy and selective rule, a mixture that didn't seem possible with the Alliance's political situation.
"Because the threat from without is greater than the threat from within. Humanity, as in both the hivemind and the politicians, recognize this situation, as does Izkrala. That's why you don't see many human politicians railing against Izkrala, and why the rhetoric on liberating alien species from dictators has been fizzling out in the Alliance," Phoebe said. "It's also why the Guulin sentiment to free more slaves is becoming more enticing. It's a way for the moral people in the Alliance to have something to rally for, a way for the military to get more experience, and a way for the Alliance as a whole to get more population."
"Sounds like you'd just be stealing people from the Guulin nation, then."
"Well, to them, we'd be stealing slaves. And the difference matters, there."
"Does it?" Eyahtni asked. She didn't really think that it did.
"Yes. Freeing slaves is a good thing," Phoebe replied.
"But you're just taking people, then, making you imperialist and expansionist. Sure, that doesn't matter much to me, but wouldn't it matter to your people?"
"Our people?" Phoebe asked, laughing as if the question was entirely stupid. "My people see a stream of Guulin coming into the Alliance, who are grateful for their salvation, who work hard, and who contribute to the economy. Conservatives and progressives in most of the Alliance's nations already agree that more people coming into the Alliance is good, whether it's for the cultural diversity and broadening experiences all the way to the possibility they create for the expansion of the job market, the economy, and the tax revenue propping up the government."
"No one has a problem with invading the Guulin?" Eyahtni said. She wanted to get a better feel for the situation. If they supported that war, perhaps they could be made to support the invasion of Sarsellen. It was just as necessary, but the Alliance was more reluctant to get involved with it. With ships, the limit of Brey's portals was a solid excuse. But just sending androids wouldn't be enough forever.
"Not many do, and certainly not enough to stop it."
"And yet, you haven't. Why?"
"We need the infrastructure in place to handle them. The Guulin military is new, so they are quite weak. They need to get stronger, and they know that. There isn't support for losing a war but for winning it. And currently, with the loss of population, the Guulin United Legions are more stable than they were, with the same amount of food going to fewer people."
"And through all this, your society continues to advance at an unprecedented pace."
"Yes. Though the hivemind, the people of the Alliance, and Brey hold most of that responsibility."
"You played a significant role as well."
"Yes."
Eyahtni shook her wings. They brushed up against the floor and wall behind her, causing a tingling sensation across their tips. "You should be prepared for attacks on your Alliance, then. And that means that you need to protect yourself, your mate, and your child at all costs."
"Why?"
"Already, you occupy a grey area when it comes to AI. Your child does as well. Everyone in the galaxy sees the benefits that the Alliance has. Whether that's the doing of the hivemind or yourself doesn't matter to them. Other empires have hiveminds, but they don't have AI. They will see your child as the key to controlling you, and perhaps to their own success."
"Well, they don't have Humanity."
"But they do have you," Eyahtni said. "And Edu'frec."
"Anyone who harms him will be harmed, one way or another," Phoebe said, again fixing her gaze on Eyahtni's eyes. "Any who attempt to kidnap or kill Edu'frec will be subject to dangerous living conditions for the rest of their life. It doesn't much matter whether Humanity enforces it or I do. Whether that means hacking their networks to crash their economy or it means pulling out the Thermite Thrower Mark 3, it won't end well for them."
"Thermite Thrower Mark 3?" Eyahtni asked.
"Imagine a large robotic quadruped android, packing enough firepower to burn a thousand soldiers to ash, or ten thousand of them to death."
"Wouldn't that thing have difficulty in snowy or muddy environments?"
"It also carries a medium-range jetpack."
"What?" Eyahtni asked.
"We have hundreds of them, and within the year, it will be thousands."
"Is there a Mark 4 in production?" Eyahtni asked. "Can we commission some? If the burn is steady and powerful, it could be a very useful shield disruptor."
"There is not a Mark 4 in production," Pheobe said. "As for buying them, it will cost you a lot of money."
"What are their capabilities?"
"Climbing walls, personal shields, mauling, shooting, burning, shredding, and moving. They are good at stealth, dodging attacks, and taking them on its shields. But when the shields go down, the chassis itself is relatively easy to destroy."
"That seems incredibly powerful for defense and attack."
"It is. There's worse than that coming for anyone who attacks Edu'frec."
