Nine west floral bag

[Sell][From US to US] Full sizes and sample perfumes - Memorial week sale, buy one full size, get one half off

2023.05.29 23:40 Melissaldork [Sell][From US to US] Full sizes and sample perfumes - Memorial week sale, buy one full size, get one half off

PayPal goods/services. I may be out but I'll respond as soon as I'm able. $4.50 shipping. Scents are kept in a dark closet. I reuse packaging and I ship on the weekends.
Memorial Day sale through 6/2 - buy one full size, get one half off. (Equal or lower price will be the one that is 50% off)
Full sizes
Alkemia - Sandscape 5ml extrait roller Sun warmed beach sand, Atlantic ocean breezes, the saline-aquatic scent of drying sea water on skin, and the faintest hints of tanning oil and seaweed. RIS, tried once, $14
Astrid Merci 23 - 8ml oil Candied fruits and amber. Fill slightly below top of label. $15
Astrid Wicked Good 8ml oil Dulce de leche, apple, brownie, spiced woods, and warm vanilla musk. Not vegan. Tried twice, $18
BPAL Supposed to be a Pretzel 5ml Oil "… but also kinda smells like popcorn?" RIS, tried once, $18
Death and Floral - Vintage Cream Soda 5ml oil roller Classic A&W cream soda. Tried twice, $14.
Death and Floral - Black Forest Honey 5ml oil roller Blackened honey musk, deep and rich with a hint of blackstrap molasse (formulated in a skin-safe honey base). Tried a few times, $13
Haus of Gloi - Salty Sea Mist Covered Hay 5ml oil Hay accord with white musk, white amber, and salty sea air. Tried once, $14
Long Winter Farm - Fig & Forest 10ml oil roller Sweet, fruity fig and fir needle. It smells like both the first flow of sap in the spring and that first night after you put up the Christmas tree in winter. Tried once, $12
Long Winter Farm - Porridge 10 ml oil roller Just as warm and comforting as you want it to be, this one's a blend of oats, cinnamon, honey, dried figs, and sweet cream. Tried twice, $12
Osmofolia - Evening Sun 5ml oil roller Dried yellow corn husks and crisp green corn stalks, stacked hay bales, flaky cinnamon sugar pastries, fresh popcorn, and a field full of Evening Sun sunflowers. Tried twice, $14
Snowy White Owl Perfume - Breakfast in America 10ml oil roller blueberry buttermilk pancakes ladled with cinnamon butter, red maple syrup, bacon, and fresh black coffee. Tried once, $12
Themed/branded sample bags -
Alkemia sample bag - 4 samples direct from house - Lilacs Along the Winding Road, Camilla, Madam X, and Winter Sanctuary. All new, $12
Nui Cobalt sample bag 5 samples direct from house - Humbuggery, Hive Mind, Scallywag, Charlatan and Melophilia. All tested once, $15
Who is that/Where am I sample bag - interesting characters and places. Features brands Osmofolia (2), Morari, Stone and Wit, Poesie, Hex. 6 samples, $8.
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2023.05.29 23:36 icallshogun Bridgebuilder - Chapter 41

Poorly Hidden
First Prev
There were very few things to do in quarantine.
Alex had spent his last two days sleeping as much as he could. There were six movies available to watch and nothing else. His techs steadfastly refused to tell him anything about the outside world, which was standard procedure. Nothing that would get him riled up, as Shawn put it. That sort of riled him up.
Aside from sleeping, the only thing that broke the monotony was meal time. First he would get scanned and then one of the nurses would drop off clean scrubs and a steaming hot bowl of nutragel in the small airlock. In the morning it tasted sort of like a cinnamon roll. The lunch nutragel bore some resemblance to chicken soup and the dinner nutragel was similar to but distinct from beef stew.
Nutragel was easily more dissatisfying to eat than anything else a dispenser produced. It provided everything he needed to live and made things easier on the scanner, but lacked any other redeemable features. Freedom could not come soon enough.
So he thought.
Being released was nearly as strange as being brought in. Shawn gave him his marching orders - There’d be a representative from the Civilian Pilot Program waiting for Carbon and him once he was out of the secure portion of the station, and said his goodbye before turning the airlock on. It cycled automatically around him and he walked from the quarantine room down the hall to the patient elevator. Even before the doors opened, he could smell the cleaning chemicals. A minute later his eyes were stinging and his scrubs smelled like something that would denature a prion, but it did deposit him in front of the first human he’d seen since the day he arrived.
The nurse behind the counter was not operating under the same conditions, and seemed pretty bored by his arrival. He pushed a bag with Alex’s name on it across the stainless countertop, and pointed out where the changing rooms were before turning back to his terminal.
There was technically a shower in the quarantine room. One of those dry ones that used ultrasonic waves and a vacuum. It allegedly did the job. The changing room had a real shower, towels, and the most generic little bottles of soap and shampoo Alex had ever seen. Even if everything was a little threadbare, this still felt like luxury. It had been longer than he cared to think about since he’d gotten the chance to take an actual water shower, and he was not going to skip the opportunity to wash the stink of chemicals off his body.
Once again clean, though looking a bit scruffy from nine days of stubble growth, he donned the same clothing that he had been brought in with, now so thoroughly decontaminated it appeared a shade lighter than it had started, and immediately sat down in the waiting room.
Carbon arrived about fifteen minutes later, slightly damp and visibly exhausted. While she did perk up when she spotted him, a brief flash of a smile tamped down as she glanced over at the attendant operating the elevator to the rest of the station. Alex followed suit, keeping it professional as he requested access to leave quarantine.
Once alone in the elevator, a brief look of longing may have been exchanged.
“Oh. It’s real.” Alex murmured to himself as the doors opened to the main deck of the small station, the smell of cooked food wafting through the air as they stepped out. They had arrived just in time for breakfast. He inhaled deeply. “I think they have bacon. And pancakes? You’ll like both of those, I’m sure.”
“Pilot Alex Sorenson? Shipmaster Tshalen?” An older man wearing a button down shirt and nice slacks stepped forward before Alex could determine which way to go to get to the food. He smiled affably, extending his hand. “Dae Yeong, I’m with the CPP.”
Alex barely kept his shit together and shook his hand. “Oh yes. We were told you’d be here.” He didn’t manage to keep the disappointment out of his voice, though.
Dae gave Carbon a short bow, which she returned, and he handed them both new CPP access badges. They were clearly labeled PILOT and ENGINEER respectively, with photos. Alex grinning like he’d won the lotto, Carbon straight-faced and looking a bit like she was getting a mugshot taken. It wasn’t necessary on the quarantine station, but they’d be needing them for access in secure areas elsewhere. “If you both don’t mind, we should be departing for McFadden station immediately. Traffic is already bad and there’s a lot to do.”
Alex did mind, but he kept it to himself. It was a short walk to the hanger, and they quickly found themselves wedged into the back of a four seat transport. It was an inexpensive but serviceable civilian model with CPP branding all over the outside. Mr. Yeong kept his hands on the controls even though the short jaunt to McFadden station was likely to be entirely autopilot.
“I still cannot believe it is so large.” Carbon leaned over as far as her seat’s safety harness would allow, whispering to him as the station grew on the main screen, already lined up with one of the bays on the docking arc. Parking lot speeds were strictly enforced this close to a structure, they were still 30 minutes from actually coming aboard.
“Third largest in system, twelfth in all of human space.” Alex suppressed the urge to make that joke, keeping his voice down too. It was probably pointless, Mr. Yeong was just over an arms length away in the pilot’s seat and could easily hear them. It still felt sort of conspiratorial, almost fun.
“I am aware of that, but I do not know why.” She shifted back into her seat properly, ears twitching as they pressed into the headrest. Carbon had curled her antenna over her shoulder, preferring that to crushing them between her back and the seat that had not been made with that particular biological difference in mind.
He shrugged. “They had to make room for all the old spacecraft in the Exploration museum.”
Carbon straightened up and looked at him, perplexed. “A museum?”
“Uh huh.”
“You put a museum in space? In a station that some of your most advanced spacecraft are based from?” Carbon was starting to get that tone that said she may be offended by the very idea being discussed.
“Not me personally, no. But it does seem like a reasonable place for it.”
“I did not mean you specifically, Alex. I meant as a species. Space is not a reasonable place for a museum, no matter the subject.” She was adamant about that, a finger
“Space is the perfect place for a museum about space exploration. That was the jingle they used during construction.” He cleared his throat and sang, off key. “Space... is the per-fect place.”
Mr. Yeong chuckled quietly.
Carbon’s jaw set and she huffed with frustration. “Your species is so cavalier about so many things. Space is dangerous, it is no place to leave a collection of historical knowledge.”
Alex looked out of his window with a snort, watching a row of single-container cargo drones waiting for access queuing up as he dismissed her argument with a wave of his hand. “Oh yeah, nothing of value has ever been destroyed on a planet before, right?”
The back seat got very quiet.
When he looked back, Carbon was staring down at balled fists with deadly intensity, normally blue lips pressed so tight they were pale.
He figured out where he had fucked up a moment later. “I didn’t mean- Not like, I... Hell.”
Her words came slowly, precise. “I know you did not mean it that way.”
“I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to apologize for. The statement is true, disaster or not. A planet can still oversee untold destruction.” She closed her eyes and exhaled, her body relaxing. ”It has been a difficult week.”
He had forgotten that isolation is hard on the Tsla’o. It had been annoying for him, but being nearly completely cut off from interaction in what was ultimately an alien prison cell must have weighed heavily on her. “Is it alright if I feel bad?”
Carbon took a deep breath and exhaled slowly again, watching her hands uncurl and fingers stretch as she recentered herself. She straightened back up, ears unfolding from being pressed tight against her head before she glanced over at him with a brief nod. A thin, wry smile slowly working across her short muzzle. “That is acceptable as long as you are done by the time we arrive.”
Alex laughed just as Mr. Yeong looked back at them over his shoulder. The older man gave them a bemused smile. “Has anyone told you two that you sound like a married couple?”
That shut both of them up for the rest of the trip.
 
First Prev
*****
That's right, I wrote the P word.
They're really not good at keeping things under wraps.
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2023.05.29 23:23 Joadzilla Uganda enacts harsh anti-LGBTQ law including death penalty

https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/ugandas-museveni-approves-anti-gay-law-parliament-speaker-says-2023-05-29/
Summary

KAMPALA, May 29 (Reuters) - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni signed one of the world's toughest anti-LGBTQ laws, including the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality", drawing Western condemnation and risking sanctions from aid donors.
Same-sex relations were already illegal in Uganda, as in more than 30 African countries, but the new law goes further.
It stipulates capital punishment for "serial offenders" against the law and transmission of a terminal illness like HIV/AIDS through gay sex. It also decrees a 20-year sentence for "promoting" homosexuality.
"The Ugandan president has today legalised state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia," said Clare Byarugaba, a Ugandan rights activist.
United States President Joe Biden called the move "a tragic violation" of human rights and said Washington would evaluate the implications of the law "on all aspects of U.S. engagement with Uganda."
"We are considering additional steps, including the application of sanctions and restriction of entry into the United States against anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption," he said.
A presidency photo of Museveni showed him signing the law with a golden pen at his desk. The 78-year-old has called homosexuality a "deviation from normal" and urged lawmakers to resist "imperialist" pressure.
A local organisation, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, and 10 other individuals later filed a complaint against the law at the constitutional court, one of the petitioners, Busingye Kabumba, told Reuters.
Museveni had sent the original bill passed in March back, asking parliament to tone down some provisions. But his ultimate approval was not seen as in doubt in a conservative country where anti-LGBTQ attitudes have hardened in recent years, in part due to campaigning by Western evangelical church groups.
Uganda receives billions of dollars in foreign aid each year and could now face adverse measures from donors and investors, as happened with a similar bill nine years ago.
REPRISALS?
The bill's sponsor, Asuman Basalirwa, told reporters that parliament speaker Anita Among's U.S. visa was cancelled after the law was signed. Among and the U.S. embassy in Uganda did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In a joint statement, the U.S.'s flagship HIV/AIDS program PEPFAR, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said the law put Uganda’s anti-HIV fight "in grave jeopardy".
Dominic Arnall, chief executive of Open For Business, a coalition of companies that includes Google (GOOGL.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O), said the group was deeply disappointed and the law ran counter to Ugandans' economic interests.
The U.N. human rights body declared itself "appalled".
Uganda's move could encourage lawmakers in neighboring Kenya and Tanzania seeking similar measures.
"What a leader we've in Africa!" tweeted George Kaluma, a Kenyan member of parliament who submitted an anti-LGBTQ bill in April.
"Kenya is following you in this endeavor to save humanity."
The inclusion of the death penalty for offenses like transmitting HIV has drawn particular outrage internationally.
Existing Ugandan law calls for a maximum 10-year sentence for intentionally transmitting HIV and does not apply when the person who contracted the infection was aware of their sexual partner's HIV status.
By contrast, the new law makes no distinction between intentional and unintentional transmission and contains no exception based on awareness of HIV status.
The amended version of the bill, adopted earlier this month after Museveni returned it to parliament, stipulated that merely identifying as LGBTQ is not a crime and revised a measure that obliged people to report homosexual activity to only require reporting when a child is involved.
'LIKE APARTHEID'
LGBTQ Ugandans called those changes useless, saying law enforcement regularly exceeds its legal authorities to harass them. They said passage of the bill in March unleashed a wave of arrests, evictions and mob attacks.
The issue has been a long-running one in Uganda.
A less restrictive 2014 anti-LGBTQ law was struck down by a Ugandan court on procedural grounds, after Western governments had initially suspended some aid, imposed visa restrictions and curtailed security cooperation.
In 2009, a bill dubbed "kill the gays" for initially proposing executing homosexuals was introduced after a conference in Kampala drew representatives from the United States including prominent anti-gay evangelical Scott Lively.
As well as religious campaigning, Africa's anti-LGBTQ attitudes also have their roots in the colonial era, including an anti-sodomy section of Britain's penal code. By the time the UK legalized same-sex acts in 1967, many former colonies were independent and did not inherit the legal change.
"To reduce any kind of human being, irrespective of their sexuality, to a death sentence based on who they identify as and how they choose to live their lives is something that we should all feel very ashamed about as a continent," said South African filmmaker Lerato.
"We can liken this to apartheid if not worse."
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2023.05.29 23:05 eiramired Ignite the Ashes Prologue - End of an Era

Synopsis:
Nine years following the execution of the old Sovereign, the four dukedoms of Augustein teeter on the brink of combustion.
Excess magic ore mining has resulted in unstable regions of shifting trees, violent storms, and a creeping plague of stillness that leaves everything frozen in time. Watchmen struggle to fend off the relentless attacks of Aberrations, while strict regulations on magic ore force aspiring magicians to sacrifice their own finite reserves at the cost of their health and, ultimately, their lives.
Amara is the sole survivor of a series of magic experiments ordered by the old Sovereign. Left with a reduced lifespan and an unnatural magic with the unique ability to progress, Amara is determined to live out the rest of her life to its fullest.
She’s going out like an explosion, and she’ll make sure that no one can look away.

This is a character focused, slow-burn high fantasy story with progression and light LitRPG elements that become prominent after the introductory arc, which spans through chapter 20.
It features flawed and morally ambiguous characters, unreliable narrators, and some darker elements, but there are plenty of lighter moments as well!

Prologue - End of an Era
Rosenfell Palace, Helisturn, Arcvale Dukedom of Augustein, Year 986
The palace halls glowed in the evening light. The last rays of sunlight filtered through cracked and broken windows, outlining piles of debris in gold. Clouds of dust rose from broken pillars and walls, shimmering as they drifted over cold, limp figures strewn about like fallen leaves. The plush red carpet, once bright and soft as snow, had been torn and shredded beyond recognition. Dark splotches littered its surface, many areas now beginning to dry and crack while still others remained moist to the touch.
A few hours ago, when the sun had still hung suspended in the clear blue sky, the palace walls had been trapped in a flurry of motion. The ringing of metal against metal, the pounding of heavy footsteps, and the shrill sounds of screams had echoed throughout the space as an invading wave of violence swept the pristine halls. Now, in the aftermath, an unnatural stillness had come to replace the rush.
A young man turned the corner, whistling an old folk song to himself as he walked. He wore an electric blue uniform that was crumpled and ripped around its edges. The color was mirrored by the single glove he wore on his left hand. His right hand was bare, and a lingering ultramarine light outlined a string of letters and numbers across his skin.
One particularly large stain covered nearly the entire stomach region of his uniform, a dark rust red that crumbled slightly whenever the man moved. A few stray splotches of the same color dotted his messy hair and tan skin, but the man made no motion to wipe the droplets off. Nor did he move to clean the equally bloodied spear strapped behind his back, the metal glinting in the sunlight. He simply strode forward with the laxness of a casual stroll, his eyes drifting about the ruined hallway and still corpses.
Finally, after he’d passed by shattered portraits and kicked aside a few bodies blocking the way with his boots, the man came to a halt.
“Oh, there it is.”
Crouching down, the man picked up a single glove lying in a dark pool of viscous liquid. He shook it a few times, and the fabric made a squelching noise. He frowned. The glove was so stained that barely any of the original blue color remained, but on closer inspection, the cloth itself seemed to be holding up well enough. Shrugging, the man slid it on, hiding the glowing numbers that were only just beginning to fade from the back of his hand.

