Thompson's water seal timber brown transparent
[TH] 100 CEMETERY (Part One) by Chuck Hustmyre
2023.05.31 16:08 chuckhustmyre [TH] 100 CEMETERY (Part One) by Chuck Hustmyre
Evil often wears a mask.
John Burke felt his tendon tear. It happened just past the DEAD END sign, an instant after his foot struck the edge of the pothole. His right ankle folded and he went down hard--real hard--on the rough asphalt road.
Mid-summer morning, just outside New Orleans. Nylon jogging shorts and a tank top were no protection against road rash. His right knee hit first, then his hands. The pebble-studded pavement devoured the skin on both then bit into his hip, but he barely felt the hip. Maybe the shorts helped, or maybe by then John was in too much pain to notice.
He lay in the street--thank God cars were rare on Cemetery Road--bleeding, clutching his leg. Everything forgotten except his pain. He could see his ankle already starting to swell, turning purple along the inside. When he tried to flex it a white hot bolt of pain shot up his leg.
This is bad, John thought. Really bad. Doctor Van Dykes, surgery, months of physical therapy...
First thing--get off the street. John rolled onto his left side and had to stop and catch his breath as a wave of nausea washed over him. As the blood ran from his hands and knee where the road had carved away hunks of meat, he watched bright crimson drops splash onto the asphalt.
Hundred-year-old oaks overhung Cemetery Road, their branches draped in gray beards of Spanish moss that shaded the street. A quarter-mile past the DEAD END sign, the road bridged over the Chinchuba River, a slow-paced tributary no more than a couple dozen yards wide. Some mornings, mist drifted off the water's surface and into the woods on both sides of the road, giving the place a surreal look.
A perfect place to jog--run--John Burke didn't like using the "J" word. Jogging was what people did on weekends as they watched their bellies grow. John was a runner. At least four times a week with half-a-dozen races a year.
The nearest house--the only house on Cemetery Road--stood at the end, half a mile away, next to the graveyard for which the road was named. Maybe, just maybe, he could limp there, borrow a phone, call Gail. John looked at his watch, just 7:15. His wife didn't leave until eight. If he could get to a telephone she could pick him up and drive him straight to Doctor Van Dykes' office.
The trip was torture. Taking short hops on his left leg, he could make it only ten or fifteen feet before he had to rest. To rest John had to drop his right foot down and put a little weight on it and that sent waves of pain shooting up his leg. Behind him, he saw a trail of blood like red tears on the ground.
At the end of the road, the pavement gave way to a gravel driveway flanked on either side by two white stone columns. A six-foot, spiked, wrought-iron fence disappeared into the woods on either side. Hinged inside the columns gaped a pair of wrought iron gates. Mounted on the left hand column was a brass plaque with the number 100 etched in black. 100 Cemetery Road.
John paused at the top of the driveway and leaned against one of the gates to catch his breath. The drive descended at a slight grade, curved to the right, then vanished into the woods. He'd run past the driveway hundreds of times but had never actually seen the house or the cemetery. There was always something slightly unsettling about the look of it, something that made him pick up his pace as he ran past.
After a deep breath, he started hopping down the gravel drive, using trees along the way as resting points. The house was a hundred yards past the gate. A big two-story, clapboard construction, that looked run down, almost seedy. It had suffered years of wood rot and badly needed a coat of paint.
The gravel path ended at a two-car garage attached to the right side of the house. Left of the house, on the other side, past a stand of trees, John caught a glimpse of the cemetery. He could just make out a low iron fence and a few gray tombstones.
A wooden porch with a decayed railing spanned the front of the house. The front door was solid wood, without windows.
He leaned against the frame and knocked. A minute passed. John knocked again, this time pounding with the bottom of his fist. At least another half minute went by before he heard slippers shuffling on the floor just inside. The door opened just a crack and a white haired old lady peered out. "Yes," she said, suspicion in her voice.
John held up his right leg, showing his bloody knee and black and blue ankle. Exhausted, he didn't have time to mince words. "I'm hurt. Can I use your phone?"
The old lady looked down at John's leg. A look of concern washed over her face as she threw open the door. "Come in. Oh, my goodness, come in."
John stretched his arms across the doorjamb as he hobbled inside the threshold. "If I can just use the phone, my wife will come pick me up."
"What on earth happened?" she said, leading him through the foyer.
"Twisted my ankle in a pothole."
"Oh, my word," she said, turning to look. "Is it very bad?"
"I think so."
"Come sit down. Let me get you something."
The foyer floor was tile, but he wanted to be careful. "I don't want to get blood on anything."
She shook her head. "Don't be silly. Blood washes right out." The old lady stepped toward John and took hold of his left arm, letting him lean some of his weight on her.
In the den, John was relieved to see a wooden floor. As he dropped onto the sofa, he nodded toward a telephone on an end table. "If I can just use the phone..."
A strange look flashed across the old lady's face, but was gone in an instant as she nodded toward the telephone. "That one doesn't work." She pointed toward a door that looked like it led into the kitchen. "You stay put. I'll call somebody for you in just a second, but first let me get you some water."
John tried to protest, but she was determined. While she was gone, he eyed the room. The den was big, with six bay windows overlooking the woods behind the house. The room was filled with old-fashioned furniture and had a cavernous fireplace at one end, but it also had a worn look, and a smell. A smell John always associated with old age, with his grandfather's house in the last few years before he died.
Next to the dead telephone was a framed black and white photo of a pretty young woman in a riding outfit, posing at what looked like the front gate of a ranch. It was the old lady, much younger and much thinner.
When she came back carrying a tall glass of ice water in one hand, John still had both hands clutching his swelling ankle. He jabbed an elbow toward the photo, more for something to say than anything else. "Is that you?"
She nodded. "My father owned the Rocking R ranch.
The name was familiar. One of the biggest meat suppliers in the state. "Owned?" He stressed the past tense.
She nodded. "After Daddy died, we had to sell. Rising interest rates and the drop in beef prices, we got just pennies on the dollar." She sounded bitter.
For a second she stood quiet and John used the lull to introduce himself and explain how he'd hurt his ankle.
She handed him the glass. "I may have seen you jogging before. Looked like somebody was chasing you."
John thanked her and smiled at the image that popped into his head of this nice old lady lurking in the woods close enough to see the road. As he took a long sip from the glass, he noticed a slightly bitter taste that reminded him why he drank bottled. "You live here alone?"
"No. My husband and I are retired. For forty years we owned Muller and Son funeral home."
"That's where we had the service for my father," John said.
"I'm sorry." She patted his shoulder. "When did he pass?"
He had to think for a second. Time flies. "Two years this past spring," he slurred.
She stared at him with a look of compassion. "Our son would have handled that. We sold the business to him four years ago."
John's head began to spin. The glass slipped from his fingers as he crumpled to the floor. Darkness.
* * *
John Burke cracked his eyes and saw blinding lights. Then felt thumping. Someone was thumping on his chest. He opened his eyes all the way. White light, bright white light. Flat on his back, he tried to raise his hand to shield his eyes but his arm wouldn't move--at least not far. Just a couple inches then something held it. Same thing happened when he tried to use his other hand.
John felt a cold hard floor beneath him--the rough surface of cement--as he rolled onto his side. There was something wrong with his hands. They were trapped at his waist as he tried again to shield his eyes from the blinding light.
More thumping, this time on his left shoulder. He blinked several times to clear his vision. His eyes focused on a bearded, bare-chested, fat man, squatting on the floor next to him. A pair of steel handcuffs clamped on the big man's wrists were fastened to a belt encircling his waist.
"You okay?" the man said.
John just stared at him, realizing the man wasn't just bare-chested, he was completely naked.
"I said, are you okay?" the bearded man asked again.
"Where am I?" John's head felt like it was going to split open.
The naked fat man shrugged. "I don't know."
John looked down at himself and saw that he too was bare-assed, his own wrists handcuffed and bound to his waist by a two-inch wide leather belt. Using his elbow and good knee, John started to snake away from his new acquaintance.
"You can't get away," the man said.
Get away from where?
The pain in his ankle made him stop. He looked around, saw he was in a room maybe thirty feet by thirty feet. Besides him and the fat man, there were four other men in the room. All naked, all handcuffed and belted.
The bearded man hadn't moved. "It's not me you got to be afraid of." He pointed toward the room's only door. "It's the old man."
* * *
The old man had been in four times to bring food. Slop was more like it. He came into the room carrying the thick brown paste in a couple of five-gallon buckets. The stuff tasted like it had a lot of lard in it.
"How long have you been here?" John asked.
The bearded man--Skeeter he called himself--just shrugged. "The old man always keeps the lights on so we can't tell the difference between day and night."
Along one wall was a chest-high trough into which their keeper poured the paste. A second trough along the adjacent wall held water. Like animals, the men stood in front of the troughs, stuck their faces into them, and slurped.
Like everyone else, everything of John's had been taken from him while he was unconscious: shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, and most important, his watch. In addition to belted handcuffs, the other men wore leg irons, essentially a pair of oversized, stainless steel cuffs with a foot-and-a-half of chain between them. But John had been spared that, probably due to the size of his swollen ankle.
Skeeter didn't know why he was here, why any of them were here. "I was just hitchhiking"
He nodded. "On the interstate."
"The old man was driving a van. Pulled over and gave me a ride. After a few minutes he reaches into a cooler between the seats and hands me a beer. I'm talking about a sealed up beer. Popped the top on it myself. I took couple of sips, remember thinking it tasted kind of funny, like it got spoiled. Next thing I know I wake up here--like this." Skeeter tugged at his handcuffs, rattling the chain looped through the belt.
During the next several feedings John got pretty much the same story from three of the other four men. All hitchhikers, all picked up by the old man. The fourth guy, the one the others said had been here the longest, didn't talk. Just leaned against the wall in a stupor.
"Something in the food," Skeeter said.
"What do you mean?"
Skeeter patted his gut. "I didn't have this when I got here." He nodded toward the food trough. "And it makes you tired all the time."
* * *
Feedings. That's the only way John Burke had of marking the passage of time. Seemed like they were spaced out evenly, several hours apart, figured maybe three times a day. It was after the seventh feeding that the old man came and took away the guy who wouldn't talk--the sleepy guy.
He came in wearing a full-length plastic apron and carrying an electric cattle prod. He used the prod to shock the sleepy guy in the ass and wake him up, then delivered a couple more jabs to drive him from the room. Just after the door closed behind them, John heard the two bolts shoved into place.
"What the hell was that about?" he asked Skeeter.
"That's the third one I've seen him take."
"Do they come back?"
Skeeter shook his head.
"Where do they go?"
"I don't know. But...I'm afraid my turn's coming."
"I want to get out of here," John said, "and that looks like the only way out."
"Bad as this place is, I got a feeling what's on the other side of that door is a lot worse."
Hungry as he was, John barely ate. A couple things he'd noticed, the other four men were flabby and they slept a lot, especially after a feeding. The food--slop they called it--had to be the reason. The thick brown paste made everyone fat and sleepy. Something in it, some type of sedative, and maybe something else, something that made you want more. John couldn't remember ever being so hungry. Still, he only took a mouthful at each feeding.
And while the others slept, John worked. The leather belt around his waist was buckled at the back and secured with a small padlock. The handcuffs ran through a stainless steel ring in front. He'd tested the steel parts, the buckle, the lock, and the ring, but didn't think there was any hope of attacking them; the only weak spot was the leather itself.
So as soon as the others filled their bellies and nodded off, John would hobble to the drinking trough. He'd found a slightly rough edge at one corner and had begun scraping the belt against it. The belt was thick and the leather tough. The going was slow, but at least it was something. And something was better than nothing.
* * *
Just after the twenty-ninth feeding, that's when the old man came and took Skeeter away. He'd taken two more since that first one, and two new ones had come in. They came in one at a time, three feedings apart, and just like he imagined it had happened to him, the old man dragged them unconscious into the room and left them. They'd each awakened, naked, shackled, and groggy.
Then it was Skeeter's turn. He must have known because as soon as he heard the bolts slip back his face turned white. He backed himself into one of the far corners, trying to put as much distance between himself and the door as he could.
Skeeter had told John he used to be a wrestler, high school and college, back before the drugs and the booze, back before he'd hit the road. Since then he'd ridden his thumb, crisscrossing the country in search of a good time. Skeeter put up the best fight John had seen from any of them, but the belt, the handcuffs, the leg irons, and the cattle prod were just too much. One two-minute round was all the former wrestler had in him. After that, he was lying on the floor in a puddle of his own urine, a blubbering pile of flabby flesh covered in scarlet welts.
The old man grabbed the chain between Skeeter's ankles and dragged him through the door. Helpless, John just watched. The most terrifying thing was the old man's lack of emotion. No spark of evil in those eyes, just the look of a tired man trying to get through another day.
By the thirty-fifth feeding--John figured eleven or twelve days since he arrived--he had managed to saw through almost the entire two-inch leather belt, just an eighth of an inch remained.
Only one other of the original five who were in the room when John woke up was left. The old man came in, wearing his black plastic apron, and carrying the prod. In a minute it was over. He'd prodded the man through the door on hands and knees, the poor bastard doing everything he could to keep from getting shocked. This time only one bolt clicked into place.
For what seemed like an hour John sat in the middle of the room and watched the door, his stomach twisted with fear. Just as exhaustion overtook him and his head started to nod, the bolt shot open and the old man swept back into the room, wielding the cattle prod like a sword. John slid backward against the far wall as the old man's eyes fixed on him. But there was no hatred in them, nor malice as he strode toward John, waving the tip of the prod in a "come here" motion. As the cool wall pressed against John's back, he felt his bladder let go, felt the warm liquid spill down his thighs.
I'm going to die.
(to be continued...)
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2023.05.31 14:34 Angel466 [Bob the hobo] A Celestial Wars Spin-Off Part 0838
PART EIGHT HUNDRED AND THIRTY-EIGHT [Previous Chapter] [The Beginning] [Patreon+2] Thursday
At the end of the cruise, Lucas and Boyd departed the ship arm in arm, utterly ignorant of everyone around them. Then, once they were on the dock, Boyd’s arm went around Lucas’ shoulders, tucking him in close to his body.
Lucas’ arm responded by sliding in around Boyd’s waist with his head resting against the front of Boyd’s clavicle. In the last half an hour, the clouds finally parted enough to let the moonlight shine through, and everything around them glistened from the mist-like rain that had taken almost the whole trip to wet their clothes properly. Lucas’ suit was a mess, but Boyd didn’t care. In his mind, he was already carving his fiancé
the perfect timber ring.
“Did you want to do something else while we’re out?” Lucas asked, staring up at him.
“What I want to do is go home with you, carve you the perfect ring out of some type of ironwood, and celebrate tonight by completely wrecking our bed,” Boyd admitted, going as far as to tilt his head to kiss Lucas’s forehead.
Lucas’ smile grew even as the pointer finger of his free hand tapped his lips. “You missed.”
Boyd chuckled. “God, you’re such an ass.”
Lucas snickered and snuggled into his side. “And yet you’re still gonna marry me.”
“Hell, yeah.” Boyd looked at the ring on his left hand, twisting it so that the overhead lights leading them back to the street glinted off the silver frame. Lucas had bought the tungsten ring for durability, yet as a police detective, he wasn’t exactly able to avoid knocking his hands around either.
Boyd’s top two choices of timbers were both from Central America, and a little voice in the back of his head was insisting he’d seen small, two-inch-square samples of both in the store room that would be perfect for this application. He was already excited and itching to get to work on the project, despite knowing in the morning, he’d be needing to buy more tools to replace the ones that would be ruined on the insanely tough material. It’d be worth it to have Lucas wearing his ring to work.
“You can already picture it, can’t you?” Lucas asked.
When Boyd looked down, he stared into the blend of brown, gold and green that made up Lucas’ hazel eyes. “Yeah,” he admitted again. “And I’m thinking I’ll carve you two rings…”
Boyd kissed him lightly to ease the sharpness in his tone.
“You are absolutely not
setting foot outside our apartment without my ring on your damn finger tomorrow morning, and once it’s there, you’re not gonna want to take it off. But you’ll have to tomorrow night because I’ll need to put a couple more coats of shellac on it to seal it properly. So, you can wear the second one to bed. That way, at no point in time will your finger be bare, and you won’t have to wonder if it’s real or not.”
Lucas twisted enough to lay his hand against Boyd’s cheek. “I know we’re real. You don’t have to go to that much trouble for one night…”
Boyd couldn’t articulate that it was just as much for him as it was for Lucas. Moreso, if anything. The mere thought of Lucas’ ring finger being bare would’ve had him freaking out.
“It’ll be a spare—just in case anything happens to the original. I’m not saying anything will, but it’ll be cut from the same piece of timber.” Boyd curled his fingers around Lucas’ hand, gently pulling it from his cheek. “I never want to lose you.”
Lucas’ smile turned into a boyish grin. “Never.”
They walked down the concrete walkway with the bright red fence segregating them from the two lanes of traffic that led out onto Chelsea Piers. “Time to figure out where he dropped off my car,” Lucas murmured, reaching into his breast pocket for his phone.
The search was easy enough, but the pinhead in the map was behind them.
“What?” They both paused and turned around.
Sure enough, parked in one of the Pier’s own parking spaces was Lucas’ Porsche. Lucas bipped it unlocked as the pair approached. “Are you even allowed to park here?” Boyd asked, looking around for signage. It was such a pristine location; it couldn’t possibly be legally open to the public.
“I don’t know,” Lucas answered honestly as he opened the driver’s side door and slid into the seat, grabbing the parking stub that Robbie had left on the dash for the attendants to see. “But let’s just pay this and get out of here. We haven’t been towed yet.”
He started the car as Boyd buckled in, easing out into the nearly abandoned parking area. People who were making their way along the fenced-off walkway gave them an irritated scowl as they pulled out, but Boyd noticed Lucas was keeping the Porsche’s engine to a quiet idle rather than letting it roar.
They waited forever for the stream of passengers who turned left at the Chelsea Piers intersection to stop walking in front of the car before pulling out, only to repeat the process at the toll station when those who had turned right needed to cross in front of them as well.
“At this rate, we’re going to still be here tomorrow,” Boyd griped in frustration.
“Given that tomorrow is half an hour away, I’d agree.”
“Oh, shut up.”
Ten minutes later, they were pulling up outside the apartment building. During the whole ride, Boyd split his attention between his brand new engagement ring and the man who’d given it to him, and it wasn’t until Lucas backed into the parking space that he realised he hadn’t once thought about what his family would think of this arrangement. And now that he had, he was annoyed at himself for having done so.
“What’s wrong?” Lucas asked, turning in his seat to face him.
Boyd shook his head and forced himself to smile. The last thing he’d do was ruin tonight with his family’s narrow-minded viciousness.
The look in Lucas’ eyes said he didn’t buy it, and to add weight to that, he raised a finger and said, “Don’t move.” Then he unbuckled and climbed out of the car, walking around the front to Boyd’s door without taking his eyes off him once.
Boyd knew because he followed with his own very carefully.
Then the passenger door opened, and Lucas squatted down. “If this was a bigger car, I’d have climbed straight over the centre console to sit in your lap,” he said, his expression unamused despite the picture he painted. “You and I might have only been engaged for a hot minute, but don’t you dare lie to me and say it’s nothing when I know you better than that. You don’t hide anything from me, do you understand?” He stopped, then added after a moment’s consideration. “Well … with the exception of presents. And maybe good surprises that aren’t yours to tell me, like if you were to find out before me my sister’s pregnant or something.” Again he paused, and it was killing Boyd not to laugh at the way he kept changing his mind mid-sentence. “No, if she’s pregnant and you don’t tell me, you’re in trouble there too. But something else. Nothing comes to mind right now, but I’ll figure it out at the time. This…” —he flicked his finger to incorporate the length of Boyd still sitting in his seat. “…is bullshit. I know every single flicker of every muscle in your face, mister, and I know what all of them mean. I can guess what just went through your head, but if I ask you, it’s because I want confirmation, not a sidestep.”
“I didn’t want to ruin the moment.”
Lucas leaned forward, hooking Boyd’s chin to kiss him. “You’ll only do that if you ever lie to me, ’kay?” He pinched Boyd’s chin between his fingers. “I’m a detective. I’ll know. Spotting a lie is what I do for a living, remember?”
“I hadn’t thought about my family all night,” Boyd admitted. “And they snuck in right at the end, even though I didn’t want them to.”
Lucas smiled. “See? There, it’s said. Done and dusted. Your family are allowed to visit your thoughts, so long as they don’t take up residency there.”
Was it really that simple?
Lucas reached over him and unbuckled his seatbelt. “C’mon. I want to see your work from scratch.”
Boyd was immediately out of the car, shutting the door without looking at it. “No,” he countered, sliding his hand into Lucas’. “Bed wrecking first, then I’ll carve. I’m thinking snakewood, but I’m going to let you choose.” As he spoke, he led Lucas across the street and up the stoop to the front door.
“Snakewood?” Lucas laughed, dragging his heels just enough to lock the car with his fob. “Is that a real thing?”
Boyd nodded. “And once I give it its final seal, you won’t be able to break it with a sledgehammer.”
Lucas winced sceptically. “It is wood, right?” “Iron
wood,” Boyd classified with a snicker.
Lucas shook his head, more in disbelief than accusation. “What’s next? Dog—actually, there is
a dogwood. Even I know that.”
“With pink and white flowers,” Boyd agreed, waggling his eyebrows.
Lucas shouldered him sideways a step. “Now, who’s being an ass?”
Happiness settled within Boyd, the likes of which he’d never felt before. This was him. This was truly him, and the level of comfort that gave him was second to none. “You are not allowed to get shot on the job,” he suddenly declared because, of course, his head had to go there. “I mean it. I couldn’t handle it. You let someone else take the bullet…”
“Shhh,” Lucas shushed as they climbed the stoop. “Despite the myth, cops don’t often get shot, and there’s bulletproof vests for when we do.”
“Except you don’t wear one all the time,” Boyd argued.
“Because it’d clash with my suits, duuuuh,” Lucas explained playfully, opening the door and slipping inside.
Boyd would make him pay for that sass.
* * *
((All comments welcome. Good or bad, I'd love to hear your thoughts 🥰🤗)) I made a family tree/diagram of the Mystallian family that can be found here For more of my work including WPs: Angel466
or an index of previous WPS here
. FULL INDEX OF BOB THE HOBO TO DATE CAN BE FOUND HERE!!
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2023.05.31 14:05 RCragwall Truth is Stranger Than Fiction - The Story of the Titanic
The movie Titanic is one of the most popular movies since it's release but the real story is even better.
Two authors imagined it.
In 1886 W.T. Stead, a spiritualist and investigative journalist wrote a story about it.
"How the Mail Steamer Went Down in Mid Atlantic, by a Survivor" and it tells the story of an unnamed ocean liner that sinks in the Atlantic. In the story, the protagonist is a sailor named Thompson, who grows concerned over the lifeboat shortage on deck. Sure enough, the liner collides with a small sailing ship in a fog.
As the ocean liner sinks, women and children are given priority seating on the lifeboats, but chaos reigns and only 200 passengers and crew members of the original 700 people on board survive the disaster. Thompson himself survives when a lifeboat circles back around and pulls him from the water.
W.T. Stead ends his story with a word of advice: "This is exactly what might
take place and what will
take place if the liners are sent to sea short of boats."
Stead lost his life in the Titanic disaster, and was convinced he'd die by either lynching or drowning and so he did. He imagined it, convinced himself of it and so he drowned just as imagined but not before giving out that warning. Too bad he did not pay attention to the very fact he warned about. He couldn't really. He had already sealed his fate and it was meant to be so others would read his tale after the disaster and take heed - more lifeboats.
14 years before the Titanic - 1898 -the book Futility - The Sinking of the Titan was written and published.
"The Wreck of the Titan: Or, Futility" by Morgan Robertson imagined more similarities to the sinking of the Titanic.
Like the Titanic, the Titan was described as the largest ship afloat at the time. In fact, the sizes and lengths of the ships are quite close, as well as the speed at which they crash into the iceberg.
Both liners have a dangerous shortage of lifeboats. In the story, the Titan was both dubbed "unsinkable," and proceeded to sink on a cold April night. The Titanic sank on April 15th.
The similarities between the Titan and the Titanic go far beyond a name and an iceberg. The length of the titan was 800 feet, the Titanic 882. The speed at which the Titan cruised into the iceberg was 25 knots. The Titanic’s was 22.5. The Titan held 2,500 passengers. The Titanic held 2,200, though both had a capacity of 3,000.
Both ships were British owned. Both ships were hit on their starboard bow, around midnight. Both sank in the North Atlantic exactly 400 nautical miles from Newfoundland. Both had a severe lack of lifeboats, the Titan holding 24, and Titanic carrying just 20. Both had a triple screw propeller.
Edward John Smith the captain of the Titanic stated before heading out "Even God himself couldn't sink this ship,". He mocked God so he had to go.
These authors wrote it, imagined it. One of the authors and the captain lived it and in order for it to happen a Man who did not respect God - thought men were better - had to be the captain. We all learned of the need for more lifeboats but few realized the real lesson - one does not mock God for God although invisible is everywhere and is inside and he knows what you say.
Words are a form. God takes that form and becomes THAT. He doesn't discriminate.
Edward John Smith presided over an Anglican service in the Titanic's first-class dining saloon. He was for all intents and purposes a God fearing man who mocked God.
Smith was accused of ignoring ice warnings from other ships and failing to reduce the ship's speed to fit the conditions at hand. It was noted he did what any captain at the time would have done so he was exonerated. His body was never recovered.
Smith and his crew spotted a ship that appeared to be no more than 5 miles away and gave the order to send out a CQD, the universal distress call that was soon replaced with an SOS.
The ship they spotted in the distance didn’t answer, but several others did. The nearest, RMS Carpathia, replied that it would change course and hurry to the Titanic’s position. But the Carpathia was 58 miles - or four hours away. It was just after 12:30 a.m.
Still hoping to get the attention of the mysterious ship nearby, the captain ordered the firing of distress rockets at 12:45 a.m. At the same time, Boxhall - one of the ship's crew - tried to contact it with a signal lamp, flashing a plea for help in Morse code. There was no reply to either. The mysterious ship was never identified.
Although Smith had ordered the lifeboats uncovered some 40 minutes earlier, he didn’t give the order to begin loading and lowering them until Second Officer Charles Lightoller reminded him by asking, “Hadn’t we better get the women and children into the boats, sir?”
In shock? Probably at first. Did he realize he was going down for mocking God? Probably. Up until this time his life had been charmed. In more than 40 years at sea he had rarely been involved in an accident and never held accountable for one.
It was reported that Smith jumped off the bow holding a baby, swam to a lifeboat and handed the baby to those in the lifeboat and headed back to the Titanic. If nothing else in the face of such disaster he kept trying to save the women and children.
I think he knew what he did and I think he was concerned about showing God he really did love life and that he was indeed sorry for mocking God.
It was imagined, it was lived and so it is done. Those who died were meant to die so this lesson would be learned. It was to remain a mystery until it was time for oceans to reveal it. Oceans are deserts and the sands of time have been revealing these things to us for a while now.
The movie is fantastic for sure but the story behind it is even better.
What do you think?
Is history stranger than fiction or does fiction create history?
As Neville stated - There is no fiction lol. I just love seeing that!
Blessings to you and I look forward to hearing what you think!
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2023.05.31 10:53 susanmuskats How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last In The Fridge?
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Ground beef is a popular cooking ingredient in many recipes. When cooked to a safe internal temperature, it destroys harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
Cooked ground beef can be refrigerated safely for up to four days if it is stored properly. However, leftovers can quickly spoil if left at room temperature for too long. How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last In The Fridge?
Ground beef is a versatile ingredient that can be used to create a variety of meals. However, it is important to store this meat properly in order to keep it safe and edible for as long as possible. Using a food thermometer is one of the best ways to ensure that ground beef is thoroughly cooked, which reduces the risk of foodborne illness and keeps it tasting its best. Additionally, storing ground beef in an airtight container in the fridge can help to preserve its freshness and flavor for longer.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, cooked ground beef can last up to three to four days in the refrigerator. During this time, it is important to keep the ground beef in an airtight container and refrigerate it in the coldest area of the fridge. It is also helpful to separate the ground beef from other foods in the fridge to avoid cross-contamination and slow the spoilage process.
If ground beef is kept in the fridge for more than seven days or shows signs of spoilage such as off-odors, discoloration, or mold growth, it should be discarded. While it may be tempting to eat spoiled ground beef, it can contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
When deciding whether or not cooked ground beef has gone bad, it is important to use your senses. Spoiled ground beef will have a foul smell and can be sticky or slimy to the touch. Additionally, the color of the meat will change from a bright red to gray or brown in color.
If you are unsure about the safety of your ground beef, it is always a good idea to err on the side of caution and discard it. It is never worth the risk of getting food poisoning.
Check for Signs of Spoilage
Ground beef is a versatile and easy-to-make ingredient that can make a variety of meals. From burgers to casseroles and Shepherd’s pie, this meat is a great way to get quick and satisfying dinner on busy nights. However, when left unrefrigerated for too long, this ingredient can become spoiled and may cause foodborne illness in people who consume it. Luckily, there are some ways to know if cooked ground beef has gone bad and whether or not it’s safe to eat.
When ground beef goes bad, it’ll often start to develop a slimy texture that can be hard to notice without actually touching the meat. Another common sign of spoilage is a strong odor that can be very unpleasant and sour in taste. If a person notices either of these signs in their cooked ground beef, they should immediately discard it.
Unlike raw meats, which will often turn red or pink in color, the only time ground beef should be brown is when it’s been fully cooked. When cooked, meat will generally turn a light brown shade due to oxygen from the air reacting with its natural pigments. However, if the beef starts to turn brown before it’s been cooked, this is a sign that it has started to spoil.
If a person notices that their ground beef is turning gray or brown, they should throw it away immediately, as this is a sign of spoilage and may contain dangerous pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella. Additionally, if a person notices any mold growth on their ground beef, they should immediately throw it away as well, as this is not safe to eat and can lead to serious health issues.
Although there are a few signs that indicate that a person’s cooked ground beef is going bad, it’s important to use a thermometer to ensure that the meat has reached a temperature high enough to kill any bacteria present in it. People should also check for any other signs of spoilage, such as an odd smell or a slimy texture, to be on the safe side. How to tell if cooked ground beef has gone bad?
Store in the Freezer
Ground beef is a common cooking ingredient that can be used to make a wide variety of meals and snacks. It’s inexpensive and highly versatile, making it a staple in many households. However, like any other food, it has a limited shelf life once it’s cooked. So, how long does cooked ground beef last in the fridge and when should you consider throwing it out?
Cooked ground beef can last for up to four days in the refrigerator if it’s stored properly. To maximize freshness, store it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and place it in the coldest part of the fridge. Also, be sure to remove any sauces, seasonings, or other additives before storing it. This will help keep it from spoiling faster.
If you’re not planning on consuming your ground beef within this timeframe, it can be safely frozen for two to three months. When freezing, use an airtight container or plastic freezer bags to prevent any leaking juices from contaminating other foods in the freezer. Also, make sure to label your ground beef and date it before putting it in the freezer.
When storing cooked ground beef in the freezer, it’s important to cool it down before placing it in a container or freezer bag. Placing hot meat directly into a freezer can cause it to defrost and thaw out, which could lead to contamination. Additionally, it’s best to wrap the beef tightly and use a label to keep track of its expiration date.
Once your cooked ground beef has been properly cooled and stored, it can remain safe for up to four months in the freezer. Just be sure to use a label and freeze it in an airtight, plastic or glass container to avoid freezer burn and loss of flavor. Additionally, if you plan on re-freezing your beef, be sure to keep it in its original container and avoid adding additional liquids, such as marinades or sauces. This will ensure that the beef retains its shape and texture. If you notice any signs of spoilage, such as a foul odor, sliminess, or discoloration, discard it immediately.
Discard if Goes Bad
If people keep cooked ground beef in the fridge and it goes bad, they should discard it immediately. Bad ground beef can cause food poisoning, which usually results in stomach cramps and diarrhea. People who experience these symptoms should seek medical attention to help determine what caused the illness.
Cooked ground beef should only be eaten after it has been refrigerated for three or four days. People can also freeze cooked ground beef for longer storage, but it is important to ensure that they place it in an airtight freezer bag and label it before freezing.
People should also store raw and cooked ground beef separately in the fridge to prevent cross-contamination. This is especially important because the meat can pick up bacteria from utensils, cutting boards, and other surfaces that have been used to prepare and store other foods. People should also wash their hands frequently to prevent the spread of bacteria.
There are many signs that can indicate if cooked ground beef has gone bad, including a strong odor, dull or grayish color, and a slimy texture. If a person notices any of these signs, they should discard the beef and start over.
When storing cooked ground beef in the refrigerator, it should be tightly sealed in an airtight container and placed on the bottom shelf. It is also a good idea to label the container and date it. For long-term storage, people can freeze cooked ground beef in a resealable freezer bag for up to three months. When reheating, people should use a food thermometer to make sure that the meat has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit before eating it. For best results, people should reheat meals slowly and stir the dish frequently. This helps ensure that the beef is evenly heated. People should also use separate utensils and cutting boards to prevent contamination when cooking and storing ground beef. If a person does not have a freezer to store cooked ground beef, they can thaw it under running water for about five minutes. This should be done carefully, as too much water may ruin the flavor of the meat.
#susanmuskats #susanmuskats #Chefsusanmuskats
2023.05.31 09:51 Drakolf Dragon Rising- 8. Abandoned:
The surprise of the people upon Mitne's rebirth was short lived, as the people who volunteered to go to the city returned.
There was a wall right through the road, guarded by soldiers.
"We're not allowed to leave." Cody said after we got him and the others water. "The government thinks we're all a danger to the country. They lied when they said the quarantine was over, they just wanted us to think we were free and clear so they could get to safety. We weren't supposed to survive this long."
Bahamut's intervention made sense. We were innocent people consigned to die by our own government.
"How long do you think we have, before they decide to just nuke us?" Dave asked morosely.
"When they figure out we're not going to die that easily." I said.
"By rejecting our civil rights, by sequestering us in this way, by making it abundantly clear we are nothing but others
to them, they have declared us non-entities, and there's not a goddamn thing we can do about it." Jason said.
"Bullshit." Everyone looked at Tudru. "Dropping a nuke here's only going to ruin the ecology of the area, and it's going to be noticed. "They are more likely to firebomb us than anything else, and I don't know if they're willing to risk their own on a potential suicide mission." He looked at everyone. "I do not doubt for a second that the moment we make any moves to escape, they'll kill us."
He looked at Galax. "Any more prophecies, Cleric?" He asked.
"No." Galax said. "Not yet, at any rate. Why?"
"That likely means we're not in too much danger." Tudru answered.
"Wait, are you saying you believe in Bahamut?" Mitne asked Tudru.
"Not specifically, no. But at this point, skepticism is arbitrary. Galax has either predicted miracles, or he's stronger than he let on, and he doesn't strike me as the kind of person who would lie for his own benefit. Especially with our resident atheist here." He gestured to me.
"Former atheist." I corrected.
"Whatever." Tudru looked at all of us. "We are, all of us, going to bust our asses to get people to Awaken. we're going to train enough to right for our freedom, and come hell or high water, we're going to make the government regret
the choices they've made."
"As Bahamut is on our side-" Tarhun said, "Does this mean Tiamat might be involved?"
"Who?" I asked.
"Bahamut's mortal enemy, mother of evil dragons, and just as likely a candidate for turning us into Kobolds as anyone else." Galax stated. "It wouldn't surprise me if she's also behind our current predicament."
"What would she gain, trying to kill us?" Tatla asked.
"Or even just turning us into Kobolds in the first place." Merti said.
"I believe Bahamut was with us from the beginning." I said. "If this Tiamat is
evil, she might have wanted us to kill our family."
"We'll need a lot of training done. Tudru, have you had any luck?"
Tudru shook his head. "I've admittedly only done very basic sword drills mostly, teaching people how to swing the sword properly. We can't just expect people to take up a sword and have no problem fighting."
"Do we have any specific reports on the mine? How much raw materials we're getting?"
"Yes, actually." Merti said. "Our miners have been able to efficiently work, using instinctual knowledge to create a stable mine system. There are currently five levels of the mine."
"Five levels?" I asked. "Wait, they dug deeper?"
"Why would they ever do that?" Jason asked. "I mean, we should have plenty of good ore up here."
"To dig a proper warren." Kuvli said. We all looked at him. "We're Kobolds, we thrive in darkness and we're naturally good at mining, they've probably been feeling a desire to carve out a proper home for us."
"In any case, the mines are full of ores and even some gems." Merti explained. "We've been living right next to a veritable goldmine of resources this entire time, and we didn't even know about it."
