72x80 sliding glass door home depot
Last of the Defenders - Ch 28
2023.03.21 22:27 PutridBite Last of the Defenders - Ch 28
Welcome new readers. Please start with chapter one https://www.reddit.com/HFY/comments/11ai7iv/last_of_the_defenders_ch_01/
“I‘ve always been better able to swallow bad news with a good meal,” Li said as she walked around a counter and began rifling through a tall metal closet. She pulled out two wrapped bags.Sadly, we’ll have to settle for this excrement.
Allah took the bags when offered, and a pair of bowls. Li grabbed another tiny spade, this one with a jagged edge. She opened her mouth, blowing on the spork
and rubbed it on her forearm. She stepped to a cupboard and set a cup inside. “Dispense 2.5 liters of water at 343 Kelvin, Demeter.”
Steaming hot water filled the tall glass. Li placed a second under inside the cupboard, “Repeat command, Demeter,” and the second glass filled.
She walked to the bench opposite Allah and set the glasses down. “It's hot so be careful,” Li cautioned, tearing open the smaller pouch. She poured its contents inside Allah’s bowl, “Veggie broth number one for the sick kitty,” and Allah poured the glass of hot water in as well. It looked, as the powder started to disperse into the water, like settling silt, “And soy chicken chunks with almond cheese spread for me--yum yum!” she grimaced, as she pulled out three packets. She held the smallest of the three aloft. “But I do get a cookie.”
Allah sniffed the broth, remembering to bless the meal with “Xièxiè nǐ de zhōngwén shíwù” before sipping slowly. It was weak, bland, but it was warm. She had contented herself with a few sips of water during the quorum and her belly now demanded more.
Li stabbed her spade into Allah’s glass, stirring vigorously, “Sorry,” the human said, “but look on the bright side. This time tomorrow,” she ripped off the top of the largest pouch and Allah’s nose was assaulted with a smell that could only be described as “artificial”, “you should be well enough to sample this
“I think I would prefer the broth,” and she took another sip. It did taste better when the silt was mixed. Li chuckled, pouring half her water into the large bag and ripped open another. That smelled even worse as a brown powder puffed free when water was applied. Li stirred the contents of both vigorously before pouring the orangey brown “cheese” into the freeze dried soy chicken substitute, and spooning both into her own bowl.
The human took a bite as Allah hid a wince behind another sip. Li chewed woodenly, swallowed and said “Not bad for a fifty year shelf life,” and dug back into the packets, searching. “If I know those pesky anglos--Ah ha!” She pulled out the tiniest pouch yet, ripped off the top and a smell Allah could only describe as tamed fire struck her nostrils as the human squeezed red liquid into her meal. “Hot sauce!” Li grinned and took another bite, nodding, “but I should’ve saved it for the cookie.”
Allah nodded acceptance of the tip and finished her broth.
“Want some more?” Li asked as she chewed.
“I would be honored by such a gift,” Allah nodded her head up and down, imitating the human response. Though, truth told fully, she was not so certain she would feel as honored by a second bowl.
Li did not get up, but instead pointed at the packet the broth had been contained in. “See those symbols?” Allah nodded, committing the human glyphs to memory. “Go find a matching pouch.”
Allah stood, sniffing and walked cautiously behind the counter. She used her claws to pop the metal closets open, gasping at the rush of cold air. Frozen air; cold as a warm winter day. She looked over her shoulder at Li, then carefully riffled through the icey box.
Several had similar glyphs as her pouch, but they were too big, the glyphs in the wrong order.
She opened another box, finding small packets of the right size but…wrong glyphs. Was the trough before the broken box with a line in its center or after. The two tails with a dash in the center had sat next to each other, she was certain…
“Need help?” Li called from the table.
“I will find it,” Allah called, “thank you for the offer.” There! Two curved tails with a dash in their middle. The trough was
before the broken box. She pulled the packet out, returning to the table with tight lips.
Li, nodded. “Good. Now,” she lifted Allah’s glass to her. “Do you remember the temperature I gave Demeter?”
“Too poin’tah f’eye’vah Li’tours,” Allah fumbled with the words.
“That's the volume,” Li corrected. “But you need both. The temperature was three hundred forty three degrees Kelvin. You try.”
T-ta-ta’ree hun der red f’or--bach! Ta’ree hun’red f’ord’ee ta’ree da’ggg’ree Kah’el vine.” It feels like I am speaking with a rock in my throat!
Li shrugged, “Welcome to English 101. Pop quiz,” she pointed to the hole in the wall. “Is to get our dim host over there to supply you with some fresh, hot water.”
Li continued eating as Allah took her glass to the square hole. She inspected the hole, say a metal nipple sticking from its top. She placed the glass directly under and began to practice.
“Dimetar! Too poin’tah f’eye’vah Li’tours va’tour. Ta’ree hun’red f’ord’ee ta’ree da’ggg’ree Kah’el vine”
“Command not recognised,” the cheerful voice replied, translated by her metal implant. “Please restate.”
Allah sighed, bit her lip and tried again. And again. Each time, Li offered hints, coaching and encouragement. Try breaking each command down, see where he misunderstood. Enunciate, don’t growl the ‘guh’ sound.
“Yes, User Allah?”
“Too poin’tah f’eye’veh Li’tours wah tour.”
“Please specify desired temperature.”
“Ta’ree hund’red fort ee ta’ree da’gah’reez Kah’el vine.”
And water poured into the glass.
Allah took her prize in her paws and returned to the table. She set it down and beamed at Li. Then clapped her paws together so sharply that the human jerked back. Allah rushed back behind the counter, grabbed her own spork and returned to sit, panting onto the tiny jagged spade before rubbing it on her forearm.
“Proud of yourself?”
“Yes,” Allah puffed out her chest and twitched her tail as she sliced the packet open with a claw. For the first time in two days, she fed herself.
“Good,” Li spooned the last of her fake chicken and cheese into her mouth, opening the cookie. “I plan to teach you some basic commands to use if you need Demeter to help you when I’m not around. How’d that sound.
Allah lowered her bowl and licked her lips with a small bow. “I will strive to be a worthy student.”
Li clapped her hands together, rubbing them furiously. “Then let's start with some ABCs,” but no sooner had the enthusiasm leap to her face, it vanished.
Allah lowered her bowl in mild alarm.
Li held up a hand, her human face squishing in confusion. “Jung’s hailing me. Priority transmission. One sec,” and her eyes glassed over.
And just as quickly the human’s eyes widened in alarm “What!?!” Li stood up from the bench, jostling the table. “No, n-no. Hold it.” She looked at Allah, glowering. “Jung, repeat that last aloud.”
The AI’s voice spoke from the wall speaker “Li, these are confidential orders. I don’t like keeping secrets any more than you do--”
“It directly concerns her, Jung,” Li growled.
“Very well,” and the AI’s voice sounded resigned as he said “Stardancer and her assigned personnel are hereby ordered to leave OGLE-3219-BLG-2624L with all available haste and set course for the supply depot above Basker III. Shipboard AI is required to reconfirm receipt of message once personnel have digitally signed the read receipt.”
“And I’ll mate a monkey
before I sign excrement
! And neither are you, buckethead!”
“Li,” Jung soothed, “you must understand, this is a fleet command order. I am incapable of refusing such an order. If you fail to acknowledge receipt, they will ask me if it was delivered. I would be incapable of dissemination.”
“Tell them the transmission was garbled,” she countered.
“What does this mean?” Allah asked, growing alarm blossoming into new panic.
“That will not work as I have already sent my own read receipt,” Jung replied.
“Why the mate did you do that?”
“I was ordered to via direct transmission.”
“What does this mean?” Allah forced the distressed purring to stop. She would not shake herself to uselessness. Li, Jung, what has happened?”
“They’re calling us home!” Li rounded and slammed her fists on the counter. “Without any notice of a reinforcement team.”
The human turned, a wild savagery in her dark eyes as she turned to look at Allah. The U’knock stood slowly but refused to back away in fear.
When Li spoke, spittle flew from her clenched teeth.
“We are not just leaving these people to die.”
“I empathize, Li,” Jung’s tone was soft, comforting. All Allah knew was that her world was about to die. No tone could comfort that grief. “But our orders are clear,” he continued. “If you disobey, they may begin sending instructions to Demeter to forcibly remove you.”
“Alright, alright.” Li took several calming breaths, in through her tiny nose and out through her mouth. “Alright,” and her voice retained a false calm. “Jung? Request reconfirmation on my authority. Ask them why they’re ignoring a Case Alamo.”
“I can send it immediately,” the AI replied
“You’ll send in a second,” she took another calming breath before saying “And Jung? Send it in the clear.”
,” Jung’s voice was flat to the point of refusal, “is a violation of Secure Communication Protocol 23.9, section A, and a court-martial offense, Corporal Zhōu.”
“On my authority as acting ground forces commander of,” she paused and looked at Allah, “did your people ever name this planet?”
Allah nodded “U’dam,” she answered.
“Ground forces commander of U’dam. Note your protest, Jung, and confirm when you send the message.
“Noted,” but the AI sounded reluctant. “Sent.”
“Now,” she rubbed her face with her hands, “cut yourself out of the local circuit; I’ll call you back.”
“Li,” Jung protested
There was a pause of heartbeats before the AI softly said “Complying.”
Li strode to a black panel on the mess hall wall. “Demeter, PDF override. Create a new partition in primary through tertiary data cores.”
“Building partitions. What file size do you require?”
“How large is your current Operating System size?”
“Demeter-907OS is currently utilizing 8.87693 yottabytes.”
“Make the partitions 9 yottabytes each.”
“Stand by,” the wooden voice replied. “Processing.
“Clone core OS to new partitions and label them as BACKUP ONE.”
“Cloning,” Li was bouncing back and forth on the balls of her feet; in excitement, renewed anger or impatience Allah was uncertain. “Files copied.”
“Run a scan against current OS and repair any anomalous files.”
“File check complete,”Demeter replied as Li growled a hushed “Comeon!” at the black panel. “Three thousand, one hundred and eight errors repaired across all copies.”
“Seal partitions labeled BACKUP ONE under Administrator Zhōu, Li, Corporal. Serial Service Number 218-08-986-42.”
“Files sealed. Private login access required for BACKUP ONE on primary core, secondary core and tertiary core. Would you like to open these files?”
Now,” Li growled, shaking her arms like pieces of rope, “time to mate some excrement up. Demeter, access all thermopylae command files.”
“Accessing,” the wooden voice replied.
“Open program labeled ‘Naughty Boy’,” she ordered.
“Ope--Warning! Virus detected! Administrati--
“Authorization Zhōu, Li, Corporal! Serial Service Number 218-08-986-42,” Li shouted as a shrill alarm sounded. She slapped her palm against the black panel on the wall “Open ‘Naughty Boy’. PDF override authority!
“Opeeeeeeee--” Demeter began, but the wooden voice hung. The speaker chirped, hiccuped and was silent. The mess hall lights flickered.
Li sighed, sitting back down on the nearest bench. “Thank you Sven,” she whispered.
“What has happened?” Allah asked. “What have you done to Demeter?”
“Hopefully,” Li forced a grin and patted the bench beside her. Allah came to sit next to her friend, “I’ve removed his ability to accept command instructions from offworld. Which sucks because that means Jung can’t interface directly via the comms until we establish a hard line connection.
“Demeter?” she called to the open air.
“Y-y-yes Administrator Li?”
“Contact Star Dancer.”
“N-n-no user found b-b-by that name.”
Li closed her eyes in thought. “Try AI Jung, or TSN-1337.
“User founnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd. Establishing c-c-connection.”
“What is wrong with him?” the lights flickered again. Li rose from the bench, pausing to pat Allah’s thigh, and walked to a white box opposite the counter. She opened it, pulling a thin package out. Ripping one end loose, she pulled a pair of green sticks out, tossing one to the U’knock.
Li bent her stick, shaking vigorously. It began to glow a soft green.
“Naughty Boy,” the human explained, “was based off of swarmer code the Star Dancer’s tech wizard acquired. It was originally written to strip local computer cores of higher thinking capability,” she gestured to the dark hallway. ”We should get moving.”
“Sven,” Allah asked, holding her own glowing stick above her head, “He was a friend of yours and Jung?”
Li’s head bobbed in agreement. “Our boy Sven retooled it to block external intrusion attempts--hostile or friendly. Never got it to work perfectly though. He always called it his ‘kitchen sink’ program; a last ditch effort to control an OS.”
“Is that why you told Jung to go away?”Li nodded again. “What would it do to him if he had not?” and silently Allah worried What could it do if he returned?
“Hopefully nothing,” Li answered,” Jung’s too smart to catch a cold,” and she smiled as she looked over her shoulder, “but there was no point in taking a chance.”
“Li?” an anxious voice called “Are you receiving?” the AI’s voice sounded strained, distant. Allah had played with other cubs near a culvert many times, calling to each other from different ends of the tube. Jung sounded like that now.
“I hear you Jung,” Li replied. “I was starting to worry.”
Demeter has been spamming my firewall with unhealthy requests,” Jung explained. “I had to find a clean port.” His tone grew stern as he said “I have also lost communications with the fleet network. With Demeter’s behavior, I suspect I know why.”
“That information is ‘compartmentalized’,” Li grinned.
“I appreciate your attempts to protect me,” though Jung’s voice was anything but appreciative, “but you must understand this is a stop gap measure, at best. If you intend to continue requesting fleet assistance we will have to restore long range communication and they will, in turn, repeat their order.”
“Let tomorrow's worries worry tomorrow,” Li entered the room they had sent mayday from. “What's your ETA?”
“Ram scoops at optimal angles, reactor mass at 60% of recommended capacity,” Jung sounded more distant still, as if talking next to a runoff stream, “I’ve begun suctioning the planet’s atmosphere and should be at safe slingtravel capacity in six hours, four minutes and twenty one seconds. I should be planetside in seven hours, fifty three minutes and nine seconds.”
Li took her seat at the monitor, tapping the screen on. “How long will it take to top off the tanks? I mean cutting out all safeties and max out pressure in your tanks.”
“Seventeen hours, one minute and fourteen seconds, approximately,” he said so quietly that the noise of the connection almost drowned him out. “That assumes I would take such a risk.”
“Jung,” Li set her hands in her lap, looking up, “I know its a big ask--”
“Overriding safety protocols, Corporal Zhōu,” Jung interrupted angrily. The tone startled Allah. Jung didn’t get
angry. Even when they had fought in the CNC and later in the Star Dancer’s mess, he had remained calm. “Rescheduling for high vector mass transport. Please be aware, traveling with such volatile materials will
affect my time to return.
Li’s tone was soft now. “Revised ETA RTB?”
“Approximately two days dependant on U’dam weather patterns and celestial body avoidance routes,” he said resignedly.
Li winced. “That's cutting it close.”
“I would not complain if I were in your shoes,” Jung’s tone was acidic.
“If only you/I had any feet,” Li and Jung said together. The human smiled. Jung continued “You won't have remote access to Demeter until I’m on the surface,” he cautioned.
“’ll try to behave,” she patted the black screen affectionately. “Get back here as quick as you can, old man.”
“Stay safe down there, meatbag.”
And the speaker clicked dead.
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2023.03.21 22:21 ishfery Enclosure spreadsheet now with colors!
2023.03.21 22:18 HinamizawaVictim Seeking Tips/Advice on how to approach stores when buying Appliances (GTA)
I know there have been various threads on this over the years, but I figured some further insight or advice would be great to have. I've tried to provide as much details as I could think of, but feel free to let me know if anything more is needed.
I'm currently looking to replace the electric stove/range and the dishwasher in my parents' house, based in the GTA.
- The range has been there since we moved in over twenty years ago. Two of the burners no longer work + the glass stovetop is cracked, and a repair person determined that replacing it would be better money spent than repairing it. They'd want an electric glasstop one only: no gas or induction.
- The dishwasher that came with the house was always faulty and this household has been hand-washing dishes all these years (that's 1st-gen Asian households for you). My sister's young kids have added to that and I've decided that a functional one is finally needed.
My questions are not about what brands to select (I've done the research on that, and man is it depressing that most appliances aren't built to last nowadays) but to how to approach the big box and appliance stores (asides from being friendly but firm, and not being a Karen):
- What are things to be wary about when I hit the stores? It seems like extended warranties are not worth it (and I'm waiting for a new CC to come in that would offer that anyway), and that I'll likely have to pay delivery & possibly installation/removal of old appliances with most shops unless they have a promo.
- I heard there is room for negotiation at appliance stores, and I noticed that most appliance stores are doing sales right now. Would they have less wiggle room for negotiating during sales? I also assume that I may need to play the price matching game, but how much of a discount can I reasonably expect (or is considered fair to both parties) for buying both appliances at one place, whether during sale season or normal non-sale periods?
- When scouring GTA stores so far, I came up with Home Depot, Costco (would need a membership/convince a family member with one to go with me + no negotiation IIRC), Best Buy, Lowe's, Canadian Appliance Source, Coast Appliances, The Brick, Leon's and Tasco/Goemans. Any positive/negative experiences from the ones mentioned, or are there any others in the GTA that should be considered that I missed? Would you go with a big box store or one of the specialized appliance stores/chains?
- I do intend to keep an eye out for open box/floor models, and I know most of the above would have some depending on location. Does anybody have experience with appliance outlets in the GTA?
Thanks in advance!
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2023.03.21 21:53 m80mike Don't Feed The Pumpkins
A rule breaking truck driver takes a forbidden detour.
Don't Feed the Pumpkins
I'm typing this as a record of what has happened to me. If someone should find me out here, where ever here is, this is what happened and who is responsible. Also, out of the dozens of vehicles bogged down in this field, mine is the Blue Jay 2013 Freight Liner. If I should die and it is recoverable, it should go to my son, John Grainger in Antioch, Illinois.
I left Litchfield Illinois around 2pm on Halloween with a last-minute load of pumpkins destined for the Antioch Walmart. Despite the fact I was once that told Illinois is the #1 pumpkin producer in the country the itself state appears to be in the midst of a shortage. I was due in about 8pm, but I was trying get in by 6pm and after unloading, I was going to visit my wife Carly and my son for Halloween. It was going to be the first Halloween in my son's life that I was going to be there for trick o treating. My wife was making a big deal out of it and John was 10 now, so, she said he would be “scarred with disappointment” if I didn't show now. So, I probably should have gotten better sleep the night before and sue me, I was gear jamming and popping go-pills like popcorn. Don't look down on me, don't be fooled, this is just the nature of the trucking industry. Everyone does it and I'm not afraid to tell it like it is.
Just after Normal on 39 I hit a wall of traffic. I could hear on the CB that there is a hazmat incident up ahead and they require special teams to clear it off. I, like the other truckers, get to gabbing on the radio, looking for shortcuts. To my surprise, after scrutinizing this route several times before, I was informed about a “gutshot” shortcut just ahead that could get in me into my destination at least an hour earlier, even with the fact I had sat in the backup for at least 45 minutes at this point. A second comrade in gears piped in and stated that the shortcut was closed. The first driver contradicted him and stated, he had used it two weeks ago, it was wide open country land you could go 70 the whole way, and the only town along the way had burned down in an industrial accident 30 years ago. The second trucker chimed in again. He said it was closed for tonight and only tonight and not to use it. I disregarded the second trucker, exited the interstate and followed the directions of the first trucker.
Well, Carly, you always said it would be this way. You always said, I needed to learn how to follow directions to not cut so many damn corners all the time. You always told me didn't put in the work, and the funny thing is, for the first time, on this drive, get there, I did. Sure, I cut all the corners, but I wanted to to put in the work. But you're right, I never put a second of effort in, and if this is how it ends, I suppose you're right, I never will. But I guess, one way or another, you're getting what you've wanted, what you text me, what you don't tell me about, and what I didn't care about. I was coming home for him and damn it, I know it won't hold up in court but I want my boy to get the damn truck!
Anyway, I found the road, 2 lanes clear to the sky, surrounded by corn and then pumpkin fields forever. My straight shot, I pushed 80 the whole way flying on cracked asphalt, diesel, and go-pills. Ahead, there were barricades and I applied the brakes and barely stopped in time. I got out and saw they were chained up with a padlock to concrete posts in the ground. In theory, I could blast through them but I would sustain serious damage. The ground was a bit wet so I didn't think I could cross the ditch and field and not get stuck either. The barricades were not official in the least. They had a sign on them made out of it mailbox stick-on letters which said: “Do Not Feed The Pumpkins”. As far as I could see from my cab and binoculars, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the damn road. I said hell and I knew it would take hours to reverse course and get back in time – in time to even unload much less make it in time to go trick o treating.
And I said it wasn't worth it. I didn't bother to call. I'd just show up now. Because it wasn't my fault. So I started back, turning around with great difficulty. I traveled back 2 miles and saw small signs for a rest area. I must have missed it the first time, too deep into the zone I suppose now. I needed to pee and probably eat a bit before starting a roundabout way back, so I stopped. It was a little old 2 story joint with a small dinner on the 1st level and looked like 4 or 5 small motel rooms on top and oddly an outhouse for a restroom. I want to emphasize the outhouse because that is how you'll find and catch this guy, the guy who did this to me. It was Bill Shaw of Shaw's Shack, who did this to me. It had a sign with the building, it too was made of stick-on letters and vaguely resembled a huge ransom note. It read “Yes! We are open! We are the only rest area for 67 miles and 1 of 2 “tombstones” for the late great town of Pumpkin Grove Illinois – the former pumpkin capital of Illinois. Ask Your host, Bill Shaw about the Pumpkin-beef-bean stew!
The parking lot had three vehicles in it, not including my own, a silver Prius, a grand cheeroke with wood panels, and an older model chevy pick up truck. I went inside. The dinner was small, set in a rustic décor with old license plates nailed to the walls. The cafe had eight counter seats and two smaller tables near the two windows. There were two witnesses to what happened that night, to what Bill Shaw did – at least partial witnesses. There was the older man with stringy white hair and octagonal glasses – unfortunately, I didn't get his name. There was that irritating millennial – All I remember is the metal crap in her ears and lip. Hell, if I die and John starts ever pulling that crap, I'll come back and haunt the crap out of both of you. Anyway, now, I wish I could remember their names or something else about them to put here. I didn't care about either one of them enough to remember.
I guess that goes for Shaw too. He was a bit taller as sometimes I couldn't see his face while sitting at the counter because of the low lights in the ceiling blocking his face. He had gray hair. Hell. That's it. Anyway, the old man said he was part of a historical society, said he spent the better part of his past two years tracking down anyone or anything about Pumpkin Grove. The college student – of course – it was college student said she was from the school newspaper, looking for a spooky story. When she asked me where I was from, I didn't respond.
Shaw came from the kitchen with two big bowls of the famous Pumpkin-beef-bean stew for first two. He seemed taken back by my presence for a bit before saying “howdy” and trying to get real friendly with me. He asked what media I was from. I told him I wasn't from no media and I was trying to get through the barricade up ahead. Neither of the other two seemed to know about the barricade. Shaw said he didn't know anything about it either. I was suspicious of him then because of the lettering on the signs. But I didn't push it. I wanted to eat and he said my choice was the stew or stew. So the stew seemed fine. He said he wished he had more time to chat with me but he promised to tell the story of Pumpkin Grove to the two others but I was welcome to listen and ask questions. I didn't say it but I couldn't care less, I was going no where fast and I needed to eat.
