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Enemy in the Shadows WFRP [other] [online] [18+] [GMT]. Looking for players interested in an immersive undertaking of this epic campaign.

2023.06.02 13:31 Marlowe50 Enemy in the Shadows WFRP [other] [online] [18+] [GMT]. Looking for players interested in an immersive undertaking of this epic campaign.

Having run the Enemy Within in the late 1980s (using 1st ed) and revisited it in the 2000s with 2nd ed. I am thinking of having one more go with the 4th edition reworking of it. At the moment, I am just getting a feel if any/how many might be interested in joining such an endeavour.
As you can gather from the above I'm a long, long time GM (and perfectly happy with that) who foregrounds character and roleplay, though values the importance of action, combat and 'roll'play - the game aspect of RPG is important.
Traditional in approach, I'm not much for homebrew (though to be honest Warhammer doesn't seem to have so much of that), and love to explore the Old World as is writ. I favour the gritty, low fantasy, grim and perilous nature of the game though equally enjoy incorporating the Pythonesque quirky humour inherent within the setting from the very first books- it's can't be all dour misery!
I prefer a theatre of the mind approach and don't use VTTs, usually playing on Discord; immersion is key for me- I would much rather hear how a character plans to sneak up past the body of Knights Panther looking for him or her rather than simply have a player ask for a Sneak roll. The intention would be to play on Sundays from 6:30-9:30 though that could be a moveable feast.
Though I am just the wrong side of 50, any and all are welcome with the only probiso being 18+,, as long as the style of game advertised above appeals: if you're giving up a few hours of your Sunday it should be about everyone having fun.
As said, I am just throwing it out there. If there's interest and we can muster a group of 4-5 would be great to get something up and running at some time throughout June. Any questions please feel free to message me.
submitted by Marlowe50 to lfg [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:28 AbstractDiocese apple TV 4k ethernet apple music issues

TL;DR: Current gen apple TV hav
I got an apple tv 4k with ethernet this previous December and since then i’ve been fairly consistently having issues with Apple Music. I’ll be halfway through a song, and it will randomly pause and not continue to play. The only thing that seems to remedy this is force quitting the music app and re-opening it and re-selecting a song.
My ATV is connected to a denon receiver for atmos music, and connected via ethernet (Cat 5e) to an opnsense routefirewall through a netgear switch. I’ve checked internet speeds via youtube’s stats for nerds and I get around 200 Mbps which every 15-30 seconds or so will drop to 30 Mbps for a moment and then return to ~200. (I have gigabit cable internet)
It’s currently running tvOS 16.3.3 but when I try to update it estimates the time remaining to be anywhere from 150 hours to several thousand hours. I’m not sure how this could be anywhere near possible considering my connection speeds
I’ve also lightly monitored my firewall’s live feed while attempting this update and I can’t see anything that’s being blocked that could cause this.
What’s strange is I also use it to watch netflix (specifically Gilmore Girls, a show which is low enough resolution that maybe I’m just not reaching the threshold that causes issues) without problems (most of the time), So it seems as though it’s an issue specifically connecting to Apple’s servers
Any advice or light anybody could shine on this would be greatly appreciated, I purchased an ATV almost entirely for Apple Music with dolby atmos and having it not work properly is completely agonizing and I’m starting to pull my hair out over it.
submitted by AbstractDiocese to appletv [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:24 D_E_N_1_Z- Deniz The Menace™ - [ PS UK ] - [ CHERNARUS ]

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Member's of the server must meet the following criteria before they can send messages in text channel's or initiate a direct message conversation.
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submitted by D_E_N_1_Z- to DayZServers [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:23 Omeet2 40 lifehacks to improve your life

  1. Don't assume a 'no' for someone else. Let them make that choice.
  2. Believe in serendipity, not coincidences.
  3. For decision-making, resolve automatically by (1) setting a deadline, or (2) picking the less enjoyable option.
  4. Utilize email reminders for important follow-ups on specified dates.
  5. When in doubt, simply do what is right.
  6. The expectation of progress is key for motivation. It's hard to be motivated if you don't know your next step or the end goal.
  7. Clarity is key. E.g., "AGI takeoff fast" - define each term: "AGI", "takeoff", "fast".
  8. Use one-hour timers for brainstorming in Google docs and three-minute timers to jot down immediate next steps.
  9. Knowledge is a stepping stone. The more you know, the easier it is to plan your next steps.
  10. Naps don't necessarily mean sleep. Your brain is never fully off; it's about resting your mind.
  11. Without scheduled time for important goals, you can't really claim to have any.
  12. Ask yourself, what is something you're avoiding out of fear? Be specific.
  13. Consider, what are you hiding due to shame? Be honest.
  14. Think, what infuriates you? Define it.
  15. Every project has a preliminary and final version. The initial can often be done in just 10% of the time if you set a timer for 5-10-15 minutes.
  16. Don't shy away from asking people "What do you do?" as your first question at social events.
  17. Seek out the most unique individuals at gatherings.
  18. Working on complex issues requires a significant amount of bravery. Embrace your fears.
  19. Just because you feel strongly about something doesn't mean you're correct.
  20. Even if your overarching intuition is correct, without concrete actions, your assumptions might be off.
  21. Pursue the truth and test your assumptions. Don't settle for winning arguments.
  22. Avoid postponing important beliefs. Always strive to think from the ground up, not based on someone else's beliefs or what's considered reasonable.
  23. Be wary if you haven't experienced any awkwardness today.
  24. Thinkers believe thinking is key; doers believe action is key. Find a balance.
  25. If something is occupying your mind, jot it down. It'll help you focus on the task at hand.
  26. If a task involves a sequence of actions you've done thrice, create a checklist.
  27. If a thought disturbs you, remind yourself it's okay to let it go.
  28. Use tools like Anki, snooze tabs, and Asana to manage your questions and ideas for later.
  29. If a work location doesn't naturally suit you, switch places. Don't force it.
  30. Treat everyone as a friend. Don't hesitate to send cold emails.
  31. Keep a visible timer to ensure you're staying on track and not getting stuck.
  32. Recall your shower thoughts. They're often insightful.
  33. Low social status often hides untapped potential.
  34. Living in areas with high standards, like the Bay area, can provide a significant boost in drive and insights.
  35. It's natural to feel like you're lagging behind at times. It's part of the journey.
  36. If you rarely experience a certain emotion, your brain might be suppressing it.
  37. Prefer reading books over listening to them for better retention.
  38. People often project their motivations onto others.
  39. People often project their fears onto others as a form of self-protection.
  40. You have control over what to pay
submitted by Omeet2 to selfimprovement [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:21 Honest_Finding Selling furniture online

Selling a headboard on FB marketplace, someone verifies at 6:15 pm that they are coming to purchase it at 7:00 pm (for the listed price). 7:30 pm rolls around, they haven’t shown up, I message them, and their response is to offer less than half of the asking price because “they live far away.” If you’re going to grossly low-ball me, do it from the get-go. Don’t do it after verifying the pick up time, the price, and then being over half an hour late for said pick up time. You’re getting blocked either way but at least it wastes less of my time in the former instance.
submitted by Honest_Finding to mildlyinfuriating [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:19 Warm_Celebration_244 Thoughts on "Poisoned by my work bestie" ?

Reads like one of the sensation stories in Take a Break et al: "FRAMED for my own murder!" "FORCED into a robbing banks by my comatose sister" "POISONED over overtime"
I'm not an expert on drugs, but what kind of drug could a GP receptionist secretly get hold of that after one dose, causes sickness and confusion, then nothing for a couple of days, then dramatically kicks back in three days later, and incapacitates someone for 8 weeks?
Also interested in the fact that OP called the police at approx 10am, and they're coming out to her at 1pm. Efficient.
Ex friend admitted what she did 12 years ago.
2 replies
Cookiemonstersnana · Today 09:36
I used to work with a lady who I got on very well with. She was mid 40's and I was early 50's. Both married and lived in nice areas. We had nights out just the 2 of us and in a larger group. Laughter and chat. We fell out over working overtime. I was given another 3 hours more than her. It got so nasty I found another job.
One night when we were still good friends we went out just the 2 of us. We both had a bottle of wine each. Hers white and mine rose. Meal consisted of steak, bake potato, salad and coleslaw. During the night I went to the loo leaving her on the table alone. Met a 7pm home for 10.45pm. That night I was very ill and for the next few days passing out and not remembering anything. It ended up me having lots of tests for epilepsy, brain scans as I was completely out of my mind.
Met her by chance at a party last weekend I was polite but distant. She was getting more and more drunk, louder and louder. Then all of a sudden she turned and was laughing nastily and admitted on that particular night she drugged my drink. As really she didn't want me to get any more overtime as she needed the money.
That was a friend. With a friend like that I don't need enemies.
Go to post
Cookiemonstersnana · Today 10:34
I have contacted 101 they told me it was a serious matter. A member of the police is coming out to see me sometime today.
To answer I don't know what she drugged me with. I ended up off work for 8 weeks. Epilepsy, brain tumors and even Parkinson's was tested for. Funny enough we worked for a GP surgery as receptionists. This happened on a Friday evening but didn't get to see a GP until the Monday afternoon after I passed out while on the phone to a patient. Bloods not taken until the Tuesday morning. I have also contacted the practice manager from the surgery we worked for. It seems that she left under a cloud but the PM won't tell me why. She did say that the police could also contact her for information. I wasn't a patient at the surgery we worked at.
Go to post
Cookiemonstersnana · Today 11:48
Thank goodness she admitted it. All these years I've wondered about my health. DH is so angry. That night he stayed up as I kept being sick, mumbling and didn't know who he was or where I was. Saturday and Sunday I was very tired but had stopped being sick. On the Monday I started at 8 am looked like death warmed up. Started to answer the phones and passed out. One of the GPs I worked for took my blood pressure which was very very low and advised to see my own GP. My GP started the ball rolling on lots of tests. Couldn't even walk straight, couldn't squeeze hands that's why brain tumors were thought of. In fact I had a complete MOT went to 4 different hospitals. 2 MRI, 2 CT scans, bloods tests every day for 2 weeks. Most of the appointments were with the main consultant as they couldn't figure it out what was wrong with me. It ended up being discharged as they couldn't find anything. I don't remember but my DH does the GP asking if I had taken drugs. Even now everything rembered is from someone telling me about that time.
Police coming at 1pm
submitted by Warm_Celebration_244 to MNTrolls [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:13 upset_larynx Help! First time inviting friends over - I don’t know how to host and I’m nervous because I’m poor.