ALLEN
Magic Reserves: 101,897 / 122,043
Maximum Output: 13
Variability: 6

AFFINITIES
Energy: 50% Minor
Motion: 100% Major
Form: 50% Minor
Perception: 25% Basic
Emotions: 50% Minor
Mind: 25% Basic
Time: 0% None
Probability: 0% None

1 ACTIVE ATTUNEMENT

“Allen!”
The man in question turned at the sound of his name being called. He raised an eyebrow at the sight of a similarly dressed soldier running forward, who halted when he saw the wreckage within the hallway. Henry’s eyes swept across the scattered bodies, and after a moment of hesitation, he continued forward with careful steps.
The two of them had been watchmen in the same area before Allen had been promoted to Duke Valister’s personal guard, and they’d reunited during the coup’s planning stages. The man was rather friendly, even excessively so at times, and he’d always treated Allen with a somewhat uncomfortable degree of reverence despite being older. But then again, magical prowess always trumped age when it came to respect.
Henry came to a stop a few feet away. In comparison to Allen, his uniform, while still stained and rumpled, was in significantly better condition, and his two gloves were a plain brown rather than blue. He frowned when his eyes fell on Allen’s very bloody glove, shuddering slightly.
“Isn’t that uncomfortable?”
Allen stretched his fingers in response, and the gloves made a squishy sound. “Eh, it still works fine.” He took a moment to assess the other man, cocking his head to the side and grinning at Henry’s poorly concealed disgust. “What, you squeamish?”
“I’m not,” Henry insisted, not meeting his eyes. Allen took a step forward. The other man’s fidgeting was even more obvious up close, and now that he paid more attention, his pale skin had taken on a greenish hue. Allen’s eyes briefly swept over the scattered bodies before returning again. He raised an eyebrow.
“Need me to use emotion magic?”
That made Henry’s head snap up, eyes widening in alarm. “I didn’t know you had an affinity—no wait, that’s not the point.” He shook his head and cleared his throat. “I’m fine, I swear! I’m just, uh, more used to fighting Aberrations.” Not humans.
“It’s just a minor affinity, but I’ve gotten pretty good with it.” Allen shrugged. “Fair enough. Anyway, what’re you doing here?”
“We’re supposed to report to the throne room,” Henry explained. “I came to get you.”
Allen hummed in response. He turned and began to slowly head back down the hallway, Henry following at his heels. “So Raymoth’s dead, right?”
Henry’s eyes darted around nervously, as if he was worried a ghost would appear at the mere utterance of the name. He nodded and cleared his throat. “Yeah, uh, I heard Duke Valister and Duchess Rosevale both did it.”
Allen whistled. “Oh really? Figured it’d just be the Duchess.” Then again, Duke Valister’s disdain for the former Sovereign was well known among his guards. Hell, Allen was half convinced the main reason the Duke had joined the alliance at all was to be part of the Raymoth family’s demise.
Turning the corner, Allen continued down a wider hallway that was in significantly better condition than the one they’d just been in. Not as much direct fighting had taken place there, and any that did had been over fast enough to minimize the mess. Allen glanced around as they walked, but he couldn’t see any other soldiers around. He guessed most didn’t want to risk disrespecting the new Sovereign. He didn’t know her very well, but from the few times he’d seen Duchess Rosevale before and during the coup, he’d understood why her soldiers were so convinced of her victory. She moved with a silent, unyielding assuredness, as if she already was the Sovereign.
For a few minutes neither of the two spoke as they continued to weave their way through the admittedly large palace. Allen didn’t even know what half the rooms were for; he’d probably go crazy if he had to live somewhere like this.
Allen could feel Henry’s eyes watching him, and he turned his head back, eyebrow raised. “What?”
The other man coughed and looked away. “Sorry, it’s just…” his voice trailed. “Did you hear about the notes?”
Allen frowned and slowed his pace. “What notes?”
Henry stared at the ground ahead of them uncomfortably. “When they ransacked Sove—Duke Raymoth’s,” he corrected, “—notes, they found some really…disturbing stuff. Something about magic experiments going on in northern Vanstead, kidnapping kids, stuff like that.” He swallowed, voice quieting to barely above a whisper. “But the thing is, they showed the notes to the Duke and Duchess, but they said it didn’t concern them. I heard—I heard Duke Valister even said it’d be interesting to keep an eye on them.”
That sounded exactly like something the Duke would say. The two of them turned another corner. Allen also didn’t doubt for a second that the Raymoths would’ve been involved in something like that. Aldridge Raymoth had gone a bit off the deep end in the past decade, and continued magic experiments on children sounded exactly like the sort of thing he would resort to.
“Do you really think they’re gonna let them continue?” Henry asked, voice visibly distressed. Surely the new regime will be better than that, was the unspoken thought.
Before Allen could respond, however, a third voice interrupted them.
“You’re late.”
The two came to a halt as a new figure stepped forward from behind a pillar. Allen frowned in recognition.
Desmond Reinford was one of the commanding officers of the Rosevales’ troops. He was around the same age as Allen, but the similarities stopped there. His uniform, as opposed to blue, was a deep red color that contrasted against his dark skin and hair. The man stood slightly shorter than average, but had such impeccable posture that he often seemed taller, unlike Allen who perpetually slouched. His uniform was crisp and without a single stain or tear in sight, and the sheathed rapier at his waist looked equally pristine. If Allen hadn’t seen the man during the coup, he would’ve thought that he hadn’t fought at all.
What most stood out, however, were the man’s gloves. They were a pure, stark white that almost seemed to glow in the quickly dimming hallway. Allen stared at them.
“Looks like someone got promoted.”
Henry nudged his elbow, but Allen didn’t stop staring. His friend laughed nervously. “Sorry sir, we, uh, got lost in the hallways?”
“I dropped my glove,” Allen said bluntly. He pointed at the stained glove in question. It was beginning to dry now, and the fabric was a little stiff.
Desmond met his gaze, eyes cold and sharp. Allen heard Henry swallow beside him.
“I see,” the man said. He gestured down the hallway, where the large, heavy throne room doors stood in the distance. Their deep mahogany surface shone, the light highlighting the intricate carvings detailing Augustein’s myths. All three of the major houses’ crests were carved into the wood, though where the banner of the ruling house would normally hang was empty, soon to be replaced with a new dynasty. Allen couldn’t help but wonder if they’d get a new door, one with the Valister’s crest replacing the Raymoths. Coups had happened plenty of times in their history, but never had one of the three major houses been completely decimated like this.
“The Sovereign is giving promotions and rewards to those of us who fought in the coup,” Desmond said. “I suggest you go before all the ore is taken.” Without another word, the man turned and strode away, likely to check the rest of the palace for stragglers, Allen guessed.
Beside him, Henry’s eyes lit up at the mention of magic ore, only to immediately deflate when the rest of Desmond’s words settled. Allen slapped him on the back.
“Don’t worry, they’ve probably got specific ore rations set aside for everyone. No way they’d just let us take them in a free for all.” Allen was frankly impressed that they were giving away ore at all, considering how stingy the nobility was with it.
Henry looked hopeful at that. “You think?”
Allen nodded. “Yeah, don’t worry. He’s just being an asshole.”
The other man winced slightly. His eyes darted around. “Uh, maybe you shouldn’t say that out loud? Especially, especially if he’s a Rose now.”
“Oh he definitely is.” No one wore white gloves but the Roses, the elite soldiers who served the Sovereign directly and were the most effective at combating Aberrations. All of them were certified as court magicians, and they were handpicked by the Sovereign. Considering the old Sovereign was now dead and a significant chunk of the former Roses had gone down with him, Allen guessed Duchess Rosevale was combing through her personal guard for people to promote. As far as he knew, Desmond had already passed the court magician test, so he would’ve been an easy pick.
He cracked his shoulder and sighed. The adrenaline rush from the coup had been fading for a while now, but now that the sun had nearly set fully and the shadows of the hallway had grown to engulf a majority of its surface, a new wave of exhaustion was settling into his bones.
“Come on, let’s hurry up,” he said. Henry nodded and hurried behind him.
As they passed by a tall window, Allen took a moment to glance outside. A few sprays of stars were visible in the darkening sky, and he could see city lights glowing in the distance as the lamplighters made their rounds. It was, by all accounts, a peaceful night, one that continued completely divorced from the happenings in the palace.
Surely the whole city would’ve heard about the coup. Allen wondered if even now, citizens were huddled together in their homes, or if they stood outside straining their necks to see what was happening in the palace. Waiting to learn the fate of the country.
Allen peeled his eyes away, facing forward and continuing down the hallway towards the throne room.

Penrith, Vanstead Dukedom of Augustein Year 995
High up in the watchtower, the villagers looked like a dark stream flowing between the buildings and flooding down the dirt road, some running south, others crossing streets for final traveling preparations and goodbyes.
Two nights ago, the forest had swallowed the village north of them. The watchman had seen it happen, had witnessed the ground tremble and the branches snake out, enveloping the homes, growing and then shrinking, twisting and dancing among the perfectly still buildings. He was almost glad no one had been outside, because that way he didn’t have to see the victims. But then, if the residents of those homes were outdoors, perhaps they would’ve managed to escape.
Or maybe he had seen the bodies and simply hadn’t recognized them, hadn’t managed to distinguish them from the twisted trunks and undulating ground. The warping of the forest was no more merciful to any living creatures who stumbled upon it, and the watchman, for all his years observing the shifting trees, couldn’t say with confidence that he’d be able to tell a corpse apart.
The man leaned forward against the wooden railing, peering down at the commotion. Given the speed the forest had moved at, he estimated they had a week at most before this town, too, was consumed. His own single bag lay packed near the front door of his home, ready to be picked up at a moment’s notice. Though he estimated most would be gone within the next three days, maybe excluding some particularly stubborn folks, the watchman didn’t plan on escaping until everyone else was gone first. Useless sentiment though it may be, he still had his pride.
The waves of people finally began to thin down as the current crowd left, leaving behind the remaining villagers. About twice as many people had left that day than the day before, the watchman estimated.
He sighed and shook his head. Now that the chaos had died down, those lingering on the streets continued with their business. His eyes glanced down at his watch, and he realized his shift had ended three minutes ago.
The watchman stepped back from the railing and stretched his arms. Maybe he’d stop by the tavern. Wallace, the owner, was adamant about keeping it open until “the last damn day we got,” which he appreciated. Just as he turned to go, however, a flash of orange caught his eye. He frowned and leaned over the wooden railing to peer further down the streets.
There, entering from the southern gates, a figure moved opposite to the direction the fleeing stream had taken.
A young woman was walking leisurely forward, her short wavy hair glinting as it caught the rays of sunlight. The lack of panic, hurry, or fear in her eyes made the watchman blink. There was only casual curiosity, as though she had simply been on a stroll and ran across an interesting plant. Her medium brown complexion was somewhat rare in northern Vanstead; perhaps she was from the south and hadn’t heard about the forest creeping closer? The watchman didn’t know how else to make sense of someone deliberately choosing to enter the town at such a time.
The closer the woman approached, the more details became evident. The watchman’s eyes widened.
The woman’s bare arms were covered in scars. Long, jagged lines and thin, thread-like marks. Raised bursts and patches of wrinkled and pulled skin. Some scars had an almost systematic pattern to them, neat and intentioned, while others were so chaotically scattered that it was impossible to differentiate where one began and another one ended.
For several moments the watchman simply stared at her, unable to peel his eyes away, when a sudden movement broke him out of his trance. The woman was waving enthusiastically in his direction.
Brow furrowed, the watchman watched as the woman ran up to the base of the tower, moving deceptively fast. She grinned up at him, beaming and utterly uncaring of the twisting forest approaching in the distance or of the half empty village and the stares she was already receiving.
Head tilted back, her green eyes seemed to glow in the light.
“Hey, can you give me some directions?”

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Author's Note:
Hello, I hope you're enjoying the story so far! I decided to finally post here after lurking for a while now. I'm planning on slowly posting all the chapters I've already published on Royal Road, one per day so I don't spam the sub.
Fair warning, I absolutely suck at formatting things on Reddit (trying to format this chapter was a struggle), so sorry in advance for any formatting issues.
Thanks for reading!
submitted by eiramired to HFY [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 22:41 teenworf1984 Grad story - labour fear, big baby, hosp birth, epidural, VERY POSI!

I’m finally getting around to writing my graduation post! My baby is 11 months so it took me a while. I had better write it down now while I remember the details.
I was classified as AMA (38F) and all through my pregnancy, my baby boy was looking really BIG during my scans. As I approached my final weeks my midwife let me know that a predicted larger baby made me eligible to opt for an induction at 39 weeks. I was so big and uncomfortable, I jumped at this! Also, I had an insane fear of tearing and didn’t want to give birth to a double-digit pound baby.
I had a few cervical sweeps at 38 weeks. I hoped this might jumpstart things naturally and I could avoid a medical induction. To my surprise, the sweeps were TOTALLY manageable. I’ve had pap smears that were worse than my sweeps. A few reddit posts had REALLY freaked me out about how awful it might be, but luckily for me it was NBD. It was so exciting and surreal when my midwife told me she was literally touching the top of my baby’s head. I’d been eating 5-10 dates a day for weeks and I was told my cervix was pretty ripe, but not super dilated. That week I went for the longest walks my swollen-ass ankles could handle. I even ate a bag of ghost pepper chips to try and bring on my induction but it just ended up giving me indigestion.
Finally at 39 weeks exactly - a tuesday - I went to the hospital to start the induction process. Before this, I thought induction was just a one time thing I didn’t realize it could take days. I started with the insertion of cervidil (pessary) and got sent back home. I couldn’t really tell if I was having mild contractions or if it was just in my head - if anything was happening, it was definitely mild. I returned the next morning - Wednesday - and got my 2nd cervidil inserted. I went home and a few hours later, after peeing, I noticed the pessary had come out and was in the toilet. It was around this time I started to feel contractions though. Just waves of manageable but STRONG pain. I was mostly on all fours, leaning over my yoga ball when the pain came on. I was really afraid beforehand of the pain aspect of labour, but I felt like I could handle everything at this stage. I couldn’t really move around when the pain was happening and it started to seem impractical to imagine being seated in car while driving to the hospital so I told my husband (and doula) that I was ready to head in to Labour & Delivery.
I was terrified of the stories of being sent back home but they told me I was about 4.5cm dilated and ready to be admitted. Quickly after being admitted I was escorted to my (beautiful! palatial! FREE!) birthing suite. The suite itself was probably about the same size of our 1 bedroom apartment I quickly stripped off and got into the tub just labour through the contractions as my (angel) doula continually poured water over my back. That went on for a couple of hours at least. I was on nitrous (gas & air) only at that point. Of course the intensity and pain of the contractions continued to amplify and I started telling the midwife and nurses that I was ready to fold and get an epidural. My midwife checked my dilation and told me, very gently but seriously, “You are actually in TRANSITION right now. You’re over 9cms so if you want you can just start pushing now and we’ll have your baby pretty quickly!!” I don’t even think I took a full second to consider it, I just immediately said “No, I for sure want an epidural”
I had to get out of the tub and on to the bed in order to get the epidural and even that was an impossible agony but probably 15 mins later I got my drugs and the relief was AMAZING. The epidural kind of brings your dilation down (something else I didn’t know about) so I went back down to 7cms and got to take a power nap (as did my husband). We probably slept for 3 hours or something. Even though I felt no pain, I was absolutely able to move my legs around, get into different positions. It wasn’t like I was dead below the waist (a common misconception that I see on this sub sometimes).
It was early Thursday morning when I was ready to start pushing again. I got pitocin at some point, I guess to get me to dilate after the epidural. The room was FULL of people (residents, ob, pediatrician, midwife, nurses, etc) because I had some meconium in my waters. Something weird that happened was my feet/legs were up on a birthing bar to help me bear down to push but the elevation made me feel really light headed. At one point, everything kind of went dark and I ended up fainting. My heart monitor went a little funny and I just announced “I’m going to pass out” and sort of slumped over. I could kind of hear folks rushing around me but couldn’t move or anything. I did come around again once my feet came down and started pushing again.
By the way, once you get that epidural, pushing feels EASY. I honestly could have pushed out 4 babies. I’ve had spin classes that are more taxing than the epidural pushing. It was fine. My husband wasn’t going to watch what was happening directly because he’s incredibly prone to fainting but I guess he steeled himself in the moment and watched it all. It was really cool. He was able to see our son’s head coming out and even go with him to the baby warmer and put on his first diaper. (Neither of us were interested at all in cutting the cord!) They showed me my placenta afterwards (my doula had to sort of talk me into it) and it was actually really *amazing* to see.
My boy did end up being big - nine pounds, 6 oz - basically exactly what the ultrasounds were predicting. And, yes, I did tear. :( Only 2nd degree, so nothing crazy. It’s all fine now, but a week after the birth I ended up having to go back to the hospital with uncontrolled bleeding. It turns out some internal stitches had come out (how???) and I had to be re-sutchered. Again, I had some nitrous to take the edge off but THAT was so much worse pain that anything that happened during labour. It was almost, like, *blinding* pain.
Anyway, I’m never going to have a second baby. I don’t have enough money plus I’m old, lol. But I **wish** I could be pregnant and give birth just ONE more time, just now because I understand fully what’s on the other side. When I told people that I was nervous about labour pain, tearing, etc they’d always say “BUT YOU GET TO MEET YOUR BABY!” which didn’t really MEAN anything to me. But now I understand what it means to actually meet and fall in love with this little person that you made. I understand how magical it all is! Nobody had more dread about pain than me, and now that I’ve gone through it all… I feel like I could and would do it again! (I mean, again, if I was younger and had more money and space!!!) Every month I fall even more in love with my amazing and perfect kid. It’s funny to think back on all the time I spent worried that I would regret my decision to have a child. But, for me, being a mom is far and away the best decision I ever made. And my birthing experience is the most powerful and beautiful experience I’ve ever had.
submitted by teenworf1984 to pregnant [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 22:32 ImmortalJormund Insomnia

