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[A Terran Space Story: Lieutenant Saga] - Chapter 117

2023.05.30 15:03 Recent-Development10 [A Terran Space Story: Lieutenant Saga] - Chapter 117

The attack continues and an opportunity presents itself. Does it work? Or does it have the opposite affect? I hope you enjoy!
Well, today is my last day of vacation. And with any luck my AC will get fixed. The last couple days has been most unpleasant without it. The next chapter will be out on Saturday!
Terran Space Story: The Lieutenant Saga
Academy Days First Previous Next

Chapter 117: Failed to Take the Bait

Minutes Later. March 4th, 2267. 16:35 Paximus System –Outer Asteroid Belt
The CNS Ugley had already racked up twelve pirate kills. Her Captain was aggressive in their push against the pirate forces here. No missiles had yet been expended, just the main rail gun and the other secondary batteries. Against another proper Naval warship that would be a recipe for disaster, but against the pirates in this system the handicap didn’t seem to be affecting them that much.
Her attitude changed dramatically. Her bow flipped up nearly two hundred degrees as she maneuvered hard to port. The main gun snap fired at the right moment. The large tungsten and ceramic mass shot out from the tip of its barrel. To add insult to injury they were firing high explosive rounds. As if piercing the hull at insane speeds wasn’t enough lethality the added explosive charge adds insult to injury.
The fired round’s aim was true. Moments later it intercepted one of the larger pirate vessels on the port side. It was an old Corvette from sixty-some years ago, so heavily modified it barely resembled its past self. Not that those modifications meant a thing to the round that just struck mid-ships.
The ceramic layer and tungsten penetrator easily pierced through the hull armor plates. The round then exploded somewhere in the second deck, after a nearly imperceptible amount of time passed. The damage to the ship’s spine couldn’t hold it together. The poor Corvette was bisected in two by the round.
Meanwhile, the Waukesha was continuing its dreadfully accurate and brutal assault on the pirate base. Two-thirds of the docked ships were killed before they had a chance to join the fight. Over three-quarters of the base's anti-ship defensive weapons have been destroyed.
“Captain, I suggest adjusting our orbit to cross the rings at a perpendicular angle. The poles of that rock still contain defensive weapons,” Ingrid said.
“Rex, do as the lady says,” John said.
“Adjusting course,” Rex said as he keyed in the adjustments to their orbit.
Just as the ship began to angle the forward kinetic shields flared up. The sound of sacrificial relays frying themselves could be heard by the bridge crew. A pirate had gotten a lucky rail gun shot off. Were it not for the angle of the ship and the kinetic shields it was very possible the Waukesha could have suffered noticeable damage.
“Find whoever did that and blast them out of the void,” John said with a clenched fist, “Good thing the bridge is buried in the ship.”
“With pleasure,” Chester said.
“You are not wrong Captain,” Ingrid said, “That round could have made it into one of our forward missile rooms.”
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” Rex said with a chuckle.
“I’d rather be good than rely on luck to see me survive a battle,” John said dryly.
“Can’t hurt to have some luck,” Chester said, “Where the fuck is that little fucker that shot at us?”
“Sorry Lieutenant, it’s a mess out there. The target is a Shrike-class attack shuttle. Sending you the designators,” Walter said from operations.
“Walter, how many enemy ships remain?”
“The Ugley just splashed another Corvette. All they have left is modified shuttles.”
Chester then added, “And all the weapons batteries left on the station.”
“Them too.”
“Rex, make sure our course and speed are adjusted on the fly. Make it harder for their targeting systems to get a good read on us,” John said leaning back in his chair.
“Consider it done.”
The Waukesha’s variable course setting would cause it to roll and pitch at random intervals and speed up or slow down. It wasn’t a guarantee to prevent damage to the ship. But it makes being struck by enemy fire significantly less likely to occur.
The Confederate Navy learned that lesson the hard way in a conflict against the Alliance. From that point on the variable course settings had proven to be a valuable deterrent in avoiding enemy fire. Not to mention keeping the lives of those inside the ships safe.
“And down goes that Shrike. Fucking punk,” Chester exclaimed from the weapons console.
“Incoming fire from remaining weapons platforms on the station are limited to those that are being manned in person. We may have cut systems or power to them,” Walter said.
“Verify that. Chester, continue eliminating the asteroid’s defenses,” John said, “Am I reading this tactical output correctly?”
“That is an affirmative,” Tess said, “CNS Ugley reports all pirate ships have been eliminated. They are steaming back to assist in the base assault.”
“Continue with the bombardment. Have the CAG refocus the drones on the docking bays. I want a full scan of defensive systems before the Marines set foot there,” John stood up then walked towards the front screen, “Tess, have we received any transmissions from the base?”
“The pirates are broadcasting a general distress call, but it is going unheeded. No commercial or unidentified traffic is heading this way,” Tess shrugged as she answered her captain’s question.
“More than that,” Walter said, “Traffic is avoiding this region altogether. If there are pirates out there, they are ‘noping out’ of this fight.”
John walked over to Tess’s console and pressed the button to hail the Marines onboard, “Captain Taylor. Load your men up. We’ll be launching the step in this assault within the next thirty minutes.”
“Not that I want to be Debbie Downer, sir,” Ingrid spoke cautiously, “But was this attack really expected to draw out the Icarus?”
“Nope. Not directly. But it’s going to generate a hell of a lot of chatter amongst their circles. Plus,” John smiled as he looked back at Walter, “Walter, find me a pirate ship that is currently dead but could potentially be reactivated.”
“Sure thing, sir,” Walter looked very confused as he looked up from his console, “Dare I ask why?”
“Well, if you go out fighting you need a lure to catch a fish.”
Walter immediately put two and two together and determined what his captain was planning, “Say no more. I’ll find a wreck that will work.”
Two more orbits were all that it required to finish eliminating the station defenses. As a result of the two engagements, all lances would need to be replaced. Because of the change of tactics, their lifespan was shortened to just two engagements.
Marty and his team would grumble about doing spacewalks and replacing them but their discomfort and annoyance was a small price to pay to ensure the Waukesha had sufficient missiles should the Icarus appear. John did make a mental note to pay for a good meal or drinks for the engineering team, even if their actions resulted in good practice for maintaining the ship systems.
The Marines from both the Waukesha and Ugley boarded the pirate station at the bottom of the hour. Fighting initially was intense. A great number of pirates never made it onboard the ships the Waukesha had killed while intercepting the base. The pirates had numerical superiority, not to mention fighting on familiar ground.
Unfortunately for the residents of that station, the Marines were wearing power armor. Every last Marine was equipped with a suit. More than half were wearing Broadsword heavy-power armor. The pirates ran into an immovable object in the Marine’s relentless and calculating advance. Morale on the pirate’s side broke after the second engagement.
The few who continued to fight were mercilessly cut down by the Marines. Those that did lay down their arms were treated relatively well, like any prisoner of the Confederacy. Though their fate likely would result in lengthy prison sentences, if they were lucky then they would still have a chance at life.
Multiple prison transports were required to ferry everyone they had captured. The trio of Confederate ships stayed on site for two full days after the engagement began. Six transports were loaded full of women and children, and their destinations were reeducation camps, though the mothers of the children could still be tried for crimes depending on what the investigations come up with. Three more transport ships were used to house the known pirates.
John didn’t really care where they were being sent to be tried. That was a feeling shared by his fellow captains in his squadron. Once everyone had been transported off the pirate base the Waukesha and Ugley commenced a calculated bombing of the asteroid. Dozens of armor-piercing rail gun rounds were fired. The asteroid cracked into several pieces. Gravity would eventually pull them back together in a few hundred years, but the base was forever broken.
Step two of the mission was now complete. It was a long shot, but John sincerely hoped the next step would lure out the Icarus. But what it would do, if his calculations were correct, is inflame the pirate’s mood. He needed them to act irrationally and put an undue amount of pressure on the Icarus. But John was getting ahead of himself in thought. The bait first had to be tossed out into the sea of stars.
7 Days Later. March 11th, 2267. 03:00 Paximus System – Outer Asteroid Belt
John walked onto the bridge just as the shift change had begun. The outgoing shift not only looked but felt bored. Even more bored today than the previous days since the attack. That wasn’t all that surprising though, normally the ship was getting into all sorts of action. Waiting wasn’t the crew’s forte, that was doubly true for their captain.
Brian smiled as he saw John walk onto the bridge, “Before you ask, fuck all happened. The ship is still running quietly and isn’t bleeding any signals still. Engineering really wants to get on the move within seventy-two hours.”
“Thanks, Brian. Did they say why the hurry?”
“Something about fusion balance or some such,” Brian waved his hands as he walked past his captain, “You’ll want to reach out to them to get the specifics.”
“Understood. I doubt we’re going to be able to stay out here for another couple of days anyway. Fleet Command is likely going to order us to move on to a new location soon.”
Brian stopped at the bulkhead and looked back at John, “Don’t suppose it’ll be a nice warm planet with sunshine and beaches?”
Deb laughed as she walked by, “I could use some work on my tan. I’m a little pasty.”
“Sadly no. If the rumor is true, then we’re heading to a system with a bunch of mining bases. Won’t be going near the primary settlement which is on an airless hunk of rock.”
Deion could be heard in the hallway, “God damn, that sounds depressing as hell.”
“You take us to such nice places,” Deb laughed as she headed towards the mess hall.”
“Agreed,” Brian shrugged, “At least this system is the command’s decision and not yours.”
John grinned, “Would that make much of a difference?”
“Yes, yes it would,” Brian turned and waved behind him, “Cya tomorrow.”
“Alright, folks let’s get at her. How does our bait look?”
“Lonely and unfulfilled,” Chester said sarcastically.
“Should we increase the power to the broadcast system?” Tess asked, “We might get a nibble that way.”
John nodded, “Work with engineering on that. We don’t want it to be too obvious.”
The Ugley had managed to find a shuttle that suffered a simple through and through. While a simple wound that resulted in superficial internal damage it was catastrophic as all atmosphere was lost to the void. The crew had no chance to survive such a wound.
To make their bait look more accurate there were a couple of armor plates crudely welded over the wounds. The shuttle never lost power, but the engineering team from the Waukesha was able to get the life support systems operational once again. While on the shuttle they also enabled the communication systems and slaved it back to the Waukesha’s control systems.
Several devices were left behind in the ship to fool any friendly sensors into thinking there was still life onboard the ship. John didn’t know what ship they would lure in, but a bigger pirate vessel would definitely be able to perform rudimentary scans of the shuttle. They needed something to temporarily trick those initial scans.
As for the Confederate ships, the Basilone did what it does best and was stealthily sneaking around in the void undetected. The Ugley and the Waukesha both had found crevasses in a nearby asteroid. Both ships were rigged for silent running. The only way they were able to communicate with one another is direct beam communication, a frustrating system in this day and age but is perfectly silent to outside viewers unless you cross the path of the beam.
Because these large naval ships were hiding in places that weren’t designed for warships to go, a properly janky solution was in place. Several reflectors and amplification devices were carefully spread out on the asteroid's surface. The likelihood of a pirate ship crossing the beam and discovering their hidey-hole was thought to be impossible.
Despite being rigged for silent running, they were able to receive general broadcasts from commercial and civilian ships. The Basilone, along with the rest of the Navy for that matter, could contact the ships directly. Responding to those messages would give their positions away to the more advanced pirate ships. Their prey would undoubtedly be able to detect those types of transmissions.
“What are the odds that the Icarus shows up here?” Tess broke the silence on the bridge.
“Somewhere between zero and zero,” Walter said.
“Not happening,” Chester said, “Getting a nibble from anyone seems pretty unlikely at this point too.”
“Captain, your thoughts?” Tess asked innocently.
“Well, it would be nice if we did lure our that great white whale,” John sighed, “I had hoped we’d get some interest from a pirate ship that we could get some intel from. It’s not looking great at the moment.”
Chester leaned back in his seat and swiveled to look towards the front of the bridge, “What’s the pirate’s reaction going to be to our raids?”
“Impotent rage,” John said, “We’ve been capturing their children and wives for seventy-plus years and besides some gnashing of teeth they’ve not been able to do anything about our policy.”
The universe must have heard John’s sardonic comment. At the precise moment he stopped speaking sensors were triggered. A slip space rupture was forming.
“Holy shitballs, we’ve got a ship translating to real space,” Walter said, “Can’t make out the ship type.”
“CNS Basilone reports slip space rupture danger close to the bait shuttle,” Tess said, “They successfully identified the ship as the Basilisk, formerly an old Alliance cruiser.”
“I want all systems back online, maximum thrust out of here,” John commanded.
“That will take thirty to sixty seconds to online everything,” Chester said, “But already on it, sir.”
As the bridge crew began working furiously to bring their ship back online, John was staring at the tactical readout. Something was off about the Basilisks' energy readouts. Normally there was a brief surge of power output when a ship transitions back into real space, but that power draw remained.
Without warning the Basilisk opened fire on the hapless shuttle. It exploded in a bright green fusion blast. The ship had been entirely atomized in the blast. The squadron was successfully able to bait a pirate into their trap. Unfortunately, the pirates seemed to be prepared for precisely that.
“Systems are fully restored, engines are primed and ready for use,” Ken said over the comms from his spot in Engineering.
“Helen, get us…”
John was unable to finish his sentence. He was watching the tactical readout. Someone, he wasn’t paying attention to who was speaking, was calling out what was happening. John saw the ship abruptly flip over and head directly back to the slip space rupture, which was curiously still active.
The pirates were a step ahead, of sorts, this day. The bait was successful. The pirates thought to put their comrades out of their misery. Or maybe they were enemies. It didn’t really matter; the lure was successful to a point. But no one in the squadron had thought of this tactic.
Hell, John didn’t even know that this was possible. The Naval guidelines surrounding slip space generators forbade such maneuvers from happening. In fact, if you transition from one space to another the Navy requires one to discharge the generators properly which takes two to three hours. What the pirates did was risk blowing up those generators and getting stuck in a place they didn’t want to be.
Though it didn’t seem like it mattered if the pirates gave a damn about Confederate Naval policies. Just as soon as the pirate ship appeared they were back through the portal from whence they came. The bait shuttle was destroyed, and John succinctly summed up their operation.
“Well… Shit,” John slunk into his chair and was forced to taste the bitter pill of defeat.
2 Days Later. March 13th, 2267. 14:00 Slip Space – En Route to the Altair system
John was soundly asleep and getting some much-needed rest. The paperwork following the letdown of their trap made the days challenging. But the final after-action report on both attacks on the pirate bases had been submitted. He had largely shirked his normal duties to resolve the paperwork.
The crew wouldn’t openly tell him this, but they didn’t mind when he hid away in his ready room to do paperwork. That was paperwork that they didn’t have to do. They appreciated John taking one for the team.
“Captain, apologies, but you are needed on the bridge immediately,” Brian said over the comms.
“Be there in a jiffy,” John yawned as he stepped out of bed.
He didn’t bother getting dressed appropriately for a shift. He found a clean T-shirt and quickly threw that on. A pair of gym shorts lay on the ground which he also put on before he looked around for some sandals that he had left in his room someplace.
After eventually finding footwear John made his way to the bridge. His appearance, combined with the rubbing of his eyes and yawning, was a clear sign that he wasn’t expecting to be awake. Or wanting to be awake at that time. The crew members that did see John that morning said nothing but giggled internally at seeing their captain in such a light.
The doors to the bridge opened and John saw through yawns, “What’s up?”
“Play it again please,” Brian said.
Deb keyed a few things into her console. The tactical screen then split into two. A newsfeed began playing back on the right-hand side of the screen.
“This massive pirate fleet, led by the infamous Folly of Icarus, attacked a munitions plant in the Outer Regalia system this morning. Early reports are a bit scattered, and the Confederate Navy has not yet released an official statement, but it appears that a fleet of well over two hundred pirate vessels, the vast majority being heavily modified retired military vessels, led a successful raid on a military installation.”
The newscaster paused for a moment to collect herself.
“The loss of life is estimated to be in the low thousands. Three orbital facilities were utterly destroyed and the primary station, and the space bridge connecting it to the surface, were also destroyed. Loss of life on the surface was minimal as the bridge is located in a coastal region that is lightly populated.”
The video then switched to one the pirates had sent the newscasters. Rene appeared dressed as flamboyantly as he normally did. But gone was the aura of aloofness. His eyes were hardened. John was used to seeing that look, one full of hate and contempt for one’s enemies. In this case, the enemy was clearly the Confederacy as a whole.
“The pirates sent this message. We have not been able to independently identify this pirate. They are claiming to be the spokesperson for the pirate alliance.”
“For too long the local powers have abused and attacked those that wish to live a life of freedom without their interference. Our brothers and sisters get callously murdered by an uncaring government bureaucracy. For those unfortunate to survive such a fate all of the powers use us as slave labor. Our children, infirm, wives, nieces, and nephews get taken from us without due process. They are sent to re-education camps to be indoctrinated into believing the lies espoused by the major powers. All of you are guilty of war crimes against those that simply want to live lives free of influence from such tyranny,” Rene paused and stared at the camera, “The grand pirate alliance struck three installations simultaneously, one in each of your nations. Until such prosecutions cease and our loved ones are returned to us, the grand pirate alliance will commence hit-and-run attacks on commerce. We will grind your lovely systems to a halt. When you finally taste that which you’ve dealt us perhaps you will come to the bargaining table and ask for forgiveness from us.”
John walked over to Deb’s console and pressed a red button to halt the replay. He turned and looked at his bridge crew. They in turn looked at him. All present knew their actions over the past couple of years had fermented this new rebellion.
“Kid gloves are coming off. It’s time to grind another enemy beneath our heels.”
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2023.05.30 14:54 KSamIAm79 Midwest

Anyone from KC in here? We are so far into the middle of the US that it feels like our only options are camping (which I’m not a fan of). We are more ocean or resort hotel with a water park type people. Any good suggestions near this area for a road trip? I know of Great Wolf Lodge, but am looking to actually travel. Anything 8 hours away or less. Thanks!
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2023.05.30 14:42 UnderwaterFloridaMan Daytona Beach officers investigate shooting near Cruisin Cafe

Daytona Beach officers investigate shooting near Cruisin Cafe submitted by UnderwaterFloridaMan to GunsAreCool [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 12:04 yucatanbeachhomes123 Searching For the Best Progreso Beach Homes in Mexico.