Just the title. My 18th birthday is coming up, and while they don’t know, I want to do a very small get together. Like, maybe just six or so friends. We’ve joked about how much they need to try homemade Pakistani food so I’ve been thinking that I should invite them over for lunch.
But, it’s my first time inviting friends ever and idk wtf I’m supposed to do. I don’t know how to host or entertain. I have some card games (we’ve got uno, Catan, checkers, Ludo) but I also don’t want to bore the hell out of them. I also have a ps4 so we could play a multiplayer game like COD zombies but I don’t think most of them share my gaming interests. I just have no idea how to host.
I invited a friend over once for a cup of chai and luckily, that wasn’t really awkward. We just talked a bit while I brewed the tea (ended up talking for over 3 hours!) and it was nice but this is way more people.
Plus, my family is very poor and most of their families are well off. So I’m very nervous of them seeing my house. It’s horrendously tiny and the biggest thing I’m nervous about is our table, which is one of those foldable grey tables you get from Lowe’s. One of those things that really highlight how impoverished we are. I’ve never invited friends over, specifically because it’s kinda embarrassing for them to see how poor we are and I feel bad knowing I can’t provide for them the same way they could if they had invited me over.
The table is just one of the things that bother me. Most the stuff in our house is broken because we can’t afford to fix it - the bathroom, kitchen cabinets, fridge door. And I feel nervous inviting people into my room too - because I sleep on a mattress on the floor. I have no furniture so important things like medicine bottles and books are on the floor too. Would it be rude not to invite them up in my room?
I would love to have my friends over, if only I knew how to host and they didn’t have to see my destitute living conditions. I am grateful to have all that I have, however little it may be, but I am afraid they will judge me. I know my friends are better than that, but still I am scared.
Does anyone have any tips on how to host and get over this mental hurdle?
submitted by upset_larynx to socialskills [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:13 myscalperfx Important Takeaways for AUD USD and NZD USD Analysis Today

Important Takeaways for AUD USD and NZD USD Analysis Today
The Aussie Dollar started a fresh increase above the 0.6520 and 0.6550 levels against the US Dollar.
· There was a break above a major bearish trend line with resistance near 0.6520 on the hourly chart of AUD/USD at FXOpen.
· NZD/USD is gaining bullish momentum above the 0.6060 support.
· There was a break above a key bearish trend line with resistance near 0.6020 on the hourly chart of NZD/USD at FXOpen.

AUD/USD Technical Analysis

On the hourly chart of AUD/USD at FXOpen, the pair started a fresh increase from the 0.6460 support. The Aussie Dollar was able to clear the 0.6500 resistance to start a steady uptrend against the US Dollar.
It cleared the 50-hour simple moving average and a major bearish trend line with resistance near 0.6520. The upward move was such that the bulls pumped the pair above the 61.8% Fib retracement level of the downward move from the 0.6660 swing high to the 0.6462 low.

The AUD USD chart indicates that the pair is now facing resistance near 0.6615. It is close to the 76.4% Fib retracement level of the downward move from the 0.6660 swing high to the 0.6462 low.
An upside break above the 0.6615 resistance might send the pair further higher. The next major resistance is near the 0.6660 level. Any more gains could open the doors for a move toward the 0.6700 resistance zone.
On the downside, initial support is near 0.6550. The next support could be the 0.6520 level and the 50-hour simple moving average. If there is a downside break below the 0.6520 support, the pair could extend its decline toward the 0.6460 level. Any more losses might signal a move toward 0.6400.
submitted by myscalperfx to Forex [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:09 TPatS Is the new E16/E14 G5 getting a keyboard with more travel than 1.8mm?

Is the new E16/E14 G5 getting a keyboard with more travel than 1.8mm? submitted by TPatS to thinkpad [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:08 myscalperfx Important Takeaways for AUD USD and NZD USD Analysis Today

Important Takeaways for AUD USD and NZD USD Analysis Today
The Aussie Dollar started a fresh increase above the 0.6520 and 0.6550 levels against the US Dollar.
· There was a break above a major bearish trend line with resistance near 0.6520 on the hourly chart of AUD/USD at FXOpen.
· NZD/USD is gaining bullish momentum above the 0.6060 support.
· There was a break above a key bearish trend line with resistance near 0.6020 on the hourly chart of NZD/USD at FXOpen.

AUD/USD Technical Analysis

On the hourly chart of AUD/USD at FXOpen, the pair started a fresh increase from the 0.6460 support. The Aussie Dollar was able to clear the 0.6500 resistance to start a steady uptrend against the US Dollar.
It cleared the 50-hour simple moving average and a major bearish trend line with resistance near 0.6520. The upward move was such that the bulls pumped the pair above the 61.8% Fib retracement level of the downward move from the 0.6660 swing high to the 0.6462 low.

The AUD USD chart indicates that the pair is now facing resistance near 0.6615. It is close to the 76.4% Fib retracement level of the downward move from the 0.6660 swing high to the 0.6462 low.
An upside break above the 0.6615 resistance might send the pair further higher. The next major resistance is near the 0.6660 level. Any more gains could open the doors for a move toward the 0.6700 resistance zone.
On the downside, initial support is near 0.6550. The next support could be the 0.6520 level and the 50-hour simple moving average. If there is a downside break below the 0.6520 support, the pair could extend its decline toward the 0.6460 level. Any more losses might signal a move toward 0.6400.
submitted by myscalperfx to Daytrading [link] [comments]

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2023.06.02 13:02 kloppsbeard Creative Assembly's Crossroads: The Divisive Evolution of the Total War Franchise

Strap yourselves in, because today we're diving headfirst into a controversial topic: the current state of Creative Assembly's beloved Total War franchise. With a heavy heart I must admit that, in my humble opinion, our beloved series is spiraling down a treacherous path, signaling a seemingly terminal decline.
Now, before you draw your swords, hear me out. As a dedicated Total War enthusiast who has witnessed the highs and lows of the franchise, it's crucial that we have an open dialogue about the concerns plaguing the series. Creative Assembly has blessed us with epic historical battles, immersive campaigns, and countless hours of strategizing, but the winds of change seem to be blowing in the wrong direction.
Let's begin by addressing the rising concerns within our community. One prominent issue lies in the increasingly divisive changes to the franchise's aesthetics and gameplay mechanics. The once-stellar user interface now feels cluttered, convoluted, and lacks the user-friendly experience that defined earlier titles. Battlefields have evolved into fast-paced, arcadey encounters, sacrificing the strategic depth and immersive realism we cherished. Additionally, the introduction of cartoonish designs and animations has divided the fanbase, leaving some yearning for the more grounded and historically accurate art direction of the past.
Moreover, the recent trend of focusing on less popular historical periods has left some fans feeling disconnected. While it's admirable to explore lesser-known eras, it feels like the studio is neglecting the larger player base that craves the classic settings and historical conflicts that initially captivated us. This departure from the franchise's roots may be alienating loyal fans and undermining the series' appeal.
It's also impossible to overlook the undeniable influence of the Warhammer trilogy on the historical titles. While the fantasy series itself is exceptional (I have over 200 hrs across all 3 games), some feel that its impact has overshadowed the historical entries. The gradual shift towards mythical elements and fantastical mechanics in historical settings has left purists longing for a stronger emphasis on accurate depictions of warfare. The historical authenticity that once set Total War apart risks being diluted in the wake of this influential fantasy franchise.
Total War has always thrived on the essence of epic battles and the management of great armies, yet some argue that recent titles fall short in delivering this core experience. Battles feel more like traditional real-time strategy matchups rather than intense struggles between formidable powers. The duration of battles has been shortened, denying players the immersive and arduous experience of commanding vast armies and witnessing the ebb and flow of battle. This departure from the grand, strategic scale leaves some longing for the days when battles were truly monumental and required meticulous planning and resource management.
Tied to this is immersion more generally. Many fans miss the little details that were once present in Total War games. Features like general speeches, realistic flag physics, intricate particle effects, and campaign map changes being reflected on the battlefield added an extra layer of immersion and depth to the experience. These small touches contributed to the sense of being in a living, breathing historical setting, where even the tiniest details mattered. The recent iterations seem to have glossed over these aspects, leaving some feeling that the franchise has lost its attention to detail and the immersive atmosphere it was known for.
Another crucial aspect to consider is the lack of serious competition in the real-time battle niche. Total War has long been the reigning champion in this genre, with few contenders coming close to replicating its unique blend of strategy and spectacle. However, the absence of strong competition can sometimes lead to complacency, potentially impacting the drive for innovation and improvement within the franchise. The Total War community yearns for a challenger that can push Creative Assembly to greater heights and inspire fresh ideas that breathe new life into the genre.
This leads me into the topic of innovation, or lack thereof. The lack of innovation and meaningful gameplay improvements has become increasingly noticeable. While the core Total War formula is undeniably fantastic, it's disheartening to see the series stagnate in terms of fresh mechanics, improved AI, and significant leaps forward in technology that can enable these things to happen. It's as if Creative Assembly has lost its creative spark, leaving us longing for the groundbreaking innovations of previous entries.
Lastly, it's important to address the ambitious campaign elements that have attempted to introduce complexities reminiscent of Paradox games. Games like this are a dime a dozen. While admirable in theory, some argue that Total War's strength lies not in grand strategy, but rather in immersing players in a specific time period and delivering epic real-time battles. The focus on intricate campaign mechanics risks overshadowing the very essence that made Total War captivating: the ability to step into the shoes of historical figures, witness their struggles, and shape the fate of empires through the chaos of warfare. Placing too much weight and emphasis on the campaign map detracts from the unique value Total War delivers in the form of real time battles literally no other studio can match.
The Total War franchise stands at a crossroads, grappling with divisive changes and varying expectations within its dedicated community. The battle mechanics, artistic direction, the influence of Warhammer on historical titles, questionable time periods (among other myriad talking points) are all aspects that fuel heated debates. Moreover, the balance between immersive battles and intricate campaigns has become a delicate tightrope walk. It's crucial for us, as passionate fans, to engage in constructive dialogue and express our desires for a franchise that both honors its roots and evolves to captivate new generations.
submitted by kloppsbeard to totalwar [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:01 House_of_Suns /r/QOTSA Official Band of the Week 22: ZZ TOP

