Food near econo lodge
In what reality do you deserve a 25% tip if I am picking up an order that I ordered online?
2023.06.04 10:06 BlackIronSaturn In what reality do you deserve a 25% tip if I am picking up an order that I ordered online?
I am so fucking sick of tip culture. Ever since Covid it has gotten worse and worse.
So many places near me default at 25% at a minimum. It takes me no effort to not tip, but that's not the point. If I don't tip on a pick up order, I get looked at like I just committed high treason or some shit.
You didn't do anything. You just handed me my bag. You weren't even the one who cooked the order, or did anything else. You were sitting there scratching your taint and watching tik tok ( I fucking saw you) and then you just hand me my bag of food and get huffy cause I didn't tip you 25 percent?
Kiss all of my ass. The flipside is at the rate this is going, all these companies are going to do is just piss off enough people that it is going to affect their bottom dollar so there will either A) be a rollback to normal tip ranges, B) they pay their workers fair wages or C) they go under.
Any of those are feasible. I am sorry your employer is shit, but you are on some serious hopium if you think in any reality that handing me a bag of food necessitates 25% on a $50 order.
Like, eating out is already a rarity for us, so it's not a major loss, but it's still sad that this is where things are now. Just businesses trying to see what they can get away with at the expense of their customers.
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2023.06.04 10:06 IndependentScore3857 Padma and Tom leaving on bad terms?
Anyone else find it very bizzare that Tom hasn't said one word about Padma leaving?
He's promoted some event he's doing on IG, answered a bunch of Q's on twitter about why Ali went home, Alain Ducasse etc..
The only thing he said is "nope" if he is also leaving the show
Seems WEIRD to me. Meanwhile Gail, guest judges and practically every contestant has expressed their gratitude to Padma. Padma also in her speech said "many" of the crew were like family to her, and I haven't seen nearly as much Tom/Padma interactions as we are used to. Tom has felt very much separate until they start eating the elim. food (usually I feel we get a few tom/padma challenge scenes every year).
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2023.06.04 10:02 dreamingofislay Feis Ile 2023 Recap - Festival Superlatives
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Award season is upon us. No doubt Islay's distillery managers and business owners are waiting with bated breath for the announcement of the ultra-prestigious "random guy on Reddit says" prizes. Without further ado, this year's winners. The sun sets on Bowmore (distillery in the far left) and our trip to Feis Ile 2023 Best Music: Caol Ila
I am the least qualified person in the world to give out this prize, having no musical talent and not even much taste for it. But overall, Caol Ila seemed to have the best setup: a great, centrally located stage that hosted various different acts, ranging from higher-energy acts to some individual folk or blues singer types. Best Distillery Bar: Ardnahoe
This island is lousy with stellar distillery bars, especially during the Feis when some distilleries pour old and rare bottles for modest prices (thank you, Bowmoe and Ardbeg). But thanks to being a Hunter Laing joint, Ardnahoe's in-house bar stood head and shoulders above the rest. The menu was a bound book that contained offerings ranging from 3 to 100 pounds a pour, and very intriguing expressions (20-plus years old) were available for single-digit prices. The bar and seating area are big, lit up by floor-to-ceiling windows with incredible views over the Sound of Islay, and the chairs are super-comfy. Could have whiled away a week here and considered it time well spent. The selection at Ardnahoe's distillery bar Best Games and Activities: Ardbeg
This was an easy pick. Ardbeg was chock-full of entertainment, starting with a scavenger hunt that everyone could do to earn an extra dram. Besides that, there was a separate games area by the sea, with entry fees going to charity and the usual dram prizes. Out in the courtyard, a team member taught guests how to draw Planet Ardbeg comic characters on gift-shop merchandise. And my favorite game of all was the filling station roulette. The way it worked was that a team member had a set of small mailboxes or lockers, filled with different Ardbegs ranging from Ardbeg 10 to Ardbeg 25. Then we drew a random number from a bag and got the dram inside that locker number. Ardbeg's filling station locker game Best Whisky Tastings - Value and Variety: Kilchoman
This year, some distilleries felt like they were out to maximize profit from the week, a stark change from long ago when the open days were seen as fan service and featured generous experiences meant to foster brand loyalty. So Kilchoman deserves credit for sticking to the older ways. Very nice tastings were available for reasonable 45-50-pound prices and featured half a dozen excellent drams. Meanwhile, they still did their regular, affordable core range tasting lineups, and had lots of other offerings including a farm tour where team members took guests out to drink drams in the location that gave them their name (e.g., drinking Loch Gorm by the loch). We loved our Kilchoman tasting and have heard people all week praising whichever event they attended there. Excellent setup for Kilchoman's Past, Present, and Future tasting, with pre-poured driver's drams Best Feis Ile 2023 Bottle: Lagavulin 14-year-old Armagnac Cask Finish
Let me add the critical * caveats up front: this award doesn't factor in price, and the judging panel (of one) hasn't had all the festival bottlings. But I have tried this one, Laphroaig Cairdeas 2023, Ardbeg Heavy Vapours (regular and Committee) and the single cask, Bunnahabhain Canasta and 17 y.o. Moine, Bowmore's 18 y.o., Kilchoman's 3-cask vatting, and Caol Ila 13 y.o. To be honest, the bottles were a little overwhelming as a group, especially considering their premium price points. But leaving price aside, Lagavulin's Armagnac cask experiment produced a robust, complex, sweet-and-spicy dram. If only it weren't overpriced by about 50 pounds ... Best Feis Ile Exclusives Lineup and Sale System: Bunnahabhain
After Lagavulin, my second favorite Feis bottling probably was Bunnahabhain's 17-year-old Moine triple cask. Bunnahabhain wins this award because it offers visitors a variety of options, ranging from a 95-pound sherry cask offering (the cheapest Feis bottle) to some ultra-exclusive expressions like a 1998 Manzanilla and a 1989 single cask. In addition to having the most options, the bottles are available all week, lessening the silly rushes that happen with single-day releases. And the cherry on top: Bunnahabhain offered pre-packed tasting kits with a flight of Bunnahabhain 12 and the first two Feis releases, along with a glass cap and a festival pin, for 30 pounds. It was nice to have that option before splurging on a whole bottle. Best Views: Bunnahabhain and Ardnahoe (tie)
Both of these distilleries have brand-new visitor centers that look across the Sound of Islay to the Paps of Jura, and it is really hard to beat. Caol Ila has a similar view, but Ardnahoe and Bunnahabhain have nicer outdoor deck areas. The stunning view across the Sound from Bunnahabhain's visitor center Best Swag Bag: Bowmore
So much free stuff. Bowmore set the bar for generosity on festival day, giving everyone a branded canvas bag, two free drams (of the 12- and 15-year-old bottles), a mini-glencairn glass, and lots of little souvenirs like a postcard, pencil, small lock, a keychain carabiner, and a bung stopper coaster. A real blast from the past, hearkening back to older festivals. Best Gift Shop: Ardnahoe, Kilchoman, and Ardbeg (three-way tie)
The distilleries have invested a lot in these gift shops since our last visit in 2018, and it shows. Ardnahoe gets high marks for its selection of independent bottles, the Ilicit Still cafe and whisky bar, and its fun "guess the region" nosing game
. Kilchoman has lots of distillery exclusives, a great cafe, and luxurious leather seats that make me want to hang out there all day. And Ardbeg's shop has the most tongue-in-cheek decorations and a stellar cafe of its own, the Old Kiln, plus they pour tasting flights or drams for reasonable prices. Caol Ila has a huge, new shop with some impressive features, including a distillery hand-fill exclusive and a big tasting bar. But it seemed more like an outpost of Edinburgh's huge Johnnie Walker Experience, and the lack of a cafe hurt it. Best Single Whisky Tasting - Douglas Laing Rare Peatz-eria
So glad I found this event a few weeks before we came. Douglas Laing's ambassador Dougal led five of us through a bravura flight
culminating in a 40-year-old Caol Ila, a 25-year-old Bowmore, and two
Port Ellen drams, one at 37 and one at 40 years old. When I'm at a tasting where several drams are older than me, how can it not win this prize? But there was much more to this day than whisky. We had a great conversation as everyone shared stories of how they got into the whisky hobby, and Dougal answered our questions about the industry and Douglas Laing. Rare Peatz-eria tasting Best Non-Distillery Bar: Ballygrant Inn
It has the best or second-best selection on the island and the best prices. What more can I say? A must-visit for anyone who makes it to Islay. Best Evening Community Event: "Up for a Laph" Quiz Night feat. Laphroaig whiskies
The open days are from 10 am - 5 pm every day, but in the evenings, community groups throw events like dances (ceilidhs), and there are other whisky tastings or mini-festivals like an Indie Whisky gathering on Tuesday night. This time around, we attended an Islay whisky and culture-based trivia night at the Gaelic center. Barry MacAffer, Laphroaig's distillery manager, took it to the next level by pouring four 2014 single casks during the quizzing. Every one of them reminded me why Laphroaig is my favorite distillery. Best Restaurant: Bowmore Hotel Restaurant
The Bowmore Hotel stood out for its great service and scrumptious food, and it didn't hurt that it was around the corner from our lodgings. I emailed asking for a last-minute booking, and Peter (Junior) was responding into the wee hours of the morning confirming our time for the next night. The Isles burger with black pudding and grilled onions was quite something, and my wife loved her chicken curry. The fact that the restaurant has one of the island's best whisky bars also didn't hurt. The well-organized Bowmore Hotel bar ... oh, did I mention, there's another half on the other side of the wall?
We stuck to restaurants in Bowmore on this trip, so I can't speak to dining in Port Ellen or other parts of the island. In Bowmore, Peatzeria and Indian Tandoori are also great, although Peatzeria got so busy that, on one night, we couldn't even order takeout (we tried but they were preparing a large-group order and had to turn us down). If possible, book a few dinners ahead if you come to the Feis! Best Quick Recovery Hike: Dunyvaig Castle
Dunyvaig castle is a ruin nestled into a squat seaside bluff dusted with lilac, white, and gold wildflowers. Turn left to the ocean and, on clear days, distant Ireland; turn right, and there's Lagavulin. This short walk lies between Lagavulin and Ardbeg. If you take the sidewalk on the right side of the road, there'll be a right turn that leads to a paved way with three or four houses, and then a grass path at the dead end that carries you across the field while the winds blow and the birds sing. The perfect way to regain equilibrium after a warehouse tasting at either distillery. Dunyvaig castle guarding its seaward crag
Complete festival recap series below: Day One, Lagavulin Day Two, Bruichladdich - but we skipped and did Bunnahabhain Day Three, Caol Ila Day Four, Laphroaig Day Five, Bowmore and Ardnahoe Bonus notes from Days One through Five Day Six, Kilchoman Day Seven - Bunnahabhain Day, but we did Lagavulin and Ardbeg warehouse tastings Day Eight, Ardbeg
2023.06.04 09:45 OkAstronomer119 Best butter chicken in Navi Mumbai ?
I have been looking to eat good butter chicken but every place that I order from either has too watery gravy or the butter chicken is too sweet. Which is your go to place for Butter Chicken and North Indian food ? (Bonus points if I can order it in or near Kharghar)
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2023.06.04 09:38 virtualwasp Housemate from hell, what should I do?
For some background, my housemate has a severe alcohol addiction which he’s open about but not willing to work on. A mutual friend who’s known him longer than I have told me he’s a compulsive liar- After moving out with him I heard he asked to borrow her switch and instantly sold it to buy drinks.
The situation right now is messy. I’ve been living here since mid January and it’s gotten progressively worse ever since. It started with drunk breakdowns past 3am, fights between him and his friend, blasting political videos at full volume way past the states noise curfew, trashing the place with empty bottles and food scraps- waiting until I gave up asking him to clean and cleaned it for him.
We got an eviction notice since rent has been in arrears for a while, I transfer my rent to him so I had no clue. I paid off the arrears myself and discussed with the property manager about staying and having someone else move in which she was all for. He found out I paid it off and is refusing to move, which the manager isn’t doing anything about since we are no longer in arrears. We have a meeting coming up about who’s going to be staying…
After that, it has turned for the worst. He said if any of my friends enter the premises he’ll call the police as if they are trespassers. I’ve been threatened multiple times, he has been walking in/opening my door at night and just standing there for a bit, arguing with me and refusing to clean, a few nights ago I saw a flashlight from the balcony going into my window.
I stayed at my friends for nearly two weeks because I didn’t feel safe, and when I got back a few nights ago, I cannot BEGIN to describe the state of the house. There’s more than 15 rubbish bags all around the floor, moulded plates in the sink, a fruit fly infestation… it’s genuinely unliveable. I had a friend come back with me, he accidentally walked in the housemates room thinking it was the bathroom, and apparently it’s so much worse than the living area. According to him, you can’t see the floor due to how much rubbish there is, and an unmade mattress on the floor with puke all over it.
I’ve been asking my friends to stay over for my own safety- I contacted my friend who’s a cop and he told me I can legally do this with no time limit since I’m an occupant. Usually I wouldn’t have guests over without permission out of respect for the housemate, but I have none. I’m worried he’ll go further than threaten me and I think I’m in my right to believe so.
A few hours ago I got back home to being locked out. There’s a second lock on the door that says do not turn, since there’s no key for it. I ALWAYS check this lock. There’s no other explanation besides he turned it when I left.
I haven’t recorded him threatening me at all, but I’ve started to record every interaction I have with him just in case.
Is there anything else I can do to get him to stop?
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2023.06.04 09:26 Prediabeticsalesman New Ham Coworkers
Hello. I am a new bus driver, working in one of the biggest and busiest cities in this country. A lot of the people I met in training were HAMs. Lots of people on the job are HAMs. Probably a higher rate than most industries. Naturally, it comes from being largely sedentary while working long hours, especially given the mandatory overtime we have to do. What also doesn’t help is drinking multiple sodas and eating candy, chips, or fast food during your break.
One of my line instructors stressed the important of healthy eating to me. He suggested drinking only water and coffee as beverages, to pack my own lunch, and to have fruits to snack on. Mostly common sense things.
The main issue is he doesn’t follow his own advice and it shows. HAM supervisor is at least 100 pounds overweight. He does drink water, but I also see him drink at least one 20 oz Mountain Dew or Pepsi per shift, and have candy or chips (he’s fond of Doritos) as a snack. For lunch, he usually has Jersey Mikes (to be fair it looks like the smaller serving). He also mentions that depending on the shift he works, he eats dinner then goes right to bed, which probably doesn’t aid in weight loss. He also mentions that he and his wife (also a HAm driver but not as severe) will finish pints of ice cream while watching tv regularly. His regular work assignment is 5 days/57 hours, and he is almost always forced to come in on one of his days off.
When I brought up his hypocrisy in a playful, round about way, he laughed it off and said he just had bloodwork done, and he’s healthy. I highly doubt this. Again, he is at least 100 pounds overweight. Even if he eats healthy at home (outside of the pints of ice cream), there is no way he is not at worst prediabetic and has high risk for heart disease. The high stress levels of the job (traffic, crazy drivers, problematic passengers) must also wreck his blood pressure, even when he appears calm under pressure.
One day when we had a 90 minute unpaid break on the schedule, I chose to hit the small but serviceable health center here. It turns out the people who use our center (drivers and cops) are regulars, who knew I was new just because they’ve never seen my face before. I introduced myself, they welcomed me, and told me to make sure I keep my health a priority. They said they’ve seen people pack on pounds like I’d never believe in just a short few years.
Later that day when I had a question about where to turn next, he was annoyed I didn’t study the route during my break. I apologized, and went off on a tangent about how I used to workout regularly before going to training and how I don’t feel good about not working out. Later I asked him how our health center compared to other divisions. To nobody’s surprise, he said he doesn’t know, as he hasn’t seen any of the gyms at the company (it shows). He also mentions he gets here about an hour before the shift starts, just incase of traffic. He chooses to chill in his car or lounge room here rather than lift some weights or hit the treadmill.
For what it’s worth I’ve noticed that nearly all the managers and supervisors are obese. Not just overweight, but obese. Most of them do administrative work, and don’t work on the busses.
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2023.06.04 09:18 wisram Predator disease. Treatment facilities chapter # 3
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//First I need to apologize if there’s some orthography mistakes or ununderstandable words , the english is not my native language so, I'm just trying my best, if you found something like that please let me know to correct it.
//Also thanks to u/SpacePaladin15
for this incredible universe FirstLast
Next The members of the Memory Transcription Preservations included some multimedia files to help with the disclosure of this set of stories and get a better understanding of the lives seen in this catalog, please enjoy. Memory transcription subject: Doma, Venlil, treatment facility patient Date [standardized Sol time]: July 19th, 2135.
A purple blob with pieces of something that appear to be vegetables falls onto my plate. Yuck
I hope it tastes better than it looks.