Are you exploring Progreso Beach Homes? Don't Worry, Since Progreso is a beach town, it seems sensible to start there. However, beaches can be difficult to access due to possible construction near hotels and homes. Spend a day at the beach in Progreso to escape the city's attractions. This is a wonderful choice if you're staying at a coastal property, Reach out to Yucatan Beach Homes and visit the website to learn more.
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2023.05.30 11:21 26NorthYachtBrokers Luxury Yacht For Charter

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2023.05.30 08:35 Low-Affect5250 Who love sea vibe?

Hey Reddit community! Can we talk about that amazing sea vibe? There's something truly enchanting about being near the ocean. The sound of waves crashing against the shore, the salty breeze, and the vast expanse of blue create a sense of tranquility and wonder. The sea offers endless opportunities for adventure, whether it's swimming, surfing, or simply strolling along the sandy beaches. The vibrant marine life, mesmerizing sunsets, and the feeling of freedom as you gaze out into the horizon—it's pure magic. So let's celebrate the sea vibe and cherish the moments spent by the water. Dive in, relax, and let the sea work its soothing wonders. 🌊🐠🌅
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2023.05.30 08:27 bleachedreaper Ghost on the Beach

This happened in 2021 in the middle of summer at Myrtle beach. Me and my boyfriend had got a suite on the beach to celebrate our 4 year anniversary. We had walked the beach until around 11pm when we decided to go back to our room since my SO’s stomach was bothering him. We get back in the room and he decides to lay down. I decided to go on the balcony and watch the ocean under the night sky. Our hotel room was between the 5th-8th floor and the beach completely lit up for miles both ways. A lot of teenagers were on the beach, directly below me, partying and shooting fireworks. I watched entertained while they shoot a huge firework in the sky. Suddenly, without thinking, my eyes instinctively landed on a man who was standing behind the boys who had just shot the fire work. I saw this man so clearly. He was a black Middle aged man, wearing a white t-shirt, and dark shorts. He was clearly distressed and without hesitation the man does a 180 and starts running down the beach, away from where the fireworks were being shot. As this man got further away I watched his body begin to vanish. I could literally see the beach through his body when finally the faintest glow outlined his body and he completely disappeared. My body froze and I tried calming myself as I made my way to my boyfriend trying to not freak out about what I just saw. (I still freaked out). For the rest of the night, we both heard a lot of weird noises. It started with the toilet seat in our own bathroom being slammed down and the dishes in our cabinets being rattled. We both heard the noises and barely got any sleep the entire night.
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2023.05.30 08:00 bthcollective Mixed Feelings after a week in Tulum

My partner and I just got back from a week in Tulum and although we had an amazing time, the beginning of our trip sure didn’t start that way. Here’s a few lessons learned and some advice that might help a few people out.
  1. Tulum is safe, generally.
We had absolutely zero issues the entire time we were there with anybody harassing us, threatening us, or even looking at us the wrong way. I even got pulled over by a cop for driving the wrong way down a one-way and he just let me go. Don’t be scared by what everyone says. Just use your street smarts. It helps to speak a decent amount of Spanish. It’s how I was able to get off without a ticket (or bribe) and got some good insight from locals (and respect)
  1. The Beach sucks.
We tried for an entire day to see the ocean and didn’t have a chance because the hotels have pretty much privatized the entire Tulum coast line. I was here in 2014 and it was SO much easier to get to the ocean. One of the main roads that leads to the public beaches is currently under heavy construction (closed) which means you have to drive all the way through the Tulum Ruins road to get there. We were so defeated after that day that we didn’t try to see the beach again for another 4 days.
  1. Cenote’s and Lagoons are the Best.
The absolute best times of our trip we’re spent snorkeling in cenotes and swimming in beautiful fresh-water lagoons. These are much easier places to access and typically don’t have your guides hassling you. Yes, you have to pay an entrance fee but as far as I know, nothing in Tulum is free anymore.
Some notable spots were: Laguna de Kaan Luum, Cenote Cristal and Escondido, the Floating Tour in the Lagoons outside of Muyil Ruins (this was the highlight of our trip), and Cenote Puerta Maya, a highly underrated Cenote outside of Akumal.
  1. The Food is Expensive, unless you don’t want it to be.
We had a really hard time at the beginning of our trip finding good, local food. We were spending way too much money on overly-salted mushroom tacos and shitty margaritas from places who were clearly spending more money on their decor than there dishes.
Once we started visiting the street carts and Al Pastor taquerias where the locals were visibly gathered, is when we started to find affordable, tasty, local meals. Word of advice, all the good food in Tulum is in Centro. Avoid eating at the beach unless you have an unlimited amount of money to spend on mediocre food.
Look for the crowds of locals and eat there.
We stayed in Airbnb in a weird area called Region 15 which is clearly a huge patch of jungle that’s I being torn down to build hotels and condos. We felt incredibly guilty after getting there and wished we would’ve stayed somewhere else. There were also no stores or anything within a 45 minute walking distance so we were extremely grateful we rented a car.
We decided if we ever were to go back, we would stay in Centro and make our day trips from there, since we ended up there every night to eat anyways.
Feel free to ask any questions!
submitted by bthcollective to tulum [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 06:09 Negative_Oil_1601 Memorial Day Shooting.

Memorial Day Shooting. submitted by Negative_Oil_1601 to YAPms [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 05:57 Negative_Oil_1601 Mass Shooting in Florida. Pray for the victims and their families.

Mass Shooting in Florida. Pray for the victims and their families. submitted by Negative_Oil_1601 to AngryObservation [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 04:38 thecatofbraavos Lyla – Thrill (Open to Seagard)

11th Moon, 200 AC
Lyla looked down at the letter in her hand, Victor’s signature on the bottom. Gods, it had been too long since she was out at sea and sailing the waves.
She had never been a woman prone to violence, no war-mongering. She was a politician, with careful words and steadfast loyalty to her liege. But there had always been that call. Not for freedom, or conquest—but there was a thrill of fighting amongst the rough ocean current that no feeling could beat.
The Lannister’s threatening a Hightower. That was not a mistake one made lightly.
There had been a few times, on the deck of The Monarch and chasing away those who were foolish enough to threaten the water of Oldtown. The Stepstones were nearing a distant memory.
One could only take so many days in her office in the docks, where Eden’s poem still hung. She loved it, that life, she told herself. The parties and politics, her fashion. But nothing compared to the thrill of command.
She had not seen her children in nearing a moon. Vernon she cared less about. But they were far from her mind that day. She felt young again, full of vigor.
She had her orders, and she intended on carrying them out.
She walked through the halls of Seagard. There was no Iron in her blood, the gods strange to her, a foreigner in this land. But she was a sailor, and a damn good one at that.
With her brother and his daughter near by, she idled in the halls and sought audience with The Greyjoy herself, and to check in with Lord Gynir and any others that were around.
submitted by thecatofbraavos to IronThroneRP [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 03:30 SBrookbank Moving to Norfolk? Read this before you post.

Welcome to HamptonRoadsVAHousing! Our subreddit gets a lot of questions about relocating to the area, so be sure to search the subreddit to see if your specific questions have already been answered.
Here's a quick list of the top tips and most frequently repeated advice about moving to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area:
Live on the same side of the water as you work. Our many bridges, tunnels and bridge-tunnels frequently experience heavy traffic volume and become chokepoints even on days without incidents or accidents. Commuting from the Southside (Norfolk/Virginia Beach) to the Peninsula (Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg) and vice versa is not recommended. Additionally, many water crossings are now or will eventually be tolled. Get an EZ-Pass to pay the lowest rate.
This area floods. Look at FEMA flood maps for the area you want to move to and be aware of possibly needing flood insurance. Similarly, our area occasionally experiences hurricanes. Know your Evacuation Zone and learn more about Hurricane Preparations. Hampton Roads has a lot to offer. Obviously there is the beach. But there is also a surprisingly good and growing food & craft beer scene. A great many museums and activities. And an easy drive to the mountains and other major cities. Career wise the medical center is growing year over year, and is only expected to continue expanding into a major hub for the region. Norfolk offers a slightly more urban feel, with lots of great food joints and cultural amenities, all while being walking and bike friendly. Virginia Beach is more suburban in feel, and has a large amount of great neighborhoods at a decent price not too far from the beach. Chesapeake is even more suburban, but more affordable. Suffolk is growing, but still by all rights could be considered mostly rural. (credit to u/Here4thebeer3232)
Check crime reports. Crime can happen anywhere but some areas see more reported incidents than others. Great areas can be adjacent to bad neighborhoods, sometimes separated only by a road or a few blocks. When buying or renting a residence, try to visit the area at different times of day and strike up conversations with locals to get a feel for the location. Use Norfolk's Crime Mapping tool to view crime reports and statistics.
Norfolk Neighborhoods of Note
Chelsea/West Ghent: Small former industrial area that is now home to 2 top tier Breweries and is a central part of the Elizabeth River Bike Trail. Has a growing culinary scene. Limited residential options.
Colonial Place: Upscale residential neighborhood with waterside access. Flooding is a concern in this area, but neighborhoods are family friendly and homes are gorgeous.
Downtown: the urban center of our region. Growing residential population to match established barestaurant, entertainment and financial scenes.
East Beach: Newly constructed high end beach condos right on the Chesapeake Bay. Has abundant docking for boats, fishing holes, and beach access. A more quiet and older community.
Fort Norfolk: Growing area adjacent to EVMS and Sentara Medical Center. The unofficial midtown of Norfolk, that is slowly becoming a part of the city skyline. Floods often.
Freemason: straight-laced & upscale enclave adjacent to downtown and built around cobblestone streets.
Ghent: trendy, historic and filled to the brim with character, culture and delicious cuisine. The neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, Colley Avenue, and adjacent 21st and 22nd streets are lined with eclectic eateries, unique shops, art galleries and antique stores.
Larchmont: High end homes in a family friendly neighborhood. Adjacent to ODU, but without the noise, Larchmont is home to incredible homes in a very green and quiet part of the city. Also has waterside access. Oceanview: Affordable community right on the beach. Still considered more working class, it is slowly looking to compete with the Virginia Beach Oceanfront as a tourist attraction. Home to the Bold Mariner Brewery and Jessy's Taqueria
NEON District: Growing Arts district, adjacent to downtown. Home to a variety of arts shops and artisan restaurants, as well as the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Harrison Opera house.
Park Place: Park Place is a historic neighborhood centrally located to the north of Downtown Norfolk. Park Place offers multimodal access to health and fitness facilities, dining, coffee shops, retail, visual art, live music, and community for people from all walks of life. This historic residential neighborhood is a diverse and inclusive community, and is comprised of a mix of single detached houses, condos, luxury, market rate, and affordable rentals homes and apartments. Located between 23rd street and 38th street, and between Granby street on the east, and Colley ave on the west, the Park Place area neighborhood includes two business districts, the 35th Street Business District and the Railroad District, and is walkable to the North Colley, Ghent, and Riverview business districts.
Railroad District: Rapidly growing former warehouse district located between Ghent and Park place. Home to the majority of Breweries in the city. While could be considered gentrified, is still home to novel cultural centers such as 757 Makerspace and Nomads Clothing Exchange.
Riverview: Immediately adjacent to the Norfolk Zoo and
Lafayette park. With waterside access and a small commercial corridor, Riverview is a good area for all ages. Also home to MJs Tavern, the largest LGBT bar in the metropolitan area.
St Paul's District: Under construction
West Ocean View: Turns into a parking lot for HRBT traffic every time the base lets out.
Willoughby Spit: Quiet residential sandbar. Remains somewhat isolated from HRBT traffic, but offers a commanding presence along the Chesapeake Bay.
VirginiaBeach Neighborhoods of Note
Chesapeake/Chic's Beach: "locals only" beachside community.
Oceanfront: touristy stretch of beach + boardwalk, hotels, and trinket shops.
Town Center: VB's Central Business District including Pembroke Mall and other high-end shopping, dining, and entertainment.
submitted by SBrookbank to HamptonRoadsVAHousing [link] [comments]

2023.05.30 01:10 tone1492 Planning A Trip To Cadiz, Spain Next Spring. Any Tips Or Suggestions Would Be Great!

I was born in the naval base in Rota, so I've always wanted to check this off of my bucket list ever since I was a little boy. I plan on flying in to Jerez on a Tue and staying in a hotel in Old Town Cadiz most of that day recovering from the flight and then Wed-Sat seeing the town and then flying out on Sun.
I am choosing next spring, either April or May, after carnival in Feb and before the summer rush when a lot of Spaniards trek to the ocean and beaches. Are there any places to visit you can suggest? What's the avg price for lunch and dinner in Euros? (I usually skip breakfast). Any hotels in Old Town Cadiz you can recommend? Would a train ride to Seville be worth it on one of the days I am in town, or should I just spend the entire time in Cadiz?
Thank you.
submitted by tone1492 to travel [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 23:13 JoshAsdvgi The Boy Who Was Saved by Thoughts

