Makita string trimmer head falls off

False Reporting

2023.06.01 23:34 dadequate88 False Reporting

34f, non-smoker, 3 days post C section Newborn female, 7lb 5oz 20.5" perfect vitals on both patients.
This is less about medical advice and more about a sincere request on guidance as a premed in dire circumstances with a recent delivery of our daughter.
TLDR; hospital falsely reports to CPS after known faulty test yielded "presumptive positive" but was immediately confirmed as actually a negative on follow up lab. Now our family and medical/social work careers are in jeopardy.
Background: I'm a new EMT and soon to be first year bio (pre med) student. She's a part time educatosocial worker with a local women's center. Strong background in volunteering, no history of addiction or legal record outside of minor traffic violations. Only red flag is we have been on public assistance since our first child after job loss at the start of the pandemic. Our day jobs and retail side jobs still don't add up to enough to get off public assistance so I am going back to school after following advice from a physician I associate with.
Medical: My wife's water broke around 11am on May 29th. Our very precise count puts it at 36w 5d, the baby measured at 38w 1d (our families are known for 9-10lb newborns). Both mother and child happy and healthy aside from a slightly high BMI for the mother. Otherwise perfect vitals in both. Child was able to lift its head and feed immediately, fed often and dropped required urine and stool right on schedule. Literally, zero signs or indicators of addiction/withdrawal in either the child or mother. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect pregnancy other than the date. Unfortunately, the pre delivery drug screen came back for "presumptive positive" on suboxone so the MD on rounds talked to us to find out medications and inform us not to panic because their new labs have been getting lots of false positives and that the follow up test they mail out will be more rigorous and reliable. She also mentions that the baby was negative and showed no signs of withdrawals. We continue our great relationship with the staff (aside from a mean and jaded nurse on the night shift but hey it's OB in the low income Midwest, I wouldn't want her job). After 48 hours of perfect health, passing milestones, and great networking as I finally got some local physicians in which I could shadow, we couldn't have been happier to be discharged to bring our baby home to her big sister.
Problem: Even after the confirmed negative test, conversations about Scribing there in the fall and lining up physicians to shadow, and quick discharge they reported us to CPS to open a case anyways.
Legal: We immediately found lawyers known for crushing this chain of hospitals in court (God does it make me feel dirty working with the enemy lol). They are looking into charging them with false reporting with a settlement more likely. Then showing the caseworker upon arrival the record of the negative and to politely decline any entrance to the property or formal interviews not ordered by a court. As a negative interaction could harm the case.
All I want is it immediately removed from the record and to return to a courteous relationship with the hospital as we loved the OB and support staff and I really need the shadowing and Scribing to stack up a good application for medical school after I graduate given my age as an applicant (37-38 depending on my course load). I really don't want to jeopardize the career opportunities but it may already be too late.
What do you folks think I should do? We are panicked and I'm trying to rush through the remodels I just started before her water broke!
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2023.06.01 23:25 sandkillerpt Bedtime reading...

Let the Tale of the Winterlands begin...
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2023.06.01 23:22 Trash_Tia My college's cheer squad have too much school spirit. In fact, I think they're going to kill me.