While Baali takes about 20 napkins along with his food and proceeds to congratulate the cook wearing an overall, gloves, and an apathetic expression hairnet.
"Whoa Karat, you really did it with this meal, you're awesome."
I notice how the cook expresses happiness with her tail and serves an extra portion of stew to Baali, taking away the napkins. Baali nervously laughs and lowers his ears, saying, "hehehe... thank you," before we leave the counter. That was... curious. I feel like I'm missing something, but I don't know what it is.
"Hey Baali, why did she take back your napkins?"
"Uh, it's nothing. She just doesn't like me taking her napkins."
"Don't worry about it, let me introduce you to the rest of the herd." Baali leads me to a round table where several Venlil were sitting and eating. "Doma, these are Roomaer, Gat, Bucket, and Belizba." "Roomaer, Gat, Bucket, and Belizba... this is Doma."
I notice that out of the four Venlil Baali introduced me to, one turns his gaze to look at me, another continues wiping his chair with one of the cafeteria napkins while seemingly whispering something repeatedly, and the other two seem to ignore me.
Baali takes a seat at the table and gestures for me to join him, placing his hand on the chair next to him where the slender Venlil with a round face and brown fur is diligently cleaning without lifting his gaze. "Come on, you can sit between me and Roomaer."
I glance uncomfortably at the Venlil who seems obsessed with polishing the chair and decide to approach him with a question. "Is it not clean already?"
The peculiar Venlil momentarily pauses his cleaning, turns to look at me, and replies, "No, no, no, still dirty, dirty, dirty." He resumes his task without skipping a beat.
Seeking clarification, I quietly whisper to Baali, "What's the deal with this guy?"
Baali responds, "Well, he just has a strong preference for cleanliness and order. Don't worry, he's harmless. He wouldn't harm even an insect. Speaking of insects, have I ever told you about the time I discovered a massive bug under my bed? I swear it was larger than my hand. You never imagine how big they can get..."
I approach my seat between Baali and Roomaer with nervous anticipation, observing the peculiar Venlil as he also takes his place and obsessively rearranges his cutlery. Choosing to ignore the odd behavior, I let out a deep sigh, accepting the fact that I'm about to partake in a meal in this dreadful place. Casting a doubtful glance at my questionably sourced food, I reach out to grab my spoon from the table, only to have Roomaer preemptively snatch it away and begin cleaning it. The perplexed expression on my face, along with the movements of my tail and ears, fails to fully convey the extent of my confusion as I witness this strange individual meticulously polishing my cutlery, rearranging them on the table, grimacing, then picking them up again to clean them once more, and finally returning them to the table in a different order.
Undeterred, I make another attempt to take hold of the cutlery, only to be thwarted as Roomaer swiftly seizes them, rubs them fervently, and places them back in their designated positions. Growing increasingly frustrated, I try once more, but Roomaer moves the utensils slightly to the right. Determined, I cautiously inch my hand closer, yet Roomaer counters by shifting them ever so slightly to the left. Recognizing the futility of my efforts, I reluctantly retract my hand, patiently awaiting an opportune moment while the other Venlil appears to have ceased his unusual behavior.
“Did you finish?” I asked.
The Venlil, who had been visibly tense but had finally left my cutlery alone, remains still and silent. I relax and calm myself, finally ready to begin eating. Just as I am about to pick up the cutlery, the Venlil grabs them again.
I stand up and snatch the spoon from him in fury.
"You idiot! Clean the damn spoon one more time, and I'll make you swallow it!..."
Just as I'm about to strike the Venlil, Baali steps in between us, calming me down. "Wait, wait, he's not doing it on purpose. He can't control it."
The Venlil merely covers his head in remorse, repeating, "I'm sorry... sorry... I'm sorry." I calm down and lower my ears.
Baali attempts to soothe the frightened Venlil and suggests that I switch places with him. I take my tray of food and exchange seats with Baali, remaining silent and deep in thought. Perhaps I shouldn't have gotten so angry. After all, it's not his fault if he can't control it. I should apologize... but later. For now, I'll just eat a little bit since I'm very hungry.
Without looking, I try to grab my spoon again, but I fail and only grasp empty air. I turn my gaze and see that the damn spoon is no longer in its place. I look around until I spot the Venlil next to me hiding my spoon under his hand while clearly using his own spoon to eat from his own plate. Oh, for the sake of the stars! Will no one let me eat in peace?!!!
In my frustration, I disregard the absent spoon and daringly take a bit of the purple stew with my hand. To my surprise, the taste is quite good. Perhaps a touch more salt would make it excellent, but overall it surpasses its initial appearance. As I savor the stew, a genuine sense of calm begins to wash over me, allowing me to momentarily disconnect from my surroundings and find true peace...
"AAAAAHHHHHH!!!! AAAAAHHHH AAAAHHHH!!!"
Startled, I abruptly snap out of my tranquility, nearly choking on the sound of a deafening bleat. It echoes as if someone is being pursued by a fearsome predator. However, when I lift my gaze, I discover that the source of the commotion is none other than the Venlil sitting in front of me.
"Damn it, why is he screaming?"
"AHHHH AHHHH AHHH!!"
"What's the matter? is he injured?
"Did someone harm you?"
"Are you frightened?"
"AT LEAST SAY SOMETHING, DON'T JUST SIT THERE AND SCREAM!!!!!"
"AHHHHHHH AHHHH AHHHH!"
Baali shields his ears, leaning closer to me to explain that Belisba likely took Gat's headphones.
"Belisba? ...Of course, the spoon thief."
Baali and I watch as Belisba anxiously hides triangular sponges with cables behind him. I was ready to get up and snatch them away, but Baali intervenes.
"Calm down, Doma, I'll take care of it." Baali wags his tail to get Belisva's attention. "Hey, Belisba, I think Gat's headphones fell under the table. Could you pass them to me?"
Belisba is momentarily surprised by Baali's question but quickly relaxes, crouches down as if to retrieve the headphones, and then hands them over to Baali.
"Oh, here they are." Come on, at least make a more convincing act. It's obvious that you only took advantage of Baali's fake excuse to hide the theft. We all noticed.
I observe as Baali approaches Gat and gently puts the headphones on him, giving him a sense of calm. Gat responds by nodding his head in what seems to be gratitude.
"Is everyone here insane?" I said as I resumed eating, using my hand as a makeshift spoon. At that moment, Bucket, the Venlil who had been silently eating all this time, lets out a chuckle.
"HA! And what did you expect from this place? Everyone here is sick in one way or another."
"Just look at Mr. Clean over here, imagine how he must have ended up on a crowded public transportation. Of course, the exterminators had to intervene after a Venlil during rush hour tried to clean the entire transport."
Roomaer simply lowers his head and ears in embarrassment and continues cleaning his food tray.
"And don't even get me started on your friend with the magical hands."
I turn and coldly gaze at Belizba just before he attempts to grab something from my plate with his hands, quickly pulling back.
"And what about you, Bucket? How did you end up here?"
Bucket takes a sip from his glass and pauses briefly before giving his response.
"I was just doing my job as an exterminator, but the guys didn't appreciate me practicing with a flamethrower. Combine that with mistaking a bucket of water for one filled with fuel, and... well."
"So that's why they call you Bucket?"
Bucket takes a sip from his glass, pausing for a moment before giving his response.
"I was just doing my job as an exterminator, but the guys didn't appreciate my enthusiasm for practicing with the flamethrower. And, well, things took a turn when I mistakenly grabbed a bucket of fuel instead of water."
"Is that why they call you Bucket?"
"Haha, no, that's another story, but I won't go into it. If anyone asks, you can just say it's because of that."
"Hmm, I think Baali mentioned something about it... but honestly, I should have paid more attention to what he said."
"That's probably for the best. He shouldn't have told you anything to begin with."
"Speaking of Baali, why is he here? I mean, he seems so sociable and normal, not the kind of person you'd expect to find in a place like this. Maybe a bit chatty, but not deserving of being here."
We both turn to see Baali still engrossed in conversation with Gat.
"Well, he... asked me not to tell anyone." I pause for a moment before continuing, "But considering that Baali almost revealed my story... I'll give you a clue. It's in the notebook he always carries."
From a distance, I notice that he never lets go of the notebook. It's always close by. "What could be in that notebook?"
"It's complicated. Rather, I would focus on what that notebook doesn't have. But regardless, out of all of us, Baali is the least likely to belong here. No matter how you look at it, even with his terrible secret, I don't think someone like him could ever become a predator. And let me tell you, true predators have ended up here."
I raise my ears in concern. "True predators?"
"Yes, dangerous Venlil, the real deal."
"Yeah, you better be careful. I've heard that some of them have even tried to take lives."
"That's terrible..." Wait...
"Normally, they are kept in solitary confinement, but I overheard the guards saying that the district judge accidentally mixed up some of the records, and they think one of these Venlil wasn't separated from the others."
"..." Oh no.
"Usually, we all avoid them."
"..." Oh no, no, no.
"Especially because the guards take it out on them."
"..." This is bad, this is too bad.
"They subject them to the worst shocks. I heard that one of them had their internal organs burned from so much electrical discharge."
"..." Damn stars, I'm the predator Venlil they're talking about.
"It's an incredibly painful death, but well, the important thing in the end is to keep the flock safe."
I nervously affirm, "Haha, yeah... all for the sake of the flock."
"And you, Doma, what about you? How did you end up here?"
"..." Don't say trying to kill my boss. Don't say trying to kill my boss...
"I also mistook a bucket of fuel."
"I understand. It happens." No, damn it, it doesn't happen.
"Well, at least you were brought to these facilities and not others."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I was transferred from another facility up north, and it's definitely very different from here. Just look at Gat. In my old facility, they would never give him headphones, not in a million years."
"Hmmm," I nod with my tail.
"We also have a courtyard. I heard that it's a recent addition due to some renovations they made."
"Hmmm, well, I guess that's... alright."
"Look at it this way, you were lucky to end up in these facilities."
"Hmmm, I suppose it's not so bad after all..."
_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/ [Fast Forward.] [20 minutes later.]
"AAAHHH THIS IS REALLY BAD!!!"
Immediately, I feel an electric shock emanating from the mesh on my head, coursing through my body as I remain trapped in a chair, surrounded by projected images of predators.
The agonizing cries of several patients echo in a dimly lit room, with a large black glass pane in front where the doctors presumably observe us.
"CaAAAALM down, Doma, with tiIIIIime you'll gEEEEEEt used to it."
I notice that Baali is in the chair next to me, talking as if he isn't also strapped to one of these torture chaaaairs.
"SHUUUUUUUUT THE FUUUUUUUUCK UP, BAAAAAAAAALI!!"
2023.06.04 08:56 Any-Development-3338 Extreme fatigue
Just using this as a space to essentially think out loud.
When I started Rybelsus I experienced quite a bit of fatigue. I think on day of 7mg 2 I spent most of the day sleeping. It got better but didn’t fully go away.
Since staring 14mg the fatigue has been getting so much worse. I find it near impossible to get out of bed. When I’m out with friends it feels almost like an outer body experience after a couple hours because I’m too tired to be present in conversations. I haven’t done a workout throughout this entire journey until two days ago. This had such intense consequences, I was so sick and tired the day after. Felt like I hadn’t slept in weeks. It has been a month on 14mg and it feels like I’m slipping away. I spent quite some time on 7mg because it was working and I didn’t want the side effects to get worse. There are a few other side effects that make me feel worse too but it’s really the fatigue that gets to me.
On one hand I’m telling myself that maybe I need more than a month to adjust to the higher dose but on the other I’m not sure I can even take another day of feeling like this. Easy solution is to just stop the meds of course but then it’s back to constant food noise and bad food decisions. For the first time in years I’ve managed to reduce my binging. It’s almost not a problem at all now.
Then there’s also the worry that it’s not the medicine and if I stop it will then just be binging on top of everything else.
I’m on Rybelsus.
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2023.06.04 08:49 aj4ever I feel like I’m being a brat but I feel so upset.
I am 33 F and my husband is 34 M. My husband and I have been in a rough patch for two weeks straight. It started off with him going to a bachelor party internationally where he spent $2000+ and where there lots of substances and sex workers present so safe to say I wasn’t thrilled but I wished him a safe trip. While he was at the party, he kept sending me pictures I didn’t ask for, which furthered my anxiety and two of the three nights his phone died / he fell asleep / he got home late. Safe to say, we didn’t discuss what level of communication would work for us and when he came back from his trip, we argued about it for a couple of days leading up to my birthday weekend. I don’t believe he engaged in those activities but I found it upsetting that he was unreachable for 12+ hours multiple nights for silly reasons.
Anyways…. For my birthday, I had communicated that I wanted a easygoing trip with us and our dog a few hours away. The only caveat was that I wanted to unplug from my phone for the weekend. My husband said he’d plan the weekend which is something I usually do for our trips or something we do together. Unfortunately none of the things he planned worked out for one reason or another. I ended having to figure out plans and meals three times because he had no suggestions and I couldn’t unplug as a result. This was upsetting - we didn’t get to eat out anywhere because my husband said he couldn’t find a dog friendly patio of a restaurant. The day before my birthday he asked me if I would want a cake or dessert and I also found that weird considering I always have cake on my birthday. Any of the places he planned to take me too were either closed or not accepting dogs. I was upset that he didn’t do proper planning into anything and we ended up wasting $1500 on the lodging alone. Mind you before going on the trip, I asked him if he needed planning help or needed me to pack some groceries and food to cook since we cook a lot at home and he said no, he has it taken care of. He didn’t take care of anything and one of the nights we had to skip dinner cause places closed. We ended up doing nothing as a result.
Anyway, we got back from the trip and I asked for a redo at home since the weekend was horrible. I told my husband I just wanted to go eat some pizza in town and just celebrate that way. My husband ended up surprising me with dinner reservations at some fancy fine dining Caribbean food. While I appreciate all cuisines, Caribbean fine dining is not my go to cuisine or something I truly love eating. I just wanted pizza and enjoy my day off doing something I wanted. Again, I was upset because I felt like my words were disregarded.
The last birthday event we had was today where we were suppose to celebrate group birthdays, mine included. I offer to bring a specific type of cake for my friends and myself (I mainly only eat this cake on my bday once a year so I look forward to it), but my husband said he’d take care of it. Am I wrong to assume that meant he would get the cake I wanted? Come to find out, he got something completely different cake from what I wanted to get or liked and had told him. Am I in the wrong for being ungrateful and upset? I feel like my requests were directly ignored and each time, it seems like my husband is trying his best but he kept disappointing me.
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2023.06.04 08:44 jasonater64 Jeez I have too many questions
- How many items can the item vault carry and if it's a specific amount how much more does it increase when made bigger?
- What do you all believe to be the most fun/worthwhile create contraptions to make? I've gotten nearly all the base items and things done, I just don't know what to make.
- What create add-ons should I use? I see too many and I don't know which ones are good, I need help choosing!
- What mods does create work with? Like can I use a stove and pot from another mod with create and auto craft modded food?
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2023.06.04 08:38 AWaterDogArt TIFU with garlic bread
It was a late spring (is it summer now?) Evening and I had a craving for some food. After having a civilized conversation with my roommate about ivar the boneless turning his crutches into swords, I decided to begin my journey in food making. By having gotten high an hour prior and once again puffing on some of that sweet devil's lettuce.
It's the next paragraph now. Now, I like my garlic made from scratch the right way. Which is way I used prepacked frozen stuff from the freeze that was made by professionals. Upon reading the instructions it said to set that bitch oven up to 425, I I set that bitch oven to 425. This was a mistake one. You see, the metal baking try I used was made of metal. And the oven was getting hot. I should not of been near hot things at the time.
Got my garlic bread in the oven, after five minutes I threw some cheese on it. Not the fancy kind, the shredded kind cuz I'm a rock the peasant life like that. Stay struggling y'all ✌️. Anyways I grab it with my mitted hand. While holding it over the oven, I tried to use my non mitted hand to grab the garlic bread. But the bread was to hot.
Some of you may have caught onto the tragedy that was about to befall me on this not so dark and stormy night, that had a pleasant breeze and I petted the neighbors cat earlier. I proceeded to grab the try with my bare hot, less than thirty seconds after pulling it out of the oven. Here's the fun part.
I then proceed to try and grab the bread with my mitten hand. The pain, has yet to reach my brain, possible due to a previous decision which may technically be mistake 1. So this was my third mistake. After a few seconds of basically trying to coax the bread off the tray and admiring the beautiful cheesy goodness that I had been blessed with, pain. Several of the pain. In a calm state of absolute panic and dread, I switched the tray to my non mitted hand and only then did I actually put it the fuuuuck down.
