Entrance area crossword clue

A FedEx Story

2023.05.29 14:18 Just_Association7588 A FedEx Story

Hey there. Found this sub yesterday and have been loving it since. Been a PH at ground coming on 2yrs, and figured the least I could do to contribute is put together a few of the most golden, classic fedex moments I've experienced at work.
  1. Complete family of birds, nest and all, in the belly of an empty trailer
  2. Hazmat leak resulting a huge fire in the belly of a half full trailer (crazy day)
  3. Working from 1pm to 1am last year the day after memorial day (yikes for tomorrow ya'll)
  4. Unload guy pulling a box cutter on his manager, fired
  5. Van guy stealing snacks from drivers, got caught on cam, fired
  6. PH flipping sort manager off for giving him 4 doors for a shift, fired
  7. PH fired for attendance at entrance, storms down to their work area to shit talk whole team (cops nearly called)
There's 100% more shit, some stuff I'm actually not even comfortable sharing haha, and plenty more to come, too. Feel free to comment more stuff that's happened at ya'lls warehouses. Genuinely interested guys
submitted by Just_Association7588 to Fedexers [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 14:16 endersgame69 Kayobi's Days Off C9

That was strange. Very strange. One show passed into the next and I wasn’t sure just what was going on…I mean, I didn’t notice it at first, he has other friends. He could have stopped by someone else’s place.
‘Could they have ‘not’ listened to me after all?’ That thought did occur to me, that maybe the ones who hit him, got together a group and ambushed him? My brow furrowed, ‘If they did that…’ I paused the show right as the boorish butch girl was getting ready to punch the computer nerd…because what’s a trash anime without dramatic overreactions?
I began to tap my foot, then checked the time on my phone. ‘School ended two hours ago…’ I thought while I read off the time. Jin was generally the sort of boy you could almost, if not quite, set your watch by. He always left for school early, and even if he dallied a little bit on his way home, he ‘generally’ didn’t delay except at the end of the school week.
And today was a Thursday.
So I did the only logical thing, I shifted back to my natural state to cast a more powerful spell. A swapper’s body isn’t that different from that of a human, at least in its basic body plan. Like if all a human saw of us was our shadow, they might think they were looking at a slightly ‘off’ human’s outline.
Basic, low level magic didn’t require any transformation or ‘swapping’ of my form, but search magic was different, there’s so much data in the world at any given time that without our natural biology to filter it, we just can’t use the spell.
[H’craes r’etemarap Jinn] I spoke the spell aloud to increase it’s potency, just in case, and a white dot formed in the air above my outstretched palm, it pulsed, then exploded like a star going supernova, the billions of little photons spreading out from my palm and touching everything as they dispersed, passing through objects and feeding an endless stream of images into my brain all at once, which I was rapidly filtering through. I didn’t really like to use a spell like this.
Point in fact… I hated it.
I hated it because you can see just… all the things, including things you don’t want to. I winced as points of light passed through occupied bathrooms and busy bedrooms in surrounding apartments. “And I had the nerve to call Jinn a hentai.” I muttered under my breath as more images flowed into my head, the spell was beyond the apartments now, and the endless points of light that were so minute that it was no more than starlight on a cloudy night to human eyes, continued to spread out over streets and into other buildings, offices and places of employment.
The bullyboys were sitting on the old bench where I met them before… they were not nearly so cocky as before, if anything, they were quite sullen. ‘Strange for them to be there at an hour like this… just doing what… nothing?’ I wondered about that, but there was no time to think on it. At least I could safely rule them out. I was now well outside the reach of the neighborhood, and there was no sign of him.
‘It isn’t any of your business.’ I told myself, but I didn’t cancel the spell.
The search went on.
And then… I found him.
And I felt stupid.
‘The hospital… there he is, sitting next to a bed, and yes, there’s his mother…’ She didn’t look good. There was a tube in her throat, an intravenous drip in her arm, her eyes were closed, and she even had tubes in her nose. None of those were desirable as far as I knew.
I didn’t know a lot about human sickness, and why would I? Human viruses and bacteria don’t impact me. But I knew those weren’t good things. I’ve never heard someone say, ‘My health is great, I’m actually getting some tubes shoved down my throat this weekend.’ So I figured it was pretty much the opposite of a good sign.
I canceled the spell. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much I could do about her being sick. Healing magic isn’t something I know anything about. My skills are far more…visceral.
That didn’t mean I was completely helpless.
I reclaimed my human guise, hit the shower, and changed into a plaid skirt and white button down shirt with some flat shoes. I even took the time to take a brush to my fox-fur colored hair and straighten it out before giving it one tie in the back close to my head.
Search magic over an area that large was… not inconsiderable, especially when searching for an individual target, so I did still have to wait a few minutes to cast another spell, or rather, to make sure I could cast it twice.
[t’ropelet f’les l’atipsoh] and then… I was gone. It was dark out when I reappeared on the roof of the hospital, and I rolled my eyes at my absurdity. ‘Of course it put you on the roof, it was the place closest to the target you pictured…’ The winds were blowing high and my skirt danced around me as my hair was lifted up from my back, and I went to the edge to peer down to the bottom. There was nobody around, at least. So… I added some wings to my back, and hopped off, I knew well enough how to make ones that would arrest my descent, that was actually one of the first things I did when I picked Earth as my vacation site.
Swappers aren’t the most popular race in the Universe, and you never know when you’ll have to get gone fast, or how. So I made sure I knew all sorts of shapeshifting techniques to adapt to a wide variety of situations.
I landed out of view, dropped down to one knee and drew the faux wings back into my body, then walked around the front entrance. The lights inside were on and flickered a little when the glass double doors opened. Like most hospitals, this one had a lot of seating in the front area, halls diverged in every direction. A bored, sleepy receptionist in white sat behind a curved wooden desk that had a series of computer monitors evenly spaced along it… but hers was the only one occupied.
I approached the woman, she had curly hair and a world weary expression while she worked at her computer, and didn’t look up when I came near. “Hi, I’m here to see Miss Toriyama, can you tell me what room she’s in?” I asked as cheerily as I could.
She looked up from her computer screen for a moment and huffed, “Visiting hours are over.”
“But-” I started to ask.
“Visiting hours are over. You can return tomorrow morning at nine. Thank you.” She said, then pretended I didn’t exist.
I knew these types. We have them at the agency. Bureaucrats don’t change much from one world to the next, I guess.
“That’s fine, I’ll be happy to come back tomorrow, but could you tell me what room I’d need to go see, so I don’t have to waste your time first thing in the morning?” I batted my eyelashes at her, and at the prospect of not having me come see her twice, she seemed to waver.
“Room nine-zero-one.” She answered after a moment’s look, and I turned around to walk away.
But I never reached the exit. I just waited until I was sure I wasn’t going to be seen, doing what I did next.
submitted by endersgame69 to TheWorldMaker [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 14:03 carpediemeducation Is Carpe Diem Best for 7+ and English Tuition in Dagenham? Ask to Expert

Is Carpe Diem Best for 7+ and English Tuition in Dagenham? Ask to Expert

An increasing number of schools in London and elsewhere are using the 7 plus or 7 examinations, a very difficult school entrance exam, to admit students to the third grade. The exam typically occurs in fee-paying independent schools on January 2 and November 2 of every year, though specific dates may vary per school. A growing number of elite schools in London use Year 7 as a competitive entrance exam for admission to Year 3. The test will be taken by your kid in Year 2.
This is the major justification for selecting 7+ Tuition in London. Math and English are the two main subjects tested in the seventh grade exam. Verbal and non-verbal thinking are currently being taught in more and more schools. Tests are usually written, but may have verbal sections that test rote arithmetic, spelling, memory and dictation.
At Carpe Diem, our talented and professional team offers exceptional tutoring services to students of all ages, levels and majors. We specialize in teaching A-level subjects and preparing students for entry to the world's best universities, and our tutors themselves are recruited from only the top seven in the UK.

Is Carpe Diem English Tuition Best for 7+?

There are reasons why you should consider hiring English Tuition in Dagenham for your child. Your child will have a unique learning experience when you participate in our English language learning program at the Dagenham Centre. At Carpe Diem, we are experts in understanding the challenges your child faces and tailoring lessons to their needs so they can learn to speak and write English with confidence.
Our Basic English language learning concept can go a long way in boosting a child's confidence. They can express themselves verbally in front of peers and adults, from reading aloud to presenting ideas, sharing opinions and asking questions. Improving their English will increase their self-confidence, which will help them succeed in social interactions and school work.
Our teachers can help your child make significant progress in school. Reading is key in all subjects, as is the ability to listen and communicate with teachers when they need help. So when you need the Best Tutors in Dagenham, our professional tutors look after your child's holistic development and language skills, encouraging them to take pride in their work and think creatively when solving problems.

What are the benefits of Carpe Diem 7+ Tuition?

At Carpe Diem, our 7+ Tuition in London experts can offer a number of benefits to students preparing for the 7 entrance exams. Here are some of the benefits of teaching 7:
· Exam preparation
The 7 tutorials are specially designed to help students prepare for the 7 entrance exams. These exams are very competitive and require a solid foundation in subjects such as English, mathematics and reasoning. Tutoring can provide focused preparation and teach students the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in these exams.
· Personal attention
In a learning environment, students receive personal attention from experienced teachers. This individual or group instruction allows teachers to understand each student's strengths and weaknesses and adjust the teaching method accordingly. Teachers can provide individualized feedback and address specific areas where a student needs improvement.
· Improved topic information
Teaching 7 can help students better understand core subjects such as English and mathematics. Our Best Tutors in Dagenham can explain complex concepts, introduce advanced topics and provide additional resources and practice materials to enhance your learning. This can significantly increase the student's subject knowledge and self-confidence.
· Exam strategies and techniques
Entrance exams often require specific strategies and techniques to maximize performance. Teachers experienced in the Seven Exams can teach students effective exam strategies such as time management, question analysis, and problem-solving techniques. These skills are valuable not only for exams but also for future academic endeavors.
· Familiarity with Exam Format
Tuition programs familiarize students with the structure and format of 7+ entrance exams. At Carpe Diem, our Best Tutors in Dagenham can provide practice tests and mock exams that simulate the actual exam conditions, helping students become more comfortable and confident in tackling the exams. This familiarity reduces exam anxiety and enhances performance. It's important to note that the specific benefits may vary depending on the quality of the tuition program, the expertise of the tutors, and the individual needs and abilities of the student.
submitted by carpediemeducation to u/carpediemeducation [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 13:57 Odpea Primitive fun oneshot(probably)

Thank you to u/Far_masterpiece_7739 for proofreading and suggesting edits
this is my first story on NoP and hopefully my first good one, excuse the dates, i just put the date i went to the fair i describe in the story and put it in the year the main story takes place, for reference this is meant to be before the bombs dropped.