Sometimes a band gets so big that they somehow outshine themselves. They reach a point in their career where it does not matter if they release a new album or not; fans just want to see them tour. No one gave a damn that Led Zeppelin had not released a new album since the 1970’s; everyone just wanted to see them play again at the O2 Arena in 2007. When The Who played the Super Bowl halftime show in 2010 they had only released one new album in 28 years, and no one cared. And no one cares that Guns & Roses aren’t making new music. They still packed arenas to see how much cake Axl had packed into himself.
We’re going to take a dive into a blues power trio from down south who have zero need to release any new music, since their recording career stretches back over five decades. They had amazing and groundbreaking success in the ‘70s, the ‘80s, and the ‘90s before hitting the max level. Instead of playing to win, they now play for fun. Their sexually charged lyrics and videos inspired generations of teens to both dress better and worry about their fly. And you can bet that their fuzzy, bluesy tight sound had a huge impact on our very own desert dwellers.
It’s time for us to take a walk with That Little Ol’ Band from Texas. This week’s featured artist is the legendary ZZ TOP
About Them
The Power Trio is a tested and true format for a rock band. Lots of examples come to mind: Cream. Rush. The Police. Biffy Clyro. King Buffalo. Them Crooked Vultures. (Wait a sec. Just three members? Clearly, not everything is bigger in Texas.)
There is a member joke there somewhere, but I just can’t get it to come. Hmm. Perhaps it will come if you play with it a bit.
Hey! Stop that. Get your mind out of the gutter.
ZZ Top’s original and founding member was William Frederick Gibbons. Born in Houston in 1949, the front man was originally a drummer but, after studying with Tito Puente in New York City, picked up the guitar at age 13. His dad was a musician in show business, which allowed Billy to get an insider’s view of the industry. By the late ‘60s, he had been in and founded a number of bands and had even befriended the late great James Marshall Hendrix. One of his first bands, a psychedelic/art house band called The Moving Sidewalks, toured with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This meant that Gibbons was actually mentored by Snagglepuss himself. They also toured with The Doors, where Gibbons saw the legendary self-destructive band somehow manage to rise above conflict and make music every night. The Moving Sidewalks generated a following all of its own with a couple of hit songs, and things seemed to be headed in the right direction.
Things were going absolutely great until bassist Don Summers and keyboard player Tom Moore were drafted into the army to fight in Vietnam. Don't you just love the ‘60s?
Gibbons and drummer Dan Mitchell added a new keyboard player, Lanier Greg, and tried to make another run at it. But the chemistry was all wrong. Gibbons rechristened the band as ZZ Top (an homage to BB King), and declared that he wanted more of a straight up rock approach than the art-house kaleidoscopic sound.
Gibbons, Mitchell, and Greg (isn’t it weird when last names are also first names too?) recorded the single Salt Lick in 1969. This generated a bunch of interest and a recording contract. Decisions over the direction of the band ensued and it quickly became clear that Mitchell and Greg did not agree with Gibbons’ hard rock approach. That ended up being a poor life decision for them, but a great one for a couple of other guys.
Clearly, Gibbons needed a new rhythm section.
Fortunately, he found a package deal.
Dusty Hill and Frank Beard - also both born in 1949 - had been playing together on the Dallas-Houston-Fort Worth circuit in a number of bands, including The Warlocks, The Cellar Dwellers, and a fake cover band called The Zombies. Both the Duster and the (then ironically) beardless Beard also heard the siren call of rock and roll. Hill was classically trained and was an accomplished cello player before moving to his signature bass. Frank ‘Rube’ Beard appears to have been born with drumsticks in his hands (which I imagine might have been uncomfortable for his mom).
Beard joined the band first, along with bassist Billy Ethridge, who had played with Stevie Ray Vaughn. Ethridge balked at signing a contract and so joined Mitchell and Greg on the list of ZZ Top’s former members. Their lineup was set. Hill and Beard anchored the band in a rock-solid, tight, bluesy fashion. Gibbons meshed perfectly with this duo, and his Hendrix-inspired guitar work was on another level. Hill provided backing vocals, and Gibbons’ low throaty growl was an impressive counterpoint to his soaring fretwork. The talent was all there; now they just needed to record some music.
But success was not instantaneous, not by a long shot.
Their first album - appropriately called ZZ Top’s First Album - gives insight into who the band were to become. In this 1971 release, you can hear their raw sound. The record peaked at 201 on the charts, and had only one single - (Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree. It did give them material to go out and tour. The boys gelled on that tour and went back into the studio with renewed energy, and emerged with 1972’s Rio Grande Mud. The disc was a step forward in refining their sound. The album almost cracked the top 100, and the only single - Francine - went all the way to number 69.
But the band knew that their third album, Tres Hombres, was something special. It is the epitome of Southern Rock: bluesy, fast paced, sexy, and irreverent, it is just over half an hour of pure magic. And while the album went gold and peaked at number 8 on the charts and is worth your time, it was one particular single that rocketed them to stardom. You know it and you love it, and a-how-how-how-how: La Grange. It is still in heavy rotation on classic rock stations today. And why not? The song is an absolute banger of boogie woogie blues, written about a visit to a whorehouse. What’s not to love?
La Grange propelled them to popularity. Tours sold out. Venues got bigger and bigger. 1975’s follow up album, Fandango!, was half live album (with some covers) and half new material - like an EP with bonus tracks. They covered the Elvis Presley classic Jailhouse Rock, Willie Dixon’s Mellow Down Easy, and John Lee Hooker’s Long Distance Boogie. The boys had rock and blues chops, and had 5 years of touring experience. These were bold statements that cemented their musicality as well as honoring their roots. But side two of the disc had another track that you’ve come to love. You ain’t asking for much: You’re just lookin’ for some Tush. Tush was the perfect sexually charged follow up to ensure that they were not one-hit wonders. It was written in a ten-minute spasm of creativity at a sound check, and has gone on to be one of their most popular songs.
While Tush topped the charts, ZZ Top went back into the studio to record their full length follow up, 1976’s Tejas. The name of the album means ‘friends’ in the Indigenous Caddo language, and was the basis for the name of the state. You know what that means? It means that the name of the state is ‘Friends’. Just like the ‘90s sitcom. Don’t mess with Friends. Anyways, this was an album of experimentation for the band, and unlike its predecessor it came out half baked at best. Billy Gibbons has called it a transition album. What actually happened is the band transitioned into a hiatus from touring and recording, taking some significant time off. They had recorded five albums in six years and spent virtually all their time on the road. The latest effort was just not up to their standards and was a step back. It also completed their recording contract.
What was the solution to this burn out?
Facial hair of course.
The boys took a few years off before landing another recording contract, this time with Warner. Over those months, both Gibbons and Hill grew what would become their signature long ‘Texas Goatee’ beards. Frank Beard did not grow a beard (though he did finally succumb to peer pressure from his bandmates in 2013, and his is much more neatly trimmed). So while they were resting/relaxing/getting their groove back/aligning their chakras or whatever, they also started to reinvent their signature sound as the world moved towards a decade of legendary excess.
The first step on this reinvention journey was 1979’s Degüello. The title literally means ‘decapitation’ but idiomatically refers to a fight to the death. Clearly, the band decided to tackle their transition head on. The album was not as successful as Tres Hombres or Fandango!, but it was not the flop that Tejas was. It did spawn a couple of singles - I Thank You (which was a cover) and the signature hit Cheap Sunglasses. Both are staples at ZZ Top concerts to this day. Degüello was quickly followed up in 1981 by the album El Loco. This was really the first time ZZ Top incorporated a synthesizer into their sound. As you know, the synth was THE new wave sound of the 1980s. Gods help us, keytars were once popular. But Gibbons, Hill, and Beard did not abandon their edge. The single Pearl Necklace was an immensely popular innuendo laced tune from this album. And no, I will not explain what a pearl necklace is to you.
Ask your mom.
Over the course of their first seven albums, ZZ Top had steadily grown in popularity and become a truly extraordinary live band. More than a decade of touring together meant that they had not just cut their teeth. They had found the Tooth Fairy, beaten her senseless, and added fangs to their jaws. They were ready to tackle whatever came their way.
Their huge breakthrough coincided with the birth of music videos and MTV. 1983’s Eliminator was an absolute monster of an album. ZZ Top were everywhere. They completely embraced the Music Video as a medium and became pioneers in this new genre. They branded their band with a 1933 fire-engine red Ford Coupe, which was on the cover of the album. They even had a signature hand gesture that they used as the car went by. The car belonged to Billy Gibbons and embodied his hot rod obsessions. It was featured in the videos for Gimme All Your Lovin’, Sharp Dressed Man, and Legs. Other singles from the album included Got me Under Pressure and TV Dinners. Eliminator is still the band’s most successful album. They were at the absolute height of their popularity with a massive audience. No doubt the 10-year-old Joshua Michael Homme watched those videos on a small screen in the California desert, little knowing that he would one day collaborate with Gibbons.
Seeking to capitalize on the popularity, the band went back into the studio and released Afterburner in 1985. It featured the signature hot rod on the cover and spawned two more singles - Sleeping Bag and Velcro Fly. Afterburner was not an innovative album by any stretch of the imagination. It simply built on the success of Eliminator and replicated the sound. If you blended the two albums together it would be very difficult for a novice fan to guess which song came from which disc. But hell, when you release the most popular album of your career and are earning millions of dollars for that sound, it is not time to mess with success. Or with Texas. Or with Friends (though Ross was a pain in the ass, IMHO).
That desire to not screw up a good thing was also evident in their next release, the retrospective re-release Six Pack. This was a great way to earn some bucks with a simple repackaging of existing tracks - I’m looking at you, K-Tel… - and introducing them to another generation of fans. This was not a bad thing at all - you gotta get that green whenever you can, because fame can be fleeting.
ZZ Top closed out the decade by going Back to the Future. Literally. They appeared in the third installment of the Michael J. Fox trilogy as the olde-timey house band (complete with rotating guitars) in the saloon scene. The single and signature song from the movie, Doubleback, appeared on their 1990 release Recycler. The album spawned two more singles: My Head’s in Mississippi and Concrete and Steel. Recycler was not as successful as its predecessors, but it did effectively max level the band. In the 1970’s they were a scuffling bar band that hit it big. In the 1980’s they were one of the most popular bands of the MTV generation. And in the 1990’s they achieved superstardom. They had hit the level where it truly no longer mattered if they ever released new material again. They could simply tour on their back catalogue alone and sell out stadiums.
It is clear that the band realized this as well. In the thirty years since Recycler came out, they have released five albums of new material: Antenna in 1994, Rhythmeen in 1996, XXX in 1999, Mescalero in 2003 and the critically acclaimed and Rick Rubin produced La Futura in 2012. This was equivalent to their output in their first six years.
In contrast, they have released no less than eight greatest hits albums, cover albums and live albums in the same time span. Greatest Hits came out in 1992. One Foot in the Blues was released in 1994. The massive compilation Chrome, Smoke & BBQ came out in 2003, and is a fantastic place to start if you are a new fan. Rancho Texicano was released in 2004, Live from Texas came out in 2008, and Double Down Live hit shelves in 2009. Live at Montreaux came out in 2013 and Tonite at Midnight: Live Greatest Hits from Around the World was released in 2016.
As recently as 2019, there were rumors that a new album was in the works for our Septuagenarian heroes. Lord knows the boys from Texas have nothing left to prove to anyone.
It was then that tragedy struck. Dusty Hill had to leave the band during a tour in 2021. The reason given was a hip injury. His guitar tech, Elwood Francis, filled in. Shockingly, Hill died at home at the age of 72 just five days after leaving the tour.
Fans were shocked and mourned the stalwart bassist. Per his wishes - and it seems he knew something wasn’t quite right - ZZ Top did not break up. Francis replaced Hill on bass, and the band soldiered on. In 2022, they released Raw, a soundtrack for a 2019 documentary about them. This was Hill’s final release.
You can still catch them on tour. They are going to be out there this summer, touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd, for something they are calling ‘The Sharp Dressed Simple Man’ Tour.
Go buy some tickets. Don’t miss your chance to see a truly iconic band before they are gone.
Links to QOTSA
The Reverend Billy F. Gibbons was a big part of the Lullabies to Paralyze album by our Desert Dwellers. He played guitar and provided backing vocals on Burn the Witch. He was co-lead vocalist and lead guitar on the QotSA cover of Precious and Grace, which he originally released as a ZZ Top tune on the Tres Hombres album. He also provided the guitar stylings for Like a Drug.
But the connections don't stop there. Billy sang the lead vocal track on the recent Desert Sessions tune Move Together, and he played guitar on Noses in Roses, Forever.
What may be most important to QotSA fans is that Gibbons was the first person, almost two years ago, who hinted that Queens were working on a new album.
And now we know he was right. Never doubt a Reverend.
Their Music
Salt Lick
(Somebody Else Been) Shaking your Tree
La Grange -- Live on Howard Stern
Jailhouse Rock
Tush -- a fan made video. It is not subtle.
Cheap Sunglasses
Pearl Necklace -- Live
Gimme All Your Lovin’
Sharp Dressed Man
Legs -- the ultimate makeover video
Got Me Under Pressure -- Live at Montreaux
Sleeping Bag -- Let’s go out to Egypt and check out some heads...
Velcro Fly -- also somehow in Egypt
My Head’s In Mississippi
Concrete and Steel -- vintage video
I Gotsta Get Paid -- from La Futura
Show Them Some Love
Previous Posts
Alice in Chains
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Rage Against The Machine
Run the Jewels
Royal Blood
Arctic Monkeys
Ty Segall
Eagles of Death Metal
Them Crooked Vultures
Led Zeppelin
Greta Van Fleet
Ten Commandos
Screaming Trees
Sound City Players
Iggy Pop
The Strokes
All Them Witches
submitted by House_of_Suns to qotsa [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 13:00 FitAttention504 Being dismissed and not getting a diagnosis for my heart and sleep related concerns.