The Boy Who Was Saved by Thoughts

The Boy Who Was Saved by Thoughts

A poor widow woman once lived near the sea in Eastern Canada.
Her husband had been drowned catching fish one stormy day far off the coast, and her little boy was now her only means of support.
He had no brothers or sisters, and he and his mother, because they lived alone, were always good comrades.
Although he was very young and small, he was very strong, and he could catch fish and game like a man.
Every day he brought home food to his mother, and they were never went without a meal.
Now it happened that the Great Eagle who made the Winds in these parts became very angry because he was not given enough to eat.
He went screaming through the land in search of food, but no food could he find.
And he said, “If the people will not give me food, I will take care that they get no food for themselves, and when I grow very hungry I shall eat up all the little children in the land.
For my young ones must have nourishment too.”
So he tossed the waters about with the wind of his great wings, and he bent the trees and flattened the corn, and for days he made such activity on the earth that the people stayed indoors, and they were afraid to come out in search of food.
At last the boy and his mother became very hungry.
And the boy said, “I must go and find food, since there is not a crumb left in the house.
We cannot wait longer.”
And he said to his mother, “I know where a fat young beaver lives in his house of reeds on the bank of the stream near the sea.
I shall go and kill him, and his flesh will feed us for many days.”
His mother did not want him to make this hazardous journey, for the Great Eagle was still in the land.
But he said to her, “You must think of me always when I am gone, and I will think of you, and while we keep each other in our memories I shall come to no harm.”
So, taking his long hunting knife, he set out for the beaver’s home in his house of reeds on the bank of the stream near the sea.
He reached the place without mishap and there he found Beaver fast asleep.
He soon killed him and slung him over his shoulder and started back to his mother’s house.
“A good fat load I have here,” he said to himself, “and we shall now have many a good dinner of roast beaver-meat.”
But as he went along with his load on his back, the Great Eagle spied him from a distance and swooped down upon him without warning.
Before he could strike with his knife, the Eagle caught him by the shoulders and soared away, holding him in a mighty grip with the beaver still on his back.
The boy tried to plunge his knife into the Eagle’s breast, but the feathers were too thick and tough, and he was not strong enough to drive the knife through them.
He could do nothing but make the best of his sorry plight.
“Surely I can think of a way of escape,” he said to himself, “and my mother’s thoughts will be with me to help me.”
Soon the Eagle arrived at his home.
It was built on a high cliff overlooking the sea, hundreds of feet above the beach, where even the sound of the surf rolling in from afar could not reach it.
There were many young birds in the nest, all clamuring for food.
Great Eagle threw the boy to the side of the nest and told him to stay there.
And he said, “I shall first eat the beaver, and after he is all eaten up, we shall have a good fat meal from you.”
Then he picked the beaver to pieces and fed part of it to his young ones.
For some days the boy lay in terror in the nest, trying to think of a way of escape.
Birds flew high over his head, and far out on the ocean, he could see great ships going by.
But no help came to him, and he thought that death would soon be upon him.
And his mother sat at home waiting for him to return, but day after day passed and still he did not come.
She thought he must surely be in great danger, or that perhaps he was already dead.
One day, as she was weeping, thinking of her lost boy, an old woman came along.
“Why do you cry?” she asked.
And the weeping woman said, “My boy has been away for many days.
I know that harm has come upon him.
The men of my tribe have gone in search of him, and they will kill whatever holds him a prisoner, but I fear he will never come back alive.”
And the old woman said, “Little good the men of your tribe can do you!
You must aid him with your thoughts, for material things are vain.
I will help you, for I have been given great power by the Little People of the Hills.”
So the woman used her thoughts and her wishes to bring back her boy.
That night the boy noticed that the beaver had all been eaten up and that not a morsel remained.
He knew that unless he could save himself at once he would surely die on the morrow.
The Great Eagle, he knew, would swoop down upon him and kill him with a blow of his powerful beak and claws.
But when the boy slept, he saw his mother in his slumber.
And she said to him, “Tomorrow when Great Eagle goes from the nest, brace your knife, point upwards, against the rock.
When he swoops down to kill you his breast will strike the knife, and he will be pierced to death.
You are not strong enough to cut through his feathers with your knife, but he is powerful enough to destroy himself.”
The next morning when Great Eagle went out, the boy did as the vision of the night had told him.
He braced his sharp hunting-knife, point upwards, against the rock and sat still and waited. Then he heard the young eagles making a great noise and crying loudly for their breakfast. He knew that his hour had come.
Soon the Great Eagle, hearing the screams of his young ones, came flying back to the nest to kill the boy.
He circled around above him with loud cries and then with great force swooped down upon him, hoping to kill him with his beak and claws.
But instead, he struck the blade braced upwards against the rock.
The knife pierced far into his breast, and with a loud scream he rolled over dead into the nest.
The boy then killed the young eagles, and he knew that now for a time he was safe.
But he did not know how to get down from the Eagle’s nest, for it jutted out like a shelf far over the beach, and behind it was a wall of rock around which he could not climb.
He had no means of making a ladder, and his cries would not be heard upon the beach because of the constant roaring of the surf.
He thought he would surely starve to death, and that night he cried himself to sleep.
But in the night he again saw his mother in his slumbers.
And she said, “You are a foolish boy.
Why do you not use the thoughts I send you?
Tomorrow skin the eagle and crawl inside the skin.
If the wide wings can hold the Eagle in the air they can likewise hold you.
Drop off from the cliff and you will land safely on the beach.”
The next day the boy did as the vision of the night had told him.
He carefully skinned the Great Eagle.
Then he crawled inside the skin and thrust his arms through the skin just above the wings, so that his extended arms would hold the wings straight out beneath them.
Then he prepared to drop down.
But when he looked over the cliff, he was very frightened, for the sight made him dizzy.
On the beach, men looked like flies, they were so far away.
But he remembered the promise made to him in his slumbers.
So he pushed himself from the cliff and dropped down.
The wings of Great Eagle let him fall gently through the air and he landed safely and unhurt upon the beach.
He crawled out of the skin and set out for his home.
It was a long journey, for Great Eagle had carried him far away, but towards evening he reached his home safely, and his mother received him with great gladness.
The boy began to boast of his adventure, and he told how he had killed Great Eagle and how he had dropped down unscathed from the cliff.
He spoke of himself with great pride and of his strength and his shrewdness.
But the old woman from the Land of the Little People, the fairies of the hills, who was still present with his mother, said, “Oh, vain boy, do not think so highly of yourself.
Your strength is nothing; your shrewdness is nothing.
It was not these things that saved you, but it was the strength of our thoughts.
These alone endure and succeed when all else fails.
I have taught you the uselessness of all material things, which in the end are but as ashes or as dust.
Our thoughts alone can help us in the end, for they alone are eternal.”
And the boy listened and wondered at what the old woman from the Land of Little People had said,
but he boasted of his strength no more.
submitted by JoshAsdvgi to Native_Stories [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 22:28 Aisling_The_Sapphire Subnautica: The Definitive No-Spoilers Guide For New Players

Updated May 2023
I recently changed Reddit accounts and it's been about a year, so it seemed prudent to repost this for visibility. :)

Link to the Below Zero guide - This is an interactive map of the crater. However, be warned that it will show the general location of things you need to find. This can be toggled but if you have zero point of reference for the places mentioned in this guide, this map should provide one.

General tips are at the bottom, however, they rely on you having played at least part of the way through the game so I don't recommend checking them until at least part 3, AKA "Going Traveling"

Subnautica is a game primarily about exploring your environment while overcoming the trepidation that the game sets up in you over doing so. Although there isn't a perfect guide to being able to clear the game, there also isn't an unambiguous path of progression for the player, either.
Consequently new players often find themselves at an impasse in terms of progression and where to go. The following is a no-nonsense, straight to the point guide on how to progress, but it's not a bible. You can do most of this just by exploring and wandering around.
A blind playthrough is critical to the first time player experience. This is often true of every game but for Subnautica it makes or breaks the whole story - you need to have no idea what the hell is going on the first time you clear the game. If you spoil it for yourself you will regret it, please believe me in this. This guide is meant to give you a nudge when you find you don't know where to go next, it's not really meant as a walkthrough, even though it can be used as one. Do yourself a favor friends, don't go wandering /subnautica or the wiki too much and this guide will not lead you astray. It is written specifically for brand new players.

The Beginning

When you first arrive on 4546b, you find yourself with basically nothing. You're hungry, thirsty, your lifepod is broken and your cookies are gone. The Aurora is burning (and you nearly did too) but despite all that, you're alive and this planet is about to get some Ryley in it.
The environment around you has most of what you need to get started. The metal scrap strewn around the shallows provides an easy source of Titanium while you can break limestone and sandstone to get the minerals you need for your starting tools. You'll want the quartz you find for glass.
Although you have a number of options for making equipment, at this stage I don't recommend using resources for the air pump or pipes. Truth is they don't really have much use; they create a breathing line from the surface for when you're diving, but they're expensive and there's better alternatives in your near future.
Once you have a scanner and knife, take the time to scan everything you can. All the local wildlife can be scanned and most of the flora.
Your objective at this point is to build a repair gun, knife, seaglide, flashlight and scanner.

Branching Out

Now that you've got your basic tools and you can get around a little, it's time to begin exploring. At this point you've seen the deeper waters on the edges of the kelp forest.
It's time to go take a look.
The red grassy plains have what you need to progress to deeper waters. You'll want to explore the wrecks there. There are four grassy plains surrounding the shallows at compass points and cave systems exist in three of them which will become relevant later, but are largely out of your reach for now. It is out here that you will find fragments necessary for an important task you must complete soon. Raiding the aurora will require the laser cutter you learn to make here. You'll also want a propulsion cannon, which you can find the fragments to near the side of the Aurora. DO NOT GO AROUND THE BACK OF THE AURORA. SERIOUSLY. You are not prepared for that level of giggling insanity yet.
By now you've fixed the radio and may have triggered the sunbeam event, in which case you will want to go follow that. Give yourself the full span of time to go to the island and explore unless you'd prefer to explore after the event, but don't let yourself get distracted by what you find there and miss the ship arriving. The signals you've been getting are important prompts and need to be checked out when possible, so make sure you take the time to do that. Also, when you go to either island DO NOT PARK YOUR SEAMOTH NEAR THE BEACH. DO NOT PARK YOUR SEAMOTH NEAR THE BEACH. There is a real risk of it phasing through the ground and becoming inaccessible and then you'll end up on this subreddit asking how to get it back like the other 5 guys a week. Seriously.
Also note that bringing an ion cube to the top of the mountains caves will let you do something interesting up there, but I won't be specific. A scanner room at this spot is ideal not just to track the reaper leviathan on the eastern side of the island but there is quite a lot of shale and lithium here as well, which is probably something you're gonna want.

Going traveling

At this point you should have a seamoth, your basic tools, a laser cutter, propulsion cannon and lead suit. You are prepared. It's time to go to the Aurora... but only if you've gotten the communication from Alterra with the captains door code. Otherwise, you must wait for that radio event. You can go explore the ship anyways of course, but not having the code means you can't get into the captains room, requiring you to go back and get it later. So it's up to you. You can open the door anyways if you get the code off the internet or something but since the game gives it to you anyways, you can always wait for the prompt. If not, the door code is 2679
If you have a cyclops I don't recommend taking it, since reapers hang out at the front and back ends of the ship. However, a seamoth is small enough to fit through the broken superstructure of the ship at the front and thus avoid this danger. There are two ways to access the ship and although it seems impossible, you CAN in fact climb up to access the open one. Otherwise, you can use the prop cannon to move the debris out of the way of the door near water level. Be sure to take the time to explore inside and use the carry-all bags to leave stuff you want to keep from the ship out the front so you can come back and pick it all up later. There's lots of useful stuff in there.
As a side note here, the leech-like things that annoy you in the reactor room are called Bleeders. I hate Bleeders personally, but I noted that if you grab one with the propulsion cannon and fling it into the wall out of sheer spite then other bleeders will be attracted to the body, which makes grabbing and doing the same to them quite easy. Clearing the entire room of those little #*([email protected]'s only takes a couple minutes.
You can get the codes for various rooms inside from the PDA's you find. Also note that some doors can only be opened once you repair them. Sometimes the Aurora glitches and these repair sections don't work but because the ship has two entrances, you can always go around the back to clear the whole thing, which is... annoying. If you don't mind being patient, leaving the Aurora and doing other things for awhile will reset the wreck, allowing you to come back later and potentially be able to repair the doors then.
The codes for the ship are:
Cabin No. 1: 1869
Captain's Quarters: 2679
Cargo Bay: 1454
Lab Access: 6483

Time to go down

With the Aurora repaired you have the ability to wear things other than the lead suit, so it's time to chuck that in the trash 'cuz you won't need it again. It's time to get the outer wrecks in the zones beyond the shallows and hoo boy ain't that gonna be an experience.
The cyclops is your friend here. But what's this, you don't have a cyclops? Well, that's okay. You may have found one of the engine fragments on the aurora in the cargo bay but if you missed it, it's not really a big deal. Your next objective to build one is to go explore mushroom forest and the underwater floating islands for the fragments you'll need. If you've been following your radio signals you've probably been to the aurora rendezvous point by now, but if not, take the time to go thoroughly explore that island. One of the PDAs you need to find the next place is not at the degasi base, but on one of the paths of the island near an arch of rock. You'll need to explore the island thoroughly to find it. Make sure to scan everything and bring back plant samples if you have a seabase. You can use plant pots to keep food trees on your cyclops for easy access to food without worrying about curing everything all the time.
Once you have the cyclops, you need to take the time to upgrade your seamoth to depth so you can explore the various wrecks, supplement your PDA database and establish yourself properly for long-term operations. At this point in the game you should be aiming for or already have:
A seabase, even a basic one. A couple corridors with lockers are invaluable for storage and operations and the scanner room is MISSION CRITICAL. If you haven't built one yet, get on that!
A seamoth, either at or being upgraded to 500m depth
Knife, flashlight, repair gun, seaglide, scanner, laser cutter, propulsion or repulsion cannon, rebreather
Be sure to check everything, then check it again! It's easy to miss things on the island. Be sure to check the buildings on the tops of the hills there too. Although it would be nice to be able to plant land beacons (hint hint, Unknown Worlds), it's not feasible for marking out the precursor gate on the floating island so unfortunately, it's not of much use unless you have your base on one island or the other. I don't recommend the floating island for this for reasons which will become apparent later in the game.

Looking into the abyss

If you've explored most of or all of the wrecks and no longer have missing technology, it's time to go deeper. If you've been following your PDA signals you need to check out the degasi bases and follow their story, as they lead you to a large, deep cave which is the path to deeper places you need to explore.
There are several inlets to the place you need to reach. Northern Bulb Zone where it meets Mountains has a large entrance. Blood Kelp Zone and Trench both have entrances. The last one is in deep grand reef, where the final Degasi base is. I personally recommend either Deep Grand Reef or Bulb Zone but the latter has the most accessibility.
Raiding the final Degasi Base before exploring this cave system will get you the orange precursor key which you'll need to access something hidden at the southern end of the caves near blood kelp trench's entrance. While working down here I strongly recommend making liberal use of beacons as navigational guides if you're new to this place. It is VERY confusing and looks very same-y if you haven't spend a lot of time here.
Deep inside the caves you'll come upon a chamber with a massive skull sitting on a chunk of land in the middle and access to a slightly lower part of the cave system which is not green. This is the Cove Tree Cave and the brine there will not hurt you the way the green brine does. This leaves you able to free dive there to gather materials without needing to rely on your prawn.
This chamber with the skull is, in fact, the central chamber of Lost River. It is an excellent place for building a scanner station and the entire area is ludicrously rich in resources. It's a perfect place to stock up and catch up any upgrades, tools or devices you may be lacking so far. You'll want the resource stocks for later and honestly, it's just a really cool place to have a base in general.
The Disease Research Facility is in the north-eastern arm of Lost River, accessible through the Bulb Zone entrance. A juvenile ghost leviathan guards the path but as with most leviathans, operating in silent running and staying above or below it while sticking to the cave walls will get you by without any issue. If they do notice you, just pop a decoy, go full speed for about 5-8 seconds and then drop the engine to low and stay in silent running until you get far enough for the big ugly to stop bothering you.
The southern part of Lost River holds a large chamber with a ghost leviathan juvenile and houses another rather large skeleton. This area in particular is rich in large ore deposits and crystallized sulfur that you'll be needing for some big upgrades.
By the way, remember the cyclops shield? By now you're probably noticing that using the auxiliary functions on the cyclops eats a lot of power. Redundant power cells are your friend and if you feel you're worried about power costs while exploring, you lose nothing by having a buttload of spare power cells. It can pay off, being able to spam the shield for awhile and run away.
You'll want that shield for what's coming next.

Once More Unto The Deep

By now you've probably explored Lost River a bit and you're wondering where to go from here. If you've built a scanner room in the central chamber, you'll have noticed that the scanner, when at full range, shows a chamber below Lost River.
This is the inactive lava zone and it is here your answers lay.
You have two access points to reach this chamber. The North-east arm past the disease research facility and the cove tree caves. Both entrances are equally difficult to get through but the first one feels more open, if you don't mind the ghost leviathan circling around above the opening.
This chamber is rich with even more valuable resources, if you somehow haven't got enough already. The cove tree cave entrance leads to the western part of the ILZ chamber. The North-east entrance leads to the north edge of the chamber. The chamber itself is rather oval-shaped, with the western edge of it relatively empty and the eastern part containing a massive lava bubble.
If you wander around down here long enough the PDA will prompt you to take a look at that bubble a bit more closely. You will need two purple precursor keys to access the facility inside. Now that you're down here you'll notice there's a fair number of warpers, crimson rays (who are harmless) and leech-like things which will attach to the hull of your ship and drain power. That sounds like a problem, doesn't it?
Don't worry though, we got you covered. Once you're down here, go grab some kyanite and you can build the cyclops thermal reactor which pretty much eliminates the whole running out of power problem. The shield is a great way to get the leeches off your hull at the same time.
As for the leviathan, the sea dragon isn't actually a whole lot of threat. It might spit fire at you and is capable of picking up and biting the prawn but will mostly ignore you if you don't go hanging out in front of it.
With that said, treat it like any other leviathan while in the cyclops. Drive slow, keep an eye on it and if it gets curious, drop a decoy and move away ASAP. Cutting your engines once you've gotten a little distance will almost always make them lose interest.

But Wait, There's More!