Right after, I proceeded to immediately get back to claiming my prize, while accidentally using my bare hand to hold the try occasionally in order to peel the bread off. Afterwards I loaded it with grape jam and honey from hardies that I had stashed to have a lovely dinner. That consistented of just the bread. Burned my mouth a bit because I haven't learned anything at all from this event. Thank you for attending my Ted talk that has been brought to you by raid shadow legends.
TL;DR made garlic bread, burned myself in the process
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2023.06.04 08:35 InkDiamond [PI] They’d scrounged up what little they had, but neither knew what to do next. They had never been in a situation like this before—never attended such an event. What the Archives called: a par-ty
Marc gave it another go. He tipped his hand forward. The silver patty rolled off him, dropping toward the cave floor.
It stopped short of hitting the path. The shiny disc halted in the air, dangling at the end of a thin white line.
He watched the small wheel spin. It might have been the most fun he’d had all year. Even more fun than that mud puddle he’d found the other day. How does it keep going?
Marc thought to himself. And without any power??
Marc assumed the disc was some sort of technological marvel from the past. But the Archives had little information on it, only a name. It was called a “yo-yo.” They all must have had one of these,
As Marc walked down the stone ramp, he cast the yo-yo again. The toy’s quiet spin was the only sound in the cavern. The soft hiss of string versus metal reverberated gently in the spacious cave.
Marc focused all his attention on the little gadget. He was determined to enjoy every last minute of the universe, no matter what. And that evening, the yo-yo more than accomplished that goal.
The shimmering yo-yo, however, couldn’t prevent the world around him from crumbling. The ground started to rumble. The rest of the cave shook with it. The underground city shook as the plasma storm above battered it—and the rest of the planet.
Marc’s home broke down. Cracks appeared in the ceiling. Waterfalls of dust poured out of them. It wouldn't be long before the whole thing collapsed. That is, if the plasma storm didn’t swallow it whole first. Whatever.
A few clumps of dirt wouldn’t ruin Marc’s fun. He pulled the hood of his shawl over his head and extended his ragged sleeves toward each hand. His clothes shielded him from the falling dust; the gritty particles made themselves at home on his messy shawl. And Marc was free to perfect his newest trick.
The rumbling died down though as Marc descended the ramp. The yo-yo string didn’t wobble so much, and he didn't have to watch his steps as carefully. He just hoped the quaking wouldn’t come back to ruin his event.
Speaking of which, Marc glanced ahead toward his destination below. What he saw rocked him even harder than the earthquake had. What in the sinkpits…?
Marc stopped in his tracks. He even started to reach for his knife. All because he’d detected a speck of something suspicious. Something he didn't see much of every day: color.
Showy landmarks weren’t something endemic to his home. The Outpost was more of a dusty gray-and-brown sort of place. The walls were sandstone. The floor was sandstone. And the ceiling? …Granite?
No, sandstone. All under the faint glow of a string of depressed lightbulbs.
The intriguing blip in the gray-and-tan collage was farther up the path. Ahead of the ramp, on Level 8, Marc saw the same three steel doors he was used to seeing. The front doors of underground homes, lined up in a row, each closed into the cave wall.
However, there was something different
about the third door. It looked… alive. Like it didn’t belong in a dreary place like the Outpost. But it was too far away to tell what exactly had been done to it.
Marc squinted at it suspiciously. The third door happened to be his destination. And now it was weird.
He considered waiting and observing the mutated door. A child of the Outpost, Marc had developed a healthy fear of the unusual.
These habits, along with his instincts, kept him safe. They’d specifically preserved him
while the rest of humanity perished.
But he shrugged off the instinct to wait. Something new and “different” was ahead, and he wanted to see it.
But just as a precaution, it was time for his yo-yo’s last trick. He got in one final throw then placed the toy into his satchel. He dropped it on top of his arsenal of cables, wrenches, and screwdrivers.
And by the time he’d snapped the satchel shut, the long ramp had bottomed out. He’d made it to the next level.
To his left, the wall had been spray-painted. Scrawled-out black letters stood against the sandy background. They stated, “Now Level 8.
Marc followed the sign. He stayed close to the wall, crossing to the stone pedestrian path. He passed one untouched steel door with a dusted-over mail slot in the wall beside it. Then he passed a second home—abandoned like the first. And finally, he arrived at his friend’s place and the mysterious blip on Level 8.
To his surprise, the steel door elicited a flush of emotion. His heart floated upward. And the portrait before him drew his focus in like an otherworldly beacon. How did it get so…?
Marc pulled back his hood. The ground popped with the sandy grains he released.
He could hardly believe the difference. The door used to blend in with the others: another ridged steel face that spent most of its time rusting or collecting dirt.
But it was no longer muffled by the dust and dirt that had built up over the years.
Today, it sung. Paint streaks flew across its visage. They swirled and spiraled, forming stars and other shapes. Where previously gray and rust dominated, colors sprang forth—colors that Marc didn't even have the names for. They were many, and they were warm,
like the evening sky just after sunset. Marc could hardly wrap his head around the entire image.
He swelled with gratitude. Only
you could have pulled this off.
He thought of his friend, the painter. The one person in the colony who’d ever been any fun. The one other person in the colony who was left…
The artist had done the unthinkable. Foraging the garden below for something other
than food. Spending work time measuring and concocting the perfect blends of paint. And then slathering their fingers across the giant door, until its old face was but a memory. And all that effort for only a single other person
Newly inspired, Marc searched for an unpainted space on the metal canvas. He found one and knocked on the door.
He took a step back and waited. The outside of the Outpost was lively. Excited wind rushed through the canyon.
By contrast, the Outpost itself was silent. If there was anyone left to say anything, they may have even called it “dead.”
Or nearly dead, anyway. The last morsel of it came to life as the door in front of Marc groaned.
It floated off the ground, inching upward. On the other side, Marc could hear a hand crank clicking away. Ktch… ktch… ktch… ktch…
The corrugated door lifted, and the door rolled up. The tip of the artist’s painting started to slip from view. Ktch… ktch… ktch… ktch…
Behind the door, chains reeled at a slow clip. The heavy curtain was halfway up. Marc could now see his best friend's lower half. Buff Lenorkian legs pumped back and forth with each crank.
The door unveiled even more of the owner. A torso in a metal suit appeared. Four ripped arms stretched out of it. They rotated, moving to the clicking beats of the door. Ktch… ktch… ktch… ktch…
The door raised a few inches further, uncovering the bottom half of a cobalt blue face. Two rows of razor-sharp teeth smiled from ear to ear. A few inches more, and Marc could see the whole of the Lenorkian’s face.
Sid greeted Marc as the last of the door raised.
” he said.
Marc didn’t get a chance to respond. His body lurched forward involuntarily. He slammed into Sid’s metal suit. Crrrrrick!
The armor squealed as Sid’s upper two arms squeezed him tighter. The lower set of arms had reeled Marc in.
hugs. Stupid mushy emotional wraparounds. But just this one final time, Marc returned the gesture. He squeezed Sid back.
“Happy Worlds’ End!” Sid said from the other side of the embrace.
“Yeah,” Marc replied, “Happy Worlds’ End.”
The two separated.
“Cool painting, by the way,” Marc said. He pointed at the rolled-up door. “I didn’t think you’d top the one in the garden.”
“You think so?” Sid sheepishly smiled. “Well I’ve had more time to practice since… you know.”
“Yeah, I get it,” Marc said. “Me too. That’s how I actually got you
Marc swung his heavy satchel around. He rifled through it, squeezing through cables, knocking handles and parts out of the way. And then—ah.
He fished out a crumpled rag. Holding it in one hand, he began to gently unfold it.
“I found this a few days ago in the garden,” he said. The edges of the cloth fell. They revealed a small, glass object. It sparkled.
Marc continued, “I think it fits your style—I mean, I know it’s a little smudged and chipped but...”
He swirled the crystal trinket around. The cavern’s incandescent light flittered across its clear edges.
He touched it too, tracing the slender portion of it with his thumb. It was the neck of the crystal swan.
“It’s yours,” Marc said, offering up the bird.
Sid cupped two shovel-sized hands and accepted the gift.
“It’s beautiful…” he said, examining it. “I can’t believe anything like this could have survived this long.” He looked up at Marc and smiled, “Thank you so much. I just wish I had a little longer to could enjoy it.”
They chuckled lightly about their impending obliteration.
“Well, come on in,” Sid said. He extended both of his left arms. They gestured toward the cave interior. “We’ll finish off this universe how it started,” he said. He mashed his upper two fists together. “With a bang!”
“I hear that!” Marc nodded. He crossed over into Sid’s house.
As Marc passed Sid, a wave of discomfort hit him. Sid had switched out his usual t-shirt and jeans. He wore old armor instead. And the metal plating taunted Marc.
Marc’s next question came out more accusatory than curious.
“So… a Lenorkian throwback, huh?” he asked Sid.
Sid had just finished finding the perfect home for his swan. He left it on a shelf next to the front door.
He turned to face Marc. He hid his embarrassment behind a jagged smile.
“Oh!” he said. “Uhhh…” Three of Sid’s arms disappeared behind his back. The cone-shaped cuffs at the end of each wrist clanked against the back of his chest armor. The fourth arm nervously scratched his blue head. “I don’t know,” he said. “It's stupid, I guess. I can take it off… if you want.”
Marc didn’t want to address the topic head-on. He stopped in the cave’s entry. He pretended to admire the walls—as if he’d never seen sandstone before.
“No, leave it on,” he said. “You look… like a true Lenorkian.” He turn around and forced a smile.
It wasn’t enough.
“Okay, let’s get this out of the way,” Sid said. He marched up to Marc.
Sid took a deep breath before he spoke.
“Tonight's really important to me,” he continued. “This is the last impression anyone’s
going to make on the universe. So I need you on board.” He continued staring down at Marc. “Can you do that? For me?”
Marc didn’t see what the big deal was. It was just a couple of best friends hanging out.
“Yeah, why not?” he shrugged. “End it the way it started.”
The exchange turned into awkward silence. Neither knew what to do next. They had never been in a situation like this before—never attended such an event. What the Archives called: a par-ty.
Sid shook off the figurative mask he’d been wearing—one that was uncharacteristically dour. His eyes lightened, and he bobbed his head knowingly.
“I went through the Archives to see how this works,” he said. He walked toward the long horizontal counter against the wall—the kitchen.
On the counter, chaos ran wild. Bowls and kitchenware spread across the surface. And the insides of his pots and pans resembled the dirty mouth of a garbage chute.
Marc wasn’t sure what to think. Was cleaning the host’s kitchen a staple of ancient parties?
Sid too seemed a bit confused. His next words came out robotically, as if he was practicing a new word he’d learned.
’” Sid asked. He stood nervously in front of the counter.
Looking closer at it, three unusual objects stood apart from the kitchenware mess. It took Marc a while to remember what their outdated, bendy material was called. Plastic
. Three pink
cups sat equidistant from one another.
“I got these from here,” Sid reached under the counter and pulled up some sort of transparent bag. Pink cups just liked the others were stacked on top of each other inside.
Sid packed the bag back under the counter.
“So?” he asked after he finished. He held all four hands together in anticipation. His smile may have looked like an industrial-grade rock shredder, but it was hard to resist his innocent blue face and big wide eyes.
Marc eyed the pink cups one last time.
“This better not kill me,” he said.
Sid wasted no time. He excitedly grabbed a cup and walked over to a large pot sitting on the counter.
Using a nearby ladle, he plunged into the vat. An unappetizing sloshing sound resulted. And Sid, as strong as he was, seemed to struggle with scooping out some of the mystery liquid. But in the end, he pulled back the ladle and unloaded an opaque, muddy liquid into the cup.
“It's a homeworld classic called fludge,” Sid said as he finished pouring.
He treaded over to his reluctant friend and handed off the plastic cup.
“Did you say ‘fludge’?” Marc asked. He swished the cup around cautiously. The earthy liquid hardly budged.
“Yeah, fludge! Us Lenorkians invented it. It’s kind of the only tasty thing we ever bothered to make.”
Marc sniffed it. It smelled… burnt? Maybe a little dusty, too? But he could have just been smelling the cave.
Sid left Marc alone with Marc’s questionable new assignment. He returned to the pot to pour himself a drink.
“Just try it!” he said.
Marc looked down again at the dark soup. It could kill him. Or maybe it wouldn't.
Either way, it was his last drink.
He took a timid sip and waited to be repulsed. The fludge trickled to the back of his tongue. As it hit, Marc’s eyes widened. But not with regret.
“Now wait a minute…” he said. He smacked his lips together. Then he took another, larger sip.
This curious dark liquid had a unique taste to it. The taste was earthen—but unoffending. It also had a subtle undercurrent of sweetness to it, combined with a spicy kick. It was delicious.
“This might be the best drink in the entire Outpost!” Marc exclaimed.
Pure joy bloomed on Sid’s face. “See! I told you: the greatest thing we ever made.”
He held his own cup above his open jaws. The falling fludge was no match for the alien. He guzzled it down, licked his lips, and then went back for more.
As Sid fashioned himself another drink, Marc noticed something a tad
unsettling. A third pink cup stared back at him. It prompted an uncomfortable thought, but he shoved the thought back down.
The Lenorkian carried back his second drink. Though this time, he took it in small, human-sized sips.
But he quickly reanimated. In the middle of a sip, Sid got a wild look in his eyes. His irises turned from their natural violet to scarlet. He yanked the cup from his face and swallowed.
“Argh, how did I forget?” he said. “I got music!”
Marc cut his sip short too. “No way. You got music?
“I think so!”
Sid did an about face. He slammed the half-empty cup on the counter. Then he shuffled toward a giant metal column protruding from the far wall. Four ink-blue hands wrapped around the cover of the vent. And he went for it.
Sid struggled to pull off the cover of the vent at first. His armor ballooned around his biceps as his muscles bulged outward. Yet the cover wouldn't budge.
But it seemed like an important part of his evening plans. He scolded the stubborn vent, banging on its top.
“Oh, you’re gonna get it now!” he said. He latched onto the vent again.
This time, he put even more effort in. To the point where Marc sensed that Sid was losing a grip on his own body. Out of his forehead, two thumb-sized cones began to rise. His breathing turned low and raspy. And his whole body seemed to expand as he repositioned himself for leverage. Then with one final pull, like a wild beast, he let out of a deep, guttural roar.
” The roar echoed off the cave walls.
And with that, the stubborn vent cover finally popped off. A breath of wind pulsed through the room as the air pressure equalized itself.
But the wind wasn’t finished. After the initial pulse exited, a mighty gust picked up where the original pulse left off. The vent shot more wind into the room, but rapidly, like a storm. Tiny coarse particles rattled inside the duct. And in the room, a rush of wind whipped past Marc’s face. He felt little nips across his exposed skin as it passed him.
Both partiers shielded their faces from the most direct blasts of air. Sid smiled nervously as he looked to Marc. He raised his voice over the whining airstream.
“It’s from the sandplains above!” he said in an elevated voice. “I thought we’d use the sandstorm for music! Do you like it?”
Music… Marc wasn’t exactly an expert. Even though humans were said to be naturals at it, not much on the subject had made it into the Archives. The Outpost didn’t have much of it either. The closest he got was the occasional chant, stray birds twittering about, or maybe someone banging on rocks.
But Marc did know one thing on the subject. Where there was music, there was dancing.
That said, he had never danced before either. But a long time ago, his parents told him it was something all
humans could do. It was something they carried in their blood. Once humans found a pattern in music, they could match it to their body language. And once they’d synced melody and movement, they could ride that wave to a whole new experience. Might as well give it a shot,
he thought. Marc too put his cup on the counter.
With his hands free, Marc backed up toward the middle of the room. He closed his eyes, felt the wind. It filled his ears with its gusty energy. It hit him in pumps as the storm raged above.
Though not totally predictable, the wind did hit him consistently. There was some sort of kinetic pattern
Yes, a pattern
Well actually, he’d heard it called by another name. What was that word his mother had used? He opened his eyes when he remembered: rhythm.
Marc stretched out his arms. He relaxed his hips. He felt the wind’s whips and waves across his arms. He let his arms follow them, swaying with the current. Not long after, his hips joined in. They too gyrated, trying to match the energetic gusts. He kept at it. And the first time Marc felt both himself and the wind moving together, he grinned.
“This is amazing!” he said. Around them, the wind crooned.
Sid was entranced. He nodded back while staring at Marc’s strange movements. He’d never really seen dancing either. But he figured he would give it a shot too. He loosened up his arms and walked onto the dance floor with Marc.
Before dancing himself, he studied Marc first. He watched how the scavenger moved his arms—and when
the scavenger moved his arms.
Sid’s limbs followed. Four muscular arms rose in the air, like fighter jets on their way to a dogfight. And on a one or two second delay, they swayed after Marc’s.