If I had to pick an embarrassing moment which will haunt me until I die—it has to be the time I tried out for The Sunbeam cheer squad last year. I was a freshman, and I wanted community. Friends.
I heard the cheer squad were just an extra-curricular group rather than an actual majoring level class, so I figured I’d give them a shot. It’s not like I could ignore them.
On my first day when I was moving into my dorm room, I must have walked into the same girl three times. I am in strict belief that it is not possible for a human being to be permanently happy.
And yet that was her. She wandered around like the sun shone right out of her ass, and it was both endearing and terrifying.
The girl resembled the sun herself, a halo of golden curls held in a scrunchie and a flaunting sundress, matching ribbons wrapped around her. The Sunbeam Squad were easy to spot because they were all wearing insanely bright yellow—waving around gold streamers, ribbons tangled in their hair. They all spoke in insanely high pitched voices like they inhaled helium for a living, but that must have been their shtick, right? It was kind of cute. I wasn’t expecting such a welcome in the shape of guy’s and girl’s looking like they had just stepped off of ABC Kids. The girl who handed me a flyer and yelled in my face about school spirit was practically hopping up and down, a bright grin splitting her lips apart.
I nodded and smiled politely, stuffing the flyer in my bag and heading into my room to finish moving my stuff in. When I looked out of my window a few hours later, the Sunbeam squad was still threaded through the crowd, each of them wrapped in glittering fairy lights illuminated in the late evening sunset glow. Sunbeam. Yeah, I got it, but it was still kinda overkill. They were starting to remind me of a cult.
That, however, didn’t stop me trying out. I’m fairly athletic, and they were exactly what I wanted. I’ve never had a group of people I could call friends.
Though it’s not like I could blame anyone but myself. I was a shut-in for most of high school. I either worked or preferred my own company in my room. One of my biggest regrets is pushing people away, friends I wanted to get even closer to. Because now they had built these lifelong friendships and relationships, and I was stuck at 18 years old with nobody but childhood friends I spoke to once a year when we sent mutual holiday greetings to each other. But college could change that.
At least, that’s what I hoped. I spoke to as many people as possible on my first day—and in my head I was making them. Slowly but surely I was actually making friends in my classes I wanted to hang out with.
Sunbeam were my attempt to go even further and join a club. Through word of mouth in my first few weeks of classes, I learned they were more of an extra-curricular group for fun.
They didn’t cheer competitively and had been formed in the mid-90’s by some kids who wanted to make a community out of positivity and school spirit. Sunbeam had a reputation for being Watson State student body’s beacons—and their team’s good luck charm. It was well known across campus that the squad was the reason behind the college’s fortune.
It had been like that since they formed 30 years ago, with members through the generations carrying out that pledge to spread as much pep as possible. While I say that they seemed nice judging from what I heard from others, they weren’t exactly the easiest clique to get into. Unless you were on the squad.
I saw them around campus between classes. They always moved as a group, the six of them with their arms wrapped around each other, brandishing the school colours. The guy’s in loose fitting varsity jackets, while the girl’s flaunted cheer skirts.
The way they acted was a little too close, like they were more than friends—and community and friendship had bled into something else. Like they had just walked out of an early 2000’s teen movie. Not that I was complaining. Their style was intriguing. They were like this untouchable group of god’s who had been placed on the highest pedestals. They ruled over campus, which made me want to get to know them even more. So, I tried out. Which was my first mistake of many in my freshman year.
It didn’t hit me that I was in way over my head until I was in the college gymnasium, standing in front of a four person panel like I was auditioning for a Hollywood movie. Sunbeam took their try-outs incredibly seriously. Which was weird considering they were known to be the complete opposite.
There were maybe fifty or so applicants, and we had to stand near the back wall and watch others try out one by one. Which was already setting off my anxiety. Weren’t they supposed to be closed try-outs? Initially, I was excited.
I had my routine in my head. What I had learned from watching the squad at my old school. High V, Low V, followed by a Touchdown, and then a backflip. I was confident. I mean, it ticked most cheer moves off, and even had a flip to complete the routine. My high school were a multi-sex quad, so I learned a lot from watching the guy’s moves during pep rallies.
I wasn’t really worried about the quality of the moves since they were known not to take everything too seriously. But watching the others try-out, impossible flips without crash mats and twisting their bodies in ways I didn’t know was possible, I quickly realised I was screwed. My competitors were acting like they were auditioning for an Olympic level team. My gut was dancing when I took centre stage.
The panel were made up of four members of the squad. Two boys and two girl’s, including the blonde who handed me the flyer on my first day. I was surprised when her eyes lit up with recognition.
"Oh, I know you!" She squeaked. Leaning forward, her smile seemed to brighten, illuminating her features. All four of them seemed to emanate a warm glow.
I felt myself relax slightly, the knot in my stomach loosening. Maybe their heightened positivity thing wasn’t a shtick, after all. The girl, as well as the other members of the team seemed genuinely happy to see me trying out. “What’s your name?” Her voice reverberated off of the walls, and I was suddenly aware of a dozen other students watching me.
“Alex.” I said, offering a shy wave. “Hey.”
Still grinning, she nudged a redhead next to her playfully. The guy was like no other I’d seen before. He was a god damn traffic light. He was easy to spot in a crowd and was usually one of the low-key members who kept his head down. All of those colours painting him, and yet somehow he wasn’t blinding people.
Though admittedly, he suited them; bright red hair clashing with the blue and gold of his football jersey, pasty skin and dark eyes drinking me in while the blonde girl pulled at his sleeve. “See, I told you annoying freshmen would work!”
In response, he chuckled, rolling his eyes. “Whatever you say, Evie.” The guy straightened up, leaning his chin on his fist, a curious spark in his eyes. “Alright.” Twisting around in his chair, he signalled for music. When it started, the beat slammed into me, rumbling under my feet. “Let’s see what you’ve got!”
I’m not going to describe my routine because I don’t have time to describe how fucking bad I was. In my head, I was doing okay. I was ready to finish with my back flip, but the music abruptly cut off and I found myself struggling to find my breath with my hands in the air, panting like an idiot. The blonde maintained her smile, but it was slightly strained. I could tell she was struggling to keep the façade of a Sunbeam member while also retaining critical thinking.
The redhead looked like he was in pain. He was first to speak, and I could tell by his sympathy smile I’d screwed up. The others who I hadn’t fully taken in until that moment, an asian American guy, and a girl with pigtails, were laughing like pre-schoolers. And they didn’t stop until the redhead shot them the warning eyes.
Weirdly enough, the crowd of onlookers didn’t join in. I expected the redhead to politely tell me I sucked, but instead he cocked his head, chewing on his pen. “You’re good.” He said. “You’re a good dancer, and I liked your moves…”
He trailed off. “But it’s positivity we’re looking for. And you didn’t smile once through your whole routine which made you look stiff. Like you weren’t even enjoying it.” He shrugged helplessly. “I like you, and I like your dancing. And I’m sure you could be better if you worked on it. There are countless dancing clubs here, so maybe you might be better fitted there.” After exchanging a look with the blonde, he sighed. “Unfortunately, you’re not the type of person we’re looking for.”
Evie nodded. “I agree. We pride ourselves on staying positive and smiling. I didn’t see that on you, Alex.”
“Same here.” Pigtails, still giggling, joined in. “I don’t think you’ve got enough school spirit.”
The other guy scoffed. He looked to be of Korean descent. Unlike the redhead, he was always at the centre of their group, always joking around and laughing. Just looking at him told me he was the leader. “Bullshit!” He slapped the table with one hand, running his hands through thick dark hair with the other. “I liked it. Fuck pep, amirite?” He threw his pen at the blonde, who retaliated in a squeak, lobbing hers at him. “Ignore these clowns. I think you’ve got what it takes. We just gotta work on you, y’know? All you’re missing is a cheesy grin.”
He pointed to himself, stretching his lips into the widest smile he could muster. “See? Like this.”
“Clowns?” Evie shook her head. “I didn’t see one smile. Sunbeam is all about smiling!”
“You make us sound like a cult.” The Korean-American caught my eye. “Which we’re not, by the way. These guys are just scared of change.”
“Okay, that’s too far.” Pigtails shot him a scowl. Are you seriously disrespecting the alumni who created us? Who birthed us?
“Well, yeah!” He threw his paper at her. “Sunbeam is a pep cult. We get high off of happiness. I thought we distinguished that.”
“Take that back!”
“Never! Why do you think I joined? To get high! Do you really think I joined for the cheering?”
They were joking around. I could tell by the smiles on their faces—a smile I knew I would never be able to mimic.
“Quiet.” The redhead shushed them. The guy had been sitting silently. Studying me. He leaned back, folding his arms.
“See, even now—even when I’m considering giving you a chance, there’s no hope in your eyes. Not even a glitter of excitement. You’re still not smiling and that’s what we want, Alex. We want people who will embody what Sunbeam is all about. Even if I give you a second chance to brighten up your routine your smile will be fake. And that’s not what we want. We want people who are willing to shed their humanity and become beacons.”
Beacons, huh?
And they were seriously saying they weren’t a cult?
The redhead stabbed at his sheet of paper with the end of his pen. “Can’t you just give us one smile? It won’t kill you.”
It was then when the others watching started to laugh—and I wanted to punch the asshole in the face.
“Dude, chill.” The Korean-American played with his pen, twirling it between two fingers. “He’s right, as much as I hate saying it. We do need smilers, unfortunately. But hey, you can try out next year! Just remember to smile, alright?” He threw something at me. A squashed candy bar.
Which made me look even more pathetic.
I found myself nodding, even when I knew it was all bullshit. Still though, what each member had told me hit me harder than it should have. They were just words, what could they do? It turned out, words were far more powerful than I realised—I just didn’t know it yet. I didn’t wait for the others to speak and made a quick getaway, my gut twisting and turning.
They were a cult. That is what I decided. These guys were a cult who needed members willing to throw away their souls. Probably for ritualistic sacrifice.
They needed weak people, I thought. Even when part of me knew they were right. I wasn't a smiler. Every photo I'm in, I'm either frowning or look constipated. Still though, I didn't dwell on the try-outs for too long. By the time a week had gone by, I had mostly forgotten about it and threw myself into my studies and college life.
Though something was wrong with me. It was as if the world had slowed down, had stopped making sense completely. Every day felt like a dream, and I myself felt like I was a ghost, like I was disassociating from my own body. Conversations with people felt fake. Like I was making them up.
I remember waking up day after day in a daze I couldn’t get myself out of. It was only several weeks later did the thick mind fog which had been blanketing my brain finally lift—only for me to hear the news that all six members of the Sunbeam squad had disappeared. I don’t know how I didn’t notice, how I didn’t see the police investigation, or hear rumours being spread around like wildfire.
According to the college, it wasn't technically considered a disappearance since the members were all over eighteen, no longer minors. However, an investigation was conducted, with a statement being released that they were due to be performing at Knoxville College, cheering on our football team. But they never turned up. And what made it worse, was their bus was found abandoned on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Sounds bad, right?
Well, that's what we all thought. Vigils were already being held, and bodies weren't even found yet. Every time I walked back to my dorm after classes, the night would be lit up in warm golden light, candles flickering in the breeze. I'm not sure how many days had gone by-- they all seemed to blur into one-- when our college made another statement. The members of the Sunbeam squad were alive and healthy and had been sent to a training academy for professionals.
When the student body responded with confusion and scepticism, the college reassured us they were coming back once they were finished training. And while my classmates were relieved, I found myself confused. Sunbeam didn't cheer competitively. Their whole thing was that all they wanted to do was spread cheer and pep, regardless of how good they were. I had seen them perform, and they were good, sure. They were better than average. But definitely not good enough to be trained into pro’s. Their moves were too clumsy, too half assed—which I was convinced they thought overwhelming amounts of positivity could fix. So it didn’t make sense that they had been sent to some training academy. I kept up my scepticism until I saw them for myself.
The college were right. Sunbeam returned a week later like nothing had happened.
I did see a change in them. I think that was a universal opinion though. Sunbeam were well known for their pep and cheer, their constant smiling faces which drove me crazy—and it’s not like that stopped. They still smiled. They still walked around campus laughing together, in their own little world. That was when people were watching. When they had an audience. I caught them when they didn’t have an audience. Without eyes on them, they detached from each other, their eyes darkening, expressions twisting, like each of them could smell something rotten in the air. I started noticing they were getting progressively clumsier at keeping up that Sunbeam façade they must have pledged when they joined the group. I figured it was just tiredness. They must have been through some pretty intense training.
Anyway, months went by. I started to feel less distant, and the fog which had been choking me faded, thankfully. I started my junior year moving into a shared house with my roommate, and the only talk I’d heard about Sunbeam was that one of their ex members was rumoured to be pregnant. As for the rest of the squad, they were still popular, still talked about—but their disappearance had definitely made people wary of them. I even heard someone say they were considered bad luck. I guess people thought they had sold themselves out for a chance to get into the big leagues. And it wouldn’t surprise me.
Forced positivity can get you a long way, sure—but recognition can get you further.
It was just a few weeks ago when I was invited to a game. Our first of the season, thanks to delays due to cuts in the sports department. I’m not much of a sports fan, though I needed a distraction from the copious amounts of assignments I’d let pile on my desk.
When I sat down with a chilli dog and Coke, I wasn’t expecting to get so invested in a game where I had no idea what was happening. It was loud and obnoxious and I was choking on the stink of fried food, but it was fun. It was fun until Sunbeam walked out onto the side-lines. I glimpsed them in a blur of blue and gold, and a dull pain crawled across the back of my head. “You okay?” My housemate’s voice was barely distinguishable in my ears, when I found myself transfixed by the way they moved in erratic jumps, quickly taking position. They had gotten better. Everything which was Sunbeam had been stripped away. Their smiles were forced. Wrong.
I remembered they used to push and shove each other, making the crowd laugh. Now though, they were in almost perfect sync in the way they moved, no longer shakily, sometimes stumbling into each other. Their routine was longer than it usually was—and when the Korean-American guy perfected a triple flip, the crowd went crazy. I expected him to smile when he landed, grinning into the audience to generate what Sunbeam was made for. But his expression stayed stoic. Robotic. They were stiff. Heads up, backs straight, staring ahead of them. I was told when I tried out that fake smiles weren’t allowed, and yet that was all I was seeing. I was seeing egotistical grins and curled lips, quick glances between each member.
I expected looks of reassurances, and in jokes only they found funny. Instead, it looked like a mutual agreement.
They were planning something. From the looks on their faces, it wasn’t a firework show.
Sunbeam used to generate happiness. Their smiles, even under a façade, had always been real.
These guys emanated power. The way they stood. The guy’s at the front, readying what I guessed was a lift, and the girl’s on top of them.
Their routine ended with the music reaching a climax, and the two main girl’s being lifted into the air while performing High V’s.
But they didn’t stop there.
When the crowd exploded with applause, one of the girl’s slowly raised her arms and shot into the crowd with finger guns.
She shot twice—and with every time she pulled that imaginary trigger, her painted lips stretched into a maniacal grin.Until her gaze was on me. And then behind me. I could see it in her glittering eyes I could no longer call human. I met Evie at the start of my freshman year, and then at the disastrous try-outs.
I knew her wide smile, and the glint of passion twisting her expression—a love for the group and the members she couldn’t put into words. Right then I wasn’t seeing Evie, a Sunbeam cheerleader. I was seeing something else entirely, a being scanning faces in the crowd for a victim.
Her expression seemed to melt, from a gleeful grin, to something twisted and putrid, someone who craved the exact opposite of what Sunbeam preached. I watched her lips. I watched the words pop into existence, drowned into nothing by the crowds cheering. But I saw them in perfect clarity. “Drop.” She said, before pulling the imaginary trigger again.