"So, we have plenty of resources to work with." I remarked. "Anything else?"
She shook her head. "No."
Kuvli looked at everyone. "I think , if we're going to get anywhere, everyone needs to know that we need to train, because we're probably going to war."
The town meeting we held shortly after was simply sharing our thoughts, how likely this was going to end with either us getting killed, or us killing before that can even come to pass.
"We are giving everyone a week to decide what they are going to do. We're not going to drag anyone who isn't ready to fight for our home. For those willing to train, we would begin the process of finding their Class and getting them set up such that we could fight on a better front.
Everyone who was a Sorcerer was already accounted for, it was arguably the easiest for us to manifest any form of talents, Our role was ensuring the day-to-day things still got done, while people were working hard to Awaken. Days passed by, the slow progress of Awakenings and getting used to new powers, the Paladins training with prospective Fighters and Berserkers, the Artificers working on defenses to protect us from potential threats...
I had a dream, on the second week of this, of moving through tunnels, just large enough for me to squeeze through, ruined walls that indicated civilization, the growing sense that the deeper I got, the closer I was to... something
When the miners asked for a Sorcerer, I went in, fixing tools and helping shore up some timbers that had cracked. I went deeper into the mines, vertical shafts that had air pumped down here. It felt sturdy, safe, like I belonged down here, and the deeper I went, the more that feeling grew.
I didn't know why I grabbed a pickaxe, but the sensation of breaking apart stone beside my fellow Kobolds filled me with a sense of closeness that I'd only felt through faith.
The end of the shaft crumbled, a gust of stagnant air blowing past us as fresh air sought to replace it.
I didn't even register my stepping forward into the cavern, all I knew was standing in it, I could feel the magic around me, and seeing with Detect Magic treated me to the sight of a beautiful and iridescent cavern.
Heedless, I walked in deeper, and that's when I noticed the doorway. I felt drawn to it, and when I touched it, I felt one of my spells siphoned off into it, the stone door sliding open, revealing a large and abandoned building.
"How could this possibly exist?" I asked. I considered walking back, but I kept walking forward, deeper into this strange and forgotten place. "It has been far too long since mortal scale touched these hallowed stones."
A voice spoke from the darkness. "Come, Sorcerer. This is your long lost home."
I walked deeper and deeper, until I reached a large room, a throne room.
I was surprised to see a Kobold sat upon a throne atop a steep staircase. I walked up to him, but the moment I reached the foot of the stairs, I fell to my knees.
"What... is going on..?" I asked.
"You tell me, Ruuk." I looked up at the Kobold in shock. "Yes, I am well aware of your name, I have been watching you and your warren since the start. Do you know my name, Vers mior
"No." I said.
"Do you know what this place is, Vers mior
?" I shook my head. "A pity, she did
promise me an army, yet as always, she did not care as to the quality." He stood up and slowly walked down the stairs, I felt an immense pressure building up around me, until he was stood over me.
I struggled to breathe.
"I am known by many names. The Watcher, the Devourer, Steelscale, Stingtail, the Horned Sorcerer..." He knelt and put his finger under my chin and lifted my gaze up to his eyes. "My name is Kurtulmak, I am your God."
"I would be inclined to disagree." I heard bootsteps behind me, the fluttering of wings, the oppressive pressure lifting, before a hand gently touched my back. I stood up, finally able to breathe properly. I looked up. "Fizban..?" I asked.
"This is not your domain, why are you here!?" Kurtulmak demanded.
"You've grown bolder since she abandoned you, Stingtail." Fizban replied. "Yet even now, she deigns to command you." Kurtulmak snarled, but I could tell in his eyes he was scared. "The Kobold before you is indeed a God, Ruuk." Fizban stated. "A lesser deity, certainly, this being his tomb and prison since old Garl sank it into the earth." "You do not utter that filth's name before me!"
Kurtulmak screeched. "Now leave, trouble me no longer, for this is not your realm!"
"No, it is not." Fizban remarked. "Yet the reason why this Kobold stand before you now is because I allowed it. Without me, he would be dead, and you would be stuck behind a wall beneath a desolate town full of corpses."
Kurtulmak didn't respond, his snarl dropped, but he still glared at Fizban.
"Fizban, what is going on, what do you mean you
There was a brilliant flash, yet it wasn't painful. When my eyes adjusted to the dark once more, a Dragon towered over me. "You are far from Draukari, Kurtulmak. What machinations have you wrought upon the innocent people of the town above?"
"I have done nothing." Kurtulmak stated. "Nor could
I do anything. It was the Dark Lady who did it." "As I suspected. Come, Ruuk. It would be best to seal him here once more, before he can cause any harm."
He turned around, shrinking and taking the form of a man. Seven Dragons, with scales of glittering gold, turned into songbirds.
"Fizban- No, Bahamut, isn't it?" I asked. He stopped, turning his head toward me. "What do you mean? You want to trap
"You do not understand, Ruuk. He is a long-standing evil, he will corrupt you and your people."
"Honor and Correction to the Enemies of Justice and Good." I said. "Isn't that one of your precepts?" I looked at Kurtulmak, who stared at me with this confused expression. "I'm not going to pretend I understand the situation, or what bad blood you have between each other, but is it really just to lock him up?"
"The last time pity was granted to him, he squandered it on hatred." Bahamut stated. "He is in league with Tiamat, the one who took from you your life and your security, who would have had you kill in her name before you could even begin to resist."
"He doesn't have anything to do with that." I said.
"You are willing to believe him?" Bahamut turned around and faced me. "He has existed only to lie, to cheat, and to steal anything he could get his hands on. His followers gladly seek out the genocide
of an entire Race. He is evil, and he chooses not to be redeemed." His eyes met mine, and the dark, cloudy teal lightened slightly. "He has power over you, Ruuk, power that he will exploit to his hand no matter what. There is no reasoning with him."
"Go." I looked back at Kurtulmak who seethed with rage. "There is no reasoning with him. After all, he is right. I have stolen, and cheated, and killed, but I was not evil, I sought to protect and provide for my people a mighty fortress, the one you stand in now. Darastrixthurhi
." He bared his fangs. "I will never
forgive the ignominy of my enemies, the destruction of our home by some halfwit Gnome whose crimes to this day go unpunished!
I looked at Bahamut. "Is this true?" I asked.
"It was... far before your time." Bahamut stated. "But yes, in spite of our rage, we did nothing. I have regretted this ever since. Yet, to punish an entire people, their slaughter would not be justice."
"And is leaving him here justice?" I pressed.
"Compared to genocide, yes." He said firmly. "None of us are blameless."
"Then lock me up in here as well." I said.
"Go." I said. "Time does not make a crime go away, but I am not going to abandon someone. I am not going to abandon a fellow Kobold, even if it gets me killed."
"I am sorry." Bahamut spoke before turning around and leaving. I could feel a distant rumble, followed by heartache.
"You are a fool." Kurtulmak said. "Sworn to his service, yet you remain behind." There was a pause. "You're more of a Kobold than I expected."
I sat down on the steps of the staircase. "The others are going to find me gone, probably try to dig my corpse out, only for the cave in to get worse."
"You are dying, because you chose to stay with me." He scoffed. "What would ever possess you to do such a thing?"
"I don't know." I replied. "I guess I'm just the kind of guy who's destined to be an atheist." I paused.
"No lofty goals of redemption? No convincing yourself that, deep down, I am inherently good?" He asked sardonically. "You truly are a fool."
"Say Tiamat was successful, what would you have done with us?" I asked.
"Led you in conquest of this world." He replied. "Though I prefer to have nothing to do with her, I know never to betray one who still has a use for you."
I shook my head. "Honestly, that's stupid." I said. He shot me an incredulous look. "Seventy-thousand people, give or take a few hundred, is not enough for that, and even then, we're only half of that."
"Should I then thank her for the soldiers and betray her?" He asked.
"Has she ever actually done anything for you, that actually benefited you?"
"No." He said. "Our kind has never been respected. Even now, the surface-dwellers plot to kill you all. None of you are going to survive."
I stood up and headed toward the exit. "Wait, where are you going!?" He snapped.
"Out." I said. "There was a neat cave I passed through. If I'm going to die, I may as well enjoy what time I have left"
I walked through Darastrixthurhi and found my way back to that cave. I sat beside the entrance, and watched the colors of magic.
I heard a soft whumpf
beside me, and glanced over to see Kurtulmak sat down, glowering.
"Assuming you get out-" He shot me another incredulous look. "-How are you getting revenge?"
"The wholesale slaughter of the Gnomes whose God destroyed our home and led to the wholesale butchery of my people." He said. "Either they are subjugated by tyrants or slaughtered, the few who live in 'polite' society must swallow their pride for the sake of survival. Their bones remember, even if the mind does not."
I nodded. "You're probably not getting out if that's the only solution." He shot me a dirty glare. "The universe is inherently unjust, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. People get away with heinous shit all of the time."
"Why bother with justice?" He asked sarcastically.
"Pride?" I asked. "If you could start over, from the start, would you have acted any differently?"
"Of course." He said. "I would secure my kind's place in the world, I was mortal, when our people were at our peak, and I was mortal when it was destroyed as a 'joke'." He spat. "Asgorath raised me as a God. Well, he offered to bring me back to life with the strength to rebuild as well. Technically speaking, this is a replica of the original, but as it was built by my hands, it may as well be the real thing."
We sat in silence for a while, then he asked, "What would you have done?"
I shrugged. "Take the L, rebuild, and if this Garl guy fucked shit up again, it would have created a pattern, which would make my retaliation more acceptable." I looked at him. "The greatest punishment for someone who gets away scot free is to make them fear what you'll do in return. Do really benign things, act kindly, and make him piss his pants wondering what you've done. Then, when he lowers his guard, you do something small, something that won't kill him, but will make him suffer. And then, never relent."
"He killed hundreds of thousands
." Kurtulmak spat. "And for each Kobold that is slaughtered by the races of men, that is more blood on his hands. I will never
"You don't have to." I replied. "Hell, you don't even have to make peace between your people. Hold off on the genocide, make it understood that not killing everyone is a compromise, and that if they allow more slaughter of us, then you'll make it everbody's problem. Because at that point, you're making an attempt."
"I believe you are a fool who is to trusting." He said. "Pledge your devotion to me, your soul, your fealty, so that when you die, your soul will be reincarnated among our kind."
"Only if you promise me that you'll give it a shot." I said.
"I vow, that once you consign yourself to my worship, I shall attempt compromise. I will not slaughter the Gnomes, but that does not mean I will forgive them."
He stood up, stepped away from me, then said, "Approach and kneel."
I did so. I already knew what I needed to do. "I, Ruuk, solemnly vow to serve you, and consign my soul to you. You have my undying devotion."
"I accept your vow, Ruuk. I grant you the clan name of Stingtail, in honor of your vow. Rise, Ruuk Stingtail." I stood up, he clapped my shoulder and nodded. "Until your untimely demise, you will serve me by continuing to talk with me. And in your next life, you will find me again."
There was another tremor, followed by a section of the cavern caving in. We both sprung to our feet, I don't know where he got the spear from, but when I saw a shadow moving in the dust, I understood.
Tallyn stood before me, his eyes flitted to me, then to Kurtulmak, whom he looked at with an expression of disgust and hatred.
[Navigation for 'Dragon Rising'-       
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2023.05.31 04:21 UncleCeiling Going Native, Chapter 123
Read Chapter 1 Here
Previous Chapter Here
My other SSB story, Writing on the Wall, Here
Buckle in, this is a long one!
"I still can't believe your dad," Ayen huffed as he glared at Elera from his seat next to her. He crossed his arms across his chest and gave his head a little shake, perfectly coiffed hair bouncing in the soft evening light cutting through a nearby window.
"It was pretty hilarious," Marin chimed in. They were staying with her parents at the moment, using it as a sort of neutral ground. Ayen's father, Allis, was in full wedding planner mode and staying there was getting pretty intense. Elera's parents, on the other hand…
"He thought I was some kind of… of…" Ayen's voice dropped to a near whisper, hissing through clenched teeth. "...escort
"It's not your fault," Elera tried her best to placate the young man. She leaned against him from her spot to his left and wrapped one muscular arm across his shoulders. Despite Ayen's grumpiness he still leaned into her, his head resting against her chest. "I think he just never expected me to actually marry a boy."
"That part was even better." Marin, tall and lanky, stood near the window in their little room, watching the quiet dribbles of rain slip down the glass. It had been a good day, really a good month. Elera's proposal was well received, Ayen was happy, and with Stace on his mission Marin could feel like she actually had some of her husband's attention. It wasn't a particularly attractive or kind thought, but she hadn't quite managed to pull free of the jealousy the Human elicited in her.
"Don't you start," Elera warned with a glare.
"I thought it was kind of sweet!" Marin grinned, watching Elera and Ayen both darken with matching blushes.
The fact that Elera was getting married had come as a surprise to her family. Marin had the impression that Elera was pretty bad at actually communicating with her parents, and it had been nearly a year since Elera’s time in the frozen north. The Heleum clan was large and Elera was seen as being a self-sufficient adult who didn't need much looking after. She also had a bit of a reputation as a partier, so when Elera showed up with Ayen and Marin in tow to announce her engagement, Elera's father had made some assumptions.
Specifically, he had assumed that Elera was marrying Marin and that Ayen was an "entertainer" the pair hired to celebrate.
It made a sort of sense, considering how open Elera was about the time she spent with other girls. At some point, her father just assumed that she had no interest in guys at all. Convincing him that Elera was, in fact, marrying Ayen and that Marin was first wife took some doing. And now, three weeks later, Ayen was still grumbling about it.
Still, it all worked out.
"Think of it this way," Marin added as way of conciliation. "After that whole fiasco, you pretty much have Elera's family wrapped around your finger. They didn't even complain when you suggested a Human-style wedding."
"...as long as we have it here on Shil." Ayen sighed. "Which makes sense, I guess. We can't afford to fly everyone out even if Sam said we can use the Observatory for free."
"I bet if we asked Jel'si she would let us use that cliffside villa the Sams are staying at." Elera turned to look at Ayen as she spoke and Marin tried to hold in a sigh. Her husband's boyfriend's girlfriend was a nice enough person, and having the resources of a Noble House in the family was great, but thinking of Jel'si just made Marin think of Stace again.
There had to be some way for her to get past this funk. The strange Human was part of the family at least as much as the Sams were, and Marin wasn't about to give them up. Spending more time socializing had helped, but now that he was off on his mission and it was clear how much Ayen and Elera missed him, all of Marin's anxiety was flooding back.
Still, she had to be responsible. Their strange and ever-growing family needed to iron out any wrinkles and-
"Marin, dear?" The voice came from the side door and Marin turned to see Mevis, her father, quietly rapping at the door frame to get her attention. The room went silent as Ayen and Elera paused their conversation and glanced towards the doorway. The large, somewhat heavy set woman standing behind him was recognizable but entirely unexpected.
"You have a visitor.”
It took Marin a moment to recall the last time she had seen Colonel Et’tai. It was just after the first attack on the observatory; Marin had been a mess of nerves, having just repelled an invasion of Humans intending to kill her husband and new lovers. That she had to clarify to herself that it was the “first'' attack only made the memory sting more.
That said, it was hard to focus on the Colonel. Just like everyone else, her attention was drawn to the briefcase chained to the large woman’s wrist. The Colonel had the perfect posture of career military, but even then the case, a glossy blue rectangle of painted metal, unadorned aside from the seal of the Empress wrought in gold, seemed to have its own gravity.
“I need to speak with Lieutenants Elera and Marin,” she said brusquely. The Colonel’s voice was rough, her face lined with age and a grimace of displeasure. She turned towards where Ayen stood, his eyes fixed on that same case, and her expression softened. “Alone, please. I promise to give them back to you in one piece.”
Ayen started, then nodded. He stepped away as fast as he could without breaking into a run, tucking an arm around Marin’s father and pulling him from the doorway as he slipped past. Marin really couldn’t blame him.
After all, who wanted to share a room with a bomb?
Maximum security cases like the one Colonel Et’tai had strapped to her wrist played prominently in movies, tv shows, video games, really any media where you needed some sort of object to push the story along. What did Sam always call them? A macmuffin? Something like that. The cases were made to only be opened by one particular citizen of the Empire, and if the biometric lock detected the wrong person trying to open it the entire case would detonate, destroying the contents and, depending on the media it was being portrayed in, the entire room, building, or starship around it. Marin had never actually seen one in person.
“May I ask what this is about, ma’am?” Elera’s words helped pull Marin out of her distraction, and she watched as the Colonel stepped to a sideboard cabinet under a window..
“You can ask, but I can’t answer,” Colonel Et’tai replied with a grunt. “Four days ago, I was on Earth doing my job. Then I get a summons back to Shil, a boombox gets strapped to my wrist, and I’m told to meet the two of you.” The Colonel tapped at the case with a fingertip, smirking slightly as Marin and Elera both flinched. “I’m supposed to open it with the two of you present, then follow the directions.”
Colonel Et’tai carefully pushed the various curios and knickknacks decorating the sideboard out of the way, then placed the box onto the cleared surface. Marin found herself frozen in place, unable to do anything but watch as the old soldier pressed a finger to the golden seal in the center of the lid. The crest hinged open with a little click, revealing the dark glass of a camera and a hole just large enough to insert a finger.
“I hate this part,” the Colonel mumbled to herself. Marin tried to keep her distance, but to her chagrin she wasn’t going to be able to. Elera’s rough, strong hand reached out and took hers, dragging Marin closer just as Et’tai inserted her finger into the hole.
“Colonel Liretta Et’tai, nine-seven-twenty-three-six-fourteen-twelve-vector.” As the last word left her mouth, the case made a small ‘snick’ and Et’tai flinched. After a moment that felt like an eternity, a moment when Marin was sure she was about to die, the case made a much louder click and the lid popped open with a hiss of released pressure.
Relief flooded Marin’s body as the threat of imminent death faded. She squeezed Elera’s hand, then released it so she could rub the sweat from her brow. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths.
“Oh, fuck me,” Elera whispered, and Marin’s eyes flew back open. The Colonel had begun unpacking the case, and now where there had been only one bomb sitting on the sideboard there were now three. The two new ones were barely large enough to hold more than a few sheets of paper, but they had the same crest and very likely the same security system. The Colonel seemed to be ignoring the boxes, instead reading a piece of paper. Her face was a mix of concern and growing amusement. Finally, she stopped and placed the paper back in the case, removing instead two small boxes made of dark wood.
“Attention!” The word wasn’t loud, but it was direct and Marin felt her back slam straight out of sheer instinct. Next to her, Elera did the same. Neither was in uniform, but that only added to the surreal oddness of the situation. Marin wondered idly if she was dreaming.
“I don’t know what sort of shit you two have gotten yourselves involved in, but it’s not my job to question the wisdom of the Empress, only to serve Her to the best of my ability.” She reached out and handed Marin one of the wooden boxes, Elera the other.
“By order of Empress Tasoo of the Shil’vati Empire, it is my distinct pleasure to promote Elera Heleum and Marin Elbruk to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, effective immediately.” The Colonel gestured and Marin, feeling as if she was sleep walking, popped the lid from the wood box. Laying in a little nest of velvet was her new insignia. Marin didn’t know what to say. She just stood there, staring down at the evidence of a promotion she hadn’t earned. She almost missed the Colonel’s next words.
“Enjoy your retirement.”
Now Marin was sure she was dreaming. She glanced over at Elera, who looked mildly concussed. The moment dragged on, Colonel Et’tai standing in front of the pair, seeming to delight in how awkward the whole situation was for the two other Marines. After another moment of watching the pair, Et’tai turned back to the counter and returned with the pair of smaller cases. She glanced at each one, then held them out.
Marin took the case in a trembling hand, awkwardly tucking the simple wooden box with its Lieutenant Colonel insignia into her pocket. Her name was embossed onto the security case, just below the Imperial Seal. She glanced at Elera, who tried to grin. The smile didn’t reach her eyes, where panic lurked.
“As fun as this is to watch, we don’t have all day, girls. I have an orbital to catch if I want to get back to Earth sometime in the next month.”
After a quick swallow and a deep breath, Marin pressed down on the crest. It popped open with a little click, revealing a camera lens and a finger-sized hole. Biometric test one passed. The inside of the hole felt cool as she slipped a finger in.
“Lieu… Lieutenant Colonel Marin Elbruk, Nineteen-thirty-seven-two-sixteen-one-one-eleven-tangent,” she whispered out. Her ID code was punctuated by a snapping sound and a burst of pain as the little box sank a needle into her finger, far deeper than she expected. Marin let out a little whimper as the needle withdrew, releasing her.
“Fuck that hurt,” grumped Elera. She had finished her own biometric test and was shaking out her hand, apparently not noticing that she was flicking blood onto the floor. Marin was about to reach out and stop her soon to be co-wife but her attention was drawn back to the box by the hiss of released pressure. She unfolded the lid and looked inside.
After all the pomp and ceremony, a few pieces of paper might have been underwhelming. Then again, any Shil’vati could recognize an Imperial Writ. By order of the Empress,
Lieutenant Colonel Marin Elbruk is called upon to fulfill her obligation as a loyal subject of the Shil’vati Imperium and member of the Armed Forces. She is tasked by the Empress Herself to attend to the following duties:
Protect the persons known as Sammi Painter-Forsythe and Samuel Forsythe-Painter from all enemies of the Imperium, foreign and domestic, even at the cost of her own life.
Ensure the safety and security of the Painter Research Institute and its research even at the cost of her own life. If safety and security is untenable, she is tasked to destroy the Painter Research Institute, its data, and its employees as necessary to prevent their acquisition by enemies of the Imperium.
Prevent any knowledge of the planet Nix, its system, or its people from spreading outside of the Painter Research Institute and the Lone Caribou Survival Company.
This writ supersedes and countermands any orders that run contrary to the abovementioned duties. Its duration is indefinite, and failure to adhere to this Writ is to be met with summary execution.
Marin’s eyes continued to drift down, past the text, past the heavy gilt of the Imperial Seal. Her mind was reeling at the implications, but before she could focus on what she had read she noticed a small, handwritten note. In contrast to the plain text of the document’s body, this was an elegant scrawl. Don’t fuck this up.
With fingers that felt wooden, Marin pulled the writ forward to flip through the papers behind it. They were far more plain, detailing Marin’s promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, effective three days ago, and her retirement at full pay and benefits, effective today.
She flipped back to the Writ, read it again, then looked at the other paperwork. She felt too stunned, too panicked to actually make the connections. When Colonel Et’tai started speaking again, it came as a relief.
“Before either of you start yammering,” the aged soldier remarked, “I need to make it clear that I am NOT privy to whatever your assignments say. I get the feeling I would be better off not knowing.” She took a moment to lock eyes with each of the women in front of her. Neither one of them looked like they would be up to conversing much.
Liretta Et’tai had spent her entire trip to Shil worried that she had somehow monumentally fucked something up. Was she going to be the sacrifice to the Goddess of Blame for everything that had happened on the “North American” continent? Fear had turned into confusion and guilt when the boombox had been strapped to her wrist and she was sent to find the two Lieutenants in charge of the Painter Research Institute’s security.
Vivid, increasingly unlikely predictions rattled around in her head during the auto-cab ride to the house. The security case would detonate, killing the three of them as soon as Et’tai opened it. She would open it, and it would contain a pistol and orders to kill the two Lieutenants. Or the Lieutenants and their families.
What she had found had been enough of a relief that she was able to roll with the strangeness. Now that all three of the soldiers were on the same page (or at least the same chapter), Et’tai could fill them in on her side of things.
“My orders are simple: If you two get into a crisis and need immediate support with…” She gestured at the two thin boxes in the girls’ hands. “...that, I am to provide it. Maximum force, up to and including an orbital strike. You’ve both been retired at full LC benefits so you can focus on your Writ and not have to worry about providing for your families. Nobody else can order you around, and if you show off your papers it will at least sow enough confusion to buy you some time while I start dropping help from orbit.” At that, Et’tai found herself smirking. Who would believe these two young women who were little better than rank-and-file a year ago were now Lieutenant Colonels?
“Oh, congratulations on the engagement, by the way.” Et’tai paused to collect a slightly slack and confused fist bump from Elera, then another from Marin. When neither of the women had anything else to say, Liretta shrugged, packed up her case, and left.
Unpacked, it wasn’t at all what Paitl expected. A glossy black panel as smooth as still water, half a meter wide and a third tall, perched on a post of silver metal. The base was H shaped, designed to prevent the device from tipping if someone accidentally bumped into it or caught it with a tail.
Paitl sat on his little stool in front of the device. Unpacking the case had been a simple thing, and the glossy black panels that formed the inside of the box now lay flat in the sun. A thick, strangely intestinal-feeling hose connected the outdoor component to the panel. Paitl-Tesh had carefully cut a notch in the cave door for the ‘power cable’ to fit through, stuffing the gaps with bits of cloth while Paitl-Cet assembled the rest of it under Paitl’s instruction.
The other Fathers of the colony grumbled about Paitl being the one in charge, but there wasn’t much to be done about it. It was Paitl’s find, after all. He suspected that much of the complaining had less to do with Paitl being the one in the lead and more to do with him snatching up Paitl-Cet. Apparently he wasn’t the only one looking at her.
On Paitl’s lap sat a book. The paper was white, so clean and bright that it almost hurt to look at and so smooth that it clung to the grip pads on Paitl’s fingers in an unnatural and disconcerting way. It contained over a hundred pages of large print and diagrams, written in simple language. Instructions that he had taken the time to memorize while the rest of Paitl worked.
It was time.
Thirteen of the People surrounded Paitl and the device. Paitl-Tesh and Paitl-Cet flanked him, with three other Fathers and their nests crowding the space behind. As he raised a hand and reached out for the device, silence descended into the hall.
Paitl’s finger found the oddly raised, green colored ridge on the right side of the device and pushed. The ridge snapped down with a dull clunk, tilting so a new section raised in its place. The entire green section began to glow.
That single unnatural green light would have been disconcerting enough, but it was only a precursor. The entire front of the device, the water-smooth panel, lit up. The reflective glass was suddenly gone, perspective shifting.
Paitl wasn’t looking at glass, he was looking through a hole in the world, like looking into a box tipped on its side. The audience gasped as a white dot appeared, swelling larger and larger until the dot became a ball, then a globe. It hovered inside the device, the size of an almost-hatched father-egg. A ball of white and brown, wearing an uneven belt of blue.
His world, as seen from farther away than any of the People had ever been.
Paitl reached out, hand splayed to touch the orb, but his fingertips dully thunked against the glass. On the screen, the image of Nix began to spin slowly.
Only an illusion.
Paitl opened the book on his lap to the section explaining the gestures he could use to control the device. Or, as the book called them, “movements of the hands and fingers that cause actions.” The whole manual was written like that, never using one technical word when a bunch of simpler ones could work. With the fat pad of his finger, Paitl tapped a symbol in the corner of the display. It was a simple green cross with a smaller circle inside it.
As soon as his finger hit the symbol, the ball spun. Nix grew huge, speeding towards Paitl at a frightening pace. He was suddenly falling from a great height towards the frozen earth. He flinched backwards, pulling his finger away while yelping out in pain. The grip pad of his digit felt aflame and he began to shake his hand even as the flare of panic set off a fit of racking coughs.
With his hands and feet freshly cleaned, Paitl could easily climb up any of the walls in the cave his colony called home, wet or dry. The grip pads and their incredibly fine layers of setae let the People cling to nearly any surface with little more than a thought. The surface of this alien machine, however, was far smoother than any cave wall. In his surprised motion, Paitl had nearly managed to rip his grip pad off.
He would have to be more careful, using the less grippy tips of his fingers and peeling them free from the screen instead of just yanking like that. At least he hadn’t tipped over the device.
“Look,” Paitl-Cet remarked, pointing at the screen. “It’s us.”
The strange display was showing an image now, their home as seen from high above. He could recognize the curves of the coast line, the ruins that were once sea-side buildings long since destroyed by storm.
“It’s a thing of the past,” one of the other Fathers commented. A thin, nearly skeletal hand reached past Paitl to point. “We already cut those trees for burning.”
Paitl swung an eye sideways to look at the unnervingly thin Father, Asep, while the other watched the screen. Taking care to only use the very tips of his fingers, Paitl made the “motion to cause larger size” and the image loomed closer. The “motion to cause an area to be most visible” centered the spot in the center of the display.
There was a pile of four logs there, dragged from the dead forest. Those same four logs were now inside the caves, chopped into smaller pieces to keep them warm.
“When did Asep finish that task? We may be able to determine when this was made.” As Paitl watched, attention divided, Asep asked his nest. While he would have no direct knowledge, Paitl figured his nestmates must know. It only took a few moments to get a response.
“Asep-Nak says the last log was chopped four days ago. Asep-Tel believes they were down to four logs six days ago, perhaps seven.” Asep’s eyes, a kaledoscopic mix of blues and greens, swept to both sides to indicate the room. “It is the best they can tell us.”
Paitl smiled. “Your nest should be commended for remembering something so small. Asep’s reputation for studiousness is well-earned.” It was perhaps a bit of a platitude, and Asep knew it, but the males both knew how important it was to keep their nest mates happy. The girls of Asep visibly preened at the compliment. It took some of the sting out of not being the ones to find the treasure.
Carefully, Paitl played with the gestures in the book, manipulating the spinning globe that seemed to float in the air. He quickly found a dot that looked to be exactly where Paitl (or perhaps the device) was standing. It was marked in blue text as:
Receiver 7 - (0.2S,132.4E)
While Paitl-Tesh ran to the colony's library to find an atlas, Paitl found the section in the book that explained the numbers. They indicated latitude and longitude using a system that was slightly different than what the people of Nix had always used. Apparently the designers of this device only used one hundred and eighty major deviations. Converting it in his head was easy enough.
Spinning the ball around with increasing confidence, Paitl found at least a dozen other receivers marked on the sphere of Nix. They formed a belt around the equator, and referencing the ancient atlas Paitl-Tesh brought showed that many, like his own settlement, were near where small coastal towns once stood.
Paitl swung an eye up from the atlas and towards the display, his other looking for the speaker. A rather young woman stood there, her head crest still flat but twitching nervously. Paitl did not know her name, but the notches along the underside of her left ear marked her as recently brought into Tineh. Tineh himself was resting in his nest, his health increasingly poor as of late.
What the woman had noticed was a new blip, its latitude up in the 40s. Receiver 4’s text was blinking a dull red. Paitl reached for it, meaning to zoom in, but his first control finger tapped the words and a large, dark box suddenly appeared to block out the white orb of the planet.
After a moment, the text was gone and Paitl found himself looking somewhere else.
The five women peering through the screen were haggard, their skin rough and broken with weeping sores. They seemed just as surprised as Paitl was, stretching to full height and flaring their head crests in panic.
Paitl gasped as he was pulled backwards, stool and all. Paitl-Tesh and Paitl-Cet interposed themselves between him and the women, hissing and raising their own crests in challenge. He wanted to say something, to calm everyone down, but the sudden surprise had induced another coughing fit. He could do nothing.
“There shall be no violence here.” Asep’s voice cut through the panic, and tensions immediately began to ease. A quick eye flick toward Paitl conveyed concern and comfort; he would aid while Paitl tried to get his breathing under control.
More words were exchanged, but Paitl couldn’t make them out. His world was swimming, motes of light filling his vision even as blood seeped from between his teeth. Paitl-Cet brought him water to drink and a fresh handkerchief to wipe his face while Paitl-Tesh continued to interpose herself between him and any potential danger.
By the time his breathing was under control, Paitl did not have much strength left to continue his work. He received a quick summary from Aesp; the women were the only survivors of a nest living in volcanic caves far to the north. Their last Father had died months ago, and until their box had fallen from the sky they had assumed none of the People lived but them. Seeing multiple new Fathers appear in their midst had been a shock.
The other Fathers had a suggestion for Paitl, one he agreed to wholeheartedly. Even if the device was rightfully Paitl’s, it was too important to be left to just one nest. Instead, they would create a roster and ensure that at least one Father (or, at the least, an older juvenile male) would be near the “Receiver” at all times. The instruction manual would be shared and read by all.
As Paitl-Tesh carried Paitl back to their nest, he noticed the odd change in the air. Everyone was louder, more boisterous. He even saw a few glimpses of frill peeking out on the necks of the younger Fathers.
For the first time that Paitl could remember, there was hope.
This is a fanfic that takes place in the “Between Worlds” universe (aka Sexy Space Babes), created and owned by u/BlueFishcake
. No ownership of the settings or core concepts is expressed or implied by myself.
This is for fun. Can’t you just have fun?
submitted by UncleCeiling
to Sexyspacebabes [link] [comments]
2023.05.31 01:57 wRXLuthor This was my first time making an x brace and first time making a half lap joint. Looking for advice (and feedback)
| || |
This is the door i made for an outdoor trash bin holder, my first time using my table saw, first time x bracing and making half lap joint and really first time making something without using anybody else’s plans. The hinges will be on the 2x4 on the left (blue), and the door latch somehow will be in the upper right corner of the door. submitted by wRXLuthor to howto [link] [comments]
1) do I need to use screws for the corners where the angled cuts of the brace meet the door frame?
2) will I be alright if I don’t glue the center of the x brace? I’ll do it if it’s recommended it’s just a pain to take the brace apart
3) I’ll be staining this with varathane to match the rest of the bin holder I made, any recommendations for waterproofing? On my chairs I used polycrilic which I now realize isn’t waterproof. Would Thompson’s water seal spray can work?
4) now that I think of it should I glue the joints on red as well?
Thank you in advance!
2023.05.30 23:19 letstalkaboutbras [SELL][US] Destashing intensifies! More new items from drugstore to high end makeup, skincare, & brushes 👀
Payment via PayPal G&S. Shipping starts at $4.50 for a small item depending on zip and increases with weight (USPS). Shipping from the East Coast. $10 min before shipping preferred. All item conditions are noted and pictured best as I can. Most are brand new.
Please don't ghost. It's okay if you change your mind. NIL based on timestamps. Note that I have some of these items listed on other platforms as well and will adjust the availability accordingly.
I'm very careful to keep my makeup clean and protected, keeping original packaging where I can. Smoke- and pet-free home. Always masking. See this wonderful feedback from previous buyer 1
as references 😊
Please comment below before sending a Reddit chat since I can't see those on mobile.