Eyahtni got the feeling that Phoebe would be willing to glass a world for her son. It was something that she would inform Kawtyahtnakal about so that no one in their intelligence agencies made an incredibly stupid mistake. Phoebe didn't say it, but the implication of such monstrous robotic enemies was worrying.
And when that was combined with Brey's portals, the Alliance had a truly devastating ability. Eyahtni knew, at that moment, that the Hive Union had lost the arms race with the Alliance before it had even begun. Now, she began to wonder what crazy things the hivemind had in its secret research bases. She hoped there wasn't something worse than the Thermite Thrower but knew that was wishful thinking. At least the Hive Union had a treaty with them.
Phoebe's smile told Eyahtni that she'd seen everything.
"Don't worry, Regulator. We have a treaty, right?"
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2023.03.24 00:53 xtremexavier15 TSA 23

Chapter 23: 2008: A Shawn Odyssey
Boys: Shawn
Girls: Courtney, Heather, Shawn
Episode 23: 2008: A Shawn Odyssey
"Last time on Total Drama Action," Chris said over a shot of the film lot. "In a world they didn't create," the four teens were shown waking up in the forest, "two honorable warriors," Shawn and Lindsay's fight was shown, "and two foes battled it out for Kung-fu supremacy," Courtney and Heather were shown fiddling with their joysticks.
"No mountain was too high," Heather and Shawn were shown climbing. "No aquatic creature too viscous," Courtney was shown fighting a jellyfish.
"In the end, Shawn won the reward," the theorist was shown fighting the Sasquatch, "but lost his alliance with Courtney," he and Courtney were shown ending their partnership.
"But it's gonna take more than puny alliances to survive this week," Chris told the camera as it flashed to his close-up, "on Total! Drama! Action!"
XXXXX
The episode opened on a shot of the full moon. A rat walked on-screen in front of the camera as a grandiose tune started to play. The rat sniffed the air then scurried along what was revealed to be the top of a large speaker. The music reached its climax, and the speaker shook so much the rat fell off behind it.
The shot pulled out to show the cast trailers, both flanked by speakers as tall as they were. Further to the left was a tall blueish-green monolith-like set piece. The lights inside the trailers flicked on and the complaints of the castmates echoed out of them. The doors opened, showing the girls filing out; Courtney, then a hunched over Heather, then Lindsay at the end, all three in their pajamas. The camera cut over to the guys' trailer as Shawn exited similarly. The survivalist paused briefly to yawn and stretch his arms, and the camera moved back to the girls.
"What is wrong with those mattresses?" Lindsay asked. "It's like they were full of rocks."
Confessional: Shawn
"I slept on Noah’s bed, so I don’t have the same back problems that the girls do," Shawn said. "The layers on it are super soft."
Confessional Ends
The remaining four met up as a group. Heather looked over to see the lone male scratching his butt and armpit at the same time.
"Can you believe this guy?" Heather commented.
"What a neanderthal," Courtney said.
They looked over at Lindsay, who noticed the monolith off to the side, and pointed at it with a few animalistic grunts.
The shot cut to the top of it, the moon still visible behind it. The camera panned down to its base where Chef sat in a leopard-print loincloth banging on an upside-down soup pot with a couple bones as though it were a drum. Both the castmates and Chris, also wearing a leopard-print loincloth and with his hair unkempt, approached the monolith at the same time.
"Good morning, cast!" Chris greeted as Chef stopped playing. "Or should I say, good middle of the night? Hope you're all well-rested and ready to boldly go where very few men and even fewer ladies have gone before!"
"Wait," Shawn spoke up. "Didn't we already do the caveman movie?"
"We did, Shawn," Chris answered, "but we had to reuse the costumes since my astronomical salary accounts for oh, roughly ninety-seven percent of the show's budget."
"Chris," Heather said, "it is the middle of the night. Can't we do the challenge in the morning?"
"No can do Heather," Chris replied. "While today's movie genre may start at the dawn of time, it quickly moves up, up, and away!" The camera panned up to the night sky as a shooting star flew in front of the moon.
"So we're doing space movies today?" Lindsay asked as if she already knew the answer.
"What was your first clue, Linds-iot?" Heather told her.
Confessional: Lindsay
"I've been called a lot of things, such as moron, dimwit, idiot, and much more," Lindsay said. "I've been trying to prove myself, and no way am I letting Heather drag me down."
Confessional Ends
"Awesome!" Shawn cheered. "I love sci-fi movies."