For a while, they followed Marc completely. Then Sid went down his own path. The Lenorkian’s movements grew aggressive and battle-like. He punched at the wind swiping across him. He shuffled his feet as if swapping battle stances.
He caught Marc’s curiosity. Even as a novice, Marc could tell Sid’s movements weren’t traditional by any means. But to Marc, it was dancing all the same.
The two danced to the chorus of the air above. They laughed occasionally as changes in the rhythm of the wind tripped them up. In his head, Marc compared it to the painting on Sid’s door. The colony had never seen anything like this
Then something interrupted their dancing. The ground beneath them shook, throwing them off their feet. Heavy gray dirt trickled from the ceiling as the entire cave rumbled. And outside, the distant sky flashed and crackled. Its light illuminated the cave in violent spurts as the boys struggled to stand back up.
Eventually, the violent quaking and frightening flashes died down. The plasma storm held its breath once again.
The boys got back on their feet, but all the joy had seeped out of Sid’s face. He just stared at the floor in deep contemplation. Even as the windy music started back up.
Marc figured he would rescue his friend from whatever dark thoughts had turned up. Naturally, the end of the universe was a real bummer.
“End of the world got you down, huh?” He tried to laugh it off. The whole situation was pretty sad. Especially when they were having so much fun. But it was best to end the universe on a high note, right?
Nevertheless, Sid seemed dejected. He mumbled something inaudible.
“Dude, I can’t hear over the song!” Marc said in an elevated voice.
Sid spoke up over the wind. “That’s not what I’m upset about,” he said, his voice still fairly low.
“Then what are you upset about?”
Sid blurted out his response. “Because I invited Tōn-E, okay?
He couldn’t bring himself to look Marc in the eye. Because he knew what was coming.
“YOU DID WHAT?!
” Marc shouted over the music. Marc himself stomped over to the vent. He picked the cover off the floor—though he struggled quite a bit with it. It was heavier than Sid made it look. But he hoisted it back into the mouth of the vent. The music shut off. The steady drop of sand on the cave floor ceased.
“Say that again,” he leveled in Sid’s direction.
“What was I supposed to do?
” Sid remade eye contact. “Not invite the only other intelligent being
to the last party the universe will ever have?
Marc needed no time to answer. He nodded insistently. “Yes. That was exactly
what you were supposed to do. What the hell, Sid?” Marc would have continued, but there was another disturbance outside. He caught a glimpse of movement in the doorway.
Thanks for reading some of my words :) I’m trying stuff out, so let me know what you think.
The rest of the story is here
Based on this prompt
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2023.06.04 08:31 Upper_Rate2477 We are in crisis now
Here is the run down of the last year. My job initially said moving from Utah to Texas would qualify me for a pay increase, so I moved to Texas. Two months later, they finally tell me that the states pay is actually equal to Utah and so a pay increase was not going to happen. I accepted this. We are a family of 3 and have done as much as we could while there. I couldn't go outside much because I'd get bit by hundreds of mosquito's at a time which made me miserable. I tolerated the heat, but not being able to just go on a walk sucked.
Two months after moving, a dog showed up on our porch and so we took her in. We knew Texas pups were prone to having issues, but we didn't know what we would end up with later as time goes on. She is such a beautiful breed, but she can't be left alone or else the house ends up destroyed due to her abandonment issues. Weeks after she showed up, I found out I was pregnant. I tried applying for medical through the state and kept getting denied every month with no valid explanation. I had no medical elsewhere so I was frustrated over this. Part of me didn't want this pregnancy if I couldn't manage to find care.
We made the decision to move back to Washington because of the following reasons:
- My job said Washington was for sure a higher cost of living state so I would get a pay increase
- I would qualify for state medical and finally get care
- The western side of the state does not have as many mosquitos making it amazing to be in
Well, sad newsflash. Before moving, our new dog ended up so sick that we had to pay $1500 to keep her alive. yep! $1500!
My job, AFTER I MOVED, decided it wasn't within their BUDGET to give me a pay increase even though they said moving to Washington is a qualifying factor. Kudos to my remote job for screwing me ONCE AGAIN. Then following the new move, as we are staying in motels while finding a place to live, our dog almost died AGAIN! This time it was $1700 to save her! We tapped nearly every aspect of our resources to cover this poor pups health.
Also, although I work remotely, my spouse does gig work (instacart), therefore having a car is necessary for his job. Well, our cars engine died and we ended up using the last of our savings to lease a car, costing us the option to rent a home now. We literally have nothing left at this point as we pay $2580 a month for motels (We have to leave every 10 days because of some residency law Washington has).
So I decided maybe we can buy a home so I can pull money from my 401k since the only approved withdrawal is a hardship withdrawal for closing costs or medical. I only qualified for $150k which shows how little we make (considering I'm on shit Utah wages).
I was approved for state medical in April and could start seeing doctors in May (8 months into the pregnancy). Don't judge me. I did what I could do with what I had available to me based on my situation.
Baby is due this month (June 2023) and I have been repeatedly told to wait to buy a home until I get a pay increase. Yeah...Okay. Like that's going to happen. LOL. I'm nothing more than a customer service rep so I will never be more than a low wage employee. I know my value in this world is bottom level shit. I emailed habitat for humanity, but they never responded. They don't call me back either, so I am assuming they just don't want to say "Go back to school and get a degree that's worth something and isn't "business"."
I applied for food benefits and was told I made too much even though I barely eat 1 meal a day thanks to not having any money to manage my gestational diabetic diet. My spouse and child do get to eat 3 meals a day because they are being restricted.
Now lets add that my clinic was bought out by a bigger hospital and now my 11 year old can't be in the private waiting area like we had planned. We have no family around to watch him or our dog because they'll be in Utah for a family reunion. I have no friends in this state. So now my spouse will be forced to watch him as I give birth alone with zero support instead of him being in a tiny waiting area in the birthing center so I could have support. I don't even want to give birth now! I regret ever getting pregnant now and that's such a shitty feeling when I've wanted a second child for 10 years!
I am lost as to what to do now. No pay increase. We have literally nothing for baby. Living in motels. Zero savings. No family close by that can even help. The family that could help eventually wanted us to leave which is why we left to Texas to begin with. We don't qualify for food benefits even though all I can afford is Ramen or PB&Js and with that, I can't eat it since I'm a gestational diabetic, leaving me to starve. I applied for so many different housing options to be told there is a 1 year wait list. We can't hold up in motels for a year. I'll die from starvation and even then, we wouldn't be able to pay a deposit. We've tried starting a GoFundMe but our families don't know our situation, therefore asking for money from strangers feels wrong. We can't get help through the VA, we've tried.
I don't know what else to do. I need advice. Guidance. Something to give me peace of mind. I'm so broken that I think suicide is better than living. Part of me hopes I die in labor so my spouse can get my life insurance, not that it'll help a ton. I feel worthless. Pathetic. Stupid. Hopeless.
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2023.06.04 08:30 Ali_Muhammad_Mallah Reflections of Paradise: A Detailed Description of Azad-Kashmir's Lakes
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A complete description of all the Lakes of Azad-Kashmir. 1.
Rati Gali Lake 2.
Rati Gali Small 3.
Hans Raj Lake 4.
Kala Sar Lake 5.
Ghatian Lake 6.
Saral Lake 7.
Moon Lake 8.
Ram Chakor Lake 9.
Mulanwali Lake 10.
Butkanali Lake 11.
Shounter Lake 12.
Chitta Katha Lake 13.
Chitta Katha 2 14.
Banjusa Lake 15.
Baghsar Lake 16.
Subri / Langarpura Lake 17.
Zalzal Lake 18.
Patlian Lake 19.
Mai Narada Lake 20.
Noori Lake 21.
Khargam Lake 22.
Duck Lake 1. Rati Gali Lake
First of all, remove the confusion of the name Rati Gali. Until 2010, the local name of Rati Gali was Darian Saryan Sar. Sar(sar) is locally referred to as a Lake
or a natural body of water. Officially in 2010 and a local Sufi saint, Mian Barkatullah Sarkar, whose Astana is known as Barkatiya. Due to the recognition and respect of his religious services, the Lake
and the road leading to it were named after him and the Lake
was named Rati Gali Barkatiya Lake
, which also has a formal government notification. Rati Gali Lake
is an alpine glacial Lake
located in the Neelum Valley, meaning its source of water is the glaciers in the area.
is accessible from Duariyan on Wadi Neelam Road at a distance of about 75 km from the southern side of Muzaffarabad. Which leads to the base camp after a 16 km jeep track from Dwarian. The Lake
can be reached after an hour-easy trek from the base camp. This Lake
is located at an altitude of 12130 feet or 3700 meters above sea level. It is a popular tourist spot in the area where all the facilities are available. There is a large camping site at the base camp where tents and food, electricity, and Wi-Fi are available at affordable prices and for horse riding enthusiasts there is a horse-riding facility to reach the Lake
. Remember that this Lake
is the biggest Lake
in the region. Around which there are twenty-six other small and big Lake
s. Also, four waterfalls are formed from the water of this Lake
. 2. Rati Gali Small
is called Saryan Sir, at a walking distance of 10-15 minutes from Rati Gali Base Camp. There are many water reservoirs/reservoirs in this place which are called Sar in the local language. Accordingly, this place is called Saryan Sar. The place has a waterfall and local dhoks and dhares where locals stay during summer. 3. Hans Raj Lake
is also located in the Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir. Originally, the local name of this Lake
was Rata Sar and the reason for its fame is the red-colored mountains around it. Also, there is Lal Buti peak in this area which has been used in geographical surveys during British rule. There are three La Buti Peaks in this area, one is at Rati Gali, the second is at Sargan and the third is at Keil. The reason for the name Hans Raj is the fame of Pakistan's greatest travel writer and tourist Sir Mustansar Hussain Tarar, when he came to this Lake
, he described the pieces of floating glacier in it as similar to the floating Hans Raj. And it was written by Hans Raj and this Lake
became famous as Hans Raj Lake
since then this Lake
is called Hans Raj Lake
. Rati Gili Lake
is located at a distance of about one and a half to two hours from the base camp, between Rati Gili and Noori Top, on the Rati Gili Pass at an altitude of about 3900 meters. On the other hand, the famous Dudipat Sar of Kaghan Valley can also be tracked through Saral Lake
. In winter, this Lake
is also covered with snow like other Lake
s of Neelum Valley. 4. Kala Sar Lake
There are three Lake
s in the Neelum Valley known as Kala Sar 1, Kala Sar 2, and Kala Sar 3. Kala Sar 1 is an hour's walk from Hansraj Lake
, Kala Sar 2 is another hour's trek, and Kala Sar 3 has to trek a little higher. You can also get a view of Ghatian Lake
from Kala Sir 3 provided you take the guidance of a local guide. For the night you will have to come back to Rati Gali base camp or private camping but even for that local guides can guide you better. 5. Ghatian Lake
Rati Gali is located at a distance of about four hours from the base camp. This track goes from Rati Gali to Ghatian Lake
via Hans Raj / Kala Sar Lake
. That is, with proper planning and strategy, these three Lake
s can be easily tackled in a single tour. You can easily get a view of Ghatian Lake
from Kala Sar, while you can also get a view of Ghatian and Nanga Parbat from the top of the mountain behind Rati Gali. While at the end of Noori Top, trek along the bridge or canal coming from Sharda or Sargan, that route will take you to Ghatian Lake
after four to five hours of trek. There are also three Lake
s named Ghatian. Which are identified as Ghatian 1, 2, 3. For 1, and 2, the view is clear, while for the third, one has to hike up to some height. Its local name is Donga Sir or Donga Nad. 6. Saral Lake
is also a part of Neelum Valley which is 13600 feet or 4100 meters above sea level. Several routes are used to reach here. The first route leads to Basil and Dudipat Sir and from there to Saral. This route is less used and most of those coming from this route return from Saral View Point. Because of that, you have to descend once and then go uphill to reach the Lake
. The second route comes from Jalkhed, Noori Top via Mian Sahib Road to Saral, where it joins the Dudipat head track. The third route is on Noori Top with a stream coming from the front on the Kashmir side, horses are also available for this and the trek is also done on foot. The fourth route follows Gumot Nala and it will take you to Saral Lake
. Gumot Nala is mainly coming from Saral. 7. Moon Lake
The route to Moon Lake
also goes through Saral Lake
. There is a trek to the left of Saral which can be done in one day along with Saral. Do it with a local guide. You can also reach here from the back side of Gumot and Jabba. 8. Ram Chakor / Char wali Lake
is also located in Saral Valley at a distance of four to five hours. In 2019, a team of local guides discovered five Lake
tracks, this Lake
being one of them. Due to the abundance of Ram Chakor (bird), it is also called Ram Chakor Lake
while the local name is Phirardnad. Phirar is also called Chakor in the local language. It can also be reached here via Gumot, Jabba Back, and Sargan. 9. Mulanwali Lake
Mulan Wali Lake
, also called Mulan Wali Nad, is also located near Moon Lake
and Ram Chakor Lake
: Moon Lake
, Ram Chakor Lake,
and Mulanwali Lake
can also be done together which will include a night camp and can be easily done with a local guide to avoid any trouble. 10. Butkanali Lake
After the vehicle journey from Jagran to Shall, a 7–8-hour walking trek rises above a place called Dhok Kundi and leads to Dhok but Kunali, from where the path to Mulanwali Lake
becomes a walking track of about one and a half kilometers. 11. Shounter Lake
is located in Shounter Valley Neelam Azad Kashmir, this Lake
is located at an altitude of 3100 meters or 10200 feet above sea level. This Lake
is located at the foot of the snow-capped mountains and the source of the waters of this Lake
is also the glaciers between these mountains. This Lake
is also called Spoon Lake
, the reason for the name is its spoon-like shape, and it can be easily reached by jeep from Keel. There is this Lake
along with Shounter waterfall where the road ends. It is also locally called Bitar Lake
. 12. Chitta Katha Lake
is also located in Shounter Valley. Located at an altitude of 13500 feet or 4100 meters, this is a beautiful Lake
, the approach to which is fascinating as well as difficult. From the base camp, two stops named Dick One and Two add to its charm. A 20 km jeep trek from Kiel takes you to a village called Huz Neelam, its base camp, which used to be the base camp of Chitta Katha. After which a 5 km but steep uphill path leads to this Lake
. Generally, the locals can come and go in ten to twelve hours, while the tourists also spend twelve hours one way. It is better to do from Base Camp to Dak 2 in one day, next day go from Dak 2 to Lake
and return according to your convenience and time. One of the reasons for the fame of Chitta Katha Sar is the captivating view of Hari Parbat. Moreover, no one has been able to summit this peak till now. It is the third highest peak in the region, first being Sirwali, second being Toshira Wang, the range, and third being Hari Parbat. There is also a Lake
named Chitta Katha 2 in the valley below. Further, Linda Sir 1,2 at a distance of one to two hours, Panj Khatian, and some lesser-known unnamed Lake
s are also present in this area. 13. Chitta Katha 2
Just below Hari Parbat, a one to one and a half hour walk to the left leads to Chitta Katha 2. 14. Banjusa Lake
is an artificial Lake
located in the Poonch district at a distance of 18 km from Rawalakot. It is a popular tourist destination and is easily accessible to every tourist. It is located in a dense forest. There are also several rest houses. Kilometer long, kilometer wide, and 52 meters deep, this Lake
is located at an altitude of 1981 meters or 6499 feet. 15. Baghsar Lake
is located near Baghsar Fort near the Line of Control in Wadi Samahni, Bhimber. This fort has been under the rule of the Mughals and has a wonderful historical status. This Lake
is 975 meters above sea level and has a length of about half a kilometer. This Lake
is famous for its winter migratory birds and its lotus flowers. Another reason for the fame of this Lake
is that its shape is somewhat similar to the map of Pakistan. This area is full of cherry trees and blooming water lilies. 16. Subri Lake / Langarpura Lake
or Langarpura Lake
is located at a distance of about 10 km in the southeast direction of Muzaffarabad. This Lake
is located at the exact place where the river Jhelum widens. The Lake
is easily accessible via the Muzaffarabad-Chakothi Road. 17. Lake Zalzal
came into being as a result of the earthquake of 8 October 2005 when two mountains merged and four villages of Bhatsher, Lodhi Abad, Kurla, and Padr were obliterated and the natural passage of water was blocked. This Lake
is located between Chikar and Bani Hafiz. The Lake
is 3.5 km long, and 350 feet deep. It is located at an altitude of 1828 meters above sea level. The Lake
can be easily visited on the way to Ganga Choti / Sidhan Gully or while staying at Chikar Guest House. There is also a Rest House of the Tourism Department near this Lake
. 18. Patlian Lake
The path of this Lake
goes through Luvat Nallah. You can reach here after a 3-hour jeep drive and a half-an-hour trek from Dwarian. There are three, or four big and small Lake
s and innumerable waterfalls in its vicinity, among which Jhag Chamber and Kunali Waterfalls are famous. At a distance of one and a half hours from Main Patlian Lake
, a Lake
is also named Patlian Two. 19. Mai Narada Lake
is a sacred place for Hindus and is their place of worship. This Lake
can be reached after a two-to-three-day trek from Sharda. This Lake
is located at an altitude of about 14000 feet. 20. Noori Lake
is located on Noori Top and its sign is that there is a huge waterfall in front of it. 21. Khargam Lake
is located behind Rati Gali. Khargam Lake
is above the crack that is visible in the mountain behind Rati Gali. It is a relatively difficult and rugged rocky trail suitable only for professional trekkers and hikers. 22. Dick Lake
trek starts from Janui. Similar to the Chitta Katha Lake
trek, this trek is about 8-9 hours of walking on one side. Take camping equipment with you. There are no campsites in this area. Apart from this, the Lake
s of Gujarnad and Shakargarh are still unexplored.
