For fans of Crumbl Cookies!
2020.10.12 04:47 mastertev For fans of Crumbl Cookies!
Welcome to /CrumblCookies! We are a **fan-run** subreddit dedicated to discussing all things Crumbl Cookies.
2023.06.06 14:25 SepticSauces Blue Roses: Non-Sapient Predatory Introduction! 
A special thanks to u/SpacePaladin15
for the fantastical universe.
Have a really long chapter!
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ Memory transcription subject: Jaxton, son of a humble sheep farmer Date [standardized human time]: October 11th, 2136
If someone asked me years ago how many people would travel the globe just to see me. My answer would have been three; my father, my mother, and Dex Mason. My mother and father would have been simply obligated to do so, as I was their son, and I would have done the same thing. Dex was my best friend when I went to middle school in America, and he stayed my best friend when I went back to Wales, going back to Atlanta for many vacations.
What can I say? He had a nice collection of guns, and his general cheerful attitude made many people optimistic, so a day on the range with him led to the both of us being happier.
Then you add in Dex’s older and younger brothers, our mutual friend John Dillinger, and then you have a recipe for a fun time; guns, video games, hiking, and the occasional sheep herding if they ever come to my home: It’s a blast!
An alien porcupine though… I honestly never expected that I would ever in my honest-to-God lifetime, have such an impact on someone before. We barely knew each other for even a few minutes, yet she to my knowledge was merely some sad Gojid that was struggling with depression and loss. All I did was walk in and comfort her, or well, that’s how I saw it.
I still feel like an absolute idiot for forgetting about what I told her. It wasn’t a promise, but based on the implication of how I said it. It may as well have been a declaration to see the girl a few hours later, or however long it took her to get ready.
Now, speaking of Barlim, it’s been a few minutes since she arrived at my doorway at the most unexpected of times. I had her sitting in our living room on our couch. The Gojid, or Gojya
, that I had to have explained to me, had her arms wrapped around one of our decorative pillows. She was giving squeezes every few seconds depending on how she felt, and if she was really giving it a firm squeeze, I’d reach over and stroke the top of her head. Barlim seemed to relax every time I did this.
“You holding up better?” Barlim appeared to be holding up better: No longer sobbing out tears from her eyes, or having mucus running from her nostrils.
She merely sniffed weakly for a second, nuzzling into my hand. If I had to admit, I had no idea if I was performing some massive social taboo by patting her like an animal, but if she wasn’t going to complain, neither was I. I mean, I already poked myself twice more! “I’m feeling much better. Sorry for intruding…”
“Don’t be,” I said while holding back a small laugh. “Are you feeling better enough to talk now?” Barlim’s ears flicked in response, and then she nodded in response upon realizing I didn’t know what those ear flicks meant. “Good.”
“Hey, I would just like to apologize for how I acted,” my mother started before I had the chance to speak. “It’s just that I’ve seen on the news and read of murderous xenophobic aliens…-”
“It’s fine,” Barlim let out the most adorable-sounding chittering noise I have ever heard. It sounded as if a porcupine was, well, laughing! “I would not have reacted much differently… Three days ago?” At least she could make fun of herself for how she acted. Her ears gave a few flicks, gesturing towards amusement or self-depreciation if I had to guess. They burned bright blue.
My father took a minute to stand up and walk over to Barlim. She only fidgeted a little bit, but not much when he reached out to her with one hand. “Jameson, again, it’s been pleasant to meet you so far.” The man’s hand hung in the air for several seconds. Barlim eyeing it up with what had to be a quizzical expression. “You’re supposed to grab it and firmly shake it,” my father eventually grunted.
“Oh!” That seemed to snap Barlim out of her stupor. She reached forward in kind with one paw, clasping her surprisingly big paw around my father’s hand, which he shook. The Gojid seemed to have a fair understanding of the action after a few seconds, at which point the handshake ended and my father returned to his seat.
A brief, quiet pause occupied the four of us before there was more knocking at the front door. “Oh, uh, that may be the rest of my friends. I sort of forgot about them when I realized we were so close.” The tips of Barlim’s ears turned a delicate shade of blue. She started to get up, but with a firm palm on the top of her head, I held her down, gently.
“You traveled a long way. Let me get the door,” I state and get up from the couch. My knees and back stretch, giving a satisfactory series of pops before I work my way to the front door. I decide against grabbing the mask, assuming that Barlim’s friends have gotten quite used to the infamous human binocular stare. When I open it, I see a rather eclectic group of individuals, some familiar and some not.
“Arwen, Trivi, Tova, and I take it Barlim’s friends.” Arwen and Trivi issue some friendly waves. Tova has her forearms clasped around Arwen’s neck from behind, jaw resting on the redhead’s shoulders. Her eyes are puffy and orange. It was pretty easy to assume what she had been going through. Meanwhile, the other three flick their ears and tails in a way that was most likely a greeting, but that was just me making an inference based on this being our first interaction, and them not giving waves in greeting. I really need to learn Gojid and Venlil body language.
“Just delivering the rest of that one Gojid’s friends.” Arwen’s tone was the general cheerful tone it always was. She briefly stepped back from the door and swung an arm to the side, pointing to the three aliens behind her, doing so while under the weight of Tova.
“Barlim,” one of the Gojid said to Arwen. “My name is Pragh,” she then pointed over to another Gojid, “That’s Tack, and,” she indicated to the final Gojid, “That is Telg.” Again, the other two Gojid gave very similar flicks of the ears when they glanced at me with one of their eyes. “I take it you’re Jaxton?”
I couldn’t resist the urge to curl my lips upwards in a smile. The three Gojid didn’t flinch when I exposed my teeth, for which I was grateful. I really didn’t feel like bowing to more people than I needed to at the moment, having not gotten a particularly great amount of sleep last night was not a wise idea. “You’d be correct. It seems I’m the popular man of the hour. What can I do for you all?”
“Well, Tack and I were simply following Barlim, so we were going to stay with her until the UN or whoever really controls the whole Gojid refugee camp situation comes looking for us-”
I cut off Pragh with an amused tone. “So let me get this straight. You wanna come and mooch off my family for a bit because you have nowhere to stay at the moment?” I hold my tongue for just the slightest second, letting Gojid raise up her paws defensively. Even Arwen’s eyes widen briefly at what I just said.
“That’s not-” Pragh doesn’t speak for long before I dismissively wave my hand.
“I’m joking, yes, I’m sure my parents will allow you to stay for a bit, but you’ll have to clean up after yourselves, and all that stuff.” I lean up against the doorframe. “Ok though, jokes aside, what do you all want?”
Pragh rubbed her paws over her blue ears. “Yes, well, you did sort of hit one of them. I will admit, there was very little planning other than we’re going to Wales
on our part. You don’t have to worry about Telg though.”
“I scored myself a date! Hah!~ So, I will be going back to Georgia in about an hour or two.” The Gojid paused, popped open one of the pockets on his hoodie, and took a peek inside at a slip of paper he pulled out. “Two hours, yeah, I have about an hour to spend here. So you and Tack are going to stay here?”
Pragh nodded to Telg’s words. “Yep, someone has to make sure Barlim continues to be a responsible Gojid. Also, I still have more research to do over the internet-”
“Ah yes, research,
Pragh, research, am I right?~
“No! Not that! I’m not going to be looking up that!
The two male Gojid couldn’t help but hold back giggles and chitters, making me feel as if I was missing some sort of- Oh.
The second it clicked for me, I just let out a long, slow sigh. “Please, let me just say that humanity is probably not whatever you found. Factory farms are a thing of the past.” Apparently, I was wrong, for the other two Gojid started laughing more uproariously, “Ok, I’m wrong it seems…” The gears proceeds to click a second time after realizing it was something a lot more bawdy
than damning. I opened my mouth to say something but quickly realized that I wouldn’t have anything to follow up on if one of them decided to make any sort of accusation, so I quickly shut my plan to speak about that down. “How about you all just come inside now? Your friend Barlim already came by, and I’m pretty sure you all would like a break from your adventure.”
“Actually, Trvi and I were going to take Tova to my home. Might take her to the hospital if Quilix has calmed down. God, I wished they transported him to Ysbyty Gwynedd, but no. He had a freakout and had to be moved to London.”
“It’s all my fault…” The dark venlil whined.
Arwen’s hand managed to work its way between Tova’s ears, giving a few scritches. Scritches that Tova nuzzled into. “Come on you big, big
venlil. I know you’re upset. Just, hang in there for a little while longer. I’m sure Quilix will come around. Let’s take you home, see ya Jaxton!” Arwen waved and carried the venlil toward the parked taxi in front of my house. Well, carried was a generous term for half-carry/half-assisted in guiding toward the car.
Trivi followed seconds later, giving his own bye and wave. “Tell your mother and father I said hi, see you tomorrow!” And with that, the blonde venlil scampered off, following after his human lover.
This left me with the three other hedgehog-looking aliens standing awkwardly in front of my door. They looked amongst themselves, thinking about saying something. Wait, someone’s missing…
The three Gojid who looked like they were about to say something all jumped about a foot in the air when Lacey came bounding through them, running straight past me into my home. “Oh, Lacey! Welcome ho- Oh, and ignored.” I shake my head upon hearing the following oof
that comes from my father. Lacey must’ve claimed my father’s lap as her seat. “Well, if you want to come inside and meet the rest of my family. Come right on in.”
The next few minutes are filled with more pleasantries being exchanged. The Gojid all take their place on the couch, somehow managing to fit four of them on a couch meant for three. I end up choosing to stand by my father, who gently strokes Lacey across her back. The border collie panting jovially, looking back and forth between us and our alien guest, giving the occasional bark to beg for more attention.
The Gojid guests seem calm for the most part, sitting on that couch, but it is quite clear that the dog makes them uncomfortable since they flinch every time Lacey either makes a noise or stares at them with those heterochromatic eyes. “Not a fan of dogs, are you?” My father breaks the silence once it starts up again.
“I didn’t like…” Pragh started but stopped seconds later. “Listen, I believe you know why most Federation species don’t like humans, right?” Pragh’s words earned an affirmative grunt from my father. My mother and I nodded too. “Well, you’re all sapient and in control of your hunting instincts…” I raised my eyebrow at that but chose to say nothing. “That dog though-”
My father raised a hand, telling Praph to stop speaking for a moment. “I am going to have to stop you right there. Firstly, humans don’t, or we believe don’t have hunting instincts, and secondly, Lacey is a good girl that has harmed no person before, human or alien. I can assure you, as well as Quilix, Trivi, and Tova, that Lacey wouldn’t harm any of you, your pups, or anything else you will be worried about.”
Those few calmly spoken, but sternly voiced words are enough to calm the four Gojid down a fair amount. While I can’t see their muscles under their fur all that well, I can safely assume that their muscles grew lax at such information. Maybe we can do more to ease them around the dog while they’re here?
With an idea springing to mind, I take a few steps over to our old wooden hall tree. It is adorned with a few coats and hats, but what I am interested in is blue colored, six feet long rope of dog leash. The second it makes the lightest noise, Lacey is bolting toward me. “Eistedd!” The dog swiftly responds to the command: Hind quarters hitting the ground the second the word leaves my lips. I reach down and stroke the top of the dog’s head with one hand, getting a jovial arf out of her. “Merch dda, merch dda.~” I give the dog’s head a little bit more tender love with my palm and fingers before attaching the leash.
“Cefn.” I keep my voice low, coaxing Lacey into walking toward the couch.
The four Gojid, three of which have probably spent some time outside with the dog, all had a similar reaction when the dog came over: Paws came up off the ground, retracting safely onto the cushions above. It wasn’t really out of the border collie’s reach, but it was clearly instinctual-driven or propaganda-driven fear. “No need to be afraid, she won’t bite you - eistedd.” True to my words, Lacey gets close, sniffing along the edge of the sofa, but not jumping up onto the furniture.
“I see you’ve been practicing, Jaxton. You showing off for the guest?” My dad jokes.
“Hey, I don’t really get a good chance to speak Welsh. Dam- Darn it, really should’ve paid more attention in school. Might go get some lessons so I’m not part of the ten percent that can’t speak it. All I can do is shepherd a dog around, ask for the bathroom, a beer, where am I, and a few other things.” It’s hard not to let out a disappointed sigh. “I need to get off my backside and stop being so lazy.” I pause for one small moment. “And that probably translated for all of them to their native tongue. Doesn’t matter if I say it in English, Welsh, or honestly, Mandarin.”
My old man grins and laughs, leaning his back into the old rocking chair he claimed. My attention returns back to the dog, the fearful porcupine, and three scared hedgehogs.
The first one to reach out if I recall his name is Tack. The Gojid’s claws lightly brush the top of Lacey’s head in a tepid fashion. The dog stares back up at the curious paw; not growling, barking, yipping, biting, or making any sort of fuss that could freak out the apprehensive Gojid. Slowly, Lacey’s tail beings to wag as the curious touching continues for a few seconds. “Is that normal?”
“Mhm… Yes, dogs’ tails wag when they are happy. If she was really happy, she’d jump on you and start licking your face.”
The four Gojid recoiled with what looked like disgust: The thought of a predator’s
maw all over their face, tasting
them as if they were her next meal was probably what was coursing through their minds. “I think… That’s something I wouldn’t like from a non-sapient creature.” Telg adds in. He says he doesn’t want it from a non-sapient, but what about a sapient? Oh, what wonderful thoughts this one has.
I internally joked.
Both my father and mother let out an audible cough at Telg’s… Well, it could’ve been an indecent statement, or maybe licking was a sign of greeting? There was no way for me to know with my lack of knowledge of Gojid customs. God damn; Gojid customs, language, body language, and Welsh! That was leaving out Venlil ear and tail signals as well! Too much to learn.
With a gentle nudge, I guide Lacey down the bottom of the couch, letting each Gojid get about a minute or two of bonding
time with the goodest of girls. It’s only been a few minutes, but the four could be easily seen relaxing: Tack and Telg are both confident enough to let their paws touch the floor again. From fearful of anything that ate meat their entire life to sort of fearfully allowing a dog to sniff them, or them to touch a dog, must be leaps and bounds beyond possibility months ago.
“So, you all more comfortable around dogs?”
I get a non-varied amount of reactions: All of them positive to a minor degree, but none are negative or super positive. “Good.”
With such a positive, or well, lacking in a negative reaction from our alien guests. I reach down and unhook the canine’s restraint. No one flinches and Lacey continues to sit for about another few seconds before lazily pacing around the front of the couch, sniffing at paws for some more time before retreating back beside my father’s feet.
“So… What’s the history between humans and dogs?” Pragh was the one that shot this question. One is no doubt born from the fact that we probably allowed a non-sapient predator into our home. Well, if I was using their logic, of course: I wouldn’t be surprised if it came from ‘Wouldn’t predators eliminate the competition?’ if I had to guess.
“The history involving our canine companions is long and complex.” I reach behind my head to adust my blonde ponytail, tightening up the black band to keep my hair from falling in front of my face. “Most domesticated dogs you’ll see; German shepherds, border collies, Australian shepherds, golden retrievers, and on and on the list goes. I believe there are hundreds of breeds, but that is another tangent we can go on another date. What you’re more interested in is the history, as you have asked.”
I took a few steps around toward the front of the couch, using this new position to project my voice onto my alien audience. My parents had already heard this story a few times when they spoke with one of our dog breeders.
“It all started roughly
speaking, thirty-thousand years ago.” I paused, totally for dramatic effect, but to also allow the Gojid to digest this fair-sized crumb of information. “Our competitor, an antagonizing species of persistent pack predators with a strong social bond, the wolf, would often invade human territories, and vice versa. You see, humans and wolves aren’t too dissimilar. We’re both highly social species, pursuit pack predators
as I have heard, emotionally intelligent, highly adaptive, strong parental connections, and good communication skills. I can go into specific details another time, but those are some of the big traits we share. I’d say that the large preference for having a social structure coupled with good communication skills on both sides were the two assets that helped the most. Emotional intelligence and actual intelligence would probably be third and fourth. Dogs and wolves can be pretty smart.”
I take a moment again, allowing my audience to follow along with what I am saying, waiting to see if any of them have a question. “So due to these similarities, humans and these wolves
cross species’ barriers?” The bipedal porcupine opined.
I nod to Barlim’s question. “Very close, but not quite.” I take a moment to swing a pointing finger down to Lacey. “I mean, as much as I love Lacey. I don’t see a dog diplomat coming through any time soon to argue for their sapience let alone an alliance.” I then straighten my posture back up, holding back a small laugh by letting a grin stretch across my lips. “It was more along the lines of wolves were desperate for food, and they’d feed off the scraps we humans left behind. This would go on for some time with the braver or more docile canines being allowed to slowly integrate with human society.”
“But they’re eating your scraps and food, but what do they do for you? Other than herd sheep? It just seems like your competition is swooping your food from under your nose, but… You’re not complaining at all.” Pragh was the one to ask that question. Called it!
“These proto-dogs had many purposes! Just look at Lacey and you can probably see what she has that is superior to a human. Tell me what traits you can see.”
I give the four Gojid some time to look over the dog. They eventually look like they all have something to say, so I slide down the line of them; Pragh, Telg, Tack, and then finally Barlim.
“A better sense of smell to hunt for prey you can’t see?” Pragh opined.“Better hearing for locating threats?” Telg questioned.
“Sharp teeth and claws for fighting off other humans.” Tack would state rather confidently.
“To form an emotional connection with and to not feel lonely?” Barlim tilted her head to the side, giving the dog another look.
I let them stew over their answers for about thirty seconds to discuss amongst themselves. Needless to say, I was kind of shocked, but also not by Barlim’s answer. Maybe my time spent with her gave me some subconscious understanding of her mentality? The other Gojid all looked at her, so I assume her different answer probably made something click amongst all of them.
“Well, to answer your questions; yes, yes, yes, and yes. You’re all correct. Some may say that the first three are probably the priority.” This statement earns a chitter from the four Gojid occupying the couch. “But I like to have hope for that last one: When you’re by yourself. The world is a scary place after all. It’s best not to be alone. I believe you all have herds?
Well, we humans have families, tribes, or nations, depending on how deep you wish to look into it, and yes
, dogs can be a part of a human family. Family cares not from where the blood comes.”
“Quick question and not to side-track the conversation too far, but I was told by my date that humans dislike being called predators. Is that true here too, or was that a dialect or cultural thing?” Telg was the one throwing this question.
“It is that way here too. When humans refer to other humans as predators, it is because that other human is a gross pervert that does horrific, deviant, and sexual things toward other people, animals, or in this case now that aliens exist, aliens, so I would refrain from calling humans predators unless you personally know the individual and they are ok with it. That being said, humans define predator as more of a relationship adjective when between animals. A deer is a predator to plants as a wolf is a predator to a deer. It is the relationship of consumption rather than dietary traits.” I finish off my statement with a nod.
“Well… If you don’t mind me referring you to as a predator for one statement…” Telg droned on.
I take a brief glance over toward my parents. My dad gives me a nonchalant shrug. My gaze returns back to Telg. “Go ahead and shoot your question or statement at me.”
The four Gojid look stunned for a moment, off-put by something I said- Oh, don’t tell me ‘shoot’ was predatory… Probably was.
“Just… throw out your question.”
“It was more of a statement, actually, but anyways. Family cares not from where the blood comes
, has to be one of the most herd-like statement I have heard from a predator.” Did he really just say that? He really did, but I can’t fault him. From his point of view, he’s been spun so many times that up is down, and left is right.
I shake my head, lowering it. A small chuckle slipping from between my lips. I could even hear my mother and father laughing behind me a few seconds later.
“Was what I said really that funny?”
“No, just the logic behind it is kinda funny. Like I said, humans don’t normally refer to ourselves as predators, and this whole alien
thing is kind of new to me.” My words carried upon by a light tone earns some laughs as well from our Gojid guests.
I clap my hands together, signaling the end of our little tangent. “Now, if I may resume my, if I do say so myself, informative
explanation… The proto-dogs seamlessly integrated into our small tribes at the time; they could track threats and prey miles before we were even aware of them, they could hear the smallest sounds and alert us of their dangers. Moreover, their sharp teeth and claws served as deterrents against other threats such as large carnivores, food-stealing rodents, or hostile human forces. Additionally, their companionship provided solace to lonely humans. As you can see,” I pointed back to Lacey, who was having her back rubbed by my father’s sock-covered foot, “Lacey seems to be enjoying herself quite nicely, but so is my father. In short, interacting with dogs triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in both human and canine brains. Activities such as petting, snuggling, and playing contribute to this positive bond."
Again, I pause, giving everyone some time to follow along. “Thus, they’d impact our evolution and vice versa: Humans that had dogs in their tribes were more successful than tribes without dogs. Humans that bonded more effectively with their canine companions would get even farther. As millennia went by, humans would get better at reading dog expressions, and dogs would get better at reading human expressions.”
I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone. I typed into it for a bit until an old photo of a wolf showed up. I turned my phone’s screen toward the four Gojid. “Here you can see a wolf. They aren’t extinct due to some wildlife restoration efforts, but we had a few close calls. Wolves are extinct in the UK and Ireland as of now, but not in North America, Europe, or Asia. What you see before you are what thirty-thousand years of evolution has done to us.”
Based on the look that the Gojid were giving me. I would guess it was along the lines of wow
“Now, before you start asking more questions. I should let you know that humanity has not only domesticated one carnivorous species, but a few others as well; some birds of prey like falcons, felines, and mustelidae such as ferrets. Meanwhile, on the herbivorous side, we have horses, elephants, rabbits, and so on. Yeah, it’s quite a long list. Means more animals for us to pet and touch. Humans can bond with just about anything, even non-living things, but that’s a story for another time.”.
I perform a small stretch, feeling my back pop. A small break in the monotony of speaking for so long.
“Now, to go back to the human-dog bond. I should remind myself to tell you the story of Gelert. It’s quite a sad story, but bear with me for just a moment.”
I clear my throat, getting ready to speak out an old Welsh folklore myth.
“A long time ago, a prince of North Wales by the name of Llywelyn went out hunting without his trusty dog, Gelert. He’d return home later that day to see Gelert, covered in blood, jovially returning to him. This freaked out the prince, who rushed to his son’s crib, finding it knocked over and messy with blood. He feared that the dog had killed his son and immediately plunged his sword into the dog’s side.” The four Gojid wince at the description, having just been told of the forged bond I have described moments ago. “The dog’s pained cry heralds the cry of the prince’s infant son, who lay on the other side, protected from a slain wolf. Gelert had valiant fought to protect Llywelyn’s son from the wolf, and in so was rewarded with a blade through its heart! A tragic tale to discourage impulsive thoughts and rash rushes to judgment. It was said that the prince buried Gelert and never smiled again.”
I never considered myself a great storyteller, but somehow I managed to get the four Gojid all teary-eyed. Barlim was rubbing at her eyes once again, and so was Tack too.
“H-how could he have done that to the dog..?” Barlim’s meek voice trailed off.
“Well, as said, Llywelyn thought Gelert killed his son. It was a rash decision. This moral folklore is supposed to warn against such tragedies, speaking of which, isn’t there an extermination fleet heading this way?”
While I may have been speaking for so long, having taken all our attention away from the potential destruction of Earth, or the general mopey attitude that came from meeting Tova. It probably was wise to bring up the fact that armageddon was on its way to Earth.
The four Gojid just sort of looked down sheepishly at the ground or flicked their ears in a way that probably meant the same thing. I didn’t really mean to put them on the spot like that, considering it was some of their former allies
committing this attack, but I guess that’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.
“I think I can speak for all of us here that we don’t-” Telg was interrupted by my father.
“We don’t blame you, or at least I can attest to myself, my son, and my wife over here. One day, assuming we survive this looming catastrophe. There will be regret, followed by hope, and then love and compassion once again. Though, I don’t think that’s what my son was hinting toward, more over the fact that your allies are about to make a rash decision they don’t understand. Probably one you would have made years ago, but that doesn’t really matter here, or there. We live in the now, and I think it’s time we started stocking up on some goods for our cellar. Well, we got goods actually, and a couple of guns too, but nothing fancy like the Americans and all their machine guns. A .30-30 lever action, an old .44 revolver, a twelve gauge shotgun, and a .22 hunting rifle. Nothing fancy,” he shrugs and grunts. “I’m more worried about my sheep. The best we can do is pray they don’t shoot the barn.”
There’s a brief silence as the seven of us come down from the long monologue that was dispersed between moments of questionnaires. I rub one of my eyes, stretching my jaw open wide in a hand-covered yawn. How long have by been talking?
“Sprak! I gotta go or I am going to miss my flight!” Telg clamors, quickly hopping off the couch. He quickly taps at his phone with his claws, making his way toward the front door. “See you guys later, and thanks for letting us stay! Yes, I know how to call a taxi!” He opens the door and bolts outside. At least had the manners to close it back without slamming it.
This left us with three Gojid!
“Well,” my mother stood up from her chair. “I’m certain you’re all hungry after such a long adventure, and Telg is probably too, but he’s gone already. Let me see if I can make you all something to eat…” She hesitates for a second before continuing. “Nothing with meat or animal products in it. Just vegetables and fruit,” she iterates before walking off to the kitchen, leaving my father and I with the three Gojid.