He started off by saying he and his wife are among a handful of survivors of the fire that consumed the town of Pumpkin Grove some 30 years ago on Halloween night. Then his story descended into a cross between a rambling fading nightmare and a ghost story. He said, without hesitation, fear of consequence or remorse that he was accessory to a murder in his childhood. Specifically, some 40 years ago, again on Halloween, he was friends with a small group of young men including one named Donnie, who was a little slow and had a slightly misshaped head. He was picked on a lot by the Gerst Brothers, notorious town bullies and teenage thugs of a bad seed thanks to their neglectful alcoholic single father. Long story short, he said, the Gerst Brothers lured Donnie, himself and another 2 boys out to a pumpkin field where they gave back Donnie's missing dog. Apparently they kidnapped the dog and wrapped every inch of it in duct tape a few days ago. They watched us try to peel and pull the duct tape off while the weakened, hungry, and thirsty dog whimpered away its last in the field. Unbeknownst to any of us, Donnie had a pocket knife and he lost it as the Gerst Brothers cackled around him and the dead dog. He leaped up as they laughed and sliced the vein on their necks. One of the Brothers died quickly while Donnie and the two others fought the other to death. Shaw said he just stood there, covered in arterial blood splatters, watching Donnie and the others finish off the Gersts.
Much of the town was shockingly grateful to hear the Gerst Brothers were dead and everyone was all too happy to sweep it under the rug rather than have 4 of their sons incarcerated for decades when they were needed to help with the town's bread and butter – the Pumpkins. So, they buried the Gerst Brothers in that field and grew pumpkins on their corpses and no one really talked about it. The town paid off their father, who was too inebriated most of the time to care and he gleefully drank himself to death on the payoff only about a year later.
I didn't have much of a reaction to the story. The historian on the other hand, was hesitant to stay and keep writing and he made a brief protest concerning whether or not the story was true and whether or not he could legally listen to it. Shaw said it was both true and legal. After all, there was nothing left of the town and the remains were long gone and he himself, would not bare witness to himself. The college student's dumb metal encrusted mouth was agape in a mix of horror and disbelief.
I was waiting, patiently, might I add, for my stew. Shaw promised it would be up soon. He continued the story, stating that the fields produced abnormally well afterwards and 10 years later he was visiting his parents with his girlfriend for the annual Pumpkin fest. It was just that the pumpkins weren't just more numerous and larger, or more resistant to the rains and the fungus, they were alive and nothing could keep them tame or from spreading wider and wider. And everyone thought this was great at first, the profits were never higher but then weird things began to happen. Equipment went missing and two farm hands were crushed by a wagon full of pumpkins tipping over onto them in what was at first called a freak accident. Shaw recounted how he took his girlfriend through one of the patches and the vines seem to wind and grapple her legs, of course, Shaw's folks passed it off as her not being used to the mud but Shaw said he knew better.
Shaw continued to describe that over the days that led up to Halloween, the Jack O Lanterns on people's porches and elsewhere began to do some unusual things. Things like seemingly move by themselves from dusk to dawn, changing the carvings of their faces slightly, or appearing to “jump” off a table onto the porch without damage or apparent cause. On the morning of Halloween, Shaw said that he found his black cat, Lucky, incinerated in front of a jack o lantern as if it had breathed fire on to it from its mouth though they had long ago blown out the candle inside.
After the cat burning, the elderly man from the historical society tossed his spoon in his bowl. Shaw asked if something was wrong. The elderly man got up to leave and he said it tasted like bitter cold bull and his story was bull and thanked him for nothing. After checking the remaining contents of his bowl of stew, Shaw chased him out of the door, to his car, asking him what direction he planned to go home. When he peeled out of the parking lot he was headed southwest. Shaw came back in and threw up his hands.
I tell nothing but the truth, he said, most people can't handle it. Part of me wanted to go, but I was cozy there, it was warm and the story, while bull to me at the time, was entertaining enough. The SJW sitting down the way looked exhausted, barely keeping her eyes open as Shaw finished out the story. In short he said, Donnie approached him at dusk on Halloween while he and his family sat on the porch eagerly awaiting trick o treaters. Donnie said the Gerst Brothers are alive in the pumpkins and that they planned to burn the whole town down tonight. Donnie said, he had to tell Shaw because Shaw wasn't supposed to die, he was supposed to watch.
I rudely stopped him and demanded more stew. I was still hungry and the stew was somehow unsatisfying. When he returned, he finished the story, stating the town was suddenly engulfed in flames and their house in particular with Donnie on the porch, flash burned to the ground like napalm from an exploding pumpkin. He escaped with his family and his future wife in the pick up truck sitting outside now.
The college student said she felt like she needed to lay down, that she didn't think she could make back to the campus to the north. Shaw attended to getting her one of the rooms upstairs. I stayed down stairs and went to the back for more stew. I rubbed my eyes intensely and felt as if I too should stay for the night. But in the tug of war between fatigue and dexrine, the dexrine was slowly coming out ahead.
Next to the stew was a cutting board and a knife and on it was some bluish whitish powder which I found peculiar. On floor was a bottle of medication. It was Insomnex – a sleeping pill I use when I'm coming off of dexrine. The stew was dosed.
I ran to my truck and pulled out my dexrine and my revolver. As I climbed out of the driver's side, I could see Shaw running out of the dinner with a huge kitchen knife. I ducked under the trailer and back out on his side and pointed the gun at him.
What the hell I asked as I slowly advanced on him with my snub nose pointed at his head. He dropped the knife. He said, I just wanted to puncture your tires, I had to do something to stop you. I know you want to go north and I know you might be crazy enough and your truck tough enough to smash the barricades but I can't let you. I can't let anyone else go through, he said hysterically. I asked the dumb question about whether or not he set the barricades and just as I previously suspected, he did.
I'm supposed to watch, Shaw cried. No one can get through tonight, no can be allowed to. I told him to shut up as he rambled on about how he and his wife took it upon themselves to ward off travelers on Halloween Night. Its a cursed road tonight, he said, we're cursed to stay here and this is the best we can do to stop it from spreading. Its been calling us for 30 years, he went on, we tried to walk away but it kept on spreading, the pumpkins, he said gritting his teeth in anguish.
Maybe it was the dexrine and the insomnex working together, hell maybe it was the stew by itself but I just started to laugh as I guided Shaw back into the dinner and proceeded to duct tape him down to the dinner chair to make sure he could not cause anymore harm to anyone else until the police arrived. I had some cash on me, I wasn't a criminal, I wasn't going to make it seem like I tied him up and dinned and dashed, I was in the right, I was doing the lawful thing. So I left him exact change, no tip for the food. In the process of making change for myself, I found the padlock key in the cash drawer, I was certain of it at the time as I waved it in front of Shaw and he gasped and thrashed behind the duct tape the hardest.
I got into my truck and gunned it north towards the barricades, which, as I suspected was easily opened with the key I confiscated from Shaw. I got on my CB and started making emergency calls to the State Police, I gave them my name, the location of the diner, and Shaw's name. I was in the middle of nowhere so it didn't surprise me when I got static and no acknowledgment. I had no bars on my cell phone either but that is typical of central Illinois.
I was going along about 70. The sun was almost down but I hadn't seen the moon yet. I turned on the radio and found a classic rock station. The song was Born on the Bayou from CCR. The opening riff perked me up and reassured me that I had done everything all well and all good. If things held, there was a chance, I could get my freight unloaded and see John tonight. I was eagerly tapping the steering wheel waiting to bust into “When I was just a little boy...” But just as the lyrics should have entered, the radio station seemed to have accidentally reset the song, it just started over.
The sun faded away entirely and yet no moon came up. The sky was so dark but I didn't remember seeing any clouds or expecting any for that matter. The song continued restarting itself, the same opening again and again. I flipped through the other stations and all of them had it playing. Eventually, the digital clock on my dash began to spin wildly like the LCD numbers on the tuner while in scan mode. The truck buffeted and shook side to side despite my headlights showing no cause for it.
To my shock, ahead, in the distance was single traffic light. It was went from green, to yellow, and red, as any other traffic light but there were no lights or towns on this road. I slowed to 40, then 35 then to 30 as I entered an unnamed densely populated area with small buildings, stores, and houses and one traffic light. I came to a stop at the light and I looked around, locked my doors and tried to glimpse where I was. Where ever I was, I felt, I felt like I shouldn't be there. There were dim orange lights in some of the rooms of the houses at the edge of the intersection.
I looked up at one of the windows and I saw a figure with large head in the window. I couldn't believe my eyes at least not until the figure turned to face outward. It was a jack o lantern, a classic one with a black glow where the eyes, nose, and mouth sat. It was held up right by a thin vine structure that seemed to grow and stretch as it stuck its head out of the window and let out a barely audible shrill whistle and stared directly at me.
I gunned it. I blew the red light as the town seemed to collapse into nothing by dark green swelling pumpkin vine and a sea of glowing jack o lanterns in my side view mirrors. I hit the radio off because all I could hear on it was that whistle filtering through. I drove and the mass of jack o lanterns grew in the mirrors. I glimpsed the left and right windows and the plains were glowing black with more pumpkins rolling and creeping towards the road.
The road began to warp and bend as I started to red line my truck. The buffeting side to side became difficult to control as the engine groaned. I couldn't explain how the road began to shift nor how the moon, blood orange began to circle around me from horizon to horizon. Aside from the moon, I thought I was making progress as I couldn't see the vines nor the hundreds of blacklight pumpkins swirling after me.
The moon slowed and dipped down and I started climbing a hill. As I crested, the moon filled the entire windshield and more. It spun and then settled on a black light pumpkin face and bore down on the cab.
I don't know what happened next but I woke up in my cab. The was engine smoking. All I could see was mud and putrid rotten pumpkins as far as I could see. My Blue Jay was sunk up to the cab down in mud, vines and rot. It wasn't going anywhere in it without some serious assistance. To my right and left I saw dozens of other vehicles, most of them at least ten years old, also up their doors in mud and rot. Swarms of flies were visible all around in the boiling midday sun. I'm not really sure how long it has been or what time it really was because the clock on my phone is broken and simply reads as 99:99. I don't know what day it is. I have no cell signal and no radio.
Carly, I need to be honest with you. I cheated on you. Maybe a dozen times. I did it before I thought, before I knew you were doing it to me. I can't live by the rules of trucking, or marriage or anything. It is the road and you command it and that is the only rule. But now, I'm worried I've broken my last rule. I have no food and no water. There is no road here. There is only rule of a blazing sun with jack o lantern face that never sets. I fear that in time, unless I find help or help finds me, I will be feeding the pumpkins.
submitted by m80mike
to ChillingApp [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 21:43 lavender_shumpoos Does this look/sound like a good enclosure?
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I am looking to get my first BP. I found this enclosure on FB, and am wondering what you guys think. submitted by lavender_shumpoos to ballpython [link] [comments]
It is 6x2x2, wood, glass sliding doors, with a wood swinging door. The seller isn't sure what type of wood it's made of, but says the guy who made it does it for a living. It's waterproofed. The section behind the wood door has a little lip on both sides and between the glass and wood door that are meant to hold a water dish (you can see it if you zoom in). Built in UVB bar. There are holes cut in the top, with screen for heat lamps. The seller had it custom made for a Tegu, and says it hold humidity really well, but I will make sure (if I buy it) before I put a BP in it. My plan is to have the enclosure set up for at least a month before putting a snake in, so I know I'm doing it right haha
I'm still getting info from the seller, so I will add it as I get it...I was just wondering seasoned BP owners initial thoughts.
2023.03.21 21:34 dogsruledaworld Saving up for Plastic Surgery! Trying to Talk me out of It! [NAW!]
No, I do not look anything like that meitu picture in real life. After surgery, I am going to look like a totally different person and see my own drastic results. I am 31 years old. My looks are ruining my life! Live my life without bullying and judgement. No, I am not going to act like I am the only one that's been bullied, but there are others who have been teased. I get it. My case is severely bad though. I know I am an ugly girl. I know there are pretty girls enough to model, but that doesn't mean that's not an excuse for me not to go under the knife to become an attractive girl for a change. Some kind of guy on meet me told me that "I could be worse" and another guy on an dating site said to me "finally you admit you're ugly to me" before surgery. Believe me, I am self-aware to know it... I am ugly, but surgery's going to fix my ugly face for good. I am not an idiot. I am so low on the looks scale. I was hanging out with a girl who knows she looks good. I saw this guy that was cute and she said "yeah right!" Made me feel like shit and knowing she's a good looking enough girl to get a guy like that. :/ Yeah, I felt like complete garbage. I am not going to pretend I am attractive yet when I am not. In public "offline" and online, I am treated so badly. It's gotten to the point where I can't take it anymore. If I am out somewhere, I get laughed at. I get treated so much differently than my beautiful counterparts. After surgery, I will notice a big difference in how others treat me. I am over watching the beautiful people live lives I crave. Looks are a big factor in how people treat you. This girl on reddit had like 20 procedures. She became pretty. It took her time. She received the pretty privilege. People treated her much differently. Why should it be any different with me? She increased her pickiness in terms of looks when dating men, then why can't I be picky too? I was way picky way before I read her post. Improve my mood. How I look is making me more irritable, frustrated, I don't want to keep crying hysterically, breaking my stuff, and how I look is tied to my mental state. Been past my breaking point. Land Dates and perhaps partners. One of the reasons I am having work done is to be in relationships and date like other people get to do. I want to be one of the girls guys would kill to have. I want a guy to go "oh she's so pretty make her my girlfriend type!" I want to date, but the reality is that I need to save up for my surgery first before another relationship (before growing with somebody else) especially the kind of guy that I want and he wants me too. (vice versa) I feel like my looks are just not there (up to par yet) and my face is holding me back from dating men and aren't interested in me yet. After surgery, men will be lining up to date me for sure.. in the future. Go from ugly to pretty...drastically alter my outer exterior. I decided to up my game ton. People have had surgery to get partners. Nothing's wrong with it. People tell me "how looks aren't everything" I know looks aren't, but I can't I get them out of my mind, especially if I am planning to go out there becoming attractive on purpose with effort in on my part. I am not going to be one of those girls who think women are entitled to attractive people and for them to love and accept them for who they are. Smh. 🤦♀️ I am not going to be like those people. When I definitely get plastic surgery and increase my attractiveness this means I can pick a partner who is more attractive as well. Looks are going to define a part of me after surgery. My looks are what I am looking to craft. <3 I can be a genuinely a nice person, but I admit I do have my conceited ways. I am not conceited all of the time. I try to think of others and help out whenever I can. I can't change my personality. It just cannot be done, sorry. Looks are on my mind a good bit, but I don't neglect personality in me let alone in a guy. The guy I'm with next will be one lucky person to have me in the future. An attractive dude with a good personality.. maybe a guy into fitness like I am 💪, not mandatory, but would be awesome. I don't see why not after surgery. He does not have to be a genius, but he's intelligent. He treats me well. He's successful and is goal-oriented like me. Once I am committed to you, I am very loyal. You can have your friends. I am not insecure like that. I will comfort you when you need me because that's what a good girlfriend does.
Tired of Feeling Way Below Others:I am Always Singled Out and Feeling like an Outcast: I just feel like I don't exist and feel like a ghost and it's upsetting me so much!People will want to come up, start conversations with me, and want to get to know me: Ways to Up my Game, Goals, and Expenses to Alter my Looks Drastically on the Outside! Things I NEED to Save Up 💲 for! 🌏❤️
- New tattoo ink: my future german shepherd sleeve.
- Dye my hair blue. 💙
Work on my body. Good looking abs.My future working line german shepherd puppy.High energy dog like me. Not imported. Find a breeder in the US.Change my wardrobe. Find my clothing/style.Surgery. How many procedures
I will be saving up for plastic surgery. Go from ugly to pretty and land me some temporary jobs, getting the pretty privilege, benefits in terms of opportunities, mental health, and all of that good stuff like this other girl on reddit did, but not when I get my working line german shepherd. How many procedures? Drastic full face makeover. If I have to do that to become a pretty girl, I will. What procedures I am going to NEED on my face not my body? Total cost for everything? There's going to be hope for me! Every bit of my "hard earned cash" is going to be worth it!
How long will it take me to save up?^ All very expensive, but I work I hard enough, I can pay everything off. No problems.
I don't want people to be disgusted by me. I want people to be happy that I am in their presence and Be in the Center of Attention:
I don't live out on my own yet that way I am going to be able to save up money for surgery. I don't have to pay major bills or rent, so this is the only way this is going to work out for me. I don't have anything wrong with my face, but I am sure that I have bad features. My goal is to go from ugly to pretty without my glasses on. I know surgery is risky, but I have a good feeling everything's going to work out and my journey is going to be a positive one. I don't have any confidence because of people. I deserve to see myself look stunning after all the insecurities that I have. I have a ton of insecurities which are not permanent because I will be doing something about changing my face. I don't think I am being shallow, but if you think I am being shallow, then so be it, I don't care. You don't know the struggles I face every day. I was born ugly. I want the benefits in society. I am not going to do without and I never get to experience any of the shit I never got to had to begin with. Sorry. I want and need to go out there, get what I want, and deserve in life. I deserve a second shot. I really do! I really want to get the pretty privilege so bad. Surgery is going to give me the Boost of Confidence: 😀 After surgery, my confidence will start to skyrocket. I don't believe in changing how you think. All the sadness will go away after work done. I have very poor low self-esteem.
I can't tell you how excited I am about the prospect of being more beautiful. I am so stoked!! I can't wait! I have yet to speak to the doctor yet. I am going to. As far as the price tag 💲 goes for surgery, I may or may not have to do a lot. I am not sure yet. I am not a doctor. 🤷♀️ Just the thought of having surgery is making me grin from ear to ear. Find a surgeon with excellent credentials. Agrees to do it and knows that I will look way better after surgery. I am going to look so much different after surgery. I am not tall enough to model, but I want "an attractive" face. I believe people who were born ugly should be given credit because they've worked themselves up to where they need to be. Not everybody was so lucky in the looks department. Attractive is attractive whether it's through surgery, makeup, healthy lifestyle, or genetics. I don't know why people get so hung up on how people get there. 🤷♀️ If people don't like me going under the knife, well I don't give a damn. I'm not hurting anyone in the process. If I didn't think surgery wouldn't help me, I would even consider it. I wish I was a pretty girl! I obviously want it so bad! Dammit. I just hate being very ugly. My looks mean so much to me! 🌎 I am not going to let my looks slide. My time and energy will be spent altering my looks on the outside, but not when I get my working line german shepherd. Have a Good social Life and Have Friends: People will find me attractive because it's going to make me feel good! I need people complimenting me on my looks. Receive Compliments: I don't want to die knowing people didn't find me attractive. I do not want this heartbreak. 💔 It's really disrespectful when people tell me "you don't need a makeover" or "you don't need filler." when it's my body my choice. These girls have had their spray tans, filler, makeup, surgery, etc. I am supposed to get nothing done and somehow be happy about it.. Pftt... 🙄 Yeah, no! That's not fair to me! I deserve to live the rest of my life happy! I have every right to be a happy girl in life! I deserve it! I really do! This is my life and I am choosing how I live it!
I want a guy that is into me for my new "pretty" looks. I want a guy to be drooling over me and a guy would kill to have me because of my appearance and personality. I want to feel wanted and to be dating material just like other girls are in relationships and get to do what other people get to do. I am not going to be left out and dead last. Sorry, but I want that "pretty privilege" and I obviously want it so god damn fucking bad! What I didn't get to experience since the beginning, I am getting now as an adult and for the rest of my life. I am going to love and cherish my new face! Looks matter to me! Land you dates and get you through the door. My future surgeon is going to get the job done. I can get the privilege with the right work done. I can and I will. There's no doubt about that! Nobody is going to take this away from me! Perform a miracle for me please! I am going to feel happy for my new looks. Just thinking about my new looks is making grin from ear to ear and I know surgery is the path to take for me. One hundred percent. I want those looks dammit. Not just personality. Even though, it's not the greatest. I can be conceited, blunt, and a b**ch! I am nice, but all of the time. I am not letting my looks slide, nor will I ignore them. Date model men after surgery. I am getting an extreme blown makeover like these other girls get because it's only fair to me. I promised myself this face and I am not breaking it. Surgeries I want to become an Attractive Person for Once (Changes my features and has to be a good surgeon and what ones are going to fit my face right.) Surgeries I Can do Without, But Considered
submitted by dogsruledaworld
to TrueOffMyChest [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 21:17 jsgunn The Mother of Heroes Part 11
I remained the RA of my dorm for the rest of my undergrad career. Then, after I graduated, there were some problems lining up a job. Apparently Stewart Newman's father was a biochemist, and little Stewart was destined to fend off extradimensional invaders (and yes, I know there is one reader who is now furiously typing up a letter explaining that the Chchshiuuni are NOT from another dimension, but I've read the Wikipedia article three times and I don't understand the distinction. You're reading my memoir, not my scientific explanation of extranormal invaders). His father, biochemist Victor Newman, was killed when the laboratory he worked at was hit by a meteorite. According to the investigative report the meteorite passed through 6 cylinders of various compressed gasses, ricocheted off a 7th, broke through a water line, shattered 9 containers of various other chemicals, then cracked the isolation unit on some kind of algae they were breeding for research on biofuels. This happened at 4:41 AM. Apparently this created something of a perfect storm as the chemicals reacted with the water and a very specific molecule produced by the algae acted as a catalyst which worked together to form pentanitroethyltoluenic acid, which is, according to the laws of chemistry, a chemical which desperately does not want to exist. For those not versed in chemistry, this stuff makes TNT look like HBO. That was a typo, I meant to say "H2O" but the I actually like it better this way. Anyway, the molecule was being synthesized in the laboratory for over four hours, until Victor arrived at a little before 9:00. His foot crossed the threshold and the laboratory detonated.
Prior to this event the company that ran the lab had just spent a bundle on a new security system with off site recording. This was the only evidence that could be used to put together the events, as according to the official report it "was as if God pressed the delete key".
So now that that story is floating around on Google there weren't a lot of labs that wanted to hire me. So I said fuck it. My ride is being paid for, let's go for a master's degree. Not like I had anything better to do. So I stayed in my dorm, working on my masters, and continued to be the RA.
A lot of the other RAs had horror stories about their dorms. About the nightmares they put up with. For me, for the most part, it was a breeze. If you want to become an RA and have an easy time with it, I have a few simple steps to insure you have it good.
Step 1: inherit the position from someone who's widely respected (thank you Helga)
Step 2: that person who is highly respected should make it known that you're carrying on their torch. (Thank you Helga)
Step 3: have really great women in your dorm. (Thank you Mr Pols)
Step 4: do your very best to fill the size 19 clogs that have been left for you to fill (wait, are clogs German? Oh who cares, I just said the Chchshiuuni were from another dimension, accuracy is out the window)
That's not to say it was easy. I just didn't get the horror stories that others got. I never had to deal with Shane the Showerless or the Roach Incident. What I did have, however, were a lot of young women to look out for. And a lot of young women who came to me with their problems.
By the 2nd week I'd learned everyone's names, knew their majors, had a general idea about their schedules, home lives, and study habits. I knew who was a hard worker, who could keep a secret, who could hotwire a car, who could safely and reliably distill liquor and extract THC (It was me for those last 2 things. Hooray for biochemistry!) Not that I'll admit to having done any of those things, at least not until the statute of limitations has passed. I also knew who needed help in their classes, who was too naive to go to a party alone, and who I could send them with to be sure they had a good time and made it home safe and sound.
In my third week as RA I called Helga because I missed her (I LOVE YOU HELGA) and we talked for like four hours and I gave her the rundown on everyone there and my assessments of such. Helga is many things, but a braggart is not one of them. It came as a surprise when Helga gloated for a full ten minutes about how she was right in her assessment of me. And yes, I guess it was pretty clever of me to "throw together five Amy's and a Rachel for frat party safety patrol." Rachel and Amy 3 were eye candy to serve as a diversion, Amy 2 and Amy 5 were recon to search for overly intoxicated girls, and Amy 1 and Amy 4 could either extract said girls like a SEAL team or steal booze like a… uh… SEAL team, as the situation dictated. By the end of the year they all had radios they used to stay in communication. I don't know where they got them, but they said they didn't buy them and were really evasive when asked about their origins.
