Martha stewart pre lit christmas trees

The Last Resort: A Small Leak

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

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

2023.05.29 18:09 Good-Clothes-8412 grace van dien; response to being called a nepotism actress followed by a compilation of her acting

grace van dien; response to being called a nepotism actress followed by a compilation of her acting
Grew up in Malibu, Los Angeles. Father is Casper Van Dien, Mother is Carrie Mitchum, Great Grandfather Robert Mitchum. Ties to royalty. Wikipedia lit up like a Christmas tree for this one!
submitted by Good-Clothes-8412 to neposnark [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 00:40 RandomAppalachian468 Don't fly over Barron County Ohio.

The whirring blades of my MD-902 throbbed against the warm evening air, and I smiled.
From 5,000 feet, the ground flew by in a carpet of dark forests and kelly-green fields. The sun hung low on the horizon in a picturesque array of dazzling orange and gold, and I could make out the narrow strip of the Ohio River to my left, glistening in the fading daylight. This time of year, the trees would be full of the sweet aroma of fresh blossoms, and the frequent rains kept small pockets of fluffy white mist hanging in the treetops. It was a beautiful view, one that reminded me of why being a helicopter pilot trumped flying in a jumbo jet far above the clouds every day of the week.
Fourteen more days, and I’m debt free.
That made me grin even more. I’d been working as a charter pilot ever since I obtained my license at age 19, and after years of keeping my nose to the grindstone, I was closing on the final payment for real-estate in western Pennsylvania. With no debt, a fixer-upper house on 30 rural acres all to myself, and a respectable wage for a 26-year-old pilot, I looked forward to the financial freedom I could now enjoy. Maybe I’d take a vacation, somewhere exotic like Venice Italy, or the Dominican Republic. Or perhaps I’d sock the money back for the day I started a family.
“Remember kleineun, a real man looks after his own.”
My elderly ouma’s voice came back from the depths of my memories, her proud, sun-tanned face rising from the darkness. She and my Rhodesian grandfather had emigrated to the US when they were newlyweds, as the violence against white Boer descendants in South Africa spiraled out of control. My mother and father both died in a car crash when I was six, and it had been my grandparents who raised me. Due to this, I’d grown up with a slight accent that many of my classmates found amusing, and I could speak both English, and Afrikaans, the Boer tongue of our former home.
I shifted in my seat, stretched my back muscles, and glanced at the picture taped to my console. Both my parents flanked a grinning, gap-toothed six-year-old me, at the last Christmas we’d spent together. My mother beamed, her dark hair and Italian features a sharp contrast to my father’s sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. Sometimes, I liked to imagine they were smiling at me with pride at how well I flew the old silver-colored bird my company had assigned to me, and that made the long, lonely flights easier to bear.
A flicker caught my eye, and I broke my gaze away from the photograph.
Perched in its small cradle above the controls, my little black Garmin fuzzed over for a few seconds, its screen shifting from brightly colored maps to a barrage of grey static.
Did the power chord come loose?
I checked, ensuring the power-cable for the unit’s battery was plugged into the port on the control panel. It was a brand-new GPS unit, and I’d used it a few times already, so I knew it wasn’t defective. Granted, I could fly and navigate without it, but the Garmin made my time as a pilot so much easier that the thought of going blind was dreadful.
My fuel gauge danced, clicked to empty, then to full, in a bizarre jolt.
More of the gauges began to stutter, the entire panel seeming to develop terrets all at once, and my pulse began to race. Something was wrong, very wrong, and the sludge inside my bowels churned with sour fear.
“Come on, come on.” I flicked switches, turned dials, punched buttons, but nothing seemed to fix the spasming electronics. Every gauge failed, and without warning, I found myself plunged into inky darkness.
Outside, the sun surrendered to the pull of night, the sky darker than usual. A distant rumble of thunder reverberated above the roar of my helicopter’s engine, and I thought I glimpsed a streak of yellowish lightning on the far horizon to my left.
Calm down Chris. We’re still flying, so it must just be a blown fuse. Stay in control and find a place to set her down.
My sweaty palm slid on the cyclic stick, and both feet weighed heavy on the yaw pedals. The collective stuck to my other hand with a nervous vibration, and I squinted against the abyss outside.
I jumped despite myself, as the little Garmin on my panel flared back to life, the static pulling aside to reveal a twitching display. Each time the screen glitched, it showed the colorful map detailing my flight path over the ground below, but I noticed that some of the lines changed, the names shifting, as if the device couldn’t decide between two different versions of the world.
One name jutted out at me, slate gray like most of the major county names, appearing with ghostly flickers from between two neighboring ones.
Barron County.
I stared, confused. I’d flown over this section of southeastern Ohio plenty of times, and I knew the counties by heart. At this point, I should have been over the southern end of Noble County, and maybe dipping lower into Washington. There was no Barron County in Ohio. I was sure of it.
And yet it shown back at me from the digital landscape, a strange, almost cigar-shaped chunk of terrain carved from the surrounding counties like a tumor, sometimes there, sometimes not, as my little Garmin struggled to find the correct map. Rain began to patter against my cockpit window, and the entire aircraft rattled from a strong gust of wind. Thick clouds closed over my field of vision like a sea of gray cotton.
The blood in my veins turned to ice, and I sucked in a nervous breath.
Land. I had to land. There was nothing else to do, my flight controls weren’t responding, and only my Garmin had managed to come back to life. Perhaps I’d been hit by lightning, and the electronics had been fried? Either way, it was too dark to tell, but a storm seemed to be brewing, and if I didn’t get my feet on the ground soon, I could be in real trouble.
“Better safe than sorry.” I pushed down on the collective to start my slow descent and clicked the talking button for my headset. “Any station, this is Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, over.”
“Any station, this is Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, requesting emergency assistance, over.”
Still nothing.
If the radio’s dead, I’m really up a creek.
With my hand shaking, I clicked on the mic one more time. “Any station, this is—”
Like a curtain pulling back, the fog cleared from around my window, and the words stuck in my throat.
Without my gauges, I couldn’t tell just how far I’d descended, but I was definitely very low. Thick trees poked up from the ground, and the hills rolled into high ridges with flat valley floors, fields and pastures pockmarking them. Rain fell all around in cold, silvery sheets, a normal feature for the mid spring in this part of Ohio.
What wasn’t normal, were the fires.
At first, I thought they were forest fires for the amount of smoke and flames that bellowed from each spot, but as I swooped lower, my eyes widened in horror.
They were houses.
Farms, cottages, little clusters that barely constituted villages, all of them belched orange flames and black pillars of sooty smoke. I couldn’t hear above the helicopter blades, but I could see the flashes on the ground, along the road, in between the trees, and even coming from the burning buildings, little jets of golden light that spat into the darkness with anger.
Gunfire. That’s rifle fire, a whole lot of it.
Tiny black figures darted through the shadows, barely discernable from where I sat, several hundred feet up. I couldn’t see much, but some were definitely running away, the streaks of yellow gunfire chasing them. A few dark gray vehicles rumbled down one of the gravel roads, and sprayed fire into the houses as it went. They were fighting, I realized, the people in the trucks and the locals. It was horrific, like something out of war-torn Afghanistan, but worse.
Then, I caught a glimpse of the others.
They didn’t move like the rest, who either fled from the dark vehicles, or fired back from behind cover. These skinny figures loped along with haphazard gaits, many running on all fours like animals, swarming from the trees by the dozens. They threw themselves into the gales of bullets without flinching, attacking anyone within range, and something about the way they moved, so fluid, so fearless, made my heart skip a beat.
What is that?
“Echo Four Actual to unknown caller, please respond, over.”
Choking back a cry of shock, I fumbled at the control panel with clumsy fingers, the man’s voice sharp and stern. I hadn’t realized that I’d let go of the talking button and clicked it down again. “Hello? Hello, this is Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot out of Pittsburgh, over.”
An excruciating moment passed, and I continued to zoom over the trees, the fires falling away behind me as more silent forest took over.
“Roger that Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, we read you loud and clear. Please identify yourself and any passengers or cargo you might be carrying, over.”
Swallowing hard, I eyed the treetops, which looked much closer than they should have been. How far had I descended? “Echo Four Actual, my name is Christopher Dekker, and I am alone. I’m a charter flight from PA, carrying medical equipment for OSU in Columbus. My controls have been damaged, and I am unable to safely carry on due to the storm. Requesting permission to land, over.”
I watched the landscape slide by underneath me, once catching sight of what looked like a little white church surrounded by smaller huts, dozens of figures in the yard staring up at me as I flew over a nearby ridgeline.
“Solid copy on that Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot. Be advised, your transponder shows you to be inside a restricted zone. Please cease all radio traffic, reduce your speed, climb to 3,000 feet and proceed north. We’ll talk you in from there. How copy, over?”
My heart jumped, and I let out a sigh of relief. “Roger that Echo Four Actual, my altimeter is down, but I’ll do my best to eyeball the altitude, over.”
With that, I pulled the collective upward, and tried my best to gauge how far I was by eyesight in the gathering night, rain still coming down all around me. This had to be some kind of disaster or riot, I decided. After all, the voice over the radio sounded like military, and those vehicles seemed to have heavy weapons. Maybe there was some kind of unrest going on here that I hadn’t heard about yet?
Kind of weird for it to happen in rural areas though. Spoiled college kids I get, but never saw farmers get so worked up before. They usually love the military.
Something moved in the corner of my eye, and I turned out of reflex.
My mouth fell open, and I froze, unable to scream.
In the sky beside me, a huge shadow glided along, and its leathery wings effortlessly carved through the gloom, flapping only on occasion to keep it aloft. It was too dark for me to see what color it was, but from the way it moved, I knew it wasn’t another helicopter. No, this thing was alive, easily the size of a small plane, and more than twice the length of my little McDonald Douglass. A long tail trailed behind it, and bore a distinct arrow-shaped snout, with twig-like spines fanned out around the back of its head. Whatever legs it had were drawn up under it like a bird, yet its skin appeared rough and knobby, almost resembling tree bark. Without pause, the gigantic bat-winged entity flew along beside me, as if my presence was on par with an annoying fly buzzing about its head.
Gripping the microphone switch so tight, I thought I’d crack the plastic, I whispered into my headset, forgetting all radio protocol. “T-There’s something up here.”
Static crackled.
“Douglas Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, say again your last, you’re coming in weak and unreadable, over.”
“There’s something up here.” I snarled into the headset, still glued to the controls of the helicopter, afraid to deviate even an inch from my course in case the monstrosity decided to turn on me. “A freaking huge thing, right beside me. I swear, it looks like a bat or . . . I don’t know.”
“Calm down.” The man on the other end of the radio broke his rigorous discipline as well, his voice deep, but level. “It won’t attack if you don’t move too fast. Slowly ease away from it and follow that course until you’re out of sight.”
I didn’t have time to think about how wrong that sounded, how the man’s strict tone had changed to one of knowledge, how he hadn’t been the least surprised by what I’d said. Instead, I slowly turned the helicopter away from the huge menace and edged the speed higher in tiny increments.
As soon as I was roughly two football fields away, I let myself relax, and clicked the mic switch. “It’s not following.”
“You’re sure?”
Eyeing the huge flapping wings, I nodded, then remembered he couldn’t see me. “Yeah, I’m well clear.”
“Good. Thank you, Mr. Dekker.”
Then, the radio went dead.
Something in my chest dropped, a weight that made my stomach roil. This wasn’t right, none of it. Who was that man? Why did he know about the thing I’d just seen? What was I supposed to—
A flash of light exploded from the trees to my right and shot into the air with a long finger of smoke.
What the . . .
On instinct, I jerked the cyclic stick to one side, and the helicopter swung to avoid the rocket.
My world shook, metal screeched, and a dozen alarms began to go off inside the cockpit in a cacophony of beeps and sirens. Orange and red flames lit up the night sky just behind me, and the horizon started to spin wildly outside. Heat gushed from the cockpit door, and I smelled the greasy stench of burning oil. The safety belts dug into my shoulders, and with a final slip, the radio headset ripped free from my scalp.
I’m hit.
Desperate, I yanked on the controls, fought the bird even as she spun toward the ground in a wreath of flames, the inky black trees hurtling up to meet me. The helicopter went into full auto-rotation, the sky blurring past outside, and the alarms blared in a screech of doom. Panic slammed through my temples, I screamed at the top of my lungs, and for one brief second, my eyes locked on the little black Garmin still perched atop my control panel.
Its screen stopped twitching and settled on a map of the mysterious Barron County, with a little red arrow at the center of the screen, a few words popping up underneath it.
You are here.
Trees stabbed up into the sky, the belts crushed at my torso, glass shattered all around me, and the world went dark.
Copper, thick, warm, and tangy.
It filled my mouth, stank metallic in my nose, clogged my throat, choking me. In the murkiness, I fought for a surface, for a way out, blind and numb in the dark.
This way, kleineun.
My ouma’s voice echoed from somewhere in the shadows.
This way.
Both eyes flew open, and I gagged, spitting out a stream of red.
Pain throbbed in my ribs, and a heavy pressure sent a tingling numbness through my shoulders. Blood roared inside my temples, and stars danced before my eyes with a dizzying array. Humid night air kissed my skin, and something sticky coated my face, neck, and arms that hung straight up toward the ceiling.
Wait. Not up. Down.
I blinked at the wrinkled, torn ceiling of the cockpit, the glass all gone, the gray aluminum shredded like tissue paper. Just outside the broken windows, thick Appalachian bluegrass and stemmy underbrush swished in a feeble breeze, backlit by flashes of lightning from the thunderstorm overhead. Green and brown leaves covered everything in a wet carpet of triangles, and somewhere nearby, a cricket chirped.
Turning my head from side to side, I realized that I hung upside down inside the ruined helicopter, the top half burrowed into the mud. I could hear the hissing and crackling of flames, the pattering of rain falling on the hot aluminum, and the smaller brush fires around the downed aircraft sizzling out in the damp long grass. Charred steel and burning oil tainted the air, almost as strong as the metallic, coppery stench in my aching nose.
They shot me down. That military dude shot me out of the sky.
It didn’t make sense. I’d followed their orders, done everything they’d said, and yet the instant I veered safely away from whatever that thing in the sky had been, they’d fired, not at it, but at me.
Looking down (or rather, up) at my chest, I sucked in a gasp, which was harder to do that before.
The navy-blue shirt stuck to my torso with several big splotches of dark, rusty red. Most were clean slashes, but two held bits of glass sticking out of them, one alarmingly bigger than the other. They dripped cherry red blood onto my upturned face, and a wave of nausea hit me.
I gotta get down.
I flexed my arms to try and work some feeling back into them, praying nothing was broken. Half-numb from hanging so long, I palmed along my aching body until I felt the buckled for the seat belts.
“Okay.” I hissed between gritted teeth, in an effort to stave off my panic. “You can do this. Just hold on tight. Nice and tight. Here we go . . .”
Everything seemed to lurch, and I slid off the seat to plummet towards the muck-filled hole in the cockpit ceiling. My fingers were slick with blood and slipped over the smooth faux-leather pilot’s seat with ease. The shoulder belt snagged on the bits of glass that lay just under the left lowest rib, and a flare of white-hot pain ripped through me.
I screamed, my right knee caught the edge of the aluminum ceiling, and both hands dove into a mound of leaf-covered glass shards on the opposite side of the hole. My head swam, being right-side-up again enough to make shadows gnaw at the corner of my eyes.
Forcing myself to breath slowly, I fought the urge to faint and slid back to sit on the smooth ceiling. I turned my hands over to see half a dozen bits of clear glass burrowed into my skin like greedy parasites, red blood weeping around the new cuts.
“Screw you.” I spat at the rubbish with angry tears in my eyes. “Screw you, screw you, screw you.”
The shards came out easy enough, and the cuts weren’t that deep, but that wasn’t what worried me. On my chest, the single piece of cockpit glass that remined was almost as big as my palm, and it really hurt. Just touching it felt like self-inflicted torture, but I knew it had to come out sooner or later.
Please don’t nick a vein.
Wiping my hands dry on my jeans, I gripped the shard with both hands, and jerked.
Fire roared over my ribs, and hot blood tickled my already grimy pale skin. I clapped a hand over the wound, pressing down hard, and grunted out a string of hateful expletives that my ouma would have slapped me for.
Lying on my back, I stared around me at the messy cargo compartment of the MD-902. Most of the medical supplies had been in cardboard boxes strapped down with heavy nylon tow-straps, but several cases had ruptured with the force of the impact, spraying bandages, syringes, and pill bottles all over the cluttered interior. Orange flames chewed at the crate furthest to the rear, the tail section long gone, but the foremost part of the hold was intact. Easily a million-dollar mess, it would have made me faint on any other trip, but today it was a godsend.