Memory transcription subject:Talik, Venlil exchange program participant
Date[Standardised human time]:13.05.2136
As My exchange partner and I stepped out of his house and into his car I was quite unenthused about where we were going. We were headed to a steam fair, yes an actual real life steam fair, this is something a yotul would enjoy, and I was no mere uplift.
[2 hours later]
It took half a spheking paw to get here, ugh, at least it was a chance to listen to more of that wonderful, though oddly named, human music, of the metal genre, my current favourite song being full circle by Five finger death punch, an odd and very predatory name, but it seems the same is true for a lot of human music. As we pulled into the seemingly random field there was an old man, in what my human had told me was a hi vis jacket, making strange hand gestures at us that my human somehow understood, we drove into another field, this one full of semi orderly rows of many different types of cars, we then got out and walked through the long grass towards a green booth of some kind in front of a small also green bridge, there were two middle aged human women in the booth, after my human paid £10 we were allowed in, at first it was less than impressive to our left was a man in an oddly coloured suit and purple top hat on a large stage, in front of us was a large empty area fenced off with rope, and many older vehicles were off to our left along with some “bouncy castles'' as my human had explained to me before and several stalls selling various items.
We went over to the left, past the stage and several food stands that smelled absolutely incredible, we made our way to a large horizontal wheel that suspended five other horizontal wheels that each had three sets of seats suspended from them, my human decided this would be a good way to “break me into it”, I decided against pointing out the very predatory language, and agreed to go on, my human gave the ride operator £3 and we both got on, my human being the bigger of the two of us had to sit next to the padded wall likely to reduce the effects of inertia, after a short wait for it to fill up, the ride started to play some music and slowly spin each the top one spinning the opposite direction to the others, the ride slowly got faster and after about a minute the operator announced, over the PA of the ride,that it was “time for turbo mode” and to “squish your partner”, and so I did, I allowed myself to slide across and bump into him at speed, I hit him harder than I intended, and apologised, he said nothing and simply pushed against the centrifugal force pushing us into the padded wall and moved us both to the opposite side of the cart, and laughed saying that he barely felt my impact “of course you didn’t, you have the most messed up physiology I have ever seen” I laughed out smiling in spite of myself.
After the ride stopped we moved past a giant vertical wheel, that my human called a Ferris wheel, and a large tower with a slide running around the outside, called a helter skelter my human said, and on to what my human said was one of his favorite rides ever, the swinging boats, from where we stood they looked quite tame, something was wrong, my human was an “Adrenaline junkie” as he and several of his friends had called him, meaning two rectangular boxes with seats in them just hanging there was clearly not all there was to the first steam powered ride I had seen at this steam fair, as we ascended the stairs to get on I saw an old man in amongst many valves, levers and gauges, my human paid the man £3 and one other person was on the ride with us, we were at one end and she was at the other, she smiled at us and laughed at my concerned face after my human gave some obscure hand sign, I should really learn the human hand, face and head language, just then I noticed a sign that read “all riders do so at their own risk” I was now very worried, I didn’t say anything though as I knew that my human would never intentionally endanger me, just then an ear peircing screeching sound started, causing me to Jump in fright, we were then told to hold onto the netting behind us and put our feet on the bench in front of us, then the box we were in started to swing, and I realised what they would do, after about [20 seconds] we were swinging so far that the box, or boat as my human had corrected me several times now, went from horizontal to vertical, with every swing, my human and the other one on the ride were smiling and laughing with each other while i firmly closed my eyes, my human noticed my discomfort and spoke, as softly as he could to be heard over the sound of the rushing air, comforting me and making sure i was ok, and trying to lighten the mood with a small joke here and there, eventually I felt brave enough to open my eyes and see the open sky on the other side of the netting, then we swung back and i was looking down at the human female smiling comfortingly at me, then i felt the air rushing in my face as we swung back and i couldn't help but bleat in surprise, this caused both humans to “awww” simultaneously quickly followed by the human female saying “jinx” and them both laughing, this time i joined in too.
About a minute later we were off of the ride and i felt like the ground was moving under me for a few seconds after i got off, right next to the boats was a small booth with several confectionaries on the rear wall and several very old looking weapons on the counter, there was a human mother helping their child to aim one of them at the confectionaries and then a small pop was heard as a cork flew from the end of the weapon and i saw a small pink cuboid with a green being called a dragon(that looked like if someone recoloured an Arxur and made it more square) on it, labelled “CHEWITS” fall backwards off its shelf, the woman running the stall then collected the tube from the trough at the bottom and passed it to the child who ran off happily, with his mother in tow. My human decided to challenge me at this game, I foolishly accepted and quickly wasted £15 of my human's money to only glance at a very large tin of biscuits, my human on the other hand had hit all bar 1 shot and we now had several boxes of confectionery.
The next ride we went on was called “THE SUPER SKID CARS” according to the sign above the ride entrance. My visual translator had a hard time with that one due to the very odd font. My human said he used to love riding these with his mum when he was a child, and that he was somewhat surprised such an old machine was still in service, (frankly I was surprised any of these machines were still in service at all). My human told me that these were a precursor to “waltzers” and said that based on my reaction to the boats it may be for the best if i watched first, i agreed, as my human was about to get on, he saw one of his friends, she was called Summer and she was a very lovely person, once you got past her shell of self loathing depression and their exchange partner, Janak was her name, after the two of them had hugged, we collectively decided that the humans should go on and we would watch to decide if we wanted to join them the second time, so my human and Summer went on together, the ride worked by a large central wheel spinning with several carts facing inward being pulled around by it, with a break pedal that would slow the cart enough that it would rotate about its hinge to the point that it was facing the direction it was traveling, when you then let go of the break it would fling the cart around at high speed to face the other way and repeat, all the while a human song was being played quite loudly, the one playing while our humans were on was dancing in the moonlight, our humans were singing along, and quite loudly, until the ride sped up causing summer to scream slightly and then laugh with me,Janak and my human , as they were flung so hard that they bounced back and forth several times, this continued for a little while more with Summer squealing in delight at every swing, my human singing and laughing along all the while.
After summer got off we all walked back around to the food stalls, where Janak and I had the leaves of a lovely vegetable called a lettuce, according to Summer, slices of a purple vegetable with white stripes in rings through it, called a red onion, according to summer, this prompted me to ask why it was called a red onion if it was purple and white, both humans looked at me and laughed at that, before my human said “sometimes human names are very on the nose, and other times, not so much, don’t worry about it.”, all while laughing, our meal was then wrapped in a thin-ish flat disk of strayu, I asked how humans had strayu in large enough quantities to sell like this, so soon after meeting us, this caused summer and Janak to laugh and my human to look confused, Janak explained that the humans had many different types of strayu, called bread apparently, and that they developed it independently and much, much earlier on in their cultural evolution than us, he also said that it tasted, different, not necessarily bad, but definitely not the same. The humans had chosen a bratwurst hot dog each from a german food stall, run by the british catering company, whilst mine and Janak’s was from a greek stall, also run by the british catering company.
After eating we went up to the stalls to the right of the entrance, where, my human bought a new wallet, and I bought several human confectionaries, at the end, there were several very primitive cloth tents, with people walking around in clothes that were very clearly not of this century, and they all carried weapons, such as knives, swords and axes. My human got quite excited at this and went over to speak with a group wearing helmets, chainmail and animal skins with jewellery woven into it, they had a table full of axes and swords with shields around it and spears poking out of the ground nearby, one of them holding a Dane axe!, after a lengthy conversation with a few of them we walked away with a card containing contact information, so that my human could join their re-enactment group. The central area was now host to two humans on motorbikes performing stunts and various tricks, while an announcer spoke to the crowd, as we walked down the backside of the central ring and towards the boats again we saw several small and quite slow steam engines making their way in our general direction, after we passed them I saw a dog, a truly fearsome beast tied to the front of a colossal steam engine, with, what i assumed to be the engine’s owner nearby talking to a woman with another dog, after we passed them we decided to have a go at the plate smash stand, Janak, summer and myself did terribly but my human hit every shot bar one, then we kept on moving, Janak and I had decided to go on the “THE SUPER SKID CARS'' with our respective humans. IT WAS A HUGE SPECKING MISTAKE!!!! A few seconds in, I was clinging to my human’s arm crying, he was holding me, softly stroking my head and speaking soothingly to me. About a minute in, i was able to open my eyes and sit there, still clinging to my human, as he continued to hold me, i noticed that he too seemed to be on the verge of tears, although i suspected for a different reason, after a while i got used to the speed, and asked my human to start swinging us, he did and i screamed in delight, it was so much fun, we sung along to a song i don't know the name of and moved so fast, i could feel my stomachs shift and shake around inside my body, after the ride finished i was so high on adrenaline that i felt like i could do anything, the same could not be said for Jamak, he looked utterly petrified and on the verge of throwing up. We returned to the shooting area and this time we only spent £5 each and i missed every shot, but it was fun, my human only got a tube of CHEWITS this time, but we still had fun, we then made our way back to the ferris wheel, we all went on and once we reached the top we stopped and i thought that something was wrong, until i looked down, now i'm braver than most venlil but this height was insane, however i now knew why we had stopped, a man and his son were getting on, however as i leaned back it caused our seating pod to rock back and forth, this made me freeze in terror as i pictured us falling and going splat on the ground below, and then we were moving again, and then we were on the ground, but we were still moving and then we were high in the air again, after this cycle of up and down had repeated another three times we finally got off, my whole body quivering with the after effects of terror, Jamak was clinging onto Summer’s arm and refused to let go as she lugged him around.
We made our way back to the boats and we all decided to go on, all except Jamak of course, at least he had let go of summer by now, this time i kept my eyes open the whole time and several of the other humans on board were screaming in delight, it was hilarious, my human, summer and i were all laughing, and as the boat slowed down, my human let go of the netting and put his feet back down, then the operator told him to put them back up and to keep holding on, so he put his hands up to hold on again and as he went to put his feet back up, the boat sped up again leading to my human hanging vertically and as we came back down, summer an i tried to hold him in place and check to see if he was ok, but he just wouldn't stop laughing, after the ride had stopped and we had gotten off, he finally stopped, and loudly exclaimed “DID YOU SEE THAT, IT WAS FUCKING AWESOME, HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!” this prompted summer to loudly exclaim “suicidal cunt, your going to give me a heart attack one of these days!”, this caused him to chuckle again and say “you’re one to talk aren’t you? And I'm way more likely to have a heart attack than you, genetic disorders, remember?”This went on until we reached the car parking field, where we went our separate ways, i was buzzing the whole way home as we listened to even more music and chatted, once we arrived home my tiredness hit me like a stampeding mazic and i fell face first onto the sofa.
When I woke up my human had bought me a glass of apple juice and was sitting next to me with one of his dogs on his lap, the large German shepherd Labrador cross breed, named Leela. She was huffing happily as my human rubbed her stomach. It had taken quite a while to warm up to the large and loud beast, but now she was a brilliant addition to my little herd and I can't imagine living without her here.
“Thank you, for the day out, it was wonderful, and I’m sorry for the way I acted about it this morning.”
“That’s fine, I had fun, and it seems you did too, that’s all that matters, that we both had fun.”
“You're the best friend a venlil could ask for, you know that right? I love spending time with you Oscar, even if you don’t love me, just know that I love you…. sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Hey, hey” Oscar said, softly, as I started to cry. “Just because I’m aromantic, doesn’t mean I can’t feel love, just not romance, I still love you, just platonically, now come and give me a hug, you silly sheep!” He said happily.
“I'm not a sheep, you stupid ape!” I responded jokingly, feigning indignation.
“I love you oscar”
“I love you too, Talik, now let’s get some dinner, we have to go back to work tomorrow.” and with that he stood up, finished his apple juice and walked into the kitchen.
submitted by Odpea to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 13:53 dostoyesv schools in cavite that offer art-related courses

by the time i graduate shs may bahay na kami sa cavite. i’ll still be taking college entrance exams here in manila (though 50/50 pa rin ako raynao on pursuing college LOLS) pero i wanna know my options in cavite.
so far ang nakita ko pa lang talaga na may art-related courses ay dlsu-d, and even there mma lang ang art course offered.
dasma/gen tri is ok pero preferably amadeo/silang/indang/tagaytay area sana
submitted by dostoyesv to studentsph [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 13:38 Allemande728 Does anyone remember this game?

I'm trying to remember the name of this game that I played constantly on an iPad in roughly 2010-2011. It was a RPG fantasy game in a pixel art style where you played on a server with other players. It had many different areas and some mini-games you could play with other players, like capture the flag.
Some things I remember about it:
submitted by Allemande728 to roguelikes [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 13:15 SeaArt_Ai Basic Function Introduction

Basic Function Introduction
Using SeaArt, you can quickly generate AI images by entering a drawing "spell" (Prompt). Let us learn the basics and utilization of SeaArt to start your journey of AI painting!

User Registration Guide

Open SeaArt.AI official website main page, register your own SeaArt account, and take the first step of your creative journey
  • - Click on the Generation in the left menu bar or the ··· at the bottom of the page → Log in to open the login interface.
  • You can choose multiple ways to log in in the pop-up login interface. Select one to proceed.
  • After entering your personal information, click Start using to complete the registration process.

Page Introduction Guide

Choose your favorite image/model, and click on the "Generate" button in the upper right corner. We are eager to see your work!
Page Overview
○Home: Displays works and models, provides "Search" and "Style Filter" functions
○Works: Displays user works, favorited and followed works, provides "Search" function
○Model: Displays available models and favorited models, provides "Search" and "Filter" functions
○Personal: Displays works created by you
○Generate: Engage in drawing creation, view drawing task progress and results
○Discord: Join the SeaArt Discord discussion group
○Follow Us: Join the SeaArt community
○Contact Us: Customer service panel, you can view SeaArt Introduction, Hot Questions, and feedback on issues and suggestions.

Works Display Page

•Entrance: Click on Home
•Introduction to the Works Display Page:
○Home: Displays all works produced by users, supports searching, viewing, and quick creation of works
○Random Generation: Can randomly generate a string of text for work search or further creation
○Advanced Config Button: Click to enter the "Generate" page and apply advanced creative settings to the entered text
○Tag Bar: Filters corresponding tags for all works
○Works Area: Displays user-generated content based on corresponding conditions

Work Details Page

Entrance: Click on or hover your mouse over the corresponding work
Introduction to the Work Details Page:
○ ··· : You can report or save the work, and hovering over it also allows you to quickly copy the link for sharing
○ ❤: Favorite the work and add it to your personal space
Try: Copy the parameters and enter the "Generate" page
○ → : View the model


Model Display Page

Page Entrance: Click on Model
Introduction to the Model Display Page:
○ Tag Bar: Filters corresponding tags for all works
○ Works Area: Displays currently available models based on corresponding conditions
○ Upload Button: Upload your own model

Generate Page

Page Entrance: Click on Generate
Introduction to the Generate Page:
○ Generate Methods:
▪ Txt2Img (Generate images based on entered prompts)
▪ Img2Img (Generate images based on the uploaded image content)
▪ ControlNet (Generate images based on the uploaded image content while limiting the criteria)
○ Generate Tools:
▪ Upscale (Improve the resolution of the uploaded image)
▪ Describe (Generate prompts based on the uploaded image)
○ Parameter Settings (Customization settings range from basic size to advanced art styles)
○AI Ideate (Enter one or more words to generate complete prompts automatically)

Personal Page

Page Entrance: Click on Personal
Introduction to the Personal Page:
○ Works/Favorites: Displays your personal works and favorited content. Click on Works and Model for the respective view.
○ Organize: Create and name a new Favorite Folder (can be set as not visible to the public). Click on the pen button when hovering your mouse over a folder to edit its Public visibility.
submitted by SeaArt_Ai to SeaArt_Ai [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 12:57 Finzombie The Thing in the Cracks - Part 1