You know, that leaves one important question that’s been on my mind. One that I had asked Barlim, but have been quickly distracted by her onslaught of sudden tears due to my forgetful nature. “A quick question if I may have your attention.”
The three Gojid turned their attention toward me, looking at me as they awaited my question
“How the hell did you all get here?”
submitted by SepticSauces
to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]
2023.06.06 10:33 Signal-Hyena7694 Revenged Bonds: A Tale of Survival and Desire [A4A]
"Ravaged Bonds: A Tale of Survival and Desire"
Plot Summary: In the aftermath of a devastating apocalypse, two people find themselves thrust into a world of desolation and despair. As the last remnants of their species, they navigate the treacherous wasteland, driven by the primal instincts of survival and an unexpected attraction that ignites between them.
Separated at first, they endure harrowing trials and encounters with hostile factions. By chance or fate, their paths converge, and they form an unbreakable bond. Together, they strive to find meaning and hope amidst the ruins of their former lives.
As they venture through crumbling cities, harsh landscapes, and forgotten remnants of civilization, their relationship deepens. Through shared danger and vulnerability, their desires intertwine, igniting intense passion and moments of profound intimacy in the midst of chaos.
Their journey is not just about physical survival but also the exploration of their own identities and the discovery of purpose in a shattered world. They encounter other survivors, each with their own stories of resilience and desperation, forming temporary alliances or enduring rivalries that test their bond.
Amidst the ruins, they uncover fragments of the past, hints of the events that led to the apocalypse. The truth they uncover threatens to shake their beliefs and challenge the foundations of their connection. They must confront difficult choices and reconcile their desires with the harsh realities of their existence.
"Ravaged Bonds: A Tale of Survival and Desire" delves into the intricate dynamics of two people finding solace, pleasure, and emotional fulfillment in each other's arms amidst the desolation. The RP explores themes of longing, vulnerability, and the resilience of the human spirit, set against a backdrop of post-apocalyptic survival.
~RULES/REQUIREMENTS~ •2-3+ lines pemessage
•Please be active. I get it if you’re busy or have a job etc. But if you’re randomly gone or gone for long periods of time then I will cancel the RP.
•18+! NO MINORS! This is a ERP (Erotic Role Play)
•This is a mix of action, attachment, and many more. Not just erotic.
•Do not make the RP erotic very very soon into the RP. Give it a while for character development then we can get into that <3
-Additional notes- I am LGBTQ therefore okay with LGBTQ
I’m okay with every gender and sexuality. I guarantee I have a OC that’ll fit with your wants.
More will be discussed here, Reddit, telegram, Snapchat, or discord. I have all and will give the social media if requested.
I mistyped the title. I apologize. The actual title is in the top
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2023.06.06 03:43 ShadowDragon88 I've Been Reincarnated as a Bunny Girl?! Ch. 5
Hey there, readers! Here's chapter five for your reading pleasure! Please consider leaving a comment or review as those really do just pick me right up!
I've Been Reincarnated as a Bunny Girl?! (Chapter 5)
A fine drizzle was coming down on the town of Starlight Rose. A familiar wolf-kin beasta in red robes that appeared to be shimmering despite the cloudy gloom of the day was walking along the main road. In his right hand, he held a long polished oak staff, topped with a red glowing gemstone the size of his fist. In his left hand, held away from his body, was a tan leather satchel, the drawstring tied in a knot. It appeared full, and seemed to shudder and wriggle. Felixin smiled and nodded to passing villagers.
"Hey there, Felixin," came the rumbling voice of Earl Shatterknuckle. The blonde dwarf, presently wearing just simple brown leather trousers, fell in step beside his taller friend. Felixin looked down at the dwarf, whose smaller frame was bulging with muscles, with blue and gold glowing tattoos tracing intricate spider-web-like symbols across his chest and arms, smiling back.
"Good day to you, Earl," the wolf said. There was a spitting-chittering sound coming from the bag, making Felixin pause and frown before giving the satchel a good whack with his magical staff. "Quiet, you!" he hissed at it.
"Caught yourself another evil spirit, eh?" Earl said with a smirk.
"Oh yes, and this one was quite the nasty piece of work. I'm on my way back to my lab to properly dispose of it. I think it's from some destroyed remnant of Eld technology, one of the ones that gained sentience, or at least some spiritual semblance to it," Felixin said as he gave the bag another whack when it started to make some electronic beeping sounds.
"Oh?" Earl asked, curious. "I remember more than once we had some nasty run-ins with Eld-tech back when we were adventurers."
"I remember you and Melthi being the ones to turn the blasted machines on, both times when cautioned not to," Felixin said pointedly, making the dwarf chuckle.
"What can I say? We're both curious by nature!"
"Yes, that's one word for it," Felixin said with a smile, remembering his adventuring days and the party of friends he would regularly travel with. "Anyways. For some reason, about six years ago, they suddenly became much more prevalent. Thankfully, their numbers have been dropping back down over the years."
"What makes you think this one is from Eld tech?"
"It kept saying 'Does not compute!' over and over again, while also identifying some kind of rabbit threat." Felixin's mood seemed to shift and his ears laid back on his head, while his tail dipped, almost long enough to drag on the ground behind him. "And when it mentioned rabbits, it made me think of my little princess."
Earl rolled his eyes as he reached up and clapped the town wizard on the back. "Ah, Kiana'll be back to visit before you know it."
"I know... it's just, one minute she was this little delicate baby girl, and the next minute, she was this amazing young woman, all ready to up and go out."
"Didn't Kiana kick down a couple of brick walls when she was a baby?" Earl asked, scratching his head. Felixin waved a dismissive paw at that.
"Pure coincidences. Those walls were clearly unsound and improperly constructed, so much so that when she was having one of her tantrums just a little punch or kick was enough to send them tumbling down. We're lucky she wasn't hurt or scared, just confused and curious more than anything. Anyways, I just get so worried when I think of her, out there on the open road. Just so... vulnerable. Thankfully I made sure to instill in her a proper sense of caution." Earl snorted at that.
Kiana let out a roar of fury as her trusted tetsubo connected with the raised steel shield of the bandit before her. The metal dented and warped just as the bandit, shield and all, became airborne. They traveled in an arc straight towards a stone tower connected to an old run-down fort the bandits had holed up in. The screaming man smashed into the top of the tower, crumbling it, his screams instantly going silent.
"Fire!" Kiana heard a deep voice shout. There were several blasts and, thanks to Kiana's speed, she watched as five cannonballs headed in her direction. To the ordinary person, the black metallic spheres were probably nearly impossible to follow. To Kiana, it looked as though they were moving incredibly slow. She simply stepped aside from four of them, letting them explode into the nearby hillside. As the fifth one hurtled her way, she crouched slightly, raising her tetsubo like a baseball bat. She swung and smacked the cannonball, her tetsubo making a loud DING, and sent it flying right back where it had come from. The two bandits manning the cannon were obliterated along with the weapon itself, as well as a good chunk of the fort wall.
"She's some kind of demon!" one of the bandits cried. The man, really more of a boy, no older than Kiana, leapt down from the fort wall onto a carriage they had recently stolen from some traveling aristocrats. He then leapt onto the ground and sprinted out into the forest, stripping off the black cloak with the red eye in the center.
"DAMMIT!" the bandit leader cursed, pulling off his tricorn hat and dabbing his bald sweaty head with a handkerchief. While the remaining men were busy barring the windows or reloading and firing the cannons, he was gnashing his teeth. After a moment's hesitation, he pointed to a nearby subordinate. "You! Follow me. We'll unleash the troll on her."
The other bandit paled, audibly gulping. "Th-the troll? Are you sure th-that's wise?" Just as he finished asking that, another cannonball destroyed another cannon, making the entire structure shudder.
"We don't have any other options. Hopefully, after it kills her, it'll be injured enough for us to finish it off... or the other way around if she kills it." The other bandit grimaced at the options laid before them, but nodded solemnly. Outside, Kiana smacked another cannonball back at the cannon that fired it, being careful not to send it flying towards the base of the tower. According to one of the kidnapped merchants that had managed to escape and make it all the way to town, the cells where the bandits were holding their ransom victims were all on the ground floor. Kiana stopped when she heard a loud guttural roar, followed by a rapid series of loud BOOMs. Bandits ran by the windows and open holes of the fort, while the front gate slowly opened.
Out stumbled a massive creature. Its flesh was a dark brown, and had a texture not unlike tree bark. Its long arms and legs were thicker than the old oak trees in the forest near Starlight Rose. Its gnarled hands, with thick thorn-like protrusions sticking from the knuckles, balled into fists, fists that were as big as Kiana was tall. Its barrel-chest heaved, with white criss-crossing scars in its bark-flesh. It didn't have much in the way of a neck, and its head looked just like a tree stump, complete with root-like tendrils wriggling back and forth. It's mouth was partially concealed by the tendrils, until it reared back and opened its gaping maw, revealing rows of broken yellow teeth, to let out a bellow that shook the ground. From the top of its head grew two slightly spiraling branch-like horns.
"These idiots somehow managed to get a forest troll?" Kiana asked out loud, a smirk appearing on her face. "And this was only a gold-ranked quest? Something tells me I'm in for a sweet bonus."
The beast stopped as its knot-like eyes, of which there were at least seven, caught sight of the bunny girl. Up above from the second story windows and holes and from on the roof, the remaining bandits, many of them injured, looked down. Most were smirking, some of the more foolish ones shouted out taunts. The bandit leader stood there, looking grim-faced, but taking some satisfaction in knowing that despite their losses today, the annoying source of their problems was about to end, one way or another.
Kiana stuck the end of her tetsubo into the dirt, large and surprisingly quick thudding steps shaking the ground. The beast was lumbering towards Kiana, who didn't look the least bit afraid. While not intelligent enough to be truly sentient, the troll did have enough sense to know that its prey should be running. And the fact that it was just calmly standing there, staring at it, only angered it further. With a final roar, the forest troll charged forward. It balled up a massive fist, and swung straight for Kiana. Kiana swung her own fist, the two colliding.
There was a very loud, sickening crunch and pop. The bandits looked down in shock and horror as where the now screaming troll's fist and forearm had been, there was a bloody and jagged stump that ended just above the right elbow. The troll screeched and lunged at Kiana, hoping to impale her on its horns. But the bunny girl simply kicked, knocking the head clean off the rest of its body. The head bounced off a tree and rolled for a bit, settling in the dirt, a look of surprise on the stump-like face. The rest of the body tumbled over three times before coming to a rest near the make-shift stables, where the carriages and horses of the abducted nobles were kept. Kiana looked back up at the fort, making the majority of the bandits shrink back and shudder. A few of them began to wave white tablecloths hastily tied to sticks and tree branches.
A short time later the bandits, now in shackles, were being marched to the mechanical cart as the local sheriff and his deputies led them. Except for the severely injured ones, who were shackled to stretchers and loaded up into a seperate mechanical carriage. Kiana looked on as bodies were checked for possible survivors, there being very few to find, as the merchants and a few nobles were led by deputies out from the fort. Kiana smiled at them and nodded to their looks of awe, some of them having gotten a good look at the show of force the petite bunny girl had demonstrated. Ignoring the ones who shrank back away from her in fright, Kiana spotted the sheriff, a large older man in his mid-fifties with salt and pepper close-cropped hair and a matching mustache. He was wearing the classic green cloak, directing his deputies. He turned to face her as she approached.
"I think that's all cleared up," Kiana said, her voice chipper, belaying the fact she had a smattering of blood and gore staining her fur.
"I'd have to agree with you, young lady," Sheriff Tonsol said, his voice even. In truth, he had tried to avoid enlisting the aid of any adventurers until pressure from various merchants and nobility forced his hand. And even then he had expected it to involve a large party and, more than likely, some lives lost from the hostages. He was a little surprised when the girl reached into her satchel to produce a clipboard with a form on it, as well as an ink pen.
"In that case, would you mind signing this form indicating that I completed the job satisfactorily?" Tonsol looked at the form for a minute, and then his mouth curved upwards. He let out a chuckle and signed his name on the indicated line, writing in the date as well.
"Satisfactorily is putting it lightly, miss," he said, handing the clipboard and pen back to the bunny girl. "I had no idea that they had a forest troll in their possession. I went ahead and bumped up the reward."
"Oh wow, thank you, sir!" Kiana said, looking excited.
Tonsol smiled, something his deputies claimed to be a rare sight to behold. "Well, you earned it. I'm just glad you were able to get them to surrender without harming any hostages. Well, without them harming any more than the ones they did last time someone came out here to free them."
"I'm glad I could help!" Kiana said, bowing a little. "Now, I'm going to head back into town." She spread her arms wide and indicated to herself. "I'm really in need of a bath at this point."
"If you don't mind waiting a minute, you can ride back to town with us. It's faster than walking."
"Oh, thanks for the offer, but I'm good." Kiana waved, before jogging back to where she'd left her tetsubo and pack, Mirabelle coiled around it protectively. She grabbed the items up, quickly looking through the travel pack to make sure she still had everything, and nodded to herself, satisfied. She slipped the pack onto her back, then scooped her pet snake into her arms, and started to jog down the road in the direction of the town of Hengecliffe. Picking up speed, she rapidly became a blur, and in just a few seconds she was coming to a sliding stop in front of the town gates, startling a couple of bored-looking guards.
She greeted them and let Mirabelle down before they let her inside. They stared at the snake with the big pink ribbon around its neck slithering obediently behind the bunny girl. She stopped off at the local guild hall to drop off the signed paperwork and collect her now even heftier reward. She noticed a few stares in her general direction, and some unhappy grumbling from some fellow adventurers, but otherwise no one said anything.
Kiana then headed to the town inn where she still had a room for another night. Thankful again that this world had indoor plumbing, with hot water to boot, Kiana wasted no time in stripping off her gore-coated clothes, which she would wash in the laundry room down the hall, and enjoyed a nice steamy shower. She didn't have to worry about possible intruders, as Mirabelle sat coiled on the bed, ever vigilant.
"Today was a good day," Kiana said, stepping out of the shower and drying herself off, a feat that took several minutes with a towel. This left her gray and white fur all fluffed-out, which led to her brushing it out. Kiana had grown accustomed to the care and maintenance of her fur, taking pride in keeping it clean. She then donned her underwear and a cream-colored sundress from her pack, carefully putting her dirty clothes in the laundry sack in her pack. She smiled and stroked Mirabelle's head, the snake letting out a contented purr-like hiss.
"I'm going to go out and enjoy the rest of the afternoon in town. You stay here and guard the pack, okay?" she asked, slipping her mithril knuckles into her dress pockets, along with a small money pouch. Mirabelle hissed, thumping her tail on the bed in response, curling up tighter around Kiana's belongings.
"Good girl," she praised, before heading out, locking the door behind herself for good measure. Kiana smiled as she stepped out onto the paved sidewalk, carriages passing by on the street. Hengecliffe was much larger than Starlight Rose, with paved streets and even streetlights. Centrally located in a region of plains, it served as a trading hub. Kiana walked along, noticing a few men and women looking her over. Some seemed to do so with distaste, more than likely not enjoying the sight of a beasta. But most seemed to be pleasant people observing a new face.
"Well now, if my eyes are not deceiving me, it seems that an angel from the heavens has decided to grace us mere mortals with her presence." Kiana's ears twitched at the sound of the male voice. She paused and turned, looking down an alley, where a man leaning up against the side of a building stood, looking her over. He was wearing brown leather trousers, a white linen shirt, and a belt with a large buckle which, matching the large buckles on his boots, made him look a bit like a pirate. The goatee and the cutlass sheathed at his side were also not helping.
"Hello, beautiful," he said, giving Kiana a wink. Kiana rolled her eyes, and moved to keep walking, only to find a squat bald man standing in her way, grinning sinisterly. Kiana checked behind herself and saw another man, a larger one with a completely shaved head, arms crossed with a club under one arm. "Now, how about we all go somewhere more... private," the pirate-looking moron asked, giving Kiana a smug wink.
"Wow, you idiots have no idea just how badly you messed up," Kiana said, walking into the alley, the two guys following right behind her. The men chuckled. Passersby stopped when they heard three loud thuds coming from the alley, all of which made the nearby buildings shudder. They saw a bunny beasta girl walking out, brushing some dust off her sundress. She smiled and waved and continued on her way, leaving behind three broken figures. Two were lying in craters in the pavement of the alley, while the third, this one with a cutlass laying at his booted feet, was standing... his head laying all the way back in a hole in the brick wall right behind him.
Later that evening...
Kiana was sitting just outside the town walls on a hill, watching the stars come out. After sixteen years, it still mystified her to look up at the night sky, and not see any of the old constellations. She smiled as a shooting star streaked its way across the sky. Suddenly, Kiana felt a surge of energy just course through her. Her eyes faintly started to glow with the blue light, and she felt a strange pulsing in her chest. Looking around, she felt a strange magnetic pull coming from the south.
Starting as a jog, Kiana soon found herself sprinting outright across the countryside. She ran, as a blur, following the pull, her eyes gradually glowing brighter and brighter, shining with the crackling blue energy. Then, she came to a stop. She stood at the foot of a mountain, itself part of a larger range. Looking up at the mass of rock and ice, she could see broiling clouds up over it, flashes of lightning briefly illuminating the rocky and snowy peaks. With one such flash, Kiana saw something move. Something big. Kiana's glowing eyes went wide.
"Oh wooooooooow," she said, her jaw hanging open. There were rumbles as the giant coiled mass shifted. Several avalanches were caused by the serpentine body, buried under tons and tons of snow. At the very peak of the mountain, a gargantuan head rose.
"Is that a giant... cobra?" Kiana asked under her breath. Indeed, that was what the creature that seemed to dwarf the Spire appeared to be. In the light of the lightning, she saw that its scales were a deep blue, almost purple. There were stripes running down its back, but they were glowing a bright bioluminescent blue. That same glow radiated from the creature's reptilian eyes, and the inside of its hood. The same glowing blue as Kiana's eyes.
"What... are you?" Kiana asked, quietly.
I can ask the same of you, little one,
a deep female voice hissed in Kiana's head. She winced and looked around. She then looked back up at the creature, her veins flooded with adrenaline. There was another flash of lightning, and in that very instant, the creature's head was bent down low, right in front of her. Kiana almost jumped back, but stopped herself. As the snake-entity looked her over with an eye that was twice as tall as she was, Kiana felt a sense of calm overtake her.
"Are you... a storm dragon? A real storm dragon?" Kiana asked, reaching out and touching the creature's cheek with her hand. It flicked out a blood red tongue, its mouth curling up a little at the corners.
That is something that little ones like to call my kind,
she said. Kiana figured right then and there that this was a female.
"A monk said that... my spirit is like one of yours," Kiana said, breathlessly.
Your soulsong feels similar to one of our kind, little one,
she said, turning her head and gently nuzzling the top of Kiana's head, making her ears lay flat. The storm dragon's head was almost as large as the entirety of her hometown.
"My... soulsong?" Kiana asked. The monk she had met hadn't said anything about them.
The song of your innermost being. It stands out from the loud and noisy cacophony that happens when most little ones gather together in large groups. Yours is beautiful, and a little... fluttery.
The dragon gave her a wink. She reared up and opened her mouth. Electricity danced between the dragon's fangs, before she shot out a sonic boom. The raging storm above abated, the clouds dispersing, leaving only a crystal clear night sky for miles and miles around. She then turned and looked down at Kiana. The bunny girl felt the storm dragon's gaze. She felt a radiating warmth coming from her. It reminded Kiana of her mother.
It was so nice to meet you, little one. It was quite the pleasant surprise to awaken to.
She let out a proud roar, and her body began to undulate. Sections of the mountain range began to crumble as large sections of mountain were crushed and smashed by the body slamming into them. The body of the dragon rose into the air, beginning to gracefully slither about. Levitating there, partially coiled, the sheer size of the storm dragon just boggled the bunny girl's mind.
"Will I see you again?" Kiana asked, feeling a little sad. She had just met this beautiful and amazing being, and already they were leaving.
Of course, little one,
the mental voice in her mind chuckled warmly. I have listened to your beautiful soulsong, and I have shared my soulsong with you.
"I... I don't understand what that means," Kiana said, confused.
You will, little one,
she said, you are still young, but my soulsong has resonated within you. When you stop and listen, it will become easier and easier to hear it. And thus, the bond has begun to form. In time, you shall understand.
With a flick of the creature's tail, there was a flash of lightning that radiated from within the hood, and she was gone. Kiana stood there, her eyes readjusting to the dark.
"This world is so awesome," she said, a smile on her face, as she began to job back towards town. She figured that if the town gates were closed and locked, she could just jump over the wall.
The lone figure stood in the dark, staring at where the great serpent had been levitating. They were sitting on a log in a small clearing, where they had set up camp. The individual in question was polishing their armor when a gray blur had shot right past them. And then, where it had been heading, the giant serpent, an actual storm dragon, arose. They sat there in stunned silence. They knew right then and there, that it had been a sign from the gods. As they unsheathed their katana, it began to thrum with magical energy, the blade becoming engulfed in bright purple flames.
The light of the purple flames illuminated his green face, glinting off his polished tusks. "Soon, the war shall begin," said the orc, sheathing the blade and cutting off its purple light. The same purple light shone from his eyes.
Species: Beasta (Rabbit-Kin)
Skills: Sibling Wrangler, Babysitter, Puppy-Dog Eyes, Master Martial Arts, Brawling, Heavy Weapon Proficiency, Sarcasm Mastery, Eyerolling Mastery, Beast Taming Level 3
Class: (Official) Master-Level Dragon Monk: Storm Dragon School, Storm Dragon Hatchling.
Languages: Common, Draconic
Equipment: Adventurer's Pack, Steelwood Tetsubo, Mastercraft Mithril Knuckles (x2), Rope (25 Ft.), Canteen (Full), Road Rations, Spare Clothes, Bedroll, Health Potion (x2), Books (x3) I really hope that you enjoyed the new chapter! Thank you for reading so far! Prev - First -
submitted by ShadowDragon88
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2023.06.05 23:15 ItzBlueWulf Ancient Gods, All-Powerful Precursors and Other Historical Delusions 12 (AU)
As far as he could remember, Traka had always wanted to make a difference; ever since learning about the threat of the Arxur and the brave Gojids who faced them at their borders, he had always wanted to join the Fleet, to protect the innocents and to leave a lasting change in the Galaxy.
While he ended up in a menial role and grew increasingly cinical regarding the supposed innocence
of the Federation's people, deep down he still wanted to be that change, which is how he ended up going blind into a personal investigation that turned out much greater than what he believed at first.
Which was why he had finally come to a decision.
He had already told the Extermination Officer meant to supervise him that he was calling off the supposed investigation into a smuggling ring due to lack of clues and that he would need to go back to his own superiors as soon as possible to report on the lackluster results.
What he was actually planning was to reach Venlil Prime to personally tell Governor Tarva about what he uncovered; he knew that even if she took his word on it seriously he would still face serious repercussions for abusing his position to illegally conduct an investigation, but as long as an official inquiry was started over the action of the local branch of the Exterminator Corps then their awful plans for the colony dissidents could be stopped.
He had managed to convince his supervisor that his report was time sensitive enough that he couldn't wait for the next public shuttle to leave Luyten, so they were preparing a private one that would be ready to depart within a couple of days; meanwhile he was busy packing his meagre belongings and questioning his own sanity in between, knowing that even in the best case scenario he would get kicked out of the Defense Fleet at minimum.
Turning around to retrieve his datapad he was annoyed at finding once again a dusting of chipped paint over the bed covers, if there was something he wasn't doubtful about it was the fact that he couldn't wait to leave his current dwelling; he knew he had chosen a rather cheap hotel, but with how often he found flecks of the worn-out ceiling all over the blanket he had to wonder how it had not crumbled down yet.
He had just finished packing neatly his travelling bag when a chime from the door told him he had a visitor.
Despite wondering who could possibly pay him a visit he still went to open the door, only to find himself face to face with an Extermination Officer in full gear.
"Yes?" he asked, wishing for once that their suits would allow for a greater degree of individuality, to at least better recognize whoever was in front of him.
"Something came up regarding your investigation, I was asked to escort you to the main offices so that you could be made aware of the details" the Officer told him before adjusting his helmet.
Aside from the surprise of hearing someone who wasn't an head officer speaking directly to him, Traka was left confused about what he just heard; did they actually found a smuggling ring afterall and believed it to be the same one he was supposedly investigating?
He was tempted to refuse, he wasn't under any obligation to go along with their request after he had already called off the investigation, but it would probably look suspicious to show no interest over news regarding his made-up justification for his presence on the colony.
"Alright then, let's move along" he answered before locking the hotel room behind himself.
Soon they were both back in the streets and walking away from the center, toward the periphery of the town, where the administrative buildings for the Exterminators were; meanwhile he was busy coming up with a way to not get tangled with whatever they found if it indeed turned out to be about smuggling, perhaps by claiming that it was a different group of smugglers altogether? No, if anything that sounded even more suspicious.
He was so taken with coming up with a valid excuse that it took him a while to realize that they should have already reached the main offices and looking around he was confused when he didn't recognise any building.
"Hey, where are we going? I thought we were making for the main offices?" he asked nervously.
"We are, but the main road is currently under maintenance, so we have to take a longer route" the Exterminator answered, before stopping his helmet from slipping lower "Don't worry, it shouldn't take more than a few more minutes."