New only: Dior beige mitzah, Rose Montaigne or Pink Corolle mono eyeshadows. Trestique Summer Glow & Go set from Boxy. Try me on Sephora Lipstories balms (I already have shades 07 and 08 and a couple others), must be sealed. Eyes
$9 for all
- Dior Diorshow Volume Mascara, 1.5ml travel size, BNIB - $5
- MAC Stack Superstack Micro Brush mascara mini, BN - $4
- Tarte Lights Camera Lashes mascara deluxe size, BN, 1 available - $3
- Tarte Chrome Paint Shadow Pot in Martini (bronzed olive), BNIB - $13
- NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Iced Mocha, swatched - $2
- Colourpop Colour Stix eyeshadow stick in Devotion, swatched & sharpened - $3
- Colourpop Colour Stix eyeshadow stick in Hyde, swatched - $3
- Nudestix Magnetic Eye Color in Smoke, FS, BN/sealed - $13
- Revlon So Fierce! Prismatic Shadow Palette, Slight Flex, swatched/light use - $4
- Sephora Collection colorful metal effect eyeshadow in 07 Volcano Land (metallic brown), arrived broken, pushed back into the pan - $1 or free with purchase $10+
- Sephora Collection colorful shimmer eyeshadow in 254 Diving In (blue), very delicately swatched - $3
- Elf Bite Size Mini eyeshadow palette in Rose Water, light usage - $1
- Elf Bite Size Mini eyeshadow palette in Mint to Be, light usage - $1
- Elf No Budge Eyeshadow Stick in Champagne Crystal, used & sharpened 1x - $1
- ArtDeco eyeshadow refill, 218 - soft brown mauve, swatched - FWP
- Phase Zero shimmer eyeshadow in Nude Newbie, usage shown - FWP
Lips - New
- bareMinerals Original loose powder foundation SPF 15 in Golden Fair 04, full size, ~80% remaining - $13
- Colourpop Flexitarian Super Shock Cheek highlighter, gentle use shown - $5
- Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Radiant Concealer sampler card - FWP
Lips - Swatched or Gentle Use
- Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color in Ruby, travel size, BNIB - $8
- Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Color in Parisian red, travel size, BN - $8
- Hourglass Confession Lipstick in "At Dusk" from the Limited Edition Sculpture Collection. Comes with the Limited Edition refillable holder and At Dusk refill (both never used). Holder fits any Confession lipstick refill (see below for more shades I have for sale). BN - $28
- Clinique Pop Plush Creamy Lip Gloss in 01 Black Honey, BNIB - $16
- Pat McGrath Labs Lust Lip Gloss in Flesh 6, travel size, BN - $5
- Revlon Super Lustrous Glass Shine Lipstick, Cherries in the Snow 004, BN/sealed (discontinued shade) - $10
- Catrice Plumping Lip Liner in 080 Press the Hot Button, BN - $1
- L'Oreal Infallible 8hr Pro Gloss, full size, shade Suede (peachy-pink gold duochrome), full size, BN - $4
- L'Oreal Infallible 8hr Pro Gloss, full size, shade Blush (pink shimmer), full size, BN - $4
- Hourglass Confession lipstick in "I Can't Wait" (refill only, will ship with no cap), swatched - $16
- Hourglass Confession lipstick in "If I Could" (refill only, will ship with no cap), used 1x - $12
- Hourglass Confession lipstick in "When I'm With You" (refill only, will ship with no cap), used 1x - $12
- Or take all 3 Hourglass refills for $35
- Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color in Ruby, travel size, gentle use - $4
- NYX Limited Edition Avatar Luminescent Lip Gloss, shade 01 Shimmering Waters, swatched - $5
- Too Faced Sex on the Peach mini lipstick, light usage shown - $1
- BareMinerals BarePro longwear lipstick deluxe mini, Petal, usage shown - FWP
- Tarte travel size busy gal gloss in Run This Town (watermelon with gold shimmer), swatched - $2
- Lipstick Queen Sinner lipstick in Peachy Nude Sinner, FS, very light usage shown - $10
- Urban Decay Vice Lipstick, Limited Edition Born to Run, Shade 66 (Rich Mauve-Nude), Comfort Matte finish, usage shown - $4
- Becca Ultimate Lipstick Love in Maroon, FS, very light usage shown - $5
- Catrice Loves PETA Limited Edition Demi Matt lipstick (similar to MAC powder kiss formula) in C01 Spread Empathy, gentle usage shown- $2
- Catrice Demi Matt Lipstick in 040 Exotic Nude, very light usage shown - $2
- Take all for $22
- Real Techniques Brush Crush Vol 2 Limited Edition 301 Foundation Brush in Galaxy; new, washed in unscented cleanser - $15 + free Sigma brush cleanser sample
- Luxie 231 Small Tapered Blender eyeshadow brush, washed once in unscented cleanser - $4
- Ebelin "Sommerblütentraum" Limited Edition dried flower clear handle eye blending brush, BN - $4
- Wet n Wild Pro Line Tapered Highlighting Brush P75, BN - $2
- Wet n Wild Pro Line Fluffly Blending Brush P20, BN - $2
- Wet n Wild Pro Line Dome Pencil Eye Brush, used once, washed in unscented cleanser - $1
Fragrance & Body
- Peach & Lily Power Calm Hydrating Gel Cleanser travel size 1oz, BN/sealed - $6
- COSRX Acne Hero: Intensive 4-step kit for extra oily skin, BN, exp 2025-01/26. Ships without box to save on postage. Includes: AC Collection Calming Foam Cleanse, 20ml; Calming Liquid Intensive, 30ml; Lightweight Soothing Moisturizer, 20ml; Ultimate Spot Cream, 5g - $16 - willing to split for $4/each
- Farmacy Honey Potion Plus Ceramide Hydration Mask mini, 9g, BN - $5
- Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm mini, 20 mL, BN - $5
- Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, 5mL, BN - $4
- MAC Hyper Real Serumizer, 4mL, BN - $4
- Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex II, 7ml, BNIB - $10 (one remaining)
- Proactiv Deep Cleansing Face Wash, 2 oz, swatched - $3
- Awake Balance Shot antioxidant concentrate mini, BN - $1
- Tarte Sugar Rush Don't Hate Hydrate oil-free moisturizer, 5mL - $1
- Essence Coffee To Glow undereye treatment with caffeine, new - $2
- Garnier SkinActive micellar water (Waterproof makeup version) 1oz, BN - FWP
- Gucci Flora Gorgeous Gardenia EdP sample - FWP $15+
- Sanex Dermo Invisible Deodorant, 50mL, BN (EU item) - $4.25 each (3 listed, 6 total available)
submitted by letstalkaboutbras
to makeupexchange [link] [comments]
2023.05.30 21:33 wRXLuthor This was my first time making an x brace and first time making a half lap joint. Looking for advice (and feedback)
| || |
This is the door i made for an outdoor trash bin holder, my first time using my table saw, first time x bracing and making half lap joint and really first time making something without using anybody else’s plans. The hinges will be on the 2x4 on the left (blue), and the door latch somehow will be in the upper right corner of the door. submitted by wRXLuthor to woodworking [link] [comments]
1) do I need to use screws for the corners where the angled cuts of the brace meet the door frame?
2) will I be alright if I don’t glue the center of the x brace? I’ll do it if it’s recommended it’s just a pain to take the brace apart
3) I’ll be staining this with varathane to match the rest of the bin holder I made, any recommendations for waterproofing? On my chairs I used polycrilic which I now realize isn’t waterproof. Would Thompson’s water seal spray can work?
4) now that I think of it should I glue the joints on red as well?
Thank you in advance. I’m a little frustrated it’s taken me days to do this but woodworking really is fun and gives me an excuse to buy tools I never even heard of lol
2023.05.30 17:01 YourBrilliantLayer A Comprehensive Guide to Hyperpigmentation and How to Treat it
Hey-Oh! So, I see some form of this question multiple times per day in various skin and personal care subs: How do I deal with my hyperpigmentation? I also asked myself this question a few years ago. See, I'm prone to freckles and a little melasma and I set out to figure out a way to solve it with years of research, trial and error, testing, talking to dermatologists and professionals, and scouring every medical article I could get my hands on. I wanted to share my findings and research since this is a common concern, especially among people in their 30s. This started as a small post about my routine and ballooned into a massive book about hyperpigmentation. I hope it's helpful! DISCLAIMERS:
- I use the term "brightening" instead of "lightening" which is a subtle distinction. None of the ingredients or methods I recommend bleach your skin as "lightening" would suggest, but they can reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. "Brightening" tends to be a confusing term in skincare, but for the purposes of this post, I use it as a descriptor for anything that helps prevent or reduce melanin in hyperpigmented skin.
- I will use the term "hyperpigmentation" ad nauseam as a catch-all term for excess pigmentation in the skin including freckles, melasma, PIH and dark spots. This does not encompass moles which are different. This is also different from redness, which is a whole other post.
- Speaking about hyperpigmentation requires some sensitivity to very real issues around it including cultural implications. This post is not intended to moralize hyperpigmentation nor is it intended to alienate the normal melaninization of skin across various tones. Hyperpigmentation refers to excess melanin production on the skin in the form of spots that are darker than the surrounding skin. It's not bad or wrong, nor does it speak to anyone not "doing a good enough job" of taking care of themselves.
- I do repeat myself a few times in here but that is for people who are skipping around the article. I want to be as thorough as possible even if you're jumping to the parts of the post you need.
- I do run an online dermatology practice and skin care consultancy, but in order to protect the integrity of my advice, I do not promote my business, I don't give direct medical advice, I don't link to any products/websites, and I don't have any products I've formulated myself to promote.
This is going to get long because I wanted to cover everything re:hyperpigmentation. But for your reading pleasure and ease, I have divided this post up so you can get whatever information you need: Table of Contents
- Types of Hyperpigmentation
- What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
- How To Treat Hyperpigmentation Part 1: The Ingredients
- How to Treat Hyperpigmentation Part 2: The Routine and Recommendations
- Body Hyperpigmentation
- Nuclear Options
Let's get to it!
Types of Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation refers to excess melanin production in the skin, but it can actually take a couple different forms. Knowing the type of hyperpigmentation you're experiencing is key to understanding if and how it can be treated. Freckles:
Freckles are incredibly common, especially for people with lighter skin tones. They are small, brown or reddish-brown dots often clustered on the skin. They develop on the surface and are not raised bumps. Freckles can appear anywhere on the body but are common on the face. Freckles are permanent, but the color, contrast and severity can vary and be tempered. Melasma:
Melasma appears as dark patches or splotches around the face, though usually found on the forehead, upper lip, and high on the cheeks. Melasma forms deeper in the skin and appears more amorphous than freckles, moles, or age spots. It can create a “muddy” appearance and is very common among pregnant and postpartum women due to hormonal factors. But it can literally happen to anyone and anywhere on the body. Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH):
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs when damaged skin forms melanin during the healing process leaving dark spots. This is common after acne, injuries, eczema, burns, and other trauma to the skin. Exposure to UV rays during healing can make PIH worse. Post-inflammatory erythema (PIE) is similar, but leaves pink or red marks on the skin as a result of damage to the capillaries from injury or inflammation. Basically, when skin is compromised by injury, as part of the immune response cells will begin to generate melanin in an attempt to prevent further damage from UV exposure, so what will happen is the wound/legion/blemish will heal but the pigmented skin remains. Age Spots:
This is kind of a forgotten form of hyperpigmentation. Sun spots, also referred to as liver spots, and solar lentigines are large spots/patches of dark skin with distinct borders. They vary in color from light brown to almost black. They develop on the surface of the skin usually later in life, but reflect damage that often occurred from improper sun protection at a younger age. They can appear on the face, neck, chest, hands, and arms, usually on areas that had UV exposure. For many people, they can begin to appear in your 30s or 40s.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the formation of hyperpigmentation. Generally, it forms as the result of a combination of genetic and environmental influences. Everyone is unique, but these are some of the most common causes of hyperpigmentation and dark spots: Genetics
can play a role in the development of hyperpigmentation and dark spots in several ways:
Sun (UV) Exposure.
- Melanin production: Melanin is the pigment that provides color to our skin, hair, and eyes. The amount of melanin produced and distributed in the skin is largely determined by genetics. People with a greater genetic predisposition to melanin production in their skin are more likely to experience hyperpigmentation and dark spots as a result of sun exposure, hormonal changes, and other factors. People with darker skin are also more prone to melanin production in the form of hyperpigmentation.
- Genetic anomalies: Certain genetic anomalies, such as oculocutaneous albinism, can affect melanin production and distribution in the skin, leading to an increased risk of hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
- Family history: If you have a family history of hyperpigmentation or dark spots, you may be more likely to develop these conditions yourself.
- Enzymes and genes: The enzymes that control melanin production and distribution are regulated by specific genes. Variations in these genes can impact melanin production, leading to an increased risk of hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
In addition to genetic determination of melanin production, UV exposure is the leading environmental cause of hyperpigmentation and the formation of dark spots. Melanin is the pigment that provides color to our skin, hair, and eyes. It acts as a natural sunscreen (but don't treat it like natural sunscreen!!! This isn't the point of the exercise), absorbing UV radiation to protect the skin from damage.
When the skin is exposed to UV radiation, the melanocytes (cells that produce melanin) in the skin go into overdrive, producing more melanin to protect the skin from further damage. This increased melanin production can result in dark spots or areas of hyperpigmentation on the skin. Hormones.
In addition to genetic determination of melanin production, hormones and hormonal sensitivity is a leading internal cause of hyperpigmentation and the formation of dark spots.
One of the most well-known examples of hormonal hyperpigmentation is melasma, a condition characterized by dark, amorphous patches on the face, particularly on the cheeks, forehead, nose, and upper lip. Melasma is often associated with hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy, hormonal therapy, or birth control pill use. The hormonal changes can stimulate an increase in melanin production, resulting in dark spots or areas of hyperpigmentation. This can happen irrespective of UV exposure, though the sun does exacerbate it.
Hormones can also affect melanin production by altering the skin's metabolism and pigmentation pathways. For example, high levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands during stress, can trigger an increase in melanin production, resulting in hyperpigmentation. Inflammation, Injury & Trauma
to the skin can result in hyperpigmentation by triggering an increase in melanin production. When the skin is inflamed or injured, it triggers a response from the body's immune system, which can stimulate an increase in melanin production as a protective measure.
For example, acne breakouts or other skin injuries can result in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which is characterized by dark spots or areas of discoloration on the skin. The dark spots are a result of an increase in melanin production in the affected area, which occurs in response to the inflammation or injury. In addition to acne and other skin injuries, other conditions that can result in PIH include eczema, psoriasis, and insect bites. Medication Side Effects.
Certain medications can cause hyperpigmentation on the skin. Medications that can cause hyperpigmentation include:
- Tetracycline antibiotics: Tetracycline antibiotics, such as doxycycline and minocycline, can cause discoloration of the skin and teeth when taken in high doses or for an extended period of time.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can cause hyperpigmentation in some individuals, especially if taken in high doses or for an extended period of time.
- Chemotherapy drugs: Certain chemotherapy drugs, such as doxorubicin and daunorubicin, can cause hyperpigmentation, especially in areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun.
- Hormonal medications: Hormonal medications, such as birth control pills and estrogen replacements, can cause hyperpigmentation in some individuals, especially if they are taken for an extended period of time.
- Antimalarial drugs: Antimalarial drugs, such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, can cause hyperpigmentation in some individuals, especially if taken in high doses or for an extended period of time.
- Isotretinoin aka accutane when taken for acne can cause hyperpigmentation due to the increase of cell turnover and exposing delicate new skin cells to UV rays before they have shored up.
If using these medications is necessary for your livelihood, it is not recommended to stop their use without the recommendation of your doctor.
How To Treat Hyperpigmentation Part 1: The Ingredients
When looking for skin care products to treat and prevent hyperpigmentation and dark spots, it's important to look for ingredients that can help encourage cell turnover, curb melanin production, and block harmful UV rays. A lot of these things overlap with treatments for other conditions like acne and general anti-aging, but I've noted ones that specifically work on the mechanisms controlling melanin production. Now, this is an extensive list, but I know it doesn't have everything. I've included the ingredients that had the most compelling evidence and/or worked the best for me or people at my practice. But it's also not necessarily a shopping list. You don't have to have all of these things to treat hyperpigmentation, but I'll get to that in the routine portion. This is more to be used as a tool that can help you diversify your routine if you find one ingredient or another doesn't work for you. And it can help you determine if a product targets hyperpigmentation based on its ingredients. There's lot's of options. Some of the key ingredients to look for include: Retinoids
that increases cell turnover. Retinoids like tretinoin, adapalene, retinol et al, can help treat hyperpigmentation by promoting the turnover of skin cells and increasing cell growth, which can help fade dark spots and improve overall skin tone by replacing pigmented skin cells at the surface. While retinoids are extremely effective, they do have some caveats. First, they can be sensitizing to a lot of users, but this can be tempered by using different form functions, different application methods, or different concentrations. Second, because it's constantly turning over skin exposing delicate new skin cells to the elements, it can actually worsen hyperpigmentation if you're not vigilant about sun protection and avoidance. Tretinoin and other retinoids are firewalled behind a prescription in some countries and may be more difficult to obtain. But retinol/al is available in OTC forms. SPF
represents a class of many ingredients designed to protect the skin from UV rays and the damage that occurs from exposure. UV exposure is one of the biggest causes of fine hyperpigmentation and wrinkles so adequate protection is essential. I know I'm not winning any science awards for this declaration, but a lot of people who struggle with hyperpigmentation aren't adequately protecting themselves from the sun. But you also have to be kind of realistic. Even with perfect protection and avoidance, sometimes your hyperpigmentation will still flare. This happens during the summer for a lot of people and something even I grapple with. The key is to do your best and SPF actually works well with numerous other ingredients (like the ones listed below) to help solve that problem. Arbutin
is a Tyrosinase Inhibitor that blocks melanin production. Arbutin, or the synthesized version called alpha arbutin, is a favorite brightening ingredient because it's a slow-release derivative of hydroquinone that inhibits melanin production. This results in both healing and prevention of dark spots, especially when paired with topical acids. It metabolizes on the skin into hydroquinone which is super effective for hyperpigmentation while being a less controversial and hard-to-come-by ingredient than pure hydroquinone. More on hydroquinone in part 6. Tranexamic acid
is another Tyrosinase Inhibitor. This was first used in wound care and it was found to have profound effects on hyperpigmentation. Although it's an acid, it's not a chemical exfoliant, kinda like how hyaluronic acid is not a chemical exfoliant. The exact mechanism by which tranexamic acid works to reduce hyperpigmentation is not fully understood, but it is believed to work by reducing inflammation by blocking plasmin which contributes to melanin production when unchecked. It is particularly effective in treating melasma and one of my personal favorite ingredients. Kojic Acid
Tyrosinase Inhibitor. Kojic acid is a natural skin brightener that is derived from various fungi. Kojic acid can also help to exfoliate because it's a slight chemical exfoliant, which can remove dead skin cells that contribute to hyperpigmentation and improve overall appearance. But it does both things: block melanin production and turn skin cells over. Azelaic Acid
has a lot of things going for it that can help with hyperpigmentation. It's an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic that disrupts melanin production. Azelaic acid works by inhibiting the production of melanin in the skin like those other tyrosinase inhibitors. In addition, azelaic acid also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which help to improve the overall health and appearance of the skin by reducing melanin production as a result of injury or inflammation. It's also an anti-acne ingredient that can address the root cause of PIH by reducing acne on the skin. It's pretty awesome and available in OTC and prescription strengths. Niacinamide
is another one that directly and indirectly addresses hyperpigmentation. It's a skin soother that decreases inflammation and it naturally reduces sebum production which can curb acne which can curb PIH. It actually took me a little while to figure out that this was another solid hyperpigmentation treatment for these reasons because I used to look at it as being more of an acne treatment. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that works by inhibiting the transfer of pigment within the skin, which can help to reduce the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone. So while it doesn't block tyrosinase, it prevents transfer of pigmented skin cells to the surface. Vitamin C aka L-ascorbic acid
is an antioxidant that fights free radical damage. It treats and prevents hyperpigmentation in three ways. First, it reduces free radical damage from UV exposure which helps increase the effectiveness of SPF when worn together. Second, it is also a tyrosinase inhibitor that blocks melanin production. And finally, vitamin C encourages skin cell turnover. The key is finding a nice stable version of it. Glycolic and Lactic Acid.
Since this list is getting long I am going to group these together. Glycolic Acid is a water-soluble alpha hydroxy acid that penetrates into the pores to treat pigmentation by providing general exfoliation and resurfacing of the skin. The result is improvements in dark spots, texture and other signs of aging. Lactic Acid is also an AHA but with a slightly larger molecular size than glycolic acid so it doesn't penetrate as deep and acts more as a surface exfoliant. As a result it provides more gentle exfoliation to buff away surface pigmentation with an added benefit of acting as a humectant to seal moisture into the skin. Licorice Extract
is a plant extract that inhibits melanin production. Licorice root extract contains a compound called glabridin, which has been shown to have skin brightening effects as, you guessed it, a tyrosinase inhibitor. In addition, licorice root extract also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce redness and inflammation associated with hyperpigmentation. I'm seeing more and more of this pop up in skin care. Soy Proteins
are another plant extract that inhibits melanin production. They contain compounds known as isoflavones, which have been shown to help reduce the amount of melanin produced by melanocytes in the skin. Additionally, soy proteins have antioxidant properties that can help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals, which can contribute to hyperpigmentation.
How To Treat Hyperpigmentation Part 2: The Routine and Recommendations
This is adapted from numerous comments, posts and DMs I've written on the topic and also comprises a large portion of my own personal routine and routines we recommend to patients. This is a generalist routine meaning it targets all the forms of hyperpigmentation I've mentioned; freckles, melasma, PIH, and age spots though it can be tweaked to address these individually more specifically. This is really my jumping off point for people to get a good idea of what they can achieve as a baseline with OTC ingredients before fine tuning or enlisting the help of a dermatologist. For a lot of people, this is enough to fully resolve, but even if it gets you part of the way there, this should give you a good idea of reactivity.
A few caveats:
- Freckles cannot ever be 100% eradicated. You can however reduce their appearance and prevent them from getting darker. It's important to have realistic goals and understand that sometimes our genetics will overrule any routine we have.
- This routine and any hyperpigmentation routine will not address moles. Moles are a totally different thing that can only be eradicated through removal by a medical practitioner. Moles can be raised or not, but no amount of topicals will get rid of them.
- Melasma is a beast. Sometimes it can be treated with OTC topicals, sometimes it requires prescription strength topicals like hydroquinone, sometimes you need in-office procedures like fractal lasers or IPL. Again, this routine is a jumping off point to see what you can accomplish at home before going down that road (and more on that at the bottom in part 6).
- You'll notice I don't mention products with all the ingredients I listed above. This is because the more you put on your face, the greater your risk of causing irritation. Again, you can adjust and tweak by switching out products with these ingredients or add/subtract as it suits your personal needs.
- If you're struggling with hyperpigmentation while pregnant or breastfeeding, these recommendations may need to be paused.
Alright, let's get to it! AM routine -- The Goal: Heal, Protect, and Prevent. In order of application following a lukewarm water rinse:
- Azelaic acid
- Alpha Arbutin
- Vitamin C serum
The combo of C+AZ+AA+SPF is an absolute powerhouse for healing existing hyperpigmentation and preventing new hyperpigmentation from forming. It makes your SPF more effective, it inhibits the production of melanin from UV exposure (not your natural melanin production though), and it speeds cell turnover with dual antioxidant action and gentle chemical exfoliation. The result is brighter skin in a few months of consistent use. For Azelaic Acid
, this is the ingredient for serious treatment. It's considered one of the most effective ways to reverse melasma aka serious hyperpigmentation short of hydroquinone -- which is both controversial and hard to get. It brings a little bit of exfoliation to the table in addition to inhibiting UV melanin production, but it also has a slight antiseptic property which can help with acne. Paula's choice Azelaic Acid Booster is the only one I've really tried after sampling the Ordinary's in-store and not liking the texture. I get about 6 months out of a tube and a little bit goes a long way. For Alpha Arbutin
, the Ordinary's formulation is pretty solid. I prefer the Ordinary's AA 2% + HA as opposed to their AA 2% + Ascorbic Acid 8% as I don't believe the quality and stability of their Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) is great. That's why I opt for a separate Vitamin C serum step. But the AA + HA also has a little bit of lactic acid in it which provides some gentle exfoliation and encourages AA deeper into the skin where it's more effective. Lactic acid is mild enough that it's safe for use in a morning routine, but you still want to protect with SPF. There are a couple AA products floating around but I think TO's product is probably the best, most straightforward one. Alpha Arbutin metabolizes into hydroquinone on the skin so is basically one of the best OTC pigment correctors you can get. For Vitamin C,
the gold standard really is Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. This is stupid expensive though so I’m going to suggest Timeless Vitamin C. I like that it comes in an airless pump that prevents oxidation over time. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that increases the rate of skin cell turnover bringing forward new, skin cells while simultaneously improving the effects of SPF. It's a great foundation for a fix.
These ingredients can be layered on one right after the other then topped with your moisturizer
(I like a basic one like cetaphil daily lotion), then topped with your SPF
. The SPF I would recommend is Canmake UV mermaid gel in clear as this will not leave a white cast on your skin and it’s generally a very elegant SPF. It's SPF 50 which means it gives really good protection, but there are numerous SPFs you can try. I personally like anything from La Roche Posay, any Neutrogena SPF that's not formulated with ethylhexylglycerin, Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen, Biore Aqua Rich (another Japanese brand), Trader Joe's SPF if you can get your hands on it, and EltaMD.
Of all the products I’ve tried that could act as a stand-in for vitamin c, azelaic acid, and alpha arbutin, there’s one Japanese serum from Hada Labo called “whitening lotion” which has had the biggest impact on my hyperpigmentation in a single product of anything I’ve tried. This might be a little too effective though, I actually find that it washed me out within the first 2 weeks of twice daily use, so now I only use it in the morning. And I’m not a fan of the translation… which is a direct but mistranslation. It’s not a bleaching lotion, it also relies on a form of vitamin C and tranexamic acid to brighten skin. But it's a really interesting to try if you wanted a simplified morning routine in which case I would apply this, then your moisturizer, then your SPF. PM routine -- The Goal: Renew and Reveal. In order of application:
- Tranexamic acid and exfoliant OR retinoid**
, I have a really basic recommendation that will remove your SPF, makeup, and any grime/sebum from your day. Start with Cetaphil gentle cleanser. This is a gentle, hydrating cleanser that will break up your SPF really effectively. Massage in and rinse. Then apply a foaming cleanser, I recommend Cetaphil daily cleanser which foams. This will sweep away anything that’s left and give you a good foundation for the rest of your routine. While this doesn't directly help hyperpigmentation specifically, it's a critical step especially for people who are acne>PIH prone. It also gives you a nice clean slate to apply the rest of your skincare. I've tried dozens of cleansers but always come back to these two as good basic options. For your Buffer
this is an important step that can be done prior to using a chemical exfoliant or retinoid: applying an occlusive that will block the active from more sensitive skin. I recommend buffering around your eyes and nostrils with La Roche Posay Cicaplast balm because it kind of doubles as a nice eye cream, but this can also be done with basic vaseline or aquaphor for a more budget-friendly option. For Tranexamic Acid
, my holy grail TXA product, La Roche Posay Glycolic B5 is actually a multipurpose serum that combines ingredients to treat hyperpigmentation with chemical exfoliants. It contains two hyperpigmentation heavy hitters -- Tranexamic acid and Kojic Acid which are great for melasma -- and two exfoliants -- Glycolic Acid and Lipo-Hydroxy Acid (LHA) which is like fancy salicylic acid -- so it both reveals new skin cells that are less prone to pigmenting from UV exposure while sloughing away your old skin cells. You can use this 2 or 3 nights per week. On off nights, just cleanse and moisturize. For a Retinoid
if you can get prescription tretinoin, this is going to be the best bet. Your doctor will advise you on the concentration. More on that in part 6. It will help speed up the rate of cell turnover bringing new, unpigmented skin cells to the surface faster. Some other OTC options include differin (which is rated more for acne but uses the same mechanism for cell turnover so it's also effective in this use case) and retinols. Now, I haven't tried every retinol on the market but I have two that I stand by: SkinCeuticals retinol and L'Oreal retinol serum. The SkinCeuticals is, in my opinion, the closest to RX tretinoin in terms of efficacy, but it's a little pricey. The L'Oreal also does a really good job and is a little more affordable. It's currently my go-to OTC on the days I'm not using my RX retinoid tazarotene. You can use this 2 or 3 nights per week. On off nights, just cleanse and moisturize. ** My recommendations for tranexamic acid and retinoids CANNOT be used in the same night.
You'll nuke your skin. And for most people, both aren't necessary, you can get away with using one or the other. If I had a preference, I would say use the TXA serum instead of a retinoid, but if you can build up a tolerance to using them both without damaging your barrier, they work really well together. So, proceed with caution. If you want to use both, use them on alternate nights and give yourself a night or two without either to let your skin recover. For me personally, I do retinoids on Sundays, and Wednesdays, chemical exfoliants on Mondays and Thursdays, and I let my skin rest (cleanse, moisturize, squalene oil) on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
On top of whichever active you choose, apply your moisturizer. You can use the same one you use in your morning routine, the Cetaphil daily lotion as it’s nice and light. I also like La Roche Posay Toleraine double repair for a ceramide-based cream alternative if you want something richer. You do not want to "slug" over actives. This advice gets mixed in a lot. Slugging refers to applying an occlusive layer over your skincare such as vaseline, aquaphor, oils like squalene oil, or healing balms like La Roche Posay Cicaplast balm. While this can be done on hydration nights, it should not be done on nights when you're using chemical exfoliants or retinoids as this may make them too effective causing irritation and breakouts.
Ok, I need everyone to be a grownup for two seconds. These products and methods (both from the prior section and this section) should NOT be used on your genitals. First, you can cause serious irritation or infection by applying active skincare to your genitals. Second, it's really not going to do anything to change the pigmentation of the skin there. The skin on your genitals is different than your body and facial skin and it pigments in different ways for different reasons so it's not going to respond to topicals the same way the rest of your body does. Don't even try it. To be perfectly clear, these are the areas you should not be applying skincare:
labia majora, labia minora, vaginal entrance or vagina, clitoral hood, perineum, anus, intergluteal cleft aka inside your butt crack, penis, or scrotum. And I say this as someone who chaffed the precipice of her "intergluteal cleft" in an unfortunate crunches-in-the-wrong-gym-shorts accident leaving me with some deeply incriminating hyperpigmentation and earning me the nickname "skid mark" from my ever loving boyfriend. It faded after a year but you can still send prayers. These are areas you can apply skincare but do so with absolute caution and at your own risk:
bikini line, mons pubis, inner thigh up to the groin fold, butt cheeks.
Ok, now that we've got the disclaimers out of the way, let's move forward. Hyperpigmentation can also occur on body skin for the same reason it appears on the face, but it can also be triggered by friction. And because body skin is different from facial skin, it requires a slightly different approach. This is my recommendation for both hyperpigmentation and KP (Keratosis pilaris) because they rely on the same mechanism for treatment: chemical exfoliation.
In the case of body hyperpigmentation, I recommend a two prong approach: a body wash in the shower and a topical treatment to be used after. Oh, and SPF again if there are areas that are exposed to the sun, and I have a holy grail SPF recommendation for this.
Now you may have noticed in my facial skin recommendation that I did not mention CeraVe as a treatment brand. I have posted numerous takedowns of CeraVe on other threads so I won't rehash them here suffice it to say that it's no longer a brand I can in good faith recommend since it's acquisition by L'Oreal. This is often the brand that's considered when treating KP on the body, but I don't believe their formulations and ingredient quality works for everyone. For the body wash
, I recommend Neutrogena body clear with Salicylic acid. This is an exfoliating body wash that will help clear away dead skin cells on the surface allowing new ones to come through. To be effective, you want it to sit on your skin for a little while. I recommend lathering it up and applying it after turning off your shower faucet and letting it sit for 2 or 3 minutes. This is when I like to knock out shower emails. Then rinse away. On towel dried skin after your shower
, apply AmLactin Bumps Be Gone. Again, this is formulated for KP but the reason I like it is because it contains lactic acid which will also give the assist on brightening hyperpigmented body skin. The wash and this should be effective, but you might also want to mix in a few drops of the alpha arbutin serum I recommended for your facial routine, maybe three drops per application area (each leg, each arm, chest, etc). I generally don't encourage facial products on the body because it's not an economical use for them, and also because body skin is a little more resilient and doesn't need skincare that's formulated for more sensitive facial skin. The AA serum from the Ordinary is very affordable however and is a good hyperpigmentation generalist.
Another one that I mentioned in the facial hyperpigmentation portion that can work well on the body is the Hada Labo whitening lotion. Again, this is formulated around tranexamic acid which is very effective for hyperpigmentation and a little bit if this stuff goes a long way. I buy it in bulk from Japanese Importers though it's also available on Amazon for a slightly higher price. If you find yourself in Asia, stock up on it. I use this specifically for fading tan lines that happen (even with diligent/neurotic SPF use) around my fitness watch and the straps of my workout tops that I run in. You also want to wear SPF on areas that are exposed to the sun
to prevent pigmentation from occurring. The one I absolutely love that’s not your 90’s banana boat is Aveeno Protect + Hydrate lotion with SPF 60. This is a great SPF for a lot of reasons: it finishes like a lotion instead of a sunscreen, it dries down totally clear, and it has a pleasant, slight sweet scent. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being bare skin, 10 being banana boat slathered on by your mom in 1997, and regular body lotion being a 2, I give Aveeno Protect + Hydrate a 2.5 in terms of texture and feel-finish. I use it as my daily lotion on my neck, arms, shoulders, and chest. If you're more active you might need a heavier hitter here like a sport sunscreen.
In general, I recommend trying OTC topical solutions for any skin concern before heading down the in-office procedure route. Part of this is because you can usually put a good dent in what you're struggling with by using OTC topicals, making in-office procedures and RX treatments easier and more effective. Part of it is so you have a good maintenance routine in place to use after the fact to preserve the results of your in-office procedure which can sometimes be costly. Lastly, while some procedures can solve the immediate problem completely, topical skincare can be really effective at treating other adjacent conditions like redness, acne, and fine lines.
Side note: I haven't listed every possible compounded medication because there are a lot, and many compounded meds are formulated to tackle multiple issues like acne and hyperpigmentation. I also tend to favor single note skin care (aka, products with very few ingredients) as this allows you to combine or remove certain actives and gives you a better sense of reactivity.
For tougher-to-treat hyperpigmentation such as melasma, if your topical routine doesn't totally clear the problem in 6 to 8 months, a visit to the dermatologist might be helpful. Here are the heavier-hitting procedures and topicals that can go the extra mile after you've exhausted other options. Medical Grade Peels:
Medical grade chemical peels can be done by dermatologists. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or phenol peels may be done for cases of severe hyperpigmentation, but high concentration BHA or AHA peels are also commonly used. I do these twice a year. Because of the strength of the acids used, these must be done by a medical professional with careful followup.
***IPL Therapy and Laser Therapy may not work for everyone and in some cases may exacerbate hyperpigmentation so you really want to work with dermatologists with a lot of experience in treating cases similar to yours to determine if these interventions are appropriate for you. IPL Treatment:
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy can treat hyperpigmentation by targeting the melanin in the skin with a broad spectrum of light wavelengths, heating and breaking the melanin down. IPL is particularly effective for treating sun damage and age spots, as well as other forms of hyperpigmentation. The treatment is relatively non-invasive, with minimal downtime, making it a popular option. This is also a great treatment for the redness associated with enlarged blood vessels (often confused for broken capillaries) on the surface of the skin which can also appear alongside hyperpigmentation. There isn't any clinical evidence to support at-home IPL devices being effective in the same way. That doesn't mean it's not possible, it's just not studied enough to be certain. Most at-home IPL devices do not operate in effective wavelengths the way professional grade ones do. Laser Therapy:
Fractional and CO2 lasers can be used to treat a range of hyperpigmentation issues, including sun damage, age spots, and melasma. The treatment works by removing the top layers of skin, which contain the excess pigmentation, revealing fresh, healthy skin cells underneath. The lasers also stimulate the production of collagen, which helps to improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Hydroquinone:
This isn't an in-office procedure like the aforementioned treatments, but it is firewalled behind a prescription meaning you can only access hydroquinone in effective concentrations by working with a doctor. This is a somewhat new development at least in the US following some covid-era rejiggering of prescription clearances. HDQ is controversial because it's a skin bleaching agent which has some cultural implications in places where light skin is favored over natural pigmentation. HDQ technically works the same way other OTC tyrosinase inhibitors do (in fact arbutin actually metabolizes into HDQ when applied to the skin), pure HDQ happens to be the most powerful version of them. It lightens any skin it touches, not just hyperpigmented skin in higher concentrations which can make it tough to use. This effect isn't as profound in the other tyrosinase inhibitors I mentioned making them much easier to use over HDQ which, in high concentrations, must be dotted on the skin in only hyperpigmented areas. So HDQ is really reserved for intervention in extreme or OTC treatment-resistance cases. Tretinoin and Prescription Retinoids:
This is going to be dependent on what part of the world you're in, but in a lot of countries, tretinoin and its counterparts like tazarotene are only available through prescription. I mentioned retinoids in the routine so if you're able to get your hands on a prescription from a doctor, it may be more effective than OTC retinols. Most doctors will prescribe a retinoid over hydroquinone, so this is usually easier to procure and can be quite effective on its own as a hyperpigmentation treatment. OTC differin is the only retinoid available over-the-counter (in the US) which can also be used for hyperpigmentation. Prescription Azelaic Acid:
This is another one that's available in lower concentrations over-the-counter (which can still be quite effective) but there are prescription strength grades of azelaic acid. This is usually reserved for rosacea treatment as it tends to target redness and flushing, or as an acne treatment because of its antiseptic properties, but it can also be an effective hyperpigmentation treatment for its tyrosinase-inhibiting ability. If you made it this far, congratulations! I hope this information is helpful. While it is extensive and based on massive amount of research, experience, experimentation and work with professionals, it may not be perfect and it may not be suitable for everyone. Feel free to offer any constructive criticism or ask any questions in comments. I am always open to expanding my understanding.
submitted by YourBrilliantLayer
to 30PlusSkinCare [link] [comments]
2023.05.30 16:37 RedditModeratorADMlN Question: Ramp weatherproofing... has anyone ever tried that Semco membrane coating? [48YO]
I see that using something like Thompson Water Seal will make a ramp slippery. The other option is a costly $200 gallon of SkateSeal which prevents slippage.
Saw an ad for the Semco liquid membrane which works on wood and was wondering if anyone's tried it. Don't want to link to it since I'm not sure if it's allowed.