Half-blind in the darkness, I crawled along with only the firelight and lightning bolts to guide me, my right knee aching. Like a crippled raccoon, I collected things as I went, conscious of the two pallets of intact supplies weighing right over my head. I’d taken several different first-aid courses with some hunting buddies of mine, and the mental reflexes kicked in to help soothe my frazzled mind.
Check for bleeds, stop the worst, then move on.
Aside from my battered chest and stomach, the rest of me remained mostly unharmed. I had nasty bruises from the seatbelts, my right knee swelled, my nose slightly crooked and crusted in blood, but otherwise I was intact. Dowsing every scratch and cut with a bottle of isopropyl alcohol I found, I used butterfly closures on the smaller lacerations that peppered my skin. I wrapped soft white gauze over my abused palms and probed at the big cut where the last shard had been, only stopping when I was sure there were no pieces of glass wedged inside my flesh.
“Not too bad.” I grunted to myself, trying to sound impassive like a doctor might. “Rib must have stopped it. Gonna need stitches though. That’ll be fun.”
Pawing through the broken cases, I couldn’t find any suture chord, but just as I was about to give up, I noticed a small box that read ‘medical skin stapler’.
I tore the small white plastic stapler free from its packaging and eyeballed the device. I’d never done this before, only seen it in movies, and even though the cut in my skin hurt, I wondered if this wouldn’t be worse.
You’ve gotta do it. That bleeding needs to stop. Besides, no one’s coming to rescue you, not with those rocket-launching psychos out there.
Taking a deep breath, I pinched the skin around the gash together, and pressed the mouth of the stapler to it.
A sharp sting, like that of a needle bit at the skin, but it didn’t hurt nearly as bad as the cut itself. I worked my way across the two-inch laceration and gave out a sigh of relief when it was done.
“Not going to bleed to death today.” I daubed ointment around the staples before winding more bandages over the wound.
Popping a few low-grade painkillers that tumbled from the cargo, I crawled wriggled through the nearest shattered window into the wet grass.
Raindrops kissed my face, clean and cool on my sweaty skin. Despite the thick cloud cover, there was enough constant lightning strikes within the storm to let me get glimpses of the world around me. My helicopter lay on its back, the blades snapped like pencils, with bits and pieces of it burning in chunks all around the small break in the trees. Chest-high scrub brush grew all around the low-lying ground, with pockets of standing water in places. My ears still rang from the impact of the crash, but I could start to pick up more crickets, frogs, and even some nocturnal birds singing into the darkness, like they didn’t notice the huge the hulk of flaming metal that had fallen from the sky. Overhead, the thunder rumbled onward, the feeble wind whistling, and there were other flashes on the horizon, orange and red ones, with crackles that didn’t sound quite like lightning.
The guns. They’re still fighting.
Instinctively, I pulled out my cellphone, and tapped the screen.
It fluttered to life, but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get through to anyone, not even with the emergency function designed to work around having no service. The complicated wonder of our modern world was little better than a glorified paperweight.
Stunned, I sat down with my back to the helicopter and rested my head against the aluminum skin of the craft. How I’d gone from a regular medical supply run to being marooned in this hellish parody of rural America, I didn’t know, but one thig was certain; I needed a plan. Whoever fired the missile could have already contacted my charter company and made up some excuse to keep them from coming to look for me. No one else knew I was here, and even though I now had six staples holding the worst of my injuries shut, I knew I needed proper medical attention. If I wanted to live, I’d have to rescue myself.
My bag. I need to get my go-bag, grab some gear and then . . . head somewhere else.
It took me a while to gather my green canvas paratrooper bag from its place behind the pilot’s seat and fill it with whatever supplies I could scrounge. My knee didn’t seem to be broken, but man did it hurt, and I dreaded the thought of walking on it for miles on end. I focused instead on inventorying my gear and trying to come up with a halfway intelligent plan of action.
I had a stainless-steel canteen with one of those detachable cups on the bottom, a little fishing kit, some duct tape, a lighter, a black LED flashlight with three spare batteries, a few tattered road maps with a compass, a spare pair of socks, medical supplies from the cargo, and a simple forest green plastic rain poncho. I also managed to unearth a functioning digital camcorder my ouma had gotten me for Christmas a few years back, though I wasn’t sure I wanted to do any filming in such a miserable state. Lastly, since it was a private supply run from a warehouse area near Pittsburgh to a direct hospital pad in Ohio, I’d been able to bring my K-Bar, a sturdy, and brutally simple knife designed for the Marine Corps that I used every time I went camping. It was pitiful in comparison to the rifle I wished I had with me, but that didn’t matter now. I had what I had, and I doubted my trusty Armalite would have alleviated my sore knee anyway.
Clicking on my flashlight, I huddled with the poncho around my shoulders inside the wreck of the chopper and peered at the dusty roadmaps. A small part of me hoped that a solution would jump out from the faded paper, but none came. These were all maps of western PA and eastern Ohio. None of them had a Barron County on them anywhere.
The man on the radio said to head north, right before they shot me down. That means they must be camped out to the north of here. South had that convoy and those burning houses, so that’s a no-go. Maybe I can backtrack eastward the way I came.
As if on cue, a soft pop echoed from over the eastern horizon, and I craned to look out the helicopter window, spotting more man-made flashes over the tree tops.
“Great.” I hissed between clenched teeth, aware of how the temperature dipped to a chilly 60 degrees, and how despite the conditions, my stomach had begun to growl. “Not going that way, are we? Westward it is.”
Walking away from my poor 902 proved to be harder than I’d anticipated. Despite the glass, the fizzling fires, and the darkness, it still held a familiar, human essence to it. Sitting inside it made me feel secure, safe, even calm about the situation. In any other circumstance, I would have just stayed with the downed aircraft to wait for help, but I knew the men who shot me down would likely find my crash site, and I didn’t want to be around when they did.
Unlike much of central and western Ohio, southeastern Ohio is hilly, brushy, and clogged with thick forests. Thorns snagged at my thin poncho and sliced at my pant legs. My knee throbbed, every step a form of self-inflicted torture. The rain never stopped, a steady drizzle from above just cold enough to be problematic as time went on, making me shiver. Mud slid under my tennis shoes, and every tree looked ten times bigger in the flickering beam of my cheap flashlight. Icy fear prickled at the back of my neck at some of the sounds that greeted me through the gloom. I’d been camping loads of times, both in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, but these noises were something otherworldly to me.
Strange howls, screeches, and calls permeated the rain-soaked sky, some almost roars, while others bordered on human in their intonation. The more I walked, the softer the distant gunfire became, and the more prevalent the odd sounds, until the shadows seemed to fill with them. I didn’t dare turn off my flashlight, or I’d been completely blind in the dark, but a little voice in the back of my head screamed that I was too visible, crunching through the gloomy forest with my long beam of light stabbing into the abyss. It felt as though a million eyes were on me, studying me, hunting me from the surrounding brush, and I bitterly recalled how much I’d loved the old Survivor Man TV series as a kid.
Not so fun being out in the woods at night. Especially alone.
A twig snapped somewhere behind me, and I whirled on the spot, one trembling hand resting on the hilt of my K-Bar.
Nothing. Nothing but trees, bushes, and rain dripping down in the darkness.
“This is stupid.” I whispered to myself to keep my nerves in check as I slowly spun on the spot. “I should have went eastward anyway. God knows how long I’m going to have to—”
A groan of metal-on-metal echoed from somewhere to my right, and I spun to face it, yanking the knife on my belt free from its scabbard. It felt so small and useless in my hand, and I choked down a wave of nauseas fear.
Ka-whump. Creak. K-whump. Creak.
Underbrush cracked and crunched, a few smaller saplings thrashed, and from deep within the gloom, two yellow orbs flared to life. They poked through the mist in the trees, forming into slender fingers of golden light that swept back and forth in the dark.
The soldiers . . . they must be looking for me.
I swallowed hard and turned to slink away.
Ice jammed through my blood, and I froze on the spot, biting my tongue to stop the scream.
It stood not yards away, a huge form that towered a good twelve feet tall in the swirling shadows. Unpolished chrome blended with flash-rusted spots in the faded red paint, and grime-smeared glass shone with dull hues in the flashes of lightning. Where the wheels should have been, the rounded steel axels curved like some enormous hand had bent them, and the tires lay face-down on the muddy ground like big round feet, their hubcaps buried in the dirt. Dents, scrapes, and chips covered the battered thing, and its crooked little radio antenna pointed straight up from the old metal fender like a mast. I could barely make out the mud-coated VW on the rounded hood, and my mind reeled in shock.
Is . . . is that a car?
Both yellow headlights bathed me in a circle of bright, blinding light, and neither I nor the strange vehicle moved.
Seconds ticked by, the screech-thumping in the background only growing closer. I realized that I couldn’t hear any engine noises and had yet to see any soldiers or guns pointed my way. This car looked old, really old, like one of those classic Volkswagen Beetles that collectors fought over at auctions. Try as I might, I couldn’t see a driver inside the murky, mold-smeared windows.
Because there wasn’t one.
Lightning arched across the sky overhead, and the car standing in front of me blinked.
Its headlights slid shut, as if little metal shades had crawled over the bulbs for a moment and flicked open again. Something about that movement was so primal, so real, so lifelike, that every ounce of self-control I had melted in an instant.
Cursing under my breath, I lunged into the shrubs, and the world erupted around me.
Under my shoes, the ground shook, and the car surged after me in a cacophony of ka-thumps that made my already racing heart skip several beats. A weather-beaten brown tow truck from the 50’s charged through the thorns to my left, it’s headlights ablaze, and a dilapidated yellow school bus rose from its hiding place in the weeds to stand tall on four down-turned axel-legs. They all flicked their headlights on like giants waking from their slumber, and as I dodged past them, they each blared their horn into the night in alarm.
My breaths came short and tight, my knee burned, and I crashed through thorns and briars without thought to how badly I was getting cut up.
The cheap poncho tore, and I ripped it away as it caught on a tree branch.
A purple 70’s Mustang shook off its blanket of creeping vines and bounded from a stand of trees just ahead, forcing me to swerve to avoid being run over, my adrenaline at all-time highs.
This can’t be happening, this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening.
Slipping and sliding, I pushed through a stand of multiflora rose, and stumbled out into a flat, dark expanse.
I almost skidded to a stop.
What had once been a rather large field stood no taller than my shoestrings, the grass charred, and burnt. The storm above illuminated huge pieces of wreckage that lay scattered over the nearly 40-acre plot, and I could just make out the fire-blackened hulk of a fuselage resting a hundred yards away. The plane had been brought down a while ago it seemed, as there weren’t any flames left burning, and I threw myself toward it in frenzied desperation.
Burned grass and greasy brown topsoil slushed underfoot, and I could hear the squelching of the cars pursing me. Rain soaked me to the bone, and my lungs ached from sucking down the damp night air. A painful stich crept into my side, and I cursed myself for not putting in more time for cardio at the gym.
Something caught my left shoelace, and I hurtled to the ground, tasting mud and blood in between my teeth.
They’ve got me now.
I clawed at the mud, rolled, and watched a tire slam down mere inches from where my head had been. The Mustang loomed over me and jostled for position with the red Volkswagen and brown tow truck, the school bus still a few yards behind them. They couldn’t seem to decide who would get the pleasure of stomping me to death, and like a herd of stampeding wildebeest, they locked bumpers in an epic shoving match.
On all fours, I scampered out from under the sparring brutes, and dashed for the crumpled airplane, a white-painted DC-3 that looked like it had been cut in half by a gargantuan knife blade. I passed a snapped wing section, the oily remains of a turbo-prop engine, and a mutilated wheel from the landing gear. Climbing over a heap of mud, I squeezed into the back of the ruined flight cabin and dropped down into the dark cargo hold.
No sooner had my sneakers hit the cold metal floor, and the entire plane rocked from the impact of something heavy ramming it just outside. I tumbled to my knees, screaming in pain as, once again, I managed to bash the sore one off a bracket in the wall.
My hand smeared in something gooey, and I scrabbled for my flashlight.
It clicked on, a wavering ball of white light in the pitch darkness, and I fought the urge to gag. “Oh man . . .”
Three people, or what was left of them, lay strewn over the narrow cargo area. Claret red blood coated the walls, caked on the floor, and clotted under my mud-spattered shoes. Bits of flesh and viscera were stuck to everything, and tatters of cloth hung from exposed sections of broken bone. An eerie set of bloody handprints adorned the walls, and the only reason I could tell it had been three people were the shoes; all of them bore anklebones sticking out above blood-soaked socks. It smelled sickly sweet, a strange, nauseas odor that crept into my nose and settled on the back of my tongue like an alien parasite.
Something glinted in the beam of my flashlight, and my pulse quickened as I pried the object loose from the severed arm that still clung to it.
“Hail Mary full of Grace.” I would have grinned if it weren’t for the fact that the plane continued to buck and roll under the assault from the cars outside.
The pistol looked old, but well-maintained, aside from the light coating of dark blood that stained its round wooden handle. It felt heavy, but good in my hand, and I turned it over to read the words, Waffenfabrik Mauser stenciled into the frame, with a large red 9 carved into the grip. For some reason, it vaguely reminded me of the blasters from Star Wars.
I fumbled with a little switch that looked like a safety on the back of the gun and stumbled toward a gap in the plane’s dented fuselage to aim out at the surrounding headlights.
The old gun bucked reliably in my hand, its long barrel spitting a little jet of flame into the night. I had no idea if I hit anything, but the attacking cars recoiled, their horns blaring in confusion.
They turned, and scuttled for the tree line as fast as their mechanical legs could go, the entire ordeal over as fast as it had begun.
Did I do that?
Perplexed, I stared down at the pistol in my hand.
A large, inky black shadow glided down from the clouds, and the yellow school bus moved too slow to react in time.
With a crash, the kicking nightmarish vehicle was thrown onto its side, spraying glass and chrome trim across the muddy field. Its electro-synth horn blared with wails of mechanical agony, as two huge talon-like feet clamped down on it, and the enormous head of the flying creature lowered to rip open its engine compartment.
The horn cut out, and the enormous flying entity jerked its head back to gulp down a mass of what looked like sticky black vines from the interior of the shattered bus.
At this range, I could see now that the flying creature bore two legs and had its wings half-tucked like a vulture that had descended to feed on roadkill. Its head turned slightly, and in the glow of another lightning bolt, my jaw went slack at the realization of what it was.
A tree trunk. It’s a rotted tree trunk.
I couldn’t tell where the reptilian beast began, and where the organic tree components ended, the upper part of the head shaped like a log, while the lower jaw resembled something out of a dinosaur movie. Its skin looked identical to the outside of a shagbark hickory but flexed with a supple featheriness that denoted something closer to skin. Sharp branch-like spines ranged down its back, and out to the end of its tail, which bore a massive round club shaped like a diseased tree-knot. Crouched on both hind legs, it braced the hooked ends of its folded wings against the ground like a bat, towering higher than a semi-truck. Under the folds of its armored head, a bulging pair of chameleon-like eyes constantly spun in their sockets, probing the dark for threats while it ate.
One black pupil locked onto the window I peered through, and my heart stopped.
The beast regarded me for a moment, making a curious, sideways sniff.
With a proud, contemptful head-toss, the shadow from the sky parted rows of razor-sharp teeth to let out a roar that shook the earth beneath my feet. It was the triumphant war cry of a creature that sat at the very top of the food chain, one that felt no threat from the fragile two-legged beings that walked the earth all around it. It hunted whenever it wanted, ate whatever it wanted, and flew wherever it wanted. It didn’t need to rip the plane apart to devour me.
Like my hunter-gatherer ancestors from thousands of years ago, I wasn’t even worth the energy it would take to pounce.
I’m hiding in the remains of the cockpit now, which is half-buried under the mud of the field, enough to shield the light from my screen so that thing doesn’t see it. My service only now came back, and it’s been over an hour since the winged beast started in on the dead bus. I don’t know when, or how I’m going to get out of here. I don’t know when anyone will even see this post, or if it will upload at all. My phone battery is almost dead, and at this point, I’m probably going to have to sleep among the corpses until daylight comes.
A dead man sleeping amongst friends.
If you live in the Noble County area in southeastern Ohio, be careful where you drive, fly, and boat. I don’t know if it’s possible to stumble into this strange place by ground, but if so, then these things are definitely headed your way.
If that happens . . . pray that they don’t find you.
submitted by RandomAppalachian468 to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.05.28 01:29 Dust_Veil Positron Emission Tomography