Night creeped over Pripyat Outskirts, and with it, the mutants stirred from their day-time lethargy. The action of the day halted, the various sides of the on-going campaign hid from these monsters. The warriors of Redemption and their allies chose to rest for a few more hours before continuing towards the laundromat once Strelok had been informed of the possible UNISG squad on way to get him. Strelok had informed them that he would move his men out of the place into a new safe location by the apartment blocks west of the laundromat. The squad was getting tired, and they still waited for Dimuha's group to join them. Huddled around a small oven inside one of the many apartment blocks, Boris was deep in thought.
He looked at the message on his PDA. It read:
"Boris. We know you're in the city, and we know you're hunting UNISG. Stand down now, and report to us at the book store. I don't know why you still hunt them, but this is a state matter now, and if you continue disobeying explicit orders, I will have to liquidate you as well. This is my final warning, you have time until noon tomorrow to leave."
The sender was Colonel Degtyarev. He had finally arrived to deal with UNISG here. However, Boris had no intention to leave. This was merely a time limit, one he knew Redemption could achieve. Boris was not sure why he was still so stubborn to stop UNISG, but something told him, a part of him perhaps honed during the long years in the Zone, that leaving now would be catastrophic. He also, for some reason, felt like the quest for vengeance that Dimka and Sevka pursued was also his own. Perhaps it was related to his own plan for revenge, but that would have to wait now. This fight was far from the simplistic clash of good, by Zone standards at least, and evil that the war against Sin had been. Too many variables, too many ticking time bombs.
He sighed and took a look around him. Others were fast asleep, bar for Dima, who was keeping watch in the corridor just outside the room. Dimka was drowzing, Sevka was dreaming as evident by the rapid movement behind his eyelids. Rogue had taken the corner spot furthest from the oven, and a poncho-like cloth thrown over his Sunrise suit made it impossible to figure out if he was actually sleeping or not. Boris took out his water canteen and drank, feeling the thirst from sitting so close to the fire. The sound of footsteps alerted him, making him pull his Automag towards the door. Dima entered the room, kicked Sevka in the shoulder and ordered him to go patrol instead.
"Five more minutes, man.", Sevka groaned.
"You had five more minutes twenty minutes ago, urod. Your time to go freeze your ass in the dark.", Dima pressed on, and muttering something inaudible in both Spanish and Russian, Sevka disappeared into the darkness.
Dima chuckled at the response and looked around the room, noticing Boris still wide awake. He strolled over to his friend and sat down, crossing his legs.
"What's keeping you awake? Shouldn't you be resting, tomorrow will most likely be nasty.", Dima said quietly.
"Can't sleep. I'm not sure why, it's just thoughts chasing each other. Listen, Dima, are we in all over our heads here? What the fuck are we even doing, chasing international spies in the Zone? And now, Degtyarev is coming after our asses.", Boris sighed.
"We are doing this because it's the right thing to do. We are giving two of our members a chance at Redemption and avenging those comrades lost at Jupiter checkpoint. Simultaneously, we are keeping yet another government out of the Zone. I don't like the jarheads from Agroprom, but at least they're the devil I know. The Chinese and their cronies? No telling what they would do with things gathered from the Zone. I do not wish to open that Pandora's box, and if I can, I will stop it from happening, SSU helping us or not.", Dima said in an angry tone.
"Eh, good thing I've got you as a voice of reason. Very uncharacteristic of you too, not a single pun during all that? Impressive restraint.", Boris said with a grin.
"I'm too tired for those. Besides, you're just a human and need reassurance at times too.", Dima replied, taking out a bottle of Nemiroff vodka and pouring himself some of it into a metal mug before pointing with it towards Boris in a questioning gesture.
"No thanks, I'm not in the mood to have my taste buds savaged.", Boris scoffed.
"I need some for the nerves. Watching Pripyat in the dark, with all the sounds of mutants travelling, lurking in the dark... It's hard already. But after those Nightshades... I've started to think that there is something utterly wrong with this place. Like some sort of horror laying dormant nearby, just out of reach. Maybe I'm getting old, maybe I'm right, who knows. But eh, with some liquid courage, I can brave the sleep now.", Dima replied to Boris' mocking and downed the mug's contents.
"You may be right, indeed. But there's time to explore that aspect of this place later, now we're on a mission. Albeit... There is something I want to ask of you. Something I've been planning. Something big.", Boris said hesitantly, seeing Dima raise his eyebrow in a questioning manner.
Boris explained his plan, recounting what pushed him to form it, how he would execute it and how Felka had given him enough confidence and information to pull it off. To demonstrate this, Boris showed a weathered map with markings on it. Dima listened, nodding from time to time, knowing not to interrupt his friend at such a crucial moment. When Boris finally stopped talking, Dima was silent. He screwed the bottlecap off once more, and poured most of the bottle into the mug. Downing it in one go, he gasped, sighed and turned to Boris.
"This is insanity, Boris. Even more so than anything we have done so far. I understand your reasoning, I really do, but to do all this because of a vague threat from some unknown guy? How will you even get there?", Dima asked in a voice that sounded like he had found Boris' plans outrageous.
"I'm not doing it simply because of the threat, you know.", Boris said quietly.
"For revenge? Boris, you saw what happened to Veles when he pursued revenge over anything else. You've already changed these last few days... You're more impulsive, more brutal, less decisive. Boris, for God's sake, forget about this. Don't throw all you have achieved away because of it.", Dima pleaded, but Boris simply shook his head.
"I am not throwing it all away. If I die due to this, I die knowing that I had done enough. Redemption no longer needs me for guidance, the faction already has men of great devotion like Dimuha, Psoglav, you and Sanyok. Men who will keep it alive without me. If I don't die, I will return knowing that one part of my past is finally behind me.", Boris explained in a voice that conveyed this to be his final decision.
"I see you've already made up your mind. I don't like it, in fact, I detest it, but... You're my best friend Boris. A brother to me, quite frankly. I respect your opinion on this, and lead Redemption until you return. But if you go there and die, I will find your ghost or whatever fucking non-mortal form you take and make that Current artifact torture you had look like child's tickling.", Dima said solemnly.
"I would expect nothing less. Thank you, Dima. And you're like a brother to me, as well. Without you none of this would have happened, I'd probably be a rotting corpse in Jupiter underground.", Boris pondered out loud, glancing outside where first rays of sun appeared in the clouds hanging near the horizon.
"You'd probably smell better then. Alright, now that we got the insanity of your future and the soft feelings shit out of the way, I'm off to bed.", Dima said, emptied what little remained of the Nemiroff into his mouth and slithered into his sleeping bag.
"Good night, bratan.", Boris replied and looked at the map in front of him once more.
The conversation had made him even more sure of it. It was time to settle scores once and for all. From the hushed chatter echoing in from the outside, Boris figured that Dimuha's squad had most likely made it here too. These suspicions were confirmed when three stalkers entered the room, Dimuha in his rust-covered Skat, Sanyok in his Hybrid Alpha suit and another man in Sunrise suit. Behind them, far more hesitantly, a man in mercenary LC-suit entered in tow.
"Morning, Boris. You look refre-... Actually, you look like shit. Are you getting enough sleep? Eat your vitamins? Make sure to get balanced amounts of everything on your plate?", a familiar voice started in a humorous tone.
"Can we shoot him now?", Dimuha asked, irritated.
"That's against the Geneva convention to shoot a medic.", Sanyok replied.
"You guys follow those? Dushman always calls them "Geneva Suggestions".", Meeker, who Boris now recognized as the man in the LC-suit, chuckled.
"Morning, Stitch. Long time no see. And no, haven't been able to sleep well lately, you have any pills for that?", Boris asked in similar tone to the medic's.
"Sleeping pills are harder to come by these days, after the big emission. More nightmares, more cases of insomnia and even sleep paralysis, to a worrying extent. I don't have anything on me right now since many guys want them, perhaps I have some at the laundromat.", Stitch replied, now getting serious.
"We'll see. But before that, we have a battle on our hands. Wake up the others, it's time to prepare.", Boris ordered.
"I brought some goodies from my stock too, to help with that. Griffin's boys have no use to them now.", Meeker offered, and Boris nodded to him.
"And most importantly, he had this.", Dimuha said, taking out Boris' lost RPD, making Boris' eyes brighten up despite the lost sleep.
"You found it? Where?", Boris asked, flabbergasted.
"One of the UNISG lads had it, apparently kept it as a trophy. Another had your Korth and Tokarev too. Not sure if I'll keep them though.", Dimuha teased, making Boris slowly draw out his kukri before Dimuha tossed the guns to him.
Boris looked his weapons over once more. While they were tools of war and destruction, to him they were trusty companions too. Nowhere near the level of his exoskeleton, but trusty nonetheless. And now, they would reap revenge on the ones who had separated them from their master. Boris looked at the sunrise and grinned. It was time to put an end to this.
submitted by ImmortalJormund to TheZoneStories [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 22:04 EmotionlessForAeons When should I forgive my friend?

So this weekend I was supposed to travel down to Bristol for a music festival with my friend from back home who studies there. We'd organized this months ago and I was meant to stay at his for the weekend, he invited me. For further context, i hadn't seen this friend for eight months so this was a big deal.
Three days before the festival started I messaged him the time I was getting into town so he could be prepared. It's the day of and he hasn't read the message yet, I set off anyway. I get there after a nine hour bus trip, still has not read the message. I call him twice and no response. I walk around Bristol for abit and get some food, it's then six o'clock and I call again no answer, now I'm getting concerned as I need to know his address or I'm sleeping in the rough and cold. It gets to eight at night and I decide fuck it I cant do this, so i rearranged my train ticket so I'd leave today rather than after the weekend. The only ticket was at three in the morning so i ended up waiting for six hours somewhere i was unfamiliar with, with massive bag for a nine hour bus trip I shouldn't have made, wasting around 100 pounds with the festival ticket. I was really concerned about my friend, like the worst conclusions were coming to mind I thought he was in danger or something.
I message a mutual friend to find out what the hell went on and I discover that he lost his phone and was communicating via his girlfriend, but i guess he forgot to contact me. Naturally i felt betrayed and that our friendship did not mean as much as it had meant to me given that he gave me no consideration.
The person i thought I knew would not have done this, but here we are. I'm unsure where to go from here with regards to our friendship.
submitted by EmotionlessForAeons to Advice [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 21:43 tugreenwave Game Day Info! 700pm – Weidner Field - Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC vs Oakland Roots SC [June 2nd]

Tickets: Buy tickets HERE or at the stadium box office.
Parking Cost: Variable depending on where you park The Switchbacks have posted a map with various parking options on their website or HERE ADA Parking: On the West side of the stadium, and visible in the link directly above
EVENT DAY POLICIES & FAQ * Switchbacks have a clear bag policy, details HERE * Further rules can be found HERE
Kickoff Weather: Approx: 72 degrees. PM Thunderstorms (52% of precipitation). Sunset 8:18 pm.
Broadcast * LOCAL Broadcast The CW * KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM 1240 AM * From now on all games will be carried on ESPN+, a new streaming service. FAQs on this service can be located HERE
submitted by tugreenwave to SwitchbacksFC [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 21:12 LogMeln First trip on AP. NYC --> Calgary --> Vancouver --> SF

Got my AP approved to travel to a few countries for the rest of 2023 for work purposes. Multiple entries. My CEO wrote the letter.
My first trip was NYC Calgary Vancouver SF NYC
Leaving Newark, NJ for Calgary, CA for 4 days
Landing in Calgary, CA
  1. I see you are here for work, what company do you work for?
  2. What do you do for them?
  3. Are you here meeting anyone here?
  4. (Yes, I am meeting some prospects and customers) Are you making or closing any deals while you’re here in Canada?
  5. What are some names of the companies you are meeting?
Flying from Calgary, CA to Vancouver, CA
Flying from Vancouver, CA to San Francisco, CA
  1. How many days were you in Canada?
  2. What were you doing in Canada?
  3. What type of work do you do?
  4. Where do you live?
  5. How many years have you lived in the US?
submitted by LogMeln to DACA [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 21:09 Interesting_Finish85 A few shows in Liberty Fallen TL (FAN CONTENT)

Spoiler for all cited shows.
Monster (2004-2005):
Based on Naoki Urusawa's manga, this anime was made by a Japanese crew but produced between Germany and Korea due to the Japanese Civil War. The plot follows Doctor Tenma, a young and cunning Japanese surgeon in Dusseldorf in 1986, who disobeys the orders of his greedy superior to save Johan, the child of a murdered couple of retired high ranking buerocrats. The child and his traumatized twin sister disappear amidst the mysterious death of Tenma's boss and others. Nine years, the surgeon has to abandon his life and embark on a country-wide hunt to stop Johan and help his sister, while slowly uncovering the true origins of the boy's seemingly inhuman mind, rooted in a decades-long project by the American, Belgian and West German authorities, directly revived from the Third Reich, to create the Ubermensch. The show deals with the problems of post-unification Germany, particularly the mafia wars in the West, where many powerful organizations went underground to survive nationalization, as well as the gang violence against migrants and the reciclyng of West German politicians either in the Democratic Republic or in the mafias, all this issues are linked by a neo-Nazi conspiracy that competes with Tenma to find Johan, in the hopes of making him the next Fuhrer.
Adventure Time (2010-2018)
Show by the hand of Pendleton Ward, produced by the Californian People's Institute of Animated Arts (Calart for short), considered the most important animated show of the 21st Century in terms of influence. While, on the surface, It starts off as a lighthearted action comedy, omnipresent clues and references to a so called Mushroom War confirm that the setting is not a fantasy world, but rather Earth a millennia after a devastating nuclear war.Having been produced right after the small-scale nuclear conflict of the Great American War, and at the dawn of the following anti-nuke global movement, this was a very powerful setting and sent a clear message, while the plot dives into more and more serious topics, including existentialism, alzheimer, cosmic horror, nihilism and fascism. The show was also praised for featuring the first lesbian couple in children animation history, between the characters of Bonnibel Bubblegum and Marceline Abadeer.
Batman: Dark Knight of Gotham (2001-2004)
A TV show produced in the Republic of America and very loosely based off Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and other Batman comics, B:DKoG is widely considered a disgusting, though rather well made, propaganda attempt at coopting a popular character and has been banned in much of the world, though It is available on Freenet with the right amount of effort. The show is set in the 1980ies and imagines the Batman (a rich, white, law&order guy even more than usual) single handedly keeping order while the police is unable to do anything in the chaos. He fights several supercriminals, in particular the a gay degenerate rapist Joker, the lustful and insane environmentalist feminist Poison Ivy, the Cuban (and not White Floridian Cuban) and implied communist Bane, the sick and deformed undesirable Killer Croc and the UPA spy Two-Face. This version of Batman regularly slays his enemies (RA officials consider the normalization of violence to children a positive thing) whenever he gets the chance, often it's the police fault for stopping them and taking them to Arkham.
submitted by Interesting_Finish85 to LibertyFallen [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 20:42 Sufficient-Border-10 Bath Time

"Can I come over? I need a… shower."
Barry paused for a second, wrinkling his forehead into the receiver. Allen sounded nervous, the words squeezing in his windpipe. But Barry couldn't deny his best friend of 27 years a shower… could he?
"Sure."
"I'll be 20 minutes."
Some 45 minutes later, Allen turned up at Barry's door. He looked ghastly - chalk-white and rumpled. He pushed past Barry and stumbled into the living room.
"Whisky."
Barry poured Allen a whisky.
"Cigarette."
Barry pushed over his tobacco pouch to Allen, who opened it with shaking fingers. He fumbled, upending the bag onto Barry's carpet.
Barry guided Allen into his bathroom. "Come on. Let's wash your hair."
With damp locks and dressed in one of Barry's favourite plaid shirts, Allen said the first thing that morning that made any sense:
"I guess you'd better see my new bathtub."
•••
Barry rather liked Allen's renovated bathroom, which had fresh tiles the colour of strawberry milkshake. In pride of place sat the enormous, claw-footed tub, belching floral soap smells and spilling over with bubbles.
The only thing ruining the room was the leg of lamb thawing on the toilet seat.
"Looks okay to me," said Barry about the tub. He side-eyed the lamb but didn't comment.
Allen groaned. "Just wait."
It was a couple of seconds before Barry saw it, but there it was. A single, scarred shark fin, circling the tub and ploughing through the bath foam.
Allen picked up the lamb's leg. "Watch."
He dropped it in the water. The bath bulged and shook. Barry saw dead eyes and splintered teeth before he was sprayed with a wave of sheep pulp.
"The tub's got one of those undetachable plugs you need to push down to release," said Allen, flatly. He showed Barry a bandaged - but obviously shredded - hand.
Barry opened his mouth to reply (or scream), but was interrupted by a rattling of the bathroom door handle.
"Poppy?" said Tallulah, Allen's four-year-old granddaughter. "I need a wee!"
"Don't come in!" Allen roared, but everything happened in a split-second.
Tallulah managed the handle and proudly waddled in. "Hi, Uncle Barry!"
"Hi-"
"BATH TIME!" Tallulah shrieked, throwing herself headfirst into the tub.
Allen and Barry screamed as one, plunging their hands into the water –
"IT'S A DOLPHIN!" shouted Tallulah gleefully, rising from the bubbles and clutching a dorsal fin. "Look, Pop!" The dolphin grinned, eeking like a squeaky cork…
And it winked.
"ALLEN, NO!"
But Allen, famously a dolphin-lover, had already tossed himself into the water. The dolphin's nose retracted. Its eyes shuttered to black. The bubbles whizzed into a red slurry.
Tallulah, thrown out at the last second, buried her face into a towel and wept.
"Why did the dolphin do that to Poppy?" she sobbed. "Poppy just wanted to ride like me!"
"Yes, it's all your fault," said Barry, heavily, wiping the Allen out of his eyes and into her knotted hair. "Just wait until I tell Grandma."
submitted by Sufficient-Border-10 to shortscarystories [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 20:26 JMA3712 Any resellers in Mass / RI? Unloading my inventory