Would appreciate any insight if someone has it! Thanks!
submitted by RedditModeratorADMlN
to OldSkaters [link] [comments]
2023.05.30 15:18 Guilty_Chemistry9337 Hide Behind the Cypress Tree (Part 1)
(owing to the reddit character limit, I'm posting this in two parts, but it's one contiguous story)
There are instincts that you develop when you’re a parent. If you don’t have any children it might be a little hard to understand. If you have a toddler, for example, and they’re in the other room and silent for more than a few seconds, there’s a good chance they’re up to no good. I take that back, most of the time they’re doing nothing, but you still have to check. You feel a compulsion to check. I don’t think it’s a learned skill, I think it’s an actual instinct.
Paleolithic parents who didn’t check on their toddlers every few minutes, just to double check that they weren’t being stalked by smilodons were unlikely to have grandchildren and pass on their genes. You just feel you need to check, like getting goosebumps, a compulsion. I suppose it’s the same reason little kids are always demanding you look at them and what they’re doing.
I think that instinct starts to atrophy as your kids grow. They start learning to do things for themselves, and before you know it, they’re after their own privacy, not your attention. I don’t think it ever goes away though. I expect, decades from now, my own grown kids will visit and bring my grandkids with them. And the second I hear a baby crying in the earliest morning hours, I’ll be alert and ready for anything, sure as any old soldier who hears his name whispered in the dark of night.
I felt that alarm just the other day. First time in years. My boy came home from riding bikes with a couple of his friends. I’m pretty sure they worked out a scam where they asked each of their parents for a different new console for Christmas, and now they spend their weekends traveling between the three houses so they can play on all of them.
We all live in a nice neighborhood. A newer development than the one I grew up in, same town though. It’s the kind of place where kids are always playing in the streets, and the cars all routinely do under 20. My wife and I make sure the kids have helmets and pads, and we’re fine with the boy going out biking with his friends, as long as they stay in the neighborhood.
You know, a lot of people in my generation take some weird sort of pride in how irresponsible we used to be when we were young. I never wore a helmet. Rode to places, without telling any adults, that we never should have ridden to. Me and my friends would make impromptu jumps off of makeshift ramps and try to do stupid tricks, based loosely on stunts we’d seen on TV. Other people my age seem to wax nostalgic for that stuff and pretend it makes them somehow better people. I don’t get it. Sometimes I look back and shudder. We were lucky we escaped with only occasional bruises and road burns. It could have gone so much worse.
My son and his buddies came bustling in the front door at about 2 PM on a Saturday. They did the usual thing of raiding the kitchen for juice and his mother’s brownies, and I took that as my cue to abandon the television in the living room for my office. I was hardly noticing the chaos, by this point, it was becoming a regular weekend occurrence. But as I was just leaving, I caught something in the chatter. My boy said something about, “... that guy who was following us.”
He hadn’t said it any louder or more clearly than anything else they’d been talking about, all that stuff I’d been filtering out. Yet some deeper core process in my brain stem heard it, interpreted it, then hit the red alert button. My blood ran cold and every hair on my skin stood at attention.
I turned around and asked “Somebody followed you? What are you talking about?” I wasn’t consciously aware of how strict and stern my voice came out, yet when the jovial smiles dropped off of their faces it was apparent that it had been so.
“Huh?” my son said, his voice high-pitched and talking fast, like when he thinks he’s in trouble and needs to explain. “We thought we saw somebody following us. There wasn’t though. We didn’t really see anybody and we’d just spooked ourselves.”
“What did he look like?” I asked.
“Nothing? We really didn’t see anybody! Honest! I just saw something out of the corner of my eye! But there wasn’t really nobody there!”
“Yeah!,” said one of his buds. “Peripheral! Peripheral vision! I thought maybe I saw something too, but when I looked I didn’t see anything. I don’t have my glasses with me, but when I really looked I got a good look and there was nothing.”
The three boys had that semi-smiling but still concerned look that this was only a bizarre misunderstanding, but they were still being very sincere. “Were they in a car?”
“No, Dad, you don’t get it,” my boy continued, “They were small. We thought it was a kid.”
“Yeah,” said the third boy. “We thought maybe it was Tony Taylor’s stupid kid sister shadowing us. Getting close to throwing water balloons. Just cause she did that before.”
“If you didn’t get a good look how did you know it was a kid?”
“Because it was small!” my kid explained, though that wasn’t helping much. “What I mean is, at first I thought it was behind a little bush. It was way too small a bush to hide a grown-up. That’s why we thought it was probably Tony’s sister.”
“But you didn’t actually see Tony’s sister?” I asked.
“Nah,” said one of his buds. “And now that I think about it, that bush was probably too small for his sister too. It would have been silly. Like when a cartoon character hides behind a tiny object.”
“That’s why we think it was just in our heads,” explained the other boy, “That and the pole.”
“Yeah,” my son said. “The park on 14th and Taylor?” That was just a little community park, a single city block. Had a playground, lawn, a few trees, and some benches. “Anyway, we were riding past that, took a right on Taylor. And we were talking about how weird it would be if somebody really were following us. That’s when Brian thought he saw something. Behind a telephone pole.”
“I didn’t get a good look at it either,” the friend, Brian, “explained. Just thought I did. Know how you get up late at night to use the bathroom or whatever and you look down the hallway and you see a jacket or an office chair or something and because your eyes haven’t adjusted you think you see a ghost or burglar or something? Anyway, I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye, but when I turned there wasn’t anything there.”
“Yeah, it was just like sometimes that happens, except this time it happened twice on the same bike ride, is all,” the other friend explained.
“And you’re sure there was nothing there?”
“Sure we’re sure,” my boy said. “We know because that time we checked. We each rode our bikes around the pole and there was nothing. Honest!”
“Hmmm,” I said. The whole thing seemed reasonable and nothing to be concerned about, you’d think.. The boys seemed to relax at my supposed acceptance. “Alright, sounds good. Hey, just let me know before you leave the house again, alright?” They all rushed to seem agreeable as I left the room, then quickly resumed their snacking and preceded to play their games.
I kept my ear out, just in case. My boy, at least this time, dutifully told me his friends were about to leave. He wasn’t very happy with me when I said they wouldn’t be riding home on their bikes, I was going to drive them home. The other boys didn’t complain, but I suppose it wasn’t their place, so my boy did the advocating for them, which I promptly ignored. I hate doing that, ignoring my kid’s talkback. My dad was the same way. It didn’t help that I struggled to get both of their bikes in the trunk, and it was a pain to get them back out again. My boy sulked in the front seat on the short ride back home. Arms folded on chest, eyes staring straight ahead, that lip thing they do. He seemed embarrassed for having what he thought was an over-protective parent. I suppose he was angry at me as well for acting, as far as he knew, irrationally. Maybe he thought he was being punished for some infraction he didn’t understand.
Well, it only got worse when we got home. I told him he wasn’t allowed to go out alone on his bike anymore. I’d only had to do that once before, when he was grounded, and back then he’d known exactly what he’d done wrong and he had it coming. Now? Well, he was confused, furious, maybe betrayed, probably a little brokenhearted? I can’t blame him. He tramped upstairs to his room to await the return of his mother, who was certain to give a sympathetic ear. I can’t imagine how upset he’ll be if he checks the garage tomorrow and finds I’ve removed his tires, just in case.
I wish I could explain it to him. I don’t even know how.
Where should I even begin? The town?
When I was about my son’s age I had just seen that movie, The Goonies. It had just come out in theaters. I really liked that movie, felt a strong connection. A lot of people do, can’t blame them, sort of a timeless classic. Except I wasn’t really into pirate’s treasure or the Fratellis, what really made me connect was a simple single shot, still in the first act. It’s right after they cross the threshold, and leave the house on their adventure. It was a shot of the boys, from above, maybe a crane shot or a helicopter shot, as they’re riding their bikes down a narrow forested lane, great big evergreen trees densely growing on the side of the road, they’re all wearing raincoats and the road is still wet from recent rain.
That was my childhood. I’ve spent my whole life in the Pacific Northwest. People talk to outsiders about the rain, and they might picture a lot of rainfall, but it’s not the volume, it’s the duration. We don’t get so much rain, it just drizzles slowly, on and on, for maybe eight or nine months out of the year. It doesn’t matter where I am, inside a house, traveling far abroad, anywhere I am I can close my eyes and still smell the air on a chilly afternoon, playing outdoors with my friends.
It’s not petrichor, that sudden intense smell you get when it first starts to rain after a long dry spell. No, this was almost the opposite, a clean smell, almost the opposite of a scent, since the rain seemed to scrub the air clean. The strongest scent and I mean that in the loosest sense possible, must have been the evergreen needles. Not pine needles, those were too strong, and there weren’t that many pines anyway. Douglas fir and red cedar predominated, again the root ‘domination’ seems hyperbole. Yet those scents were there, ephemeral as it is. Also, there was a sort of pleasant dirtiness to the smell, at least when you rode bikes. It wasn’t dirt, or mud, or dust. Dust couldn’t have existed except perhaps for a few fleeting weeks in August. I think, looking back, it was the mud puddles. All the potholes in all the asphalt suburban roads would fill up after rain with water the color of chocolate milk. We’d swerve our BMX bikes, or the knock-off brands, all the way across the street just to splash through those puddles and test our “suspensions.,” meaning our ankles and knees. The smell was always stronger after that. It had an earthiness to it. Perhaps it was petrichor’s lesser-known watery cousin.
There were other sensations too, permanently seared into my brain like grill marks. A constant chilliness that was easy to ignore, until you started working up a good heart rate on your bike, then you noticed your lungs were so cold it felt like burning. The sound of your tires on the wet pavement, particularly when careening downhill at high speed. For some reason, people in the mid-80s used to like to decorate their front porches with cheap, polyester windsocks. They were often vividly colored, usually rainbow, like prototype pride flags. When an occasional wind stirred up enough to gust, the windsocks would flap, and owning to the water-soaked polyester, make a wet slapping sound. It was loud, it was distinct, but you learned to ignore it as part of the background, along with the cawing of crows and distant passing cars.
That was my perception of Farmingham as a kid. The town itself? Just a typical Pacific Northwest town. That might not mean much for younger people or modern visitors, but there was a time when such towns were all the same. They were logging towns. It was the greatest resource of the area from the late 19th century, right up until about the 80s, when the whole thing collapsed. Portland, Seattle, they had a few things going on beyond just the timber industry, but all the hundreds of little towns and small cities revolved around logging, and my town was no exception.
I remember going to the museum. It had free admission, and it was a popular field trip destination for the local school system. It used to be the City Hall, a weird Queen Anne-style construction. Imagine a big Victorian house, but blown up to absurd proportions, and with all sorts of superfluous decorations. Made out of local timber, of course. They had a hall for art, I can’t even remember why, now. Maybe they were local artists. I only remember paintings of sailboats and topless women, which was a rare sight for a kid at the time. There was a hall filled with 19th-century household artifacts. Chamber pots and weird children's toys.
Then there was the logging section, which was the bulk of the museum. It’s strange how different things seemed to be in the early days of the logging industry, despite being only about a hundred years old, from my perspective in the 1980s. If you look back a hundred years from today, in the 1920s, you had automobiles, airplanes, electrical appliances, jazz music, radio programs, flappers, it doesn’t feel that far removed, does it? No TV, no internet, but it wouldn’t be that strange. 1880s? Different world.
Imagine red cedars, so big you could have a full logging crew, arms stretched out, just barely manage to encircle one for a photographer. Felling a single tree was the work of days. Men could rest and eat their lunches in the shelter of a cut made into a trunk, and not worry for safety or room. They had to cut their own little platforms into the trees many feet off the ground, just so the trunk was a little bit thinner, and thus hours of labor saved. They used those long, flexible two-man saws. And double-bit axes. They worked in the gloom of the shade with old gas lanterns. Once cut down from massive logs thirty feet in diameter, they’d float the logs downhill in sluices, like primitive wooden make-shift water slides. Or they’d haul them down to the nearest river, the logs pulled by donkeys on corduroy roads. They’d lay large amounts of grease on the roads, so the logs would slide easily. You could still smell the grease on the old tools on display in the museum. The bigger towns had streets where the loggers would slide the logs down greased skids all the way down to the sea, where they’d float in big logjams until the mills were ready for processing. They’d call such roads “skid-rows.” Because of all the activity, they’d end up being the worst parts of town. Local citizens wouldn’t want to live there, due to all the stink and noise. They’d be on the other side of the brothels and the opium dens. It would be the sort of place where the destitute and the insane would find themselves when they’d finally lost anything. To this day, “skidrow” remains a euphemism for the part of a city where the homeless encamp.
That was the lore I’d learned as a child. That was my “ancestry” I was supposed to respect and admire, which I did, wholeheartedly. There were things they left out, though. Things that you might have suspected, from a naive perspective, would be perfect for kids, all the folklore that came with the logging industry. The ghost stories, and the tall tales. I would have eaten that up. They do talk about that kind of thing in places far removed from the Pacific Northwest. But I had never heard about any of it. Things like the Hidebehind. No, that I’d have to discover for myself.
There were four of us on those bike adventures. Myself. Ralph, my best friend. A tough guy, the bad boy, the most worldly of us, which is a strange thing to say about an eight-year-old kid. India, an archetypal ‘80s tomboy. She was the coolest person I knew at the time. Looking back, I wonder what her home life was like. I think I remember problematic warning signs that I couldn’t have recognized when I was so young, but now raise flags. Then there was Ben. A goofy kid, a wild mop of hair, coke bottle glasses, type 1 diabetic which seemed to make him both a bit pampered by his mother, who was in charge of all his insulin, diet, and schedule, and conversely a real risk taker when she wasn’t around.
When we first saw it…
No, wait. This was the problem with starting the story. Where does it all begin? I’ll need to talk about my Grandfather as well. I’ve had two different perspectives on my Grandfather, on the man that he was. The first was the healthy able-bodied grandparent I’d known as a young child. Then there was the man, as I learned about him after he had passed.
There was a middle period, from when I was 6 to when I was 16, when I hardly understood him at all, as he was hit with a double whammy of both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's. His decline into an invalid was both steep and long drawn out. That part didn’t reflect who he was as a person.
What did I know of him when I was little? Well I knew he and my grandmother had a nice big house and some farmland, out in the broad flat valley north of Farmingham. Dairy country. It had been settled by Dutch immigrants back in the homesteading days. His family had been among the first pioneers in the county too. It didn’t register to me then that his surname was Norwegian, not Dutch. I knew he had served in the Navy in World War II, which I was immensely proud of for reasons I didn’t know why. I knew he had a job as a butcher in a nearby rural supermarket. He was a bit of a farmer too, more as a hobby and a side gig. He had a few cattle, but mostly grew and harvested hay to sell to the local dairies. I knew he had turned his garage into a machine shop, and could fix damn near anything. From the flat tires on my bicycle to the old flat-bed truck he’d haul hay with, to an old 1950s riding lawnmower he somehow managed to keep in working order. I knew he could draw a really cool cartoon cowboy, I knew he loved to watch football, and I knew the whiskers on his chin were very pokey, and they’d tickle you when he kissed you on the cheek, and that when you tried to rub the sensation away he’d laugh and laugh and laugh.
Then there were the parts of his life that I’d learn much later. Mostly from odd passing comments from relatives, or things I’d find in the public records. Like how he’d been a better grandfather than a father. Or how his life as I knew it had been a second, better life. He’d been born among the Norwegian settler community, way up in the deep, dark, forest-shrouded hills that rimmed the valley. He’d been a logger in his youth. Technologically he was only a generation or two from the ones I’d learned about in the museum. They’d replaced donkeys with diesel engines and corduroy roads with narrow gauge rail. It was still the same job, though. Dirty, dangerous, dark. Way back into those woods, living in little logging camps, civilization was always a several-day hike out. It became a vulgar sort of profession, filled with violent men, reprobates, and thieves. When my grandfather’s father was murdered on his front porch by a lunatic claiming he’d been wronged somehow, my grandfather hiked out of there, got into town, and joined the Navy. He vowed never to go back. The things he’d seen out in those woods were no good. He’d kept that existence away from me. Anyways…
Tommy Barker was the first of us to go missing. I say ‘us’ as if I knew him personally. I didn’t. He went to Farmingham Middle School, other side of town, and several grades above us. From our perspective, he may as well have been an adult living overseas.
Yet it felt like we got to know him. His face was everywhere, on TV, all over telephone poles. Everybody was talking about him. After he didn’t return from a friend’s house, everybody just sort of assumed, or maybe hoped, that he’d just gotten lost, or was trapped somewhere. They searched all the parks. Backyards, junkyards, refrigerators, trunks. Old-fashioned refrigerators, back before suction seals, had a simple handle with a latch that opened when you pulled on it. It wasn’t a problem when the fridges were in use and filled with food. But by the 80s old broke-down refrigerators started filling up backyards and junkyards, and they became deathtraps for kids playing hide-and-seek. The only opened from the outside. I remember thinking Tommy Barker was a little old to have likely been playing hide-and-seek, but people checked everywhere anyway. They never found him.
That was about the first time we saw the Hidebehind. Ben said he thought he saw somebody following us, looked like, maybe, a kid. We’d just slowly huffed our way up a moderately steep hill, Farmingham is full of them, and when we paused for a breather at the top, Ben said he saw it down the hill, closer to the base. Yet when we turned to look there was nothing there. Ben said he’d just seen it duck behind a car. That wasn’t the sort of behavior of a random kid minding his own business. Yet the slope afforded us a view under the car’s carriage, and except for the four tires, there were no signs of any feet hiding behind the body. At first, we thought he was pulling our leg. When he insisted he wasn’t, we started to tease him a little. He must have been seeing things, on account of his poor vision and thick glasses. The fact that those glasses afforded him vision as good as or better than any of us wasn’t something we considered.
The next person to disappear was Amy Brooks. Fifth-grader. Next elementary school over. I remember it feeling like when you’re traveling down the freeway, and there’s a big thunderstorm way down the road, but it keeps getting closer, and closer. I don’t remember what she looked like. Her face wasn’t plastered everywhere like Tommy’s had been. She was mentioned on the regional news, out of Seattle, her and Tommy together. Two missing kids from the same town in a short amount of time. The implication was as obvious as it was depraved. They didn’t think the kids were getting lost anymore. They didn’t do very much searching of backyards. The narratives changed too. Teachers started talking a lot about stranger danger. Local TV channels started recycling old After School Specials and public service announcements about the subject.
I’m not sure who saw it next. I think it was Ben again. We took him seriously this time though. I think. The one I’m sure I remember was soon after, and that time it was India who first saw it. It’s still crystal clear in my memory, almost forty years later, because that was the time I first saw it too. We were riding through a four-way stop, an Idaho Stop before they called it that, when India slammed to a stop, locking up her coaster brakes and leaving a long black streak of rubber on a dry patch of pavement. We stopped quickly after and asked what the problem was. We could tell by her face she’d seen it. She was still looking at it.
“I see it,” she whispered, unnecessarily. We all followed her gaze. We were looking, I don’t know, ten seconds? Twenty? We believed everything she said, we just couldn’t see it.
“Where?” Ralph asked.
“Four blocks down,” she whispered. “On the left. See the red car? Kinda rusty?” There was indeed a big old Lincoln Continental, looking pretty ratty and worn. I focused on that, still seeing nothing. “Past that, just to its right. See the street light pole? It’s just behind that.”
We also saw the pole she was talking about. Metal. Aluminum, I’d have guessed. It had different color patches, like metallic flakeboard. Like it’d had been melted together out of scrap.
I could see that clearly even from that distance. I saw nothing behind it. I could see plenty of other things in the background, cars, houses, bushes, front lawns, beauty bark landscape.. There was no indication of anything behind that pole.
And then it moved. It had been right there where she said it had been, yet it had somehow perfectly blended into the landscape, a trick of perspective. We didn’t see it at all until it moved, and almost as fast it had disappeared behind that light pole. We only got a hint. Brown in color, about our height in size.
We screamed. Short little startled screams, the involuntary sort that just burst out of you. Then we turned and started to pedal like mad, thoroughly spooked. We made it to the intersection of the next block when it was Ralph who screeched to a halt and shouted, “Wait!”
We slowed down and stopped, perhaps not as eagerly as we’d done when India yelled. Ralph was looking back over his shoulder, looking at that metal pole. “Did anybody see it move again?’ he asked. We all shook our heads in the negative. Ralph didn’t notice, but of course, he didn’t really need an answer, of course we hadn’t been watching.
“If it didn’t move, then it’s still there!” Ralph explained the obvious. It took a second to sink in, despite the obvious. “C’mon!” he shouted, and to our surprise, before we could react, he turned and took off, straight down the road, straight to where that thing had been lurking.
We were incredulous, but something about his order made us all follow hot on his heels. He was a sort of natural leader. I thought it was total foolishness, but I wasn’t going to let him go alone. I think I got out, “Are you crazy?!”
The wind was blowing hard past our faces as we raced as fast as we could, it made it hard to hear. Ralph shouted his response. “If it’s hiding that means its afraid!” That seemed reasonable, if not totally accurate. Lions hide from their prey before they attack. Then again, they don’t wait around when the whole herd charges. Really, the pole was coming up so fast there wasn’t a whole lot of time to argue. “Just blast past and look!” Ralph added. “We’re too fast! It won’t catch us.”
Sure, I thought to myself. Except maybe Ben, who always lagged behind the rest of us in a race. The lion would get Ben if any of us.
We rushed past that pole and all turned our heads to look. “See!” Ralph shouted in triumph. There was simply nothing there. A metal streetlight pole and nothing more. We stopped pedaling yet still sped on. “Hang on,” Ralph said, and at the next intersection he took a fast looping curve that threatened to crash us all, but we managed and curved behind him. We all came to the pole again where we stopped to see up close that there was nothing there, despite what we had seen moments before.
“Maybe it bilocated,” Ben offered. We groaned. We were all thinking it, but I think we were dismissive because it wasn’t as cool a word as ‘teleport.”
“Maybe it just moved when we weren’t looking,” I offered. That hadn’t been long, but that didn’t mean anything if it moved fast. The four of us slowly looked up from the base of the pole to our immediate surroundings. There were bushes. A car in a carport covered by a tarpaulin. The carport itself. Garbage cans. Stumps. Of course the ever-present trees. Whatever it was it could have been hiding behind anything. Maybe it was. We looked. Maybe it would make itself seen. None of us wanted that. “OK, let’s get going,” Ralph said, and we did so.
I got home feeling pretty shaken that afternoon. I felt safe at home. Except for the front room, which had a big bay window looking out onto the street, and the people who lived across it. There were plenty of garbage cans and telephone poles and stumps that a small, fast thing might hide behind. No, I felt more comfortable in my bedroom. There was a window, but a great thick conical cypress tree grew right in front of it, reaching way up over the roof of the house. If anything, it offered ME a place to hide, and peer out onto the street to either side of the tree. It was protective, as good as any heavy blanket.
submitted by Guilty_Chemistry9337
to Odd_directions [link] [comments]
2023.05.30 10:15 JoshAsdvgi The Creation
| || | submitted by JoshAsdvgi to Native_Stories [link] [comments]
It was in the time when there were no people on the earth. For four days the first man lay coiled up in a pea pod.
On the fifth day he stretched out his feet and burst the pod, falling to the ground, where he stood up, a full-grown man.
He looked about him, and then moved his hands and arms, his neck and legs, and examined himself curiously.
After a while he had an unpleasant feeling in his stomach, and he stooped down to take some water into his mouth from a small pool.
The water ran down into his stomach and he felt better.
When he looked up again he saw approaching, with a waving motion, a dark object which came on until Just in front of him, when it stopped, and, standing on the ground, looked at him.
This was a raven, and, as soon as it stopped, it raised one of its wings, pushed up its beak, like a mask, to the top of its head, and stared at the man, and after it was raised he stared more than ever, moving about from side to side to obtain a better view.
At last he said: "What are you? From where did you come?
I have never seen anything like you."
Then Raven looked at Man, and was still more surprised to find this strange new being was so much like himself in shape.
Then Raven told Man to walk away a few steps, and in astonishment exclaimed again: "From where did you come?
I have never seen anything like you before."
To this Man replied: "I came from the peapod."
And he pointed to the plant from which he came.
"Ah!" exclaimed Raven, "I made that vine, but did not know that anything like you would ever come from it.
Now wait for me here."
Then he drew down the mask over his face, changing again into a bird, and flew far up into the sky where he disappeared.
Man waited where he had been left until the fourth day, when Raven returned, bringing four berries in his claws.
Pushing up his mask, Raven became man again and held out two salmonberries and two heathberries, saying, "Here is what I have made for you to eat.
I also wish them to be plentiful over the earth. Now eat them."
Man took the berries and placed them in his mouth one after the other and they satisfied his hunger, which had made him feel uncomfortable.
Raven then led Man to a small creek nearby and left him while he went to the water's edge and molded a couple of pieces of clay into the form of a pair of mountain sheep, which he held in his hand, and when they became dry he called Man to show him what he had done. Man thought they were very pretty, and Raven told him to close his eyes.
As soon as Man's eyes were closed Raven drew down his mask and waved his wings four times over the images, when they became endowed with life and bounded away as full-grown mountain sheep.
Then Raven made two animals of clay which he endowed with life as before, but as they were dry only in spots when they were given life, they remained brown and white, and so originated the tame reindeer with mottled coat.
In the same way a pair of caribou were made and permitted to get dry and white only on their bellies, then they were given life; in consequence, to this day the belly of the caribou is the only white part about it.
Raven told Man that these animals would be very common, and people would kill many of them.
"You will be very lonely by yourself," said Raven.
"I will make you a companion."
He then went to a spot some distance from where he had made the animals, and looking now and then at Man, made an image very much like him.
Then he fastened a lot of fine water grass on the back of the head for hair, and after the image had dried in his hands, he waved his wings over it as before and a beautiful young woman arose and stood beside Man.
"There," cried Raven, "is a companion for you." and he led them back to a small hill nearby.
In those days there were no mountains far or near, and the sun never ceased shining brightly; no rain ever fell and no winds blew.
When they came to the hill Raven showed the pair how to make a bed in the dry moss, and they slept there very warmly; Raven drew down his mask and slept nearby in the form of a bird. Waking before the others, Raven went back to the creek and made a pair each of stickle-backs, graylings, and blackfish.
When these were swimming about in the water, he called Man to see them.
When the latter looked at them and saw the sticklebacks swim up the stream with a wriggling motion he was so surprised that he raised his hand suddenly and the fish darted away.
Raven then showed him the graylings and told him that they would be found in clear mountain streams, while the sticklebacks would live along the seacoast and that both would be good for food.
In this way Raven continued for several days making birds, fishes, and animals, showing them to Man, and explaining their uses.
After this he flew away to the sky and was gone four days, after which he returned, bringing back a salmon for the use of Man.
Looking about Raven saw that the ponds and lakes were silent and lonely, so he created many water insects upon their surfaces, and from the same clay he made the beavers and the muskrats to frequent their borders.
Man was shown the muskrat and told to take its skin for clothing.
He was also told that the beavers would live along the streams and build houses and that he must follow their example, and likewise that the beavers would be very cunning and only good hunters would be able to take them.
At this time the woman gave birth to a child, and Raven directed Man how to feed and care for it, telling him that it would grow into a man like himself.
As soon as the child was born, Raven and Man took it to a creek, rubbed it over with clay, and then returned with it to his stopping place on the small hill.
The next morning the child was running about pulling up grass and other plants which Raven had caused to grow nearby; on the third day the child became a full-grown man.
After this Raven thought that if he did not create something to make men afraid they would destroy everything he had made to inhabit the earth.
Then he went to a creek nearby, where he formed a bear and gave it life, jumping to one side quickly as the bear stood up and looked fiercely about.
Man was then called and told that the bear would be very fierce and would tear him to pieces if he disturbed it.
Then he made different kinds of seals, and their names and habits were explained to Man. Raven also taught Man to make rawhide lines from sealskin, and snares for deer, but cautioned him to wait until the deer were abundant before he snared any of them.
Then Raven found that three other men had fallen from the peapod that gave the first one. These men, like the first, were looking about them in wonder, and Raven led them away in an opposite direction from that in which he had taken the first man, afterward bringing them to firm land close to the sea.
Here they stopped, and Raven remained with them a long time, teaching them how to live. He taught them how to make a fire-making device (a bow drill) from a piece of dry wood and a cord, taking the wood from the bushes and small trees he had caused to grow in hollows and sheltered places on the hillside.
He made for each of the men a wife, and also made many plants and birds such as frequent the seacoast, but fewer kinds than he had made in the land where the first man lived.
He taught the men to make bows and arrows, spears, nets, and all the implements of the chase and how to use them; also how to capture the seals which had now become plentiful in the sea.
After Raven had taught the men how to make kayaks, he showed them how to build houses of drift logs and bushes covered with earth.
Looking about Raven thought the earth seemed bare; so, while the others slept, he caused birch, spruce, and cottonwood trees to spring up in low places, and then awoke the people, who were much pleased at seeing the trees.
After this they were taught how to make fire with the bow drill and to place the spark of tinder in a bunch of dry grass and wave it about until it blazed, then to place dry wood upon it.
They were shown how to roast fish on a stick, to make fish traps of splints and willow bark, to dry salmon for winter use, and to make houses.
One day Man went out seal hunting along the seashore.
He saw many seals, but in each case after he had crept carefully up they would tumble into the water before he could get to them, until only one was left on the rocks; Man crept up to it more carefully than before, but it also escaped.
Then he stood up and he seemed full of strange feeling, and the water began to run in drops from his eyes and down his face.
He put up his hand and caught some of the drops to look at them and found that they were really water; then, without any wish on his part, loud cries began to break from him and the tears ran down his face as he went home.
When his son saw him coming, he called to his wife and mother to see Man coming along making such a strange noise; when he reached them they were still more surprised to see water running down his face.
After he told them the story of his disappointment they were all stricken with the same strange ailment and began to wail with him, and in this way people first learned how to cry.
Where the first man lived there had now grown a large village for the people did everything as Raven directed them.
2023.05.30 10:01 Ausanan Current Mod List
Here is my current mod list, I'm quite proud of it. What do you all think of it? Note: 1. A few of the mods are deactivated, they were all copied together. 2. The mods are not listed in order, they got automatically sorted alphabetically when I copied them.
