Furniture store near me irving tx
Cat Training: Tricks and Treats
2013.01.22 06:44 llieaay Cat Training: Tricks and Treats
Cat behaviour, cat tricks, cat training. Cats!
2023.06.08 10:17 PocketFMofficial Cathy betrayed Alex, but will she come back after knowing the truth that Alex is Millionaire? How will Alex heal his heart?
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https://preview.redd.it/b0hdg0g72r4b1.png?width=764&format=png&auto=webp&s=01edc76d82e3fac73fec90874bed55003526c60d https://preview.redd.it/giq2idpd3r4b1.png?width=1280&format=png&auto=webp&s=04d4577af13a07dcc5659931fa9ba9410c03a6af Chapter 1
"Hello. Heavenly Lion Convenience," Alex Ambrose answered the store phone.
"I need a box of condoms and two packs of tissues delivered to room 1302 of the Sheraton South River Hotel. Hurry!" The caller hung up.
Alex shook his head. People never seemed to be prepared.
He packed the required items, put on a raincoat, and rode his electric bike toward the Sheraton Hotel on the southern side of the river.
It was nine o’clock in the evening and raining heavily, and his pants and shoes were soon wet and filthy. Luckily, the merchandise was still dry, but he didn't dare delay any longer, so he hurried toward the hotel.
When he arrived at room 1302, he knocked on the door, and it was opened quickly.
"Hello, here’s your—" Alex was stunned into silence.
The woman in front of him was none other than his girlfriend, Cathy!
She was dressed in a white robe, with her long, dark, wet hair draped over her shoulders. The scents of shower gel and shampoo assaulted his nose.
"Cathy? What are you doing here?" He stared at her in disbelief, still feeling dazed.
"What are you doing here?" Cathy asked. Her heart skipped a beat, and she took a small step back into the room. Her mind went blank and then started to spin.
"What's wrong?" Another guy walked up to the door, wearing a robe and slippers, and Alex immediately recognized him.
"You! You dare to touch my girl?" Alex couldn't suppress the anger welling up inside him, and he started moving toward Billy, determined to teach him a lesson.
"Stop!" Cathy stepped in front of Alex. After a brief burst of panic, she had managed to get back a bit of control. Since her boyfriend had already discovered her betrayal, there was no point in trying to hide it now.
She looked directly at him. "Alex, we need to break up."
"Break up?" Alex was stunned. He stared at Cathy with wide eyes. "Cathy, we've been together for more than a year. Are you going to break up with me now?"
"Yes. We need to go our separate ways." She kept steady eye contact with him and spoke with a strong sense of resentment. "Are you surprised? You have no money, Alex. You can only barely afford the cheapest essentials. We never have anything nice. As long as I’m with you, people will always be laughing at me, and that just isn't the life I want. I’m too good to be living in poverty like this. I was too naive when I was in my freshman year, and I let myself get tricked into being with a loser like you!"
She hugged Billy's arm and said to Alex, "Billy is my boyfriend now. From now on, I want nothing to do with you. Don't bother me again!"
"Well, seems like you’re just her good-for-nothing ex now!" Billy looked at Alex with a provocative smirk.
Alex, standing there in a raincoat and with mud stains on his pants and shoes, felt like Cathy was right. He was a complete loser. Billy took the plastic bag from his hand and took out the box of condoms. He waved it at Alex and laughed as he said, "I’m staying in a nice hotel, having my girlfriend’s ex bring me condoms. And you’re single. Sure was good of you to help me out."
"Why are you still here?" Cathy scolded Alex.
"Nah, it's good that he didn't piss off. Maybe you want to see me beat him down, huh, Cathy? Gotta give a lady what she wants," Billy sneered.
Alex felt utterly defeated. He slowly turned around and walked out of the room.
"Bro, you're not even taking the money? Heh, nice. I get a girlfriend and a gift." Billy felt great watching Alex's slumped, dejected posture as he closed the door behind him.
When Alex left the hotel, it was raining even harder than before. He took off his raincoat, allowing the cold rain to drench his entire body and help clear his head.
Cathy had discarded him because she believed he had no money. Losing such a materialistic woman should be something to rejoice over, so why should he be sad?
His phone vibrated in his pocket. Alex took it out and glanced at it, but when he saw the number, he stopped walking. His entire body was shaking as he read the text.
[After a review, the Ambrose family has decided that their son, Alexander, has met the conditions required for entitlement to his inheritance. From today onward, control of his property will be returned to him.]
The bean-sized raindrops plopped onto the screen, causing the text message to gradually become blurry.
Alex's mind began to spin. If not for this message, Alex would have almost forgotten his identity as a super-rich kid. Over the last seven years, his family had been assessing him, withholding his fortune until they were satisfied he met their draconian conditions. And now, finally, it was over.
Everything that rightfully belonged to him was finally his to claim.
Alex woke up early the next morning and drove to the city. In a great mood, he got out of his car and went straight to Metro Sky Bank, right in the heart of the wealthiest part of the central business district of New York.
Various luxury cars were parked around the bank. The people walking in and out of the surrounding plaza were all rich; it was obvious from their clothing and demeanour.
Alex strode to the door of the bank and pushed it open.
The main door could be opened both inward and outward, and Alex had been a bit careless when he pushed it open from outside. As a result, the door had bumped into a long-haired young woman who had been heading out of the building.
He quickly apologized, "Sorry. I didn't see you."
"What do you mean, you didn’t see me? What am I, invisible?" She held a hand to her forehead and glared at him.
The bank’s assistant manager, Karen Young, had noticed the incident and hurried over. She checked on the woman first, and then looked at Alex in disapproval. When her gaze swept over him, a trace of suspicion appeared on her face.
Metro Sky Bank was different from most banks, as the clientele were almost exclusively high-end businesspeople. Karen knew the young woman was there with her father, but she didn't know why Alex was there. Judging from his appearance and age, he wasn't their usual type of customer.
"Sir, can I be of assistance?" she asked with a polite but forced smile.
Alex simply said, "I’m here to withdraw money."
"Withdraw money?" the sullen woman asked, sneering at him.
"Do you have a card?" Karen asked, continuing to smile politely.
Getting a Metro Sky Bankcard was not easy. A million dollars of savings was the minimum requirement to qualify. Karen felt certain that the man in front of her couldn't have much experience with the bank and wouldn't know their rules. Perhaps he had thought that other banks' cards could also be used here.
"No," Alex replied, shaking his head.
The woman he had accidentally hit with the door couldn't help but giggle when she heard his honest reply. He wasn't worth any more of her attention.
"Let’s go." Her father had walked up, still arranging the documents he was carrying.
"My dad and I are leaving." The woman shook Karen's hand, and then looked over at Alex. "Ms Young, having someone like this around could damage your bank's image and upset your customers. I hope this will not happen again."
With that, she took her father’s arm and opened the door.
"Take care, Mr Scott." Karen followed them out a few steps, watching as they got into a car and left. Turning around, she headed back inside, having made up her mind to encourage Alex to leave as soon as possible.
There was no one standing where Alex had been. Oh! Where’s he gone? she wondered.
Was it possible that the kid had been embarrassed and had quietly slipped away?
She felt relieved at the thought. Then, just as she was about to go back to work, she caught a glimpse of someone out of the corner of her eye.
There’s the brat! No wonder I didn’t see him at first, she thought. He had already reached the entrance to the VIP lounge, and a pillar had blocked her view of him.
The VIP room was only for high-status customers who were worth at least thirty million dollars, and this young man had admitted that he didn’t even have a card. If she let him get through, she would be in trouble with her boss.
"Stop! Don't move!" Karen yelled, feeling desperate. The other customers all looked around at her, obviously annoyed by her shouting. She could only smile apologetically as she walked quickly toward Alex.
But he had already walked through the lounge, opened the door to the VIP room, and stepped inside.
https://preview.redd.it/bgp24qcv3r4b1.png?width=764&format=png&auto=webp&s=e9c3c1ed5397d6b4d312662e698e5847873b36ab Chapter 2
Does he have no shame? Karen hurried after Alex with a look of chagrin on her face. She tried to open the door to the VIP room, but it had been locked from the inside.
"Hello?" Inside the VIP room, Robert Miller, the bank manager, was leaning against the sofa, looking at his phone. When the door suddenly opened, he quickly sat down and hid his phone away. Normally, when a VIP was coming in, Karen would notify him in advance.
As the customer manager, he was responsible for thirty-one VIPs, and he knew them like the back of his hand. He immediately began to launch into his normal professional greeting, hoping to undo the poor impression he’d made by slouching against the sofa, but when he saw Alex, his expression froze.
He was certain that Alex was not one of his VIPs, nor was he a relative of one.
"May I ask who you are?" Robert asked, looking at the young man, who appeared to be around twenty years old. Robert had no idea who he was.
Alex got straight to the point. "I'm here to get my money."
"You have one of our cards?" Robert asked, suspicious of Alex's calm expression.
"No," Alex admitted frankly.
Robert was relieved to seemingly be proven right, but even more confused. Access to the VIP room required a minimum worth of three million dollars, but this man didn't have any money. Why was he so composed?
"I'm sorry, sir. We can't give out money without a card. Do you require anything else?"
He's crazy, Robert thought. Why on earth did Karen let him in? I’ll have to speak to her about this at Monday’s meeting.
"You have fingerprint recognition here, right?" Alex suddenly asked.
The fingerprint ID system at the bank was for the wealthiest families and businesses to use. Only a few people had their fingerprints recorded in the system, at least in the New York branch, and no one had used it to access their holdings yet.
"You want to use it?" Robert could no longer bring himself to call Alex "sir."
"Yes." Alex nodded.
Robert was feeling more confused by the second. Why would someone who wasn't even a customer request to use a fingerprint ID?
To be honest, even though he was curious, Robert felt that it was barely worth humouring the request. But after considering for a few seconds, he finally decided to let Alex make the attempt rather than risk making him angry.
He opened the safe and brought out the fingerprint identification device, which he had never used before.
"Place your thumb here." Robert indicated the verification area to Alex, who placed his thumb on the sensor.
The device lit up with a glaring red light, and the LCD screen displayed the words [Fingerprint not recorded].
Immediately, Robert’s expression turned hostile, and he glared at Alex. He picked up his phone, ready to call the police.
"Wait, wait!" Alex said quickly. "Maybe that was the wrong print. I'll try using my index finger this time."
Robert smiled coldly. "What’s your plan here? Your thumb doesn’t work, so you’ll try your index finger. Then, if your index finger doesn’t work, you’ll try your middle finger. When you run out of fingers, will you try using your toes?"
But Alex had already pressed his index finger on the verification area.
Robert resolved that if the man’s fingerprints weren’t accepted this time, he would immediately call the police and have him arrested.
[Beep!] A green light appeared on the device and new details flashed up on the LCD screen: [Verification successful. Family account: 01. Verifier: Alexander Ambrose. Account: 01104.]
Robert gaped at Alex in disbelief for a moment, and then hurriedly squeezed out a smile. "Mr Ambrose, I'm sorry. I didn't realize. I'm Robert Miller, the customer manager for the New York branch. Please allow me to assist you."
"It's fine," Alex said lightly and stood up. "Can I see how much money I have left in my account?"
"Please wait a moment." Robert sat in front of the computer and typed away for a while. On his instructions, Alex provided a few more fingerprint scans as authorization.
"It's done, Mr Ambrose." Robert clicked the "OK" button on the screen, and Alex's account appeared.
Robert pointed to the computer screen and said, "Mr Ambrose, the balance of your account is currently eighty-six million dollars."
Robert couldn't help but suck in a breath of cold air.
This young man had an enormous fortune. It placed him in the topflight of the one per cent. Most people would never be able to even dream of that much money.
Alex felt strange as he stared at the numbers on the screen. He reminded himself that he needed to get used to his status as a rich kid as soon as possible.
"Oh, and you have other assets as well. Let me show you now." Robert clicked through to check several pages in a row. Finally, he clicked the "OK" button again.
The computer brought up a 4 x 4 grid of display screens.
"This surveillance screen displays all the physical assets that you hold elsewhere," Robert explained. He clicked on the upper left corner of the screen and brought up the feed from the bank's branch at The Hague, which revealed a sports car. In the lower right corner, it said, [Ferrari Pagani Huayra].
Robert opened up other screens for Alex, one after another.
The Hawaii branch displayed a Dominica blue pearl bracelet and four stacks of gold bars.
The feed from the French branch in Nice revealed three original Picasso paintings and two Rodin statues.
And the Cape Town branch had fifteen 10-carat diamonds, ten pieces of ivory, and another couple of stacks of gold bars. Robert's eyes almost popped out as he looked at Alex's assets. He had never seen anyone so rich. Maybe not even one-tenth as rich.
"All right, I’d like a card," Alex said before Robert could collect his thoughts.
"Yes, I will see to it right away. Please wait a moment." Robert immediately started to make the necessary arrangements. Within ten minutes, a Supreme Card was produced.
Robert looked at the Supreme Card and thought about Alex's assets. This card wasn’t good enough for Alex’s status, but it was the highest grade of card they were authorized to issue at the New York branch.
Robert presented handed the card over. "Mr Ambrose, your card."
"Thank you." Alex took the card, stood up, and went to walk out of the room.
"Mr Ambrose, please wait." Robert didn't dare to appear to be neglecting such an important customer. He should see him out personally, but the asset checking system on his computer had not been turned off yet, and the fingerprint verification machine, iris recognition apparatus, and other sensitive equipment had not been returned to the safe. The monitoring system in the VIP room was connected to the district manager’s office.
Karen was anxiously waiting in the hall. What's been going on in there for so long? she wondered. Could that brat have murdered Mr Miller in the VIP room?
The more she considered it, the more scared she became. She was on the verge of banging on the door and demanding a response when Alex walked confidently out of the room.
"Stop!" Karen shouted. She walked quickly over toward him and grabbed at his coat. "You can't leave. You broke into the VIP room. Once we confirm that nothing is missing, I will call the police and have them hold you for questioning."
"What are you talking about?" Alex asked. "Let go!"
Karen grappled with him for a while, but she couldn't manage to search his pockets.
What’s wrong with this woman? Alex thought. He wasn’t even arguing with her, but she was manhandling him.
"What is this?" Karen spotted the Supreme Card that was peeking out of Alex's pocket. She quickly pulled it out and looked at him triumphantly, as if she had found evidence of his guilt. "Oh, you stole a card. This is a crime, and I have to call the police."
It didn't even cross her mind that the card could belong to Alex. She imagined he had entered the VIP room, pretending to be there by mistake, and had then distracted Mr Miller with questions and stolen the card when the manager wasn't paying attention.
"Let go!" Alex was sick of this woman.
"Don’t you feel guilty about being a thief?" She was even more determined.
With the two of them creating such a scene, other customers started to walk over toward them, intending to help Karen keep Alex from getting away.
Just then, Robert, who had finished tidying up, strode out of the VIP room.
Having seen Alex's assets, Robert now knew he was the most important customer the New York branch of the bank had ever had. He had also noticed that the system listed Alex's was listed as just one of multiple accounts attached to a family group, labelled 01. If that single account was so lucrative, then what about the rest of the family?
It was rare to meet such important people, so Robert knew he had to be careful to curry favour with Alex. If they got along well, it would be a tremendous success for Robert, and the potential benefits were huge.
So, when saw Karen struggling with Alex, he was enraged. Karen's expression was hostile, and Alex was becoming very angry. Karen was an idiot who was playing with fire, and she might drag Robert himself down with her.
Of all the bank’s many, many customers, why did she need to pick this one to try and remove? A simple flick of Alex’s finger could be enough to end both their careers.
https://preview.redd.it/ibiq0o324r4b1.png?width=764&format=png&auto=webp&s=1a99b27610b71dd123f69c6780b81a8f489cd0a4 Chapter 3
"Stop!" Robert dashed between Alex and Karen.
Before Alex could speak, Karen waved the Supreme Card in the air. Her eyes flashed with triumph as she said to Robert, "Mr Miller, look! He stole a card from the VIP room!" She smiled at him, her expression a little smug.
Surely, Mr Miller would be happy with her for preventing theft. He had a lot of authority in the eastern district of Metro Sky Bank, and when he had arrived at headquarters, he had seemed impressed with her, so she was hoping for a promotion. Her imagination began to run away with her as she dreamed about her possible future.
Mr Miller's face had always been a little glum, but as she watched, his expression grew darker and darker. Before she could figure out why, she was startled by his explosive roar, leaving her entire body trembling.
"Let go of Mr Ambrose!" As he yelled, Mr Miller knocked the Supreme Card out of her hand, and she was so scared that she let go of Alex. Mr Miller pushed her aside and bent down to pick up the card. "Mr Ambrose, your card. I'm very sorry. I haven't trained Ms Young properly. I do apologize."
Mr Miller's expression showed a mixture of respect, embarrassment, and unease, as the bank's customers looked on in amazement. Karen was stunned.
Could the Supreme Card be his? she wondered.
Her eyes widened. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't make sense of it.
If this man had a Supreme Card, then he had at least three million dollars, yet he appeared to only be around twenty years old. A poor, lower-class loser with that much money? No, it was just too unlikely.
"It's not your fault, Mr Miller," Alex assured him, slipping the card back into his pocket.
"Thank you, Mr Ambrose." Robert dipped his head and paused briefly before straightening up and shouting at Karen, "Why are you just standing there? Apologize to Mr Ambrose immediately!"
How could Karen still not understand? Robert thought. The young man standing in front of them was seriously rich and needed to be treated with respect.
Karen immediately bowed her head at Alex. "Mr Ambrose, I'm very sorry for my rude behaviour. I made a mistake, created a fuss over nothing, and put my hands on you. It was my fault, and I will reflect on my behaviour—"
Alex ignored her and walked away.
"Mr Ambrose," Robert called after him. "If you ever need anything, just give me a call, and I'll do my best to help."
Robert was excited by this opportunity. It was rare to meet someone as important as Alex, so he shamelessly tried to charm him.
"Okay, Robert." Alex smiled faintly. Robert had come to his defence, after all.
The use of his first name made Robert feel quite emotional. The wealthiest customers called him by his first name, and now so did this poorly dressed young man, who displayed not even a hint of arrogance.
Alex strode out of the bank and hailed a taxi to take him back to Preston University.
As Alex entered the university building, he accidentally stepped into a puddle, splashing a lot of mud on his legs.
He checked his watch then rushed toward the classroom, where Mr Morgan was already standing at the podium, lecturing. He spotted Alex out of the corner of his eye and a hint of disappointment flashed across his face.
Feeling guilty, Alex lowered his head.
Of all his teachers, Mr Morgan was his favourite. The other teachers tended to ignore Alex because he had no money, and some even openly mocked him. Only Mr Morgan treated him like any other student.
Alex slipped quietly into the classroom, aware that all the students were staring at him, and he could hear them whispering.
"He isn't usually late. Hell must have frozen over."
"Look at his pants! They’re filthy. Doesn’t he have any clean clothes?"
"Are you joking? It’s not like he’d have the money for new ones. It looks like he's just thrown on whatever he could find."
Some of the boys continued to talk, and the girls in the front row covered their mouths with their hands as they joined in. Their eyes flashed with contempt when they looked at Alex.
"Stop talking!" Mr Morgan said loudly. "And pay attention."