Having taken over for Helga, I also grew something of a reputation. I kept her open door policy, any time, any problem, come talk to Shannon. You didn't need to be in my dorm. You didn't even need to be a woman. Hell, you didn't even need to be a student at our school. If you had a problem, I was available.
No one has problems at 2:00 on a sleepy afternoon when you've got a lot of energy and not enough to do. So this policy did make things a fair bit harder for me. Don't get me wrong, I've never regretted my policy, but problems did happen at almost comically inconvenient times.
For example, when I was having a really, really bad period and throwing up every six seconds, Amy (which Amy? I'll never tell. Just kidding, it was Amy 4) came to me because she'd just found out her childhood dog had died. What did I do? Chug half a bottle of pepto and force down half a pint of butter pecan while I comforted her. I kept it down, too, until she was back in her room asleep. Butter pecan is not nearly as good coming back up.
Another time, little innocent Hannah got invited to a party the day of her last midterm, and really wanted to go. I had 4 mid terms left, and AMY team 6 was out of commission studying along with all my other go tos. So I went with her.
I don't think I'll ever forget that night. Hannah, sweet little innocent Hannah. Gorgeous, doe eyed Hannah. Naive, sheltered, quiet Hannah. Hannah is stunningly beautiful, and anyone who has met Hannah will know she has a very sharp wit and a way with words if you can get her to talk at all. What I didn't know is that she had a tongue sharp enough to kill a man at five paces. Hannah got rip roaring drunk (she did five shots in the 30 seconds it took me to pee) and then proceeded to massacre the entire fraternity.
Gary Fogelbaum was a senior, and a total dude bro. He was alright in a crisis and I do appreciate what he did when Pepper broke her leg, but at this point his respect for women left a bit to be desired. He could talk shit with the best of them, and he could take it better than he could dish it out. Five words. Five fucking words, and she left Gary Fogelbaum crying. He earned it. To be clear, she hadn't met Gary before. He sauntered up to her and hit on her, right in front of me. After her second no, he grabbed her hand and put it on his stomach and said "how can you say no to those abs."
Before I could knock his teeth out, Hannah, kind, caring, compassionate, saintly, Hannah disemboweled him. Right there in front of everybody. "Abs won't make daddy proud."
After that it was like something out of a Tarantino movie as I tried to steer her towards the door. Guys got in her way to try to avenge Gary and were verbally slaughtered without mercy. Heads were rolling, viscera was flying, blood was gushing. Nearly to the front door, someone grabbed her wrist.
Hannah spun with a gaze that could vaporize lead and her eyes landed on a short, skinny guy with glasses, who said "you almost forgot your purse" before handing it to her. She snatched her purse, shoved him against a wall and kissed him so hard I think his soul briefly left his body. And then we left. He's engaged to Hannah now, and I've got to say I'm a little jealous.
submitted by jsgunn
to jsgunn [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 21:00 The_Fallen_1 [THJVerse] Arcane Starfarers - ep 1 - To the stars
Hi all, I’m back with the full series following on from my last mini-series, Angland U. If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it, as it serves as a prologue and an easy entry into the THJ Universe, which started with The Hunter’s Journey
. I have tried to make it so reading THJ isn’t necessary if you read the prologue
, but it will provide more insight into the world than my prologue will (it’s a lot easier to go into the full depths of something with around 2,000 pages than it is with around 40-50 after all.)
Fair warning, there will be some adult themes in the series, so reader discretion is advised.
So, without further ado, enjoy!
/ Previous / Next
Daniel rolled his left arm in its socket as he read his new assignment once more, excited to finally be getting out of constant lessons, training, and parades. He shut off the holoviewer and retracted it back into his bionic arm, allowing his hand to snap back into place, banging the back of it a couple times to make sure it was seated properly, and letting out a small sigh of relief that it was still holding up after so much punishment in basic training. He quickly checked his bags once more, making sure he had everything on him, completed one final check of the room, and then exited it. He walked down the hallway and hopped into the lift, heading down to the ground floor. Once there, he walked over to the reception, where he checked out of the hotel, and then made his way over to the hotel's subway entrance.
Upon entering the subway, he identified the military door and scanned his pass, letting him through the secure door to the private platform, where a half filled carriage was waiting. He quickly boarded and found a seat, watching the door for another 30 seconds before they closed and the carriage began to move. Less than a minute later, the carriage slowed to a halt at the other platform, and everyone began to disembark. Once he was off, Daniel quickly pulled his uniform straight, making sure the creases were still crisp and that his brassard was sitting correctly, before touching his headdress to make sure it was on straight, and he then began to walk up the stairs and left the subway.
Looking out onto the runway, he spotted his transport almost completely loaded, a massive 350 metre wide behemoth of a flying wing, an ASWT-16. As he walked towards the military security terminal of the spaceport, two privates stood to attention and saluted him, which he acknowledged quickly so they could get back to their business. He scanned his pass on the security terminal, and then walked through the attached gate, scanning him and finding nothing of concern. He quickly removed his headdress now that he was on an active airfield, and stored it in his bag before jumping on the nearby shuttle bus, which collected a few more people before the doors closed and silently drove towards the transport, coming to a stop just before the ramp. Everyone quickly disembarked, and the bus headed back to the gate the instant the last person was off, and then the group all quickly boarded the transport, rushing to get one of the better seats. Daniel didn’t rush though, and instead headed to the subtly comfier seats with an actual real window that peeked over the surface of the wing, reserved for officers like himself, and he stuffed his bags under it.
As he waited for boarding and loading to wrap up, he flicked his metal hand back and checked his messages on his holo once again, looking to see if any of his family or friends had responded. As expected, he had a quick good luck message from his Dad, and absolutely nothing from his Mother, but all his childhood and University friends had responded, barring the one person he really wanted to hear from. He knew she had read it, the app indicated as such, but she hadn’t responded. He hoped she was just writing a really long message congratulating him and wishing him luck, but he couldn’t just help but worry that she hadn’t taken the news well.
He forced it out of his mind as the loading ramp began to close and the transport crew called out their final checks. He raised both his arms off of his lap as a crew member checked to make sure his belt was on, and once the crew member had checked everyone on the row, they found their own seat and sat down. Less than two minutes later, a low rumble could be heard as all twelves thrusters roared to full power, and the transport began to quickly accelerate down the runway, taking off with its full 4,000 tonne load.
Daniel watched the fields blitz past out the window, each one getting smaller and smaller as they ascended faster and faster, until he could just about make out the curvature of the Earth, feeling a small jolt as the thrusters switched from their air breathing modes to their vacuum modes. It didn’t take long until all he could see out of his tiny window was the black void of space above the wing. The wing in question suddenly became a hub of activity as numerous panels began to wing open or retract, allowing a pylon with a long pod on the end to raise up, which began to glow a dull blue as the star formations visible to him began to distort.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please,” one of the crew members began. “We are now at warp, and it is safe to walk around the craft. ETA for Mars orbit is 30 minutes, so please make sure you are buckled back in before that happens. The gravity generator isn’t the strongest on a transport like this, so the docking manoeuvres could pose a danger. Also, please don’t enter the cargo grid, gravity is weaker there, and any magnetic objects could be ripped from your body. I don’t fancy having to retrieve your body for the medic because a piercing got ripped out.”
Daniel looked over to the other passengers, noticing that one of the plain clothes personnel was grimacing and holding their legs tight together, while their friend next to them bumped their shoulder with a poorly masked grin. He shook his head and got to his feet, giving them a stretch while he had the chance, and checked his holo to see that it was now disconnected from the network as expected. He snapped his hand back into place, finding that the connection for his little finger wasn’t engaging properly, so he gave the back of his hand a firm smack and thankfully managed to regain control of his extremity.
“Should probably get that looked into, Sir,” the Lieutenant sitting next to him said.
“Yeah, I’ve got a replacement ordered. It’s been messed up since basic, and I’ve finally gotten approval for the latest model,” Daniel explained.
“Is requisition that bad at the moment?”
“Only for the full suite I need.”
“What do you need that’s in short supply?”
“Sorry, but that’s need to know,” Daniel told him, knowing that the parts weren’t restricted information to someone of his rank, but he was still happy to use it to avoid unwanted conversation at the moment.
“Of course, sir. My apologies for asking.”
“No harm done,” Daniel assured him as he straightened his shirt and made his way towards the front of the transport.
He opened the doorway into a corridor, and then immediately made his way into the office space, taking a seat in one of the four cubicles and logging into one of the computers, pleased to see that his travel profile had been uploaded before takeoff. The data was sparse, but it was all he needed at the moment, which was mainly the bios of his soon to be subordinates, and more importantly interview and trainer notes. None of them had any real world experience in the world of electronic subterfuge, though they did all pass the training and tests with perfect grades like him, even if the tests missed off a few handy tricks he’d utilised on occasion. It meant that he would likely be irreplaceable if the ship was in a dangerous situation, though he knew that would be the case just from him being in a position of authority. He was a little disappointed by the prospect of almost always having to be at his post, but such was Navy life.
He continued to look more closely at their bios, making a mental note of the comments made against them. They all seemed to be by the book types, which means that he would have to teach them some dirty tricks at some point, but it at least meant that he wasn’t likely to have a rough time with them. They all originated from various colonies though, so he was wary of the tribalism that could cause. It should have been trained out of them so they all acted as a single unit, but pride was often something hard rooted.
“Five minutes till Mars!” a crew member shouted into the room, before moving onto the next.
Daniel took his que to wipe his profile in case it got missed due to tight schedules, and logged off. It might not be his responsibility to do so, but he’d be damned if someone else messed up and he and his new team got hurt for it. He left the cubical and made his way back to his seat, buckling in and allowing himself to be inspected once again.
He looked out the window once again as the warp pylon powered down and the distortion effect stopped, causing the green and blue surface of Mars to take up the majority of his view. It remained in his few for only a few moments though, as the transport began to turn and roll as it aligned with the station. The warp pylons quickly stowed themselves in the wings again, and the transport edged forward, sliding into the hangar after a minute or two of travel. There was a small bump as the craft touched down, followed by a droop as the hangar’s gravity was turned up to normal levels.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Mars Stardock 02. Please disembark to allow for unloading of supplies,” the crew member from before announced.
Not wanting to get caught in the crowd, Daniel jumped up from his seat, picked up his bags quickly, and was the fourth person to exit the transport. He looked at the unloading tractors that were entering the room, noticing that they had a particularly large one usually reserved for ship modules. He was surprised that something like that would be coming from Earth given Mars’ manufacturing capabilities, but he probably couldn’t find out what it was without putting his rank at risk, so he elected to ignore it. Instead, he headed over to the hangar exit and scanned his pass, confirming his presence aboard the station.
As he began to walk down the corridor of the station, following the signs for the habs, he checked his messages once more, finding that he still hadn’t received the message he was hoping for. He did his best to hide his frustration, and continued on until he reached the nearest short stay habs, walking past the honeycomb array of pods designed to pack in the lower ranking spacemen of visiting ships if the ships weren’t serviceable. Thankfully for him however, he was able to keep walking until he reached the officer’s cabins, picking an empty one and assigning it to himself.
His temporary accommodation was little more than a small bed, a desk, and a stool, but it served his needs. He dropped his bags on his bed, and quickly activated his arm’s scanners, checking the room for any bugs, which he found none of. He knew there was practically no way of someone knowing which room he’d end up in, but he couldn’t be too careful. Happy that he was safe, he opened the makeshift compartment on his arm, removing the memory chip that had sat there for almost five years at this point. He carefully hid it in the ceiling light cover, and exited the room, locking the door behind him. He knew that after five years of no-one looking for it that was probably safe, but he wasn’t going to take the risk.
He began to look at the station signs again, managing to find a layout map. He quickly committed it to memory the best he could, and made his way to the station’s clinic. Once he finished the short walk there, he checked himself in, and was assigned to a room, which he entered and sat down on the bed within it. He let out a small sigh as he looked around the room, waiting for the doctor to arrive, and began to study all the posters and displays, containing information on a bunch of medical advice that was inapplicable to him.
“Sorry about the wait,” an old and balding man in a medical uniform apologised to him as he entered the room, carrying a large long black case.
“It’s not a problem,” Daniel assured him.
“I’m Dr Middleton,” the Doctor informed him. “Now, may I just confirm your identity please?”
“Lieutenant Commander Daniel Hardbrooks,” Daniel replied, handing over his military ID.
“... Indeed you are. Just a couple of quick questions before we get onto why you’re here. Can you please confirm the purpose of your visit?” the Doctor asked, handing his ID back.
“To receive a replacement mechanical prosthetic arm, containing equipment I am not allowed to disclose.”
“And can I confirm that you don’t need a socket upgrade?”
“No, I have the latest socket after my last one broke during basic training.”
“Perfect,” the Doctor replied, checking a few boxes on his holo display. “Will you be recycling your old arm, or will you keep it?”
“Recycle. This thing will probably break if you look at it wrong,” he explained, taking off his shirt and holding up his scratched and dented arm.
“A mk IV-C. I’m surprised it’s still working. Well, you’ve got a nice new mk XXII-NM. I’m pleased to inform you that a starsteel heatsink was successfully sourced, as well as some other components that are simply blank on my display,” the Doctor told him as he handed Daniel the case. “The profile from your old arm has been transferred onto this one, but you will have to map any new functions.”
“Of course,” Daniel replied, pressing the lock and allowing the case to scan him.
After almost ten seconds of waiting, the locks popped off, and the lid opened to reveal his new arm. It looked almost like a real arm in shape, except he had given it a custom carbon black with white trim paint scheme, and replaced the plates that visually simulated muscle with armour and electronics. Happy with his new appendage, he grabbed hold of his current arm and popped it out of its socket, laying it on the nearby table before picking up his new arm and locking it in place, checking to make sure the seal engaged properly.
He rolled his shoulder, surprised at how smooth the motion was, making him realise just how bad his old arm was performing. He then began to twist his arm and wrist while flexing his fingers, finding that each motion felt like it had less purpose, but they instead felt much more natural like his real arm. He then performed a systems check, making sure none of the secret stuff was displayed, before giving the doctor a thumbs up.
“It’s working perfectly. Thank you for your help,” he told the Doctor as he put his shirt back on.
“You’re very welcome. Please tap here to confirm your appointment has been completed,” the Doctor instructed, pointing at his holo display.
“There. All done,” Daniel replied, performing the action.
“Thank you very much. Any issues and concerns, please check back here or to any other military approved clinic as soon as possible.”
“Will do. Thanks once again for your help,” Daniel told him as he left the clinic.
Daniel made his way straight back to his hab, entering it and testing out his new scanner, finding it to return the same readings of his room, but he could now read practically every electromagnetic and aetheric signature within half a kilometre, with the larger signals of the station’s fusion generators easily detectable from almost two kilometres away. Satisfied, he quickly retrieved the memory chip from the light cover, and stored it within the new secret high security compartment he now possessed.
Satisfied, he left his room once more and entered one of the nearest lifts. He punched in the button for the observation deck, and braced himself slightly as the lift accelerated rapidly, bringing him to his destination in a matter of seconds. He stepped out of the lift and into what was essentially a ball of transparent metal, overlooking the whole station. He walked over to the edge, and took in the sight of the disk shaped station floating over the distant Martian landscape. He could just about make out some of the smaller hangars from his vantage point, but what he was more interested in was the docking arms on the outside of the disk.
He could make out three corvettes dock on a single arm, and another one on an arm of its own. The next three arms were empty, with the next two servicing a frigate each, followed by three arms servicing destroyers. He was able to identify the classes of the destroyers, identifying two as direct combat ships, and the third as a light drone carrier. Finally, he rested his eyes on a single ship taking up two arms that were far longer than the others, the expedition cruiser, CNS Trailmaker.
His soon to be new home.
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submitted by The_Fallen_1
to HFY [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 20:46 throwaway-clonewars [NM] Possibly have someone harassing me; how many times until I get authorities involved or is a lawyer better?
So first off, i believe i tagged this correctly, please let me know if not- i can repost under the correct one if needed.
So, there's been 2 possible instances (months apart) of someone purposefully harassing me and my mother. Nothing is sent directly to us such as threats or letters or messages, but there have been 2 calls to the city on us. (It's more a nuisance type thing but we're both stretched thin at the moment so it's more emotionally distressing than it usually would be)
The first instance was (what we thought) a "freelance" Gardner who reported weeds to the city to get us fined (or so we'd hire him to do the work). We took care of everything ourselves, but the inspector we spoke to stated basically "we can't tell you even if someone did call in" but said it in such a way that insinuated that yes we were indeed called in on. He also mentioned that everyone in our area with weeds was also cited and the city would clean up the weeds if they did not.
There was also during that a whole fiasco of getting a 2nd notice for things we'd already done because the inspector hadn't actually make the trip out and just assumed we didn't do it.
(It's been roughly 3 months since then and there's been no such action taken on the many neighbor; they had threatened us with fines for the weeds and the city getting them cleaned up and jail time for ours- which leads us in combo with this next event to the conclusion that it was a targeted call and we were only told such things from the inspector to keep us from complaining on others they had no intention of pursuing).
The second just happened today, so we're still waiting on the complete info for everything, but we confirmed we were called in on to our water company for the property apparently being "vacant" and "possible water leak" so it needed to be shut off (its been raining with snow the recent week when they supposedly made the trip out). The water had been shut off and our account closed (its now turned back on, so only a few hours- roughly 5 hours about) as a technician apparently came and deemed the property vacant on the 16th- despite our current usage (the meter being different), personal property clearly visible, no weeds, average mail amount (so no "abundance of mail"), and myself and the dogs being home (we've also had packages, but no one at the door in the days the tech supposedly visited).
We spoke with two representatives- different calls- and were told "I don't know how this happened, we have procedures to prevent this from happening" all of which would have shown this wasn't vacant (as previously listed) if were checked in the slightest. My mother requested that we be told who called in and who the technician was (as he obviously didnt do his job and wanted to file a formal complaint), but we were told by the first that there were no notes on file about that so she didnt know, and the second came back (after stating yes, we were called in on) and said the system went down and she'd have to escalate it to her manager who'd give us a call. We had to explain that our home previous to our buying was vacant for 6 months (we've been here all through the lockdowns) and all power, water, trash, and gas was still active when it was visibly vacant in order for them to finally disclose that we were called on as we know this wasn't a "in the area random visit" event that they could have mistaken- if they even ever visited which we find highly unlikely. As well, we never recieved any kind of contact- email, call, text, or physically showing up - mentioning that there was a call on our property/account despite the visit being 5 days ago (Date of the call was not disclosed, only visit/determination of vacancy)
We ourselves cannot think of anyone who might do this (we don't speak with our neighbors so no disputes, I myself am a homebody/work from home freelancing, and neither of us bring people around so it's not like anyone knows where our house is)- the only possibility we can think of is if someone who worked with my mom in the past suddenly has a grudge as well as family in the city to pull our information in order to make such calls and/or connections within those companies and searched our info to make the reports.
We've had issues with bad employers as well as other disgruntled employees/coworkers practically all the time i can remember (there could be a whole list of things- mainly stemming from my mom being a "I'm here to work not socialize" type which either gives her a cold/unfriendly vibe when she's busy or intimidates people by the sheer volume she's capable of- ive worked in the office with her a few times so its not a "my mom can do no wrong" rose tinted glasses idea).
Back on topic though, I've skimmed NM laws, but the results I'm getting appear more for workplaces than general type instances so they're not particularly helpful.
Do we need to wait until this happens a third time/someone tries again- successful or not? Or do we need to wait a 4th time since we dont know with solid proof that it was the same person who called us in the first time?
Would authorities be able to get the info from both the city and the water company if they refuse to hand it over to us (like how the city refused to specify if we were called in or not) if/or when they get involved? Should we start looking out for a lawyer instead and keep an eye out for anyother possible harassment events?
We're considering calling the gas and electric companies tomorrow to give them a heads up and make a note on our account because of this, on the instance that these 2 aren't some freak events of bad and lazy employees but someone actually out to harass us (by messing with our necessities and wasting our time).
submitted by throwaway-clonewars
to legaladvice [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 20:28 goodquestiion How soon to neuter after adopting?
Hi there! I just adopted an 8 month old, absolutely adorable kitten. I got him two days ago.
My current cat is not crazy about him yet, and they are both on edge when they are near each-other.
He needs to be fixed and get his shots. There's an appointment available Thursday, but I'm worried about his stress levels and recovery since they are still new to each-other. They are able to (and do) sleep in the same room, but general avoid each-other completely otherwise. The kitten seems to already be happy and comfortable with me and his new home but I just worry if he is stressed by not being accepted by my current cat, and if surgery this week is too soon.
If anyone is concerned about how quickly they were introduced, I understand and wish I could do better. I live in a one room (250sqft) tiny house on my moms property so there is no extra room to separate them. I set up a crate with kittens food bowl and blanket that he can go in and out of. I have been letting my older cat stay in the house with my mom during the day. They have had stare downs and sniffs and some hisses(only from older cat) through the glass door .. but when they are inside together they just avoid eachother. And my older cat is acting otherwise normal, eating and acting the same when I interact with him in my moms house.
Thank you in advance .. :)
Cat tax: https://ibb.co/b7y6S6C https://ibb.co/zV1BrJ4
submitted by goodquestiion
to cats [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 20:13 TheCJK Endless Summer
Purrk stretched his legs out in the water, flexing his webbed toes as he paddled around on his back. His small ears flicked as a gnat buzzed around his face. He swatted at it lightly with his left hand, missing. His hand fell on his tummy and he scratched through his sun warmed fur.
He paddled around, falling in and out of naps, for several hours. He neared the shore and pulled up several green pads to gnaw on. A smile crossed his face as he chewed. His tummy bulged momentarily and he expelled pellets into the dark water, easing further into comfort as his internals were sated.
He eventually reached the bank he had entered from, and exited back out toward the large black sunning stone. He climbed up it and curled into the massive etched symbol in its surface, embracing the warmth. He fell back asleep as his fur began to dry out.
Purrk's ears perked up as he heard familiar footsteps exit out of the field.
"Son." A low voice called out.
Purrk rolled over and opened an eye. "Hey dad. What you doing out here?"
His dad walked over and sat down beside him in the carved glyph. He leaned into his son, snuggling a bit and forcing him to move a few inches. "Came to see how you are doing."
"Same as always."
His dad let his eyes shut a bit as he crossed his arms on his own tummy. "You drinking out of the pond again?"
Purrk shook his head slightly. "No."
His dad reached over and patted his son's leg. "It's ok. I'll have your mom pick up more antiparasitics."
"I'll be fine." Purrk groaned a bit. "It's natural."
His dad lifted his head up. "Early death is natural too. You're too old for this kind of nonsense."
Purrk rolled over, adjusting to look his dad square on. "I'm just living."
"No, son, you're not." His dad leaned back onto the stone, resting his head on his hands. "It's time for you to move on, get out on your own."
Purrk smiled. "Ok." He leaned up onto his knees. "So, we gonna build a house? Do I get to pick where?"
His dad sighed. "Your mom's pregnant."
Purrk laughed. "Ok."
"It's going to be a big litter. Eight this time."
Purrk's eyes widened slightly. "Oh wow. Doctor scanned her?"
"Yup." His dad turned and looked at him. "We're going to need your room Purrk. Your older siblings have claims to the farm already." He leaned over and touched his shoulder. "You're going to have to strike out on your own."
Purrk stared at him for a moment. "Like leave? You want me off the acreage?"
He nodded. "Yeah. Our family is at quota."