Hello all,
I have been going through a very rough phase over the past few months and it looks like now the focus my health issues is heart anxiety, stomach issues and sleep anxiety. I'm still unsure if I can call it anxiety or legit issues because of lack of diagnosis.
I'm someone who has had higher resting heart rate throughout life, mostly around 80s and above.
But since the past few weeks, every night after 8 or 9PM, my heart rate starts to go down from 70s-80s to 60s and then 50s as soon as I sit down or lie down, sometimes even while I may be standing it can start dipping low. This has reduced my mobility at night and affected my work as well as I have to sometimes work around those hours. Sometimes its also happening during day hours but mostly it's a night occurance.
It's a daily occurrence now where after this time, my heart rate starts to go down aggressively into the 50s and sometimes along with it the blood pressure also goes down. During sleep, the heart rate remains in 40s and early 50s but even if I wake up from sleep at night to go to toilet or drink water, the heart rate seems to stay at those low numbers, i.e. 40s and 50s unless I get up and start walking.
It sometimes feels like the natural sleep mode or clock of my body and heart is set at 8 or 9 pm and it goes just down after that. Due to this my sleep is severely affected as well as it sometimes causes chest pains, sometimes my hands or feet get numb, sometimes it feels like the whole body is under a lot of pressure and lacks oxygen or blood. I also often wake up with pressure on head or light headaches.
I wake up every day with high heart rate and palpitations and spend the entire day worrying about the night and my heart and keep monitoring my heart rate and blood pressure.
I had an appointment and a follow up with cardiologist and he did the ECG and echo and said it looked fine and I'm just stressing over it for no reason, my worry is that those were done during day time and these issues come up at night every day and the results or his opinion may not be taking entire situation or all symptoms into account. I also had other routine bloodwork and tests done within the last quarter with normal results.
Shall I get more testing done which the doctor didn't recommend or should I just try to forget about it and see how it goes? I'm extremely anxious about heart related issues, so it's very difficult for me to overcome this.
Can it be just anxiety and stress causing this lowering of heart rate for some reason? Can it be daily panic attacks? Can it be issues with the vagus nerve Or nervous system? Or can it be some other underlying condition like heart issue or sleep disorder that remained undiagnosed?
Aside from these issues, I also suffer from weakness in body and dizziness every other day and have a very upset stomach that's making things worse.
Anyone else has gone through similar issues? Any recommendations on dealing with it? The doctors are brushing it off and I'm extremely scared that it may be some critical disease that remains undiagnosed. I'm unable to sleep almost every day and waking up tired or confused for weeks with dry mouth. I understand that it may well be anxiety but I have never seen such physical symptoms of anxiety and thus am I bit worried.
Really in need of some suggestions and support.
Some necessary data below:
Age is 27 M 68kg No medical conditions
submitted by FitAttention504 to AskDocs [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 12:49 Tr1f0rc3_hYruL New BVM (A20) = New setup :)

New BVM (A20) = New setup :)
Got myself a BVM A20 with the original BKM 68x card for a good deal, taken right out of a working professional environment to a used broadcast equipment warehouse, then remained unused for a couple of years there until now, has a good amount of hours on it and needs to be calibrated a bit but still looks fantastic. My trusty BVM 14G1E on the left was my daily driver, very low hours, sharpest thing I’ve ever witnessed, color calibrated and all that good stuff. The 14G is a dedicated TATE setup for now but that probably will change as the setup evolves, SD content looks incredible on it that I’d say it looks way better than the BVM A20 in its current state or even my old JVC DT-V1910CG which I sold years ago so I’d rather keep it in normal orientation in the future but we’ll see. The steel wire shelf is new, I’ve seen a good amount of people using similar shelves and it holds up really well, my setup can accommodate so much more now, and my extron crosspoint is finally seeing use, I can setup multiple monitors etc, great shelf. DC, PS2, and Wii using component cables, DC by retro gaming cables and ps2/wii by Hd retrovision. Something to note about the DC cable is that it syncs fine with the bkm68x, no skewing or whatever, was a pleasant surprise. The Red box between the monitors is my Mister, using d3fmods ironclad itx board. The mister and the n64 are connected through rgb composite sync, not much to say other than that about them. Very happy with the setup so far, apologies for the long post and the not so good pictures, still learning how to take good ones on iPhone :,). Thanks for reading
submitted by Tr1f0rc3_hYruL to crtgaming [link] [comments]


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2023.06.02 12:44 Unfair-Marsupial-358 CIG Really Needs to Clarify Where We Can Sell Which Ship Weapons/Components

Originally I thought that you can sell the weapons and components to the same shops that sell them but after flying around for a couple hours trying to sell some weapons and components I got off a ship, I realized that isn’t always the case.
It isn’t really worth flying around for several hours playing the guessing game on what shop will buy them, especially when most weapons you get are around 1k aUEC. I get they did this to stop exploiters from salvaging their own ships but if the prices are going to be this low at least let us sell them anywhere.
I’m really considering making a list of which shops buy which weapons and components, but it’s definitely going to take a lot of time… and money, but if others are having the same problem I am I feel it would be worth it.
submitted by Unfair-Marsupial-358 to starcitizen [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 12:35 whatsablurryface21 Dealing with employer leading up to top surgery?