If you've explored the inner depths of the lava bubble, then you have the blue key, ion battery plans and have opened the portal to the QEP. Great! Now coming down here in the prawn isn't a big deal and you don't have to drive the cyclops all the way down here to go grab resources. A small scanner base down here would be great for quickly finding what you need.
As you can probably guess, there's an even deeper chamber than this, which is the active lava zone. You can find the entrance by following the lava flows around the ILZ and keeping an eye on the floor. You'll find a large space big enough for the cyclops to lower down into.
Down here you'll find 2 sea dragons to avoid, so don't you get conservative with your power. By now you'll probably have built ion power cells and those can run your shield and sonar together for a full 5 minutes with silent running going so don't be shy about using them!
Getting into the alien base down here will require two blue keys, one for accessing the facility, the other for accessing the inner facility. It is here you will find the ion cube fabricator which requires the prawn. You can use this to open the warp gates in the facility. Six ion cubes in total are required for this. Four for the warp gates on the upper floor and two in the Sea Emperors tank. One of these leads back to the upper floor, if you find you're struggling to get back out. This gate in particular is about halfway up the tank at the back and sits on a large ledge. An ion cube is provided to activate it, giving you a way to walk out of the tank if you find you're struggling to get out.
And... that's pretty much it, really. After that encounter you'll know where to go and what to do. The paths laid out for you in the final facility lead you to the places you need to go to find the things you require.

Tips and tricks

Lithium - Jellyshroom, Bulb Zone, Mushroom Forest, Lost River
Loose Lithium - Mushroom Forest, Mountains, Grand Reef, Shale, lost river
Magnetite - Jellyshroom is the only biome with large nodes
Loose Magnetite - Jellyshroom, mountains, cove tree cave, blood kelp zone, lost river
Rubies - Dunes, Spare Reef Caves, Lost River, Grand Reef, Underwater Islands
Diamonds - Lost River, Shale, Inactive Lava Zone, Sea Treader Path, sometimes caves
Table Coral - Shallows, Lost River
Copper - Mushroom forest, blood kelp zone, bulb zone, lost river, limestone, Inactive Lava Zone
Silver - Crag Zone, Mountains, Lost River, sandstone, Inactive Lava Zone
Gold - Jellyshroom, Blood Kelp Zone, Lost River, sandstone, shale
Lead - Sandstone, mountains, crash zone, lost river, Inactive Lava Zone
Titanium - Crash Zone, Dunes, Limestone, Lost River, Inactive Lava Zone
Metal Salvage - Crash Zone, Crag Zone, Kelp Forest
Kyanite - Inactive Lava Zone
Crystalline Sulfur - Lost River
Nickel - Lost River
Uraninite - Blood Kelp Zone, Blood Kelp Trench, Lost River, Inactive Lava Zone, Grand Reef
Quartz - Dunes, Crag Zone, Lost River, Inactive Lava Zone, Red Grassy Plains
If you're reading this guide and have any suggestions for additional information, feel free to share them for the next iteration.

Good luck, survivor!

submitted by Aisling_The_Sapphire to subnautica [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 22:27 Aisling_The_Sapphire Subnautica: Below Zero - The Definitive No-Spoilers Guide For New Players

Updated May 2023
After changing reddit accounts and about a year since posting it, it seemed prudent to throw this up for visibility. :)
Few things are worse than not knowing what happened to a loved one. Which is what convinced Robin Ayou to get into a drop shuttle with a lifepod with basically nothing, then fire herself down onto an ocean planet where the only place that she could investigate was a tiny little patch of barely-even-land and pray she can survive long enough to find a way to get off the planet.
Nobody ever told Robin she was great at forward planning. - This map will provide direction/orientation for this guide, but BEWARE! It marks spoilers if you turn those on!


Once you've landed, you'll find some food and water to start you off scattered around the ship. You won't have to worry about getting cold, since standing next to your now-burning ship will warm you up and the meteors coming down don't actually paste you, they're mostly to stress you out.
Note that may not be the case later. The weather in this game is a serious thing.
Once you have your stuff, you'll find the drop pod on your HUD. Don't go straight to it, though. As soon as you hit the water, look for an indentation in the ground. You'll find some copper in there. Then, follow the northern glacial wall (That's to your right when you're looking at your lifepod) until you find a small cave, which will have some silver and gold. That'll get you started off nicely. Get to your lifepod, take a look at your fabricator. You'll find that the items you have blueprints for can be pinned to the top-right in your PDA by clicking on them in the blueprints tab, a useful feature when hunting for materials.
Your goals right now are your basic survival tools. Note that the kelp forest is a bad place to hold your stuff in your hand. The sea monkeys are kleptomaniacs and will gank your stuff. You can totally get it back though, it just means chasing after them a bit, which is annoying and wastes time. However, if you pull out a flare and hold it in front of them, they freak out and run away from you for a little bit.

Time To Get Rolling

Your first task, as indicated by the PDA, is to find Delta Island. This becomes relatively easy once you find a compass. If you've gone to the emergency cache you'll have the beacon blueprint so stock up on them before traveling so you can mark things. You're going to be making a lot of these but since you can toggle them it's not so bad, you'll just need a lot of beacons. Its south of where the drop pod lands. As you spread out your searching range you'll find that the sea floor drops down among twisty coral structures.
This area is called Twisty Bridges. It's the main go-to for coral samples and you'll want those. There's small bits of Alterra stuff scattered around the area. It's here you'll find mobile vehicle bay, sea truck and seaglide fragments. When you've been in the area for a bit, you'll hear what sounds like an SOS. It's worth checking that out and you'll find that this spot goes deeper than you might suspect. Makes you wonder what's down there, doesn't it?
Beyond Twisty Bridges lies the thermal spires, an area of volcanic activity and thermal smokers. Many sea truck fragments are here. The wildlife here is noisy and menacing sounding but if you don't hang out next to them they're easy to avoid. Smacking one with a blade will made it instantly turn and get the hell away from you. They don't like being hit. On the border between thermal spires and twisty bridges someplace is a small foundation platform with external grow beds for you to scan, but you can get these at Omega Station later if you're not sweating on it. There are large crevices and a few volcanic fissures out here. Beware the heat vents, but exploring those areas can pay off, later.
On the island, you'll find blueprints you need, as well as some materials like sulfur and horseshoe nuts. The latter are very useful to plant in the seabase you'll be wanting. Take care to look around thoroughly for blueprints you'll find useful, as not all of them are inside the buildings. Also, keep a sharp eye out for music disks which you'll find scattered throughout the game, especially in bases.
On the south-west corner of the island is a precursor artifact you can scan. Look for the beach with all the pengwings on it. The habitat builder can be found on a box outside Delta Station. Make sure to scan the map inside the sea base. There's also a PDA up by the comms tower.

Let's Go Explorin'

So, by now you've visited Delta Island, have had a good look around Twisty Bridges and you've probably discovered the sea monkey caves in Kelp Forest. If you haven't gone exploring in those, you really ought to. You'll find more MVB fragments there but that's also where the propulsion cannon blueprint can be found, the laser cutter, as well as a fair amount of gold and some precursor artifacts as well. Once that's all done with and taken care of, you've probably got at least a tiny seabase, but if you don't... what are you doing?
Go on, shoo. Go make a base.
Okay, got one now? Good! Hopefully it's someplace nice. Your basic sea truck can't get down to where you want to be going next but a depth module will take care of that. A MkII depth module will let you get to the very bottom of where you want to go. Where do you want to go? Koppa Mine. You'll find it on the western side of the island. Take care to look around when you find the door eventually, since there is a databox just inside the main doors, before you head down. It has the moonpool and will allow you to get that much earlier than you would through scanning it.
To drive the seatruck inside the mine, drive north from the entrance of Koppa mine, you'll come across a volcanic fissure in the seafloor nearby which has JUST enough space for you to fit your seatruck through it. The fissure leads right into Koppa Mine, allowing you to drive the seatruck inside!
The other alternative is actually spare air tanks. Totally a viable solution so long as you remember to refill them by equipping them once you're out of the water. You can swap them out mid-dive and extend your breathing time, which is handy since the prawn fragment blueprints you require are kinda far down there. If you're free diving in this way, note that the bottom chamber of the mine has a hole in the ceiling leading to a small cave system which will lead you back to the surface, as well as having a number of oxygen plants to keep you from choking on the way. The entrance to that is almost right next to the Delta Station docks.
Also note that Site Zero, which has useful blueprints, can be found by hugging the northern glacial wall and heading east along it. You can find it by checking breaks in the ice, one of them leads up to a small hidden cave where the base lies. But if you don't find it, you'll be directed here later. It just has some useful things to scan and a lantern fruit tree. There is a music disk here.

Way Down South

By now you've probably answered the SoS. If not, go do that. As you hang out with Al-An, he'll give you prompts to artifacts that you haven't found yet, if you dawdle in looking for the required number. At this point you should have the following:
Building the Prawn is surprisingly easy, but requires lithium, a material you probably haven't seen a lot of yet. There's a little scattered around in thermal spires, but only a little. You can find a lot at purple vents, but be careful to avoid the doom shrimp. A chelicarate hangs out here. There are other things in this area which are relevant to you which you'll want to mark out for later. There is a small seatruck crash site with a variety of fragments out here, if you find it, look around carefully for the music disk that's here.
Following the marker for the unknown pilots last position, you will find a green area rich in confusing cave systems. This area is the lilypads zone. Old girl can be found down near the signal, just look for the shimmering things on the wall, the hive minds. She's near them. Grab the seatruck defense module she has in there. Be sure to pick up the databox directly outside her base to get the stillsuit as well and if you follow the caves down where they turn blue you'll stumble on an old thermal plant of hers, where another databox lies. There's fragments scattered all over this zone as well as The mercury II stern, which lays on the border between lilypads and purple vents, as well as the bow, which is a little further in on the western side of lilypads. Be sure to explore the area thoroughly and take note of the massive crevasse near the middle of the zone. Inside the chunk of land here is Omega Lab, which will net you the external grow beds, nuclear plant, nuclear disposal as well as a couple new beds and the antenna plants. It's in this area you'll need to search for nickel later, so building a scanner station here is a good idea. Deep Lilypads holds an Al-An body part you'll require. Deep Lilypads is also the only place you can acquire the materials to manufacture benzene.
Don't go too close to the Lily Paddlers, unless you like being off your face, in which case go say hi, it's hilarious. Trust me. ;D
In order to disable the satellite for Dances-With-Reapers, you're going to need to wreck dive the Mercury II. Two of its sections can be found in purple vents, while the bow - the largest - can be found in Lilypads, west of Omega Labs floating island. You'll need the laser cutter for this. Your goal is to scan the parallel processors in the wreck, but there's all kinds of really useful stuff in there too, not to mention all the titanium. ALL the titanium. So be sure to drop beacons on these things, bring a spare air tank and bring your pathfinder tool. If you don't have the pathfinder tool, go look around in the caves full of emeralds between Phi Robotics docks and Phi Robotics itself. There is one up on a small ridge in one of those caves. If you can't find it, don't worry though, just bring flares and use them as breadcrumbs while diving to prevent yourself from getting too lost. The alien containment tank, reinforced dive suit, parallel processor can be found in these. A music disk is in the bow section on a bridge console.


Aaah, glacial basin. How I hate thee. The basin is split into four sections, two for each part of the basin, north and south. South is where you'll probably end up first. You can find the docks to access this area by tracking along the northern glacial wall and continuing west until you come to the eye jellyfish. Check the radio tower next to the docks, there is a music disk there. The upper southern area is where Phi Robotics lays, as well as frost vase plants and spicy peppers. Both of those are excellent crops to grow, as they net you useful things. The spicy peppers scattered throughout the entirety of glacial basin essentially means that you'll not starve while out here so long as you're paying attention to what you're doing. Note that snow stalkers REALLY HATE FLARES. They'll make your trips out here annoying, even in the prawn, which is the best way to ensure the weather isn't a factor for you. Sometimes they're in the caves. Flares will make exploring these much safer.
You can get to lower glacial basin through the upper part, but it's a bit confusing and I prefer to access it via the glacial tunnel. Head south along the western glacial wall from the glacial basin docks and you'll find a tunnel which eye jellyfish are hanging out near. This tunnel leads directly to lower glacial basin and provides a convenient way to access the area without needing to travel through upper GB every time.
Northern Glacial Basin can be accessed by scanning the hydraulic fluid on the bridge, then repairing the bridge to cross it. DO NOT GO HERE WITHOUT THE PRAWN. SERIOUSLY. The grip arm is very handy to have out here and if you haven't found it, use a scanner room in Lilypads to find the sea monkey nests but it's not necessary so don't stress if you don't have it. Just don't use the snow fox. It's useless and handles like crap.
The iceworms here are dangerous if you stay still too long. Take your time, explore thoroughly and mark out any Alterra sites you find with beacons. A couple of these have the blueprints for the Thumper and this is your ticket to working in this area safely. A thumper will keep the iceworms away within a radius, ensuring you don't get whacked while picking stuff up outside the prawn.
Along the western wall of this zone is a small cave with three large ion cube deposits. Keep a sharp eye out for it, you definitely want those. At the north-east tip of the zone you'll find ice worm corpses you can scan that don't put you in mortal danger during the attempt.
Really funny seeing them pop up and chow down on snow stalkers, though. Pay back sucks, don't it? Al-An's body part is out here. Keep an eye out for the precursor cables and make sure to check all the caves, because the master gateway leading to Phi Robotics is here as well. The room containing the gateway leads to a small docks and tunnel with an ice wall you can cut through to easily access the middle of northern glacial basin from the docks. There is a music disk at those docks as well.

Going Down?

By now you're probably wondering where to go. Remember purple vents? The engine part of the mercury II has a crevasse leading down to where you need to go next. Once you've found the crystal caves, you better hope you picked up the defense module at Marg's base. It's sitting inside her room and sometimes gets knocked to the floor when Preston jumps you. You'll be wanting it for what's down here.
The Shadow Leviathan.
Ohhhh boy are they ever aggressive. Good news for you though, they patrol around on a set route and they don't go through the whole of crystal caves. You'll be looking for fragments here, as well as materials. Lots of gold, silver and kyanite in the crevasses in the floor of these caves. An Al-An body part, the final one, can be found at the bottom of a tunnel which is mouthed by a circular formation of crystals. Once you have it, you'll want to go even deeper to find the fabrication facility, forcing you to wander crystal caves until you find the blood crystal caves.

Oh Yeah, It's All Comin' Together

So, you now have everything you need to build your home boy a body. Once that's done, you'll be wanting to wrap up the bit with Sam. If you've explored lower southern glacial basin, you'll have found the cave with the frozen leviathan. Oh, and grab the music disk in the security bunker. Exploring this cave gets you some useful stuff. You know the little caves here with the blinking markers? Explore these with spy penglings! There's some useful stuff in some of them, actually. Including the antidote Sam hid. You can use that on the loader located on the upper part of the leviathan in the cave.
And... that's that! That's the whole game.