No sooner had the words left her mouth before someone screamed behind me. I twisted around to see a guy had collapsed. He was pronounced dead five minutes later by his sobbing girlfriend who had attempted CPR. When I twisted back to look out onto the field, the Sunbeam Squad were gone. It didn’t make sense that they were the ones to cause the guy’s death—but it couldn’t have been a coincidence, right? Evie had shot into the crowd at the exact same time the guy had dropped dead. Finger guns weren’t a weapon of course, but the timing was too coincidental. I already knew there was something wrong with Sunbeam. And this just strengthened my claims.
Obviously, when I tried to tell people this, I was called crazy. Delusional. I reported it to the student information building and just got a blank stare.
The woman wasn’t even attempting to hear my story. She just heard “murder” and “Sunbeam” and her lips curved into an amused smirk. “You know, you are quite fascinating,” leaning back against her chair, the woman frowned at me through wonky glasses. "First you unexpectedly quit, and then you accuse them of murder. Which I can tell you is false.”
She flipped through a notebook in front of her. “According to the autopsy report released a few days ago, the young man died of a brain haemorrhage, not the result of being pretend shot at by a cheerleader miming finger-guns.” The woman cleared her throat.
“Tell me, what exactly do you have against the Sunbeam squad?"
“You quit the squad at the end of your freshman year,” she said, “And now you’re trying to accuse them of murder? Fascinating.”
Her words struck me, a shiver sliding down my spine. The office was cosy, and when I sunk into the rich leather of the couch in front of a roaring fire I recognised the book on her desk. It was a dog eared copy of Harry Potter. I’d seen it before. But that was impossible. I had never been in her office. “Quit?” I shook my head. “No, I don’t…” I trailed off, stumbling over my words. “I’ve never been part of Sunbeam.”
“Were you not?” She shook her head, a crease forming between her brows. “Ah, I must be getting you mixed up with someone else.”
I nodded. “Just… can you just listen to me? That Evie girl was fucking—”
She cut me off. “Language.”
“Sorry. Evie. She was… I don’t know what she was doing... she was doing like... like magic?”
“Are you sure you didn’t dream it?”
“Mmm hmm.” The woman cleared her throat, dismissing my protests. “I’m not a doctor, but If you’re experiencing memory loss and confusion, I suggest you go to the hospital. As for your ludicrous claims, you should keep them to yourself. That poor young man died due to a brain haemorrhage. Terrible and tragic, yes. But it was accidental, and not the work of… I’m sorry, what were you claiming it to be?”
“Magic.” I said, again.
When she raised her brow, I couldn’t resist a groan. “I saw her! She shot into the crowd and mouthed something!”
“She… mouthed something?”
“Yes! But—"
Again, her words sliced into mine. “Okay, let’s say you were right,” she said. “If you are saying this girl shot into the crowd with her imaginary gun, wouldn’t it be a gun shot which would have killed him? You said it yourself—, it was some kind of witchy magic to kill him. So, where was the bullet wound?” When I tried to speak, she raised her arm to shut me up.
“Exactly. There was none. Because the man suffered a haemorrhagic stroke, and nothing could be done to save him. Your claims a group of young people carried this out as a murder is not only blatant defamation, but also disrespectful to the young man and his family. Now, please leave my office. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” The woman nodded for me to stand up. “I think you have been watching too much TV. Might I suggest focusing on your studies?”
I left her office, slamming the door.
My housemate wasn’t helpful when I told him. He told me I was maybe a little too obsessed with Sunbeam. He headed to work, and I ended up in the lounge trying to focus on an episode of Criminal Minds. But I couldn’t stop thinking about Evie.
I saw what she said.
But it wasn’t the force of her imaginary finger-guns ricocheting back. It was the word. Drop.
It had been alive on her lips like it was a sentient thing bleeding into existence. I managed to fall asleep, twisted like a pretzel in my housemate’s favourite chair, when three loud knocks on the door tore me from slumber. I was on my feet, blinking, disoriented. It was rare when we got a visitor. Stumbling over to the door, I had a moment of hesitation. I imagined Evie on the other side.
I imagined her raising her arm and shooting her pretend finger-guns directly into my head.
When I opened the door, I was surprised to see three little kids. The youngest must have been maybe nine years old. To my surprise, they were dressed in Halloween costumes. There was a little witch, a ghost, and a scarecrow all carrying pumpkin shaped holders It took me a moment to realise I was staring at a group of Trick or Treaters. It wasn’t even mid-October yet.
“Hey there,” I said, “Uh, you guys are a little early.”
The little girl’s eyes were wide and unblinking. “We want candy.” She held out her candy holder. “Now.”
I decided to be firm with them. “It’s not Halloween.” I said, taking a small step back. I was grasping the handle, ready to slam it in their faces. These little shits were freaking me out. Not just their tone, but their expressions were vacant. There were no lights on and that terrified me. “Sorry kids, I don’t have any candy. But like I said, come back when it’s actually Halloween, and I’ll have candy bars for all of you. "
What I wasn’t expecting was for the Scarecrow to pull a knife out of his pumpkin shaped candy holder. He didn’t hold it like a kid should, clumsily, confused. There was a strategic way the way his fingers were wrapped around the handle—like he’d brandished one before. The kid held the knife up to his own neck and made a slicing motion. Like the little girl, his eyes were blank. Unblinking. There was something wrong in the way he was standing. Stiff, like a puppet on strings. “Are you fucking kidding me?” He squeaked out a laugh. I didn’t see him lunge forward, I was already moving back, stumbling, losing my footing.
The kid moved with impossible speed—and before I knew what was happening, the hilt of the knife was buried in my lower leg. I didn’t even feel pain. My body was being driven by adrenaline, pushing me to get away from him. I remember falling back. I remember my own trembling hands grasping hold of the handle and pulling out the knife. Red was pooling down my jeans and onto our hardwood floor. The little kids turned around and ran back down the steps into the night, and I watched them in a sort of daze.
They didn’t move like normal.
They stalked down the sidewalk like video game characters. The witch shoved a passing old man before pulling out a gun and pointing it at his head. But she didn’t shoot. The three of them ran off—and it was only when I was watching the top of the girl’s witch hat disappear into the night, when I glimpsed something—or someone—at the corner of my eye.
Before I heard laughter. The tree in front of me moved. At first I thought they were shadow’s. Before the shadows bled into figures. Four of them. I glimpsed the school colours. Blue and Gold. I saw twin ponytails, velvet and blonde-- as well as the tell-tale Sunbeam varsity jacket. The group were laughing, whispering to each other. Not exactly doing a good job of hiding. When they slipped from their hiding place, I recognised Evie. Her fingers gingerly on her nose while intense red pooled down her chin.
The others were the same, swiping at their faces with jacket sleeves. They didn’t seem fazed. The redhead’s gaze was latched onto the retreating children, his lips curling. I could sense he was still tethered to them. He was still commanding them to act out grand theft auto. They had caused the man’s death at the game and had controlled those children.
I wasn’t crazy or delusional. Evie had killed someone by simply shooting imaginary finger guns, and somehow the others were able to bleed into children’s heads, taking them over.
Pulling my phone from my pocket, I heaved out a breath. The pain was starting to hit in waves I had to grit through. I couldn’t move. I was stuck, curled up on my floor. While they laughed.
I was halfway through stabbing 911 into my phone when one of them came over. It was the Korean-American. The one who had been the nicest to me out of all of them. The real smile I remembered was gone, replaced by something inhuman. Something I didn’t want to question.
With his hands stuffed in his varsity jacket pockets, he approached me with mocking eyes, almost an attempt at trying to mimic his old self.
The guy knelt in front of me with a chuckle. “Kids these days, right? They’re animals.”
His voice, no, his words, were hurting me. I felt each one penetrate me like gunshots.
My wound wasn’t bad. That’s what I estimated, anyway. I don’t think the kid had hit anything vital. But I needed the emergency room. I still had one hand grasping at my side, drenched in red.
I managed a hiss, grasping for my phone when he pulled it out of my grasp and waved it in the air. “Fuck off. What did you do to those little kids?” I gritted out, trying to reach for my damn phone. I was starting to feel the pain in my side and it hurt like a mother fucker—dizzying bolts of electricity which felt like waves of boiling hot water slamming into me one by one. I tried to get onto my knees, but he pushed me back down again. The guy cocked his head to the side, confusion creasing his expression.
“Ouch. That must hurt.”
"What did you... what did you do?" I hissed out.
His presence was hurting me. Every time he opened his mouth, it was agony. Somehow, it was worse than the stab-wound. This kind of pain was no other I’d felt before. The type I’d rather die than feel. A cry was clawing at my throat, fight or flight taking over. Again, I tried to move, I tried to get away from him. But he was holding down my arms and prodding at my side before sticking his finger in the cut and twisting. "I didn't do anything, Alex.”
His voice barely hit me when my vision blurred and I screamed. Like a fucking animal, I screamed. But not because his fingers were digging around in my insides.
Because my brain was suddenly boiling, a metal rod piercing my skull and stirring it into a soupy mess. His voice was inside me. It was bleeding into me, taking over me. But not just his voice. The world blurred around me and I was no longer in my doorway, bleeding out against the wall.
Instead, I was moving. I was… I was walking. No, I was being dragged. Except these weren’t my memories. This wasn’t my mind. I could see bare feet beneath me delicately slapping on white tiles. When I looked up, I saw an expanse of white like I was being led straight into the clouds. This was a building. There were glass doors and electronic panels, people in black guarding each one. It took a while for me to gain my senses—or him to gain his.
We could smell something like chlorine and taste rusty coins at the back of our throat. Feel the ice cold tiles against our bare toes. A strange feeling at the back of our head. We kept wanting to run our fingers through our hair, but every time we did, our fingers only touched bare skin. Scuffed and rigged skin. Tight fingers were wrapped around our arm, dragging us further and further into a white oblivion. Until a glass door seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
From now on, I am going to describe his memories very vaguely. I’m just going to tell you what I saw.
The room we walked into reminded me of a classroom—but there were no desks. In front of me were the other members of Sunbeam pressed against the back wall. They faced forwards, their gazes penetrating nothing. But I saw they were trembling. Terrified. The squad were dressed in pale white shorts and t-shirt, ugly red spattering the front. There were still traces of blue and glitter on their faces, ribbons hanging from bedraggled curls.
Their feet were bare and filthy like ours. When we were shoved forwards, we took our place next to Evie who had half of her hair shaved off. Her arms were folded across her cheer uniform, her bare feet tapping a beat against the floor. When a woman with dark red hair held in a strict ponytail entered and asked if either of us wanted to show her what we had learned, Evie eagerly raised her hand. “Okay, Evie.” The woman’s voice was too sweet. Sickly sweet. She gestured for the girl forward. “Show us what you’ve got.”
The door opened, and a man stepped through. His hands were tied in front of him, his eyes blank.
Evie nodded, her eyes set in determination. She cleared her throat. “Shatter.”
Nothing happened.
“Intent, Evie.” The woman said. “It doesn’t matter how you say the word unless you use proper intent. Try again.”
The girl did, growling in frustration.
The man’s head flew from his torso suddenly in a river of red, and the girl squeaked in excitement.
While we watched in horror, the rest of the squad gave in to their own despair.
Different days bled into one—and we watched faces change. Heads were shaved. Hair grew back. Fear turned to joy.
A blonde girl exploded into bloody chunks, splattering against the walls.
“Yes!” The redhead high-fived pigtails, the two of them locked into some bizarre handshake. “That’s what I’m TALKING about!”
“Bang!” One of the girls used finger guns, and with each “shot” innocents dropped against the wall one by one, their heads blown through.
She jumped up and down in glee. “Bang, bang, bang!”
“Keep going,” the voice of the woman crackled through the speaker. “You’ve almost got it.”
“Divide.” Pigtails used her pointer finger at an old man who was skewed by an invisible force sending bloody chunks of him to the floor.
"Show off.” The redhead said in a sing-song voice. He was slumped against the back wall using his jersey to wipe blood from his face while the others painted the room scarlet. With simple words of intent and a hand gesture, they were able to take people apart piece by piece.
Pigtails snorted when another “test subject” was brought in. "Oh, you think you can do better?”
“Think I can? I know I can.”
This time he plunged two fingers into his temples. He was centre stage, the others against the back wall with their arms folded.
“Rip it out.”
The test subject’s eyes widened, her trembling hands clawing at her own head, fingernails digging into flesh. “Rip…rip it out?”
His lip curved. “That’s what I said.”
We didn’t see the test subject rip her own brain from her skull. We were already burying our head into our knees and screeching into the floor. Another flash. Like watching a movie.
This time we’re cutting into our wrist with shards of glass. Pulling back fleshy flaps of our flesh, there are two wires entangled with muscle and bone. One red and one blue. “Why won’t you submit?” A sharp growl, and I can feel our body pressed against metal. Our arms are restrained. “Out of all of them, you refuse it.” A hand slaps our face. “You don’t want it!”
He started to laugh.
“You don’t want… control?”
He leaned his face closer. “Tell me to mutilate myself. Tell me to… to tear out my brain stem! That’s the beauty of it! No matter how impossible the order is, it will be completed! Control, my boy. Use it. Do you even understand how much you are going to shape the world? Words! Do you know how powerful they are? When said from the right mouth, with the right intent, they can cause bloodshed, pain and misery-- a despair drowning our already shattered earth. And you will be the centre of it. You will bring this world to its knees, Jason."
"Now, do it. We call it cutting, but you will find familiarity in referring to it as erasure. You can make up your own words if you would like. What matters is the intent.” I feel something slicing into our arm. It’s nothing medical. It’s torture. He plunges something sharp into the same spot and twists the blade until we throw our head back and scream at the ceiling.
“You’re the last one.” The man hissed. “Do it.”
“No.” I heard his—our—voice. “I… I can’t!”
“Do it!”
He’s dragging us again, forcing us down a long winding corridor until we reach another door.
"Drown." The boy - - Jason's-- voice was suddenly in my head. I could sense it was trying to hold back, attempting to peel back whatever power his own words had. But the word came again and again until it was suffocating his mouth. “Drown. Drown. Drown. Drown.” We were standing in the doorway of a smaller room. In the corner there was a figure curled up with their head pressed against the wall.
It was a guy.
I recognised our school colours, a bloodied varsity jacket over shorts and t-shirt. When he lifted his head and twisted to face the boy whose mind I was in, I noticed he had an uncanny resemblance to me. His eyes wide, frightened. They were my mother's.
This guy looked exactly like me.
No, it WAS me.
My eyes were shadowed and haunted.
Like I had been drained of everything I was.
As quickly as the memories came crashing into me, they were yanked away when the guy must have pulled back.
I blinked rapidly, and Jason looked as confused as me. Slowly, he pulled his finger from my cut. The man's voice was in my skull, and it was agonising. I felt the command in my head, my body instantly reacting to... to nothing. I had my hands out, ready to do.... do something.
"That was… just a trick,” He said. “Yeah! Just a trick!”
I found myself nodding, echoing his words. Something warm ran from my nose.
"Just... a trick..." I whispered, the words forced from my lips.
Blood spattered down my chin.
“Louder.” He said.
"JUST A TRICK!" I yelled, the force of the wail sending me my knees, panting. The guy was frowning, seemingly unsure what to do with me.
He wrapped up my wound and told me it wasn’t bad—and it wasn’t. I watched in disbelief as my skin stitched itself back together.
"Go into your kitchen." Jason said, and I felt the power of his words ripping through me like bullets. My body moved on its own, and I got to my feet and stepped into my kitchen. He followed me, grabbing a scarf off of the table.
"Get on your knees." I did, dropping to my knees, my breath in my throat, my mouth sealed shut. I could sense the others in the doorway as he wrapped the scarf around my eyes, the heel of his shoe slamming into my neck forcing me onto my stomach.
"I want you to wait for me to kill you."
His words pierced into me. I did. Even when I knew he was gone, the door slamming shut-- I waited. I waited until the next morning, until I regained control over my own body and pulled the scarf from my eyes. I'm still waiting, my brain in constant panic, twisting around when I'm alone, looking into every corner.
I was roped into going to Friday's game against Harrington. During Sunbeam’s routine, they did it again. They had the crowd's attention, and Evie was mouthing something. I felt her words, sharp like needles cutting into me. But they didn't penetrate. They have done something to the student body. Ever since, I’ve been catching looks around me. Those whose heads they have crawled into. Mindless eyes. Every so often an arm will touch mine, fingers will wrap around my neck. I can hear their feet pitter pattering after me. Those little kids from that night. I keep seeing the little witch girl in the corner of my eye. They’re creating an army who are coming for me once he decides to kill me.
If only I knew what happened to the Sunbeam squad. Maybe I can help them somehow.
But something tells me they’re way past help.
And so am I.
I wonder if one day, I might be allowed a glimpse of my memories. What really happened to me during my freshman year.
And why, ever since going into his mind, I dream of a white room.
submitted by Trash_Tia to TheCrypticCompendium [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 23:15 Legitimate-Lunch-472 Professor Skant