The scan was bad. Liver, lungs, bones . . . mets everywhere. Looked like another failure.
“Woah, lit up like a Christmas tree again,” Terry said, leaning over the back of my chair. “Hell, there’s even a hotspot in the skull.” He let out a low whistle. “Don’t think insurance will pay for another one.”
“Nope,” I replied. “This is the third one. Mr. Robinson’s out of options unless he wants to do the next trial himself.”
“Yeah, then he’ll be dayshift’s problem,” Terry chuckled. He dropped back into his computer chair and leaned back. “Don’t know how they stand the real deal. At least this lot is quiet. Most of the time.”
I glanced over the monitor at the body lying on the scanning table. “I guess it can be nice to interact with a real person from time to time.”
“Ha! If you say so,” Terry replied. “Personally, I prefer these. Silent as long as transport doesn’t rip out the damn IVs.”
I grimaced, remembering the last time that happened. God, I didn’t think it would ever stop thrashing and screaming.
“Remind me to tape the line up the arm,” I said. “That way it’ll stay in if it does get snagged.”
“Aye, captain.”
The table moved to the last bed position. Its foot twitched. I stared at the body. If that thing woke up now . . .
I looked through the hole in the gantry at the infusion pump resting on the far end of the table above its head. “You think it’ll hurt to increase the flow a little? I don’t want to call the SLEEP team again. You know it takes them forever to find us.”
“Go for it.” Terry pointed at the scan. “Based on that the fucker’s dying anyway. We’ll be doing it a favor.”
I nodded and stood up. Like the control room, the hallway was dark. We liked to keep it that way. Low stimulation. No incident was a good incident.
I walked into the scan room and glanced at the timer on the front of the gantry. Two minutes left. Transport had better be on the way. I hated having these things sitting in the hall.
I continued around to the back of the scanner. I grabbed the infusion pump and pushed some buttons, little beeping sounding out with every press.
Its head twitched, and I jumped back. I stood there waiting for it. Waiting for the screaming.
It was still.
I moved closer and finished adjusting the flow rate. My eyes trailed over its face. It was gaunt. Skin was sallow, tinged yellow from the liver failure. I wondered if that was how Mr. Robinson looked now. If he didn’t find something soon, it would be too late, and hospice would be the only option. He needed a cancer treatment that would work.
This one clearly wasn’t working for his clone.
submitted by Dust_Veil to shortscarystories [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 22:30 questar723 Electric Control Module went bad (2012 Outback)

So my dashboard did the Christmas tree thing. We unplugged the battery, and it stayed lit up.
Took it to get scanned and it was diagnosed as a bad ECM. Like 600$ to repair.
Anyone else have this issue? Could it be a faulty scanner? I really don’t want to have to spend 600$.
submitted by questar723 to subaruoutback [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 10:27 drdyzio Mid let post 3 rounds of pola-R-CHP

So had my PET scan today after 3 round of pola-R-CHP for my Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma Stage 4.
Initially it my whole skeleton lit up like a Christmas tree 🎄.
My doctor called me to tell me the results.
She said she was very surprised to see how good it looked. She was expecting it to be good, but she didn't expect for it to look this good . It shows I'm in complete remission. This is good news.
No BMB at the end.
3 more rounds of chemo. Scan at the end.
Feeling good. Thank you for all for everything. ❤️💛💚
Love and healing to you all.
submitted by drdyzio to lymphoma [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 18:36 K0411 At this point, what part of the tank is still working. Dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree

At this point, what part of the tank is still working. Dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree submitted by K0411 to WorldOfTanksBlitz [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 17:57 Adventurous-Ad4730 S3 TC sport not feeling right after servicing.

Hello. I have a 2015 S3 with 42k miles on it. I am running a stage 1 APR 93 high torque TCU & ECU flash. I recently had my car serviced for the DSG fluid flush, front & back axle rotors and pads & oil change.
Upon getting the car back, after a few days my dash lit up like a Christmas tree showing ABS fault, ECS fault, hill hold assist, TPMS & Audi Adaptive light fault. Brought car back to service center, found rear driver wheel speed sensor failed and caused everything to malfunction. Now we’re up to a 3k bill.
Got car back, all lights cleared, notice now my car seems to have quite a bit of hesitation off the line which was never present. Decided to perform acceleration tests with ECS in sport and completely off.
Literally with the pedal stomped to the ground, the car sits there for 1 second, then slowly accelerates then finally kicks in. It’s seems like the ECS is still on even though it’s off. Definitely does not feel right, especially with the aggressive tune I’m running. I really DO NOT want to bring it back to the service center because I refuse to drop more money into the car. Any thoughts on what the problem is and is there something I could try doing myself to fix?
submitted by Adventurous-Ad4730 to audis3 [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 03:12 Complex_Basket_892 Please help me troubleshoot

Hello Tundra family, I recently bought a 2007 double cab, limited model, in blue streak metallic. Purchased in NC and drove it back home to CO, over 1550mi with zero issues. Truck has been amazing so far, this is my first truck and I love her to death, love the color and overall condition is great for the age of the vehicle...
Okay so now to my concern; my dash is lit up like a Christmas tree currently: the 4HI-4LO lights both flash rapidly, simultaneously, the VSC light flashes slowly, and both the ABS and the traction/slip light stay on.. no decrease in performance, no funny noises from the driveline components. Everything looks okay after a quick look underneath. Any help would be greatly appreciated, figured I would check with you all here first before diving into old forum posts and getting my hands dirty. My shot-in-the-dark guess at this point would be a wheel speed sensor, thanks for any help!
submitted by Complex_Basket_892 to ToyotaTundra [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 22:31 EMitchell108 "Labor of Love" (May 29, 2023 The New Yorker) - Chris Smalls and artist Josh Kline

Posting text in full due to paywall:
“I remember all this—it’s just, like, flashbacks,” Chris Smalls said, standing in a gallery at the Whitney Museum. Smalls, a former Amazon warehouse worker, has become the unlikely face of the labor movement. He was examining a series of sculptures called “Blue Collars,” part of a survey show by the artist Josh Kline, who was planning to meet him in the gallery. To Smalls’s left was a shopping cart stuffed with Walmart boxes and disembodied arms, cast from the limb of a real Walmart employee, named Jason. Along with an Applebee’s waitress, a FedEx delivery worker, and a hotel cleaner, Jason had allowed Kline to do a 3-D scan of his body for the project.
“I worked at Walmart, I worked at FedEx,” Smalls, who is thirty-four, said. “We work, and we give up our body parts,” he added, musing on the sculpture. “Over time, these jobs will break you down.”
For the past fifteen years, Kline has made satirical, often uncomfortably prescient art about the dehumanizing nature of work and the ways in which technology makes workers disposable. He doesn’t consider himself an activist, however. “I know the difference between real activism and what I’m doing,” he said.
Kline showed up in gray jeans, a tan T-shirt, and a ball cap. It would have been easy to assume that Smalls—in patent-leather Prada high-tops, gold grills, and Versace sunglasses—was the celebrated artist. The two men were meeting for the first time and seemed nervous. Kline apologized to Smalls for being “a little out of it.” He’d been working fifteen-hour days to prepare for his show about labor, and had lost six pounds.
“Don’t worry, man,” Smalls said. “I just came from a rally. I’m the same way right now.” Smalls, whom Time magazine named one of the “100 Most Influential People of 2022,” led the first successful union drive at an Amazon warehouse. For the past two years, he has served as president of the Amazon Labor Union, where tensions about how best to bring the second-largest company in the world to the bargaining table are running high. (The day after the Whitney visit, a video was leaked of Smalls and a fellow union member coming to blows outside Smalls’s former workplace, JFK8 Amazon, in Staten Island.) “Being an organizer is a lot more work than Amazon,” he said. “But it’s a lot less strenuous on the body.” This was his first time at the Whitney. Years ago, he worked for a food-service company that catered parties at the Museum of Modern Art.
Kline and Smalls walked into a dimly lit installation called “Contagious Unemployment” (2016). Transparent orbs in the shapes of common viruses hung from the ceiling, each containing a cardboard box filled with the paperweights, picture frames, and other personal effects of a fictional white-collar worker who had been laid off.
“I was thinking a lot about my father,” Kline said, looking at the work. “He lost his job when I was a teen-ager, and people treated him like a leper, like he was contagious with something awful.” Today, the sculptures evoke the isolation of workers during the pandemic. “It was a metaphor, and then it became very real,” Kline added.
“How does it feel to know you predicted it?” Smalls asked. Amazon fired him, he said, after he helped organize a protest of the company’s covid safety protocols. (An Amazon spokesperson has said the firing was for repeatedly “violating social-distancing guidelines.”)
“Hopefully, the rest of my work doesn’t come true,” Kline said.
Strolling through Kline’s techno-dystopia, the pair swapped stories about Amazon boxes: Kline used them as flooring for installations. Smalls once stacked them to create a nearly seven-foot-tall Christmas tree outside Jeff Bezos’s Manhattan apartment, as part of a protest. They discussed which politicians excited them (none), whether it would be more effective to cancel Amazon Prime (Smalls) or to nationalize it (Kline), and their common goal of making the working class more visible.
“We don’t make it look like it’s cool to join a union,” Smalls said. “What if unions had a Super Bowl commercial?”
He gestured toward one of the art works, a video of a “commercial” for universal basic income. Inspired by a Bernie Sanders ad, it shows the things that society could accomplish—cure cancer, care for aging parents—if we weren’t scrambling to make ends meet.
Would Smalls ever consider running for office, Kline asked.
“I don’t want to do politics,” Smalls said. “But I’ll do whatever it takes to save this planet. If I’m doing it, I’m going to go for President. I’m not going to be no middleman.” ◆
Julia Halperin is a co-founder of the Burns Halperin Report and the former executive editor of Artnet News.
submitted by EMitchell108 to AmazonFC [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 20:52 Nik-Yura Moneta. Part 2 - Guardian and protectress

Moneta. Part 2 - Guardian and protectress
The Demon of Death who appeared to Fedmahn Kassad in the valley of the Time Tombs - surprisingly resembles the Gorgon Medusa:
In Greek mythology, Medusa (/mɪˈdjuːzə, -sə/; Ancient Greek: Μέδουσα, romanized: Médousa, lit. 'guardian, protectress'),also called Gorgo, was one of the three monstrous Gorgons, generally described as winged human females with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Those who gazed into her eyes would turn to stone. Was beheaded by the hero Perseus. [1]
Guardian and protectress!
There were also terrible Gorgons in this country. Their entire bodies were covered with scales as glistening and hard as steel. No sword could cut through these scales, only the curved sword of Hermes. The Gorgons had huge copper hands with sharp steel claws. On their heads, instead of hair, venomous snakes moved, hissing. The faces of the Gorgons, with their fangs as sharp as daggers, their lips as red as blood, and their eyes burning with rage, were filled with such malice, were so terrible that everyone turned to stone at the very sight of the Gorgons. [2]

...blood drips on her flesh, her pale flesh, reflective now, flesh as cold as dead metal... ...he watches through passion - dimmed eyes as Moneta’s lips wither and curl back, revealing rows of steel blades where teeth had been... her eyes... ...her eyes like red jewels, blazing with a mad heat... ...Kassad slams both hands against the soil, lifts himself away from her... from it... his strength insane but not enough as terrible gravities press them together... sucking like a lamprfey’s mouth as he threatens to explode, looks in her eyes... the death of worlds! [3]

On wings with golden glittering feathers, the Gorgons flew rapidly through the air. [2]

- How did I land? Suspensor field? Parachute? - You descended under a wing of gold foil. [3]

According to myths, the Gorgons lived "on the Western edge of the earth, the country where the goddess Night and the God of death Thanatos reigns" [2] (i.e., where the Sun hides - in the Kingdom of the dead). Thanatos - one of the prototypes of the Shrike, but the goddess of Night...