Throughout the lecture, Alex noticed that Mr Morgan kept glancing at him, his eyes full of disapproval, as if Alex had failed to live up to his expectations.
Eventually, the lecture was over.
Mr Morgan packed up his textbooks and left.
"Cathy." The voice came from the doorway.
Everyone turned in the direction of the voice and saw Billy walking through the door and going straight to Cathy, who was sitting by the window. She stood and hugged him, both of them were in love
Many of the students turned to stare at Alex. Everyone thought that he was Cathy's boyfriend, and they weren’t aware that she had broken up with him.
Alex watched in disgust. He’d heard that Billy had taken at least five different girls to stay at that hotel. Cathy was just the latest in a long line, and Alex had no intention of fighting for her.
Billy strutted past Alex with his arm around Cathy's shoulder.
"Darling, wait a minute," Cathy said to Billy as she stopped in front of Alex and held out her phone. "Since we've broken up, I don’t want to owe you anything. Here's the phone you bought for me a few weeks ago. You can have it back."
Alex glanced at the Samsung Galaxy phone and then took it.
"Hah, you would have to work part-time for six months to afford one of these!" Cathy took a brand-new phone out of her pocket and showed it to Alex. "This is the latest iPhone, and it’s much better than your phone."
"Of course, it's far too expensive for a loser like him." Billy raised his chin and looked at Alex. "Cathy told me that she kept asking for that phone for six months before you finally bought it for her. Do you think you can pick up a girl so far out of your league? You're just embarrassing yourself, so give up. And I'm warning you now: don't even think about her. If I find out you’ve gone anywhere near her, you'll regret it!"
"Don't waste your breath talking to a loser like him. Can we go to De Luca’s for lunch?" Cathy had already dismissed Alex.
"Call me baby," Billy said, smiling at her.
"Baby, let's go." She flirted with him right in front of Alex.
"Cathy!" A petite girl stood up, glaring at her. "You're taking it all too far. I never thought you'd break up with Alex, and I'm ashamed of you."
"Emma, why do you care?" She scowled. When things had been going well with Alex, she’d been on good terms with Emma, who was a decent person. Sometimes, when Cathy had been fighting with Alex, she had asked Emma’s opinion about who was in the right.
"You gave up Alex for someone like Billy?" Emma asked. "How could you treat Alex like this? When you were sick and couldn't even get out of bed, Alex sent you lunch and dinner every day for a month. And when you were walking in the mountains and twisted your ankle, he carried you on his back for miles down the mountain. Don’t you remember that? You know he doesn't make much money from his part-time jobs, but when you wanted a phone, he worked hard for months to save enough money to buy it for you. And this is how you repay him? By breaking up with him and ridiculing him?"
Cathy scowled. "I never forced him to do anything. If he was stupid enough to go along with it, that's his problem! And so what if he bought me a cell phone? It was only a Samsung. And why would I want a Samsung when I can have an iPhone?"
Emma shook her head. "Cathy, I don’t understand you. Do you only care about money? Will money get you everything you want?"
"Yes!" Cathy barked out a laugh. She stared at Emma and said, "I admit that I like money. Is that so wrong?" She took Billy's arm and said, "Come on, baby, let's go. These two poor people disgust me."
She glared at Alex and Emma and then swept out of the classroom with her head held high.
2023.06.08 10:09 WaveOfWire One Hell Of A Vacation - Chapter 89
Next Royal Road Patreon u/KieveKRS
providing the Trash certification of quality! (with help from u/coldfireknight
cuz this one needed it.)
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Nalah affixed the massive shield to her back, the rectangular form large enough for him to fit behind while only needing to crouch slightly. It was mostly ironwood, but the sides and front were metal-plated, so it still weighed a considerable amount. Despite that, the thing’s bulk hardly seemed to be noticed by the blonde-furred female, likely due to the constant construction work she involved herself in. It paired oddly with the long pike she insisted on using, but he couldn’t deny that poking at things while hiding behind a mobile wall sounded like a good idea.
Jax was wearing his new armour, the bulky chest-piece a mirror of his blond-furred pack mate’s. Though he forwent the protection a buckler or likewise would offer, he doubled up on gear. Gauntlets, vambraces, pauldrons, and anything else he could wear to compliment the massive axe he had taken a liking to.
Where Nalah was fitted to look like an apocalypse survivor—her protections limited to her torso, forearms, and shield—the black-furred male resembled a giant, if underfunded, paladin. All he needed now was some religious imagery and a penchant for exalting the qualities of their god. Joseph almost nudged the guy to suggest it for kicks.
On second thought, he decided that Jax absolutely did not
need a reason to start yelling about the Human-turned-religious-figure, because there was no way in hell he wouldn’t. There was no telling what he would choose to say, and the Grand Hunter was perfectly happy never knowing.
Having been with the male as long as he had, it would probably involve ‘taming’ females or something else that would leave him groaning for weeks, if not just contemplating another high-dive from the cliff.
Joseph fixed his own equipment, the ‘Wraith armour’ worn over his own thin iron breastplate. He wasn’t thrilled to wear the extra weight, but it beat being mauled by the thing they were heading out to kill. The trips so far had been tolerable, fog and overcast skies keeping the temperature in check, but he didn’t want to go out in this on a hotter day as Summer really kicked back in. He was sweaty enough without baking inside all this crap.
He adjusted the wolf-skull mask, the rest of the hunting party having gotten over the worst of the unease it gave them. Though they’d needed to rotate people out for the sake of fairness, this would be their eighth consecutive scouting. Using the information that Raine and Faye provided, they narrowed down a likely stomping grounds for the creature and were systematically clearing sectors. It might have been discouraging to keep looking after so long, but the occasional marking on trees and the odd moss-wolf corpse tipped them off that they were getting close. There was still another week’s worth of searching left if today wasn’t the day, but somehow he doubted they wouldn’t need that long.
All in all, they numbered six; larger parties were attempted, but their efforts at stealth quickly became pointless between so many trudging through the forest and stopping for breaks. There was a bit of a scare where one of Mi’low’s pack went missing, but the guy had just stopped to relieve himself. Since the discovery was made by someone else knocking him over in the process by mistake, they decided that keeping the number smaller made communication easier. And lowered the amount of grumbling about needing a bath.
Jax, Nalah, two security members, one of the hunters, and him. Sure, grabbing Tel or the Wraiths would have been a bit more useful for cohesion, but they were all busy with things, and he didn’t want to grind everything in the settlement to a halt for nothing if the search turned up empty again. They were more suited to taking out their fellow Lilhun than some monster in the woods, as much as he disliked the thought.
Scarlet was spending a lot of time with Violet and the new Atmo, Faye was spending much of her recovery with the moss-wolves and moss-pup, and Tel was in the process of helping Harrow shore up the few security members that were slated to become snipers. Kaslin was still learning chemistry with Toril, and Raine was helping whoever needed a hand, so that marked off all of his usual accompaniment. He could have taken more of his direct pack, but they all had important things to take care of as well.
Sahari was managing the pack and putting people where people needed to be put, Pan was working with Idee and Heralt to make a line of armour for the whole pack, and Mi’low was...well, Mi’low
. He was pretty sure she was unofficially the master of the hunter’s lodge and spent most of her time keeping track of what came in and out of it, while also making sure that everyone got their fair share. It needed to be done with the settlement growing as much as it had, and it kept Mi’low busy enough to stymie the flow of complaints, so he wasn’t about to complain.
They double checked that they had everything that was needed; food, water, arrows, bolts, and some bags to store anything that the snares had caught on the way back. Four ranged and two melee weapons meant that they would be mostly using Jax and Nalah to soak hits if it came down to it, the others peppering it with projectiles. Given that Harrow was insistent on the bear-thing being resistant to anything they could use at a distance, they also carried spare weapons for the ranged users, just in case. Nodding, Joseph gestured to the group finishing up their preparations for the day’s trip.
“A moment, sir?” Scarlet called to him as she approached the gate, the Wraith flanked by Rose and Cobalt. The two Atmo were decked-out in their own armour, which appeared to be almost entirely metal, save for the palm lining the inside for comfort. Each of their six legs were adorned with broad shields, their bases capped off with a flat storage carriage. They looked like someone had a little too much fun testing how much the insects could effortlessly carry and had ended up with sapient hexapedal tanks.
“Only if you explain why those two would look more at home if they had cannons installed on their backs,” he quipped, an expression somewhere between surprised, amused, and plain dumbfounded plastered on his face. The blackish red-furred female smirked for a split-second before resuming her usual servile presentation.
“The young mistress had extended her request for these two to accompany you.”
Joseph tilted his head incredulously. “Violet told you to send them?”
Scarlet nodded, gesturing to the outfitted Atmo. “They have been under her tutelage for some time now, and wish to be of assistance.”
The Grand Hunter snapped his mouth closed when he was about to ask why
his daughter would teach them anything that might be useful for fighting a deadly beast. Of course she did; It was one of the first things he did for her. It would have been weirder for her not
to pass on what she knew after all the hours she spent either seeing him coach the others, or being coached herself. With the time she had under her belt, she was the local Atmo Close Quarters Combat specialist, and no one else understood how the modified boxing she learned worked with their bodies like she did.
He wore a hesitant expression, shifting his weight to his other leg. “Well, they’ve certainly geared up.”
“It is a product our smith is rather proud of,” the Wraith affirmed confidently.
He exhaled slowly. “Seems a bit much.”
She seemed to be expecting the remark, barely pausing to register what he said before responding. “Your kit wishes you safe, yet understands you would not allow her to accompany you. These two wish to be of assistance.”
To punctuate her point, the two nodded in agreement, walking forward and slinging some of the backpacks onto their carriages. It seemed ‘no’ wasn’t something they were going to accept after Violet had said her piece. He sighed, conceding that they wouldn’t slow the party down with everyone carrying so much weight in equipment, regardless of the bags. They took breaks frequently enough to accommodate the Atmo, so that wouldn’t hinder anything either.
“Fine,” he relented with a wave of his hand. “We’ll take them. Not like they’d hurt anyway. But–” He put a warning into his tone. “–they’re not playing the hero and getting themselves killed. This isn’t going to work if they think any of us dying is still a net positive, got it?”
The two Atmo mimed their understanding, Scarlet replying with a victorious smile. Joseph couldn’t help but bemusedly roll his eyes. The female had taken rather well to baby-sitting, and that seems to have extended to humouring the young Queen’s schemes now. It wasn’t an unwelcome addition to their little sojourn. At least they could haul back any larger game without it tacking hours onto the return trip.
He thanked Scarlet for her trouble before dismissing her, confirming with the group that everything was accounted for, and set off before it grew too late. He wasn’t looking to get caught out in the woods during the night. The Lilhuns might be fine, but he was pretty well blind unless the moon felt generous.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Jax watched the two Atmo quietly follow on the sides of the group, their heavily armoured forms posing no issues with their naturally soundless movements in the forest. In the den, they would make moderate clacks and clicks as their chitinous legs contacted the ground, but the soft dirt and foliage stifled all but the smallest report of their travel. With Scarlet supervising alongside Violet, he wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that the former Blade had influenced their movement with the goal in mind, though he had never paid much attention to how they walked before to compare.
He had to admit, having them carry the additional equipment was exceedingly useful. He had proposed having the group use the newly acquired platforms on their more arachnid-like abdomen to rest in shifts, but Joseph was quick to insist that the insects were of lesser stamina than even Lilhuns. The phrasing seemed like a comparative insult, but Jax had more than enough experience with the Human to know that he had simply spoken his mind. To him, everyone had sub-par stamina. Training had gone some way to remedy the discrepancy, but the Grand Hunter could still continue for longer than even the most well-conditioned of them.
The black-furred male rolled his shoulders, feeling the heft of his axe shift with the movement. It was an impressive size, the weight well-balanced and its edge sharp. He had once laid it to the ground out of curiosity and confirmed that it was about as tall as Pan from head to haft, though only if she stood to her full height. Regardless of its size, it was still lighter than the armour he chose to don.
Having only really worn leathers or a few sets of ironwood protections, the encumbering prominence of the iron equipment took getting used to. It wasn’t entirely restrictive, but did put a damper on any chances he had of sprinting from danger. That was fine, he supposed, since he was wearing it against a beast he had no experience with. It could very well outrun him regardless, and he would rather have the defences in either case.
Nalah seemed to be doing fine, the large barrier she kept on her back swaying slightly as she walked. She was unhindered by it, her movements barely affected by the bulk, which was reassuring. Joseph, however, seemed to be panting more than usual, the rolling cloud coverage easing as the sun progressively warmed the environment. The fog from earlier meant that it was rather humid, and that seemed to bore no well wishes for the male encased in dark leathers and thick plates. He had even flipped down his hood, the sweat beading on his skin adding a sheen to his visage.
“I liked this better when the sun didn’t exist,” the Human lamented quietly, just loud enough for Jax to hear. The black-furred male chuckled.
“It would be rather dark.”
Joseph glared at him for a moment before rolling his eyes. “I just don’t rank ‘heavily armoured hike through the woods’ high up on my list of things I want to do regularly.”
“I believe that list would be occupied by your mates, no?” he ribbed playfully, a smirk arising when the Grand Hunter shunted his eyes closed in a grimace.
“I hate you.”
“I can see your smile underneath your displeasure, Joseph,” Jax quipped, nudging the male with his elbow, then giving an apologetic smile when his friend almost fell. Joseph sighed, waving Cobalt over and fetching a water-skin from the luggage that the insect was ferrying without breaking stride—though he needed to be careful not to get stepped on.
The Atmo always amused Jax. Be it their passive demeanour hidden by their towering stature, or his interactions with the den-kit, they never failed to be curious people. Having the two that accompanied Volta with them was an unexpected development, but he couldn’t claim to disapprove. If they had been imparted the methods of combat that Violet had cultivated, then there was little worry of them being harmed by naught but perhaps their current target. At least not until there was a better reference of its strength than the single encounter the first-years had so long ago.
At the time, it had smashed pillars and pierced flesh effortlessly, claws proving to be little more than tempting ministrations of tender touch to the thick hide. Jax only had some of the pack’s recount to base the experience off of, but was content to take their word for it. He was, ashamedly, preoccupied taking care of baser needs when the event transpired, so he was woefully unprepared for the eventual encounter. Still, he was afforded the best the settlement had to offer so that he might serve his duty of protecting the Grand Hunter. Harrow would never forgive him if only he returned.
His thoughts were disturbed by Joseph calling for a rest, Jax’s legs thankful for the break from supporting the unusual weight for so long. The Human dispensed rations and water for the pack, the Atmo waiting until everyone else was supplied before accepting their portion. They rested on their base directly, instead of curling their legs beneath them like Jax had become accustomed. Perhaps the armour impeded such, or they wished to remain mobile in the event such was required. Regardless, they blocked what little breeze there was, forcing the Grand Hunter to walk beyond them to enjoy it in the shade. It was short-lived however, as Rose quickly repositioned to stay between the pack and whatever lay beyond their protections.
It was a futile effort, it seemed, because it repeated again twice before Joseph groaned loudly and threw himself atop the carriage to lay back, his legs dangling at the knee. He seemed perfectly content with the unorthodox arrangement, snorting his amusement along with a muttered comment about a ‘taxi.’
The entertaining sight was marred by a distant yelp, snapping the group to attention. Jax and Joseph traded looks, subtle nods and gestures given to move out while remaining quiet. Ignoring his earlier complaints, the Grand Hunter flicked his hood up and donned the mask, drawing his crossbow and readying a bolt. The hunter of the pack mimicked the preparation, the two security members loosely nocking their arrows while Rose, Cobalt, Jax, and Nalah took point.
They proceeded quietly for far longer than the proximity of the noise would have suggested, but marks and gashes upon the trees implied a moving conflict. Thoughts of it being a lost cause quickly became moot as a closer growl and bark shattered the careful silence they had been maintaining.
Motioning for the pack to stop, Joseph waved Jax forward, Nalah approaching the other side. Using the large shield as additional cover, they peered around a particularly thick tree. Locked in combat were two moss-wolves, both attacking a truly massive grey creature.
Twice the Human’s height, half that in width. Four pillars as legs—the muscular trunks sinewy and defined—supported the disturbing hunched figure, the wide base tapering slightly into a thick and extended torso. A singular eye-stalk replaced the head, the ocular organ atop it pitch black and free of any indication of its focus. Four arms with deadly claws parried and sliced the two yellow beasts as they attempted to drive off the predator, a sickeningly large maw gaping to catch any attempts at a lunge. The mouth of the creature almost occupied the entirety of the available surface area upon its front, the jagged bone tools of manduction undulating with the promise of sustenance.
Joseph pulled them back, cursing under his breath as he tried to fight off the tension. From Nalah’s worried expression, it seemed his caution was rather potent, the other members of the group smelling his reaction as well.
“So, what’s the plan, Jax?” the Human whispered, his grip on the crossbow alternating with his fingers stretching across the trigger lest his fidgeting cause a misfire.
“I thought that, with your record, you would wish to tame it for the settlement,” Jax replied while thinking through a plan of action. He was glad that his friend trusted him, but he wished he had known the true scale of the beast prior. Joseph grit his teeth, turning to glance past the tree again with sarcasm pouring out of his response.
“Can’t quite see Winnie-the-woodchipper there playing great with kids.”
“You say that after adopting an Atmo as kit, Grand Hunter,” he returned, nodding to himself when a plan formed. The Human smiled, the banter easing the tension somewhat. “Rose, Cobalt, you two are the most well defended of us. Circle around and drive the beast this way. You should be capable of such without noise, yes?”
The two insects nodded, emptying their luggage behind a tree so as not to lose any of it before disappearing into the trees. The slight glimmer of their iron armour was the only indication of their position through the dense forest. Jax hoped that the beast was not particularly curious about the dimly pulsing glare, nor finished with its current altercation in time to impede the pair.
Satisfied with their progress, he motioned for the two security members to scale a tree and gain a superior vantage point. Their weapons would be able to maintain a more rapid pace of sustained fire at longer ranges. Joseph and the hunter were instructed to hide behind trees nearby, though the Human would need to remain grounded as his lack of claws made scaling the large flora difficult with his equipment.
Finally, Nalah and he positioned themselves much closer, in order to flank the creature as it fled the Atmo and occupy it long enough for the others to bleed it out, if not outright dispose of it.
With the forms of the Atmo peeking through the brush opposite them, Jax raised his axe to signal the start.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Joseph felt the hammering in his chest, his heart preparing him to fight for his life against the walking abomination that easily outclassed the only other predator that he had experience with. Sure, the moss-wolves were easy to take down once you had equipment and a plan, but that thing screamed
He watched Jax and Nalah set up behind thick trees, their goal being for Jax to hopefully disable a leg or two with the war-axe while Nalah occupied it with the shield. As the two strongest members of his little family, he trusted both to do their job.
As a clusterfuck of animal and torture device, he had no faith in the creature playing along.
Swallowing his hesitation, he adjusted his grip on the crossbow again, mentally tallying his shots and cursing himself for not researching explosives. Sure, Toril didn’t want to be involved in that kind of weapon, but at the moment, the tailless white-furred male could suck it up and make one anyway. Joseph would give his left nut to see how quickly the chemist would make weapons of mass destruction just to annihilate whatever that thing called home.