Any resellers in Mass / RI? Unloading my inventory
My professional life is changing and I am no longer able to devote time to listing / reselling. I am looking to sell my lot of clothing items to someone near me (Mass, RI). I am in Massachusetts. Here is a quick breakdown:
124 total items. ALL are either NWT or NWOT.
  • 76 of the 124 are Women’s. Including shirts, jackets, heels, pants, bags.
Great brands, including Chico’s, Helfrich, Donna Sharp, Cynthia Rowley, Joseph Ribkoff, Erin London, Marc Jacobs, Marciano, Nine West, Free People, and more
  • the remaining 48 items are Men’s. Including shirts, button down shirts, belts, sweaters, pants, couple pairs of boats shoes/loafers.
Great names, including Bugatchi, English Laundry, Express, Enzo Tavare, Calvin Klein, Jos A Bank, Quicksilver, Polo, others.
I am including a couple photos in this listing. Can email you more, and of course show you in-person.
I have other items that I will also need to sell - will also sell these in bulk. They will be in the Home, Men’s, and Women’s categories. Can talk to you about those as well.
These items are in great condition for you to resell.
submitted by JMA3712 to reselling [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 20:19 ThrowAway7s2 "Grace's recollections of the melodious month of May" from the May 15, 1979 Door County Advocate

Grace's recollections of the melodious month of May


Grace Samuelson
By Grace Samuelson
May is really a melodious month. Makes you feel like singing. The snow (except for occasional flurries) is gone; tulips and daffodils come out of hiding, buds on the trees are opening. Birds sing as they build nests. The winds have a melody, too, from roaring tempo sounds to whispering zephers. Spring rains tap out patty-cake lullabies on the roof, or swish and swing with disco beat. Even the dreary, stay-inside days, when we sort over things for the annual "Clean-up" time finds us warbling old time melodies.
The big thing for many of us, while we were growing up in the early 1900's was the May Day surprise. We made little construction paper baskets, at school or at home, and the last day of April we went gathering wild flowers (if we could find any that early). Then early May Day morning we filled the baskets. If no wild flowers were to be found, we made crepe paper roses. We hung the baskets over the door knob of our best friend's house. Some of the schools had May-pole dances, and one memorable year I had the thrill of going down to Lawrence college with Mr. and Mrs. George Washburn for their May Day festivities. Vera was attending Lawrence then and I remember when she introduced me to her friends, they seemed surprised that my hair was blond and her's so dark. She said; "There are four of us girls, and we each have hair a different color: mine dark brown, Verna's light brown, Grace's blond, and Marian's red." I was a high school sophomore then, and felt very grown-up, especially as the Washburns stopped at a restaurant on the way home. We seldom had a chance to eat out.
Now May 1 is known as Law Day; also the day the Russians and other militaristic nations demonstrate their show of force and power. (I wonder what Brezhnev would do with a May basket, or watch a May-pole dance?)
Back then we made plans for observing Mother's Day. I was 10 when President Wilson signed a resolution establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. Anna Jarvis was the originator of the idea, and she worked hard to obtain that resolution. In later years she became a bitter woman, because she said that it was turned into a day for profit for merchants instead of merely honoring mothers. The first Mother's Day I remember was simply observed by wearing a pink carnation to church if your mother was living, or a white one if she wasn't. Then, greeting cards, gifts of candy and flowers were suggested. Later, commercialism took hold and advertisements for "gifts for Mother" ranged from perfume and candy to luxury items. Those early Mother's Days, I recall, we embroidered monograms on hankies, and proudly brought home the white carnation Mama would wear next day to church. The minister always preached a sermon about motherhood. We had a record for the Victrola (by Galli Curci, I believe) "Songs My Mother Taught Me," and someone always sang "Mother Machree." When people began having radios in their homes lovely and sentimental programs filled the airwaves. And, from the little pansy plants in paper cups that the children in Sunday school classes brought home to Mom, to elaborate presents and taking mother out to eat on "her" day, Mother was really special. Every greeting card is cherished, especially the hand colored ones made in school or at home. The legacy my own Mother left that I treasure most was the little slips of paper I found in her Bible: memorandums, quotes of poetry, parts of letters from her daughters expressing love, favorite bible verses, a lock of each daughter's hair. Every one expressed to me the real "Tollie": my mother. Mother and daughter banquets through the years bring memories, too, and I recall the year Mother, dressed as a pioneer mother, related details of her own pioneer up­bringing, and read her tribute to her mother.
Housecleaning was usually all done by that time of the year; the house was soap, water, and ammonia-clean. We were through with beating the rugs with the heavy wire carpet beater, lugging the aired clothes back upstairs to hang in the well-scrubbed closets. Now we were set to raking the lawn, sprouting the old potatoes in the cellar; carrying up the stored vegetables too-far gone to be used. A farmer came to plow all the gardens in our neighborhood, and we raked and smoothed, and helped plant leaf lettuce, radishes, and Papa's favorite, pepper cress. When we had the chance we'd hike out to the big creek and watch boys spearing suckers. The nicest part about living in town was that we were so close to the country. We kept a lookout for the meadowlarks, bluebirds, bob-o-links, thrush, and orioles.
The 17th of May meant Norwegian Independence Day to many of our neighbors; to us it was Marian's birthday, and we always felt that "good luck" played a part in that. We three small girls were out in the yard with Mama when I found a four-leaf-clover. Mama told me to make a wish, and put the leaf in the bible. I wished for a baby, and, sure enough, one morning when we got up we were told that Dr. Kreutzer had brought us a baby sister in his little black bag! We were so excited, and I remember that Mama got out of bed one evening shortly after that to see Haley's comet from the west bedroom window. I was six, and I remember seeing that; its long tail streaming across the western sky.
The big question at this time of every year was whether we'd have frost when the cherry blossoms were open. The year Marian was born, I remember hearing the Stanton Minors and Alex Johnsons talking about the early bloom. Most years we could expect blossoms around Memorial Day. Whether the blossoms came early or late, they were always breath-taking. We had small orchards all around our Poplar st. home at that time, but always everyone made an attempt to ride out in the country to see the lovely expanse of miles of white blossoms, and just a little later, the beautiful pink and white of the apple blossoms. You could live all your life in Door County and never lose the thrill of that glorious promise.
Memorial Day was approaching, and in all the years I was in grade school I can remember getting ready for that big day. We called it Decoration Day, and assembled at the school, our bouquets of violets, spring beauties, mayflowers and trilliums, (with some lilac branches if they were open) wrapped in damp newspaper to keep them from wilting. We marched in a body down to Bayside cemetery, where we set flags on the old soldiers' graves, and decorated them with the flowers we'd gone picking after school the day before. There was always a program, with Spanish American war veterans, and a few Civil War veterans who were left. They always rode in one of the automobiles. We thought we had an individual part of the program, as we claimed "Grandpa" Grandy, who lived across the street from us, with his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Wil Maples. We loved to sit on their porch steps and hear him relate stories of his part in that war. He was a Cavalryman; once his horse was shot right from under him in battle. There were always speeches: Judge Graass, Lifwyer Wagner, and other good orators. And Memorial Day always meant the first picnic day of the year, with the potato salad, boiled ham sandwiches, Mama's burnt leather cake, and, of course, home­made ice cream.
It was the time of year for dandelion greens, wilted with a hot vinegar and bacon dressing, or just doused with cider vinegar from Papa's cut-glass vinegar cruet that was always on the table, near his place. Some years there were early radishes and onions, and we snitched the tender stems of the rhubarb plants even before Mama could get enough to make one of her luscious pies. We hunted asparagus spears (sparrow-grass, some called it) growing wild in the fields, spring onions and baby radishes from the gar­den, and looked forward to the 4th, when strawberries would be ripe. The mason jars on the fruit cellar shelves were thinning out now, though there was still some sauce, and pickles left. Now that housecleaning days with its rush and labor were over, there wasn't the need for one-dish meals, except on wash-days, or ironing days. Before we got electricity in the house, we used sad-irons for Tuesday's ironing. Once, when I wanted to iron my favorite doll's dress, I put my doll's sad-iron right on the coals to heat. First thing I knew, it was red hot, and Mama told me I'd ruined the iron — the temper. I realized that I had to watch my own temper, but I had no idea that an iron had one!
There is something about visiting cemeteries at this time of year that harks back to old customs; families fixing up the graves of loved ones; planting flowers and carrying water for them to grow. There are many beautiful little cemeteries (64 in all, I believe) in the county. Now, most of them have perpetual care, but there are still neglected plots with sunken graves, and mossy headstones. What used to be the Samuelson family cemetery, later turned over to the township, is still a lovely restful place to me. When we were in the restaurant, I used to walk over there almost every morning; there was a tranquility there. We always put a new flag on the grave of Job Sweet, the Civil War soldier buried there decades ago.
I asked Mrs. Ida Johnson if they did anything special in Sweden, where she grew up, to observe Memorial Day. She said the last Sunday in May was always the day all the families put flowers on the graves — beautiful white blossoms which grew all around, although they also had mayflowers, and spring beauties, and violets. Sweden was a peaceful country, so there was no need of commemorence of soldier dead. But, she said, in November of every year, the families put candles in metal lanterns on every grave, a symbol of the Light everlasting.
Nowadays, when Memorial Day has been moved to Monday, to extend a weekend, we no longer observe the day as we used to. On the real date — the 30th — the Veterans will gather in uniform; sound taps, and hear a few words of tribute. And Memorial Day, and May, will have rendered the spring overture. We remember.
https://archive.co.door.wi.us/jsp/RcWebImageViewer.jsp?doc_id=1e8fc801-90a4-4104-8e86-19a1ea0947dc/wsbd0000/20170120/00000934&pg_seq=18
Courtesy of the Door County Library Newspaper Archive
submitted by ThrowAway7s2 to DoorCountyALT [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 19:41 RaynaClay The Last Resort: A Small Leak