- The HTN stuff doesn’t simulate, - whined Cadet Radinski, the best AI expert Kassad could find and bribe to explain, - it dreams, dreams with the best historical accuracy in the Web - way beyond the sum of its parts cause it plugs in holistic insight as well as facts - and when it dreams, it lets us dream with it. Kassad had not understood but he had believed. And then she came again. In the First U.S. Vietnam War they made love in the aftermath of an ambush during the darkness and terror of a night patrol. Kassad wore rough camouflage clothes - with no underwear because of the jungle crotch rot - and a steel helmet not much more advanced than those at Agincourt. She wore black pajamas and sandals, the universal garb of the Southeast Asian peasant. And the Viet Cong. Then neither of them wore anything as they made love standing in the night, her back against a tree and her legs wrapped around him, while beyond them the world exploded in the green glow of perimeter flares and the sputter-crack of claymores. She came to him on the second day of Gettysburg and again at Borodino, where the clouds of powder smoke hung above the piles of bodies like a vapor congealed from departing souls. They made love in the shattered hulk of an AFC in Hellas Basin while the hovertank battle still raged and the red dust of the approaching simoon scraped and shrieked at the titanium hull. “Tell me your name", - he had whispered in Standard. She shook her head. "Are you real - outside the simulation?" - he asked in the Japanese-English of that era. She had nodded and leaned closer to kiss him. They lay together in a sheltered place among the ruins of Brasilia while deathbeams from Chinese EMVs played like blue searchlights on broken ceramic walls. During an unnamed battle after a siege of a forgotten tower city on the Russian steppes, he pulled her back into the shattered room where they had made love, and he whispered: "I want to stay with you." She touched his lips with a finger and shook her head. After the evacuation of New Chicago, as they lay on the hundredth-floor balcony where Kassad had set his sniper’s nest for the last U.S. Presidents hopeless rear-guard action, he placed his hand on the warm flesh between her breasts and said: "Can you ever join me… out there?" She touched his cheek with her palm and smiled. ... Kassad dreamed of her often. He had never learned her name, she had never spoken, but he could have recognized her touch and scent in total darkness among a thousand others. He thought of her as Mystery. When other young officers went whoring or seeking girlfriends in the indigenie populations, Kassad would remain on base or take long walks through strange cities. He kept his obsession with Mystery secret, knowing full well how it would read on a psych report. Sometimes, on bivouac under multiple moons or in the womblike zero-g of a troop transport hold, Kassad would realize how insane his love affair with a phantom truly was. But then he would recall the small mole under her left breast which he had kissed one night, feeling her heartbeat under his lips as the ground itself shook from the firing of the big guns near Verdun. He would remember the impatient gesture with which she brushed back her hair as her cheek rested on his thigh. ... On the night before the Ouster retreat, Kassad left the command conference on the HS Brazil, farcast to his HQ in the Indelibies north of the Hyne Valley, and took his command car to the summit to watch the final bombardment. The nearest of the tactical nuclear strikes was forty-five kilometers away. The plasma bombs blossomed like orange and blood-red flowers planted in a perfect grid. Kassad counted more than two hundred dancing columns of green light as the hellwhip lances ripped the broad plateau to shreds. And even before he slept, while he sat on the flare skirt of the EMV and shook pale afterimages from his eyes, she came. She wore a pale blue dress and walked lightly between the dead burr-root plants on the hillside. The breeze lifted the hem of the soft fabric of her dress. Her face and arms were pale, almost translucent. She called his name - he could almost hear the words - and then the second wave of bombardment rolled in across the plain below him and everything was lost in noise and flame. [3]

Nyx (/nɪks/ NIX; Ancient Greek: Νύξ Nýx, [nýks], "Night") is the Greek goddess and personification of night. A shadowy figure, Nyx stood at or near the beginning of creation and mothered other personified deities, such as Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death), with Erebus (Darkness). She is the first child of Chaos. She is typically portrayed as either a winged goddess with a dark cloud halo or dressed in black surrounded by dark mist.Her Roman equivalent is Nox (Night). [1]
Her appearances are sparse in surviving mythology, but reveal her as a figure of such exceptional power and beauty that she is feared by Zeus himself.In Hesiod's Theogony, Nyx is born of Chaos. With Erebus (Darkness), Nyx gives birth to Aether (Brightness) and Hemera (Day). Later, on her own, Nyx gives birth to Moros (Doom, Destiny), the Keres (Destruction, Death), Thanatos (Death), Hypnos (Sleep), the Oneiroi (Dreams), Momus (Blame), Oizys (Pain, Distress), the Hesperides, the Moirai (Fates), Nemesis (Indignation, Retribution), Apate (Deceit), Philotes (Friendship), Geras (Old Age), and Eris (Strife).
Now it is clear how and with whose help the Moneta appeared to Fedmahn Kassad in his dreams?

In a kylix by the painter Aison (circa 425 to circa 410 BCE) Theseus drags the Minotaur from a temple-like labyrinth, yet the goddess who attends him in this Attic representation is Athena. [1]
Athena[b] or Athene,[c] often given the epithet Pallas,[d] is an ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom, warfare, and handicraft.As Athena Promachos, she was believed to lead soldiers into battle. Athena represented the disciplined, strategic side of war, in contrast to her brother Ares, the patron of violence, bloodlust, and slaughter - "the raw force of war". Athena was believed to only support those fighting for a just cause and was thought to view war primarily as a means to resolve conflict. As the patroness of heroes and warriors, Athena was believed to favor those who used cunning and intelligence rather than brute strength. [1]

The New Bushido Code which governed Colonel Kassad’s life had evolved out of the necessity for the military class to survive. After the obscenities of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries on Old Earth, when military leaders had committed their nations to strategies wherein entire civilian populations were legitimate targets while their uniformed executioners sat safe in self-contained bunkers fifty meters under the earth, the repugnance of the surviving civilians was so great that for more than a century the word “military” was an invitation to a lynching. As the New Bushido evolved it combined the age-old concepts of honor and individual courage with the need to spare civilians whenever possible. It also saw the wisdom of returning to the pre-Napoleonic concepts of small, “nontotal” wars with defined goals and proscribed excesses. The Code demanded a forsaking of nuclear weapons and strategic bombing campaigns in all but the most extreme cases but, more than that, it demanded a return to Old Earth medieval concepts of set battles between small, professional forces at a mutually agreed-upon time in a place where destruction of public and private property would be kept to a minimum. ... From his first minutes on South Bressia, Kassad realized that the New Bushido was dead. Eighty thousand superbly armed and trained FORCE:ground troops advanced from their staging areas, seeking battle in an unpopulated place. Ouster forces retreated behind a line of scorched earth, leaving only booby traps and dead civilians. FORCE used farcasters to outmaneuver the enemy, to force him to fight. The Ousters responded with a barrage of nuclear and plasma weapons, pinning the ground troops under forcefields while the Ouster infantry retreated to prepared defenses around cities and drop-ship staging areas. What had been forecast as a two-day battle ground on for thirty days, then sixty. Warfare had been thrown back to the twentieth or twenty-first century: long, grim campaigns fought through the brick dust of ruined cities over the corpses of civilians. The eighty thousand original FORCE troops were ground up, reinforced with a hundred thousand more, and were still being decimated when the call went out for two hundred thousand more. Only the grim resolve of Meina Gladstone and a dozen other determined senators kept the war alive and the troops dying while the billions of voices of the All Thing and the AI Advisory Council called for disengagement. Kassad had understood the change of tactics almost at once. His street-fighting instincts had risen to the forefront even before most of his division was wiped out in the Battle of the Stoneheap. While other FORCE commanders were all but ceasing to function, frozen into indecision by this violation of the New Bushido, Kassad—in command of his regiment and in temporary command of his division after the nuking of Command Group Delta—was trading men for time and calling for the release of fusion weapons to spearhead his own counterattack. By the time the Ousters withdrew ninety-seven days after the FORCE “rescue” of Bressia, Kassad had earned the double-edged nickname of the Butcher of South Bressia. It was rumored that even his own troops were afraid of him. And Kassad dreamed of her with dreams that were more—and less—than dreams. On the last night of the Battle for Stoneheap, in the maze of dark tunnels where Kassad and his hunter-killer groups used sonics and T-5 gas to flush out the last warrens of Ouster commandos, the Colonel fell asleep amid the flame and screams and felt the touch of her long fingers on his cheek and the soft compression of her breasts against him. When they entered New Vienna on the morning after the space strike Kassad had called in, the troops following the glass-smooth, twenty-meter-wide burn grooves into the lanced city, Kassad had stared without blinking at the rows of human heads lying on the pavement, carefully lined up as if to welcome the rescuing FORCE troops with their accusatory stares. Kassad had returned to his command EMV, closed the hatches, and—curling up in the warm darkness smelling of rubber, heated plastics, charged ions—had heard her Whispers over the babble of the C3 channels and implant coding. On the night before the Ouster retreat, Kassad left the command conference on the HS Brazil, farcast to his HQ in the Indelibies north of the Hyne Valley, and took his command car to the summit to watch the final bombardment. The nearest of the tactical nuclear strikes was forty-five kilometers away. The plasma bombs blossomed like orange and blood-red flowers planted in a perfect grid. Kassad counted more than two hundred dancing columns of green light as the hellwhip lances ripped the broad plateau to shreds. And even before he slept, while he sat on the flare skirt of the EMV and shook pale afterimages from his eyes, she came. She wore a pale blue dress and walked lightly between the dead burr-root plants on the hillside. The breeze lifted the hem of the soft fabric of her dress. Her face and arms were pale, almost translucent. She called his name—he could almost hear the words—and then the second wave of bombardment rolled in across the plain below him and everything was lost in noise and flame. [3]

Athena is associated with the myth of Perseus and the Gorgon Medusa. However, in the myth, the role of Athena is unsightly - she herself turned the beautiful Medusa into a monster, and then arranged Perseus' campaign to kill Medusa. In "Hyperion Cantos" there is no such turnover. The conflict unfolds in the inner world of Fedmahn Kassad: when He turns to the methods of warfare of Ares, the demon Medusa takes the place of the goddess Athena.

And finally - it is impossible not to recall such a prototype of Moneta as Valkyrie. And specifically - the leader of the valkyries - Freyja.
In Norse paganism, Freyja (Old Norse "(the) Lady") is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, sex, war, gold, and seiðr (magic for seeing and influencing the future). Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, is accompanied by the boar Hildisvíni, and possesses a cloak of falcon feathers. By her husband Óðr, she is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi. Along with her twin brother Freyr, her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr's sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member of the Vanir. Stemming from Old Norse Freyja, modern forms of the name include Freya, Freyia, and Freja.
Freyja rules over her heavenly field, Fólkvangr, where she receives half of those who die in battle. The other half go to the god Odin's hall, Valhalla. Within Fólkvangr lies her hall, Sessrúmnir. [2]

Later, in the carnage of the valley, Moneta and a few others of the Chosen Warriors found Kassad’s body still wrapped in a death embrace with the battered Shrike. They removed Kassad with care, carried him to a waiting tent in the valley, washed and tended to his ravaged body, and bore him through the multitudes to the Crystal Monolith. There the body of Colonel Fedmahn Kassad was laid on a bier of white marble, and weapons were set at his feet. In the valley, a great bonfire filled the air with light. All up and down the valley, men and women moved with torches while other people descended through the lapis lazuli sky, some in flying craft as insubstantial as molded bubbles, others on wings of energy or wrapped in circles of green and gold. Later, when the stars were in place burning bright and cold above the light-filled valley, Moneta made her farewells and entered the Sphinx. The multitudes sang. In the fields beyond, small rodents poked among fallen pennants and the scattered remnants of carapace and armor, metal blade and melted steel. Toward midnight, the crowd stopped singing, gasped, and moved back. The Time Tombs glowed. Fierce tides of anti-entropic force drove the crowds farther back—to the entrance of the valley, across the battlefield, back to the city glowing softly in the night. In the valley, the great Tombs shimmered, faded from gold to bronze, and started their long voyage back. [3]

Konstantin Vasilyev, \"Valkyrie over a Fallen Warrior\"

And a poetic addition. Sorry for the big quote:

To Kassad’s left, the Valley of the Time Tombs stretched away as always, only the cliff walls were toppled now, worn down by erosion or landslide and carpeted with high grass. The Tombs themselves looked new, only recently constructed, with workmen’s scaffolds still in place around the Obelisk and Monolith. Each of the aboveground Tombs glowed bright gold, as if bound and burnished in the precious metal. The doors and entrances were sealed. Heavy and inscrutable machinery sat around the Tombs, ringing the Sphinx, with massive cables and wire-slender booms running to and fro. Kassad knew at once that he was in the future—perhaps centuries or millennia in the future—and that the Tombs were on the verge of being launched back to his own time and beyond. Kassad looked behind him. Several thousand men and women stood in row upon row along the grassy hillside where once a cliff had been. They were totally silent, armed, and arrayed facing Kassad like a battle line awaiting its leader. Skinsuit fields flickered around some, but others wore only the fur, wings, scales, exotic weapons, and elaborate colorations which Kassad had seen in his earlier visit with Moneta, to the place/time where he had been healed. Moneta. She stood between Kassad and the multitudes, her skinsuit field shimmering about her waist but also wearing a soft jumpsuit which looked to be made of black velvet. A red scarf was tied around her neck. A rod-thin weapon was slung over her shoulder. Her gaze was fixed on Kassad. He weaved slightly, feeling the seriousness of his wounds beneath the skinsuit, but also seeing something in Moneta’s eyes which made him weak with surprise. She did not know him. Her face mirrored the surprise, wonder … awe? … which the rows of other faces showed. The valley was silent except for the occasional snap of pennant on pike or the low rustle of wind in the grass as Kassad gazed at Moneta and she stared back, Kassad looked over his shoulder. The Shrike stood immobile as a metal sculpture, ten meters away. Tall grass grew almost to its barbed and bladed knees. Behind the Shrike, across the head of the valley near where the dark band of elegant trees began, hordes of other Shrikes, legions of Shrikes, row upon row of Shrikes, stood gleaming scalpel-sharp in the low sunlight. Kassad recognized his Shrike, the Shrike, only because of its proximity and the presence of his own blood on the thing’s claws and carapace. The creature’s eyes pulsed crimson. “You are the one, aren’t you?” asked a soft voice behind him. Kassad whirled, feeling the vertigo assail him for an instant. Moneta had stopped only a few feet away. Her hair was as short as he remembered from their first meeting, her skin as soft-looking, her eyes as mysterious with their depths of brown-specked green. Kassad had the urge to lift his palm and gently touch her cheekbone, run a curled finger along the familiar curve of her lower lip. He did not. “You’re the one,” Moneta said again, and this time it was not a question. “The warrior I’ve prophesied to the people.” “You don’t know me, Moneta?” Several of Kassad’s wounds had cut close to bone, but none hurt as much as this moment. She shook her head, flipped her hair off her forehead with a painfully familiar movement. “Moneta. It means both ‘Daughter of Memory’ and ‘admonisher.’ That is a good name.” “It’s not yours?” She smiled. Kassad remembered that smile in the forest glen the first time they had made love. “No,” she said softly. “Not yet. I’ve just arrived here. My voyage and guardianship have not yet begun.” She told him her name. Kassad blinked, raised his hand, and set his palm along her cheek. “We were lovers,” he said. “We met on battlefields lost in memory. You were with me everywhere.” He looked around. “It all leads to this, doesn’t it.” “Yes,” said Moneta. Kassad turned to stare at the army of Shrikes across the valley. “Is this a war? A few thousand against a few thousand?” “A war,” said Moneta. “A few thousand against a few thousand on ten million worlds.” Kassad closed his eyes and nodded. The skinsuit served as sutures, field dressings, and ultramorph injector for him, but the pain and weakness from terrible wounds could not be kept at bay for much longer. “Ten million worlds,” he said and opened his eyes. “A final battle, then?” “Yes.” “And the winner claims the Tombs?” Moneta glanced at the valley. “The winner determines whether the Shrike already entombed there goes alone to pave the way for others … ” She nodded toward the army of Shrikes. “Or whether humankind has a say in our past and future.” “I don’t understand,” said Kassad, his voice tight, “but soldiers rarely understand the political situation.” He leaned forward, kissed the surprised Moneta, and removed her red scarf. “I love you,” he said as he tied the bit of cloth to the barrel of his assault rifle. Telltales showed that half his pulse charge and ammunition remained. Fedmahn Kassad strode forward five paces, turned his back on the Shrike, raised his arms to the people, still silent on the hillside, and shouted, “For liberty!” Three thousand voices cried back, “For liberty!” The roar did not end with the final word. Kassad turned, keeping the rifle and pennant high. The Shrike moved forward half a step, opened its stance, and unfolded fingerblades. Kassad shouted and attacked. Behind him, Moneta followed, weapon held high. Thousands followed. [3]

Conquistador in iron armor, Pursuing gaily my own star; I walk through precipice and canyon, And only rest in joyful lands.
The fog grows grim in starless skies. But I am silent and I wait; And I have faith — I’ll find my love. Conquistador in iron armor.
If stars can hear no sunlit words, I shall create my own bright dream; And charm it with the songs of battle.
A brother I to storm and chasm, But to my battle dress I add The star of fields — a fleur de lys.
Nikolay Gumilev
[1] - quotes from Wikipedia
[2] - quotes from N.A.Kun "Legends and myths of Ancient Greece"
[3] - quotes from "Hyperion Cantos"
submitted by Nik-Yura to Hyperion [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 17:46 Strobro3 So I watched the Star Wars Holiday Special

I took some notes as I watched and I think they sum up the experience pretty well.
It's kind of fucking hilarious but genuinely difficult to watch at times
How can you have a Christmas movie in the star wars universe? Do they have Christmas? How would that even work?
It's not Christmas - it's a holiday celebrated by wookies called 'life day'.
A bunch of things they show seem oddly out of place for star wars.
they mention things like VHS and they communicate with people over like skype basically instead of holograms
throughout the entire film, people are uncharacteristically wholesome.
Luke makes Jesus Christ look like an asshole in comparison
it makes zero sense that Chewbacca has a wife and family
why is he with Han?
why doesn't he have a normal job?
dead beat dad
they show kashyyyk decades before the prequels
they were consistent with how it looks in the prequels decades later which is pretty crazy, they show the wooden tree houses
but they call it kashook or something
the musical segments are boring and weird
wtf was with the lady that Chewbacca's dad was like watching on a holodeck thing and they were all like 'wowow very sexy' (not in those words exactly).
Chewy's old man is a pervert
I think that actually works
There's this dude who's some kind of shop keeper
why does he exist?
who is he?
why do I have to see half his chest?
Apparently he's a friend of the Chewbacca family?
the cartoon segments are actually fucking lit, albeit with kind of unsatisfactory ending.
Boba Fett tries to rat out chewy to the empire
Chewy kills all of them
and then when they get on the falcon r2 reveals Boba Fett's transmission to the empire
and then Boba Fett just fucks off just flies away
and they laugh like chucklefucks about it and that's it
why did Boba Fett give up so easily?
they spend so much time on Kashyyyk in their living room just sitting around making Wookie noises
come back sOOoOoonn I'll be waaAAaiting pours orange juice into the hole in his head
nothing became of that character
he just kind of existed
so there's a whole species of humanoids with a drinking hole in their head and that's just a thing that exists
one of the aliens in Mos Eisley Cantina is just literally a giant rat. Not A dude in a rat costume. Just a rat.
there's a scene where Chewbacca's son is playing with some computer thing, and then a storm trooper comes and takes it from him and smashes it on the ground for literally no reason at all.
When Han and Chewy finally get home, it's like sickeningly sweet levels of wholesome. Han is all hugging chewwy's family and saying 'you guys are like family to me'.
So in conclusion, it sucks except for the cartoon. Also, it's technically canon in the EU. So all this stuff really happened.
submitted by Strobro3 to StarWarsEU [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 17:27 VulnerableFetus Ariana’s expressions while everyone lit Scandy up like a Christmas tree we’re everything

Ariana’s expressions while everyone lit Scandy up like a Christmas tree we’re everything submitted by VulnerableFetus to vanderpumprules [link] [comments]

2023.05.24 20:36 mamasaurus00 Just finished a 7 day cold turkey detox at home.

I’m on day 7 of a cold turkey detox at home. I was primarily using herion and fentanyl but I took a 14 panel drug test and lit it up like a Christmas tree. I failed for coke, meth, bentos, mdma, heroin, & fentanyl, if you’re wondering what might be in your dope these days. Anyways, I’m not gonna lie, it’s been pretty brutal. I almost broke a thousand times, there were minutes that felt like hours those first few days but I’ve somehow managed to get here past most of the physical stuff. I’m still having random chills and cold sweats, my body has to work out temperature regulation again but I’m otherwise past being sick. This isn’t my first time getting clean and I realize it might not be my last. Im always gonna be an addict. But this is the time I usually break and use, once the sick is gone but you have no energy and you’re still not sleeping much and sometimes can’t get warm…how do you get through that period? Is there anything I could do to boost my energy or sleep better to make it through the next few weeks? I’ve done it before but I usually just ride it out a few weeks in bed but this time that isn’t an option. I was fucking up way too long this time and I gotta get out of this rut and go get a job or I’m gonna be homeless. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I know this post probably reads choppy but please be kind. Im still a little out of sorts being so freshly clean, even simply articulating something is difficult.
submitted by mamasaurus00 to OpiatesRecovery [link] [comments]

2023.05.24 15:01 BL00DCH4IN3D Volvo C30 electrical issues?

Heyo. I’m new to this subreddit and I have a 2009 Volvo C30, I just wanted to ask a question for some people who have more experiences with them.
So I’ve had the car for over a year now, it was bought used. But I’ve had my fair share of electrical issues with the thing in that time.
Just last night my dash lit up like a Christmas tree once I pulled into work, and on my way home I got every single light on my dash and then the dash,windows and radio went dead. Even my wipers were going off and I couldn’t stop them for a while.
Luckily the engine and brakes still worked and it was drive able, but I couldn’t see anything on my dash whatsoever. I tried starting it up this morning and it started with no problems at all, and this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.
I had the battery replaced when we bought the car as it wouldn’t even start with the old one. And I’m at a loss as to why this keeps happening.
Does anybody know what could be happening / does anybody have any sort of similar experiences with their own C30? Please share your thoughts as I’m at a loss.
Update: for a little extra context, when this has happened previously it’s just been a matter of tightening a bolt on the battery. I’ve powered on the car this morning and it started as if nothing happened last night, so I’m really not sure why else it would do this.
Update 2: Just got home from work, cars been sorted. Thank you all so much for your help, you guys are amazing! :)
submitted by BL00DCH4IN3D to Volvo [link] [comments]

2023.05.23 15:10 blackkettle Five Week Trip Report: April-May; Kansai, Kanto; Previous long-term resident family


We are a family of three. I previously lived in Japan for about 10 years. My wife is Japanese from the Kansai region, and we have a 6 year old son born and raised abroad, but who speaks/reads/writes Japanese at a native or near-native level for his age. My wife and son traveled back to Osaka several times during Covid, but I did not join them due to the additional logistics requirements at the time, and the sense that it would not be particularly enjoyable. Prior to covid we would typically spend about 4-5 weeks a year in Japan, but this was our first long day-in-the-life trip together in the past four years.
It was a phenomenal trip, and I wanted share what we did. Our trip is probably a little bit unconventional compared to most of the reports here as we all speak Japanese and are very familiar with Japan having lived there for quite some time in the past. Our main goals for our trip were to provide our son with immersion opportunities, to meet family, and to visit with old friends. We lived for many years in both Osaka and Tokyo and I have relatives in Shizuoka. We also love craft beer, games, and quirky museums; I think our trip itinerary reflects all of this.

General Pre-trip Preparation:

Our son is a second-year kindergartener in Zurich, Switzerland, but he also speaks Japanese and attends a Japanese school part time. He's very outgoing and enjoys new adventures (probably because we have been dragging him around to San Diego or Osaka almost every year for most of his life). This year we thought it would be interesting if he could experience a real Japanese elementary school during our stay. To this end about 2 months before we left, my wife contacted the local elementary school near her parents house in Osaka and inquired about the possibility of doing a short 'study abroad' (体験留学) at some point during our stay. To our surprise she received a prompt reply from the school principal, who was very enthusiastic about the prospect, and happy to arrange all the details upon our arrival. Apparently he had previously worked at an international school and had a very positive outlook on this sort of interaction. Final details were to be determined on site in a short family interview in order to get a sense of our son's Japanese ability and disposition.
We typically spend our long-term stays with our relatives but this time we decided to break our trip up into several stages: Osaka at Home, Osaka at Large, Return to Tokyo, Shizuoka, Osaka at home. The remainder of the report is broken up accordingly.

Part 1: Osaka-at-Home I.