Just a quick note to say how I ran Professor Skant, my players seemed to enjoy it!
Players are lvl 6 They loved the idea of Angajuk the talking whale, so they plied her with fish and stories and bartered with some merefolk on their trip with her. Angajuk didn’t take them anywhere, simply acted like an oracle of sorts, a creature that had a lot of eyes everywhere. They asked her were Nass was, where Skant was. Angajuk told them she was seen on the ice headed towards the Dark Duchess a few days ago. This was a huge gasp moment for the players as they’d already been to the Dark Duchess and had a very close encounter with the white dragon before stealing some of her loot. This happened much earlier on in the campaign. Angajuk asks them to burn the Duchess as it represents humans invasion into the sea. Rogue was a crew member on the ship so this was a good moment where she was torn but in the end she decided she was giving up her pirate ways and what better way than to burn her past to the ground.
So they go back to the Duchess to find Nass lying at the bottom of the ship, neck broken, no orb. (I simply had Nass slip and fall down the hole in the ship as she entered to plunder the dragon’s treasure). Ghost of Nass attacks, they kill the ghost. As the rogue is about to light the ship up, the white dragon returns, sniffs out the wizard who rolled a 2 on stealth. Wizard is sure she is going to be eaten but I had the corpse on the back of the dragon fall off, the wizard helps put the corpse back onto the back of the dragon. Dragon now grants her one request. Request is to get the orb’s location. Dragon says it was stolen, along with some of her treasure, by 3 sisters, asks for it back, says she will let them keep the orb if they bring back one piece of treasure for her (you can make this whatever you want - I did a tapestry which has a smell the dragon loves). Players agree, off they go, rogue upset she doesn’t get to burn the ship. They track the sisters to a lighthouse, the orb is inside a trapped chest, rogue fails to investigate chest, trap explodes, alerts the sisters (sea hags) who come down the rickety steps and attack. Big fight ensues, not too tough as players are lvl 6 but there are only 3 of them, one for each hag. They get the orb, head back to the ship, give the dragon the tapestry, they are not to return to the Duchess as per the dragon’s orders, they are fine with that. Orb tells them about Grimskalle.
I feel that this made it a little more fun instead of simply finding the orb on Solstice with no difficulty. They loved the idea of doing a favour for Angajuk but now they feel bad they didn’t burn the ship for her…new dilemma!
I hope this is useful to someone!
submitted by Legitimate-Lunch-472 to rimeofthefrostmaiden [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 23:00 JackPembroke [SF] God Mode - A Litrpg Short Story