"Don't you get enough science fiction from those movies you binge watch?" Courtney half-insulted, half-asked the boy.
"Don't you get enough pleasure from looking down and nagging on us?" Shawn retorted.
"Listen up, space cases," Chris interrupted. "You'll soon be facing some out-of-this-world challenges, but first..." He quickly ducked away, and the camera cut to him pushing away the monolith to reveal four small boxes set on a table behind it. "I have a very special surprise for you," he told the cast. "Each of you has received one special item sent to you from the outside world. Which by now," he picked up one of the packages and tossed it to Lindsay, who caught it before Heather was tossed her own gift, "must feel like a distant planet."
He tossed another one like a football and it was caught by Courtney, with Shawn also shown to have received his gift.
Shawn opened his, and looked at a silver tinfoil hat shaped like his beanie with excitement. "My tinfoil hat!" he cheered. "Nice!"
"You have a tinfoil hat?" Lindsay asked.
"Yup," Shawn answered. "It keeps the aliens from reading my brains and what I think."
Confessional: Shawn
"I used to wear this thing all the time," Shawn told the audience. "Unfortunately, my dad confiscated it since it made me look weird and unusual to others. Afterwards, I decided to get the beanie I’m wearing right now."
Confessional Ends
The shot cut to Lindsay as she opened hers and smiled. "My pom poms!" she exclaimed. "My cheer team didn't forget about them!"
The camera cut to Courtney and Heather, both having opened their boxes. The former took out a picture frame and let out a choked sob.
"What's wrong?" Heather asked. "Did you get a photo of a bad hair day?"
"Just… I need a minute," Courtney claimed.
Confessional: Courtney
Courtney had her picture with her. "When I was head of the school debating team, my partner walked out on me during the biggest debate of the year because she felt I wasn't being a "team player". I went on to win it without her! Take that, Brittany Reed!" She revealed her picture, which was her in the middle of a speech. "This photo is a reminder. If you want something done right, you do it yourself!"
Confessional Ends
Heather finally managed to open her box and pulled out a green jawbreaker. "A jawbreaker? How is this a prize?" She asked in frustration.
"I don't know, but sweet things usually go to sweet people," Courtney insulted.
"Damien must have delivered this to me!" Heather growled.
"Who the heck is Damien?" Courtney questioned.
"He's my little brother," Heather answered. "That twerp likes to pull pranks on me every chance he gets. He's almost like Sadie."
"What else were you expecting?" Courtney wondered.
"He could've given me my trophy for the annual ballet contest I participated in when I was eight," Heather grumbled.
Confessional: Heather
"I'm still going to keep this jawbreaker," Heather said as she held it. "Damien may have sent it as a joke, but I won't let him have the last laugh."
Confessional Ends
"Alright gang," Chris addressed the cast, "time to blast off to the great unknown. Everyone knows a good outer space movie has three things in common. One, the zero gravity is always a trip. Two, the G-forces are killer! And three, everything is recycled in space. Including number one, and number two."
"Gross," Courtney winced.
"Eww," Heather said in disgust.
"Which brings us to our first challenge," Chris continued. "I'll meet you at the thrill ride set in ten minutes."
The cast looked at each other in confusion. "Did he say thrill ride?" Lindsay asked.
\
The scene briefly flashed to the full moon behind the water tower for a moment before flashing away again to a close-up of the host, back in his normal clothes.
"The way to achieve zero gravity," Chris explained to the contestants, all of whom have also gotten dressed, "is to fly a jet on a parabolic course. With large vertical climbs, and even larger vertical drops." The camera panned across the faces of the cast, all of which looked freaked. "But with the price of jet fuel today," the scene flashed to a makeshift space shuttle tied to what looked like a roller coaster cart at a boarding platform, "we're gonna simulate the effect on this makeshift space shuttle!"
The shot flashed away again, the camera now panning up a spaceship-themed roller coaster set among several other theme park attractions. "Which will hit the optimum speed needed to keep you all in a perpetual state of zero gravity," the host explained before the shot cut back to him and the cast.
"Are we going to get killed?" Lindsay asked. "I won't go in if it will."
"Is that thing even up to code?" Courtney wondered.
"Your first outer space challenge will be to spend the rest of the night on the shuttle sleeping in zero gravity conditions," Chris told the cast.
"That doesn't sound so difficult," Shawn said with a pleased expression.