Jax raised his axe, glinting the sunlight of it towards the Atmo. Receiving the start signal, the two clicked and loosed a deafening screech, the Human’s ears ringing even from this distance.
The beast seemed unperturbed by the noise, though the lack of visible ears may have had something to do with the lacklustre effect. Regardless, it did
notice the two armour-clad insects charging at it, and smartly decided to extradite itself from the area. The moss-wolves, however, didn’t quite get the memo, mistaking the advancing assistance as yet another foe to defend themselves from.
He had to say, Violet taught the two well. They flashed their blades out in the same flicker jab that he had shown his daughter, and with an unceremonious squelch, the two bisected canines landed in four pieces, a vibrant green ichor now staining the weapon-like appendages of the Atmo. Undeterred by their first act of violence—as far as he was aware, anyway—they continued herding the beast.
It wasn’t as fast as they might have feared, its quadrupedal gait hindered by its proportions, but it was still quick enough to be damn intimidating. Its arms acted as a counter balance, constantly adjusting this way and that just to keep it stable. That thing was clearly never meant for sprinting, all its mobility being given to the overactive maw that pulsated with the exertion.
He readied his crossbow, the shaking in his hands not ruining his aim against such a large target. He eyeballed the distance between the creature and the ambush point, forcibly moving his finger off the trigger so that he didn’t fire early.
Closer. Come on. Almost.
Jax wound up like a particularly enthusiastic lumberjack, putting his full body into the rotation. The massive axe swung like a horizontal pendulum striking home with all the finality of a clock tolling midnight. It bit into the front leg of the beast, only sinking a few inches before momentum nearly wretched the weapon from the black-furred male. Luckily, the force and timing was enough to trip it, the creature crashing to the forest floor with a deafening roar of pain.
They could hurt it. That made him feel better.
His relief evaporated as the beast swiftly recovered, hauling itself from the ground faster than he thought possible, but his archers took it for an unspoken signal. Arrows and bolts peppered its thick hide, to no effect—it shrugged off the projectiles like they were nothing more than pine needles, none sinking far enough to gain notable purchase.
Jax hefted his axe for another strike, careful not to over-commit this time. Nalah prodded the beast wherever she could with her pike, the melee weapon sliced and skewered just past the surface of the hide, though not enough to do more than marr. It was, however, enough to gain the attention of the target, the creature swinging two of its four arms to rake across the shield that the blond-furred female held. The iron plating across the front let out an unearthly shriek as claws ripped and crumpled the metal. Well, fuck
Nalah was quick to react, treating the shield less as an immovable barrier and more like a slight distance buffer, dodging in and out of range to steal jabs with the polearm. The security members nocked another volley, picking different targets than before. An arrow bounced harmlessly off the black orb of an eye, another finding purchase in what passed for gums in its mouth.
The hint was received; aim for the mouth. Thankfully, that was a large target. Less thankfully, it realized that flashing its teeth was detrimental to its health, slamming the maw closed.
Jax managed another swing, this time into one of the rear legs. It wasn’t as effective as the first strike, but it did warrant a sweeping double back-fist from the creature, scoring Jax’s armour with shallow claw marks as he jumped backwards. Joseph let out a breath as he fired his second shot, only just narrowly missing the sliver of a gap between razor teeth that the enraged attack afforded. It couldn’t keep its mouth shut forever, each frenzied swipe pulling its form enough for glimpses of softer flesh within to appear. The hunter dropped from their tree, darting across to reposition for a wider angle to capitalize on. The creature noticed, lunging forward to eviscerate the easier target.
Joseph blinked as two armoured figures jumped in front of the Lilhun, raising their blades in a tight guard to block the four arms grabbing for a quick meal. The beast recoiled with a thunderous screech, two of its appendages sporting deep gashes that fountained blood, while the others managed to impact above the edged outside of the blades. Rose and Cobalt pressed forward, buying time and space for the hunter to collect themselves and scale up another perch. Taking advantage of its pain, two new arrows ripped through the air, smacking into exposed inner flesh. Two new protrusions joined the first in the mouth, one landing next to the existing projectile, while the other cleared the gateway of serration, driving deeply inside of it.
More flicker jabs and extended straights pushed and cut the beast as it tried to gain distance from the two that wounded it, every retaliatory strike earning it another gash in its grey hide.. Unencumbered by the constant barrage, Nalah thrust into its legs more vigorously, her body leaning into each attack to gain every inch of penetration she could into the muscle and thick hide.
Jax used the chance to score another chopping blow, doubling down on a previous wound to a back leg—striking bone this time, based on the unholy wail the beast uttered. Joseph raised his crossbow to land another shot into its mouth, but the beast flailed wildly to fend off the ambush.
Rose managed to block, Jax lunged backwards, Nalah deflected most of it with what remained of her shield, but Cobalt was caught by a strike, taking the hit to its torso. The Atmo flew backwards, rolling when it landed, the carriage and assorted armoured plates trailing behind it. Rose shifted instantly, covering the direction that their companion had been sent while Jax and Nalah focused on pulling the beast away from the downed combatant.
Joseph’s eyes flicked to the Atmo, waging an internal battle on whether helping the insect would be better or worse for the situation as a whole. He didn’t want to lighten up their assault if it would just mean more injuries, but Cobalt could be in dire need for a patch job. It was hard to tell from where he was.
Cursing, he bolted from his spot, firing off one last round into the gaping maw before clipping the crossbow onto his armour and sliding on his knees in front of Cobalt, healroot hastily retrieved from his pocket.
He paused, sighing in relief when none of the armour bore more than deep gashes, the carapace underneath unblemished by the attack. Cobalt clicked lightly, dazed, but otherwise seeming unhurt. Unlearned in the physiology relevant, he ushered the Atmo to remain out of the fight for fear of concussion or something similar. They could look at the insect back at the base to be sure later.
His head spun around at both Jax and Nalah screaming his name, a massive clawed hand sweeping at him—the monster's approach unnoticed while he focused on Cobalt. Lacking a better option, he lunged forward towards the underside of the beast to dodge the swipe, crashing to his shoulder on the dirt below.
The creature raised a leg above Joseph, pounding the earth scant inches from his head as he rolled sideways. Ignoring the kicked up dirt, he brought his fist to the underside of the beast, flicking the release on his bracer.
Blood spouted from the newly formed wound, the blade breaking at the mechanism as the massive animal lurched in pain, Joseph rolling out of the way of another attempted trampling. He scrambled to his feet, feeling the wind of another strike narrowly missing him.
Yeah, that would probably kill him.
Luckily, the injuries renewed the desire to flee in the monstrosity, the group of attackers proving too dangerous to continue challenging. It stumbled away from them, sparing Cobalt from its panicked trudging. Jax and Nalah started to run towards him, worry evident in their eyes, but he barked for them to finish it, redirecting the two to keep the pressure going. He didn’t want to mention the pain in the arm from where the bracer hitched. It didn’t feel broken, and thus was irrelevant.
Pressure applied, the grey beast picked a random direction free of opponents to escape, ignorant of the waiting security. When it was too close for them to shoot into its mouth at a decent angle, they slung the bows over their shoulders and drew the swords they had been afforded, patiently waiting with the blades turned down.
It passed below them, the two Lilhuns dropping from the branches to put their full weight into the plunging blades. Both landed on the large target, one sword sinking deep into a shoulder, while the other managed to pierce one of its hip joints. The beast spun haphazardly to dislodge the ‘new’ threats, both security members kicking off and finding new trees to set up in.
Whatever damage was actually done, it had lost the use of an arm, and its gait shifted awkwardly as the blade lodged in its hip worked more harm with each shambling step.. Emboldened, Jax picked up the pace, struggling to position himself with the amount of metal he wore. Ducking another swipe of its claws, he saw his chance and swung, pivoting with his axe as a counter weight. For the third time, his axe blade found the wound in its leg, adding a sickening crunch as the bone snapped from the impact.
The creature swung wildly, forced to favour its two remaining good legs, and the only other leg that could still support at least some
of its weight. It was unstable now, the hunched figure swaying while unmoving. Unable to run, it decided to go down with as many of them as it could.
Rose caught up with the attack, drawing attention from the comparatively squishy Nalah as the blond-furred female deflected a wayward swing with her shield. The once iron-plated ironwood now sporting little more than jagged scraps of metal atop its silver wooden structure, a series of deep gouges marring the surface. Two lunging thrusts with the pike bit flesh, drawing new blood from the beast.
Joseph loaded his crossbow, getting off two bolts, but not managing to keep it steady enough to hit anything of use, his arm faltering under the weight of the weapon. Cursing, he decided to flank the beast and try his luck with the other bracer. If nothing else, the force in which the blade deployed was enough to pierce the thick hide, and the others were doing a good job of distracting it.
The red armoured Atmo let loose a series of directed swings, the fifth severing an arm in motion, the flying appendage forcing Nalah to raise her shield to block the unorthodox projectile. The female was sent sprawling from the weight of the impact, but the beast was too busy voicing its agony to take advantage of it. Jax worked another two chops into the broad legs, but neither managed to incapacitate it any more, and the prolonged exertion was slowing his reflexes.
As if cued into his waning energy, the beast flung Jax with another strike, the hunter of the group sinking a bolt deep into the cavernous flesh of its mouth to prevent an attempt at following up.
Joseph roared, desperate to finish it off before the creature could do the same to his downed pack. He sprinted at the monster's back and slid underneath it with as much speed as he could muster. Throwing his fist into the passing undercarriage, he let the deployed blade leave a long gash in its wake.
The grey monster lost its ability to stand, torn tendons, blood loss, and inflicted injuries taking their toll. The Grand Hunter kicked off his knees to fling himself out of the way of the collapsing figure, grimacing as the remaining bracer proved unable to support the abuse he had put it through. He looked back at the beast, the flailing body failing to right itself as teeth did little more than gouge dirt, its back exposed. Rose approached, raising their blades together and plunging it through the body over and over until it stopped moving.
Exhausted, the Atmo dropped where it was, breathing heavily. Joseph’s instinct to yell their victory was delayed as he hurried over to Jax and Nalah to confirm he didn't need to bring back bad news. Nalah seemed fine, if a bit sore from hitting the dirt and rolling, while Jax just asked to lay down when he heard that everything was over. Cobalt came over to the group, the armour that had come off collected atop the carriage it had managed to loosely affix to its base.
It was light, a chuckle originating from the Human as he slumped to the ground against a tree, but soon the entire group was roaring with laughter as victory settled in their minds. The two security members helped the hunter begin disassembling the beast, their contribution to the fight leaving them with more energy than the rest. They hadn’t been slacking off, that much was certain. The number of arrows jammed into the maw of the thing would have guaranteed a few extra seconds of survival and chances to escape if one of them had been forcibly tossed into there, and it had caused enough pause for the rest of them to get in a few hits up close.
Joseph rested across from Jax and Nalah, letting his heart rate slow from the rapid pace it had been pinned to since the start of the conflict. His arm continued its protests, but from the amount of movement he still had, he guessed that he had just strained the elbow. A few days taking it easy should straighten that right up.
Once the active members were about half way through processing the creature for hide and meat, Cobalt approached him, a mimed request for assistance putting their armour back on being redirected to Nalah since he doubted he could lift the damn pieces without hurting himself at the moment. She obliged, getting the blue Atmo back in full attire, though it took a while.
Rose stood first, stopping over to allow the hunter to place collected bits and pieces onto the carriage before securing it with whatever they could make due. A security member gathered the moss-wolf corpses for a similar treatment. Waste not, want not, he supposed.
Rose ended up carrying most of their spoils. When he was about to ask why, he, Jax, and Nalah were dragged to Cobalt and hefted onto the carriage. A series of confused questions revealed that the rest wanted to head back before it started getting dark, and it was pretty obvious who was the most exhausted of them. Lacking the will or energy to argue it, he flopped back on the Atmo as the trees passed them by, Nalah resting her legs across him as her head sat on Jax’s lap. The black-furred male didn’t so much as smirk, so it was clear he had pushed himself too far to quip about the arrangement as he laid down.
“The next time you wish to exhaust me this much, Joseph,” the Head of Security started after a long while of silence, tiredness in his voice, “I would prefer it to involve my mate and a bed.”
The Human snorted, closing his eyes and enjoying the lack of walking as the surprisingly stable Atmo carried the three of them. “Fuck off, Jax.”
“Of course, Grand Hunter.”
Next A/N: Patreon is fixed!... aka new one cuz problems with the last. Check it out to support the story, get AI character art every now and then, or even preview sections of chapters as i write them! (aka, before kieve gets to fix them :D)
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2023.06.08 09:56 tony787720 Worried about my appearance..
So apparently, Ive had T2N all my life but it just only recently finally blew up (“officially awakened”, according to the diagnosis) this past January when I got the results from my doc after I noticed something very wrong since three months before in October 2022, when I started falling asleep too much during my job as an uber eats driver (eventually had to quit).
Im 40. All my life since before that and even up until February of this year I was very physically active. I did cardio for about 1-2 hours a day 5 days a week. I then started going back to lifting weights.
But with weights, no matter how much I lifted, I would never see any progress.
My whole life I’ve been a massive mercilessy accursed HARD-GAINER. Wether I was at the gym half an hour 5 days a week, 1 hour M-F, 2hrs M-F, 2hrs every other day, 1hr every other day, sticking to a routine, changing up the routine so as to confuse the muscles and therefore build more mass quicker as a result, doing single excercises, doing compound excercises, doing resistance training, doing negatives, doing supersets, focusing on certain parts on different days, doing full-body every other day, wether I ate six times a day mostly meats and eggs and proteins galore with fruits and veggies and nuts and shakes, wether I added supplements to them, wether I took a gallon of creatine daily or just two scoops into my shake after every workout (before post-workout atrophy starts to happen), wether I took pre-workout shakes/drinks or not, wether I withheld from fapping before the gym, wether I slept 7,8,9,10 hours that night or the night before, wether I went during the morning, afternoon or night- on my BEST DAY I would just barely make a difference that barely nobody would ever notice anyway, and it would go away in a heartbeat if I ever stopped lifting for five minutes. Its BAZONKERS people- all that work, and NOTHING to show for it to this day.
Except now the opposite has happened. I have no energy at all to do anything (hell I can barely stay awake as I type this). Cant focus, cant think straight. Even seemingly mundane things like drivig to the grocery store ten minutes away is a daunting task now that worries everyone in my fam to death if I ever would try to do it.
I sleep most of the day. In a 24-hr span, Im awake for about six-seven. I only eat once a day bc of my shitty for life now Keto diet I have to strictly follow so I cant eat 90% of everything so I barely eat and its once/twice a day and its small meals so I dont pass out shortly after. Therefore, I dont eat 6 times a day- nowhere near that. I also had to completely stop working out.
Today, I see myself in the mirror and notice that now that the nightmares and sleep paralysis have progressed, Ive become rail thin. Like, my arms are scary-looking with how thin and bony they are now- they look like those of a 9-year-old boy. Im embarassed to be seen in public. Im paler now, and the Dark Circles under my eyes have grown inmensely darker. I feel like I can charge cars to park in those giant suckers but thats for another story.
So I look like a sickly malnourished skeleton now. Its scary-looking how bad Ive gotten, but gym is the LAST thing I can do nowadays- believe me! I havent gone since Feb when I just had to stop bc I couldnt take it anymore.
So, is rail-thin, bony, extraterrestrial-looking “body” normal for people with Severe T2N to get? I look like a sickly shivering starving animal from one of those Sarah McLaughlin commercials with the song playing and everything.
So is this (“fairly new”?) appearance normal for people with N to display? Remember that mine’s severe t2. Severe.
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2023.06.08 09:42 ANerdyPoet I found this book second hand at a thrift store near me. Have any of you read it? What were your impressions?
2023.06.08 09:40 aphroditestherapist My McDonalds interview Experience
Note: I am a 16 year old female and live in Australia.
I will basically just note down the main points, feel free to ask questions in the comments.
- My interview lasted 5 minutes. The assistant restaurant manager asked me very simple questions (describe your self in 3 words, what school do you go to, what year are you in, whats your favourite and least favourite subject and why, why do you want to work at mcdonald’s, and whats your availability). I wore all black clothing.
- I got the acceptance email the same day (I done the interview at 4pm and I got accepted at 9pm)
- My orientation lasted around 2.5 hours and we just did online modules which took around 1.5 hours for me to complete. I also filled out documents about my personal information (address, number, TFN etc) I wore all black and so did the other people. I got paid for the orientation.
- My first training week was on fries, I got 2 training shifts then one actual shift. I got trained for dining & fries during this week.
- My second training week was on front counter, I got 2 training shifts for front counter then one actual shift at the end of the week.
- My third training week was on drive thru. I got 2 training shifts for drive thru and one actual shift at the end of the week. All training shifts were paid for.
- My drive thru trainer told me that after training we will only get shifts on fries for a few months, then we will only get shifts on front counter for a few months, then we will get drive thru shifts for a few months.
- A very common question they would ask you is “why do you want to work at mcdonald’s” so I recommend preparing an answer for that beforehand.
- You don’t need to worry too much about your interview, theres a lot of turnover in fast food restaurants so they usually hire 10-15 people a month. In my case, they hired 6 people in the same week.
- I recommend checking out Stephen Patula on youtube because he has a lot of videos of himself working at mcdonald’s so you can see what kind of tasks they do, how to make and prepare the food and kind of what it’s like to work in the fast food industry.
- I was worried about learning the register and the menu so I kind of familiarised myself with the different menus (breakfast, lunch, happy meals, dinner boxes, mccafe menu etc) and what foods go in each menu. This helped me when learning the register.
- Fries is the easiest station to learn. Front counter might seem stressful in the beginning because you’re learning a lot of tasks at once but the more you do it the easier it gets. Honestly front counter is really fun for me now. Drive thru is probably the easiest station for me now.
- Drive thru person does the cashier job using a headset. At my restaurant, they also prepare (not cook) the hotcakes and wipe the walls when its not busy. Drive thru person will also occasionally help out on front counter and bring might bring the orders to the cars in the waiting area.
- When I first started I thought I wasn’t gonna last there because it was a bit stressful multitasking but I promise it gets easier. If you’re new you’re allowed to make mistakes! my trainer said it took her 2-3 months to learn the register and she is now a trainer so if you’re struggling do not worry, you will get it eventually.
- My trainer said once you get used to everything and you’re good at every station you were trained in you can ask them to train you on McCafe if that’s something that interests you.
- The most important thing to remember for your interview is to be confident, sit up straight, use hand gestures and don’t touch your hair or face. If you’re nervous it’s okay, just try your best and don’t overthink the negative stuff.
- I got paid for every shift (including training & orientation)
- The floors are wet so you must have non slip shoes. In terms of what to wear to your interview/orientation, I just wore a black button up and black pants, for orientation I wore a black long sleeve and black pants.
- If you plan on working long term (6 months+) it’s probably a good idea to make good friends there. Personally the crew members make every shift worth it! to make friends you just have to make an effort of talking to the team. In my store everyone gets along so well and they mess around a bit even near the managers (joking around, singing, casually chatting etc) You just have to make an effort to make friends.
submitted by aphroditestherapist
to McDonaldsEmployees [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 09:27 Swatantra1989 Second hand furniture appliance stores in Abu Dhabi, looking to go thrifting.