Despite the reassurance Traka was getting more and more nervous the more they walked, none of the deserted streets they crossed triggered even a twinge of familiarity, the streetlights getting sparser the further they walked.
His newfound paranoia was already feeding him all sort of awful scenarios and to his own chagrin he couldn't really disprove any of them; had they finally realized he had lied about his investigation? No, if that was the case they would have had the official support necessary to just barge into his room, no need to trick him into going somewhere isolated first.
For the first time since coming to Luyten he started regretting having to leave his handgun at the Exterminators Headquarters, knowing he could defend himself if necessary would have been a balm to his frayed nerves.
It didn't help that the Exterminator escorting him Protector-knows-where was constantly fidgeting, always resettling the strap of his rifle, always fixing parts of his suits as if it was ill-fitting, as if he was unfamiliar with it, as if-
As if it wasn't his own.
He managed to keep walking, but the raising of his spines was a dead giveaway to his true feelings.
"Say" he started, struggling to keep a casual tone "I don't think you have been assigned to me before, whatever happened to the guy before you? I thought his turn ended next morning."
For a few seconds the Venlil in front of him remained quiet, before giving a dismissive flick of the tail.
"There was a predator sighting in the suburbs, they called in all the more experienced officers, so I ended up stuck with you."
"I see" Traka went along "Nothing too serious I hope?"
"No, it's still unidentified but there has been no casualty" the Venlil explained.
"So a good old 49-6?" he prodded.
"Yeah, like I said nothing special" his escort confirmed after a brief hesitation.
Traka stopped walking and it took a few seconds before the Venlil realized it, turning around to fully stare at him.
"Is anything wrong?" he asked with an hint of something Traka couldn't place in his voice.
"Oh nothing" he answered, trying to ignore his suddenly dry throat "I just didn't know Exterminators answered to calls for drunk and disorderly
The way the supposed Exterminator suddenly tensed to his words were a greater confirmation than his mistake was; the blankness of his helmet visor made impossible gauging the full extent of his reaction and Traka suddenly was hyper-aware of the gun still in the Venlil paws.
"Mister Traka" he begun cautiously, raising an open palm toward him, trying to not appear hostile "I can assure you we mean you no harm."
"We're not going to the Exterminator HQ, are we?" he asked sarcastically, completely ignoring his words.
"Mister Traka, despite the clandestine nature of this operation, we're not your enemies" the Venlil insisted, lowering the rifle until it pointed to the ground "If you'd follow-"
That's when Traka took the opportunity to charge him shoulder first, forcing the Venlil to throw himself to the side lest he was impaled by his spines; he quickly turned his charge into a run and tried to get out of sight before the impersonator could recover.
He could still hear him shout something, but he didn't stop to listen more closely, more preoccupied with losing the Venlil within the maze of abandoned streets.
He had just stumbled into an empty parking lot when he was blinded by a car lights being turned on from within an alley; the sound of something zipping through the air was enough to shake him from his surprise and focus instead on the fuzzy outline of someone standing from the bed of a pickup truck and aiming something in his direction.
He stumbled trying to turn in another direction, before the sound of an engine coming to life reached him, pushing him to pump his legs even faster.
He threw himself into another alley just in time for something to plink against the wall right next to him, the nature of whatever they were shooting at him still a mystery that he wasn't in a hurry to solve.
Even as he reached the other end already panting, he could hear the truck going in reverse trying to turn into the same alley, something that confirmed his hunters weren't about to give up that easily.
He looked around for some side passage too narrow for the vehicle to follow when he caught sight of a blur rushing at him; he instinctively swiped at it, stopping its charge and revealing it to be another Venlil, this one holding some kind of staff with semi-circular prongs as its head.
Taking advantage of his surprise Traka grabbed at the tool and pulled sideways, dragging the unprepared Venlil along with it and leaving the way ahead open.
He struggled to start running again, when he felt something prickling his shoulder before the truck drove out from the alley; already panicking he decided vandalism was second to his safety and he shouldered the door of a nearby building, the hinges proving frail enough to give out under the impact, letting him stumble inside.
He rushed through what looked like the inside of a supermarket, zig-zagging between aisles before finally collapsing against the cashier's desk, desperate to regain some breath; he reached for his shoulder and felt around until his claws found something, pulling it out to reveal a sewing needle with a small paper cone glued to its eye.
He was still puzzling out why they would be shooting at him with something so harmless when he heard steps following in his wake, making Traka groan in exasperation and forcing him to stand up again on shaky legs.
This time it took him three tries before the front door finally fell out of its hinges, and then he was off running again, this time hobbling in exhaustion while his pursuers were slowly gaining on him.
He had barely crossed the street when his legs fell out from under him and he crumpled to the ground; he found that any attempt to get up again was too much effort for his body, no matter how much he urged it otherwise, a sparse group of Venlil slowly encircling him as he struggled.
Despite the situation, his panic was taking second seat to confusion, he knew he wasn't used to physical effort, but he still felt more tired than he should have.
One of the Venlil suddenly took all of his sight and Traka found himself staring upward at the hazy silhouette as they lowered one of their arm toward his neck, some kind of tool shining in their paw.
He felt another prick and suddenly everything went black.
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2023.06.05 22:36 mooncheeseburger It's my birthday and I think I'm done
I'm mentally ill. I have a wealth of childhood and adult trauma and I've just been diagnosed with ADHD. I have been battling this for the majority of my life (24f) and, at points, I've lost miserably. I've lost every other job I've had. I've ruined friendships and relationships by being absent or difficult. Barely anyone came to my birthday party. Most of my family don't like me, talk to me or are reasonably preoccupied with their own lives that I am simply not a part of. I've wanted to study for so long and I've tried several times without success due to aforementioned ADHD. I have a job that I like(d) and works better with my brain but I feel disliked and unappreciated - my boss forgot my birthday and called me in for an early shift. My social inadequacy is apparent but I do not know how to fix it. I'm with the love of my life by some chance and sacrifice and I'm ruining it because I am just too mentally ill. He is doing his best but I know this will wear him down. I know it is. Our relationship has become unenjoyable and unhealthy and it's every 3rd conversation we have. I have alienated so many people I know and I continue to alienate everyone I meet. Even my cat is spending less time with me and being less affectionate. All I do is work as much as I can (on minimum wage) so I have something to do because I cannot stand my own company otherwise. Every other moment is spent trying to distract myself or turn myself off. I don't write or exercise or see friends.
I have done CBT, DBT, EDMR, meditation, yoga, SSRIs, mood stabilisers, anti psychs, psychotherapy, SNRIs, veganism, aromatherapy, etc. and I know there are other things to try. But I just don't think I can anymore.
What's worse is I am not unique. My position is not special. There must be a Reddit post near identical to this one. A wall of irritating text complaining about not enjoying life in one way or another. If I saw this I would scroll past it. Even my suffering is uninteresting and I know it so well because I am done.
I am on the edge. On the outside I seem adequately okay. Maybe even happy. I function and I have gotten so good at pretending. I smile at work until my face hurts and I leave and crumble with only myself to pick up the pieces. I have gotten so good at pretending because I have to and now I pretend at therapy. I cannot stop.
I don't want to live. I don't want to overcome this. I don't want to look at the narrow tunnel that has me gasping for life at its very end. I want to quietly say I love you to the ones I do and be at peace. How can anyone tell me that it won't be peace when I am just in so much pain? Maybe I'm posting this because I am desperate for a reason to keep going. But I think I might just know that there isn't one that will ever be enough and it feels good to finally know that I am done.
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2023.06.05 22:24 HylianLibrarian This week in SUPER Comics Discussion [June 05, 2023] - Would you hope to see Steel at some point in James Gunn's DCU?
Welcome to The (Not So) Daily Planet!
Comment below with a discussion on the releases this week or the question of the week. Try to reply to others instead of starting new threads on the same topic. Keep the conversations civil and have fun! Announcement
: Keeping /Superman open and welcoming for all
Question of the Week Would you hope to see Steel at some point in James Gunn's DCU?
(Join our Discord to discuss further!
Feel free to suggest future weekly questions!
Comic Singles Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent #4
COUNTDOWN TO INJUSTICE, CHAPTER FOUR Preview Dark Knights of Steel #11
The faces are familiar, but the situation is a nightmare. Jon Kent finds himself on an Earth where his friends and loved ones are at war—a place where his personal heroes fight each other for control of the world. What will he do when he discovers that this world’s version of his father, Clark Kent, is on the verge of becoming a dictator?
The Trinity have united under a banner of hope as they go to war against the White Martian threat in this penultimate chapter! But how deep has the betrayal fractured the tentative alliance? Can bitter differences be set aside to save the planet? Preview Steelworks #1
CHAPTER ONE: CITY OF TOMORROW Preview
FORGING THE FUTURE! The Metropolis of the future is here today, but can it survive a terrorist who’s out for revenge against its builder—John Henry Irons, a.k.a. Steel—and his company, Steelworks…and who possesses secrets that could undo everything John has worked so hard to build?
While John’s professional life is firing on all cylinders, his personal life is even better, as his on-again, off-again relationship with Lana Lang might be back on, permanently. Now he must decide whether it’s time to give up being Steel once and for all. But does John even know who he would be without his superhero identity? How does the other Steel—John’s niece, Natasha Irons—feel about his momentous decision? And does any of that matter if Steelworks crumbles around him when he lacks the superpowers to fight back? Writer Michael Dorn (the voice of Steel in Superman: The Animated Series) teams up with artist Sami Basri (Harley Quinn, Catwoman) to bring you the next chapter of Steel’s saga in this not-to-be missed six-issue miniseries!
Trades History of the DC Universe [HC]
Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s epic companion to Crisis on Infinite Earths returns to print in this stunning hardcover edition that outlines the greatest events ever to take place in the past, present, and future of the DC Universe after the consolidation of the Multiverse during the events of Crisis. Amplified by the vibrant colors of Tom Ziuko, Wolfman and Pérez’s history guidebook is a visual and informational treasure trove that every DC fan should own.
Collects HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE #1-2.
Digital Releases Monday, 6/05 (WEBTOON) - Red Hood: Outlaws #45
The Outlaws try to go legit -- and fail spectacularly. The Justice League has issued a challenge to DC’s Dark Trinity, forcing Red Hood, Artemis of Bana-Mighdall, and Bizarro to try and replace their goody-two-shoe counterparts as the heroes the world neither deserves nor needs. In this original series, the Outlaws will battle some of DC’s biggest Super-Villains and Super Heroes -- but their biggest battles are among themselves. Can this team last? And can they find their own identities separate from Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman?
TV Tuesday, 6/6: Superman & Lois S03E11 - Complications
Time/Date: June 6 8:00 PM ET
Network/Channel: The CW
Clark helps Lois prepare for a procedure but must leave the boys with her to help John Henry and General Lane track down the Mannheims. Meanwhile, John Henry and Nat butt heads over her desire to help Matteo and Bruno's plans go awry as Peia condition worsens.
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2023.06.05 21:22 Ralts_Bloodthorne First Contact - Chapter 961 - The Shadows of Twilight
] [next] - [wiki
] For most species, the question "How far will you go to survive" is and always has been an intellectual exercise in morality and ethics. For humans, it's called "Tuesday decisions."
- Pubvian Analyst
For you, the day I planet cracked your homeworld while you stared on in horror was the most defining point in your life.
For me, it was Tuesday. - General Raul Manuel Bison, Age of Wrath supervillain and Imperium Lord Knight You better kill me, because if I get loose, I will not only kill you, I'll do in front of your kids and tell them that Daddy was bad.
- Miguel "Iron Mike" Jaunita McBaine, Age of Warsteel Mythical Anti-Hero
In the end, it didn't matter who was right or wrong, just who was left. - Def.Kret, Welkret Historian, Second Precursor War Post-Reconstruction Phase How was did it effect society when we discovered that which we had dismissed as ancient legends from a confused and barbaric time were true? It was catastrophic.
- Reflixark, Tnvaru, Former Senator, academic, meditative
Nakteti felt the hand on the back of her head. Gentle, caring. It filled her with gentle warmth and a feeling of peace. She didn't bother holding back tears. She felt the hand leave her head and looked up.
Surscee and Chuck were kneeling.
Magnus stood by the Sword Knight, his back straight, one hand on the armored figure's chest, his hand slowly putting his dagger back into the sheathe.
The Digital Omnimessiah touched Chuck, whose code flickered and danced, then Surscee who, like Nakteti, was silently weeping. He then moved to Magnus.
"Stay thy gentle hand, Magnus," the Digital Omnimessiah said softly.
"Help them," Magnus said. "They're infants controlled by dead men. Help them, otherwise, what good am I? What good are we? What good are you?"
Nakteti noted that Magnus's eyes had a dull crimson glow in the depths.
"May I touch him?" the Digital Omnimessiah asked.
Magnus nodded jerkily.
The hand of swirling code touched the armor.
A long silent moment passed.
The Digital Omnimessiah moved to each of the armors, touching them for a long moment, before moving on.
Finally, the figure of swirling code moved to the side of the room, looking at the occupants.
He shook his head sadly.
"There is little left of the child," he said. "It would better that those who did this terrible thing would have had a millstone tied around their neck and then tossed into the sea. The act of what was done to them was a grievous sin."
Magnus just nodded stiffly. Chuck and Surscee and Nakteti had gotten to the feet to watch.
Nakteti felt her stomach twist.
"This will require more than just I," the Digital Omnimessiah said. "Those that I work through are suited to such."
The Digital Omnimessiah merely glanced at the corner.
Nakteti took a step back as the warsteel of the corner of the medbay suddenly bulged
, the thick coating of white enamel fracturing and crazing. The cracks began to drip red blood and smoke eked from the cracks. There was the sound of great bronze doors thundering open, the rattle of iron chains, and the smell of brimstone.
Two clawed hands pushed from the cracks, enamel falling to the floor. The hands pulled the wall apart, making room for a great horned head, with bestial features, burning red eyes, and a fanged maw that drooled liquid fire.
The great beast stepped into the medical center, the wall warping and twisting back into shape, the enamel gone, laying on the floor, but twisting runes remaining on the warsteel.
Nakteti held tight to her courage, pushing down the urge to scream and flee. She saw Chuck flinch slightly, saw the trickle of sweat down Surscee's temple and how Magnus tensed.
"What?" the great beast asked, staring at the Digital Omnimessiah. "This better be good."
"There are souls in need of redemption and succor," the Digital Omnimessiah said calmly. "I would that my son Vat Born Luke examine them so that I may succor them," he waved at the four armors.
"Hmph," the beast side. It moved forward on cloven hoofs of brimstone shod warsteel, shaking a burning iron chain whip out to let it drag on the floor.
It moved up and touched the Knight of the Tome.
Less than a second later the head turned to stare at Nakteti, eyes going from burning amber to bright crimson. A snarl appeared on the bestial features.
Its eyes went from crimson to cold gray.
The great beast shrunk
suddenly, melting, reshifting, changing.
A short, plump, matronly Terran woman stood in the beast's place. She wore a dark suit, her hair was black and cut short, her face was stern and her eyes gun-metal gray. She had a small enameled pin with red and white stripes on one lapel, polished black heels, and cufflinks that shone and glittered.
"Who did this?" the woman snarled. She took a step toward Nakteti, making a twisting motion with her hand. A long thin square blade dropped from her sleeve and into her hand. "Who. Did. This?"
Nakteti stepped back, the Terran matron more fearsome than the great beast.
"Tell me who did this. Tell me now," the woman snarled. "Was it you?"
She turned and stared at the others. "Was it this glittering mongoloid?" she pointed the knife at Chuck. "Or this mouth breathing imbecile? What about Braless Tits McGee here?" She pointed the knifepoint at Magnus then Surscee before whirling around to look at the Digital Omnimessiah. "Who. Did. This?"
"An evil from nine thousand years ago," the Digital Omnimessiah said gently. "They are beyond your wrath."
The woman snarled, making her face ugly. "We'll see about that."
"Perhaps my son should examine them," the Digital Omnimessiah said.
The woman said nothing, just vanished in a puff of smoke. When it cleared, a thin, androgynous looking male Terran with brown skin stood in her place.
"Father," the Terran said, going down on one knee.
The Digital Omnimessiah moved up and touched the kneeling man's forehead. "Arise, my son."
The man slowly stood up, looking around. "She's almost incoherent with rage. What's the problem?"
"These four tortured children," the Digital Omnimessiah said. "We cannot breach their armor lest they perish."
The man, Vat-Grown Luke, nodded, moving up and touching the Knight of the Tome.
He blinked several times.
"Oh my. I see why she's so angry," Luke said. He shook his head. "Template layer impressioning. Fetal tissue genetically modified. Chronotron stabilization," as he shook his head again three more of him moved off to stand next to the others, laying his hand on their chests. "I see what went wrong," he said.
The Digital Omnimessiah simply smiled sadly.
After a long moment the other three moved back and merged with the first, who slowly moved to the medical scanners, bringing up the holographic interface. Nakteti could see it flickering as the menus were jumped through. She glanced at Chuck and saw that the Digital Sentience looked startled at the rate the Terran was going through the data.
After a long moment he moved away from the console after dismissing everything with a wave of his hand.
Nakteti noted that he looked tired, like his shoulders were bowed by a heavy weight.
He knelt down in front of the Digital Omnimessiah, staring at the floor.
"What desperation made us do," he whispered.
Nakteti saw tears fall to the floor.
"What was coerced with force or threats lay on the heads of those who made the demands more than the hands that performed the deed," the Digital Omnimessiah said gently.
"The techniques, they predate me, predate you, Father," Luke said. "They reek of desperation," Luke seemed to lean forward slightly, pressing his forehead against the Digital Omnimessiah's hand. "Creche babies, designer children, are the base organic component. Local SUDS copies were impressed, as well as early generation RNA memory injection serums."
"Is there enough left of the child to save?" the Digital Omnimessiah asked.
Luke gave a low, pained chuckle, a self-mocking laugh that Nakteti had heard from herself more than once.
"Funnily enough, it is the child that caused the templates to start unraveling," he said. He closed his eyes. "The chronotron system was supposed to keep the organic tissue from maturing, supposed to keep the RNA memory injections from degrading, but the chronotron system kept failing."
"How so?" Chuck asked.
Luke heaved a breath. "Fetus and infants are known for rapid cell division, rapid growth, their neural tissue especially," he gave a slight smile. "It's why their heads are so heavy and they nap so often. It's tiring growing that fast when you're that little."
Luke stood up slowly, reaching down and tugging on the cuffs of his suit. "The chronotron stabilization system kept getting disrupted. Not long. Seconds, minutes, an hour here and there," he said. "But long enough for cell division to keep occurring, cell division not controlled by the system."
He moved over to the Tome Knight. "The tissues couldn't be fully locked, they needed to be able to form memories, carry out complex tasks, which are often a function of memory. That meant that they were forming new memories," he shuddered. "I've seen the REM combat system before," he sighed. "I know what it did to the man who used it."
Nakteti moved up and put a catching hand over the Terran's hand.
"Are they beyond even your help, Luke?" She asked softly.
The slender bald Terran closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "No with an although, Yes with a but," he said, his voice quiet and tired sounding. He opened his eyes and looked down at Nakteti. "The children, the babies, they will need the touch of my Father, then the not-so-gentle ministrations of, well, the Devil as well as my care."
The Digital Omnimessiah got a slight smile. "She does what she does in the service of us all," he said.
"So, they have to die to be reborn?" Magnus asked. Nakteti noted that his fists were clenched.
"Anyone else, and you would be correct," Luke said, turning away from Nakteti. "I can repair the genetic damage," he looked at Magnus. "I can repair the living tissue, the biological component. Remove the RNA memory serum effects. The Devil can root out the templates, tear them free from the infant's mind, leave nothing of the Combine soldiers. It will be painful," he put his hand back on the Knight of the Black Rose's chest. "But babies have a tendency to forget pain."
He turned, his hand sliding off the armored chest, and stared at the Digital Omnimessiah.
"I can do this. We
can do this."
The Digital Omnimessiah smiled.
"Then let us begin," he said, moving forward.
Magnus sat on the log at the edge of the orchard, staring at the Rigellian white peach in his hand, thinking about what had transpired. What he had seen.
The rage, the ever present rage, simmered inside of him.
He closed his eyes and slowly inhaled, held it, then exhaled just as slowly, willing the rage to subside, as his mother had taught him, taught all of her children.
As she had taught them iron clad values.
There was no one left to blame. All who had done that monstrous thing were long dead. Thousands of years dead. If not on some forgotten battlefield, then time itself had wiped them away. Their names were forgotten, their deeds crumbled, their crimes washed away by the endless tide of time.
It didn't change how angry he felt.
He had never had children. He had thought about it. Thought about finding a bride. Maybe even setting aside his blade and becoming a craftsman or farmer. Maybe even an innkeeper, tavernkeeper, or storekeeper.
There were many things he could do, with a bride and children. Good, honorable professions.
But he was sworn to the Lady Nakteti and the thought of children had been wiped away by the grim necessity of duty.
It was a burden he had willingly accepted.
But he had always loved children. His siblings, the children of friends and allies, even small children of the folk he met along his travels and adventures.
In his dreams, he was a husband and father.
He had been over a hundred years old, still a young adult, when he had sworn his blade and his life to Lady Nakteti.
He knew he still had time. He intended on questing, searching for another living Terran, a woman who could accept him and that he could accept. Intended on, once his duty to Lady Nakteti was done, to search her out no matter how far he had to travel and no matter what dangers he had to face.
The malevolent universe would not grant a bride to one such as him without a fight.
He closed his eyes and took another set of long breaths.
The rage didn't cool, it just was pushed down, pushed away.
There was a rumbling under his boots and his hand went up over his shoulder, his hand reaching for his blade, even as he stood up, the peach forgotten as he dropped it to the ground and turned around.
The great beast was heaving itself up, out of where the dirt had been pushed away by smoking rock and stone. Lava shown in the cracks, and pleading hands reached out of the lava to grasp at the huge figure.
It pulled itself free, took a moment to stomp down the pleading hands, then let the iron chain whip fall from one hand, the barbed links glowing sullenly with twisting runes. It flapped its huge bat wings twice then folded them behind its back.
"You dropped your peach," it rumbled.
"I have indeed," Magnus said.
He watched as the huge figure moved over to one of the trees, reaching up almost daintily and picking a ripe white peach. It moved over to Magnus and stared down at him.
"Are you going to sit down or stand there with your sword half drawn, you Great Value Conan?" it asked, its bass voice vibrating Magnus's bones.
Magnus just smiled, letting go of his blade, turning around, and sitting down.
As he bent down to get the peach, he saw a pair of legs clad in dark charcoal gray slacks step over the log. He noted that her shoes were polished, the heels just over an inch tall, with silver buckles on them. The crease in the pants was sharp enough to shave with and the cuffs were perfect.
Magnus straightened up, hefting the peach, and looked next to him.
The matron sat there, staring at the peach in her hand.
"You would make a good Hell Knight," she said.
Her voice was rough, smoky, the kind of voice singers would kill for if it didn't hold a razor's edge of cruelty in its depths.
"Thank you," Magnus said.
"I could send you out to punish the guilty, kill the sinner, enforce my will upon the living," she said. She picked at the leaves on the stem of the fruit. "None of the weakness you are forced to show now. You could be the armored fist, the terrible swift sword of my wrath."
"My service is already pledged," Magnus said.
"To an alien. What of your own people?" the matron asked.
"To break my oaths to her, alien or not, would name me Oath Breaker, and no man would trust me, every hand would be raised against me, and would betray all that I am," Magnus said.
The matron nodded. "It was worth a try," she said. She set the peach in the divot where her legs pressed together and dug out a pack of cigarettes, lighting one and exhaling smoke.
"I tempted Daxin with the same offer for three days and three nights," she said conversationally. "Like you, he denied me."
She shook her head. "Like you, he saw redemption in humanity."
There was silence for long moments, broken only by Magnus munching on the peach and the Lady Lord of Hell slowly smoking her cigarette.
A dragonfly danced among the small flowers in the grass around the log.
"I killed them all, just so you know," she said suddenly.
Magnus just stayed silent.
"Not because of those lost souls. No. I didn't know of them then," she said. "It was personal. They took me, tortured me. Forced me to do terrible things," she lifted her chin and exhaled smoke into the air. "I waited, watching for my chance, and chance itself gave me my window of opportunity."
She chuckled, warm whiskey chuckles.
"It drove me mad. Madder. I used the same technology on myself that they used on those children, layering myself over and over onto my own mind," she said.
Thunder rumbled in the distance.
"I touched an alien mind. A hive mind. Inhuman, inexplicity alien. My own intellect worked against me and they infected me as I tortured them in my madness," she said. "In the meantime, I turned Darkside Station into a horror show."
She laughed, a cruel mocking thing. "They should have left me dreaming my dreamless sleep, those fools."
Magnus just nodded.
The Matron of Suffering tossed away her cigarette butt and it disintegrated into red sparks in the middle of the arc. She picked up the peach from her lap.
"I tore apart their minds and bodies. Laughed as I sundered their minds just as I ripped and tore at their flesh until it was done," she said. She looked at Magnus.