Purrk nodded back and lowered his head. "This is my home." He looked back up at his dad, a tear in the black of his eye. "You, my family. This is my home."
"Purrk, anyone else and I would worry, but not you. You'll do fine. The universe is big. You'll find a place to make your own."
Purrk rose up onto his two feet. "The universe? Dad, I don't know anything about out there. Why can't I just live here by the pond. I like it here."
"Son, you're Baraman. Probably the most Bara of anyone I know. I've never seen you afraid of anything in your life. You'll be fine."
Purrk shook his head, raising a finger. "I've only tried to be like you. You're never phased. You make everything work. Let me stay and help. I can help."
His dad leaned up onto his own knees and took a slow breath. "Son, you don't help. You don't run the tractors. You don't cook, you don't clean, you don't fix, you don't do, well, anything." He stood up and stretched for a moment, then looked at Purrk. "You take up space, and we need that space." He turned around and started walking up the face of the black stone.
Purrk watched as he walked up into the bean field. He groaned and turned back to the water and slipped back in, flipping over to float on his back.
He packed up his room easily. He didn't have much in the way of possessions, just a few shirts, a blanket for cold nights, and a small blade he used to cut foliage. He finished sorting them and exited into the communal room. Rika and Tuk had come from their homes to see him off.
Rika smiled, handing him a pouch full of dried melick fruit. "You're going to be amazing out there." She said, leaning in and nuzzling him.
Tuk stood next to the door, holding it open. "Come on Purrk. Taxi is waiting for you."
Purrk stared at him for a moment. "Where exactly are you sending me?"
Tuk stepped out, waiting for him. "Dad and I talked over best scenarios for you. We think Harborhold is best."
Purrk walked toward the green motorized carriage and sighed. "What will I do there?"
Tuk waved at the driver and pulled the door open for his brother. "There's job's a plenty there. Find work, get you a place." Tuk opened up his shirt pocket and pulled out a cloth bound wad of coins. "Here. Get you an apartment there. Get set up."
Purrk took the pouch and looked up at his brother. "Can I come visit?"
Tuk put his right hand on Purrk's shoulder, staring into his brother's dark eyes. "Make it two years, then you can visit. Maybe during harvest. We could use the help."
Purrk looked down. "Maybe come for harvest. Alright." He turned and slunk into the taxi. He looked up at the high window of the family roundhouse, his mother stared down at him. After a moment she turned away.
Tuk slammed the door and patted the trunk.
The driver set off for Harborhold.
The ride took most of the day, the thin gravel roads giving way to cobbled then paved roads. Traffic increased as more and more trucks hauling grains and dried fruits filled the road. Purrk stared out the window as buildings became more prevalent, houses and farms replaced by towers and apartments. In the distance he could see trade ships descending toward the landing grounds. He watched as ship after ship hovered in wait, and then lowered down amongst the tradehouses.
Purrk pointed out the window. "Can you take me there?"
Blonk, the driver, snorted. "Course. You sure you want over there though? Your kin said to take you to the harvest halls."
Purrk shook his head, still staring at the ships. A large metallic purple ship had entered the atmosphere and lowered into line. "No. I never liked harvest. That though. That's amazing."
Blonk groaned. "Alright. No hair off me. I got paid here and back. Yours for the day bud."
Purrk had never imagined so many Baraman. He had heard stories from his sisters, clothes, peoples, other races, but he didn't really care, not until seeing it. People darted in and out of stores, several were wearing lower clothes, pants, and one fella was even wearing feet covering.
He pointed laughing. "Look that guy! He's got shoes!"
Blonk nodded. "It ain't mud here bud. The sweepers try and keep the sidewalks clear, but its not uncommon to get cut on broken glass."
"Gross! Bara leave glass on the ground here?"
"Yup. Bunch of animals we are." Blonk responded as he turned the corner toward a warehouse. "You're wanting a job eh?"
Purrk looked at the towering silos and then looked at the driver. "Yeah, I'll need one."
Blonk pointed up at the silo. "I got a cousin runs this place. They always need hands. You want a job, I can get you one right now, ya want."
Blonk slowed the car to a stop and turned off the engine. "Come on bud. Let's get you set up."
Blonk led the way into the high offices at the end of the silos. A manager saw him and descended the wooden stairs.
"Hey cuz." The tall Bara said as he took Blonk's arm and embraced him.
Blonk smiled and hugged back. After a moment he pointed over at Purrk. "Kicked off the farm. Needs a job." He leaned in a bit. "Not to bright."
The taller Bara walked over and looked Purrk over. "Kicked off the farm huh?"
Purrk nodded. "Yeah. Need a job and find a place to nest up."
He looked Purrk over. "You able to operate forks?"
Purrk scratched his chin then shook his head. "Forks?"
The manager pointed across the floor at a wheeled machine lifting a pallet of grain sacks. "Forks. For lifting. Think you can manage one of those?"
Purrk watched the operator for a moment. "I can learn." He said, nodding. "Yeah, that looks fun. I can learn that."
The manager laughed. "Fun. Yeah." He stuck his hand out. "Frelb. Clan owner of this here silo."
Purrk reached out and took his hand. "Purrk. Um, I got a backpack."
Frelb laughed and looked at Blonk. "Straight off the farm eh."
Frelb started back up the stairs. "You start training tomorrow Purrk. Go get some rest." He waved him off and then turned to look back at Blonk. "Cuz, you going to be in town for a bit?"
Blonk shook his head. "Getting this one set up over at Matta's. She should have some bunks available til he finds what he wants, then I gotta head back out."
"You gonna have time for drinks before you head out?"
Blonk nodded and laughed. "You buying right?"
Frelb raised his webbed hands out. "Buying? Hell, no, brewing maybe."
Blonk laughed and hit Purrk in the shoulder. "Let's go get your bunk bud." He then pointed back up at his cousin. "Then we're gonna teach you how to do a run."
Purrk tilted his head. "A run?"
Purrk woke up hurting the next morning. He looked around and memory started flicking back to him. He was in the bunkhouse, Matta's bunkhouse. He took a deep breath, feeling his stomach turn over. He hurried up and made it to the bathroom at the end of the hall. Someone yelled at him for making too much noise. He didn't care, and proceeded to empty his stomach in the toilet.
He looked at the mess. "I hate toilets." He flushed his stomach contents and sat on the ground next to the toilet, breathing slowly.
Someone tapped at the door. "That you Purrk?"
He nodded even though no one could see him. "Yeah. Matta?"
She laughed. "Yes sir. Sounds like you got too much of a shine with my cousins." She tapped the door. "You best hurry. Your going to be late for Frelb, and he doesn't like late."
He got up and went to the sink, turning the ridged handle. Water rushed out and he took it, splashing his face, tasting it. "Eww!" He spat out the metal laden water. "God this place is gross."
He finished washing and went back to his sleeping rack. He pulled a shirt out of his sack and put it on. He sighed as he looked out the large windows, taking in the bright light and brick buildings staring back. "First day of work. This is going to suck."
Purrk was still slightly dizzy when he was presented the forks to drive. He hopped up, mirroring what his trainer had shown him. He immediately swung the front end abruptly right, not intending to. "My bad."
The trainer groaned, watching.
Purrk manipulated the fork again, getting it to move forward and then backward as he wanted. "I'm getting it. I'm getting it."
The trainer pointed at a flat of pallets. "Alright. Lets see you move some."
Purrk drove over and picked a pallet, balancing it precariously on the end of the forks.
Purrk lowered it and pushed in deeper under the pallet, then lifted.
The trainer stared at him then pointed over at a waiting truck. "See if you can get it on there without breaking stuff."
Purrk nodded and carted the pallet over. He sat it down gently on the truck and backed away, leaving his cargo safely in place. He looked over at his trainer and smiled. "I did it!"
The trainer sighed and pointed back at the piles of sacks. "Good. Now do it a hundred more times."
Purrk groaned and drove back over.
The days went by quick. Frelb ignored Purrk during the days in the silo, but had him stay after to help with runs in the evening. After a week Purrk was able to run the still without intervention and Frelb sat back watching.
The taller Bara took a sip from his cup, shaking as the drink went down. He relaxed after and pointed at Purrk. "Hows you settling in?"
"Ok I guess." Purrk replied.
"Ok?" Frelb asked. "You moved into your own apartment this week didn't you?"
Purrk nodded as he leaned next to the cooler coil, keeping an eye on the drip. "Yeah. It's ok."
"Again the ok." Frelb laughed. "You're living in the big city! You been downtown yet? Seen any shows?"
"No. Doesn't sound fun."
Frelb shook his head, leaning forward. "What's got you down? Home sick?"
Purrk looked over at the foreman. "I don't get it."
"The point." He replied.
Frelb stared at him for a moment. "The shows are fun. I can take you, my treat. You ever seen a good titty dance?"
Purrk sighed. "I've got lots of sisters, seen way too many titties."
"I know a good doctor. He's got meds for depression. Might cure you up."
Purrk reached under the drip and took a taste on his finger, raising it up to his tongue. He tasted it, confirming the ethanol. "It ain't depression, or needing a show. I just don't get it." He stared over at Frelb. "I thank you for the work, and your family helping me, I really do, but I don't like working."
Frelb laughed. "Nobody likes working Purrk. That's why we we're running the still! Hell, your cut from this week's runs will set you up a pretty payday. Use it, enjoy it, find anything you like. Hell take your pay in jugs if you want. You gotta get out of your funk, too young for that nonsense."
Purrk shrugged. "Maybe."
"Maybe my broke tooth." Frelb said, standing up. "We'll get you set up with something. Maybe a hobby or find you a nice young sow down at the bars. Something."
Payday came and Purrk opened up a bank account, bought a new blue and yellow shirt, and went down to the bar as Frelb had suggested. It was one run by one of their family members, fueled by the very spirits Purrk had distilled. He sat at the end of the long wood plank, watching the door. He sat, sipping on his fruit mixed drink. The evening went on, people entered and left, and still he sat, quiet at the end of the plank.
Two Diles stepped in near midnight. He had never seen their kind before, only tales. He watched as they ordered milks and sat in the corner. The two sat talking in their guttural language, discussing a paper held in the shorter one's stubby clawed hands. The other looked over at Purrk, returning his stare.
Purrk, clueless, didn't look away. After a moment he smiled and raised his own glass toward them.
The shorter stowed his paper away in his side pouch and got up. It walked over toward Purrk, its toothed grin motionless. It stopped and leaned onto the plank bar, directing its yellow eye directly into Purrk's dark eyes. "You got a problem little Bara?"
Purrk, still smiling, shook his head. "No. Drink's good. You doing ok?"
The Dile looked over at its comrade and shrugged before turning back toward Purrk. "I'm doing good. Well, actually I'm not." He leaned in closer. "I've got a job to do, and I don't really know how to do it."
Purrk looked at him for a moment then tilted his head to match the Dile's. "I've got a job too, not really that fun, but it pays. Took me a while to learn to do it too." He laughed and patted the creature on the shoulder. "You'll figure it out. If I can learn, I'm sure you can."
The Dile laughed as his friend stepped up and took a seat beside Purrk. The taller one leaned over Purrk's other side. "You ever been on a starship?" It asked.
Purrk shook his head. "No, I watch them from the roof sometimes. They look pretty."
"Well." The shorter Dile started. "Captain wants us to fill out the crew roster. Wants to hire some Baraman, people like you."
Purrk leaned back, chuckling a bit. "I'm a Baraman!"
The taller Dile leaned in. "We know bud! How'd you like to work a starship?"
Purrk shook his head wildly, still laughing. "I don't know anything about starships. I just drive forks and distill." He said, lifting his glass."
"It's easy." The taller Dile said. "If you can run forks, you can help in the cargo bay I'm sure. See the universe, go to new places, see new things. What you say?"
Purrk thought for a moment. "The warehouse is pretty boring. I don't like it here." He looked over at the shorter Dile. "It pays right?"
The Dile nodded. "Of course. Pays better than any warehouse job on this silly slimewater world."
Purrk stuck out his hand. "Where do I sign up?"
The shorter Dile pulled out the paper. "Right here my new friend. Right here."
Purrk leaned in and took the offered pen, signing the roster sheet.
The Dile looked at the signature, smiling. "Well, Purrk. We are set to lift off tomorrow evening. I'll get you cleared to board. Be there, or be left here. Your choice."
Purrk laughed and patted him on the back. "Be where?"
The taller Dile stood up, towering over him. "Pad fourteen. Black ship. You'll see us running grounds. We'll keep a look for you."
Purrk kept nodding. "Alright. Deal. See you two tomorrow!"
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2023.03.21 19:59 gideon_fit Window replacement?
Hi I just got three window/door estimates to replace 11 windows and 2 doors. The windows are 7 sliding windows, 3 double hung windows, and picture glass in bathroom. All impact windows. My windows are on the bigger side, hence the sliders. My estimates were as followings: two around $50k and one around $40k. My house was built in 1927 and the windows are the old aluminum, multiple awning windows. This seems high to me. What are other experiences with this?
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2023.03.21 19:33 crackerscornbread Home Depot Door Sales
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2023.03.21 19:14 Lazy-Personality4024 Orphan Chapter 2
First Previous Chapter 2: Now Is Found
The moment the Into the Black entered Sol, the human’s home system, various transmissions and radio signals poured in. At first, the captain and the rest of the crew thought that humanity was well and truly alive. But upon closer inspection of the deluge of signals they were receiving, they realized they were nothing more than automated warnings, echoes, and ghost signals bouncing around the countless derelict ships, stations, habitats, and arcologies that surrounded nearly every world and moon in the system. The place was a mass grave, far greater than any of the previous systems. In fact, this system was the most developed Ohmata had ever seen. The Galactic Union’s capital is the most advanced system in the GU, and it pales compared to the level of development of the human home system!
The sheer amount of death and destruction was frightening. Entire fleets worth of ships clumped together in the void of space. Their own mass creating a small gravity, pulling them together and fashioning massive hulks. While also creating hazardous clouds of metal debris, more than a few moving fast enough to rip the Black to shreds, should they not be vigilant. Constructs the size of cities floated aimlessly, stuck within the confines of the star’s influence. Mobile defense platforms, which once bristled with the finest weapons humanity could field, lay battered and broken amongst the many wrecks that called Sol home. Humanity did not go down without a fight, that much was for certain. If anyone ever called them cowards, Ohmata would simply show them the recorded footage of their home system to prove the naysayers otherwise.
There looked to be more metal strewn about from the battles and destroyed ships alone than in every GU fleet combined, and more than a few worlds, too. The difference in the ships was obvious. The human vessels were boxy, utilitarian. They did their jobs, and they did them well. Many of which appeared to be nothing more than massive guns someone built a ship around, then put more guns on that.
The Nemesis were different; they weren’t boxy and rigid angles like the humans, but not totally smooth either. They had a far more organic look with multiple bends and curves, but the surfaces seemed to be rough and bumpy, and unlike the human ships, almost none were symmetrical. But though they were asymmetrical, there existed patterns in the various derelicts. As if they were variations of preexisting models, updated and expanded upon with time. In comparison, most GU ships were a happy medium. They had the bends and curves like the Nemesis, but were neatly symmetrical like the human ships.
Looking past the destruction and death, the system was fairly average. Four rocky worlds, four gas giants, and several smaller bodies here and there. The gas giants still had the broken remains of floating cities scattered across them, while their moons contained colonies and stations galore. But what was most interesting were the third and fourth rocky worlds. The fourth one had depressingly little green on it. It was mostly red, with an occasional white streak indicating clouds. It was highly developed, ruined cities ranged across its surface freely. But it bore the marks of war none the less. It would be a prime candidate for collecting samples, as long as the surface wasn’t too hazardous. Humanity did have a fetish for nuclear annihilation towards their end, after all.
The third planet, the third planet was something else. It was a grey husk devoid of life. Its moon had a massive crater denting its facade, with many smaller ones marking its surface. They stood out prominently. Fresh wounds of war contrasted against natural meteor strikes. The debris from the lunar surface and whatever had caused the impact was already starting to form the semblance of a ring around the planet. And like everywhere else, the surrounding space was choked with battle debris, though most had collected in the planet’s “proto ring”. There was so much debris that they could barely scan the planet, and what parts they could get to was so irradiated that a signal couldn’t penetrate from such a distance. Which meant if they wanted to scan the home world of these legendary humans, they would have to get closer. Which, frankly, was currently impossible.
“Nix’Fa, can you maneuver through that debris field?” Ohmata asked, while peering down at her console.
“No ma’am. A shuttle may get through, but it won’t have any of the equipment necessary to scan the planet. At least, not at any reasonable rate,” Nix’Fa replied. She, too, was looking over her console at potential flight paths.
First Lieutenant Qhaax spoke up from her station. “We may not need to actually scan the planet to learn more about humanity, captain. Most of the planet is a flattened, irradiated death pit, but the debris field around it still contains warships from both sides, some in remarkable condition. In fact, several derelicts appear to still have power, even after thousands of years. We may be able to board them using a shuttle and extract data from any intact computer systems we find. And while not exactly human, there is a Nemesis ship relatively close to the edge of the field. It would be a good first target.”
“Then we’ll change our plan to that. Qhaax, contact Kitern and tell her to get her marines suited up, send a techy or two and some researchers with them as well. You’ll have to contact Tentzonta to get her to let some of her engineers loose for once, and Glevar for her researchers. Though you won’t have to convince her, she’ll be jumping at the opportunity. Nix’Fa, start plotting them a course, and we’ll go from there, understood?”
The two responded with a crisp, yes ma’am, and got to work on their respective tasks.
“Kitern, can you hear me?” Ohmata’s voice called out from Kitern’s suit’s comms.
“Loud and clear, cap, whatcha need?” Commander Kitern responded as she stowed away several more energy cells for her weapon. She was a digitigrade, feline like mammal known as a Lioranian, with thick paw like hands that held deadly claws within them. They were still thin and nimble enough to manipulate objects accurately, but most importantly, pull a trigger. Her kind also had a slightly elongated snout, long tail, and top forward facing ears. Their eyes were dark, but a few bore mutations which lightened the iris to a sky blue. And their pupils are vertical, but would dilate periodically to give better depth perception and low light visibility. Her species’ coats ranged from a dark tan to a bright yellow gold and had multiple coat patterns of varying intensities. She personally had a dusty tan coat with slight stripe markings originating from her spine, but quickly fading as they reached around to her abdomen and chest.
“You already have a basic rundown about what to do. But I just wanted to remind you, we marked an entrance for you through some old battle damage on a derelict Nemesis ship that is close to the edge of the debris field. Enter, make your way to the power source, secure the area, and set up a pressurized zone if possible so the techies can work in peace. If you can’t, oh well, they can work in their suits. Also, you see anything living, as unlikely as that is, don’t go shooting it. Try to capture or reason with it, but if it does anything stupid, then do what you and your girls do best.”
Kitern smiled maliciously. “Aye, aye, captain. We’ll keep the civvies alive and kick’n, get the goods and be back in no time.”
“Then I leave the rest to you. Oh, try not to mess with the shuttle’s controls while it’s on autopilot this time. It’ll be weaving through a debris field too compact to get the Black into. Any rescue efforts will take a long time, longer than what you’ll have, so don’t touch the throttle like last time!” Ohmata raised her voice jokingly, playfully reminding Kitern of the last time they were on a shuttle together in such conditions.
“Ha! Dontcha worry, I’ll be in the back. Onsa will be in the pilot’s seat for this go. She’s a better flyer anyways,” Kitern played.
“Alright then, get done and come back, preferable alive. Ohmata out.” There was a click as Ohmata closed the channel.
“Hmph, always do.” Kitern had been staring at a random wall while talking to Ohmata. With the call over, she turned to her squad. “Alright girls, get your shit together and get to the shuttle. Oh, and keep your hands to yourself, Hran is coming along, I don’t want any complaints from him, or hands where they shouldn’t be, got it?” she barked, eyeing each of the three other marines, more specifically the youngest two.
“What if he lets us?” one of said marines asked jokingly.
“It’ll be a cold day on Ca’tab before that happens, Asteli,” Kitern replied.
“You never know, we might just wear him down finally, right Gre’Namra?” the perky Venanian replied.
“How many times do I have to tell you? Just call me Namra, and I doubt it. Men like to be wined and dined. Take them out, pay for a fancy meal, maybe buy them something. You know, the usual,” her counterpart, a Drae’Ildan, responded.
Kitern sighed. “Or how about not harassing anyone and act like a decent sentient, you hornbags? Now, shut it and get to the shuttle. Dentala you’ll have your work cut out for you keeping track of these two today.”
“Not as big of a job as keeping track of you, I pity Onsa,” Dentala said as she lifted a heavy kinetic slugger with a red hand, another Venanian.
Kitern chuffed deeply, her species version of a chuckle. “Me too! But, you might wanna put on a glove before we go out. Might help with the whole vacuum thing.” Dentala looked at her hand, surprised that she had forgotten it, before slipping one on. It attached to her bracer and made an airtight seal, forming an armored gauntlet. With that, the four marines left to join their fifth member in the shuttle.
As they left the locker room, Asteli mumbled under her breath. “We wouldn’t do that. We’re not assholes,” she said, addressing Kitern’s assertion of harassment.
“Well, you sound like one,” Gre’Namra replied quietly. After that, they kept their heads down and trudged along with their commanding officer.
A short jaunt later, they were passing through the hangar bay’s airlock. They were greeted by the Black’s only two shuttles. One, small and cramped, meant for scanning dangerous locations that they couldn’t get to with the ship. Logically, that would mean it was best suited to scan Earth. But even its equipment was not powerful enough to breach the radiation. Not without descending into the planet's atmosphere and becoming so irradiated they would practically glow in the dark. And while they could get Aphosi to pilot the shuttle remotely, its scanners aren't able to scan such a broad area like an entire planet. They were more meant to target small, specific locations.
The second shuttle was much larger. It was built to transport supplies and the handful of rovers they had in storage, to make excursions to planets. The smaller shuttle had permanently extended wings and large thrusters on the rear. The larger of the two, simply dubbed Shuttle One, could fold its wings. And had a variety of thrusters located across the ship for better maneuverability in space, and atmospheric thrusters embedded in the center of each wing for flight in atmo. But it also had two large engines in the back for forward thrust, just above its rear ramp.
Walking over to shuttle one, Onsa, the other Lioranian in the squad, was already waiting for them in the pilot’s seat. In the rear seating area were two engineers and two scientists, wearing grey, lightly armored EVA suits that looked to be made of cloth, but were instead a variety of advance polymers and flexible but insulative materials. Most of the helmet was a large, one way transparent material, allowing for increased awareness while sacrificing protection. In comparison, the marine’s helmets had no exterior window, instead a suite of miniature sensors embedded in their black armored helmets allowed them to see through an internal display screen. The helmets appeared to be smooth metal from a distance, only up close could you see the microscopic sensors embedded in them.
The marine’s suits held many of the same features as the civilians, but were black and had thick armored plates over vital areas and on select parts of their extremities, with thinner, non-metal armor segments filling in the gaps. Both suit types had an array of pockets and hideaways, each holding their respective tools of the trade. Regardless of the accessories, or level of protection, each was specially crafted to accommodate for the unique physiologies of the different species.
Had the ship and its equipment not made with each of their species in mind, they would have worn generic multi species suits. Instead of the pre-built features tailored for their specific anatomy, they would be covered with a thick insulated, pliable material that fitted over the horns, tails, and crests and shrank until it was tightly pressed against every nook and cranny. Aside from personalized helmets, each species’ leg sections and gloves/gauntlets catered for whether they were plantigrade, digitigrade, or for how many digits they may possess.