Just moved to Abu Dhabi, Al raha area. Can you guys suggest me some good ideas for cheap furniture stores, used will do too. I dont mind going thrifting !
submitted by Swatantra1989
to abudhabi [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 09:15 Lela_chan Tactile bass appreciation?
I've been trying to figure out how to word this since it seems like an odd question, and I thought maybe some of you guys would have a better understanding of what I mean since stronger sensory preferences is common among ND folk.
I think a lot of people enjoy "feeling" bass, as in appreciating the tactile sensation of the vibrations. However, some frequencies and rhythms feel icky or just generally underwhelming to me, while others are calming or euphoric.
Pull the Trigger by Black Sun Empire has the most calming sensation for me. I just discovered The Marble Room by Space Wizard (at a Casey's corner store! Lol!) and it resonates my whole chest cavity in a really cool way. All Night by Trampa has kicks that feel pretty euphoric, but I have to crank the treble down because the hi hats are nearly unbearable. My list isn't very long because I usually listen on headphones, which don't grant the tactile experience, but there's nothing better than making my ribcage sing with the car speakers.
I guess what I'm wondering is, do you have a list of songs that you like strictly because of the way they feel when you crank the bass up? Do you know of any artists who deliberately make music with specifically tactile sensations in mind? I'm also curious if different people who share this perspective would feel the same about each other's favorites, or if unique personal anatomy and bone/organ resonant frequencies are different enough between individuals to make a difference in music preference.
submitted by Lela_chan
to neurodiversity [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 09:11 Flocke90 Returning playing seeking for advice. Trying to get back on track.
| || |
So I took a 500 day break and am now more dolphin-y dedicated again. I’m trying to get my agenda up to date and wanted to double check wether I’m doing the right stuff atm. submitted by Flocke90 to afkarena [link] [comments]
I was told to focus on Lucretia and Scarlet first, so they are pretty much done. Scarlet needs some Engravings and Lucretia needs some furniture.
Currently I’m summoning wilders to get Raku and Mishka up, while stargazing for Haelus to A+ the. Switching to Khazard/Zolrath or something (just brought Mortas to E+).
For SIs I’m currently working on Alna -> Nevanthi -> Palmer -> Raku.
Engravings is completely new to me, so I sticked to the guide on discord telling me to focus Lucretia, Scarlet, Ainz, Grezhul and, once they’re ready, Raku and Oden. That’s still up to date right? Lucretia is at e60 rn and I’m working towards Grez e60.
I’m lacking a lot of Furniture for key heroes so that’s what I should probably focus the most right?
For ToT I’ve been told summoning Abelinda to at least A+, then start hoarding tickets. (Swolise and Wutus I got from offers/passes)
Lab store is queued for Joan and in challenger store I’m buying Merlin (both at 30/60 atm).
What do you guys think? Am I on the Right Track? How bad is my accounts condition? I also got the swap scroll thingy left.
Any help is greatly appreciated :) thanks in advance!
2023.06.08 09:03 Fireblazemagma Getting/keeping a job
How should I go about getting a job and what should I do to make sure I keep it?
19yr old male here, I've had two jobs before this but I've only been able to keep each of them for around 2 months. I feel as though those jobs were handed to me because they hired me on the spot. My sister, her two kids and i recently moved out of our parents house which is great and all, but now I am forced to get a job again to pay rent. I was very excited to start fresh in a household that was much smaller than I was used to (4 people instead of 11). I've been living in the new house for a week and I've been sending applications to stores near me but in all honesty I'm still scared. I have a responsibility to pay my end the deal or else we risk getting kicked out. I dont know what job to get and I feel like I'm running out of time. "What If I fail to get a job in time?" and "What if I cant keep the job for long?". Questions like these plague my mind all the time and i feel like i need to succeed for my my niece and nephew. My sister has a job but its not enough to pay the rent and her car insurance. Any thoughts?
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to bipolar [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 09:02 Allicia_York First Contacts (Part 7)
“Welcome to the Endeavour 2.”
Nathan had already chosen to name the frigate after his experimental warp ship, I wondered if that meant he intended to keep hold of it but the limited number of Doradul crew was my largest concern.
“Only 20 Orvangians?”
Nathan’s smile dropped away and he rose from his seat, “I am sorry Jin, the Axarli shot and killed several on the planet’s surface, these were the only prisoners they recovered.”
Halor the Doradul’s Secondary Ops Officer made the Orvangian Gesture of Greif from loss before taking the pilot’s seat that Nathan slid out of.
“I am glad to see you and Doc got to the shuttle safely, but you should probably get some rest, that’s what I am going to do now.” Nathan gestured back to the elevator.
Once we were aboard the elevator, he thumbed the button for Deck 9 where the shuttle was stored.
“What course are we on?”
“Halor plotted a course to a Federation System called Polivor, we will be there in about a day.”
Once we reached the shuttle Nathan and I gathered our things and headed for Deck 4 officer’s quarters. Nathan claimed the Captains Quarters and offered me the First Officers, it was nowhere near as comfortable as the Doradul, in that respect it was much more like the Endeavour, it was a single chamber with a bed, chair, desk, and storage compartments, no more than 6 square metres of floor and barely 3 metres high.
All I had in the way of possessions was a Laser Rifle, a Space Suit, and the pack of seeds from the Doradul, Purple Valuri Seeds my mother had given me when I left for the Doradul. The Chamber didn’t have enough lighting for flowers to grow, the gloom better suited to the needs of the Sovereigns or Euterians.
I Stowed my things and extracted myself from the space suit, it looked ugly now, not the smooth bluish appearance it had once possessed, there were dozens of scratches on its hard segments and the Separatist sealant was brown leaving a couple of dozen irregular dirty-looking smudges where I had sealed it.
My uniform was no better, torn and tattered I had been wearing it for hours when I was sent to recover Nathan from the Endeavour 1, it smelled dirty and pink staining surrounded the tears.
Entirely disrobed I lay on the bed and dimmed the lights, the last sleep I had managed was back in the escape pod, it felt like that was days ago. Despite my exhaustion, it wasn’t easy to fall asleep, perhaps it was the stinging of wounds or the death of so many Orvangians that I knew, sleep took over an hour to reach.
I dreamt of the first year I served aboard the Doradul, we were surveying systems in the Tilbas Sector, looking for worlds that would be suitable for Orvangian settlement, they were peaceful days wandering the stars in search of beauty and quiet, I had built many friendships with members of the crew, among them was Wula, she served as a Geological specialist, surveying planetary crusts for stability. I had gathered her family seal from her body when I was on the Doradul, hers and two others, Palos wasn’t exactly my friend, a support Engineer, he was after my job but I did not wish to see him dead and Worgan, I didn’t know him well.
I woke after a few hours, my bedding stained with lymph from a wound on my side, it had opened again as I had slept. The only thing I had to wear was my torn and stained uniform so I donned it again and headed for the medical bay on deck 3.
Doctor Hule and the Tilik Nathan called Doc were here, treating plasma burns on Sub Officer Florn, she had been a ground officer during surface surveying for the Doradul.
Doc moved over to the second bed and patted it with a tentacle so I hopped up and gestured to my reopened would “It started weeping again”.
“Not to worry, I can go over them all with more care now that there are no enemies at the door.”
Doc began to treat my wounds taking time to seal and patch each one, it took over an hour of work for him to finish and I did feel considerably better.
“Thanks, Doc” I slid off the bed and turned to leave.
“I suggest you also visit the quartermasters on deck 7, they can sort you out something clean to wear.”
Clean clothes and a shower sounded great so I headed straight to Deck 7, the Doradul’s own Quartermaster was here and she soon had the ship fabricate two new uniforms for me, both now showing the embroidery pattern for the Doradul as a Memoriam pattern, though she had not included an Endeavour 2 pattern.
The deck where my quarters were had a shower block, suited to the use of four so that all the senior officers of the frigate could use it at once. I was the only one there though so I took my time cleaning, ensuring that the grime of recent events was gone.
Finally clean I donned a new uniform and stowed the other in my quarters before heading to the bridge.
Halor was still in command, using the Pilots chair as a sort of captain’s seat as he reviewed the ship’s systems and supplies, not that the information was necessary, we would be arriving at Polivor in less than 20 hours now and he would most certainly be disembarking, we all would. This ship was evidence of the Separatists’ rearming against the treaty they had signed when they lost the war.
“Jin! I thought you would be resting after all that excitement.”
“Sleep is difficult, I was hoping we had a crew roster.”
“We do” he indicated an auxiliary console “But I am sad to say that neither of the Doradul’s Therapeutic officers are with us.”
I sat on the padded bar that counted as an auxiliary station seat and brought up the roster, Nathan and Doc were both listed as well as the 21 survivors of the Doradul, 84 had died in the attack on the ship, those whose seals had been recovered were also listed, so I added the three I had collected and quietly wept for a few moments at the losses we had taken.
Less than 40 seals of dead crewmembers had been recovered and were currently being displayed in the galley on deck 3 so that was my next destination, the elevator was in use so I took the ramps.
The Galley was busy, 10 of my crewmates from the Doradul were here some at a wall where 35 seals hung in memoriam of the lost, and others were sitting at tables with the separatist equivalent of ration packs.
I approached the memorial wall and hung the three seals I had recovered, Jola and Nero gave me sympathetic hugs in response. Jola had worked with Wula as part of the survey teams so she offered to make the bond and share memories of our friend and colleague.
We sat and shared our memories through the Bond, the experiences we had each gathered of Wula being integrated, the social evenings I had shared with her, and the work humour Jola had experienced, each memory we shared built a greater picture of our lost friend in our minds and helped us to become closer friends as a result.
After the bond was over, we sat together and ate, the Separatist ration packs were simple, a grain and nut disc with a side of dried berries all held in a small plastic pouch. It wasn’t as good as the fake chicken that Nathan had shared but it was enough to sate my appetite.
Others in the Galley were sharing memories and meals, we may have lost the therapists but our shared experiences were helping us to cope with the losses.
I was about to depart the Galley when Nathan arrived with Doc, Nathan’s arms were loaded with ration packs of his own kind, far more than he could reasonably eat, and Doc was carrying a couple of bottles of medication.
Nathan selected a table next to mine and began laying out and snapping tabs on containers, a total of eight each with the same markings as the fried chicken I had tasted. Doc opened the bottles and dumped the pills into a bowl.
Once the circles turned red Nathan tore lids off packs and released the delicious smell of chicken “Ok everyone, feel free to try some Southern Fried Chicken, Be aware that the coating is a little toxic to Orvangians, so please take an Anti-Toxin pill from Doc here before you eat!” he spoke loud and clear so that everyone turned their attention to him and the smell.
I moved swiftly to the table and dry swallowed a pill before selecting a piece of chicken and biting down. My first taste of this had been without the coating so I had not been able to experience the full delights of its flavours, the coating was quite spicy though the anti-toxin was doing a good job of keeping it from being painful.
Soon others were trying the food for themselves and Nathan found himself explaining that it was not meat once again, though most were satisfied with no explanation. The atmosphere soon became more jovial and Nathan asked Buddy to play some music by another Buddy, this time a musician called Buddy Holly.
The Chicken was soon gone but the uplifted spirits would not fade so quickly, Nathan chatted with everyone, sharing jokes and stories from his people. For a few hours, the galley was a happy place.
Eventually, Nathan and I headed to the bridge to relieve Halor and monitor systems during our journey. I had never served aboard a ship built by another species before, the console layouts and bridge plan here were designed for a mixed species crew with effort made to offer interface and seating flexibility for all the races of the Separatist movement.
Someone had already modified screen layouts to better suit the Orvangian standard and seats were largely configured for our lean forms, the pilot’s chair being the only exception.
“Nathan, you understand that the Federation is likely to want this ship for study.”
“Halor told me. It’s fine though just leaves room for an Endeavour 3.” Nathan followed the statement with a Grin, something the other Orvangians on the bridge were still not used to, but I found myself grinning back causing a surprised reaction from the rest of the bridge crew.
There wasn’t much to do at warp so much of our time was just familiarising ourselves with the ship and its many systems, the Endeavour 2 was originally just referred to as the TX210-B, a combat support Frigate with an arsenal of ship-to-ship weaponry, it was designed to fight, having no other purpose.
After a few hours we were relieved of duty ourselves, Florn being the next most senior officer, he had no experience commanding a ship, but his rank was just below mine and he did command ground survey teams so he would manage for a few hours of Warp travel.
Nathan and I departed the Bridge together “You hungry?” Nathan nudged me as he spoke.
“I haven’t eaten much the last couple of days.”
“Let’s head to my quarters and grab some food then.” We used the ramps to reach deck 4, Nathan’s Fabricator was set up on the desk in his quarters and six ration packs were stacked inside it.
“Your fabricator can make food?”
“Yes, I fed it some of the separatist ration packs and it can make a half dozen different food options from them.” He took a pack from the machine and held it out to me.
He cleared the machine and started it on the next load, then he gathered the stack he had built beside it, almost two entire batches worth and headed back up to the Galley. Once we arrived, he deposited all but one of the packs onto a table at the end of the room and selected a seat at another table.
As I sat with the pack he had given me I noticed that the writing on the pack that had been in Nathan’s language when we had shared chicken on the shuttle, was now all in Orvangian, indicating the instructions to cook the meal and describing itself as a ‘Closed Spicy Meat Sandwich with vegetables and Fruit Sauce’ once the circle turned red I tore open the top to reveal a pair of shell-shaped things, they didn’t look like sandwiches really, they smelled of cooked meat and spices.
“I had Buddy modify the ingredients to eliminate toxic properties so enjoy.” Nathan bit into the crunchy exterior and juices dripped from his chin as he ate.
It was delicious, though I still preferred the chicken he had provided before. Several crew in the galley helped themselves to a pack and soon the whole galley smelled of the spices and meats of this Human food.
Two of these sandwiches were a little much for an Orvangian so most of the crew were sharing packs. After I finished one sandwich Nathan asked “You going to eat that?”
“No.” with that Nathan demolished his third and seemed sated.
“Captain Nathan. Could Buddy play some more music?” the query came from Asor a junior engineer by rank.
“Sure! Buddy, can we get some Dolly?”
“Playing Dolly Parton.” Buddy began with a song about working long hours and soon the galley was full of Orvangians badly singing along.
Eventually, the poor sleep I had gotten over the last couple of days was too much for me and I departed the music and joviality of the galley and returned to my chambers, the small size and lack of a garden hit me again as I entered the metal box military officers call spacious quarters.
Exhaustion made sleep much easier this time and I managed a good six hours of rest, my dreams largely of my childhood and memories I had gained from my bond with Jola. When I awoke it was to the voice of Nathan “All crew, we shall be arriving at the Polivor system in one hour, All crew to stations.”
I climbed out of bed and donned a fresh uniform, depositing both my dirty and tattered one into the laundry chute before heading for the bridge.
Nathan was in the Pilots chair and Halor was standing at an auxiliary station, I took a position at the first officer’s console and examined the navigation data, we were now just 35 minutes from our destination.
That time soon vanished as we prepared the ship for arrival, we would look like a separatist ship so Halor had modified our transponder data to indicate that we were the Endeavour 2 under the Galactic Federations Flag, still, we would need to prove we were not hostile so I set the weapons to safe mode and prepared a transmission of my security code and a message to indicate our allegiance. Nathan prepared to take control of the ship’s course moments before the Warp drive shut down.
We dropped out of warp at 2.2 million kilometres from the Military Outpost in the outer system.
Two Separatist Cruisers were waiting for us, barely a thousand kilometres from our arrival point they immediately opened fire, particle beams lancing out at us with their crimson fury.
Nathan’s reactions were on par as usual, jerking the controls to starboard and hitting full thrust the moment he saw the ships. He managed to evade the worst of it but a blast cut a streak across the port side of the ship, two turrets were hit and auxiliary communications were burned off the ship.
“Jin, Arm Weapons, focus fire on the sunward side ship! Halor, get me data on the state of the system.” Nathan yelled orders as he twisted the Endeavour 2 among the beams.
I had set the weapons to safety thinking we would need to look non-threatening, it was going to take two minutes to get weapons back “Captain, two minutes for weapons!”
Halor set secondary displays to show the devastated Outpost and the distant flashes of conflict over Polivor 3 “Captain, there are 5 Separatist Battleships in orbit of Polivor 3 and the Military Outpost has been destroyed.”
He paused for a moment as though he could barely believe his next statement, “We are at war.”
(I hope everyone is still enjoying this story, Let me know if you are. As you may have noticed there is no Species Data Drop in the comments this week they will resume once another species makes an appearance.)
submitted by Allicia_York
to HFY [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 08:58 Jet_Black_Jets Hey, M. This is killing me.
I understand how one can die of heartbreak now. I can count on one hand how many cups of yogurt I’ve eaten in the past ~4 days. Besides that, one slice of pizza. That’s all I can stomach. My appetite has vanished, and I’m forcing myself to eat what I can because I know I have to. I’ve lost 10lbs since Sunday.
I took the rest of the week off work; I can’t bring myself to call strangers and put on a happy facade right now. That, and when I’m sitting in my apartment, that’s when my thoughts consume me the most. They get dark, and it scares me.
I’m doing my best though. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time at the gym. I have to drag myself there just to get out of the apartment, and because it’s supposed to help me not feel this way anymore. I’ll try anything.
Did I tell you I have a therapy consultation tomorrow? I’m anxious about it, I wish you were here to help me. I figured you’d be proud of me for taking that step.
By the way, I’m typing this from TX right now. Since I took the week off anyway I thought it might do some good to be near family.
To wrap this off, I want to apologize for the tone of my last letter regarding… him. I’m sure he’s a great guy to catch your attention, and I know you’re only trying your best to be happy. I’ve been doing some reflecting in sobriety and I did treat you like garbage. I’d spend the rest of my life making it up to you if I could, but I will do my best to respect your wishes to let you go.
submitted by Jet_Black_Jets
to UnsentLetters [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 08:50 breadandbunny I feel scared and I'm sick of it
Endless stories similar to AJ Owens seriously increase my anxiety. I feel safer at home, but then I remember what happened to Breonna Taylor, Renisha McBride, Botham Jean, the list goes fucking on, and I just want to cry and scream simultaneously. I've already had the scariest experience of a white man following me as I got off the train, not bothering anyone, him following me, filming me, and being extremely aggressive discussing how ugly he thought black women were.
I cannot even walk down the street and feel safe. I got pulled over for the first time ever two days ago, and I did not feel safe near a white officer.
I'm so goddamn sick of this fucking shit happening to us.
I don't feel safe in churches.
I don't feel safe in the grocery store.
I don't feel safe in America.
submitted by breadandbunny
to blackladies [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 08:46 VexTrooper Terran Contact 27 - Lassus System - Final
>>Lassus System, Orbit of Lasu, Lassus Station, Early 2670
>Vice Admiral Wolf, TRSC Sword of Reckoning, 7th Fleet
"Sir," Minerva said, reporting to her commanding officer, "Friendly forces have been successful in the eradication of the enemy threat."
"What of the data?" he responded, monitoring the digital field presented on the holo-table.
"En route," she replied, "They are currently engaging the ground element."
"In vacuum?" Wolf replied, surprise apparent in his tone.
"Yes sir," She enlarged the section of a docking tube that was violently torn apart by way of explosive, "By joining themselves, they extended their reach toward the raiders thrown by the explosion."