There are also 11 Lake
s in Gal Valley which flow into Neelum Valley. Apart from this, the beautiful areas of Sunder Nikka, Hola Back and Kala Jinder also have many Lake
s and waterfalls. July to October is the season to visit these Lake
s, after which more or less the majority of the areas are covered with snow. Their length, width, or depth has not yet been measured by any authentic means, the founders of most glacial Lake
s are more or less frequent. Don't risk swimming in all these Lake
s. Also, for camping it is necessary to have proper guidance and a local guide. Red candlesticks were used for geographical surveying during the British rule, traces of which still remain. In the area, there are three Lal Buti Peaks in Rati Gali, Sargan, and Keel area, besides Dak Bangla Rati Gali Mohri and Gora Cemetery Rati Gali which were the residence and burial grounds of British soldiers/officers during that time. Kishan Ghati Cave located in Sharda is said to be around 5000 years old and was used as a place of worship for Buddhists and Hindus.
There are some new discoveries in these Lake
s or regular treks up to them are chosen.
- What would happen if oxygen disappears from the earth for 5 seconds?
- Shocking fact About Dmitri Mendeleev
- Lightning and Cell Phones Dangerous or Safe?
- THE BIZARRE WORLD OF QUANTUM MECHANICS
- The human body and electric charges
2023.06.04 08:23 Over-Calendar7342 Looking for career opportunities
Hello ! I am a 22 yo looking to get into a career in a trade (plumbing, electrician, welding, carpenter, home inspector) instead of just having shitty food service jobs but i am hesitant on paying lots of money to learn something i may potentially hate. I would love to shadow someone at work to see what an actual day in the life is but if not possible, maybe sit chat over lunch where i can damn near interrogate you. PM me please !! I could use all the help and guidance i can get right now. Thanks for reading :)
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2023.06.04 08:22 Buffering90 Late flight into Kansai Airport - Best accommodation tips?
My Cathay Pacfic flight is scheduled to get to Kansai Airport at 9:30pm September 15th. So I didn't think at all when booking this when the train lines from the airport (or throughout Osaka) wrap up for the night as I was more concerned with getting my travel done in a single day.
While Ill be joining my sister, neice and nephew in Osaka from the 16th and we will be staying together over the next 2 weeks in Japan, this inital night is stressing me out.
The plan was to be based in Namba so we are near Dotonbori for a few nights and then stay at USJ as thats a major highlight of our trip.
While I have a Suica card already, I forgot about customs as im a novice traveller and would also need to sort out Wi-Fi, get my checked luggage and put money on said Suica card in a reasonable time as the last rapid train is 11pm and last trains in general at midnight.
Would it be best to stay overnight at the Kansai airport and would they have food options at that time? Or try and find a place in Namba and see if I can walk there from Namba station?
We will be staying the night of the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th in Osaka then off to Kyoto early the 19th. Any accomodation recommendations? Travelling party of 4 but would split into two twin bed rooms preferable to save some cash.
Outside of USJ we are super excited to eplore Dotembori and will go to Shinsekai, Osaka Castle and the Umeda Sky Buidling so a good base for a few days post my inital stay potentially at the airport and before the Park Hotel at USJ is what we are after, any recommendations or help is much appreciated.
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2023.06.04 08:10 Sure-Mathematician68 Rp parter needed!
This is a plot inspired by the Dune fandom. Interplanetary exchanges of goods and resources, political espionage and spying, treaties, hyper-advanced technology, starships that can travel at the speed of light, magical plant properties that grant supernatural "blessings" to those who consume it.
Princess Sienna rules on the planet of Jansara; one of the many outlying worlds near the edge of the Centaurus solar system. Sienna was apart of the royal family who gained inheritance to much of Jansara's land. Other worlds, especially the Core Worlds, paid little attention to it due to it's lack of resources and generally unappealing habitat. The planet itself is that of a warm, rocky climate with high humidity. Black lava rocks covered much of the terrain while moisture caves and dormant volcanos are commonly found outside of the cities established on the surface.
Due to these conditions, settlers had to create artificial biomes to grow food, herd animals, and create a more oxygenated living space for it's people. Their infrastructure was that of many cylinder and block shaped structures with color schemes of white and grey. The most significant building though was Princess Sienna's home, the "Palace of the Saints," where she, her mother the queen, brother the prince, and two sister princesses dwelled high above the working class with their political and financial advisors.
The Republic of the Core Worlds, (otherwise known as RCW,) have been known to leech off of many outlying planets for centuries. They offered their credits, security, and advanced technology in exchange for luxuries like nuclear fusion, solar energy, fuel, starships, narcotics, medicine, fabrics, metals, weapons, and food among other things. All to satisfy their lucious core world lifestyles.
Little intergalactic trading happened here on Jansara aside from the few ores the Miners Commission have extracted from the nearest volcanoes. This made Jansara one of the lowest priority planets for the RCW to trade with. Because of this, great burdens were placed on the royal family and their advisors to keep the economy and flow of local goods supplied and operational. It also put a complete halt to funding further research for biome expansion without credits from the Core Worlds.
That is, until Princess Sienna visits the mines of an old dormant volcano for a thrill. The volcano she ventured into was once abandoned years ago by the Jansara Mining Commission after all the ore was extracted from it. But deep down into the darkness, far into the unexplored territories of the volcano, a garden of uncovered secrets lied.
Self-illuminating herbs, flowers, and berries lied in a field of glowing greenery that Sienna had never seen before. How could plant life grow in such a sunless place? But the greenery down here contained no ordinary flora. As Sienna soon found out, the fruit and herbs produced in the garden granted it's consumer supernatural blessings, but only temporarily. Depending on the offspring of the plant and the potency consumed, the blessings could last from just a few hours up to years. Levitation, telepathy, fire breathing, mind control, healing, and illusion casting were just some of many blessings granted by the volcano's greenery. Sienna was dumbfounded. This could save her city. Her family. Her home. This could finally put Jansara back in the trading system! Sienna knew this situation needed to be handled carefully or else the entire universe would be warmongering to invade her planet for its unprecedented resources. But then, as if to ruin her plans, a voice from the darkness. Your O/C.
"Hello? Anyone there?"
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2023.06.04 08:07 Comfortable_Study_11 Perdido Street Station is not a good book
A coworker of mine recommended Perdido Street Station recently, and as the name China Mieville had come up related to other books and authors I've read and I was looking for something new, I thought I'd give it a try.
In this post, I'm going to try to organize my thoughts about why I hate this book and why it is objectively bad. Not in my opinion, not according to my tastes or preferences. Objectively bad. In the same way as the Holocaust was an objective tragedy.
- Nonsensical world-building. China Mieville is often credited for building a believable, immersive, vivid or other such positively described world. I didn't believe that Bas Lag was, or could be, a "real" place for a second.
Isaac is a scientist, and while I don't think it is important to get science "right" in a work that is fictional and that is specifically NOT science fiction, the scientific concepts explained here don't make sense. It reminded me more of the characters in Frank Herbert's Destination: Void talking about transistors, circuits, blah-blah matrices, and yadda-yadda amplifiers. The blah-blah matrices and yadda-yadda amplifiers don't exist, and spending so much time on them didn't make any sense in a novel with so little action. Neither does the number of pages that Mieville devotes to explaining unified field theory add to my understanding or enjoyment of the novel. Nothing in the novel really hinges on this, and the fact that Torque seems to throw a wrench in this idea of having a unified field at all makes me more annoyed at spending time trying to understand what Isaac is getting on about. The idea of "crisis" and a "crisis engine" in particular seems like a scientifically illiterate person's interpretation of chaos and complexity theory. 3. "History." The way the "history" is presented here feels very much like it needs those scare quotes. Are these places and events actually relevant to the story? How much thought was put into them and their order? The way that so many are mentioned and then just forgotten really makes me wonder how seriously I should take them.
- Let's start with the main races. We have humans, bug-headed people, flying bird-headed people, cactus people, and frog people. All of these seem to fall into the Star Trek alien trope, where the body is basically humanoid, and only the head is different. This is not believable. Further, I never really got a sense that their cultures were so different. The bird people only got developed near the end of the book, and that was just enough to explain Yag's crime to the readers. One interaction with a group of city-dwelling bird people seems transposed from a British crime movie where the gang leader is reasserting authority of the group, in exactly the same way as a human would. I don't get any sense that they are a fully developed species with their own cultures and ways of thinking. Lin, a member of the bug-headed people, comes of as a typical female human character, despite coming from a species that seems to have collectivism built in to their society and their genes. The cactus people are never really explained at all. Like, do they use photosynthesis? Do they eat food? What's their culture? I just kept imagining people walking around cosplaying these different races but all being essentially humans.
- Word and concept choice. At one point, Mieville has a character use the word "capiche." Mind you, Italy does not exist in this world, nor does the Mafia, nor should an Italian American gangster word like "capiche." Similarly, he never says anything about God, Christianity, Judaism, etc, but he borrows the concept of "Hell" and "Hellkin." If there is a hell, there should be a heaven, right? And if heaven and hell exist, there's a god, right? These are simply thrown out there, and never elaborated on again. For money, he uses real world currency names, such as mark, shekel, and Guinea. These have no place in an imaginary world with no connection to our own.
2.Poor word choices and sentence construction.
- I've never read a book that made me want to take a shower before. When Mieville describes the city of New Crobuzon, he relies heavily on words with negative emotional valance and bodily fluid language. As a small set of examples, the air is almost always described as having a stench, reeking, being rank, putrid, noisome, being polluted, etc. Water is usually described as being fecal, mucal, fetid, rancid, oily, being polluted, etc. Buildings are moldy, desquamating, dirty. Factories don't emit or release smoke: they "retch" smog. Guns don't fire bullets or shoot bullets: they "vomit" bullets. A sack that is full is described as "bloated." A pile of electrical components is for some reason described as "vile." For 712 fucking pages! I don't have a problem with bodily fluids, and I don't mind when other writers describe a slum or paint a picture of a nasty scene. But in Perdido Street Station, there is no let up. I can't remember a single instance of something that was described in positive terms. Even the first time Isaac has sex with Lin, he is described as almost vomiting because her antennae were waving in such a disgusting fashion. And they went on to have a long term romance! Who almost vomits the first time they have sex with someone they love? Why describe it in this negative way? I don't understand the goal of using language in this way.
- Related to the point above, the book is monotonous in how it describes the world. Everything is negative and dirty. For 712 pages.
- Characterization is done in the typical spoon-fed fashion that seems to be popular in many genres of fiction nowadays. I'm thinking of one example in particular, so here it is.
"Lin and Isaac snatched furtive nights together when they could. Isaac could tell that all was not well with her. Once, he sat her down and demanded that she tell him what was troubling her, why she had not entered the Shintacost Prize this year (something which had given her usual bitchery about the standard of the shortlist an added bitterness), what she was working on, and where. There was no sign of any artistic debris at all in any of her rooms. Lin had stroked his arm, clearly grateful for his concern. But she would tell him nothing. She said she was working on a piece of which she was tentatively very proud. She had found a space that she could not and did not want to talk about, in which she was producing a large piece that he mustn’t ask her about. It was not as if she had disappeared from the world. Once a fortnight, perhaps, she was back in one of the Salacus Fields bars, laughing with her friends, if with a little less vigour than she had two months ago.
She teased Isaac about his anger at Lucky Gazid, who had vanished, with suspiciously good timing. Isaac had told Lin about his inadvertent sampling of dreamshit, and had raged around looking to punish Gazid. Isaac had described the extraordinary grub which seemed to thrive on the drug. Lin had not seen the creature, had not been back to Brock Marsh since that forlorn day the previous month, but even allowing for a degree of exaggeration on Isaac’s part, the creature sounded extraordinary. Lin thought fondly of Isaac as she adeptly changed the subject. She asked him what nourishment he thought the caterpillar might gain from its peculiar food, and sat back as his face expanded with fascination and he would tell her enthusiastically that he did not know, but that these were a few of his ideas. She would ask him to try to explain to her about crisis energy, and whether he thought it would help Yagharek to fly, and he would talk animatedly, drawing her diagrams on slips of paper.
It was easy to work on him. Lin felt, sometimes, that Isaac knew he was being manipulated, that he felt guilty about the ease with which his worries for her were transformed. She sensed gratitude in his lurching changes of subject, along with contrition. He knew it was his role to be worried for her, given her melancholy, and he was, he truly was, but it was an effort, a duty, when most of his mind was crammed with crisis and grub food. She gave him permission not to worry, and he accepted it with thanks. Lin wanted to displace Isaac’s concerns for her, for a time. She could not afford for him to be curious. The more he knew, the more she was in danger. She did not know what powers her employer might possess: she doubted he was capable of telepathy, but she was risking nothing. She wanted to finish her piece, to take the money and to get away from Bonetown."
Let me remind you, this book is 712 pages long. He takes approximately two pages, from 208-209 in the Kindle edition, to detail all this information about the relationship between Isaac and Lin. This is just bad writing. Some of this could have been handled in short dialogues embedded in other scenes, and some of it should be left to the reader to piece together. This is an example of what Steven Erikson described as pablum in his post a few years ago about effective characterization.
- Overly descriptive language.
The great cable slipped in spurts into the water by the riverwall. It plunged absolutely precipitately into the darkness, hitting the surface at 90 degrees."
(Perdido Street Station, p. 603)
Why, the fuck, does he describe the cable going into the water in such a redundant and repetitive way? This is not some pivotal event in the story. It is related to an important plan, but there is no need for the drama around this singular event. If I spent this many words talking about a character picking up a pencil, I had better have a real good reason for doing so. Mieville does this all the time. The above mentioned meetings with the Hellkin are another prime example. He spends pages describing the procedures for meeting them and the actual meeting, they add nothing to the story, AND they make his world seem poorly thought out. What did he gain by describing them? Hell if I know!
- Plot Structure and Pacing
- Stupid plot events. Mieville goes out of his way to show that the evil soul-eating moths are not damaged very much by regular physical attacks. And then, the first moth is killed by unceremoniously dropping a heavy weight on it, like something out of a Wile E. Coyote skit. Three of the remaining moths are killed using more appropriate means, but... Look, I know there were the infamous Milner experiments on rats where they'd press a button to get something like an orgasm, and once they could do this, they'd basically just press the button until they died. I don't know of any actual living organisms that will, for example, eat food so much that they physically explode, ignoring Monty Python sketches to the contrary. It's funny, but it doesn't seem like a realistic way to take out soul-eating creatures.
Another example is Jack Half-a-Prayer. He is mentioned maybe twice in the book, very obliquely, before suddenly near the climax he shows up and just starts helping the main characters out in the middle of a fire fight. If he had been foreshadowed more, if there were some stronger motivation than just "Oh my main characters are in a pinch! I know! I'll have so-and-so come!" I might have accepted this, but not the way it is done in the book.
- Pacing. This book overstays its welcome. Mieville creates too many new ideas and just throws them out without exploring their implications, and moves on to the next, and the next, and the next. (Sinistrals and Dextrals, I'm looking at you! Does anyone even remember this from the book?) Then he spends 10 pages describing the fucking Hellkin, or 20 pages revealing that one of characters was a government spy. Or the passage above where he tries to do a novelized version of a relationship montage to show the development of Lin and Isaac's relationship over time. It is too scattered and too focused on the stupidest things at the same time. Why do we need a multi-page graphically detailed moth orgy? In a 712 page book that already has too many adjectives and adverbs? By the 300 page mark, I was regularly having to psych myself into going on to the next page.
One of my favorite fantasy series of all-time, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, takes empathy, compassion, and forgiveness as some of the major themes. I was at first shocked by how often the "evil villain" turned out to be someone with a tortured youth, tragic past, or some other circumstance that explained their behavior. And at the end of many of these tales, that dastardly sinner was taken off to be reformed, or taken under someone's wing to try and make up for the harm they'd caused. Yes, sometimes they were killed or maimed in gruesome fashion, but many had a chance to reform.