By Fin
“Holy crap.” James Talbot stepped back from his handiwork. It was beautiful. It made him want to scream.
Talbot was a chemist, the modern form of an alchemist, and he’d discovered something as wondrous and terrible as the most extreme postulations of his forbearers.
This was it. The culmination of all his works. This is what he’d fought for decades for, why he’d abandoned connections with everyone he’d ever known. But now it was all worth it. He would reveal the Masterwork at the Grand Chemistry Convention. It would steal the show, and he would be revered beyond every other human being who had ever lived.
It had taken Talbot long enough to assemble the Masterwork that he’d shed the title of ‘young’, not to mention most of his non-gray hair. Although it was hard to tell whether that was from aging or from what he’d beheld in his long sojourn. He was only 45, after all, and the rest of his body still held firm from decades of outdoorsmanship.
Talbot stood before a wall, upon which was painted the most intricate design any human had ever seen. It was a diagram of… unknown things. A chart of runes, maps, and artfully painted lines. There was no text in any living language on the diagram, but the harmony within the full tapestry visually sang, imparting something unfathomable in a way that Talbot could somehow fathom. The man who’d made it, who’d studied it for 15 years, barely understood it himself. But he knew that it was the ultimate solution to the entirety of philosophy, containing the answers to every question humanity had ever seen fit to ask. It had existed in his notebook for a while, in bits and pieces, but today had been its first full assembly, and it was magnificent.
He had to keep it hidden, or someone would take it from him.
He retrieved a tarp and threw it over the wall, nailing it in at the top so it hung down to cover his designs. Just to be sure, he moved his desk to block the wall, then locked the door to his office when he left for the day. James Talbot was more excited than he had ever been, and he celebrated that night with a fireplace and a large bottle of whiskey.
Of all the people at his office to commit espionage, Talbot never would’ve suspected the night janitor. This may stem from the fact that he also never suspected the night janitor to be part of a massive secret organization dedicated to keeping humanity as ignorant as possible in matters of the Higher Order.
But no matter what Talbot suspected, Tim Willis was indeed part of this society, and after he’d entered Talbot’s office with his master key to do some routine cleaning, the obvious secrecy surrounding the wall at the back of the room worried him. So he moved the desk out of the way, lifted the tarp, and inhaled sharply.
This was bad. A tapestry of the Higher Order more complete than any he’d seen before, or any reported by the other Censors of the Agency for the Preservation of Humanity.
Willis quickly replaced the tarp and desk. As soon as he’d locked the room, he pulled out his phone and dialed the number for an Alexander Talc.
Talbot arrived the next morning with a song in his heart and a latte in his hand. The former died horribly as soon as he entered his office only to find someone sitting in his chair, and the latter died horribly as it fell from his fingers, limp in shock.
The person in question was a short, slight man who wore thick glasses and a dark gray suit. He was sitting on Talbot’s office chair, facing the now uncovered back wall with all of its eldritch calculations. Talbot’s desk had been moved to the side of the room, left askew with the tarp crumpled up on top.
As Talbot entered, the stranger spun the chair around so he was facing the chemist, a broad smile on his face. He was undeniably attractive, in a delicate sort of way.
“Ah! You must be the aspiring alchemist?” He spoke softly and cheerily, but with an unnerving edge. Talbot couldn’t identify any specific aspect of his voice that disturbed him, but upon further consideration he concluded that it was the incongruity of the situation, the warm friendliness of his tone grating against Talbot’s unease.
Talbot took a step back, shaken. “I don’t… what-”
“Quite an impressive display here. You’ve managed to glean a quite large amount of knowledge about the Higher Order, especially considering you’ve never consulted us at the APH.” He pronounced it phonetically, like Aff.
“What are you-”
Talbot heard a click from behind him, and turned to see Tim Willis, the night janitor, closing and locking his door. He could barely register the betrayal.
“Ah, yes. Tim is working for me. For us. The Agency for the Protection of Humankind really frowns upon anyone attempting to learn the Higher Order.”
Talbot, finally able to form a full sentence, asked, “What’s the Higher Order?”
“You know what it is, of course, although you may not have heard the term. It’s what we call the mechanics of the very fabric of the universe itself. The questions about ‘why are we here?’ and ‘is there a god?’ and all the stuff like that. All theoretical philosophy, basically. And you, apparently through sheer dumb luck,” He turned to admire the mural again, “have managed to find more of it than any human being ever, including us! Quite impressive. Big hand.” The man slow-clapped for Talbot. The small sweet-looking man being sarcastically condescending was jarringly incongruous.
Talbot felt a surge of anger, and it helped him produce a full sentence. “Dumb luck?!?” He advanced on the man. “My Masterwork is the product of 20 years of research and experience! This is the greatest thing anyone has ever done, and how dare you say I achieved it through dumb luck!”
The man raised his hands placatingly. “Okay, okay!” He chuckled. “Years of research, whatever. You found the Higher Order. That’s where we come in.”
“Ah. Well, you see, the reason that no one’s found the entire Higher Order is simple. It’s because we stop them.”
Talbot was incredulous. “What?! Why would you stand in the way of progress like that?!” As a scientist, the possibility that there could be anyone actively against gaining knowledge was incomprehensible to him.
The man grimaced, as though he was about to break some terrible news. “Well… there are some parts of this tapestry you’ve assembled, specifically here...” The man pointed at a small segment of the diagram, a thick horizontal line with four thin lines crossing perpendicularly that turned into five lines on the other side, “That grants access to some other planes of existence. Planes of existence that are home to some very dangerous things. And due to some logistical aspects of the Higher Order,” He gestured at another segment of the diagram entirely composed of square symbols, “if you muck about in their domain, they are able to muck about in ours. The Law of Equivalent Interference.”
“But… how would our finding answers count as ‘mucking about in their domain’? If we knew the danger, we just wouldn’t go there.”
The man was silent, then answered Talbot’s question with a question. “Tell me, Talbot. If humans discovered another dimension, do you really think they’d be able to stay out of it?”
“Fine. But then why do you have to censor the whole thing? Why not give them the benign parts that would still forward human progress by centuries?”
“Because the Higher Order is like Algebra. Or a logic puzzle from Highlights magazine. If you give someone smart enough just a few clues, they’ll eventually assemble the whole picture. Which we desperately want to avoid.”
There was a long and heavy silence.
“Ok.” Said Talbot, wrapping his head around the new information. “So the APH stops people from finding the answers to these questions so our world isn’t destroyed by Fourth Dimensional entities?”
“Exactly!” The man nodded, delighted at Talbot’s comprehension. “Well, they’re technically Fifth Dimensional. The existence of time in our reality means that this is the Fourth Dimension.”
There was another silence.
“Sorry, what was your name again?” Talbot asked.
The man looked utterly devastated. “Oh no! I can’t believe I was so rude!” He vaulted the desk and approached Talbot, stopping just short and shaking his hand. “Alexander Talc, Class 2 Censor Operative for the APH.”
“Censor as in… ?”
“Yes, I censor things. People too, if necessary.”
“So what,” Talbot asked, “You’re here to kill me?”
Talc gasped. “What?!?! No! As if we’d be so barbaric! We’re here to recruit you.”
Talbot’s eyes widened. “Wait, really?”
“Of course! You know more about the Higher Order than any human outside of the APH, and probably more than a majority of those inside of the APH. Your expertise could be vital in preventing a breach in our reality!”
“What would this job entail?”
“Well, we’d need you to fake your death, change your name, burn your research-”
Talbot recoiled.
“Now I know that sounds like a lot,” Talc backpedaled, “But allow me to let you in on a little secret.” He leaned in conspiratorially, then glanced around as though to make sure nobody was listening. Satisfied, he whispered, “The dental is off-the-charts.”
Talbot shook his head. “What happens if I don’t take the job?”
Talc winced. “Things get considerably less pleasant. I have to call in a Class 3 Purge Operative, and that’s always a hassle.”
Talbot chose not to inquire into the purpose of a ‘Purge Operative’.
Talc gently laid a hand on Talbot’s shoulder. “It’s a lot to take in, I know. How about we move to some place more hospitable and you can think it over?”
Talbot nodded, his mind elsewhere. Talc gently guided him out of the room, Willis following and closing the door behind them.
Talbot stared down into his conical paper cup, filled with water that tasted plasticy. The three men were in the lobby of Talbot’s workplace, leaning against a table adorned with donuts and a water cooler.
Talc bit into a day-old bear claw as Talbot swirled his water and considered the situation.
If he accepted the offer, he would be shipped off to another state, away from his home in Bedford, where he would join whatever on earth APH was. Talbot hated the idea of working for an agency whose entire purpose was to destroy knowledge. On the other hand, if he didn’t accept the offer, they’d likely kill him.
Purge Officer…
Would working for the APH really be so bad? Talbot liked Talc enough. Maybe they could be friends. Or… more than friends. And if the APH truly wanted Talbot to be able to suppress the Higher Order, he’d have to know the Higher Order. Which meant research. He could essentially continue on exactly as he was.
Except he would never be recognized as the genius he was. Talbot involuntarily crushed his paper cup as he realized that, if he took the offer, he’d never win a Nobel prize. He’d never present at the Grand Chemistry Convention. He’d never write a revolutionary scientific paper. He would be forgotten.
He knew what he had to do. He couldn’t say no, or he would be killed. He couldn’t accept, or he would be forgotten, which was worse. He had to escape.
But how? This was some sort of world-ruling secret agency. They probably had eyes everywhere. What could he possibly do to get away?
His eyes wandered towards the stairs. The stairs that led to his office, which held the key to every single natural law.
Talbot tossed his cup in the trash, then approached Talc.
“I think I’m ready to make my decision. But first, can I go to the restroom?”
Talc nodded. “Of course! Take all the time you need!”
Talbot nodded and jogged toward the restroom. In the tiled floor under him, he saw Willis’s warped reflection following him discreetly.
He entered the single restroom and quietly opened the window. He could see Willis’s shadow under the door as the man hovered just outside.
Talbot waited a couple seconds, then flushed the toilet, turned on the sink, and silently crept through the window. He fell a few feet to the alley below, and had to suppress a grunt.
Now what? He needed to escape, but his notebook was still upstairs. All his research was in there, and he couldn’t leave it to the APH.
The only ground level entrance to the building was the main lobby door, which was directly in Talc’s sightline. However, who said he had to enter on ground level?
Talbot’s gaze rose to the old fire escape above him. The bottom of the structure was a platform that lined up with the second floor. A ladder was folded up on the platform, an old rusty latch keeping it from reaching ground level. Talbot couldn’t reach the latch from where he was on the ground, so he looked around for a solution.
He had a bum throwing arm, so he couldn’t toss anything up to break it. Unless…
Talbot considered Talc’s words. The very mechanics of the universe itself... He felt a flare of pride as he realized how little Talc truly understood.
The sigil that granted access to the Fifth Dimension was just one of several such Seals. Over all Talbot’s years of study, those portions of the Higher Order were the most applicable. They did not just show universal aspects of reality. They represented those aspects. They were symbolic, and like all symbols, they were powerful.
They were simulacra of natural laws, and could be manipulated in order to manipulate those laws themselves. It allowed anyone who knew the Seals to weave a sort of magic, ignoring the laws of time, space, or gravity by sketching and then destroying the corresponding runes, temporarily destroying that Law’s influence over oneself. Talbot’s hypothesis was that there was a single Greater Seal for each law that controlled that law anywhere and everywhere. If that one was found and destroyed, the laws of reality would change forever.
For greater, wide-scale application, Talbot had scrawled in his notebook, The Greater Aspects must be located and manipulated.
Talbot dropped to the ground and dragged his finger through the alley gravel. He assembled the rocks into a facsimile of a tiny part of the Higher Order, one that he’d experimented with a lot. He looked around for a suitable vessel, settling on a rock. He poured all his mental energy into the stone, and used his hands to scatter the pebbles that made up the Seal of Velocity.
The rock sprang from the ground and soared upwards, clanging against the ladder before anticlimactically falling into a dumpster. From inside, Willis banged on the bathroom door and said something indistinct. Talbot’s second telekinetic toss hit the ladder before falling onto the platform itself. He broke another Seal, and his third throw smacked into the latch, splitting the rusted thing and shooting the ladder downwards.
It made a lot of noise, and Talbot could hear Willis pounding on the bathroom door inside. He seemed to be breaking it down, as Talbot heard wood split with a crunch. Talbot quickly mounted the ladder and climbed up to the platform, trying not to think about the alarming creaking sounds the old construction was making. From there, he took the stairs two at a time, spiraling up and up until he reached the sixth floor.
Six flights of stairs only had him a bit winded by the time he reached his floor. He tried the door to the inside, and found it unlocked.
Talbot entered the hallway outside his office quietly. He considered how this would play out. Willis and Talc would be storming up here at any moment. He had to move quickly.
Talbot entered his workroom, dragging his desk over to block the door. He took a moment to gaze forlornly at his Masterwork, because he would never be able to take it with him. All the same pieces and diagrams were in his notebook, but the full Masterwork was a thing of beauty, one that he would never behold again.
He snapped a picture of it with his phone. It wasn’t the same, but it’d have to do.
Talbot grabbed his notebook, its leather-bound pages bulging with decades of research. Some of the sheaves of paper stuck out at odd angles, newspaper snippets and glossy photographs glued into the most faithful companion Talbot had ever had.
Was there anything else he needed?
The door began to rattle.
Talbot grabbed a sheet of blank paper from his desk and rapidly sketched as many Seals as he could. He had an idea of how he could escape, but he needed to harness his work to do it. Using the Masterwork as a reference, he scrawled the Seal of Time, the Seal of Space, the Seal of Gravity, and, after considering it, the Seal of the Fifth Dimension.
Just in case. He thought.
With a crack, his door burst open, shoving the desk out of the way. Talc and Willis stood there, the latter looking enraged, the former strangely calm.
“Talbot, this doesn’t have to happen this way.” Talc appealed, but Talbot was done listening. He would not be forgotten. He would be immortalized, through his work.
Talbot ripped a corner off of his Seal sheet, and glanced down at the Seal of Time. With a glare at Talc, he stuck it in his mouth and began to chew.
Talbot disappeared with a pop, as Willis lunged towards where he’d just been.
Willis stopped short, then turned to Talc. He was noticeably upset at losing their quarry.
“What do we do now?”
“Well, we follow him.”
Talc approached the Masterwork. “It’s simple. I’m sure Talbot understood that time travel doesn’t work the way everyone thinks it does. Cause and Effect are inextricably linked, and cannot be put out of order. Traveling through time actually just creates another dimension, a splintered facsimile of your original where things play out differently.”
“So… to follow him do we just use the Time Sigil?”
Seal, Willis. And no. That will just create another splinter plane. Now that the reality has already been established, we need to follow him. Using this.”
Talc’s thin fingers traced the outline of another Seal, one Talbot hadn’t thought to inscribe.
“There are many ways to traverse the Multiverse.” Talc said, “Using Seals to rip open the barriers between planes is one of the simplest.”