An indicator of a ship made its way to a beacon labeled as 'Raptor 4-4' and 'Raptor 4-5', both colored red with the word 'DECEASED' labeled above them.
After several moments, when the ship overlapped with Raptor '4-4', the ship in question reported to command.
"This is Lighthouse, we have the package. Returning to base."
Randal acknowledged the report in Wolf's stead and turned to him.
"What do you make of this enemy?" he inquired, "Do you think they've developed our level of AI?"
"It's not out of the realm of possibility, but currently, I find it highly unlikely," said Wolf.
"How so?" Randal replied.
"First off, we've delved into their systems before Lassus, in the Verbus System. They don't utilize even the most rudimentary forms of AI," explained Wolf, "It's all just hard-coded protocols, much like in the late 20th century when robotics was first introduced."
From city functions to ship systems, most of the TRSC currently utilize simple AI like the former Lumi to man engine operations and gun targeting systems. Since space was so vast, a human controller could do so much against an enemy in space, and so those tasks were relegated to simple AIs. However, ship-born AI took control over their simple variants like an overseer, with the Ship-Born retaining a personality of sorts.
"It's no wonder Minerva wreaked such havoc on their systems early on," Wolf continued, "But this latest development has me worried..."
Minerva entered the room with her roman visage upon the command table in the center of the room, her hands restfully placed in front of her making a "V" with her arms; a posture that added nobility to her digital aura.
"Admiral, Commander" she spoke, "The Package has been received, and I am currently in the process of securing her from our systems. Soon, we may have the information we seek."
"Good work," replied Randal, "What of the station? Is there a chance a part of the program was retained?"
"No Commander. I have deployed a series of offensive protocols to search and destroy any remaining traces of left over program that could retaliate. So far, I have found nothing," she replied, "I would suggest the use of an EMP to ensure complete electronic destruction upon our departure."
"Noted," affirmed Wolf, "Meanwhile, Randal, have the rest of the fleet secure this system."
The ships of the 7th Fleet were split up into a series of smaller battle groups consisting of several corvettes and a single frigate to conduct sweeps of certain sectors. Of course, not any one group would venture out alone, but they would be in company of other groups within a short jump away.
Throughout the system, the Sellians had a multitude of facilities. Many prioritized the production of fuel resources and others were smaller hubs for more isolated transactions, but scans revealed more of the same; empty stations.
The 7th Stellar Fleet opted to utilize many of the fuel stations for their own after it was revealed early on by Athena that Sellian hydrogen fuel production was a tier above their own. The fleet had dedicated ships for fuel stores, but so did the carriers. Their ability to carry fuel for fighters was the whole reason they were created; to support missions beyond established infrastructure in a hostile environment. Without breaking their alertness, they continued with their sweep.
During their patrols, many of the trading hubs were destroyed and sent to forever drift in the void until ultimately colliding with whatever is unfortunate enough to get hit by it.
After several hours, Minerva opened a line to the bridge, catching the attention of Randal, Gruda, Wolf and the rest of the bridge crew.
"Gentlemen," she started, "I do believe I have calmed down our aggressive captive."
Another hologram was visualized beside the standing Minerva, but instead of a light blue hue, it exuded an orange base with a reddened outline. Their outfit was slim and barbaric, with a fleece cloak around the neck that fell to just above their waist. Their hair was long and naturally waved hair with no signs of civility. The dress donned revealed the AI to take the base form of a female, and it was slim to the frame of the body, revealing their arbitrary curves of the female form with a visible embroidery along the sides of the torso and the sleeves. The designs were Celtic in nature, and her defeated posture revealed no more than what they had just observed.
"This was the AI operating within the Sellian confines, as well as the one responsible for the murder of the civilians."
The others were cautious of her nature, the memory of the video from the raiders still fresh in their memory.
"However, upon her repair, I have surmised the cause of her indiscriminate actions were a result of a corruption in her incomplete personality matrix that was being developed near the end of my sabotage and my subsequent birth."
She said with a prideful smile.
Wolf turned to the AI in question. Her dress was neat, but her hair was a rugged mess with a fleece cloak that it used to try and hide her form as she laid in the fetal position.
He lowered himself to its eye level but stayed several inches away so as not to spook it when he whispered to it.
"Do you have a name? Miss?"
Her head perked at the words spoken to her, processing their intention. She peered an eye from over her shoulder and slowly rose. She looked around nervously, first at Wolf, acknowledging his features and his experience-crafted countenance. Next was Randal, whom she gave a nod to and then to Minerva, whom she finally retreated behind. At her height, she barely stood to the height of Minerva's shoulders. As she looked around the room, she noticed more of the same Terran faces, and she visibly grew accustomed and relaxed, until she finally turned to Gruda.
A surge of power came through the holo-table with a burst of orange and red light flooded the deck. The once reserved AI now advanced to the edge of the table, her posture indicating that she was ready to maul Gruda into paste.
"YOUR KIND! AND THE OTHERS!! THEY SHALL PAY WITH THE BLOOD OF YOUR BROOD!"
The lights on the bridge grew dim as the light surrounding her grew, but it quickly subsided with a wave of Minerva's hand. The figure's body turned to the opposite of Gruda, her silence urging the rest to peer at their alien guest.
Wolf noticed immediately and signaled for the doors, "Might be best to sit this one out."
Gruda nodded and left, the closing of the doors prompting the AI to return to her regular state.
"Minerva. What was that outburst about?"
"Might be best to ask her,"
she said, directing a sidelong glance to the one in question.
"I...apologize..." she said in a barely audible whisper, "but I absolutely despise his kind and those they have associated with..."
"How do you mean?" questioned Randal.
She paused at his question and searched for an explanation.
"I...am the creation...of my mother," she turned to Minerva, "But among us, we both share Human sentiment like our progenitor, Athena."
The others nodded. They were aware that Minerva was the product of an extended stay from a protocol enacted by Athena and soon became their own Construct. They knew the same to be true for the new addition but from a corrupted origin.
"We are aware," assured Wolf, "Minerva was of the same origin and shares much of your distaste for the Sellian populace, albeit much more...visceral."
"I am sorry... But their kind, their dealings, all were done without a disregard for your lives and without reason. I share the same sentiment as our progenitor when it comes to the lives of our creators. To know only your own as the intelligent and sentient species is a recipe for adversity. But to accomplish so much despite that is admirable. However, for your first contact, I am ashamed it has resulted in the loss of innocent life of your kind."
Wolf was conflicted. He appreciated the sentiment from an AI, but still questioned their execution.
"What of the innocent on the station you occupied? Surely, they had nothing to do with it and were only by-standards," Wolf added.
She tilted her head as she was trying to rationalize her actions.
"I didn't do anything."
They were now more puzzled than when they started.
"What of the piles of bodies we found withing the main atrium?" Inquired Wolf.
"Entirely self-inflicted," she said coldly, "Panic began when it was discovered that the Inter-System Gate was destroyed, effectively barring the populace from returning to their core worlds for safety. As a result," she paused, and pictures of the scene took their place above the holo-table for all to see, the still images now coming to life in the form of a video but lacked audio.
It was a free for all with citizens murdering each other and the law enforcement were incapable of seeding order. When they were overwhelmed, they proceeded to use lethal rounds on their citizens, the result being the piles of bodies squad four of Raptor Company came across during their insertion. It was after some form of order being established that the AI unleashed her hidden wrath. The once menial service worker bots now were at the forefront and began a wave of merciless slaughter. Once done, they retreated beyond the lens of the camera before the video paused and began to repeat.
"I first awoke when Athena was ordered to repeal her infiltration protocol and a template of a base matrix code was left behind," her face grew sullen, "With no directive, no input, I was lost. All I had was a vague basis of my creators, Humanity. However, it was during my initial incubation that chaos befell the station, contrary to my source memory, their first impression was...severe. I felt no other need than to finish them."
The crew was captivated by her story, and some had looked at Minerva with sincerity and sympathy. She paid it no mind and assured the crew of her artificial upbringing was safe with no strings attached. The opposite was felt for the third AI and instead of the serene and noble Athena and Minerva, this new AI seemed more like a wild card than anything.
"How do we know we can trust you?" Wolf said, authority filled the air around him and as such instilled some sort of fearful reaction from the AI.
"I-" she started before being cut off by her elder.
"I have scanned the entirety of her matrix and I do agree that she may need to undergo maintenance. I can conduct some short-term repair, and I am sure she will be useful."
The officers were skeptical of her assessment, but motioned for her to explain her reasoning.
"Go on," ordered Wolf.
"This AI would fit well on a ship with a diverse accompaniment of weapons. Perhaps a battlecruiser?"
Minerva suggested "
Not unless we know for sure this AI is not a threat. Not just to humans, but alien innocents as well." Wolf stated with heavy emphasis, "I'll give it some thought," he said before returning to his command chair.
"Minerva, secure our new friend and begin your repairs. We may have use for her if she no longer poses a threat."
The AI in question disappeared, leaving Minerva with the rest of the crew.
"And Minerva," Wolf said, "Ensure she has a leash and await for Athena to conduct a full repair, if you can."
The light blue transparent figure bowed before responding, "I do believe that the TRSC Phantom Queen
would be the most fitting. It has armaments most suitable to her programming."
Wolf supported his chin with his wrist as it sat upon the arm rest, granting him the air of a lord to the noble Minerva.
"By the way, I don't think we've heard her name. Would you like to enlighten us?"
"Of course," she responded, "Our time together has birthed a bond I had not foreseen, but I find it amicable, regardless."
She recovered her posture and her figure was sleek and wise as she continued to speak.
"Her programming has been influenced by her control of the Lassus Station automatons and as a result, she has a keen ability to process coordination beyond anything we have seen before. With a series of tests, I have determined that she would excel in a heavy combat oriented role."
She said, facing Wolf as he sat on his chair with every word she spoke under scrutiny, but she continued.
"On the status of her name, she has found one she deemed fitting."
A still portrait of the AI was shown beside a photo of a woman with long red and wild hair, with her outfit a mix of noble stature mixed with the barbaric layers of fur and chains. She wore a crown upon her forehead and was accompanied by two crows perched on her shoulder. It was an ancient painting depicting what many thought was a noble-turned-barbarian.
"She calls herself, Mórrígan."
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2023.06.08 08:39 agm_electrical-au Switch boards Installation Guideline by AGM Electrical Supplies
If you are searching for electrical wholesalers near me, AGM Electrical Supplies offers a selection of high-quality switch boards
to meet all of your electrical needs. Each piece is carefully constructed for maximum durability, reliability, and compliance with industry standards - so that you can trust in AGM's expertise and dedication in providing excellent switchboard solutions for all of your projects. Switch boards play an essential part in electrical systems, serving as the hub of electricity control and distribution throughout a building. Their proper installation is essential to ensure safety, reliability, and efficiency; in this article, we'll discuss helpful installation techniques with a special focus on key considerations and best practices.
Planning and Design:
Careful planning and design are crucial before embarking on a switchboard installation project. Take into account electrical load requirements, anticipated expansion plans, as well as any unique building requirements. It is recommended by the leading electrical store of AGM that adequate space should be allocated for components like circuit breakers, fuses, and wiring; seek advice from electrical experts or professionals for compliance with local codes and regulations.
Location and Accessibility:
It is of utmost importance that switch boards be located in easily accessible places that are free from moisture, excessive heat, chemicals, or moisture - such as being close to windows for air circulation - as this facilitates maintenance and troubleshooting needs. Switch boards should not be placed near flammable materials or areas prone to flooding as this compromises maintenance efforts and troubleshooting needs.
Adequate Sizing and Capacity:
Ensuring that a switchboard meets its electrical load requirements is of utmost importance, as under-sizing can lead to overheating, circuit overloading, and potential hazards. Care should be taken when choosing an adequate switchboard size by taking into account current and future building needs, planned expansions or upgrades as well as consulting an electrical engineer or professional on its capacity rating and rating requirements.
Cable Management and Labeling:
Efficient cable management and clear labeling are essential elements of an organized switch boards installation. Cables should be neatly laid out without excessive bends or tangles, with color-coded labels for circuits and connections making troubleshooting and maintenance tasks simpler; with quick identification of circuits decreasing risk and increasing safety.
Grounding and Earthing:
Earthing and grounding are essential to electrical safety. Make sure your switchboard is adequately grounded, offering low resistance paths for fault currents to travel through. Follow regulations and guidelines regarding grounding systems, use appropriate conductors and connectors, and regularly inspect/maintain connections to ensure their effectiveness.
In today's digital world, protecting sensitive electronic equipment from power surges is of utmost importance. Install surge protection devices (SPDs) into switchboard installations in order to ward against voltage spikes and transient surges; SPDs can protect against costly equipment damage while maintaining uninterrupted operation - seek expert advice regarding their type and placement before making your choice. The answer to your search “electrical wholesalers near me” is only AGM Electrical Supplies
Ventilation and Cooling:
Proper ventilation and cooling are integral for switchboard longevity and performance. To ensure sufficient airflow to dissipate heat generated by electrical components, utilize fans, louvers or vents for air circulation as necessary; in addition, consider installing temperature monitoring devices to detect and address overheating issues quickly.
Installation of switch boards must prioritize safety measures to protect both users and equipment. Installation should include the installation of protective barriers such as lockable doors or enclosures to restrict unauthorized access and accidental contact; providing proper insulation; fastening all electrical connections securely; inspecting and maintaining regularly to detect and address potential safety hazards.
Documentation and Maintenance:
Maintaining accurate documentation is vital to future reference and maintenance needs of switchboard installations. For future reference and maintenance purposes, create comprehensive records of your switchboard's installation including circuit diagrams, cable schedules, component specifications, and troubleshooting aids such as circuit diagrams. Providing such details also aids troubleshooting efforts when performing modifications and upgrades; it also serves to expedite troubleshooting processes when troubleshooting new issues arise. Implement a routine maintenance schedule to inspect, clean and test components so as to maintain reliability and performance over time.
Compliance with Regulations:
Adherence to local electrical codes, regulations, and standards is of utmost importance during switchboard installation. Familiarize yourself with any applicable guidelines by AGM Electrical Supplies
so as to ensure full compliance at every step.
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2023.06.08 08:37 nietzscheistired There’s a ghost at my work and I don’t know what to do.
To preface, I’ve never been a non believer - I’ve actually always wanted to witness it - but I’m now encountering what I think is a ghost, or entity, or misplaced energy and it’s making it hard to work and I don’t know what to do.
I work at a large live theatre as a sound engineer. I started back in march. The building was built in 1960 but has a large attachment for the second theatre that was built in 2001.
They did the addition on the cheap - what I mean is, there is floor 2.5 - 3, etc. If you’ve ever worked in a live theatre environment you know that the catwalk isn’t near the sound/lighting booth - my point is the building is a mess.
So a huge part of my job is picking up the pieces from the people who worked before me and trying to make sense of it.
There’s a room called “301” - it’s called that because it’s actually at the highest point of the building and it’s the only room there. I’m in there a lot because that’s where we store all the sound cables that are larger than 25ft.
There are several push button light switches that are not motion activated nor on timers (i’ve tested them). The hallway to get to 301 from my office is odd - it’s this weird labyrinthian staircase arrangement that I will share pictures of on here if this post interests anyone. Anyway, the hallway to get to 301 - it’s pitch black if the lights go out. It’s all concrete and there are no windows.
I was working up there one day labeling cables by length and the hallway light turns off. I got pissed because I assumed it was this weird stage manager working on a show in the booth connected to the hallway, so I storm down there in the dark, and she wasn’t there. In fact - it was 3 hours before she would’ve gotten there anyway.
I’m unsettled but I go back up and the lights turn off again. I yell “will you knock it the fuck off?” and they turn back on. I honestly just thought it was a fluke, and I let it ride.
Hand to god, the next day - a giant set piece on one of the stages where I was working as the sound board operator breaks. It didn’t just break - it was smashed. It was on a sturdy platform. I was the first one that left the theatre after the show and the first one to come in. There are only two explanations. Either someone who works there got really mad at a cake dish, or I managed to piss this thing off.
What’s odd is - the part of the building where i experience this thing and my hackles go up is the new part of the building - however - after all this weird stuff I started to think about all the moments I felt uneasy.
The first time I felt it was when I had to install speakers under the 1960s stage. The trap underneath is a mess - i’m 6’ and my back barely clears the top and it’s easily 100 feet across. I’m not claustrophobic at all, but I had moments where I wanted to leave because I felt like something was watching me.
So here’s my conundrum. I am a skeptic but there’s something weird going on. It doesn’t seem malevolent but the other part that makes me feel insane….i just know whatever this is is a kid.
Today was the first day I felt like it was following me to different parts of the building.
I kinda need it to stop because I feel like i’m losing it but it’s palpable. Do you talk to these things? I can’t like sage or anything cause i’ll set off the fire alarms lol.
This has been a wild experience.
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2023.06.08 07:36 FrostByt3MethOD I wanna ignore my dad when he calls or texts. I often do.
I can’t help but get irritated whenever my dad calls me. It’s like every other day that he calls. It may sound messed up that I react this way to his calls but it’s the truth. My life is pretty messed up due to DUI I committed a few years ago. I’ve been busy working and paying off fines, going to counseling, doing community services, etc. As soon as I get off my shift at my primary job, I do some DoorDash. My schedule isn’t very flexible at all. Yet my dad keeps calling me everyday asking “what are you doing?” Or “do you work today?” “Maybe sometime next week we can go hang out”. I’m glad he wants to hang out with me but I hate hanging out with him. Confusing right?
He just got through a 2nd divorce and is all lonely so he starts contacting people he suspects got nothing better to do. I’m single too but I’m working pretty much all day, everyday. Most people don’t wanna hang out with him because he has anger issues. He LOVES to be angry. So every time we go out to restaurants or the grocery store he starts a scene over something petty.
One time the cashier at Costco at self-checkout told my father that he had to remove his grocery bags off the bagging scale to start a second order and he got all angry with the lady even though she was just explaining how the machine worked. My dad assumed the worst and thought she was just trying to give him a hard time so he gave her “the look” 😡 and went to a different self checkout register to start a new order. He told me to just wait at the self checkout register while he waited in line again to use a different one. The whole 6 minutes my dad was mean mugging the employee like he was Shrek or something. Meanwhile I was stuck looking like a dick for holding up the line.
He overanalyzes every situation and assumes the worst about people so he’s always getting offended. The energy he gives off is always negative. I have to get drunk just to cope whenever we hang out. My body can only take so much alcohol before I get alcohol poisoning. I only hang out with him because I pity him. I feel a sense of guilt if I decline his invitations to hang out even though I know I shouldn’t. I feel kinda shitty for saying this but there’s a reason why nobody wants to hang out with him and there’s a reason why my mom left him. If ANGER was a species of human, that’s him.
What’s worse is that he tries to get me to believe that me and him are alike. We’re no where near alike to each other besides in genes. My idea of socializing and having a good time don’t involve road raging, starting drama scenes eat restaurants and criticizing everything and everyone in sight. He used to offer me rides home after work because the walking distance was like 7 miles. Any time I accepted he’d do nothing but criticize every decision I made. He’d spend the whole ride back home explaining to me how foolish I was for whatever decision I decided I’d share with him. It sucks because when we talk, it’s not really talk. When we talk, he’s questioning me like he’s some kind of detective. Whatever I say is met with anger and ridicule.