"I brought vengeance upon them nine thousand years ago in ways that you cannot imagine. For a thousand thousand years they suffered at my hands," she said, her voice cold and hard. Her face twisted with rage for a second before she got her expression under control, appearing cold and aloof. "They are beyond our rage, in this time and place, and what I did to them does not seem like enough."
Magnus accepted the peach, drew his blade, and cut it into slices, handing them back.
The storm clouds gathered overhead as the Lady Lord of Hell slowly nibbled away the fruit.
"It will rain soon," Magnus said.
"And wash away our sins," the Lady Lord of Hell said. "Get us another peach."
The first drops started to fall as Magnus walked over to pick two more.
He sat next to the Lady Lord of Hell in the rain.
Finally, she stood up as the light faded. She turned and looked at him.
"You would have made a good Hell Knight," she said.
And then she was gone.
Magnus sat there, staring at the fruit trees of the orchard, in the rain.
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2023.06.05 19:53 ComfortableScholar51 Questionable Shock resistant packaging practices
| || | submitted by ComfortableScholar51 to Newegg [link] [comments]
I received two hard drives badly dented due to being not properly packaged. I am making this post to hopefully spread awareness as well as maybe New egg will see this and fix this, Here is the damage Nice crumble pancaked
First Issue is that these Hard drives where not shipped in separate impact resistant sleeves as advertised. Reference https://promotions.newegg.com/HDD/14-0788/index.html
.Instead they were both shoved into a single hard drive protective sleeve. The protective sleeve was meant for a single drive and didn't even protect the sides of the drive. I guess we can also imagine the damage from the drives impacting each-other. Also the advertisement would also insinuate that they would be boxed separately. Not as advertised
Box was probably meant for a single drive... Its bulging!
After noticing my return only accepted a single drive I contacted Customer support to get both replaced. After i decided to try to request that my package be done properly. They explained that we have no process requesting special packaging... Tried to elevate the issue but they filed a complaint.... I am not including the CS reps name. No actual way to elevate so they offered to file a complaint. I accepted with instant assurance it was completed. I'm just going to say it, a tad bit questionable never seen a complaint form that can be filed in less than a minute for any organization must be pretty streamline.... My copy of conversation.... Not really assuring.
I guess I'll wrap this up by reference someone else's post 1 year ago i guess the issue wasn't resolved.https://www.reddit.com/Newegg/comments/swppyterrible_hdd_packaging_leading_to_some_dented/
To be honest I've ordered from Newegg for a long time and I feel my trust has been getting worse as time goes on. Hard drives are sensitive components, Even without the dents such packaging surely compromises the hard drives ordered. How can a customer trust their hd's will perform properly in the long term.
I'll let u know how the replacements look when i get em.
2023.06.05 16:18 cruisingNW Foundations of Humanity 28 (Upturned Stones) - an NoP fanfic
Foundations of Humanity 28 (Upturned Stones) - an NoP fanfic
Thank you u/SpacePaladin15
for establishing the Nature of Predators Universe, and for allowing Fanfics to flourish! Thank you again, u/Braquen
, and last but not least u/Liberty-Prime76
for proofreading! This is my side of the Nature of a Giant crossover
-- Next Memory transcription subject: Valek, Venlil tourist Date [standardized human time]: Sept 11th, 2136. Middle of 3rd Claw “Well then, what would that make me
I jolted, swinging around at the sound. I had felt the voice come from behind me and resonate in my own chest. My fur stood on end as I locked onto his baleful eye glaring down at me. Alvi was frozen to her seat and Maeve had a hand to her chest, her chair now sat nearly half a tail from the table from her jump, her veil fallen from the jolt.
“Jesus Fucking Christ, Tarlim!” She swung her head to meet his eye over her shoulder, “How are you so quiet? Please don't sneak up on me like that.”
Tarlim continued to stare me down, and I could feel myself crumbling under the weight of his attention, though Jacob broke his concentration with a kind greeting, which Maeve returned likewise before asking, “Would you like to join us? These two were just teaching me about Predator Disease. I hope that isn’t a problem?”
Just like that?! Just mentioning his diagnosis set him wild earlier, and we’re just going to keep talking?!
“Not at all!” Jacob replied while he wandered over to the opposite side of our table and sat himself down. So I guess we are
going to just keep talking! Even though the Giant was so obviously glaring down at me! But despite that, they just sat across from us, squeezing onto adjacent seats.
I found my tail wrapping itself around Alvi. I didn’t want her to get hurt. I didn’t want anything to happen now that they found us. How… How did
they find us? “How did you know where we were?”
The Beast swung its arms wi- NO! No! Night be damned, you WILL get this through your thick skull Valek. Tarlim. He! Is Tarlim! Tarlim
swung his arms wide, emphasizing the otherwise barren balcony. "You have a human with you. It wasn't hard to guess. It’s a rather familiar feeling. I always seem to end up in a place that the rest of the herd isn’t, and the same seems true for humans." His weighty focus came back to me, "I believe one of you was saying that was a symptom of predator disease?”
“That’s right,” Maeve answered immediately, clueless to or pointedly ignoring Tarlim's eyes on me. “Though it confuses me how the behavior of observers can be part of a diagnosis. That seems… less than scientific.”
“Yes, I would also like to know the logic behind that,” his ears and eyes locked onto mine while pointedly eating a dough ball, “I am very curious.”
Maeve gave me a nod of encouragement, urging me to continue, “Well… I-If the herd is avoiding someone, they must not be communicating ‘safety’ well enough. O-Or even being aggressive! So they would need to be taught how to not be a danger to others.”
“Really?” His ears were perked to signal his interest. ”And since everyone runs, screams, freezes, and cowers at the sight of me simply…” His voice wavered into silence. I could see his expression barely holding back rage and despair as he forced himself to hold a neutral serious expression.
It was Maeve who finished the thought. “Simply for being what you are. Valek…” She faced me directly. Her voice was a tone I heard when we talked about difficult things; devoid of accusation and yet carried by a desperate need to know, “do you believe that a living creature, any thing, sapient or not, should be abandoned because of how they are born?”
My ears fell flat. I could feel the attention of the world on my psyche, and I felt my tail pull from Alvi to protect myself instead. “I… No… But… But what if they’re a danger to the herd? Even humans wouldn’t keep a dangerous human free, would they?”
Jacob spoke through one of his dough balls. “Depends on what you mean by ‘dangerous.’” He swallowed and picked up another, “most ‘dangerous’ humans are like those Venlil who stabbed their partner, or that other Venlil who smashed their partner’s head on some stairs.” What?!
The three of us were all startled at that news. “One was a fear response, the other just a simple accident. Worth a punishment, sure, but not always imprisonment.”
Maeve gulped and added, “Jesus, what happened
on Prime Station…? Anyway, something else I noticed is: your process seemed very… proactive. Humans are reactive to injustice, or at least we try to be. Even if we know someone is at high risk of being a danger to those around them, we believe it is wrong to punish them for something they haven’t done. Innocent until proven guilty is a key tenet of our entire justice system.”
“Hey, it’s like they said,” Tarlim swallowed another ball, “it’s about teaching, not justice.” And levied his next challenge against me. “So what is it that I need to be taught? After all, you guys freaked out at seeing me, so you must know exactly what made me so aggressive and dangerous! Right?” Of course I know why I freaked out! It was because he was big and… he was big and… No, no, that wasn’t the only reason! It couldn’t be the only reason. He was… he was big and he… His teeth! That’s it! They were… big and… And… Was that really it? Was that as deep as this fear went? I can’t even say I was afraid for my life, or for Maeve or Alvi’s life. Not next to how I felt running across the farm. There had to be something more to this than just how he looked!
My mind was spinning trying to justify itself, when Maeve cut through the fog, “Valek… What do exterminators… do?”
I thought for a long moment, “They… They protect us from predators. When there is a predator sighting, they investigate, locate, then exterminate the creature.”
Maeve took a moment to think on my words, then continued, “So what would an exterminator do… if a sapient was a Predator? Would they exterminate them too?”
“Ah, that’s simple!” A gruff voice leapt over a mouthful of dough, “They shoot ‘em with a flare with shotgun-level powder, douse ‘em with gas, and watch ‘em burn alive! That’s what they do!”
The sudden shock derailed our lesson, before Maeve asked incredulously, “Excuse me?? Did you just say exterminators… exterminate… with fire?!” Fear was evident behind her voice. That couldn’t be true! The exterminators weren’t like that! They were- they were…
The Gi- Tarlim
propped up his data pad toward us. There was a human wearing a blue spacesuit standing opposite what looked like more than a dozen exterminators in full flamer gear. The human held up one hand. “Hail people of Venlil Prime! I come in Peace! Take me to your leader!” Instantly, the exterminator closest to him pulled out a flare gun and shot the human. He fell to the ground, the flare bouncing off.
“Ah must say,” Jacob picked up another ball of dough, “Ah thank God Ah wore that suit. That flare still gave me a good bruise, but at least Ah didn’t need any skin grafts.”
I wanted to say it was just that one Venlil. But when the human defended himself, he was doused with fuel. Then there was… there was Tarlim. He was scrambling. Trying to save the human. Trying- trying to protect a friend! But he couldn’t! Jacob was set ablaze! He- he was!
The video ended with Jacob burning on the ground.
They had to have their reasons! Their duty is to protect the herd! They were trained to do only that! They take an oath to do only that! They can’t be… Evil
! There’s proof they aren’t! Like there’s proof they helped people during Herd Protection?
My heart stopped still.
“I-I need to go.”
I could only hear my claws clacking against the tile as I bolted down the stairs, through the arcade and out the front door, filling my lungs with fresh air. In the noise of the city surrounding my isolation, I felt my heart steady its pulse, and I walked aimlessly to clear my head.
I looked around at the city, constantly moving and beating with life and activity. This was the prosperity that the Federation promised us, that Exterminators put themselves in harm's way to protect. Was all of it just a facade? Some cheap veneer to cover bloodstained rot? We weren’t a utopia, I had never believed that; the Federation and Exterminators can’t be perfect. But Emerald Marble, Krakotl researchers, Tarlim’s imprisonment… These kinds of things are not accidents, and are not the work of a single person.
My mind drifted as I tried to understand why
, while my paws carried me back to the hotel. I didn’t take stock of my surroundings until I heard the familiar buzz of the Forum, and stopped a moment to listen.
“My cousin Mavek got into the JEOTC, you know! That kid’s going places!”
“Did you hear? Farzer’s son was diagnosed with predator disease.” --- “I always knew something was off about that boy.”
“I saw one of those freaks on the street.” --- “Another? Are you sure it was one of them?” --- “I saw the scars on their neck! There’s no doubt that they were from there!” --- “I still can’t believe that they would just throw all those monsters out on our streets.”
“No, really! I saw it!” --- “That’s a puddle of Speh! Nobody could live in those drain tunnels for so long!” --- “On my mother’s Star I saw
it! I think they’re hiding in there, working together; planning something!” --- “But they’re diseased! They don’t have the brains
to work together!”
“And now the landlords are trying to more than double our rent!” --- “Double?? But- but we’re barely making ends meet as it is!” --- “Look, there’s still time to negotiate the contract. In the meantime, I can get more double shifts in the lumber yard.”
“So I called the exterminators, but instead of setting out gas or poison, they bring out the flamers! An entire half of that reserve burnt to ash! Those things only had a couple years until they were ready to cut!” --- “What?! But that reserve was part of our finance plan! How are we going to pay the equipment loans when that forest’s harvest comes around?” --- “We’ll think of something. Brahk. It was a Groben root chewer! They shouldn’t burn the forest just ‘cause it bit a worker’s hand!” Of course: it's here too. How deep do I have to dig to see these things? Are they even buried at all?
I looked for and found a place to sit, then dug out my pad. Tarlim seemed surprised we didn’t know about him, but Alvi had, and she lived in the Capitol, so his lawsuit must have been televised. And he was right, all I had to search was ‘Dawn Creek correctional facility’ and I immediately found page after page of reports.
“A shame upon Corrections!”
“The secret drug trade of Dawn Creek”
“The failure of Dawn Creek’s Correctional Facility: Doing more harm than good.”
“Against the Herd
: The predators deserved it!”
“Venlil weakness on full display”
“The illegal modifications of proven therapy devices!”
I clicked on that last one, figuring it would be the most likely to describe even a little of what physically went on inside. And it did. My stomach turned over and my heart sank to meet it: pictures of empty cells, empty of inhabitants and beds and tables and light. An open bathroom that once was sterile now a splashed palate of grime and filth. A kitchen that no one should ever eat from, with food that defies definition.
And the therapy devices! The Herd Therapy room had a photo of the safe spot, one of the investigators standing inside for scale. The article said that the room would commonly take twelve but that circle looked like it was rated for half that! And the electronics for the floor… They were a nightmare! The voltage was shown to be half-again over the mandated amount!
Then I saw The Chair… it was too big. A massive crown of connectors for the head. Metal clamps for the limbs instead of cloth straps. Electric probes set apart that a normal Venlil would be too small to connect. There… there was only one person that could have been used on.
“My stars… Why had it taken so long for the Light to find this?” Maybe because it was never in shade?
‘Facility patient testimonials’. It took skipping three pages to get past all of Tarlim’s lawsuit, before I found another one. “This is the third week that I’ve been on latrine duty. Doctor Volm said it would teach me to value the herd. B-But I have to do it alone! I don’t understand…” Spoken from a patient of Clegel Falls Correctional Facility, followed immediately by the same Dr. Volm talking about how the diseased needed to learn their lesson with hard work. That the neglect was simply from a lack of staff. And the author sung the Doctor’s praises in their prose. Fine. If hard work is how you fix predator disease, then what is their success rate?
The patient name went nowhere, she testified while incarcerated and never left. But the author was prolific, and I found one story that followed a success case. Checking their name, four others were released with them, in addition to a pawful from around the planet. Perfect! I would be able to cross reference their names and find out what happened! Doing just that, I found other release records, but it was just the same names again. Ok… well if it is so successful, they must want everyone to know it! So finding lists of released persons shouldn’t be too hard. ‘Correctional facility release stories’... hmm, nope. ‘Correctional Facility successes’ - OH that is not what I meant. Brahk. Fine, how about ‘Dangerous predators released on the city’. There we go. There’s Dawn Creek again. Guess Tarlim wasn’t lying about setting everyone loose. Alright here we go. Let's check these names. There’s my twelve. And there they are again. And again. Why is this story eve- Wait. [Standardized Human Times: 2129? 2126? 2132]...? They’re just releasing the same list over and over! Were these people even patients?!
I checked each article detailing their release, and they couldn’t even get their diagnoses straight. Same issues: predator sympathizer was on every list, herdless behavior on most, excessive aggression on one or two, but they kept switching who had what. Ok, fine, just pick
Kaulna. The first article with her name mentioned predator sympathy, so start there. Treated at the Capitol… and Sweetwater? And
Glacierview?? They’re on opposite sides of the Band!! Sun blast it, fine, what about early life? Nothing about education. This ‘Kaulna’ is alive and well in Clegal… and four years old. Oh, one with a medal for honorable service?? No, He
died before my Kaulna’s first treatment. Alright let's try Chelm the… Gojid Harchen? Ok what about Tarsi… who has three single biological mothers in separate cities. Brahking spawn of speh! Stranek?! Anyone?! Please! Just one person! Just one person who got out who’s not- who’s not… There was one.
“My son was cured after we took him to the Facility. Only took a few paws to find the right sedative!” Wait, paws?
I altered my search. ‘Correctional sedatives’.
Tons of stories now appeared. New stories. A parent would bring a child in and they would get a sedative to correct the ‘disease’ the child had and be sent on their way. There were several results about such things happening on the Yotul homeworld. But… none of these people were actually interred in the facilities. I found a public list of inmates who were incarcerated in the Capitol in the last month and compared names with the parents talking about their kids.
The kids who returned weren’t on the list. The kids who didn’t… they were.
None of the kids who were on the list had any records of leaving. No record of someone leaving after checking in. Only… only… … Tarlim. I’m so sorry Tarlim.
I felt the wind around me as my legs sprinted back to the arcade. I shouldered through the door and kept running back to the food court, then bounded up the steps to our table, spurned again by the sound of Alvi crying.
“If what… They
do is a choice… what even is a predator?” I crested the top of the stairs, “What… what even is predator disease?”
I knew the answer. First
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2023.06.05 16:14 Seamoose_Art NoP 2177: Ashes to Ashes 
Credit for the original story goes to u/spacepaladin15
--- Memory transcript subject:
Tressa, Venlil civilian Date [Standardized Human Time]:
February 30th, 2177 Location:
Lower sprawl of City 23, Venlil Prime
If they were spotted, there was little anyone could do to save them. Tressa’s pistol could maybe pick off one exterminator before the rest rushed them down, if his aim was solid and he didn’t fumble the shot entirely. With their current luck, the chances of his final stand making even the slightest difference was slim to none.
What they needed more than anything was stealth, tact. Slip in silently, act decisively, rush out with Beast before anyone could take notice. So when James managed to sprawl out on the sidewalk over a miniscule crack in the concrete and let out a cry of pain that drew the attention of all 3 or 4 other people on the street, Tressa knew they were truly already dead.
He decided not to voice this grim conviction as he helped his human compatriot to his feet. However, James’ slight limp when he got back to walking didn’t exactly lift his spirits. At a time like this, a sprained ankle was effectively a death sentence. If they got caught (when
they got caught, at this rate), James wouldn’t be able to run. He alone was now condemned to an agonizing, slow death by immolation that the exterminators relished so dearly.
He’d stick by him, Tressa decided then and there, defending him pistol and claw until the last moment they fell together. As far as dying alongside each other went, burning was... well, it was far from romantic, but he’d take what he could get. Anything would be better than capture.
He’d seen what they did to the ones they didn’t just incinerate on the spot… The thought of James being tortured into one of their empty-eyed puppets, little more than a pet with the shock collar to match, filled his every step with furious determination. If he shot back, they’d be forced to try and kill both of them. It would be a mercy.
His bleak thoughts were silenced by a cloud of dust as Sasha carefully kicked in a dilapidated door. They’d snuck through another war-torn abandoned building, this one an apartment complex, to get a good look at the Tipped Quill before simply rushing Beast. From here, they could form something more resembling a plan of action.
Grabbing a pawful of coat fabric, Tressa wiped grime from the miraculously unbroken window to get a clearer view. He took a look through, and wiped harder. Then wiped his eyes with his other paw for good measure. The sight before him didn’t change.
A patrol vehicle sat outside the building, lights flashing and cabin empty. The cycling orange and yellow illuminated the rest of the scene, casting sharp shadows and harsh spotlights on the bare concrete. From his vantage point, Tressa could see the whole street lit in a garish blood-orange glow. It was empty. Not a single exterminator lay outside.
It had to be a trick of the light. Or a trick of the mind. Or perhaps they were already in the burned-out apartment, having spotted the group and lying in wait for the most dramatic moment to strike. He braced for impact. A rapid clicking noise behind him; he nearly drew his pistol before realizing the sound was familiar. It was nothing more than the sound of a keyboard.
While the rest of their group was pressed up against the cleared spot of the window to try and get a look outside, Trish was frantically typing something on her pad. Eyes widening enough to see their whites, she lashed her tail against the crumbling floor tiles to get their attention as she turned her pad around for them to see.
It was a video of the Tipped Quill. Live camera footage; Trish briefly wondered how she’d gotten access. Only briefly, though; the reality of what he was seeing chilled him to the core as soon as it registered, his brief spark of curiosity replaced with a dull, lifeless horror.
Stalking the bar were five figures clad in black combat armor, kinetic weaponry in hand. Exterminator emblems on their backs. One of them, a Venlil, walked up to a crumpled spiky fig…
Burai. One of them walked up to Burai, and just stared. Blue blood pooled beneath its boots, and it kneeled down to get a better look before getting up and walking away, leaving indigo footprints across the once-cleaned floor and flicking its tail in satisfaction. Tressa felt bile rise in his throat, and had to step away before he ruined the pad.
Sasha looked a second away from throwing up herself. Trish was seemingly too shocked to even react, simply staring at the pad blankly. James, however, had a gleam in his eyes. Not just tears (although those sparkled in the dim light of the pad as well) but intelligence. The beginnings of a plan were forming in his mind. He moved back to the window, and Tressa followed his motion as he began to mutter, apparently thinking aloud to himself.
"Those… those aren’t flame suits, are they?”
“It’s combat armor. If I tried to shoot them, I’d have trouble taking down a single one.”
“No, no, that’s not what I’m getting at— you think they keep those firebombs in their vehicle?
“I doubt they— Wait. You don’t mean… You think that could work?”
“It’d be fitting
if nothing else. Yeah, if we can seal the front door… just need to get Beast out of there quickly before she gets seared as well.”
Sasha stepped over. “What are you two… no. That can’t be your plan. Do you really think they’ll just sit and wait? They can probably just shoot out the door, no matter what you try to block it with. And that’s assuming they haven’t already discovered the Den… although, even using the fire escape would buy us enough time to take Beast…”
“Will one of you tell me what you’re all muttering about over there?”
James wheeled around to face Trish, a cruel smile starting to break across his face. “We’re thinking the Tipped Quill could use a bit of a makeover. The standard exterminator fare, but this time…” His smile widened as he paused for dramatic effect, the spirit of Burai apparently possessing him for an instant. “...This time, they’ll get to enjoy the flames firsthand.”
“...You want to burn it down to kill them. That’s what you’re suggesting?”
Yeah, when she put it that bluntly, it did sound like a pretty dumb plan. They were exterminators; of course they’d know how to deal with fire. Maybe they’d be better off trying to use the patrol vehicle as a—
“I can keep their attention for a moment with the speaker system, when the time comes. Just give me the word.”
There weren’t any firebombs in the trunk. Or regular bombs, or even so much as a lighter. There was a storage case for the flamethrowers, but it was predictably empty. Tressa nearly slammed it closed in frustration before remembering their need for stealth.
“Nothing in this box either.” whispered James. “Do they just have their equipment on them at all times? Shouldn’t they at least keep spares somewhere?”
“If they did, we should have found them by now.” Tressa finished rummaging through a secret compartment under a cushion; they packed extra water, ammo, cuffs, even some medications. Everything except for a goddamned lighter. His tail lashed with such frustration that James understood instantly. He leaned out the door to talk to Trish, who was still keeping an eye on cams in case the exterminators found the Den or started approaching the front door.
“Trish, you think you can start some sort of electrical fire? There’s that panel on the wall right behind all the high-proof drinks; a strong spark’d be all you need.”
“Not a chance. The circuit breaker would stop me from doing anything remotely. And besides, those bottles are sealed. The alcohol won’t burn unless they’re broken. Maybe you could throw something at it? Something metal that could cause a short?”
And just… hope I don’t miss entirely, and hope it hits the right spot to cause a spark, and hope I can get out in time?”
“Then by all means, keep looking in there for a lighter. I don’t see any other…”
Trish halted mid-sentence. Her eyes went wide, darting between Tressa and the bar several times before she managed to make a noise. It was hard to call speech exactly, and while there were words mixed in, it held no meaning that the rest of them could discern. It took multiple failed attempts to string together a coherent sentence before she finally forced herself to stop and breathe. After several suspenseful moments spent gathering composure, she finally managed to find the words.
“Tressa, you brought your pistol, right? Do you think… would the panel spark enough if you shot it?”
Some part of his mind was vaguely aware of the herd at his back, nervously awaiting his move. Of the cold wind biting at his ears. Of the soft orange lighting, or the chatter he could just barely make out from inside the building, or the frigid door handle. But that part was very small. As far as his conscious mind was concerned, only two things existed. The gun in his hands, and the panel on the far wall. He could already imagine it, even though he was on the other side of the door. He lined up the shot in his head. His grips on the handles in both of his paws tightened.
“Make some noise for them… now!
Trish clicked something on her pad, and flattened her ears before covering them with a free paw.
The speakers blared a harsh static tone, covering the sound of the door slipping open as Tressa peaked in just enough to take his shot. The exterminators were looking elsewhere, attention captivated by a flickering screen and sensed dulled by the cacophony around them. Despite their ample peripheral vision, none of them noticed as Tressa took aim.
The gun in his hands, and the panel on the far wall. Lower right side was where the cluster of capacitors he needed to hit would be, and that shot would strip right through a bottle of high-proof lureroot gin, the one Burai was always fond of. He forced his paw to stop shaking, twisted his head to get his eye aligned with the sights, and found his mark.
The trigger depressed with a satisfying click, followed instantly by the harsh kick and savage warcry as his shot rang out.
Tressa rushed to close the heavy wooden door, but out of the corner of his eye he saw the pandemonium he was leaving behind. A violent blue spark gave way to a grand jet of flame as the alcohol ignited. The exterminators wheeled around, apparently not noticing him in the slightest due to the sudden presence of a fire they hadn’t started. One of them started to back up, tail pressed against the ground in panic.
That was all Tressa was able to catch before he got the door closed. Even with his ears buzzing from the shot, he could hear the click
of the lock automatically re-engaging. He dove backwards, letting himself fly head over heels for a pawful of meters before righting himself and taking aim at the doorframe with bated breath.
From the other side of the door, he heard a roar of flame. An agonized cry. He steeled himself, preparing for the door to fall away and the wrath of a pissed-off extermination crew to fall upon them like a thunderbolt. His aim was steady, head-level. He held his breath, ready to shoot anyone who made it out.