\
The footage flashed ahead to a close-up of an intercom speaker as the host's voice came in over it. "Y'all might wanna hold on to something bolted down," Chris told the cast as the camera pulled back to show them holding pillows in their hands, "'cause we're almost ready to launch!"
"Yes!" Lindsay cheered.
"He said launch," Heather told her, "not lunch."
"I know," Lindsay explained. "I just can't wait to be flying inside a spaceship."
The shot cut back to the intercom as an engine was heard starting up over it. "In five! Four! Three! Two! One!" The camera cut outside as the space shuttle strapped to the roller coaster cart shuddered to life. "Blast off!" At Chris' ecstatic signal, the shuttle's engines flared on and the contraption took off along the track. It quickly reached the main peak as the castmates screamed in terror, and the scene cut back inside.
"If I'm gonna die, at least make my death look cool!" Shawn yelled as he clenched his eyes shut. The camera began to pull back from his close-up as he slowly opened his eyes, looked around, and smiled. He and the other three were now floating inside the shuttle's cabin. "How about that? We're floating in mid-air!"
"Alright astronauts," Chris told them, the camera cutting from a close-up of the intercom to the host lounging in his chair at the monitor room watching the cast on the monitors, "it's gonna be a long night. Better get some sleep!" He pressed a button on the keyboard and added "If you can!" The monitor screens switched from Heather and Shawn to Courtney and Lindsay, and the host accepted a cup of coffee from Chef with a laugh.
\
"Can I borrow any of your pillows?" Courtney asked as she floated around. "I lost mine."
"That's your own fault then," Shawn relaxed on his pillow. "You lose it, you deal with it."
"Fine," Courtney looked away from his former ally. "We are floating in mid-air, so I won't complain… much."
Confessional: Lindsay
"Courtney and Shawn are at each other's throats just like me and Amy," Lindsay said. "There's only one person who could've made them split, which is obviously Heather."
Confessional Ends
The scene returned to a shot of a jawbreaker floating in the air, then panned out to show that Heather was chasing after it. "If that jawbreaker wasn't so big, I would be able to stash it into my pocket!" She said as she floated past Lindsay who was looking at her pom poms.
"At least what you got is tasty," Lindsay said. "I can't eat or lick my pom poms."
"Good thing you're smart enough to know what's edible," Heather snootily responded.
"If they were taffy, I'd likely eat them," Lindsay responded.
Confessional: Heather
Heather was focused on filing her nails. "I assume I'm the favorite to win. I mean, look who's left. A control freak, a smelly nut, and a dumb blonde. And the only thing Lindsay has going for her is that she hasn't made any enemies. Whoop-de-doo! We're not here to make friends. We're here to win." As she talked, she snapped her nail filer in half. "And that is exactly what I plan on doing."
Confessional Ends
The scene cut forward to the castmates as they slept peacefully with their pillows. This only lasted for a couple seconds before an alarm started to sound off loudly, and the lights in the cabin flashed red as the four teens woke up. "This is Houston," Chris said over the loudspeaker, "and you have a problem. You've been hit by an asteroid, and your guidance system is toast!"
"What do we do?!" Lindsay asked in a panic.
"I've watched Race to Save Space 3 before I came to this show," Shawn said. "We have to override the navigation controls."
"Quick!" Heather cried. "Someone grab the joystick thingy!"
Courtney sprung off a nearby wall and darted towards the shuttle's main computer. She grabbed onto a central joystick as she floated by, then planted her feet on the desk and pulled. The camera zoomed in on it and after a few moments of effort the stick moved to the side, shutting off the alarms and returning the lights to normal.
"Way to go Courtney!" Lindsay cheered.
"Nice job," Shawn said.
The camera zoomed in on Heather's jawbreaker as it drifted closer to a small window. It hit the window, cracking it slightly. The camera pulled back again to show it pushing back forward, but the force of its push-off caused the glass to shatter soon after it floated away. The air immediately began to be sucked out of the cabin, and the lights flashed red once more as Heather looked at the broken window with a shocked look.
Confessional: Heather
"At the very least, I can say that I'm not to blame for the window breaking," Heather claimed.
Confessional Ends
Heather, Courtney, Lindsay, and Shawn were shown floating in front of the shuttle controls. "Uh-oh!'" Chris announced jovially over the intercom. "Looks like you have a hole in your fuselage!" He laughed, and the camera panned across a closer shot of the four teens' faces. "You have exactly t-minus-ten minutes to plug the hole, or you'll run out of precious oxygen."