Inside the boundless expanse of Loria Online, Guspy the elven mage drained the last of his mana vaporizing a Vickerbite. It was his third hour of grinding this particular mob, and he was getting tired.
“What’s the drop rate on this thing again?” he asked Collins.
Collins cleaved another Vickerbite with his greataxe. “0.02% or something. Getting bored?”
Guspy was indeed getting bored. Despite their grotesque appearance (they looked like flying crocodile heads with mosquito feet), Vickerbites were pushovers.
“Yeah, I might only have a few minutes’ more patience for this.”
Collins slammed his axe into the ground, causing a shockwave that killed another three. “That’s ok, we’ve been playing for a while. It just kind of feels like wasted time if we quit now, though.”
“Are you getting close to leveling?”
“Me neither.”
A Vickerbite burst when he swatted it with his staff. A loot bag dropped onto the rust colored dirt.
Probably another Vicker Tongue or leg or something, Guspy thought. He almost didn’t bother to check. But when he did, he found what he and Collins had been seeking for so long.
“I got it! The belt dropped!”
“Thank God, let’s get out of here,” Collins said, regrouping with the mage he protected.
Guspy read the item description for The Belt of Endurance.
The Belt of Endurance Slot: Belt Rarity: Very Rare Earth Resistance: %%0 Air Resistance: %%0 Fire Resistance: %%0 Water Resistance: %%0 Physical Resistance: %%0 Magic Resistance: %%0 Debuff Resistance: %%0
“What the hell?” Guspy said.
“What’s wrong? Is it the wrong belt?” Collins casually swatted two final Vickerbites.
“The stats are glitched or something. It’s supposed to be 5% resistance to everything, right?”
“The BoE? Yeah, 5% resist all. Is it not?”
“It shows ‘percent percent zero’.”
Collins shrugged. “Put it on, see what happens.”
Guspy equipped the belt and checked his character’s stats. “Ha, that’s so weird. All of my resistances show backslash, open parenthesis, ‘N’, close parenthesis.”
Collins used the Warrior’s Assessment ability on Guspy. “Huh. When I analyze you, I see hashtag ‘null’.”
“That’s either really good or really bad,” said Guspy.
Collins raised his sword and struck Guspy on the shoulder.
Collins attacks you for 0 damage
“There are safer ways to check!” Guspy said.
“It didn’t hurt you, weird. Mind if I use a little Fire Fan scroll on you?” Collins asked with a toothy grin.
“You have one? Aren’t you a little over leveled for that?” Fire Fan produced a tiny cone of flame that did very little damage.
“I’m a hoarder. So, can I?” Collins wiggled the scroll between his fingers.
Guspy agreed.
Collins casts Fire Fan for 0 fire damage
“Guspy, I don’t want to alarm you, but I think that belt makes you invincible,” said Collins.
Guspy began to bounce up and down in excitement. “Oh man, think of the possibilities! I can solo raid a guild hall. The Nighthawks deserve that kind of ass whupping,” he said, referring their rival guild in Loria. “Or I can loot an end-game dungeon! We’re not far from The Death Pit.”
Collins looked into Guspy’s eyes and gave him the smile a parent gives a child when they ask where rainbows end.
“Oh, you asshole!” said Guspy.
“I think you should turn it in,” said Collins.
“Why?! Why would I do that?! The Nighthawks have been bullying us for months now. With this, I could walk right in their guild hall, wipe them out, and tear the whole thing down. They wouldn’t be able to stop me! You can’t tell me they don’t deserve it.”
“Not saying they don’t,” said Collins.
Guspy pressed, “I can farm The Death Pit for Soulflayers. Everyone in our guild could have a Soulflayer, even the newbies. They’d finally be tough enough to join us on raids. You know how they’ve been dying to play with us in high level zones. Think how happy they would be!”
“Oh, they’d be awfully happy,” said Collins.
Guspy unleashed his coup de grace. “And! I can go to Fort Murder, stroll through it without a care in the world, kill the general, and not have to split the loot with anyone. That means I would get a Headsman’s Axe, which I would of course donate to my dear friend Collins. Wouldn’t you like a Headsman’s Axe?”
“I absolutely would,” said Collins.
“Ok, good. So, I’ll just—"
“Turn it in, Guspy,” said Collins.
Guspy stamped his feet in frustration. “Why though? You just said you were on board with the Nighthawks and the Soulflayer and the axe!”
“Oh, I am. The Nighthawks need to get taught. Having the newbies be tough enough to join us would be great. I’ve been dying for a Headsman for months now. But you’d be cheating. Momma didn’t raise no cheater, and daddy didn’t raise no troll,” said Collins.
“That’s so backward. You know the Nighthawks would do that to us if they got it,” said Guspy.
“Sure enough. But we can’t control what they do, and I can’t control what you do. I just want you to remember what I’ve said before: there’s a person on the other end of that character. A person just like you. I can only imagine how tilted you’d get if someone cheated to become invincible and killed you. Or farmed their whole guild ultra-rares and used them on you. I’m just asking you, as a friend, to turn it in. Please.”
Guilt. He’s put the guilt in me, thought Guspy. What an asshole.
“Fine, I’ll head to Pokate and turn it in,” said Guspy, pouting and kicking an errant stone.
“Thanks, Gusp. I promise I’ll help you find a legit one. I gotta go, though. Play later?”
“You know it,” said Guspy, and he watched Collin’s avatar dissipate.
Guspy walked back to Pokate City, the largest player hub in the area. The journey was a particularly hazardous one. Wild beast attacks, an assassin, a rockslide, even an errant fireball from an ongoing battle, all harmless in the face of his perfect resistance. He crossed into the city proper, whitewashed buildings that held little shops and extra dimensional guildhalls. Pokate Palace loomed over all of this like a resplendent sundial. The stained-glass windows shimmered in the sunlight.
Guspy approached a beggar in the street. The beggar’s body was gaunt. His dirty rags and matted beard spoke of hungry days and cruel nights. The beggars of Loria Online were portals to moderator attention. Speaking to a beggar cued a request. A moderator would eventually take control of the beggar and offer assistance.
Guspy knelt before the beggar.
“I’d like to speak with a moderator, please.”
“All in good time, my boy,” the beggar wheezed.
Guspy felt an itch in his legs. There was still time to run wild, to reap the rewards of his lottery ticket. He cursed Collins for guilting him and attempted to distract himself. Guspy admired the features on the beggar. His eyes traced cavernous wrinkled flesh. Saw the tiny movements of lice in the filthy thick beard. Saw the faintest deposits of salt in two long tracks leading down from the cloudy blue eyes.
The beggar had been crying. Why would they include such a heartbreaking detail? Why haven’t I ever noticed this before? Guspy thought.
The clouds in the beggar’s eyes parted, revealing a bright blue sky. “Thank you for waiting, this is Raymond. How can I help you?” A voice as crisp as autumn wind now spoke through the beggar.
“Uhh, hi. I’ve got a problem with an item I found?” Guspy spoke at the mouth of the beggar.
“Sure thing! Is it an item you have equipped right now?”
“Yeah, The Belt of Endurance. The values look wonky, and It makes me immune to every element. I’m immune to physical and magic damage now too.”
There was a long pause, the beggar’s eye fluttered. “You’re reporting that an item is broken in your favor?”
Guspy winced. “Umm, yes sir? It basically makes me immortal.”
Guspy waited patiently. The moderator was using his tools to see Guspy’s menu screens, something that was normally private.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” the beggar said. “It’s a null shunt error.”
“A null shunt error?”
“Yeah. Sometimes during a drop-roll, the system shunts over a clipped value that…sometimes it breaks.”
“They’re a bitch to fix. Thankfully very rare. This one is particularly bad, and I’m at the end of my shift.” The mod let out a sigh that prophesized an exhausting tedious future.
“Well…thank you for your honesty! Usually when an item glitches in a player’s favor, they keep it a secret for as long as they can. Then they have a temper tantrum when we take it away. Alright, Guspy, I’m on morning shift tomorrow. I don’t want to deal with this right now. I’m giving you eight hours of god mode. Can I trust you not to make me regret it?”
Guspy was stunned. A mod was allowing immortality for eight hours? Trusting him? Why?
“You can trust me,” Guspy said.
“I hope so. I’ll fix this in the morning, don’t take the belt off or you’ll have negative infinite resistance and die from a sunburn.” The beggar’s eyes clouded back over.
Guspy threw a gold piece into the beggar’s bowl, a good luck ritual that even the highest level raiders did before a dangerous run.
He was in the clear. A mod had okayed him having god mode. Anything I do is the mod’s fault now! Guspy thought, but the thought gave him a queasy feeling the moment it passed through his mind. He was being trusted. He had promised to not make the mod regret it.
What was the mod’s name? Randy? He remembered Collins's words about there being real people on the other end of the game. He supposed that meant Randy too. He imagined telling someone to their face that his actions were their fault, like trust somehow absolved him of responsibility. He imagined someone else doing that to him. Or doing that to his little sister…
He spent a fair amount of gold on fast travel scrolls, valuable, single-use items that would transport the player anywhere in Loria. Guspy now stood on the craggy lip of Salamander’s Eye. The massive active volcano dominated the primordial jungle landscape. A vast column of ebony smoke rose from the lava pit, the birthplace of thunderclouds. Guspy spread his arms wide and fell into the heat, letting simulated gravity carry him downward to the roiling floor of liquid earth.
At the last moment he reflexively raised his hands to shield himself. Lava was instant death in Loria, doing an infinite amount of damage per second. Guspy was now sinking slowly in this most dangerous of elements unharmed. He raised his hand in a thumbs up as he sank beneath the surface.
Whorls of incandescent crimson, brown, and orange materialized and dispersed endlessly. It was like looking into the fickle furnace of creation, so eager to invent but too chaotic to design.
Guspy wondered if he’d fall forever. At last, his feet settled on something solid. He was the first player to set foot here. A unique accomplishment, one he could keep. He moved through the lava as though it was water. Must not have been a very important thing to program considering you die as soon as you touch it, he thought.
Guspy explored the floor of the volcano. It was perfectly smooth and without texture, an entire volcano held up on a pane of glass. But then he found something. A deformity in the bottom of the world. He explored it with his hand. It felt like a solid bubble sticking up out of the flat plane beneath him. It moved a little.
It’s a doorknob! Guspy realized. He turned it and felt it fall away beneath him. He sank further and dropped into a vast open room, the lava didn’t follow past the entry. Guspy cast a series of Light spells, banishing the darkness to the black obsidian of the walls and floor.
A giant floating sign that hung suspended in midair grabbed Guspy’s attention.
“Shows what you know, sign,” Guspy said, and began to explore.
In the secret chamber Guspy found dozens of monster models from the surrounding area, frozen in the sterile T-position. He took the time inspect them in the minutest detail. He saw the way salamander skin glittered with the luster of countless ruby gemstones. He watched the dancing flames of fire elementals, and discovered their heat rose above the limitation of their hitbox. He looked deep into the eyes of a stone golem and saw that they were prisms. They split the blue glow of the golem’s magical core into a frigid winter sunset, whites and blues dancing and concealing a secret whisper of deep red.
I don’t think I ever really looked at the models before, he thought. Even now he couldn’t recall any specific details of any monster he had fought. They were all colored blurs in his mind, faceless values and blocks of information.
Despite his immortality, he still froze in fear when his spell illuminated a colossus of steel tucked away in a corner of the room. It was a broad suit of cold iron armor, bereft of adornment and pockmarked with the careless ministrations of a thousand hammers beating the metal into shape. In one clenched fist it carried a wicked looking cleaver, one that belonged in a giant’s butcher shop, used to crack the toughest dragon bones and partition the choicest bits.
Guspy had never seen or heard of this creature in his life.
You must not have made it into the final game. At least not yet, thought Guspy. Despite its beastly ugliness, Guspy felt a pang of remorse. Someone worked to design every aspect of this monstrosity to evoke the feelings of fear and disgust, and they had been very successful. But it had gone unused and unseen since the game’s inception.
I remember the Christmas ornament I made in middle school. A Christmas light made to look like a reindeer, googly eyes and fuzzy brown pipe cleaners for antlers. I was so proud. But when Christmas came, they didn’t want to put it on the tree. They thought it looked too silly.
Guspy left a gold coin at its feet, alms for unsung effort.
He was preparing to depart when he noticed an unadorned chest had appeared beneath the presumptive sign. Guspy was certain it hadn’t been there before. He approached, circling the chest, before reaching out and lightly tapping it. He may invulnerable, but this was a developer’s world. Who knows what treachery could hide here? He lifted the lid, tilting his head and peeking at its contents with one eye shut. Inside was a billiard sized ball of translucent glass. Guspy recognized a Title Sphere. These rare items would grant a moniker to the character’s name. It was a single use item worth tens of thousands of gold. Too curious to resist learning what it would bestow, he shattered the sphere in his palm. Red dust flowed between his fingers like Martian sand. His name had changed from Guspy to Guspy the Wanderer.
Guspy used his next scroll and teleported to the shipwreck of the Soothsayers Doom. A brig suspended above the ocean on a monstrous coral bed, the ship itself was a mid-level dungeon. Players could fight their way from deck to deck, battling undead crewmen that fired grapeshot salvos into crowded rooms, shredding players into bloody clouds. The Captain was the boss of the dungeon, and part of his loot was a map that would send players on a quest line that eventually led players to the halls of the merfolk king, an extremely high-level dungeon at the bottom of the ocean.
Being immortal, Guspy took what players called the ‘express route’, swimming directly downward from the open sea. It was suicide. Besides suffocation, players had to contend with titanic carcharodons, giant squid, invisible water elementals, and elite merfolk guard. These creatures had mastery of the terrain, and few players were accustomed to attacks that could come from any direction.
Beneath him, the phosphorescent glow of the Coral Castle overpowered the distant sun for dominion of the depths. Guspy slipped into a castle window, ignoring the tridents of the pursuing Knights of Pearl. The Castle was a dungeon that needed to be completed quickly, lest the player’s water breathing magic wear off. That made it the perfect sight-seeing location for someone who didn’t need to breathe. Guspy examined the meticulously decorated royal bedrooms. The books in Loria were filled with open source stories from the real world. Players spent hours in this fantasy world engrossed in the prose of Tom Sawyer and Paradise Lost. But yellowed letters fell from between the pages like autumn leaves.
Never whole without you, my beloved Jennifer,
Guspy didn’t know the merfolk princess even had a name. Neither had he any idea who B.C was, or if these pages were part of some fetch quest he had never come across.
Deeper in the palace he found the throne room of the merfolk king. The king was gigantic, of course, all raid bosses were. The king was also an enemy that demanded constant focus and attention to defeat. He cycled seamlessly through attack patterns, buffs, and stage activations. Missing the tell-tale signs would leave you a step behind the dance and doomed to failure.
Guspy now had a unique opportunity. He ignored the king completely. The throne room was heaped with chests of gold and artifacts plundered from sunken ships. But they were only decorative, ersatz décor designed to regale the room with the trappings of wealth and luxury. Being worthless, players ignored them. Guspy took the time to closely inspect the mountains of coins and bejeweled quillions that rose from the coin piles. Ignoring the world-shaking bolts of lightning, magical rays, and great sweeps of the merfolk king’s trident, he crouched to the level of a single coin.
There, in the face of the coin, were three smiling children. The normal relief of Empress Aubrianna, a mythical figure in Origin’s history, was replaced with a picture of a family. The normal Latin phrase, “A solis ortu usque ad occasum”, had been replaced with, “Jason, Melody, Brock”. He moved from one coin to the next. Families, pets, and selfies looked back at him. Some had names written, others messages, “Thx Mel, my rock <3” “Joe & Cara 4 eva” “We did it!”
Guspy wondered if any player had ever seen these. Maybe, but he hadn’t, and that made it special to him. He wondered what he would put on his own coin. Me, Collins, and Becca at the beach, he thought. A picture that had been his desktop background for years. The only evidence of a perfect day.
Having taken his fill of the throne room, Guspy pulled out another scroll and teleported away.
Hogglerock dungeon was an aberration. Most dungeons tried to evoke a sense of awe or fear, but Hogglerock was just gross. Its entrance was at the center of a mud-smothered swamp. Poisonous insects and carnivorous slugs roamed the wastes searching for carrion to strip or making their own if none could be found.
To descend into the putrid depths of Hogglerock, you entered the mouth of a great saurian beast. It was long since dead, its flesh in a perpetual state of decay. Down its mucus-caked throat, you entered a dungeon that had been created from the offal that remained of its digestive system. Noxious acid pools, monstrous parasites, and bloated scavengers challenged players that came to plunder the carcass.
Guspy had to stop and think before entering the sixth stomach of the beast. He had no idea if his plan would work, or even made sense. Guspy removed all his armor and weapons, save for the Belt of Endurance. He entered the dungeon’s final room, aggroing a great bipedal minotaur and its bovine kin. Guspy sat and crossed his legs. He closed his eyes and focused on slowing his breath and his heart. Aggro in Loria was based on a series of factors: proximity, source of damage or debuff, equipment levels, class, movement, and supposedly even biometric data the VR rig was able to obtain.
The monsters were instantly aggroed when the rubbery sphincter of the sixth stomach was touched, converging on their only target. Guspy’s lack of equipment, aggression, and stillness would reduce his aggro over time. He waited and he watched. In time the monsters lost interest, ceasing their attacks and wandering back to their starting positions. Guspy continued to watch. For a time, they only bobbed in place, replaying idle animations and howling blistering war cries. But, in time, Guspy saw a strange behavior begin. One smaller minotaur creature pulled out a hunk of meat, clutching it by the pure white protruding bone. It chomped a piece and munched in contentment, eyes closed in blissful indulgence. The giant boss minotaur began to sniff the air, and a game of keep away began. The smaller minotaurs tossed the meat between themselves as the boss zeroed in on the source of the smell.
Who is this for? wondered Guspy. Who was meant to see this? And how? Why hide it? How many monsters of Loria Online had these little secrets? Tiny moments of humor buried in terabytes of code, only visible in a state of extreme passivity. Once the capering script had completed, the bovines returned to their normal places and continued to cycle basic idle motions.
It’s for me. Since I’m the one watching it, that means it’s for me, thought Guspy.
Guspy pulled out his final scroll, completing the spell just before he was beset again.
Guspy the Wanderer appeared back in Pokate City. His new title drew lingering looks from other players who searched their memories. Guspy’s time was running low, and fatigue massaged his mind and eyes. There was more he could search for. He could run down the hours until the mod logged back on and set things to rights. But he didn’t want the last moments of such an enlightening day to be a race against the clock. It would spoil the sense of calm and contemplation he had cultivated. Instead he sat down next to a beggar and composed a message to Collins.
“I won’t be joining you today, Collins, but I’ve got so much to tell you about when I do.”
He had seen beyond the veil. He witnessed tiny miracles of creation hidden from mortal sight. Sparks of love that flickered once more when observed. For a precious few hours, he was blessed with a peace that allowed him to fall in love with the game all over again, to appreciate its creation like a benevolent god.
Collins and Guspy returned to the red rock canyon. Guspy admired the visible strata of the walls. Simulated eons left perfect layers of color stacked like the pages of a book. Little details, so insignificant yet so engrossing. He appreciated the work that went into this game. The efforts of artists always caught his notice.
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2023.06.01 22:54 KyleKKent Out of Cruel Space, Chapter 700