Moonpath to Elsweyr SSE"
Moons And Stars - Sky Overhaul SKSE"
More Informative Console"
More to Say"
moreHUD Inventory Edition"
Moss Rocks - 3D Rocks Patch"
Mrf's Solitude - Update"
Nate DBVO Pack - MALE PC"
Natural Hair Colors"
NL_MCM - A Modular MCM Framework"
No Grass In Caves"
No Grass In Objects"
No Grassias - A Universal Grass Fix For Grass Mods"
No Spinning Death Animation"
Nordic Snow - Projected Diffuse"
NORDIC UI - Compass Markers Restored"
NORDIC UI - Interface Overhaul"
Nordic UI - Menu Cleaned and Upscaled"
NORDIC UI - Miscellaneous Patches"
NORDIC UI - Ultrawide Fixes and Patches"
Nordic UI Ultrawide Patch"
Nordic...ish - A TrueHUD preset based on Nordic UI"
Nordic...ish - A TrueHUD preset based on Nordic UI - Recent Item Widget"
Northfires Photoreal Mountains 3 for Majestic (8K)"
NPC AI Process Position Fix - NG"
NPC Animation Remix (DAR)"
NPCs Names Distributor"
NPCs React To Invisibility"
NPCs Wear Amulets of Mara PLUS"
Obsidian Weathers and Seasons"
Open Civil War SSE"
Optional Round Farmhouse Posts"
OSHA-Compliant Sovengarde Mesh Fixes"
Paarthurnax - Quest Expansion"
PapyrusUtil SE - Modders Scripting Utility Functions"
Paragon gems 4K"
Particle Lights For ENB - Aetherium Shards"
Particle Lights For ENB - Alchemy and Enchanting Tables"
Particle Lights For ENB - Apocypha"
Particle Lights For ENB - Blood Splatter Fix"
Particle Lights For ENB - Bugs in a Jar"
Particle Lights For ENB - Dark Elf Lantern"
Particle Lights For ENB - Dark Elf Lantern Particle Patch"
Particle Lights For ENB - Dragonborn Ingredients"
Particle Lights For ENB - Ingredients"
Particle Lights for ENB - Nirnroot"
Particle Lights For ENB - Paragon Gems"
Particle Lights For ENB - Staff Enchanter"
Particle Lights For ENB - Undead Creatures"
Particle Lights For ENB - Wisps - Witchlight"
Particle Lights For ENB - wSkeever Ingredients"
Particle Patch for ENB"
PELTAPALOOZA - Special Edition"
Penitus Oculatus Questline"
Pickaxe Redone SSE"
Picta Series - Improved Sky Meshes"
Picta Series - Improved Sky Meshes - Cathedral Version"
Populated Skyrim Reborn SSE"
powerofthree's Papyrus Extender"
Prisoner cart fix SMIM"
Pristine Vanilla Movement"
Project ja-Kha'jay- Moonpath to Elsweyr Khajiit Overhaul"
Project New Reign - Nemesis Unlimited Behavior Engine"
Quality CubeMaps - HD Cube Maps Optimized"
Quick Light SE"
Race Menu SE - WIdescreen Fix"
RaceMenu - Male Khajiit Mouth Expression Fix"
RaceMenu Memory Leak Fix"
Rain Extinguishes Fires"
Rally's Civil War Document Tubes"
Rally's Riekling Outposts"
Reachmen Tribes Names"
Real Rabbits HD"
Real Rabbits HD - SPID Edition"
Reanimated NPC Animations"
Relationship Dialogue Overhaul - RDO SE"
Remi UnLux Patch"
Remiel-Custom Voiced Follower"
Remiros' Chitin Armor HD"
Renthal's Waterwheel Remastered"
Reversed Daggers Moveset for MCO"
Riekling Barrels SMIM"
Riften Architectural Details"
Riften Docks Overhaul"
Riften Docks Overhaul - Riften Extension Patch"
Riften Docks Overhaul - SMIM Patch"
Riften Extension - Southwoods District"
RS Children - Populated Skyrim Reborn SSE Patch"
RS Children Overhaul"
Rudification - Rudy Candles Expanded"
Rudy ENB Obsidian Weathers ADDONS and REQUiRED Files"
Rudy HQ - Falling Leaves and Needles SE"
Rudy HQ - Falling Leaves and Needles SE - Yellow Leaves Texture"
Rudy HQ - Hay SE"
Rudy HQ - Miscellaneous SE"
Rudy HQ - More lights for ENB - Daedric weapons"
RUGNAROK - Special Edition"
Ruins Clutter Improved"
Ruins Clutter Improved - Fixes"
Ruins Clutter Improved - Portcullis Collision Fix"
RUSTIC ARMOR and WEAPONS 4k-2k SE"
RUSTIC CLOTHING 4k-2k - Special Edition"
RUSTIC WINDOWS - Special Edition"
SCAR - Skyrim Combos AI Revolution"
Sconces of Skyrim - Markarth Braziers Improved"
Scripts, Utilities and Core Files_separator"
SDA - UnLux"
SDA Patch Hub SE"
SD's Horn Candles SE"
Security Overhaul SKSE - Add-ons"
Security Overhaul SKSE - Lock Variations"
Security Overhaul SKSE - Regional Locks"
Serana Dialogue Add-On"
Serious Civil War Defense for OCW"
Serious Civil War Finale Sieges"
Shaders of Solstheim - Ash and Moss"
Shadow of Skyrim - Nemesis and Alternative Death System"
Show Player In Menus"
Shroud Hearth Barrow Script Fix"
Sigils of Skyrim - Shields"
Sigils of the North - Banners 4k"
Simple Snow Improvements - Giant Obelisks (BOS)"
Simple Snow Improvements - Skyrim (BOS)"
Simplicity of Snow"
SIRENROOT - Deluge of Deceit"
SIRENROOT - HD Texture Pack"
Skeleton Replacer HD"
Skeleton Replacer HD - Lux Patch"
Skeleton Replacer HD - Patch Collection"
SKSE - INI"
SKSE Scripts - v2.0.20"
SkyFix SE - HD Blacksmith Signs"
Skyland Farmhouse - Farmhouse Door Patch"
Skyland Whiterun - Epic Doors of Whiterun Patch"
Skyland Whiterun - Pompous Door of Whiterun Patch"
Skyrim - A Mountainous Experience"
Skyrim 3D Docks and Boardwalks"
Skyrim 3D Furniture"
Skyrim 3D Furniture - SMIM Patch"
Skyrim 3D Landscapes"
Skyrim 3D Rocks"
Skyrim 3D Windmill"
Skyrim on Skooma"
Skyrim Priority SE AE - skse plugin"
Skyrim Remastered - Caves"
Skyrim Remastered - Glaciers and Ice - IMR Edition"
Skyrim Ultimate Eye Meshe"
Skyrim Ultimate Eye Meshes - Vampire Fixes"
Skyrim Upscaler - DLSS FSR2 XeSS"
Skyrim Upscaler - Patreon BETA"
Slayable Offspring SKSE"
Sleeping Expanded - Animations and NPC reactions"
Small Nordic Tent Replacer"
SMIM - Quality Addon - Unofficial Material Fix Patch"
SMIM Barrel Expansion - Mead Barrel - Oil Barrel - Butter Churn"
Smoke - Rudy Fix"
Smoking Torches and Candles SSE"
Smooth Random idle Animation"
SmoothCam - Modern Camera Preset"
Solstheim Objects SMIMed"
Sons of Nirn - Whiterun"
Soul Cairn Script Tweaks"
Spell Perk Item Distributor"
Spell Perk Item Distributor OLD"
Splashes of Skyrim"
Splashes Of Storms"
Splashes of Storms - Rudy Fix"
SSE Display Tweaks"
SSE Engine Fixes (skse64 plugin)"
Stalhrim Refrozen - Upscales Textures"
Static Mesh Improvement Mod"
Static Mesh improvement Mod - SMIM - Quality Addon"
Static Mesh Improvement Mod Improvement Mod"
Stockades of Skyrim 3D"
Stones of Solitude - Better Blended Rock Piles"
Storm Lightning for SSE and VR (Minty Lightning 2019)"
Strongholds - Largashbur"
Strongholds - Narzulbur"
Stunning Statues of Skyrim"
Subtle Wind FX"
Take a Seat - New DAR Sitting Animations"
Tempered Skins for Males - Dressed Version"
Terrain Fixes for CC Mods"
The Eyes Of Beauty SSE"
The Eyes Of Beauty SSE - Elves Edition"
The Second Great War"
The Second Great War - USSEP Patch"
The Taste of Death Improved Shutdown"
TMB Vanilla Armors and Clothes SSE"
To Your Face SE"
True Directional Movement - Modernized Third Person Gameplay"
TRUE FACES - A Character Enhancement Project"
TrueHUD - HUD Additions"
Unarmed Moveset for MCO"
Undead Snow Elves - Mihail"
Unique Map Weather"
Unique Map Weather - Vanilla Additions"
Unique Skulls HD"
Unique Solstheim Grass"
Unique Solstheim Grass - Complex Grass"
Unofficial High Definition Audio Project"
Unofficial Material Fix"
Unofficial Material Fix - Assorted Mesh Fixes Patch"
Unofficial Moonpath to Elsweyr Patch"
Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch"
UNP Female Body Renewal"
Unreal 4K Mammoth Skeleton ReTexture"
Use Those Blankets"
Vampire Lines Expansion"
Vampires Have Claws"
Vanargand Animations - Archery"
Vanargand Animations - Sneak Archery"
Vanilla Follower Expansion - Illia (VFE)"
Vanilla hair - Salt and Wind"
Vanilla Makeup HD"
Vanilla Warpaints Absolution"
Veydosebrom Regions - Complex Grass"
VickusDickus' Khajiiti Apex Armory"
Wade In Water Redone"
Wall mounted dead animals fixes"
Water for ENB"
Water in Wells - mesh-only animated wells"
Weapon Keyword Unification Project"
Weather of World"
Weathers & Atmosphere_separator"
Wedding Outfit Commission"
WeldingMans Smelter - Embers XD"
Whiterun Exteriors Patch Collection"
Whiterun Objects SMIMed"
Whiterun Trees - JKs Skyrim - Fortified Whiterun Patch"
WIDeadBodyCleanupScript Crash Fix"
Windhelm Bridge Stairs"
Winterhold Statue - Animated with ENB Lights"
WiZkiD Riften and Ratway"
WiZkiD Specific Signs"
Wolves of the Wild"
Wood Wall Trap Mesh and UV Fix"
Woodcutter Axe Redone SE"
Word Wall Transparency Fix for ENB"
XNFRain's Civil War Map Flag Replacer SE"
XP32 Maximum Skeleton Special Extended"
.NET Script Framework"
Landscape Fixes For Grass Mods - ASLAL Patch"
3D Riften Trellis and Roofs"
3D Solitude Market Trellis"
3D Solitude Market Trellis Expansion"
3D Trellis Improved - Gildergreen Plaza"
3D Whiterun Trellis"
3D Whiterun Trellis Expansion"
4K Carts Clean"
4K SMIM Carriage Seat"
A Matter of Time - A HUD clock widget"
A Matter Of Time - Legacy Settings Loader"
Actor Limit Fix"
Address Library for SKSE Plugins"
ADXP I MCO elden rim moveset collection (SCAR)"
ADXP l MCO Nordic Animation Complete Pack"
After the Civil War - Siege Damage Repairs"
Alternate Conversation Camera"
Alternate Start - Live Another Life - SSE"
aMidianBorn Book of Silence SE"
aMidianBorn Matching Armory - Glass Armor and Weapons"
Ancient Falmer Armor 4K"
Ancient Falmer Armor 4K - Armour Mesh Fixes Patch"
Ancient Nord Pickaxe Replacer - Rusted Textures 4K"
Ancient Nord Pickaxe Replacer 4K"
Animated Forge Water"
Animated Static Reload Fix - NG"
Animation Motion Revolution"
Animation Queue Fix"
Another Jump Animation - Female"
Another Jump Animation - Male"
Archery Locational Damage"
Archery Target Retexture 4k"
Armor Mesh Fixes SE"
Armor Mesh Fixes SE - aMidianBorn Patch"
Armor Mesh Fixes SE - Orcish Environmental Map Fix"
Armor Mesh Fixes SE - Steel Armour Fix"
Ashbound - Solstheim Revisited"
Ashlander Nomads Names"
Assorted mesh fixes"
Auriel Bow - ENB Light"
Auriel's Bow and Shield HD SE"
Auto Input Switch"
Axarien's Animations - Kaidan (DAR)"
Axarien's Animations - Lucien (DAR)"
Baby Chickens - Mihail"
Bandit Lines Expansion"
Bandit Lines Expansion - Dark Elf"
Barter Limit Fix"
Base Object Swapper"
Base Textures & Meshes_separator"
Basic Dining Set Replacer2k"
Bears of the North"
Bears of the North - 4k Textures"
Behavior Data Injector"
Belethor's Sister - Quest"
Bellyaches 16K-8K Dragon Replacer Pack"
Beneath Bronze Waters Start Fix"
Better Beast vampire fangs - fixes and adjustments - Argonian and Khajiit"
Better Beast vampire fangs - fixes and adjustments - Argonian V Fangs"
Better Blended Mushrooms"
Better Books and Letters"
Better Combat Escape - SSE"
Better Dialogue Control Widescreen Fix"
Better Dialogue Controls"
Better Dyndolod Red Mountain Plume"
Better Jumping SE"
Better Ladder UV Mapping"
Better tomboys DAR animations"
Better Wedding Guests"
Beyond Reach - Arnima - Armour Fix 2"
Beyond Reach - Arnima - Dragonstar Armour Fix"
Beyond Reach - Arnima - Female Witchman Armour Fix"
Beyond Reach - Arnima - Forrsworn Texture Fix"
Beyond Reach - Arnima - Wool Plate Armour Fix"
Beyond Reach - Dunlain Falls Interior and Exterior House Fix"
Beyond Reach - House Texture Fix"
Beyond Reach - Infant Ogre Inventory Fix"
Beyond Reach - Shaman Fix"
Beyond Skyrim - Wares of Tamriel SE"
Bijin NPCs Civil War Legate Rikke Fix"
Bijin NPCs SE"
Bijin Skin - UNP"
Bijin Warmaidens SE"
Bijin Wives SE"
BiR's Remiel Replacer"
Blended Roads - Simplicity of Snow Patch"
Blended Roads Redone - Bridges - 8K"
Blended Roads Redone SE - 8K"
Blended Roads Redone SE - Meshes - 8K"
Blind people DAR animations"
Blood and Ash - Ash"
Blood and Ash - Blood"
Bloodline - Volkihar Family"
Bosmer NPCs have Antlers"
Bosmer NPCs have Antlers - Texture Patch"
Breton NPCs Have Elven Ears"
Bright Waterfall Fix for ENB - DynDOLOD"
Bucket Again - SMIMed"
Bug Fixes SSE"
Capital Whiterun Expansion - 3D Whiterun Trellis Patch"
Carriages and Stables Dialogue Bundle"
Cathedral - 3D Deathbell"
Cathedral - 3D Deathbell - ENB Light"
Cathedral - 3D Mountain Flowers"
Cathedral - Mushrooms"
Cathedral - Plants"
Cathedral 3D Mountain Flowers - Base Object Swapper"
Character Creation & NPC Overhaul_separator"
Chicken Replacer - Mihail"
Ciri DBVO - Live Another Life Patch - FEMALE PC"
Ciri DBVO - LotDB Patch - FEMALE PC"
Ciri DBVO - Wyrmstooth Patch - FEMALE PC"
Ciri DBVO Pack - FEMALE PC"
Citizens of Tamriel"
City & Settlements Textures_separator"
Civil War Couriers Framework"
Civil War Lines Expansion"
Clouds All Over - All In One"
College of Winterhold - Quest Expansion"
College of Winterhold - Quest Markers"
College of Winterhold - RS Children Patch"
Combat Music Fix SKSE"
Combat Pathing Revolution"
Complementary Grass Fixes"
Comprehensive First Person Animation Overhaul - CFPAO"
Conditional tavern cheering (DAR)"
Configurable Commentary Rate Slider"
Cosmos Lucien Replacer"
Creation Club - Fishing"
Creation Club - Rare Curios"
Creation Club - Saints & Seducers"
Creation Club - Survival Mode"
Creatures & Fauna_separator"
Curated Bosses for True HUD"
Cuyi's Bosmeri Antlers - SSE"
DAR - Dynamic Swimming"
DAR - Dynamic Swimming - Argonian Mastery"
Daughters of Malacath"
DBVO Dialogue Interface ReShaped Patch"
Destination Weddings - Lux Via & NPC's Wear Amulets of Mara Patch"
Detailed NPCs - Immersive Armors for NPCs (SPID)"
Dialogue Interface ReShaped"
Dibella's Blessing Patches"
Disable Turn Animation SE I AE"
Diverse Skyrim - Voiced Addon (ElevenLabs)"
DIVERSE SKYRIM SSE"
DLC2dunNchardakDoorSeal Script Infinite Loop Fix"
Don't sheathe bound weapons DAR animations"
Dragon Priest - Armour and Weapons"
Dragonborn Voice Over"
Dragonborn Voice Over - Nordic UI Ultrawide Patch"
Dragonborn Voice Over Old"
DragonPriest Retexture - SE"
dunFolgunthurBossBattle Script Fix"
Dwemer Pipework Reworked"
Dwemer Pipework Reworked - Decorative Pattern"
Dwemer Pipework Reworked - ENB Lights"
Dynamic Animation Replacer"
Dynamic Dodge Animation"
Dynamic Impact - Slash Effects X"
Dynamic snow For Map"
DynDOLOD Resources SE"
eeekie's even better Kaidan"
Elder Creed - Valhalla Axe Moveset AIO"
ElSopa - Papers HD SE"
ElSopa HD - Realistic Dark Elf Urns SE"
Elven Weapons for Silence SE"
Emperor Penguins - Mihail"
ENB Helper SE"
Enhanced Blood Textures"
Enhanced Enemy AI SE"
Enhanced Volumetric Lighting and Shadows (EVLaS)"
Equip Enchantment Fix"
Equipment & Apparel_separator"
ESO Style Cursor"
EVG Animated Traversal"
EVG Animated Traversal - Bleak Falls Barrow"
EVG Animated Traversal - Flat Footed Quest"
EVG Animated Traversal - Patch Collection"
EVG Animated Traversal - Skyrim Integration Patch"
EVG Animation Variance"
EVG Conditional Idles"
EVG Conditionals Extended"
EVG Conditionals Extended - Modesty Replacer"
EVG Conditionals Extended - Valhalla Patch"
Expressive Facegen Morphs SE"
Expressive Facial Animation -Female Edition-"
Expressive Facial Animation -Male Edition-"
FA ORCODONTIST - Orsimer Mouth and Teeth Fix"
Face Discoloration Fix"
Fancy Sword Moveset for MCO"
Fate Cards Remade - Legacy of The Dragonborn"
Feminize - Crafting Animation (DAR)"
First Person Combat Animations Overhaul 2.0 -SIZE MATTERS"
Fish Anywhere With Water"
Fix Note icon for SkyUI"
Fixed Mesh Lighting"
Fixed Nordic Metal Grate"
Flickering Meshes Fix"
Flies Around Corpses - Audio Only"
Flora & Landscape_separator"
Forgotten Argonian Roots"
Forsworn and Thalmor Lines Expansion"
Forsworn Matriarchs Names"
Fortified Whiterun - Immersive Citizens Patch"
Fortified Whiterun - JK's Skyrim Patch"
Frankly HD Dawnguard Armor and Weapons"
Frankly HD Dragonbone and Dragonscale - Armor and Weapons"
Frankly HD Dragonbone and Dragonscale - Armor and Weapons - Mesh Fix"
Frankly HD Imperial Armor and Weapons"
Frankly HD Imperial Armor and Weapons - Leanwolf Patch"
Frankly HD Imperial Armor and Weapons - Long Sleeves"
Frankly HD Nightingale Armor and Weapons [SSE]"
Frankly HD Nightingale Armor and Weapons [SSE] - Leanwolf Patch"
Frankly HD Shrouded Armor"
Frankly HD Silver Sword"
Frankly HD Stormcloak and City Guards"
Frankly HD Stormcloak and City Guards - Falkreath Hue Fix"
Frankly HD Stormcloak and City Guards - Fix"
Frankly HD Thieves Guild Armors"
Fuz Ro D-oh - Silent Voice"
FYX - 3D Coal in the Shovel"
FYX - 3D Dock Ramp"
FYX - 3D Farmhouse Walkway"
FYX - 3D Honeyside Deck Floor"
FYX - 3D Shack Kit Roofs"
FYX - 3D Shack Kit Walls"
FYX - 3D Shack Kit Walls - BOS"
FYX - 3D Stockades"
FYX - 3D Stockades - Walls and Gate"
FYX - 3D Whiterun Castle Bridge"
FYX - 3D Whiterun Drawbridge Gate"
FYX - 3D Whiterun Drawbridge Gate - Lux Orbis Patch"
FYX - 3D Whiterun Guard Towers"
FYX - 3D Whiterun Scaffold"
FYX - 3D Whiterun Tree Circle"
FYX - Candlehearth Hall Chimney"
FYX - Fortified Whiterun Consistency"
FYX - Jorrvaskr"
FYX - RavenRock Docks and Fences Round Posts"
FYX - RowBoat"
FYX - SMIM Barrels - Smooth and New optionnal Metal and Wood Texture"
FYX - Smooth Wells"
FYX - The Temple of Mara (ENB Light Windows)"
FYX - Water Splash"
FYX - Windhelm Stable Roof"
FYX Smooth Wells - Invisible Well Fix"
Gesture Animation Remix (DAR)"
Gilded Doublet - Ported to SSE"
GKB Waves Reborn"
Glorious Doors of Skyrim (GDOS)"
Glowing Mushroom Collision Fixes"
GOAT HD by Pfuscher"
Goetia Animations - Conditional Shouts"
Goetia Animations - Enchanted Staves"
Goetia Animations - Magic Spell Casting"
Golden Saint Armory Revamped"
Grass Sampler Fix"
Guard Armor Reforged"
Guard Dialogue Overhaul - Second Great War Patch"
Guard Dialogue Overhaul - UHDAP Patch"
Guard Dialogue Overhaul SE"
Happy Little Logs"
Happy Little Trees"
Happy Little Trees - Aspen Addendum"
Happy Little Trees - DLC Trees"
Happy Little Trees - Reduced Saturation"
Happy Little Trees Add-On - DynDOLOD 3"
Harvestables Cabbages Addon for High Poly Project"
HD CubeMap Collection"
HD LODs Textures SE"
HD Reflective Ebony Armor and Weapons"
HD Reflective Ebony Armor and Weapons - Ebony Mail"
HD Reworked Falmer Architecture 4K"
HD Reworked Horses"
HD Serpentine Dragon and Mesh Fix SE"
High Hrothgar Fixed"
High Hrothgar Fixed - Lux Orbis Patch"
High Hrothgar Fixed - Lux Patch"
High poly Mudcrab n Retexture"
High Poly Project"
High Poly Vanilla Hair"
High Quality Food and Ingredients SE"
Highlandcow HD by Pfuscher"
High-Poly Inigo Replacer"
Hold Border Banners"
Hold Border Guards - Definitive Edition"
Hold Guard Armor Unchanged SE"
Horker by Pfuscher"
Horses Simply Turn Better"
Hunters Not Bandits"
Husky Wolf - Wolves Use Husky Model"
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submitted by Ausanan
to skyrimmods [link] [comments]
2023.05.30 09:14 WaveOfWire One Hell Of A Vacation - Chapter 86
Next Royal Road u/KieveKRS
providing the Trash certification of quality!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[Thank you for agreeing to teach them.]
Volta nodded, not entirely sure if it was for the best, but recognizing a request—or in this case, a thinly veiled order—for what it was.
Ever since she had taught Scarlet and the others her field, the occasional rotation of Lilhuns would be assigned to work under her for a time. It made her job easier, especially since the settlement was expanding at a ludicrous rate compared to what she had heard from the new members of the pack.
The Atmo that had joined were quickly treated and cared for, those who did not require so much time for recovery quickly accompanying the existing insects in their tasks. The largest, Mama, frequently assisted in construction and decoration of structures, so they worked with her. Once they had oriented how things progressed and their part in it, they were paired off with a construction group to be assigned a project. It was to the point where there were as many as five buildings nearing completion at once, the majority of them being accommodation for the new members of the pack.
The remaining question was regarding the insect kits. The answer? Well, there were four Atmo slightly smaller than the purple ‘Queen’ that had requested Volta instruct them, the pearlescent shimmer of her scaled carapace dancing in the sunbeams afforded by the skylight the den had been constructed with.
Teaching Violet—as well as the two Atmo that Volta had escorted to this pack—in the ways of sanitation had been an interesting endeavour, all things considered. They held a remarkable dexterity in those long edged appendages, but the lack of something to properly grasp with made finding a way to secure a rag onto the ends difficult. Luckily, Heralt was receptive to assisting her with creating something that would attach to the blades.
It was little more than a mop that secured to the joint and braced around the cutting edge gingerly, the ends of the stick using ‘ironwood’ springs to clamp onto fabric pads that would soak in the cleaning solution and allow them to do the floors and walls. Were it not for how shockingly efficient the task was performed, she would have been useless through the laughter at the sight.
Each Atmo kit held two of the devices on their limbs, allowing them to travel in pairs and simply finish large spaces within the time it would take her to prepare the next batch of cleaners to use. They had only started a short while ago and yet two dens had been finished, Scarlet assisting her in doing whatever furniture or ledges the Atmo were unsuited to completing. The odd pack member going through what Head Sahari called ‘versatility training’ listened to her instructions in an oddly compliant manner, giving the blue-furred female pause at the unusual experience.
All in all; the cleaner was guiding the five insects and three Lilhuns in the ways of cleanliness. Scarlet was primarily keeping an eye on those who interacted with the purple-coloured Atmo, her contributions to the other tasks proficient, despite the split attention. Before, she would have assumed the servant quietly acquiescing orders, but the dark red-furred female was particularly vigilant in matters pertaining to the kit now.
Volta wasn’t sure what happened to the other servants that regularly assisted her on a rotation—save for Kaslin, the female seeming to have been unofficially inducted as Grand…. Toril
’s assistant alongside his mate, Tersa—but Faye, the mild-mannered deep gold-furred female, and Raine, the polite and excitable brown-furred female, had been absent for many suns now.
It was almost lonely, in a way.
“That should be sufficient for this den,” she announced to the gaggle of Atmo kits and Lilhuns, careful to remind them not to bother the few ‘rock-worms’ that Ferra kept separate from the rest outside. There were only four, the largest one adorned in an odd script, but they were apparently a selection of favourites of the female. Regardless, it would not do to irritate a mate of Atrox.
The brown-furred male was responsible for the ghastly armour that the Grand Hunter wore on occasion, and she was not in a hurry to see if the disturbing tendencies of the male extended to how he displayed his displeasure.
“Where is our next destination?” Scarlet asked, her tail brushing up Volta’s spine in an uncomfortable way. It wasn’t that she disliked the touch, but the owner of it worried her. Something about the servant struck her as more than what was presented, and it was obvious that the female thought of it as immensely entertaining. That much was obvious, even without the sly grin.
“We have proceeded much faster than I was expecting,” the blue-furred female admitted, mentally checking over her itinerary while subtly batting away the offending appendage. “I suppose we should attempt the barracks while the pack is engaged, then rest for a time.”
[May I leave to check on the other Atmo?]
Volta paused, unsure why it was being requested rather than merely presented as a fact. Violet was—as far as it mattered—completely beyond the cleaner’s station, if only because she was an adopted kit of the Grand Hunter, as well as a sort of leadership figure for the insects. It was an enigmatic blend of positions where the purple insect could very well order Volta to do things, rather than ask. Though the hierarchy was not nepotistic in nature, it was safer to adhere to the wishes of the den-kit than it was to disobey.
“You may. What of the others?”
[I will leave them with you and Scarlet.]
The mentioned servant frowned. “I am to accompany you.”
Violet chittered her curious laugh. [These young ones are your task. I must attend to my own.]
Volta discreetly jabbed the female with a claw, glaring at her not to question the wishes of her better. The less attention drawn from the Grand Hunter, the better. Just picturing the disturbing mask and piercing gaze was enough to make her blanch.
Either reminded of her position, or merely interested in playful retaliation, Scarlet sighed quietly, bowing slightly to the insect. “As you wish, young mistress. Do call for me if I am required.”
[I will. Thank you, Scarlet, Volta.]
Volta lowered her head, watching the Queen leave before returning her attention to the group.
“We will do the first barracks, then determine if we are of time to do the second. The kits are to await the floors cleared of obstruction by the Lilhuns before cleaning them. We will manage it in sections so as not to disturb any who may be taking a break. In future—assuming you are to operate independently from myself—it would be best if you are used to working in groups.”
The Lilhuns nodded their understanding, the young Atmo hesitantly conferring with each other before approaching Scarlet to have their mops freed of soiled cloth and materials placed upon their carriages.
The Atmo had all been outfitted with a specially made platform that fitted over their wider base, clasping underneath past their six legs. It allowed them to transport much, their carrying capacity much larger than one would suspect from their size. The kits could comfortably haul all of the materials for the sun by themselves, and the adults had been the subject of idle speculation for mounted weapon platforms—assuming the fragmented conversation she had chanced upon was to be believed.
Volta inspected the odd section that the Lilhuns under her tutelage completed while she waited for packing to finish. She was not necessarily pleased with the results, but it was more important for them to understand the procedure to take for various locations at the moment. They had proven that they understood what to do for the dens, so next came teaching them how to approach high-traffic areas.
Once everyone had been prepared and the materials gathered, they left the den and started towards the barracks, glimpsing the Grand Hunter sparring with some of the pack in the open.
Ever since the Atmo were delivered by a trade caravan, the male had taken to training much of the pack personally, Huntress Pan taking over much of his more mundane work. Those who were deemed adequate were then pawed off to Head Tel for some specialized training, though Volta was not privy to what exactly it was meant to accomplish.
Regardless, Head Sahari was in charge of rotating out the pack amongst tasks, only a few specialists being directly assigned to any one occupation. By all rights, Volta herself should be training under the male, but the nature of her work meant that she was typically better off doing her job when such was under way. Given that the Grand Hunter was a rare case of someone fully understanding the importance of her specialty—and how little she wished to interact with the alien—she was thankfully spared.
Disregarding the events going on, she motioned for her group to follow her. There was work to do.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
“Two up!” he called out, wiping the sweat from his brow. The exertion cleared his mind, and the break from endless paperwork was appreciated. With the influx of members and various training being required, he had gotten rather exhausted mentally. Between the Wraiths being gone for two weeks since he told them to do recon around the Atmo traders, regular interaction with various caravans, planning out what they needed to do, and Robert still not calling him since the man had left to handle something, he had been pretty high-strung.
As always, there was more on his mind. Harrow had become more elusive regarding him ever since he had her transcribe the Union documents regarding the Lilhuns, their conversations vapid and brief. Jax didn’t have anything useful to say about it other than that she wanted time to sort her thoughts. Toril, Idee, Mi’low, and Bratik were given copies of the file to go over recently, since they were the closest thing he had to a counsel unfettered by a close relationship.
His own makeshift family took the news in an odd way. There was a lot to unpack.
Jax had become quiet, his muscles tensing. Harrow ended up staying away from her mate for a few days until he had stopped brooding about it. In the end; the guy just told Joseph that he would trust the Grand Hunter’s decisions regarding it, finding himself at a loss otherwise.
Sahari and Nalah were approached about the bonding information, the latter denying any bond to him, as well as Sahari confirming the same towards her blond-furred mate. The only line of reasoning that they could think of to make sense was that Nalah’s circumstances had messed with her in some way. The two seemed rather distressed by the assertion, but calmed somewhat when he mentioned that nothing would change between them regardless. Sahari could tell how conflicted he was about the whole thing, he just wanted to give them something to hang on to.
It was a bigger deal for them than he had initially internalized. In retrospect; something revered as a literal gift from their god being denied really
should have been an obvious point of stress. As begrudging as his acceptance was, he was linked to the whole ‘Great Hunt’ business in their minds, so he was aware of how deeply that belief ran. He didn’t personally subscribe to the religion, but they never really bothered him with anything besides overseeing funeral rites—not that he would have refused anyway.
Pan seemed to mirror his feelings on the matter—a dark feeling of helplessness and sorrow. She had fallen quiet when she heard about the trials on the defectives, that particular section hitting her harder than the others. After an entire day of silence, all she had to say about it was that she loved him, and then spent the night burrowed between him and Tel, unable to sleep. He had a hard time as well, but it extended well past the initial night.
Tel had informed him that his restlessness had made it difficult for her to get any shut-eye, his shifting disturbing her, but it was said in a slightly concerned tone. Her general reaction was fairly subdued compared to the rest otherwise, her lifetime of being at either end of a gun numbing her to the reality of things. It was weird for him, but he was deeply thankful for it on some level.
She kept him sane, her cold response being a candid ‘Wish it, and I will end all who displease you.’
For once, her more violent background gave him something to grip onto. It resonated in him—loose, yet present. A door within him, chained and locked, was brought to mind as he really considered what he wanted for those involved. The traders who abused the Atmo, those who seemed so bent on hurting his friends, the Union ‘GUOS’ who called for the experiments... A thrumming settled in his fists, an itch that couldn’t be sated by just scratching.
A paw flew past his brow, his shifted posture allowing him to slip the claws that had been left exposed in the heat of the spar. His heart hammered, his sweat soaked his clothing, and his focus returned to the fight.
No Union, no traders, no worries. Just the two security members who had doubted Jax’s claims that the smaller Human had somehow bested the male in a fight, and were now bringing out their natural weapons on instinct.
Grabbing the wrist with his right hand and gripping the shoulder with his left, he pulled, using the rotational force to pivot on his left foot and haul the overeager Lilhun to the dirt, the appendage bending behind them sharply. A second fist came from the corner of his eye, the other combatant trying to use the momentary distraction to score a hit.
Using the gripped arm as a balance, Joseph leaned into the spin, firing the sole of his shoe into the head of the opportunistic attacker. The loud slap of his foot connecting with the larger male almost outdid the crumpled form crashing to the ground unconscious. It was only a dull sensation of mercy that stopped him from completing the spin while he maintained his iron grip on the arm of the thrown adversary, saving them a torn and dislocated shoulder.
Joseph breathed heavily, the adrenaline wearing out as Jax checked on the defeated. Minus some stiffness expected in one of them and a sore jaw for the other, they would be fine, albeit embarrassed for such a quick disposal in front of their usual teachers.
The sound of his rubber sole slapping on the ground some distance away killed off whatever motivation he had to continue, his shoes finally giving out.
“I would ask you not to disable my security, Grand Hunter,” Jax said with mock frustration, the black-furred male’s eyes following the two leaving with an expression of exasperation.
“Sorry,” Joseph breathed out, his heart hammering in his chest as his system wound down.
The Head of Security glanced down at him, his expression pensive. “As much as I enjoy my boasting of your prowess to be validated, I do worry that you see more than a spar in them.”
He drew his lips thin as he brushed his sweat-soaked hair back, his arm dropping to his side. He took a few moments to sort the thoughts that returned. “I probably should have called that kick, yeah.”
The larger Lilhun snorted. “They will be fine, it is not their health I am worried about.”
“I’m fine, Jax,” he snapped, averting his eyes when his friend seemed to have made his point. “I…. I’ll be fine. Just some things on my mind right now.”
“Joseph,” the black-furred male started, walking up to place a large paw on his shoulder. “We are here if you wish to talk.”
His breath died in his throat, his eyes closing in defeat. He felt the soreness in his hands surface, hours of constant fighting to soothe the burning in his blood that failed to abate. Bruises made themselves known, dehydration made his joints stiff, and lack of sleep clouded his mind. Jax was right, he was a bit of a mess.
“Grand Hunter,” Mi’low called, his tired glance in her direction revealing the female approaching. “We are ready to speak.”
Joseph placed a hand on Jax’s paw, patting it softly. “Talking will have to wait. Tell Harrow I said hi and that I’d like to hang out again. I miss it.”
The male looked at him apologetically, nodding as he was still unable to offer anything to ease the sting of a friend distancing themselves from the Human. “I will.”
The Human cycled a breath and faced the actress. “The rest?”
Mi’low nodded. “Where will we meet?”
Joseph waved an arm towards the base. “My place. More chairs.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Toril was wearing his usual smile, his eyes inspecting everything about the hub from the couch while Tersa stood nearby, her body language telling that she was wary about being in a new place without time to scout it. Bratik was in his wheelchair, Sorren holding his paw as he sat on the opposite side of the chemist. Idee—being the only one to spend time in the outpost regularly—simply thanked Kaslin for the water from her place between the two mated males. Mi’low had claimed a free chair, her legs crossed and back straight as she stayed away from the others on the couch. The Wraith handed Joseph his requested tea since Scarlet was babysitting the insects, then occupied a place out of the way, but close enough to act if things got heated.
He stayed standing rather than occupying his usual place on a table, his second choice of seating being filled up. He could have dragged over the Atmo couch, but he didn’t want to stress his body any more than he had already by lugging it. “So, everyone had plenty of time to read the documents.”
“Indeed,” Mi’low commented dryly, a glare shot in his direction. Idee nodded, though her expression fell as it was brought up. Toril maintained his detached look of amusement, but it didn’t escape Joseph’s notice that Tersa stiffened.
The Grand Hunter took a sip of his refreshment, enjoying the fleeting feeling of warmth from something other than exertion. “And what do we think?”
“We?” Sorren asked, the male not quite used to the Human using their tongue. Joseph’s mastery of the language was still spotty at times, but Kaslin could fill any gaps if needed.
“Yeah,” he replied plainly. “It has more to do with you than me. I just got the message.”
“I find it rather fascinating,” Toril opined cheerily, his energy at odds with the atmosphere of the room. “Such thorough study allows us many insights into facets of our own biology that we may never have known!”
“By slaughtering our kin in the thousand,” Mi’low shot back, a slight snarl pulling her lip.
“As regretful as such is, we can not bring them back,” the chemist noted with a small nod. “We must simply use the information gleaned by our foes without repeating their atrocities.”
“You suggest ignoring their sins?”
“I suggest utilizing what they have learned and incorporating it to our advantage.”
“Or,” Joseph interjected, “we talk about it instead of getting into an argument.”
“Your people are not free of fault, Grand Hunter
,” the crimson-furred female spat. He remained silent, already having spent far too long thinking about how none of it would have happened if Humans weren’t in the picture for them.
“You can not hold him as a factor, Mi’low,” Idee said softly, shifting in her seat to get comfortable and smiling apologetically at Sorren when she bumped him.
“Were it not for them, then we may not have lost our homes!”
“Were it not for him
you would be little more than bones bleached by the sun, or so I hear.”
“We are not here to cast blame,” Bratik disputed quietly, his voice carrying through the room despite the low volume. “The Grand Hunter has saved each of us. Some from demise, others from the shackles of their station, and others from the fate of losing loved ones.”
Toril and Idee shared a glance as the male continued, Tersa paying attention to him for the first time.
“He seeks our counsel. Not our aimless ire to be spewed upon him for that which he himself had no knowledge of, nor involvement in. His kin were as much victims as our own.”
“Quite,” Toril concurred as the two females ceased their bickering reluctantly. “How would you like to address this, Grand Hunter?”
Joseph blinked, expecting the blame, but not Bratik defusing it so quickly. “Well, we have a few things to work off of. Years of experiments coinciding with missing persons after accepting a job, whoever tipped off your military taking info with them about Sol and the ‘blacklist’, whatever bond fuckery they discovered, and the defects.” He shrugged weakly. “Take your pick.”
“There are too many missing across too wide an area to recognize such a comparative few,” Idee stated, the others in the group silently agreeing.
He nodded, nursing his tea with small sips. “Figured that would be a sticking point. Plus, we don’t really know how long it was going on... or when it started... Not even if it was a bulk recruitment or slow trickle. I guess the missing people are something we’ll just have to keep unknown.”
“The bond information was rather enlightening,” Toril mentioned, his eyes rising to the ceiling as he thought about it. “Our peoples are wildly compatible.”
“As servants, perhaps,” came the scathing remark from the High Huntress. “What use is our gift if it is twisted to be mere subservience? To discard ourselves for some alien race?”
Sorren’s ear flicked. “It is hardly ‘twisted’ to protect that which the Hunt Mother has afforded us.”
“Are we to just accept
that our bonds are better suited to that
,” she emphasized with a pointed claw in Joseph’s direction, “rather than our kin?”
“Drop it,” the Grand Hunter ordered tiredly, his reflection in his beverage shaking as he shifted on his feet. “Arguing isn’t going to help anything.”
Mi’low held her disgusted expression. “You ask us to trust that which led to our downfall? We are yet another strike against your kin, no?”
He shook his head, his eyes buried in remains of the shimmering image he held in his hands. “I blame the sick fucks that did all this. If you can’t agree with that, then there’s not much reason to hold this meeting.”
“What is it you seek to accomplish?” Toril asked, amused by the theatrics. The rest seemed surprised by Mi’low’s pointed aggression, but the chemist was more interested in continuing.
“I have people looking to get me out of here,” Joseph informed them, laying his empty cup on the table with a soft clack. “People who will probably extend the offer to you. If they come, I need to know what we’re doing about it. The last thing I need is people acting like Mi’low and opening fire on whoever comes to drag us out of the mud.”
“Why would we?” Sorren asked, taking his mate’s paw as he gave a worried glance to the offended female.
“Because our people were tortured due to our interactions with them,” the chemist noted in a matter-of-fact tone, his pleasant demeanour remaining despite the morbid topic.
“Did our people not initiate contact with another species on less hostile terms?” Idee asked, her head tilted slightly.
“But no one lived to talk about it,” Joseph countered, gesturing with an upturned palm. “Plus, that’s assuming whoever was in charge of that call being the norm, rather than the exception.”
“You believe our people to act otherwise?” Bratik asked, his tone inquisitive rather than judgmental.
Joseph shrugged. “To be fair, I’ve almost been killed by more of your species than the wildlife. Granted, a few of those were just people being assholes, but still.”
“Many would see the opportunity as retribution for the Union,” Mi’low mentioned dryly.
Sorren’s face fell. “Then we should not propagate this knowledge?”
The Human glanced between each of them. “That’s why you’re here. My group knows because I trust them with it. I think we should keep this to ourselves, but if we do—and someone finds out—it would just cause a lot of issues. Alternatively; we tell everyone.”
“And suffer the consequences of that action as well,” Idee concluded dejectedly. Joseph returned a wry smile as Toril raised a paw, speaking when the Grand Hunter raised a brow at him.
“Perhaps we should withhold the information from the lesser station?”
“Like, just the Grand Hunters?” Joseph inquired cautiously. Toril tilted his head.
“Those who would be more diplomatically minded, perhaps.”
“I don’t exactly see some of them as what you would call ‘diplomatic’ and I’m not going on some voyage to visit everyone with the info in tow.”
“We are able to make copies,” Sorren offered. “Perhaps we could exchange the information using traders and gain something from it as well?”
Mi’low shook her head. “That is assuming they do not claim us manipulative nor seek to remove him. Some may very well move to strike us all down for ‘withholding’ the information, regardless of how readily we supply it.”