Tips and Tricks

Good luck, Robin!
submitted by Aisling_The_Sapphire to subnautica [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 21:31 Glowing12 I’m tired of never enjoying what life has to offer

I’m 19 and my whole life I never went on vacation, of course I went on planes and long car rides but that was just to visit other family members.
Some of the most traumatic trips of my life honestly, my dad is an alcoholic and my mom just goes with the flow. Every night I’d be dragged to a family members house and just sit there while my dad got drunk and we would have to stay for hours. Always with the promise we’ll go to Disney Land but nope, just end up sleeping in the same bed as my mom and sister and not being able to sleep because of her snoring and waking up to one of my uncles throwing up in the toilet.
I’ve been to amusement parks but only on school field trips. Now this year, I’m 19 have a full time job which is a great job filled with great people, but so many people around me whether workers or friends are going on big big vacations, with hotels, amazing food, and great activities lined up.
I’ve never been able to go on a single vacation with my family to a beach and actually enjoy myself and actually relax. I know this isn’t a terrible fate but I’ve been working since I was 16 and now realizing I’ve never been on a vacation I enjoy instead I’ll be sleep deprived and crying every night, and stressed because I would have to plan everything out for my family and blamed for every mistake.
I just want to go on a trip, 2-3 days long at this point and have a hotel by the ocean side and enjoy restaurants and walking around. It may happen this August as I work a hotel and get major discounts and I want it to happen so badly. But I started working this month and have to wait 3 months for the discounts to drop.
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2023.05.29 21:29 AlienNationSSB #Alien-Nation Chapter 168: Now or Never

Alien-Nation Chapter 168: Now or Never

All Chapters First Chapter of Alien-Nation Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Chapter summary: Elias wanders the grounds inspecting everything he can, has a fatheson moment with Larry then sends Vaughn to go try and spring people from jail.
Chapter Art
It had been easy for me to see during the speech I'd given roughly how many had already arrived up the narrow pass, and as I stood from inspecting a firing port in a trench, testing whether the old cast iron cannon would roll back far enough on its rails after firing.
I gave it a pass after measuring against a rod. Certainly it was far from the highest of technologies at our disposal, but certainly it would be either lethal, injurious, or at the very least, extremely loud. The gathered mishmashed array of weaponry pointing outward was impressive enough, but the real piece de resistance was the sheer number of railguns we'd had returned to us, frequently carried by a two man team. I signed off on it for final inspection, noting the plug in place over the end, and went to the railgun positioned further down the trench near the intersection.
This was one I recognized. This shared at least something in common to the cannon, insofar as it was far from the latest model at our disposal. I spotted some of my own extremely crude handiwork, a far more rough set of welds performed along the plate's protective, unsanded metal edges. Mister Singer, if he were ever presented with it, may have recognized the shoddy, unstable hand that welded together some of the protective casing. The service flap told me the model without needing to even open it, the household door frame hinges pulled from Verns' stock of spare parts bin, before we implemented something even so basic as refined latches with catch points.
That had to make this a Mk. II. Sentimentality had no place on the front lines. I sucked in a breath at the sight of another old muzzle-loader being carried into the workshop for upgrades, already laid out on the timber worktable and ready for use.
I just hoped the earliest design of managing power flow wouldn't give out from the faster firing. Complex but beautifully arrayed piping had given way to simpler, more streamlined designs as we incorporated a greater number of readily available alien parts. Some of which we were supplied an initial batch of in the bag with the blueprints, and then we were told how to work free those same parts from various broken pieces of technology we'd reclaimed off the Shil'vati, or even the freely given away omni-pads. With every iteration we demonstrated a degree of adaptation to using the parts we had available, and each generation marked a leap forward in our own understanding of Shil'vati technology, courtesy of G-Man and his father's handiwork.
The final barrels of the extremely limited run of the second batch we'd paid handsomely for were marked 'present,' too. They had gone the least far afield, with one already slagging itself during the attack on the data center. I frowned at the spreadsheet, as if my impression of it might cause their fate to improve.
The latest blueprints could maintain a decent rate of fire without burning out its power management system located in the welded together case. Or, rather, the barrel gave out first. For the first time, perhaps as a result of being coupled with the magazines and a relatively rapid-fire exchange meant the neosteel barrels we received had finally become the weak point in the design.
It was only after we'd returned to Camp Death that I'd noticed the difference.
The new batch we'd paid dearly for seemed somewhat altered from the first batch we'd been building all the others out of, made from an alloyed material that shone somewhat dimmer under the sun as George and I worked in the shed elbow-to-elbow, though the contrast was not immediately obvious until one held the two against each other. It was slightly thicker, too, all of which to me indicated a change in supply in some manner, but our supplier had hardly announced themselves to Sam.
This was a troubling puzzle to me. I still couldn't be sure it was the new microbatch of barrels alloys being far from equal to the originals we'd finally finished building out? Or was it the expanded magazines and power couplings' ability to fire faster creating an overall volume of fire that overheated the barrel from overuse? Or was the power management design faulty, generating more heat per shot? Were we misusing them?
I measured the barrel of the Mk. II, just to be sure the shelf life of the barrel hadn't come due. So far, inspections of the original batch of barrels had mercifully indicated they'd all been brought back here were in comparatively great shape, with this one being no exception. That lent me some comfort that these new barrels were just not up to the task of heavy, sustained fire. I couldn't know that for certain, and an unreliable weapon was cause for anxiety.
Indeed, there was almost no wear on this version at all, disproving the worst case scenario that these were only good for a certain number of rounds before they'd be worn down to uselessness. Certainly, they'd eventually give out, but it seemed we were still far off from that point.
"Sir?" Asked the gunner, staring at me.
I stared at him, then down at the spreadsheet. "This thing fires three rounds a minute. Do you think that rate of fire is sufficient?"
I could tell he wasn't sure whether a 'no' would have him replaced with someone professing to be more accurate.
"Get it upgraded." I took the white gel pen and scribbled on it- make ready for an upgrade as soon as the final repaired railgun clears the shed. Assigned to casemate #4, Operator... "Call sign?"
"Brut," he answered.
"Brut...with the Umlaut?" He gave a thumbs up and I added them. Costing nothing but a drop of gel ink for a little personalization if it made for a happy gunner was a good investment. "Use it well. Get it upgraded if there's time, keep an eye on the work shed. Once the repairs stop, you can take this to the front of the line, Brüt."
There was no point dismantling all our old ones and creating a backlog while some still needed repairs. I wrote on the hatch Upgrade from Mk. II to Mk. IV. That would give it a magazine and more than triple its firing rate. Anything more than that, I quietly held my doubts for the feasibility of upgrading in a timely manner. The Mark V's took too much time and effort to build their complex power management systems for not enough gain, stuffed too tightly into the protective case to be completed quickly. The Mark VI's tended to overheat their crude fire control circuitry, the consequence of an overcorrection back to simplicity; they could maintain a high fire rate, but were too delicate. The VII's were the ones with the new barrel. Promising, but those barrel faults...I still worried it might have been the power management system.
We'd started considering adding water tanks to help maintain them, but it brought the weight higher than that of a Mk. I, and successfully swapping a boiling hot tank off a delicate, electronically-loaded railgun in combat seemed like a very questionable use of the time. We'd just have to ask the crews manning the railguns to be a bit judicious in our fire, and hope that the flaw was limited to the new little batch of barrels.
How many rounds, exactly, and exactly how fast was yet to be determined; we hadn't conducted the amount of testing a proper military might carry out, but while we had no shortage to man, we also did not have so many as to test dozens until their point of failure, weighing and comparing all their possible conditions.
All this uncertainty kept bouncing around my head. How many troops did we have here? How many rounds for every type of rifle, including the more exotic variants? How reliant on them were we to deal damage, and was it all stored somewhat safely? On the less direct side of things, how many tons of food did we have stored, and was it distributed well? How many thousands of gallons of water could we draw? How many pounds of soap to wash utensils, cups, wounds, and shower with? How many pounds of food over how many men, to last how many days? If it rained, some of these might be alleviated, and yet might kick off a whole host of other issues. There was no way of knowing, no way of taking a perfect stock. But I could estimate.
We had a lot of people. And a lot of guns. And a lot of defenses, and literally countless tons of high explosives, triggered by various means and methods. And we were mad as hell. While exactly how mad was less concrete a figure, I knew this many men away from home could end poorly.
Ultimately, whether it was the fault of the new barrel or the design had finally reached the limitations of its potential rate of fire without causing other issues, I couldn't say for certain. So I had to do my best.
I gave the railgun a clean bill of health to operate if needed, 'priority upgrade,' and noted the rate of fire for the defensive position at 'three a minute.' This one being one of our oldest models, I left it to the operator with my blessings, and made a mental note to add the next railgun we had to be stationed nearby, just so that we weren't under strength from that angle.
I craned my neck from the trench to behold even more insurgents trickling into the old clearing. The arrivals always came in ones-and-twos, their body language telling me the story of the journey it had taken to get here. They'd had to have abandoned their vehicles to the traffic-snarled roads almost certainly some miles away unless they knew the path George and I would occasionally take;.
Those who brought their own heavy weapons lay them down at their feet before collapsing. Water and food was distributed, though I couldn't speak to the quality, and a trash run would have to be made, tossing the empty tins into ammunition containers.
Of all the newcomers who had yet to be organized into place, I counted two mortars, several more volunteers grouping up to retrieve ammo after taking down descriptions of the vehicles from their exhausted owners and sprinting back out into the night to fetch whatever had been left behind.
The resourcefulness lifted my spirits. No one entertained the notion that these men were taking their leave to flee a certain doom. All present felt some degree of faith, understood who they were, why they were here, and what we were setting out to accomplish. Cells worked to find one another in the darkness, congealing themselves into a more coherent, practiced fighting force by virtue of familiarity with one another. Discipline was sharp and needed little enforcement past an initial reminder. No flashlights switched on inside the premises or campfires were lit despite the encroaching edges of the cold front. Insurgents were guided to whatever defensive positions, pillboxes, trenches, battlements, or bunkers still sat empty, depending somewhat on their expected role after detailing their skills to sentries or those otherwise familiar with the camp carefully explaining sight lines and our overall defensive strategy.
Whispered word overheard from those arrivals seemed to indicate a mixture of panic and outrage was fast spreading through the state's populace, carrying them on frightened wings as they took flight in the night, from here to the southernmost beaches and bays. It seemed word had gotten out successfully, then. That knocked down one more obstacle to our success, or at least set the pieces in place. Soon, all that would remain would be the ugly business of following through, and hoping, no praying that I hadn't massively miscalculated in my hubris.
I took the ramp out of the trench so they could pour some loose gravel into it, helping ensure that if those threatening looking storm clouds opened and if the drains clogged, we still would have some footing, and retired to the command cabin, eyeing how empty it felt with all the finished products being set into defensive arrangements; only the workshop still retained all its rather explosive concoctions.
The manpower situation was such that those familiar in reliably manufacturing complex bombs were spending their time setting up defenses in the fields beyond and settling in our new arrivals.
And then I had the couple hostages, weakened by months of captivity, restrained and kept under guard, but still sitting right on top of the half-done armaments.
I told myself that we had taken precautions- the most reactive sets separated by a thin membranous bag of water to prevent chain reactions from taking root and a few emergency containment systems, but they relied on someone present. I'd need all hands on deck- and what if a direct lance of energy landed from some heavy weapon hit the shed, perhaps to try and make a point? No mere bag of water would make a difference then.
Then again, if they brought that kind of weaponry to bear, then the outcome would be certain. The Shil'vati would still lose their hostages, and have tacitly admitted I'd forced their hand, and that they'd declared we were enough of a threat to sacrifice noblewomen just to put a stop to.
I hunched over a smaller map in the command cabin, pinning down the garrisons and jails Verns might be held in. Perhaps I'd been premature in my assessment in lacking a future need of a good map when I'd jumped atop the table for my little motivational speech. I'd gotten caught up in the moment; I hadn't foreseen the need for an offensive element.
I was sorely missing my Lieutenants. Vendetta wasn't here, which was one of the greater anxieties weighing on my shoulders.
The one word I'd whispered in his ear all that time ago to bring him around to believing I did, in fact, have a plan: Victory. He should be here already.
He'd sprinted off across the field in glee back when I told him of this plan's possibility, that "Plan C" might come about due to a few cells going dark and my suspicion that it wasn't moles. The null hypothesis, that there were in fact moles, had put him in direct danger by sending him to double-check.
I cursed my blindness. My eagerness to take a night off, to get him out of the way so he wouldn't clash with the others, so I could be a 'normal boy' for a night and attend a party- one I wouldn't be kicked out of, To find social acceptance.
All part of a 'coming of age,' even after I'd already spilt blood, led a war campaign effort, kissed, earned more money than most would see in a lifetime, and mentally cut ties with my family. By almost any account, I already was a man, yet I'd gotten obsessive in imitating the modern trappings of defining such things. I should have seen the cells reporting members' absences and even going dark as a whole for what it was. I could have called off Town Hall, started assembling even more people here.
Then again, if I had, then perhaps...the shil'vati might not have started grabbing everyone. I hated to think of Verns as 'sacrificial.' They likely didn't have much on him, just a neighbor's report. Then again, we'd had that meeting right after the bar fight at Lucky's, right? How thoroughly had George cleared out his house, if they went back to rummage around and investigate? How well could George cover his tracks? We'd left that ammo crate in the hallway, for starters- clumsy of us, yet we were in a panic. Like children. I tensed as I remembered so vividly the sudden sharp report of the gun, watched Patrick's empty eyes stare up. But not children.
There was nothing I could do for Vendetta. We'd sent the Bat Signal out. Either he'd be here, or he'd miss it.
I weighed the value of sending George away once he got here. The order would certainly annoy him after he'd just arrived, something of an arduous task given how far backed up the traffic had become. I also knew it meant I'd have one fewer lieutenant here, where I desperately needed him. I could hardly ask him to burn down the childhood home, and it would certainly reek of hiding evidence.
"Sir," A sentry stood in the door frame, and I stretched from where my muscles had tensed up, pulling my shoulders back and yawning silently beneath my mask, lumbering toward him.
I didn't realize how tall I'd gotten until I realized he was staring up at me and had taken a half-step backwards- not to make way so I could lead from the door, either, but almost defensively.
"Yes, what is it?" I asked, stopping in place.
"We've received a message for you, sir. Radio is reporting that a 'Hex' has checked in from her position. She and Binary report 'Green as Grass,' sir."
I wasn't used to being called 'sir,' and it caught me off guard. I realized he was standing there, waiting for a response from me of some sort, too.
What should I say for him to send back to Hex? I momentarily remembered the sensation of the kiss, the warm, slightly wet softness, the tenderness, and felt a bit of a blush under my mask. While every instinct screamed at me to not air even a hint of my romances or inner turmoil about a kiss over the unencrypted connection, there was a level of 'not talking about it' that I was unfamiliar with and hadn't planned for. Could my message back be coded into something subtle? Nothing came to mind.
"G-good," I finally stuttered a little awkwardly. "That's very good."
"What does it mean, sir?"
I pushed the distractions out of my head. This was no time to be thinking about girls- and my mind stubbornly disobeyed, wandering right back to Natalie. At first to the hug she'd offered me, when I was scared. Frightened of the mind-wiper device. That tenderness she'd offered- I pushed the memory from my mind, too. This wasn't the time to fantasize, either. I had to live in the world that was before me, here in the present. People were relying on me. I could figure out all that other stuff- girls, hope, my future- sometime later.
"It means the operation can proceed as planned."
If the Twins stopped reporting or got caught with the hostages, then we'd have a lot less leverage stopping Azraea from blowing us all sky high. A couple noblewomen- who I wasn't terribly familiar with and seemed to be somewhat less important, provided they were truthful to me of their station. This unfortunate pair had relied on connections to already-stationed family members to arrive, rather than on their raw political power to muscle their way to Earth's then-closely guarded secret coordinates, and were present only for evidence of said hostages' presence.
"Sir, beg your pardon," I could sense something bubbling under his words, against his better judgment, but some sense of desperation demanded he ask me this anyways. "But what is the operation? I've been manning the airwaves with Radio, helping spread word, but everyone I make contact with seems to want to know."
"I don't see the wisdom in broadcasting the finer details of our plan, I'm sure you understand."
I sensed the inner conflict by the way he froze up. He wanted to object, probably, to swear he wouldn't leak more than the minimum. The problem was, anyone listening for long might take a morsel here, a morsel there, and bring it all together and undo us.
"You have all you're meant to have at this point, frustrating though that must be to try and inform others of the going-ons. Our objective is right before us. When the time comes and the enemy appears, blast them." I didn't want to say there isn't much else to plan. At least, not for them to consider.
"And you, sir?"
"I'll be right here, alongside you," I promised. That seemed to ease some of his pressing curiosity, at least. "We'll be here together, to watch the birth of a miracle." That, or we'd die together. Those words didn't quite have the same catchy ring, though.
I looked over my shoulder back at the map. What more good could be wrought over pondering what jail he might be in, without more details?
"Another matter. Hex said G-Man should arrive in a few minutes."
"Thank you. Anything else to report?"
"No sir, the shortwave beckons." They gave a hand-on-heart and stepped out, leaving the doorframe empty.
I told myself I may as well follow. There was no good to come of disappearing into a tent, secluded for long periods, not when anxiety might run through the gathered troops. I had to make myself seen at least periodically. Besides, it was easier to get a more complete picture from out here than in there.
Radio looked like a one-man-band by the way he was surrounded by boxy electronics of varying sizes, their glows dimmed slightly by thin pieces of fabric taped over the tiny glowing screens, and the trap stretched over his head. Wires snaked their way along the ground, a trooper trying to lay the cable into a thin channel of dirt with a spade to reduce the tripping hazard.
Pierce crouched next to him with a laptop plugged into something wired together, the final outlet of which looked vaguely like an international travel inverter, her fingers flying across the trackpad.
"Radio, how are we?"
"We've made lots of contact, I think. So much traffic on the airwaves it's actually hard to find a clear channel to broadcast on."
"Do they have our encryption keys?" I asked, the question almost automatic.
"No, having one kind of defeats the purpose of being heard and getting the signal out. Besides, encrypting's probably easy for the Shil'vati to crack. Less easy for human intelligence agencies, but impossible for the people who we want to hear us."
I already knew most of this, but humoured him. Little entertained radio quite like his namesake.
"What's our chance of discovery, then? Rough time to them figuring out it's us here, and finding the signal's origin."
"At least with a somewhat uncountable number of HAM signals being thrown across the airwaves, we are a really big needle in a gigantic haystack. Besides, how many times have we actually been where we're broadcasting from?"
That was a point I hadn't considered.
The Shil'vati would likely regard our signal as just a relay point, rather than the source, let alone the destination.
Would they strike it just to silence the orders, once they figured out how many of them were originating from the same point?
I comforted myself by staring upstream of the creek that wandered to the south of Camp Death, following its course with my eyes to where it flowed under the concrete tunnels under the highway, under the train tracks, to where it ultimately ran back to where Radio and I had visited Saint Michael's. Then I turned my head back across the field, toward where the foundation of Mojo and Mister Pasta's had been, where Vaughn had called in the kill team on the Fed's sting operation,
We'd certainly set up plenty of remote broadcast towers before, to entice them into launching strikes on collaborationists. That Saint Michael's was still standing after we'd broadcast all kinds of propaganda from there meant they'd almost certainly learned to be a bit more cautious about lashing out blindly.
In the darkness I saw a familiar figure materialize, and with a bit of relief, I ran up to greet Larry. I wanted to give the old mechanic a hug, but knew that expressions of intimacy while standing near the middle of the camp's defensive perimeter in front of everyone was more than a bit inappropriate, and settled for a nod of acknowledgment.
"I cleaned up the mess at Jules place," he said, going back to referring to his friend by their code name, glancing at Pierce.
I felt a moment of shame. We'd panicked and grabbed everything. Perhaps we were like children after all, leaving our toys out and in the hall. "Thank you."
"Saw Patrick."
"Patrick saw," I said back. "Patrick- called."
Whatever Larry was about to say, that brought him up short. "Oh. Oh." The words seemed to leave him pained. He'd known Patrick, too, and I felt the weight of guilt. It seemed he moved on faster than I could, because he changed the topic quickly.
"What's up?" He gestured at the radio setup.
Pierce seemed to be quite engrossed in her work, trying to connect the laptop to a radio via a USB cable, fumbling with the port in the dark. The laptop's screen was showing a shaky handheld video of a mass arrest- and I thought I could hear my own voice echoing the words I'd spoken just a short while ago.
"Just uploading the speech. I've spliced it up to some footage that one of the newcomers brought. We'll also be exporting raw versions of both- just the audio, the video, make sure people have the record and can decide for themselves."
Sometimes the truth was the best propaganda.
"How are you getting video out? I thought the internet was down."
Radio held a hand up, and then put it down, as if I'd been a teacher asking a question and he'd been chasing extra credit. The next few sentences were practically a foreign language to me, uttering a series of numbers in rapid succession, followed by what sounded like a name. That may've been a model, an edition of a model, a make, a special form of broadcasting- all of it may well have been bounced off the ionosphere for how far it went over my head. I wasn't used to being so completely out of my depth, but everyone seems to have specialized in some skill or another. I'd preferred getting involved in all aspects of the revolution, but at a certain point delegation was a necessity, and I was watching not just the task's needs, but also the capabilities of my lieutenants grow well past my ability to offer useful insight and guidance.
"I...see." I didn't, but I wasn't sure what else to say. I wanted to express curiosity, but I felt like this new capability was something we'd discuss later, if there was a later. "And people can receive high definition video over shortwave? It just takes a long time?"
It seemed to me to be an apparently somewhat technical process to perform over shortwave, and only when finally pressed for details, Radio at last admitted something I did understand: "I am not sure most people know how to collect the signal, or have the right equipment to, but I'm sure someone will, Maybe that person will redistribute the videos."
There. Actionable, useful information.
"Then continue," I said. "At least unless anything more pressing jumps up to do."
"Let's hope it's good for more than the history books," Pierce commented mildly.
"The world has to know, and I am certain the shil'vati have no interest in putting such footage out there. That's reason enough for us, isn't it?" I watched Radio nod and then scurry about the camp, tracing one of the wires toward the antenna array nearest the highway. I turned to Larry, breaking off from the amusing spectacle. "Do you remember my promise?" My question was genuine, but he seemed to waver slightly, now that the possibility of actually delivering on it was here and present. Perhaps the aura of our inner circle's invincibility had been shattered with the loss of his neighbors, and it would be best to set his mind to something productive. "If you want it to come true, see to it that the mortar teams are trained. Get the cannons in position, and make sure we're good for more than just one wave."
Larry snapped a salute, fingers on brow, and I clumsily approximated one in return, though I had never done a salute before in my life. I could sense the slight smile from behind his mask, and with a quick check over his shoulder that no one was watching, he reached out, straightened my palm out slightly, then brought the edge of my palm higher until it was a bit more level. "That's better," he judged, then leaving me alone once I dropped the hand a few seconds later.
George showed up a few minutes earlier than Hex had predicted, out of breath and escorted by a sentry. "Ditched the truck," he wheezed. "The huge bags of claymores and equipment were really heavy. Had to haul it under the interstate." His shoes shone with creekwater; He'd almost certainly taken the path Larry had forbade us from trying, and I couldn't imagine doing it in the pitch black darkness at any speed.
I motioned to the sentry. "Help him get that bag into the workshop." He was the best bomb maker, but he also had helped build this place. I wanted to pick his brain, but I would give him time to rest, first.
"Hey, Radio. Radio!" I heard the shortwave radio he'd set at the top squawk to life with a familiar grumble on the other end, distorted somewhat by the tinny speaker. I scooped it up. Someone with a vocoder- Radio gave those out sparingly.
"'E' here," I answered for him, but didn't want to announce myself. Not right away.
A moment's pause.
"What are your orders?"
"Vendetta?" I wanted to confirm.
"I'm here with over fifty people waiting at Warehouse Base for something to do," I knew the transmission would likely be monitored, but the time for subtlety was over. "You're on speakerphone, by the way."
The line was likely tapped, or at least would be intercepted, its contents determining priority for being passed upward or presented to someone with authority, possibly even Azraea herself.
Whatever orders I gave, they'd have to be in code, or at least sound like something unimportant, low-priority so that we might give him as much opportunity to get the drop on the enemy as he could be afforded.
"Don't bother trying to come here yet," I quickly supplied. "By now, if you're not on your way here, you have your own party to go to." I took a moment to survey the grounds. "We've practically got a full house. See about getting a house party of your own, though you'll have to pull the guests out of their own company. Or something to flank."
"Any idea where to start?"
The map fresh in my mind, I found the answer sprang to me.
"There's a rest stop along Route One. If you've got any party poppers, you can get them to open up to you like a can opener. You know, it's all about introducing yourself well."
I heard him laugh mirthlessly, the sound coming through like a cheese grater run over the asphalt.
"That one's a big bite, maybe more than we can chew without choking. Why don't we start with something smaller?"
I wanted to protest, to direct him to the biggest ones first. Then again, how much did they have on Verns? How likely was he to be somewhere heavily defended?
"What do you have in mind?"
"Well, right across the river from where the naughty girls all get sent. Why don't we start there? Every party needs a few ladies, right?" I could hear a roar of assent from the background.
I wasn't quite sure what he meant by that- was he going to try and attack the Shil'vati base? Surely not those women? He wasn't that insane. Then it clicked- the Women's Correctional Facility in Wilmington, just upstream of the Christina River from where he was broadcasting from at the old Warehouse Base. Easy to get to, certainly, and right near the interstate with pedestrian bridges and neighborhoods to scatter in after the strike made it an excellent candidate. Almost certain to succeed.
The strike wouldn't yield us Verns, though forcing the Shil'vati to admit that they couldn't both take and hold their prisoners at the same time might force them to at least pause rounding up ever more people.
If I gave it my blessing, I would be sacrificing any chance of rescuing Verns for...for what? The tradeoff strained my soul to even consider.
"If you feel that's best, you know your crowd. That said, they got Jules- we want him back." He'd helped build Camp Death. He knew its ins and outs, though my real reasons were somewhat sentimental. "Keep an eye out for Morningstar and a few other cells. I've little doubt they can party with the best of them." They were one of my heaviest hitters, routinely bragging they could go clay pigeon hunting with an unguided RPG, yet I was pretty sure I'd never rallied them to Camp Death- if they were to rally, Warehouse Base was where they'd be.
There was a moment of silence, until Vaughn reported back- "Yeah, they're here. They were going to move up to you once they got everyone together. Should we leave instructions for where to find us, or to find you?"
"Do it- supplies are overall good here. Lots of...uh, balloons, confetti..." I felt like I was stretching the analogy too far, so I gave up trying to equate weaponry to party paraphranelia. " know, the works. Take Morningstar and use 'em as you see best fit. What've you got for your party? Any good party supplies?" We certainly could make a trash run and see if we could also deliver them some RPGs at the same time.
"Got some Bump-n-Grinds, and you know those are always good for an up-close-and-personal encounter."
I laughed. "From what I read about bumping and grinding? The closer, the better." Their accuracy left a fair bit to be desired. Still, it would be a good, even vital carry just in case those dreaded Security Forces Technicals made an appearance, and would probably be 'good enough' against a stationary target like a wall, especially in the hands of a capable squadron like Talonstar.
"What time are you thinking?"
"I'd say as soon as we're all ready. You really overestimated how many people know where Camp Death is. A fair number showed up here, and are still trickling in."
"Enough to throw several parties at once?" I asked, suddenly hopeful.
"Well, I suppose, maybe, but I'd be wary of partygoers without someone in charge to, uh..." the metaphor seemed to be breaking down, but I got what he was going for.
"Yeah, I see."
"Are you thinking if there are too many noise complaints at once, it'll keep the party going longer?"
"That's part of it, but I'm hoping we might find a particular person we're missing, lost him when we were playing unexpected host. Someone of G-Man's, you'd know him as Jules. A divide and conquer might maximize our odds of finding him."
"Plus, maximize the number of partygoers we pick up as we move. I like it. A few small house parties for every big house. Any special orders?"
"None. K.I.S.S. principle applies. Good, bad, I want it all out on the streets. 'KISS' 'em until they can't see straight." Keep It Simple, Stupid.
"You're certain?" I could hear the hesitancy in his voice. "This is going to be the greatest thing we've ever done, and I want to be by your side for it 'til the end. I don't want any last-minute cancellations, and I sure as hell don't wanna miss it. How long should I party?"
We'd be letting absolute chaos loose. Fire. Looting. The worst of humanity, turned loose, with Vaughn potentially at its head if he decided to recruit for some reason. Could I still claim to be the good guy if I turned those kinds of people free to wreak havoc on the state I claimed whose denizens I was protecting?
Blackstone's Ratio holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer. It would still hold me no less accountable for whatever followed from this mass prison break, though.
I looked over to the recently arrived George, and hung my head.
So be it.
"Confirmed, Vendetta. I'll next talk to you when you're here in person- call it when you start either getting tired or if the hosts hire a doorman, a bouncer, or something you can't handle. Bring any good partygoers and favors you find, guide them here, O Pied Piper. Over and out." The signal went quiet again, and I turned off our radio, standing and yawning. The hour was late, and it would be my last opportunity for some shuteye.
I pulled aside a few sentries to my first order. I felt it was a strange one, and likely futile: I asked everyone to 'try and get some rest.'
The sentries were going to be exhausted, and I needed them to start working in shifts if we were to maintain our vigil and perimeter. Doubtless, more would be coming, and giving them at least some rest might be a difference-maker. G-Man helped lead the newcomers to the subterranean bunkers and tunnels, trying to make sure everyone had a place to stay the night and resources got split, even if it was throwing tarps and blankets on hard-packed dirt. I eyed the tunnels, knowing which one of them would spit me out near the stream, itself running so low I might as well refer to it as a ravine. Digging that had been cramped, paranoia-inducing, but we'd dug out so much of the hill and filled it with enough weapons to wage a full-scale war.
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2023.05.29 20:54 JoshAsdvgi The Boy of the Red Twilight Sky