So I've got my top surgery booked for July 25th (only known since May 25th so I gotta move fast with the planning). I told my boss the next day, but I didn't tell her what it was about because I don't wanna come out to her if I don't have to. Just said I'm having surgery on July 25th and will need 6 weeks off. She asked if she could see a letter from the hospital but the only letter I have that has the date, is plastered with "chest contouring" "mastectomy", literally "breast" is one of the first words on the paper lol.
I'm aware that there's no legal obligation for me to show her anything, I'm obviously not gonna come in the day after surgery just because they didn't believe me or whatever, I'm not even eligible for sick pay from my job yet so telling them at all is just a courtesy thing as far as I'm concerned.
The issue is that I do a lot of lifting at work, and also it means I'm wearing my binder (and lifting with it on) for a minimum of 6 hours a day, but most days it's 9-10.5 hours. And I've been asked to wear my binder for a maximum of 6 hours for the last 6 weeks before surgery. Going binderless at work is a no-go, I'm always stood up and I work in retail so I'd rather stick pins in my eyes. I have a really big chest and I get misgendered enough as it is.
I told my manager "I'll need to do less hours in the last few weeks before surgery because it'll affect my healing if I don't, and I'll also need to be lifting less", I don't need a ton of hours, I only need about 25 to be okay because I live in a house share so bills are low-ish. 5 or 6 hours a day, 5 days a week for a few weeks would be both fine for me and would mean I was doing my contracted hours. My manager seemed receptive to that because she suggested that I use some holidays for it, but then looking at the new rotas, I've been put in for 43 hours the week before my surgery. My longest ever week I've done at this job even. It just seems a bit intentional.
I know a lot of people don't decrease their binding because they need to work and that sucks for mental and physical preparation and the risks and stuff. But even though it's not ideal, I can! And I want to, but they don't seem to want to let me. I've also thought about having just a couple holiday days per week to bring up the pay while reducing hours a bit. I also have OCD around my health, so I'm struggling a lot as it is and I'd feel extremely uncomfortable knowing there's something I could do to better my chances, and not being able to do it.
submitted by whatsablurryface21 to transgenderUK [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 12:30 atmospheresky292993 Is this bad? (heart rate issue after eating a lot of magnesium)

university age female normal bmi
My resting heart rate is always pretty high, around 80 when i'm at my most rested and least stressed, and most of the time 90+. most commonly 100-120+ because of the adhd stimulant medication i take. it NEVER goes under 77.
Lately I was feeling palpitations, and I have POTS and inappropriate sinus tachycardia, and i could feel it even more after taking my medications, so i decided to pause taking them. Today instead of taking any stimulant medication I only took around 800 mg magnesium(half in morning half at night), 5 grams omega 3 oil, 300 mg alpha gpc, and 100 mg grapeseed extract. I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary to happen.
I have also been taking quite high dosages of magnesium(700-1000 mg) and omega 3s the past few days because of the same reason. It did seem to provide relief the past few days and would bring my heart rate down from 100s to around 70-80, but but my HR would still go back up a few hours later, even when one day i took 1000 mg magnesium.
Today i measured my heart rate and it was the lowest I have ever seen it in my life and I am a bit worried. It was going all the way down to 60 at rest and felt like it would drop below any second, and it was going all over the place as usual though, spiking up at the slightest movement probably since I have inappropriate tachycardia, and went up to 90 as expected from POTS when I stood up(normally it goes to 110+ from 80-90 when I stand up. If my normal heart rate is 80-90 and usually even higher, I feel like it's not normal for it to get this low just through supplements in 1 day only, when athletes only have their low heart rate through exercising for months.
Is this safe for me? Could this cause bradycardia and then cardiac arrest while I'm sleeping? I want to go to sleep right now but am afraid to since the magnesium probably isn't even fully absorbed yet. I don't know how much danger I would be in if I went below 60 bpm and into bradycardia while asleep.
I don't think the 400 mg magnesium i took a few hours ago is even fully absorbed yet, yet my heart rate is still this low. I don't know if I overdosed on it, I didn't think I would since many patients are treated for arrhythmias with 800-1000 mg per day.
edit: i officially went into bradycardia
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2023.06.02 12:26 rex9802 Thinking of going to Law School (Mid Life)

I am debating taking the plunge and going to Law School. Is it worth it? I am currently 42.
In college I was planning on attending law school but after a few years at my first job in the state legislature I grew tired of politics and it skewed my feelings. I then took a job with a real estate developer and pursued my MS. in real estate instead. Shortly after graduating with my masters (2008) I started (and sold) my own commercial construction but since then my career has not been what I’ve wanted it to be.
Recently I started another small construction company that is a one-man show doing a very specialized service, which I have gained notoriety for as doing this one specific thing extremely well. However, I am honestly not sure why I am a stand out person in this field because it is a VERY simple process and I fear my niche might get overcrowded in the future.
I have a wife and 3 kids under the age of 10. I currently earn $150k.
My decision to consider law school is because of career security, potential for higher salary and personal desire.
My personal desire comes from a few places.
I find law VERY interesting and I appreciate the intricacies found within the written law. I enjoy hearing about an issue and weighing the facts against case law to help determine the situation. I find real estate contracts and leases to be works of art and I’ve enjoyed writing them in the past 20 years as I’ve always managed various rental properties.
I am also up for a challenge. Since selling my company in 2015, I feel a void in my career where I am not striving for something exceptional. I do great work today but I kind of feel like I am in semi-retirement as I work some days 2 or 3 hours (I do work 6 days per week and have my share of 12 hour days).
Money (salary) is a concern for me as I make great money now but I am not sure of the longevity. I lost a bulk of my funds from my company sale on a business I tried to start a few years ago (I am an entrepreneur, this is the cost). But my concerns with law school tuition are low because I will only take the plunge if I am certain it will ultimately pay for itself (will it?).
I live outside of Baltimore, but after school would even consider a move to DC if there is a benefit in salary (which I am sure there is). I also have to consider my 3 kids (who will be starting college in 8 years and are currently enrolled in private school).
So- what do you think?
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2023.06.02 12:26 a_pond_full_of_coins Lonely after a year of uni

Ever since starting uni last year I’ve felt so lonely. I tried really hard making friends the first semester, but I felt like I never really got accepted and I ended up just not trying after that. I also struggled with Tourette’s syndrome, which got worse at uni. Most days I either have too many tics to do anything, or I’m just depleted of energy, so I’ve ended up just not going to lectures. I’ve volunteered at student organizations, but that mostly makes me feel even more isolated. Everyone already know each other, and I just feel like an extra that no one really wants there.
I have a lot of acquaintances: people I’ve met at events and see maybe every second month, and classmates I’ve kind of befriended but then fell out of contact with after skipping lectures. I just don’t have any deeper friendships. I have my boyfriend, and he is absolutely lovely, but he isn’t a substitute for a friend group.
I feel awkward around people, and they pick up on it. I was already a bit awkward before my Tourettes got worse, but now I feel like I have absolutely no social skills. I’m so scared of ticcing in front of people, and holding back constantly makes me look odd and uncomfortable. I’m just unable to relax in front of people, and it shows. Alcohol is often involved when I meet new people, and I often get shitfaced to hide my awkwardness and loneliness. It probably doesn’t make me look great. Last weekend when I hung out with my bf and his friends I got blackout drunk in two hours and low-key tried to pick a fight with one guy. He was being rude to me though and I didn’t do anything worse than teasing him a bit too much.
Tldr; I’ve made no real friends in my first year of uni, my Tourette’s is making my life hell, I’ve got bad social skills, and I’m generally kind of unlikeable.
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2023.06.02 12:25 Rhion-618 Just One Drop - Ch 88