Talc sketched down two copies of the seal, then separated the two and handed one to Willis. The two locked eyes and nodded in unison. They both rent their sheets in half and disappeared.
Talbot didn’t ‘land’, per se, but he still felt off-balance when he blinked into existence in his office. He staggered, but caught himself before he could fall. The world felt… different here.
Out of everything Talbot had discovered, Multiversal travel was his least considered. He’d been too cowardly to experiment with anything but the Space, Gravity, and Velocity Seals, so this experience was new to him. Naturally, as any scientist does when faced with something unfamiliar, he started taking notes.
Effects of Time/Universe Traversal:
–Slight nausea. Somewhat noticeable. Temporary?
–World overall feels discordant. Silence sounds different than back home. My tinnitus is in another key. Feels like I don’t belong.
–Different frequency hard-coded into every reality?
Before he could assemble an entire thesis on the underlying resonance within the multiverse, he realized with a start that he had to get out of here. Talc and WIllis were likely following him, and even if they weren’t, there were copies of them in this dimension.
Talbot had willed himself about 10 minutes back in time, and it seemed like that’d worked. His Masterwork was complete and the desk and tarp were off to the side. The trio were likely downstairs in the lobby, where Past-Talbot was thinking over the pros and cons of their offer. At least, he thought so. Time travel seemed to create a splintering reality, one that maintained consistency with his original up until the point where he showed up. There were plenty of unfamiliar worlds out there, but the Seal of Time created one quite familiar. Right now Past-Talbot-
Past-Talbot doesn’t sound right. Pretty soon it’ll be my present, then my future. How about Talbot-2?
After settling upon a name to call his double, Talbot exited his office and left through the door that led to the fire escape, in too much of a hurry to close it. He scrambled down the stairs, knocked the latch off the ladder, climbed to the ground, popped open the bathroom window, and climbed inside. Right as he got his arms through, the door opened.
Talbot-2 walked in, then stopped short as he saw himself dangling halfway through the window. Talbot put a finger to his lips, and indicated Willis-2 with his eyes. Talbot-2 silently shut the door, locking Willis-2 outside.
Talbot-2 opened his mouth to speak, but barely got out one word. “What-”
“I’m you, from the future. Well, not from your future, but from a future.”
Talbot-2’s confused expression was replaced with excitement. “So the Time Seal Worked?! Fantastic! What’s it like?!”
“I’d tell you all about it, but I’m currently stuck in a bathroom window and being hunted down by two government agents. Although I don’t actually know if they work for the government…”
Talbot-2 pulled him through the window into the bathroom. “Sorry.”
Once he was in, Talbot glanced at the door behind Talbot-2.
“Okay. Here’s the thing. Some version of Talc and Willis will be here any minute. Whether mine followed me from the future or not, yours will catch on soon. We need to get out of here, and get the Masterwork to somebody else.”
“Wait, which Talc and Willis will show up?”
“One of them… or both of them. It doesn’t really matter! Do we know anybody we can send our notes to?”
Talbot-2 considered it. “Davis?”
Talbot frowned, and opened his notebook to an early page.
Dr. Wilson Davis
–Spineless fool. He calls himself a chemist, but refuses to venture outside the conventions of the industry. No true scientist works a cushy chemical production job! We journey! We endeavor!
Talbot shook his head. “He’d never publish something like this. If they tracked him down, he’d probably take their oppressive offer.”
Dr Monica Johnson
—Chemist and conspiracy nut. Super gullible, but generally a good person.
“She’ll believe anything.” Talbot said. “...Which is actually probably a good thing in this case. If she thinks it’s real, she’ll distribute it, and she’s earnest enough to leave my- our name on it.”
Talbot-2 nodded. “Sounds like a plan. Actually, it sounds like an idea, not a plan. What is our plan?”
Talbot thought for several seconds. “Here’s what we do. You pretend to accept their offer, and do whatever they tell you. If all else fails, you’ll get a cushy job working for the government. Meanwhile, I get this,” Talbot indicated his notebook. “To Johnson, and then…” He paused.
Someone knocked on the door.
“And then?” Talbot-2 prompted in a whisper, glancing behind him.
“Then… I’ll figure something out.”
Talbot-2 nodded. “Alright. Are we ready to go?”
“I think so.” Talbot replied.
Talbot slipped out of the window, and Talbot-2 opened the door to greet Willis-2.
The man peered around him. “Who were you talking to in there?”
Talbot-2 shrugged. “Myself. You know, crazy scientist stuff.”
Talbot dropped to the ground, then produced his sheet of Seals. He picked out one specific design, a circle bisected by a thin line. On one side of the line, a stylized forest thrived, and on the other a pictographic city loomed. Talbot ripped the Seal of Space from his paper and stuck it in his mouth, once again disappearing with a pop.
Talc and Willis appeared in Talbot-2’s workroom, and quickly exited. Both spun in the hallway outside, and both spotted the wide-open door to the fire escape. They both moved down the rickety metal construction and found themselves in an alley behind the building.
“See that?” Talc pointed at the window.
“Yeah. Did he go in through it?” Willis asked.
“Of course. But if he used the Seal of Time to try to come back and alert himself, I’m guessing he came through here to talk to him…self, but he couldn’t have left. The only point at which he was in the bathroom, you were right outside. He popped in, popped out, popped another Seal.”
“Is there any guarantee that he came back to alert himself? He could’ve gone to any point in time.”
“I know his type. The out-there intellectual. He’s been burned by everyone but himself. He’ll only trust himself. And if he came to himself before we’d arrived, he wouldn’t believe him.”
“Sorry, who wouldn’t believe him?”
“Him! Aren’t you-” Talc took a moment to consider the context. “You know what, nevermind. The point is that this reality’s Talbot is now in league with our Talbot, and that’s not good.”
“What do we do?”
“Well firstly, we need to cut it down to one Talbot. Two is too many to deal with.” Talc pushed on his earpiece, then spoke. “Hello? Can you hear me, Talc?” There was silence, until something dawned on him. “Ah, dammit. I can’t call my own earpiece.” He adjusted something on his earpiece. “Willis! Do you copy?” Willis heard Talc both from right next to him and through his earpiece. He didn’t hear the reply, but his earpiece buzzed as its exact copy broadcast something. Willis took his earpiece out and squinted at it, curious about the exact Multiversal properties that bonded it to its clone.
“Yes, this is Talc. But not your Talc. Listen, Talbot ran off to this dimension, and we believe he’s working with your Talbot. We need to meet up, then dispose of the dupe.”
Talc listened for a response, and Willis’s earpiece vibrated as his double presumably replied.
Talc turned to Willis. “Alright. They’ll meet us back in Talbot’s office. There we can get rid of the redundant one and track our quarry.”
Their quarry was currently depositing a large package of brown paper in a big blue mailbox.
Talbot paused as he lowered the boxy parcel. This was his life’s work, his notebook and all his scattered papers, and was the second-most important thing he owned, next to the wall that contained the Masterwork itself, which was likely being dismantled by his enemies at that very moment. This was the last 20 years of his life, and he was about to gamble it away to a crazy woman on the off-chance that his legacy might live on. Talbot wished he’d spent more time with reasonable scientists, if only to expand the pool of people he could mail his book to.
With a deep breath, Talbot released the book, wincing at the gentle ‘paff’ sound it made when it fell onto the envelopes at the bottom of the box.
His job complete, Talbot slipped the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and disappeared into the afternoon.
Guns are inelegant, Talc told his subordinate often. They’re loud, messy. Tools of thugs and soldiers, not agents of a higher purpose.
But there’s a downside to not carrying a gun, Willis countered silently. The difference between shooting a person and being forced to kill them more intimately is palpable, and not often a positive.
Willis considered this as Talbot-2 stopped struggling and finally went limp in his arms. Willis released the garotte from around the man’s throat, then lowered him to the floor of the office.
An irritated sigh came from behind him. Willis turned to see Talc shaking his head and walking toward him.
“No, you need to finish the job.” The man said. He kneeled, took Talbot-2’s forehead in one hand, his chin in the other, then jerked his head to the side, snapping his neck.
“If you stop garrotting when he goes limp, he’s just unconscious.” The other Talc, Talc-2, stated.
Willis nodded, numbly. He didn’t really hear the man.
“I know this is hard,” Talc said, shifting into a gentler tone, “But this is all for the good of humanity. If we let these ideas run wild, we’d all be dead.”
“Worse than dead.” Talc-2 added helpfully. “Our very essences would be consumed by dark beings from beyond our world.”
Willis nodded again. He’d heard it all before. So why did he still find it so hard to hurt people?
“So where’s the other one?” Willis-2 asked, seemingly unaware of his double’s predicament.
“That’s the big question, isn’t it.” Talc-2 mused, “However, before we can ponder it, first things first. We need to get a CC team in here to handle that wall.”
All four men were familiar with the APH Cognito Containment Teams, mysterious individuals in surgical masks that took away artifacts of forbidden knowledge to be stored or disposed of.
Talc-2 clicked his earpiece, then said a series of numbers and codes that were unintelligible to either Willis. He finished by saying, “Please send a Class-4 CC team. Over.”
He turned to the others. “They’re on their way. We need to secure Talbot’s place of residence.”
“Do we know that’s where he’ll go next?” Willis-2 asked.
“Not necessarily,” Talc-1 responded, “But it’s quite likely he’ll at least stop there to retrieve personal effects before going somewhere else.”
Both Willises nodded, almost in sync. The logic made sense. They would lock down Talbot’s house first.
All was silent in the small house several miles outside of town that Talbot called his abode. Then frantic footsteps sounded from outside, as someone ran up the footpath leading to the front door. Then, a faint scratching as Talbot scrambled to fit his key into the lock. A quiet clacking came next, as Talbot’s cat descended his cat-tree and approached the door to see what was happening.
Talbot swung the door open and gently pushed the cat out of his way with his foot.
“Sorry Ozzy,” he muttered.
He produced his debit card and snapped it in half, having extracted all the money from his account before arriving here. He pulled several thousand dollars from his pockets and shoved them in his wallet, his backpack, the pocket on the inside of his jacket, and his shoes.
He grabbed a spare toothbrush and tube of toothpaste from the master bathroom, shoving them into the backpack as well. He was going on the run, for god knows how long.
He paused as his eyes fell on his set of keys. He wouldn’t be taking his car or his house, so they’d likely not be necessary.
But I might as well just in case. Talbot grabbed the jangling key ring and slipped it into the inside pocket of his pants.
His cat mewed at his feet. After a moment’s hesitation, he grabbed his carrier and bowl, both monogrammed with a matching ‘Ozymandius’.
He knew bringing Ozzy was objectively a bad choice. It was impractical and stupid. The cat was loud, and would slow him down. But Talbot couldn’t bear leaving his baby here to be subjected to whatever evil ideas Talc and Willis had in mind.
Talbot coaxed Ozzy into his crate, then picked up the cat and donned his backpack. He took one last look around his house before he opened the front door and was immediately grabbed by both Willises, one of which held a chloroform rag over his mouth until he went limp.
Talbot awoke with a start. He glanced around, disoriented, and immediately registered that he was in some sort of interrogation room. His chair was metal, and bolted to the floor. Before him was a table, and above that table a blinding light mounted on the ceiling shone directly into his eyes. On the wall across from him, very much breaking the theme, was a ‘Hang in there!’ poster and a wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispenser.
Talbot tried to stand, only to find that his wrists and ankles were strapped into the chair. He strained against the bonds, cursing as the straps held strong.
He thought he heard faint snickering.
He turned to glare at the mirror to his right. “What are you planning to do to me?!”
“What are you planning to do to my cat?!?”
More silence.
The Talcs and the Willi were standing behind the one-way mirror on Talbot’s left, looking at the back of his head as he shouted at no one. Talc looked mildly amused at Talbot’s complete misunderstanding of the room’s orientation.
Willis-2 glanced at Talc-2, who shrugged and motioned for Talc-1 to enter the larger room. Talc-1 did as asked.
The door at the front of the room opened, and Talc stepped out. He took a seat across from Talbot, and cleared his throat.
“First off, the most important thing. Your cat will be well-cared for, no matter the outcome of this conversation. Great name, by the way.”
Talbot refused to thank him for the compliment.
Talc cleared his throat, and there was a long silence.
“What about my first question?” Talbot asked, his voice trembling.
Talc sighed, then reached below the table.
Several seconds later, he came back up, notably with some difficulty. He slammed Talbot’s notebook down on the table. Next to it, he laid the sheet of seals Talbot had used to traverse space and time.
Talbot was stricken. “How did you-!?”
“Find this? Simple deduction. I’m frankly insulted that you didn’t consider that we’ve been tailing everyone you know for months. Johnson was the only person you could send this to.”
“What did you do to her?!”
“Nothing! We’re not the bad guys here, Talbot. We pulled the package from her porch before she ever got involved. We’d never hurt anyone.”
“Then where am I?” Talbot spat, then rephrased. “I mean… where is the version of me from here? Wait, are you from here or there?”
“I’m from there, assuming you mean your original reality. And Talbot-2 is fine. He’s in the next room.”
Willis winced behind the mirror.
“You never actually answered my question.” Talbot said quietly.
Talc pursed his lips regrettably.
“Well… here’s the thing, Talbot. What I’d like to do is offer you a chance to redeem yourself. I’d like to let you join the APH and help us protect humanity. But you’ve made it clear that that’s not what you want, and if we let you into our fold now, we’d forever be looking over our shoulders, wondering whose side you were truly on. And we can’t just let you go, no no. Your theories would largely be regarded as crackpot, but there are ways to prove these things, and you would certainly find them.”
Talbot swallowed. “Couldn’t you just… you know… erase my memory?”
Talc stifled a laugh. “Unfortunately, this is not Men In Black. Actions have consequences. There are no take-backs. And I’m sorry, Talbot, but this is it for you.” Talc stood, turned on his heel, and left.
“Why the hell’d you wake him up just to tell him that?” Willis muttered behind the glass.
“Hey, wait!” Talbot screamed at him as he departed, but there was no response.
Talbot tried to stand again, but slammed back into his chair as the bonds held.
Willis entered a few minutes later, holding a syringe. He winced at the sight before him. Talbot was hunched over, resting his head on the table. His shoulders were bobbing as though he was sobbing quietly.
Willis approached Talbot and tightened the strap on his right wrist. He moved around him and reached for his left hand, only to see that the strap had been sawed apart, and Talbot’s hand was free.
Willis grabbed his elbow, but Talbot struggled against the man’s grasp. The scientist was trying to keep it firmly on the table under his face.
Frustrated, Willis grabbed Talbot’s head and lifted it back, so he was sitting up straight.
As he beheld Talbot’s face, Willis felt a bolt of fear lance through him. The man was smiling, but it was not a happy smile.
It was the smile of a trapped animal that knew it would take a limb before it went down. With his eyes, Talbot indicated downwards. Willis slowly lowered his vision to the stainless steel tabletop. In Talbot’s hand was a housekey, the teeth worn down from sawing through the leather strap and scratching a symbol into the table. Right under his hand, the surface was pockmarked with the Seal of the Fifth Dimension.
Willis lunged for Talbot’s wrist, but it was too late. The alchemist brought the key across the symbol, carving another scratch to break the Seal and the boundaries between their reality and one far darker. Neither man had time to scream.
Talbot felt himself slip free of the chair, and out of the leather strap around his wrist.
Willis’s grip loosened, and it felt like he was flung across whatever intermediary pathway connected the fourth and fifth dimensions.
Part Two posted promptly!
submitted by Finzombie to TheDarkGathering [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 12:54 FrostyDaHoeMan How do I get into the mine under Rito village in the depths?