The sound of fire and the sounds of pain intermingled, one single furious, horrified roar of agony and hatred. There was a noise like a jet taking off. There was a shriek of pain in many voices. The door shook from the impact of a shockwave inside, then jittered violently from the impact of several bodies, fists and claws and boots all trying to break it down. A desperate wave of flesh and fur, slamming against the frame with less strength each time.
There was a noise like pleading, although it could have been the wind.
A few shots rang out from the inside of the bar, a couple piercing through the door. The bullet holes leaked with blood. One final, solitary howl of torture barely distinguished itself from the blaze for a few more seconds before choking out with a final gunshot.
Then, it was just the hushed crackling of flame.
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2023.06.05 15:43 clem-grimfando I did a kind of Gears 6 story thing
So i know this is probably gonna get buried more than the Carmine family tree but im gonna post this anyway along with the next few post about this. I need somewhere to dump this kind of i guess you could call not really predicution but closest thing to it would probably be fan fic about what the Gears 6 story could be, its not a full on in depth story but more like broad strokes on what it could be. I'd love some feedback on it with things i could add or take from it so without futher ado my weird brain dump thing
Chapter 1- start is memorial. Shows lost lives of soldier scene changes based on player choice. Del dies marcus stands with a greiving JD who is silent with a sad expression on face. JD dies see kate and del are both there giving each other support. The characters are all then called to a breifing given by the head of the COG and baird about recent large scale swarm activity in a large now swarm riddled timgad valley. After the group get debreifed the player and thier counterpart, JD and marcus or Kait and Del are dropped in on a hightened position in the valley to scout out the area whilst a strike team of gears are sent to attack the swarm. A cutscene then starts where we a zoomed in to a swarm mining operation of sorts where a with the use of human captives and a newly added to the swarm ranks a swarm corpser the swarm are carving through the planet making large tunnels and ravines.
The player then switches to a cog soldier arriving in the platoon of soldiers a small diolouge is had between them in the vehicles and they stop dropping them off a safe distance away from the canyon the strike team traverses through the valley until they start the assault on the swarm, as they push through the guards the resistance seems weak the closer they get the more cautious the large group seems to get until over the tac com a paniced either JD or Kait shout over it that it is a trap and that their is a large number of swarm advancing on their position fast and before the strike team can retreat to get better ground they become pinned from snipers and swarm foot soldiers flanking them from holes dug into the large sides of the embankment of the valley beginning a wave style game mode in which more and more swarm are besiging the team widdleing the ammo down to bare bones until after the waves are completed the ground shakes and in a cutscene a corpser appears from behind them causing after a large burrowing attack the ground beneath them to crumble and fall into a large abyss of a canyon.
The chapter opens at the very bottom of the cavern the team has lost a few members and their weapons leaving only their knives and snub pistols the only light that can be seen is that of one coming from a section of the cave in the distance at what looks like a passage between the cave the group is currently in and what appears to be another section of the larger cave. The group continues futhur into the cavern the player character trips over what appeared to be a rock but under futher inspection parts of the ground are littered with the remains of what appears to be dead human bodies but they are odly sized as they are larger than normal. One of the fellow cog soldiers exclaims that these skeletons are long dead locust. The soldiers also see that their old weaponry is still on the ground and they take them to use to protect themselves.
As the group continue to the lit passage they crawl through it to see a giant cavernous mess riddled with interconnected tunnels and swarm vines with a large swarm pressence in the cave countless swarmachs, snatchers, carriers and thousands of drones. Sions lead trails of captured humans to the centre of the cave where stands a collection of pods and vines but in the middle stands a pod larger than any others with all the vines linking into it.
As the group stealthily make their way through the hive they see the swarm moving in a uniform almost army like fashion carrying shipments of metal and resources to one side of the hive where hundreds of swarm are standing over forges beating pieces of old COG, UIR and Locust armor and weapons into shape to create makeshift armor.
After the cutscene ends the group attempt to radio in to either JD or Kait and after a small amount of static they recieve word that another convoy has been sent to try and assault the hive once more but with heavier atilery. The group inform them about the large workshop area of the hive and after a com link to baird he theorises that an area like that and of that size must have like stores of explosive material to create munitions and if they were to use those materials to create an explosive device to ignite the remaining muntitions it could cave in a large portion if not all of the hive which is what they decide to do.
End of chapter 1
I do hope that you all like it or at least it made sence and didn't absolutly butcher cannon this is also my first reddit post ever so some pointers on how to use this app better would also be lovely, thank you all and goodbye
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2023.06.05 14:49 kiplet1 [City of Roses] no. 27.1: the Blue room – Bottles & Cartons & Tubs & Boxes
| || |Patreon previous Table of Contents tends to crumble submitted by kiplet1 to redditserials [link] [comments]
The room is blue, and dark, and very quiet. At the foot of the pallet mounded with white pillows under the angled ceilings he’s sitting, and dark hair eaves his shoulders, a great beard brushes his chest, his back and upper arms are hatched with more hair curling with the curves of sagging muscle, down to his thick round waist. His legs are folded tailor-fashion, bare feet tucked under bare thighs, hands held loosely open on his knees, his cock a-jut, tip of it darkly swollen, glistening, there before his thick-furred paunch. Mustache wide in a simple smile beneath eyes simply, gently closed, there between his beard, his hair, serenely still, so very quiet.
Explosions rip the television screen, chatter of gunfire, Angels comin thick an fast Sarge, and the guy on the beanbag leans back and forth, thumbs and fingers frantically working the controller in his lap. The view on the screen wheels, jerks, dials and meters in the corners whirling, flashing, galloping along in a tight-packed herd of wildly colored centaurs, garish pastel zebra stripes, neon leopard spots, Appaloosa rainbows, all wrapped in khaki saddlebags, human torsos draped in bandoliers, big guns in their outsized hands, Get to cover! Under the cable! Your six, your six! and another explosion. “Shit!” he yelps, tap-tapping, laughing, “Shit!” Over across the room a woman’s headed toward a grand dark staircase, and the other man in the room looks away from the screen, starts after her, “Ellen,” he says, dodging around a dark wood column, “hey, Ellen, wait up.” She stops, a couple steps up, looks down at him. “How long, exactly,” he says, “is he gonna be staying here,” and he points, up the stairs, past her. She shrugs. More explosions, more gunfire, the guy on the beanbag whoops. “Long as he needs,” she says. Her black hair spiky short, the inky lace of tattoos edging the collar of her running shirt.
“It’s just,” he says, at the foot of the stairs, tall and heavyset, cardigan blue. “The occasional overnight guest is one thing, but – ”
“My room, my friend, my business,” she says. “You won’t even know he’s there, Dan, unless you go out of your way.” The loudest explosion yet, and “Shit!” yells the guy on the beanbag. The television’s gone red. She’s turning to climb the stairs. “Ellen!” says the man in the blue cardigan, starting up, “Ellen, he was, what the hell was he doing, wearing my shirt?”
She looks down at him again, and maybe shrugs. “Looks better on him,” she says, and up she goes, up another flight, up under the very peak of the house. At the end of a cramped hall a door, cut at an angle the top to fit the slope of the roof.
The door to that blue room opens, and she steps in, a shadow dressed in black, flashes of silver piping, “Phil?” she says. “You’re, ah, oh.” Stretching out a foot to prod the black huddle of a discarded suit, there on the floor by the door. Splash of yellow within, and blue and white, a rumpled aloha shirt. “Hungry?” she says. “I was gonna go for phở.” Still in the doorway, hand on the jamb. “Did you want some?” Creak of a floorboard as she steps back, out into the hall. “I’ll bring some back,” she says. “You’re welcome to half the bed, if you need it.” The door swings shut. The latch clicks, quietly.
Rattle of glass, yellow bin in his hands, blue letters along the side say Portland Recycles! Clang and clink he sets it down, chock full of bottles, brown glass and green, clear, four or five of them wine bottles long and slender, the rest soda bottles, beer. Squatting he pulls out a wide-mouthed jar, the label mostly torn away, and holds it up in the light. “Fuck,” he says, setting it down. Smacks it, topples it, sends it rolling a hollow rumble away down the linoleum clunk against the wall. “Fuck,” he says, again, rattle and clink, and “shit,” and then “damn.”
Over by the floor-length curtains a brown and green sleeping bag, someone in it, rolling over, a voice, sleep-muzzled, “What.”
“Bits,” he says, “of pickle,”
waving a hand, and dark hair swings about the shoulders of his warm-up jacket, blue and grey.
“So rinse it?” The sleeping bag hunches and flops open, whoever’s in it sitting up, a woman, wrapped in a puffy pink and orange parka. “Why should I,”
he’s saying, “why couldn’t they,”
and he shoves the bin, a chiming crash. “We’ll just have to get some. Bread-and-butter pickles. Trader Joe’s.”
“You want to,” she says, and she’s pinching the bridge of her nose, “you want to buy a new jar of pickles, and, what, eat them all, or throw them out, and the rinse the jar, because you don’t want to rinse the jar?”
“The label on that one,” he says, and then “dammit! It’s the perfect size.” Stomping the length of the room to snatch up the jar, and then through the door. Clomp and clatter, a squawking wrench, the rush of water.
She sighs, crawls out of the sleeping bag, long yellow hair a-dangle from the parka’s fur-lined hood. She slips on a couple of red canvas shoes and heads off carefully through the garbage strewn across the floor, more bottles, empty, all sizes and colors, glass and plastic, quart-sized cartons and half-gallon cartons and little pints and half-pints, cereal boxes and pasta boxes stacked and wrapped together with blue masking tape and black friction tape, towering masts of emptied rolls of plastic wrap and toilet paper, paper towels, plastic tubs tall and squatly broad, whole ranks of them that say Nancy’s in letters of various hues, all laid out in a relatively tidy grid, narrow paths between and through them all where she places her feet, aglets of her undone laces clacking against the floor, until she reaches a wide cleared curl of an aisle of sorts, edges marked with long strips of more blue tape.
He’s at the sink, fiercely scrubbing the jar, “Basic civic duty,”
he’s saying, “think
of other people, come on.”
Slamming the jar on the counter by a dozen or more empty jars and bottles, scrubbed clean, gleaming. Yanking the faucet to shut off the water. “Luke,” she’s saying, “Luke,” and he looks up to see her there, hands stuffed in the pockets of her parka. “The hell you wearing that for,” he says, scooping wet shreds of label from the sink.
“It’s freezing,” she says.
“You know why it’s cold,” he says, dropping the mess plop in a swollen garbage bag that yawns there on the floor.
“So I’m wearing this.”
“You look ridiculous.” He shakes the slop off his hand.
“There’s still a smell,” she says. He’s headed past her, out of the kitchen. “Luke,” she says, following, “Luke. We’re gonna need – ”
“Don’t,” he says, kneeling by an untidy patch of garbage.
“We’re gonna need money,” she says. “Rent. The fifth. It’s next week.”
“We’re always,” says Luke, “gonna need,” plucking up a cereal box, “so get a job,” he says, grabbing another, a clownishly colored bird on the front of it.
a job,” she says.
“Jessie,” he says, “don’t, just,” and he looks up, a shrug. “Your sister’s gonna be here soon. Right? So maybe she’ll have something for you. For us.”
“My,” says Jessie, frowning. “Luke, now is not the – ” “Don’t,”
he says, leaning over to place one of the boxes right next to a yellow plastic jug. https://preview.redd.it/87pqqbf7j64b1.png?width=35&format=png&auto=webp&s=1b5613905bd8048ca8edd473abee4b8febe0df55 previous Table of Contents Patreon
2023.06.05 13:29 Liberty-Prime76 Letter of Marque - A NoP Fanfic 11
As always, thank you to u/SpacePaladin15
for the wonderful universe that is NoP
Thank you to u/cruisingNW
for proof reading and helping me out of some hang ups, you're the man! First Prev.
--- Memory Transcription Subject: Christopher A. Dewey, Human Merchant Sailor, Venlil-Human Exchange Participant
Date [Standardized Human Time]: August 26th, 2136 Early morning.
The written portions of the flight training were surprisingly easy; I had expected more of a challenge, honestly.
The way the Venlil set up their cockpits turned out to be pretty similar to some of the old space sims I’ve messed with so I got the button and function portions down pretty quickly. Although learning how to actually
send and identify proper codes and requests was a lot more complicated than in the sims. It was mostly automated but by god there were still a lot of them. A day's study and another shot at it and I was qualified for the simulator training portion. Seems like most of the work is hands on, er paws
on, in their case, which suited me just fine, always did learn better by doing.
Videk, my flight instructor, was pretty helpful, although a bit flighty. Any sudden movements or too loud of a voice and he was out the door as fast as it would open, bleating out something about ‘not letting it happen again.’ He should probably talk to someone.
Videk’s demeanor aside he’d cleared me for the sim training portion; if it’s anything like the written tests, it’ll be a piece of cake!
— Memory Transcription Subject: Taisa, Venlil Starship Mechanic, Venlil-Human Exchange Participant
Date [Standardized Human Time]: August 26th, 2136, Early morning.
Oh yea, I’ve still got it.
Those written tests were too easy! Labeling parts, marking up maintenance procedures for errors, writing out steps for disassembly of standard ships systems… It was like being back in school, just with a little bit more on the line this time.
Even the practical portions were easy, tearing down mock drives and generators for routine maintenance work came and went within a paw!
Chris’ ability to just plow through a whole paw of study and testing was awe inspiring, if perhaps a little scary; the fact that a human could focus on one task for that long was almost haunting. After a claw or a claw and a half working on refresher packets, teardowns, and tests, I was spent and needed
a break. Meanwhile the big Human would just keep reading away while jotting down notes on his pad.
Bamen, one of the station's engineers, had administered my review testing. He had seemed impressed, only having a pawful of comments and corrections. I made it on the fast track to the practical test with Chris in the simulator!
During university the sim trials were just to give you experience dealing with problems as they appeared on the fly, at least for the engineers. I wasn’t sure what Chris would have to deal with, but I was sure he could handle it.
If this goes as well as the sims in university we’ll be cleared in no time!
--- Memory Transcription Subject: Videk, Venlil Flight instructor, Space Corps Veteran
Date [Standardized Human Time]: August 26th, 2136 Mid Morning.
Humans, apparently, have a tendency to disrupt anything they touch. Not by intention, just by their very being and… temperament
. It’s like the Protector-abandoned things enjoy
danger, although I suppose it wouldn’t be much of a surprise.
The first simulator scenario went as expected, take off, fly straight and level on a predetermined course to another landing zone, land, done. The engineer was just there to monitor output, observe the standard gauges and gain familiarity with the space; not even any randomized failures. Easy! The Human managed the route just fine, albeit a bit fast for its first time behind the stick.
The second simulator scenario I put the Human and it’s Venlil “companion” through what was meant
to be a standard shuttle run between two stations, crossing a slow moving asteroid field. Get from point A to point B with the possibility of a random minor failure while also avoiding slowly moving predictable asteroids. Also easy!
The Human, on the other paw, seemed to think that simple task to be boring, considering its insistence on pushing the limits of the simulated shuttle to their break points.
Takeoff was fine. A bit rough but the Human was still learning, practice would eventually even that out.
First the simulated failure, the alarm for the drives reserve coolant reservoir fill sensor sounds off. Grating and attention grabbing, the engineer jumps on it immediately. Good, quick reaction and diagnosis.
I mark a note for review on my pad.
She’s quick and efficient, the problem is fixed nearly immediately and she’s already getting ready to top the tank back off.
Then I hear it. The simulated groan of the shuttles frame, protesting extreme maneuvers. A quick and repetitive boop-bwawp
alarm sounds from the control console, signaling that the dampeners are nearing their limits. As I turn an eye to look at the cockpit and that Protector-abandoned Human I notice 4 things:
- It's weaving through the asteroids like there’s an entire flight of Arxur fighters gnashing at our tail.
- The throttle is pinned to its maximum setting.
- It is preparing to pull even harder into the next maneuver.
- It is laughing. A deep growling sound that sets my wool on end.
A flash of panic runs through me, memories and horrors I force back down. My instincts scream at me to bolt for the nearest exit, to get away from the feral predator. But something far more pressing roots me in place.
The tone of the alarm changes, informing us that the dampeners have been ‘overloaded’. I see it coming and I manage to brace, staying upright through the crushing weight. The engineer, on the other paw, is not so lucky. A crash and loud splash is followed by a long string of curses directed at the Human. Protector help me.
— Memory Transcription Subject: Taisa, Venlil Starship Mechanic, Venlil-Human Exchange Participant
Date [Standardized Human Time]: August 26th, 2136, Mid-afternoon.
Stars, I hate getting drive coolant out of my wool. What possessed that man to fly like that? It’s a shuttle sim, not a brahking fighter! I have half a mind to make him help me get this gunk brushed out later.
At the very least the sim training was going well, once Chris realized that the dampeners weren’t omnipotent,
of course. The flight's simulated onboard failure had been pretty simple: one of the drive’s reserve coolant lines had come loose, just needed to re-attach the errant line and top off the tank. Unfortunately someone
hadn’t thought that forcing the sim-rig through a [Human scale conversion: 15G] turn, overloading the dampeners by [Human scale conversion: 3G] was a generally poor decision and made me tumble tail over snout while holding an open bottle of coolant. And it’s dried into my wool now, even better.
— Memory Transcription Subject: Christopher A. Dewey, Human Merchant Sailor, Venlil-Human Exchange Participant
Date [Standardized Human Time]: August 26th, 2136 Mid-afternoon.
That was, in fact, not a piece of cake. Sure I was doing alright with flying and the sim was surprisingly similar to the ones I had played around with back home, although a fair bit more realistic
. The ones at home didn’t use artificial gravity to simulate overloading your dampeners… dumping your engineer, and her payload, on the deck because of it.
Taisa’s still a bit upset about that one, I think. Luckily her wool is brown; if it was white or grey I think she’d be blue right now.
Otherwise I seemed to be doing well! Videk said he was ‘surprised a predator would take to something non violent so quickly’, granted that was between his panic attacks. Guy definitely
needs to go talk to someone about that
Videk says he thinks another ‘paw’ or two of sim trials and we’ll be ready for the real deal!
—- Memory Transcription Subject: Videk, Venlil Flight instructor, Space Corps Veteran
Date [Standardized Human Time]: August 28th, 2136, Noon.
Three paws of terror and the unending scream of my instincts to flee every time that Protector-abandoned Human took the stick, moved too fast, laughed or spoke too loudly.
I was a member of the Corps! Now I'm a disgrace. A coward.
I stood snout to snout against the Arxur and lived, when my compatriots fell… when they were eaten
… I escaped. I lived
. Every rest it played through my mind: their screams, the Arxur’s bellowing grinding laughter, the revelry of their slaughter… the sound of their deaths.
Sick, wet popping horror as they died, it was all I could do to run, to flee… to live.
And here I was, stuck in a shuttle sim with a predator for the third paw in a row, waiting to die. All because I thought the money was too good to turn down. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Sure the Human hadn’t actually tried to do anything to me, sure the empathy tests painted a pretty picture but I knew
. I’d seen the heart of their kind before and it was black as the night. AND IT’S INSISTENCE ON MAKING EVERY ALARM IN THE SIMULATOR PROTEST IT’S EVERY ACTION DOESN’T BRAHKING HELP EITHER!!!
Every alarm on the console, engineering and pilot’s, was lit up like the stars. Alarms wailing and blasting their warnings into the cockpit. That Engineer scampered around every surface, paws like lightning fixing fault after failure, a shockingly calm display of her competence.
The Human, on the other paw, was bellowing out that laugh again, wild and feral, as it fought the stick to keep the sim on course and out of harm's way. Like it was doing everything in its power to assert its dominance over a simple machine.
It was all too much. Everything fell away, every crutch, every wall, every little method and action I used to keep myself together crumbled beneath the situation and the weight of them fell on me harder than any dampener failure.
Panicked and nearly feral bleats ripped themselves past my lips, the names of my old crew, the ones I had watched falter and die… the ones I had left behind.
Pleas for safety, prayers to the Protector that I would survive again, begging the Human not to kill me. The alarms of the simulator kept trilling, beeping and screaming over me. The wails compounding in my mind, driving me further into my instincts. Further into the panic.
The alarms die out, the simulated groaning of the frame and that Human’s infernal laughter fall away, replaced by the hum of a functional shuttle. I am still trapped in my own mind, the horror anchoring me to the floor, the images and their screams still roaring behind my closed eyes. The simulator bounces lightly, signifying that the shuttle has landed, a soft chime indicating a successful completion, rings throughout the cabin.
A heavy footstep on my left, a soft tail touches me on my shoulder to the right, snapping me from my panic. The Human looms over me, staring down at me through that reflective visor, showing the sniveling, despicable, weak
thing I’ve become. Cowering on the floor like an animal.
Death has finally come for me, bearing the visage of my shame, of my failures.
--- Memory Transcription Subject: Christopher A. Dewey, Human Merchant Sailor, Venlil-Human Exchange Participant
Date [Standardized Human Time]: August 28th, 2136 Early afternoon.
Videk was in rough shape, sobbing on the floor bleating about ‘Bidor, Heren, and Perets’ and how he’d failed them. Screaming that he’d be coming to join them in the Protector’s embrace, begging for safety.
I couldn’t just let the guy flounder, this was painful to watch. As much as Videk may not have liked me, I quite liked him! He reminded me of my Uncle when I was younger, minus the existential terror at my mere existence, of course; PTSD sucks in every race, I suppose. I don’t know what happened to him but it was obvious the man needed help, needed someone to at least talk to about whatever
happened to him. But first he needed to not be on the floor.
I reached down, trying to gently pick him up by the shoulders and place him into one of the jump seats on the wall. He did not
like that. A rain of kicks, claws and terrified bleats forced me to let go of him.
Taisa quickly bounded up beside me, speaking with concern in her voice, “Chris, I think he needs a bit to get himself together. Why don’t you go on ahead and get us a spot for Second-Meal, I’ll keep an eye on him.”
I nodded before stepping out, she was right, I wasn’t helping the situation. Hell, from the looks of things I’m pretty sure I was
the situation. That hurt more than I thought it would. I didn’t like causing problems, especially not like that.
--- Memory Transcription Subject: Taisa, Venlil Starship Mechanic, Venlil-Human Exchange Participant
Date [Standardized Human Time]: August 28th, 2136, Mid-afternoon.
This was not the paw I had thought I would be having.
Videk was obviously having issues. If I had to guess it came from something that happened in the Corps, or he was just really
afraid of Humans which certainly wouldn’t be surprising as a devotee of the protector. I need to do something.
“Videk,” I beep, softly, getting the older Venlils attention, gently putting my tail back on his shoulder. “It’s alright, no-one's going to hurt you, you’re safe. Why don’t you sit down here and take a breather?”
I helped him stagger to his paws before he collapsed back into the folding seat mounted to the wall; his paws kneading into the sides of his legs as his ears swivel about erratically. He was still panicking, it seemed.
After several moments of slowly steadying his breathing he rasped his question, “How… How do you feel so safe around it? That protector-abandoned thing
could snap at any second!”
I bite my tongue for a moment, keeping myself from saying anything too harsh, although I’m sure my lashing tail does more than enough to give my feelings away. “I don’t think he
has a harmful bone in his
body. I’ve seen him
in harm's way to help others, heard him
speak of peace, of phil-“
” Videk cut me off, a crazed look in his eyes as his tail flailed about in confusion. “All he
wants is to destroy! To consume! To kill
! How can you even trust a being like that?”
Perhaps a different approach would work better, then. I let out a heavy sigh, sitting in the seat next to Videk, focusing my ears on him. “Chris is… complicated. I trust him because he’s one of the only people I’ve ever met that didn’t judge me immediately. That talked to me and actually listened. I trust him because he didn’t bolt. I trust him because I believe he, and the rest of his species with him, want to help, and want to be friends.”
Videk was quiet, he just stared at me. Guess I’ve got more to say then.
“Chris talks… a lot
about a lot of things. One paw he wanted to talk about spirituality.
” I said, waving my paws in the air in front of me, mockingly gesturing to nothing in particular. “Not necessarily Human spirituality as a whole, since apparently none of them seem able to agree on any of it, but his views on it, his
spirituality, as he put it. He says that he ‘believes that the universe has a tendency to put people where they need to be, when they need to be there. Sometimes things fall through the cracks; you end up in the wrong place, at the wrong time and things don’t go well. But most of the time when you’re hurting, when you’re searching for something to reach out and hold on to, it’ll be there.’”
His eyes searched me, looking for the lie that wasn't there, “Do you believe that?” He asked, voice small, his ears and kneading paws slowing down a little.
I thought for a moment. Did I? How could I not?
“Yes, yes I do. After all that’s happened in the last orbit… going from planting hundreds of seeds for jobs and having not a single one sprout, to talking with a predator over a chat app, to meeting him in person and then getting approval to not only start a job but to actually co-own
the ship I would work on? All because I clicked the ad for the exchange program?”
I took in a breath, my tail setting itself in my lap as I thought about how quickly everything had changed.
Videk spoke up, still kneading at the sides of his legs, at least his ears had stopped and focused on me, that was an improvement. “Why are you telling me, then? What do you think I’m going to get from some Human’s philosophy?”