The Boy of the Red Twilight Sky

The Boy of the Red Twilight Sky

Long ago there dwelt on the shores of the Great Water in the west a young man and his younger wife.
They had no children and they lived all by themselves far from other people on an island not far from the coast.
The man spent his time in catching the deep-sea fish far out on the ocean, or in spearing salmon in the distant rivers.
Often he was gone for many days and his wife was very lonely in his absence.
She was not afraid, for she had a stout spirit, but it was very dismal in the evenings to look only at the grey leaden sky and to hear only the sound of the surf as it beat upon the beach. So day after day she said to herself, “I wish we had children.
They would be good company for me when I am alone and my husband is far away.”
One evening at twilight when she was solitary because of her husband’s absence on the ocean catching the deep-sea fish, she sat on the sand beach looking out across the water.
The sky in the west was pale grey; it was always dull and grey in that country, and when the sun had gone down there was no soft light.
In her loneliness the woman said to herself, “I wish we had children to keep me company.”
A Kingfisher, with his children, was diving for minnows not far away.
And the woman said, “Oh, sea bird with the white collar, I wish we had children like you.”
And the Kingfisher said, “Look in the sea-shells; look in the sea-shells,” and flew away.
The next evening the woman sat again upon the beach looking westward at the dull grey sky.
Not far away a white Sea-gull was riding on the waves in the midst of her brood of little ones.
And the woman said, “Oh, white sea bird, I wish we had children like you to keep us company.”
And the Sea-gull said, “Look in the sea shells; look in the sea shells,” and flew away.
The woman wondered greatly at the words of the Kingfisher and the Sea-Gull.
As she sat there in thought she heard a strange cry coming from the sand dunes behind her.
She went closer to the sound and found that the cry came from a large sea-shell lying on the sand.
She picked up the shell, and inside of it was a tiny boy, crying as hard as he could.
She was well pleased with her discovery, and she carried the baby to her home and cared for him.
When her husband came home from the sea, he, too, was very happy to find the baby there, for he knew that they would be lonely no more.
The baby grew very rapidly, and soon he was able to walk and move about where he pleased.
One day the woman was wearing a copper bracelet on her arm and the child said to her, “I must have a bow made from the copper on your arm.”
So to please him she made him a tiny bow from the bracelet, and two tiny arrows.
At once he set out to hunt game, and day after day he came home bearing the products of his chase.
He brought home geese and ducks and brant and small sea birds, and gave them to his mother for food.
As he grew older the man and his wife noticed that his face took on a golden hue brighter than the color of his copper bow.
Wherever he went there was a strange light.
When he sat on the beach looking to the west the weather was always calm and there were strange bright gleams upon the water.
And his foster-parents wondered greatly at this unusual power.
But the boy would not talk about it; when they spoke of it, he was always silent.
It happened once that the winds blew hard over the Great Water and the man could not go out to catch fish because of the turbulent sea.
For many days he stayed on shore, for the ocean, which was usually at peace, was lashed into a great fury and the waves were dashing high on the beach.
Soon the people were in need of fish for food.
And the boy said, “I will go out with you, for I can overcome the Storm Spirit.”
The man did not want to go, but at last he listened to the boy’s requests and together they set out for the fishing grounds far across the tossing sea.
They had not gone far when they met the Spirit of the Storm coming madly from the south-west where the great winds dwelt.
He tried hard to upset their boat, but over them he had no power, for the boy guided the frail craft across the water and all around them the sea was calm and still.
Then the Storm Spirit called his nephew Black Cloud to help him, and away in the south-east they saw him hurrying to his uncle’s aid.
But the boy said to the man, “Be not afraid, for I am more than a match for him.”
So the two met, but when Black Cloud saw the boy he quickly disappeared.
Then the Spirit of the Storm called Mist of the Sea to come and cover the water, for he thought the boat would be lost if he hid the land from the man and the boy.
When the man saw Mist of the Sea coming like a grey vapor across the water he was very frightened, for of all his enemies on the ocean he feared this one most.
But the boy said, “He cannot harm you when I am with you.”
And sure enough, when Mist of the Sea saw the boy sitting smiling in the boat he disappeared as quickly as he had come.
And the Storm Spirit in great anger hurried away to other parts, and that day there was no more danger on the sea near the fishing grounds.
The boy and the man soon reached the fishing grounds in safety.
And the boy taught his foster father a magic song with which he was able to lure fish to his nets.
Before evening came the boat was filled with good fat fish and they set out for their home.
The man said, “Tell me the secret of your power.”
But the boy said, “It is not yet time.”
The next day the boy killed many birds.
He skinned them all and dried their skins.
Then he dressed himself in the skin of a plover and rose into the air and flew above the sea. And the sea under him was grey like his wings.
Then he came down and dressed himself in the skin of a blue-jay and soared away again. And the sea over which he was flying was at once changed to blue like the blue of his wings. When he came back to the beach, he put on the skin of a robin with the breast of a golden hue like his face.
Then he flew high and at once the waves under him reflected a color as of fire and bright gleams of light appeared upon the ocean, and the sky in the west was golden red.
The boy flew back to the beach and he said to his foster parents, “Now it is time for me to leave you.
I am the offspring of the sun.
Yesterday my power was tested and it was not found wanting, so now I must go away and I shall see you no more.
But at evening I shall appear to you often in the twilight sky in the west.
And when the sky and the sea look at evening like the color of my face, you will know that there will be no wind nor storm and that on the next day the weather will be fair.
But although I go away, I shall leave you a strange power.
And always when you need me, let me know your desires by making white offerings to me, so that I may see them from my home far in the west.”
Then he gave to his foster mother a wonderful robe.
He bade his parents good-bye, and soared away to the west, leaving them in sadness.
But the woman still keeps a part of the power he gave her, and when she sits on the island in a crevice in the dunes and loosens her wonderful robe, the wind hurries down from the land, and the sea is ruffled with storm; and the more she loosens the garment the greater is the tempest.
But in the late autumn when the cold mists come in from the sea, and the evenings are chill, and the sky is dull and grey, she remembers the promise of the boy.
And she makes to him an offering of tiny white feathers plucked from the breasts of birds.
She throws them into the air, and they appear as flakes of snow and rise thickly into the winds.
And they hurry westward to tell the boy that the world is grey and dreary as it yearns for the sight of his golden face.
Then he appears to the people of earth.
He comes at evening and lingers after the sun has gone, until the twilight sky is red, and the ocean in the west has gleams of golden light.
And the people then know that there will be no wind and that on the next day the weather will be fair,
as he promised them long ago.
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2023.05.29 20:54 paglaburo "Watched Kendall go down with the sun"

was thinking about it forever since the js profile
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2023.05.29 20:43 LegallyTimeBlind NE Road Trip Possible Route (Open to Suggestions)