I’ve been using a hover bike to discover the depths and have hit a stump, because the area right under Rito village clearly has a mine, but I flew all the way around the area and can’t seem to find an entrance. I looked on the map on the surface and can’t find a chasm or anything leading to it. Any help is appreciated :)
submitted by FrostyDaHoeMan to tearsofthekingdom [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 12:49 OrganizationPlane264 Deshedding brushes?

Deshedding brushes?
Hello fellow Siberian lovers! I was wondering what everyone used to brush their cats? I have used a furminator for years, but the last 2 years noticed it nearly leaves my two Siberians bald in some areas after just one brush? There's so many new brushes out there and I've no clue on what to try!
submitted by OrganizationPlane264 to SiberianCats [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 12:35 stinkylooloo89 Scary Finale to a Dream, I'm shivering and on the brink of crying .

Help me out polysomnographic technologists (sleep doctors), because I have this scary phenomenon that happens every so often that freaks me the fuck out.
These kinds of dreams do not repeat the same nightmare, but they have similarities. A blood curling scream that indicates something horribly wrong is going to happen in the dream.
The dream I just had started very simple. I was at the side of my shed, I probably was taking out the garbage. My surroundings were mixed with pitch black and rays of artificial warm light. With this combination, I can barely see the dirt ground, the roots, the garbage can, etc. I kinda was walking aimlessly, with no purpose, keep in mind it was pretty dark. I tried to walk away from the area, but my peace gets abruptly halted by a ferocious cat. It hisses a maniacal roar as it violently leaps onto my forearm. It attempts to shred me to pieces, and my brain attempts to recreate the pain (THIS IS A DREAM) and the pain was very intolerable. I wiggled my arms like the weird cylinder floaties with eyes at those cheesy car dealerships, but like an anchor interweaved with a rock on the ocean floor, the...cat...wouldn't...move. So, I balled up my unclaimed fist, aimed it at the rabid feline, and punched it two times. A cat would normally try to get off me, whine, maybe even yelp in that situation, because cats are fucking resilient as shit, however, the response I received from it scared the absolute shit out of me.
It screamed at the top of the lungs, but it was not a cat screech. The cat hollered like a human, getting it's limbs chopped off without anesthesia. And the worst thing was that I could feel the sound waves emit from the psycho kitten. The auditory sound level was extremely overwhelming, as it caused me to lose composure. It jumped off of me (I did punch the cat in the face with all my force) and cried like a human. After that, I was immediately sucked into this pee yellow wormhole filled flashing lights, static, me being thrown around like i was clothes in a washing machine. My brain forces me to travel to this imagunary dimension where I encounter God.
My brain pictured it as a typical American depicted an old Japanese sensei/dojo teacher, but with a silhouette that removed any feeling of security. The piss yellow environment was very trippy, almost psychedelic. The sound was condensending the more i progress. Everything was moving, like it was a waves of piss crashing into each other, including "God". It kinda was like the feeling of vertigo put into an animated gif. My amygdala was in overdrive at this point. It didn't speak, it didn't move, it didn't try to reason with me. But i could feel its.aura, and it felt like i was about to feel the fires of raging Hell. I was terrified because I found out I was getting punished because I defended myself from the vicious cat. I was also horrified because this was the point where I realized that it was a dream. I tried to wake myself up, but I couldn't. I was sticking viewing this void. An interstellar ruler of the universe.
Fortunately, it was pretty anticlimactic. The "God" just slapped me across the face and called it a day. Oddly enough, I didn't feel the slap, but I wasn't complaining. Usually, I would get snatched into some darkness or get eaten by a ravenous creature. But the God has shown mercy.
It was like a fever dream, but a nightmare. I have no clue why this happens. This phenomenon is not reserved for this dream, but it happens multiple times. Sometimes the enemy is some sort of entity, maybe alien, some dude, and this case a God. But mayhem and terror always begins from a bloodcurdling scream/distressing sound. Believe me, the screams drowns out everything else. Maybe it's because of anxiety or left over stress, but there have been times when I went to sleep peacefully, then i wake up in horror. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. It's been a hour since I woken up and my heart feels sore from beating continuously. Im still on edge, feeling like some monster is going to assassinate me any second. I'm definitely not going back to sleep anytime soon.
If you read all of it, you are amazing, I tried my best to tell a story, but the dream was so confusing, so I'm sorry if you got lost in my mind.
Could anyone explain or at least give an opinion of what could I do in the future to maybe prevent this?
I love sleep, but God Damn, that dream ruined it for sure.
submitted by stinkylooloo89 to Dreams [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 12:13 SadhbhTheCowardly Weird experience I had with a friend a few days ago.

Hello! First post here, and me and my friend had an experience that I've been really confused about. We found an abandoned building near our houses and walked over to it, for context there are 2 real entrances, front and back. Back entrance had the window smashed in, I assume it was used as administration for the building, front entrance led into water regulator stuff. The back window led into administration, which was like a kind of inbetween of the outside and water regulators from the back perspective.
This building has been closed for over 5 years at this point, but we heard weird sounds inside, like someone was talking, and it's a small building so we'd have seen someone in it. We heard someone ask "Is anyone in there!?" from outside the back door. There was noone there, and there was no way someone could have silently exited the area due to broken glass, plywood, et cetera in the way that would either make noise or atleast impede an escape. After that, the door kept opening and closing, even if it was completely closed. There was no wind inside, so it shouldn't have been opening, and wind didn't have any chance to reach it outside due to the door positioning and the fact there was no wind that day.
What has just occurred? I can't think of a normal explanation honestly. Me and my friend both heard a human male voice clearly yell at us, and both saw the door open and close repeatedly with no wind in the area. I didn't get any weird feelings while inside, but it was a weird encounter and I want someone's insight. Thanks!
submitted by SadhbhTheCowardly to Paranormal [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 11:41 VexTrooper Terran Contact - Lassus Station - Part II