“Do your people know?” Bratik interjected, gathering the attention of the others. Joseph winced in uncertainty.
“I’m not sure. I’d guess my brother does, but I don’t know how sensitive things are. It could have been announced and there’s an intergalactic war, or it might be kept under wraps until conflict isn’t as likely. At least until it’s less likely to blow up in our faces, anyway.”
“They are of lesser force?”
“No clue,” he admitted. “Not my area. All I do
know is that there are more species allied against us—or at least aren’t inclined to take a bullet—than are.”
“So our options are rather limited,” Idee concluded, receiving a series of agreements.
“We could,” Mi’low said after a few moments of contemplation, “distribute the information anonymously. Humans are not named directly in the document, and we need not divulge its origin.”
“So, what? Just pass people tablets and ask them to forget where they got it?” he probed, not entirely disagreeing with the idea, but skeptical all the same.
“Tersa may make additions to trader inventories without their knowledge,” Toril offered, the mentioned Blade frowning at him, but not protesting. “Or perhaps Trill’s kit, since she is devoted to yourself.”
“Eh. I guess that’s an option,” he conceded, sighing. “So, about the bond; any opinions? Notes?”
“Stay away from me,” Mi’low answered warily, earning a flat scowl.
“I meant something besides that. I’m not too keen on adding to the cluster-fuck I have going on anyway.”
Sorren smiled. “I am excited to meet your people—should I be so blessed. There are many who would never know the joy of the Hunt Mother’s gift otherwise.”
“I would not mind her words, Grand Hunter,” Toril chuckled. “She is a creature of dishonesty—including her own desires.”
The actress glowered at the chemist. “I preferred it when you were nomadic. It was much easier to ignore your presence. Your words were but some distant wind I need not soil my ears with.”
“Perhaps our meeting is best ended here,” Bratik interjected, waving his functional paw. The other arm was coming along, but still too stiff to use for much. “We should propagate the information through unsigned parcels to the Grand Hunters.”
“One last thing,” Joseph said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “The information on Sol; anything ever get done with that?”
“We were capturing habitable planets in a particular direction, though the decision to do such was made by our superiors.”
He nodded. “Makes sense. Same issue we have now. Can’t let everyone know because chaos is a lot easier to manage when it’s directed. Between the religious connotations and the context around it; there’s no saying if it would lead to riots or worship. Rather not bring the problem to our door.”
“Wise,” Mi’low remarked sarcastically, her judgmental side-eye aimed between him and Sorren.
“Alright,” he said with a raised voice, ignoring the red-furred female to the best of his ability. “Drop off letters and lock myself in a room or something. Sounds like a plan.”
“That will not be required,” Sorren corrected with a laugh. “Though the documents confirmed a high percentile of successful bonds, there were many incompatible pairings. It is unlikely that your informant included every variation of failure, but the bond seems to be as selective as usual, just more receptive to those who meet the criteria. I would speculate that the majority of those who would bond to you by now, have. Barring the new additions, of course. I doubt you will need to worry about bonding to half a species by yourself.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” he muttered. “Okay, you’re free to go back to your work. You know who to talk to if something comes up.”
The gathering dispersed, Toril requiring Tersa to drag him by the ear before he got too distracted. Mi’low stayed behind, waiting for everyone else to leave.
“Thoughts?” he asked, glancing over at her. She shook her head as she dropped the antagonistic persona.
“Two attribute you to their religion, Toril is too interested in your species to act against your best interest, and Idee rather enjoys her time here—as well as sympathizes with your position. Tersa’s allegiance is with Toril, so she will follow him, as well as your tentative arrangement as a superior over her.”
“So, we’re good?”
“We are,” she confirmed. He looked at her for a long moment.
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Going to try and kill me again?” he questioned wryly.
The High Huntress snorted. “Unfortunately, my pack has ostensibly become yours, and with it, my fate. They would rather watch me go than follow. It seems your influence extends past our biology.”
Without an opportunity for him to ask what she meant, she headed to the exit, pausing in the doorway when he called out to her.
“Mi’low?” Her ear tipped back towards him. “Thanks. For putting yourself on the block like that. I know how risky that could have been for you.”
She afforded a single nod before letting it close behind her.
“’Past our biology’, huh?” he muttered, eyeing the empty cup on the table.
He considered bothering Tel, since she would likely offer him a distraction for a while.
Sighing at his remaining intact shoe flopping as he stepped, he decided to do exactly that.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
“How are we holding up?”
Tech leaned back in her chair, yawning widely. “Communications have been down for a while, navigation software is pointing everywhere at once, and if it wasn’t for me, everything else would be dark too.”
“All hail Tech Ops,” Comms quipped, struggling to make his system do much more than transmit static on a loop.
Willin rolled his eyes at Tech’s boasting, but she was probably right to do so. They had aligned themselves in the right direction and simply let navigation go, communications discreetly blinking out as they got close without warning. All they had left was the actual piloting and onboard support systems, both of them hanging by a thread until Tech could run diagnostics to see if she could counter them properly. She might be able to eventually, but she didn’t seem confident beyond keeping the crew mobile and alive.
“How’s it look down there?”
Nav had long since given up making sense of their controls, opting to keep watch for whatever they were approaching. Since they had gotten within visual range, they had occupied themselves using whatever scanning equipment Tech managed to keep shielded. They leaned over the readouts, brows raising before furrowing at the information.
“It appears that they have remained fairly close together. I am reading several AEC distress signatures... Why am I able to?”
Tech raised a paw. “Right here. The jamming is consistent with the United Military’s algorithms, though boosted past what we have the equipment to manage. Can’t override it for you or Comms, but it was never meant to counter the low-frequency of a distress pulse, since that would get lost in normal noise anyway. I took the liberty of limiting the scope of collected data to increase the sensitivity.”
“Not much frequency pollution on an untapped planet,” Willin remarked dryly, his screen mirroring what Nav was looking at. Thirty-eight sources, most of them repeating the initial call-signs. Two seemed to have retained some power, though not much, implying a makeshift solution. There would normally be more to glean, but the measures taken to make picking them out at all possible had stifled it.
“Orders?” Nav asked after a moment. Willin considered it, scouring the somewhat distorted visual feed.
“Let’s get closer first.”
He adjusted his uniform as they drew near, Tech frowning as more of her fail-safe measures ironically failed. Quick action saved them from listing aimlessly, but any chance of copying the survivor’s distress call faded. The Atmospheric Entry Crafts were effectively invisible until Tech had dealt with the issue preemptively, and their beacon wasn’t any stronger.
Detriment of a scout craft, he supposed. Help would have to deal with not knowing where his ship had gone until they were up to their necks in the warp-spike’s field. Hopefully, the EW fleet would manage it better.
“Just outside of atmosphere,” Nav reported, activating the scanning equipment again. Normally, it would be able to tell them everything down to the rough number of wildlife in an area, but all the interference gave them little more than confirmation that life existed
“Well, there goes any advanced recon,” Willin muttered, ignoring Comms silently debating if he should bother Tech to duplicate the feed again. Noticing, she did anyway, the male gesturing their thanks. “Tech, can you get us population density?”
“I’m good, Leader, but not that good.”
“Leader,” Nav called, highlighting a few points on the feed. Whatever it was that they were trying to show him, he didn’t see it. “These areas are likely settlements.”
“Affirmative. It is subtle, but there.”
He nodded, trusting their judgment. “Which is the largest?”
The feed zoomed in, losing most of the clarity—not that there was much to begin with. “Location coincides with an AEC still actively reporting.”
“They set up around it.”
Willin exhaled slowly. “Take us down nearby. I’d say to hide us, but that’s hard to do with open skies.”
“The planet suffers constant rain,” Tech added, her screen already reverting back to a simplistic game while she waited for someone else to need something. “We could descend under the cover of it.”
“Any idea how long?”
Her monitor flickered. “One local sun.”
“Then we spend the time gearing up,” he ordered, waving to have Nav and Comms’ screens defaulted. “You two will make sure our defence armaments ship-board are active and loaded. Tech, queue up whatever armour and equipment we might need for a diplomatic mission.”
She turned in her chair, her head tilting questioningly. “Just us?”
“Just us. We’ll want someone here to keep things warm in case we need to leave quickly. Can you get Comms’ station capable of short-wave?”
She nodded after a moment, her eyes losing focus as she consulted her implant. “We’ll lose the fabricator during, but we should have enough for life-support and in-atmosphere flight. Weapons will have to be swapped out with it too.”
The purple-furred female shrugged. “It’s that or I take down the defences and we lose it all.” She frowned at her screens. “Even this is pushing it.”
“Can you take down the purifier once we’re down there? Switch to external flow?”
“As long as you don’t mind alien air, sure. It won’t give us more to work with, but it should make it less taxing to keep what we have.”
Willin scratched at his ear. “Do it. They lived here this long, doubt we’ll join the Void breathing it too.”
He shifted his attention back to Nav. “Set course to that settlement. Keep us above the clouds until it gets bad enough to obscure us.”
Nav signalled their agreement, the scenery shifting slowly as they picked a cloud to shadow in the meantime. Comms looked at Willin expectantly, forcing him to come up with something for the male to do.
“Comms, I want you to monitor anything this place has coming in or out. Set up surveillance.”
The male raised a brow. “My systems are inoperable, Leader.”
“If you try to do anything big
, yes,” Willin corrected. “Just keep us informed if something goes through. We don’t need to know what
happened, just that it did
“Keeping track of possible communications between settlements?”
Willin bobbed his head to the side. “Whatever we learn, it’s more than we know.”
“Understood. I will try to arrange a passive probe.”
The group set about their tasks as he brought up a still-frame of the settlement Nav spotted. It was blocky, blurry, and the chromatic aberration on the edges hurt to look at, but it was a settlement. A large AEC surrounded by silver constructions, all laid out in a slightly haphazard way. He couldn’t judge it too harshly, however. There was a method to the madness. Narrow pathways hidden between dens, each leading to the AEC like a system of routes for select Lilhuns to reach anywhere they may be needed as quickly as possible.
The AEC itself seemed modified, large solar panels placed where a solid hull would be expected, the semi-transparent material likely acting to illuminate the interior. Many of the buildings around it were larger than those beyond, some appearing to be two or three levels.
From sheer volume of dens, Willin figured this was a contender for the largest settlement. His best estimate placed the number of inhabitants in the range of three hundred or so. If the other settlements were even close, then the initial guess of a thousand survivors was woefully short.
That made things complicated, yet so much simpler.
He awaited the distant storm clouds rolling over the landscape, thankful Tech had prioritized the water-proof gear.
He hated being soaked.
Next A/N: 500k words. Half a fucking million.
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2023.05.30 00:11 daeritus [SF} The Plum Tree
The merchant sighs. “One plum for three drinoc, that’s the cost,” he declares through the purifier. Sun scorches down on the packed, arid market, with little pockets of shade under the awnings and through alleyways. The two gutterkids in front of the stall fall to bickering and swapping chits back and forth, as the merchant sighs again. He runs a bony hand through his hair, shaking loose some of the ever-present plastic dust.
“Listen, either make a decision and buy, or you let me place the merchandise back in the hermetic. Your drinoc’ll do me no good if the whole batch tastes of plastic.” The taller boy nods, then slaps three iron chits into the merchant’s hand and quickly grabs a plum. The bony fingers don’t let go, however, and only tighten. “Put it back,” rasps the wispy voice behind the mask. Fear flashes quickly in his eyes as the boy complies, withdrawing the hidden plum from a sun-scorched sleeve, all dyes long since bleached from the fabric. The smaller boy’s eyes begin to water, both fabric and skin drained of color, and quickly looks back and forth between older brother and the purple fruit. He knows which sibling will eat tonight.
A gust of wind flaps the awning above. The merchant releases the boy’s clasped hand, waving a dismissive gesture with a clicking sound. They don’t move. The moisture on the younger’s cheeks begin to attract particulates in the air, mixing the plastic colors into a pastel mud, as he stares at the older gutterkid with slight panic. The merchant exhales, then withdraws a stumpy paring knife from his own sun-bleached tunic. Both boys take a hesitant step back, as he reaches forward and grasps the previously stolen plum. He expertly glides the paring knife through the center and around the flesh, careful not to dull the blade on the stone within. With a twist the one plum becomes two parts, a single drop of thick juice sliding down the blade.
The merchant detaches the clamp on his purifier and swings the front forward, revealing a worn yet friendly face, pasty white contrasting with the darker brown of his forehead and eye sockets. He removes the stone from the fruit and pops it into his mouth, storing within his cheek and savoring what little saliva it produces. Watching intently, the eldest boy involuntarily licks plastic dust off his lips. Reaching over the makeshift table with half the purple plum, the merchant proffers it to the smaller boy, who lunges forward and snatches it before quickly disappearing into the crowd.
Wiping the blade with a purple-stained cloth, he resheaths it within the tunic. After a moment, the elder brother rasps out a polite expression of gratitude, unknown in language but contextually understood all the same. Then, he is gone as well, blending in amongst the throng of market-goers and oxygen tanks. Another rush of hot wind buffets the fabrics of the stall’s awning, and with it a cascade of dust particulates. Quickly, the merchant throws the plastic sheeting back over the batch of plums and drags the small tray into the sealed hermetic. He flips a switch on the side of the machine and it begins to hiss and burble, becoming more high-pitched and quieter until the seal is complete. He spits the stone from his cheek onto the dust floor of the stall. The three drinoc coins are dropped into a biometric lockbox filled with an assortments of iron chits. “12 more to go” the merchant mutters, involuntarily glancing at the picture stapled to the stand’s wooden beam. Though faded, it is still possible to see a lively woman and beaming boy, posing theatrically in front of a large plum tree. “12 more to go.” he repeats, and sighs again.
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2023.05.29 22:06 JoelSnape An introduction to the Saturn Polar Configuration (for those who may be new to the subject)
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In his groundbreaking book ‘The Saturn Myth’ (inspired by the work of Immanuel Velikovsky who has correspondence with Albert Einstein about his ideas) researcher David Talbott analyzed myths from ancient cultures around the world and found that they all described the same phenomenon surrounding Saturn. He found that symbolism for Saturn is the same throughout ancient Mesopotamia, India, Greece, the Americas, and Egypt — and as documented by ancient cultures, explains how there was once a celestial alignment involving Saturn that occurred thousands of years ago. Based on ancient accounts throughout the world, Talbott describes a period of “great upheaval” in celestial bodies, when Saturn, Venus, and Mars descended and aligned overhead Earth in a spectacular astronomical event dubbed the “Saturn Polar Configuration”. As Talbott says in ‘The Saturn Myth’: “[The Saturn Polar Configuration is] the idea based on comparative mythology, that the Earth was once in close proximity, or even a satellite of the planet Saturn”. During this celestial upheavel, Mars descended from its position in the sky and formed a connection or stairway to Saturn which became known by the ancients as the heaven-sustaining giant Atlas, Mount Olympus, and the Tower of Babel, inter alia. Various cultures around the world recorded this celestial stairway. For example, the Makirtare Indians of the Amazonian rainforest tell of a time where the hero Ahishama, identified as Mars, climbed a stairway to Heaven. The Mesopotamian god Nergal also climbed a stairway to Heaven and was identified as Mars. Talbott calls this stairway the “Cosmic Mountain”. There are various illustrations of how this alignment would have looked here
. COSMIC MOUNTAIN TO SATURN
During this time of celestial upheaval, Saturn and the other bodies that were aligned with it went through various configurations in the sky (see the documentary series ‘Discourses on an Alien Sky’) and at one point the light emanating from Venus behind Mars formed what appeared to be a pupil inside a triangle that Talbott associates with the All-Seeing-Eye. As Talbott explains in ‘The Saturn Myth’: “It’s impossible to pursue Saturn’s ancient image without encountering the paradise of Eden, the lost Atlantis, or the All-Seeing-Eye of heaven”. The Saturn Polar Configuration was mostly characterized by an 8-pointed star or 8-spoked wheel. Here
is an image of Saturn holding an 8-spoked wheel (as shown in ‘Discourses on an Alien Sky’). The crescent under Saturn was morphed and anthropomorphized. The Saturn-crescent was morphed into wings — with the solar disc (Saturn) placed in the centre, such as with the Egyptian winged Kheper. Quote from ‘The Saturn Myth’: “Of the crescent in the primary images and ancient sources present these basic forms: The horns of the bull-god or the uplifted arms of the heaven-sustaining giant [such as Atlas
]. The outstretched wings of the mother goddess (or winged god). But these same wings, or arms, constitute the great god’s sailing vessel [Saturn Ship
] which in turn is depicted as two shining horns”. As Talbott points out in ‘The Saturn Myth’, the fundamental themes of Saturn imagery include the the Saturn Ship, the All-Seeing-Eye, the two sacred pillars of Heaven (morphed into the Hercules and Masonic pillars) — the two shining horns and uplifted arms of the heaven-sustaining giant which were all based on the same celestial alignment in the sky. https://preview.redd.it/66tfb9crav2b1.png?width=750&format=png&auto=webp&s=c2c9f5dd75b84ca829e00d094d5669d4d3482229
The 8-pointed star (as seen in the Saturn Polar Configuration and as shown above) is a symbol of Freemasonry. The Masonic image below has a circle inside the 8-pointed star (called the circumpunct — an ancient symbol of the Sun). In his book ‘Morals and Dogma’, 33 degree Freemason Albert Pike connects the ancient Sun to the All-Seeing-Eye and the Masonic Blazing Star, saying: “The Blazing Star has been regarded as an emblem of Omniscience, or the All-Seeing-Eye, which to the ancients was the Sun”. This is curious, because we know that the ancients considered Saturn to be the Sun — as explained by Talbott in ‘The Saturn Myth’. The Babylonians associated Saturn with the Sun (as “son of Shamash” and “star of Helios”) and the name for Saturn in Chaldean astronomy was Alap-Shamas, meaning “Star of the Sun”. In the article ‘Saturn as the Sun of Night in Ancient Eastern Tradition’, Peter James says, “attested in Mesopotamia and followed by the Greeks and Hindus, there’s a long-standing association with Saturn as the Sun”. Troy McLachlan, says, in his book ‘The Saturn Death Cult’: “The ancients did indeed see a Sun-like object residing in their skies — and that object was Saturn”. According to political scientist Alfred De Grazia in his book ‘Homo Schizo: Human Nature’, Isaac Vail (who was an amateur scientific theorist) connected the All-Seeing-Eye (which remember was the Masonic Blazing Star) to the Saturn Polar Configuration, saying: “The All-Seeing-Eye is one of the earliest and most nearly universal symbols. Isaac Vail believed that the primordial eye was the boreal opening from which Saturn on his throne looked down upon his domain”. The letter G in the image below takes the place of Venus in the Saturn Polar Configuration. 33 degree Freemason Arthur Waite quotes famous occultist Eliphas Levi telling us that the letter “G” stands for Venus (see his book ‘The Mysteries of Magic: A Digest of the Writings of Eliphas Levi’). https://preview.redd.it/6utnkyytav2b1.png?width=467&format=png&auto=webp&s=bf8ccc7bf37d0ddae3b5b4aa0285d8f2c64f859b
Another instance of the 8-pointed star on a Freemason building in Lisbon: https://preview.redd.it/08azng1wav2b1.png?width=639&format=png&auto=webp&s=f512374111edcaf0ef5b48f2689ef9a910b87fd3
During the various configurations of the Saturn Polar Configuration that produced various visual characteristics, the smaller orb of Venus (and also at different times Mars which produced a darker dot as shown here
from ‘Discourses on an Alien Sky’) appeared as a circumpunct that passed in front of the larger orb of Saturn. As Talbott explains in ‘The Saturn Myth’: “From one section of the world to another the planet-god’s worshippers drew pictures of the Saturnian Configuration and these pictures become the universal signs and symbols of antiquity. In the global lexicon of symbols, the most common images are the enclosed Sun ⊙
[the ancient Sun corresponding to Saturn according to Talbott] and the enclosed Sun cross ⊕
. It appears that every ancient race revered these signs”. Author Dan Brown explains the circumpunct as follows: “In the idiom of symbology, there was one symbol [the circumpunct] that reigned supreme above all others. The oldest and most universal, this symbol fused all the ancient traditions in a single solitary image that represented the illumination of the Egyptian Sun-god, the triumph of alchemical gold, the wisdom of the Philosopher’s Stone, the purity of the Rosicrucian Rose, the moment of Creation, the All, the dominance of the astrological Sun, and the omniscient All-Seeing-Eye that hovered atop the unfinished pyramid”. According to Wikipedia: “Throughout history, the circumpunct has been all things to all people — it’s the Sun-god Ra, alchemical gold, and the All-Seeing-Eye”. In ‘The Saturn Myth’, Talbott identifies Ra as Saturn, saying: “One finds of interest an Egyptian ostrakon (1st century B.C.) cited by Franz Boll: The ostrakon identifies the planet Saturn as the great god Ra”. The circumpunct can be seen in Freemason artwork (as shown below). The image on the bottom right is an illustration of the Saturn Polar Configuration from the documentary ‘Symbols of an Alien Sky’ (with Venus as the luminous dot). https://preview.redd.it/8xsmwgezav2b1.png?width=750&format=png&auto=webp&s=adc33c03e84d3d3f973ccb9ff44d812cb8875516
The luminous U
-shape created by the Saturn-crescent became morphed into pillars. Talbott says in ‘The Saturn Myth’ when explaining the twin-pillar or twin-peaked crescent of the Saturn Polar Configuration: “In all ancient myths of the lost paradise, the land of peace and plenty rests upon a cosmic pillar — “Earth’s highest mountain”. One of the peculiarities of the Mount is that it possesses two peaks, rising to the right and left of the central column. The Egyptian Mount of Glory (Khut) reveals two peaks between which rests the Aten or enclosed Sun 𓈌
. Depicted by this sign are “the two great mountains on which Re appears”. And what is most interesting about the Egyptian symbol of the cleft peak 𓈋
is that it finds strikingly similar parallels in other lands. The Mesopotamian Sun-god rests upon a twin-peaked world mountain of identical form and the same dual mount occurs also in Mexico — here too revealing the Sun-god between the two peaks. In Hebrew and Muslim thought “the mountain of paradise is a double one” observes Wensinck. To the Hebrews Sinai, Ebol, and Gerezim were all conceived as images of a twin-peaked mountain, states Jeremias. In the primeval Tyre (paradise) according to the description of Nonnus, a “double rock” rises from the ocean. In its centre is an olive (the central Sun) which automatically emits fire, setting it in a perpetual blaze. The Syrian and Hittite great gods stand equally balanced upon two mountains. In the beginning, according to a central Asiatic legend related by Uno Holmberg, “there was only water, from which the two great mountains emerged”. From the central mount of Hindu cosmology rise two secondary peaks. Of course, the twin pillars of Hercules point to the same idea”. In his book ‘Mortal Jigsaw Puzzle’, Grieving Patriot says: “In ancient history, this twin pillar construct is also referred to as the pillars of Hercules, a gateway beyond which lay the path to enlightenment”. https://preview.redd.it/lvcvkrq2bv2b1.png?width=669&format=png&auto=webp&s=dc0fe919e01594a12065de19fe5ef2c278d62ec2
Notice the Saturn-crescent below which appears as two pillars: https://preview.redd.it/6x1zyhb5bv2b1.png?width=231&format=png&auto=webp&s=c2cf5fa59523763971c1545cfa46ee1b9887a9fe
This same symbol is seen throughout the ancient world such as the Phoenician Tanit symbol where the Saturn-crescent has become fully morphed into pillars: https://preview.redd.it/6bus33k7bv2b1.png?width=220&format=png&auto=webp&s=c0fe6fd3b9553294d3fabfbb66cbb46885c86e25
The symbols above became the basis for Freemason Tracing Boards showing the Blazing Star placed between two pillars: https://preview.redd.it/478ni6s9bv2b1.png?width=430&format=png&auto=webp&s=096f861563619f6a8a60cd69bc57e87eaced8d8c
In ‘The Saturn Myth’, Talbott corresponds the Saturn Polar Configuration to a gateway, saying: “The god “comes out” and “goes in” on the [Saturnian] mountaintop through the “gate”, but he accomplishes this without moving from his fixed abode”. Talbott also cites Coffin Text talking about how the Saturn Polar Configuration was a portal. The text reads: “I did four good deeds within the portal of the Mount of Glory. I made the four winds that every man might breathe”. Talbott explains that the sign 𓈌
is the Mount of Glory. This is the same sign given by Talbott for the Saturn Polar Configuration. Talbott expands on the idea that the Saturn Polar Configuration was a kind of gate in his article here
in which he says: “One of the archetypal forms I had discussed involved the global myths and symbols of the “Chain of Arrows”, a theme inseparably connected to another archetype, the “Ladder of Heaven”. As the story was told, a great warrior launches arrows into the sky, each embedding itself in the one above to form a ladder or stairway to the land of the gods”. The Saturn Polar Configuration went through various configurations that produced various visual characteristics, but was mostly characterized by an 8-pointed star. The 8-pointed star was known as the “Cross of Ilu” or “Bab-Ilu” which means “Gate of God”. According to investigative mythologist William Henry, author of over 18 books in alternative science, the 8-pointed star represented a portal or a Gate of God, saying: “Wherever archaeologists discovered remains of the early Sumerian civilizations the symbol of the “Gate of the Gods” was prominently displayed. The Sumerians depicted this gate as an 8-pointed star”. Since the beginning of the written word, countless stories have begun by ripping holes in the fabric of reality and pulling their protagonists through. Portals date back to the oldest written text we have on record — the 4,000-year-old Sumerian tale Epic of Gilgamesh — in which the hero travels
through a mountaintop portal to the land of the gods. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero travels to the gate of the Sun-god Shamash at the mountain of Mashu.
The same 8-pointed star keyhole symbolism as the Saturn Polar Configuration is shown below on a Masonic stained-glass window: https://preview.redd.it/oow7tgmhbv2b1.png?width=445&format=png&auto=webp&s=3fb43f1b14b2c6588e39e2ecd93aa0255508e922
Even though the Saturn Polar Configuration corresponds to the Masonic image above of the Blazing Star between the pillars, it’s generally assumed that the Blazing Star between the Masonic pillars is Sirius — not Saturn or Venus. Masonic historian Henry Coil says: “But whether the Blazing Star refers to Saturn or the Sun or some other heavenly body is not ascertainable”. In his book ‘Myth, Magick, and Masonry’, Jaime Lamb connects the Masonic Blazing Star to Venus, saying: “The Blazing Star’s relationship to Venus (also anciently known as the Morning Star) may best be illustrated by the fact that it’s represented in the form of a pentagram. This significance comes primarily from the fact that Venus traces [a perfect pentagram across the sky every eight years when observed from Earth”]. The fact that the Masonic Blazing Star is also sometimes represented by an 8-pointed star (as shown in the image above) might also point towards it being Venus. The Mesopotamian goddess Inanna was worshipped as the embodiment of Venus and her symbol was the 8-pointed star. In the 1875 of ‘Freemason’s Monthly Volume 6’, we read: “Venus, whose orbit is within but on a level with our own… is the brilliant “Blazing Star” that heralds the rising or attends the setting Sun”. While some argue that the Masonic Blazing Star is Venus, some have suggested that it could be Jupiter. The ancient Greeks knew Jupiter as Phaethon (Φαέθων) meaning “Shining One” or “Blazing Star”. Whether the Masonic Blazing Star is Sirius, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, Alcyone, Aldebaran, the Moon, or some other heavenly body, it’s acknowledged by some that Freemasons misguide people as to the true meaning of their symbols. For example, the prominent Freemason, Albert Pike, said in his book ‘Morals and Dogma’: “Part of the symbols are displayed there to the initiate, but he is intentionally misled by false interpretations. It’s not intended that he shall understand them; but it’s intended that he shall imagine that he understands them”. Part of the problem is that much of what Freemasons are doing is buried under layers of armour-clad secrecy so many strata deep that only archaeologists of the distant future will have any hope of disinterring any of these things.
The Egyptian symbol of the Ankh was based on the Saturn Polar Configuration, as Talbott explains in ‘The Saturn Myth’, saying: “The Ankh (whose origins experts have long debated) is but a conventionalized image of the [Saturn] Polar Configuration”. In his book ‘Secret Societies: Revelations About Freemasons’, Philip Gardiner explains that the Ankh was seen as a gateway or portal into a higher dimension. Quote: “The Ankh is known as the Crux Ansata. It’s a simple T-cross, surmounted by an oval — called the Ru. The Ru is often seen as a gateway or portal to another dimension, such as Heaven. The Ankh therefore becomes the symbol of transition from one place to another. It outlived Egyptian domination and was widely used by the Christians as the [Latin] Cross”. As well as being linked to the Ankh, the Saturn Polar Configuration can be linked to other symbols, such as the symbol of the All-Seeing-Eye. Probably the most recognizable Masonic symbol is the All-Seeing-Eye, included in the architecture of the Great Seal of the U.S. Dollar Bill. Fixed within a triangle, the disembodied eye is surrounded by rays of light and rests upon an unfinished pyramid. The All-Seeing-Eye finds its roots in ancient Egypt as the Eye of Horus (or Ra) and can be traced back to the Saturn Polar Configuration. During the alignment of Saturn, Venus, and Mars, in their different configurations, they formed a triangle and 8-pointed star. Quote from ‘The Saturn Myth’: “Saturn wears the band as a golden girdle, collar or crown. He dwells in it as the pupil of the All-Seeing-Eye”. To see this All-Seeing-Eye alignment explained see ‘Discourses on an Alien Sky#5’. The image below is loosely how this would have looked. In his (co-authored) book ‘The Ark of Millions of Years’, physicist Alexander Agnew, who has published thousands of technical papers, says: “The portal into Heaven is marked by the All-Seeing-Eye”. So, could this be what the Saturn Polar Configuration essentially is, then? Some portal or gateway into Heaven? THE SATURN POLAR CONFIGURATION FROM ‘DISCOURSES ON AN ALIEN SKY’
This is likely the inspiration for the All-Seeing-Eye on the U.S. Dollar Bill. https://preview.redd.it/uwxl1cipbv2b1.png?width=641&format=png&auto=webp&s=f8f880f2d3343a38e88b941370f234ff869c1023
Some have suggested that the symbols on the U.S. Dollar Bill were created by Freemasons. After all, some of the Founding Fathers were apparently Freemasons (such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin) and the All-Seeing-Eye was ostensibly adopted by Freemasonry in 1797 and only 5 years later was adopted on the reverse-side of The Great Seal. Many believe that Freemasons are responsible for the eye-excruciatingly small image of the owl; a Masonic symbol for “knowledge”. So, what’s the goal of Freemasons, then? Assuming the All-Seeing-Eye on the U.S. Dollar Bill is a respresentation of the Saturn Polar Configuration, which Talbott has associated with the Tower of Babel, we then have a connection between Freemasons and the Tower of Babel. Indeed, some have suggested that the pyramid on the U.S. Dollar Bill is a representation of the Tower of Babel. According to researcher Jim Cornwell: “The pyramid on the Great Seal represents the unfinished Tower of Babel”. In his book ‘Antichrist Osiris: The History of the Luciferian Conspiracy’, Chris Relitz writes: “The unfinished [pyramid] seen on the American Dollar Bill may be a reference to the Tower of Babel”. According to Christopher Hodapp in his book ‘Freemason Symbols and Ceremonies For Dummies’: “Freemasonry’s legends claim that the group was descended from the great builders of the Old Testament — Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel, and King Solomon’s Temple”. Researcher Alexander Slade describes how Freemasons were possibly responsible for the Tower of Babel. Tentatively then, it would make sense if the goal of Freemasons was to recreate the Tower of Babel and reconnect Heaven with Earth.
Below is an old Freemason Tracing Board showing the All-Seeing-Eye over a pillar, with the pillar likely representing the Cosmic Mountain: https://preview.redd.it/lf6u7dxwbv2b1.png?width=476&format=png&auto=webp&s=bfc01b8fd71b15fb116ec32fea46fbf6393fac64
The image below is a comparison between the Masonic Square and Compass (on the left) the Stargate logo (in the centre) and the Cosmic Mountain to Saturn and Venus (on the right) also called the “Saturn Polar Configuration”. The design of the Square and Compass corresponds to the configuration of Saturn, Venus, and the Cosmic Mountain, as seen in ‘Discourses on an Alien Sky’. In this interpretation, the circle at the apex of the Masonic Compass represents the Blazing Star and the triangular appearance of the Compass itself represents the Cosmic Mountain or pathway. https://preview.redd.it/f90wb6wzbv2b1.png?width=645&format=png&auto=webp&s=e26ff16f7d653d84831ce8f7e2af04a0c0d1077e
The connection between Freemasonry and the Saturn Polar Configuration becomes more apparent when we compare the stained-glass painting above to the front cover of ‘The Saturn Myth’ book as shown here
2023.05.29 18:43 W2KITCHEN Eliminating Surface Moisture From Sous Vide Cooking Using Gravity Separation - The Elevated Confit Method
| || | submitted by W2KITCHEN to sousvide [link] [comments]
Utilising the fact that oil separates from water, we developed a method to eliminate surface moisture completely in sous vide cooking, using a combination of elevating the meat and submerging it in oil. Through Gravity separation, all moisture sinks to the bottom of the container, while the sous vide cooked meat is fully submerged in oil. This creates the perfect candidate for browning (Maillard reaction). It also takes significantly less time than the reverse sear method.
In this post, I am demonstrating the method with a piece of steak, but you can apply this to any meat that would benefit from low temperature cooking, such as duck breast. By adding the meat on top of a trivet in a container filled with oil and cooking the whole container sous vide, the surface moisture of the meat, along with its juices, sink to the bottom of the container, where the trivet is and the meat is fully submerged in oil. (The meat is not fully submerged here for the purpose of demonstration.)
The Long Story
In 2017, after successfully cooking a large batch of duck leg confit, which turned out incredible, but lasted for only a couple of weeks (because I ate them all), I decided to do a round of chicken leg confit.
Given that chicken legs are a bit more delicate than duck legs, I decided to cook them sous vide, so I’d have more control. For whatever reason, I decided to cook them in glass jars, so that I could just seal them once cooled down and leave them in the fridge for the future. This led to a very interesting discovery that I should have known before, given my high school Physics education. About one third of the jar, after the 4 hour cooking, is actually in water form, instead of oil, certainly from the moisture from the chicken. (Poor 2017 quality) photo of the glass containers after 4 hours of sous vide cooking.
This most likely was not a problem for duck confit, because most traditional recipes call for a bare simmer, which should be enough to evaporate most water content.
Preservation capabilities and hygiene aside, the liquid presents one major problem - it destroys the browning capability of whichever unlucky piece of chicken that is stuck at the bottom. If you’ve read this far, I am sure you already know surface moisture (not temperature) is the number enemy of browning, which translates to Maillard reaction. And without browning, you might as well boil the meat and make a soup.
This also makes much more sense, in hindsight, because most sous vide enthusiasts in this Sub Reddit would tell you that cooking sous vide then brushing the meat with oil would achieve the same exact result as confit.
How do we achieve a true confit (meat coated solely in oil) for meat that cannot (or at least should not) be boiled ?
The High School Physics Solution
Enter (or re-enter) high school physics - “Place some water and oil into a container, like a plastic bowl. The oil will rise to the top.” Left container: Fillet steak resting on a bed of rosemary, submerged in butter. (The milk soluble from the butter also sunk to the bottom, along with the meat juice.) Right container: a demonstration of oil floating to the top of water.
All we have to do is to elevate the meat enough in a jar, so that it never touches the water, then cook it sous vide. The resulting product would be an elevated confit plus sous vide experience - an end to end perfectly cooked piece of meat that has no surface moisture (unlike in a sous vide bag) and coated in fat that is ready to be browned like the one below. End to end perfectly cooked fillet steak coated in clarified butter.
Also, because the steak has not been oxygen deprived (no vacuum sealing), it maintained its redness from the myoglobin instead of turning grey after sous vide cooking. There is no splashing during searing due to the lack of surface moisture.
And because liquid induces heat so much better than air, this method has all the benefits of the reverse sear method, but takes less than half of the time (same amount of time as regular sous vide). Perfectly cooked fillet steak that is easy to brown.
Goodbye surface moisture.
2023.05.29 14:02 dreftzg [Daily News] TAG Heuer Gives The New Monaco A Skeleton Dial, Aquastar Revives Their First Dive Watch With The Model 60, De Bethune Shrinks Their New DB28XS And Alpina Has A Very Interesting Startimer Pilot
It's Monday and I have a bone to pick with TAG Heuer. They announced their new watch right as I clicked publish on the news update. I guess you're already caught up on it.