Hello everyone. My wife, 18-month-old son, our 12lb dog, and I are planning a nine-day road trip in a 24-foot Class C RV we are renting. I would like the highlight of the trip to be Acadia National Forest and whale watching, but it is a considerable distance away from our starting point of central NC. With the current route, we would only be staying in each campground for one night before travelling to the next (with the exception of Acadia National Park being two nights). While I was initially against the idea of driving more than four hours each day, that seems largely unavoidable and now I am wondering if it is not better to have a day here and there throughout that is spent primarily driving to a destination, thus reducing the number of stops and to give us a longer time at some of them. Ideally, the stops would have electrical hookups (I know my current route contains a couple that do not), but the RV does have a generator, so it is not a deal breaker if they do not. Any suggestions and recommendations would be greatly appreciated as I am not familiar with the NE. This will also be my first time driving a RV if that helps in determining best stops.
Currently Planned Route
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2023.05.29 19:41 RaynaClay The Last Resort: A Small Leak

Hello all. I have written here before about my job at Ultima Resort (1,2,3,4,5,6,7), though I know it has been a while, sorry about that. We were trapped for some time, my phone died pretty quickly, and I wasn’t able to recharge it again until the water receded. So, I haven’t really been able to write. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me get you up to date, then it will all make more sense.
I opened a door and peered into the closet, but the noise was quieter here, if anything. I shut the closet and continued down the hallway. The dripping had started out intermittent. The gentle plip, plip, plip was barely audible over the normal sounds of the hotel, and we had assumed it was related to the steady rain that had been drumming on the building for a few days, at that point. But the frequency of the dripping had been increasing steadily, and now was concerningly loud and constant. It was somehow audible from every corner of the hotel, and it was only a matter of time until the guests complained. They were already irritable because of the bad weather, which had kept them stuck indoors. As I passed a window, a flash of lightning lit the forest behind the hotel. The lights flickered ominously but it stayed on. The clap of thunder rattled the doors in their frames. I spotted Vincent hurrying towards me from down the hall. His face seemed pale.
“Well, did you find the leak?” I asked.
“Umm… you could say that,” he replied, uncomfortably, eyes shifting to the storm outside.
“What’s wrong?”
“It… well, you should just come see.”
I followed him down the hall to the ballroom where we had hosted the anniversary party some days back. It had been a nice event. Less deaths than I had expected. The hors d’oeuvres were pretty good. There was still a bit of smoke damage on the west wall, but we had cleaned it off as best as we could and the place looked presentable again, though I was now thinking we should put on a new coat of paint. It was hard to decide, when I wasn’t sure if the room would even be here next week. Vincent opened the door on the back wall and gestured me inside. This was new.
It was some sort of small storage cupboard, with dim lighting and a low ceiling. It was full of what looked like furniture, draped in white cloths for storage. I wondered what the furniture was made of, because the room had a strange fetid odor, that reminded me of rot and death. I covered my nose with my hand instinctively, but it did little to help. The small window in the back showed that the rain continued to fall outside, but it didn’t seem to be the source of the leak, as the floor around it was dry. Still, the leak must be in here, because the sound was louder than ever. I took a step forward, to get a better look at the room, but Vincent grabbed my arm and pulled me back, pointing towards the ceiling. I looked up to see a large dome light. It had a strange dark tint, and hardly any light made it through. But something else was coming from the dome. Drips fell in a steady rhythm, and as my eyes tracked them, I saw them splash into a widening puddle on the ground. The puddle was viscous and black, glimmering in the dim light. I looked back at Vincent.
“What is that?” I raised an eyebrow. “It doesn’t really look like ordinary water to me.”
“I don’t know. Maybe… it is picking something up as it drips through from the roof?” he did not sound particularly convincing.
“Maybe,” I tried to play along. “Though, I am not sure I want to know what that could be. Did you check if it is coming from somewhere upstairs?”
“Yeah. Nothing out of the ordinary on the floor above, and I can’t find any signs of a leak anywhere else.”
“Alright,” I backed out of the door and closed it behind us. “Well, I am sure whatever that is will work itself out.”
“What? We’re just going to leave it? Why did we even bother looking, then?” Vincent protested.
“I was worried it was a roof leak, something we needed to handle with routine maintenance. That does not seem to be the case,” I raised a questioning eyebrow. “Do you know how to fix whatever is going on in there?”
“Me neither. In this place, when the ceiling is dripping black ichor, it is probably for a reason. I assume we’ll find out when one of our guests gets involved.”
Vincent opened his mouth, as if to protest, but even as he did, the sound of the phone at the desk echoed through the hotel. Vincent sighed,
“Alright, let’s go see what fresh hell awaits us today.”
I heard a small chuckle inside my head. I resisted the urge to ask Al what he knew. He answers were rarely helpful. He didn’t seem to lie, but he was often intentionally misleading, saying whatever he thought would elicit the most drama. I was tired of giving him the satisfaction. I was sure I could sense his disappointment when I refused to engage, but maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. I couldn’t blame Vincent for being apprehensive about what the guests’ inquiry might be. The three men had arrived to participate in some sort of golf event, but they been here for 3 days now and since it had poured every moment, the event was not taking place. The guests were very unhappy about this turn of events, and they had mostly been killing time by taking it out on us. That wasn’t exactly a surprise. The rich ones were always the most demanding, unused to being told ‘no’ even when the question was ‘has the rain stopped yet?’, and based on the Bugatti they had arrived in, these men were quite rich. I answered the phone on the desk, already suppressing a sigh.
“Ultima Resort, front desk, how can I help you?”
“You can come and open the bar,” the voice on the other end snapped. “It’s past noon and the sign says it should be available by now.”
“I apologize, sir. I’ll be right there.”
“You had better be. The service at this place is frankly astounding. Honestly, I don’t understand why anyone ever stays here. I have half a mind to leave a review warning people away.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I know your stay hasn’t been ideal, but please bear with us and we will do everything we can to make it right.”
“You can start by hanging up the phone and getting me my drink.”
The line went dead in my hand. I sighed and replaced the phone on the cradle.
“Let me guess, they wanted to give us a large tip and leave early?”
“Don’t quit your day job,” I chuckled. “You wouldn’t make it as a psychic. Come on, let’s go open the bar, before we have a mutiny on our hands.”
I grabbed the key to open the shutters from the desk and we headed into the dining room. Our three guests were standing around the locked bar, making a show of checking their watches. I struggled to keep my eyes from rolling. It was 12:03pm.
“You know,” Jack turned to the man next to him, but spoke loudly enough to be sure I could hear. “This reminds me of some of the dumps we stayed in before we made our fortune, you know? The little rat trap motels in the port towns we had to stay in.”
“The customer service certainly leaves something to be desired, for a 5-star resort,” his companion, Stewart, sniffed. “For the amount we are paying, I would expect better.”
I turned the lock, opening the bar. I let them vent; I didn’t particularly care if they left us a bad review, and I certainly couldn’t do anything with a good tip, so they were free to hate it here if they wanted. It mattered less to me than they could possibly imagine.
“Can you both hear that leak from your rooms?” the final man, Lesley, asked.
“Can we? I swear it is audible from everywhere in the hotel. There must be a dozen leaks in this old roof,” Jack laughed.
“It would explain that,” Stewart gestured to wet stain on the carpet across the room, oozing out from under a door I didn’t remember being there yesterday.
I glanced over to Vincent, he shrugged,
“I guess we’ve got a new connection to the ballroom. That’s kind of handy,” he said quietly to me, stepping behind the bar and reaching for the rum to pour; it was all they ever ordered.
“That’s another thing that reminds me of the old days,” Jack elbowed Lesley. “You would think a landlocked hotel would be drier than a yacht, but here we are. Maybe you should get out a mop, see if you remember how, Les.”
Lesley stiffened,
“I don’t do menial labor anymore, Cap.”
“Of course, of course,” Jack clapped Les on the shoulder. “Just a joke, mate. The usual, my good man,” he smiled at Vincent, who began pouring drinks.
As day transitioned into evening, I left the dining room in search of absorbent material, to put down on the leak that was spreading persistently into the dining room. I found some cat litter in a back closet, and it seemed like it would do, for now, so I returned and began spreading it over the growing stain. Jack at the bar looked up blearily, watching my work, before finally declaring,
“Oh, so it’s shit, then. That would at least explain the smell.”
“I think it smells more like a rotting carcass,” Stewart interjected.
He had a point there. Maybe I should get some baking soda from the kitchen.
“You know what?” Jack concluded. “Let’s get this next bottle to go. We’ll take it to our rooms for the night. I can’t stand the smell down here another minute.”
He grabbed the bottle from the bar, then he rose and led his friends out of the dining room. I couldn’t say I was sorry to see them go. Vincent circled out from around the bar and approached the soggy patch on the floor.
“So, is that the storage room?”
Now that we were alone, I risked turning the knob and I opened the door to see the same storage room we had entered earlier, though now the light fixture was pouring dark liquid onto the floor, the drip having turned into a deluge. I slammed the door again.
“Maybe we should get Manny,” I concluded.
Manny stood back, watching the ichor pour down like a waterfall. It was pooling around our shoes now, even standing outside the doorframe. He stroked his chin,
“How long has it been like this?”
“I don’t know,” I frowned. “It’s certainly sped up since we found it several hours ago. Any idea how we stop it?”
Manny closed his eyes for a moment, then frowned.
“I think, perhaps, that we should move the food and water from the kitchen, so they don’t get spoiled.”
“Move them where?” Vincent asked.
“To the top floor storage closet. It’ll be safest there. Come help me gather things up.”
“What, exactly, do you think is going to happen?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Let’s just get to work, we probably don’t have much time.”
Manny turned and strode into the kitchen. Vincent hung back and tapped my shoulder,
“What does he know that we don’t?”
“I have no idea, honestly,” I shrugged, and Vincent headed off towards the kitchen. “Do you know?”
I kept my voice low, so the others didn’t hear.
Oh, are you speaking to me now? Al sniffed.
“Depends, are you going to say anything useful?”
Perhaps for a…
“If you say ‘for a price’ we can go back to not talking. I am not trading anything for this.”
I think you will find I am much more helpful if you are willing to make a trade.
“I categorically disagree with that statement.”
Fine, I could feel him scowling. I can give you a hint for free. Maybe try asking yourself what he’s hiding from you?
“Your free hint is that he is keeping secrets?” I raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that true of all of us? That isn’t exactly helpful.”
Well then, perhaps you would like to make a trade?
“Why do I even bother?” I sighed and headed into the kitchen to join the others.
Vincent was helping Manny load food onto a rolling cart. The Chef was, fortunately, nowhere in sight.
“Grab another cart and start loading the soft drinks and bottled water onto it. We don’t have much time before we need to be in our rooms,” Manny instructed.
I heaved a case of bottled water onto the cart, and we all got to work. By the time we made the final trip the carpet in the hall squished under my feet, oozing dark, foul-smelling liquid. It was coming in fast, now. Manny was probably right; we wouldn’t want the food supplies getting contaminated with… whatever this was. After he finished stacking the last bag of rice in the closet, Manny closed the door and turned the key in the lock.
“Well, we should find our rooms. It is getting late, and I doubt they will be in their usual place.”
As he turned to walk away, I noticed blood dripping down from his fingers onto the carpet.
“Manny, wait, your arm,” I pulled up his sleeve to reveal a thin, but deep cut running up his forearm. “What happened? Are you alright?”
Manny yanked his arm away,
“It’s nothing. I must have scraped it moving a box.”
It didn’t look like a scrape. It looked clean, with sharp edges, like a knife wound. But before I could say anything more, he was gone, disappearing down one of the halls.
“You ever wonder about him?” Vincent asked.
“Wonder what?”
“What his deal is. Come on, don’t play dumb. You’ve noticed how strange he can be. How he seems to know things about this place he shouldn’t. Surely, you’ve considered that he might be… one of them.”
“One of them?”
“You know, one of the things that run this place, like the Chef. A demon.”
“Manny? No, that’s ridiculous.”
“Why? He was here before you, maybe he was always here.”
“He is nothing like the Chef or the Masseur. It’s obvious that he is a person.”
“Is it? Maybe that’s just another trick. Maybe he is here to torment us, to steer us wrong.”
I shook my head,
“No, he’s helped us, helped me, many times. It’s impossible.”
“Alright,” Vincent shrugged. “But I have a bad feeling about this one, Lucy. Something about that… water. It isn’t right.”
“You always have a bad feeling. Come on, it’s time to get to sleep.”
“Right. See you tomorrow.”
However he knew, Manny was right. I found my room on the 2nd floor, in a back hallway. Since it wasn’t in its usual place, it took longer to find, but I did manage it before the deadline and locked myself in. Somehow, I could still hear the sound of flowing water, though. I could hear it everywhere in the hotel, in fact. In a way, it was soothing, people liked the sound of flowing water, right? So, keeping that in mind, I allowed it to lull me to sleep.
The morning arrived without fanfare, or a discernable difference in the light coming in through the windows. The storm continued to rage outside, and the clouds were so thick and dark that it was impossible to tell that dawn had broken. Still, my watch told me that day had arrived and so I left the room prepared to mop up whatever water had pooled downstairs and try to serve breakfast. No food had appeared in my room last night, so breakfast sounded very appealing. At least I could sneak a muffin or something. As I arrived at the stairs, I saw Manny standing on the landing, gazing down at the lobby.
“Is the mess bad?” I asked.
“You could say that,” Manny didn’t turn as I approached.
I reached the railing and gasped. The lobby was gone. The whole first floor was gone. All I could see was dark water, lapping against the stairs.
“How is that possible?”
“That’s not really a relevant question, in this place,” Manny noted. “Let’s just call it a flash flood.”
I jogged over to look out one of the windows, lightning flashed, illuminating an alien view, the lawn and garden were also gone. The only thing in sight was a sea of dark water, with the occasional tree protruding from the surface.
“What do we do now?” I asked.
“What we always do. Vincent has headed upstairs to lay out some food. We can help him, then lock up the rest and go clean rooms.”
“And if the water keeps rising?”
“We keep moving up the floors, I suppose.”
I stepped down the stairs until I was next to the water, and reached out a hand to touch the surface, wanting to test its temperature and texture.
I froze in place, hand hovering above the liquid, the command so urgent I couldn’t ignore it. Trying to act casually, I rose and headed back up the stairs,
“Alright, I’ll go help with breakfast. Maybe we should put up a sign directing the guests to the 5th floor?”
“I’ll handle that. We will have to ration the food carefully; we don’t know how long we will need to make it last. Whatever you do, don’t show the guests where the food is locked up, and only bring out enough for us to have a small meal.”
“Right,” I nodded. “See you up there.”
I turned and headed up the stairs. I waited until I was out of earshot to ask,
“Ok, what was that about?”
Do not touch the water.
“Yes, I gathered that. Why?”
Because you belong to me. And I need you alive.
“What is the deal with that water, exactly?”
But only silence answered. He was done volunteering things for the moment, apparently. I sighed and continued up the stairs. Vincent was waiting for me on the fifth floor, hovering by the landing, looking down over the dark, gleaming surface of the new lake below.
“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” he asked as I reached the top of the stairs.
“Nope, this is a new one.”
“I wonder if this is what being on the Titanic felt like?” he mused. “Water rising, nowhere to go, just waiting for the end.”
“We aren’t on a ship, though.”
“No. Does that make it better, or worse?”
I shrugged and Vincent passed me a bagel,
“I figure we should eat the breads first; they’ll go moldy in this humidity. We can save the rice, potatoes, and canned goods for later.”
“Makes sense. Do we have a way to cook any of those things?”
“I looked around. Some of the rooms have fireplaces, I guess we can hang a pot over the fire, cook that way. But maybe all this will stop before we get to that point.”
“Maybe,” I wasn’t exactly feeling optimistic about it.
I helped Vincent lay out some fruit and soft breads on the hall table, so that when the guests awoke, they would have something to eat.
“What exactly are we going to tell them when they get here?” Vincent asked, putting out some bowls. “We can’t exactly say that the hotel is sinking and it’s all perfectly normal, can we?”