Capes and Conundrums
Alviara lets out a slight gasp as they reach the apex of the motion and then they begin to fall. They land on a lower tier of a skyscraper and he seems to accelerate in a smooth movement. Then gravity presses down on Alviara as Robin leaps again and they hurl through the air, out of the traffic lanes and startling a few different Sonir as they easily crest in height and land lightly hundreds of feet higher than their last start point.
“I’m never going to get tired of doing that.” Robin notes and Alviara lets out a slight laugh.
“Easily amused?”
“If by easily amused you mean ‘enjoys breaking the laws of physics as previously understood’ then yes, I’m easily amused.” Robin notes with a grin. “I’d ask if you’re comfortable on my back, but you clearly have the cushioning to take it.”
“What was that supposed to be? I’m fairly average as women go, although I understand that puts me on the level of spine cracking for a human woman.” Alviara notes and Robin offers her a smirk over his shoulder. She wraps her arms around his shoulders and simply can’t reach her hands around the other side. Robin may not be as big as some of the other soldiers, but he’s still so much massively trained man that he dwarfs her in almost every respect. “So what was it? An observation? A compliment? An insult?”
“Hmm...” Robin considers out loud and the tensing of his legs is all the warning Alviara gets before they’re suddenly rising upwards fast. The slight arc of the movement has them land on the top of a gargoyle before Robin slides down it’s back with trivial ease and a casual gait. “I’m not sure, it just sort of slipped out. What did it sound like?”
“You’re toying with me.”
“Well yes, aren’t dates supposed to be fun?” Robin asks shortly before a small swarm of Sonir swoops in.
“Since when could Trets fly like that!?” One of them asks.
“I’m not a Tret and I can’t fly.” Robin says quickly. “She’s a Tret and I jump good.”
“... Either you took a shot in the head and lost some verbal skills or you’re quoting something.” Alviara says.
“It’s a quote.” Robin remarks. “Now do you girls want something or...?”
The swarm scatters, but not too far.
“They’re going to be following us for hours.” Alviara notes.
“How about we give them something to chase then?” Robin asks.
“Go.” She tells him and he races along the tier of the skyscraper and launches off. Alviara has to use Axiom to keep her grip as the wind resistance to the sudden movement is like being caught in a storm. There is no arcing in this jump, it’s a straight shot from one skyscraper to another with neither rise nor dip. HE also doesn’t land on the next skyscraper. He kicks off it and suddenly they’re going diagonal and up before kicking off again and going down.
The bit of freerunning turned mad game of human ping pong as he zips through the city before Robin launches himself up and then slowly comes down on the top of a skyscraper. Grabbing onto it’s highest point and hanging on by what seems to be only his fingertips. A slight wirl of ash and smoke wave around them in the higher winds of the city where just a hint of the brimstone from the volcanic trench the city’s cave is carved into.
“Having fun?” He asks her and she gives him an odd look.
“Giving people something to chase generally stays a little further down from the sound barrier.” Alviara chides him despite smiling at the absurdity. He looks over his shoulder with a roguish grin before easily pulling himself up to the next level. The pull is with such force that he easily crests to the top and lands lightly at the very tip of the skyscraper’s spire.
“Really? I never would have guessed.” He says as he holds his arms out, turns and then regards the city below before glancing at the blimps above. “Can you spot them? If they want to play, then they can be fun to play with.”
“What are you planning?”
“Nothing hurtful or harmful. Not even a crass word.” Robin assures Alviara.
“Over there, to your left. Two blocks forward. I recognize the bandana.” Alviara says and he nods.
“And she’s moving at... okay, time to say hello.” Robin says. “Do I need to say hang on?”
“At the end of this you’re going to need a prybar to get me off.”
“Poor choice of words!” Robin taunts before a twitch of his legs and they’re soaring through the air.
Swooping is not generally associated with wingless beings. Especially not with apes. Let alone an ape giving a piggy back ride to another ape.
But damnit if Robin doesn’t live up to his name and swoop right past the young Sonir who flares out her wings in shock and flutters around a bit in complete surprise. Robin has kicked off the side of a skyscraper and launched himself away before any further reaction can be mustered.
“You are a cruel, cruel man...” Alviara chides him as she laughs.
“Oh yes, by all means. Tell me how naughty I am.” Robin says with a grin over his shoulder and she flicks him in the forehead for that. He clutches at his heart and begins staggering in jest. Despite them being over twenty stories straight up with no railings he mock staggers harder and she slips off his back in time for him to ‘fall’ to the floor with a dramatic. “Blarg I am dead!”
“Could you get any goofier?” Alviara asks dumbfounded and Robin laughs.
“Not without going to a literal school for clowns. But I think I do pretty good without formal education.” Robin remarks and she scoffs.
“Tell me something, when it comes between The Undaunted and the rest of humanity... how far apart from the common man are you? Physically I know you’re near the peak of the peak. But behaviour wise?”
“We’re more chaos prone and a lot more energetic so we get up to a lot more. But it really depends on the person. Sure, there are broad averages, but you’ll never meet an actually average person. A normal human is a mathematical concept, not a real thing.”
“And those averages are?”
“Alone, a human is smart, adaptable, quick to learn and quicker to overcome. In groups we can be dumb panicky and downright incapable of understanding even the simplest concepts. There’s good and bad.” Robin explains.
“That sounds very normal. Peer pressure making monsters of people the galaxy over.” Alviara says before considering. “I guess it was a dumb request to be honest.”
“Then why did you ask it?” Robin asks.
“Well... you’d think that a species that came out of Cruel Space would be very different. But... well you’re Apex Tret with redundant biology basically. As a species. But The Undaunted you... you do things so very differently than most Trets. Like Cannidors or Apuk or Dzedin. You’re predators in a concrete jungle.”
“And like most predators when well fed and safe they get fat and lazy in a hurry. When humans become common throughout the galaxy the only way to tell the difference between Human and Tret will be when you watch them eat or some kind of disaster strikes.” Robin returns. “Besides, name one military that doesn’t make powerful predators out of the people they recruit.”
“Hmm... well are we counting armies in name only?”
“We’re counting armies that can be reliably expected to run into combat.”
“Not any that I know about. Even armies specializing in drone use and remote piloting prosthetic bodies for combat tend to have a certain assurance and quick reflexes.”
“Exactly.” Robin says before kipping up and standing next to her. “There are some things that are just universal to combat.”
“It still doesn’t explain how differently you humans are acting. First contact is generally a bit more... I’m not certain. You should be having a harder time of this or... I don’t know.” Alviara says and Robin shrugs.
“I’m hardly an expert on first contact situations.”
“You’re in one.”
“Am I though? Remember, Earth was sent a beacon to teach the languages and explain that the rest of the galaxy couldn’t come to us, we had to go to it. Is that normal?”
“No but...”
“Then why would we act in a normal way? We’re cut off from the homeworld and what resources it has. Which means it’s time to adapt or die. There’s also ways in which we have to test the galaxy, so we can learn from it and understand it. And you don’t stress test something by being gentle or predictable. You do it by pushing it to it’s limits.”
“At least that’s how I figure things. Do note I’m not part of the diplomatic core. Still... on the subject of diplomacy my hobbies seem to have...”
Robin is cut off when the swarm of Sonir Teenagers arranges itself around them. “Really!? It took you this long?”
“Not everyone had a communicator on and had to be chased down.” One of the girls says.
“Okay, you need to do something about that because communication is the most important part of being in a team. Otherwise someone WILL screw things up.” Robin remarks to them before turning back to Alviara. “Anyways, as I was saying, we’ve been following some of my hobbies. But not so many of yours, so in the light of getting to know each other more. Where to next?”
“Well, if that’s what you want...” Alviara says as she takes a couple of steps and leaps away. “Follow me!”
“To where?” Robin asks as he lands beside her moments later.
“You’ll see, but don’t think you’re the only one who can use Axiom to get around. It’s easy.”
“I’m aware of how easy it is. But I don’t see many people using it like that. Why?”
“People are a lot less eager when they think they might run into a wall.” Alviara explains.
“Hey wait for us!” A girl from the swarm of Sonir declares and the entire flight gives chase.
“The third wheels are catching up.” Robin notes calmly as she leads him through several more jumps and then... a rooftop garden. In a shadowed part of the dark city is a small rooftop garden. It’s dim phosphorant glow invisible from a street over, but these are clearly darkness adapted plants that thrive on the warmth in the air and the richness of the thin amount of ash that is always ever so slightly swirling about.
It then hits Robin that the garden is an inversion of the world itself. A single patch of life in a dark and dreary looking city, the opposite of the lava trenches of Skathac who are individual and relatively small scratches of concentrated death on a world otherwise fed keenly and deeply by it. Robin wonders what it would look like to have something from this garden escape and claim an entire skyscraper.
Would that even be a bad thing for a building to be covered in flowering vines? He supposed that depends on the flower.
“I... I didn’t expect this.” Robin admits before looking around. “The glow is so pale that the lights on the other buildings drown it out entirely.”
“A little touch of life. It’s a wonderful place to read. A place to calm down after a bad case.”
“Ah... that makes sense.” Robin remarks as he sees the Sonir swarm swooping down around them to look around. More than one of them seem to be completely surprised that the garden is here at all. “How did you find this place? You’re not a Skathac native from what I understand.”
“No, but getting lost can sometimes be an advantage. And a place to just think is useful.”
“Hmm... I suppose that makes sense and...”
“Are you one of the supervillains?” One of the girls asks interrupting him.
“Alright, do you girls understand just how rude this is?” Robin asks and there’s a pause. “I’ve played back a bit but following people around and having a full on search grid is going far too far.”
“It’s not too bad if we’re just following.”
“You’re getting very close to a crime though. So can you please knock it off?” Robin asks and there are some sighs of disappointment as the swarm flutters off. “Now, where were we?”
First Last
PS: Nothing like writers block to conk you on the head when you’re trying to type it out. Yeesh. I wanted to have more fun, I wanted to write references all over the place. But the moment I sat down to write my head went blank and it's stayed that way. I'm sorry.
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2023.06.01 22:52 Drakolf Dragon Rising- 11. Blood:

"Tallyn, tomorrow at dawn, I want you to meet me at my Tower. Tell Galax I will be coming."
I spoke these words to my brother while I was out doing my duties. He seemed confused, and to some degree, suspicious. But when I stepped out to see him waiting for me, I followed him to the Temple.
The Temple of Bahamut remained a solid minority in the town, but it was growing, and part of me was happy for that. Galax was stood before the holy relic from the days of rain, praying, of course.
"Ruuk Stingtail." He spoke, lowering his hands and turning to face me. "Why are you here, and why did you announce your intention to come here?"
Kurtulmak had given me permission to do whatever I felt was necessary to appear absolutely penitent, even if he did not like it. To that end, I arrived in simple clothing, rather than the armor he had made for me.
I approached Galax, the Paladins drew their swords, and I knelt. Everyone was surprised, of course.
"I came here to atone for my betrayal to the Temple." I said. "While I cannot forsake my vow to Kurtulmak, I have expressed my desire to make amends, and he has granted me the freedom to do so in honor of his pact with Bahamut."
"You... You wish to atone?" He asked, utterly baffled.
"When I swore my vow to Kurtulmak, it was knowing that I was consigned to die. He understands that, had I understood I would be rescued, I would have never sworn such a vow." I bowed my head. "My service to Kurtulmak is in the interest of his redemption, to ensure he gets the justice he was cruelly denied, and to show him that a system does not need to be dismantled for progress to be made."
"Words are cheap, Ruuk." Tallyn said. "How do we know this isn't some sort of trick?"
"Bahamut demands of his followers to pray through their deeds." I spoke. "I came to seek atonement, to show with action my intention to ensure peace under a just law." I looked up at Galax. "That begins today, under the gaze of the King of Dragons."
"Galax, this has to be some sort of trick." Tallyn said. "Kurtulmak must have put him up to this!"
"Then we shall simply verify this." Galax stated. "Ruuk Stingtail, do you consent to be put under the effect of a Zone of Truth, to willingly submit to it, that you cannot lie?"
"Without question." I replied.
A spell was cast, and for a brief moment, I knew I could try to resist the spell.
"He is under the spell's effect." A Cleric spoke.
"Good. Ruuk Stingtail, have you come before us seeking atonement for your deeds?"
"I came here seeking atonement." I said.
"And has Kurtulmak truly allowed for this to happen?"
"He has granted me the freedom to speak ill against him if I so wish." I answered.
"And has he put you up to this?"
Here came the tricky part. "Kurtulmak does not wish for me to suffer under his command." I spoke. It could be construed as a truthful admission of such without directly confirming.
"Do you regret abandoning your God to serve another?"
"I do not regret remaining behind to give solace to one who was consigned to rot alone." I answered. "I regret that it came at the cost of my faith."
Galax scrutinized me for a moment, then looked at Tallyn.
"Is this a ruse?" Tallyn asked me.
"I am not certain what specifically you are asking about." I replied honestly.
"Is your coming here to seek atonement a ruse!?" Tallyn demanded.
"I came here to seek atonement for my betrayal." I answered.
"Does Kurtulmak expect us to give it to you?" He asked.
"He expects me to do what is necessary to do so, to speak truthfully. He does not believe you will give it."
This put them in a difficult spot, and they knew it. If they rejected granting me atonement, even after answering their questions under a Zone of Truth, it would mean that Kurtulmak was right about them, and it would mean a victory for him. If they went through with the atonement, they would be forced to absolve me of my misdeed.
"And if we do not absolve you?" He asked.
"Then I will have to live with my guilt." I answered.
"What do you gain from this?" Another Paladin asked.
"It grants me peace of mind and soul." I answered.
"Very well. I shall grant you atonement for your actions." Galax spoke. "Let it not be said the Temple will reject the penitent." He was handed a leather pouch, and he threw silver dust upon myself. The fire that engulfed me was brilliant, I felt regret for many things I had done, for abandoning my family and friends to live in seclusion, for living faithless out of anger at the world.
I did not regret staying behind one bit.
I was on my hands and knees, wisps of divine flame coming out of my mouth intermittently.
"You are once more aligned with Law." Galax spoke. "You have been forgiven. Pray with us, to give thanks to Bahamut for his blessings."
I had no problem praying with them, I did respect Bahamut. I could feel Kurtulmak's displeasure.
"Galax." Tallyn said. "As Ruuk as atoned for his actions, would it not be a good idea to have him display this? To have him wear the vestments of Bahamut's faithful?" I could sense Kurtulmak saying absolutely not.
"Has the Temple begun dictating what people should and shouldn't wear?" I asked. "I came to ask forgiveness and to show my sincere desire to reconcile. You cannot force me to do this."
Tallyn smirked, this was his gotcha moment. "You are saying you are unwilling to honor the God you abandoned?" He asked.
"The vestments of Bahamut are an honor, not a punishment." I stated.
"Yes." Galax replied, shooting a withering glare at Tallyn. "Not to mention is sets a legal precedent that the Warren as a whole may not like."
"Apologies." Tallyn spoke as he took his hand off his sword. "I misspoke."
"I forgive you, brother." I said. "After all, the one I hurt most is you."
He stared at me with shock, I could actually see the narrative he'd built up in my head of being a remorseless, evil traitor crumbling around him. I stood up and hugged him. "I forgive you for trying to kill me. You were only doing what you believed was right."
He put his arms around me, then hugged me tightly as he began to cry.
I stayed with him until he stopped crying, then, affecting a longing look back, I left. Returning to the Tower and putting on my armor felt like a relief. It hadn't really sunk in until now that I well and truly enjoyed my service to Kurtulmak.
He contained his mirth as I shared what I had done and said. "I am impressed." He remarked. "You managed to be both completely sincere, yet worked to undermine their grudge against me. If we can get them to support you when we establish our Empire, that will only be a boon."
"At this rate, you'll have me equally excited." I remarked.
"Indeed. Our most recent acquisition has made strides in showing his power as my Warlock, and having another Kobold aligned to my will on the Council will help balance out the will of the Temple."
"You specify the Temple, but not Bahamut." I observed.
"I have nothing to fear from Bahamut, so long as I keep true to my word. The nature of this world prevents a deity from making any lasting connection. Thousands of years ago, there were plenty of worshipers of the myriad Demons and Devils that inhabit the Lower Planes, though, an Aspect of Pelor who set up their fall failed to account that the followers he had accrued would turn on his physical Avatar and kill him."
"Who is Pelor?" I asked.
"An uptight prick." Kurtulmak remarked. "I am concerned about the Temple, they have a very limited understanding of how things are, the game that they know has many inaccuracies, with them growing slightly more accurate over time. Even so, they do not have access to history, legends, myths. Given enough effort, I could convince them I am an Aspect of Bahamut or something."
He paused, inspecting a carving he had made. "Tudru and Kuvli appreciate the aid I have rendered thus far in awakening others, as well as providing knowledge they lacked. It is hard work, yet in time, I will secure their fealty and secure our army. Merti and Tatla lean toward the Temple's favor, with Nakk and Rekka remaining neutral."
"An even split would make it difficult to do anything substatial." I remarked.
"We lack bards, monks, and wizards. Unfortunately, all of those require training, and Kobolds are not known for their wizards."
"So, we focus our attention on Nakk and Rekka." I mused. "Nakk might benefit from more Rogues, last I heard, he only found one other, and he was a former prison inmate. Rekka..."
"Will be receiving a lovely set of enchanted leather armor." Kurtulmak stated. "Along with her Rangers. They are the ones who patrol the surrounding area, they are the ones who observe the enemy as they guard their wall. They have already been shot at."
"I wasn't aware of this." I remarked.
"They don't want prospective Rangers becoming too scared to Awaken." He paused. "The Warren is mostly awake now, go out and show strength, do not hesitate to command the people in aiding you with something. Your armor carries with it an aura of authority, of legitimacy. If you can get them to kneel to you, all the better."
"As you wish, Master." I said.
I left the Tower and set about doing my duties, but this time, I began delegating to others, having them aid me with assisting larger projects. "Yes, keep it steady, the carpenters will nail it in place." I commanded.
I found I liked the way they followed my commands, the way they obeyed without question, simply because they trusted me.
I wondered if Kurtulmak felt this way as well.
A handful of Kobolds stuck around me consistently. Gek, Guks, Elgo, Idri, and Kohze, all of them were Unawakened, and desperate to be of help. "Gek, you and Elgo bring well-water here. Kohze, gather the plants listed on this paper. Idri and Guks, you are helping me defeat these snails!"
They listened without complaint, they obeyed without question, and when the job was done, I invited them to the Tower. "Pledging myself to Kurtulmak has been the best thing in my life." I told them, when prompted. "While he does not care about Humans, he deeply treasures us, and firmly believes everyone has a place."
Leading them to Kurtulmak allowed them to acquaint themselves, to get used to him. He spoke of his prior Empire, how it had been unceremoniously destroyed, how he yearned for our kind to one day have a civilization so great.
"Alas, despite my insistence, Ruuk remains adamant that the Warren does not want such a thing. Just look at him, powerful, strong, loyal, intelligent. He does not believe he is worthy, or even capable. Yet I know one who could be a monarch."
"Even if I wanted to rule, I abide by the Council's rule, and would never betray their trust." I replied.
"That has not stopped the Temple from professing they are a Kingdom under Bahamut." Kurtulmak remarked.
Elgo stood up and approached me. He looked uncertain for a moment, then he knelt. "Ruuk." He spoke. "If the day should come that such an Empire will rise, I will not hesitate to support you. I am yours to command, from now and until that day."
Seeing him kneeling like that, hearing the sincerity in his voice, I knew I was presented with something I didn't realize I wanted. "As your future monarch, I accept your vow." I spoke. The others looked at each other, then did the same.
"Shall we call you Emperor, or King?" Idri asked.
"Imperator." Kurtulmak stated. "I am the Emperor, the God of Kobolds, he is my instrument of command."
"Thank you, Imperator. We will do what we can to ensure our Empire's rise."
To rule the Warren, to command and be heard. I realized I wanted these things, and had trouble reconciling this with what I had been raised to believe. I hesitated for a moment, then said, "It will happen when the people need it." I said. "If you must speak of us forming an empire, do not mention me. Not yet, at any rate. I do not want to be seen as a power-hungry tyrant."
It was hesitation, uncertainty. They nodded, seeming to understand my trepidation, or perhaps seeing this as cautious. I wasn't certain, and I was afraid to ask.
I heard a loud sound, like a firework. It was in the middle of summer, so it wouldn't be unreasonable to hear it. Still, I looked at the others and we headed downstairs. As I opened the door, I heard even more bangs, distant, followed by the sounds of screaming.
I didn't even hesitate to run, I had been around the town enough times to know where to move, how to move. I saw a tram not far off, heading toward the town center.
There were Humans in military gear inside, one of them aimed their gun at me and fired.
The bullets hit me head-on, but the magic of the armor prevented them from piercing me. The words were barely out of my mouth as they tried to duck into the tram, the magic missiles curved around the wall, and then the tram stopped. I rushed over, they were crumpled to the ground, bloodied and barely breathing. I heard more gunfire, more screaming, how many of my people were dying?
"Ruuk!" I looked behind me to see the others, my future subjects. "Are those military? What are they doing here!?"
"It seems they're here to kill us." I said. "They're still alive, take their weapons and get them to the Temple. We're going to need to interrogate them."
"Aye, sir!" They called out before climbing onto the tram. I hurried in the direction of the gunfire, climbing over short fences and crossing yards and gardens.
I could see my people lying on the ground, unmoving, blood covering their bodies. There was a trio of soldiers shooting at a Paladin who was trying to protect a group of Unawakened. I raised my hand, my fury turning into cold hatred. "Arcanik jedark vers!" I spat, three flowing missiles flew from my hands and struck each of the soldiers, laying them out flat on their back.
I strode toward them, not even bothering to react to the bullets that hit me from afar. Of the three on the ground, only one was still alive, gasping in pain. The other two had their limbs blown clean off, the spell wasn't even that dangerous.
I grabbed the soldier by the back of his military vest and dragged him over to the soldiers who were increasingly deploying heavier firepower. Yes, it hurt, the force still enough to sting and growing worse as they hurriedly swapped to higher calibers, then they stopped when they realized the man I was dragging behind me was still alive, still breathing.
I stopped a few feet from them, they were terrified.
"My name is Ruuk Stingtail, Chosen of Kurtulmak." I spoke, I let go of the Human and took a few steps back. "Understand, you have killed innocent civilians, people who were once happy and loyal citizens of your nation. You now stand on foreign land. Darastrixthurti and its people acknowledge your declaration of war. Uvelucal ethim emelh." A sphere of acid formed in my hand, and I splashed it over the soldier's face.
He screamed as his flesh began to dissolve. "Uvelucal ethim emelh." I incanted, another sphere forming in my hand. As I raised my hand to throw, they began to run. I hit one, square in the back, he screamed as the acid burned through his armor, he desperately struggled to get it off, yet as his back grew exposed and ran red with blood, I knew, and he knew, that he was going to die.
I walked toward the suffering soldier, who was struggling to breathe as the acid corroded his spine. I pointed my palm to his face and spoke. "Docar ethim nil'gnos." The Firebolt finished him off. I started walking toward the fleeing soldiers, thirteen of them, I had enough spells to finish them off.
I incanted the spells, the missiles flying unerringly in their direction, hitting them with enough force to rupture internal organs, one man's skull was caved in.
I let one escape, after all, we needed a messenger.