The first week we flew in to Osaka KIX from Zurich via Seoul, and took the Hello Kitty Express :-) directly into Umeda where we met up with family and went straight to a Yakiniku experience at Yakiniku Toraji on the B2 floor of the Lucua building at Umeda. At first we planned to make the journey home to drop off our luggage but after we realized that the airport express now drops you off at essentially the Lucua B1, we decided to just head straight to dinner. Needless to say, it was epic. We grabbed some bread and pastries for the following morning and headed home with mom and dad.
Masks; Even on first arrival it was clear that we made the right decision to come after the covid restrictions finally lifted. Everything was open, and people were out. Roughly 90+% of people were still wearing masks everywhere, but this percentage steadily declined over the duration of our stay to, I would say, 65%-70% by the time we left on May 20th. We chose not to wear them, and my MIL/FIL were also not wearing them. At no point during the trip did I feel there was any concern about this in either direction. Anyone traveling in the near future should feel completely free to go whichever way you prefer.
During the first week we sorted out our jet lag, and spent a lot of time roaming around conbinis and the supermarkets remembering all the little delicious nothings that Japan has to offer. We stayed with mom and dad in Ebie, Fukushima, right on Yodogawa. This is about 5 min bike ride from Nodahanshin station, and 10-15min ride to Fukushima station or Umeda. We made all these rides many times during our stay! We made some mellow probing adventures:
Prepaid SIMs. I still have to answer emails and typically work on-and-off during these trips. One of the reasons we are able to do it is because I work in IT. This means it's always important to get a good prepaid SIM. On my last visit, four years ago I was able to find a great deal on a prepaid SIM at Yodobashi in Umeda, so one of my first orders of business was to repeat that experience this time. However after discussing with the sales and purchasing a SIM with 50GB for 1mo @ Y8000, I found out that it did not permit tethering. This was stated as a 'possibility' in the fine print and when I asked at purchase time the sales person said they couldn't guarantee it but thought it should work. I gambled and lost. This was quite annoying given the main purpose of purchasing a high volume prepaid SIM was for tethering to my laptop. Anyway as a result I discovered the eSIM tech which was also supported by my iPhone 14. I ended up buying another eSIM plan using Ubigi and this worked great and supported tethering without issue throughout my trip. It also worked great for our short return stop in South Korea. I'll never go back to prepaid physical SIMs and I still cannot believe that Docomo is still blocking tethering in 2023. Completely ridiculous.
Exercise: I am an avid swimmer and cyclist. Since we typically stay for around 1 month I like to be able to continue my swim workouts while we are in Japan. Cycling isn't a problem since we end up biking and walking all over the country anyway. I always join the Konami Sports Club network for 1 month as a regular member the first day we arrive. They provide a bunch of different plans and most of the Type III and Type IV gyms in the network have a 25SCM lap pool. If you join the network you can use any of facilities anywhere in the country, which is great if you spend time in more than one city. The Type III and Type IV facilities all have really great bath house areas as well, with multiple sento-style baths and usually a big sauna. You need to make sure that you join and quit on the same day (or at least in the same week) so that your membership will be properly cancelled at the end of the first billing cycle. This might be tough if you don't speak Japanese well, but if you do the staff is super accommodating and will definitely help you make it happen. In addition to the exercise, one thing I really like about doing this is that it gives me another day-in-the-life experience; it's like living there again; doing things that locals do. The Kitahama facility in Osaka is particularly nice; It's a new one and it's my favorite.
Internet Cafes: I worked on and off during the trip and usually do work days at local internet cafes. The three I liked best during this trip were:
Cycling: We keep a couple of momma-charis at my in-laws place, including one with a kid-seat on the back. We did plenty of riding and my son loves the unique-to-him experience of riding on the back of the bike. We considered getting him his own bike this year, but eventually decided against it due to the complex traffic. Osaka is pretty easy to get around in by bicycle in terms of terrain - there are very few hills in the city proper, however the traffic is a little bit gnarly. Midosuji street is a great example of this. It runs in a mostly straight line from Umeda/Osaka station, across Oebashi and Yodobashi past Osaka city hall, and down through Dotonbori to Namba. It's a cool little ride if you have the time and inclination and it is mostly flat. It runs only in one direction for most of this length however many Japanese cyclists seem to not be aware of this fact. I was surprised/amazed/terrified by how many people I encountered riding against the flow of traffic on this quite busy street. Plenty of mama-charis with kids on back as well. It's pretty chaotic and not for the faint of heart! That said I enjoy the rides and the people watching and the adventure that a little chaos can provide as long as you keep your eyes open.
As I mentioned, we love craft beer, and we particularly love Hazy IPAs in all their various forms. We made it a point in this trip to explore this aspect of Japan as it seems to have really exploded in popularity since our last visit. We followed (hazy_mmy)[] for some great ideas outside the brewpubs.
We wrapped up this mini pub crawl with a walk through the Kitahama/Yodoyabashi area in the evening. This is more of business district but it actually has some interesting novel historical sites. There are a number of cool Meiji Era buildings with large explanatory placards. These are predominantly in Japanese and maybe a bit obscure, and you also won't be able to enter most of them, but if you are into this sort of thing it's can be a fun bonus. I'm guessing google translate in photo mode can get you most of the way through the placards:
there are a bunch more, these just happen to be the ones that caught our eye as we passed by on our mini pub crawl.

Part 2. Osaka-at-Large

We spent roughly our first two weeks in Osaka, but in order to get a change of pace and give our family a break, we opted to spend the second week in an apartment-hotel near Umeda. This was a great decision and a lot of fun. We were able to host friends, had even better access to Umeda and could relax and enjoy the city from a fresh angle.
We spent 7 nights in the rooftop luxury suite at Minn Kita Umeda and it was epic. My wife booked this about 6 months in advance and it was worth every last yen. The room was spacious and quiet with two large comfy beds. The bathroom included a deep Japanese style bath. There is a large rooftop deck with a jacuzzi overlooking Lucua/Umeda/Osaka station. This view at night was phenomenal. At present there is also a ton of highrise construction going on behind Grand Front which my son got a kick out of (and me too). The apartment has a large kitchen and living room space as well, and we used it to host some visits from friends.
I ended up working most of this week so we only managed one major adventure.

Part 3. Return to Tokyo

For our third week we returned to Tokyo to visit old haunts and old friends, and take in the even bigger city. We headed up early on the Nozomi shinkansen after checking out of the Minn. We bought bento in Shin Osaka station and our son picked out a shinkansen shaped Ekiben box to bring back for school lunches.
We previously lived for about 7 years in Jiyugaoka, and planned to spend time there meeting friends, but we decided to stay in an area we were less familiar with in order to get a fresh perspective on the city. We spent 6 nights at the Blossom Hotel Hibiya which is about 5 min walk from Shimbashi station. It's a highrise with the hotel on the top. We had a room facing Tokyo Tower with a great view. The rooms themselves were clean and comfy with the external wall composed of a single huge bay window. The city scape was amazing night and day.
I ended up having to put out fires at work again during this week even though I had tried to take it off, and this put a little bit of a damper on some exploration plans, but we still managed to see all our friends and make a go of the time. Also since we already spent almost 10 years in Tokyo altogether, we didn't feel nearly as pressured to check out multiple tourist sites and focused on eating, drinking, and meeting with friends.
Tokyo is overflowing with great craft beer these days!

Part 4. Shizuoka

After our stay in Tokyo we started making our way back to Osaka for the last segment of our trip. On the way stopped off in Mishima for one night to visit my relatives. Here we stayed at the Toyoko-Inn Fujisan Mishima-eki. This is a no frills spot but it had nice clean, quiet rooms and a surprisingly good breakfast buffet. We wandered around Mishima in the afternoon then had a big Yakiniku family dinner with my relatives at Anrakutei Yakiniku. I tried Horumon for the first time and actually enjoyed it!
The next day we headed to Mochimune for one of our long planned trip highlights:
It rained heavily in the evening and all through the night, but this made for a fun trip to the nearby 7-Eleven, and a good excuse to just hang out and tap the keg while watching Doraemon reruns on the big screen TV in the room. In the morning the weather had cleared up so we took a long walk on the beach which is just a few minutes from the hotel. The walk from the hotel back to Mochimune station is also quite nice if the weather permits. Truly amazing experience. Also requires booking several months in advance.
submitted by blackkettle to JapanTravel [link] [comments]

2023.05.23 02:06 XBlueberrysansX Christmas tree!

Christmas tree! submitted by XBlueberrysansX to CharacterAI [link] [comments]

2023.05.22 20:55 Buchfu Claws of Fate ch.47

As always, credit for the universe goes to Blue, as well as fellow authors that let me create this spaghetti of a crossover: Nibs and FrogLord. Big thanks to beta readers and fellow authors for help in making this an enjoyable experience.
First / Previous / Next
Discord for the interested
The first fan art of Merid, comissioned by Namel909
Simon stretched out his back, brushing against two other, fur-padded spines. Looking around, he saw only white and black, as Merid and Switch pressed into him, as well as themselves. It also didn't escape his attention how their tails wrapped around each other, before Merid's longer tail wrapped itself around him.
The three of them were sitting in an Interior armory, on loan from Agent Kor'ot. The woman wasn't able to gather any troops loyal enough for an operation against a yet-to-be-exposed noble, so she put forth her support by providing high-quality gear, before leaving the system to find a team for support. The orders she left were simple: wait a full week for her to return. If she didn't, they were to perform the op without her and await further contact.
Gor was the mastermind behind planning the op, and he'd done an outstanding job getting everyone involved ready for what was about to go down. It all boiled down to a simple, yet complicated plan. Simon, Switch and Gor's wives were to make a stealthy approach and infiltrate a getaway mansion where the Vir'tal matron resided. There they would rendezvous with her daughter, Thalantis, make their way to the target and apprehend her. Gor himself would provide sniper cover with his brand new gun that he already spoofed the id numbers of.
The main issues came in the form of a dense alarm grid, numerous House-loyal guards, an entire military-spec exo that Ydan had access to as well as a certain Rakiri Engineer with separation issues that refused to stay back despite Simon explicitly ordering her to do so. Instead he got a stern talk by all 3 of his women about not putting enough trust in their abilities.
Now the three of them were just about done gearing up, Simon loaded his mags and watched as a man named Jason, supposedly the representative of the sad remnants of a brand new Human legion in the Shil army, rip into everything the Imperium stood for. He only stopped when a large Shil with MP markings tackled him away from the microphone and riots started in the crowd.
"Well, it could have gone worse, all things considered," the Human said, getting the attention of the gathered.
"What could have possibly happened that would be worse than that?!" Cap asked, pointing at the TV, where the news anchors were discussing the event. "That's an unmitigated disaster, both the loss of lives and the PR!"
"They sent Humans in outdated, up armored APCs into an unknown hostile situation and suffered losses to Alliance Commandos that are trained to kill on sight longer than some of those tankers were alive. They are lucky even a fraction of the legion is still around. And don't even get me started on the poor souls that got captured and executed. If I were you, Trass, I wouldn't be surprised if a few months of political bickering from now you got a call to get back into active service. This won't end well."
"Yeah, but…"
"No buts!" Gor said, standing to his full height. "The man's right, and that's final. Now, enough politkicking each other, the time has come. Is everyone ready?" he asked and waited for everyone to signal.
"Then let's get a move on, people. We got a purple mousy to hunt!" Shrak yelled out, waving her knives around.
As Cap stated descending planetside, Simon pulled his helmet from an overhead locker and went to put it on, but a forceful tug stopped him. Turning around, he was assaulted by a wave of kisses from the front and both sides, as Switch and Merid worked in unison to make their height difference useful. He just stood in place and let it happen, as was the case for the last few days. After their reconciliation in the bedroom, the girls took to each other about as much as into Simon. The rest of the crew were heavily surprised by how the relations turned, except for Gor, who probably knew the outcome from the start.
Simon spared one last look at his partners' faces, committing them to his memory, before all 4 of them put their protective buckets on. "Who know if this is the last time I'll ever see their faces?"
— — — — — — — — — — — — — —
"If I knew this is what you consider a stealthy approach, I would have opted for the orbital drop," Sashan grumbled, trudging her way through waist-high sewer water. Luckily for them, the decision made almost a kilometer back meant that it was the intake pipe. Instead of fighting against the current of excrement, they were in gently moving filtered water.
"You're welcome to go back and try your luck, just don't complain when those unregistered laser turrets vaporize you," Simon answered, bending open yet another grate. They couldn't afford to be heard on approach, so cutting was not a viable option. The superhuman strength offered by his combination of augments and boosters was more than enough to shape the finger-thick thermocast bars like playdough.
"Let her complain, just don't listen to her. She's always grumbling when she doesn't get her bloodlust-laced gravy, ain't that right love?" Gor advised over the radio. The catboy had already made his way to a rather secure vantage point, lugging the oversized lascannon and a bag of ammo supply behind him. Additionally, all team members had enough medical equipment on them to resemble christmas trees. Due to his cumbersome size and relatively low movement speed, Dr. Kalun couldn't be there in person to help them, so instead he gave them as much as he could, before gluing himself to the display of the medical report system.
"Quiet now, if the maps are right , we're in the right spot. Remember, we need to avoid contact when possible and not let them raise the alarm if we're forced to. Switch takes front, cats stick to the back, I stay in the middle since my gun' signature is even harder to detect than any of you. Everyone read-" Simon reminded everyone of the order, but was stopped when the hatch right above them started moving. The conversation was cut and all their guns aimed at the opening, only for a single Shil head to pop down.
"Well, finally! I was starting to think you changed your mind!" Thalantis said, wide grin splitting her face. She reached out with her hand, holding out a gray box with a standard data port on it. "Come on, we don't have much time. I convinced mother to send away as many of the servants and guards as possible, but at least a few dozen of the truly-loyal ones are still around. Nothing can persuade them, so you are free to engage."
Plugging the device in, Simon was assaulted when his HUD lit up with live positions and bright blue outlines of guards on patrol. Their number rose exponentially in the direction of the main lounge, where their target was most likely to reside. As Switch made her way up, he planned a path that should have offered them the most ease of movement. When the Scout gave an all-clear, he gave a single nod, grabbed the top rung of the ladder and threw himself out of the canal.
Taking a look around, Simon found himself in an opulent, but barely lit hallway. The walls were adorned with pitch-black wood and golden inserts, while the floor was covered with a dense, bright-blue carpet that did a good job of muffling his steps. He slung his rifle forwards and checked the mount of the silencer.
As the rest of the team joined them, he kept his head on a swivel, keeping both sides of the hallway in check. For now, the coast was clear, but it wouldn't remain that way for long. He did a headcount, including Thalantis who he only now realised was wearing standard issue Marine armor under her clothes. Motioning for Switch to take point, they took off at a brisk pace.
The first few rooms were cleared rather fast, considering their enormous size. The Shil'vati building principles were embraced fully in this construction, resulting in long hallways and even more spacious saloons, all located on the same floor. On one occasion Simon almost had a heart attack and was this close to spraying an entire mag into a stuffed polar bear that made for a rather intimidating decoration.
This peace didn't last long of course, as even with the surveillance team OD'd on a cup of Nighfel, their group was still big enough to gather attention. The first pair of guards that rounded a corner were turned into fillets without a single word said, when the Pesrin jumped them with all those blades they stuffed around themselves.
While they busied themselves with hiding the bodies, Simon turned at the left wall and followed the outlines through it. When a muffled yell of "Hey, you alright!?" came out, his gun snapped up and the triangular sight moved almost on its own, tracking the unsuspecting women. When he saw the second one look down and reach for her belt, the Human put three rounds through the first one, before switching his target and eliminating the other one.
He was about to turn away, when a loud gunshot right next to him rang out. Thalantis apparently had acquired an oversized ballistic pistol and decided to give away their cover by following the thudds of bodies hitting the ground.
"Congratulations, woman. Now all of China knows we're here. Come on, we need to go. Now."
A few of the present tilted their heads curiously at the reference, but they followed the order nevertheless. As they ran down the hallway, alarms started blasting, much to the discomfort of all with more sensitive hearing. A side door opened, and a half-dressed guard came out, only to turn into a geometric splatter on the wall as Switch's new multirail shotgun turned her stomach and other intestines to paste.
"I have an eye on rather intense movement throughout the building. I'll take out as many as I can, but you need to hurry up!" Gor's voice came through the radio, before a hole appeared in the wall in front of them, followed by a muffled explosion on the opposite side of the building. The new rifle was apparently enough to burn holes through several walls and still have enough power to flash-boil and detonate the water on the surface of the surrounding ocean.
The next hallway came with a nasty surprise of a rapidly deployed barricade with at least a pod of armed Shil behind it. Simon swore and quickly exchanged the attachment on his gun to the coil booster.
"Gor, mind giving us a hand?" he asked, throwing an improvised smoke grenade into the hallway. The space-age polymers he cut into dust were even better at turning the air into black sludge than any plastic on Earth. Peeking the 'ears' of his helmet out, he gave everyone a live feed of all objects inside, people included.
After the regular wait of a second and a half, a bright beam visible in the smoke cut the obstacle in half, getting rid of all defenders. Switch was about to enter when a low grumble shook the entire building and everyone in it, reverberating in their bones. A series of loud cracking noises rang out, getting closer and louder every moment.
"She's in the exo, everyone scatter, now!" Gor yelled into their ears, panic underlying his normally collected tone.
Switch reached down to their waist, getting a satchel charge ready, when Thalantis yelled out on the wide range broadcast. "Well mother? We're coming for you, so how about you behave like a proper noblewoman and greet your guests?!"
Simon managed to turn his head to face her, when the entire world gained a faint blue tint, as the body of the heir of house Vir'tal was first compressed to a singular layer by a powerful grav-drive, before a multi-ton exo crushed the sorry remains into the ground itself. The machine was over ten feet tall, and held a blocky laser, so oversized Simon could swear he heard Gor’s cannon cry out in jealousy. Ydan angled her torso, and regarded the gore-filled crater below her. "Such a shame. I hoped to get some use out of you yet."
Then, with a single thought she slid forward, effortlessly scattering the intruders like bowling pegs before coming to a stop in front of Simon.
"Well, well, well… if it isn't the rat himself coming out of his hidey-hole…"
submitted by Buchfu to Sexyspacebabes [link] [comments]