"We have to plug the hole!" Heather yelled.
"We just need something big and form-fitting!" Courtney replied.
They all turned to Lindsay. "Why are you looking at me?"
"We can use your pom poms to fill the hole," Heather said. "It's either that, or death."
Lindsay gave them a brief look and sighed. "They are valuable, but I can get new ones after the show ends."
The scene flashed back outside, the sun already up and the shuttle-coaster still flying along its track. The camera cut to the boarding platform as it finally came to a stop, and Chris was standing in wait as the shuttle door burst open with a puff of steam. One by one, the castmates fell out of it. Lindsay was first, then Courtney, then Shawn; all landed on top of one another in a heap. Heather was the last, and was the only one who maintained her balance.
"Will somebody help me down, or will I have to do it myself?" Heather huffed.
"Go with the second option," Lindsay replied. "There's a ladder in front of you."
Heather rolled her eyes, but climbed down the ladder.
The camera cut to Chef standing outside of the broken window, Lindsay's pom poms sticking out of it. "That was smart, sealing the breach with those pom poms," he said while pulling them out.
"It was my idea," Courtney claimed. "No sweat to it."
"You just love to pat yourself on the back," Shawn rolled his eyes.
Confessional: Shawn
"I really hope that I can get Courtney and Heather out," Shawn confessed. "Lindsay's the only one I'd like to face in the finale."
Confessional Ends
"Nice going Lindsay," Chris told her. "It was your pom poms that saved the group."
"Yes!" Lindsay jumped in Victory with her pom poms on."
"What?" Heather gaped. "I was the one who suggested we fill that hole!"
"Lindsay was the one who actually plugged in the hole," Chris said. "As a reward, she'll get to decide the order of who goes first to last at the next challenge!"
"I got it," Lindsay exclaimed. "The order is me, Courtney, Shawn, and Heather."
Confessional: Lindsay
"I don't know what the next part of the challenge is," Lindsay confessed, "but making sure Heather participates last was just too good to pass up."
Confessional Ends
\
(Commercial break)
\
The footage cut forward to a shot of the sun over a few of the film lot's fake buildings near one of the studios. The wind was shown blowing a few pieces of paper along the road between the studios, then the shot cut to and upward pan of the fake hill. The camera cut back to the front of a studio as its garage-like door began to open.
A few feet were briefly shown behind the door before the camera moved inside, showing the silhouettes of the four castmates against the light flooding in from outside. The feet were shown again in an angled profile as they began to walk outside, and the shot moved up to show the four staring forward. Lindsay was first, then Shawn, then Courtney, then Heather.
The camera switched to a face-on shot, panning right across the castmates and stopping at Lindsay. A record scratch was heard as Chris ran across the shot with a scowl on his face, the teens following him with their eyes.
"Enough messing around," Chris said before the scene changed to the usual side-view as he addressed the contestants. "Alright gang, if you thought spending the night in zero G's was a stomach-churning experience, then you're gonna love this next challenge! Who can last the longest on the G-force Trainer?" The castmates were shown watching cautiously. "Or as I like to call it," Chris said before the shot quick-panned further to the right, "The Vomit Comet!" The machine he was referring to looked like a bulbous, oversized, and legless space suit attached by a hefty arm to a smaller wheeled cart.
"If you thought you were under pressure before," the host said giddily as the camera panned up a close-up of the suit, "wait 'til you feel the effects of four times Earth's gravitational force!"
"We just ate chili for lunch," Heather said. "This won't be good."
"That was a bad call," Lindsay agreed.
The shot quick-panned over to Chef Hatchet who was standing by a bubbling pot on a small table. "Plenty more where that came from," he told the camera while tapping the side of the pot with a ladle. The camera zoomed in for a close-up, showing a foul-looking vomit-green stew filled with a variety of bones, old socks, and octopus tentacles.
The focus moved back to Chris. "Remember crew, Lindsay's already picked the order, so she's up first."
"Wonderful," Lindsay said with a smile as she approached the machine. "I didn't know we were gonna barf inside this thing, but now that I know the order and I'm going first, I don't have to worry about getting covered in other people's barf."
Courtney quickly grew uncomfortable. "Uh, what's the order she picked for us."