In contrast, in Perdido Street Station, it is revealed that Yagharek committed a serious crime among his people, for which he had his wings cut off without anesthesia. Isaac agrees to help him become able to fly anyway, and along the way we see Yagharek risk his life many times to protect this city that disgusts him (as evidenced by the large increase in those bodily fluid words during the Yagharek sections proceeding each part) and to protect his friends. Now, if we could get inside Yagharek's head during these moments, and see that he's thinking "Oh, this had so better be worth it! I really don't give a fuck about these people and I just wanna fly again." That would be one thing. Near the end, it is revealed that Yagharek basically committed the crime of rape (which is framed as second degree choice theft, choice theft being an interesting sounding cultural concept, but which actually makes no sense if you try to work out the implications of how a legal system based on it would work....). Isaac is asked not to build the promised wings for Yagharek, and he ends up abandoning him.
Now, look, I'm not condoning rape. I think it is a horrendous crime. As bad or worse than murder. People do horrible things. Sometimes with intention, sometimes in the heat of the moment. Of course, getting caught in the heat of the moment doesn't excuse the action. One of the problems is that Mieville doesn't reveal much about Yagharek's psychological state afterwards. We don't know, for example, if like Red's character in The Shawshank Redemption, he feels sorry for what he did as a hot-headed, stupid young man, and that every day he regrets what he did. I think a lot hinges on that. If Yagharek is really just looking for a way to void his punishment, Isaac is probably right to refuse him. If Yagharek regrets what he did, and wants to make up for it somehow, and needs something that will make his life worth continuing, Isaac probably should have helped him instead of being a closed-minded judgmental prick.
Given Yagharek's actions throughout the book, Isaac comes off as an asshole, and to the extent that his judgment matches Mieville's, so does Mieville.
- "Political" Themes I see a lot of discussion about how Mieville is very political and how he's a communist / socialist, and wants to take down capitalism, etc, etc. I picked up on a lot of that in PSS, but I think Mieville handles these themes very poorly. As a better example of a deconstruction / take-down of capitalism, I'd again recommend The Malazan Book of the Fallen, specifically Midnight Tides and Reaper's Gale, both of which examine the problem in more creative and deeper ways than Mieville does in PSS.
So that's my hot take on Perdido Street Station. You're free to disagree, but I'm tired of hearing so many demonstrably untrue claims made about the quality of Mieville's writing, in particular his descriptions and his world building as seen in PSS. I know that PSS was his second book, and he might have matured a lot as a writer since then (the same coworker who recommended him said his style doesn't change much in later books, but I can't judge them myself). But 712 pages is more than enough in one lifetime for me.
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2023.06.04 07:53 verasev The World of Ghost Gasket
Here's the pitch. It's very much a work in progress. This is the intended setting for this tabletop RPG: https://www.reddit.com/RPGcreation/comments/13v5iw4/does_this_sound_in_any_way_promising_or_does_it/
The Old World
The truth is, no one remembers much about the old world. People have recorded dreams, visions, and flickers of memory but no concrete picture emerges, just a sense of vastness that would swallow the new world whole. All anyone is sure of is that there was a world before and that much of the language and basic concepts came from that place. How those ideas truly fit together is a mystery.
The Breach happened 273 year cycles ago. Something truly strange had happened, some event that cut the folk of Ghost Gasket off from the previous world. The memories are nearly as dim as the memories of the old world. Shifting chaos and strangeness and a fracturing of the known rules. Madness. Screaming. And then people woke up, finding themselves in Neo Victoria, a city built in a suspended bubble of glass that's harder than steel. And around the bubble, only an endless maze of airless pipes and tunnels.
A stack of blocks built by a child. A ramshackle collection of mismatched styles. Gilt and poverty are scattered with no discernable pattern. The City seems both familiar and strange to those who found themselves in it. There are baroque stone mansions, tenement buildings, factories, temples, and workhouses. Clockwork abounds. The city seems to function as a vast machine designed to support life in the claustrophobic emptiness of the Tunnels.
The city was stratified from the very beginning. Some found themselves seemingly in possession of vast wealth while others woke up in small shacks with leaky roofs. People picked up from the Breach as best as they could, trying to find a life in the new world.
Humans and Abhumans
Humans aren't the only denizen of the city. Altered humans known as Abhumans exist and seem to be a melding of "normal" humans and stranger lifeforms. They have unusual biologies and strange powers. There are five main types: Changelings, Dhampir, Werebeasts, Nephilim, and Warpspawn. They seem familiar as if they were created to be similar to myths of the old world, but no one is sure why some people woke up altered. Many people find Abhumans repellant, that they inspire hate and superstitious fear. Others see them as just another flavor person. Abhumans usually find themselves in the lower classes regardless of their origins after the breach. Society in general is often rigged against them, with the majority of normal humans controlling them through social rules and outright laws.
Old Herald lies at the very center of the city, an intricate clock tower. The awoken citizens built a whole new system and calendar based on the machinations of the tower. There are 50 seconds in a minute, 78 minutes in an hour, and two 13-hour shifts. The months consist of 23 days and the year cycle consists of 13 months. During the Day Shift, the city's lights come on and a drizzle of "rain" spills down from plumbing built into the top of Neo Victoria. At night, the lights and rain turn themselves off and darkness reigns. Work is done during Day Shift, with the various poor and working class toiling to build or farm the products needed by the city. The rich control the factories and universities, spending their time managing the flock or trying to puzzle out the mysteries of the New World.
The Tesseract Mall
The Tesseract Mall can be found below Old Herald. This ornate cube-shaped building is bigger on the inside than on the outside. It has become the de-facto marketplace for the city. Costermongers, hawkers, hucksters, merchants, and snake oil salesmen ply their wares.
Amorphotech - The New Science
As time has passed, the folk of New Victoria have begun to learn the rules of this world. The overall system of thought is called Amorphotech. Matter and energy behave in unusual ways. They have an inner essence that can be separated and distilled known as Amorpho. It is a kind of formless non-substance. Amorpho can, in turn, be transformed into new matter and energy, both the types familiar to Old World memory and new forms wholly unknown to that world.
Amorphotech takes two main forms: Alchemy and Amorphic Engineering. Alchemy deals with creating special substances out of Amorpho that have special properties. The known forms of Amorphic Matter are Phlogiston (amorphic gas), Alkahest (amorphic liquid), Manacite (amorphic stone), Orichalcum (amorphic metal), and Bio-Iliaster (an unusual substance that can meld with biological beings).
Amorphic Engineering is taking alchemical substances and building devices that take advantage of their properties: pipeships, rayguns, and stranger devices.
Sorcery - Words of Power
Amorpho can also be manipulated with True Speech, a kind of formulaic language that mixes word concepts with what's called Amorphic Math to create effects. These are called spells and rituals, simply because that's the closest thing New Victorians are familiar with.
True Speech can be inscribed on objects and charged with Amorpho to create Relics, magical objects with strange powers. Those who wish to use these activities must attune to them, letting the Amorpho in their bodies and minds flow into the objects and back to form a metaphysical circuit that allows them to use Relics.
The Tunnels - A Cosmic Sewer
There are airlocks built into New Victoria. People have been curious about them for some time but had no way to survive an exploration into The Tunnels, the name for the labyrinth outside of New Victoria. Gradually, techniques and technology for exploring beyond the glass emerged. Pipeships are flying ships created using Amorphotech, sealed from the void, and able to traverse the empty spaces of The Tunnels using burning Phlogiston for propulsion.
The Tunnels aren't as empty as they seem at first glance. Created artifacts and constructions have been found formed by some form of beings who once lived in the Tunnels but seemingly vanished. These beings have been named the Precursors. Other creatures and entities have been discovered, some hostile, some mere animals, and others so strange that their mere presence is dangerous. There are even gardens and forests nestled within the pipes, made of plants, fungi, and more unusual sessile lifeforms.
The Precursor Civilizations
The Precursors don't seem to have been human at all. Sentient, certainly, but the things they left behind seem to be built by alien minds. Many people believe they created The Tunnels and New Victoria, that they are indeed responsible for the folk of the old world finding themselves here.
Much of what they created breaks conventional logic and even the new sciences of Amorphotech. They seemed to be able to warp time, space, flesh, and minds into wholly new forms.
Cults and Faiths
Strange beliefs abound in New Victoria. Many have formed different faiths and philosophies based on the mysteries of this new world. There are three main faiths in New Victoria: the Universal Pipists, the Exit Seekers, and the Wall Burners.
The Universal Pipists believe that there is nothing else but the pipes. That is, the Tunnels extend to infinity, a whole universe of pipes. The Exit Seekers, conversely, think there is something beyond, that an exit can be found out of the Tunnels entirely and into a whole other world or worlds that are much less constricted. The Wall Burners are an offshoot of the Exit Seekers. They believe that an exit will have to be built, that the walls of this universe will have to be breached in order to escape.
Political Movements and Social Clubs
There are several other, more political philosophies that formed during the arguments over the years on how to run New Victoria. There are utopian socialists, merchant capitalists, conservative monarchists, technoccult fascists (who believe those who master Amorphotech should rule through authoritarianism), and amorpho-transcendental anarchists. That last group believes that advances in Amorphotech will discover whole new ways to organize society.
Others have formed social clubs, ad-hoc organizations formed around some idea or hobby. There are detective clubs, journalism clubs, adventure societies, and amorphotech hobby clubs. These may have connections with other, larger factions in the city or they may be smaller, independent organizations.
Finally, there are a few secret societies that are similar to social clubs, except that their membership is closed and hidden. The Hidden Lodge is the oldest. No one is sure what pursuits they engage in but there are rumors that they have ears in every quarter and that they infiltrated their members all over the city.
Another secret society is the Raven's Wing, a criminal organization that controls most crime in the city, including illegal vices like drugs, gambling, and prostitution.
The final secret society of note is the Toy Breakers, an anti-technology group that is seemingly behind several acts of sabotage, assassination, and other forms of terrorism meant to stop the proliferation of Amorphotech.
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2023.06.04 07:46 lnedible A Strategical Blunder
The soldiers lined on Ardenholms beaches. Their bright, jewel encrusted armor flashed brightly in the glaring summers sun. The warriors were eager to get on with their game of conquering and subjugating. They were Ardenholmites, Humilauians, and Pommedorans, as well as Tuberite religious warriors hailing from Solanum. They were gathered in Ardenholm to prepare for an imminent invasion from Veritas and their leader, BB.
Ardenholm, Humilau and especially Pommedora were in open rebellion from BB. They thought of him as a tyrannical leader, levying heavy taxes and other unreasonable demands. They finally decided to declare themselves separate from BB, but the turmoil quickly devolved into a fight for control of the entire island chain.
Pommedora was a Tuberist nation, so they called upon their Solanarian brothers to help the fight. The Tuberists, thinking it would be an easy battle, happily joined in.
As the Tuberites made the short voyage to Pommedora, tensions arose. There was an attempt to reestablish diplomatic relations which quickly broke down, resulting in a raid from Veritas on Pommedora, their closest neighbor.
The Tuberites arrived far too late to join the fray, but fortunately the raid was mostly scared off before any real fighting could occur, and the casualties were 6 in Pommedora, after a single arrow barrage and 8 Veritasian raiders who brought their boat too close to the walls and were sunk by a well placed explosive firework.
Thus began an alarmingly fast arms race. Both sides were on islands, so a full force invasion was not viable…yet. Seemingly overnight the once windswept and backwater islands in rebellion turned to industry. The once salty and warm air choked with the smoke from the flames of fires roaring in their mighty hearths. Peaceful and sunny harbors because overrun with heavy bots of war.
Veritas kept pace with the industrial might and the islands were equal in strength. Both bought mercenaries to fight, but Veritas gained a significant upper hand by taking a hefty loan from bankers overseas and buying much better metals than could ever be reaped from the earth on the barren island chain.
Finally the mines were depleted of what little resources they could muster. Though bright earthen metals were occasionally still warm from being melted and pounded into their molds.
With no more brawn games to play, both sides made a quick shift to mind games. Spies. Spies everywhere. In the streets. In the factories. In the harbors. Everywhere. Private conversations became public knowledge overnight. The town square of Ardenholm ran red with the blood of those suspected of treason.
Next came the starvation. The already small fields had been neglected because the farmers had been made to become factory workers. This time, the rebellion got the upper hand, with the Tuberists providing food from their vast fields back in Solanaria. Veritas attempted a naval blockade to stop the shipment of food from arriving. The Tuberists didn’t slow down. The naval commander ordered them to hold. The Tuberists, already very near to the maximum pace, almost appeared to speed up. Finally they stopped just outside of cannon range. They waited in a locked stalemate for 3 days until the Veritasians ran out of water and were forced to return to port. Thus, they spent the winter on meager rations and had to sell some of their newly bought steel to pay for food.
Finally, after a long and cold winter of light eating and intense stare-offs, the spring blossomed in the remaining fields.
The Veritasians had survived the winter by the skin of their teeth and knew that they could not survive another winter. This years winter had been astoundingly warm (by West Phagosian standards). In fact, this was the warmest winter ever recorded.
Over on Pommedora, which at this point had been established as the capital, the situation was almost as grim. The Tuberists, who were creeping up on a years time spent on an island were becoming increasingly obstinate and downright treasonous. They longed to go back to their homeland, and run on green fields, with gently rolling hills bordered by lush, fertile marshes, encased by the great mountains far to the west, just where the eye could see them. They downright despised the cramped island.
Tensions were starting to boil over on all sides of the war, until finally the spy game did its job. The Pommedorans received definitive proof that the Veritasians would be sailing for a “surprise” attack on Ardenholm in one months time. This was the break they needed and with this knowledge they could easily win the war.
Under the cover of darkness they began to very slowly and methodically ship soldier to Ardenholm. They arrived on mail boats and pleasure crafts, in wine barrels and tiny crude rafts. Simultaneously, these same craft evacuated the women and children, bringing them safely to Pommedora.
Then, the day before the battle, an idea was had. It was decided that instead of defending the city they should go on the offensive while the opposing military was away. The idea was they would go quickly to Veritas and slay BB, and then swiftly bring his head back over to Ardenholm where his army, seeing that they had nothing to fight for, would surrender.
There were problems with this plan, though. The entire army was already on Ardenholm, and Pommedora was still the closest island to Veritas, so it would make no sense to keep an army anywhere but there. Also, the ships would probably sail right by each other on their way to conquer their respective islands.
“None the matter with these details” said the commanders, “This plan is too good to pass up.”
And thus we pick up where we started, with the solders, armed to the teeth, sitting in the early morning sun, waiting for their boats to take them to Veritas.
They boarded and set off. 1/10 of the army was left behind to There was nothing but excitement as they lost sight of the shore. The soldiers were tremendously confident in their plan.
The boats sailed for 38 minutes without interruption.
Suddenly, a lookout sounded their horn. The soldiers instantaneously switched from their excited and eager chatter to silence as they looked on the horizon, expecting to see a fleet of opposing ships.
Instead they saw a tiny island. Barely even an island. More like a sad sandbar. The entire island was completely covered in Veritasian troops. They were all standing on the island, their bodies facing the fleet. They were all watching the fleet sail by.
All wielded a dull blue trident, the color of cold and drear ocean
Then one, the commander most likely, stepped forth and walked slowly to the edge of the shore, about 10 feet. He stopped at the edge and dipped the pronged fork of his trident into the water
Not a single eye strayed from his trident as it leapt to life. It’s dull and sad color replaced by an electric blue. The blue started from where the water touched the prongs and snaked down the trident at a decently fast pace.
Then he did the most unexpected thing of all, and fell face first into the water. All eyes remained on where he fell. The seconds ticked by. 15. 30. 60. 90. Was he dead? 120. Then at 133 exactly he sprang from the water. His right hand clamped so tightly around his trident his knuckles were bleached like dead coral. He sailed 50 meters in the air, well above the masts of the boats, and about 150 meters towards the boats.
Then his army all seemingly sprang to life and walked swiftly to the waters edge. It was a trap! They didn’t pause for dramatic effect like he did, diving headfirst into the water and sailing through the air with almost no delay.
The archers attempted to ready their bows but the boats were already packed tight with men, horses, cannons, and all sorts of equipment of war.
The tridenteers sprang forth and plunged into the ocean like rain. A hundred a twenty, they numbered. They rapidly began closing the distance. The archers pulled back their bows and waited for them to get into firing range. They quickly closed in. Finally, they were in shooting distance and they fired. None of the shots struck. In fact, none even came close. The soldiers were simply too small to hit accurately, especially from a rocking boat.