First Prev
>>Lassus System, Orbit of Lasu, Lassus Station, Early 2670
>Corporal Strider, Jace C. 4th ODR Battalion, Raptor Company, Squad Four
Strider and the rest of Raptor Squad had found themselves in the central engineering chamber, as directed by the digital way-point set on their helmet's heads-up display.
The number of corpses had lessened, and they were free from those sights, at least for the moment, but were now presented with the engineering department of the station. If not for their built-in night vision, then their portion of the station would be pitch black.
Some of the doors they came across had to be torched and breached with smaller controlled explosions with the use of a thermite door breaching charge. By now, they had used their final charge on the door to the central power core room.
"Strider, radio in, we're turning on the station," ordered his sergeant.
"Copy," Strider replied, prepping his comms pack, "Command! This is Raptor 4-4! Do you copy?! We found the power core, booting up now!"
As one of the lower enlisted began the sequence, Strider heard over his radio to essentially abort, but the station had already run its sequence, and the lights in the room illuminated their visors, almost blinding them.
"Turn off your NVs!" ordered the sergeant.
With a press of a button, they manually turned off their enhanced night vision and were now met with fluorescent lighting, which felt almost dizzying to him and some of his compatriots.
"Always hated this light, to think they use it too," commented a nearby corporal, their name 'Castor' spelled out on his armor just above his mid-chest.
"You said it, shit gets on my nerves," Strider replied, "Couldn't they have used something more...natural?"
Strider was referring to the lights aboard TRSC vessels that used light in between incandescent and fluorescent. However, light usage was much more diversified on ships in the modern day and this went for many of the living areas aboard ships that used mostly warm light while hallways and office spaces used cool light.
"The TRSC still use the same light, man," the opposing corporal responded to Strider, "But I agree. It would be nice if we got better light."
As the two conversed, the squad received an ominous message that felt like it came from within their heads.
"What the hell was that?! It sounded like it was in my head." One of the raiders said. His transmission was filled with static, but was still clear compared to the message they had just received.
"Minerva, what was it?" came over the radio from the Admiral.
"Unknown. It did come, undoubtedly, from the station. I urge the raiders to expedite their process to the intelligence archives before whatever it was we woke up swarms them."
"You heard her boys! Get that intel, then we can blow that station into the planet," the Admiral said with haste and his squad responded with a resounding 'Aye Sir!'
With the systems now running, they were given a new way-point that led to a door opposite where they had entered. They tried to open it, but to no avail.
"Castor, breach it!" ordered their sergeant.
"Out of charges, gotta do it manually," he replied, bringing out a manual breach torch.
"Do it!" Castor nodded and began to work with another working the other half of the door.
The room was situated with only two entries, their original and another across from it. Situated in the center was the main core operating system in the heart of the station. There existed a series of pipes that extended from the core's computer, which they used for cover and supported aim.
"Minerva, do we have an idea of the hostile contact?" Strider called to the AI.
"They are mechanical in nature, presumably the automated workforce that inhabited the station. I would assume them to be extremely hostile..."
"Noted," he replied, reiterating the information to the squad. The squad's communications operator oversaw a direct line to higher command, but orders from an AI are usually disseminated to the squad simultaneously, but to ensure no confusion, a verbal reiteration was needed. This was mainly because personnel comms had a habit of not transmitting over a wider band.
As they aimed toward their last entrance, they noted small red dots on the bottom of their HUD. The distance set was 25 meters for the radius, revealing how close the enemy was.
From the entrance, it was a linear hallway that took a sharp left turn from their perspective and as the dot rounded a corner, they saw it.
It was a robot that looked similar in height to a Sellian but had lanky arms that dropped to his knee joint with what looked to be a captain's hat placed atop it at a crooked angle. It had a painted expression on its once black exterior in the form of eyes and a smile colored with dried Sellian blood. In its right hand, it held a pointed object that shined from the light above it and stood still.
They noticed on their mini-map that the dots ceased their movement with the revelation of the autonomous bot.
"I don't know what the fuck that thing is, but it ain't right," one of the raiders said, training his sight on the dome of the imitation.
Agreement sounded from those around him when a sharp mechanical screech sounded from the creature. It pointed its weapon at the squad and the dots that ceased now began to move, more rapidly and rounded the corner with a quick paste unlike before.
The robots that revealed themselves were similar to the one in the hat, and many had tools fashioned for combat that shared the same discoloration upon the one from before, dried green Sellian blood.
The squad then began firing into the crowd of advancing murder bots. They went down easy, but their HUD showed a steady stream flowing into the corridor. To conserve ammo, two of the Raiders maintained suppressive fire into the corridor with a belt-fed squad automatic weapon, the K-Tac M506 SAW.
"Castor! How long until that door is open?!" demanded the sergeant.
"Almost got it!" he said and with a thud, the melted portions fell back on themselves, "It's open!"
With their new access, raiders began filtering through to the next area, covering those in the rear with continuous fire as the robots consumed the hallway. Bodies of the hostiles filled most of the corridor, making it difficult for their traversal, subsequently making them stumble among their fallen comrades.
"Raptor," Minerva said, "I have managed to gain access to doors, but access to larger systems is still beyond my command. I have found a likely possibility for the source of the murderous automatons."
"Where to?" responded Strider as the group moved forward, taking down a straggler of the same robot they previously fired upon.
"I am detecting a large electrical signature, not native to the station and separate from the core within the station's central archive intelligence department. You will most likely find your culprit there."
"Much obliged," he said, informing his sergeant, "Got us a way-point? With the least resistance if possible."
Another door opened, and several shots rang out, this time against two larger robots in similar form to the smaller ones.
"They're starting to get big, Minerva!"
A Brief Silence followed before the way-point on their HUD was updated.
"Of Course, Corporal"
Raptor Squad proceeded on their new route, encountering less than before. They were consistently being followed, so to prevent them from catching up, Castor was responsible for the sealing of the doors, which he did by disabling the access panel beside the doors to prevent electrical or manual operation.
He and his partner quickly added a weld at key joints for the doors before leaving to meet with the rest of the group.
"Raptor Squad," Minerva spoke out, "You are close to the intelligence archives. I am detecting multiple signatures in the chamber. Exercise caution."
"Roger," said the sergeant, "Let's go, Raptors! Double time!"
Strider followed in the center of the group as they made their way to the archive room. From what he could recall, most of the enemy was behind them being held back by the shoddily welded doors, but they soon began to hear loud banging that echoed throughout the halls.
Noticing the implication, they followed their route with haste, taking down several small lone robots as seen before. Occasionally, they would encounter a larger cluster, but a well-placed grenade made short work of the enemy.
As the point man rounded a corner, a shot rang out, landing its mark on his chest. A short yell was sounded, and the Raider fell on his back, now motionless.
"Dammit! They hit Ollie!" shouted the raider closest to him as he raised his left fist at a ninety-degree angle signifying the rest of the group to halt, "Ollie! You hear me!?"
Silence followed, raising the Raider's temperament to a higher level.
"Strider!" called the Sergeant, "Do we have air support yet? We'll need it when we get out of here!"
"Wait one!" replied Strider as shots from the Raiders now began their exchange with an enemy just down the hall, "Command! Raptor! How are we on air support!?"
"Troop transport is inbound and circling. Fighter support is available when you are clear with the intel."
"Copy!" he turned to the Sergeant, "We got it, but we need the intel first before they can support us!"
He nodded and gave orders to the idle Raiders.
"Split up, fire team alpha; stay here and prepare for a push. Fire team bravo, take the flank. There's a maintenance tunnel that runs on the sides that run along the side of the interior. That'll be your entry point! Go now!"
Raptors eight through twelve did as ordered and went back the way they came before taking a left. Several shots rang out, but Strider noticed all five were still together on his mini-map before ultimately traveling beyond his sensors.
"Allow me to assists," Minerva added, "I have managed to manipulate surface-level sensors. Your advance should be masked from the enemy for the moment, but it won't be long before they regain control of their systems."
"Understood," Strider relayed the new information, and the Raiders began their assault into the room.
After exchanging shots, another Raider was successful in bringing to cover, Ollie, and began field triage. He took a shot of a kinetic round that embedded itself mid-way through the up-armored chest plate. The round was moderately large, and the corpsman took out a medical device that could take a close - up x-ray scan of the patient, adding to his diagnostic.
As he did so, he returned to the sergeant with his analysis.
"Took a large kinetic round to his upper chest, he has a pulse, but it's weak. Hit him hard enough to knock him out..."
He pulled the bullet out, and it was mushroomed with a thin central canal within the mushroomed pattern. He shook his head and began treating the downed patient, "an Armor-Piercing round, steel core got lodged in his scapula. He has to get off this station!"
The sergeant, who stayed with fire team alpha, furrowed his eyes in frustration, "Strider, get a med evac. We've got a casualty. Hi-Pri!"
He nodded in response and updated command on their request. It was met with affirmation, but he was issued to first complete their initial objective.
"You have your orders. Secure the intel first and you’ll have your ride."
Strider tried to negotiate with a more expedition evac, but he was met with the same response.
"Sergeant! Intel comes first, then we get our evac..."
"Dammit!" he replied, anger infused with every pronunciation, "Bravo!? you ready?!"
A call of affirmation came through the comms and the assault was a go.
"Move it, Alpha!"
The point man swapped with a man behind him that wielded a squad automatic weapon and let pass a wall of lead that mangled and tore any within direct site of the hallway. Similarly, from within the chamber, a controlled explosion erupted from the right wall that threw shrapnel into the nearby automatons.
They deftly exited their abrupt entrance and sent well-placed shots into the barely working droids. Those that survived were scattered behind cover in the corners of the room and after the initial assault. They left their cover and tried to fire into their enemy but were met with perfectly executed return fire that promptly ended them, ensuring Terran control.
"All Clear!"
"Clear here!"
Responses were sounded from the Raiders as they swept the room from door to door.
"Secure those hatches and prepare to extract the data. Strider, that's you!"
The other Raiders secured their entrances and began marking them with large amounts of X4 explosive, while Strider began diving into the Sellian computer systems. By fastening similar cables to a modified cabal adapter, he was successful in creating a link to properly communicate with their systems from his personal data pad.
The cable used was a newly fashioned universal cable designed to integrate seamlessly into their systems shortly after integration from Chief Commander Yorla's fleet. Granted, it was done without their knowledge.
With an update headed by Minerva herself, he was able to read, translate and download all data from the central archives' computer.
As he was nearing completion, he was notified of a presence behind him. It was his Sergeant.
"How's it coming along?"
"Steady. We're gathering a lot, but at this rate, those bots will be on us in no time..."
The Sergeant returned to his post and let Strider continue his work. In terms of tech literacy, Strider was competent in what he needed to do, and this task was no different.
"68...71...73..." he whispered to himself as he monitored the download status, "Lookin' good..."
As the status percentage reached '92%', it stalled, for an unusual amount of time...
"What the hell..." he said to himself again, this time re-checking the hard connection he adapted, questioning whether he applied them correctly. When is minor investigation yielded no further results, the screen morphed into a series of unknown symbols and a display that resembled a frozen screen that had glitched itself into a dreaded blue error screen.
"Minerva!" he called out, "We got an issue!"
He connected a second display to the first, and it worked as a back-up troubleshooting display.
"I am aware, Corporal. I have preloaded your data pad with a countermeasure."
"What kind of countermeasure?" he reiterated.
"A digital combat malware for our guest. I do apologize for the previous device," she said as Strider looked to the first pad in question. It was visually smoking from overheating components. By rerouting the remaining data to the second pad, he was able to finish the download and recovered the data from the first by extracting a removable drive. He plugged in the external drive and found that with the previous 92% and the remaining 8% downloaded onto the second, their mission with a success.
"Thanks, get us the quickest route out of here, we have wounded," he said, packing his device into a secure pouch.
As he got up, pounding was heard from their initial entrance and shots were now heard from their improvised entrance.
"Bogies in the maintenance tunnels! Frag 'em!" ordered one Raider that led the Bravo fire team that let loose a grenade followed by a couple more. The shock wave of the explosion was felt at the center console as Strider readied his rifle.
He checked his magazines and saw he was still sufficient with ammo, unlike some of his brothers.
As the fighting intensified, the doors were cracked open, letting through only a couple of bots at a time. His squad fired into the enemy that broke through, as well as firing into the newly made crevice by the automated enemy.
"I thought we took what was controlling them!" stated one Raider as he threw a grenade into the cracked entrance, hitting a peeking bot before blowing it and others around it into nothing, "Shouldn't they be shut down!?"
Strider felt the same way. Their data collection was anti-climactic, and the supposed tussle with the enemy program lasted for less than only a minute.
Before he could wonder any more about the subject, an update was issued on their HUD, leading to the poorly manned door they left to only one other Raider.
"The route you need for extraction is through those doors. Continued straight until told otherwise."
Strider acknowledged, as did his Sergeant, and he began routing troops to their extract. The indicators on their mini-maps proved that they had sparse enemy combatants, at least those that moved, and they opened the door. They fired their shots into the clueless bots that barely had time to direct their attention to their invaders before being dispatched.
As Minerva said, they continued straight until a new way-point was displayed to change their route. Now, with their casualty base growing little by little, their overall speed had slowed. Some limped as they received rounds to their legs in the soft armor of their under suit from enemy AP rounds.
"This ain't looking good, Minerva," Strider stated as he glided as the pace of the wounded, "How much further?"
"Not much longer, Corporal. I will advise, however, to seal any suit punctures with a temporary vacuum seal component."
"Noted," he replied curtly as they entered a final door.
Past the door, they were met with the blackness of the void, but now the sun illuminated the space, revealing the same gruesome scenes of violently expired Sellians.
A way-point led to their next entrance, which led to the thin array of the port docking tubes reserved for the larger ships. From where they stood, a ship was seen docked at the end of their tube.
It was a sleek looking ship that had a wide cross-section, but its profile was slim. It was a large-sized ship that could be manned by a singular pilot or manned by a crew of six.
The ship itself was a Galaxy-Class Cutter that was outfitted with a series of medical bays that each offered spots for varying degrees of injuries sustained. It had its own series of weapons for self-defense but served well within areas of operation where they had air superiority.
Strider then turned to the group and told them of their vacuum seal component and to check all for punctures in their suits.
It was a spray that was applied to the external portions of their under suit and created a temporary seal from space, and served as a crucial tool in any space-farer's box.
As they entered the docking tube, a call from a Raider in the rear notified the group of a mass of bots emerging from the sides of the station along the main roads.
"Move!" Ordered their Sergeant.
Already fatigued and gasping for air, the Raiders complied and pushed themselves beyond, especially now with their extraction so close.
The Raiders covered the rear as they descended further into the tube, and the bodies of automated bots that littered the entrance began to clog it.
Those that made their way closer to their exit provided cover for those in the rear, as some of the enemy would make it past the debris and charge their position. Very few carried fire arms and now there were mostly droids with shoddily made melee weapons that attempted to charge, each meeting the same fate.
They secured the entrance and the wounded were filed in followed by the main body, then the rear guard. Strider and Castor were now the last in the squad to secure the rear when they were met with a singular bot that stood not far from their position.
"What the hell..." Castor sounded out.
It was the same bot that wore a bloodied captain's hat with a face painted on its exterior from the blood of Sellians. It was unarmed, which caught both Raiders off guard. As Castor and Strider raised their weapons to shoot, it raised its hands in a motion of surrender as it moved slowly towards them.
"Get the FUCK back!" Commanded Castor to no avail. He fired a shot into its waist strut, causing it to collapse on its backside.
Strider was about to deliver the final blow when it pulled an item from behind its head. It was cylindrical with a silver tube that matched the size of its small metal hands with a red button at the top.
Sudden realization hit and both Strider and Castor fired into the bot but in the split second of their pull of the trigger, a flash of light erupted from the robot, engulfing the tube in a concussive blast that tore it from its structure, hurdling Castor and Strider around in the tube and eventually, into space.
Strider soon regain consciousness but woke to the cries of his squad mate, Castor, and to the gun fire of the slowly retreating cutter ship. Large objects flew around it that fired down on the ship. The fighter escorts were now firing at the new enemy, and soon their silhouettes vanished beyond the void.
"G-get the fuck back!"
Strider struggled to orient himself as his suit was not equipped for EVA, but eventually traced a line of silver and gray that reflected the sun to the cry in question.
He noticed sparks of light near the tip of an ever extending spire towards the way-point of his comrade.
Again, cries of desperation filled his comms as he activated his helmet's zoom-in function toward Castor. From his distance, he was able to make out his figure as well as those extending towards him.
"Get off me, you bastards!!"
Several flashes of light followed, and the destruction of a nearby robot shattered away into the void in all directions.
The spire consisted of the murderous bots attaching to one another towards their prey like a fungus. He called for emergency pick-up and tried to get Castor's attention when he felt a pressure on his ankle.
When he looked down, he was met with a similarly painted face as the droid that blew up their tunnel, with a dried green wastefully painted on its facial exterior.
Fear grabbed him, and Strider by instinct reached for his handgun and fired several shots into the face of the bot.
He looked at Castor, and they had grasped him in their metal claws and began tearing away at his armor as he screamed.
"G-get the FUCK...OFF ME!" He thrashed at the enemy.
His weapons drifted from their sling with spent magazines that orbited with him as he used every bit of his tool set to waste on the enemy. He fired into them with his pistol, and after it was empty, he readily switched to a knife that was situated on his lower back. The debris of the robot menace grew, but so did their advance.
Strider turned to his own group now and fired well-placed shots into the oncoming horde. Their advance was quick and unexpected and gave both little room to breathe.
No more than several minutes had passed, and help still had not come. He grew anxious, and this was helped by his increasingly fatigued comrade.
Soon, his savage thrashing had come to an end and the horde he had kept away quickly overtook him when a call came through to Strider.
"I can't do this, Jace..."
"I'm sure help is on it's way. Just, hang on!" Strider fired into several more droids before reloading and turned his attention back to Castor, who was now swarmed with automated menace.
"I ain't going out by the hands of some bots..."
Before Strider could start his sentence, a flash of light took the place of Castor and all mater of materials scattered into the void, striking Strider and his own bots just moments after the explosion. A piece found its way onto his helmet, that jolted him with a headache. He quickly applied the last of his vacuum seal to the areas likely hit before throwing the empty canister at the encroaching enemy.
He fired some more rounds into the growing crowd, as well as some unused grenades, saving one for himself.
"C'mon you bastards! What?! You afraid to die?" Strider pulled his knife and kept the grenade in his offhand.
He motioned for them to approach with an antagonizing gesture, "Let's tango, you soulless abominations!"
They advanced to his provocation and he fought.
Instead of letting them have the pleasure of holding him, he decided to wrangle them first, using their mechanical bodies for leverage as he swiped, stabbed, punctured and yanked as loose cables, all in an effort to take as many he can, hoping for help to arrive.
Seconds that felt like minutes had passed and Strider was fatigued. His breathing was haggard and it felt heavy. He thought to himself the amount of time he spent in vacuum these last several moments and deemed that he must be reaching his max operating time. He was granted thirty minutes, but with his fight for survival, he greatly reduced it to several minutes. It was only a matter of time.
His eyes grew heavy, and his vision began to blur.
'Huh, so this is how I die? Real damn shame...' he thought to himself.
As his eyes closed, he let it take him and released himself to an eternal slumber, letting go of a primed grenade that drifted towards a fated enemy.
--------------------E N D--------------------
>Enemy_Short_Range_Jammer: NEUTRALIZED
>Issuing_Secondary_Field_Objective: NEUTRALIZE_ENEMY_DRONES
>Enemy_Matrix_Analysis: %77.7758...
>Friendly_HUD(s): UPDATED
>Secondary_Objective: COMPLETE
>Primary_Objective: IN_PROGRESS
First Prev
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2023.05.29 10:57 Marat20000 Where this photo was taken?