Hran being a male Venanian, had small horns jutting out from his temples. But because his horns were so small, his helmet did not need any special features. Thus was fairly plain. It looked like a sphere that had been slightly squished in on the sides. Unlike the females of his species, who had much larger, curved horns, their helmets were marked with two twin armored segments sticking up like antenna. Otherwise, their helmets were just as “stubby” as his, for their flatter faces. At least, in comparison to the other species onboard.
The Shednae with their elaborate head crests and long faces, had a stubby mohawk like metal protrusion for their crests to fit in, and longer helmets to account for their heads. The Drae’Ildan’s helmets were similar to the Shednae. In fact, they could be mistaken for one another if not for the lack of a head crest. Lastly, the Lioranian helmets were quite plain, aside from the extended “snout” for their slightly longer faces and two nubs to house their ears located on the top of their heads.
Those with tails were likewise afforded a special area to put them, instead of the shrinking material normal for such species. The Shednae have a small knob like space for their short tails. While the Venanians and Lioranians had long thin tails, they could be coiled in the suit. Drae’Ildan suits had a much longer and thicker tail section that looked burdensome but was quite flexible. Their suits were also equipped with a much larger array of sensors to assist them, as the Drae’Ildan’s natural sensory organs were significantly dulled in such tight confines.
“I see the grunts have finally made their appearance. Why did you bother bringing so many guns with you? It’s a derelict that has been floating dead in space for thousands of cycles. There won’t be anything living on board.”, one of the engineers nagged, as the marines ducked into the shuttle. Though her helmet was on, it was clear she was a part of engineering by the orange stripe running along the left of her suite, and left sleeve. Mimicking their uniforms.
“And a fine hello to you Kass, you too, Hran,” Kitern said as she sat down across from the two Venanians and buckled in. Hran simply nodded silently. Kitern continued, “And as for your question, we have no idea what we’ll find. You want to be stuck out in space with no way of protecting yourself if something is there? Yeah, I’m sure it’s empty too. Doesn’t mean I’m taking any chances.” Kass snorted at her reply.
“Shavizi, Jurwa, what about you two, think we’ve over prepared?” Kitern asked the two scientists to her left. Their stripes were blue.
“One can never be too prepared! Though the heavy slugger seems a bit excessive, but as long as you don’t drop it on me, I have no complaints,” Jurwa, a Shednae, said gleefully, practically bouncing in her seat.
“I agree, organic enemies aside. The ship may have automated defenses still functioning. If so, they will have to be dealt with accordingly.” Shavizi added. Yet another Venanian.
“See Kass, they get it,” Kitern grinned smugly underneath her helmet as she leaned back and buckled herself in.
As the others sat down and buckled in, Onsa turned in her seat to see if they were all ready. Everyone confirming they were. She turned back around and started up the shuttle. Quickly putting it into autopilot, but still keeping her hands on the controls just in case. The shuttle slipped out of the bay, passing through the atmospheric retention field, and pitching down and to the left, heading for the derelict Nemesis ship.
As the debris field is so dense and dangerous, the Into the Black was several hundred kilometers away, clear of any potential danger. As such, the trip would take around five minutes before they reached the field, another six to navigate the debris, as it was so hazardous. The Nemesis ship in question was near the edge of the debris field, but still mostly intact, with some power readings emanating from within, a perfect target for research.
“We’re coming alongside it now. Once we have successfully magnetized to its hull with the docking clamps, I’ll decompress the shuttle and you can open him up,” Onsa called out, just barely turning her head back in their direction.
Kitern activated her comms so everyone could hear her clearly once the air was siphoned out. “Gotcha. Scans show two distinct points of power readings. Both look to be in the same place, or at least really damn close. We’ll take a right once we get into the ship and follow the corridor until it leads to a three-way intersection. Then we make a left, then a right, and we’ll be on track. The room in question will be along that corridor. Keep your eyes and sensors open for anything that looks Nemesis-y.”
“Oh, like the entire ship?” Kass chimed in.
Kitern rolled her eyes. “Onsa, give a countdown.”
Onsa nodded her head. “Affirmative. Decompression commencing in three… two… one… starting.” There was an audible hiss that slowly faded away as the air in the shuttle was pulled back into storage tanks for later use. “Decompression complete, safe to open the door,” she confirmed over their comms.
“Opening door. Don’t go floating off,” Kitern joked as she pressed a button near the hatch, causing it to slide open silently. Before them was a gaping hole in the side of what looked like a ship that had grown large warts. The human beacons had mentioned that the Nemesis ships weren’t smooth, but the reality was a bit more unsettling up close. The humans weren’t sure why the Nemesis ships were so… bumpy. But they knew it wasn’t actually part of the building process, as newly refurbished or repaired Nemesis vessels lacked the warty exterior. But they had seen no importance in investigating the reason, as they had no tactical or structural advantage. Humanity theorized they were damage, but what could cause metal to ripple and bubble? So it remains a mystery to this day.
Kitern lifted a foot, causing the magnetic lock on that boot to disengage automatically, then re-engage when she put pressure on it. Allowing her to walk forward until she was looking down into the hole. Kitern put a foot on the lip of the shuttle, and bent forward, pushing herself into the opening.
As Kitern floated into the ship, she could see the corridors were circular, with strange partitions along the edges. The partitions didn’t seem to move or close, so she guessed they were more decorative support beams than actual doorways. A second later, she put out a hand to stop herself from colliding with the far wall, and pushed downward, boots magnetizing to the floor. Upon magnetizing, she immediately lifted her weapon. It was a small energy-based firearm, similar in size and function to an SMG.
Looking down both directions of the corridor showed nothing of interest other than more of those strange support beams and closed bulkhead doors on either end. She noted the twisted metal and battle damage in the corridor caused by whatever had impacted the hull.
Before everyone had touched down, she started making her way toward their objective. She continued on until she reached the bulkhead door at the end of the corridor. It was not fully closed, only partially, allowing someone to grip between the two sections and pull them apart. She did just that. As the door slowly opened, Dentala came up behind her and lent her strength to the task. Grunting in exertion, they pulled the door apart until they could easily walk through. Kitern silently fist bumped Dentala on the shoulder in thanks before she continued on, weapon held at the ready.
As they proceeded through the derelict, signs of battle began to appear. At first, it was only a few scorch marks or kinetic impact craters on the wall. Then, what looked like dried blood from some ancient creature. It had aged into a sickly dark green color with a hint of yellow. A quick scan showed that no genetic material could be retrieved, it had long degraded into nothing. Though some sort of information could certainty be gleamed from the stain if they searched long enough, but the sample was unimportant, as it was not a focus of the mission. Pressing on, the signs of battle intensified, as well the amount of spilled blood. At one point, an entire corridor looked like it had been painted in viscera.
The team could only speculate on what had happened. Was it a mutiny? Civil war between surviving Nemesis forces trapped in the Sol system? Or perhaps the humans had something to do with it? But there was one thing on everyone’s mind as they walked through the ancient carnage. Where were the bodies? They hadn’t passed a single corpse yet, just blood stains.
“Captain Kitern, do you suppose we can slow down and so I can scan the ship a bit more? I can’t get a proper reading while moving like this,” Shavizi requested from the back. She had some sort of tool and was waving it back and forth across the surface of the corridor.
“You can scan the ship when we stop, and that will be when we get to those power signals. And once we make sure the place is secure,” Kitern responded, weapon still up at her shoulder as she swept the hallway.
“If that is your order,” Shavizi relented, but still attempted to scan everything they passed, incomplete or not.
It didn’t take long before they arrived at where the Black said the power readings were. They had weaved about the ship a bit more than desired. Several bulkhead doors were completely sealed shut, causing them to detour, but they managed it in the end. They were now standing in front of a large single door; it was nowhere near as large as the bulkhead doors that sealed off entire corridors, but it was large enough to allow passage with room to spare on all sides.
It too bore damage from whatever conflict had occurred within the ship. The door’s access panel was damaged, and the surrounding wall panels warped. Preventing them from directly interacting with the door.
“This is the place; my scanner is already picking up power readings from here. Hran, be a dear and get out the interface tools. We’ll see if this door has power first, instead of brute forcing our way through first thing,” Kass stated. Hran silently carried out his orders, unpacking a variety of tools they may need.
After pulling off several of the panels to see if they allowed access to the door’s wiring, they eventually found the right one. Sadly, a closer inspection revealed that the door, like nearly the entire ship, had no power, meaning it couldn’t be opened by the press of a button like they wanted.
“Oh well, do what you do best, Kitern,” Kass shrugged as she and Hran began packing up their tools.
“Eh, worth a shot. Privates, if you please,” Kitern motioned to the door for the two young marines to take a crack at it. They both replied with a crisp, yes ma’am, and quickly got to work trying to pry open the door.
It took a little more effort than they thought, but over time it slowly slid further and further open, until Gre’Namra wedged herself in between the door and frame, and used her entire body to push it open. Asteli joined in when it widened enough for the both of them. Together, they pushed it fully open, the door slowly recessing into the wall. Revealing an old dusty room with several long bed-like pods.
“Thank you, girls. Now clear the room while you’re at it. Though by now any baddies would have chewed you up,” Kitern ordered. The two did just that. Thankfully, the entire room could be seen from the doorway, so there really wasn’t any clearing. Just looking behind the pods for anything not so friendly.
During their little search, they noticed one bed had several lights flickering on its side. They pointed it out to the others. Immediately, Kass and Shavizi pushed them aside to get to it. Drooling over it like children being offered sweets.
“I wonder what this is?! After so many thousands of years, it still has power. I thought those beacons were incredible enough, but this is something else!” Kass said to no one in particular.
Shavizi had been scanning the bed, as well as its neighbors, while Kass looked it over. “Hmm. The pods have a sliding covering that encloses the occupants. All the others are open, yet this one is closed.” Shavizi tapped at her scanner a bit. “Wait… the other energy signature… it’s coming from inside it!” she said astonished, while moving a hand over the top of the slid that covered the pod. As she did, thousands of years’ worth of dust floated away from where she dragged her hand. Allowing a small amount of light to break free from within.
Noticing this, Shavizi leaned forward and peered inside the pod. Her eyes went wide as her mind tried to make sense of what she was seeing. “GET BACK! DON’T TOUCH IT!” she screamed, but was too late. Kass, who was now crouched down near the base of the bed, had pressed a finger to one of the flickering lights just as Shavizi yelled her warning. All Kass had time to do was turn her head up and mutter a confused, “huh?”, before the covering of the pod slid open, unleashing its occupant onto the galaxy.
Hello once again! First things first. If you see the name Osan, please point it out to me. It is supposed to be Onsa, but the program I use to write the story changed the name to Osan for some reason. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the cliffhanger! This chapter is meant to help further detail the various species and their features, and of course set up for many things to come!
Also, in my last story. I had a lot of flashback sequences to add in fluff and give backstory to the MC. While I don't want overuse it in this story, I do want to have flashback esque sequences that are basically just battles of the Human-Nemesis war (recorded combat footage recovered from human ships and installations), introduce new characters, or maybe give further development to preexisting characters. The flashback sequences will be called Orphan: Tales of the Past and won't begin until a certain point in the main story. Once that point is reached, the side stories will pop up every once in a while in place of the main story chapters. Or, if I fell as if its safe to push the story ahead, you'll get the main story and a side story in one week.
That's it for the week folks! See you next week!
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2023.03.21 19:07 droidworkerbee [M4A] A New Minister, An Old Congregant
Sunlight filtered in through the high up stained glass windows, through the leaves of the sugar maples outside that may very well predate some of the first British settlers to North America. Though the old stone church wasn’t built by the Waterbury Unitarian Fellowship, it was purchased some sixty years ago in a time when church enrollment was in a state of flux. The Unitarians, who at the time were still merging with the Universalists, offered an alternative approach towards a faith community. One rooted in personal growth, the democratic process, and a broad approach to faith traditions that didn’t pigeonhole it into only the Bible, or only the New Testament. It took hold well in New England, scattered a bit throughout the states, and managed to find wayward souls who’d grown up disillusioned with churches, betrayed or otherwise cast out.
That was how Walter McDonald came to find it in the summer of 1963. Fresh out of Vietnam with a medical discharge, he moved near to back home for lack of options but wanted to associate with nothing that led him down the path to killing strange souls halfway across the world he had no qualms with. Catching shrapnel in his leg and having to use a cane, even at the spry age of 22, almost seemed like a blessing to get him out of that godforsaken place. But he couldn’t go back to his parents’ home, nor to his friends who had Kennedy’s back in his escalation. That being said, he felt odd about not being in church on Sunday morning, and it was something he missed.
His first Sunday had been something of a revelation. Instead of an organ and choir, a young man played Woody Guthrie up on the stage. A minister, wearing a sportcoat and jeans in place of robes, talked about peace and love, and only kind of vaguely related it towards Jesus but also the Buddha. Intrigued was a good word for Walter, and so he kept coming back. And back. And before long, he’d found his community. Never thought he’d have settled in with a group of hippies who seemed really close with communists and homosexuals and the like, but at the end of the day, they were good people, and did indeed make him think about his life and how to be better without the threat of hellfire and damnation that had been the hallmark of the protestant church of his youth.
Sixty years in the same place is a long time. The stained glass had been cleaned, repaired in spots, but as he sat and looked up at it, now with bifocals, from the same pew back near the sound engineer’s booth he sat in every Sunday, the artistry and craftsmanship still gave him a little awe. In those sixty years, he’d found friends. Fellowship. Joined rallies, protested for the rights of people across the globe and in his community that were downtrodden. He’d dined in friends’ homes, met and gained respect for people from all walks of life. He’d met a woman, fell in love, but then fell out of it before they could stand at the front of this sanctuary and be wed. And now, in his 83rd year, the groups of people he’d known during his time there as easily the longest tenured member of the church dwindled. Every funeral held with it a sort of status check for those who remained. Who’d gone into assisted living. Home hospice. Who wasn’t doing so well. Though he recorded the names in the Book of Life, the little offering for what was going on in the lives of the community, he knew that fewer and fewer knew the names of those that had passed.
After moving back home, his injury took away several opportunities for work. However, being a jeweler afforded him some comfort in sitting and working on a craft. He’d done that for decades, finally retiring when his hands and eyes were ready to give out. He’d taken on a project of chronicling the history of this congregation that had given him a place to matter for so long. He had a purpose, at least one he’d made for himself, one that he deemed mattered to every new minister that came in these doors.
He’d seen perhaps a dozen full time ministers in his day. Some were only there for a year or two, perhaps on a contract until they could find a position closer to their home. Others came and made a living of it, ending their tenure when they and the congregation could no longer move forward together (a very nice way of naming a breakup, or a divorce). This summer, the current board president (a position Walter had held at two different points in time) made an announcement: another new minister. The younger man seemed excited, as did the small committee that had done the hiring. And good on them. They deserved to have that feeling of success.
Not that Walter wished this new minister ill. Not at all. This was becoming a trying place for him, as was the world at large. Change seemed faster than he wanted to admit, as robotic phone calls and problematic housework made his decision to live alone into his 80s with no surviving kin (his will detailed personal effects going to a nephew, oldest child of his only sister, herself passed on) one that almost made the question of “when?” loom closer. His only real solace was that, using walking assistance for so long, he’d gotten fairly adept at needing help, and was a bit better prepared to avoid common slips and falls in his home.
No, this new minister would come in. Have their own ideas of what to do with the congregation. The building. Maybe they’d discuss selling and moving once again; it had been discussed before. Perhaps they were old, young, man, woman, trans, gay, straight… to be fair, there had been some meetings with this person, but Walter didn’t get out much. He also didn’t say much, but when he did in a congregational meeting, his words carried some weight still. He’d gotten a voice mail from that same president, said the new minister would want to meet him, and it was important to them. And that’s a nice thought, sure. But who was he? A relic. He wasn’t the person this new minister needed to be worried about. Before long he’d be dead and gone, and the minister would need to worry about the families with kids and the high donors. He’d made his peace with the closing of his days at Waterbury.
Hello, and thanks for reading all of that today! It’s more of a backstory and setup for the character I intend to write, Walter, opposite your minister character. I have left the creation of that character entirely up to you, and hopefully created a space where any of those sorts of people would fit into that role nicely. I invite you to create a character that you’d like to write as in that role, not what you think I’d like to see opposite Walter.
The above would be a longer than usual post for me. In general, when I’m writing back and forth with a partner, depending on the flow of conversation I might write 3-5 paragraphs. I prefer to write here on Reddit via DM (though I’m okay with using chat as an organizational measure, I’d rather not have the meat of the roleplay there). I would rather not write on Discord.
I’d be open to hearing from partners one of several things related to this prompt. If you were interested and wanted to write a little intro of yourself to the congregation imagined above, that would be lovely. If you’d like to talk a bit about the scenario and setup, that would also be a good way for us to get to know one another before writing. It would be good to have a little chat up front about our expectations for this roleplay, what we’d like to each see out of it, and so forth. I don’t have a defined end point in mind, and tend to enjoy seeing where my partner and I carry a narrative naturally.
I look forward to writing with you in the coming days. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you drop a line! If not, have a great day regardless.
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2023.03.21 19:00 greg0525 Reflections of the Past
Sophie shifted in her seat, her heart pounding as she waited for the verdict to be delivered. She glanced over at her sister Emily, who sat beside her, her hands clenched tightly in her lap.
The courtroom was packed with people, all waiting to hear the fate of the man who had killed Sophie's beloved husband. Sophie could feel their eyes on her, judging her, and she felt a surge of anger rise within her.
Finally, the judge spoke.
"The court finds the defendant guilty of murder in the second degree," he said, his voice echoing through the room. "I hereby sentence him to 10 years in prison."
Sophie gasped, feeling as though the air had been knocked out of her. "Only 10 years?" she whispered, her voice shaking with anger.
Emily placed a comforting hand on Sophie's shoulder. "I know, it's not enough," she said, her voice low. "But at least he'll be off the streets for a little while."
Sophie nodded, but she couldn't shake the feeling of injustice that filled her. "He took my husband from me," she said, her voice rising. "He deserves to rot in jail for the rest of his life!"
The man who had killed her husband sat in the defendant's chair, his eyes cast downward. Sophie glared at him, hatred burning in her chest.
"You'll never know the pain you've caused," she spat, her voice cold.
The man looked up at her, his eyes empty of emotions.
Sophie's voice was rising again. "You took away the love of my life, and for what? A stupid argument?"
The man hung his head, unable to meet Sophie's gaze.
Sophie shook her head, tears streaming down her face. "You'll pay for what you've done. One way or another."
Sophia and Emily walked out of the courtroom, both feeling exhausted and emotionally drained. The weight of the verdict was heavy on Sophie's heart, and she couldn't shake off the feeling that justice hadn't been served.
At Sophie’s house, Emily wrapped her arm around Sophie's shoulder, trying to offer some comfort.
"It's okay, Sophie. We'll find a way to make it right," Emily said softly.
Sophie let out a deep sigh and leaned her head on Emily's shoulder. "I don't know, Em. Ten years is not enough for taking someone's life."
Sophie was lost in her thoughts for a moment, replaying the memories of her husband and how much she missed him.
Then Emily left and Sophia went straight to the couch and collapsed on it, feeling emotionally exhausted. She closed her eyes and tried to relax, but her mind kept replaying the events of the day.
As Sophia lay in bed, she couldn't shake off the feeling that something was not right. She felt uneasy and restless, her thoughts still lingering on the verdict and the killer of her beloved husband.
Suddenly, she noticed a faint glow from the corner of her eyes. It was coming from the large mirror on the wall.
Sophia got up and made her way towards the mirror, her curiosity piqued. As she drew closer to it, she saw that the glow was getting stronger and stronger. The mirror was emitting its own light.
To her surprise, the mirror now looked like a TV screen. It showed the same living room at night, and she could see her husband walking in with his briefcase. Sophie was dumbfounded. She couldn't believe what she was seeing.
Suddenly, she saw the image of her husband freeze, and then the mirror went dark. Sophie was so startled that she stumbled back and ran out of the living room. She ran to the garden, trying to catch her breath and make sense of what had just happened.
As she stood there, taking deep breaths, Sophie couldn't help but wonder if the mirror was showing her the last moments of her husband's life. The thought made her shiver, and she couldn't shake off the feeling of unease that lingered in the back of her mind.
The next day, Sophie told Emily that she saw her dead husband in the mirror Emily did not believe her. Emily tried to examine the mirror but there was nothing wrong with it. Then Emily left and Sophie started cleaning the house, including the newspaper clippings about the murder of her husband.
Sophie was in the living room when Emily arrived. "Sophie, how are you feeling today?" Emily asked.
Sophie replied, "I am feeling a little better, but I saw something strange yesterday."
"What did you see?" Emily asked curiously.
Sophie explained, "I saw my husband in the mirror last night. It was like a TV, showing the living room at night, and he walked in with his briefcase."
Emily looked at Sophie skeptically, "That's impossible, Sophie. Maybe you were just dreaming."
Sophie was starting to feel frustrated, "No, Emily, I saw it. You have to believe me."
Emily tried to reassure Sophie, "Okay, okay, let's take a look at the mirror and see if there's anything wrong with it."
Sophie led Emily to the mirror, and they examined it carefully, but there didn't seem to be anything wrong with it.
Emily turned to Sophie, "See, there's nothing wrong with the mirror. Maybe it was just your imagination."
Sophie was starting to feel alone and misunderstood, "I know what I saw, Emily. You don't believe me."
Emily tried to console Sophie, "I believe that you saw something, Sophie, but we just don't know what it is yet. Let's keep an open mind and see if anything else happens."
Sophie nodded, "Okay, that sounds fair."
After Emily left, Sophie decided to clean the house, including the newspaper clippings about the murder of her husband. She couldn't bear to see them anymore, as they reminded her of her loss. She put them all in a box and tucked them away in the closet, hoping to move on with her life.
As Sophie was tidying up, she happened to catch a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror. To her surprise, the mirror seemed to be displaying a series of moving images. The images showed her husband Rick returning home and shortly after, the doorbell rang.
Sophie could see the anger in Dave's eyes as he confronted Rick.
"You have no idea how much money I lost because of you!" Dave spat, his face twisted in fury.
Rick, his own voice growing louder, shot back, "I know exactly what I did! You're not thinking clearly, Dave."
Dave stepped closer to Rick, his fists clenched at his sides. "Don't you dare tell me what I'm thinking! You don't know anything about me!"
Rick stood his ground, his own fists balled up in preparation for a fight. "I know enough to know that you're acting like a madman right now."
Suddenly, without warning, Dave lunged at Rick, his fist connecting with Rick's jaw. The force of the blow sent Rick staggering backwards, and he stumbled into a nearby table, knocking over a vase in the process.
Sophie watched in horror as the two men continued to fight, their movements growing more and more frenzied by the second. The sounds of grunts and shouts echoed through the house, and Sophie could feel her own heart racing as she realized that things were quickly spiraling out of control.
"Stop it! Stop it, please!" Sophie cried out, but her words went unheard as the fight between Rick and Dave raged on.
She was frozen in place, unable to move or intervene in the fight. The sounds of their shouts and grunts echoed throughout the house, adding to the chaos of the scene. The scene in the mirror continued to play out, showing Rick collapsing to the ground as Dave walked out of the house, looking triumphant.
“He didn’t kill him! He didn’t kill him! It wasn’t him”, she said and the thought that an innocent man was going to be sentenced for years was terrifying.
Sophie's heart raced as she made her way to the DEA's office. She knew that what she was about to tell him would be hard to believe, but she had to try. When she arrived, she explained to the agent that she had seen in the mirror a different version of events than what had been presented in court.
"You see," she began nervously, "my husband wasn't murdered by the man who was sentenced. I saw in the mirror that it was someone else entirely."
The DEA agent raised an eyebrow skeptically. "What are you talking about? That's impossible."