“What else is there to say?” I shrugged. “It’s some sort of flood. We don’t know any more than they do. It’s the truth, right?”
He considered that for a moment, then nodded.
“I suppose it is.”
A sudden commotion from downstairs drew us to the railing. The three guests were standing on the 2nd floor landing, looking down at the water, Manny was saying something I couldn’t quite hear, but the response was clear enough,
“What do you mean, underwater!” Steward shouted. “This hotel is on dry land. We specifically avoided anything near the ocean or any major body of water. Where did all this even come from?”
“We are located on a flood plain. It is possible that the dam broke upstream,” Manny explained calmly.
Dam, huh? That wasn’t a bad explanation.
“If that is true, where are the authorities, shouldn’t someone be here to evacuate us?”
“I am sure they will be here when they can. Until then, we just need to stay calm and safe. There is breakfast laid out on the 5th floor, please stay away from the water and we will relocate your rooms to the upper floors.”
The trio of men grumbled, but eventually they headed up the stairs. Vincent and I ducked back to our places. As they grabbed fruit from the table, Lesley scowled,
“I told you we should have left days ago. We could have moved to another hotel. Now we’re trapped here, in this dump.”
“Oh, relax, Les,” Jack chuckled. “We’ve been in worse scrapes before. This isn’t a big deal.”
“And if the water keeps rising?”
“I bet we could manage to make a passable raft, eh Stewart?”
Both men chuckled, sharing a private joke, but Lesley still looked anxious.
“I didn’t ever want to be out on the water again. We agreed.”
“Seriously, Les, just keep it together, alright? Let’s just eat something and find some way to kill time. I am sure the authorities will send a rescue crew and we’ll be out of here in no time.”
I opened the storage closet and felt my heart sink as I looked on the nearly empty room. We were down to only a couple of boxes of crackers and a few bottles of water. We had rationed the food carefully, but it had been over 2 weeks now, and we had almost exhausted our supply. I wasn’t looking forward to telling the others. Things had been getting tense. The power went out on the third day, and by now every cellphone we had was dead. Not that anyone could get a signal before that, anyway. The water had risen all the way to the fifth floor, so we were all trapped together on the top floor of the hotel, with nowhere else to go, if it rose any further. The guests had mostly given up hope for rescue, and the rest of us knew that was never a hope to begin with. So, now it looked like the six of us were just going to be trapped up here to starve, if we didn’t drown first. I covered my face with my hands.
“That bad, huh?”
“Vincent. No, it’s… it’s not…” what was the point in lying about it? “Yeah, it’s that bad. We are almost out of food, and the water has risen at least another foot since yesterday.”
“What are we going to do?”
“I have no idea. Let’s just get back to the group. We shouldn’t leave Manny alone, in case the guests come out of their rooms.”
We walked back to the central hallway together. As we entered the room, I saw Manny with his back to us, removing a soaked shirt. Even in the dim light, it was clear that his back was webbed with dozens of scars and cuts. Vincent cleared his throat and Manny hurriedly tugged on a dry shirt.
“I patched the hole in the roof,” he explained. “The rain should stop getting in from there, at least. And I brought down a full barrel of rainwater and replaced it with an empty one.”
“Thank you, Manny. At least the water from the sky is… normal. Because we are going to have to start drinking that water from time now on, I think.”
“And the food?” Manny asked.
“Some crackers, nothing more.”
“Well, I guess we will all need to tighten our belts, then.”
A moment of heavy silence passed between us, before a door burst open and Jack emerged.
“Where’s the food?” he barked. “We’re hungry and the table is bare.”
“Food’s gone,” Manny replied coolly. “There is water in the barrel, to take the edge off.”
“We can’t survive on only water.”
“We can, for another couple of weeks.”
“So that is your plan, to slowly starve to death?”
Manny shrugged but didn’t reply.
“Well, suit yourselves, I have a better plan.”
Jack turned on his heel and stormed out.
“What do you think they will do?” Vincent asked.
“He said already, didn’t he? Build a raft,” Manny replied.
“Maybe that isn’t a bad idea,” I offered. “We could help, try to get out of here?”
“Has attempting to leave ever worked?” Manny asked. “No, all we can do is hunker down until this resolves itself. And I don’t think going out on that water is a good idea.”
“Should we try to stop them, then?”
“No. If they are focused on building, it will keep them off our backs, for the time being. Let them do what they want.”
Vincent and I spent the next few days watching the three men lash together furniture using heavy objects as improvised hammers and strips of torn bed linens as ropes. They seemed to actually have some idea of what they were doing, and they quickly fell into a rhythm, with Stewart and Jack doing most of the planning and construction and Lesley being ordered to fetch supplies and carry heavy objects. He grumbled about it, but did what they told him. They mostly didn’t even notice we were there, as long as we made a show of occupying ourselves with some cleaning task or another. They never even bothered to ask why we were still cleaning and maintaining a flooded, sinking hotel all day. It was hard to tell if they just paid so little attention to us that they didn’t notice, or if they simply figured it was our way of coping with the situation. Occasionally, they would ask us for some material they needed but could not find, and we would help as much as we could, then they would go back to ignoring us. On the third day, when the raft was beginning to look seaworthy, Jack sat back on his heels, admiring their handiwork.
“Well, boys? What do you think? Will it float?”
Stewart rubbed his nose with his thumb,
“I think it’s as fine a vessel as we have ever crewed, captain.”
Jack laughed,
“And you thought we had left those days behind us for good, eh chief?”
“They are. But it looks like it will come in handy for us, one more time. Good luck, huh?”
“Good luck?” Lesley’s face turned dark; he had been increasingly dour over the last few days. “I don’t see the good luck in any of this. I think we are reaping our just reward.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Les, this flood has nothing to do with us.”
“No? You think all this is normal, then? It’s been raining nonstop for weeks, the water keeps rising, no one has come looking for us. It’s like…” he hesitated before continuing. “It’s like we are alone in our own private hell. Just us and dark water everywhere. I don’t know how you aren’t thinking about it. I can’t stop. I see his face whenever I close my eyes. I see the dark puddle in the bottom of the lifeboat. Maybe this is what we deserve.”
Jack backhanded him across the face,
“Pull yourself together, swabbie. And don’t speak again until you’ve regained your composure,” he turned back to Stewart. “Now, we need to get this to the roof before we finish lashing it together, or it won’t fit. Then, we can either find a way to launch it, or we can wait until the water rises enough, what do you think, Mr. Stewart?”
“Well, captain, I say we rig up some ropes to lower it, because if we wait until the water is that high and anything goes wrong, we won’t have another chance.”
“Very good. Alright, Les, help us lift these pieces.”
The raft was relocated to the roof and the next 3 days were spent lashing it together and making the ropes strong enough to lower it the ever-dwindling distance into the dark water. When they were finally ready to launch, Vincent, Manny and I gathered on the roof to watch. I had to admit, I was really beginning to hope they succeeded, even if it didn’t seem likely. We were still rationing out the last few crackers, but three or four crackers a day did little to even take the edge off of the hunger, which gnawed on my guts like an animal. If this didn’t work, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I looked over at Manny, his face grim and starting to look a little gaunt. As he turned to face me, I saw blood coating his neck and seeping into his shirt collar from a cut near his ear.
“You’re bleeding.”
He reached up and touched his neck, bringing his hand aways stained crimson,
“Shaving cut,” he offered, wiping it off absently with his hand.
I raised an eyebrow, but let it go. I had noticed Manny with little cuts or scars before, but he was always doing landscaping work or maintenance, so small cuts and injuries didn’t seem unusual. But suddenly, in such close quarters and confined indoors, it was apparent that he seemed to injure himself more than I would expect.
Curious, isn’t it? Al asked, speaking up for the first time in sometime.
“You have something to tell me?” I mumbled under my breath.
No, just noting that there is power in blood. I wonder what he uses it for?
Power, huh? That was probably worth thinking about. Later. For now, my attention was drawn to the makeshift ropes lowering the raft into the water. The raft settled into the water with barely a ripple, the liquid was entirely too thick and seemed to stick to the wood like oil, and the sound when it hit was less a splash and more of a splat. The three men looked at each other, confusion and concern on their faces.
“That doesn’t much seem like normal water, Cap’n,” Lesley noted.
“Probably lots of mud and silt mixed in, it’s nothing,” Jack waved away the concern. “Get down there and then you can help us down.”
Lesley shook his head, mutely.
“Fine, Stewart?”
The other man didn’t look happy about it, but he nodded apprehensively and moved to the edge of the roof and clambered down onto the raft. As it bucked and shifted under his weight, he lay down, waiting for it to stabilize, but instead, the rolling and pitching seemed to increase. Then, from the water under the boat came dozens of pale human hands. They were terribly bloated and marbled with green and grey. Corpse hands. Stewart looked down, terror written plainly on his face.
“No! It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t cause it,” he shouted at the corpses looming under him in the dark water. “You want the captain, not me!”
If that was meant to mollify them, it didn’t work. The hands gripped the wood and pulled, capsizing the raft and pitching Stewart into the water. He screamed as he hit the surface. Not just from fear, but pain. He tried clinging to flipped raft, but hands wrapped around his torso, trying to pull him into the dark. I could swear I heard whispers rising from the surface: Join us.
“Help me, please!” he cried.
He was too far down to reach from the roof, but maybe there was another way.
“Hurry, if we can get to the windows on the 5th floor, we can pull him in,” I shouted.
Vincent nodded and we ran down the stairs, searching for the room closest to him in the water. The screaming helped. When we dragged him inside, he was covered in scratches and bites from teeth that looked very human, some very deep and freely bleeding. His skin was stained from the dark water. The hands continued to reach for him, so I slammed the window shut, leaving them to paw at the glass, just as Manny burst into the room, followed by the other two guests. Seeing the seriousness of his injuries, Manny moved closer, kneeling next to me.
“Some of these are very deep. We need to get pressure on the wounds. Go grab some towels,” he instructed Stewart’s companions.
He inspected the bites and scratches more closely,
“Lucy, this bite is on an artery, press down on it hard, or he will bleed out. Vincent, go get some soap and water, we will have to clean this as best we can, under the circumstances.”
Vincent rose and Manny and I were left alone with Stewart, who seemed to have passed out.
“You seem to know what you are doing,” I noted, pressing down on the bleeding wound.
“I… I was a doctor, once,” he didn’t meet my eyes when he said it.
“It was a long time ago. Another life.”
“Why didn’t you ever…” I was interrupted when Stewart’s eyes snapped open.
“I need a priest,” Stewart grabbed Manny’s collar, his eyes fevered and unfocused. “I need to confess my sins, before I die.”
“You aren’t going to…”
“We killed him,” he pressed on, oblivious to my objections. “Alan Ross.”
“The billionaire?” I blurted, surprised. “But he died in a… shipwreck…”
I fell silent. I remembered the news stories; Ross had been on a luxury yacht on the way to the Cayman Islands when it wrecked in a storm. The entire crew was lost, except for the captain, the chief mate, and a single deckhand, who had survived in a lifeboat. Ross was in the lifeboat as well, but he had already drowned, before they were able to drag him on board. They had drifted for over two weeks, with his corpse, before they were found and rescued. It had been a major news story, about a decade ago.
“It wasn’t like the news reported,” Stewart gasped. “When the yacht started taking on water, we should have stayed and helped to organize the evacuation of the crew. But Ross wanted to leave right away. He offered us money if we took just him and abandoned the others. We agreed, the captain and I. Lesley was just a deckhand, but he saw us leaving and followed. We quietly launched a lifeboat and fled, leaving the others to their fates.”
“How did Ross die?” I asked.
“He had a bag with him. It was so heavy he could hardly carry it. When he put it in the boat, it fell open and it was filled with diamonds. He was taking them to the Caymans. When we saw that, we… well, we decided. If he didn’t survive the shipwreck, if the diamonds were never found, who would know? We drowned him and hid the diamonds. When we were rescued, we waited awhile, then we sold them, made millions. But it wasn’t worth it… it wasn’t worth this. The guilt…”
He slumped to the ground. Manny met my eyes over the body,
“I think we lost him.”
As I looked up from the body, I saw Jack and Lesley standing there in the doorway, towels in their hands. There was an ugly look on Jack’s face.
“I wish he hadn’t told you that.”
“Told us what? He was raving, delusional,” I attempted.
“We were standing right here,” he replied.
I swallowed hard. Jack advanced into the room, holding a broken table leg like a club.
“We’ve kept this secret all these years, it isn’t getting out now.”
“We won’t tell anyone,” I protested.
“That isn’t a chance I am willing to take. Besides, with the food supply exhausted, it was always going to come to this, eventually. Might as well get it over with.”
“What are you doing?” I heard Vincent call from the doorway.
“Lesley, take care of him, will you?” Jack continued to advance on us.
“Please Jack, hasn’t there been enough death?” Lesley protested.
“Don’t act all innocent, you agreed to this, just like the rest of us. In for a penny, in for a pound, my friend.”
I glanced around for a weapon. Between the three of us, we should be able to take him, but I didn’t much like the look in Jack’s eyes. Manny had stood, backing slowly away as Jack advanced. Then the captain took a swing at him, Manny jumped to the side and the makeshift bat shattered the window behind him. Jack’s expression turned to one of horror as a pair of pale hands gripped the doorframe and a body began heaving itself through the open window. The broken glass sliced its bloated flesh to ribbons, but it didn’t halt the creature’s ingress. Dark, thick liquid that smelled of death oozed from its wounds.
“Alan!” Jack exclaimed, backing away swinging his bat at the creature.
“You owe me,” it gurgled.
We all backed out into the hall, but the creature advanced, slowly, leaving a trail of black liquid on the carpet as it walked.
“Is it money you want? I can get you your money back, your diamonds,” Jack offered.
“What use do I have for money?” it wheezed. “You owe me a life.”
Jack hit the body with his club, but it didn’t slow its progress. He screamed as it reached out a hand and closed it around his throat. Jack was lifted off his feet and the creature carried him to the stairs and plunged him into the dark water. At first, he flailed and fought, but a dozen hands rose from the water, gripping every part of his body. When he was completely immobilized, the corpse released him, letting him be dragged down into the depths. Then, it turned,
“Now,” it spoke to Lesley. “Will you fight, or come willingly?”
Lesley was trembling so hard he could barely stand,
“Please, I’m sorry, I beg you, spare me.”
The creature’s lips curled into a grotesque smile,
“Do you regret what you did to me?”
“I do, I do. I never should have agreed with their plan. Please, have mercy.”
“Did you have mercy on me, when I begged?”
Lesley shook his head.
“Then accept your fate.”
“What… what do you want me to do?”
“Walk into the water. Give your life willingly. Perhaps they will spare you, if you do,” the creature laughed, dark liquid bubbling from its mouth.
Lesley nodded haltingly and began to walk towards the stairs, stepping into the water, he walked down until he was submerged up to his waist. Then, the hands wrapped around his arms and torso and abruptly dragged him under. For a long moment, it seemed like he was gone, the same as Jack, but a moment later, he was thrown back onto the landing. Lesley raised his eyes, now as black as the water, and the creature smiled again, a tooth falling from its mouth as it did.
“Very good,” it burbled. “You have been baptized and born again into a new life.”
Lesley nodded, a serene smile on his face. Without a word, he rose and walked back into the room we had vacated only a moment before. Outside the window, the raft had been righted and floated serenely on the water. He looked down at Stewart’s body, then picked it up and draped it over his shoulder. Glancing back at the three of us, he winked,
“A snack for the journey.”
Then, he stepped out of the window onto the raft and drifted away.
“Don’t suppose any of you would care to join him?” the corpse of Alan Ross inquired. “Be born anew in the cleansing water?”
We all shook our heads silently.
“Oh well, another time, then.”
And with that, the corpse walked into the water and disappeared.
That night, our usual meals appeared in our rooms, and by the next morning, the water had receded, as if it had never been there. The electricity came back on, and the rain stopped. I was finally able to charge my phone and post this account. I tried asking Manny for more information about his time as a doctor but is as reticent as ever. I will keep trying, though, because Vincent and Al are right about one thing, there is something suspicious about how much he knows that he shouldn’t. But, that is a problem for another day, after all there is no need to rush, we aren’t going anywhere.
Until next time,
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