What's new 1/ TAG Heuer Releases A Trio Of New Monacos With Skeleton Dials Ahead Of The Big Race
Hey, thanks a lot TAG! The exact second I sent out the Friday edition of It’s About Time they decided to announce a new watch. And not just any watch, that I would be cool with waiting until Monday to write about it. It is a trio of new and very different TAG Heuer Monaco Skeleton Chronographs, one of the first times they put a skeleton dial in the Monaco, but it’s also a release that coincides with the Monaco F1 Grand Prix. So here I am, writing about it after the race is over.
Never mind, it’s still a nice watch. Excluding the V4 editions that had a different case and was driven by belts, a unique piece in carbon made for Only Watch 2021, and the very exclusive “Riviera” edition, TAG Heuer has never made a production Monaco with a skeleton dial. And looking at these watches, it looks to have been a mistake on TAG’s part as the watches really do look fantastic.
The base dimensions of the watch remain the same - 39mm wide and 14.7mm thick, but not much else is the same. The case in the skeleton model is made out of sandblasted titanium to make it much lighter. While I see why some people would want that, I adore the weight of the original model. You know when you are wearing one.
TAG calls this watch a skeleton, I described it as a skeleton but it, in fact, is not actually a skeleton watch. It would more appropriately be described as an openworked Monaco, as it has a partial dial that reveals a slightly reworked movement. But even as such it looks great - all sharp lines and angles. The watch comes in three editions - Original Blue with an untreated titanium case, blue dial, white and red accents and a blue strap; Racing Red, an untreated case, black dial with red and white accents and a black strap; and Turquoise, with a black DLC coated case, a black strap, a black dial with turquoise-coloured accents and sub-dials, a colour also being sported on the column wheel and rotor.
Inside is the familiar Calibre Heuer 02 with some slight improvements, with an 80 hour power reserve. Apart from the colors, all the straps are the same, a mix of rubber and leather with a titanium folding clasp.
All three are part of the regular collection and are not limited. The Original Blue and Racing Red editions are priced at CHF 10,500, and the DLC-coated Turquoise edition at CHF 11,000. 2/ Aquastar Revives Their First Dive Watch With The Model 60, The Most Classic Of Skin Divers With A Great Price
We are in the golden age of brand revivals. Aquastar, for example, was founded in the early 60s in Geneva by Frédéric Robert, a diver, sailor, pilot, mathematician and watchmaker after Robert took over his fathers watchmaking business JeanRichard. Over the next ten years, Rober filed a number of patents that are still relevant today, like inner rotating bezels, multiple dive decompression bezels, a new crown sealing system and the friction bezel ring…
When Robert retired, the brand was bought and sold by a number of companies and ended up being revived in 2020 by Rick Marei, who is known for building up Doxa to the powerhouse it is today. And ever since then they have been putting out fire releases. Their newest one is the Aquastar Model 60, which brings back the brand’s first-ever diver with modern specs.
All of the modern releases from Aquastar have been based on the Deepstar, but the Model 60 gets a completely new case. It’s based on the original Model 60, introduced in 1957 as JeanRichard7s first diver with a water resistance rating of 100 meters, and it was seemingly the earliest watch to use a skin-diver-style case. The Model 60 is also famous for being worn by Don Walsh to the bottom of the Mariana Trench while inside the Trieste submersible.
The stainless steel case of the Model 60 measures 37mm wide, 47mm lug-to-lug, 11mm thick and with a 19mm lug spacing. Speaking of the lugs, the watch comes on a tropic strap and can be had with an optional beads-of-rice bracelet with a safety clasp, or a nylon strap. Water resistance is 200 meters, and the sunburst-finished steel bezel is bidirectional.
The dial is what you would expect from a vintage diver - black with printed white minute track and hour markers, filled with “Old Radium” Super-LumiNova. The hands are the same as the Deepstar aside from the addition of a central seconds hand with a lume pip. Inside the watch is the La Joux-Perret G100, which features a 68-hour power reserve and is adjusted to four positions.
The Aquastar Model 60 will be a regular production model for the brand, and will not be limited. The Model 60 will start at $990 and rise to $1,290 at some point. The bracelet will cost an extra $159. Also the first 100 buyers will get a liquid-filled compass that can be attached to either a Tropic or nylon strap. However, considering the amount of press this watch has gotten over the weekend, I imagine they sold the first 100 already. 3/ The New And More Compact De Bethune DB28XS Starry Seas Is An Ode To Calm Seas
De Bethune watches are really something very special. The DB28 line especially. The floating lugs, delta-shaped bridge and crown at noon all give it a very futuristic look while remaining supremely elegant. The newly introduced DB28X Starry Seas takes all of these traits and gives them a huge makeover, despite looking practically the same - it shrinks it down radically to 39mm and gives it a beautifully serene blue dial with a world-first random guilloché pattern designed to evoke a starry sea.
The DB28XS is not only the smallest model in De Bethune’s family but inherits the slimmer, more stylised profile of the DB28XP models. With its diameter of 38.7mm (down from almost 43mm of the DB28) and thickness of 7.4mm, this petite newcomer is small and slim but also light, thanks to the polished titanium case.
The dial, which relies on a heat-blued titanium base that De Bethune has become known for, is decorated with the world’s first random guilloché pattern invented by De Bethune. Whether this means that De Bethune invented a random guilloché pattern or whether it is the fact that De Bethune has applied a random guiloché pattern to a blued titanium base needs clarifying. But there’s no denying that it’s a beautiful dial, as the wavy pattern is interrupted with sprinklings of white gold that mimic stars. A silver-plated rounded chapter ring bearing transferred Arabic numerals for hours and a blue dotted minute track frames the wavy dial. Time is indicated by two custom-made and hand-polished titanium openworked hands.
The watch comes on a supple dark blue alligator leather strap with light blue top stitching and a titanium pin buckle. De Bethune have not said whether this will be a limited model or when it will be available, but it’s expected to retail for CHF 77,000, excluding taxes. 4/ Alpina Has A Very Interesting Startimer Pilot Heritage Manufacture
Alpina is really starting to annoy me. I don’t want to take them seriously, on account of the name they share with the people that make my skis, and I’m not a huge fan of a number of their watches. But every now and again, they release a watch that’s just so great… Wait until you read all the specs and the price of the newly introduced Aplina Startimer Pilot Heritage Manufacture, an attractive vintage-inspired pilot’s watch.
The barrel-shaped case measures 42×40.75mm and lacks traditional lugs, with the strap going deep into the brushed case, with a crown at 4 o’clock. The dial is splendidly simple, with a deep blue color, a white minute track and beige luminescent hour markers. The rectangular hour and minute hands get the same beige lume. You can get it on a very vintage brown calf leather strap with white stitching.
But what’s really special is what’s inside the watch. A number of Alpina watches have had third party movements, but this one gets the AL-709 in-house calibre, an automatic movement presented in a becoming golden hue. Visible via an exhibition caseback, the movement at first glance resembles a manual movement due to its oscillating mass sharing the same golden tones as the automatic device bridge and mainplate. Subtle graining, blue screws and perlage are all augmenting the model’s overall appeal.
But what makes it even more special is the availability of 188 pieces and the price - just €2,850. And now this presents me with a question. This is obviously a very attractive watch - it looks great, has a good size, has an in house movement and does not break the bank, while still being limited which should, in theory, increase its desirability. I only now found out about the watch from the article in Escapement. In fact, this has been available since January. Why hasn’t it sold out yet? Is it just not attractive enough? Is it the name? It can’t be the value for money, or am I mistaken? 5/ Respected Independent Watchmaker Andreas Strehler Launches New Brand And Watch With The Strehler Sirna
Andreas Strehler is one of those watchmakers that is a leader among independent watchmakers and for good reason. He has mastered everything from fabrication to finishing, but then would not budge from the polarising design of his watches that many argue kept a lot of customers from him. And I love when someone is so stubborn. To be clear, his previous watches were not ugly monstrosities. They were elegant timepieces marked by a distinctive papillon, or “butterfly”, movement architecture and resulting cushion-shaped case, and Strehler has become known as the independent watchmaker’s watchmaker, having developed the HMC 341 perpetual calendar movement for H. Moser & Cie and the Dragon Lever escapement for Precision Engineering.
Stehler has now decided to expand to a wider audience and has launched a new brand known simply as Strehler, which aims to reach a wider audience with more accessible designs and prices. The brand’s opening act is the Sirna, named after the town of Sirnach in northeastern Switzerland where the manufacture is based.
At launch, the Sirna is offered in a single reference that features an elegantly proportioned, 40 mm steel case with a concave case band and ergonomically formed lugs. The crown is inlaid with a blue titanium disk that features Mr. Strehler’s signature Papillon logo. The patterned dial is also titanium, anodised in a beautiful blue. Designed by Eric Giroud, each dial is machined and laser-engraved before being individually hand polished.
But what’s really special is what’s inside - the in-house SA-30 movement that has some of the highest quality finishings at this price point. For example, the movement has an in-house gold rotor and ball-bearing rotor mount. Most brands, even those in the so-called “Holy Trinity”, typically outsource the production of rotors to a specialist.
The architecture of this 30mm calibre stands out with a series of circles for the bridges and the openworked rotor that match the curvature of the case. The large, free-sprung balance beats at 21,600 vibrations/hour and boasts 60 hours of power reserve. The decoration of this movement is refined, with hand-chamfered bevels, circular Geneva stripes, graining and circular-grained wheels, all channelling the movement’s elaborate design.
The Strehler Sirna comes on a supple brown calfskin strap with off-white stitching. The steel pin buckle is engraved with the brand’s logo. The price is set at CHF 20,000 (excl. taxes), which seems fair for an “independent watch” of this level. The watch is not a limited edition, but the production capacity is expected to be around 30 to 50 watches per year maximum.
On hand - a selection of reviews 1/ A review of the Shinola Duck the brand’s light-duty, entry-level diver-style watch 2/ Hands-on with the Maen Brooklyn 36 — an unusual panda with a champagne twist
Watch Worthy - A look at an offbeat, less known watch you might actually like The Sofia II from Axia Time — high style with some substance
The Sofia II sits somewhere between a dressy and sporty piece, and Axia has sized it accordingly. The diameter of 40.5mm and lug-to-lug length of just under 48mm is a good fit on my 17.75cm (7″) wrist. It perhaps looks even larger than that due to the all-dial design and large polished lug facets. The combination of titanium, a thickness of 10.5mm, and lug tips sitting slightly lower than the case back all help the watch to sit securely and wear comfortably. But this leads to another dichotomy.
People loved the PRX giveaway! That's why I'm doing a new one. This time, we're giving away three Seiko Alpinists in that lovely green. The giveaway will be ending at the end of the month, so head on over to the newsletter
before Wednesday, midnight CET if you would like to enter.
If you would like to receive some additional watch-adjacent content, as well as this news overview, every morning Monday-Friday in the form of a newsletter feel free to subscribe
. However, there is absolutely no need for you to subscribe, as all the news from the newsletter is posted here. It is only if you want to receive a couple of daily links that are not strictly watch-related and want to get this news overview in your inbox.
submitted by dreftzg
to Watches [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 13:27 Interesting_Bridge39 Anyone taken the B+E driving test?
From NIDirect, "
- the trailer must be laden with 600kg of: sand, stone, cement, or shingle, packaged in sealed transparent bags, which must weigh the same and be at least 10kg, with the weight clearly stamped on them by the retailer
- toxic materials must not be used
- one Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) constructed of moulded plastic or steel containing between a minimum of 600 and a maximum of 1,000 litres of water
Where the heck am I going to get 600 kilos of material in plastic bags
?? Which I'd have to pay good money for - then get rid of, of course. The test itself if £60 like the gov is designed to squeeze every drop of money from its citizens.
I don't have a water container either.
submitted by Interesting_Bridge39
to northernireland [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 12:57 Finzombie The Thing in the Cracks - Part 1
“Holy crap.” James Talbot stepped back from his handiwork. It was beautiful. It made him want to scream.
Talbot was a chemist, the modern form of an alchemist, and he’d discovered something as wondrous and terrible as the most extreme postulations of his forbearers.
This was it. The culmination of all his works. This is what he’d fought for decades for, why he’d abandoned connections with everyone he’d ever known. But now it was all worth it. He would reveal the Masterwork at the Grand Chemistry Convention. It would steal the show, and he would be revered beyond every other human being who had ever lived.
It had taken Talbot long enough to assemble the Masterwork that he’d shed the title of ‘young’, not to mention most of his non-gray hair. Although it was hard to tell whether that was from aging or from what he’d beheld in his long sojourn. He was only 45, after all, and the rest of his body still held firm from decades of outdoorsmanship.
Talbot stood before a wall, upon which was painted the most intricate design any human had ever seen. It was a diagram of… unknown things. A chart of runes, maps, and artfully painted lines. There was no text in any living language on the diagram, but the harmony within the full tapestry visually sang, imparting something unfathomable in a way that Talbot could somehow fathom. The man who’d made it, who’d studied it for 15 years, barely understood it himself. But he knew that it was the ultimate solution to the entirety of philosophy, containing the answers to every question humanity had ever seen fit to ask. It had existed in his notebook for a while, in bits and pieces, but today had been its first full assembly, and it was magnificent.
He had to keep it hidden, or someone would take it from him.
He retrieved a tarp and threw it over the wall, nailing it in at the top so it hung down to cover his designs. Just to be sure, he moved his desk to block the wall, then locked the door to his office when he left for the day. James Talbot was more excited than he had ever been, and he celebrated that night with a fireplace and a large bottle of whiskey.
Of all the people at his office to commit espionage, Talbot never would’ve suspected the night janitor. This may stem from the fact that he also never suspected the night janitor to be part of a massive secret organization dedicated to keeping humanity as ignorant as possible in matters of the Higher Order.
But no matter what Talbot suspected, Tim Willis was indeed part of this society, and after he’d entered Talbot’s office with his master key to do some routine cleaning, the obvious secrecy surrounding the wall at the back of the room worried him. So he moved the desk out of the way, lifted the tarp, and inhaled sharply.
This was bad. A tapestry of the Higher Order more complete than any he’d seen before, or any reported by the other Censors of the Agency for the Preservation of Humanity.
Willis quickly replaced the tarp and desk. As soon as he’d locked the room, he pulled out his phone and dialed the number for an Alexander Talc.
Talbot arrived the next morning with a song in his heart and a latte in his hand. The former died horribly as soon as he entered his office only to find someone sitting in his chair, and the latter died horribly as it fell from his fingers, limp in shock.
The person in question was a short, slight man who wore thick glasses and a dark gray suit. He was sitting on Talbot’s office chair, facing the now uncovered back wall with all of its eldritch calculations. Talbot’s desk had been moved to the side of the room, left askew with the tarp crumpled up on top.
As Talbot entered, the stranger spun the chair around so he was facing the chemist, a broad smile on his face. He was undeniably attractive, in a delicate sort of way.
“Ah! You must be the aspiring alchemist?” He spoke softly and cheerily, but with an unnerving edge. Talbot couldn’t identify any specific aspect of his voice that disturbed him, but upon further consideration he concluded that it was the incongruity of the situation, the warm friendliness of his tone grating against Talbot’s unease.
Talbot took a step back, shaken. “I don’t… what-”
“Quite an impressive display here. You’ve managed to glean a quite large amount of knowledge about the Higher Order, especially considering you’ve never consulted us at the APH.” He pronounced it phonetically, like Aff.
“What are you-”
Talbot heard a click from behind him, and turned to see Tim Willis, the night janitor, closing and locking his door. He could barely register the betrayal.
“Ah, yes. Tim is working for me. For us. The Agency for the Protection of Humankind really frowns upon anyone attempting to learn the Higher Order.”
Talbot, finally able to form a full sentence, asked, “What’s the Higher Order?”
“You know what it is, of course, although you may not have heard the term. It’s what we call the mechanics of the very fabric of the universe itself. The questions about ‘why are we here?’ and ‘is there a god?’ and all the stuff like that. All theoretical philosophy, basically. And you, apparently through sheer dumb luck,” He turned to admire the mural again, “have managed to find more of it than any human being ever, including us! Quite impressive. Big hand.” The man slow-clapped for Talbot. The small sweet-looking man being sarcastically condescending was jarringly incongruous.
Talbot felt a surge of anger, and it helped him produce a full sentence. “Dumb luck?!?” He advanced on the man. “My Masterwork is the product of 20 years of research and experience! This is the greatest thing anyone has ever done, and how dare you say I achieved it through dumb luck!”
The man raised his hands placatingly. “Okay, okay!” He chuckled. “Years of research, whatever. You found the Higher Order. That’s where we come in.”
“Ah. Well, you see, the reason that no one’s found the entire Higher Order is simple. It’s because we stop them.”
Talbot was incredulous. “What?! Why would you stand in the way of progress like that?!” As a scientist, the possibility that there could be anyone actively against gaining knowledge was incomprehensible to him.
The man grimaced, as though he was about to break some terrible news. “Well… there are some parts of this tapestry you’ve assembled, specifically here...” The man pointed at a small segment of the diagram, a thick horizontal line with four thin lines crossing perpendicularly that turned into five lines on the other side, “That grants access to some other planes of existence. Planes of existence that are home to some very dangerous things. And due to some logistical aspects of the Higher Order,” He gestured at another segment of the diagram entirely composed of square symbols, “if you muck about in their domain, they are able to muck about in ours. The Law of Equivalent Interference.”
“But… how would our finding answers count as ‘mucking about in their domain’? If we knew the danger, we just wouldn’t go there.”
The man was silent, then answered Talbot’s question with a question. “Tell me, Talbot. If humans discovered another dimension, do you really think they’d be able to stay out of it?”
“Fine. But then why do you have to censor the whole thing? Why not give them the benign parts that would still forward human progress by centuries?”
“Because the Higher Order is like Algebra. Or a logic puzzle from Highlights magazine. If you give someone smart enough just a few clues, they’ll eventually assemble the whole picture. Which we desperately want to avoid.”
There was a long and heavy silence.
“Ok.” Said Talbot, wrapping his head around the new information. “So the APH stops people from finding the answers to these questions so our world isn’t destroyed by Fourth Dimensional entities?”
“Exactly!” The man nodded, delighted at Talbot’s comprehension. “Well, they’re technically Fifth Dimensional. The existence of time in our reality means that this is the Fourth Dimension.”
There was another silence.
“Sorry, what was your name again?” Talbot asked.
The man looked utterly devastated. “Oh no! I can’t believe I was so rude!” He vaulted the desk and approached Talbot, stopping just short and shaking his hand. “Alexander Talc, Class 2 Censor Operative for the APH.”
“Censor as in… ?”
“Yes, I censor things. People too, if necessary.”
“So what,” Talbot asked, “You’re here to kill me?”
Talc gasped. “What?!?! No! As if we’d be so barbaric! We’re here to recruit you.”
Talbot’s eyes widened. “Wait, really?”
“Of course! You know more about the Higher Order than any human outside of the APH, and probably more than a majority of those inside of the APH. Your expertise could be vital in preventing a breach in our reality!”
“What would this job entail?”
“Well, we’d need you to fake your death, change your name, burn your research-”
“Now I know that sounds like a lot,” Talc backpedaled, “But allow me to let you in on a little secret.” He leaned in conspiratorially, then glanced around as though to make sure nobody was listening. Satisfied, he whispered, “The dental is off-the-charts.”
Talbot shook his head. “What happens if I don’t take the job?”
Talc winced. “Things get considerably less pleasant. I have to call in a Class 3 Purge Operative, and that’s always a hassle.”
Talbot chose not to inquire into the purpose of a ‘Purge Operative’.
Talc gently laid a hand on Talbot’s shoulder. “It’s a lot to take in, I know. How about we move to some place more hospitable and you can think it over?”
Talbot nodded, his mind elsewhere. Talc gently guided him out of the room, Willis following and closing the door behind them.
Talbot stared down into his conical paper cup, filled with water that tasted plasticy. The three men were in the lobby of Talbot’s workplace, leaning against a table adorned with donuts and a water cooler.
Talc bit into a day-old bear claw as Talbot swirled his water and considered the situation.
If he accepted the offer, he would be shipped off to another state, away from his home in Bedford, where he would join whatever on earth APH was. Talbot hated the idea of working for an agency whose entire purpose was to destroy knowledge. On the other hand, if he didn’t accept the offer, they’d likely kill him.
Would working for the APH really be so bad? Talbot liked Talc enough. Maybe they could be friends. Or… more than friends. And if the APH truly wanted Talbot to be able to suppress the Higher Order, he’d have to know the Higher Order. Which meant research. He could essentially continue on exactly as he was.
Except he would never be recognized as the genius he was. Talbot involuntarily crushed his paper cup as he realized that, if he took the offer, he’d never win a Nobel prize. He’d never present at the Grand Chemistry Convention. He’d never write a revolutionary scientific paper. He would be forgotten.
He knew what he had to do. He couldn’t say no, or he would be killed. He couldn’t accept, or he would be forgotten, which was worse. He had to escape.
But how? This was some sort of world-ruling secret agency. They probably had eyes everywhere. What could he possibly do to get away?
His eyes wandered towards the stairs. The stairs that led to his office, which held the key to every single natural law.
Talbot tossed his cup in the trash, then approached Talc.
“I think I’m ready to make my decision. But first, can I go to the restroom?”
Talc nodded. “Of course! Take all the time you need!”
Talbot nodded and jogged toward the restroom. In the tiled floor under him, he saw Willis’s warped reflection following him discreetly.
He entered the single restroom and quietly opened the window. He could see Willis’s shadow under the door as the man hovered just outside.
Talbot waited a couple seconds, then flushed the toilet, turned on the sink, and silently crept through the window. He fell a few feet to the alley below, and had to suppress a grunt.
Now what? He needed to escape, but his notebook was still upstairs. All his research was in there, and he couldn’t leave it to the APH.
The only ground level entrance to the building was the main lobby door, which was directly in Talc’s sightline. However, who said he had to enter on ground level?
Talbot’s gaze rose to the old fire escape above him. The bottom of the structure was a platform that lined up with the second floor. A ladder was folded up on the platform, an old rusty latch keeping it from reaching ground level. Talbot couldn’t reach the latch from where he was on the ground, so he looked around for a solution.
He had a bum throwing arm, so he couldn’t toss anything up to break it. Unless…
Talbot considered Talc’s words. The very mechanics of the universe itself... He felt a flare of pride as he realized how little Talc truly understood.
The sigil that granted access to the Fifth Dimension was just one of several such Seals. Over all Talbot’s years of study, those portions of the Higher Order were the most applicable. They did not just show universal aspects of reality. They represented those aspects. They were symbolic, and like all symbols, they were powerful.
They were simulacra of natural laws, and could be manipulated in order to manipulate those laws themselves. It allowed anyone who knew the Seals to weave a sort of magic, ignoring the laws of time, space, or gravity by sketching and then destroying the corresponding runes, temporarily destroying that Law’s influence over oneself. Talbot’s hypothesis was that there was a single Greater Seal for each law that controlled that law anywhere and everywhere. If that one was found and destroyed, the laws of reality would change forever.
For greater, wide-scale application, Talbot had scrawled in his notebook, The Greater Aspects must be located and manipulated.
Talbot dropped to the ground and dragged his finger through the alley gravel. He assembled the rocks into a facsimile of a tiny part of the Higher Order, one that he’d experimented with a lot. He looked around for a suitable vessel, settling on a rock. He poured all his mental energy into the stone, and used his hands to scatter the pebbles that made up the Seal of Velocity.
The rock sprang from the ground and soared upwards, clanging against the ladder before anticlimactically falling into a dumpster. From inside, Willis banged on the bathroom door and said something indistinct. Talbot’s second telekinetic toss hit the ladder before falling onto the platform itself. He broke another Seal, and his third throw smacked into the latch, splitting the rusted thing and shooting the ladder downwards.
It made a lot of noise, and Talbot could hear Willis pounding on the bathroom door inside. He seemed to be breaking it down, as Talbot heard wood split with a crunch. Talbot quickly mounted the ladder and climbed up to the platform, trying not to think about the alarming creaking sounds the old construction was making. From there, he took the stairs two at a time, spiraling up and up until he reached the sixth floor.
Six flights of stairs only had him a bit winded by the time he reached his floor. He tried the door to the inside, and found it unlocked.
Talbot entered the hallway outside his office quietly. He considered how this would play out. Willis and Talc would be storming up here at any moment. He had to move quickly.
Talbot entered his workroom, dragging his desk over to block the door. He took a moment to gaze forlornly at his Masterwork, because he would never be able to take it with him. All the same pieces and diagrams were in his notebook, but the full Masterwork was a thing of beauty, one that he would never behold again.
He snapped a picture of it with his phone. It wasn’t the same, but it’d have to do.
Talbot grabbed his notebook, its leather-bound pages bulging with decades of research. Some of the sheaves of paper stuck out at odd angles, newspaper snippets and glossy photographs glued into the most faithful companion Talbot had ever had.
Was there anything else he needed?
The door began to rattle.
Talbot grabbed a sheet of blank paper from his desk and rapidly sketched as many Seals as he could. He had an idea of how he could escape, but he needed to harness his work to do it. Using the Masterwork as a reference, he scrawled the Seal of Time, the Seal of Space, the Seal of Gravity, and, after considering it, the Seal of the Fifth Dimension.
Just in case. He thought.
With a crack, his door burst open, shoving the desk out of the way. Talc and Willis stood there, the latter looking enraged, the former strangely calm.
“Talbot, this doesn’t have to happen this way.” Talc appealed, but Talbot was done listening. He would not be forgotten. He would be immortalized, through his work.
Talbot ripped a corner off of his Seal sheet, and glanced down at the Seal of Time. With a glare at Talc, he stuck it in his mouth and began to chew.
Talbot disappeared with a pop, as Willis lunged towards where he’d just been.
Willis stopped short, then turned to Talc. He was noticeably upset at losing their quarry.
“What do we do now?”
“Well, we follow him.”
Talc approached the Masterwork. “It’s simple. I’m sure Talbot understood that time travel doesn’t work the way everyone thinks it does. Cause and Effect are inextricably linked, and cannot be put out of order. Traveling through time actually just creates another dimension, a splintered facsimile of your original where things play out differently.”
“So… to follow him do we just use the Time Sigil?”
“Seal, Willis. And no. That will just create another splinter plane. Now that the reality has already been established, we need to follow him. Using this.”
Talc’s thin fingers traced the outline of another Seal, one Talbot hadn’t thought to inscribe.
“There are many ways to traverse the Multiverse.” Talc said, “Using Seals to rip open the barriers between planes is one of the simplest.”
Talc sketched down two copies of the seal, then separated the two and handed one to Willis. The two locked eyes and nodded in unison. They both rent their sheets in half and disappeared.
Talbot didn’t ‘land’, per se, but he still felt off-balance when he blinked into existence in his office. He staggered, but caught himself before he could fall. The world felt… different here.
Out of everything Talbot had discovered, Multiversal travel was his least considered. He’d been too cowardly to experiment with anything but the Space, Gravity, and Velocity Seals, so this experience was new to him. Naturally, as any scientist does when faced with something unfamiliar, he started taking notes.
Effects of Time/Universe Traversal:
–Slight nausea. Somewhat noticeable. Temporary?
–World overall feels discordant. Silence sounds different than back home. My tinnitus is in another key. Feels like I don’t belong.
–Different frequency hard-coded into every reality?
Before he could assemble an entire thesis on the underlying resonance within the multiverse, he realized with a start that he had to get out of here. Talc and WIllis were likely following him, and even if they weren’t, there were copies of them in this dimension.
Talbot had willed himself about 10 minutes back in time, and it seemed like that’d worked. His Masterwork was complete and the desk and tarp were off to the side. The trio were likely downstairs in the lobby, where Past-Talbot was thinking over the pros and cons of their offer. At least, he thought so. Time travel seemed to create a splintering reality, one that maintained consistency with his original up until the point where he showed up. There were plenty of unfamiliar worlds out there, but the Seal of Time created one quite familiar. Right now Past-Talbot-
Past-Talbot doesn’t sound right. Pretty soon it’ll be my present, then my future. How about Talbot-2?
After settling upon a name to call his double, Talbot exited his office and left through the door that led to the fire escape, in too much of a hurry to close it. He scrambled down the stairs, knocked the latch off the ladder, climbed to the ground, popped open the bathroom window, and climbed inside. Right as he got his arms through, the door opened.
Talbot-2 walked in, then stopped short as he saw himself dangling halfway through the window. Talbot put a finger to his lips, and indicated Willis-2 with his eyes. Talbot-2 silently shut the door, locking Willis-2 outside.
Talbot-2 opened his mouth to speak, but barely got out one word. “What-”
“I’m you, from the future. Well, not from your future, but from a future.”
Talbot-2’s confused expression was replaced with excitement. “So the Time Seal Worked?! Fantastic! What’s it like?!”
“I’d tell you all about it, but I’m currently stuck in a bathroom window and being hunted down by two government agents. Although I don’t actually know if they work for the government…”
Talbot-2 pulled him through the window into the bathroom. “Sorry.”
Once he was in, Talbot glanced at the door behind Talbot-2.
“Okay. Here’s the thing. Some version of Talc and Willis will be here any minute. Whether mine followed me from the future or not, yours will catch on soon. We need to get out of here, and get the Masterwork to somebody else.”
“Wait, which Talc and Willis will show up?”
“One of them… or both of them. It doesn’t really matter! Do we know anybody we can send our notes to?”
Talbot-2 considered it. “Davis?”
Talbot frowned, and opened his notebook to an early page.
Dr. Wilson Davis
–Spineless fool. He calls himself a chemist, but refuses to venture outside the conventions of the industry. No true scientist works a cushy chemical production job! We journey! We endeavor!
Talbot shook his head. “He’d never publish something like this. If they tracked him down, he’d probably take their oppressive offer.”
Dr Monica Johnson
—Chemist and conspiracy nut. Super gullible, but generally a good person.
“She’ll believe anything.” Talbot said. “...Which is actually probably a good thing in this case. If she thinks it’s real, she’ll distribute it, and she’s earnest enough to leave my- our name on it.”
Talbot-2 nodded. “Sounds like a plan. Actually, it sounds like an idea, not a plan. What is our plan?”
Talbot thought for several seconds. “Here’s what we do. You pretend to accept their offer, and do whatever they tell you. If all else fails, you’ll get a cushy job working for the government. Meanwhile, I get this,” Talbot indicated his notebook. “To Johnson, and then…” He paused.
Someone knocked on the door.
“And then?” Talbot-2 prompted in a whisper, glancing behind him.
“Then… I’ll figure something out.”
Talbot-2 nodded. “Alright. Are we ready to go?”
“I think so.” Talbot replied.
Talbot slipped out of the window, and Talbot-2 opened the door to greet Willis-2.
The man peered around him. “Who were you talking to in there?”
Talbot-2 shrugged. “Myself. You know, crazy scientist stuff.”
Talbot dropped to the ground, then produced his sheet of Seals. He picked out one specific design, a circle bisected by a thin line. On one side of the line, a stylized forest thrived, and on the other a pictographic city loomed. Talbot ripped the Seal of Space from his paper and stuck it in his mouth, once again disappearing with a pop.
Talc and Willis appeared in Talbot-2’s workroom, and quickly exited. Both spun in the hallway outside, and both spotted the wide-open door to the fire escape. They both moved down the rickety metal construction and found themselves in an alley behind the building.
“See that?” Talc pointed at the window.
“Yeah. Did he go in through it?” Willis asked.
“Of course. But if he used the Seal of Time to try to come back and alert himself, I’m guessing he came through here to talk to him…self, but he couldn’t have left. The only point at which he was in the bathroom, you were right outside. He popped in, popped out, popped another Seal.”
“Is there any guarantee that he came back to alert himself? He could’ve gone to any point in time.”
“I know his type. The out-there intellectual. He’s been burned by everyone but himself. He’ll only trust himself. And if he came to himself before we’d arrived, he wouldn’t believe him.”
“Sorry, who wouldn’t believe him?”
“Him! Aren’t you-” Talc took a moment to consider the context. “You know what, nevermind. The point is that this reality’s Talbot is now in league with our Talbot, and that’s not good.”
“What do we do?”
“Well firstly, we need to cut it down to one Talbot. Two is too many to deal with.” Talc pushed on his earpiece, then spoke. “Hello? Can you hear me, Talc?” There was silence, until something dawned on him. “Ah, dammit. I can’t call my own earpiece.” He adjusted something on his earpiece. “Willis! Do you copy?” Willis heard Talc both from right next to him and through his earpiece. He didn’t hear the reply, but his earpiece buzzed as its exact copy broadcast something. Willis took his earpiece out and squinted at it, curious about the exact Multiversal properties that bonded it to its clone.
“Yes, this is Talc. But not your Talc. Listen, Talbot ran off to this dimension, and we believe he’s working with your Talbot. We need to meet up, then dispose of the dupe.”
Talc listened for a response, and Willis’s earpiece vibrated as his double presumably replied.
Talc turned to Willis. “Alright. They’ll meet us back in Talbot’s office. There we can get rid of the redundant one and track our quarry.”
Their quarry was currently depositing a large package of brown paper in a big blue mailbox.
Talbot paused as he lowered the boxy parcel. This was his life’s work, his notebook and all his scattered papers, and was the second-most important thing he owned, next to the wall that contained the Masterwork itself, which was likely being dismantled by his enemies at that very moment. This was the last 20 years of his life, and he was about to gamble it away to a crazy woman on the off-chance that his legacy might live on. Talbot wished he’d spent more time with reasonable scientists, if only to expand the pool of people he could mail his book to.
With a deep breath, Talbot released the book, wincing at the gentle ‘paff’ sound it made when it fell onto the envelopes at the bottom of the box.
His job complete, Talbot slipped the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and disappeared into the afternoon.
Guns are inelegant, Talc told his subordinate often. They’re loud, messy. Tools of thugs and soldiers, not agents of a higher purpose.
But there’s a downside to not carrying a gun, Willis countered silently. The difference between shooting a person and being forced to kill them more intimately is palpable, and not often a positive.
Willis considered this as Talbot-2 stopped struggling and finally went limp in his arms. Willis released the garotte from around the man’s throat, then lowered him to the floor of the office.
An irritated sigh came from behind him. Willis turned to see Talc shaking his head and walking toward him.
“No, you need to finish the job.” The man said. He kneeled, took Talbot-2’s forehead in one hand, his chin in the other, then jerked his head to the side, snapping his neck.
“If you stop garrotting when he goes limp, he’s just unconscious.” The other Talc, Talc-2, stated.
Willis nodded, numbly. He didn’t really hear the man.
“I know this is hard,” Talc said, shifting into a gentler tone, “But this is all for the good of humanity. If we let these ideas run wild, we’d all be dead.”
“Worse than dead.” Talc-2 added helpfully. “Our very essences would be consumed by dark beings from beyond our world.”
Willis nodded again. He’d heard it all before. So why did he still find it so hard to hurt people?
“So where’s the other one?” Willis-2 asked, seemingly unaware of his double’s predicament.
“That’s the big question, isn’t it.” Talc-2 mused, “However, before we can ponder it, first things first. We need to get a CC team in here to handle that wall.”
All four men were familiar with the APH Cognito Containment Teams, mysterious individuals in surgical masks that took away artifacts of forbidden knowledge to be stored or disposed of.
Talc-2 clicked his earpiece, then said a series of numbers and codes that were unintelligible to either Willis. He finished by saying, “Please send a Class-4 CC team. Over.”
He turned to the others. “They’re on their way. We need to secure Talbot’s place of residence.”
“Do we know that’s where he’ll go next?” Willis-2 asked.
“Not necessarily,” Talc-1 responded, “But it’s quite likely he’ll at least stop there to retrieve personal effects before going somewhere else.”
Both Willises nodded, almost in sync. The logic made sense. They would lock down Talbot’s house first.
All was silent in the small house several miles outside of town that Talbot called his abode. Then frantic footsteps sounded from outside, as someone ran up the footpath leading to the front door. Then, a faint scratching as Talbot scrambled to fit his key into the lock. A quiet clacking came next, as Talbot’s cat descended his cat-tree and approached the door to see what was happening.
Talbot swung the door open and gently pushed the cat out of his way with his foot.
“Sorry Ozzy,” he muttered.
He produced his debit card and snapped it in half, having extracted all the money from his account before arriving here. He pulled several thousand dollars from his pockets and shoved them in his wallet, his backpack, the pocket on the inside of his jacket, and his shoes.
He grabbed a spare toothbrush and tube of toothpaste from the master bathroom, shoving them into the backpack as well. He was going on the run, for god knows how long.
He paused as his eyes fell on his set of keys. He wouldn’t be taking his car or his house, so they’d likely not be necessary.