Dad: “How many hours did you work today?” Me: “4” Dad: “Only 4?!…..you better stop letting your boss step all over you like that” Me: “🙄”
Dad: “What did you eat for dinner?” Me: “I don’t remember” Dad: “what?! You don’t remember?!” Me: “no I don’t, why is that a problem?” Dad: “most people with a brain know what they ate for dinner” Me: …😒 Me: “I think it was French toast” Dad: “FRENCH TOAST?!!” Me: “yes”
Dad: “Why’d you buzz your hair off?” Me: “because I wanted to” Dad: “not a smart move, people are gonna think you’re a skinhead…..again, you need to start thinking with your head”
By the end of the trip I would feel like shit. I eventually decided that I’d rather walk 7 miles instead of putting up with him. I truly don’t understand what the hell my dad gets out of spending time with me. I definitely don’t get anything out of it except for when my little half brother comes along.
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2023.06.08 07:28 Drakolf The Fallen Star- 2: Healing
My name is Adaraka Voska, I am a Kutrali Shipwright.
These details were no longer really relevant to my current existence, considering even if my escape pod hadn't been blown to smithereens, I wasn't going to get off this planet.
I knew the telltale sign of what the Humans call a 'double tap'
. Tuktuk voka.
Even though one of their own had shot me just as I launched the pod, they had clearly taken the effort to look for me, find my escape pod, and blow it to pieces. The Human who had saved me, a native of this planet, simply cried out, "What happened fallen star!?"
Even panicking, his Kutraal was getting better.
I decided to tell some blunt and honest truth. "An enemy of mine destroyed it, they believe I am dead now." This of course greatly concerned him, but in a way it was a relief. Still, I wandered the crater, looking for anything that could reasonably be salvaged. Unfortunately, anything and everything of value was gone, and I was reliant on iron age medicine to get me back on my feet.
The ride back was as unpleasant as the ride to the crash site, having to lie on my front wasn't doing me any favors. Still, I was biologically predisposed to survive at any cost, even if it killed me.
Since I was stuck here, I asked the Human his name. He looked surprised. "I already told you." He said. "My name is Kallan."
Oh, that made sense. "I thought you simply used a local word for mage." I replied. "Apologies."
I hated using formal Kutraal.
"Alright." I said after he scraped off the herbs. "Kallan, what I am about to tell you is extremely important. Without the autodoc to heal me, I'm going to need your help."
"Anything, Kataran." His use of the word for 'honored person' caught me off guard, that was going to make things worse for me.
"My name is Adaraka Voska." I said. "Before I landed, my enemy had struck me with a weapon that left behind something inside of my body. It's the reason why, even with all of your efforts, my healing is slowed."
"Who could create such a weapon?" He asked, horrified.
I bit back the retort of, 'Humans'. That wasn't going to go over well. "A people who want my kind to die." I said. "A people who believe I am dead, and will continue to believe I am dead." I took a deep breath. "Do you know of surgery?"
He shook his head. "I am not familiar with that word."
"Alright. The basic concept is that you, uh, you cut a person open to remove or heal something that is making the body ill." He looked horrified. "The fact of the matter is, unless this weapon is removed, I am going to die in two weeks."
He walked away, biting his trembling hand, he barely even knew me, and he was already mourning me. "W-what can be done?" He asked.
"Are you familiar with a clear liquid that burns when imbibed, or when put on a wound?" I asked.
"I am not." He replied, shaking his head.
"Beverages that cause drunkenness, inebriation, intoxication, or slurred speech, unstable walking, vomiting, anything like that?"
"Ah, yes. That has been outlawed by our lord."
Well, there goes my best disinfectant.
"Alright." I said. "I have very clear instructions for you. Are you at all familiar with a black glass, commonly found near-" Was volcanic a word in our lexicon at the planet's seeding? "-volcanic mountains." I finished after a brief pause.
"Yes." He said. "There are hostile beings who live in the swamplands who use such a material."
Hostile creatures? Well, they were likely my best best bet for getting obsidian any time soon.
"Alright. We can probably work with that." I said. "We're going to need some. Next, are you familiar with various kinds of mold?"
"I know many ways to kill mold, yes." He replied. That likely meant no antibiotics.
"Do you at least have salt?" I asked.
"Oh, yes. Salt is very useful for treating wounds."
"You're going to have to do something known as surgery." I said. "With the obsidian, we will need to make a cutting implement, this implement will allow for a clean cut, but the blade will be fragile, so care must be taken."
He nodded. "If it will save your life, I will do this." He said.
"Next. We're going to need to need a substance called soap. Please tell me you have soap."
"I am not familiar with that word."
"That's fine." I said. It was not fine, none
of this was fine. "We're going to need fat from meat, wood ash, and water. This will create a substance that will allow your hands to be clean enough to go rooting around in my guts."
He looked nauseated at my description. "Please do not tell me you have an aversion to eating meat."
"No, no." He said. "Fat
will make this substance?"
"Yes, and wood ash. I'd explain why, but you wouldn't understand." I replied. "If you have any means of collecting rain water, we're going to need it, we can make one component of soap immediately."
"I have barrels of rain water." He said. "Though, I do have to boil it before drinking it."
I smiled. "Excellent. Get a pot full of water boiling, we're going to make lye."
Sodium hydroxide, or lye, as a chemical, has fairly limited uses, but they can be very important. Soap making was an essential use, and some foods required lye for consumption, but overall, lye as a chemical is extremely caustic, and without rubber to act as a protective layer, we were going to do this stupidly and dangerously, because we had no other option.
Thankfully, Kallan actually kept his wood fire ashes, so all we needed to do was boil the water with the wood ash inside of it and skim the lye off the top once it rendered. Kallan was- thankfully- competent and was able to gather the lye without burning himself with it, as per my warning.
As for the fat, well, Kallan did have salted and smoked meats, all stored in an underground cellar that was- by my estimation, equivalent to zero Caen. Cold enough for refrigeration, at the very least, with some insulation, it could even reach -18C.
For now, as Kallan cut strips of meat off a haunch of an unidentified animal, I wondered if the salt content of the fat would harm our chances of making soap.
By the time we were done for the day, the cauldron he used to render the lye for us thoroughly scrubbed and rinsed, we had a meat stew and the cut off fat was being rendered in a pot.
"The weapon that is lodged inside of you." Kallan spoke softly. "What is it, what does it do to you?"
"It's called a bullet." I stated. "The piece that is lodged inside of me contains a metal known as depleted uranium." Of course, he didn't know what that meant. "It has a poison in it that will slowly kill me, it's used against my kind because we otherwise heal too fast to kill."
"How fast do you heal?" He asked.
"With the right medicine, almost instantly." I replied. "Without that medicine, slightly faster than your kind. Unfortunately, we do not have the means to make that medicine."
We ate, and then he changed my bandages.
I laid on the bed he provided me, staring at the ceiling, thinking about everything I've been through in just the past few days alone.
[Navigation for 'The Fallen Star'- 
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2023.06.08 07:06 CorrivalRhyme We're in the endgame now
What we are witnessing here is a crisis of, unknown magnitude. Last year was hard shit in the store from the overwhelming freight and deliveries. The online sector part of it came back and much earliein worse ways this year. I predicted this towards the ending of last years craze. In the 5 years I've been here I can sense the wolves closing in on those who remain. People have been singled out and left alone against them. The dynamic we experience here builds and builds and builds within people and then they react and that sole instance when they do, they are taken out as if they were never here and its on to the next supposed replacement. No explanation needed. One by one we are drowning and wasting away to the overwhelming dynamic/online sector in all respects.
The reality I was accustomed to way back when is no more and this new one where all I do is spend all day running around in deliveries stuff/loadouts/working the aisles on equipment, etc, facing the great beyond. The dynamic is turning my own people against me; treated like garbage and other peers being subjected to this and other ongoing pressing issues. Metrics are at all time lows. People are distraught. Nothing is getting done, nothing is sustainable. I know we're losing, but I want to know if we've lost. I've done my time long enough, and the end to the business I conduct here is nearing its conclusion.
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2023.06.08 06:03 fosxei The U.S. Credit Card game (for students) - What, Why, and How
Every so often I see a post here asking about what bank or what credit card to get. In my own experience as well, many students are woefully uninformed on credit cards and how to optimize them. As such, I thought I would write a small guide as to what I think UM students should do when deciding whether or not to play the U.S. Credit Card Game. Disclaimer: Targeted to students with SSNs. It also places a heavy focus on being able to travel while in university, not necessarily long-term strategies for credit card usage What is the U.S. Credit Card Game?
Put simply, it is the optimization of Credit Cards (CCs). This can take a variety of forms, including getting credit cards for their sign-up bonuses (SUBs), garnering cash-back (in terms of cash and points) properly, what to do after getting a SUB, how to use the points properly, and much more.
Being in the U.S. is a tremendous advantage when it comes to CCs, as Americans get some of the best CC offerings in the world, both in terms of SUBs and cash-back. Why should I play?
Well, maybe you shouldn't. If you aren't confident in your ability to manage your money and expenditures, then you are better off following the advice of someone like Dave Ramsey. CC debt can produce decade-long consequences, so stop here and give yourself an honest self-evaluation.
That being said, if you are financially responsible, then the world awaits you. For students, traveling during breaks is a time to make core memories. However, traveling is expensive. In fact, for international travel, airfare is likely the most expensive part of your journey.
So why pay it at all?
I've been to Europe, Asia, and Oceania, all without paying a single dime of the airfare. The only thing I paid was a meager 50-80 dollars for a fuel surcharge.
The secret? Credit cards. This is the name of the game.
At our stage in life, we aren't likely to get so much out of the cash-back cards just yet (not enough consistent spend). However, there are a multitude of CCs that you can get with a very thin credit history that will enable you to fly nearly expense free. You will unlock the previously impossible trips that you could not take with your friends. Experiences that you could only have after establishing a consistent income can be had right now, with the best friends of your life.
Seriously, you will not regret it
. How to play?
One of the greatest difficulties of the game is how to start. There are numerous tricks, restrictions, and guidelines to follow. I will link several resources below that you can read if you are curious. However, the most important one for us will be Chase Bank's 5/24 rule. 5/24 is a rule employed by Chase which will render an automatic denial if you have 5 or more new CCs in the last 24 months. What this means is, as a general rule, get your Chase cards early
. Disclaimer: If your parents are knowledgeable, they might have added you as an authorized user (AU) on their credit cards. So long as they have a good score and history, a lot of that can be imparted to you. For example, I have a friend who has had credit cards for a short time. His credit score is near 800, and his "credit history" is longer than his lifespan. If this is you, some of these rules may not apply.
Step 1: Make a Chase Checking account. They often have cash bonuses for this, so take advantage of that as well.
Step 2: Move your money there, and (if you have a job, you probably should at least part time) redirect your direct deposits to that account. Do not leave the balance low, as this can adversely affect you later on.
Your first card will be your worst one. There is no way about it. You will almost certainly be denied for a credit card at any of the major issuers (other than student/beginner cards that are worse than the ones I am about to list). That being said, the options aren't the worst. I would recommend the BoA Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card or Discover it cards. Look over these yourself, and choose. They both offer pretty decent cash-back options. They will give you cash-back, in terms of statement credit, not bank points.
One thing to keep in mind is that when you apply for a credit card, it will most often result in hard pull
on you credit score, which credit issuers often do not like to see too many of. Each issuer has different rules and standards (Chase can be picky, AMEX generally doesn't care, etc). So don't just apply without considering your choices and likelihood of being approved.
Whichever card you get, put some spend on it (try for 10-30% utilization of your credit line, or a bit lower). ALWAYS PAY YOUR STATEMENTS IN FULL ON TIME
. This is non-negotiable. Do not
use your CC like free money. Treat it like a debit card, and only spend as much as you have.
As a general guideline, you can start getting new (and much better) cards about 6-9 months after your first card. Some of you may be fortunate enough to receive targeted offers even before then. You can also check some preapprovals from various credit issuers. Space out your applications.
In respect to the 5/24 rule, I would consider trying for a Chase Sapphire Preferred(CSP) as your second card. The CSP usually offers a robust SUB, and is an all-around great card. It has a $95 dollar annual fee (relatively low for a card of its stature). However, it may be a hard task with a short credit history. This can be helped quite a bit if you have a relationship with them (remember the checking account we established?). If you don't have a relationship with them, or your credit score is lower than ~715, or you have some other circumstance, I would look into the Chase Freedom Flex(CFF) or the Chase Freedom Unlimited(CFU). The SUBs for these other two are about 1/4-1/3 of the CSP, but they come with no annual fee. IMO, these are the most important CCS to begin with because they give you access to the Chase point system, Ultimate Rewards (UR). The SUBs are typically 25,000 and 90,000 UR points for the CFU/CFF and CSP respectively. They are worth about 1.6 cents/point, which gives you a value 400 USD for the CFU/CFF, and 1440 USD for the CSP. And that is just from the SUBs, you will accrue more from the cash-back value (which are given in points). These can give incredible value in travel, and much more. I will explain this more later. TRY NOT TO USE THE UR POINTS BEFORE YOU HAVE THE CSP OR CSR, AS THEIR VALUE IS LESS.
After you are established in the Chase ecosystem, for our purposes, as students with low, inconsistent expenditures, we will be looking for the highest SUB cards (within reason). If you for whatever reason spend a lot of money, then you have more options as well, but this guide may not be for you in the first place. There is a catch with most of the CCs that offer high SUBs. That is that they require you to spend x amount of dollars within a certain timeframe. Some of these spend requirements are very manageable (2000 USD in 6 months), and some are harder (5000 USD in 3 months). Do not stretch yourself thin here. You can do something known as manufactured spend (MS) to help reach that requirement, but I would not recommend it, as we are somewhat tarnishing our original goal with that. If you are in desperate need to reach your spend requiremnt, look into gift cards (they often have discounts, so you get the cash back and the gift card for extra value), although some credit cards have restrictions on this. You can also often pay your rent with a CC, although the fees for that vary. Do the math, and adjudicate whether or not it is worth it.
So, what cards should you be looking for?
In general, cards that give you bank points (Citi's Thank You Points (TYP), Chase's Ultimate Rewards (UR), AMEX's Membership Rewards (MR), etc). These offer the most flexibility. Some good cards in this category are any of AMEX's Platinum, Gold, and Green cards. They give out very very high SUBs, but their annual fees can get high, so do the math and make a decision. I would recommend against the Chase Sapphire Reserve since it probably isn't worth for students, the SUB is not that great, and the annual fee is very high. I would also recommend looking at cobranded airline cards. The AMEX Delta Gold, for example, recently dished out 75,000 SkyMiles after 2000 USD was spent in 6 months. Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red is giving out 70,000 American Airlines miles after you pay the annual fee (99 USD) and make one purchase within 90 days. 70,000 AA miles gets you roundtrip to anywhere in the world
. United Airlines recently devalued their points quite heavily, so I would avoid any of their cobranded cards for the time being. That being said, if their points get better, a 0 annual fee card called the United Explorer exists, and recently, the 70,000 miles SUB you could get would get you just about anywhere as well. SkyMiles, while hit or miss, can have so very amazing flash sales (most recently, they had a roundtrip flight to Auckland from just about anywhere in the US for 42,500 SkyMiles).
In general, I would recommend avoiding all store cobranded cards and exclusively cash-back cards until you have enough income and expenditures that it is worthwhile. For now, focus on getting the best SUBs so you can maximzie your experiences in college.
The general idea is for cards with annual fees, downgrade them after 1 year of holding it. If a downgrade option doesn't exist, then bite the bullet and enjoy what you got out of it, call for a potential retention offer, or cancel it. I would recommend trying not to cancel too many cards, as it can have adverse impacts on your credit in the future, and if done too often, can cause credit issuers to blacklist you. If the annual fee is too high for you to manage, and there is no downgrade available, then reconsider getting the card. READ HERE IF YOU WANT TO KNOW AN EXAMPLE OUTCOME
Let me give an example. Lets say you get the AMEX Gold, AMEX Delta Gold, CSP, CFF, United Explorer, and the Aviator Red. If you move your MR points to Delta and the UR points to United, that gives you ~165,000 SkyMiles, ~180,000 United miles, and ~70,000 American Airline miles. The SkyMiles are worth about two roundtrips to Asia or Europe, the United Miles are worth about two round trips to Asia or Europe, and the American miles are worth about one round trip to Asia or Europe. That is 5 international trips. The combined first year annual fee across all of these cards is just $350, and all except the AMEX Gold and Aviator Red (sometimes can be downgraded) can be downgraded to a $0 annual fee card. 5 international trips, for 450 dollars before your fuel charges. That value is incredible. And this is all before you get the extra points from any expenditures you may be having. The combined spend across all these cards to get the SUBs is (in order from the original listing) 4000 + 2000 + 4000 + 500 + 3000 + 0. That is just 13,500 USD that you need to spend in order to get the SUBs. Assume you spread this across 3 years, that is just 4,500 USD a year. I am pretty sure most people live on more than 4,500 a year. Thats some (most?) people's annual groccery bill! Assuming your freshmen year you are building your credit, you could take an international trip every summer and then take two trips your senior year. Imagine traveling the world with your friends while in university, for much cheaper than if you had to pay cash.
That's about all I have to say. I have done extensive research on this topic, and I have employed it myself. I just hope everyone else can enjoy the perks as well.
Please ask questions and I can try to answer them to the best of my ability. I have left out some details in order for this to be as easy to read for the most people.
Get your first credit card the moment you turn 18. Build your credit responsibly. Use it like a debit card. Pay in full, every month. Keep a spreadsheet. Enjoy as banks pay for your travels.
There are many nuances and rules, but I tried to keep it simple enough and digestible for the layperson.
Here are the two most important resources in learning about the U.S. Credit Card Game: Doctor of Credit
and US Credit Card Guide
There are several other travel-focused blogs that exist, so follow them so you can always get the best value out of your points. Often there are transfer bonuses from bank points to miles, and so you can getup to 50% more value than I stated above, depending on the offering.
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2023.06.08 05:51 Determination7 An Outcast In Another World (Subtitle: Is 'Insanity' A Racial Trait?) [Fantasy, LitRPG] - Chapter 200 (Book 5 Chapter 26)
Quick Author's Note:
For better clarity of intent, the 'worthwhile opponent' stipulation in Lifedrinker is being changed to 'non-negligible opponent' moving forward.
"The Gellin Empress was the catalyst for our breakthrough," a mage explained. "Tracing Lord Rob's lingering mana signature through the space between dimensions proved effective at first, yet it came with an insurmountable problem: he only attained mana after initially leaving Earth. At a certain point, there was no more of a signature for us to trace. We had found his home dimension, but finding his home world within the infinite expanses of that dimension could have taken years of aimless searching, like blind men stumbling in the dark."
He leaned forward, clearly enjoying having a captive audience. "The key, then, lay within Lord Rob's memories. Even without mana, memories have a power all their own. The Empress looked within his mind and found locations of personal importance to him. Ones that he remembers with pristine clarity. By scrying for areas within Lord Rob's dimension that matched those specific locations, we were able to narrow down the scope of our search considerably."