Sophie took a deep breath and explained everything that she had witnessed in the mirror, from the argument to the violent altercation and the aftermath. She pleaded with the agent to reopen the case and investigate further.
But the agent remained skeptical. "I understand that you believe what you saw, but the sentence cannot be changed based on what you think you saw in a mirror."
Sophie felt her heart sink as she realized that her efforts might be in vain. She had hoped that by coming forward, she could right the wrongs that had been done and bring justice to her husband. But now it seemed like that might not be possible.
Deflated, Sophie left the DEA's office and began to consider other options. She knew that she couldn't give up on finding the truth, even if it meant going against the system.
Sophie's mind was still reeling from her encounter with the DEA agent as she returned home. She needed to distract herself from the disappointment of not being able to get justice for her husband, so she decided to focus on something else. Cleaning was always a good way to keep busy, she thought.
However, she couldn't help but wonder if there was more to the story that she didn't know about so she went back to the mirror.
As she stared into the glass, she was surprised to see a new image materialize. It was the dark living room at night, and she could barely make out any details. But as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she could see her husband Rick rummaging around under the couch.
Her heart racing, Sophie watched as Rick retrieved a mobile phone from under the couch. She recognized it immediately as the same phone she had found earlier. Rick checked something on the phone, and then put it back under the couch.
That was the moment when she spotted a dark figure standing at the door. Sophie's heart was pounding in her chest as she watched the scene unfold in the mirror. Sophie strained to hear what they were saying, but the sound was muffled and she couldn't make out the words. The tension in the room was palpable, and Sophie felt like she was holding her breath as she watched the two figures interact.
Suddenly, the woman stepped forward, and Sophie could see that she was holding something in her hand. As she got closer, the object came into focus, and Sophie felt her blood run cold. It was a knife.
Sophie watched in horror as her sister approached her husband, who seemed to have no idea what was about to happen. The woman raised the knife, and with a swift motion, plunged it into Rick's chest. Sophie felt sick to her stomach as she watched the gruesome scene play out in front of her.
Now she could make out more of the dark figure. She could immediately recognize her blonde hair: it was her sister.
She couldn't believe that her own sister was capable of such a horrific act. Tears streamed down her face as she realized that the truth had finally been revealed - her sister was responsible for her husband's murder.
Then she remembered the phone. She bent down to see if it was still there and it was. It was a sleek black model that she had never seen before.
Curious, she picked up the phone and pressed the power button. To her surprise, the phone came to life. She entered a random PIN number and it worked, to her astonishment
“How is that possible?”, she told herself and registered it as a lucky guess.
She scrolled through the contacts and messages, hoping to find some clue as to who it belonged to.
And then she saw it - a message from her sister, Emily. She hesitated for a moment, wondering if she should invade her husband's privacy. But her curiosity got the best of her, and she checked the message.
The phone revealed a slew of messages and photos that left Sophie feeling sick to her stomach. It seemed that her husband had been cheating with her own sister. Some photos were taken in their own bedroom during intimate moments.
Sophie felt tears stinging her eyes as she realized the depth of her husband's and sister’s betrayal. She had thought that she knew them so well, but it seemed that he had been living a lie all along.
Was it possible that Rick wanted to break up the affair? Was Emily too afraid of Rick telling the truth?
Sophie heard a knock on the door, which made her jump with fright. She hesitated for a moment before approaching the door, her heart racing with anxiety. When she opened it, she found Emily standing there, holding a bag of food from a fast food restaurant.
"Hey, I brought some food," Emily announced, her voice sounding cheerful and friendly.
Sophie's nervousness was evident, her hands shaking as she took the food from Emily. She tried to act normal, but her mind was racing with fear. Her sister looked at Sophie, trying to read her expression, but she couldn't tell if Sophie's sister was hiding something.
"Are you all right?" Emily asked, trying to sound calm.
Sophie nodded, but she knew that she was not entirely convincing.
As they sat down on the couch, Sophie's eyes filled with tears and she started to sob uncontrollably. Emily's concerned gaze bore down on her. She knew what she had to ask, but the words caught in her throat like a fishhook.
“Emily...the mirror showed me something I wish wasn’t true. Did you and Rick have an affair?" she finally managed to choke out.
Emily's face fell, and Sophie could see the guilt etched into her features. But the admission she was about to make could change their friendship forever.
"Sophie, I...I did have an affair with Rick," Emily confessed, her voice barely above a whisper.
Sophie felt her heart drop into her stomach. She had suspected it for weeks, but hearing the truth was like a blow to the chest.
Tears streamed down her face as she struggled to process the betrayal. "How could you do this to me, Emily? How could you do this to us?"
Emily's face twisted in anger as she shot back, "Maybe if you weren't so possessive and controlling, Rick wouldn't have strayed. You don't show him enough love and attention. It was me who truly loved him."
Sophie recoiled as if she had been slapped. She had always thought of herself as a good wife, but Emily's accusations cut her to the core.
"You're just trying to justify what you did," Sophie said, her voice rising. "You knew how much Rick meant to me, and you still went behind my back and slept with him. How could you be so selfish?"
"I'm not the selfish one here," Emily shot back and got up from the couch, her own voice rising to match Sophie's. "You've always been so possessive of him like he's some kind of possession rather than a person. Maybe if you had shown him more love and attention, he wouldn't have looked elsewhere."
Sophie's anger grew as Emily continued to twist the knife. "You have no right to blame this on me. Rick's infidelity is his own fault and yours. You knew what you were doing was wrong, but you did it anyway. When he realized what sort of person you are, he wanted to leave you and you killed him, I saw it!” she said and got up too.
Emily’s face was contorted with rage now. "I can't listen to this anymore and I am fed up with your stupid mirror," she spat. Without warning, she grabbed a nearby vase and hurled it at the mirror on the wall. The glass shattered into a thousand pieces, scattering across the floor.
Sophie gasped in shock as the full weight of the situation hit her. She then snapped out of her trance and rushed over to the broken mirror, her hands shaking as she started collecting the shattered pieces. Tears streamed down her face as she desperately tried to piece the mirror back together, hoping to undo the damage that had been done.
But no matter how hard she tried, the mirror remained broken and fragmented, just like their relationship.
As Sophie frantically tried to collect the shattered pieces of the mirror from the floor, Emily slowly approached her with a menacing look in her eyes, her hands balled into fists. Sophie could feel her heart racing as she realized the danger that was looming over her.
"Calm down, Sophie," Emily said, her voice low and dangerous. "We need to talk about this."
Sophie's eyes widened in fear and she stumbled backwards, her hand reaching out for a piece of the mirror to hold onto. She grabbed it from the floor and her mind was racing how to get away from Emily, but her legs felt like jelly beneath her.
Without another word, Emily started charging towards Sophie, her arms outstretched as if to grab her. Sophie's instincts kicked in and she turned around, dashing up the stairs to the bedroom.
As she ran, she could hear Emily's footsteps pounding on the hardwood floor behind her, growing closer and closer. The fear that had been building inside her suddenly exploded into a desperate panic as she realized Emily was almost upon her.
Sophie's legs felt like lead, but she pushed herself harder, the adrenaline surging through her veins. Finally, she reached the bedroom door and slammed it, and locked it behind her, her back pressed against it as she gasped for breath.
Outside, Emily was still pounding on the door, her voice raised in anger. Sophie knew she had to find a way out of this situation, and fast.
Sophie's hand trembled as she held up the jagged piece of mirror. It caught the light from the moon and the reflection of the street lamps outside, casting an eerie glow across the room. As she stared at it, she noticed that one section of the mirror was still intact, like a small television screen.
With a sudden curiosity, Sophie held the mirror up to her face and peered into the reflective glass. The image of the living room materialized in front of her eyes, like a ghostly apparition. She saw the same scene as before, the living room at night with her sister standing over the lifeless body of her husband.
Blood stained the carpet beneath them, spreading out like a dark, ominous cloud. And then, as if in a trance, her sister reached down and retrieved the mobile phone from under the couch.
The screen of the phone illuminated her sister's face, casting a sickly green light over her features. Sophie's heart pounded in her chest as she realized the significance of what she was seeing.
Realizing that it was not her sister but herself with the same blond hair, she was overcome with terror. Tears and screams erupted from her as she remembered everything. She had always known about the affair, but the shock and remorse of it had caused her subconscious to try and repress the memory.
In the psychiatric hospital, where she belonged now, the guilt of the murder clung to her like a heavy shroud, refusing to fade away like haunting echoes. More
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2023.03.21 18:58 a15minutestory [WP] You are a student in the most prestigious magic academy in the kingdom. No one knows how you got in, sure you have amazing magic potential, but you’re “magic blind” meaning you can only feel the presence of magic and not see any magic. [Part 64]
A slave-driving murderer had just publicly declared war on us. The cheering and applause of the people standing around us was an eerie and ominous accompaniment to the feeling of dread swelling in my chest and radiating down to my stomach. He'd captured all
of them thus far. I swallowed and dropped my gaze down to the pavement as it dawned on me that all of those people had tasted freedom, and were then immediately and mercilessly hunted down and dragged back to hell.
But there was an interesting caveat there. He called us by the names O'Malley had erroneously wrote down in his ledger. The men that were chasing us that day had picked up our actual
fake aliases, but then we'd killed them at the inn. It seemed that knowledge died with them– a drop of good luck in a raging downpour it seemed.
"William," I said just loud enough to catch his attention.
He turned and eyed me. "Huh? Were you talking to me?"
I lifted an eyebrow. "Yeah. Who else would I be calling William?"
He narrowed his eyes, "It's Tovin
, you spaz."
I glanced around nervously. Nobody appeared to have been listening to us. I took him by the shoulder and led him away from the crowd gathered around the picture boxes. "What are you doing?" I hissed.
"What am I
doing?" he scoffed. "What are you
doing? You know my name. What, are you playing a game right now?"
"Our aliases," I said through my teeth. "We're using fake names, remember?"
His expression changed from annoyed and confused to forlorn and somber. He swallowed and looked away. "... I'm losing it again, aren't I?" he asked.
I remained silent. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want him to feel worse about it, but that would have been a dangerous slip-up in front of the wrong person. Before now, I was starting to think that Tovin back home had overblown how quickly the mental decline would be.
"Don't worry about it," I said finally, passing him on the sidewalk further into the city. "Come on. We need to find a way to make some money."
"And fast," he added, trailing behind me. "We need food, clothes, and a couple of beds. And more cigarettes, too. I've only got a few left and I'm trying to make them last."
We walked the mazelike streets of Bronzegirder looking for work. I wasn't used to Diesel society yet and often found myself hung up on storefront windows that marketed all kinds of gadgets and technology. I would do my best not to stare when people walked by wearing metallic pieces on their persons.
Some wore gadgets on their forearms, some on their wrists, and others in various other areas. I wondered what purpose they served, where they were sold, and how expensive they could be. And it wasn't just the gadgets. There were far more dark-skinned people here than we had in Galgia. It was something I had read about but never experienced. They ranged from light tan all the way to almost black, and it just added to the culture shock.
There appeared to be people living in the buildings above the storefronts. The tall towers we had seen in the far distance earlier served as housing as well as business space. Diesillians stood on their balconies, some hanging wet laundry, others leaning over their railing while they enjoyed a drink or a smoke. We passed so many things I would have wanted to stop and look at were we not being hunted. DuPonte seemed awfully sure of himself when he said he'd find us, but for the life of me, I couldn't imagine how one would find antything
they were looking for in this city.
"I'm totally lost," I admitted. "We need a map or something."
He remained quiet. I turned to speak to him more directly only to find that he wasn't behind me anymore. My stomach dropped as I looked around at the sea of people.
"William?" I called out. "William!"
It was no good. I'd have to literally scream if I wanted to breach the drone of the crowd, and I couldn't afford to draw too much attention to myself. There was also the possibility that he'd forgotten his name again anyway. I adjusted the straps of my backpack and sighed deeply before doubling back. He couldn't have wandered too
far away, and he'd be easy to spot against the horde of people in more modern clothing.
I kept close to the storefronts as I picked up my pace. I began to peer into each store as I passed them. The longer I searched, the more I worried. He wasn't in his right mind. He'd get himself noticed and captured if he let too much slip, or pulled down his hood. I came to the turn we had taken after we'd left the picture boxes. He was with me at this point, I was sure of it. I turned around and swallowed as I scanned the crowd.
This was really, really, bad.
"William?" I tried again. I decided to cross the street and nearly got run over by one of their vehicles. It screeched to a stop and when I lowered my arms, I found the front of the metallic machine inches from my face.
"Git the fuck oudda da road!" shouted the pilot, shaking his fist in the air. I quickly scurried onto the opposite sidewalk and made my way down the street with the flow of the crowd. I kept my eyes peeled as I walked. It was difficult to see over everyone's shoulders. Diesillians were a good deal taller than Galgians as a rule, and it made it a nightmare for an average-sized guy like myself. Just when I was about to start asking around, something caught my ear.
Something I never expected to hear– music.
I stopped in my tracks and the public parted around me like a river around a boulder. I turned toward the sound and followed my ears to a large silver pavilion nestled between two tall buildings. It looked like an empty lot that had been designed for another tall building but instead served as some sort of inner-city courtyard where live entertainment performed.
I slowly approached as a woman stood in front of a mic stand singing while a band performed with shining metallic instruments behind her. She had black hair styled in a way I'd never seen hair styled. It was pulled up and around under a hat and shined the same as her red lipstick did. But what awed me the most was that she was singing
No danger; no combat; no sign of beasts being summoned forth. She sang beautifully, adding something to music that I had never in my life once considered because in Galgia, to sing was to slaughter. Music was a tool of war and forbidden entirely outside of such circumstances, for if one of us were even to hum, anything could come crawling out of the resulting portal.
But here she was, singing what I presumed were the words to a poem in perfect rhythm and harmony with the band that played behind her.
"You're my machine, my heart's ignition. The gears that keep my love in motion. You're the engine that never tires– the pistons set my soul on fire."
I was completely taken in. It was therefore no surprise to me that here in the crowd, I spotted Tovin watching her with equal admiration from the edge of the stage. I weaved through the crowd as politely as I was able and then stopped next to him. He glanced at me before quickly returning his eyes back to the stage. I didn't say anything to him; no words needed said so long as she was singing.
"You, my dear, a love machine, the one that keeps my bearings clean– I'm addicted to your engine's roar, your power's what I'm living for."
I wasn't a hundred
percent sure what she was talking about, but it was clearly a love song written for one lucky guy. When the song was finished, she ever so slightly lifted her ruby-red dress from the sides and took a bow. The crowd clapped, a few whistles coming from somewhere behind us.
"Thank you," she said softly into the mic. "It's important to remember that love conquers all," she said, passing her deep black eyes over us. "Hatred fades over time, but love lasts; it endures. This next song is about a long lost love and reconnection."
We stayed and listened to a couple more songs before she left the stage, and the band with her. She disappeared on promises of returning tomorrow for a second show. Of all the things thus far I had seen in the land of our enemy, something so sweet as non-weaponized music ranked among the most surprising and awe-inspiring.
As the crowd began to disperse back onto the main street, I turned to Tovin. "Hey, do me a favor and don't disappear like that. I didn't know where you were and we've got
to stick together."
"Can we come back here tomorrow?" he asked, completely ignoring what I'd said. He stared at me with hopeful eyes, a small smile on his face. It still felt strange of him to ask me permission for anything, but I couldn't deny that it was a pretty magical performance.
"Only if we live that long," I answered with a heaping helping of snark. "We need money so we can get off these streets tonight. Come on, we're losing daylight."
He looked past my shoulder and suddenly pointed. "What about that?"
I turned to see a bulletin board posted on the side of a building not far from us. On it were several posts, but one of them specifically read, "200 Octim Sign-On Bonus." The two of us walked up the board and looked over the job.
"There's a sign-on bonus," Tovin said as his eyes moved down the paper. "The Empress needs you. Galgian dogs sent monsters to run amok in our fair empire. Officials are spread thin amidst heightened tensions with Galgia's military. Find and kill monsters for bounties. Seek employment at the Hunters' Barracks at 443 Alloy Avenue on the north side of town. Look for the men in uniform."
"Monsters?" I asked. "There aren't any monsters in Galgia. None in all of Aurii if our textbooks are accurate."
"You want to at least check it out?" he asked.
"I think we'd be wasting our time," I said dismissively. "We hiked through a bunch of wilderness closer to the Galgian border and we didn't see anything all night."
He folded his arms. "Then let's get our sign-on bonus and leave
That was such a fantastic point that I pushed my palm against my forehead and visibly cringed. "Oof. Why am I so dumb?
" I whined.
"I don't think you're dumb,
" Tovin said as he moved down the bulletin board to look at other flyers. "I think you're just honest to a fault. It never would have occurred to you to do something so underhanded."
I would never get used to compliments from Tovin. It was like watching a different person wear his body and speak with his voice. Had life at ENU really been such a drag on him?
"None of these other jobs are offering money upfront," he added, turning to face me. "Let's head to the north side of town and see if we can find Alloy Avenue."
x - - x - - x - - ★ - - x - - x - - x
The walk was long and difficult– not because it was too far, but because we had to pass so much delicious-smelling food along the way. I hadn't been sure before if Tovin was as hungry as I was, but the north side of Bronzegirder was quiet enough to hear both of our stomachs growling in concert with one another. The buildings were made of brick in the district we wandered through, and the walkways were closer to cobblestone like the kind we had back home. The roads were three times as wide, there were benches along the walkways, and they had planted trees caged in black iron gates at the trunks. The few people that strolled the sidewalks on Alloy Avenue were well-to-do, dressed in expensive-looking suits and wearing high hats with wide brims.
"I like this side of town better," Tovin said as we looked for building addresses. "Though I have to say, I'm surprised to see trees in the collossity."
"Goes a little against what we were taught doesn't it?" I asked.
"I don't recall being taught anything," he grumbled. "It's just another thing I somehow know."
I cast him a sympathetic glance and he didn't seem to like it. He scowled at me, "Don't you pity me."
"I'm not," I rolled my eyes. "I'd never
feel bad for you
Tovin, not in a thousand years."
"Just shut up," he snapped. "We're here."
He stopped in front of a brick building with an impressive stone staircase that had bronze handrails running up the length of them. At the top were two men in uniform just as the flyer had indicated. He was the first to start up the steps and I quickly followed behind him. As we passed them I took a good look at their uniforms. I could have sworn that I'd seen them somewhere before. We walked up to the glass doors and pulled them open.
A blast of warm air blew over us as we entered the building and it was a welcome reprieve from the cold. Inside was smaller than I had anticipated. I was expecting high ceilings, murals, metal artwork, and all kinds of stuff from how nice the outside looked. Instead, we found ourselves standing in a dirty lobby about the size of a headmaster's office. There were several rows of chairs dotted with people filling out forms on clipboards. At the back of the lobby was a little window with a man sitting on the other side. He was dark-skinned, had a shaved head, and bore a grisly pink scar across his cheek. He waved us forward when he noticed us.
"Let me do the talking," I whispered to Tovin, taking the lead in front of him as we made our way over; he didn't protest.
"Afternoon, gentlemen," he spoke into a microphone that relayed his voice to us through a little black device on the window. "Thinking about joining up?"
Before I could even speak, Tovin leaned onto the counter. "So when you say monsters," he adopted a skeptical look. "You mean like the ones that don't exist?"
The man behind the counter rolled his eyes. "Oh, great, another conspiracy theorist."
"What did you call me?" Tovin shot back.
"Ahhh, ha ha," I called out loudly, pulling Tovin back by his shoulder. "My brother is better at fighting than talking," I covered quickly. "Just talk to me from here on in."
He cast me a disinterested glance before handing us both clipboards with forms attached. "Whatever. Just read the whole thing and sign the liability waiver at the bottom. He's free to deny their existence while they're chewing his face off, but the empire
won't be responsible for it."
I took both of the clipboards and passed one to Tovin. The two of us sat down and began going through them– and immediately, we faced a problem. They wanted first and last names, home addresses, medical history, and something called landline numbers. Tovin and I exchanged glances; this wasn't going to work.
I stood up and slowly walked back up to the counter as I looked over the document. Every time I looked, it seemed more and more ridiculous. Blood type? Social security number? Insurance provider? I didn't know what any of this meant. It might as well have been in an entirely different language.
"Did you have a question?" asked the man behind the counter.
"Yeah, I don't have most
of this information," I said, setting the clipboard down on the counter. "Sorry, but we're gonna have to just go."
"Well, hang on now," he said, reaching under the little pass-through window and retrieving the clipboard. "I take it you boys are homeless then?" he asked.
"Uhh... Yeah," I answered tentatively. Did they really have such a homeless problem that he was able to jump to that conclusion so quickly? "We don't know how to answer these questions, so thanks anyways."
"I said hang on, dammit," he called through the mic before swiveling around in his chair and pulling some kind of lever underneath it that caused it to sink lower to the floor. He opened a cabinet and began rifling through it. I peered through the window at his chair– it was on some kind of ball axis that allowed him to spin in it freely. I felt like every couple of minutes I was seeing something I'd never seen before. He swiveled back around and lifted his chair back up before he handing me a new form. It was more like a strip of paper with three questions on it.
Shirt size, shoe size, and pant size.
There was a second slip of paper underneath it. I looked back up at the window attendant as Tovin appeared next to me. I handed him the slip of paper and we exchanged glances.
"The empire isn't being picky right now," spoke the man through the speaker. "You'll be assigned a number, a gun, and a uniform. You won't be eligible for emergency care, and you can't be assigned to a party. It'll be just the two of you. If you're still interested, we need all the help we can get."
I shrugged at Tovin, and he got to work filling out the information. I leaned on the counter and jotted down my uniform size before signing the waiver and handing everything back. He took both of the documents and then nodded toward the door on his right. "Come on back."
He reached under the table and did something that caused the door to make a whirring sound. It popped open on its own, and he thumbed us over to it. "Close it on your way in. Walk straight down the hall and through the third door on your left. Your hunter number is 27B and his is 28B."
We walked down the hallway and found the designated door already opened and with a sign on the inside that read, "Uniforms HERE" with an arrow pointing into the room. We were met by a portly woman with bouncy curls that hung down to her shoulders. She sat behind a desk absolutely surrounded by hanging uniforms, all kept in clear covering. She sized us up with a retractable ruler– the coolest ruler I had ever
seen. After she took our measurements, she began sifting through uniforms.
"Why did they ask us for our sizes if they were going to measure us?" Tovin grumbled.
"I don't know," I whispered. "Just be quiet."
"Don't tell me to be quiet," he shot back, elbowing me in the ribs.
She turned around holding two suits by the hangers, one in each hand. "Your uniforms will come out of your first bounty collected," she announced. "No money needed upfront. Change into them and make sure they fit." We took them from her and she breezed past us. "Holler out here when you're changed." She closed the door behind her.
We turned away from one another and began getting dressed. I pulled back the crinkly clear material and looked down at the uniform. Now that I was seeing it closer, it was actually an extremely dark shade of blue, rather than black as I had thought prior. I looked down at the hat and held it in my hands. I had seen it before. Then, all at once, it came rushing back to me.
These were the uniforms of the men that had come to the mine. They had come carrying guns to inspect the worksite after what had happened to Hammer. Skully must have thought a monster had gotten to him based on the state of his body. I stared down at the uniform in disbelief. Could monsters really be running around in Diesel territory?
"You better not be looking over here," Tovin warned.
They had mistaken what Tovin had done for a monster attack. Skully's "fonekall" wasn't a pilgrimage. It was some form of long-distance communication. She reached out to the capital to request aid from someone, and they sent these guys. I began to wonder if I was making a mistake. If we could be dispatched like that, then we could feasibly be sent back to the camp.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. We were only in it for the sign-on bonus. Once we had that in our hands, we'd be outta here. We could even jump to the next town. They knew nothing about us other than our clothing size. We could be dust in the wind by tomorrow morning.