But I might as well just in case. Talbot grabbed the jangling key ring and slipped it into the inside pocket of his pants.
His cat mewed at his feet. After a moment’s hesitation, he grabbed his carrier and bowl, both monogrammed with a matching ‘Ozymandius’.
He knew bringing Ozzy was objectively a bad choice. It was impractical and stupid. The cat was loud, and would slow him down. But Talbot couldn’t bear leaving his baby here to be subjected to whatever evil ideas Talc and Willis had in mind.
Talbot coaxed Ozzy into his crate, then picked up the cat and donned his backpack. He took one last look around his house before he opened the front door and was immediately grabbed by both Willises, one of which held a chloroform rag over his mouth until he went limp.
Talbot awoke with a start. He glanced around, disoriented, and immediately registered that he was in some sort of interrogation room. His chair was metal, and bolted to the floor. Before him was a table, and above that table a blinding light mounted on the ceiling shone directly into his eyes. On the wall across from him, very much breaking the theme, was a ‘Hang in there!’ poster and a wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispenser.
Talbot tried to stand, only to find that his wrists and ankles were strapped into the chair. He strained against the bonds, cursing as the straps held strong.
He thought he heard faint snickering.
He turned to glare at the mirror to his right. “What are you planning to do to me?!”
“What are you planning to do to my cat?!?”
The Talcs and the Willi were standing behind the one-way mirror on Talbot’s left, looking at the back of his head as he shouted at no one. Talc looked mildly amused at Talbot’s complete misunderstanding of the room’s orientation.
Willis-2 glanced at Talc-2, who shrugged and motioned for Talc-1 to enter the larger room. Talc-1 did as asked.
The door at the front of the room opened, and Talc stepped out. He took a seat across from Talbot, and cleared his throat.
“First off, the most important thing. Your cat will be well-cared for, no matter the outcome of this conversation. Great name, by the way.”
Talbot refused to thank him for the compliment.
Talc cleared his throat, and there was a long silence.
“What about my first question?” Talbot asked, his voice trembling.
Talc sighed, then reached below the table.
Several seconds later, he came back up, notably with some difficulty. He slammed Talbot’s notebook down on the table. Next to it, he laid the sheet of seals Talbot had used to traverse space and time.
Talbot was stricken. “How did you-!?”
“Find this? Simple deduction. I’m frankly insulted that you didn’t consider that we’ve been tailing everyone you know for months. Johnson was the only person you could send this to.”
“What did you do to her?!”
“Nothing! We’re not the bad guys here, Talbot. We pulled the package from her porch before she ever got involved. We’d never hurt anyone.”
“Then where am I?” Talbot spat, then rephrased. “I mean… where is the version of me from here? Wait, are you from here or there?”
“I’m from there, assuming you mean your original reality. And Talbot-2 is fine. He’s in the next room.”
Willis winced behind the mirror.
“You never actually answered my question.” Talbot said quietly.
Talc pursed his lips regrettably.
“Well… here’s the thing, Talbot. What I’d like to do is offer you a chance to redeem yourself. I’d like to let you join the APH and help us protect humanity. But you’ve made it clear that that’s not what you want, and if we let you into our fold now, we’d forever be looking over our shoulders, wondering whose side you were truly on. And we can’t just let you go, no no. Your theories would largely be regarded as crackpot, but there are ways to prove these things, and you would certainly find them.”
Talbot swallowed. “Couldn’t you just… you know… erase my memory?”
Talc stifled a laugh. “Unfortunately, this is not Men In Black. Actions have consequences. There are no take-backs. And I’m sorry, Talbot, but this is it for you.” Talc stood, turned on his heel, and left.
“Why the hell’d you wake him up just to tell him that?” Willis muttered behind the glass.
“Hey, wait!” Talbot screamed at him as he departed, but there was no response.
Talbot tried to stand again, but slammed back into his chair as the bonds held.
Willis entered a few minutes later, holding a syringe. He winced at the sight before him. Talbot was hunched over, resting his head on the table. His shoulders were bobbing as though he was sobbing quietly.
Willis approached Talbot and tightened the strap on his right wrist. He moved around him and reached for his left hand, only to see that the strap had been sawed apart, and Talbot’s hand was free.
Willis grabbed his elbow, but Talbot struggled against the man’s grasp. The scientist was trying to keep it firmly on the table under his face.
Frustrated, Willis grabbed Talbot’s head and lifted it back, so he was sitting up straight.
As he beheld Talbot’s face, Willis felt a bolt of fear lance through him. The man was smiling, but it was not a happy smile.
It was the smile of a trapped animal that knew it would take a limb before it went down. With his eyes, Talbot indicated downwards. Willis slowly lowered his vision to the stainless steel tabletop. In Talbot’s hand was a housekey, the teeth worn down from sawing through the leather strap and scratching a symbol into the table. Right under his hand, the surface was pockmarked with the Seal of the Fifth Dimension.
Willis lunged for Talbot’s wrist, but it was too late. The alchemist brought the key across the symbol, carving another scratch to break the Seal and the boundaries between their reality and one far darker. Neither man had time to scream.
Talbot felt himself slip free of the chair, and out of the leather strap around his wrist.
Willis’s grip loosened, and it felt like he was flung across whatever intermediary pathway connected the fourth and fifth dimensions.
Part Two posted promptly!
submitted by Finzombie
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2023.05.29 05:42 LeeCloud27 ACT 2-10-5: Blood-Stained Clinic
the elevator went, further and further down; much farther than the last two elevators the three had taken. It seemed as though it would keep on going without stopping, making all of them wonder where the elevator was taking them.
But after an entire minute, the elevator stopped. What was revealed was a narrow hallway, which contained two rows of capsules; each big enough to contain a single individual. The room was immensely cold; their own breaths could be seen the moment they stepped out.
“Brrr… It’s so cold.” Sumireko said, rubbing her arms to generate friction. Suika also felt the immense cold, but wasn’t as bothered as Sumireko, all the while Satsujin acted like it was his kind of domain.
“It’s very narrow as well. What is with all these capsules?” Satsujin said, observing the number of capsules down in rows. Even though his hearing allowed him to distinguish forms with exceptional detail, if any material that could reflect sound waves was present, it was difficult for him to identify what was inside of it. Curious, he approached one of the vats, and sticking an ear to the glass, he made little knocks, in hopes to use the vibrations as a guide.
"There's a person inside. Aside from that, I can't tell much." He said, turning over to Sumireko. "Could you take a look for me and tell me what's inside?"
“A person? Let me look.” Sumireko went over to the capsule. It was all fogged up due to the low temperature of the room, so she had to wipe the glass with her hand to get a better look inside. And inside revealed a sight that caused her to jump back in shock and horror.
“EEEEEK!!!” She yelled. “T…That…That person inside.” Her hand trembled while pointing. "It's dead!!!! And rotten!!!!"
Suika looked inside the capsule, staring at the mummified figure.
“Huh, you’re right.” Suika said. “Wonder how long they’ve been sleeping in there.”
The monitor next to the capsule activated; flickering on slowly as it filled with text, yet not all of the text was shown correctly.
[Date of b…. 18…. The very first… of Gen…yo. Not much in…mation is k….]
The monitor turned off, and a trace of smoke filtered through the plastic.
"Great. The display just died." Sumireko said, bonking the screen in an attempt to bring it back to life. But alas, it didn't work at all.
"Let's keep moving." Suika said, pointing at the distance.
The group stumbled upon an improvised workbench, filled with at least half a dozen folders, a writing pen made from strange materials, a dirty coffee cup, a moldy piece of hand-made cheese, and a shelf, filled with small and medium capsules containing many organic samples of various kinds of living beings. The liquid in them was semi-translucent, with a weak blue color.
"Ugh! The cheese stinks like death! Someone get that out of here!" Sumireko said, taking a pile of papers from the trash bin, and wrapping the undesired object in them.
Suika took the cheese, and after a quick scan, she saw a strange machine labeled "Trash disintegrator". She put the cheese and the papers that wrapped the food in it, and after a loud electric sound, the cheese was no longer there…except for the stench that stayed in Suika's hands.
"Ugh…fuck." Suika said, reaching for one of the many hand washers that were in there, and furiously cleaning her hands with soap until there was not a single trace of smell. After that, she returned over to the others, who were inspecting the items in the table.
In one of the many smaller capsules, an oddly familiar piece of tissue was floating in a transparent liquid. It had a scale-like patterned exterior, similar to a fish's skin, while the interior flesh was mostly orange with signs of advanced decomposition.
[Sample N°1: "Fallen Mermaid"] Recollected on the 12th of April, on the shore of Misty Lake. Condition: Stable.
Aside from the previous capsule, there was another one, with a decently sized chunk of flesh inside, roughly as big as a trout, in an outstandingly good condition. It looked more like human flesh than the previous one.
[Sample N°2: "Night Sparrow"] Harvested and recollected on the 12th of April. Condition: Perfect.
"Wait…the skin color in the first one looks familiar…Wakasagihime?!?" Sumireko said in shock. "So the journal was actually right after all."
"And the second one must be Mystia." Satsujin said, taking the second capsule, and lifting it. "Why would he
want to store this?" He thought, returning the capsule to its original place.
"I don't know, but I'd rather not mess with any of this." Sumireko said, returning the capsule she had picked up to its intended place. "Suika, did you get rid of that thing?"
"Yep. It's gone. What have you two been looking at?" Suika said, taking one of the folders in the desk, and looking at its contents.
[Clone N°7: "Reisen"] "Stage of growth: Fully grown young adult. Memories have not been copied into this clone yet. Not ready for deployment."
[Clone N°8: "Reisen" (Uncomplete)] "Stage of growth: 16 to 18 years old. Clone possesses a perfect copy of the original's memories. Requires further growth."
[Clone N°9: "Reisen" (Gender-swap)] "Stage of growth: Fully grown young adult. Ready to use in case of a catastrophe. Complete memories and growth."
[Codename: Project Origin] "The original and authentic Reisen. I've decided to replace the original with a clone, in case something happens in the next few days."
“...” Sumireko glared at what the information had to say, squinting her eyes slightly while looking closer, as though there was something else on her mind. Satsujin took notice of this.
“Something wrong?” Satsujin asked.
“I’m good… I just… Feel like the stuff here isn’t…I don’t really know.” Sumireko said. “It just feels like something’s missing… Or maybe the opposite. Maybe there’s nothing missing, I don’t know how to describe it.”
"Missing? What do you mean by that?"
“It feels… Wait, where’s Suika?” Sumireko looked behind and found that Suika had walked further down the hall, as though something caught her eye.
“Suika?” Sumireko asked again, chasing after the Oni. “Hey, what is-”
Sumireko stopped. She noticed the narrow hall widening into a large, circular section. Surrounding them were various capsules; clear as day and bodies that were well preserved. Each one held a certain figure, all of them bearing similar traits. Brown Hair, Clear Skin, and they all looked female…save for one. Around the center there was a much bigger capsule; one which remained empty, but had text written on it that had the following message.
“Reserved for Reimu Hakurei.”
"What in god's name is…" Sumireko said, her eyes widening in shock. “What is this place?”
Sumireko walked over to one of the capsules at random; specifically the one that was empty, tapping on the monitor just as it began to spit out dialogue.
"Subject N°12: Minako Hakurei."
"The 12th Shrine Maiden. She died in an unfortunate incident regarding a loose cerberus long ago. Somehow, all traces of her DNA have vanished from existence after awakening the power of the Hakurei God. All that remains of her are my own memories of her, what the sages knew, and her kin."
“Minako…Who is that?” Sumireko said.
“...An old friend.” Suika said, standing behind Sumireko. She turned around to greet the Oni; who no longer had a careless or cheerful voice. Instead she looked more solemn; down to earth. “Out of all the Shrine Maidens, she was one of the most dedicated to her job. She had a cold mind, and never hesitated on taking matters into her own hands. However, that didn't make her less comprehensive when the situation called for it. She never harmed or was rude with any innocent person or youkai, and was always fair with everyone. And to top it off…she was an amazing friend to have. She was more human with us than most of the previous maidens. It's such a disgrace that her life was taken away so early."
“You…knew her?” Sumireko said. “But I thought that you only knew Reimu and-”
"Yes. I may not look like it, but I've lived long enough to meet most of Reimu's bloodline. A very long time, I must say." Suika said. "And the day Minako died is still fresh in my mind."
"It took us all by surprise. We thought it was everyday business, as always. But it wasn't. Fate is a cruel thing, and that day, it decided to seal her and her spouse's destiny in a heroic sacrifice for her beloved daughter. A sacrifice which would leave wounds that never healed. Reimu suffered the worst part of it, having to bear the trauma of seeing her two heroes be ripped off to shreds right in front of her. And there she stood, filled with terror. Even days after her mother died, she would continue to tremble and have nightmares every single day, until her mind gave up and sealed those memories away, to never be rediscovered again." Suika said, in a melancholic tone. "Me and the others who were close to Minako agreed to never bring this topic to her by any means, and to ensure she had a normal childhood."
Satsujin and Sumireko both were in shock. They never seen or heard Suika act in such a way, least not since they broke her out from her gourd. Her words sounded true; her voice genuinely saddened.
“Suika…” Sumireko said. “I-I’m sorry that-”
?” Sumireko was interrupted upon hearing a voice. It seemed that Suika and Satsujin also heard it.
Ỵ̵͛o̷̺͘ǘ̵͍ ̴̹͝a̸͇̽r̶̠͝ë̷̜ ̸̜̈ẉ̷̒r̵̢͝ǒ̴͔n̸̦͊g̸̨̐.̸̜̃ ̵͉̃T̵͎͊h̷͕̒a̸̞̐t̵̯̚ ̵͙͠ṅ̷̜e̸̘̊v̴͔͝ê̸̺r̶̬͝ ̴̭͛h̸̙̑a̴̺͝p̴̺͌p̷̪̂é̸̢n̵̯̓e̷̺͋d̶̢͛.̵͓̈ ̸̦͠T̴̬͋h̵̞͂a̵̬͒t̶̲͒'̵̞̉ş̴̋ ̵̤͊ṇ̶̏o̷̧͠t̶͚̚ ̵̩̂w̴̙̆ĥ̴͙a̷̹̐t̴̻͑ ̶̮̓t̵̡̏r̷̤͛ų̸͗l̷̐ͅy̷̖̎ ̸̨̃ḫ̷̋ȧ̶͍p̸̬̽p̷̼̔è̸̜ǹ̷͎ê̴͕d̸̞́.̷̨͌
“Who’s saying that!?” Satsujin demanded. “Who are you!?”
S̵͎̕u̴̞̎i̴̠̐k̶̳͑ą̶̈́.̷͍̎ ̸̬͌S̶̜͘t̵͖̄o̶͍͊p̴̖̃ ̶̯̀l̸̲͒y̴̙̓i̸̻̚n̶̯͆g̸͚̍.̵͇͌ ̴̠̎Y̶͖͌o̸̩͑ų̶̉ ̴̬̋k̷̩͝n̶̈́ͅó̸̯w̶̲̎ ̵̫͑t̶̟͗h̸͕̆ȁ̴̩t̸̟͋'̷͔̿s̶̰͋ ̸̰̌n̸͖̓o̸̝̊ṱ̴̈ ̴̙̓w̴̻̃h̷͔͠à̶̗t̷̫͆ ̷͇̋h̴͖̍ă̵̗ṗ̷̤p̷̮͑ë̴̪́ň̶̳ë̵͔́d̵̺̆.̵̖̎.̸͈̑.̶̅͜ ̸̖́T̸̢̏h̴̦͌a̷̢̎ṭ̴͠'̵͇̎š̶͉ ̵͍̊n̶̡̓o̷̻͛t̶̠͛ ̴̩̀w̴͑͜h̷͍́à̵͜t̸̡͂ ̷̯̉I̴͓̓ ̶̝̈i̸̘̾ṇ̷͝t̴̞͠ë̵̖́ǹ̸͖d̵̤̄e̷̱̅d̷͚̾ ̸̟̀f̷̠̂ǒ̶̦r̴̛̫ ̶͎̌y̴͎͐o̴̼͑u̶͈̽.̶̮́
“What?” Suika asked. “No, I-I…”
Ḋ̸̖õ̴̩n̶͇͑'̵̱̈t̴̛͚ ̵̡̒y̷̦͗ǒ̵̱ŭ̷̪ ̷͙͌r̵̨̚ë̶̤́m̵̜̀e̷͍͛m̵̠̽b̶̛͓ę̴͐ȓ̴̤ ̵̤̋t̸̟̚h̸͈͂a̸̜̐t̶̪̅ ̵̦̀d̴̯̏ó̷͈l̷̗̃l̸̰͠?̵̻̕ ̴͈͐D̸͂͜o̴͓̽n̸̙͠'̸͈̋t̷̙̉ ̴̰̀ẏ̶̙o̴̥͊u̵̧͑ ̵̖͑ȓ̴͜ḛ̶̈m̷̳̑e̸͍̓m̷̱̋b̷̨̂ẹ̸̓ř̶̹ ̴̠͝t̴̢͊h̸̏ͅè̸͖ ̸͆͜t̵̿͜r̴̞̊ȅ̶̫e̵̙̓,̸̕ͅ ̶̯̿w̶̧̄ĥ̷̹e̵͇̍r̴̯͗ē̶̥ ̶̩͘y̸̤͘õ̸̝u̴̦͝ ̵̮́w̵͍̾r̶̳̒o̵͚̐t̸̠̚e̸̘̍ ̵͎̕t̸͑͜ḥ̷̈́a̷̩͊t̷͕̋ ̶̲͝m̴͙̅e̷͕͗s̸̨̀s̷͙̏a̵̭̓g̵̺̿e̷͉̐ ̴̺̈́a̷̺̅n̷̛̠d̵͍̕ ̶͉̇h̷̢̉į̶̊d̶̖͛ ̵͇̍t̴̻͛ẖ̵̋a̷̬͂t̴̜̔ ̷̻̈b̷̟͐o̶̡̎t̶̫̚ṭ̶͂l̶̝̚e̸̳͆?̶̥̇ ̸̺͌Y̷͠ͅo̶̺͒u̷̼͛ ̵͖͝k̵̦̀ṉ̸̅ò̷̢w̸̖̚ ̸̬͛w̷͇͐h̴͉̚a̴͖̐ẗ̷͔́ ̷̮̚R̷̙͆E̴̬̐Ḁ̵͊L̴̤̐L̵̞̅Y̵̰̏ ̷̧̀h̴̠̄a̵̼̔p̶͔̂p̷̲̓e̶̩̾n̸̗̽e̵̜̓ḑ̸̉.̷̭́ ̴̜́D̶̡̿o̷̳͆n̴̫͌'̷̳̈́t̴̖͑ ̸̫̏ľ̸̺i̷̻̿e̸͌ͅ.̸̯̕
“A…Ah…” Suika shuddered. She trembled to her knees, and shook her head. Flashes of memories that she could recall like yesterday rose from the surface. The doll, the rain, the injuries… The sight of her very first friend on the surface after so long… Yet one person did not approve of her kind, for a very good reason.
“No…No…I remember now… Why did I suddenly remember?” Suika asked. “Dammit… I shouldn’t have ever forgotten… Stupid, stupid, stupid!”
“Suika!? What’s the matter?” Sumireko said, checking on Suika closely while Satsujin remained where he was, listening to the voices more intently.
“...Who is that voice? They sound like her… But… different.” Satsujin said. Wait… This wasn’t supposed to happen… What are you doing? Why are you doing this?
I̸̺̾'̸̙͝m̴͉̈́ ̷͔͋d̴̡̈o̶̪̿ḭ̵̐n̸̰͒g̷̝͝ ̴̭̀w̴̼͆h̸̟̿ḁ̷̾t̷̻̆ ̸̰̀į̴́s̵̙͆ ̶̕ͅm̷̭̈́e̸̝͠å̸̪n̶̗͝t̸̖̿ ̴͙̂t̴̼̎ō̴͖ ̶͇̀h̴̓͜a̶̝͝p̵̠̀p̸̞̈́e̶̪͐ṅ̸̪.̴̈͜ But this was not what I, or rather, we had in mind.
W̸̲̊h̴͍͋ȧ̷̢t̵̝̂ ̷̭̉y̷̹̾o̵͉̎u̷̜̇ ̶̖̅ȟ̷̫ã̵̩d̶̗̄ ̸̜̓į̵̍n̵̠͘ ̵͇͌m̴͍͝ḯ̴̞n̴̡͘d̸̛̠?̷̫̄ ̸̯̀W̵̢̚ë̶̞́l̷͖̚l̶͎͂.̸͓̈.̵͉̏.̷̭͑ ̶̮̆t̷͈͗ǒ̷͇ô̷͜ ̵̓͜b̶̨̛a̸̯͝d̴̫͑.̶̻͋
The voices were then suddenly replaced with loud static, coming from all of the monitors next to their respective capsules. They all shook with the figures still inside; as their eyes glowed with a white glow as though they were each looking directly at the trio, surrounding them with their divinity.
“What is going on!?” Sumireko asked. “Wait. Suika? Why are you breathing heavily?”
“Hah…Hah…” Suika’s eyes were wider than before. She was looking at two specific capsules and pointed at both of them. Sumireko looked at where she was pointing.
Those two capsules were the only ones who’s figures eyes weren’t open with a white glow. One held a figure who looked to be quite elderly; bearing hair that was slowly turning white and skin with signs of wrinkles. But the other… The other was a man… And he smiled, with eyes that looked red instead of white like all the others. His monitor flickered with red text.
[Subject Number 10: Sendai Hakurei]
[Date of Birth: Unknown. The only member of the Hakurei bloodline that was born a male… A man who had been forgotten by history, not by accident… But because of the atrocities he committed to both Gensokyo, and his own daughter.]
The man looked over at the other capsule next to him. His eyes glowing brighter with almost ecstatic behavior. Suika and Sumireko looked at the capsule next to him, and it caused Suika to panic even more.
“No… Not her… Not her… Not the Blood Flower Maiden.” Suika whimpered. "You three…get out of here. She has finally revealed her true colors."
T̸̮̅h̸̹̕e̵͈̊ÿ̸̜'̵͒ͅř̶͖e̷̱͐ ̶̘̔ņ̴̍ǒ̴͉t̶̻́ ̷̛̼s̶͙͒ù̶͖p̸̖͛p̸͎̿o̴̭͊ș̸͠e̵̢͊d̴̨̔ ̷͓̑t̷͓̔ò̵͎ ̸̮̿ľ̶͚e̶̖͝ȃ̸̬v̴̱̿e̸̊ͅ ̴̥̇ȳ̷̹ẹ̴̽t̴̨̓.̴͇̿ ̷̠̒Ṇ̶͑o̴͎̽t̶͉̏ ̷̬́u̶̢̾n̶̳͂t̴͎̋i̸̖̅l̴͎̈́ ̷̳̓s̵͉̎h̶͖̒e̵̖͂ ̶͓͌a̸̺͊ŵ̷̻á̵̝k̷̳̈ě̷̦n̶͇͠s̶̅͜.̶͙͊ "DON'T LISTEN TO HER, RUN! EXECUTING CORE ISOLATION PROTOCOL!" \
Ǹ̶͓Ọ̵́!̷̗̐!̷̢̛!̸̼̉ ̴̦͗T̶̼͌H̷͕͘Ȋ̴̯S̴͔͂ ̴̰͋I̶̗͆S̸͍͆ ̵̬́Ṇ̴̐O̸͚͝T̶̘̈ ̷̘͝H̷̫̆O̵̢̒Ẅ̴̘ ̴̫̎I̵̮̽T̸͉͛ ̴͎̏I̸̝̍S̴̳̆ ̵̩͛Š̵̺Ȗ̵͈P̵̙̔P̴͖̿O̵͕͑Ś̶̡É̸͇D̷̗͝ ̷̼͑T̴͖͛O̸̢͝ ̷̙̀G̶̞͝O̸̝͘!̶͖̓!̶̥̽!̸̰̉
The room started blaring with red lights, but it was already too late. The other figure awakened from her slumber, slamming her hand against the glass as cracks began to show.
“No no no no! Not her!” Suika said, freaking out.
“Suika! Stay with me!” Sumireko said. “It’s going to be okay! I swear upon it!”
“...” Satsujin listened to the blares, the thoughts of everyone around her. They all… had nothing to say… except for one. The only other man in the room. “...Heh…She’s right, you know? This wasn’t her plan… Yet it looks like she has to go fix things up for the future.”
“...Who are you?” Satsujin asked back. “Me? I’m nobody at the moment. I don’t have a role yet, and probably won’t for a long time. Least, that’s according to her. How do I know this? It’s simple really?”
The other figure managed to make more cracks, and Suika was now crying, almost afraid of what’s to come. "Grr…Damn you! Listen to me, I can't hold her forever. Suika, take them and return to the surface, and…shit, she's trying to escape! GO!!!"
S̸̻̈Ḧ̸̫Ȗ̶̝Ț̶̉ ̷̗̍Ú̷̻P̴̰̑!̷͖͐!̴̮̔!̵͔͋!̴̡͝!̶͓͒ “She has everything planned out… including all of your deaths.”
Buffer overload detected. Restarting stage…
Restart was successful!
The room was dark and quiet again… It was as though everything that happened in the last few minutes never happened. The emergency backup power was left on, giving the people who were still inside the room just enough to see their surroundings.
Suika found herself hugging Sumireko, yet couldn’t remember why she was doing so. She also felt tears on her face, but didn’t remember why she was crying. Sumireko was the same. She found herself hugging Suika back, with a hand on her head like she was comforting her.
“Um…Did something happen?” Sumireko asked. “What were we doing?”
“Uhhhhh…” Suika was confused as she let go of Sumireko and got back up. She noticed how dark the room was yet the last thing she recalled was leaving the elevator with Sumireko and Satsujin and exploring the room a little bit.
Satsujin was standing next to them, facing one of the capsules which contained a still figure; almost lifeless. There was nothing else he sensed in his surroundings, save for a pile of shattered glass which was now on the floor.
“Um, you two.” Satsujin said. “I think something happened.”
“Huh? Something happened? Like what?” Sumireko asked. "Phew. I thought the core isolation protocol wouldn't work…Now…where we were?"
And then all the lights in the room flashed back on, almost blinding everyone as the lab went back into full power; running everything that needed to be run efficiently. A muffled air fan sound could be heard in the distance, adding to the abandoned ambience.
The glass shards that Satsujin noticed earlier were now revealed to have belonged to one of the capsules, which was empty. It made him more worried as it now begged the question of who was inside there.
“That’s…not good.” Satsujin thought.
But then something else caught everyone’s attention. There was a monitor, or rather a large screen, about 70 inches in width, above the capsules and everything else as it turned on, showing some old footage of a couple familiar figures.
“Wait a minute.” Sumireko said. “Isn’t that… Eirin? And… Okina?”
On the screen, the two figures looked to be discussing something, sitting down in a room together full of empty capsules.
“Do you really need to be recording this?” Okina asked Eirin. “I’m not familiar with your moon’s tech, but I would rather not find out this is something used to send info to your superiors.”
“I assure you, this device is for containing records and nothing more. And even if I wanted to send this to the Lunar Capital, that would risk the safety of me and the princess, which you are well aware I would never do.” Eirin said.
“Yeah yeah, just don’t let anyone unfamiliar find this somehow. Last thing we need is for them to get too
advanced too early. And what does any of this have to do with what we agreed on?”
“I’m a doctor, but also a researcher. It is basic common sense to note down any information you come upon, and this is no different. Besides, I’m interested in what you had in mind regarding this project.”
“All I care about is whether you live up to your side of the agreement, I don’t care about anything else. You should be glad I decided to sit down and talk to you instead of informing the other sages of Lunarian immigrants.” Okina said with slight bitterness.
“I prefer you don’t refer to me or the princess with that kind of tone. We no longer live on the moon, nor do we have the same mindset as them. We are human
.” Eirin said.
“Human you say? Sure, and I’m the housekeeper of some doorknob salesman.” Okina said.
“I don’t believe doorknobs are a usual sight in this country.”
“Great, you don’t know what sarcasm is… Just make sure you do your side of the deal well. I’ll make sure to check on your progress every time there’s a new shrine maiden. Do good, and I’ll make sure not to tell Yukari about your whereabouts. Fail, and… well you know what.” Okina said, standing up and leaving the room.
“Hah… So much for complete isolated peace with the princess.” Eirin mumbled to herself.
The video flickered a little, fading to static before something else popped up. That being once again, text.
"Project: Faith Preservation.
A conjoined effort between all the sages of Gensokyo to preserve the lineage of the Hakurei family in case of a catastrophe.
When I first arrived on Earth, the sages were initially against the idea of letting me, an enemy of their worst enemy, live in this land. However, they offered me a truce. In exchange for being hidden from the moon emissaries, I would spend the next centuries making sure that every woman and men who ever wore the Hakurei surname was preserved for a later use, may the current active one die, or be rendered useless by any reason."
The monitor turned off, and everyone was left staring at a black screen that reflected themselves. Then, the screen flickered, and showed a series of dots and lines in the screen for some seconds before turning off again.
"... .... . / .... .- ... / -... . - .-. .- -.-- . -.. / ..- ... .-.-.- / --. --- -.. / ... .- ...- . / ..- ... / .- .-.. .-.. .-.-.- / ... - .- -.-- / .- .-.. . .-. - .-.-.-"
Everyone turned to where the wet sound came, and there she was. A woman in her elders, with wrinkles and grayish hair, wearing an old, more traditional shrine maiden outfit. She looked over at the group, when her sight was set on Suika. She looked at the Oni who wore the clothes of her lineage. It made her so confused…and angry. Very angry.
"You filthy Oni…why are you…wearing the Shrine Maiden's clothes?" She said, in a raspy yet intimidating tone of voice.
Suika didn't answer at all. She froze in place, and like it was a cruel joke, she remembered why she was crying.
"No…NO! This is bad…really bad!" She said, falling to the ground in terror. "She's awake…"
“W-what? Who?” Sumireko asked.
“Chihana…Hakurei.” Suika said. “We need to run now.”
“Run?” Satsujin asked. “Why do you-”
“We need to run!!! No questions asked!”
Suika didn’t waste time in grabbing both their hands, running down the hall and back towards the elevator. She practically threw the two in while she started pressing the up button rapidly. Chihana walked forward towards the group, pulling out a needle from her sleeve and gripping it tight and imbuing it with a certain type of magic. Right as the doors began to close, she threw it at eye-blinking speeds, only stopping in front of Suika by just a centimeter thanks to the doors closing in time.
But still the Oni was trembling, shaken, filled with the fear of the woman that pursued them slowly. For now they were safe, but how long.
“H-Hey… You said they were also a Hakurei? And you knew them?” Sumireko asked.
“Y-Yeah…” Suika said with a shaky voice. “S-she was the previous shrine maiden before Minako… You could s-say she’s Reimu’s grandmother.”
“Her…grandmother?” Sumireko asked.
The elevator opened up to the third floor. Suika and the other two left and walked down the room filled with plants.
“Wait, how come no one else knew about her? I mean, thinking about it, it is a little strange how there is very little information on any of the previous Hakurei Shrine Maidens. Not even in the Gensokyo Chronicles.”
“That’s because they were erased from history; traces of their existence wiped off the books save for a handful of mentions. That was done on purpose because Yukari didn’t want anyone to remember the Hakurei Shrine Maiden as brutal or bloodfestive.” Suika said. “There’s a lot you don’t know about the predecessors.”
The floor on the ground burst open, and Chihana rose out of it, maintaining that same glare on Suika specifically. Suika looked back and her face stricken with horror.
“Why are you… running away you damn Oni!?” Chihana shouted, pointing a sharpened gohei at her.
Once again, Suika, Sumireko and Satsujin made a run for it, avoiding the talismans the elder Miko threw at them with vigor. The talismans stuck some of the nearby green; setting it ablaze with flames that sprouted from the paper charms, disintegrating the plants with no trace left behind. Fortunately none of them hit the trio as they made their way to the next elevator.
“You won’t get away this time!” Chihana shouted, running right at them. But the doors closed just in time as a fist-shaped dent was made in the thick steel.
“Hoooh…I guess we should be glad the elevator was reinforced like the rest of this lab.” Satsujin said.
“That’s not going to stop her.” Suika said. “She’s the type who never gives up until her target is lying dead on the ground. And in case they’re already dead, she’ll personally pursue you all the way to the afterlife to ensure you don’t reincarnate.” She looked back at Satsujin. "Heck, she would even go after your whole
family if the circumstances required it."
“But why was she trying to kill us?” Satsujin asked. “The moment she saw you I could sense killing intent. Isn’t the spell card rules-”
“The spell card rules didn’t exist until Reimu you idiot!” Suika shouted at him. "It was kill or be killed! Gensokyo lived on a pecking order for centuries, and that was humans, youkai, demi-gods, actual gods, the Shrine Maiden, and then the Sages… And all the youkai were forced to accept that fact…or perish! That’s why most of us lived either underground or on Youkai Mountain because none of us were idiotic enough to dare go anywhere near the Human Village while she was around!" Suika said, letting out a sigh. “And I was the idiot who decided to leave.”
Neither Sumireko or Satsujin had words to comment on Suika's statement. They stood silent, until they arrived at the following floor.
They walked out, and again they moved across the room over to the other elevator.
“Suika… If you don’t mind me asking… How do you know her anyway? And why does she not like you?” Sumireko asked.
Suika thought for a moment, as though she was wondering if she wanted to answer or not. But she did anyway, “I knew her daughter a long time ago, Minako Hakurei. When I first ventured up to the surface I did what any youkai would do and started scaring people at every chance I got. But when I met Minako by pure coincidence, she wasn’t scared. Rather she was infatuated with me. I guess it wasn’t everyday you meet someone with horns and capable of smashing trees with a single punch, hahaha… So, we met a few times, got to know each other, had fun like how any pair of friends would. But…her mother didn’t like seeing her daughter get close with an Oni. And then she tried to kill me, right in front of her daughter’s eyes.”
“She did what?” Sumireko said with shock in her eyes. “How could someone do that?”
“Wait, hold on a minute.” Satsujin said. “Did you hear that?”
“I think it’s coming from below.” Sumireko looked down at the ground.
“...Fuck.” Suika said.
Chihana bursted out of the floor, rising out of it and once again glaring at the others. The process repeated, this time with more speed. The group rushed for the next elevator door, and entered, as Chihana emerged from the ground once again, tossing away everything that was on her way, including metal shelves with a lot of fragile objects, which made a loud sound after impact.
“Close close close close close…” Suika spammed the button repeatedly.
The elevator fortunately closed right as Chihana approached. They all let out a sigh of relief… And then they returned to shock upon witnessing the door being forcefully opened with bare hands. The red-glow glare of the demonic Miko leering inside.
“You won’t get away this time, foul demon!” Chihana expressed.
“AAAH!” Sumireko screamed. She used her psychic powers to push her back, with great success. The elder shrine maiden didn’t expect to be hit with a burst of psychokinesis while she slid back on the ground. Then with a cry of frustration, she threw a handful of talismans at the trio. Fortunately most of them didn’t hit as the elevator doors shielded them; save for two which struck Sumireko’s hat and Satsujin’s shirt, one of which set Sumireko’s hat on fire.
"My hat is burning! Ow! Ow!" Sumireko said, tossing her hat into the floor, which had been struck with a talisman. Shortly after, the hat vanished in a violent blaze.
"Aw, I liked that hat too. Oh well, at least we-SATSUJIN!!! YOUR SHIRT!!!" Sumireko yelled loudly.
"Huh?" He said, unaware that a talisman had made its way into his white shirt, and was about to activate. With quick reflexes, Suika pulled the shirt with two hands, and ripped it from Satsujin's torso, as she wrapped the talisman in the cloth, and tossed it away. The end result was a burning pile of cloth which eventually disintegrated into nothing. The process left Satsujin with half of his shirt gone, revealing his slightly toned body.
"...damn it." Satsujin said, closing his cape to cover himself. "I don't like to be like this in front of someone else." As he said that, one of his eyes shined brightly.
"There was no need to be that dramatic, you know?"
"Still…I feel exposed." The layered voice said. Shortly after, the eye stopped glowing, going back to its previous state.
Suika didn’t say anything during the conversation. She was too focused breathing in and out repeatedly; hugging herself in the process. It was clear that she was feeling a large amount of anxiety.
“Hey, Suika? Are you still there?” Sumireko asked her.
“I’m…fine Sumireko.” Suika said. “I just want to get out of here and back with the others. I hope they’re doing better than how we are.”
The rest of the elevator ride went in silence. The three waited until they got back on the first floor, seeing the elevator doors open up…
And revealing Chihana standing there in front of them, holding her sharpened gohei, a pair of needles and talismans, and a face full of malice.
submitted by LeeCloud27
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