Hello all. I have written here before about my job at Ultima Resort (1,2,3,4,5,6,7), though I know it has been a while, sorry about that. We were trapped for some time, my phone died pretty quickly, and I wasn’t able to recharge it again until the water receded. So, I haven’t really been able to write. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me get you up to date, then it will all make more sense.
I opened a door and peered into the closet, but the noise was quieter here, if anything. I shut the closet and continued down the hallway. The dripping had started out intermittent. The gentle plip, plip, plip was barely audible over the normal sounds of the hotel, and we had assumed it was related to the steady rain that had been drumming on the building for a few days, at that point. But the frequency of the dripping had been increasing steadily, and now was concerningly loud and constant. It was somehow audible from every corner of the hotel, and it was only a matter of time until the guests complained. They were already irritable because of the bad weather, which had kept them stuck indoors. As I passed a window, a flash of lightning lit the forest behind the hotel. The lights flickered ominously but it stayed on. The clap of thunder rattled the doors in their frames. I spotted Vincent hurrying towards me from down the hall. His face seemed pale.
“Well, did you find the leak?” I asked.
“Umm… you could say that,” he replied, uncomfortably, eyes shifting to the storm outside.
“What’s wrong?”
“It… well, you should just come see.”
I followed him down the hall to the ballroom where we had hosted the anniversary party some days back. It had been a nice event. Less deaths than I had expected. The hors d’oeuvres were pretty good. There was still a bit of smoke damage on the west wall, but we had cleaned it off as best as we could and the place looked presentable again, though I was now thinking we should put on a new coat of paint. It was hard to decide, when I wasn’t sure if the room would even be here next week. Vincent opened the door on the back wall and gestured me inside. This was new.
It was some sort of small storage cupboard, with dim lighting and a low ceiling. It was full of what looked like furniture, draped in white cloths for storage. I wondered what the furniture was made of, because the room had a strange fetid odor, that reminded me of rot and death. I covered my nose with my hand instinctively, but it did little to help. The small window in the back showed that the rain continued to fall outside, but it didn’t seem to be the source of the leak, as the floor around it was dry. Still, the leak must be in here, because the sound was louder than ever. I took a step forward, to get a better look at the room, but Vincent grabbed my arm and pulled me back, pointing towards the ceiling. I looked up to see a large dome light. It had a strange dark tint, and hardly any light made it through. But something else was coming from the dome. Drips fell in a steady rhythm, and as my eyes tracked them, I saw them splash into a widening puddle on the ground. The puddle was viscous and black, glimmering in the dim light. I looked back at Vincent.
“What is that?” I raised an eyebrow. “It doesn’t really look like ordinary water to me.”
“I don’t know. Maybe… it is picking something up as it drips through from the roof?” he did not sound particularly convincing.
“Maybe,” I tried to play along. “Though, I am not sure I want to know what that could be. Did you check if it is coming from somewhere upstairs?”
“Yeah. Nothing out of the ordinary on the floor above, and I can’t find any signs of a leak anywhere else.”
“Alright,” I backed out of the door and closed it behind us. “Well, I am sure whatever that is will work itself out.”
“What? We’re just going to leave it? Why did we even bother looking, then?” Vincent protested.
“I was worried it was a roof leak, something we needed to handle with routine maintenance. That does not seem to be the case,” I raised a questioning eyebrow. “Do you know how to fix whatever is going on in there?”
“No…”
“Me neither. In this place, when the ceiling is dripping black ichor, it is probably for a reason. I assume we’ll find out when one of our guests gets involved.”
Vincent opened his mouth, as if to protest, but even as he did, the sound of the phone at the desk echoed through the hotel. Vincent sighed,
“Alright, let’s go see what fresh hell awaits us today.”
I heard a small chuckle inside my head. I resisted the urge to ask Al what he knew. He answers were rarely helpful. He didn’t seem to lie, but he was often intentionally misleading, saying whatever he thought would elicit the most drama. I was tired of giving him the satisfaction. I was sure I could sense his disappointment when I refused to engage, but maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. I couldn’t blame Vincent for being apprehensive about what the guests’ inquiry might be. The three men had arrived to participate in some sort of golf event, but they been here for 3 days now and since it had poured every moment, the event was not taking place. The guests were very unhappy about this turn of events, and they had mostly been killing time by taking it out on us. That wasn’t exactly a surprise. The rich ones were always the most demanding, unused to being told ‘no’ even when the question was ‘has the rain stopped yet?’, and based on the Bugatti they had arrived in, these men were quite rich. I answered the phone on the desk, already suppressing a sigh.
“Ultima Resort, front desk, how can I help you?”
“You can come and open the bar,” the voice on the other end snapped. “It’s past noon and the sign says it should be available by now.”
“I apologize, sir. I’ll be right there.”
“You had better be. The service at this place is frankly astounding. Honestly, I don’t understand why anyone ever stays here. I have half a mind to leave a review warning people away.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I know your stay hasn’t been ideal, but please bear with us and we will do everything we can to make it right.”
“You can start by hanging up the phone and getting me my drink.”
The line went dead in my hand. I sighed and replaced the phone on the cradle.
“Let me guess, they wanted to give us a large tip and leave early?”
“Don’t quit your day job,” I chuckled. “You wouldn’t make it as a psychic. Come on, let’s go open the bar, before we have a mutiny on our hands.”
I grabbed the key to open the shutters from the desk and we headed into the dining room. Our three guests were standing around the locked bar, making a show of checking their watches. I struggled to keep my eyes from rolling. It was 12:03pm.
“You know,” Jack turned to the man next to him, but spoke loudly enough to be sure I could hear. “This reminds me of some of the dumps we stayed in before we made our fortune, you know? The little rat trap motels in the port towns we had to stay in.”
“The customer service certainly leaves something to be desired, for a 5-star resort,” his companion, Stewart, sniffed. “For the amount we are paying, I would expect better.”
I turned the lock, opening the bar. I let them vent; I didn’t particularly care if they left us a bad review, and I certainly couldn’t do anything with a good tip, so they were free to hate it here if they wanted. It mattered less to me than they could possibly imagine.
“Can you both hear that leak from your rooms?” the final man, Lesley, asked.
“Can we? I swear it is audible from everywhere in the hotel. There must be a dozen leaks in this old roof,” Jack laughed.
“It would explain that,” Stewart gestured to wet stain on the carpet across the room, oozing out from under a door I didn’t remember being there yesterday.
I glanced over to Vincent, he shrugged,
“I guess we’ve got a new connection to the ballroom. That’s kind of handy,” he said quietly to me, stepping behind the bar and reaching for the rum to pour; it was all they ever ordered.
“That’s another thing that reminds me of the old days,” Jack elbowed Lesley. “You would think a landlocked hotel would be drier than a yacht, but here we are. Maybe you should get out a mop, see if you remember how, Les.”
Lesley stiffened,
“I don’t do menial labor anymore, Cap.”
“Of course, of course,” Jack clapped Les on the shoulder. “Just a joke, mate. The usual, my good man,” he smiled at Vincent, who began pouring drinks.
As day transitioned into evening, I left the dining room in search of absorbent material, to put down on the leak that was spreading persistently into the dining room. I found some cat litter in a back closet, and it seemed like it would do, for now, so I returned and began spreading it over the growing stain. Jack at the bar looked up blearily, watching my work, before finally declaring,
“Oh, so it’s shit, then. That would at least explain the smell.”
“I think it smells more like a rotting carcass,” Stewart interjected.
He had a point there. Maybe I should get some baking soda from the kitchen.
“You know what?” Jack concluded. “Let’s get this next bottle to go. We’ll take it to our rooms for the night. I can’t stand the smell down here another minute.”
He grabbed the bottle from the bar, then he rose and led his friends out of the dining room. I couldn’t say I was sorry to see them go. Vincent circled out from around the bar and approached the soggy patch on the floor.
“So, is that the storage room?”
Now that we were alone, I risked turning the knob and I opened the door to see the same storage room we had entered earlier, though now the light fixture was pouring dark liquid onto the floor, the drip having turned into a deluge. I slammed the door again.
“Maybe we should get Manny,” I concluded.
Manny stood back, watching the ichor pour down like a waterfall. It was pooling around our shoes now, even standing outside the doorframe. He stroked his chin,
“How long has it been like this?”
“I don’t know,” I frowned. “It’s certainly sped up since we found it several hours ago. Any idea how we stop it?”
Manny closed his eyes for a moment, then frowned.
“I think, perhaps, that we should move the food and water from the kitchen, so they don’t get spoiled.”
“Move them where?” Vincent asked.
“To the top floor storage closet. It’ll be safest there. Come help me gather things up.”
“What, exactly, do you think is going to happen?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Let’s just get to work, we probably don’t have much time.”
Manny turned and strode into the kitchen. Vincent hung back and tapped my shoulder,
“What does he know that we don’t?”
“I have no idea, honestly,” I shrugged, and Vincent headed off towards the kitchen. “Do you know?”
I kept my voice low, so the others didn’t hear.
Oh, are you speaking to me now? Al sniffed.
“Depends, are you going to say anything useful?”
Perhaps for a…
“If you say ‘for a price’ we can go back to not talking. I am not trading anything for this.”
I think you will find I am much more helpful if you are willing to make a trade.
“I categorically disagree with that statement.”
Fine, I could feel him scowling. I can give you a hint for free. Maybe try asking yourself what he’s hiding from you?
“Your free hint is that he is keeping secrets?” I raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that true of all of us? That isn’t exactly helpful.”
Well then, perhaps you would like to make a trade?
“Why do I even bother?” I sighed and headed into the kitchen to join the others.
Vincent was helping Manny load food onto a rolling cart. The Chef was, fortunately, nowhere in sight.
“Grab another cart and start loading the soft drinks and bottled water onto it. We don’t have much time before we need to be in our rooms,” Manny instructed.
I heaved a case of bottled water onto the cart, and we all got to work. By the time we made the final trip the carpet in the hall squished under my feet, oozing dark, foul-smelling liquid. It was coming in fast, now. Manny was probably right; we wouldn’t want the food supplies getting contaminated with… whatever this was. After he finished stacking the last bag of rice in the closet, Manny closed the door and turned the key in the lock.
“Well, we should find our rooms. It is getting late, and I doubt they will be in their usual place.”
As he turned to walk away, I noticed blood dripping down from his fingers onto the carpet.
“Manny, wait, your arm,” I pulled up his sleeve to reveal a thin, but deep cut running up his forearm. “What happened? Are you alright?”
Manny yanked his arm away,
“It’s nothing. I must have scraped it moving a box.”
It didn’t look like a scrape. It looked clean, with sharp edges, like a knife wound. But before I could say anything more, he was gone, disappearing down one of the halls.
“You ever wonder about him?” Vincent asked.
“Wonder what?”
“What his deal is. Come on, don’t play dumb. You’ve noticed how strange he can be. How he seems to know things about this place he shouldn’t. Surely, you’ve considered that he might be… one of them.”
“One of them?”
“You know, one of the things that run this place, like the Chef. A demon.”
“Manny? No, that’s ridiculous.”
“Why? He was here before you, maybe he was always here.”
“He is nothing like the Chef or the Masseur. It’s obvious that he is a person.”
“Is it? Maybe that’s just another trick. Maybe he is here to torment us, to steer us wrong.”
I shook my head,
“No, he’s helped us, helped me, many times. It’s impossible.”
“Alright,” Vincent shrugged. “But I have a bad feeling about this one, Lucy. Something about that… water. It isn’t right.”
“You always have a bad feeling. Come on, it’s time to get to sleep.”
“Right. See you tomorrow.”
However he knew, Manny was right. I found my room on the 2nd floor, in a back hallway. Since it wasn’t in its usual place, it took longer to find, but I did manage it before the deadline and locked myself in. Somehow, I could still hear the sound of flowing water, though. I could hear it everywhere in the hotel, in fact. In a way, it was soothing, people liked the sound of flowing water, right? So, keeping that in mind, I allowed it to lull me to sleep.
The morning arrived without fanfare, or a discernable difference in the light coming in through the windows. The storm continued to rage outside, and the clouds were so thick and dark that it was impossible to tell that dawn had broken. Still, my watch told me that day had arrived and so I left the room prepared to mop up whatever water had pooled downstairs and try to serve breakfast. No food had appeared in my room last night, so breakfast sounded very appealing. At least I could sneak a muffin or something. As I arrived at the stairs, I saw Manny standing on the landing, gazing down at the lobby.
“Is the mess bad?” I asked.
“You could say that,” Manny didn’t turn as I approached.
I reached the railing and gasped. The lobby was gone. The whole first floor was gone. All I could see was dark water, lapping against the stairs.
“How is that possible?”
“That’s not really a relevant question, in this place,” Manny noted. “Let’s just call it a flash flood.”
I jogged over to look out one of the windows, lightning flashed, illuminating an alien view, the lawn and garden were also gone. The only thing in sight was a sea of dark water, with the occasional tree protruding from the surface.
“What do we do now?” I asked.
“What we always do. Vincent has headed upstairs to lay out some food. We can help him, then lock up the rest and go clean rooms.”
“And if the water keeps rising?”
“We keep moving up the floors, I suppose.”
I stepped down the stairs until I was next to the water, and reached out a hand to touch the surface, wanting to test its temperature and texture.
Stop!
I froze in place, hand hovering above the liquid, the command so urgent I couldn’t ignore it. Trying to act casually, I rose and headed back up the stairs,
“Alright, I’ll go help with breakfast. Maybe we should put up a sign directing the guests to the 5th floor?”
“I’ll handle that. We will have to ration the food carefully; we don’t know how long we will need to make it last. Whatever you do, don’t show the guests where the food is locked up, and only bring out enough for us to have a small meal.”
“Right,” I nodded. “See you up there.”
I turned and headed up the stairs. I waited until I was out of earshot to ask,
“Ok, what was that about?”
Do not touch the water.
“Yes, I gathered that. Why?”
Because you belong to me. And I need you alive.
“What is the deal with that water, exactly?”
But only silence answered. He was done volunteering things for the moment, apparently. I sighed and continued up the stairs. Vincent was waiting for me on the fifth floor, hovering by the landing, looking down over the dark, gleaming surface of the new lake below.
“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” he asked as I reached the top of the stairs.
“Nope, this is a new one.”
“I wonder if this is what being on the Titanic felt like?” he mused. “Water rising, nowhere to go, just waiting for the end.”
“We aren’t on a ship, though.”
“No. Does that make it better, or worse?”
I shrugged and Vincent passed me a bagel,
“I figure we should eat the breads first; they’ll go moldy in this humidity. We can save the rice, potatoes, and canned goods for later.”
“Makes sense. Do we have a way to cook any of those things?”
“I looked around. Some of the rooms have fireplaces, I guess we can hang a pot over the fire, cook that way. But maybe all this will stop before we get to that point.”
“Maybe,” I wasn’t exactly feeling optimistic about it.
I helped Vincent lay out some fruit and soft breads on the hall table, so that when the guests awoke, they would have something to eat.
“What exactly are we going to tell them when they get here?” Vincent asked, putting out some bowls. “We can’t exactly say that the hotel is sinking and it’s all perfectly normal, can we?”
“What else is there to say?” I shrugged. “It’s some sort of flood. We don’t know any more than they do. It’s the truth, right?”
He considered that for a moment, then nodded.
“I suppose it is.”
A sudden commotion from downstairs drew us to the railing. The three guests were standing on the 2nd floor landing, looking down at the water, Manny was saying something I couldn’t quite hear, but the response was clear enough,
“What do you mean, underwater!” Steward shouted. “This hotel is on dry land. We specifically avoided anything near the ocean or any major body of water. Where did all this even come from?”
“We are located on a flood plain. It is possible that the dam broke upstream,” Manny explained calmly.
Dam, huh? That wasn’t a bad explanation.
“If that is true, where are the authorities, shouldn’t someone be here to evacuate us?”
“I am sure they will be here when they can. Until then, we just need to stay calm and safe. There is breakfast laid out on the 5th floor, please stay away from the water and we will relocate your rooms to the upper floors.”
The trio of men grumbled, but eventually they headed up the stairs. Vincent and I ducked back to our places. As they grabbed fruit from the table, Lesley scowled,
“I told you we should have left days ago. We could have moved to another hotel. Now we’re trapped here, in this dump.”
“Oh, relax, Les,” Jack chuckled. “We’ve been in worse scrapes before. This isn’t a big deal.”
“And if the water keeps rising?”
“I bet we could manage to make a passable raft, eh Stewart?”
Both men chuckled, sharing a private joke, but Lesley still looked anxious.
“I didn’t ever want to be out on the water again. We agreed.”
“Seriously, Les, just keep it together, alright? Let’s just eat something and find some way to kill time. I am sure the authorities will send a rescue crew and we’ll be out of here in no time.”
I opened the storage closet and felt my heart sink as I looked on the nearly empty room. We were down to only a couple of boxes of crackers and a few bottles of water. We had rationed the food carefully, but it had been over 2 weeks now, and we had almost exhausted our supply. I wasn’t looking forward to telling the others. Things had been getting tense. The power went out on the third day, and by now every cellphone we had was dead. Not that anyone could get a signal before that, anyway. The water had risen all the way to the fifth floor, so we were all trapped together on the top floor of the hotel, with nowhere else to go, if it rose any further. The guests had mostly given up hope for rescue, and the rest of us knew that was never a hope to begin with. So, now it looked like the six of us were just going to be trapped up here to starve, if we didn’t drown first. I covered my face with my hands.
“That bad, huh?”
“Vincent. No, it’s… it’s not…” what was the point in lying about it? “Yeah, it’s that bad. We are almost out of food, and the water has risen at least another foot since yesterday.”
“What are we going to do?”
“I have no idea. Let’s just get back to the group. We shouldn’t leave Manny alone, in case the guests come out of their rooms.”
“Right.”
We walked back to the central hallway together. As we entered the room, I saw Manny with his back to us, removing a soaked shirt. Even in the dim light, it was clear that his back was webbed with dozens of scars and cuts. Vincent cleared his throat and Manny hurriedly tugged on a dry shirt.
“I patched the hole in the roof,” he explained. “The rain should stop getting in from there, at least. And I brought down a full barrel of rainwater and replaced it with an empty one.”
“Thank you, Manny. At least the water from the sky is… normal. Because we are going to have to start drinking that water from time now on, I think.”
“And the food?” Manny asked.
“Some crackers, nothing more.”
“Well, I guess we will all need to tighten our belts, then.”
A moment of heavy silence passed between us, before a door burst open and Jack emerged.
“Where’s the food?” he barked. “We’re hungry and the table is bare.”
“Food’s gone,” Manny replied coolly. “There is water in the barrel, to take the edge off.”
“We can’t survive on only water.”
“We can, for another couple of weeks.”
“So that is your plan, to slowly starve to death?”
Manny shrugged but didn’t reply.
“Well, suit yourselves, I have a better plan.”
Jack turned on his heel and stormed out.
“What do you think they will do?” Vincent asked.
“He said already, didn’t he? Build a raft,” Manny replied.
“Maybe that isn’t a bad idea,” I offered. “We could help, try to get out of here?”
“Has attempting to leave ever worked?” Manny asked. “No, all we can do is hunker down until this resolves itself. And I don’t think going out on that water is a good idea.”
“Should we try to stop them, then?”
“No. If they are focused on building, it will keep them off our backs, for the time being. Let them do what they want.”
Vincent and I spent the next few days watching the three men lash together furniture using heavy objects as improvised hammers and strips of torn bed linens as ropes. They seemed to actually have some idea of what they were doing, and they quickly fell into a rhythm, with Stewart and Jack doing most of the planning and construction and Lesley being ordered to fetch supplies and carry heavy objects. He grumbled about it, but did what they told him. They mostly didn’t even notice we were there, as long as we made a show of occupying ourselves with some cleaning task or another. They never even bothered to ask why we were still cleaning and maintaining a flooded, sinking hotel all day. It was hard to tell if they just paid so little attention to us that they didn’t notice, or if they simply figured it was our way of coping with the situation. Occasionally, they would ask us for some material they needed but could not find, and we would help as much as we could, then they would go back to ignoring us. On the third day, when the raft was beginning to look seaworthy, Jack sat back on his heels, admiring their handiwork.
“Well, boys? What do you think? Will it float?”
Stewart rubbed his nose with his thumb,
“I think it’s as fine a vessel as we have ever crewed, captain.”
Jack laughed,
“And you thought we had left those days behind us for good, eh chief?”
“They are. But it looks like it will come in handy for us, one more time. Good luck, huh?”
“Good luck?” Lesley’s face turned dark; he had been increasingly dour over the last few days. “I don’t see the good luck in any of this. I think we are reaping our just reward.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Les, this flood has nothing to do with us.”
“No? You think all this is normal, then? It’s been raining nonstop for weeks, the water keeps rising, no one has come looking for us. It’s like…” he hesitated before continuing. “It’s like we are alone in our own private hell. Just us and dark water everywhere. I don’t know how you aren’t thinking about it. I can’t stop. I see his face whenever I close my eyes. I see the dark puddle in the bottom of the lifeboat. Maybe this is what we deserve.”
Jack backhanded him across the face,
“Pull yourself together, swabbie. And don’t speak again until you’ve regained your composure,” he turned back to Stewart. “Now, we need to get this to the roof before we finish lashing it together, or it won’t fit. Then, we can either find a way to launch it, or we can wait until the water rises enough, what do you think, Mr. Stewart?”
“Well, captain, I say we rig up some ropes to lower it, because if we wait until the water is that high and anything goes wrong, we won’t have another chance.”
“Very good. Alright, Les, help us lift these pieces.”
The raft was relocated to the roof and the next 3 days were spent lashing it together and making the ropes strong enough to lower it the ever-dwindling distance into the dark water. When they were finally ready to launch, Vincent, Manny and I gathered on the roof to watch. I had to admit, I was really beginning to hope they succeeded, even if it didn’t seem likely. We were still rationing out the last few crackers, but three or four crackers a day did little to even take the edge off of the hunger, which gnawed on my guts like an animal. If this didn’t work, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I looked over at Manny, his face grim and starting to look a little gaunt. As he turned to face me, I saw blood coating his neck and seeping into his shirt collar from a cut near his ear.
“You’re bleeding.”
He reached up and touched his neck, bringing his hand aways stained crimson,
“Shaving cut,” he offered, wiping it off absently with his hand.
I raised an eyebrow, but let it go. I had noticed Manny with little cuts or scars before, but he was always doing landscaping work or maintenance, so small cuts and injuries didn’t seem unusual. But suddenly, in such close quarters and confined indoors, it was apparent that he seemed to injure himself more than I would expect.
Curious, isn’t it? Al asked, speaking up for the first time in sometime.
“You have something to tell me?” I mumbled under my breath.
No, just noting that there is power in blood. I wonder what he uses it for?
Power, huh? That was probably worth thinking about. Later. For now, my attention was drawn to the makeshift ropes lowering the raft into the water. The raft settled into the water with barely a ripple, the liquid was entirely too thick and seemed to stick to the wood like oil, and the sound when it hit was less a splash and more of a splat. The three men looked at each other, confusion and concern on their faces.
“That doesn’t much seem like normal water, Cap’n,” Lesley noted.
“Probably lots of mud and silt mixed in, it’s nothing,” Jack waved away the concern. “Get down there and then you can help us down.”
Lesley shook his head, mutely.
“Fine, Stewart?”
The other man didn’t look happy about it, but he nodded apprehensively and moved to the edge of the roof and clambered down onto the raft. As it bucked and shifted under his weight, he lay down, waiting for it to stabilize, but instead, the rolling and pitching seemed to increase. Then, from the water under the boat came dozens of pale human hands. They were terribly bloated and marbled with green and grey. Corpse hands. Stewart looked down, terror written plainly on his face.
“No! It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t cause it,” he shouted at the corpses looming under him in the dark water. “You want the captain, not me!”
If that was meant to mollify them, it didn’t work. The hands gripped the wood and pulled, capsizing the raft and pitching Stewart into the water. He screamed as he hit the surface. Not just from fear, but pain. He tried clinging to flipped raft, but hands wrapped around his torso, trying to pull him into the dark. I could swear I heard whispers rising from the surface: Join us.
“Help me, please!” he cried.
He was too far down to reach from the roof, but maybe there was another way.
“Hurry, if we can get to the windows on the 5th floor, we can pull him in,” I shouted.
Vincent nodded and we ran down the stairs, searching for the room closest to him in the water. The screaming helped. When we dragged him inside, he was covered in scratches and bites from teeth that looked very human, some very deep and freely bleeding. His skin was stained from the dark water. The hands continued to reach for him, so I slammed the window shut, leaving them to paw at the glass, just as Manny burst into the room, followed by the other two guests. Seeing the seriousness of his injuries, Manny moved closer, kneeling next to me.
“Some of these are very deep. We need to get pressure on the wounds. Go grab some towels,” he instructed Stewart’s companions.
He inspected the bites and scratches more closely,
“Lucy, this bite is on an artery, press down on it hard, or he will bleed out. Vincent, go get some soap and water, we will have to clean this as best we can, under the circumstances.”
Vincent rose and Manny and I were left alone with Stewart, who seemed to have passed out.
“You seem to know what you are doing,” I noted, pressing down on the bleeding wound.
“I… I was a doctor, once,” he didn’t meet my eyes when he said it.
“Wow.”
“It was a long time ago. Another life.”
“Why didn’t you ever…” I was interrupted when Stewart’s eyes snapped open.
“I need a priest,” Stewart grabbed Manny’s collar, his eyes fevered and unfocused. “I need to confess my sins, before I die.”
“You aren’t going to…”
“We killed him,” he pressed on, oblivious to my objections. “Alan Ross.”
“The billionaire?” I blurted, surprised. “But he died in a… shipwreck…”
I fell silent. I remembered the news stories; Ross had been on a luxury yacht on the way to the Cayman Islands when it wrecked in a storm. The entire crew was lost, except for the captain, the chief mate, and a single deckhand, who had survived in a lifeboat. Ross was in the lifeboat as well, but he had already drowned, before they were able to drag him on board. They had drifted for over two weeks, with his corpse, before they were found and rescued. It had been a major news story, about a decade ago.
“It wasn’t like the news reported,” Stewart gasped. “When the yacht started taking on water, we should have stayed and helped to organize the evacuation of the crew. But Ross wanted to leave right away. He offered us money if we took just him and abandoned the others. We agreed, the captain and I. Lesley was just a deckhand, but he saw us leaving and followed. We quietly launched a lifeboat and fled, leaving the others to their fates.”
“How did Ross die?” I asked.
“He had a bag with him. It was so heavy he could hardly carry it. When he put it in the boat, it fell open and it was filled with diamonds. He was taking them to the Caymans. When we saw that, we… well, we decided. If he didn’t survive the shipwreck, if the diamonds were never found, who would know? We drowned him and hid the diamonds. When we were rescued, we waited awhile, then we sold them, made millions. But it wasn’t worth it… it wasn’t worth this. The guilt…”
He slumped to the ground. Manny met my eyes over the body,
“I think we lost him.”
As I looked up from the body, I saw Jack and Lesley standing there in the doorway, towels in their hands. There was an ugly look on Jack’s face.
“I wish he hadn’t told you that.”
“Told us what? He was raving, delusional,” I attempted.
“We were standing right here,” he replied.
I swallowed hard. Jack advanced into the room, holding a broken table leg like a club.
“We’ve kept this secret all these years, it isn’t getting out now.”
“We won’t tell anyone,” I protested.
“That isn’t a chance I am willing to take. Besides, with the food supply exhausted, it was always going to come to this, eventually. Might as well get it over with.”
“What are you doing?” I heard Vincent call from the doorway.
“Lesley, take care of him, will you?” Jack continued to advance on us.
“Please Jack, hasn’t there been enough death?” Lesley protested.
“Don’t act all innocent, you agreed to this, just like the rest of us. In for a penny, in for a pound, my friend.”
I glanced around for a weapon. Between the three of us, we should be able to take him, but I didn’t much like the look in Jack’s eyes. Manny had stood, backing slowly away as Jack advanced. Then the captain took a swing at him, Manny jumped to the side and the makeshift bat shattered the window behind him. Jack’s expression turned to one of horror as a pair of pale hands gripped the doorframe and a body began heaving itself through the open window. The broken glass sliced its bloated flesh to ribbons, but it didn’t halt the creature’s ingress. Dark, thick liquid that smelled of death oozed from its wounds.
“Alan!” Jack exclaimed, backing away swinging his bat at the creature.
“You owe me,” it gurgled.
We all backed out into the hall, but the creature advanced, slowly, leaving a trail of black liquid on the carpet as it walked.
“Is it money you want? I can get you your money back, your diamonds,” Jack offered.
“What use do I have for money?” it wheezed. “You owe me a life.”
Jack hit the body with his club, but it didn’t slow its progress. He screamed as it reached out a hand and closed it around his throat. Jack was lifted off his feet and the creature carried him to the stairs and plunged him into the dark water. At first, he flailed and fought, but a dozen hands rose from the water, gripping every part of his body. When he was completely immobilized, the corpse released him, letting him be dragged down into the depths. Then, it turned,
“Now,” it spoke to Lesley. “Will you fight, or come willingly?”
Lesley was trembling so hard he could barely stand,
“Please, I’m sorry, I beg you, spare me.”
The creature’s lips curled into a grotesque smile,
“Do you regret what you did to me?”
“I do, I do. I never should have agreed with their plan. Please, have mercy.”
“Did you have mercy on me, when I begged?”
Lesley shook his head.
“Then accept your fate.”
“What… what do you want me to do?”
“Walk into the water. Give your life willingly. Perhaps they will spare you, if you do,” the creature laughed, dark liquid bubbling from its mouth.
Lesley nodded haltingly and began to walk towards the stairs, stepping into the water, he walked down until he was submerged up to his waist. Then, the hands wrapped around his arms and torso and abruptly dragged him under. For a long moment, it seemed like he was gone, the same as Jack, but a moment later, he was thrown back onto the landing. Lesley raised his eyes, now as black as the water, and the creature smiled again, a tooth falling from its mouth as it did.
“Very good,” it burbled. “You have been baptized and born again into a new life.”
Lesley nodded, a serene smile on his face. Without a word, he rose and walked back into the room we had vacated only a moment before. Outside the window, the raft had been righted and floated serenely on the water. He looked down at Stewart’s body, then picked it up and draped it over his shoulder. Glancing back at the three of us, he winked,
“A snack for the journey.”
Then, he stepped out of the window onto the raft and drifted away.
“Don’t suppose any of you would care to join him?” the corpse of Alan Ross inquired. “Be born anew in the cleansing water?”
We all shook our heads silently.
“Oh well, another time, then.”
And with that, the corpse walked into the water and disappeared.
That night, our usual meals appeared in our rooms, and by the next morning, the water had receded, as if it had never been there. The electricity came back on, and the rain stopped. I was finally able to charge my phone and post this account. I tried asking Manny for more information about his time as a doctor but is as reticent as ever. I will keep trying, though, because Vincent and Al are right about one thing, there is something suspicious about how much he knows that he shouldn’t. But, that is a problem for another day, after all there is no need to rush, we aren’t going anywhere.
Until next time,
Lucy
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2023.05.29 19:27 GreenShelter1284 Pet and item sales!