“That this happened for a reason. Maybe it was to show you that even at your lowest a Human won’t attack you. Maybe to show you that a Venlil and a ‘big scary predator’ can be friends. Or maybe it was to tell you that you should try. I’ve not been through what you have, but what I have been through wasn’t great. Chris, for all his scariness… he helps. Having someone I can talk to, that doesn’t judge, is a good feeling.”
“So you’re suggesting I talk with the Human about… what, life? About their favorite meats?!” He sighed, his paws stopping.
I whistle in amusement, “Maybe not him… ” That one's mine.
I was taken aback for a moment at the errant thought, before shaking my head and continuing.
“But the exchange program is still open, and actively looking for volunteers. There’s no requirement to meet your partner in person if you don’t feel comfortable with it. But having someone who’ll listen really does help. You don’t have to, but I think you should try, Videk. They might just surprise you.”
He seemed to genuinely think it over, his ears swiveling in thought as he put his paw to his chin. At least the panic seemed to have passed for now. “I’ll… I’ll think about it. For now I need to review the logs from the simulator, you should catch up to…” He sighed before taking in a deep breath. “Christopher.”
It wasn’t much but it was the start of progress. I hoped he did genuinely consider it, I didn’t know anything about his personal life but he seemed lonely. Talking about his problems or not, having someone to talk to that wasn’t a student would be good for him; and Humans loved
I stood, finding my way out of the door and off to the cafeteria to find Chris. After a full claw and a half of simulations, I was starving!
--- Memory Transcription Subject: Videk, Venlil Flight instructor, Space Corps Veteran
Date [Standardized Human Time]: August 28th, 2136, Early afternoon.
By the protector, that Human flew like a dayside wind. He’d broken half of the time records in the system
for the final simulation! He hadn’t struck any debris and
had maintained relative course control when the failures started piling up.
passed. With flying colors at that! A lump stuck in my throat as I realized the next step of the flight training. Oh protector I can’t be stuck in an actual shuttle with him for that long.
Then an idea, a plan
, flashed through my mind. Remote training, the Human gets his stick time and all I have to do is monitor the shuttle from a comfy desk at home in Shadetree, answer any questions that might come up and keep tabs on their diagnostic reports. Easy, simple, safe
I tapped away at my pad, sending a message to the both of them. Congratulations, you’ve passed the simulator portion of your training regimen. You will begin on-stick flight training with remote monitoring next paw, at which time your assignment will be given to you. I will be getting the shuttle ready for your departure promptly.
--- First Prev.
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2023.06.05 06:47 InfernoAA P.U.R.E I Results
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Petite Jupiter is my best friend. Ethan Fadely is my best friend. Atlas Rogue is my best friend.
Non-Title Champion vs Champion: FBE Television Champion Cactus Mike vs FBE Junior Heavyweight Champion Paddy Murphy
The sky was pink, London was rowdy, and our first match was banging. Two of the most adored current champions in the company butted heads in a dream interdivision exhibition, leaving the fans rather torn on who to cheer for, The Ark’s animals making elephant noises for their Cactus buddy, and the Dojo section doing some awfully racist Japanese impressions. There’s never been a more 50/50 split before, and rightfully so, both men bringing the heat to Twickenham. The New Hardcore Legend lived up to his moniker even without the weaponry, beating the planks out of the World’s Most Wanted as evidence for the four defences already to his name, but as always, when you back Paddy Murphy against the wall, that’s when he shines the brightest, crashing down upon Mike with blinding lights like he’s The Weeknd. With Sensei’s teachings reverberating in his ear, it was a strong start to the night for The Sham-Rock N’ Scot Connection as Murphy’s Law was enacted on the sinking boatsman! Paddy Murphy def. Cactus Mike (F)
Petite Jupiter Invitational: Arslan Malik vs Ferdinand Maxim vs Guy Fawkes vs Mr. Calcote Miller vs Vix
Five Guys. Did you know that’s a restaurant? They’re not meant to be here in England. If you see one, it’s been illegally imported. That left these people mad. They were hungry. Oskar Leube BBQ hours. Learn how to cook, Corey Youngblood. Who can win a Nando’s gift card??? Like anyone deprived of food, these five tapped into their inner cavemen, banging their chests and ready to tear any available meat off the bone. It was cannibalistic. It was gory. It was beautiful. Vix and Arslan Malik hit the deck first, swashbuckled off into the ocean. Guy Fawkes was next, his surname betraying him, no bonfire for him. Boiling down to the Frenchman and the World-Class Working Class Gentleman, England had its clear favourite, cheering on the Liverpudlian, but this wasn’t the 2019-20 Premier League. Oil money was here to save the day, Le Prince de Paris taking home a massive win back to his hexagonal homeland! Ferdinand Maxim (6) def. Mr. Calcote Miller (5), Guy Fawkes (3), Vix (2), Arslan Malik (2)
Mark Steel vs Michael Menzies II
Mark Steel. Famed telephone pole hater. Liam O’Connor’s best friend (fake Irishmen!!!). He was finally back in action after fending off the Taliban to take on a mortal enemy from the same pond, Scottish Hero Michael Menzies. The last time he fought the Junior, he put a feller called Kalamity in his place, showing him how Death to Juniors cruelly rules his painfully insignificant existence. But then Michael discovered the meaning of true friendship. Steel was screwed (pun). Watching his friend beat the odds in the opener was all the motivation the Future-Proof needed to kick DTJ’s door off its hinges and beat Mark over the foot with a bedpan in the ER, hatred being translated into excruciating levels of agony both ways. When they found themselves on their last legs, the hometown UK laddie knocked the breaks off Peak Performance, Menzies avenging his cold Spring by injecting further warmth into his Summer! Michael Menzies (15) def. Mark Steel (7)
Simon Brown vs Kentaro Sakamoto vs Travis Broski
Three cool dudes with attitudes. This is not a restaurant. But this is a banger all the same, no mash needed. All getting their big breaks through tournaments, they found themselves in a league of their own here to crown which of them holds the most potential to rule the Blitz lands one day, smashing each other’s heads into canvases and destroying buttons on their controllers to make their efforts known. Obligatory Fire Pro Wrestling World reference. This match was not for the faint of heart (PC gamers) as real men did real men things like they’re William Regal. Simon Brown made it all look too easy the buttery-smooth competitor he is, but butter can both be sliced through, or for those Republicans with guns, shot through. Guess what Kentaro Sakamoto did? Boom. No more gun control in England. It’s Anarchy in the UK. It’s Sex Pistols. WAITWAITWAITWAITNONONONONO. Famed Undercity Underdog has done it again. He’s snuck in from the back of the race when everyone thought he’d be the next victim of a licence to kill, deporting the competition to win! Brock Lesnar was here. Travis Broski (11) def. Kentaro Sakamoto (7), Simon Brown (4)
James Scott vs Jason Beggs
He went from undesirable to ir-goddamn-resistible. He is Jason Beggs and he wants to fight (Fit Finlay gimmick infringement). He’s not settling for the little koi in the ponds though. He went fishing for the big one. He reeled in an entire James Scott. And thus, the fate of humanity hung in the balance. Did Jason bait him in successfully? Did James’s 1000 word-long title do the trick? Can Beggs pronounce salmon? Will Ospreay can’t. Can Scott pronounce salmon?????? This was the end of what we used to know, a once young phoenixed Beggs on the cusp of greatness by spreading his wings over the accomplished inaugural Lifeline Classic winner, wanting another feather in his cap. The Purest Protagonist wasn’t about to let the story not be about him though, trying to give Jason brain damage if it meant remaining relevant, though even with his brains turned to mush, his spirit wasn’t, Beggs bursting through Scott to infinity and beyond! That’s what’s up. Jason Beggs (13) def. James Scott (6)
Battle of the Best II: DTJ (Misery, Hunter Maguire, Joshua Epps) vs PROVINCE (Sebastian King, Erick Koeman, Karma) vs The RISE (Ripley, John LaGuardia, Victor Williams)
This is the greatest match of all-time. Firestorm 81 can go die. These 9 men did it infinitely better. DTJ. PROVINCE. The RISE. The goddamn future of our industry. 3 of these even have the chance to main event BTE this year. One of these was in the Shining Light League Finals. Another was in the Punish & Crush II Finals. One dominated the Junior Division for record-breaking lengths after winning the Gedo Classic III, two won the Television Championship and another one may do so soon. This was drama at its finest. An utterly insane sprint Dragongate-style with enough hot tags to cook an entire steak. These 9 made me love wrestling again. Competition remaining tight as ever until the final whistle was blown, no one left here a loser, but DTJ sure cemented themselves as trophy-worthy, taking home the second Battle of the Best in Misery’s home country! DTJ (Misery, Hunter Maguire, Joshua Epps) (9) def. PROVINCE (Sebastian King, Erick Koeman, Karma) (7) and The RISE (Ripley, John LaGuardia, Victor Williams) (4)
EED vs JOHN
These are two freaks of nature. They don’t make professional wrestlers like these anymore. A skull-screwing, bone-breaking history-maker who competed in the first FBE match ever of both a Firestorm and PPV capacity against a lady-fainting, no-nonsense hunk of a brute who’s been leading his own rise through the pages of encyclopaedias, turning everyone into his playthings. This was big. This was meaty. And they damn sure slapped each other to oblivion and back. JOHN, looking to take the ALL CAPS throne for himself, took the fight to his predecessor, yelling that the future is now, old man. The Notorious wasn’t walking off into the night that easy though. He knows of the Long Knives. All risks will be taken to avoid a repeat. Pummelling each other with such intensity to make even Stan Hansen take a few paces, these two physical specimens wore each other down to fine granules of sand, with the Misfit stomping the OG back to the past! JOHN (16) def. EED (6)
Nate Matthews vs T.M Imran
It’s T.M Imran time, baby. PRIMETIME forever. Capital STEEZ loves him. Ethan Fadely loves him. Conor Cassidy loves him. But Nate Matthews had no love for the Pakistani. He didn’t want no Biryani nor Nihari. He wanted to stomp out the fire of the Fifth Asian Tiger. Pouncing on one another like wild animals in the savannas, there was no love lost between these two, bloodlust fuelling their insatiable desires to pack pack kill kill. Imran’s path to immortality required butchering the God Butcher and he was all for it, the fury of Gods in him like Shazam bringing out the best in him, though Nate was never as much as two steps behind even this deep into his veteran years. Giving him the Living Legend treatment, he put T.M through the toughest test of his life, but Imran walked out of it an even better competitor, finally taking down the man who refused to show him respect the easy way! T.M Imran (12) def. Nate Matthews (8)
Bong vs Bengt Holm
I want you to stop and really think for a second. Can your life get better? Can it get worse? How do we get through each day, closer to the Earth by every second, knowing there very well could be more to life, and yet we painstakingly ignore it?
It's time to fucking sort yourself out. You take the kids to school yet? Did you even make them breakfast? Do you ever? Did they learn to tie their shoes by themselves or did you show them?
Society is crumbling and all we do is type and wank and touch ourselves. Touch something. Something different, something new. Touch grass, feel ass.
And that is why I'm officially declaring my support for ma.çé & mån.sôör's 2024 Presidential Campaign. We have to strive to be better, and these two right here are the ones to do it.
My god the sex appeal is just off the charts, the fashion? Don't even get me started. They put the rizz in charizzma. It's an out-of-body experience just to absorb a second of the same air that they consume.
They say cleanliness is second to holiness, I think they're wrong. I think it's second to the Maximum Male Models. It's time to push them.
Bong out. Bengt Holm (16) def. Bong (6)
Atlas Rogue vs Ethan Fadely VII
This was it. The final frontier in a legendary rivalry between two of the finest wrestlers FBE has ever seen in its 1000+ days. The Godfather of Pure Rules, King Blitz, Atlas Rogue. The Son of the Roses, The Aether Ace, Ethan Fadely. One of the greatest of this match type against 2022’s Wrestler of the Year. Sol Ace was at his deadliest yet here after damn near having his career ripped from him at the hands of Fadely, only the work of the finest surgeon able to patch him back together for this bout to be sanctioned.
Ethan, meanwhile, was no less as savage as had been seen in each previous war against one of his most despised people on the planet, emulating his cold-blooded performances at each past New Beginning to put the fear of God into any sensible individual. But for Atlas, sense had left the window eons ago. This man took what was most precious to him and pissed on it. He laughed and mocked and beat King Blitz at his own game. Revenge was not only desirable but necessary. As the cowboys drew their pistols one last time, it was Ethan’s rose-coloured insides spilled on the canvas, Atlas walking off into the Sun, 4-3 in his favour! Atlas Rogue (13) def. Ethan Fadely (10)
British Rounds: Desmond Caid vs Capital STEEZ VIII
Still going, baby. Team Jimmy? Team Steve?
Non-Title: FBE World Heavyweight Champion Inferno vs Petite Jupiter III
Bloodshed between enemies is undoubtedly hellish, but bloodshed between brothers is the most viscous kind that could ever be found, and the blood which remained between Inferno and Petite Jupiter was the thickest of all. Once holding the FBE World Tag Team Championship together to now treating one another like strangers in the night, an underlying bitterness wafted about the London air, the Aether Ace needing to beat one of two men he’s never been able to, and the Shining Light adamant to bring his brother back from the depths of darkness whilst getting a lick on his championship that’s long eluded him.
Even after a year and a half away, PJ turned the clocks back effortlessly against the FBE World Heavyweight Champion, reminding his hometown why he was in the match to crown its first titleholder all those years ago, and especially giving the Brummie Bastard painful flashbacks to each time he failed to block out the light. And yet, even with Jupiter’s seamlessness, something had changed, though not within him. It was Inferno, continuing to perform unlike he has in the many preceding years. Having evolved into his final form – a simply cruel force of nature, tearing through forests of wisdom and saplings of potential – there was no stopping Papa PPV’s wrath, recreating the scenes of the first Carnage Tour as he left his brother for dead! Inferno (17) def. Petite Jupiter (4)
FBE Pure Championship: Shining Light League Winner FBE World Tag Team Champion Dr. Logan Wright (c) vs Apeirogone 3rd Defence
3 months of a gruelling Shining Light League and possibly 6 more of deliberate brick-placing have led to this moment. 9 months ago, Dr. Logan Wright captured the FBE Pure Championship for the very first time. 9 months ago, Apeirogone waged his first war on The Ark in his first and only Pure Rules match to date. Whilst Cactus Mike was taken down, two stone pillars stopped the Infinity Ace dead in his tracks, Code Blue and Kaze Tanaka seemingly ending his story. That is, until the final member called his name from the mountaintop. The Ark’s 2023 MVP, the Final Boss of Blitz, the now only two-time Pure Champion looking to make his third defence and sixth overall his most iconic yet, he challenged the Final Boss of FB in his career’s most crucial match yet.
And for the first majority of their dream fight, it was shockingly one-sided, the Medicinal Magician enforcing a lockdown on his division, reminding Ape that even for all his incredible accomplishments, this wasn’t his home, nor was it his match to lose. But then, the first glimmer of hope arose. Apeirogone, bounding back like he’s always done, refusing to let an unfamiliar environment get the better of him. But no, he met the Earth again, being forced into the dirt by the unyielding boot of FBE’s Resident Doctor, once more seeming to have him beat. And yet, it still wasn’t over.
Channelling otherworldly levels of motivation, Ape simply refused to go out this way on his second lease on life, reminding Logan what the true makings of a Final Boss are. Even when you knock them down, even when you think you have the advantage for the briefest of moments, they’ll cruelly wrench that away from you in a heartbeat. And that’s exactly what the three-time World Champion did here, teaching Wright he still has some ways to go before he’s the all-encompassing Final Boss he desires to be, the veteran once more being the downfall of the Doctor as Apeirogone became the fifth FBE Pure Champion in history! Apeirogone (12) def. Dr. Logan Wright (c) (11) to win the FBE Pure Championship
What a goddamn rollercoaster of a show, lads! Incredible work from everyone who participated on one of the biggest Fantasy Booking cards we’ve ever had. With the past, present, and future all gathering to stamp their names into the annals of what will become a grand annual spectacle, you should all be very proud of what you’ve accomplished and continue to accomplish here. We’ll be taking a breather for a couple weeks until after WarZone V with Blitz so rest up, get your energy back, and get ready for another long stretch into our next PPV – August’s Rush Hour! Pure rules.
2023.06.05 03:43 Kamen-Ramen [H] Patch Quest, Ashes of the Singularity, RollerCoaster Tycoon, Shenmue I+II, Black Desert Online, & More! [W] Steam & PayPal
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2023.06.05 03:42 Kamen-Ramen [H] Patch Quest, Ashes of the Singularity, RollerCoaster Tycoon, Shenmue I+II, Black Desert Online, & More! [W] Steam & PayPal
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2023.06.05 00:19 HealBeforeZod The Shift from Hell Part 2 of 2
Click here to read Part 1 Violence
Kastor wheeled his cart in the direction where the bathrooms would be in the building where he worked. Exhausted, he did not notice that when he walked past the other stalls to clean a toilet, that he walked past someone whose head was being dunked into a toilet by an imp. The imp cackled, “it’s just a prank, bro.” Kastor overheard when he was finishing up the bathroom and turned to the imp, not noticing the creature’s inhuman appearance.
“Hey, don’t make me call HR.” He said, pointing a stern finger at the imp.
The imp paused, then Kastor continued to the next room, leaving behind the imp and the soul of a man who in life had hosted an obnoxious prank show that frequently led to people getting seriously injured. Fraud
The next room was a mess, the floor covered in broken pieces of objects.
Kastor, ignoring the occupants and focusing on the mess, didn’t realize the room was filled with influencers and media personalities. Here they were forced for all eternity to only have access to the faulty goods, foods, and services they had peddled in life. They wore poorly constructed, ill-fitting clothes, ate food with terrible taste, and many of the objects they held crumbled to pieces easily, causing more mess for Kastor to clean up. Kastor muttered under his breath, then proceeded to the final room. Treachery
The boss’s office was always last on Kastor’s route. Kastor entered the room, fine leather chairs, a large, mahogany desk. Kastor paused, his mouth agape at the sight of the entity in the large office chair. A pale, impeccably dressed man with slicked back hair watched him. Kastor’s eyes looked around the room, realizing there was no room like it in the office building where he worked. He pinched himself, but he did not wake up.
“Again?!” The well-dressed man stood up from his chair, “this is the third time this week!”
Kastor stood by, confused. In a quavering voice he asked, “where am I and who are you?”
“Oh, for the love of—HELL! You are in hell. And I suppose you could think of me as the devil, though the situation is far more nuanced than that. Let me guess, did you see a ring of fire and decide to walk through it?”
“Um,” Kastor paused, trying to recall his evening, it was a blur. “I, uh, I’m not sure. It’s been a long day.”
“Let me guess, you work in an office building?”
“Uh, yes.” Kastor nodded.
“Damn humans making their workspaces so similar to Hell that it creates a metaphysical link. It’s happened three times this week alone, THREE TIMES. This poor call center agent accidentally plopped into the 5th circle two days ago. Mind you, she is still very much alive and far too kind to end up here. I mean, I know I am supposed to delight in human suffering, but what is there left for me to do? My work is meaningless, Earth and Hell are pretty much interchangeable!” The devil paced back and forth in the room, muttering curses. While Kastor was unnerved that he somehow wandered into Hell, and he knew objectively the devil was supposed to be pure evil, he did feel a little bad for the devil.
“Not your fault, I’m just nettled is all.” The devil replied, settling back into his chair with a prolonged sigh. Kastor paused, trying to think of something he could say to console the devil, a situation he would have never imagined himself in.
“Perhaps think of it as franchising?” Kastor suggested. “You’re just expanding operations to Earth?” Upon hearing Kastor’s take on the matter, the devil’s mouth widened in a genuine grin.
“You’re right!” The devil leaned back in his chair, propping his arms behind his head. “Franchising, that’s a good point of view. Tell me, are you interested in new employment? I could use a new head of PR, the last one left for a job in cable news.”
“Oh, um,” Kastor gulped. His job was awful, paid minimum wage, and was so agonizingly tedious that he accidentally walked into Hell, unable to tell the difference. He reached down into his wallet and pulled out a picture of his Lola. He remembered her disappointment when he ate all the lumpia as a child. What would she think of him if he worked for literal Satan? He lifted his eyes to the devil and shook his head, “I appreciate the offer, but I must decline. I don’t want to disappoint my Lola.”
The devil sighed deeply, “I suppose I shall send you back then.” He paused, shifting his eyes, “this was, um, a moral test. Congratulations, you are now going to heaven for your ability to turn down temptation, yay.” The devil’s tone was monotone. He snapped his fingers, sending Kastor back to the janitor’s closet.
The devil, alone in his now-empty room, lowered his head. It hadn’t been a test. He really did need a new head of PR.
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2023.06.05 00:13 ParzivalPrincip Masonry repair
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2023.06.04 23:48 Independent_Hold6733 Late review!!
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Triple Berry Cobbler: 4.4/5 Great cookie! The berry jam is very tart but pairs well with cream cheese frosting. The cinnamon is a nice touch and the cookie was lovely warm. submitted by Independent_Hold6733 to CrumblCookies [link] [comments]
Blue Monster: 3/5 I’m so sorry and please don’t come for me but this cookie is way overhyped on this reddit in my opinion. There were some bites that tasted like nothing, however, the bites with chocolate chips were good, but again not anything special. I apologize to the Blue Monster fans and acknowledge my privilege for having the opportunity to try this cookie.
Cookie Butter Ice Cream: 5/5 My new favorite cookie from Crumbl. It perfectly balanced Biscoff cookie butter with Crumbl’s style of cookie. Spectacular since I love cookie butter 😍 My partner and I finished this cookie FAST. It even tastes exceptional chilled which is rare. My partner would like it to be noted that the crushed cookie bits could (and should) have been sprinkled on the entire cookie, not just the rim. He is not a regular at crumbl, but he was very happy with this cookie. 9.2/10 from him.
2023.06.04 22:51 TheArmoredFool [UPDATE] Had a brain tumor, lost my job, might be kicked out of the country. Any advice?
Link to original post: https://www.reddit.com/germany/comments/132zolz/had_a_brain_tumor_lost_my_job_might_be_kicked_out/
So the situation has (surprisingly) gotten a bit worse now.
I'll continue the points from where I left off:
- Since March this year, I've been sending in at least 5 applications per day for trainee, junior and experience requiring positions. They've all involved tailored CVs and personalized cover letters after taking the time to research the companies. The vast majority of them get replies like "We chose candidates whose profiles were a more perfect match for the position" without any explanation or feedback. I wouldn't be surprised if they're making "culture fit" assumptions at this point. The 1% of them I do get interviews for end up ghosting me after any mention of having to deal with the Ausländerbehörde for getting permission to work. There was this one time I made it to a 2nd round interview, but it didn't work out because they wanted someone with more "cold calling experience".
- I got my Fiktionsbescheinigung extended till late June, although it still says "Erwerbstätigkeit nicht erlaubt" - something that seems to cause employers to ghost me as soon as they see it. Even the Arbeitsagentur said they can't help me unless my situation with the Ausländerbehörde is solved.
- I met a couple of lawyers for Arbeitsrecht and Sozialrecht, who basically didn't get to the point where they look at proofs, and told me it's too late to get any compensation regarding my health condition. I brought about a dozen pages of info to show them, and they barely even discussed two.
- On my lawyer's recommendation, I got a new doctor's certificate stating the maximum possible recovery period (until late July). I still have a pending checkup with the hospital's neurologist later this month to see if the tumor has a chance of coming back, and appointments with the ENT to discuss my hearing loss are available directly in September. External ENTs say only the hospital has knowledge about the nature of my operation, and that only their specific ENT can take care of it.
- A migration counselling center discussed my case with their own lawyer, where the conclusion was that the Ausländerbehörde had wrongfully stated "Erwerbstätigkeit nicht erlaubt" on the Fiktionsbescheinigung. I discussed this with my lawyer and asked them to talk to the Ausländerbehörde about it.
- Now I get a letter from my lawyer that the Ausländerbehörde can't extend my stay further, their argument being that the operation was "after my work search permit expired". They're completely ignoring the doctor's certificate which clearly says my symptoms were making it impossible to look for a job during this period, and their argument for not changing the words on the Fiktionsbescheinigung is something along the lines of "I'm unable to work till late July anyway, so there's no point". They've asked my lawyer to decide by June 15th whether I want to withdraw my residence permit application in exchange for a border crossing certificate lasting until July end (with the possibility of them examining a work contract in case I manage to get one by then), or whether they can go ahead with the rejection. Here's what they wrote in their email to my lawyer:
im vorliegenden Fall sehen wir derzeit weiterhin keine Möglichkeit den Aufenthalt von -XXX- zu
Zum einen ist die Frist zur Arbeitsplatzsuche bereits abgelaufen. Diese war auch bereits zum Zeitpunkt der OP im Januar d. J. abgelaufen.
Auch in absehbarer Zukunft (bis min. Ende Juli 2023) wird es nicht zur Aufnahme einer Tätigkeit kommen, wie aus den ärztlichen Schreiben hervorgeht.
Wir können hier gegen Antragsrücknahme nur insoweit entgegenkommen, dass wir bis Ende Juli 2023 eine Grenzübertrittsbescheinigung ausstellen.