2023.05.22 16:49 thegrobe613 Shrinkage

Consistently experience too much shrinkage with my crusts. Tried a couple different recipes (Martha Stewart, Michael Smith) and no issue with taste, texture, etc. They just consistently shrink more than I think they should. I don't think I roll it too thin because when I eat it, it would seem closer to too thick. Anyway, very open to suggestions. Pics attached of pre cooked for a coconut cream pie (25 mins with pie weights, 10 mins after wothout).
submitted by thegrobe613 to pastry [link] [comments]

2023.05.22 09:58 maximusaemilius Empyrean Iris: 2-1: Pictures in the sky (by Charlie Star)

FYI, this is a story COLLECTION. Lots of standalones technically. So, you can basically start to read at any chapter, no pre-read of the other chapters needed technically (other than maybe getting better descriptions of characters than: Adam Vir=human, Krill=antlike alien, Sunny=tall alien, Conn=telepathic alien). The numbers are (mostly) only for organization of posts and continuity.
OC Written by Charlie Stastarrfallknightrise,
Typed up and then posted here by me.
Proofreading and language check for some chapters by u/Finbar9800
Future Lore and fact check done by me.
Hello and welcome to book two!
Previous First Next
Want to find a specific one, see the whole list or check fanart?
Here is the link to the master-post.
Sunny glanced out the window. The night was dark, as it tended to be on Earth, though a patch of warm honey light spilled from the kitchen window and onto the back lawn, lighting the grass below. Squinting into the darkness, she thought she could see a shape, illuminated by the light blue blanket which he had draped around himself.
She turned her head, watching as blue light spilled in from the living room, where Jim was watching a late-night game.
Martha was sitting at the kitchen table, next to a pile of paint cans with a book open before her on the table.
Sunny approached the back sliding screen door, feeling a waft of cool night air brush over her skin. It smelled damp, and earthy. Tilting her head, she could the distant chatter of crickets. She reached out sliding the screen door open with a soft swish before stepping outside onto the back porch.
She closed the door softly behind her and walked out across the deck, tilting her head back to look up at the sky.
The stars had been more prominent on her home planet.
Where earth suffered from the grip of light pollution and a rather distant view of the universe, her planet had bordered a massive star nursery, which produced many clusters and a great amount of gaseous emissions.
Still, with the moon rising high above them, and the distant arm of the milky way cutting across the sky, she had to admit the remoteness was quite beautiful.
No wonder humanity had always been obsessed with the night, so dark and mysterious.
Her feet met cold grass, and at first, she couldn't tell if it was wet or just cool.
More crickets started up, and where the backyard met the treeline, she thought she could hear the distant croaking of frogs.
The thought of those strange little creatures made her happy.
She didn't know why.
As the honey glow of the kitchen faded into the distant, the mound on the grass grew into sharper focus.
Adam lay on his back, one a blanket spread on the grass, one hand resting behind his head, the other resting on his stomach. The night was pleasant enough that he didn't even bother to wear long sleeves.
His pale skin stood out in the darkness.
She saw him turn his head as he heard her coming, and a flash of teeth glittered white in the dark.
She paused — standing over him – and looked up at the sky,
He laughed,
"Maybe a little."
He patted the blanket next to him, and she obliged, taking a set and then flopping onto her back against the blanket.
Overhead a streak of white light cut through the darkness before vanishing.
"Beautiful, isn't it?”
The moon winked at them from the darkness.
Sunny whispered. He reached up a hand, pointing out towards the darkness.
"You see that cluster of stars there, just a few degrees left... Yeah. That's where your planet is."
Sunny stared on in fascination.
Adam rested his hand back behind his head,
"Crazy to think we saw parts of the same night sky."
She had never thought about it that way before, and it made her shiver a little.
"Of course, the light form there is likely a couple thousand years old, so even if we had been looking at each other, its actually more like seeing into the past."
She turned her head to look down at him, crickets chirping softly in the background.
A light wind rustled through the trees, bringing with it a distant roll of white noise. The grass rustled next to them, creating a rippling wave back and up towards the house.
"You seem to know a lot about astronomy for a soldier…”
She said wryly, though honestly she was really just baiting him into talking. The voice of a human was generally very nice, melodic almost with a sort of cadence to it.
He chuckled softly, before pausing,
”You know all this..."
He reached a hand up towards the sky,
"Is the reason I became so fascinated with aliens, and astronomy, and becoming an astronaut."
She turned to look at him, curious, and he continued on.
"I think it might be the earliest memory I have. Mom says it was only a few years after the first colonies were settled on Mars… We were just beginning to build up our station on the moon, and there was this meteor shower... I think it was the Perseid meteor shower, which happens every year or so. Now my memory could totally be wrong about everything but... I remember huge balls of fire that made crackling noises as they fell from the sky... Like I said, I am pretty sure my kid mind made it out to be a bigger deal that it actually was, but..."
He trailed off to look at the sky,
"Every time I think about it, I get that same feeling, a sort of sense of awe..."
He sighed, and as if to punctuate his sentence, a bright streak of light flew across their vision.
"After that it was all over for me. I wanted to watch all the space movies, I wanted to go to all the museums, and then when I heard about UFOs… well the obsession just got worse."
Sunny turned her head to look at him,
"What is a UFO?”
He laughed, face split by a massive grin,
"The irony is glorious. I am explaining what a UFO is to an alien. A UFO is an “unidentified flying object”. And when I was a kid, I got caught into one of those conspiracy theories that said the government was lying to us about the existence of aliens, and that they had visited earth in flying saucers and abducted people and what not."
Sunny snorted,
"The GA would never have bothered entering your planet's atmosphere."
"Well, I know that now, but when I was a kid, I was convinced..."
He shifted a bit, close enough that she could feel the heat shedding from his skin, pointing upwards,
"See that one, it’s called the big dipper or ursa major. If you follow the tip, you can find Polaris. It's been used by humans to navigate for thousands of years. We can't see polar lines like your species, so we needed some way to find north."
He dropped his hand back down to his chest,
"Of course, as I got older, I sort of dropped the UFO thing in favor of knowing that there were aliens out there. I had read the studies, listened to all the talks, and there seemed to be no way that we were the only ones. I grew up trying to convince people that there were other worlds out there, with other life... no one ever believed me."
"You crazy person."
She muttered, resting one set of arms behind her head, enjoying the irony.
"Ha, yeah. Sad part is, I may never have gone to space. You know my parents aren't all that wealthy, and traveling off earth is generally pretty expensive. When I was a kid, I begged to visit Mars, or the moon. It was devastating when my parents said no, of course now I understand that we were a couple millions short."
Sunny tried not to think about that outcome. A dimension in which Adam never made it to space would probably have been a very sad one.
"I went through different phases too. At first I wanted to be an astronaut, and then I wanted to be an astronomer, and then a physicist, and then rocket science or engineering like my brother."
Sunny shot him a look. He laughed,
"I know, I know. I'm not half as smart as David. I couldn't math my way out of a paper bag. I love science... but I was just never very good at it."
For a moment his voice took on a rather melancholic quality, but Sunny kept him talking,
"A couple years before all that, there was a scientist, the Einstein of our time, and he created this mathematical theory that determined the folding potential of space. With this theory, we could travel the universe, without having to worry about the issues of light speed. So, they started construction of the first interstellar ship. Of course, I kept a close watch on its construction, but then my brother went and told me about the UNSC's pilot academy, and you better believe I was on that in under five minutes."
The thought made her smile. She could just imagine his excitement.
There was quiet for a moment, and – in the background — Sunny thought she could hear the soft trickle of water, perhaps a stream or a creak, or an artificial fountain off in the distance?
She ran her fingers over the grass.
Such a strange plant…
"Have you ever... Have you ever been homesick for a place you've never been?"
Sunny glanced over to find him looking at her. She shook her head,
"I can't say I have."
He sighed and turned back to the sky,
"Well, I have. During the academy, and the years before that, I would look up, and... Well, I just wanted to go so bad. I can't describe the feeling. It's like you're a piece of something broken and all you want to do is return to where you were meant to be. I was missing from space and space was missing from me, and I wanted it so bad that it was like a physical sensation, like anxiety or anger except it... Well, it makes you want to cry or to scream, and it was so frustrating because it just never went away."
She looked up, trying to imagine the feeling. It was hard to think that Adam could have wanted anything so bad. She had always been too busy with family drama to have wanted anything more. Her desires during that time were so basic as “acceptance”. That’s why she could barely imagine such a strange an abstracted feeling... The feeling of being broken with no explanation.
"I trained for years to get to space, and Sunny, my first inter-space flight, that moment when you break from atmosphere, and the earth curves back behind you, and the stars unfold before you... It was."
He shivered,
"It was the most exhilarating moment of my life, like coming back home but multiplied by a thousand."
She heard him sigh, watched his chest rise and fall from the corner of her eyes,
"I know it sounds stupid. Humans honestly weren't meant to fly, or to be in space. We are terrestrial creatures after all, but..."
He shook his head,
"Something just felt right, and it still does you know? It like I was born to fly, destined to be out there."
"And then you found aliens?"
The longing melancholy faded from his voice, replaced with a smile,
"Sunny, I am probably the luckiest son of a bitch in the entire universe. I flew a jet to the moon, I was on the bridge during the launch of the first interstellar ship, I was on the bridge during the first warp, I was the pilot who flew our first mission to a planet outside the solar system, and I was the first man to ever see extraterrestrial life."
He paused,
"Of course... After the war..."
He trailed off, biting back pain. Sunny felt her stomach twist. She knew what had happened after the war, the PTSD, the loss of his leg.
His voice had grown quiet,
"It was the worst time of my life. I mean I have had some pretty bad moments, but nothing compares to that. It was like... Being betrayed by someone you love. Looking up at the sky made me sick, the thought of flying repulsed me, alien life scared the shit out of me. I was growing to resent the one thing in the world – or out of this world — that I loved. I have never felt such despair... Because life just wasn't worth it."
Her stomach continued to tie itself into knots, she felt a tingling rise up in her face and neck.
"I'm so sorry."
He must have sensed the guilt in her voice, turning his head to look at her. He reached out a comforting hand and rested it on her arm, smiling.
"Don't worry, it was just a leg."
The smile he gave her was genuine, his words earnest.
"Besides, it only took a dog to pull me back around. The relief was insane. I hadn't looked up for almost a year, and then one day I couldn't sleep, so I walked outside…"
He nodded towards the porch,
"I remember I was standing right there, crutches, the dog, and I remember fighting with myself whether I should look up or not, because I knew if I didn't feel anything then... Then I didn't know what I was going to do… but I remember Waffles. She licked my hand and looked at me like she was encouraging me to do it, and when I did, and the feeling came again, I was so damn excited I actually ended up slipping on my crutches and falling off the porch."
The two of them laughed at that image.
She shook his head still smiling,
"You should have seen it, there I was, lying in the grass in a heap, the dog was all concerned, and then my mom comes running out of the house, freaking the hell out, my dad's behind her and he's got the gun, and they see me on the ground, and they are just so confused. And I'm looking up at the sky and they're looking down at me, and I just start to laugh, and they are looking at me like I'm insane because I probably am. And then you know – because I'm pathetic – of course, I start to cry like a baby, and then my mom does and then my dad does, and now I'm crying and laughing, and it was so stupid."
He shook his head. His hand was warm on her arm.
"Of course, mom wasn't exactly laughing when I told them I wanted to go back to the UNSC but they agreed and with a little help we managed to get a nice prosthetic, and by that time they were looking for a captain for the harbinger. Once the GA heard that I was still around, they requested me personally."
"Did you piss yourself with excitement?"
She wondered, he eyed her.
"You jest, but I totally almost did. Captain of a mother-effing space ship, Sunny! That was like my dream after a dream, like the impossible dream that you have that you know isn't going to come true. Of course there was a lot of push back from members of the UNSC, because of how young I was, and how inexperienced, but in the end the GA insisted."
"You lucky bastard."
He muttered, his voice going soft.
He shifted a bit closer, resting his head on her arm like a pillow.
She glanced down, he raised an eyebrow in the half darkness.
"What? Might as well make you useful while I can, you big cute alien you."
She shook her head at him, and he just grinned before blinking and reaching up to point at another set of stars,
"Ursa minor... And that one over there is Pegasus."
Sunny followed his finger, but couldn't make out more than the greater star field. She did manage to see ursa minor after a few minutes, and then after that, she couldn't see anything else.
They talked a little more, and laughed about dumb shit.
She liked this pastime.
They didn't do this sort of thing on Anum.
Mostly because they were too busy killing each other to care.
But here the humans were, pointing at the sky and finding pictures in the stars.
Kind of adorable.
Previous First Next
Want to find a specific one, see the whole list or check fanart?
Here is the link to the master-post.
Intro post by me
OC-whole collection
Patreon of the author
Thanks for reading! As you saw in the title, this is a cross posted story written by starrfallknightrise and I'll just upload some of it here for you guys, if you are interested and want to read ahead, the original story-collection can be found on tumblr or wattpad to read for free. (link above this text under "OC:..." ) It is the Empyrean Iris story collection by starfallknightrise. Also, if you want to know more about the story collection i made an intro post about it, so feel free to check that out to see what other great characters to look forward to! (Link also above this text). I have no affiliations to the author; just thought I’d share some of the great stories you might enjoy a lot!
Obviously, I have Charlie’s permission to post this and for the people already knowing the stories, or starting to read them: If you follow the link and check out the story you will see some differences. I made some small (non-artistic) changes, mainly correcting writing mistakes, pronoun correction and some small additional info here and there of things which were not thought of/forgotten or even were added/changed in later stories (like the “USS->UNSC” prefix of Stabby, Chalar=/->Sunny etc). As well as some "biggemajor" changes in descriptions and info’s for the same stringency/continuity reason. That can be explained by the story collection being, well a story collection at the start with many standalone-stories just starring the same people, but later on it gets more to a stringent storyline with backstories and throwbacks. (For example Adam Vir has some HEAVY scars over his body, following his bones, which were not really talked about up till half the collection, where it says it covers his whole body and you find out via backflash that he had them the whole time and how he got them, they just weren't mentioned before. However, I would think a doctor would at least see these scars before that, especially since he gets analyzed, treated and goes shirtless/in T-shirts in some stories). So TLDR: Writing and some descriptions are slightly changed, with full OK from the author, since he himself did not bother to correct these things before.
submitted by maximusaemilius to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.22 05:45 Proletlariet Dante Saved