The tridenteers then passed overhead, and did the most unexpected thing of all. A few reached into their pouches and pulled out a single gray stick about the size of a baton. They then dropped them.
All of the tridenteers possessed 8 of these sticks, so most waited until they had clear shots to drop. A few thought they did right then, and threw their sticks towards the ships.
All except one missed. It was tremendously hard to fire accurately while trying to dodge projectiles.
The one that didn’t miss sailed down, down, down until it landed barely on the port side of a medium sized Humilauian cruiser. The wood of the boat was no match for the explosion that rang out. The front port side was torn. The water spout produced from the explosion went 15 meters into the air.
The ship sank in 2 minutes.
Immediately it’s neighboring boats turned sharply to rescue the screaming survivors. The tridenteers passed about a kilometer away from the boats before veering to the left and turning to made another pass.
The ships were thoroughly spooked, and most moved to do evasive maneuvers.
Suddenly, three powerful horn blasts rang out. This was the sign to press forth. The ships readjusted course to fan out, but 9 blasts rang out, the sign to stick together.
A second pass was made with 2 ships sunk. Another pass was made, but no ships were sunk. Than another with no ships. Another with 1. Another with 1. Another with none. This continued until 87 passes were made. There were 137 boats in total at the beginning, 7 large, 38 medium and 94 small. 93 remained. There were 4 large boats remaining (the 3 that were sunk had been sunk at the very beginning), 15 medium boats, and 75 small boats. Almost all of the surviving medium and large boats had tied themselves together with rope and formed a sort of floating pontoon. This greatly increased the sailing time, and a journey of 3 hours took 6.
Not all of the ships that were lost had sunk. Of the 19 small boats that were not present in the final fleet, only 2 had actually been sunk.
There had been a sort of mutiny aboard some of the smaller boats after the 8th pass. 2 of the 7 large boats had been hit and were sinking and the situation was looking very dire. In the rear, 9 of the small boats and 8 of the medium boats (the medium boats were the very end of the fleet) all mutinied against their captains, with three being stabbed to death and one being cast into the sea and turned around back to Ardenholm. Watching them sail away nearly caused the entire fleet to break apart but they were guided by a common foe.
A few of the boats lagged behind. 4 medium boats couldn’t keep pace due to being non-fatally struck and turned around. The tridenteers were given orders to at least damage the ships heavily enough to force them to turn around, so they allowed those ships to flee.
3 small ships, in an interesting turn of fate, were nearest to the islands when the bombing started. They were the ones who had sounded the alarm. The tridenteers had passed over them entirely without dropping a single bomb. They were still horrified watching the preliminary carnage before the ships could form up, and decided to run themselves aground on the tiny island the Veritasians had started out in.
They hid under the 6 palm trees for 8 days, not knowing anything about the status of any of the nations. They survived by eating the horses they had brought and drinking the wine they had brought which they were going to celebrate with once the island of Veritas was conquered.
Finally, after 6 hours, the boats sighted Veritas. The midday sun was high in the air and the archers could not see the trident wielders through the sun, accelerating their losses.
Veritas looked abandoned. The alarm has been raised but very few troops were on the walls, looking very frightened.
The soldiers let out a halfhearted cheer upon laying eyes on the island. The Veritasian tridents veered right after the fleet made their way into the smooth natural harbor.
The tridenteers had only lost 11. 7 from lucky bow shots, 3 from the binding from their wrists to their tridents slipping off, and 1 stupid soldier who tried to land on a small boat and was instantly slain.
The boats neared the docks of Veritas. The harbor wasn’t much of a harbor at all, only having a narrow wave-breaking sandspit that only extended past a third of the docks.
The boats made passes towards the docks, with some soldiers being so desperate to get off of them they leaped from the boats and swam to shore.
The boats all started to unload as normal, with horses being placed on the shore and equipment to breach the great gate of Veritas being unloaded
Suddenly the great gate of Veritas, which was expected to be a large obstacle swung open and half of Veritas’s army (still a formidable number mind you) roared forth, banging their shields, and sprinted at the unprepared rebels.
This was not expected at all, and no precautions for this had been taken. The rebels on the beach all turned to run back to the boats when, alas! The tridenteers reappeared from out of nowhere behind the boats. They hurtled towards the crafts, flying much more recklessly now, and dropped their bombs. The boats were not moving or fighting back this time and 8 were struck.
In the same run, 47 of the tridenteers dropped their explosives on top of the docks, blowing all except two up. Those two would be decommissioned in the next run.
This mostly stranded the peoples on the shore, whose only option now was the rowboats from the large ships. Some ran towards those but right then the charging army from the gates slammed into those on the shore.
18 rowboats were cast off, from the beach and the rest were not able to and were scuttled. The battle for the beach was a terrible situation for the rebels with them being completely pinned against the sea.
The battle lasted 15 minutes. There was no command from any officers due to most still being present on the boats. No definitive line was formed up and many men swam out to sea to try to wait out the slaughter. Most men threw their weapons on the ground and begged for mercy.
1/6 of the seaborn army was slain and 1/6 of the army surrendered on the beach, totaling 1/3 of invasion, or exactly 642 men.
The boats tried to leave the harbor but all tried to leave at once and a few collisions occurred. The boats that made it out were harassed by the tridenteers the entire time. A few tridenteers were observed landing on the decks of boats and stabbing sailors as they tried to get the boats under control before running away
To top it off, the winds were blowing in an awful direction and most of the boats were blown far to the right. They nearly crashed into an unwalled peninsula. The horn of orders was silent because the ship they were on had taken a direct hit and was rapidly sinking. The commander of the entire operation, on that ship, had died instantly in the blast. The entire senior commanding force had migrated to that boat during the trident harassment because it was centrally located and the safest option. None of the senior officers survived, as the bomb quite literally split the ship in two, and as they were gathered midship below the upper decks they had either been torn up from wood splinters or went down with the ship and were drowned.
Due to the lack of orders, all ships had their own idea of what to do. Most of them thought that the wind was far too unfavorable to set into open water so decided to land on the peninsula. About 1/3 decided to try the winds and sailed in various directions to various islands. This time, the tridenteers could harass them all they wanted and most would not get far. One tridenteer was assigned per boat, which ended up being a large blunder on Veritas's part because most were out of ammunition and could not do any damage.
Those who landed on the peninsula were met with an immediate problem. Unloading. Most of the men jumped overboard to swim to shore and some ships went completely unmanned before being either sunk or captured by the opposing force. Some men who didn't take of their armor were weighed down by it and drowned. The same happened for the archers, who's quivers filled completely with water instead of arrows, and if they were unable to get the quiver off they drowned.
There was one final factor that was at play. The peninsula itself. It was very long and narrow. So narrow that a tridenteer could safely jump all the way over it without being dashed apart on the rocks.
A single tridenteer sprang fourth. Their bright blue trident electric against the sky, which was growing progressively cloudier. They reached into their pocket and pulled out one of the sticks. They lazily let it go before safely landing in the water on the other side.
They didn’t even have to aim. It exploded on the top right corner of the peninsula and some were caught in the blast.
The other tridenteers followed suit. There were only 26 archers still armed as almost all of them had either abandoned their gear or were weighed down by it trying to swim over.
The entire peninsula was scourged. The walls extended to the beach on either side, and the coast became far too treacherous and rocky to swim around.
40% of the entire army was slain on the peninsula. A further 20% (of the men on the peninsula) surrendered and only 19 men escaped. 9 on a rowboat that was let go because of its irrelevance and 10 somehow survived the swim around the walls and ran up the island before stealing a sailboat and escaping.
Those that turned around and fled immediately suffered casualties, but not to the scale of this. About 5% of the army died on the sail back from getting picked off. Most of the tridenteers ran out of ammunition.
A grand total of 67% of the army perished in this advancement. A further 14% surrendered and of those, 1% died in prison from disease or starvation. 1,531 men in total lost their lives.
As for the boats, of the ones that made it to Veritas, none of the large ships survived, 4 of the medium ships made it back (2 were captured, 9 sank) and 29 of the small ships made it back (38 sunk, 8 captured). Of the 18 rowboats that were on the beach during the initial beach attack, 15 landed on the peninsula, with the other three rowing all the way to Pommedora.
Those that escaped ended up on all manner of islands in the surrounding area. One boat drifted with only one man on board for 8 days. He too survived off of horseflesh but also was lucky enough to get rainwater.
The other half of Veritas’s army had taken a longer route to Ardenholm. Ardenholm somehow managed to pull off an astonishing victory, despite being outnumbered 5-1. They were helped by the crew that had mutinied initially. They made use of their thick walls and used a turtle strategy to wait for help, until after 24 hours when they realized that something had gone seriously wrong they then went on a sudden offensive catching the Veritasian army completely by surprise because they had grown used to not being shot at.
The Ardenholm fighters used bows and a ridiculously large pile of arrows to shoot at the invaders non-stop until they finally gave up and went home. They were significantly hampered by not having the other half of their army. Both sides suffered relatively minor casualties, with Ardenholm losing 19 men and Veritas losing exactly 100.
Veritas lost 58 of their 120 tridenters, with the vast majority being lost by flying too close to the boats and being shot with arrows. Interestingly, 82% of those that landed on boats to stab individual sailors would perish. Their army suffered a loss total of 329.
This defeat left the rebels in shock. Their entire standing army had been effectively wiped out. They would start having to recruit younger men and paying more for mercenaries.
The Tuberists had taken the highest casualty rate, with an unimaginable 80% casualty rate and 16% captured. Only 4%, or just 16 men on one small boat, which they never left, managed to make it back. When the elder potatoes learned about this, they were understandably shocked and devastated and justifiably withdrew all future support to the rebellion. They claimed that the Tuberites had been used as cannon fodder and that that was an stupidly high casualty rate for a defensive mission. They had lost every single one of their ranking officers they had sent on that mission and demanded insanely high rates of compensation. It wasn’t until the battle was thoroughly explained and they were promised that all the islands would convert to Tuberism that they agreed to help once more.
The defeat didn't spell doom for the rebels, but would certainly go on to hamper their future efforts.
And that is the story of one of the worst strategical blunders in Stoneworks history.
This story is based around the truth. Ardenholm was indeed attacked by Veritas and BB after rebelling with Pommedora and Humilau. The Tuberists did indeed help out for religious reasons. There was indeed a failed charge counterattack which was poorly planned and the casualty numbers are accurate if you combine the dead and captured and just consider them all dead. The Veritasians did indeed use tridents to pick most of us off, and I myself died. This would have easily cost us the battle as we lost 80% of our total gear and didn’t really have enough time to make a proper repot. We used the good old 0-armor-stone-axe-rush strategy and only won because they placed capture points underwater which is illegal. So yeah the next battle is in a week (I think) and we have a LOT of grinding to do haha.
Also Stoney hmu if you ever want any scriptwriting help. I love to do this.
If you read this far um gg I guess
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2023.06.04 07:42 Edwardthecrazyman Hiraeth or Where the Children Play: Dog-meat and the Whipping Boy 
If I were to guess, I’d imagine they took Andrew to Boss Harold before anyone else and the rumors around Golgotha seemed to support this supposition; the Bosses enjoyed their personal retribution away from the eyes of citizens, maybe it was talking or maybe more, and although there were whispers of the boy being strung up on the wall or maybe he’d be violated in the stocks for all to see, I imagined that the council I held with Boss Harold might’ve had something to do with that never materializing. When I was allowed to the boy’s cell, it was dark, and his face was bruised and the bandaging I’d applied to his severed wrist had been removed probably for amusement. The room was small and there were no windows and only a single doorway let out into the hallway which contained other cells and further, near the exit, there was the office of wall men. The guard that’d let me in locked the door behind me and Andrew sat on a metallic cot without cushioning, and he stared at the grimy floor through swollen eyes.
“Hello,” he said. And I was taken aback by the comment because he spoke it as quickly as he might passing a person in the street. He'd been through so much that the word was abrupt, skittish. I nodded and moved to him, reaching for his arm where he’d been nearly fatally wounded. It was infected. Without fighting me, he allowed me to tend to it without even a question; I wiped it and applied salve. Once it was cleaned and rewrapped and only after I’d settled on the cot beside him, he spoke again, “I heard stories about the cells, but I never thought they’d smell.”
I withdrew a handful of antibiotics, and he took them without putting them to his mouth. “You should have them,” I said, “You might lose the whole arm if not.”
“I might lose my life.”
“Maybe not,” I offered a grim smile and water with for the pills. “You’re alive still.”
“How much longer though?” He took the medicine and grimaced hard. The boy looked older than he was. “It smells like blood here. I can smell the people that’ve been here before.”
I patted him on the back and removed myself from the cell and he did not call after me, not even to ask for the return of his hand and I hoped that I could stave off whatever tortures the Bosses might have in store for him.
It’d been two days since I’d returned with Dave and Andrew and quickly after our arrival, I’d tried departing from the man and hoped he’d drop whatever revenge he believed I could assist him with, but it was to no avail for he attended everywhere with me since our return to Golgotha. Although he’d not been allowed to enter the cells alongside me, he was waiting for me outside as I stepped through the wall men’s office and into the noonday sun; I deftly plucked a pre-rolled cigarette from my pocket and tried at lighting it but before I’d even gotten the chance, he was there at the stoop of the office, pestering, “We should go somewhere quiet,” he said.
“What do you take me for exactly?” I asked while maintaining eye contact with the flame off a match.
“You’re capable enough. You could be a hero. I’d do it with you. We could scrounge up a handful of people and change things. We really could.” Dave was casting sidelong glances at those that passed us in the dirt street just off the stoop, but nary one seemed to care about our conversation.
He put a hand on my shoulder, but I shrugged it off.
Felina’s was a structure partially built from ancient shipping containers directly in the heart of the hydroponics towers in the center of town; the chicken shit smell from the base of the towers came with nauseating stagnation and could make a passerby sick, but upon entering Felina’s, the smell subsided and was replaced with the smell of body sweat. The older barwoman stood behind the counter and me and Dave took up on the far corner where we sat around an old card table, using crates as chairs; no one else was there—the smell of the hydro towers probably had some hand in that.
Dave took in close to me so that I could feel the moisture off his breath, “I’ve been talking to a few others over at the towers and they feel the same way I feel—but with you—well without you I don’t think I’d want to do it.”
“No, please go on without me,” I slanted my body across the table to push my face away from Dave’s; with me positioned with my back against the wall, I spied Felina beyond the counter, arms across her chest and watching us with an air of suspicion. She came to our table, slowly with her club foot and upon reaching us, she used our table for mild support with her big hands and greeted us without excitement.
Dave asked for water and her gaze shifted to me and I dismissed her, and we were alone till she limped back over with a pitcher and glass and Dave drank it greedily while Felina watched on from beyond the counter—her eyes suspicious but pretty blue too. She kept the haft from a dismembered axe behind the counter and was known to throttle unruly patrons with it.
Although some might have called Felina’s a bar, it was just short of it because of the rarity of spirits—besides, it was the upstairs brothel portion that the establishment owed to its popularity. Anyone might brave the smell from the street for companionship and if the noises from the rusted overhead support beams were anything to measure, the clientele was content indeed. A man descended from the stairs by the bar, gave a brief nod to Felina then to us and disappeared through the front door; a waft of the outside air rushed in, and Dave scrunched his nose.
“It’s a funny thing, I’ve passed by here all the time, but I don’t think I’ve been inside since before—” he paused, “Well, since before anyway.” He took a drink of water and rubbed his palms against his cheeks. “I know someone that works underground and could get us some gunpowder.”
I merely laughed at this. “Gunpowder, huh?”
“Well sure. The Bosses have reserves in the basements. We could blow them sky high.”
“More likely that you’d blow your hands off.”
“What’s it going to take to convince you?”
I thought, “Could you promise no one would die?”
Dave seemed baffled at the question. “Who cares?”
“These things hardly ever happen quietly—or without collateral. How’s this? Could you promise that no innocents get caught in stray fire?”
“Then you are as ill prepared as I’d imagined.”
“What’s that mean?”
“The meek are intended to inherit, but many will die before all that.”
“Nothing. I wish you’d leave it be.”
Another patron stumbled down the stairs, a scrawny tall man with a thin beard came charging into the chamber without clothes and a voice followed him, crying loudly, “Sonofabitch tried choking me!” A pair of arms and legs came stumbling down after—the source of the cries. There was a topless woman, a belt secured around one of her wrists and a pink mark around her throat. The naked man protested and put up his hands as the woman swung the arm with the belt and whipped at him with it, striking across the forearm he’d shielded himself with.