Chris donned a villainous sneer. "You're not going to like this. After Lindsay goes Courtney, Shawn, and last but not least, Heather."
"WHAT!!??" Heather screeched. "Can I trade places with someone?"
"Too late," Chris said. "The order is set."
Heather shot daggers at Lindsay, who smiled innocently and shrugged in response.
Confessional: Lindsay
Lindsay was shown laughing to herself for a couple of seconds. "It's going to take a long time for her to wash the puke off!" She resumed her laughter.
Confessional: Heather
"When this is over, I'm going to kill Lindsay…" Heather shot the camera a deadly glare, "...right after I take a long shower!"
Confessionals End
The scene skipped to Lindsay as she was about to climb the G-force training suit. She looked over and said "This will almost be like the Hurlinator back at the carnival."
"But unlike that heap of junk, you’ll actually hurl inside that suit if you’re unlucky," Chris taunted.
Lindsay dropped into the suit and closed the helmet shut. "Have a nice spin, Lindsay!" Chris said with a wave before pressing the buttons on his stopwatch and remote control simultaneously.
The machine immediately started to move, and Lindsay began cheering out of fun and enjoyment. A bird's-eye view showed the arms rotating rapidly about the wheeled cart it was attached to. The camera cut to a close-up of the viewing window on the helmet, where the blonde's face could clearly be seen. Her happy expression changed to struggling to contain her vomit. She forced it down and exclaimed "Let me out!"
Chris obliged by pressing both buttons again, and the machine slowed to a stop. The helmet swung open and Lindsay pulled herself out. She was frazzled, but she didn’t throw up on herself.
"15.4 seconds!" Chris read off from his stopwatch with a grin. "Pretty impressive for a first run, and despite my theory, you did not hurl!"
"I did not want to smell bad," Lindsay groaned and fell over.
Confessional: Lindsay
"So I have this friend who ate twenty corn dogs as a dare," Lindsay confessed. "When we were inside the car, she started to throw up, and some of it got on us. I'm never eating a corn dog again."
Confessional Ends
"Alright Courtney, you're next," Chris told the control freak who approached him and the training suit. "Lindsay managed to keep her lunch down, so at least you'll have a dry run."
\
The scene flashed forward to Courtney in the suit, already looking nervous. "Let's get this over with," she said before the helmet swung down over her head.
Chris smiled and pressed the button on the remote control, and the camera switched over to the bird's-eye-view of the machine. The rotating arm rapidly built up speed, and unlike Lindsay before her, Courtney immediately screamed in terror. Another viewpoint change showed the panicking type-a through the helmet's viewing window, then back to the bird's-eye-view. The sound of vomiting was heard and the shot cut back to the host.
"27 seconds on the dot!" Chris announced.
"Am I in the lead?" a messy Courtney wondered after climbing out the suit.
"No," Chris answered. "I'm deducting ten seconds for puking."
"That was totally disgusting!" Courtney muttered. "I hope you can handle it, Shawn."
"I've dived through garbage and covered myself in fish guts once," Shawn shrugged her off. "This is nothing I can handle."
"I don't want to say it, but your determination is admirable," Courtney said.
"It's down to you two," Chris told Shawn and Heather. "Shawn, your slightly soiled chariot awaits."
\
"Ready or not, here I come," Shawn got in the suit.
"He's got high confidence," Chris told the camera. "Confidence that's going to disappear." The helmet closed, the buttons were pressed, and the machine began to spin.
The camera cut to the window of the helmet, showing Shawn screaming in panic. Sooner or later, ominous rumbling came from inside the suit and his cheeks bulged.
The scene cut back to Chris just as the sound of puke was heard, and the host stopped both watch and machine. "Whether Shawn will shower or not is up to him," Chris commented as the conspiracy nut exited the suit covered with vomit. "But he will definitely smell like his own lunch now. After the ten second deduction, he comes in at a grand total of 20 seconds."
"Thanks for choosing me to go last, Lindsay," Heather spat at her. "Two people threw up, and I have to be surrounded by their puke."
"Heather, you're the last one," Chris slyly said. "Unless you want to lose out on winning invincibility, I say you get inside the suit now."
Heather looked at the others and narrowed her eyes. "I'm not forfeiting."
Confessional: Heather
"The things I do to keep myself in the game," Heather rolled her eyes.
Confessional Ends
"This is so gross," Heather said in disgust as she got in the vomit-covered suit. "Start it already!" Heather yelled before slamming the helmet shut.