Floral pet and items sale! Custom bundles available! Just ask! All pricing is negotiable! Deluxe memberships! Odd holiday pets and items, Mystery Bags, POTM, lots of lils, and more for sale! Limited quantities on. Mix & match bundles! I have more pets, and other codes to bundle. Message if interested!! Don’t see the pet you want? Message me, I might have it just not on my doc yet! I’ve had a few family emergencies and will be updating my doc over time to include the rest of the codes I have. Thank you for your time!
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1v-PYlCwH2tbzHyH6Z3Mm2NalvhiwrRA29AFlQAXXojM/edit
submitted by GreenShelter1284 to WebkinzWorld [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 19:27 GreenShelter1284 Pet and item sales!

Floral pet and items sale! Custom bundles available! Just ask! All pricing is negotiable! Deluxe memberships! Odd holiday pets and items, Mystery Bags, POTM, lots of lils, and more for sale! Limited quantities on. Mix & match bundles! I have more pets, and other codes to bundle. Message if interested!! Don’t see the pet you want? Message me, I might have it just not on my doc yet! I’ve had a few family emergencies and will be updating my doc over time to include the rest of the codes I have. Thank you for your time!
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1v-PYlCwH2tbzHyH6Z3Mm2NalvhiwrRA29AFlQAXXojM/edit
submitted by GreenShelter1284 to Webkinz [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 19:06 SunKilMarqueeMoon Had an awesome time in Catania, but I got the impression that it's quite run down. Is this a fair assessment or was I unlucky?

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to go on holiday to Sicily, and decided to stay in Catania. I had a great time - the food and the weather were perfect, I met some lovely people, both locals and other tourists. There are some truly beautiful parts of the city, and its a vibrant and exciting place but other parts of it seemed to be in a state of disrepair.
I'm from a "rough" part of the UK, so I'm used to rubbish and dilapidated buildings, but this was actually a fair bit worse than I am used to. I got lost in a part outside of the Centre, in the South West of Catania and the streets were filthy, rubbish piled metres high, buildings crumbling, a few soiled mattresses and seemingly some Stray dogs roaming around. Even some parts of the centre were like this, lots of graffiti and rubbish around. I walked past the church Madonna del Carmine a couple times, as it was near my hostel and when the market traders in the square finished they left all their rubbish to fester in the streets rather than bagging it up.
I hope I don't come across as disrespectful, I was just curious to hear the opinion of local residents. Maybe I stayed in a less maintained part of town or maybe there was a waste worker strike.
Like I said, I still had a great time and hope to see some more of Sicily in the future. Thanks!
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2023.05.29 18:55 _scath Florals challenge - Sapphire/RU

Florals challenge - Sapphire/RU
For a long time I had nothing floral in my wardrobe and I thought I didn't like them, but in fact I just had to find the right ones. I'm very picky about them - they need to be big, irregular and colorful. For this challenge I took out all my summer florals and tried to not use any item and accessory more than once. I really like all of these outfits.
  1. The only small floral I own is this shirt, which I think I always pair with this pantsuit (it's the same one as in my last post, I tried to style it slightly differently).
  2. Without this challenge I'd never think to use this bag flap (yes, they're exchangeable!) for a non-autumn outfit! It turned out quite elegant and refined.
  3. I'm not very good at pattern mixing, but this is one of my best ones!
  4. I've had this print as a dress once, but returned it, because it's slightly too light and busy next to my face. But as a skirt, with something more "mine" in between, I like it much more.
  5. When the weather gets bad ;) I always get questions whether I had the bag and the jacket made to order, because of the matching pattern. It was a collab between the owner of clothing brand with beautiful patterns (the jacket, pants from #2 and skirt from #4) and the owner of bag brand (all bags here except of outfit #2) who are friends irl. :) I love supporting local brands!
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2023.05.29 18:48 Frostdraken Heavy Infantry (Part 1)