Felina moved carefully from around the counter, raised the haft, then brought it down across the man’s back. He stumbled to his knees, pleading. The barwoman raised the weapon once more and the sound was like wood against wood as it met the man’s head and his body was taken to the ground completely, perhaps dead, perhaps unconscious. The two women lifted the man out the door and Felina spat through the opening. Outside wind came again and Dave scrunched his nose once more before the door shut. The topless woman removed the belt from around her wrist, tossed it to the floor, then secured an arm across her chest before hurrying upstairs.
“So, gunpowder?” I asked Dave.
He nodded and took another drink of water while eyeing Felina as she took herself back to the counter and stowed the makeshift club into whatever place she kept it. “Yeah.”
“Go for it then and leave me out of it.” I fiddled with my thumbs across the table. “I’ll even make you a deal for when you come running to me for help later. If you blow your fingers off, I’ll try and help you find them. How’s about that?”
“I’ll wear you down.”
Another gust of wind came from the far door and I half expected to see the man that’d been removed there in the doorway, standing on his feet and ready for another round of punishment, but there was no one there in the hollow spot; as my gaze drifted from person-face level, I saw a medium sized mutt there in gray fur, pushing the door in with its nose and then sliding the rest of its starved body through—each of its yellowy sad eyes peered in and I could not tell the breed but Dave lifted himself from his seat and Felina went to the dog too.
“No dogs,” stated the woman.
Dave, the indomitable sweetheart that he was knelt to the dog’s face and touched its snout; it licked his hand and Dave said to Felina, “He’s not mine, but have you got some water for him?”
“No dogs inside. I don’t like repeating it.”
“Fair enough,” said Dave, “I don’t know who he—” he froze and then examined the rear of the dog before petting the dog on the head, “She
belongs to, but I’ll take her outside. Just. Please some water, won’t you?”
The barwoman first drummed her fingers against her leg then went to the counter and I noticed Dave flinch as she reached under there, but she came back with a bowl and he took it and ushered the dog out; as he exited, he called to me, and I sighed and moved with him.
Remaining in the street was the man that’d been tossed out, face up, half-opened eyes, and flies buzzed about, and I touched him with my foot, but he didn’t move. Blood leaked from his ears. “Dead,” I said.
Dave took the dog from the body around to the side of the building and the feces smell was strong with the hydro towers, but he sat the water down and the dog went at it quickly, without restraint and spilt half before the man went to steady it with his hand; he knelt by the dog and pushed a shoulder against the wall of the brothel.
“There you go,” I told him, “You’ve found someone dumb enough and maybe loyal enough to follow through with your little gunpowder plan. Strap a handful of dynamite to him and watch him go boom in the Boss’s faces.” I genuinely did try it as a joke.
“You can be very mean,” said Dave.
Once the bowl was dry besides dog spit, he returned it to Felina, reentering briefly, and it was just me and the dog and the dog looked up at me and I turned away while its voice whined in the back of its throat and I took a piece of hardtack from my pocket and tossed it on the ground—the dog went after it, assuredly snapping up dirt in the process. Then the creature made a dry and throaty sound from swallowing too quickly, but moments after the thick cracker was gone. It licked my hand gently, and I scratched its chin and Dave returned and upon seeing me with the dog, he gave me a look and then brought himself to the height of the dog in a hunker.
“Hey there,” he said to it, “Someone’s beat you up pretty bad, huh?” It was true; scars stood out in places where the dog had no fur.
In response, the weathered mutt hoisted its forepaws onto his knees and pushed its nose into his.
“Yeah, girl,” he took one of the dog’s ears between his forefinger and thumb and rubbed it gently and the animal looked up, sad eyed, “What’s a good name for you?”
“Dog-meat?” I proposed.
Dave shook his head. “What sort of sick joke is that?” but he was smiling, “No. I’ll come up with something to call her. Isn’t that right?” He asked the dog, massaging the face of the animal with his thumbs; the dog stared dumbly at him. “Maybe a Beth or a Patty might suit you. How do you like them?”
The dog licked his face but couldn’t speak.
“Well,” I said, “It’s a shame it got you, you’ll pick a person name for it and that’s strange. Why not call her Mary if you want a person name?”
“Bah,” said Dave, rising to a full stand; momentarily, even with the other folks passing us in the street, he took a moment to see the dead man we’d passed on our way out of Felina’s and for a moment he remained quiet. “I’ll come to you again Harlan. Maybe when I’ve got more of a plan. I only hope you’ll listen to the stuff I’ve said about it. I really do. I really hope you’ll be on the right side of this thing.”
“Sides are overrated.”
Dave put a hand on my shoulder, “Of course,” he nodded, “Whatever you say.”
He left with his new friend—the dog following him traced from left to right close behind Dave and I watched him take off and around the nearest hydro tower and I was alone on the street and evening wouldn’t be far away, so I took to home while staring at my moving feet and speaking to no one. A few people along the way tried nodding at me or saying a small greeting here or there, but I was absorbed in my own head, and nothing took me from it once I got going. Maybe that was one of the reasons I enjoyed the wastes; there were no pretenses out there and with the constant thought of death there was no other thing to think about than each passing moment. I could not shut my thoughts up. I could ramble more about the motivations of a scavver, but I don’t think I should—leave that for someone that cares.
Upon taking the catwalks where I could look out on a swatch of Golgotha with the sun beating down and the constant hum of people going about their business, I was frozen on the railing and wishing I’d taken my own life and wishing that Dave had not found me out there; maybe if I was faster or smarter or better in whatever way that mattered.
I pushed into the door into my small abode and cool blood pushed through my body on seeing the robed girl there on my mattress, holding a shotgun with its barrel angled directly at me; she donned a flowy mess of dresses and kept her head wrapped in garb so that only her eyes shone through, but her arms stuck from the mess of cloth and I could see they were skinny with long scab marks like a blade had drawn across the flesh.
“Harlan?” asked the girl.
“Is that mine?” I nodded at the pump-shotgun in her hands. The slowness of the world was gone, and I could think again; if things were different, I’d have been a dead man, but it was unloaded, and I knew it.
“It was hanging on the wall—I don’t know how to use the thing anyway. I don’t know what I was doing with it,” she said, “You just scared me, and I didn’t know who you might’ve been.”
“This is my place.”
She laid the shotgun on the bed and unwrapped her face; it was Gemma, “You were with Andrew.”
“You said he was dead.”
I brought in air slowly through my nose. “I did.”
I nodded, letting the air come out.
“I needed to find you.”
“But you found us both then, I guess.”
“Not on purpose.” A thought occurred to me, “Does you father know where you are right now?”
She shook her head; although rest had done her good, there was still a fair amount of fatigue present on her. “I snuck out.”
“Would’a though you learned your lesson on that front.”
“Is Andrew okay? No one will tell me anything about it.”
“He’s locked up right now, but he is alive. For how long? I don’t know. I figured your pop paid a visit to him already—wouldn’t you know about that?”
She shook her head again. “Woo,” Gemma slumped onto the side of my mattress and gathered the robes around her, “I’m feeling faint.”
I moved to the bed and gathered the shotgun, putting it back on the hooks in the wall. “You shouldn’t break into people’s homes.”
Cupping her brow in a hand so that I could only see her mouth and the bottom of her nose, she said, “I just needed to know he was alive. These past days I’ve been so worried about him. I knew you told me he was dead, but I knew you were a liar too. So, I had bad thoughts about what might’ve happened to him out there. If what happened to me was anything to go off.” Her voice broke for a moment and then she pulled her hand from her face and blinked a few sudden times. “I just.”
“I get it. You love the boy.”
She nodded without looking at me.
“So, beg your dad to let him go.”
“Everyone’s so mad at him. It’s funny that everyone’s so mad at him, but it was my idea, and they all treat me like a darling little flower. Like I couldn’t have been the one with the idea of running away. I had more reason to run than he ever did.”
“You should leave.”
“I don’t want to. Can’t you see that’s what I’ve been saying? Judge all you like. Call me rich all you like, but I can tell you this: I don’t feel like it.” Gemma grabbed the edge of the bed as her head wavered on her shoulders. “Dizzy spells are awful.” She shook her head. “Like no sickness ever.” Her eyes locked on mine. “Help me.”
“I’ve already tried convincing them not to kill him.” Taking a pause, I thought to add, “And I personally saw to his injuries. Please go and leave me be.”
“Oh, but you’ve asked for it,” she said, “You put yourself in the business of it.”
“Look. All’s I wanted was to save you if I could and get the water running again. That’s it. Now go.” I put my arm up to wave her out the door and she stood to make her way there, catching herself on the frame, then out on the catwalk railing before turning and looking at me over her shoulder.
“Bastard.” she said.
“Yes.” The door shut between us, and I took myself to sitting on the bed’s edge and reminiscing over how Dave reminded me so much of Jackson. Jackson was a real tough one; whatever happened he always kept a cool head (so I reckon him and Dave would be different in that way) and the idea of being a hero was so big for him. It’s a curious thought: whether Dave would have such ideas if hadn’t been for the tragic loss of his family.
The shotgun sat on there on the wall, and I took it and looked over it, putting the stock in my left hand then my right and laid it across my legs; the woven strap on it had gone thin so that the place I’d once worn it over my shoulder was mostly threadbare. I moved to the cabinet by the sink where I kept a few essentials and in the very back there was an old box of shells—it was a surprise they still seemed good, but with old ammo you never could tell, and the shells were just as likely to fire true as they might be to never send pellets from the barrel. I took a knife and began whittling into a shell I’d plucked from the box. Pellets spilled between my feet as I sat on the bed and they rolled across the floor and then I found the gunpowder and rose again, sprinkling it onto the cabinet top into a neat pile. Dave said he had a fella’ he knew that worked in the underground—the sort of person that could get him all the gunpowder he needed. Was he familiar with its destructive force; had he ever fired a gun? He promised me no one innocent would die and I knew that was a lie and there’s surely a piece of him that knew it was a lie just as well.
It was just then as I took a forefinger and thumb and pinched up a bit from the gunpowder splat that I remembered a thing that Jackson told me all the time when he thought none of the others were listening. The gunpowder rained from my fingertips as I rubbed them together and I sniffed the place where they’d become sooty, taking in a smell I’d not smelled in a long time. Jackson would say, “Whoever fights monsters should be sure that he don’t become a monster.” It wouldn’t be for a long time—after I’d visited the libraries in Alexandria or Babylon (take your preference)—till I realized it was a quote that Jackson stole from some guy named Neet-chee. It seemed like a good thing to adhere to, and it was certainly something I wasn’t good at keeping with and if I couldn’t then there was little certainty that Dave would keep to it either. Maybe I had become a monster; morally dubious anyway.
Jackson was a hero, and he was dead as was Sibylle as was Billy as was John and all of them. We’d tried heroing and it got all of us dead. Almost all of us.
I hung the shotgun on the wall and left it there and swept the gunpowder into the floor with a flat palm where the pellets were and chucked the box of old shells into the cabinet again.
Ringing of bells came from the hall of the Bosses and it was time for a display. Denizens gathered in the front square by the gates and awaited while they trotted out Andrew; perhaps the words I’d passed to Boss Harold rang hollow after all. The Bosses were there just as always, drinking their wine on the platform, and Maron was out front with his wall men in the semicircle of gathered Golgotha residents. Of the population, only a hundred or two gathered for this poor boy’s execution. The guards had, at some point after my departure, removed the bandage on his empty wrist and he looked more sickly in the face than before and his cheeks were swollen and he wept, seemingly not from the terror of it but from the skin around his eyes having been so damaged; tears came through swelled eyelids and a wall man kept him by the elbow and Maron marched to the boy and lifted the boy’s face with his hand to look into it and maybe he whispered something to him.
I weaved through the crowd, moving to the steps that led to the stage where the Bosses stood with their foods and wines and their plenty and upon approach, I was stopped by a wall men, but upon catching Boss Harold’s eye, he told the guard to let me through and I took the stairs and from the platform, I could see over the crowd—Dave was far in the rear of those gathered, totally disconnected from the others for he hunkered by a set of crates, patting the head of the dog we’d found just earlier in the day. For a moment, I wished I was there with him and not on the stage at all.
“Dear boy!” Boss Harold shouted at me over the excited jeers of the others, “It’s so good to see you again. You are quite the hero, and it’s always good to be in the company of those.”
I nodded at him and within a flash, he’d slammed his cup of wine into my hand, telling me to drink, and only moments passed before his own cup was replaced by a nearby servant. “We spoke about this?” I tried.
His face was red, and I could just make out the miniscule veins vibrant along the corners of his nose; the man was far gone drunk. “That boy’s been a thorn in my side for too long, so I know you understand it when I say that he needs punishment. I took all that you said into account,” his words slurred, and the sweet sick came off him in a breath of hot air when he pulled me in, resting his ear on my shoulder. “Nobody dies today, but ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’,” the Boss paused. “You’re not a father yourself, are you?”
I shook my head.
“Ah! Then you might not be familiar with that proverb required in bringing a child up in this world.” Boss Harold laughed. “I’d never take my sweet Gemma out in the square like this, but God there’s been times I’ve wanted it. ‘Spare the rod’.” He repeated. “But we’ve something a fair bit more interesting than a rod for that boy.” Boss Harold swayed on his feet and took the fist containing his cup of wine, pointing with his index finger at the open place by the wall where Maron and Andrew and the wall men were. “Speaking of!” Boss Harold was giddy, and he took a magnificent gulp from his cup, throwing his head far back. “You’re a learned man, yes?”
“You know how to read? Maron said something about your reading. That’s a rare quality! I’d love to talk about books with you sometime. I’ve my own personal collection.”
The wall men stripped Andrew of his clothes then threw them to the ground and a gasp escaped the audience and the boy shouted and Maron moved to a nearby bucket and reached into the mouth of the container, coming back to a full stand; a whip was coiled around his arm. The Bosses didn’t even look on. The punishment was for the benefit of Boss Harold, and not even he looked on. He jabbered on about how he’d like to speak with me over an old philosophy called Objectivism then he went on about how he’d learned long ago the greatest achievement of man was his own happiness and I listened to the drunk man and when the whip broke skin the first time, I’m sure Andrew felt every bit.
Blood exploded in violent dew off his back and the crack of the whip struck the boy till he couldn’t stand and then several times more. Splatter reached onlookers each time Maron lifted the whip over his head, and it was only once the boy stopped moving that the Boss Sheriff swaggered over to inspect him; Andrew had fallen face down and Maron took his boot to the boy’s side so that the boy rolled onto his back and seconds passed without movement and even Boss Harold quit with his talking. The prone body just lay there and for a moment Andrew looked like the body I’d seen earlier out front of Felina’s. Then the boy spasmed and gasped air and Maron shouted about how he was still alive before giving the toe of his boot to Andrew’s ribs.
“What a show,” said the Bosses—what a show indeed.
The crowd dispersed in clumps, taking back to their jobs or leisure and I left the platform only after agreeing that Objectivism sounded good and Boss Harold laughed and stumbled in pivoting to take on in conversation with the other Bosses and I briefly imagined giving him a nudge, so he’d fall off the stage, but refrained from doing so.
When I met the boy lying in the dirt there, there was me and Dave moved in too and Maron had taken to his station where there was a table by sandbags, and he was engrossed in a game of solitaire; it seemed the man was totally unfazed by the justice he’d dealt. There was a time when that body could’ve been a hero and yet there he was, poisoned.
I called out to the Boss Sheriff, “Ain’t you going to put him back to his cell?”
Without even looking over, Maron swept his mustache with his fingers and waved me off, “Harold was real clear on letting the boy out of custody once it was done.” He lifted his cowboy hat and scratched his head while looking at the cards on the table then he laughed. “He’s a free man. I’ve heard that was your meddlin’ that did it.”
I moved to the boy and snatched up the clothes they ripped from him and Dave, not saying a word with his new mutt by his side, helped me to return some dignity to the boy.
We took him to my small apartment and washed him and tended over him while he lay in my bed.
Gemma came soon after Andrew had been draped in a sheet—she was there in disguise as she’d been earlier and upon me opening the doorway, she began to ask me if the boy was with me. I merely stepped aside, and she rushed to Andrew’s side; if he was aware of her presence, there was no way to tell.
“They killed him.” She’d taken to her knees to be nearer his level. “Oh. Oh, he’s dead.” She touched him and he shivered at the touch. Gemma removed the wrappings of cloth around her head and looked at her sweetie closer and she put a hand to her mouth. “They took his hand!”
“No,” said Dave, “He’s going to live.” The man looked to me and I shrugged. “Yeah,” his voice didn’t sound sure, “He’ll live.”
I moved to the catwalk and Dave came with me, the dog following behind him—the timid mutt looked over the edge of the catwalk to the city below then stepped away and returned to my room. When Dave took up beside me, leaning over the railing, and the sun hit his face just so, he looked exactly like Jackson and maybe that was why when he raised eyebrows then cut his eyes at me with a question—the question was everything and I finally nodded. Previous RoyalRoad Neovel
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