Sollte innerhalb dieses Zeitraums ein Arbeitsvertrag vorgelegt werden können, werden wir diesen Antrag prüfen.
Andernfalls können wir lediglich das Ablehnungsverfahren vorantreiben.
lch bitte um Mitteilung bezüglich des weiteren Vorgehens bis zum 15.06.2023.
I'm looking for opinions on why they're being so aggressive and unhelpful here.
Is it because they know they screwed up and want me to drop the case myself so they don't get found out eventually? Are they hoping that I'll crumble under time pressure and won't get to prove anything if further treatment is required?
Is it because they actually believe I'm lazy and not even trying, since they lack the perspective of a non-EU person (from somewhere that isn't a first world country)?
Is it just a result of the case handler's personal need to power trip by making the "Ausländer" feel small and powerless?
Or is the Ausländerbehörde actually bound by "rules" they supposedly can't make exceptions for in such cases? This being despite the fact that I'm not taking unemployment benefits at all and the only problem they would have with me is the fact that I'm breathing their air :/
Honestly this is all just way too stressful, and it certainly doesn't help with the recovery.
Any thoughts on how to proceed with this?
And would a "rejection" be a major hurdle in the future in terms of immigration?
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2023.06.04 21:51 NamelessNanashi [The Gods of Dragons: Beginning] Ch 16 - Aftermath Part 2/2
--- Table of Contents
--- Part 1/2
When Shon woke again, it was to be told he'd slept, not only the rest of the day and night of the incident, but the entire day after as well. Despite the Cleric assuring Shon that this was normal, he still had Shon eat breakfast in the infirmary while the Squires attended their morning lessons. He'd slept through drills, breakfast, and prayer.
The Cleric kept the curtains drawn over the window, though Shon's head wasn't pounding anymore, and had added a second set of standing curtains around the girl's bed. Shon's eyes flicked in her direction with every alternate bite he managed to force down, but there was no movement beyond the white cloth.
Master Daunas came in shortly before tenth bell and armor practice to inform Shon that he was to take the day off to rest but could rejoin the others in training the following day. He was at least allowed to leave the infirmary, though he waited until he could hear sparring outside before he did. He didn't want to run into any of the Squires.
As he opened the door to leave something flew by the window, catching Shon's attention enough to make him stop and look over. But it was already long gone. Just a bird... Assuming he hadn't imagined it.
He shook his head, still aching all over. His mind swam with worries and memories, made worse by the fact that the Cleric was trying to hide shivers now that Shon was fully rested. He'd probably just imagined it...
Back in his room Shon huddled over his journal. He could still smell the smoke in his hair and had decided it would be best to shower soon, but finally alone, his thoughts and memories could no longer be ignored.
So he drew. He tried to start safe. Nangran atop his borrowed horse; Ivelm mostly naked and shaking a club in his doorway; the Archmage's workroom lined in shelves filled with magical components. That one had taken a while. But as he released these images onto the page, others forced themselves forward. Smoke billowing over treetops; a burning tower; charred bodies; and a girl reaching out through the flames. A girl lying asleep in the bed next to his. The stillness of the picture made her look dead.
He dropped his pencil, letting it roll right off the desk. Crossing his arms over the book, he rested his head on his desk. The wood felt warm compared to his skin, comforting. What more could he have done? What could a Paladin have done? Or Master Veon-Zih? Shon saw again the bodies and shivered.
No one could save everyone. To think otherwise was pure arrogance. But knowing the facts and feeling them were two very different things. The tower wasn’t that far from Hamerfoss. Shouldn’t they have known something was going on? Shouldn’t they have been able to do something sooner? Years sooner? Long before the fire killed those people?
A loud tapping startled him awake. When had he fallen asleep? Shon searched his room in confusion, trying to piece together his dream and what had awoken him. He'd been in the Temple chapel, but as he'd walked down the middle aisle, the pews had started to decay, the stone walls crumbling. Small plants, then trees began to sprout from the ground, overgrowing the once-holy place now in ruin. Shon pressed the heels of his hands hard into his eyes, trying to remember what had come next... A man with white hair pulled back in a ponytail had been standing at the head altar... something with leathery wings on his shoulder...
The painful screech of something sharp on glass had Shon jumping up, his chair falling to clatter on the ground behind him. He looked to his window but saw only orange sky beyond. Was the sun already setting? He knelt on the mattress and looked out the window, unsure what he expected to see. He was on the third floor, but that was definitely where the sound had come from, and the window was the only glass in the room.
Nothing but open sky.
He opened the tiny window, the pane swinging up and letting in cold and refreshing air that helped clear his mind. Master Daunas's voice bellowed orders from the courtyard below, and Shon stuck his head out to look down and see his fellows working through their dagger forms. He'd slept through lunch and afternoon lessons. And he still needed a shower.
If he hurried, he would be able to shower before the others finished their lesson. Shon left the window open and even opened his door before he remembered to grab a fresh uniform. Obviously, he still wasn't thinking clearly.
The halls were blissfully empty, and Shon could almost pretend that even if he did pass someone, their breath wouldn't show in the air. It was a short-lived fantasy, however. He managed to make it all the way to the showers, but when he opened the door a voice called, "Squire! Why aren't you... Oh..." Shon performed a sharp about face to stand at attention before the Major General.
"At ease, Squire Shon," Selibra sighed, waving him down, "Did you get enough rest?"
"Yes, Sir," Shon answered but then caught movement out of the corner of his eye, again
. He hadn't managed to turn his head far enough to see before the Major General started speaking. Shon snapped his head back to give the officer his undivided attention.
"You did well, Squire. Smith Nangran told us what happened at the tower." Sir Selibra managed a strained smile that faded quickly, "If you want to talk about what you saw there... any one of us will be more than willing to listen. You shouldn't have had to experience death so soon." an image of an arm pulling away from a charred corpse flashed in Shon's vision.
Shon swallowed down the accompanying nausea at the memory and managed a nod, adding a quiet "Thank you, Sir." for good measure.
Feeling the need to scrub even more than before, Shon was grateful when the Major General left, allowing him to enter the still-open room. The shower was only mildly comforting, however. What should have been scalding water felt merely lukewarm now, the mist billowing off his truly icy skin thick enough that he could barely see the spigots. Closing his eyes, he scrubbed and tried to imagine the images flowing off of him with the filth...
Something chirped, and Shon slammed the water off. Just the pipes creaking...
How much longer would he have to rest before his mind stopped playing tricks on him? But as he moved for his towel, Shon stopped in shock, his new uniform had been scattered around the benches and floor.
He hadn't heard the door open, but had heard the pipes creaking? But who here would even do something like this? Shon started to search the showers, but as he did, he heard something else—voices in the hall. The Squires were done with their practice. He still didn't want to see them and dressed quickly, rushing from the shower and slamming the door behind him.
Something thumped into the door from the other side. Shon held his breath and turned slowly. It was his imagination. It had to be. He reached for the handle again and, standing behind the swing, opened the shower slowly.
"He's been gone three days... Do you think they sent him away?" Thom's voice sounded from around a corner, and Shon jumped in surprise, pulling the door open fully as if he could hide behind it.
"No way. he's the best Squire we have, so what if he's a Sorcerer." They were talking about him... Shon definitely didn't want to see them yet. He dashed down the opposite way, taking a long way around through the Paladin's barracks and back to his room. Or that's what he'd planned before he remembered the Squires hall would be full of people now taking their break and trying to get into the shower before everyone else. His feet faltered, and he turned away again, to one of the hardly used stairs that would take him down to the rest of the fortress.
Barred from his room, Shon made his way to the place he associated the most with comfort, the chapel. It wasn't empty, three Paladins knelt in prayer near the front, but it didn't matter anymore. He felt a wash of calm as he entered the incense-filled room, the sweet-smelling smoke finally banishing the stench of burning hair from his memory.
Shon took a spot near the back, kneeling to pray as he stared up at the statue of Hengist behind the altar. He was dressed in full plate mail, his arm raised in triumph, holding his mighty sword, Darkspliter.
Shon sighed and felt himself smile for what felt like the first time in a very long time. He could tell Hengist anything and everything, and none of it out loud... But then his smile faded. What would he say...? I'm sorry. I feel like I've been lying to everyone, to you. I've known there was something different about me, something wrong with me. That's why no one likes to touch me, why everyone pulls away at the feel of my skin, like it's somehow dirty or painful. I should've realized... Should have known... But I worked so hard... You know that, don't you? And I'm not ready to give up. I'll do whatever it takes, atone anyway I can if you just tell me how. The Major General said something about it being a sign. I want to believe he meant the unlikely convenience of Smith Nangran knowing an Archmage who could make an item so I won't have to get the tattoo. Thank you. I just hope I don't disappoint after getting a second chance...
The bell for dinner sounded. Feeling better, Shon considered going with the Paladins as they left the chapel. Until one of them shivered as they passed. "Winters right around the corner," another muttered.
"We'll need to install the heating orbs soon." the last answered before the door closed... He wasn't hungry anyway. Please, Hengist. Don't let me hurt anyone else. Kefir was trying to help me, and I answered that kindness with pain. What if the healers hadn't gotten to him in time? Would I have smothered him in ice? Please, I'll give up everything if it means that will never happen again...
But he didn't want to give up anything. He wanted to fight, to reach his highest potential, and lead a life of meaning. He thought of Master Veon-Zih. The Monk had told him that he didn't need to be a Paladin to fight for justice, and he was living proof of that. But... I don't want to be alone... At first, I thought I just wanted you, a god, as a guiding light in my life. But now I realize that being a Paladin gives me even more than that. It gives me brothers and friends, and I don't want to lose them either. But I especially don't want to hurt them.
Shon clenched his hands tighter, as tight as he could, digging his fingers into the spaces between his knuckles; as if external pain might dull internal strife... They say I'm scary... And I know they aren't really joking. I can see it in their eyes and hear it in their nervous laughs when they try and make it a joke. But they only mean when they fight me... don't they? And I'll never try to hurt them. It's only sparring... they know that... don't they?
He squeezed his eyes tighter shut, But what about now? Will they be even more afraid? Even when we aren't sparring? Can I blame them if they are?
He actually found himself waiting for an answer... Of course, none came. He wasn't a Paladin yet, and wouldn't be able to feel the god until he swore his Oath and took a piece of Hengist into himself. For now, Shon took in a deep breath, as deep as he could, then let it out slowly, relaxing his hands and face as he attempted to release his anxieties unto his god. I won't give up. I'll fight this danger within me as hard as I will fight any threat without. I ask for your help with this. Please don't give up on me yet. I'll prove I'm worthy, I swear.
The bell ending dinner and starting study time sounded. Shon stayed in the chapel until a handful of Squires came in to pray themselves. They hesitated by the door, but Shon didn't look at them. He knew he couldn't hide forever. But he also wasn't sure what he should say to any of them. Or if he should say anything at all. Shon waited until they moved away from the door to finally stand. If he had to face any of them, he wanted it to be the ones he considered friends first.
Shon left the chapel and made his way to the library, fighting the urge to just go back to his room. Heads swiveled in his direction the moment he opened the library door. Shon flinched, sucking in a sharp breath and holding it, pulling his energy in as best he could.
He stepped in, and the Squires exchanged looks, but then the Paladin on library duty coughed, and they quickly went back to reading.
His typical spot was available as usual, so Shon made his way there. The others would want to talk after... and if not, he would just go back to his room. Distracted by his continued worries -and the silent effort to hold his energy in- Shon still heard when something behind him hissed along the stone.
He spun quickly, scanning the floor. This time he definitely wasn't imagining it...
"Squire Shon... Shouldn't you be resting?" He turned back to find the Squires trying to make it seem like they weren't staring at him, while the Paladin who called looked openly concerned.
Shon's cheeks flushed, now feeling cool rather than warm. Another change..
. He cleared his throat, "No, Sir..." and when the Paladin's worried expression didn't let up, Shon added, "I've been resting all day."
"Three days..." Zihler muttered.
Shon met his eyes and the Squire smiled, but Shon couldn't tell if the expression seemed strained or not. He nodded anyway, taking his seat alone at the table by the window.
Books on their current subject of study were already laid out, and he pulled one forward, opening it without checking the title. As he read, he could hear the others occasionally whisper and even caught snippets of what they were saying,
"I found another one. Do you think this will be enough?" Thom asked.
"We have the rest of the hour; we should find all we can," Rerves answered. It didn't sound like they were studying, but Shon had missed three days of lessons; maybe they were working on an assignment... He went back to his reading. He would get any missed work tomorrow.
When the bell rang that would finally begin their last hour of free time, Shon closed his book. It would be best to just go to bed early; everyone seemed to think he should be resting anyway; they could talk after he got the sealing item... But he hadn't stood yet when his six closest friends jumped up, books in hand, and crowded around him, preventing him from leaving. From running away.
"We're glad you're okay." Rehlien blurted out.
"The Major General told us what happened," Baradin added.
Shon looked from him to Kefir and took in a sharp breath, "I'm..." he started to apologize, but Kefir interrupted with a broad smile,
"I'm fine. I even got a day off for it. I didn't need it though, they healed me up right away."
Rerves placed his book down on Shon's table, "It was just really surprising, you know? But hey! Now we know why you're so cold all the time."
Shon looked down at the massive tome on the table, not wanting to meet their eyes. He didn't know what to make of what they were saying. There was no way it was okay. How could they be alright with a dangerous magic user that could kill them all on accident...
"We found these. We thought they might make you feel a little better," Thom whispered, stacking his book on top of Rerves' and opening it to a page he'd marked with a ripped piece of scrap paper. It wasn't a textbook, it was a record book. Shon furrowed his brows down at the page, reading 'Sir Patrich, served 4876-4929, died 4955. Paladin of Hengist, General. Air Sorcerer...
Shon looked up to find them all smiling down at him. Zihler set his book down over Thom's, opened to another personal record, "This one was a fire Sorcerer, and they're supposed to be the most destructive."
Rehlien took Baradin and Kefir's books and stacked them with his own beside the open records. He ran his fingers over the slew of bookmarks sticking out of the closed pages, "All Sorcerers and
Paladins." Rehlien said.
"Master Daunas said you would be back in a few days, but just in case we wanted to find these for you," Thom explained in a rush, "You know... in case the officers or Mages needed to be convinced..."
Baradin cleared his throat before he spoke, clasping his hands behind his back, "We haven't found any ice Sorcerers yet, but they're also the rarest, so that really shouldn't be surprising."
"Yeah, and there are plenty of fire who are crazy dangerous even when they're trained," Kefir added quickly.
Shon could feel a burning in his eyes and blinked furiously, looking away from his friends. He wouldn't cry.. he wouldn't. "Thank you..." he managed to croak out, finally giving in and rubbing his eyes. None of them commented on his show of emotion, or the frost clouding his window.
Rerves took the seat across from him with a smile, "So, what type of familiar do you think you'll get?"
Shon managed to stop blinking enough to arch an eyebrow. Hadn't Ivelm said something about a familiar too?
"I bet you it'll be something really lame." Zihler laughed, "To balance Shon's badassness."
"Squire!" the Paladin librarian barked, "Pushups! Now!"
Zihler groaned, mumbling as he stepped back to perform the punishment, "How do they always do that?"
"Divine hearing," Rehlien snickered as Zihler started the pushups, "Probably only works for curses, though."
"You can join him," the Paladin called without looking up from his book, and Rehlien groaned, dropping down next to Zihler.
"Seriously though," Rerves said, ignoring the boys huffing and puffing through their punishment, "Familiars are animals, they're supposed to be even closer to their Sorcerer than a Paladin and their mount! Like an extension of yourself. You can see through their eyes and talk to them with your mind. It's awesome!"
Thom actually blushed, confessing, "We read up on it a bit over the last two days..."
They knew more about what he was than he did. Shon actually smiled, starting, "I don't..." but chittering, like a particularly loud squirrel, interrupted him. The Squires all swiveled their heads to look around, Rehlien and Zihler jumping to their feet with the Paladin, who stood so quickly his chair fell over. The chittering turned to chirping, and then to a purr, as Shon finally found what was making the noise.
On top of the bookshelf closest to the door, sat a tiny dragon.
The size of a large barn cat, its scales were mostly brown but had streaks and blotches of red and orange, like the few deciduous trees that still held their leaves in autumn. Its leathery wings were folded against its back and its front claws grasped the edge of the bookshelf. Its long tail, complete with a scorpion-like stinger, flicked back and forth, its sinuous neck held high as it surveyed the library.
Some of the Squires let slip breaths of wonder, and the little dragon seemed to preen at the attention, holding its head a little higher and purring even louder. The Paladin, however, stepped around his desk and commanded, "Stay back, Squires," before he started chanting. The little dragon tilted its head at the Paladin, as curious as the rest of them. A moment later, the knight's spell washed over them to fill the room, sending a shiver down Shon's spine and making more than one of the other Squires shudder.
The little dragon let out another string of chittering and hissed down at the Paladin, whose eyes went wide as he announced in a breath, "It's real."
"How did it get in?" a senior Squire asked. Shon started to stand but then fell back again as images flooded into his mind. He watched a window opening from outside the fortress, and saw himself lean out. Then the image shifted, and he saw himself digging under his bed for a new uniform and towel as the him that was watching slipped out the door. It shifted again, and he saw himself in the shower, mist billowing off his shoulders before he dug through the piles of clothes left on the bench. It shifted again, and he darted into the library and behind the bookshelf, watching as he, Shon, walked in and sat down at the little table.
Shon blinked and shook his head furiously to try and clear it. All the pictures had flooded in so fast that no one even had time to answer the question or pose their own, "I let it in..." Shon whispered, then looked at the Paladin, explaining quickly, "I didn't mean to. I left my window open to air out my room and..."
"It's okay, Squire," the Paladin was actually smiling, and the little dragon whistled, "They're goodly creatures, though elusive. I've never seen a live one." the dragon leaned forward on the bookshelf, crouching down on its front claws and wiggling its hindquarters before it leaped into the air, opening its wings to spread as wide as it was long. It glided a lap around the library then hovered in front of the Paladin, chittering again and flapping hard enough to blow the man's short hair back before flying right towards the group of Squires around Shon.
It brushed Baradin's head with its claws, the boy ducking as it swooped down to land on Shon's table. The dragon looked from the open books to Shon, then, before Shon could pull back, climbed up his arm and to his shoulder, purring hard enough to vibrate Shon too. It weighed considerably less than it looked like it should, though its claws were sharp enough to pierce through his clothes as it climbed. It brought its face right up to Shon's eye, and though he tried to pull away, it followed him with its long neck, rubbing its cheek along his face. The scales were smooth and lacked temperature, like being touched by a gloved hand. It nuzzled his cheek again, then down his neck and into his shirt.
Surprised, Shon tried to throw the dragon off, but it just dug its claws into his sleeves, chittering angrily then clawing its way around to his back before lifting itself up to drape over his head. "What..." Shon started, but the Paladin cut him off with a laugh.
"I think that answers your friends' questions, Squire."
Shon was too confused to even arch an eyebrow at the man, but Rerves apparently understood what he'd meant because he said, "But I thought only animals could be familiars, like cats and crows and stuff..."
The Paladin nodded but then shrugged, "That's usually the case, but sometimes, rarely, there will be a Sorcerer who gets something a bit more special, like a winged serpent, fairy dragon, or in this case," he nodded at Shon, "A pseudodragon."
The pseudodragon purred, vibrating Shon's head. The Squires all gaped slack-jawed in awe at it, and Shon reached up slowly. He wasn't even sure what he was going to do, pet it? Push it off? But before he'd even touched it, it lifted its head, stretching its long neck out and nuzzling into his hand, obviously not caring that his skin was colder now than it had ever been.
"Damn..." Zihler muttered in obvious disappointment, "I was really hoping it would be a toad so I would have something to make fun of..."
The little dragon's answering twitter almost sounded like a laugh.
She groaned, rolling over and nuzzling deeper into Her pillow. Except it didn’t smell like Her pillow. Her eyes flew open, and She sat up. Then fell back down. That was stupid. Ran and Brom had probably taken more blood than usual again… except She couldn’t remember them taking Her for samples. Not for weeks and weeks…
“It’s alright, you’re safe here,” the kindly voice of a man spoke from Her right, and She sat up again, more slowly this time. A stranger in white robes with a sword embroidered on the chest reached out to help Her up, but after touching Her back he pulled sharply away.
She was too confused to apologize for burning him. “Where?” She asked, looking around the room. Like the stranger, it was covered in white. White blankets, white rug, and white curtains hanging to either side of an open window. A window that looked out onto a blue sky. She gasped, scrambling from the bed and nearly tripping over Her white gown. Of course it was white. How in all the hells did they keep it all clean?
She shook Her head and rushed for the window. The man behind Her gasped, his chair scraping loudly as he stood to follow. She pressed Her hands on the cold glass, staring up into the sky, “I’m on an upper floor!?” She grinned excitedly over Her shoulder as the stranger stared at Her, mouth hanging open.
Turning back to the window, She used Her arm to wipe the fog from Her heat off the glass, letting Her gaze trail down. She didn’t see the treetops She expected. Not close anyway. Instead, the forest was beyond a wide clear field, which in turn was beyond a tall stone wall with people dressed in silver walking along its top. She stood on Her toes to look down through the window. Between the wall and Her was a courtyard full of more people swinging things that glinted in the sun.
This wasn’t the tower. None of those people wore robes except the nice stranger. She spun to him, “My treasures, where are they? Brom? Ran? Where…” She saw a flash of red, heard a pained bark, and smelled iron. She fell to Her knees, grasping Her chest and breathing hard, remembering bits and pieces. He killed them. He killed all of them. Then what? She couldn’t remember...
“You are in a training facility of the Temple of Hengist, Hamerfoss, in Clearhelm.” a new voice, deeper, less kind though not cruel, spoke from the doorway. Lifting Her head, She saw the new man wearing a crisp, white, uniform, with a sword hanging comfortably from his belt. Hengist… so that explained all the white.
The kind man in robes had rushed to Her but dared not touch Her. Wise. With Her head spinning so fast, there was no way She was controlling Her heat properly. “How long has she been awake?” the new man asked the kind one.
“She just woke up, Major General,”
“He killed them…” She whispered, squeezing Her eyes shut, pushing back the rage and sorrow, trying to fill in Her memory. What happened next?
“It will be alright. You're safe here,” the kind man said again.
She pulled Her own hair, lacing Her fingers into the golden strands and squeezing. What had happened? She had run down the hall, but how had She gotten out of Her room? There were strangers in Her tower. These men? She glared up at the brown-haired man who looked down at Her, his hands behind his back.
“Who are you? What did you do to the Mages?” She could feel the hair rise on the back of Her neck and a familiar tingling where the collar should be.
The Major General remained calm before Her building fury, saying only, “Calm down.” It was a command backed by magic. She felt the power flow over Her and try to settle on Her mind. She could almost sense the peace it promised but shook Her head, clearing it of the spell.
He could've used his magic to hurt Her. Perhaps not with the collar as the Archmages did, but in other ways. And yet, he hadn’t moved from his spot, his hands still behind his back. She looked again at the sword of Hengist at his side. She'd read all about the gods. Hengist was good and noble, all about self-sacrifice and protecting the weak… A fool, the Mages had said. And yet his Temple ruled this province. The Mages of Her tower would never work with the Temple of Hengist. Or any kingdom order…
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She didn’t need his help to calm down, not when She had something to focus on. She shoved Her grief to the back of Her mind. “How did I get here?” another image flashed in Her mind, fire all around, a white path, blue eyes.
The Paladin didn’t answer right away; instead, he motioned for the robed man - a Cleric? - to bring him a chair. She tilted Her head curiously at him, but he only sat down with a weary sigh, then gestured towards the bed, “Please, have a seat.”
She stood, returning to the bed and eyeing the door over his shoulder. He hadn’t locked it. “We saw smoke from the woods and found you in a burning tower.” the blood drained from Her face, “We have recovered several bodies from around the structure, but there were no other survivors.” he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and fixing Her with a piercing stare, “What happened? What was going on in that tower?”
She brought Her feet onto the bed and hugged Her legs tight, “I don’t… I can’t remember…” a fire, the tower burning… But it was made of stone. Her fire couldn’t burn that hot… Could it?
“Sir Selibra,” the kindly Cleric sounded stern, crossing his arms and glaring down at the Paladin, “She has just woken up from what was obviously a terrible ordeal. Show some compassion.”
The Paladin, Selibra, actually looked ashamed, leaning back in his chair and clearing his throat, “I apologize, miss…” he drew out the last word, looking at Her expectantly. She tilted Her head. “What is your name?” he asked more clearly. She tilted Her head the other way. Were they going to play that game here too?
The Cleric hummed then said, “Please forgive him, miss, we are all very troubled by the events and deaths at the tower. The Major General merely got ahead of himself. If you could tell us your name, then we can let you rest and…”
“I don’t have a name.”
The two men blinked dumbly at Her, and She rolled Her eyes, “I knnnooowww,” She let Her legs fall back down, so She was sitting properly again, “But I don’t know it yet. As soon as I do, I'll tell you.” She assured them. The men exchanged looks as She glanced again out the window. Maybe She should've just told them what Brom and Ran called Her… But those weren’t names. They were descriptors. No better than ‘Firewyrm.’