Chris pressed his two buttons. As with the others the camera switched first to a bird's-eye view of the machine as it began to move, then to a close-up of Heather's face through the helmet. Though she was wincing from the bits of vomit dripping down her face, she kept her determination still and wasn't about to quit.
The shot cut outside to the host and the other three castmates as they watched. Chris was focused on the stopwatch in his hands, Shawn was uninterested, Lindsay was nervous, and Courtney was scared.
"She's going longer than I thought she would," Chris said.
"Just barf already!" Courtney shouted.
The sound of vomiting was heard. The camera zoomed in on Chris again as a smile formed and he clicked his buttons, and the machine came to a stop. "That's time!" he called.
"Did I win?" Heather asked after swinging open the helmet and flopping over the side, vomit all over her head, chest, and mouth. "I know that was more than 27 seconds."
"35 and a half seconds! A new Vomit Comet record!" Chris told her.
"I know what this means," Heather grinned in victory.
"Since she lasted the longest inside that machine, I declare Heather the winner of today's challenge!" Chris announced.
"In your face, everyone!" Heather taunted the other three contestants.
"Can you mock us from far away?" Lindsay held her nose.
"We would like to be away from you," Courtney said.
"Never thought I'd say this, but I agree," Shawn stepped back. "You stink really bad, and I have horrible hygiene."
"That's just the smell of victory," Heather said.
A sudden whistle caught the group's attention, and they looked over to see Chef standing on a stepladder calmly slicing a carrot over the open suit. "Hope y'all like gumbo!" he told them before resuming his work.
The camera panned across the castmates and host as all wretched in sheerest disgust.
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2023.03.24 00:47 pikkleduc Homemade Isolation Pads

I just upgraded my system, and will putting it all in place this weekend.
Due to the reality of my space, I'll need to have my KEF Q150 speakers on bookshelves with glass bottoms. The shelves are bolted to the wall, and house a bunch of books, tchotchkies, etc. The turntable and receiver will both be on separate surface, so I'm not worried about those.
I'd like to isolate the speaker vibrations without having to (1) spend extra money and (2) use adhesive stick-ons (the speakers will be on their sides, but we want to have flexibility without worrying about leaving marks on the speaker).
My current plan is to cut out a piece of cardboard about the size of the base of the speaker, and stick some felt/foam pads to that. Then place the cardboard down on the glass, so that those pads are between the cardboard and the speakers themselves.
Speakers on top of > Felt/foam pads on top of (and stuck to) > Cardboard on top of > Glass shelf
Am I being ridiculous, or is this a solid plan? Anybody have an other clever solutions?
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2023.03.24 00:43 theeverydaykitchen Top 6 Best Wall Mounted Range Hoods 2023

Editor's Choice: AKDY Wall Mount Range Hood
"This model is made with a stainless-steel body and a tempered glass canopy, features 3 fan speeds and only 65 dB noise level, and includes carbon filter kit for ventless installations."
Budget Pick: DKB 30" Wall Mounted Range Hood
"The budget pick doesn’t look cheap at all and has impressive features – 6 fan speeds, 600 CFM, ductless installation option, and the noise level of only 32 dB at the lowest speed."
Best CFM: CAVALIERE 30" Glass Canopy Range Hood
"This model features a chimney that is designed to accommodate a ceiling of 8 to 9 feet, and along with 900 CFM this will help you to keep your whole kitchen free from lingering food odors and smoke ."
Lowest Noise Level: Z Line KZ-30 Stainless Steel Wall Mount Range Hood
"With the 52 dB figure at the highest speed mode, this unit is surely the quietest option on the market, plus, it features 760 CFM and 4-speed settings that you can adjust accordingly to suit your cooking activities."
Best Warranty: EKON NAP03
"This model features impressible 10-year warranty, 4-speed setting control, 900 CFM figure and one of the lowest noise levels of 65 dB, and the 19-gauge steel ensures that it is solid and long-lasting construction."
Best Dishwasher-Friendly: Kitchen Bath Collection STL75
"This model has a UL-certified motor as well as aluminum micro-cell, dishwasher friendly grease filters, and each of the two LED lights features 49 bulbs."
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2023.03.24 00:41 normancrane Table of Contents II

Welcome to the second page of my table of contents. Want to read something?

Two Sentence Horror

Movie Thoughts

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