Amid a galaxy of brutal chaos there are stories to be told, tales of valor and justice, of fear and despair. But amid these stories are the guttering flames of adventures untold, the potential for a universe of entertainment and savage joyous fun. The Oblivion Cycle embodies just this kind of crafted chaos, creating the potential for creative exploits and raucous tales. If you are new to the TOC setting feel free to join the community at TheOblivionCycle to check out some of the background lore or to discuss themes with other readers. I thank you all for your support and continued willingness to read, as always, Please Enjoy!
+ Next Part +
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Explosions rocked the small bunker causing sergeant Kaiden of the Union army to shift slightly. It wasn't that he was afraid, it was kind of hard to be afraid while wearing the equivalent of an infantry fighting vehicle’s worth of heavy powered armour. He was nervous.
He always got nervous before an operation, especially since the last failed raid on the rebel supply lines a few days ago. They hadn't lost anyone thank Luck, but his whole squad had been embarrassed by their failure.
Kaiden was wearing a set of Mark III demolisher powered armour. The heavy plates full of protective systems and augmenting synthetic muscle fibers that gave him the ability to move with such weight. The armour itself weighed more than eight hundred kilograms unloaded with ordinance, far too much for him to have possibly moved without the assistance of the synthmuscle fibers that made up the suits underlayer.
Kaiden turned to his second in command corporal Ixie. The tall nerivith woman was wearing her species equivalent of heavy assault armour, a set of Mark III Plackart armour. It was similar in design to his own, with thick armour plates over a synthmuscle undersuit. But that’s where the similarities ended. Where his suit was simplistic in design hers was sculpted and smooth, where his was rugged her armour had flair.
A distinct difference in their two people’s fundamental cultures. Whereas humanity had always excelled at war through the application of pure brute force, her own people had always seen war as more of a dance. Those that got good at the dance became death incarnate while the less experienced fell like wheat to the scythe.
He smiled inside his helmet at the thought of her dancing. The nerivith were a female dominant society making their taller and longer horned females very direct with their emotions. With their tendency to dance for potential partners, a nerivith dance meant more than a simple gesture.
Putting thoughts of his best friend out of mind he turned towards the station watch commander, a small slaaveth man named Grulren by his name tapes. The slaaveth were an interesting species, partially aquatic, they possessed both gills and lungs though their lungs remained underdeveloped till they reached sexual maturity in their late teen years.
The short scaled man motioned for Kaiden to come closer and then slapped a webbed hand down on his small holotable.
“We need to push the bastards back over the western trenches.” he said a bit vehemently.
Kaiden pointed at the western trenches on the small tactical map. They were marked as orange, indicating that they were under direct threat but the conflict had not yet been resolved to either faction’s benefit.
“The rebels have infiltrated that entire region in force, but they were unable to sneak heavy weapons or armour over no man’s land. There is no way they could have carried any kind of heavy ordinance through that quagmire.” He said confidently. He would have been surprised if they had even tried.
Grulren nodded his frilled head, his pupilless black eyes fixing on the bright blue glow of Kaiden’s helmet eyeslits. “Then I am depending on your squad to clear them out. If we lose the west then the Deep cursed rebels will have a direct run on our artillery park. Those Monsoon SPAs have almost no ground defense after yesterday’s shelling. And I don't think I have to tell you what happens to us all if we lose artillery support.” the man said menacingly.
He didn't. This entire war had devolved into a stalemate only punctuated by desperate rushing attacks and the constant fall of heavy munitions. The near constant artillery duel had been ongoing for more than eight months. Kaiden was tired and a little apprehensive, he had a hard time imagining what the regulars were going through.
As a member of the Union’s more elite forces, Kaiden and his platoon were ground pounders. A more highly trained section of the Union’s armed forces that used powered armour exclusively. Generally to great effect.
It had been a tough few months however as the unrelenting stalemate had stretched both logistics and manpower to their limits. He thought about the war itself, it had been almost six years since the Hegemony of Independent Systems rebellion had started with the unprovoked attack on Sector Eta. Millions of Sapient Congressional Union troops and their families dead in a few hours in what had become known as the worst surprise attack in the Union's long history. Worse than the terroristic attacks of the Dust Worlds rebellion by an order of magnitude.
He nodded after what must have seemed to the station commander to be a short pause. “Understood commander. I will take my squad there directly along the abandoned trenches to save time. They should be clear of hostiles by now.”
Grulren just waved him away and turned to his aide. His attention now focused on some other crisis.
Kaiden walked over to Ixie and said “Assemble the squad, we are moving out in one minute.”
She gave him an affirmative noise and turned away. Her tall and slightly leaner form having to duck to make it under the bunker’s low doorframe.
He followed her and looked around. The bunker was situated in a wide section of the trenchworks, the ground covered in wooden ties and metal plates so that heavy vehicles could traverse them without getting stuck in the mud.
It was lucky that the location they were in didn't seem to be very wet, the skies rarely choked with clouds. That didn't mean it was a desert though, the mornings were often wet and damp with fog that obscured vision and eroded the earthen walls of the simpler front trenches.
He sighed. The war had taken him from his home on Dreyvan II across the Union and then back again. This new invasion of his homeworld was the second desperate attack by a foe that knew they couldn't win and so were trying to burn it all down.
Dreyvan II was a major military armament supplier to the Union’s military and the Hegemony knew that. Thus the siege had begun as a heavy kinetic bombardment. Once it was clear that they had failed to destroy the planet from orbit the enemy had landed millions of troops on the planet. This invasion swept over part of the world, taking an entire hemisphere before it was slowed and then finally stopped. By the time the Union had sent a task force large enough to deal with the problem it was too late. The enemy had dug themselves in like a cancer, setting up anti-ship defenses and a million miles of heavily defended trenches. They made it clear that they were here to stay.
What was worse in his mind was that not all of the towns they had taken had resisted, there was a not insignificant amount of Hegemony support on Dreyvan II that had facilitated the invasion's overall success.
Kaiden’s blood boiled at the thought of those traitors calling themselves Drevanians. They weren't fit to live on the planet, they had betrayed their own for what? A misguided notion of control?
He shook his head and stalked to his squad. His heavy footfalls thudded along the metal plates underfoot. After a moment he got close enough to pick up on the ultra-shortwave transmission Ixie was broadcasting.
“And then we will move along to the hot zone. Once there we will engage and destroy the enemy with extreme prejudice, any questions?” she said, her slightly husky tenor voice filled with calm.
Hearing him, or perhaps feeling the weight of his footsteps approaching, Ixie turned and motioned to him. “Here he is now. Sergeant, any additional words you would like to add before we move out?” she asked him.
He shook his head and said “No. I trust everyone has their weapons charged and ready? Cooper I’m looking at you.” he said to one of his squad.
A male voice spoke over the comms “Oh come on, it was one time…”
Before Kaiden could say anything more a female voice spoke up. The figure it came from was large, even in comparison to Kaiden’s power armoured form. It was Draff, the yeown woman big even for her species. Her slightly hunched and werewolf-esk form intimidating in her Mark I Tactical Assault Armour. The bestial faced helmet designed to strike fear in the hearts of her enemies and the deep red glow of her suit’s eyes making it look as if it was coated in blood. Well, red blood at least.
She spoke, her voice deep and rough. “Cooper didn't forget, I made sure of that.” She chuckled as Copper grumbled something under his breath.
Kaiden shook his head, it was a well known secret that the two were lovers, though how the man was able to hold his own against the huge muscled alien was a hotly debated subject.
Again he was forced to clear his mind and get himself back on track. A lack of decent sleep and few good meals had been making him feel as though he was being pulled apart slowly. But he was a ground pounder, one of the toughest motherfuckers the Union had the misfortune of training. He wouldn't let a little thing like deep emotional trauma and near crippling fatigue keep him from completing his mission.
Kaiden stood as tall as he could and commanded “Okay, enough fooling around. Form up and move out. Ixie, take point two. We will follow the plan.”
She nodded her horned head, the purple glow of her helmet’s eyes giving nothing away.
Immediately after he finished talking half of his squad moved to stand behind him while the other fell in line behind Ixie. Kaiden started off towards the contested area, moving at a steady fifteen kilometers per hour on the wide roadway of the supply and command trenches they made good time. Soon they had to slow however as the trenches started to narrow and the ground became first wooden boards and then hard packed earth.
Soldiers in dark blue fatigues moved out of their way as they rushed by, the men and women looking just as tired and worn as he felt inside. This war was taking a heavy toll on both the defenders and the defended civilians further to the rear.
He swore silently as he thought of the selfish actions that had led to this point. Screw the rebels for starting this war, and screw the Union bureaucrats for not seeing this coming. The entire rebellion could have been avoided if the policy makers of the central government had just payed more attention to the frontier worlds needs.
He had to jump suddenly as he rounded a corner and several soldiers were blocking the path with a large wheelbarrow of loose soil. He cleared the cart easily and landed on the ground with a solid thump that left two small craters in the hard soil. He sent a small obstruction warning to the troops behind him with the flick of his eyes and a muttered word. The internal helmet display of his armour giving him fine control over its systems without much effort.
He spared a glance to make sure none of the other’s had been slowed and was happy to see that they had all in fact gotten his warning. Either jumping over the obstruction like he had or dodging around it using the fast twitch synthmuscles of their armour.
He continued on, taking a myriad of turns in the twisting labyrinth of the trench networks. Almost as if a switch had been thrown he took another turn and the atmosphere changed instantly. These trenches were unlit and unoccupied, their earthen walls crumbling and the swill of neglect pooling in their acrid bases.
Insulated as he was in his armour the noxious toxins and chemicals had no effect on him, though he did his best to avoid the worst of the slime holes. The residue was terribly difficult to clean from the exterior plates of his armour and could sometimes start to eat into its surface if left unchecked for too long.
A short distance traveled along these derelict channels and the unmistakable sounds of combat reached his suits' active sensors. He held up a hand in the reduce speed command and slowed. While he was protected in his heavy armour, only a fool would barge directly into unknown turmoil without at least trying to scope out the situation.
He motioned for Ixie to move up alongside him. They were operating on direct connection comms, where they had to be in physical contact with each other to speak. It worked by sending a small electrical signal through the gauntlet which was picked up and translated by the other’s suit. It was their in combat version of whispering while maintaining radio silence.
Until they actively engaged the enemy there was no need to unnecessarily alert the rebels to their presence. The element of surprise was not easily bought and quickly lost.
“What is it?” Ixie asked, her hand on his shoulder.
He placed one of his gauntlets on hers and replied “It sounds rough, we need to move in but I don't want to do it blindly. Can you have Cooper send a peeper?”
She nodded before walking towards Cooper. Cooper was their recon trooper. His Mark I Blackout armour was the newest design in reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.
While its armour was not nearly as heavy as his or the others, it was more than adequate for the kinds of small arms fights they most commonly participated in. It's not like they were wearing superheavy battle plate and could go toe to toe with armoured vehicles.
Kaiden frowned, he had always wanted to try piloting one of those behemoth suits. The latest versions weighed well in excess of a tonne and a half and could shatter buildings with their hands.
His train of thought was cut short by the sound of a small object whizzing by him. It was Cooper’s peeper, the small surveillance drone designed for stealth. It had noise canceling toroidal blades and electromagnetic reflectant skin to hide from radar and thermal.
Cooper piloted the small device via a virtual joystick and his eyes. Accessing the feed via a direct laser link, Kaiden saw a small feed pop up in the corner of his vision. It showed the abandoned trenches zipping by at high speed. The drone was piloted through a combination of passive communication and intermittent active pings that allowed the man to pilot it remotely without drawing much attention.
After another moment the drone popped up into the open air and uncovered the full scale of the attack. Dozens of entrenched defenders on the Union side were being rushed down by what had to be several hundred rebel troops. The old saying of three to one defense came to mind. It looked as if the defenders were outnumbered almost five to one here, they would surely begin to fail in the next few minutes without intervention. For while many tens of attackers lay dead or dying in the toxic mud, the defenders were beginning to fall a few at a time.
Switching to ultra-shortwave comms Kaiden said “Okay, we are moving in, no obvious heavy weapons from the rebels but that doesn't mean they aren't hiding them specifically in case of armoured assault. So I want you all to be careful and pay attention. Cooper, put your peeper on standby or passive overwatch. We move out in ten seconds.”
He took a deep breath, the blood rushing in his veins as the adrenaline started to course through them. It was humanity's unique curse, the effects of the natural combat stimulant both helping and hindering his performance in battle. On one hand it heightened his senses and made him stronger and faster. On the other hand it narrowed his emotional and rational fields of view, making violence appear as the only option when quick thinking and wit might have been better served. That's why he was so grateful for Ixie, the nerivith being wired completely opposite of humans.
Where he ran hot headed in battle, prone to force and instinctive action, she was cool headed and more likely to spot minor exploitable gaps in her enemies defenses. The nerivith’s natural inclination for battle making them peerless warriors and point to point tacticians. A human might have a better grasp of the war or battle as a whole, but a nerivith would almost always outwit a battle enraged human in personal combat.
He felt a hand on his shoulder, a direct message from her that only he could hear as she said “Remember what I have been teaching you. Be still and think of my voice.”
His eyes opened as the ten seconds ran out, without a word he threw his arm forwards in the universal signal to advance and charged towards the enemy.
There was no wind in his hair and no mud in his eyes as he charged, his suit isolating him strangely from the more visceral feel of combat. It was a strange way to wage war, contained in a prison of numbness. His body registered his movements, but he didn't feel anything. Not the hard cracked dirt under his heavy armoured boots, not the chill noxious wind in the air, nor the sounds of battle up ahead. His suit registered them all however and did its best to mirror the information to him. But it was obviously artificial.
He hadn't always fought this way, once upon a time he had been a raw faced recruit. A mere private in a vast military that didn't care about his existence. There had been no war then, no galactic scale conflict. The most intrusive actions in his daily routine was PT and the constant psych evaluations. He had fought pirates and brigands, protecting the commerce that kept the vast Union alive. Several times he had even had to fight against flesh tearers, the monstrous cannibals that preyed on unprotected shipping lanes.
This was different, there was no downtime, no breaks. Just days, weeks, months of grinding unremitting warfare. Blatant in its cruelty and savage in its nature. He had grown to hate himself for enjoying it, but part of him knew this was what he had been born to do. He was a killer, always had been.
These thoughts crossed his mind as he burst through a weakened section of trench right behind a pair of rebel soldiers. He pulled up his M2-Mk12. The heavy machine gun far too bulky for a soldier to wield, unless they were wearing powered armour.
The rebel soldier on the left, a tall nerivith female in light armour, has just enough time to notice him before he squeezed the trigger of his huge gun.
The bright staccato flashed lit the carnage like pictures from an old fashioned holoplay. The two rebels were ripped apart by the force of the massive bullets as they tore through their fragile bodies. He stopped firing as it was clearly apparent the two wouldn't be getting back up. He walked over the corpses, bones cracking beneath his heavy tread as he scanned the trench for more targets.
A small cutout of the trench in front of him lit up as something fired on him. He didn't even feel the impacts of the bullets against his heavy armour. Instead he simply returned fire, aiming slightly to the side of the trench trusting that his weapon would cut through the intervening earth.
His efforts were rewarded with a gurgling scream and the twitching ruptured body of a rebel falling out from behind their destroyed cover.
He shook his head and paused for a status check. Sending out an active ping he received a full nine green pings across the board. He smiled, that meant that his squad was still in good condition after first contact. Leaving the status board in the corner of his display, he moved along the trench, making sure to keep a watchful eye for potential movements.
He looked up sharply as a spray of purple lines seared across the darkened sky. The lines so bright they left slight after images that persisted for several seconds even as he looked away. That would likely have been Ixie firing off her Tri-Beamer Combiner, the heavy near ultraviolet laser weapon more than capable of punching through light armour at close ranges.
He continued walking for another few steps before something sailed through the air and landed at his feet. He had just enough time to realize it was a fragmentation grenade before it exploded with a tremendous bang. Withering hails of shrapnel slashed against the thick titansteel duramite layered armour he wore. With a muted grunt he was knocked back a step, his armour straining to keep him upright.
His suit won, leaving him standing and almost entirely unscathed, much to the surprise and dismay of the five rebel troops that rushed around the corner.
With a cry of “Kill the bastard!” They charged him.
He only had time to fire a short burst that smashed the leftmost rebel from her feet before they were upon him. He heard the impacts of weapons and some point blank fire. He needed to clear some space before one of them swung a shiversteel blade or voltaic bayonet into the gaps of his armour. Even the aggregated hyperdiamond-buckyweave of his undersuit would not protect him from such close range attack, so he chose the best option he could think of. He simply swung the heavy barrel of his gun in an arc, knocking three of the rebels to the ground and sending the fourth into the side wall with bone shattering force. Three of them scrambled back to their feet, one didn't.
Continued in Part 2

==End of Transmission==
submitted by Frostdraken to HFY [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 18:34 Frank_Leroux Molossus, Chapter Fourteen