Hello everyone!
Do you know where this photo of Justin Bieber was taken (picture in the comments)? I assume it is somewhere in LA area, but have no clue where exactly it could be. Thank you for your replies in advance!
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2023.05.29 10:44 Delicious-Pin3996 Any Sandton runners than can recommend a safe area/route to run 16km in the morning?

MIL is coming to stay with us from Hermanus next month. She is an avid runner and is planning on continuing to run 16km each morning while she is here.
We live in Sandton CBD, so would need to be Sandown and surrounding areas. We just want to make sure where ever she is running is relatively safe.
I thought maybe a route from Sandown through Atholl and then Melrose, my husband thought maybe running through Rivonia and Morningside would be better. Neither of us run or even walk in those areas at all so we actually have no clue.
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2023.05.29 10:38 Allemande728 Does anyone remember this game?

I'm trying to remember the name of this game that I played constantly on an iPad in roughly 2010-2011. It was a RPG fantasy game in a pixel art style where you played on a server with other players. It had many different areas and some mini-games you could play with other players, like capture the flag.
Some things I remember about it:
  • If you cut grass, you got gems(?rupees?) and there was a way to farm them in the house each player got. Basically you cut the grass, let the gem spawn, and then each day you would have to hit it with your sword. Over time, the colour of the gem would turn from blue to red, green and yellow I think?? And the value would increase. The final stage was black, which was the most valuable
  • There was one area at the top of the map with a dark enchanted forest and three possible paths. Here you had to figure out what was the correct path to reach the witch's cottage that was at the middle of the forest. So if you got the first choice correct, you could proceed onto the next stage where you had to choose between three paths again; if you chose wrong, you would get sent back to the initial entrance to the woods. I think you had to choose correctly like five times or something
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2023.05.29 10:19 jake_paratha Confused doctor, hear me out!

So, as the title states, I'm a 26 year old doctor, done with MBBS and pursuing my MD in a public health focused field. I was always set on engineering, but ended up getting a decent rank in my med entrance exam. The stupid 18 year old me got convinced by my relatives that MBBS is a better choice, and took it up. However it's been a never ending nightmare since, doesn't help that i willing chose to pursue a MD even after hating MBBS, smh!
Coming to the crux of my question, i want to pivot to tech or atleast work at the intersection of med and tech if not a full fledged transition. If you could all advise me on the following queries, i would be really glad!
  1. Given my age, is it too late to think about a tech oriented career? I have heard tech is pretty ageist, so i have that going against me.
  2. Can I break into something tech related without a tech degree?
  3. Where and what should I start with? I'll be honest that i haven't much clue about computer science except for some dabbling with R, which is more of a data science language if I'm not wrong!
Thanks in advance.
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2023.05.29 09:35 europeincoming Unlocking MICE's Potential: Exploring MICE in Europe

In the progressively globalized business atmosphere these days, it is necessary to effectively arrange MICE Meetings Incentives Meetings as well as Events. Europe, with its abundant social heritage, different scenes, and elite foundation, has actually occurred as a great objective for helping with wonderful MICE experiences. In this blog site, we will check out the allure of MICE occasions in Europe and also the advantages they use for associations seeking to make vital and also effective get-togethers. Unparalleled Venues for Occasions: Europe is residence to a wide range of exciting occasion locations, including historical landmarks, contemporary meeting facilities, and spectacular all-natural landscapes. Europe provides a variety of choices to match every occasion's theme and objectives, from the vivid cities of London, Paris, and Berlin to the attractive elegance of Tuscany or the Swiss Alps. These popular places make for an exciting history that can improve the total experience of attendees and also leave lasting perceptions. Superior Infrastructure: The well-developed framework of Europe makes it feasible for MICE events to run smoothly. The area gives a diverse choice of advanced venues with roomy seminar halls, innovative innovation, and remarkable centers. Europe has everything needed to host occasions of any size, from convention centers with versatile meeting rooms to deluxe hotels and hotels. Europe is a preferred destination for MICE occasions due to the accessibility of major airport terminals, reliable transportation networks, and also reliable logistics solutions that guarantee smooth planning as well as implementation offered by the MICE event company. Experiences as well as Diversity in Culture: Europe's rich background and also social range make it an ideal purpose for making one of a kind and vibrant MICE encounters. Members can appreciate directed city brows through, explore nearby cooking, join team building exercises, or appreciate discerning social exhibits. Whether it's a white wine sampling meeting in the grape haciendas of Bordeaux, a group building experience in the Scottish High countries, or an event dinner in a significant royal residence, Europe supplies a heap of possibilities to update dedication as well as make impressive recollections. Proficiency in the profession: As a leading destination management firm in Europe, we have a strong network of MICE tour operators who can help you prepare and perform successful MICE occasions. These experts bring a wide range of understanding as well as experience in the administration of logistics, cutting-edge event services, and the effective company of occasions. MICE occasions in Europe are executed with precision and leave an enduring impression on attendees because of their creativity, flexibility, as well as attention to detail. Networking and also Business Opportunities: Computer mice occasions offer a stage to systems administration, growing collaborations, and driving organization development. Europe's different service scene attracts experts from various ventures, laying out open doors for cross-industry links and information sharing. Participants can interface with comparable individuals, likely customers, and market leaders, prolonging their professional companies as well as opening up entrances for brand-new endeavors. The trading of thoughts as well as experiences in such settings can prompt vital organizations as well as long haul organization links.
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2023.05.29 08:57 s_rohit 5 Reasons to Take Multiple CSEET Mock Tests

5 Reasons to Take Multiple CSEET Mock Tests
The career of a Company Secretary looks interesting and even exciting. However, clearing the CSEET is your first step towards this goal. This is the entrance exam conducted by the ICSI that every CS aspirant must take. Candidates put in a lot of hard work for this exam as it is one of the toughest competitive exams as well. However, taking mock tests is imperative to scoring a good rank on the exam. Here we cite the benefits of taking multiple CSEET mock tests.

![img](3mlcsfvixp2b1 "Source - Tomorrow’s Genius India Pvt Ltd ")
You get a sense of the real thing
Taking mocks gives you a sense and vibe, the same pressure and stress of the real exam. Since the marking scheme, the duration, and the type of questions, everything is the same. You will know which topics carry more weightage as well.
You can evaluate your learning capability
Mocks are the best way to self-assess your level of prep. They also make you aware of your learning capability. You will learn about your strengths and weaknesses and the areas that need more work. You can even compare your performance with your peers who have taken the same mock test to analyse.
You get loads of practise
Taking multiple mocks is a superb way to practise for the CS Executive entrance test or any competitive exam. The more you practise, the better you get at it. It enhances your speed and accuracy in writing answers. It also helps in strengthening your weak areas.
You can design an effective exam strategy
Mocks acquaint you with the actual exam environment in every way. This gives an insight into your prep and, thus, your exam strategy. You can develop, create, and alter your exam plan based on the performance in mocks. You can also have a fresh look at difficult problems and form effective solutions.
Your confidence gets a boost
Giving mocks helps you self-analyse your performance and your level of prep and familiarises you with the exam pattern, among other things. Thus, you gain more confidence in the exam. Mocks also help you get rid of any exam anxiety, stress or nervousness, as well as boost your morale and confidence.
Giving mocks is a must if you are appearing for a competitive exam like the CSEET. It has numerous perks, as cited above, and you can even take these tests online. TG Campus offers an excellent series of CSEET mock tests online. It is based on the three pillars of ‘Practice, Performance and Presentation’. It helps you prepare for the CSEET in every way while helping you perfect your game.
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2023.05.29 08:52 MathematicianSea9857 Chandak Nostalgia: A Blissful Retreat in Malad

Chandak Nostalgia: A Blissful Retreat in Malad
Chandak Nostalgia
Nestled amidst the bustling city of Mumbai, Chandak Nostalgia stands as a beacon of tranquility and nostalgia. Situated in the vibrant suburb of Malad, this residential complex offers a unique blend of modern amenities and old-world charm. From its architectural finesse to its lush green surroundings, Chandak Nostalgia captures the essence of a bygone era, making it an idyllic retreat for those seeking respite from the chaos of urban life. Chandak Nostalgia is a testament to the timeless elegance of colonial architecture. The majestic entrance gate welcomes residents and visitors alike, leading them into a world of grandeur. The residential towers rise proudly against the skyline, with their neo-classical facades and intricate detailing. Every aspect of the design has been carefully thought out to evoke a sense of nostalgia and create a harmonious living environment.
At Chandak Nostalgia, residents are treated to a wide range of amenities that cater to their every need. The sprawling landscaped gardens provide a serene escape from the city's hustle and bustle, offering a perfect setting for morning walks or evening strolls. The well-equipped fitness center and swimming pool allow residents to stay active and lead a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, the clubhouse provides a space for social gatherings and community events, fostering a sense of belonging among the residents. Chandak Nostalgia offers a variety of living spaces, ranging from spacious 2 BHK apartments to luxurious 4 BHK penthouses. Each unit is meticulously designed to maximize natural light and ventilation, creating an airy and inviting atmosphere. The interiors boast high-quality finishes and premium fittings, combining modern comfort with a touch of old-world charm. From the elegant flooring to the stylish kitchen, every detail exudes sophistication and finesse.

One of the biggest advantages of Codename Nostalgia is its strategic location in Malad. The suburb is well-connected to the rest of Mumbai, with easy access to major highways, railway stations, and airports. Residents can enjoy the convenience of nearby shopping malls, multiplexes, and restaurants, catering to their entertainment and dining needs. The presence of renowned educational institutions and healthcare facilities in the vicinity adds to the allure of this residential complex. Chandak Nostalgia is not just a place to live; it is a community that fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie among its residents. The well-planned layout encourages interaction and socialization, with ample open spaces and common areas. The dedicated children's play area ensures that the younger residents have a safe and enjoyable environment to grow and play. The 24x7 security and CCTV surveillance provide a secure living environment, giving residents peace of mind. In a city where space is a luxury, Chandak Nostalgia stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of modernity and nostalgia. With its colonial-inspired architecture, state-of-the-art amenities, and thoughtful design, this residential complex offers a haven of tranquility amidst the chaos of Mumbai. Whether you seek a peaceful retreat or a place to create lasting memories with your loved ones, Codename Nostalgia in Malad is an ideal choice that promises an unmatched living experience.
VISIT US:- https://chandak-nostalgia.newlaunchproject.in/
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2023.05.29 08:34 Informal-Dark7273 What are the key considerations for commercial interior design services when designing a retail space?