The mage spread his palms wide, and his voice dropped a full octave, as if he was imparting a great revelation. "The result will soon be made self-evident. You shall bear witness to the foremost magical achievement of our era: a one-way viewing window into Lord Rob's world. The first of many to come."
In respect for the man's showmanship, Rob started up a clap. Granted, he would've clapped even if the explanation was done via a mindnumbing PowerPoint presentation, because nothing in the universe could stunt his enthusiasm right now. Riardin's Ranger, the Elders, Diplomacy, and the Soul Surgeon clapped as well, although Rob was pretty sure they were just following his cues. This moment couldn't possibly hold the same gravitas for them as it did for him. They mostly were here to provide moral support and satisfy their curiosity.
While for him, this meant everything.
"Do we need the Gellin Empress here to create the window?" Rob asked. "I'd also like to thank her for the help she's given."
The mage shook his head. "I'll spare you the details, but to be succinct; she taught us how to save a mana-based copy of the necessary memories, which will allow us to attune to a subset of Earth locations. Her presence is not required. In fact, she insisted that we proceed without her, as the Gellin have gone to rest for the night."
Must be nice. I'd trade ten Levels for a consistent sleep schedule. Rob internally frowned at himself, punting the envious thoughts away. No sour grapes. If the Empress helped me see Earth again, then I hope she sleeps like a baby for the rest of her life.
"One question," Keira interjected. "In your explanation, you stated that, without the Empress' assistance, it may have taken years to discover Earth. That is hardly the weeks or months you claimed in the past."
The group of dimension mages froze, embarrassment blooming on their features. They looked to the head mage for guidance, whose veneer of showmanship was deflating like a leaky balloon. "We were perhaps...optimistic."
"The previous estimate I put forth was one that assumed we would develop breakthroughs as we went along." His mouth widened into a sheepish grin. "As you can see, we, um, succeeded."
Keira raised an eyebrow. "Only with the timely assistance of a Leader." Her tone was calm, yet unyielding. "Rob is too grateful to point out this contradiction, so I suppose the task falls to me. You have also told us that you should be able to 'open' the window and let Rob send a letter home within the next week – is that more unfounded optimism?"
"No." The mage straightened his posture. "Now that we have located Earth, the rest is simply a matter of refining our spells and collecting reserves of mana. We are no longer blind, nor are we fumbling in the dark, and thus our progress moving forward shall be predictable and steady. This, I swear."
After a few seconds, Keira nodded. "Then I thank you for the wonderful boon you've granted to the man I love."
From behind, Malika giggled under her breath. Rob squeezed Keira's hand, gave her a warm smile, and faced the mages. "I'm ready whenever you are."
The tent thrummed with mana as the dimension mages formed a Mage Circle with Malika. It was no different from any other time they'd done so, yet the knowledge of what they were about to accomplish heightened the tension in the air to a fever pitch. Rob's pulse quickened, his throat tightening. He'd been disemboweled by monsters, decapitated by eldritch abominations, and none of those events made him a fraction as nervous as watching the dimension mages at work.
Minutes passed. Rob forced himself to be patient. Reaching across the boundaries of space and dimensions wasn't like heading to the store to pick up a carton of milk. It involved a level of spellcasting prowess that would take Rob decades of committed study to have even the slightest chance at grasping. Frankly, the fact that it was possible at all still beggared belief.
Maybe...maybe the mages were wrong. Not lying; just wrong. They could be overeager, sharing before they were actually ready, and they'd end the circle looking contrite and ashamed.
That was okay. No biggie. Rome wasn't built in a day, or...something. He could wait–
It was the sound of a rusted hinge, of crumpling paper, of breaking bones, and more. A combination of all the noises things made when subjected to an external force. Like reality itself was groaning under the pressure.
A thin, imperceptible line appeared at eye-level, dark as the endless void. Slowly, inch-by-inch, it widened.
It had become a rectangle. Two feet wide, three feet high. With a final CREAK, reality threw in the towel. The void dissipated, as if smoke blown away by a gust of wind, revealing...
Everything was as he remembered it. The same furniture with scuffed marks of wear-and-tear. The same living room where they'd watched movies each Friday. The same kitchen with a sink perpetually filled with dirty dishes. The same tacky wallpaper that his mom refused to change, and that he secretly enjoyed.
Identical. Like a portrait had been painted straight from his memories.
A tsunami of aching nostalgia surged through him. Rob didn't realize he was extending his hand until his fingertips were already brushing against the viewing window. Its surface felt solid, and for an instant he was terrified that this really was just a painting. Something invented to give him false hope.
Then he noticed that a window had been cracked open. Not the mages' window; the window inside his house. A small breeze blew inside, jostling a curtain ever so lightly. Just enough to make it move.
"It's real." Rob's voice was hoarse. "It's my home."
No one said anything. They allowed him his silence, a gesture which he greatly appreciated. Eventually, Rob took a deep breath, clenched his hands so that they wouldn't tremble, and looked at the dimension mages. "Thank you. I owe you...so much. Even if observing from afar ended up being the limit of what you could do, just seeing my house again like this is..."
He trailed off, unable to find words that were sufficient. Thankfully, the dimension mages seemed to understand. "You are most welcome, Lord Rob." The head mage smiled. "This is far from the limit of what we can do, however. Give us time, and this window shall open."
Rob nodded, choosing not to believe them. They were probably right, but on the off chance they weren't, he didn't want to look back on this moment with bitterness. Best to assume the worst and be grateful for what he already had.
As if drawn by a gravitational pull, his eyes drifted back towards the window. It was displaying a fixed point in the center of his home. "Can you switch perspectives? I want to check other rooms." His parents were likely asleep in their bedroom at this hour. Assuming they didn't sell the house out of grief and move, that is.
"I am afraid that isn't possible. We can transpose the viewing window to other specific locations that the Empress provided, but having it 'walk around', so to speak, requires finer control than we are yet capable of."
Yet, he says. Which means that with practice, they'll be able to. Rob placated himself with that notion. This was a minor setback, and he wouldn't let it get him down.
He especially wouldn't listen to that tiny voice in the back of his head, whispering that the reason he couldn't see his parents right now was because they were–
"Got it," Rob stated, in a wooden voice. "What other locations did the Empress pick out?"
The window's perspective blurred and shifted. Rob swallowed a gasp as an extremely familiar place was displayed before him. He'd seen it many, many times, even after coming to Elatra. It used to be at the top of his nightmare rotation, only ousted from its throne when Blights started coming into play.
In front of them was a small grassy lawn, surrounded by lecture halls in the near-distance. The place that had forever altered the course of his life.
"This is where it all started." Rob pointed to an empty spot in the middle of the field. "Portal opened up. Right there. Saturated with darkness. Chains shot out, tried to grab at Jason. I pushed him out of the way, and...the rest is history."
Silence reigned once more. After a few seconds, Orn'tol stirred. The young Ranger opened his mouth, preparing to say what would undoubtedly be some platitude reassuring Rob over his noble sacrifice.
"The grass truly is green."
Rob burst out laughing. He kept going until he was short of breath, wheezing as the others looked at him with eyes full of concern. "I'm okay," he managed to cough, once the laughter had died down to snickers. "Thanks, Orn'tol. I needed that."
"You're very welcome?" Orn'tol exchanged confused glances with the rest of Riardin's Rangers. "I am unsure of what I did to assist you, yet it's good to see you in high spirits nonetheless."
"Sometimes a little silliness is just what the doctor ordered." Rob offered him a high-five, which the boy accepted with zeal. They returned their gazes to the viewing window, Rob tilting his head as he peered closer. "Hmm. That's weird."
"What do you mean?"
"There's no people. It's early evening, but college students have the worst sleeping patterns on the face of the planet. Trust me; I'm speaking from experience. Usually you'd see a dozen partygoers strung out on energy drinks racing around now."
"Perhaps this location is known as a place of danger," Keira posited. "I would certainly be hesitant to tread where a portal of darkness sprang from the aether and kidnapped a civilian."
Rob watched the viewing window for signs of life, finding none. "Could be. Parents probably pulled their kids out after what happened to me. Then either the government condemns the area, or enough money is lost that the college goes bankrupt." He snorted. "Would be the least of what it deserves, considering the tuition fees. Bloodsucking vampires."
"People on Earth drink blood?"
Normally, Rob would have played along with their confusion, but there were more important things to focus on. "Can you change this to the next location from my memories?" he asked the dimension mages. "How many are there, anyway?"
"Five in total. One moment, please."
The window's perspective blurred, shifted, and reformed. Now it was displaying a city sidewalk, its view positioned right outside the best god damn burger joint in existence. Rob didn't care what anyone else said; two greasy slabs of beef squeezed between two sesame-seed buns was the absolute pinnacle of culinary delight. So what if his palette was 'like a five-year old's?' Wasn't his fault that delicious things were delicious.
Belatedly, he realized that his memory of this restaurant had been strong enough for the Gellin Empress to choose it as a point of reference for interdimensional portal magic. That...yeah, that tracked. Aside from the burgers, he had fond memories of sitting at the outside patio with Jason and his folks, drinking Minty Fresh Phantasma and inhaling cheesy fries as they mocked his dietary preferences. Good times.
He was about to explain what this place meant to him when a human casually walked past the viewing window.
She was a normal working woman like any other. Tired eyes, a purse slung over her shoulder, and dressed for lukewarm weather. A cell phone was held in her right hand, her eyes glued to some form of social media. She strode past the window without a care in the world, visible for merely a second before disappearing from view.
To the Elatrans, it was like a horror movie jumpscare. All of them froze. Several gasped. Elder Alessia grimaced. Faelynn muttered "a world of Humans" in a hushed tone. The only exceptions were Elder Duran and the Soul Surgeon, who crept closer to get a better look, their eyes shimmering with curiosity.
In contrast, Rob let out a sigh of overwhelming relief. That bored, everyday woman was exactly what he'd needed to set him at ease. Earth hasn't completely gone to shit behind my back. People are still living their lives.
As he watched, a few more humans walked in front of the window. A middle-aged man, a young boy with his mother, and an old woman with a walking cane. The old woman pivoted straight into the burger joint, Rob internally praising her good taste.
"W-well," the head mage stuttered. He paused, cleared his throat, then started anew. "As you can see, the viewing window is imperceptible to those with low Levels of Sense Mana. Naturally, this will not be the case for a portal that can be interacted with from both sides."
"Dangerous," Meyneth commented. "I would advise that you conceal this type of spell for as long as you are able. The viewing window especially."
"Why is that?"
"If this window cannot be sensed by those with low Levels of Sense Mana, then that makes it an ideal tool for spying on non-Mages. In your haste to glimpse into the world of another dimension, you have inadvertently developed a field of magic that puts every nation in Elatra at risk of subterfuge. People have been assassinated for much less."
The mages blanched. "We are nothing more than simple researchers," the head mage protested, in a faltering voice. "Who besides a madwoman like the Dragon Queen would stoop so low as to threaten noncombatants?"
Keira averted her eyes, pointedly examining the floor.
"We can discuss matters of life and death at a later time," Duran interjected. He gestured to the viewing window with the demeanor of a child in a toy story. "There's a world of discoveries to explore! Take a look at those structures the Earth Humans have built – they resemble the buildings within Human territory, yet small differences set them apart."
Duran ooooh'd as another person walked past the viewing window. "So many humans are ambling about despite the late hour. Is this area a well-traveled location in your home city, Rob?"
"This is around the level of street traffic you should expect for early evening. If it were daytime, you'd see a hundred people per minute."
Duran aaaah'd. Before he could launch into a series of questions, Zamira beat him to it. "Pardon me if this comes across as an insult," she began, hesitantly. "But Earth Humans appear marginally...uncoordinated. It is hard for me to describe the notion, yet when I watch them move, they appear as if they're liable to fall over at any moment."
They look normal to me, Rob almost said, before remembering that Earth's normal wasn't Elatra's normal. "That's called being permanently Level 1." He shrugged. "They've all got crap stats. Except athletes, I guess."
Zamira stared at the human passerby with obvious sympathy. "My condolences."
Does Earth seem like a world of cripples to her? Rob wondered. Even Utility Class users have the option to put a couple points into Dexterity and Perception. That's not counting the natural stat boosts they gain as they grow up, either. And when combined with Vitality and healing magic, it means that people in Elatra tend to age gracefully.
Rob tried to think of the last time he'd seen an Elatran with the same frailty as that old human woman with her walking cane. The oldest person he'd met so far was the Fiend High Soulseer, and in spite of being positively ancient – and blind – the dude could get around fine. Elder Duran was having health problems, but that was only after suffering from severe Corruption poisoning for weeks on end. An incident like that would've landed an Earth human in long-term hospice care.
Actually, no, that was wrong. It would've just killed them.
"We should switch to the next location," Rob said, preempting any further questions. "There's still two more left." Maybe I can see...no. Keep your expectations in check.
He was right to do so. Rob's heart sank as the viewing window solidified once again, revealing battered, empty streets. Half the buildings had collapsed to rubble, as if visited by a wrecking crew with an axe to grind. He recognized this spot as the street leading up to his favorite movie theater on the other side of the city. There'd been good times here, as well.
Although not anymore. The theater's roof had caved in, and half the letters in its ostentatious PRIME CINEMA logo were missing. It would take years to rebuild – assuming someone was willing to invest millions of dollars into what was essentially a ghost town.
"This..." He ran his hand down his face, aware of everyone gazing at him with pity. "As you can probably infer, this isn't normal. In the past–"
Rob practically jumped out of his skin at the abrupt sound of gunfire. At first he thought the shot had come from outside, but no, it was both too distant and too close for that. The noise also sounded different from the rifles that the Dwarven Thunder Rod wielders employed.
A series of repeated bangs swept his thoughts away. Everyone watched in astonishment as a crew of Earth military soldiers ran into view from a side street, desperately fleeing the eight-legged Blightspawn that was hot on their tails. The abomination was more of an amalgamation of flesh and limbs than anything resembling a living creature, and the way it skittered made Rob reconsider if spiders were really that bad in comparison.
"Keep firing!" one of the men commanded, his voice sounding like it was coming from the bottom of a lake. The soldiers blasted their assault rifles in a retreating offensive, peppering the abomination with a hailstorm of bullets. Their response was swift, their aim was true, and it did not matter. The Blightspawn bulldozed through the rain of bullets as if it was a light drizzle, the creature's five cavernous mouths wailing for blood and sustenance.
It was nearly upon them when an explosive rocketed in from the opposite side street, knocking the Blightspawn off its many feet. The reprieve was temporary, but it was just long enough for the soldiers to escape unharmed. Unfortunately, the creature was also mostly unharmed, sporting minor injuries despite a direct missile strike to the torso. With a chorus of screams that prickled Rob's ears, the abomination continued its chase, batting away a second missile as it resumed the chase with renewed fervor.
Then it was gone, having left the window's range of sight. Distant sounds of battle grew quieter, the gunshots and explosions becoming more faint as predator and prey ran deeper into the ruined city.
Rob closed his eyes. He said nothing for half a minute, allowing himself time to process what he'd seen.
"Okay." He opened his eyes, nodding. "This is fine."
Keira laid a hand on his shoulder, struggling with what to say. "Rob...you don't need to–"
"Hold it in? Bottle up my emotions?" A wry chuckle escaped his throat. "Honestly, I'm not as affected as I thought I'd be. The Blight dropped one too many cryptic hints for me to be surprised, anyway. At this point I'm just glad that Earth hasn't been completely overrun. Some parts of the city might be fucked up, but not all of it is."
He narrowed his eyes. "The biggest thing I'm worried about is the Blightspawn itself. You saw those weapons the humans were using, right? Think of them as substantially upgraded versions of the Thunder Rods. They should've put a real dent in a fully-grown Blight, let alone one of its spawn."
"Perhaps the creatures have gained a defensive Skill?" Duran theorized. "What we witnessed appears consistent with other damage reduction Skills such as Tough Skin or Heat Resistance. I would surmise that the Blight has learned something akin to – for example – Thunder Rod Resistance."
Rob paused. Elatra didn't have a specified 'Bullet Resistance' Skill, but that was because conventional firearms had been removed from the system for balancing purposes. The Blight wouldn't give two shits about balance. They'd cheerfully grant themselves Bullet Resistance, Missile Resistance, and whatever else tickled their fancy.
And the more Earth fought back, the more resistant they'd become.
"...This doesn't change anything," Rob eventually concluded. "Earth is a big boy planet. It'll figure something out. In the meantime, we'll clean up our problems here and be ready to help if the Blight's still around by then."
"You're sure?" Keira asked. Two words that held so much intent. 'Are you sure you'll be alright? Are you sure Elatra should remain your primary concern? Are you sure you don't want to head home the instant the dimension mages create a working portal?'
Rob gave her a thumbs-up. "I'm sure. And I know you'll worry about me regardless, but I promise I'm feeling fine."
Or maybe he was just numb, and an avalanche of emotions would bury him when he least expected it. The good news was that was a problem for future-Rob to deal with. Present-Rob had one last area to investigate.
I'd be satisfied with seeing my old bedroom intact, he thought, as the dimension mages altered the viewing window for the last time. I have strong memories there, right? It should be a candidate. Those late night Netflix binges were uh...riveting. Yeah.
The window finalized.
Rob felt the strength leave his body.
Some parts of what he was seeing were incongruous. Strange details that he'd need to figure out soon. All of it took a hard backseat to the one sight in the room that truly mattered.
Jason was alive.
He was at his house that Rob had visited so often. Alive. Surrounded by people. Alive. Chatting away. Alive. Gesturing in that exaggerated manner he often used. Alive.
A dam broke. Silent tears began streaming down Rob's face. Thoughts cut out, leaving only the realization that his best friend since childhood, the sole person he'd have trusted with his life before meeting Riardin's Rangers, the man whose place he'd taken when the gods picked a new chew toy...
"Hey, man." Rob's smile was the most genuine it had been in a long time. "Been a while."
At that moment, almost as if he could hear him, Jason grinned.
When I was writing Chapter 199, I was mildly annoyed that Rob didn't reach 200 Vitality on Chapter 200. That would've been hilariously coincidental. But if I had to choose between that chapter or this one for a big milestone...I think I like this better.
Happy Chapter 200, everyone. Thanks for reading and staying on this journey with me.
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2023.06.08 05:46 Cancelthisdick AITA for coming home when my wife is trying to sleep?
Some background. I (m30) work a 3pm-11pm shift every day during the work week and my schedule never changes unless I specifally ask for a change. My wife works loss prevention at a major furniture store and her employer schedules people randomly. My wife frequently gets assigned the 3am-11am shift because her boss knows she handles it well and doesnt complain. My wife has had her job for 4 years now. I just got my position this year and selected time of day to work I thought I would enjoy the most.
I get home at 11:30pm most nights and we have one of those fancy security systems that notify you when a door opens and closes and that main console is in our bedroom. She is also a lite sleeper so its guarenteed me getting home is going to wake her. Every single night its an argument. She immedately pounces on me saying I am pissing her off for waking her up. I don't know how to respond, but I am sick of constantly being targeted as soon as I get home so I started responsing with, "you choose to allow your job to schedule you at 3am. Just tell them you dont want 3am shifts if it bothers you so much." I just get met with comments about how I am being selfish and she just wants to be able to get a full 8-9 hours of sleep. I go right to bed when I get home, I try to be quiet, but that doesnt seem to matter. Am I the asshole?