I shoved those thoughts to the back of my mind and quickly got dressed. The uniform fit perfectly, it was comfortable, and best of all had been designed with a high collar. It covered our neck markings perfectly. I turned to see Tovin with the hat on already. He looked like a classic Diesel villain from a comic book I had read as a kid.
"It fits nice," he said, testing the range of motion he had in his arms. "I think this will work."
"Yeah," I nodded. "Let's get our money and get the hell out."
"Speaking my language," he smirked.
He moved for the door and leaned out, calling for the attendant. I looked at myself in the full-body mirror and did a quick turnaround. I had to admit, I looked pretty darn stylish. The white gloves, belt, and hat looked pretty good against the dark blue and gold buttons.
The woman returned and smiled at both of us, her curls bouncing as she tossed her gaze cartoonishly left and right between us. "You two look good!"
"Thanks," I smiled back. "When do we get our sign-on bonus?"
"Oh, don't worry about that just yet," she said, moving back to her desk. "Do you boys know how to shoot?" she asked as she sat down.
"Shoot?" Tovin asked.
"A gun," she clarified, her smile fading. "Have either of you shot a gun?"
"No, ma'am," I answered. "Our parents didn't let us near them growing up."
"That's no problem," she said, lifting her hands. "We're happy to teach you the basics. You'll just exit the room and go left down to the very end of the hallway. I'll buzz you through the double doors at the end, and Old Mitchell will take you from there."
Tovin audibly groaned, and I took him by the arm, leading him out of the room. We walked down the hallway as he bellyached about what a waste of time it was. It was unlike him to turn his nose up at the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a new weapon. In fact, he'd been acting weirdly childish lately. I didn't like it. It beat dealing with Tovin-Classic, but it was still a hassle. As we neared the end of the hallway, we began hearing the sound of guns being fired one by one.
The doors buckled and hummed the same as the first door had, and we pushed them open. We passed into a large room with Diesillians shooting at targets a good distance away. This was why the building was so large and the lobby was so small. The brick walls were covered in informational and safety posters, as well as what appeared to be schematics for the weapons themselves.
I looked across the large room to see a man striding toward us. He was wearing shiny black boots that were laced tightly to his calves. His pants and jacket were hunter green, and he bore perhaps the silliest mustache I'd ever seen; It was long and curled at the tips. I had to be careful not to snicker– his eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses, and I couldn't tell if he was watching me.
"New recruits?" he called out to us from entirely too far away.
"Yes sir," I called back. "My brother and I just signed up."
"Brothers!" he exclaimed. "I love it, dammit!" He stopped in front of us. He was chewing on something and was being as obnoxious as he possibly could about it. He was wearing perhaps the stupidest hat I had seen of the Diesel yet. It had no visible brim and was high on one side while sloping down toward the other. For the life of me, I couldn't discern the purpose of it.
"You boys know how to shoot?" he asked.
"No sir," I shook my head. "We're new at this."
"Good," he smiled widely. "That means you haven't formed any bad habits yet. I love newbies," he said before waving for us to follow him. "Come on, let's get you your rifles. I'm Mitch, but folks around here call me Old Mitchell."
"James," I said as I followed after him. "This is my brother William." It was difficult to talk over the noise of the weapons. I occasionally jumped when someone shot their gun nearby– a reflex I couldn't wait to be rid of. He led us to a small room; so small that it might as well have been a glorified safe. He disappeared inside and came back out holding two guns. The same long metal tubes Tovin and I had been attacked with at O'Malley's inn.
We each took one and promptly inspected it. Suddenly, Old Mitchell stepped forward and grabbed both of our guns by the barrel, lifting them so they were pointed at the ceiling.
"You boys ever even held
one of these?" he barked. "Careful where you aim. Never
point one of these at anything or anyone that you're not prepared to destroy."
"They sweep you, Mitch?" asked a man as he passed behind us.
"Pointed 'em right at me," he called back with a laugh. "We'll get 'em straightened out, don't you worry about that." He looked at us both, chewing aggressively. "Now I'm gonna let these rifles go. You keep 'em pointed up, you understand?"
"Yes, sir," I answered.
"Sure," Tovin said in a disinterested tone.
He let go of our rifles and we kept them pointed at the ceiling as we were told. I looked up and down the length of the tube before turning it over and inspecting the area under the barrel. It was split underneath with what looked like some kind of spring running along the length of the tube.
"They're not loaded," Mitch said, waving for us to follow him to the other side of the room. "But you will always treat them like they are. I'm going to show you how to load them over here. Set them down on the desk, I'm gonna stand between the two of you so I can watch you both."
I set my gun down in front of me and looked to my right. There was a box of what I presumed to be bullets. I expected them to be round pellet-like projectiles, but they were tubular with roughly textured heads on them.
"Turn your weapon over. You'll notice you can see a spring inside the bottom of the barrel. Close to the other end of your gun, you'll find a little round tab there. Take that tab and push it with your thumb all the way up toward the tip of the barrel. You'll then pop it out to the side there."
I did as he asked, and sure enough, the barrel popped out to the left at the tip of the weapon. I glanced over at Tovin who was struggling with the spring. Old Mitchell moved over and helped him with it. "Sometimes they get stuck," he muttered as he got Tovin to the same step I was at.
"Now," he shouted. "Take your ammunition right there in the box next to you, and begin placing the rounds into the underside of the barrel, flat side first. Then, you'll load more bullets into the gun overlapping one another. Be careful not to let the rounds collide with one another too heavily, or you could have a little accident."
I loaded the bullets carefully one after another until the barrel was about full. He checked on Tovin's rifle, and then inspected mine.
"Good. Now realign the barrel, there and come with me to the bay," he said, starting toward the practice range. I carefully lifted the weapon and rested it against my shoulder, turning with Tovin to follow him. When we stopped at the range, he motioned for Tovin first. "Come on, Will, we're gonna start with you."
"Pass," he said nonchalantly.
Old Mitchell blinked twice. "What?"
"I want to see Gill do it first," he said, stepping out of my way.
"It's a nickname," I said quickly, stepping up to the range. "Anyways, I'll go first, I don't mind, what do I do here?"
Mitch remained silent for a couple of seconds before clapping his hands once. "Okay! Well, go ahead and pull the hammer back."
I looked down at the weapon and then back up at him. Sensing my confusion, he carefully reached forward and pulled back a little tiny lever on the top of the rifle until it clicked. "That's called pulling the hammer back," he said. "Will, you watching this?"
He didn't wait for a response. "Next thing you're gonna do is pull that lever out underneath the gun. That's going to load the weapon with a fresh cartridge. You're gonna do that between every shot, now. Lift it up against your shoulder like this; get it snug in there." He pulled it against my shoulder. "Look down the iron sight there at the tip of the rifle and line it up against your target. Your weapon is primed and ready to fire. You're good for fifteen shots before you've got to reload. You can always flip it over to see how many bullets are left. Go ahead and aim carefully, and try and hit that target paper down there."
At the end of the range, there was a piece of paper with a silhouette of a human head, shoulders, and torso. I closed one eye for better aim and held the gun tightly as I lined up my shot.
the trigger," Mitch advised in my left ear. "Squeeze it. Squeeze the trigger until it doesn't move easily anymore. Then when you're sure about your aim, squeeze with just that little bit of extra strength you need."
I did as he said, and felt what he was referring to. With my target in sight, my hand steady, and my aim as true as I could hope for, I fired the weapon. The shot rang out right in my ear, but interestingly enough, it wasn't so bad when I was the one firing. I was ready for it, and expecting it.
"Holy smokes!" exclaimed Mitch. "You put one right between the eyes!"
"Beginners's luck," said a man from behind me. "I did the same thing first time I shot, and never did it again."
"Let's prove him wrong, James," Old Mitchell laughed. "Now use that lever under the gun to eject the casing and load a fresh bullet."
I pulled the lever and the shiny little bullet casing popped out the top and flew over my shoulder. It was a really satisfying feeling.
"Do I pull the hammer again? I asked.
"Nope, it'll pop back down. You'll only pull that hammer back the first time. Go ahead and fire again, only this time, aim for the neck."
"Alright," I said, closing my eye and tightening my focus. I squeezed the trigger just as I had the first time and shot a hole straight through the center of the target's neck. I lifted my head and smiled. "I hit it!"
"No way," said the man behind me. "Ain't never shot before, my ass. He's taking you for a ride, Mitch."
"You're sure you're new at this, son?" Old Mitchell asked, one eye half shut. "That's really impressive, kid. Seriously, if this is your first time holding a rifle, you might be cut out for the military. Had a staff sergeant with worse aim than you."
"Alright, alright," Tovin pushed me aside. "My turn. Let me show you something you'll never forget."
The two of us took turns shooting for hours. We hadn't even noticed the time going by. For once, it seemed Tovin had found something he wasn't naturally amazing at, and it was infuriating him to no end.
Conversely, I found something I was really, really
good at. I hit my target almost every time, and to be honest, I couldn't figure out what was so difficult about it. A crowd had gathered to watch me shoot. I got really swift with the lever, and could shoot out both of a target's eyes, and put one in its forehead in a matter of seconds.
Tovin wasn't a bad shot, but I knew how he felt. If he wasn't first, he was last as far as he was concerned, and at one point he about threw his rifle. Old Mitchell had to talk to him about how some things come naturally to others, and how he shouldn't be discouraged from coming to the range and practicing.
It was rich hearing Tovin get that talk of all people. The natural genius that outshined everyone, struggling with something for the very first time. I almost couldn't believe I was better than him at something, and of course, it just had
to be the thing that we'd never do again once we found our friends and went back home.
We were wasting time here. "Hey, Mitchel," I turned toward him. "When do we get our sign-on bonus? It was supposed to be something like 200 octims."
"You get your sign-on bonus when you bring back your first bounty," he responded quickly.
"What?" Tovin shouted. "That's not fair! We signed on, now where's our money?"
I was equally upset. We were lied to. But it made sense that they couldn't just hand us uniforms, cash, and a gun, and let us go. They wanted to make sure we at least killed a monster.
"It's fine," I said with a sigh. "Where can we find bounties?"
"It's not fine," Tovin protested.
I yanked him by the collar of his shirt and looked him in the eyes. "It's fine," I said slowly and firmly. "We'll run out, bag a monster, and be back before dark."
He held eye contact with me for several seconds before shrugging me off of him and walking away. He stormed across the bay and left through the double doors at the other end of the room.
"My brother was the same way," said Mitch. "Hard-headed. Stubborn as a mule. Loyal as anyone you'd ever meet though."
He had no idea. Tovin wasn't just difficult, but he was turning into a walking liability. I didn't know how much longer I could take him acting like this. Suddenly, Mitch extended his arm, pointing to a door adjacent to where he'd gotten our guns from.
"Bounty board is in there. Come on, I'll show you."
It was a medium-sized room with several corkboards wall to wall filled with bounties. Every monster was named and almost all of them were sketched to a professional degree. You could find how much money the monster was going for, which hunters it had killed, where it was last seen, as well as whether or not there were hunters currently after it.
They had a system where you would notate which monster you were going after, and if you didn't return, they'd add your name under the list of hunters that died searching for it. There were so many monsters I couldn't believe it, and according to Old Mitchell, these were only the monsters within a five-mile radius of Bronzegirder.
I learned the process of choosing a bounty and chose a smaller monster with no names under its fatality list. Mitch agreed it was a good monster for beginners, and offered a few pointers for tracking it. I submitted the bounty request and got it approved before leaving the bay and heading down the hall in search of Tovin. I entered the lobby and didn't see him. I left the building and found him at the top of the steps staring out into the street where a couple of vehicles were hauling something massive together under a tarp.
Several uniformed hunters were walking slowly next to the vehicles. Their uniforms were tattered and bloodstained, and a few of them walked with a limp. We watched as the exhausted men passed the building on their way down the road. Two of them were sobbing silently, but we could tell by their exposed teeth and wrinkled expressions that they'd lost someone.
From beneath the tarp, a scaly limb fell off the side of the vehicle and dangled lifelessly. It was a reptilian-looking arm with an open wound, and the shredded remnants of a uniform hanging from its claws.
"Gill," Tovin said quietly. "Is that..."
"Yeah," I answered.
"That's definitely a monster." Writing Prompt
Submitted by u/My-Last-Hope
submitted by a15minutestory
to A15MinuteMythos [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 18:41 Billcryptic At the Base of the Hanging Tree
(The Giving Tree is written by Shel Silverstein, The Hanging Tree is by Suzanne Collins)
He chuckled, and called again.
Hey where was she, he was a smol, wide eyed childgen snuggled up in bed with his red and white patchwork quilt with his Raggedy Ann doll who contrary to popular belief, was NOT HAUNTED and instead infused with good dreams and good vibes.
Good vibes which included Amon’s grandma READING HIM A FUCKING BEDTI-
Her head peeked through the door, glasses wobbling on her pointed nose. She huffed and puffed, and Amon had a twinge of consciousness, a ‘oh wait I’m in better health than her maybe I should be nice,’ sort of feeling.
He then realized that as a child, he was entitled to entitlement, and threw that notion out the window and into the dumpster, where it rested with other bad ideas like, ‘hey let's make a Bible version of dungeons and dragons, or literally anything else that we find morally reprehensible yeah that’ll hinder sales if we tell people to not do this cool thing that is totally bad for you and will result in your eyes being gouged out by Satan’s asshole.’
He, of course, didn’t voice any of this. Because, above fear of God, he had a fear of grandma.
“Did someone say they wanted a bedtime story! Well, by golly, do I have a story for you!”
He paused, “Is it Narnia?”
She narrowed her eyes at him, setting the book that she held behind her down, “Of course not dear! I would never put my preferences over yours, my oh so picky critic who whittles down what stories I read to you with the sharpest razor I’ve ever seen. I am only here to cater to your preferences because your time is the most valuable in all the world!”
He squirmed under the blanket, “....Look, I hate to admit that you’re right but can you not be right.”
“It’s a talent of mine.”
Why can’t I have come out of the womb as a fully mature adult so I can debate grandma to death into an early grave?
Then another thought came.
Wait, I don't want her to die. She loves me or some shit and I think that’s good.
He gulped, attempting to sound less…full of himself, “Could you um…if possible…by any chance.”
“Spit it out sonny if my hearing gets any worse I’ll have to get some robotic implants and do you really want grandma being the catalyst for the AI uprising?”
Please for the love of God nobody let this women near any missile turrets.
“COULD YOU MAKE UP A STORY FOR ME YOU HAVE A NICE VOICE AND IT HELPS ME SLEEP PLEASE GRANDMA THROW ME A BONE HERE.”
“.....I could throw you a dislocated hip.”
Amon squinted, “You’re going to need those in ten years when your bones start fossilizing.”
She patted his back, “Ten years! You’re very generous, in fact those bones of yours with the freshest marrow look….quite appetizing for a geezer like me!”
“All the better to eat me with?”
The night went on, a star or two who hadn’t twinkled out to dream land like he had standing in the heavens, wisps of gray clouds swirling round the moon. He could hear the caw of a crow or two, probably picking off the dead racoons left on the road because of grandma’s driving.
Damned dumpster drivers had it coming.
Grandma leaned back in her rocking chair, its faded brown surface creaking as she swished back n’ forth in it. She folded her arms, closed her eyes, and let out a yawn as she flipped a lightswitch, the thin, pale beams of the moon shining through the shudders.
And the heater chugged along like a train, blanketing them both into a slow, dreary slumber,
Grandma began her story.
“Once upon a time, there was a brave knight. So brave in fact, that he didn’t squirm when doctors, who may or may not have been vampires, took his blood, and always opened up his mouth wide for the dentist when they wanted to see his pearly whites! And the king sent him off on many a quest, to save all the damsels in distress because the king had a bad habit of keeping a harem. After all, in those days, monogamy was a myth.”
Amon wondered if the king was based on grandma’s love life.
“The knight loved his king, so why wouldn’t he serve him? Even as the wounds piled up like a pile of rusty coins, infection creeping up on his flesh as the doctors prescribed him leeches and his blood turned to ice. Even as each step became an insurmountable mountain, he had a duty to serve his king, and the king loved him too, right? There was something beyond that icy stare? Some glimpse of hope, a spark of love? Yet they say be careful of he who slays beasts, lest he become a beast himself.”
She paused, and Amon shivered, like the mist creeping outside was the last dying wisps of smoke from the maw of a decaying dragon.
If the time came, would he be able to slay his demons?
“The knight’s greatest beast he would never slay was the one sitting upon the gilded throne. One day, he outlived his usefulness.”
The silence hung in the air. Amon wondered how long it took for the man’s flesh to be wrent from his shoulders.
He shivered, tears barely restrained, as grandma pulled him in.
“Never let anyone tell you how to be. Never do anything someone else wouldn’t do for you back. This world will want to beat you down and spit you out but I know you’re stronger than that.”
She got up, patting his head as the moon glinted in her spectacles and she grinned back with a fiery stare of her own.
One day, Amon would share it, for she had long since kinded the flame in his heart.
Burn, my grandson. Burn and show this world what you made of. Show them what I see in you, what you don’t see in yourself.
One day, you will.
One day, you will know how to look in the mirror and say, ‘I love you.”
“.....Could the knight have saved himself?”
“Every story has an end. Just….make sure yours is a good one.”
Nearing the end of her days, wondering the length of the shadow she’d cast, and if it brought others shade.
She hobbled off. The door shut behind her.
………God we are both overdramatic as fuck aren’t we.
Amon reminded himself to tell grandma to lay off the old testament for a while. She didn’t need that kind of toxic masculinity in her life.
“You know, I’m going to tell you a story this time!”
Amon was waving a pencil, not because he was going to write God forbid anybody see his handwriting no siree, but rather when his hands were flailing and the unsharpened point was ready to fly from his fingers at any second and impale someone’s eye the creative juices were flowin and his imaginative boat was rowing and sure it may sink once or twice along the way but that was just apart of the creative process!
That, and procrastinate on writing said story for two goddamn weeks and when you went over your plot notes you wondered who this madman was who’d seized your journal and favorite fountain pen.
“It’s about time! You think I have time to keep running my lips Mr. I’m young and needy and I want to drive grandma into dehydration because I want to turn one bedtime story into fifteen?”
Amon averted his gaze, “Can I just say that you’re the greatest woman I’ve ever known and I hope I can have one ounce of your creativity so I can inspire the masses with the love and forgiveness you demonstrate so all the little children, not including me because five foot one and a half is not little by any means thank you very much…”
Napoleon complex much, sonny?
“And through all these wonderful…”, he coughed, “Parables I can conjure up surely everyone can and will find Jesus?”
He gave her the baby blue puppy dog eyes. She melted.
But she really didn’t want to.
“Has anyone told you that flattery will get you everywhere?”
“Yes, actually, you did.”
“Damn right,” she mentally gave her past self a pat on the back.
And Amon struck a match, lighting the fireplace with its grizzled logs, silvery bark peeled back as flames licked their sides all over. He cuddled up with grandma on the oversized recliner, leaning back. Eyes closed.
Like he could see, like he could taste and touch and smell and hear the story unfolding in his mind’s eye.
“Once, there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.”
It was growing now, its roots feeding into the forest. Birds came here to lay their young and worms burrowed in her rich soil beneath. Squirrels always found the best holes in her trunk to bury their nuts in, snuggled up all cozy as the wind battered her outsides but the tree saw that wind and told it where it could shove it cause no breeze would take away her warmth! She was happy and she liked it that way!
“And every day the boy would come, and he would gather her leaves, making them into crowns to play king of the forest.”
The squirrels were scampering away and here he came charging through the grass and falling into the bushes headfirst! He could take and take and take and twist those twigs and thorns into a wooden circlet befitting the child prince. And if he craned his ears he could even hear the fae sparkling and laughing and merrymaking as they poured wine from goblets neverending and gossiped about that adorable little child over there let’s go visit him no wait we can’t interact with humans can we kidnap him NO KIDNAPPING IS BAD.
Remember what happened with a midsummers night's dream, there’s a precedent for this shit!
“He would climb up her trunk, and swing from her branches.”
Don’t look down, whatever you do don’t look down like a tumbling sack of apples about to go splaaaaat. Climbing up to see the forest was definitely a good idea and you’re not going to throw up whatsoever.
“And eat apples, and they would play hide and seek.”
“Ready or not, here I cooome!”
“.....Oh, you’re right behind me.”
“I don’t think hide and seek is the best game if one party doesn’t have legs.”
“And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade.”
“I don’t want to go home, I want to stay with you but it’s getting dark and there’s monsters prowling about!”
“Whenever you are with me, I promise, I will keep you safe.”
And the boy stared up in wide eyed wonder.
“You….you…really mean that?”
She bowed her great head, leaves falling on his face, embracing him in a branch, pulling him close.
“I love you. And I don’t let harm come to those I love.”
“And the boy loved the tree very, very much.”
He pressed himself against grandma’s warm, woolen, side. She smelled like peppermint.
“The tree was happy."
He sighed, and Amon looked down, shivering. The clock went tick, tick, tick, and he wondered if he blinked, if he’d miss the seconds passing by.
“But time went by.”
He grew up and the world wasn’t small anymore. It wasn’t good to just imagine, you could no longer play pretend, you had to have a purpose for your life and fill that aching void that’d grown in your heart, didn’t you feel it beating? Take, take, take, my boy, you’re number one and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Forget about the tree, that withered shrub has nothing for you except to be food for the worms.
“And the boy grew older.”
He peered into grandma’s gaze. How many people had she lost over the years, and what hole did they leave in their absence?
“And he wanted. But that want wasn’t just a I want this colorful toy off the shelf, gimme, gimme, gimme. No, this was a need.”
“I am too busy to climb trees.”
“I want a house to keep me warm.”
But that little boy was left unheard, to just go back to the simpler times when he could just be a boy she could just be his tree. He was worthless and if he just had what everyone else had maybe it’d feel better, if he could raze and tear and break down the tears would stop flowing and the sirens would stop blaring and everything would just fucking shut down, for just one second please, for the love of God, be still.
“I want you. I want you in my life and you’re so far away but I think that’s just me.”
So he ripped the tree down and shed her emerald coat of leaves and wrent her into a stump so for himself he had a home. Her apples laid moldering and discarded, and maybe if he had cast their seeds out into the brush they both wouldn’t have been so lonely anymore.
“And he met the end of his days and they both had nothing left. She asked, ‘What more do you want of me?’ He didn’t know anymore.”
“Would you like to rest?”
He sat down on her stump.
And the tree was happy.
Amon sniffled, then there was snot. He shivered and wrapped his teensie head in his legs and grandma yanked him on over to her side and held him close and he ugly cried and she wailed right with him.
She hoped he knew it was okay to cry, so long as there was a crazy bitch like her to cry with him.
And finally he wiped his nose, eyes puffy, before he looked down, murmuring, “....I don’t deserve you.” Her heart sunk right along with his and she wondered where he learned that self loathing.
Was it by design?
The wind picked up and her’s fell, the wooden, mossy floorboards outside, the red paved bricks littered with cracked nuts and wilted flower petals, creaking right along with her.
“Are you, are you, coming to the tree?”
I could see, grandma and I, sitting there together on that worn stump. And maybe if you turned back the years you’d see the tree at the height of its youth with the freshest apples and sap running for miles. I’d be running too.
I knew who’d be watching and egging me on along the way.
“Where they strung up a man, said he murdered three.”
“Strange things have happened here, no stranger would they be
If we met at midnight, in the hanging tree”
Her dad taught her that song so long ago, with whiskey under his breath and a revolver at his belt. He might have been one who knew how to drink and drink till he dropped but he sure damn as well knew when to pour out, lest he become bloated for others’ sake.