First Chapter
Chapter Thirteen
Corporal McCoy had figured out the best reason for getting in good with an udhyr. They had four arms, therefore the hugs were twice as nice. They now lay in her room, with him lying on her bed and her lying on top of him, with her ensconced in the aforementioned hug-squared. She’d been able to get ahold of her Switch, and at the moment was in the midst of some happy early-morning gaming. Takh’s head rested upon hers with a gentle and welcome pressure while he watched her play. By now she was so used to him that even the little random clicks of his mandibles didn’t cause her any fear.
She was still trying to figure out if she and the alien XO were an ‘item’ or not. Zawahir had, with his usual enthusiasm, explained to her that both the udhyr and knuall-toua were pretty much like humans, with equal numbers of both males and females who reproduced sexually. He hadn’t gone into details on how exactly Tab A fit into Slot B, but the overall idea was clear. The auhn were a little more complicated; the ratio of females to males was more like seven or eight to one, plus there was the added wrinkle that the males were non-sapient and about as smart as the average pet dog. That had resulted in a very matriarchal society, of course, one based around clans of females protecting their stable of fertile males with appropriately auhn-like ferocity. The spider-like xyrax were…well, both. Completely hermaphroditic; there was quite a complicated social dance before they reproduced as to who was going to bear the resulting egg. McCoy was sure that, however it worked out, it would look adorable.
“So this Kirby can eat anything?” asked Takh, breaking into her ruminations.
McCoy tapped at her controls on autopilot, hoping that the damned thumbsticks wouldn’t break. Again. “Yep. Fun fact, waaay back in the 80s, Nintendo got sued by Universal Studios, who claimed that Donkey Kong was a ripoff of King Kong. John Kirby was the attorney who successfully defended them in court, and in gratitude they named this character Kirby.” She continued her tapping. “I think they gave him a sailboat as well.”
“Mmm, I must admit a sailboat sounds nice right about now. This place is very nice, but it’s a bit too cold.”
She wriggled against him. “You said it. You and me, off the coast near Nice? Floating in the warm azure waters of the Mediterranean? I can wear a nice little bikini I’ve got saved up for just such an occasion.”
“Oh! Uh, well, yes. That does indeed sound quite nice…”
She grinned. Takh was a dork, but a giant lovable dork and it was always great to get a reaction like this out of him. Even if it didn’t lead anywhere there. As far as she knew, the udhyr reproduced like frogs. Maybe she should discreetly quiz Zawahir on the whole Tab-A into Slot-B thing, just to make sure she wasn’t setting herself up for disappointment.
Of course, she’d just managed to get to the final boss of this particular level when the siren howl of the alarm went off. Haley McCoy blinked as she went from supine four-armed cuddling to standing in an instant, placed upon the floor by Takh’s upper arms.
“The unholy hell?” she muttered, but she was already in motion as she sprinted towards her gear, laid out so as to ensure maximum efficiency in getting it all put on. “Takh?” she called out as she started strapping her armored vest on.
“Yes? What do I do?”
“Simple. Anyone comes through that door who you don’t recognize, kill ‘em.”
“I…I don’t know, I’m still understanding how different humans look from each other, I don’t want to make a mistake.”
“You’ll know,” she said with finality as she picked up her carbine and racked the slide. “Okay. Follow me…”
The door to her room smashed in as a figure clad in black armor came through screaming “Earth belongs to HUMANS!...”
That was all he got out before Takh grabbed the man’s head and simply hurled the offending figure over McCoy and into the far wall. The window set in that wall shattered with the resulting impact, making the corporal duck.
“Fuck me, Takh.” She looked at the broken figure of the oh-so-very dead intruder, then back up to the worried-looking XO. “I mean, not literally. Okay, well you can if you want to, and I for sure would like you to…you know what? Let’s put that whole discussion off to the side for now until we can sit down and have ourselves a nice long chat, okay?”
“That sounds like a very wise strategy, Haley. What do you need from me?”
She finished putting on her headset and helmet. “Right now? You need to stick right behind me while I get you to the bunker.”
“You want me behind you?” Takh’s mandibles quirked in a grin. “That sounds like a very nice place to be.”
“Stop distracting me, you giant dork.” McCoy moved towards the door with a grim set to her shoulders, ignoring the lovely fact that her alien maybe-boyfriend was now checking out her ass. She swept the outside hallway….nothing visible. Then she heard some commotion from off towards the kitchen area.
__________
Martinez surged to his feet upon hearing the alarm, his half-eaten horizontal-cut pimento sandwich now forgotten. “What the fuck…?”
Matt was on his feet as well, with a strange look in his eyes that the corporal had never seen before. “You two. Corner. Now.” He pointed at the corner farthest from the two entrances to the kitchen.
The corporal was on the smaller side, even amongst his fellow humans, but something in the Marine’s tone made him turn and tackle the huge alien. Kexal, to his credit, somehow knew that Something Was Up and accepted the tackle, otherwise there was no way in hell that Martinez could have moved the giant creature.
Just as he did so, he caught a glimpse of a dark form, clad in full armor, holding a rifle, gliding around one of the entrances to the kitchen. In a panic, he fumbled for the pistol at his hip.
Martinez prized himself on his reflexes. But still, he had time for one blink of astonishment as Toke all but teleported himself across the ten feet of intervening space, pushing the intruder’s rifle up towards the ceiling and out of battery as his own arm flashed in a wicked arc. The corporal caught the merest glint of a small but cruelly-curved knife, like a predator’s claw, in the Marine’s fist.
There followed quite the epic spray of blood from underneath the attacker’s armpit, followed up by a few more cruel swipes which made sure that the tendons in that shoulder were destroyed and useless. Toke pulled the rifle away from the now-dangling limb.
Somehow, the black-armored attacker managed to speak in spite of what must be massive pain. “Earth will NEVER submit to…”
Toke’s voice was as hard as granite. “Tell your shit to someone who cares.”
Two more vicious swipes across the man’s throat resulted in a cascade of crimson down his black-armored front, and the would-be assassin toppled to the wooden floor.
“Martinez.” Toke’s robotic voice shocked him back into awareness.
“Y…yeah?”
“Got a pistol?”
“Of course.” He checked to make sure that he had it in his hand. Huh, that was strange. He didn’t remember drawing it, but there it was.
“Good.” The lean man tossed the purloined rifle towards Martinez, who caught it automatically in his off-hand. “Take this. Check this dead motherfucker for extra mags, and take ‘em. You’re on Kexal, understand? Get him safe to the bunker. Anyone you don’t know personally comes at you, you shoot ‘em.” His black, mechanical gaze shifted towards the alien. “Kexal? If Martinez goes down and someone attacks you, you have my permission to yank their arms off.”
The giant planetologist stared in horror at the bleeding and probably-dead sapient before him, then shook himself. “Of course. Yes. I’ll protect myself.”
“No need,” said Martinez as he looked back at his newly-christened charge. He racked the action on his just-acquired rifle, which looked to be a standard AR-platform civilian carbine. The corporal wished for something full-auto, but this was at least better than a pistol in terms of range and punch. “I’ll get you to safety, sir.”
He turned back to ask Matt just what the fuck was going on…but he only saw empty air.
__________
Cécile Savoie was not having a good day. She’d accepted the position of overall chief of security at Camp David with delight…at first. Dealing with the day-to-day of protecting one of the most targeted people on the planet, that she could deal with no problem. Because it was one person. It was an unspoken agreement between all of the agents that SAILOR was the priority. Even the First Husband could be sacrificed if need be.
But then she’d had a bunch of damn aliens dropped in her lap, along with an equally weird group of special-forces types. The latter were what really ground her gears; the aliens were genuinely nice and apologetic about being such a bother, but the human soldiers were the types who would crash on your couch, drink all your beer, and then steal your sweetheart when you weren’t looking.
She crouched behind a little berm to the west of Camp David, the other members of her patrol stretched out alongside her in a roughly north-to-south line.
“Moseby! Report!” she yelled.
She heard a few thumps, then a few cracks in her earpiece which were followed up by echoing reports from the building behind her. Thankfully she heard her agent’s voice in her earpiece. “Shit! Wow, um, you’re really good with that knife…”
She then heard a muffled phrase that sounded a bit like ‘give it to me, son’, and the next voice in her ear was one she was unfamiliar with.
“This is Captain Matthew Tocco, USMC, whom am I speaking with?” The voice sounded as if generated by an AI.
“I’m Agent Savoie,” she responded. “I’m in charge of the Camp David security detail, who are you?”
“I just told you who I am, Agent Savoie. And I just saved the life of one of your agents. Now. Let’s cut through any sort of jurisdictional bullshit. We have at least two confirmed active hostiles in the complex, two more are confirmed down. We’re sweeping the compound to make sure there are no others, plus making sure that our esteemed guests are safe inside the bunker. Where are you located? We need to coordinate our defenses.”
The information made her see literal red. The attackers had made it into the compound? How? There must be some angle, some safe passage made by somebody. She was going to find out who had made that safe passage, and those people would burn. Oh yes, they were all going to burn…
“West of the complex,” she snapped. “We’ve set up a perimeter along the ridge there.”
“Got it, Agent Savoie. Oh, and please don’t shoot me when I show up.”
She ran through various scenarios for the next few minutes, trying to figure out who on the team had betrayed them. And there must have been such a betrayal in order to get armed hostiles into the actual buildings. Her further musing upon vengeance was cut short as a tall, lean man seemed to all but materialize next to her. He held a small, curved blade in a reverse grip in his right hand; that blade dripped red blood. She almost pointed her gun at him, then relaxed. “Captain Tocco, I presume?”
“Call me Toke.” The guy sounded like he was out for a day on the beach.
“Who the hell are you…wait, you’re with the group in there, right?”
Matt nodded. “Yep. The rest of us are in there bundling up our guests and making sure they’re all safe and sound. Actually, by now Corporal McCoy should be…”
Agent Savoie flinched again as a small but very stacked woman seemed to suddenly appear like condensing smoke at her other side, out of the brush. “Speak of the Devil, and she shall appear.”
The tall man grinned at her. “You are pretty damn good, corporal.”
“Hell that means a lot coming from you, Toke. By the way, that’s a nice kerambit. Anyways, everybody on Team Alien is tucked in and unharmed. I got Takh in there fine. Martinez even tagged a couple more bad guys while he was escorting Grakosh to the bunker. Fair warning to everybody listening on this channel, he’s gonna be aaaall sorts of smug about that and it’s gonna turn into a story of taking out four dudes before this week is out. But, right now, it looks like only four of the OPFOR made into the complex…however they did that…so the rest must be out there.” She pointed towards the leafless woods beyond the little rise.
“Any word from Shaw?” asked Toke.
Savoie narrowed her eyes. “Something bad happened in DC. Sounds like an artillery or mortar attack.”
“Shit.” McCoy looked troubled. “This is serious business, then. State player?”
“Maybe,” said Toke. “But it could be some private group with some proper funding behind ‘em. Agent Savoie, do you have any word of a helicopter or plane going down nearby?”
“A Chinook,” she replied, “Went down about thirty minutes ago thataways.” She motioned to the west, out into the wintry forest. “Then we had one of our patrols out in that direction go silent. That’s what triggered the alarm.”
Matt grunted. “Yeah, that’s how I’d do it. Make it look like a crash and infiltrate that way. Right.” He touched his ear to make sure his earpiece was seated. “You just keep this channel open, right?”
“Where are you going?” asked McCoy.
“Out there. You need eyes on assholes, and I’m gonna give that to you.”
McCoy tossed him her carbine. “At least have a gun on you, dude.”
He caught it with his off-hand, since his main hand still held the dripping-red kerambit. He grinned at her. “All right. You got a pistol?”
“Of course.” She pulled it out and racked the slide.
He tossed the rifle back to her. “Give me that instead. We’re gonna need to concentrate some proper firepower here. This might be a proper light-infantry invasion in progress. We need to organize ourselves into a skirmish line running along this ridge, south-southwest to north-northeast. Get whoever you can on your team in there out here to bolster our firepower, understand? Dig in.”
“Got it.” The little corporal’s eyes blazed with purpose as she handed her pistol to Matt. “Now go get you some.”
“Believe me, I will.”
Savoie blinked in astonishment as the tall man vanished again.
“Yeah, he kinda does that,” said McCoy. “Dude could give sneaking-around lessons to fucking Batman.” She pulled a map out of one of the pockets on her cargo pants. “Now, Agent Savoie, how many people do we have available? Let’s get ourselves properly set up.”
__________
Wade stepped carefully over a fallen branch, his boots making almost no noise at they met the soft mulch covering the forest floor. From the curt statements in his headset, it sounded like the four heroes who’d been infiltrated into the devil’s nest had been cut down. There was no word yet if any of the alien menace had been eliminated. That was a shame, but hopefully it drew attention away from his own unit. He and his comrades made up the secondary and much more armored thrust, one which not even the vaunted Secret Service could counter. The latter were armored, yes, but only armored against pistols and they only wielded pistols themselves. He and his team had rifles, level-four body armor, helmets, and most importantly proper communications.
A voice crackled in his ear. “Hold position. The security detail is forming into a defensive line. It looks like they know we’re here.”
“Set timer?” Wade whispered into his headset. His team had a set time to accomplish their mission, before the entirety of the United States military-industrial complex landed upon their heads like the proverbial Wrath Of God.
“Yes, set timer. Twenty minutes.”
There was a soft chorus of “Twenty minutes, aye,” in Wade’s ear as he tapped his own smart-watch to start the timer. “Twenty minutes, aye,” he murmured. As he made to step over another downed branch, he paused.
Something was off. He couldn’t say why, but the air itself seemed a little more still than it should be. He turned to his left and saw a blur heading for him…he tried to raise his rifle, but it was too late…
__________
Cécile Savoie’s head snapped up as she heard a few cracks from the treeline which could only be the sound of firearms. “Anyone see anything?” she whispered into her earpiece.
There followed a myriad of “No, ma’ams” in her ear. “Keep a sharp eye,” she murmured. “Don’t fire on anyone not in black. We do have a friendly out there, he’s supposed to be giving us intel…”
Matt’s voice sounded in her ear. “Indeed. Bagged one of ‘em, on the outer edge of the advancing force. Looks like civvie gear, carbine is only semi-auto. This is a well-funded civilian effort, not a state actor.”
She checked her watch. “Got it. Fifteen minutes until we get backup in place, what do you need from us?”
“Hmm, that explains the ‘twenty minutes’ thing. Right, they know they’re on a timetable. You all need to be, and I hate to put it this way, the meat shield. It looks like they’re going for a solid push towards you, no stealth. Fourteen hostiles all told, and if this guy’s gear is any indication they’re all up-armored. Class Four. Center of mass is no good, go for head or limbs.”
Savoie’s mouth was now dry. “Understood.”
“Don’t worry, Agent. I’ll be behind them, and I’ll do what I can to sow some dissention in the ranks.”
__________
“Wade, report!” hissed Horace into his microphone.
No reply.
He took in a breath to issue another demand when a voice sounded in his ear. Horace had once gone swimming in the ocean off of Florida, and had by pure chance come across a great white shark. He still remembered the vacant gaze of the giant predator, who was probably idly wondering if Horace would make a good snack for today.
This voice brought up once again that dread; it was the voice of a pure predator. “Who is this?”
“Who the fuck are you?”
“The one who just took down…Wade, was it?”
“Sidney, get eyes on Wade!”
“Will do…” There followed a long, long silence before that shark-like voice spoke again.
“You just got Sidney killed too, asshole. Care to keep going? I got no problem with that. Or do you all want to call this a day? You can do that too, you know.”
“Everybody down!” Horace snapped before going prone himself. That taunting voice still sounded in his ear.
“Okay, now you’re all down and less of a target. What now, genius? You got…hmmm…about twelve more minutes before all of the backup in the world arrives. And they will find you. You know what? You’d better hope they find you instead of me. Because I give less than two shits about that whole ‘Geneva Convention’ crap.”
“Maintain radio silence,” said Horace, as he tried to wriggle his way forward.
“Oh, you’re still trying, Mister Leader? How cute. Let me put it this way to you fourteen…sorry, thirteen, assholes. You’re done. Nailed. The best you can hope for is to get some lawyers who want to make a name for themselves. Worst case? You get put in a room with me, and if you have any sense in what passes for your brains you will spill your guts. If I’m honest, I kinda hope you put up a brave front and don’t say anything. It’s been a very long time since I got to cut loose. Gotta keep up that certain set of skills, yanno what I mean?”
“Maintain radio silence,” grated Horace, as he continued to wriggle forward.
Then, all of a sudden, he realized he was looking at boots. A pair of boots, planted in front of him like a goddamn World War Two commando movie. He glanced upwards, hoping against hope that it would turn out to be a gag like that one comedy where it was just boots…
No.
It wasn’t just boots.
Horace looked up into a man with the eyes of a shark, as well as the quite threatening muzzle of a pistol.
“Hey there, my Little Buddy-O,” said Matt. “Whatcha doin out here?”
__________
Milton came to with a gasp. “Shaw…”
A gentle hand laid upon his shoulder. “Shh, dear. He’s fine, everyone’s fine.”
He gazed up at the white-tiled ceiling above him. “But…” He turned to look into the face of the one person he loved above all else…well, her and Johnny. “He’s okay?”
“He’ll live. Just like you. You big doofus.” Teresa leaned forward to kiss his forehead. “I saw the footage. You threw yourself at all of those senior citizens, which might just count as assault with a deadly weapon. Then you went and managed to get all the way across the stage towards Sadaf. You really don’t know when to give up, do you?”
“Guess I don’t”, he chuckled, then glanced down at his arm. His former arm. “Whoof. That medic was really quick with the tourniquet, I’ll give him that.”
“With you and with Sergeant Shaw,” said Teresa. By now she was pretty much clambered on top of him, tucking his big head into the nape of her neck; it was his favorite place to be. He inhaled her scent with relish, before suddenly realizing someone was missing.
“Johnny?” he asked.
“Oh, right,” she said, before making an imperious snap of her fingers to someone out of his line of sight…right before a little ball of energy burst its way into his room.
“DADDY!” yelled the little firebrand, before smacking into his side. Milton hugged them both to himself, realizing that, no matter what happened next, he was right now in the best place possible.
“Keep it all down to a dull roar, okay?” said a voice off to his left. A very recognizable voice.
He picked his head up to stare in that direction. “Shaw?”
The sergeant gave him a casual wave from his own hospital bed. “Hey, slick. Good ta see ya up and about.”
Milton grinned. “You too, you old fart.”
“Aw hell, I ain’t that old. So. Just out of curiosity. Did that torniquet on your arm hurt like hell?”
The agent cuddled his son closer. “You better believe it.”
“Okay, got it. Just for reference, if you get one on your leg it also hurts like a motherfu…uh, hurts like crazy.”
Milton winked at Shaw. “Don’t worry, my son has heard worse. Why are you here?”
“They put you both in one room,” said Teresa. “Something about it being easier to guard. There was an assault on Camp David too, from what I’ve heard.”
“What?” Milton tried to pry himself up off of the bed before getting a mutual shove-down from his wife and son.
“Relax, my man,” said Shaw. “Toke was there. He and my peeps took care of it.” The sergeant looked at the acoustic tiles above him. “Gonna have to promote McCoy and Martinez. They both really stepped up to the plate.”
__________
President Correa rubbed at her temple. “This ‘Toke’ is a menace.” She was seated behind the famed ‘Resolute’ desk while still trying to show the appropriate deference to the barrel-chested man in front of her, clad in a crisp dark-blue dress uniform.
“Let’s be fair, ma’am,” replied General De Vries, “He helped this situation become less complicated, not more. None of our alien…refugees? I suppose that’s a good a term as anything. None of them got killed, hell none of them even got injured. We collected the thirteen of those remaining while trying to assault Camp David. Overall we have ten dead, including the four who somehow made it into the complex and the Secret Service patrol. The attackers had top-of-the-line gear, civilian but first-rate.”
She slammed her fists into the desk-top, making a nearby mug filled with coffee jump. “I fucking VACATION there, General! Me and my family, understand?”
“I know, ma’am. Do you want me to do this questioning…properly?”
She somehow picked up what he was putting down. “No. You have my permission to go off the chain.”
“Then consider me and Toke off the chain, ma’am.”
“Wait…you’re going to use him?”
“He has had experience in similar matters, ma’am. If you prefer, I don’t need to use him.”
She shook her head. “No. We need intel, and fast, on how the fuck this happened. Plus not to mention we somehow had an artillery attack in the midst of goddam DC.”
“I cannot speak for the FBI,” said De Vries with deceptive calm. “But believe me, we will find out how this all happened. And it will never happen again, of that you have my solemn word.”
The president slumped in her seat. “What about those injured in the DC attack?”
“It was a precision single artillery strike, ma’am. Probably GPS or maybe laser-guided, we’re still trying to figure out which. If Sergeant Shaw hadn’t intervened as he did, Captain Sadaf would be nothing but pulverized meat right now.”
She looked up at him with a cynical quirk to her eyebrow. “Did his saving her get caught on film?”
“Oh hell yes. Footage from several phones, it’s all gone viral.”
“Good, make sure it continues to go viral. How is Shaw? And Agent…um…sorry, my brain is going twelve different ways…sorry, Agent Milton Vila, right?”
“You are right, ma’am. Both are still in the hospital, under guard of course, but both are stable. Milton lost an arm, and Shaw lost one of his legs below the knee.”
“Fuck.” It was one of the rare times that De Vries had heard the president swear. “Both can be helped with prosthetics, right?”
“Not my area of expertise, ma’am, but yes. They’ll both live, and we’ll make sure they have the very best technology available.”
President Correa suddenly grinned with an expression that the general somehow knew was going to lead to Complications in his near future.
“You mean the best human technology, don’t you?” she asked, with deceptive calm.
“Well…yes, of course. I mean, Zawahir Ibn Harith is still trying to make sense of how the aliens heal themselves. It’s true regeneration, if I understand it right. Damage to the central nervous system is still kind of hard for them to deal with, but otherwise they can pretty much heal anything.”
The president examined her fingernails. “So…growing back a limb or two should be the proverbial walk in the park, yes?”
“Um…” The general’s eyes widened. He now realized why this unassuming lady had won two terms to the highest executive office in his particular country. “Oh, yes! Of course!”
“The plans for repair efforts on the Rithro have costs which are already pretty much alongside the Manhattan Project,” said President Correa. “Why don’t you appoint Zawahir as the lead of this particular effort? We’ll call it Manhattan-Light.” She fixed General De Vries with her eyes. “Imagine it. Two people, grievously wounded in the line of duty while protecting one of our alien refugees, an effort which was caught on multiple cameras…imagine them then walking out onto a stage with intact limbs.”
“It will make quite the photo op, ma’am.”
“Indeed. I’m glad we understand each other, General.”
submitted by Frank_Leroux to HFY [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 18:25 6IAM6YOU6 Autoflowers revegging?

Okay so I have a question and I'm pretty sure they're not able to do this because it's in the genes. Basically I bought a bag of street weed, said street weed had eight or nine seeds in it. Germinated and planted said seeds all of them sprouted all of them grew two of them were male got rid of them One of them was retarded got rid of it I now have four left. They all started flowering at around 5 weeks The healthiest one was looking good That one started flowering earliest. Fast forward for weeks maybe I now have the one that was like the one I thought was going to be the worst is a full bud cola up the stalk. But the other two have gone back to veg all the buds are disappeared and I don't know why this would happen can anybody tell me? Autoflower shouldn't go back into veg after it starts flowering should it? They work off time not off light so I don't know what the deal is other than the only thing I could possibly think it could be is that the bag of weed was multiple weeds but it was the same bag you know but you never know. It was at one point good bud but when I got it it wasn't great anymore it had looked old and got dark still smelled good had tons of kief. I just wanted to grow the seeds cuz I'm in loser like that lol If anybody can answer that question of why they would go back into veg or if it's even possible I would appreciate it
submitted by 6IAM6YOU6 to outdoorgrowing [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 18:16 SoCuteBear [SELL][CANADA to USA & Canada][PERFUME] tons of goodies to be found!

[SELL][CANADA to USA & Canada][PERFUME]

$15 Minimum Please!
TAT 3 calendar days or less
SHIPPING TO USA:$11 without tracking and $15.75 with tracking. I'm shipping from Canada.
SHIPPING TO CANADA:For samples only, $4. With tracking, it starts at $15. Tracked shipping price in Canada varies by region.
All samples or decants, unless marked as FS.
All purchased new, unless marked as RIS.
ALL PRICES ARE IN USD. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ASTRID
BPAL (all purchased new)
DECONSTRUCTING EDEN (all purchased brand new)
FANTOME (all purchased new) $5.5 each
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NUI COBALT DESIGNS (all purchased new)
POSSETS (ALL PURCHASED NEW; unless marked as FS, all are samples from direct or decant from Ajevie that are $2.5 each)
SIXTEEN92 (all purchased new unless marked as RIS)
SORCELLERIE all Sorcellerie are RIS (some cheaper than others to account for fill level differences)
STEREOPLASM
submitted by SoCuteBear to IndieExchange [link] [comments]