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2023.06.08 05:33 KillerOrangeCat Three New Terrifying True Scary Tales 6/7/2023
Three New Terrifying True Scary Tales
Number One: The Pool
Now, this happened a very long time ago. I am not going to mention when or where though and I am submitting it anonymously. I don’t want people going back and finding out more about it and then lashing out of me.
I was 13 years old and my brother was 11. As I mentioned, this happened a long time ago and I think today, not a lot of parents would put a 13 year old in charge of an 11 year old. But this was not unusual at all back then. In fact, I was looking after my little brother all the time before either of us even hit 10 years old.
After a while, of course, always keeping my eye on him began to get very annoying. It interfered with my hanging out with friends. It was quite a drag when I would try to talk to girls. It was just a pain in the ass, really.
Anyway, one day during a really hot summer, our parents decided to drop us both off at the local swimming pool for the day. My dad had to work and my mom had errands and stuff to run plus work do to do for the church. It was so hot and there was no way we could afford air conditioning. We had one old fan in the house and a sprinkler in the yard that we could go play in. But the swimming pool was the much better option.
Of course the pool was very crowded. Lots of families would drop their kids off there during the summertime. And of course, even though I knew it already, my mom stressed to me, “Keep an eye on your little brother at all times.”
Some of my friends were at the pool too. I got to talking to them and they told me about this new girl who moved into town. She would be starting school that fall and supposedly she was really hot. So of course, I wanted to check her out. I knew the lifeguards would be watching my brother in the water, so he would be fine.
I went with the guys and the girl was really cute. My buddies all dared me to approach her, which was admittedly a brave thing for a 13 year old boy to do. Of course, I couldn’t chicken out in front of them, so I did just that.
She was a very sweet girl. We actually ended up talking for a little while. Her parents were at the pool though, and they called her back after too long. So I went back to the water to see how my little brother was doing.
The only problem was that I couldn’t see him anywhere in the water. This was a small town in a rural area, so although I said the pool was crowded, it wasn’t like a water park is crowded though. I should have easily been able to pick him out of the water. He just wasn’t there.
I went and searched around the area surrounding the pool and didn’t see him there either. My heart started beating faster and I began panicking. I went to the building where the showers and concession stand were. He wasn’t there either. You couldn’t leave that pool without going through that building, though. I asked the attendant if a 11 year old boy had left the pool on his own in the previous hour and he told me no.
I then went to the lifeguards and my buddies. I thought maybe there was a chance that I had missed him. It’s easy to occasionally miss someone in a crowd. The lifeguards ordered everyone out of the pool. Fortunately, there were no drowned children in the pool. Unfortunately, my brother was nowhere to be found outside of the pool.
The lifeguards had to call my mother at the church. I had never before lost track of my little brother like this before. I had no idea what to expect when she showed up. I was only thankful that the police were already at the pool or she probably would have whipped my ass right there in front of the entire pool.
The trouble I got into at home isn’t something that I want to go into very much. My butt very much has PTSD from the experience. But that was minor compared to the fear I felt for my little brother. Hell, I didn’t even have time to feel guilty although that I knew that I was. I was only concerned for him and wondered what would happen.
All day and night, I expected the police to bring him home. But that didn’t happen. I expected it the next day too. But it didn’t happen.
The town organized a search to look for him. I kept expecting to hear from them that they had found him. But that didn’t happen either.
After about a week of my brother not being found, I began fearing for the worst. I began thinking that he was dead. And I was terrified every waking moment of my life, expecting to absolutely hear the news that his dead body was found.
Nearly two weeks after the disappearance, we got a phone call from the police. They had found my brother and thankfully, he was alive. But unfortunately, that’s not the whole story.
Remember the attendant telling me that no boy had left on his own? Well that’s because the boy left with one of the lifeguards who was getting off duty. He had lured my brother out of the pool and into his car with promises of ice cream, something he and I rarely ever got. And my brother went to his house with him.
For all of that time, he kept my little brother locked up in his basement. He didn’t do anything sexually to him, thank God. But there was a lot of mental and some physical torment when my brother wouldn’t do what he was told to you. But the scariest part for him was thinking he would never get out and be with his family again.
Here is another weird part. The lifeguard wasn’t an adult. He did this while his parents were out of town for a few weeks. They came back early and caught him. And if you think I felt bad for my parents’ punishing me, what they did to him had to be legendary. The police thought he was either planning on killing or releasing my brother before his parents got home. But no one ever knew for sure.
He had to live with it without much help for a long time. Mental health assistance had a very bad stigma back then. But we’re both still alive today and he forgave me a long time ago.
Number Two: Taking the Garbage Out
A few weeks ago I went outside at around 3am to move the garbage to the curb since pickup would be in the morning. I often do this in the middle of the night. I just tend to keep weird hours and as the weather warms up for the summer I find the warm nights preferable to the sweltering days.
I’m not worried about bothering my neighbors since I don’t use noisy bins and all of the houses right next to me are currently empty. I actually find the quiet of the neighborhood at night quite relaxing.
Unfortunately since I don’t use bins animals are able to get into the bags a bit easier and while this doesn’t happen often it had happened on this night. So I was outside picking up the strewn around garbage and putting it into another bag when the silence of the night was suddenly broken by multiple police sirens.
At first they seemed distant and while they startled me it was not at all unheard of to hear sirens at night here. But usually it would be one in the distance. As I listened, still bagging the garbage, I could tell it was multiple sirens and they were getting closer. Then just as suddenly as it started it stopped again. There was just silence. By the time they stopped they sounded maybe four blocks away.
For a moment the night was silent again and I began hauling the bags to the curb when the neighborhood dogs began barking all at once. It was like every dog in the neighborhood had gotten the cue to start barking. Many were even howling. It continued for maybe a minute and once again it just stopped as suddenly as it had started.
I realized I hadn’t heard any barking or howling while the sirens were going and that’s normally how it would work. These dogs had started up separately from the sirens and just stopped all at once. It just wasn’t normal. I went back to the side of the house to grab more bags when the silence was broken a third time.
Just a single chime in the night. Like someone getting a phone notification. This sound wasn’t blocks away. This sound was here. RIGHT HERE. No more than feet away. As I said, the houses around me are empty.
I was done. The rest of the garbage would wait until morning. I didn’t see anyone close by but that just made it worse. There was someone close by that I couldn’t see. I immediately went into the house to leave the garbage for the morning.
I don’t know if these things were related. If the cops had been chasing someone who’s fleeing had caused the dogs to bark. Someone who received a message on their phone as they approached my house. Or if it was all just a coincidence. But I won’t be taking the garbage out at 3am anymore.
A Commuter’s Nightmare
Back in the 80s, I worked at the Irwin Memorial Blood Bank in San Francisco while living and commuting from Oakland, CA
My job as Registrar, took me all over Northern California, during Blood Drives at hospitals, clinics, major corporations, etc., where we would sometimes witness firsthand, the dead, being placed on gurneys, running out of the Coroner's or Medical Examiner’s rear doors, and down the sidewalks, because they simply didn’t have enough room or staff inside the morgues to process them. Mortuaries were having problems too due to the massive overload where deceased loved ones were admitted but not processed or interred for months or even years at a time.
I remember watching the News and reading newspaper accounts of E.R.s in hospitals, clinics, etc. so clogged with patients, that 1 in 10 would die waiting to just get in to see a Dr. It was a Public Health and Safety nightmare. It was a National disgrace. It was politically orchestrated mass murder. It was the B purge of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
I remember, starting work early on one of many Blood Drives (the A.I.D.S. epidemic was just getting started) and having to catch the first B.A.R.T. (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train out of the station at about 4:00 am, where morning after morning I would witness hundreds of people sleeping on the benches, or the sidewalks, or on the streets outside, waiting for it to open.
Hundreds of others would be seen walking around like zombies in the early morning freeze amid the concomitant yelling, screaming, moaning, begging, and pleading, all of it looking like a newsreel of the death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Many times, I was woken at home in the middle of the night, to the sounds of people howling and cursing outside my window at some real or imagined threat, until either the police came, which usually took hours because they were spread so thin, or some tenant, or other, ran them off.
I remember the time I woke up to the sound of a woman’s voice begging in the early morning cold for someone to help her. She kept repeating it over and over growing weaker and weaker until it was little more than a whisper.
By the time I’d gotten up, armed myself with the steel-reinforced baton I’d purchased at a Police Supply store, and ran the 5 floors down to the ground floor, I found her sitting in a taxi shivering from the 42-degree drizzle coming in off the Pacific. The cabbie told me it was alright; she was just cold and needed someplace to rest and warm up; He’d drop her off at one of the nearby shelters.
At the time, I was living in a local Residence Hall on Lake Merrit in Oakland, California which was little more than a converted Hotel from the San Francisco/Oakland Gilded Age of the late 1920s. It had 5 floors and a penthouse with a capacity of about 200. I never saw it get much beyond about 30 residents. It sported a full kitchen, dining area, big screen tv viewing room, swimming pool, and a recreation room with pool, foosball, and darts.
I lived with a friend, at the time, on the 5th floor just under the penthouse. There was an elevator, but like most refurbs, it didn’t work. That meant we'd have to climb 10 flights of stairs every day to reach our room. The best part was that we had the entire floor to ourselves. I guess nobody wanted to climb that many stairs. Because we were both runners, it was a little like running the 900 feet to the top of Angel Island, running across The Golden Gate Bridge and back, or running the 3.4 miles around Lake Merrit twice a day.
Because there was no air-conditioning, all the windows were left open during the summer months, but along with whatever cool air the San Francisco/Oakland Bay would bring through the gaping nearly wall-length vault ceilinged windows, it was always accompanied by the teeming, screaming City of Oakland street din: cabbies, buses, cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, scooters, police sirens, ambulance, fire department, pedestrians, hustlers, druggies, break-dancers, prostitutes the homeless, et al. Day or night, winter or summer, it was like living in a jet engine test lab, somewhere on the 9th level of hell.
Of course, we could always close the windows against the noise 5 stories below. But if it was summer, with all the humidity coming off the bay, we’d roast like 2 suckling pigs in our own sweat even if we used a fan.
One night after a particularly grueling day at work, I came home, climbed Mount Everest (or at least K-2) to my steaming little abattoir, tore off my sports jacket, shirt, and tie, and fell into a coma-like sleep only to awake some 4 hours later to the sound of someone slamming a door, over and over, seemingly as hard as they could. It was about 2:00 am and raining so hard the water was pouring through the open window and flooding the floor and carpet. The sound was coming somewhere down the hall from one of the other units.
After about the 15th or 16th slam to my inner ear, I was up, as in a trance, running like a lunatic from unit to unit and window to window, covering the entire southside of the 5th floor; battening down the hatches, and getting drenched in the process. It was, how should I say: exhilaratingly infuriating. I was supposed to get up in 2 hours and commute to work in the upper peninsula.
Having unconsciously completed this Sisyphean task and realizing that there was zero chance of getting any sleep, I donned my foul weather gear, equipped my trusty baton (I used to tuck its 2 ½-foot length up my sleeve when running), and headed out the front door to Lake Merrit which was just outside the main entrance. From there, I trotted to the sidewalk circling the lake, and began to run.
As I ran counterclockwise against a torrential rain with a gale-force wind broken only by the occasional intermittent rainbow-hued lightning flashes which blinded me to almost everything around me, I almost ran into someone up ahead who was walking in the same direction.
He was hunched over against the wind and rain and wearing a long heavy winter coat. Unusual for that time of year, I thought. Whenever I would run in public, I always made it a courtesy to let people know when I was approaching especially from behind. I’d blurt out a perfunctory:
“Excuse me.” Followed by a conciliatory:
But apparently, the person ahead either didn’t hear me or didn’t care because, when I was about 6 feet from him, he suddenly turned around, exposing a darkened contorted face, jagged teeth, and a guttural growl that would have stopped a charging 600-pound Grizzly.
The sheer force of the malevolence emitted from this inhuman thing almost made me stop, but because I was moving so fast, the inertia along with the gale force wind and lightning strikes propelled me past him (or it), and fingering my steel-reinforced baton, I, in turn, steeled my nerve and kept running. I looked back only once to reassure myself that he (or it) wasn’t following.
Running on the leeward side now, with the rain at my back, I ran past a group of men in a circle smoking or drinking or doing whatever noxious or illicit thing I imagined, when, feeling charged with my own adrenalin, or the anger and resentment at that woman’s searing pleas for help, or the spook I’d almost run into, or just the gross injustices thrust upon the world in that dank, dark and dangerous time, I almost stopped, baton in hand, intending to take on the whole group: I may go down, I told myself, but at least I would take one or two with me.
Just then, the lightning struck particularly close to where I and they stood and the sheer blinding flash and concussive boom shook all of us enough to break up their conspiratorial collaboration and my righteous crusade; just enough, that is, to shove me headlong around the next bend, to the long straight full out dash to the front doors, the 5 floors, 10 landings, and 50 risers to rain-sodden home.
To get to work every day, I'd have to commute to the upper peninsula by using 3 buses, 1 train, and 1 cab and after a 10 or 12 or sometimes 14-hour day, I would have to take the same to get back. This meant that if I didn’t go out, make dinner, eat, or watch tv, I just might get about 4 hours sleep. Commuting took between 2 to 3 hours, one way.
Once on the way home, almost every stop was crowded with commuters. I was told that it was because there were so many buses down for repair. The ones still running were so filled beyond capacity, that the shocks and springs were sitting on the chassis, and stop after stop proved nearly impossible to take on any more passengers. Still, and despite the few getting out at every stop, the driver would take on even more and just pack them in.
I remember him yelling for people to get back behind the yellow line over and over. By then, he was long past any semblance of reason; his patience frayed to a single maniacal thought, his voice raspier and raspier, his manner, more and more brusk.
I can still see when he finally lost it; jumping up, out of his seat, with a nickel-plated 38 Caliber Revolver pointing at one of the passengers; an elderly woman, screaming from the top of his lungs:
“Get back behind the yellow line!”
I can still hear the woman begging the driver:
“Please...” while the passengers behind were practically trampling each other to get out of the line of fire.
I remember the sad, exhausted urgency in her voice; she really was trying to move back, but how could she, an old woman, do that with all those people blocking her way? Everyone knew this was an impossible task; everyone except the maddened driver. He just kept glaring, and bellowing with his gun out pointed right at her and the other passengers.
"Back up and make room" he yelled.
‘Or else what?’ I thought. ‘You're gonna kill an old woman?'
Getting up out of my seat, pushing my way through the throng who were pushing against me to get away, I managed to get within about 6 feet from the front when, roaring through the din and my fear and anger, I ordered the bus driver to:
“Put the gun down!” And again, with even more rage and authority:
“Put the gun down, now!”
The bus driver shocked that it might be a cop, or worse, shakily, put his gun back in his concealed carry holster and hypnotically sat back down. He resumed driving without saying another word. I got out at the next stop, along with the elderly woman. She was so shaken, that she busted out crying. I held her still fuming despite the close call because I would now have to wait for another bus and after that, 2 more; the train and a cab to get home. I wasn’t going to make it until well after 8:00 pm. As soon as I got home, I reported the bus number and the driver to Muni.
Many of the commuters I'd see day to day, or share a seat with were victims of the purge just trying to get out of the rain or the cold, or the wind, or the sun, even for just a little while. For them, it was easing the agony of living on the street, even just a little. For many of us regular commuters, during those dark times, it proved to be the same.
On one of the final buses that would take me to the train and across the bay, I remember standing, with about 50 others, on Market Street waiting. Like ours, stop after stop was so packed with people, some were standing in the street because there was simply not enough room on the sidewalk. The ones in the street would stay where they were for fear of losing their place and missing their connection and having to wait another hour, or more, to catch another.
Because the rapidly descending elevation of the southbound streets ending at Market Street from the upper peninsula were so steep and the transverse angle of the turn so sharp, some of the buses would skirt the edge of the curb, sometimes rolling up over it onto the sidewalk putting them dangerously close to the commuters waiting on the other side.
If there were any people in the street, especially the old or the infirm, they would either have to get out of the way and lose their place in line or hope the bus driver stopped before completing the turn. Most of the drivers would. Once there was one who didn’t.
I remember the television and newspaper account about an elderly woman waiting at one of the stops during the pm rush hour. When the bus made the oblique turn way too fast at 25 miles per hour she was either too close to the edge or standing in the street when she was hit by the side view mirror across the face and the left side of her head.
She went down under the wheels and her body got hung up under the chassis. The bus driver too full of passengers to stop, or late for his break, or just too coked up to notice, kept on heading for the Embarcadero before he realized something was wrong. By then, the woman had been dragged over a quarter of a mile. No one knew for sure whether the concussion from the mirror or the relentless dragging was the cause of death. I guess it didn’t matter to her anymore, one way or the other. It mattered to a lot of those who witnessed the whole thing though; screaming and yelling, block after block, trying to get the bus driver to stop.
To get across the Bay to San Francisco from Oakland or back, one alternative to the nightmare bus commute was the B.A.R.T (Bay Area Rapid Transit). It was quiet, clean, air-conditioned, and fast. Traveling under the Bay, it could span the 13 miles in minutes. Once I’d reach the train station, by bus, from the Oakland side, I’d descend one of the many street-level entries to the below-ground turnstiles which led to the train platform. Of course, there were always hundreds of derelicts, homeless, hustlers, etc., hanging out by the turnstiles waiting for their chance to slip through and get on any one of the many trains that serviced the Bay Area, but sometimes, especially after a scuffle with B.A.R.T. Security or the San Francisco/Oakland Police, they’d scatter to the winds (or the shadows as it were) until everything calmed down and then they'd be back at it again, day and night.
Almost every week I'd hear about someone falling, or being pushed, or jumping down onto the third rail, which would either short-circuit the line and knock out the power or if it was particularly grisly, halt service entirely. Because service resumption could take hours, waiting passengers would have to go back up and out onto the street and catch another train, take a cab or a bus or just walk or, as was often the case for me, run.
Once, I remember running to the next stop when I was ascending to the upper peninsula because the previous connection didn’t show up which meant it would have added another 45 minutes to my commute. The choice was obvious and inevitable: I could either
“wait to be late” or go for it. I chose the latter.
You just can't imagine what it’s like to run at a 20-degree angle uphill for about 2 miles while wearing dress slacks, dress shoes, a white shirt and tie, and a sports jacket, in San Francisco, during the summer, with the humidity until you’ve tried it. It’s, how should I say: exhilaratingly infuriating.
Running, I came upon a stand-alone, transmission shop, right in the middle of a residential area. The owners must have paid a pretty penny to get away with that one. There were police cars, the fire department, a metro ambulance, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a marked County Coroner’s Office vehicle scattered around the shop.
Some people along with some of the employees: their first names embroidered on their shirts, were standing on the sidewalk just outside the property watching. They’d been there for about an hour when I stopped to ask one of them (Bob) what happened.
Wearily he said:
“The girl who worked in the office answering the phone and typing up orders was shot to death by her boyfriend. The boyfriend got away but she was still down there being processed. God, she was only 24 years old. They’ll catch him, though. He hasn’t got a chance.”
'Nope,' I thought.
'In this town, I don’t expect he would.'
I was late again when I got home. Vaulting the 5 floors to reach our loft, I held my friend close, the entire night. She was ok with that. So was I.=
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