“I never want you to become like that man, I never want you to love someone so much it comes at the expense of yourself.”
Amon’s voice was an echo.
“Are you, are you, coming to the tree?
Where I told you to run, so we’d both be tree?
Strange things did happen here, no stranger would it be
If we met at midnight in the hanging tree.”
Was the tree’s greatest sin, the inability to say no?
What befalls us when we answer yes?
But if I take and take and take from grandma what shall I have left?
“Are you, are you, coming to the tree?
Where the dead man called out for his love to flee?
Strange things did happen here, no stranger would it be
If we met at midnight in the hanging tree.”
Her singing became a flurry of notes, tapering out to the breeze.
It was quiet.
“I’m here grandma.”
They stood up and he took her hand.
“Let’s go to that tree together.”
And the grandma was happy.
submitted by Billcryptic
to Odd_directions [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 18:34 zefpomp [H] Crypto, PayPal, CashApp, Zelle, Amazon GCs [W] Many Gift Cards
Buying I am a daily/long term buyer looking for the following gift cards:
Amazon/Amazon Balance**, Apple/iTunes, eBay, Gyft, eGifter, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowes, GameStop, Steam/PSN, Razor Gold, Giant Eagle, Newegg, Sheetz, Starbucks, DoorDash, Uber, Grubhub, and more!
**I am currently ONLY buying Amazon balance, unless you are a long term seller of Amazon.
The above list is not all inclusive, if you have another gift card you wish to trade, feel free to send me a message.
I am currently NOT buying: Disney, Google Play, Nintendo, xBox, McDonalds, or any type of subscription gift cards.
My rates fluctuate depending on retailer, payment method, personal need, and the total amount/denominations. Please do not contact me asking for rates above 80%, my rates will be at or below said percentage.
I can pay via Crypto(typically USDT TRC20/BUSD/BTC), PayPal, CashApp, & Zelle.
I can trade Amazon gift cards for other gift cards.
Selling Amazon US gift cards
Stock: $1000++, various amounts, large and small
Price: 79-77% **SALE**
Stock constantly changes
Payment via USDT/BUSD/USDC/BTC, perhaps other crypto
Looking for long term redeemers
CashApp/Zelle may be accepted at 85%
Send me a chat/PM if you are interested. Chat is the fastest method of contact.
submitted by zefpomp
to GCTrading [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 18:13 Jackviator The Spacer’s Guide to Caring For Your Pet Human (Part 1)
This is the beginning chapter of a long, space-opera sci-fi writing project I have been working on for several months now. I’m currently almost 60k words into it at the time of writing, and am planning on publishing it in full as a novel when I’m done, but I haven’t really shared it with anyone outside my immediate family and a couple friends.
…Normally, I’d post this type of thing on HFY
, but in all honesty it doesn’t really paint humans in a very good light most of the time and focuses on the other species involved a for a majority of the time, so it wouldn’t really fit there.
Additionally, while the HASO-ness isn’t too obvious for a few chapters, I promise, we will
get there in time.
I don’t know how often I’ll be uploading these, especially given that I’m still not done with it, and have little free time to spend on writing these days; all the same, you can expect plenty of entries over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, feel free to leave your thoughts, any constructive criticisms, etc in the comments. And as always, I hope you enjoy :)
Her arm hurt.
She was so, so tired...
Her arm hurt.
She was numb to the cold at this point, but kept shivering anyway.
Her arm hurt.
The only thing close to heat that she felt was the inflammation that was serving to add more throbbing pain to her arm.
…Which hurt, in case that wasn’t clear.
She turned her head to look at it, wincing from the pain the movement caused. It was ugly to behold, with a ragged stab wound in the muscles of her forearm near the elbow that was still slowly trickling blood, but that wasn’t even the worst part of it. She knew from experience that the needle-sharp pain she felt with every slight movement meant that some bone in there- probably the radius or ulna- was also either hairline-fractured or broken entirely.
…And just in case you weren’t aware, fun fact:
The pain was only exacerbated by the swollen tissues and irritation around the stab wound that she knew meant it was definitely infected- with what, she could only guess. Whatever it was, she could feel the fever it was causing having a desperate tug-of-war with the cold autumn air to determine her body temperature.
When she couldn’t stand to look at it any longer, she leaned her head back, resting it against the dew-filled grass of the ditch she was lying in and looking up at the star-filled night sky that was slowly lightening to that hue of dark indigo that meant dawn was close, but not quite there.
She used to think the stars were beautiful. But as she lay there, the dreadful memories of what had led to this moment playing over and over in her head… Suffice to say, nothing in this world or outside of it seemed beautiful anymore.
She put the aesthetics of the sky aside and instead struggled to focus her thoughts through the haze of fatigue and pain. Dawn approaching… That has to mean I’ve been laying here… Jeez, it must be almost an entire day at this point. …I think. It hasn’t been multiple days, surely… Or maybe it’s been- …Oh, to hell with it. I don’t even care at this point…
She was too tired to sleep, but in too much pain to move. Her brain was fogged from fatigue, and even more so from the constant screaming coming from her nerve endings, desperately trying to let her know that yes, something was very
wrong with her arm, she got it, thanks for the message, you can stop now-
…But mostly, the fog stemmed from that draining emotional and mental exhaustion that came with periods of grief. A single tear ran down her face from her already overworked tear ducts, nearly reaching the bruises on her neck before it was wiped away by the shaky fingers of her good arm.
The sky would be there for her to look at later. She needed to try (yet again) to rest, just one more time.
“You know what they say,” she murmured to herself. “76th time’s the charm.”
Delirious with exhaustion and the fever as she was, she couldn’t help herself from chuckling at the thought. Her eyes, bloodshot and burning from the strain she had endured, lazily looked around at what few constellations she could recognize for one last time, and spotted the pattern of Orion in the night sky. Hey big O, close the door on your way out, eh? I’m gonna try and take a snooze.
She snorted, wincing as she did. …Finding my own jokes funny. Jesus, I
She turned her head to the side and closed her eyes, willing herself to please, please just go to sleep already, because sleep meant being unconscious, and being unconscious meant she could ignore the pain from her arm for a while. And to her surprise, she finally started drifting off. Her breath slowed, the fog visible in the cold air in front of her mouth coming less and less often as she drifted closer to the edge of unconsciousness.
As a result, she barely even heard the soft humming noise approaching, and almost didn’t feel herself being gently, almost imperceptibly lifted off the ground. When she noticed it, what parts of her mind that were still semi-conscious brushed it off as either a dream or hallucination, and slipped behind the wall of sleep…
…For all of two minutes. She wasn’t getting off that easy.
She was jolted awake by a sudden feeling of what could only be described as compression across her whole body, though “compression” hardly did it justice; It was as though she were being squeezed through a drinking straw. …Yet before she could react, the feeling was over.
Her eyelids fluttered open, revealing a dimly-lit room, alive with that same strange humming noise from before. She crinkled her nose at the smell that assailed her nostrils. It was strange, like a combination of various industrial cleaners, engine grease, and ozone. She rubbed her eyelids before she groggily looked around, confused. Where was she? She turned her head and saw a very strange-looking machine that was seemingly floating in midair. She craned her neck, looking past it, and her eyes widened at what she saw glowing through a small, circular viewing window in the nearby wall.
Was that- …Earth?
She slowly, gingerly sat up, wincing from the protests her arm gave at her daring to do such a thing. It took everything in her, but she slowly dragged herself closer to the window, peering out at the planet slowly circling in the void below her. There was no doubt about it, that was Earth. She recognized North and South America, Greenland, even a portion of the northern Arctic. She could even see all the wildfires burning as a result of-
…Well, everything collectively hitting the fan in the past week.
Tilting her head, she could see the exterior of the… building? Satellite? Space station? …Whatever it was she was apparently on, that was outside the window. Gun-metal gray and covered in strange symbols in a language she didn’t recognize, it was unlike anything she’d seen before- and it wasn’t alone.
She saw several other similar… things, floating nearby. They ranged in size from the relatively small, around the size of a house, to absolutely massive ones that she estimated must be miles across. She shook her head in disbelief and laid her head back down on the cold metal floor.
Ok, scratch that, she was obviously still asleep; after all, this had to be the weirdest dream she’d ever had…
Suddenly, a scraping, screeching noise rang through the room, startling her. She looked around and saw a tall, lanky, shadowy figure entering the room they were in as it finished sliding open the metal door that was the source of the noise. Without warning, the room was aglow with a bright light from overhead, causing her to wince and close her eyes. She rubbed her eyelids again, trying to ignore the irritation the action caused, and looked back at the figure, eyes widening as they adjusted to the light- and then even wider, as she froze in place with a gasp at what she saw.
standing over her was like some horrific combination of a reptile and insect. Its frame was slim and bipedal, with limbs proportioned far longer than any normal human. It towered over her, easily seven feet tall or more. Its head was like that of a praying mantis minus the antennae, with three chameleon-like eyes. The first eye was symmetrically centered in the forehead, the other the two mirrored on the sides of its head where the temples on a human head would be, and all three were very intently focused on her. On its face was a glowing, bioluminescent set of growths all down the front, forming a v-shaped, curving pattern that almost looked like a deranged smile, but its real mouth hid behind a pair of razor-sharp mandibles on its jawline that clicked together a few times as she watched.
Its hide was dark gray and shiny, almost metallic, somewhere between reptilian scales and an insectoid carapace, and generally looked like it would be at home in an H.R. Giger painting. The bioluminescent growths on its face continued down to its torso in three vertical, parallel lines, growing larger as they went further down. Each gangly arm ended in four chitin-covered fingers, tipped with razor-sharp claws.
The only thing even remotely resembling clothing it was wearing was something that looked like a long skirt or kilt, which would probably almost look funny if it weren’t for the fact that the material it was made of almost looked like human skin. From what she saw of the legs underneath it, they were digitrade and almost like those of a bird, with three toes in front and one facing backwards, all with very long claws on them, but no feathers could be seen- just more of that sickly-gray chitinous carapace.
It stood there for a second, silently watching her as she sat there trembling, now more from fear than cold or fever, before all its glowing growths suddenly began to gleam blood-red, and it reached out towards her with one of its clawed arms whilst making a terrifying noise- like the hiss of a cat mixed with the warning signal of a rattlesnake.
Her adrenaline spiked, and the various subdivisions of her brain responsible for survival instincts went into overdrive.
Each presented their findings for peer review: THING. BIG. DEADLY. SCARY.
They rapidly formed a committee and held a brief conference as to the good and proper response to this interesting new development. The vote was both swift and unanimous: RUN.
The adrenaline surge gave her the endurance she needed to ignore the pain and scramble backwards before finally getting enough traction on the metal floor to get to her feet, turn, and run screaming through the opposite doorway, getting away from the monster as fast as she could.
Y’ggdrasog flinched at the sudden movement of the human scrambling awkwardly to her feet with the help of her unbroken arm before sprinting away from him whilst emitting a high-pitched noise he was unfamiliar with, presumably of distress. For a moment, he just stood there, puzzled. What was she doing, and why? All he had done was say “Hello.” Then he remembered himself, and figured he should probably resolve the situation before she bumbled her way out of the airlock or something. He called after her:
<”Wait- please, stop! I mean you no harm! …Why in the name of the spirits above are you running away from-”>
His eyes widened, his bioluminescence rapidly shifting to a bright white as he realized.
He tapped the side of his head to bring up his cranial implant’s heads-up-display interface and quickly went through a few drop-down menus. Finally finding the setting he was looking for, he turned the software back on and then started to run after her. He shook his head as he went, irritated at himself as his bioluminescence changed to an annoyed green to match.
He let out a frustrated sigh and just kept following the loud, high-pitched noises, wincing as he did so.
His ears hurt.
submitted by Jackviator
to humansarespaceorcs [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 17:54 Zen-Paladin Has anyone else ever been expected to continue a dysfunctional family?
Here's the sitch:
My mom had 3 stillbirths before me and my sister. All premature by 3 months due to incompetent cervix(she went into labor once the baby was at a certain size and couldn't hold it any longer). She wanted kids to love her conditionally and wanted a big family. I was 2 months premature and in the NICU, and ended up with autism and ADHD(my dad being almost in his mid 40s when I was conceived didn't help probably didn't help). My sister doesn't have either, but seems to have inherited whatever mood disordedisposition to anger and violence that my father did which compounded with CSA by a former friend led to multiple suicide attempts, violent outbursts and resulting hospitalizations. She seems to have become a fundie Christian to cope, like straight up flat earther and shit.
Speaking of my dad(passed from COVID nearly 2 years back,RIP) he had some clearly untreated/undiagnosed mental health issues. Likely some kind of mood disorder as he was quick to anger and prone to violent outbursts. He was verbally and even physically abusive to my mom and even me. He lamented that I wasn't a more typical boy being into sports and was especially a piece of work in middle school. Unsupportive financially or otherwise, possible infidelity between him and my mom. CPS actually considered possibly removing me and my sister form the home on at least two occasions.
As for his family, several relatives have a similar temperament to him, including one of my cousins who even lets this seep into her job as a nurse. In fact when my dad was in the hospital, his girlfriend/fiance tried to block us from seeing him/handling his affairs and his family backed her due to always looking down on my mom(for being overweight/darker skinned). My cousin(call her Willis) and mom damn near went at it as we watched my dad in the ICU and when I got between them Willis' boyfriend put hands on me and got in my face. After that she sent my mom a tirade of texts talking about my dad hating her and calling her ugly and well...the vulgarity and immaturity of the whole thing was on par with what a high schooler would do, and yet is coming from a middle aged nurse.
Even on my mom's side, we have folks who aren't so great. Like one aunt and her kids we had friction with due to certain far left political beliefs they held(black people can't be racist, white guilt based history, etc) and also because when at a get together my sister was unfairly and wrongly accused of doing something sexual with one of the kids, iirc my one of my cousins had something to do with it out of jealousy over attention or some shit. Thank god I wasn't there because I am and adult male and the meer accusation itself could fuck up my life.
Despite all this, my mom wants us both to give her 4 grandkids EACH, and claims that me being CF means her raising me was meaningless, I was breaking her heart, etc. Sister also said I am being selfish since her kids won't have cousins. Like even with all we have been through they still have this rose tinted view of what me having kids would be like. My kids could have worst versions of my disorders, if not possibly requiring lifelong care. Even then I do not want to handle someone else like my sister or father. The cracked doors and walls, broken glass, and police visits (4 of which occurred within 2 months, and the 4th time the fire department and ambulance came because my sister tried to OD) have been enough for a whole lifetime.
Putting the expectation on hypothetical kids to break the cycle is selfish and likely self defeating.Some bloodlines just don't need to continue, folks.
submitted by Zen-Paladin
to childfree [link] [comments]
2023.03.21 17:29 Dracosia Deserted in the shadows, part 5 (NOP fanfic)
Memory transcription subject: Michael Smith, Human extermination officer
Date [standardized human time]: Oktober 29, 2136
We entered the darkness and shadows fell over us. Ortsa quickly informed us that the temperature in the shadows was another five degrees colder than it had already been, and that the remaining light would soon be below the level visible to human eyes and shortly after even the Yotul wouldn’t be able to see anymore. This was something I actually had not thought about, but now I needed to ask:
“Hey Ortsa, how exactly are you supposed to drive if you can’t see? And how can we study anything if our only light is starlight? Does this truck not have lights?“
“Oh dear, of course it does. But we can’t use those, because they would disturb the local fauna. We also have night vision goggles, but later on there will be so little light they will hardly work. Instead, we have THIS!“
Ortsa grinned dramatically, stopped the truck and pressed a button. The bulletproof windows made a weird sound and suddenly the outside was clearly visible, although completely black and blue.
“Wait, what? How does this work?“
Some of the scientists and the other two extermination officers looked around at the windows, trying to understand, while Doctor David Schneider grinned proudly and Ortsa - equally proud - elaborated:
“You remember those flashlight looking thingies on top of the truck you saw when entering?“
Now that she mentioned it, I did remember them. They were extendable, in all directions pointable… things, that kinda reminded me of flashlights, just like Ortsa said, but really big and at the end of multi jointed metal rods, so they could reach more places. I had assumed they were energy weapons of some sort, but okay. The other passengers nodded and observed the conversation with great curiosity.
“Yeah. What do they do?“
“They can produce visible light too, but right now they are producing a single, very specific wavelength of ultra violet light, that most lifeforms we know are not sensitive to. Thus it shouldn’t disturb the local ecosystem. And the ‘glass‘ you are looking through is actually laced with a thin material that absorps this specific wavelength and then reemits them at a different wavelength, a specific shade of blue that is within our visible spectrum. Thus we get a black and blue image of the outside world. Doctor Schneider came up with it and I build it.“
Doctor Schneider churned in:
“This is not the only measure we took. Ortsa also made the engine almost perfectly silent and we are rolling on sound dampening tires and with multiple vibration softeners, so our Truck makes almost no sound and causes very little disturbance.“
“And“ ,the Venlil fauna expert Lim added “all our fumes are made almost completely odorless. On top of all that we will a keep the truck at least five hundred feet away from the river at all times, so we don’t disturb the nature. This way we can illuminate and observe anything, but most creatures should not even notice our Truck. We hope so, at least.”
Mirva, who still struggled with the situation but did her best not to look scared, asked:
“Wait, if we are five hundred feet away, how do we take samples?“
Doctor Schneider looked at her with empathy in his eyes.
“I am sorry, Mirva. But I am afraid we will have to leave the vehicle for that.”
Mirva shot up from her seat, her eyes wide open and filled with terror.
“No, not out THERE! I won’t go there! Go without me!“
She fell back a couple steps, as trying to get further away from the door. Fuck, I needed to calm her.
“Hey, Mirva, it is okay”, I calmly and carefully said , making sure to speak as quiet and soft as I could without beeing impossible to understand.
She looked at me with fear, but she did listen. Probably because this wasn’t the first time I calmed her down.
“Focus on me, on my words, okay Mirva? Now calmly breathe in and breathe out. Everything is okay. You are in an armored truck surrounded by friends and bodyguards and no one will hurt you, yeah? Not as long as I am here, okay?“
Mirva was still freaking out, but she was breathing more calmly now and, following my gestures, leaned in for a hug. I was really happy that the exterminator suit covered my face, otherwise this would not have worked. I hugged her and held her and just waited for her to collect herself. While waiting I was looking around through the windows to try and find anything near the river that would help distract her. I was very happy to see a flower - Mirva loved flowers. And she loved talking about them.
“Hey Mirva? Do you see that flower there? What is that? Would you mind explaining it to us?“
Mirva left my hug, looked around and immediately her face glew up.
“Oh my god, that is a night daisy! Their cousins grow near the dark side of Venlil Prime and are a rare delicacy because they need centuries to grow to a ripe age. It had been theorized that some of them would grow even here, but to actually see one, that’s amazing!“
Doctor Jonson, the human expert on xeno flora, if I recalled correctly, also stared at the flower like it was the best thing ever.
“I read about these. They contain insane amounts of fructose in their roots as storage for not just bad years, but bad decades. And despite their small size their body is almost entirely wooden, except for the big leaves that allow it to collect the tiniest amounts of light and are shockingly cold resistant. This is one of the most extremophile plants in the galaxy!“
My boss Vartek and I shot each other am amused glance. The flower girls freaking out about some random plant was just way too cute.
“Say, would it be a good idea to take some samples, Mirva? You know, for science?“
And Mirva, the same Venlil who had just freaked out at the very idea of going outside suddenly grabbed a syringe, and made her way to the door.
“Of course, that is a great idea, Mike. Come on Doctor Jonson, we have to go!”
Ortsa heard their intention and - pressing yet another button - opened the door. Doctor Jones quickly put on a coat and grabbed night vision goggles for her and Mirva, who had already run out. Luckily her fur meant she didn’t need a coat. And the temperature wasn’t quite freezing yet, so that was a plus. Farlent and I immediately put on goggles as well and followed the two, flamethrowers at the ready. If anything tried to eat our friends, it was about to have one hell of a time.
But for now everything was calm and quite. The river ran quietly, some fish swam in it, but no predators and no monsters lurked for us. The Truck looked as absurd from the outside as from the inside, like some cyborg dragon beetle transformer or something… it was pretty hard to describe. But now that I knew some of it’s functions I appreciated it a whole lot more.
It was our all in one food storage, fortress, home, vehicle, computer, communications array, data storage and light source… and once I was back I was gonna call it Bob. It was the ONLY appropriate name, I chuckled to myself.
Meanwhile, Mirva and Doctor Jonson started taking small samples from the plants. Lim had also walked out to take images of the fishes and keep track of their behavior, but didn’t seem to discover anything surprising.
Farlent was busy triple checking our surroundings for threats, luckily she found nothing.
I noticed Jonson shivering as she talked to Mirva and once again I was happy to wear my suit. It’s thermal isolation wasn’t perfect, but it worked better than any human made clothing ever could. I would have to make sure the human scientists dressed properly next time, their safety was my responsibility after all.
Under my watchful eye Lim returned to the truck to discuss his findings and the further strategy with the other scientists, while I walked back to Doctor Jonson and Mirva who - thank god - looked a lot happier than before, as she marveled at the flower and went over the dozens of tiny differences to it’s better known cousins in the inhabited areas. Jonson was busy typing dozens of datapoints into her notepad.
“Hey, Mirva? I got a question.“
Yeah, Mike? What do you want to know?“
„How exactly does a flower… you know… grow without sunlight? I mean, don’t they need that?“
Jonson and Mirva exchanged a quick look, before Mirva explained:
“Okay, first of all this is not really a flower, it is closer to a Terran tree than anything else. And secondly, if you want to look at its leaves in the Truck later you will notice that they are very big, folded in a way that maximizes their surface and of a very dark green, mostly due to a high level of chlorophyll. They are masters at collecting even the tiniest amount of the light that still reaches them here and they use every last bit of it. Their longevity is actually a big part of that strategy - they use most of their energy to merely stay alive and only have very little spare to grow, so instead they just grow extremely slowly. And the beautiful thing is that they can live this long, not in spite but BECAUSE of the lack of sunlight. You see, the lack of sunlight means a very low level of cosmic radiation, so their cells don’t get destroyed over time that much. Combine that with drastically less competition and almost no animals trying to eat them and you get the perfect conditions for a long life. Thus they can live for centuries. This also gives them the opportunity to grow a body out of wood, unlike grasses and flowers that need to grow much faster and don’t have the time for that.“
Mirva waved her tail around excitedly like little children sometimes did, and Doctor Jonson finished her explanation.
“All of this makes them one of the only plants that grow here and thus they are the perfect basis of the food chain. Understanding them is vital to understanding this ecosystem. And their excistence in the twilight zone means that the ecosystem there must have been at least somewhat similar to the ecosystem on the dark side, which is promising.”
I smiled, happy that we were making progress this quickly, even though I was pretty certain they had drastically simplified their points so I could understand them. But hey, at le-
“Predator nearby! Retreat to the Truck!“
Farlent’s shout made me jump up and I quickly opened the safety of my flamethrower. Mirva suddenly looked like she was about to freak out again and Jonson didn’t look much better, but she was focused enough to grab Mirva by the arm and run with her back to the truck, while I checked the direction Farlent was pointing towards .
And indeed, I saw not one, but two pairs of glowing eyes - frontfacing eyes- staring at me from right below the waters surface. I did however not see a body belonging to those eyes, which was weird. But I wasn’t stupid enough to hang around and find out how deadly those things were the hard way.
Checking all directions and keeping my flamethrower pointed at the eyes the entire way, I slowly retreated to the truck, waited for Farlent to jump in and then gave Ortsa the sign to slam the door shut. She did - and now we waited for the predators next move.
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