If these Temple men were to be believed, everything was gone. She had no room, no books, no clothes, no treasures, and no name. What did
She have? She pulled Her hair over Her shoulder and stared out the window as She stroked it. She had Her hair. They hadn’t cut it in months. She had Her body. She straightened Her posture, holding Her head high. And She had Her power—the fire crackling deep inside Her soul. The Mages had taken the first two. The third had destroyed them.
“You should rest,” Selibra stood, and Her eyes snapped back to him, “You can send for me when you feel ready to talk. Until then, focus on recovering your strength and your memories.”
He made it all the way to the door, even swung it open before She called out, “What are you going to do to me?”
Selibra turned back, his eyebrows raised in surprise. The Cleric placed a hand on Her shoulder, slowly and carefully, gauging how much of Her heat he could handle. She turned to him, and he let Her go. He'd held on longer than expected. “We will keep you safe, child.” the Cleric assured Her.
The Paladin grew stiff for a moment, then brought his right fist up to his chest, “By the sword of Hengist’s honor, we will safeguard your life and freedom,” Freedom?
“Whatever injustices you endured there, you will find justice in the laws of Clearhelm.” She didn’t know what to say, and so, after an awkward moment of silence, Selibra turned for the door again and left.
She didn’t lay down. Instead, She walked back to the window. The view seemed to stretch on forever from so high up, higher than She'd ever remembered being before. Even when She used to climb the trees around Her tower.
Selibra hadn’t locked the door, but the Cleric bustled around behind Her, and the wall below Her clanked with armored knights. What was
--- Table of Contents
Thanks for making it this far, you are the real MVP
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2023.06.04 21:47 Harbinger_51 I started working at a new airport to get away from the mayhem. I just found a new kind.
I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but the last few years have been wild for airline travel. It seems like not even a week can pass before a new viral video is circulating the internet, showcasing some idiot on a plane or airport screaming, shouting, and even starting fights with other passengers and flight staff for no apparent reason.
I’m sure it’s entertaining when you’re sitting at home and come across these videos while casually scrolling through Reddit or Twitter. You might laugh, or shake your head at the stupidity and not give it a second thought. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option when you’re the one on the job.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had to call security to deal with a rowdy or straight-up violent customer in the airport over the last couple of years. Most of the time, the things that set people off are surprisingly minor and avoidable issues.
They want to board now but it wasn’t their turn so they start harassing me and my co-workers. Another passenger looked at them funny so they get into a screaming match. A baby is crying so the grown adult starts whining even louder. The person in front of them took the last chocolate donut with sprinkles from the airport bakery so they start throwing punches.
You would not believe the stuff I’ve seen. Needless to say, I got tired of it. Getting up to go to work, wondering what kind of unhinged maniac was going to make a problem for me lost its appeal. So, I started to look for a new job.
A few weeks into the job search, I began to get doubtful that I would find a suitable replacement. Seeing as my only tangible skills and experience were in the airline industry, I didn’t have much more than other airline jobs within realistic reach. Though I didn’t have a problem with relocation, if it meant I was going to end up in another major airport, I had no interest.
During one 3 am job search after my long shift at the airport, running on nothing but the jittery movements from the room-temperature coffee, I found a new job listing. One Pine Airport, a rural airport in the midwest. I sat up and took another sip of coffee. The pictures for the place gave an idea of the size and it looked tiny. Only a couple of runways, a single terminal, and a cute internal design reflective of the forestry that surrounded it. Perfect for me, I thought. I imagined there would not be nearly as many people to deal with.
I scrolled down to the job details and to my relief, it was for the exact same job I had already been doing. The only difference was that it required frequent night shifts. I had done plenty of night shifts before, but doing a few more of them made no difference to me. Surprisingly listed was the pay. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were offering more starting than I was being paid at the airport I had been at for over three years.
Now wide awake, I eagerly uploaded my resume, filled out all of the application questions, and even spent the next hour crafting an unnecessary cover letter. I headed to bed with the hope that my days at overflowing airports might be over. The next day as I was getting ready for work, I opened my phone to scroll through notifications and check emails.
To my disbelief, I had one from the job I had applied for only hours earlier. The manager at the airport, who had posted the job, requested an interview over Zoom. I quickly replied and we settled on a time during my lunch break that very day.
The first few hours of work breezed by and as I boarded flight after flight of passengers, I couldn’t help but think about the upcoming interview. When it came time, I was nervous as hell but my fears were diffused within the first minute. A bald, well-kept, and well-dressed man joined the meeting room and greeted me with a warm smile. He introduced himself as James.
I couldn’t have asked for a more friendly interviewer. He welcomed me and after some small talk and a few questions about my relevant experience, he gave an overview of the job's details, that being the same job I already had with better pay but more frequent night shifts. No problem with me. After affirming that I knew all the details of the job, James cracked another wide, friendly smile and asked an unexpected question.
“When can you start?”
I spit the out sip of coffee I had just taken back into the cup. I looked back up at James and tried to find the right words but I was unprepared.
“You uh… aren’t gonna give me a call back like later or something? Don’t you have more interviews and… and paperwork waiting to clear and, and…?”
James waved his hand dismissively at his webcam.
“You’re the only applicant we have, and we couldn’t have asked for a better one. As for the paperwork and such, we’ll figure that out when we figure it out. The job is yours, whenever you can start, that is. Preferably soon?”
Though the feelings of shock and confusion remained, they were pushed to the side by my excitement. Throughout the remainder of our conversation, James and I reviewed our schedules and set up a start date before ending the call. I sat back in my break room chair with a sigh of disbelief and a chuckle.
I am well aware that it is standard to give at least a two-week notice to your employer and moving across states for a job is supposed to take quite a bit of planning but I was dying to get out of my current job. Through both eagerness and maybe a little stupidity, we settled on a day only a little over a week away.
At the end of my shift that day, I let my manager know I had to be done in a week. Though she wasn’t happy, she assured me it wouldn’t be a problem.
My final day was nothing short of horrendous. A couple had come up, demanding and screaming that I refund their tickets for no apparent reason. On top of that, they still wanted to fly. After hearing that no, they would not be able to fly for zero cost, the husband, followed by the wife, both started shouting threats. Security was quickly called to the terminal.
As soon as they arrived, I checked my watch to find that my shift was over. I let out a sigh of relief and excitedly walked away. As deprived of sleep as I was, with a long and undoubtedly stressful drive ahead of me, I was still more energetic and in higher spirits than I had been in a long time.
Surprisingly, the drive went off without a hitch. I arrived earlier than expected and checked into the motel room I rented for the week so I had time to get the move figured out. After dumping a few boxes of personal items and a suitcase of clothes into the room, I turned off the lights. I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I energetically awoke that evening to prepare myself for my first shift. I quickly got dressed and started the drive in hopes of arriving plenty early. Naively, I hadn’t considered how my unfamiliarity with the roads would slow me down, and after a staggering amount of wrong turns, I arrived at the little airport with only minutes to spare.
The airport was even smaller in person than I had imagined it to be from the pictures. I quickly walked through the entrance and was greeted by the small team of security. After notifying them that I was there for work and that James had been waiting for me, they hurried me through without so much as a question. The security, the architecture, the beautiful scenery that surrounded it, nothing about this airport couldn’t have felt more welcoming.
I walked through to find the single terminal inside, devoid of any passengers, with James sitting behind a counter at the end. After a moment he looked up and upon making eye contact with me, his tired face lit up. I was about to apologize for my tardiness but didn’t have the chance as he rushed to show me the employee locker room where he had my new employee uniform and badge waiting inside my very own locker. He told me to get changed and to meet him outside right away.
I did as he asked and within a couple of minutes, I walked out to find him back behind the console at the counter, gathering his belongings. He noticed me approaching and glanced up, thanking me for showing up and starting so soon as he handed me a fresh cup of coffee. He also apologized for not being able to stick around long for my shift but he sounded sure that he wasn’t all that worried.
“I have to be going now, I’ve been on duty for 17 hours. I know you’re plenty familiar with our systems and software, you know what you’re doing.”
He assured me with a pat on the back before walking out from the desk. He turned and added
“It’ll be a quiet night for you anyway. No flights scheduled. Just sit back, relax, and uh... Oh yeah. Most importantly, I nearly forgot”.
He reached into his bag and pulled out a single sheet of laminated paper and held it in front of me.
“Give this a read as soon as you can. Go over it a few times if you need, don’t deviate from it”.
I took it but before I could even get a look, I noticed James begin to walk toward the exit, along with every single one of the security guards and the cashier who had just closed down the only shop in the airport. I then noticed that all of the scanners and metal detectors at the security gate were shut off. I started to panic.
“Hey! James? Where is everyone going?”
I shouted. The first words I had managed to speak to my new boss since arriving. He stopped and turned back again
“Oh yeah. Another thing I ought to have mentioned. Everyone except whoever is working the night shift in, well, your position takes off right around now. Don’t worry, security will be back sometime around 5 am. You’ve got this place to yourself. Grab a magazine from the little store in there if you get bored. Feel free to snag yourself a couple of snacks too”.
He began to walk away again before briefly turning and pointing at me.
“But before you do anything, read that list. You’ll need it”.
I stood, dumbfounded as I watched my new boss along with all of the other airport staff leave. I started to wrap my head around the fact that I had an empty airport to myself for 10 hours, with nothing to do and no one to deal with, all while I was getting paid the highest wage I had ever earned.
As much as thinking about it delighted me, I turned my attention turned toward the sheet of paper I almost forgot I was holding on to. James said to follow whatever list was on it, so I figured I ought to take a look. I walked behind the airport counter and sank into one of the seats behind it. I took a sip of coffee and finally took a serious look.
A total of 6 rules were neatly spaced on the sheet.
Rule 1: All lights in the airport are to stay on at all times. If one is off, or if you are to accidentally turn one off, turn it back on as soon as possible. If a light seems to be broken or is out and unable to turn back on, calmly exit the area. Report the outage to James or maintenance when possible. Do not listen to the sounds. Do not listen to the voices.
Rule 2: Rule 2 pertains to rainy or stormy weather. If it is raining or storming outside, disregard rules 3, 4, and 5. They will not be a concern during these types of weather conditions. Stay inside at all times. Do not use the men’s restroom and avoid going near it entirely if possible.
Rule 3: Sometime between 11 pm and 1 am, a young woman will walk out of the women’s restroom. She will enter the terminal and sit, occasionally getting up to walk around or change seats. Her name is Elizabeth. She will attempt to make conversation but you must not reciprocate. You may look at her, you may give nonverbal communication such as a head nod, you may write as a means of communication, or you may shake her hand but do not speak to her. If you refuse to speak to her, Elizabeth should be gone within a few hours. If you happen to make such a mistake, go to the men’s restroom and wait for her to leave.
Rule 4: At around one or two in the morning, a janitor in blue coveralls will arrive at the front entrance. Crack open the door and ask for his name. If he says his name is Simon, let him in. If he gives you any name other than Simon, shut the door and lock it without another word and walk away. If the janitor is Simon, he will attend to the janitorial needs of the airport. If he asks to clean where you are standing, oblige him. Simon will not interfere with your duties otherwise. He is not hostile or dangerous. You may engage in conversation with Simon. He will leave the same way he came when he feels it is necessary.
Rule 5: At around 3 am, you may notice that a black and red Cessna Skyhawk has landed on one of the airstrips. You will never see it land, and you will never see it take off. It will just appear when you’re not looking. After spotting the plane for the first time, do not look at it again. Avoid looking in its general direction if at all possible. There is a picture of the exact plane displayed inside the terminal, behind the counter.
Rule 6: Later in the night but sometime before dawn, a group of men claiming to be from TSA may arrive at the airport. They will have their own key and let themselves in. Some could be armed. Often, they exhibit panicked behavior. They may search through the airport, sweep room to room, and ask questions. They are permitted to search anywhere in the main airport building that they please, and you may oblige to any questioning but under no circumstances are they permitted to enter the sky bridge. They will not enter without verbal approval and they cannot harm you.
After reading over it a few times, I set the laminated sheet down and leaned back further into my seat before taking a long sip of coffee, wondering what on earth I had just read. I hadn’t taken James to be the imaginative type. Most of all, I hadn’t taken him to be anywhere near the unprofessional type. Though as I thought about it, it was unusual how rushed this all was and how he left in such a hurry, leaving so few details.
I began to wonder if I was being pranked, I considered that maybe this was all some sort of messed up joke or setup. I ruled that out pretty quickly. This was, in fact, a real airport. I had done plenty of research by the time I got here. At least a few real flights were coming in or going out each day. James has been working here for years and I couldn’t think of a reason why he would jeopardize his job or reputation just to get a scare out of me.
After chuckling to myself at the absurdity of my situation, I decided to indulge and see what would happen. Maybe it was a “test” for me as a new employee. Maybe James wanted to see if I could follow orders.
After glancing at the list once more and realizing the impact rule 2 had on the number of things I would have to keep track of, I brought up my phone to check the forecast. Clear skies, not a chance for rain or storms all night. Great, I thought to myself. I had to watch out for these Elizabeth and Simon characters to show up and I suppose “not” be on the lookout for a random plane to appear on the runway.
I stood up and grabbed my coffee, walking to the glass panes. I took another sip from my cup while admiring the lit runways along the airfield. It sure was a pretty nice sight. As I was raising my cup to finish what was left, I began to hear the click of shoes on the floor somewhere behind me.
Startled, I spun around abruptly, dropping my cup and spilling the remainder of the coffee in the process. At the other end of the terminal seating stood a young woman, around her mid-twenties in my estimation. She was holding two large leather suitcases in each hand and had an old-fashioned sense of style with a skirt and heels. Most surprising was her stunning beauty and welcoming smile.
“Oh I’m sorry dear, didn’t mean to scare you”
She expressed with a sincere tone. I opened my mouth, ready to assure her that everything was fine but I stopped myself. I recalled the list. At this point, I was certain that she was here at James’s request, a paid actor determined to make me break the rules. I was more determined not to. Instead, I simply fixed my posture, straightened my uniform, and looked back with a smile.
She walked to the counter where she placed her leather suitcases on the ground before closing the distance between us.
“Looks like we’ve got this fabulous airport all to ourselves. I am Elizabeth”
She said, reaching out her hand. I shook it, but she didn’t seem quite satisfied.
“And your name?”
I continued to smile and lock eye contact. Her grin grew for a moment before she remarked
“You don’t seem to be much of a talkative one”
And with that, she turned and started to walk away. I returned to my seat behind the counter, watching her closely as I did. Elizabeth proceeded to the unattended airport shop and after a couple of minutes of looking over magazine covers and occasionally taking a peek inside, she returned carrying a small stack of reading material. She approached my counter before placing a National Geographic magazine in front of me.
“I figured you might like this one. Enjoy”
She said, winking before settling on a seat in the first row of the terminal, straight across from where I had been sitting.
Remarkably, her intuition was spot on. I may have lived in cities all of my life but I loved nature, despite how little of it I had gotten to see. National Geographic was a favorite of mine, one I had been familiar with and enjoyed on work breaks from time to time. Rarely was I given this long to be able to read. I was almost tempted to break the rule and thank her for her rather thoughtful act, though I didn’t. I stuck to the rule.
The next couple of hours were uneventful. Elizabeth and I read through our magazines, occasionally looking up at each other to exchange glances and smiles. Within that time, she had attempted to get me to talk at least half a dozen more times. I almost gave in when she asked me if I wanted another magazine.
At a little past 1:30, I could hear a knock at the front entrance. Elizabeth and I both looked before she remarked
“Oh, that must be the nice cleaner man”
With a giggle before returning to her magazine. I walked over to the front doors and sure enough, there stood a man around his mid-thirties, sporting a blue janitor suit waiting patiently at the door. I unlocked the door and opened it. As he took a stride to enter, I remembered the most important detail from rule 4. I closed the door halfway and sternly commanded
The man looked up at me with a surprised look. I asked him the question.
“What is your name?”
The man stared back at me as an innocent smile formed on his face.
He announced excitedly.
“The Janitor here. Did James let you know I was coming tonight?”
I stood there for a moment, thinking over the rule, before nodding my head and opening the door once again to let him in.
Once inside, Simon walked with purpose to the janitor's closet which was positioned near the men’s restroom. I followed him somewhat suspiciously for the next few minutes as he began to clean but I eased up once I got the feeling that he was just the janitor around here and that James made up the whole “ask for his name thing” to make into one of his rules.
I returned to my counter in the terminal and continued to read. Occasionally, Simon would pass by, off to do his duties in some part of the airport or Elizabeth would stand up to look at the various pictures and paintings on display in the terminal. A good half an hour of this would go on before Simon approached the terminal counter with his mop in hand. He seemed to be eyeing up the two leather suitcases Elizabeth had set there.
Assuming he wanted to clean where they were, I got up to move them. I grabbed each one by the handle but failed to lift them off of the ground. Confused, I stepped back to see if they were stuck on something. They were not. Just two suitcases, left right where Elizabeth had set them.
I tried to lift just one. Again, I failed. I tried both hands, putting my back and legs into it with all that I had. It wouldn’t budge.
I looked back up at Simon who nodded his head in Elizabeth’s direction. I turned to look at Elizabeth, who after noticing my stare, and my apparent inability to move her luggage, smiled and stood up.
“Let me get that for you”
She insisted. With ease, she lifted both leather suitcases and moved them closer to her seat before lowering them, this time letting them drop a few inches. When they hit the ground, a boom echoed through the airport and I flinched in surprise. I looked back at Simon, who hadn’t seemed shocked at all. He just continued to mop.
I slowly made my way back to my seat, not taking an eye off Elizabeth for one second as I did. After a few minutes, she looked back up from her magazine, noticed my stare, and returned to her reading with a grin. She seemed to find my shock amusing. Eventually, Simon noticed my surprise as well. He paused his mopping and approached me before raising his head.
“I know, I know. Stick to the rules and everything will be just fine, trust me”
He stated quietly. I nodded my head in response.
Simon went back to his cleaning. A few minutes passed before Elizabeth had something new to say.
“What a remarkable aircraft!”
She exclaimed, looking out the glass panes facing the runways. I followed her gaze to the lone, black, and red airplane positioned on the runway. I turned around, looking at the picture displayed behind me. It certainly looked like a match. I turned back to the window and felt my heart sink. A silhouette of a person now stood next to the plane, facing the airport and the windows of the terminal.
“Stop looking at it”
Simon sternly muttered from behind me. I looked back at Simon who quickly cowered, seemingly ashamed to have raised his voice at me but I was grateful he had. I read over rule 5 again, specifically where it stated to not look at the plane twice. I murmured insults at myself under my breath but they didn’t have much room between my now heavy, frantic breathing. My eyes darted through the other rules. I chose to focus on that sheet of paper. At least it was something other to look at than the plane outside.
This went on for a good ten minutes or so and my breathing started to calm down. I had begun to pray in my head that whoever and whatever that was would go away when Elizabeth suddenly approached my counter. I snapped my head up in a jittery movement to make eye contact with her.
“I’m going to get some more reading material. Want another one of those?”
She asked, reaching a hand out to my National Geographic magazine. I looked up and nodded, forcing a smile. As She moved away, my gaze didn’t, and once again I found myself looking at the plane on the runway, the silhouette now standing hundreds of feet away from the plane, even closer to the building, and still staring in my direction.
Chills ran up my spine as I snapped my gaze back to my desk. I began to shake with fear and the manic breathing returned. Moments later, Elizabeth returned and placed a new magazine on the counter before running a hand over my shoulder, seemingly to comfort me. Simon then put his hand on my back.
“He’ll be gone soon and so will the plane. Just don’t look at it again”
He assured me.
“Mind if I clean here?”
He then asked.
I got up and walked to the end of the counter, watching Simon thoroughly clean the floor before I looked up and let out a soft
He nodded and smiled back.
“What was that?”
Elizabeth asked. I turned towards her.
“Oh, I was just thanking Simon for-”
My error occurred to me before I could finish speaking. My eyes locked on Elizabeth as she stood up from her seat and her smile faded. Her eyes and nose began to bleed profusely as she started to sob, lightly at first, then hysterically. She let out a bellowing screech, a mix of pain and anger. She picked up one of her suitcases and hurled it at me, I barely dodged the ridiculously heavy object before it crashed into the wall behind me.
Luckily I was quick thinking this time and made a run for the men’s restroom recalling rule 3. She chased after me but I slammed the door shut in her face and locked it. Elizabeth pounded on the door with furious anger a few times but gave up quickly.
“So that’s how you dance, is it love? I can play that game”
She snickered before flipping a light switch outside of the bathroom. The clicking of her shoes faded away. A few minutes of silence passed before laughter started to become audible from the other side of the door.
One voice grew to two, two voices grew to three, three grew to ten. While others continued their now hysterical laughing, some began to scream. I crumbled to the floor, covering my ears as the voices went on, only stopped by another flip of the switch. Light beamed through the bottom of the door.
“It’s over now. She’s gone, and so is the plane. I’ve gotta be getting out of here soon”
Simon’s calm and friendly voice called out. I reluctantly exited the bathroom and followed him back to the counter, where he had prepared another coffee for me.
“Wish I could have done more there but you’ll come to find out that when Elizabeth gets angry, you just gotta let her do her thing”.
I looked up at him, still with my distraught face, at a loss for words. Over the next few minutes, Simon finished cleaning Elizabeth’s blood from the floor before putting everything back into the janitor's closet. He looked down at his watch.
“I better get out of here. Good luck with the rest of your night. I hope I’ll be seeing you soon”.
He said, letting out a sigh as he again looked at me in pity. I think he knew how shaken up I was. It was like he had seen people in my position before. Something told me he doesn’t have a choice on when he leaves. After I watched him exit the door, I returned to my seat behind the counter. I began to feel alone and afraid, but the loneliness wouldn’t last at least.
Only minutes after Simon left, the doors swung open and men in tactical gear, most of which had their faces covered in masks and goggles, rushed through the door. I sprung back up from my seat and watched as they did, with not much else I could do. They swept room to room, checking every nook and cranny at gunpoint, ignoring my existence at first.
As they cleared the entire building, the twenty or so armed men made their way to the terminal seating area. A lone man in a suit, whom I had not noticed enter, made his way to the front of the group.
“I’m with TSA, I’m going to need you to answer some questions for me”
He demanded. I nodded in affirmation.
“How many individuals have you seen in this airport since the security team left the building?”
“Besides myself, 2 Inside, one outside”
I answered confidently.
“Was the individual outside next to a black and red Cessna Skyhawk?”
I again responded confidently. The man in the suit nodded and paused for a moment before making another demand.
“We’re going to need to search the air bridge”.
I glanced back at the sheet of rules on the counter. Making sure I had read it right before. I took a step forward and straightened my uniform.
I replied. The man in the suit looked irritated.
“If you do not step aside and give us permission to search, I’m afraid I’ll have to detain you”.
Already tired and worn out, I wasn’t going to break the last rule. I decided to give a not-so-smart remark to the man in the suit
“Looking a little well-armed for TSA, wouldn’t you agree?”
He ignored my comment.
“Last chance, step aside”
Again, irritated by my response, the man in the suit turned to his right and raised his chin to give a signal. Gunshots rang out and I collapsed to the floor. I felt as though my life left my body before it all faded to black.
The next thing I remembered was the feeling of my hand gripping a water bottle. Then came James’s voice.
“I see you made it through the first night intact. Looks like you got to meet Simon. He’s a nice guy, you’ll get to like him. And Elizabeth, she’s…well, she’s something else, isn’t she?”
I opened my eyes and looked up at James.
“Am I dead?”
I asked in a raspy voice. James chuckled in return.
“No! No, you did great. You’re fine. It does, however, look like you might have been a little assertive to our undead TSA special forces wannabes. I would recommend sticking with the less aggressive tone and word choices, maybe I ought to edit that into the rules sheet… In any case, they can’t hurt you but they can still get a jump out of you, as you saw”.
Once again, I was at a loss for words. I slowly made my way back to my feet from the ground and looked at the sunrise over the airfield. James held out an envelope for me. I opened it, revealing a stack of crisp $100 bills.
“A little bonus for your first night. It sure is a lot to go through for the first time but I promise, you get used to it all”.
I turned to James with an angry look and finally spoke up.
“What the hell is wrong with you? What makes you think it’s okay to put someone through this without any warning? I'm done, keep your damn money. I’m gonna go call the cops”.
I started to walk towards the exit when James stepped in front of me.
“Look, I know it isn’t fair for you but it wasn’t fair for me either. It wasn’t fair for any of us. It’s not okay, I know. But what do you expect me to do? Someone needs to be here for the night shift. You wouldn’t believe any of this if I told you ahead of time. You would have thought I was some sort of nutjob and the police will think of you the same if you tell them. I needed you to see it for yourself”
James was starting to get worked up and stoppeto breatheth before continuing.
“This money is yours, no strings attached. You’re free to leave now and never come back, there will be no shame in it”
I also started to calm down but I couldn’t bring myself to look James in the eye yet.
“If you choose to stay, I’ll see you in my office to finish up your paperwork”.
And with that, James walked away. Facing the front of the airport, I watched the first passengers of the day come through the entrance. I just stood there for a few minutes. Whether I was ready for this job or not, I knew right then I sure as hell wasn’t going back to another overcrowded city airport.
I turned and headed for James’s office.
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