Dante from the Devil May Cry Series

Bio: 2000 years ago, The Legendary Dark Knight Sparda single handily defeated the army of Hell and its ruler. He then created a seal blocking off all of hell from the Human realm. He became a legend, both in Hell and Earth, as the most powerful demon to ever live. Later, in the 20th century, he sired twin sons with a human woman and then vanished forever. While Sparda died, Hell's grudge against him never did. They attacked his family, and killed the mother of his children. This traumatic event forever changed the twin's lives, setting them off in completely different yet conflicting courses in life. The youngest twin, Dante, vowed revenge on all of demon kind, his life revolved on nothing but the destruction of demon kind. He became a mercenary that specialized in the paranormal and lives his life as demon hunter.
Key: Since there's multiple games, 2 manga, an anime series, and 3 Light Novels the feats will be labeled and ordered chronologically.
  • [DMCx] will signify where the feat is from
    • DMC(1-5) will be for the games
    • DMCA for the anime
    • DMCM for the DMC3 prequel manga
    • DMCVoV for the Visions of V manga
    • LN(1-2) will be for the 2 Light Novels
    • BtN will be for the Before the Nightmare Light Novel
Chronology: LN1>M>3>1>A>LN2>2>4>BtN>VoV/5

Physical Stats:


Demonic Powers:

Devil Trigger: A state in which Dante can enter of his own free will, he unleashes his true demonic powers. When he changes into his demon form, his physical and magical stats are boosted to an unknown degree. There has been no solid indication how much stronger he becomes, but has beaten demons stronger than him because of it. It has also been shown to adapt to weapons he wields, changing his appearance and sometimes giving him new abilities such as flight. His regen is faster in this form
Royal Guard:
Energy Projection:


Devil Sword Dante: After absorbing both the Rebellion and the Devil Sword Sparda, Dante created this sword. It is much stronger than both swords with several new abilities as well
Rebellion: Dante's signature weapon, it was a gift from his late father Sparda. Dante can channel energy through the blade and swing it a incredible speeds.
  • Spin his blade at "propeller-like speeds" Prop-Description-DMC-4
  • By swinging his sword he can send a "shockwave that damages distant enemies." Drive-Description-DMC-5
    • Can send up 2 additional shockwaves
  • Can perform a move called "Million Stab" which he stabs multiple times with "blinding speed" which creates enough momentum to blast enemies backwards. Million-Stab-Description-DMC-3
Force Edge: A powerful sword created and wielded by Dante's father. It is a powerful weapon that work similarly to Rebellion, but has hidden locked away power.
Alastor: A special sword that Dante acquires during the events of DMC 1. It can increase the user's speed and give them the ability to fly.
Ifrit: Powerful gauntlets that utilize hellfire as it's main form of attack. These gauntlets increase Dante's power overall
Nightmare-β: A Devil Arm that is just a smaller version of Nightmare, it can shoot green energy projectiles that bounce of walls. These projectiles can be charged, but firing from the weapon sucks up Dante's demonic energy.
Cerberus: A 3 rod nun-chuck that utilizes ice in its attacks, it was a gift from Cerberus
Artemis: A demon gun that shoots arrows made of concentrated light.
Agni & Rudra: Two living Scimitars that begged Dante to take them, they allow Dante to utilize powerful fire and winds to attack.
Nevan: A demonic guitar that uses electricity and bats as its main form of attack.
Beowulf: A set of gauntlet and greaves that flows with "sacred light"
Gilgamesh: Demonic metal that takes the form of gauntlets and greaves. It allows Dante hit harder and faster and absorb organic material and transform it into metal.
Pandora: A briefcase that can transform into 666 different types of weapons.
Lucifer: Demonic backpack holding two quivers, this back pack can spawn a seemingly infinite amount of explosive blades. The blades can be pulled from the quiver or just spawn around anyone/any thing the user wishes.
Balrog: Gauntlets and boots that allow Dante to punch or kick with hellfire infused strikes
Cavalier: A normal motorcycle that was infused with demonic armor. It double as a mode for transportation and giant buzzsaws.
King Cerberus: After taming an ever stronger version of Cerberus, Dante gains this 3-rod nun-chuck. It can use Hellfire, Electricity, and Ice to attack.
Dr. Faust: Shoots crystalized demon blood and enemies hit by it drops even more crystalized demon blood, refilling itself.
Ebony & Ivory: Pistol designed by Dante himself, each pistol is has a special purpose. Ebony is his long range arm, while Ivory is designed for quick drawing and rapid fire.
Shotgun/Coyote-A: A sawed-off shotgun using Buckshot as ammunition.
Grenadegun: This slow firing weapon shoots explosive shells filled with shrapnel.
Needlegun: A special weapon that can only be used while underwater, it fire multiple needles rapidly.
Missile Launcher: A rocket launcher that fires a guided Missile
Submachine Guns: Highly accurate dual wielded submachine guns, they are however weaker than Ebony and Ivory.
Spiral: An anti-tank Rifle, it is a very powerful sniper that Dante can do trick shots with.
Kalin Ann: A weapon loaned to Dante by his friend Lady, it very powerful rocket launcher. Later he finds it in the rubble and isn't shown giving it back.
Double Kalina Ann: Dante is gifted a replica of the Kalina Ann, and decides to wield both at the same time

Non-Standard Weapons:

Weapons Dante does use in game but are only wielded for a short while canonically. Only use this if OP is asking for EVERY Weapon Dante has ever used, not in a standard battle.
Sparda: Force Edge's true form, only unlocked by merging with the Perfect Amulet. This gives the user the very power of the Legendary Dark Knight Sparda, who single handily defeated Mundus and opposed all of Hell. While the exact power isn't known, it's safe to say it blows everything Dante has ever done out of the park. This power can be partially wielded by others, but only Dante can fully use it.
Yamato: Similar to Rebellion, it was a weapon crafted by Sparda and given to his other son, Dante's brother, Vergil. It has been used to open and shut gates to the Demon World.


Throughout Dante's adventures he comes across items that aid him in battle that aren't specifically weapons
Amulets: In one of Dante's adventures he has a special amulet that allows him to equip magical stones called Devil Hearts. These stones altar his Devil Trigger without the need of a special weapon in hand. There are 3 types of stones: Movement, Attribute, and Support. Dante can use 3 stones at a time, 1 for each type. These items are featless beyond some gameplay changes.
  • Movement Devil Hearts: Aerial Heart which allows the user to fly and Quick Heart which allows the user to move faster than normal.
  • Attribute Devil Hearts: These stones add an element to all of Dante's attack while using Devil Trigger. The 3 Hearts Dante has are Flame, Frost, and Electro Heart.
  • Support Devil Hearts: Healing Heart which gives Dante greater regenerative power, Offence Heart which increases his overall attack power, and Chrono Heart which allows Dante to slow down time at an unknown degree.
Untouchable: For a short period of time Dante is invincible and able to use his Devil Trigger non-stop
Devil Star: Refills a portion of Dante's magic
Vital Star: Refills Dante's health/stamina
Holy Water: Damages nearby demons and cleanses poison
Smell of Fear: Blocks 3 attacks from an enemy
Gold Orb: Should Dante fall in battle, this will revive him at 100%


Heart: As explained by a demon clone, if his heart is removed he'll die. Even damaging his heart is can incap him When trying to feign his death he told the shooter to avoid his heart. Later, he was incapped byby being impaled in the heart, only regaining consciousness after the sword was shifted. While he claims he was just napping, it'd be OOC for him at the time since a powerful demon was currently destroying an entire city full of civilians during his supposed "nap".
Cockiness: One of Dante's premier personality traits is his cocky attitude. However, his cocky attitude lets enemies land hits on him, however this is usually because he knows he's stronger.
  • On multiple occasions he let low level demon land hits solely because he knew it wouldn't do much to him. As seen in the heart weakness above, he was taken out because he underestimated the demon he fought.
Non-resistances: While Dante has shown to completely ignore sitting on fire and walk around with blades tucked snugly into his chest. There are still certain types of attacks that will harm him and leave him vulnerable.
Anti-Magic: Dante's abilities come from his connection to hell, if that connection is severed he loses them
Stamina: As Dante takes damage, his stats slowly decline. So if he takes too much damage, he'll be far weaker and can be beaten by far weaker enemies.
Regen Limit: While Dante has shown to instantly regenerate from cuts and piercing based attacks. Larger scale damage takes longer to regenerate and can leave him handicapped.
Mind Control: It is shown the mind control works perfectly on Dante. In the 9th episode of the Anime, Dante willingly allows himself to be mind controlled by a demon and is only released after the item controlling him was destroyed by someone else.
Pre-[DMC3]: Before awakening his Demon Form, Dante would be weakened by being near the demon realm.
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2023.05.22 02:28 thr0waway_fantasy Confusion

You're home soon. The time you've been away has been mixed but largely life has been easier. And I've come out on top. But I fear your return will de-seat me.
I know that you don't want the same things really. It doesn't stop me from wishing you did, or will. I feel like an utter fool and I am not proud of my conduct since we re-entered each other's lives. I know you aren't of yours either. But I feel more so because I'm the one that acted like a complete fool. I hope you can understand that my circumstances meant I wasn't really handling myself well. But in the ten years we were out of touch I learnt and grew a lot. As did you, and it caught me off guard to find so many things in you that I'd given up on finding, as well as lots of things I've learnt are really important between two people in the long run. But the one thing I clearly didn't learn in that time was to not play with fire.
Part of me is cross because I haven't had feelings of inadequacy for a long time, but these feelings are not the same as they used to be, because its not the need to be things I'm not for you. I know I can't fulfil many of your needs and its okay for me that I can't. It's that I think it means you'll never give us the time to see how we could work. I just wish we could talk about it like I hoped to before (and totally spannered by getting trollied) - because that doesn't have to write a relationship off in my world, I don't have a need to be your everything in all contexts.
But then again.. I dream of building a base with you. A springboard to the world. A safe cubby hole you return to after your adventures and where you seek comfort and safety. And if there's more than us two - awesome. But I want to be important to you. I don't want to be something you can just drop when something better comes along. I want to be a safe place for you. Someone you respect.I have no idea if I'll meet anyone else that works for me yet - I'm in no hurry to get involved tbh. And for the first time in my life I get what my role models have been going on about, when you finally see someone with healthy love and appreciation - anything else just isn't worth entertaining anymore. So many people I would probably have entertained the idea of being intimate with previously, but they just don't cut the mustard.
You raised the bar - so thank you for that.It definitely wasn't the right time for either of us, that's for sure. But I also get the feeling my hope is wasted. You're not going to seek me me out even if things don't work out with you two, are you? And I really hope they do work out for you- IF she makes you truly happy. I mean, it looks like you're happy from here and you're certainly sticking to your decision well. But I can't shake the feeling there's more beneath the surface. And it's stopping me from moving on.
I pretend on the surface that I'm cool. And then something makes me think of you and I can't share it. And then it all comes up. Because genuinely I love you as a friend. We've always gelled. But there's this unsatiated lust and fantasies abound - which until that initial drive is seen out and we've actually had the time to explore it together, I can't conclude what it will turn into. And that's what I meant when I said I'm more scientific about things. I'm no fool- lust is the initial drive and love is a result of time spent together, it manifests. But there's a lot of things about you that tell me there's potential and I hate the thought of going the rest of my life wondering.
But alas, I have to just leave you be. And if you do really appreciate the chemistry between us and see me as a person worth investing time in, you will pursue me. And that's really where the sadness comes. Because I have a feeling history tells me all I need to know. So, forgive me if I'm anxious or foolish around you when we occasionally cross paths. Ambiguity has never served me well. And containing myself when we engage... it's really challenging changing my natural response to you.
I hope you know I did my best to have your back when she found out, and I hope it's what you wanted. It's not how I wanted to handle it in terms of how I was portrayed, but I was an emotional wreck when you got in touch for external reasons you're aware of, so I didn't stand a chance of communicating effectively. So, it is what it is.
I really hope you find what you're looking for with her, or whoever else you decide to give it a go with. But if you're not lit up like a Christmas Tree on Oxford Street when you see her or speak about her, then she's not good enough for you as far as I'm concerned. And when I see it - that'll be the day I really let go.
See you around. Keep on the path, you're doing great.
Officially yours, T x
"Owners don't choose their cats, cats choose their owners"
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