Chapter 88 - From All I Believed

Morning, Two days before Shel
Captain Setar suppressed a smile as she watched the Ops door close. “Well, that was interesting…Ce’lani is a little cranky.” The last vestiges of sleep clung to her as she settled down into the command chair. She felt worn out, but it was the cusp of dawn, and Pod Seven had only just turned over control. “Report on station?”
“The perimeter’s secure,” Jelki replied crisply, pulling up the map of the campus on the main screen. “Pod One is on station and reports twelve by twelve. Sgt Ma’reis is already complaining about janitor duty.”
“Ah, first pod problems.” Setar shook her head, rubbing her eyes and blowing gently on her mug of tea. “What about the objective?”
“The objective’s secure,” Re’lan piped up, already sounding chipper. The woman could have been priestess of Jrafell. Her unwavering cheeriness would have been a character fault if she weren’t so devoted. As it was, it was a damned penance for everyone else at this time of day.
Jelke finished running the obligatory shift change checks and stretched. Things wouldn't get interesting until breakfast, but watching the perimeter was a given. It didn't keep the curiosity out of her voice, as she cocked her head and glanced over. “What was interesting with Captain Ton’is, Ma’am?”
“Mm! Well… it appears she’s expecting a call from Professor Warrick today,” Setar drawled out, taking a moment to savor their reaction. “She felt a need to remind me she’s devoted to Hele, and that if Be’ona or I let her sleep through the call, she’s going to ‘fuck us up the ass with a lasrifle and pull the trigger’.”
Re’lan was probably blushing like a cadet, but Jelke shook her head ruefully. “I expect there's a ‘but’ in there somewhere, Captain?”
“Well, yeah, she said that’s where the rifle would go…” Setar sniggered before taking a long sip from her tea, and slid a bit lower in the command couch. Her eyes wandered to the traffic on the board. “She also made it clear what’ll happen if anybody listens in.”
Thoughtful silence descended. Setar almost counted to twelve before-
“We’re going to anyway, right Captain?” Jelke asked nonchalantly. “You know, for security’s sake?”
“Sergeant, that would be a base infringement of Captain Ton’is’ privacy, which is in fucking short supply for everyone in this bunker.” She rubbed her chin thoughtfully, watching the steam rise from her mug. “Deeps right we are.”
_ _ _
Lady Wicama regarded her guest with interest as their autocab plied its way about the outskirts of Prelitauri. While she’d been free and cheerfully able to accommodate Khelira’s request, Monsignor Santino Barcio, or Friar Barcio, as he preferred, was not at all what she’d been expecting. She supposed it was a matter of exposure…
The Palace had never quite been the same since Princess Yn’dara’s wedding. Yn’dara was one of those odd Royals who, though well-regarded, was seldom in the public eye. A perennial favorite of the Empress, indulging her unexplained absences passed as a matter of course for the Court. Widely known to be estranged from her mother, Princess Arduina, no one enquired either deeply or often, so when she suddenly resurfaced, her return would have equally passed without comment… if not for the wedding.
Yn’dara had shocked the entire Nobility.
While it was common for any woman to marry into an established family and become a kho, the wedding should have been singular for a Princess. Princesses didn’t marry into families, Princesses formed them. And while Yn’dara technically had done so, she’d taken on four unmarried women at the same time as her husband, who was a Human! Favorite or no, the wags in the court were agog that the Empress accepted Adam so readily! The Empress, however, had been adamant; Yn’dara and her family had her blessings, and were to be left alone.
However, time had proven to be on Yn’dara’s side as well as the Empress.
After a wedding seen across the galaxy, Yn’dara’s family settled into a life of public duty. They spent long trips away from Shil, and while quietly dismissed as ‘pleasure excursions’, her trips often showed the throne to the outer provinces. Although her public engagements were few, she’d become a vocal advocate of the Empress’ reforms against graft and corruption, and, gradually, the jealous mutters about scandalous excess and Human debauchery faded away. Her marriage remained an unusual footnote, but time had demonstrated the value of Yn’dara and her wives to the throne.
Then there was Prince Adam.
Rumor held the Prince had made a favorable impression on the Empress years before, at an event hosted by Yn’dara’s mother. While details had never been forthcoming, a more significant story about Adam wafted briefly through the ranks of the Golden Glaives.
Both stories had been effectively silenced, but Wicama knew who to talk to, and being Khelira’s guardian carried a certain clout all its own. Though that influence waxed and waned over the years, raising Khelira required being aware of events that could shape her future, and she’d proven herself to be discreet. Over time, doors had opened and words had flowed.
Time had been on Prince Adam’s side, as well.
As the years passed, she’d had an exposure to Prince Adam that few of the court and none of the public enjoyed. She’d been wary at first, but he’d been a good friend and mentor to Princess Khelandri before she joined the Marines, and however infrequent his presence, he always displayed a keen mind, a loving heart, and a steadfast duty to his wives. Privately, he absolutely doted on young Khelira and possessed a loyalty to the Empress that you could bend battlesteel around. The two got along famously - after all, he was a veteran.
Not Navy, mind you, but you couldn’t have everything.
And so, as Humanity began making forays upon the galactic stage, her first impression of the species had been favorable. She’d witnessed Adam mature into his role with the court, and while the issue of children remained unspoken, that faded as well. At the time, Yn’dara had been sixth in the line of succession. A year after the wedding, Kamaud’re became an adult, followed a year later by Khelandri, and the matter became largely moot.
As for a second impression on Humans, Khelira had provided enthusiastic reports about Thomas Warrick. While the Princess thrived at the Academy, Warrick seemed to be something special.
The absence of a father in her life had been a void that no woman could properly fill, but she’d done her best. Although she’d entertained a few qualms, as the months passed by, Warrick remained a positive influence. Khelira’s messages were infrequent by necessity, but she’d written about her distress over Warrick’s family and clearly been moved. Prince Adam carried his own scars, but what veteran didn’t? He hid them carefully around Khelli, and if Warrick had chosen not to, he’d provided a useful sense of perspective, instead. It was time for Khelira to grow up, and that meant facing the grist of differing opinions and ugly realities. That was what education was actually for, and Warrick seemed to be doing admirably well as a grindstone.
All of that was before the library incident, which settled her opinion once and for all. While erratic, irreverent, and capable of violence, Humans clearly could be a positive influence when channeled in the right direction. Yn’dara had shown what a good Shil’vati woman was capable of with Prince Adam, and Lady Pel’avon was following suit.
And at least the wags at the Palace wouldn’t speak of Yn’dara’s state wedding again. As a subject for spectacle, Miv’eire Pel’avon’s had put it to shame.
Still, it was good to see Warrick married. While Professor Ha’meres scandalous exploits had faded from the public eye, older wo… more mature women didn’t forget such things. The man had been a daring adventurer - and an inveterate gadabout - and an unmarried man around that many young women was too tempting for some girls. A wife or two… preferably more… resolved such idle fancies. If the Pel’avon ceremony had been somewhat… questionable in taste, compared to Adam’s, it remained legally binding. Warrick was willing to settle down, and by all reports his wife had a proper sense of decorum.
Human men seemed to be a trial from the Goddess, but hopefully she and her kho-wife could sort him with time, love, and kindness.
While exposure to only two Humans was not what she’d call a comprehensive sample, in both cases her impressions had been quite positive. And so, when Khelli asked her to escort a Human Priest about the city, she’d been entirely willing.
Thus far, it had been an enjoyable morning. While there had been occasional missteps, their conversation had been delightful as they traveled from property to property. Even so, she hadn’t expected to meet such a kindred spirit.
Admittedly she’d stammered a bit when he mentioned eating the flesh and drinking the blood of his redeemer. On the other hand, she compared it to the first time she’d bled into the ocean, mingling salt in her blood with the seas. He’d turned shockingly pale, so she changed the subject. It was a purely symbolic act to Drepna - just a cut on the thumb, for goddess sake...
She’d taken extra care afterwards. Barcio could be clearly a sensitive male, but diplomacy was part of her work. Even calling her role ‘work’ was deceptive. She’d raised Khelira in every way an Empress could not.
It was easy for other women to appreciate the prestige of her position, but few understood the depth of it - or the satisfaction.
During her career in the Navy, her flotilla had provided direct support for the Empress, and they’d come to work closely over three tours. After Khelira’s birth years later, the invitation came from the Royal Household to act as her guardian, and she’d never looked back. Competition had been fierce for the prestigious position, but applying had been the best move of her life.
Empress Kamilesh loved all her children and had spent as much time with each of them as she could, but her work was all-consuming, and after her husband’s act of… Well, the Empress had been there, but she’d born her pain privately. She had lost herself in her work for many years before recovering a semblance of her former self, and her absence had taken a toll on her children. Kamaud’re had taken it the worst. Khelandri had bounced back, while everyone doted on Lu’ral. Barely more than an infant, Khelira had been far too young to remember. Wicama had been there through all of it.
It was a good life, and the princess was a delightful girl. For Wicama, the absence of a man in her life was something she’d felt now and then, but she invested her life in Khelira. The Empress treated her as a member of the family in all but name… and in a very real sense, the child you raised was your child.
Looking back, some women might insinuate she’d given up her personal life to raise another woman’s daughter. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
She had her calling - just as Friar Barcio had his.
Yes, he was a priest, and his religious strictures were very unusual. A male priest in any of the Shil’vati faiths would never be placed under such restraints, and for a man to go unmarried was noteworthy…
But she understood having a calling. Oh yes, she understood that as few others could.
After discussing his needs, they’d set out to examine three properties around Prelitauri. The Friar’s individual requirements were deceptively difficult when taken as a whole. A complex coupling a generous auditorium, ample administrative space, and he clearly needed substantial grounds to properly convey a sense of aura. Such accommodations were seldom on the market, and since he expected his colleagues to arrive in weeks, his need was immediate.
Thankfully, urban renewal moved in waves. The tides of such fashions meant Prelitauri was once again an up-and-coming area. While difficult to find, three older structures had the potential to be suitable, and so it was that she’d enjoyed learning about her guest as they explored the tiny district.
The Monsignor spoke four other Earth languages fluently. He tended to break into his native tongue and hadn’t mastered contractions yet, but his Vatikre was passable and he listened carefully, seldom needing to ask about a word. After limiting her contractions when she spoke, their conversation flowed easily.
Barcio had shown little enthusiasm for the first two properties, but their conversation regarding other matters never waned. She expanded on her devotion to Drepna, Shil and the roles of each goddess while asking careful questions of his faith. His own inquiries proved thoughtful, and he was as avid in politely asking after her beliefs as explaining his faith.