Designing a retail space requires careful planning and consideration to create an environment that attracts customers, enhances the shopping experience, and showcases products effectively. Commercial interior design services play a vital role in transforming retail spaces into engaging and functional environments. In this blog, we will explore the key considerations that commercial interior design services take into account when designing a retail space, highlighting the factors that contribute to a successful and customer-centric design.
Brand Identity and Target Audience
One of the primary considerations for commercial interior design services is aligning the design with the brand identity and target audience. They work closely with retailers to understand their brand values, aesthetics, and customer demographics. By integrating brand elements into the design, such as color schemes, logos, and visual merchandising strategies, design services create a cohesive and immersive brand experience that resonates with the target audience.
Store Layout and Traffic Flow
Commercial interior design services carefully plan the store layout to optimize traffic flow and guide customers through the space. They consider factors such as entrance location, aisle width, and display placement to encourage smooth circulation and exploration. Design services create distinct zones within the retail space, such as product display areas, checkout counters, and fitting rooms, to ensure convenience and a logical shopping journey for customers.
Visual Merchandising and Product Display
Effective visual merchandising is crucial for attracting customers and showcasing products. Commercial interior design services strategically plan product displays, incorporating elements such as shelving, fixtures, and lighting to highlight featured items and create visual interest. They consider factors like product placement, focal points, and signage to guide customers' attention and encourage product discovery.
Lighting and Ambience
Lighting plays a significant role in setting the mood and enhancing the overall ambience of a retail space. Commercial interior design services carefully select lighting fixtures and techniques that complement the brand image and create a welcoming atmosphere. They consider factors such as natural light integration, accent lighting for displays, and general ambient lighting to create a visually appealing and well-lit environment.
Customer Comfort and Engagement
Creating a comfortable and engaging environment is essential for a positive shopping experience. Commercial interior design services focus on providing ample seating areas, fitting rooms with adequate space and privacy, and well-designed circulation paths. They also incorporate interactive elements, such as digital displays, interactive product demonstrations, or engaging store layouts, to encourage customer engagement and extended time spent in the store.
Material Selection and Durability
Retail spaces experience high foot traffic and require durable materials that can withstand constant use. Commercial interior design services consider the durability and maintenance requirements of materials used in flooring, wall finishes, and fixtures. They select materials that not only meet functional needs but also align with the brand aesthetic and contribute to a visually appealing environment.
Technology Integration
Incorporating technology into the retail space is a growing consideration for commercial interior design services. They explore opportunities for integrating digital signage, interactive touchscreens, or mobile app integrations to enhance the shopping experience. Technology can be used for product information, virtual try-on experiences, or seamless checkout processes, improving convenience and customer engagement.
Commercial interior design services play a pivotal role in designing successful retail spaces that attract customers, promote sales, and provide an enjoyable shopping experience. By considering factors such as brand identity, store layout, visual merchandising, lighting, customer comfort, material durability, and technology integration, design services such as Flipspaces create spaces that are aligned with the retailer's goals and customer needs. When working with commercial interior design services, it's crucial to communicate your brand vision and objectives to ensure the creation of a retail space that reflects your unique identity and drives customer engagement.
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2023.05.29 08:33 Zagaroth [No Need For A Core?] - CH 082: Girl's Day Out

Cover Art <<Previous Start Next >>
As Moriko was ushered into the backroom, Princess Kagami asked “She has a curtained-off area, mind if we follow and continue to talk?”
“I have no problem with that, your highness.” Moriko had very little body shyness, so she’d have been only a little self-conscious about it even without the curtain, but she certainly appreciated the consideration of being asked. The curtained-off area in question contained a pair of magic circles inscribed onto the ceiling and floor, where she stripped down under mistress Ula’s instructions and stood in different poses while lights zipped about her. Ula said that this was taking her measurements, and Moriko believed her, she’d just never had this level of magic scanning before. It did take her a moment to understand what the poses were for, they made various muscles strain in different ways which in turn would allow measurements to take her movements into account.
The conversation from the princesses on the other side of the curtain was carried on mostly by them, and for the most part, it was just small talk that helped Moriko learn a bit about her … hosts? Maybe not technically yet, but it felt a lot like that’s how they were acting, and she was feeling obligated like a guest. She couldn’t think of a better word for it.
The rest of the afternoon and the early evening became quite the busy flurry of shopping, with the first part being a second dress to leave the shop in rather than her uniform. It seems that Mistress Ula kept a selection of ‘last minute’ dresses available in a near-ready state for the princesses’ convenience, requiring only a minimal amount of adjustment to fit one intended for Princess Tiriana to Moriko, as they were the most alike in stature.
This allowed Moriko to see why the royals were confident that Ula could pull a complete dress together in two days. Once the decisions were made, the chosen dress was dropped onto a wooden mannequin that adjusted itself to match the measurements taken of Moriko. Ula eyed the dress a moment then grabbed several spools of different color and weight threads to put onto a set of spindles built into a nearby table. With her preparations complete, Ula drew a flat tool kit from her dress to reveal several rune-etched needles of silvery metal, a small pair of scissors, and a stitch cutter. With a touch and murmured word these devices sprang to life and moved to her will. With expert swiftness she threaded each needle and set them to hovering, then went to work making her adjustments, drawing in or letting out where needed, switching out a couple of panels of the skirt to make it move better for Moriko’s needs, and other small adjustments as well as finishing up the edges. She was doing the work of at least a dozen normal skilled seamstresses with the added advantage of not getting in her own way.
In less than half an hour Moriko had a brand new dress ready for her to head out on the town with the princesses, and her normal soft boots would do well enough for this. Then it was time for accessories. The four princesses were definitely showing off, every place they brought Moriko to had deadly options, many of which were close enough to the weapons Moriko had trained in to be useful to her.
Fancy, delicate-looking fans had ribbing of adamantine with concealed sharp tips. Parasols and umbrellas had options ranging from a short blade you could draw from the bottom like a dagger to a blade that could pop out from the top to make it into a small spear. The embroidery on slender gloves hid tiny metal studs, which were backed by thin but surprisingly tough leather to protect the skin beneath. Hairpins that doubled as thin knives. Weighted handbags. The list went on, and many were selected for Moriko with little chance for her to say no.
Then there was jewelry. Everywhere they went the royals compared several pieces on Moriko, and always bought at least one expensive piece, ‘for the shop owner’s time and trouble’ if nothing else. They were talking around a subject, but it became clearer towards the end of the shopping spree when Moriko was instructed to not wear any of the jewelry on the night of the dinner, it seemed that she would be loaned a small selection of royal jewelry for the duration of the evening.
During all of this Moriko got a better feel for her hosts. Princess Kagami was the one she felt closest to in many ways, they were both the eldest sibling of large families, and it showed in the ways she guided and subtly manipulated conversations of her sisters to keep the peace and avoid topics wandering too far afield. Kagami was also only two years younger than Moriko herself, though she had been married several years now. Her husband was a younger son from a southern barony
Princess Kitiara was not quite as stern as her cool expression and northern coloration suggested, but her composure was due in part to her focus on military matters. She was married to the daughter of a Marquess from the northern border, who would have been the heir were it not for the issue of producing more heirs. Moriko hesitated a moment before making a suggestion when she learned about this. “Um, if she wants to inherit, the two of you might consider visiting the Azeria clan? The kitsune are shape changers, and might know some magic to help you fix that issue temporarily?”
Kitiara gave a slight smile. “Thank you, but we have already considered that. Neither one of us is particularly interested in the role of father or mother here, and we’d both prefer to be on the front line if anything happened, so we’ve decided to keep things as they are.” It had been almost two hundred years since there were any official conflicts with the Trionean Empire, but even if relations were superficially friendly the different cultures were a source of constant tension along the border, and even without proof many were convinced that many of the bandits in the northern territories were financed by the empire.
Princess Tiriana, the one whose dress had been co-opted for Moriko and who was engaged to an elven noble, was the most enthusiastic about the shopping, and on more than one occasion had to be restrained by her sisters from buying even more things for Moriko. She hoped that the princess’s husband-to-be was well off because it seemed that the twenty-eight-year-old had little care about spending money. At least she seemed to have an eye for quality rather than wanting to buy every sparkling trinket, though that could get expensive fast too.
While Tiriana had the most enthusiasm, Bridgette had the most energy. Scarcely a year older than Kazue, she burned with a passionate intensity that would not be out of place at Sakiya’s monastery though her talents were more towards the magical than the martial. She did not have the sort of excitable distractability that the kitsune did however, she was much more focused and could wax on about her studies in magic given the slightest encouragement. It seems that her magic was fueled by one of their older bloodlines awakening, and gave her magic more akin to that of a druid than a wizard, though with a focus on fire as a medium of renewal.
Lady Yuriko was more reserved and seemed amused as she shadowed the group, though she did occasionally offer a suggestion or bit of guidance. Moriko was fairly certain that the kitsune represented more security than the rest of their guards combined.
Physically Moriko could easily keep up with even Bridgette for energy, but this sort of new socialization was a touch overwhelming and emotionally exhausting, so she was quite glad when the other women declared the shopping finished and that it was time for supper. She was ushered into a restaurant with a discreet, unmarked entrance, where they were then led to a private dining room after passing through a slightly more public area. The guardsmen that remained after packages were sent off to be delivered to Moriko’s room at the monastery took up stations in an outer room to the one where the women would be eating. Once orders were placed, the six of them were briefly alone for the first time since she had been ambushed, and Yuriko brought out a small blue orb and placed it on the table where it began to glow. She stared at it for a moment, then nodded. “Speak freely.”
Princess Kagami sighed as she relaxed, which surprised Moriko as she had not realized that the other woman had not been relaxed until that moment. “I think that went well. Moriko, I need to apologize for something. While we did want to help you shop for everything, there was another purpose. Circumstances have already led to you and your spouses being drawn into some royal secrets, so you now get to enjoy another. Lady Yuriko here is also our current spymaster, as is tradition for the Azeria Clan advisor. Our unofficial public appearance with you has allowed her agents to watch the reactions of surprised folk, and are undoubtedly keeping track of the actions of anyone suspicious.” She gave Moriko a grin. “We may be a peaceful kingdom, but even with our advantages there is some internal dissent, and there are a few external threats. So it’s best to keep track of people who react the most to this sort of surprise information. We can’t keep your dungeon a secret, so we might as well take advantage of the situation.” Kagami then turned toward Yuriko with a lightly scolding tone. “As for you, you know very well that Mistress Ula hates it when you surprise her like that. This is why we do half our shopping when you are otherwise occupied.”
Yuriko made a small show of looking repentant, but Moriko rather doubted the sincerity of it. See, this was why she was nervous about dealing with nobility, none of this had even occurred to her as a layer of what was happening. It might not be as bad as she had been imagining for a public court, but she really hated not knowing or understanding what was going on around her with people that were supposed to be her allies.
Kitiara chuckled at Moriko’s expression. “You wear your thoughts on your face when you aren’t guarded. I understand and agree, that’s part of why my wife Catherine and I have decided to leave things be when it comes to potentially inheriting the position of Marquess. We’ll keep our focus on defending the northern border with our strength of arms, and let this lot deal with politics.”
Moriko blushed slightly at being caught out, and it did not help that she could hear Mordecai laughing in the back of her head. He was curious about something however, and Moriko decided to at least bring it up. “Ah, that brings up a topic. Maybe it would be best to cover it later, but I can let you know now. Our ‘open-mindedness’ when it comes to romance surprises him a touch, especially when it comes to nobility. He doesn’t think it was allowed so openly when he was around previously.”
Kagami held up a finger and the others all waited while she thought. After a few moments, she nodded as she made a decision. “I think it will take up more time than we have to go over such questions in detail. While we will answer what you need to know so that we can hopefully write up an official treaty, I’ll make sure we pull together a copy of the founding charter and subsequent changes to help give all of you a better understanding of how everything works in this kingdom.” She smiled slightly. “I take it you are not a history buff, and only really concerned yourself with rules that affected you? Don’t worry, that’s how most people in any nation deal with laws, but you have found yourself in a position where you need to know more.”
Moriko smiled at that. “Guilty. Oh, Mordecai is asking why you are being so generous with our shopping and with some of your secrets?” She gestured towards Yuriko, their recently revealed spymaster.
“Ah, that one is easy.” Lady Yuriko said. “Having a dungeon near our kingdom is unprecedented, and we want to get ahead of other people’s responses. You are technically situated inside the range set aside for all the various mountain tribes to maintain their own governments outside of our or Danuana’s political or legal systems, but you and your wife are citizens of Kuiccihan, so the situation is complicated. What we are hoping for in broad scope is to convince the three of you to sign an alliance treaty that would make your territory a sovereign vassal. This is not as constraining as a standard suzerain-vassal relationship, not only is control of your territory strictly your own but you have the freedom to work on your own foreign relations separately, given that they do not conflict with the security of Kuiccihan. So to be blunt, we are offering both wealth and access to some of our secrets to entice you to trust us, and we do so with the anticipation that this will be beneficial in the long term for our kingdom.”
So a bribe in other words. “And this is all to help warm us up to the idea?”
Bridgette pouted a little at Moriko’s tone. “Don’t be like that. You are effectively our peer, and we have good reason to consider you truly a friendly state. We normally have to be super careful about making people close friends, but you were thrust into this position and we have a lot of information about you from the temple, so we want to make you a real friend. We just have to also deal with all the other stuff at the same time.” Crap, the girl’s sad face was almost as effective as Kazue’s, she just didn’t have ears or tails that could droop.
<<Previous Start Next >>
My Discord if you would like to talk about the book or see what else I am up to (I also try to stream once a week, but that's strictly hobby level).
My Patreon if you want to support me directly.
Also to be found on Royal Road.
$3 Patreon: Early chapters, lore excerpts $5 Patreon: Short Stories $10 Patreon: New stories not published anywhere else (Until after I finish this story at least)
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