After their second hour together, she’d taken the liberty of calling Prelate Hi’meta Merlamiss. As a priestess of Drepna’s second circle, Merlamiss had proven a valuable contact over the years. Well connected, she enjoyed a good relationship with many other prelates of the Divine Halls; she also got on well with Xinfess, the Rakiri’s Speaker of the Dark Mother on Shil. A meeting with Barcio would readily open doors for his group that might otherwise prove difficult to attain, and while Barcio’s accent strained now and then, it was clear the Monsignor and the Prelate shared a questionably low sense of humor.
Given a chance, they’d probably get on famously.
Certainly, that would be a blessing. Their hunt for a suitable facility had not gone nearly so well, and while Barcio had been conciliatory toward the first two facilities, she could tell he wasn’t taken with either. The last property wasn’t high in her expectations, so she found herself casting her head to the side when it swept into view and he clasped his hands in excitement.
”*È bella!* This is beautiful,” he exclaimed. “It reminds me a bit of my childhood home in Sacile!”
She looked out at the complex with its low gabled roofs, as their cab wound up from the entrance. Beside the drive, a small river meandered through the campus past the main buildings. She tapped the console to slow their ride and considered the place in a new light. “I’m… well, a bit surprised to be honest, Friar.”
“Please! We have been traveling for hours now, and I am not holding a service.” The Friar spared her a warm smile, before gazing back at the premises. “I would take it as a great kindness if you would call me Santino.”
“Very well - on the condition you call me Wicama.” It had been some time since anyone called her by anything but title or rank, and the informality was pleasant. Still, as their autocab closed on the end of the lane, she let such thoughts go and considered the location properly.
The buildings were low, sensible cubes, but that was largely an end to it. The architect had made some unusual choices in Helkam motifs that strained understanding. A long colonnade bordered the river, and that seemed nice enough, but the buildings! Forgoing purple was one thing, but they were beige! With unusual elements and the repressively bland color scheme, it was small wonder the clerk handling the property confessed that the space had lain vacant. Its original owners went into foreclosure. The exotic design had proven unable to attract interest, laying dormant ever since.
Barcio… Santino… seemed delighted, however, and she pulled up the specifications on her omni-pad. “This site has two smaller auditoriums besides the main one, while the central building has four floors. One is underground, but all the floors face an interior atrium.”
As the cab gently halted in the car park, she climbed out to hold the door but Santino had already scrambled out and was examining the gardens with evident interest. Tall stands of parago trees were losing the last of their fronds for the year, but she had to admit the grounds were substantial. Yesterday’s storm had left the morning air cold and crisp, lending the gardens an appealing aspect. Untended since the last owners, much could be done with them.
She had given up trying to escort the Friar anywhere after their first two stops, and now they fell into an easy pace side by side as they strolled toward the main building. She turned back to the property itself. “So, this reminds you of your home?”
It wasn’t exactly Helkam architecture - domes weren’t covering every possible surface - but the builder had clearly been nodding in that direction. A promenade wound to the entry, supporting white chevrons that arced into the sky. The bright morning sky shone through clever cutouts, making the unusual design at least look light, rather than oppressive and unappealing. With a decent renovation, the facility had possibilities, and the price was comparatively low.
“*Si!* Oh, not so much like home, but there is the sense of it. I was born near the sea, and this feels… similar.” He gave her a depreciating smile before rolling his eyes. “It may not please everyone who is coming, but ‘everyone’ is not here, so I am allowed some indulgence! Better to have something waiting than nothing at all. I confess, some of my colleagues thought we’d only manage when the bridge to Messina is finished.”
“You should not have been sent ahead alone! Surely your colleagues were not that worried about a poor reception,” she tutted. Priest or no, there were decencies about a man traveling alone to be observed. “You shouldn't need a bridge to find a place for your mission. I don’t know where Messina is, but I’m certain Prelate Marlemis wouldn’t stand for it!”
“Tch! Excuse my poor efforts! The older I get, the more I remember things like yesterday. Unfortunately, the yesterdays I remember so well were thirty years ago!” Barcio smiled wryly up at her as they walked. “The ‘bridge to Messina’ used to be a saying… People dreamed of building a bridge to Sicily, and it became something that never happened. My English friends would instead say ‘when hell freezes over’. *Un'espressione volgare*, but very much to the point.”
“Ah… I’m sure we can manage something, and this could be made presentable. Maybe change the beige to a pale violet?” she offered helpfully as she made it to the door first, holding it open. “The aura inside isn’t so bad.”
“You’ve said that several times, but I do not know what you mean?” He paused in looking around the entry, which had an open foyer exposing the two floors above and led out to the atrium beyond. “What is ‘aura’? I do not think I know the word as you mean it.”
“Aura is… Hmm…” Wicama paused thoughtfully and gestured at the atrium. The interior was in better shape than the grounds, and the architect had done something clever. Not yet noon, a bevel along the top edge filled the space with sunlight. “Have you ever walked along a beach and wanted to save a shell? When you are there, that is aura… When you take the shell home and think of the beach, that is aura, but… less focused. Diminished. You sense the beach because of the shell, but you are not at the beach. Places can have aura, but it is more than character. If you move through a place and find yourself experiencing it? That is aura.”
“Mhm! *lodevole!*“I like this idea very much. It would be right at home in the Vatican. Not everyone understands a space can move the spirit, or lend power to a message.” He nodded thoughtfully as he cast his eye about the open space. “With the right advice, perhaps we can lead others to these halls.”
“Perhaps. If you tour the Palace, I hope you’ll allow me to show you about? A lot of the real gems are hidden from the public.” She watched as he wandered toward the double-helixed stairways bordering the room. Those were definitely Helkam; walking up one side without meeting someone coming down the other was an interesting experience… once. After that, they could be an absolute nuisance. Spotting the elevators, she called him back. “The nice thing is this place is inexpensive! That will pad out your funds for a good remodel.”
Wicama quietly thanked the Goddesses that the builder’s had the good sense to install normal Shil’vati-style elevators. The sides were open, granting a wide view out over the atrium. The grounds were terraced to create a small park; that could make the underground space bearable, and the plans made them seem spacious enough. Not to everyone’s taste, but pretty. “I feel bad for asking, but can you afford the building? If the price of the first two bothered you, we can find others.”
“I would not hear of it! Thank you for your concern, but we are economical with our funds, and were sent with a generous sum. This is an important venture to everyone involved,” Barcio clasped a hand over his chest, as he shook his head. “I can not thank you enough for your help! You have surely spared me weeks, and I might not have found something half so suitable. As it is, the grounds are enough to gain me converts. Father Roscio and Pastor Weber will surely plant a vineyard before the inside is half done!”
“It’s not a problem. I have plenty of time,” she replied, dismissing the matter as inconsequential. “I work at the Palace, but with the Court away and my daughter at school, I’m a bit at loose ends just now. At the very least, I insist on helping you through the paperwork. I wouldn’t put it past some realty clerks to try and overcharge you… Someone from outside Shil, that is. I’ll ensure they stick to the listing.”
“To someone not from Shil… or someone who is not Shil’vati, perhaps?” His head canted slightly to one side, but he smiled as he said it. “*Certamente!* I would not dream of preventing you, though Rabbi Kleinbaum will be bitterly disappointed she has nothing to moan about.”
“I hope you won't take this badly, as I’ve only met one Human.” Wicama gave him a smile. She was long past girlish uncertainty, and the Navy had taught her a generous measure of professional poise to go with her skills as a markswoman. “You aren’t what I expected.”
“You know the professore, then?” He sucked in a breath and pursed his lips. “I am still deciding what sort of man he is.”
“No, actually, I know another Human but I’ve not… I have not… met Professor Warrick.”
“So. You mean that I am not *un barbaro*? I am here to make sure that we are seen as something more than savage warriors, *capisci*?” He studied her expectantly. “While the Imperium is doing good work on Earth, some still live in want. The Imperium provides enough for all to survive, but not all live in plenty. We need to present ourselves well.”
”That seems like a very secular outlook.” She offered, as they rode up to the third floor. Barcio asked for an explanation of the word, and by the time they’d made their way through the first offices he had the idea.
“My church has not always troubled itself with such things, but our holy father is greatly concerned with such inequalities. He takes it upon himself to address such matters with the Governess, when their time allows.”
“Your church has a good relationship with her?”
“È straordinario! The Governess adores our food, and while she was adamant about taking quarters in the Vatican, she has taken pains not to disturb us.” He shrugged dismissively. “*Cosa sai fare?* It seemed a small price, and we have endured far worse.”
“I used to hear terrible stories about red zones on Earth, though the Humans I’ve met don't seem the sort. It is good that your… pulp?” She tried the word and was rewarded with kind laughter and a gentle correction. “It is good that your pope concerns himself with the full welfare of the people and works with your governess. Our prelates share the same concerns.”
“I thought the Empress was the head of your church? Now, I find you have many…” he groped for a word, frowning, and gave up. “*Questo accento è una prova di fede!* ‘Denominations’ is not the right word, but she is the one revered, yes?”
“Of course! The Empress has to show all of our virtues and none of our faults, but that’s part of her role. To favor any divinity over the others could cause divisions. She has her personal preferences, of course, but never lets them be known.” Wicama explained carefully. “It would be in poor taste.”
“And poor politics, I think?” Santino gave her a long look. At his height it was difficult, but he managed. “This makes sense to me now, that the Imperium leaves matters of faith alone. *Una benedizione inaspettata.*”
Despite the serious topic, his fervent reply brought a smile back to her lips. “It seems your pope considers politics as well as economics.”
“People will always defend economic theories which assume that growth will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice. This has never been confirmed by the facts, and expresses a crude trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.” He said, stopping to clasp a hand over his cross. “Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”
“That doesn't sound like scripture.” She offered cautiously, as they made their way into a wider suite of offices on the second floor.
“*Esattamente* The words of Pope Francis, a good and blessed man who appointed me to my position. His successor, his holiness John Paul the Third, is much of the same mind.” Santino said quietly. “Our savior washed the feet of others and urged all to do the same. The hardest step is to be involved. To work together for change, as well as to pray. That is why I am here.
“*I pigri di cuore trovano sempre una scusa* Some Humans, they are yet angry with the Imperium. Now they have enough, they are bitter not to have plenty. For some there is never enough - the true poverty lies within their hearts,” Santino said a bit testily. “Our faith teaches us to find salvation in eternal life, but others? *Pigrizia!* They see it as an excuse from taking agency in themselves. Jesus washed the feet of others - he did not lay down and wait for someone to wash his!”
Wicama turned the unfamiliar metaphor over in her mind but decided she had the sense of it. “Sham teaches us that helping our families and one another is the same as helping ourselves. ‘The rising tide bares us all from the reefs’.” It was a matter of faith… but that was why it was faith in the first place. On the whole, it seemed like a mature perspective that explained the changes she’d seen in Prince Adam over the years. “You’re here to meet with others, but this seems as much about knowing yourselves.”
“*Sì, non è una brutta cosa avere umiltà davanti a Dio.* Human beings, while we are capable of the worst, we are also capable of choosing the good. Of rising up to make a new start. We are entering the galaxy.” He gestured out the window at the world beyond. “If not now… when?”
_ _ _ “So, when are you going to explain this masterpiece you four have been cooking up?” Marin asked. Sammi and Sam were barely awake but the twins had already arrived, bright-eyed and enthusiastic, and Marin cursed the resilience of youth. The room was acceptably warm, but Ayen had complained about the cold and used the excuse to slip back into bed. She was considering her options for joining him.
Somewhere, somehow, Sammi had found their rabbit pajamas again. “Sam, explain it to her? You do it better.” Sammi yawned, but Marin suspected it was an act. Once something got their attention, sleep was usually an afterthought.
“What, now?” Sam had barely stumbled into the room and blinked. Bleary-eyed and barely awake, he looked like he’d been ambushed, which was exactly the case.
“Pllllllleeeease…?” They sat back pulling the ears, giving their best Roger Rabbit impression. Luminous green eyes peered out at Sam, imploringly.
“Alright… I need coffee, but fine.” Sam trudged over to the kitchenette and poked listlessly at the instant coffee. It was getting perilously low, but Marin was sure he’d brought more on the ship. Eventually Sam gestured at the K’herbhal sisters with his mug. “So the girls want to create an artificial topological soliton. It's like a black hole, except where it isn't… It's sort of a kink in space-time.”
“Made you say kink!” Sammi grinned impishly and the girls blushed. Marin shook her head but paid attention. It felt far too early after another late night, but once everyone was up you had to hang on for whatever came next.
“So, what's that got to do with this… hole you want to use for power?” Marin raised her voice just enough to drag the conversation back on track.
“It’s more like a side effect. If it cuts the right angle, it goes into a realm of space-time we can tap for power. Think of it as an obverse of an energy drain, so it's like a white hole.”
“Let me guess.” Marin shook her head and grinned, holding up a hand to forestall the inevitable. “Except where it isn’t?”
“Ummm… pretty much.” Sam grumbled, blowing at his coffee. Marin glanced back at the twins. With Sam busy, the twins had gravitated to either side of Sammi. There was room left on the couch, and she wandered over to settle in beside one of them.
The Sams had been complaining for years about a lack of ‘focal power’ for their mass compression technologies, and while a rubber duck inside a diamond was impressive, they’d wanted to do something more - a lot more. She suspected if the twins were providing the means, then they already had something about to surface from the depths of their imaginations. Over the years she’d learned to pick a bit, rather than take their answers at straight value. “And if things don’t cut at the right angle? You remember how long it took to get rid of the Navy, when you started talking about making black holes?”
“It's not our fault they didn’t understand,” Sammi said defensively, crossing their arms and pouting at her before the rabbit ears fell over their face.
“Who didn’t understand what?” Akeimei yawned at the door. She cast a wink her way before wrapping her arms around Sam and gave him a quick hug. “What did I miss?”
“Umm… a parallel universe, if the math is right,” Sam mumbled from the depths of his coffee cup.
“What? Like identical versions of us?” Marin watched Akimei’s nose wrinkled at the smell before she slipped away from Sam. Slipped down beside her, they rubbed shoulders a moment. “Tell me, is there one where I get more sleep?”
“More or less identical… though it's not like you need to go into a parallel universe for that sort of thing. There’s already a ‘you’ out there somewhere right now, to say nothing of past and future ‘you’.” Sam scratched his cheek idly for a moment “It's just the math. The universe is so vast that there are exact physical cosmic twins of us out there somewhere, not to mention even more almost-twins.”
“Sam’s right!” Sammi perked up excitedly, bouncing on the sofa. “Then there are quantum cosmic twins - which gets weird because particles exist in multiple states and you’d sort of overlap… but the easiest one is probably just another us elsewhere in the universe right now! That's sort of the point where things are since the universe is bigger than you can imagine!”
“So exactly the same… or almost.” One of the twins giggled. “Just like us!”
“Pretty much,” Sam nodded, slowly emerging from the depths of his coffee. “Another you out there on another Shil, or another me on a whole Earth, even - just a little bit different.”
“What? Like an Earth that never met the Imperium?” Marin canted her head, tossing out the obvious. It was hard to remember her life before, and she didn’t want to contemplate the alternative.
“Oh, I don't like that idea.” One of the twins stuck out her lip. “We want to come to Earth!”
“Yeah,” her sister nodded, though she suddenly looked glum. “I don’t know if Professor Warrick would mind though. He’d be with his wife and daughter, there.”
“Oh…” her sister's face crumpled. “I didn’t think of it that way.”
“Well, don’t…” Sammi hugged them both a moment, though they held the first twin a bit tighter. “The point is, somewhere he’s with them right now!”
“Wow, I guess so.” she brightened. “Just imagine! A whole Earth that never met the Shil’vati!”
“I wouldn’t worry, sis.” her twin nodded. “I think Professor Warrick is pretty happy right now.”
_ _ _
“I am not happy about this!” Tom glared at his omni-pad before tossing it down in frustration.
Miv looked up at her husband.
“It’s an honor!” She tucked her chin in and gave him a long, considered look, “What is it that’s bothering you - really? It wasn't Monsignor Barcio. Are you certain this isn't the same sort of thing?”
“Yes, I’m sure!” he growled, looking away like a guilty child. “Alright, maybe… but this uniform is the silliest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ll look like a mushroom, and the hat only makes it worse!" Tom grimaced at the omni-pad accusingly, "They won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, so now I’m on the rolls as a Warden Captain - whatever that is - and this ceremony is ridiculous!”
“The ceremony is traditional. Very symbolic... Besides, they don't make wardens out of anyone below the rank of captain - I looked it up. You were one before, so it's appropriate to make you one instead of a Warden Major or Warden Colonel.” She smiled at him serenely. “Surely, it can’t be the worst thing you’ve ever done.”
He turned to wag a finger her way. “I’ll take that bet!”
“Worse than our wedding reception…?” She crooned, teasing him. “Or maybe pre-term night? I swear by the Goddess no one will pinch your ass, except for Lea and I.”
“Fine… “ Her smile grew wider as he grumbled, but he was calming down already and there wasn't heat in it. Still, he stubbornly clung on to the point a while longer. "It’s in my top five.”
“I’m sure you’ll survive, husband. Now then, I have meetings all afternoon, so why don't you finish reviewing the menu? You’ll feel better when all this is over and you can go back to cooking, chess, or starting that eeeyiy club… You might even give Ce’lani a call or message her?” She gathered her coat and smiled demurely, though it harbored nothing innocent. “If I’m not here you’ll have perfect privacy… Just don't promise anything you wouldn't promise to me.”
“It’s iai-do…” Tom groused, but he was already picking up his omni-pad.
She blew him a kiss and made her way toward the commons. Tom would probably stew a while, but he’d make the call.
There would be time to meet with Ce’lani on the common, before she had to come home for dinner.
_ _ _
Tom looked over the banquet menu as if it might reach out and bite him. The words stared up at him with perfect innocence.
Appetizer: Fruit and Cheese Platter - Slices of various cheeses and fruits on a platter providing a delicate mix of sweet, tangy and creamy to invigorate the dining experience. Serve with a selection of sweet and semi-sweet wines.
Soup: Choice of Tomato or French Onion Soup - Served with a piece of baguette and cheese.
Salad: Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing -- an assortment of greens and fruit with a balsamic grain dressing to cleanse the palate.
Entree: Cornish Pasty - This herb-infused meat and pastry dish provides a counterpoint to the tangy taste of the salad and soup. Served with a creamy buttered mashed potato (a vegetable, humanely prepared!) with chives (also a vegetable). Served with a selection of wines or ales.
Dessert: Chef’s Sorbet Surprise - A sweet treat complemented by a palate cleanser, ending the meal on a piquant note.
His last call with Bherdin had been a trial and a half. Omni-pads were the definition of ‘high fidelity’, and hearing the little Shil’vati hyperventilate for ten minutes over the plan was pointless. At least Melondi had easier going with Vedeem on her side... one way or another this was happening.
As a final consolation, he relented on wearing matching suits. Bherdin frequently bemoaned Tom’s 'lamentable' fashion sense, and he perked up at that, promising to get him some appropriate formalwear for the occasion.
Privately, he suspected his Shil’vati friend was looking for a convenient alibi if a riot started.
In fairness, it probably wasn't a bad idea.
“Too late to use it myself…” he muttered. It wasn’t quite noon, and Miv was probably right. Instead of Chess Club or starting Iai-do practice or just cooking out at Human Food, he was stuck here at home. Miv’s place was bigger, but most of his stuff was still in boxes; it left him listless and climbing the walls. If this worked, at least things could get back to normal.
…Mostly normal…
He flipped back to the picture of the Warden uniform on his omni-pad. It was bad enough, but the hat made the whole thing look like a blue toadstool in silver filigree.
He swiped the picture away like an act of revenge, but didn’t toss the pad back on the table.
…Miv was right... and I promised to call Ce’lani…
Tom centered himself, pulling up the number. The universe was always in motion and a good Taoist accepted their part in what came. That was the lesson of ‘the Vinegar Tasters’, and it held true… The painting showed three men standing around a vat of vinegar. Each has dipped his finger into the vinegar and tasted it. The expression on each man's face showed his individual reaction.
The painting was an allegory for Confucius, Buddha, and Lao-tse. Confucius wore a sour look on his face. He believed life was out of harmony with the universe. As the second figure in the painting, Buddha had a bitter expression. Like the vinegar, life was painful and filled with attachments and desires that led to suffering. The last man, Lao-tse, was smiling at the taste. To him, harmony existed naturally and could be found by anyone at any time in any experience.
He thought about his buddy Dave. The old Marine would probably shake his head and tell him to ‘embrace the suck.’ It pretty much boiled down to the same thing.
Not that he was against calling. Miv and Lea had practically taken turns urging him on and giving their views on why it was a good idea. They hadn't harped about it, but he knew which way the wind was blowing. And Ce’lani’s message had been short, sweet in the literal sense, and the sound file she’d offered up had been…
…Pretty nice, really…
If he still said no, or decided he didn't like where this was going, they’d back his choice, of course. He didn't have a doubt in his mind… But with everything else in his life turned upside down, calling Ce’lani seemed like a calm in the eye of a storm.
…It's just a phone call. Leave the chaos at the gate…
He settled down on the couch to check his messages before giving her a call. It was nearly lunch…
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