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submitted by Drakolf to DrakolfsWritings [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 22:50 _Triple_ [STORE] 900+ KNIVES/GLOVES/SKINS, 50.000$+ INVENTORY. M9 Fade, M4 Poseidon, BFK Freehand, Crimson Kimono, Nomad Fade, Skeleton, Kara Lore, Bayo Autotronic, AWP Fade, Kara Damas, BFK Ultra, Kara Freehand, Kara Bright, M9 Damas, Omega, Tiger Strike, Flip MF, Bayo Tiger, Deagle Blaze, Talon & More

Everything in my inventory is up for trade. The most valuable items are listed here, the rest you can find in My Inventory

Feel free to Add Me or even better send a Trade Offer. Open for any suggestions: upgrades, downgrades / knives, gloves, skins / stickers, patterns, floats.

All Buyouts are listed in cash value.


★ Butterfly Knife Freehand FN #1, B/O: $2500

★ Butterfly Knife Ultraviolet FT, B/O: $822

★ Butterfly Knife Scorched FT, B/O: $616

★ Bayonet Tiger Tooth MW #1, B/O: $1300

★ Bayonet Autotronic FN, B/O: $1050

★ Bayonet Tiger Tooth MW, B/O: $629

★ Bayonet Bright Water FT, B/O: $326

★ Bayonet Safari Mesh BS, B/O: $233

★ Karambit Lore FT, B/O: $1110

★ Karambit Damascus Steel FT, B/O: $840

★ Karambit Freehand MW, B/O: $784

★ Karambit Bright Water MW, B/O: $759

★ M9 Bayonet Fade FN, B/O: $1801

★ M9 Bayonet Fade FN, B/O: $1801

★ M9 Bayonet Damascus Steel FN, B/O: $751

★ Nomad Knife Fade FN, B/O: $1156

★ Nomad Knife Slaughter MW, B/O: $544

★ Nomad Knife Blue Steel WW, B/O: $318

★ Flip Knife Marble Fade FN, B/O: $646

★ Flip Knife Doppler (Phase 4) FN, B/O: $574

★ Flip Knife Gamma Doppler (Phase 1) MW, B/O: $552

★ Flip Knife Case Hardened FT, B/O: $257

★ Flip Knife Freehand FT, B/O: $255

★ StatTrak™ Flip Knife Bright Water FN, B/O: $287

★ Huntsman Knife Lore FN, B/O: $461

★ Huntsman Knife Gamma Doppler (Phase 4) FN, B/O: $436

★ Huntsman Knife Doppler (Phase 3) FN, B/O: $353

★ Huntsman Knife Autotronic FT, B/O: $212

★ Huntsman Knife Bright Water FT, B/O: $129

★ Huntsman Knife Forest DDPAT MW, B/O: $129

★ Huntsman Knife Forest DDPAT BS, B/O: $123

★ StatTrak™ Huntsman Knife Rust Coat BS, B/O: $127

★ Bowie Knife Gamma Doppler (Phase 2) FN, B/O: $375

★ Bowie Knife Gamma Doppler (Phase 1) FN, B/O: $363

★ Bowie Knife Tiger Tooth FN, B/O: $269

★ Bowie Knife Crimson Web WW, B/O: $192

★ Bowie Knife Bright Water FN, B/O: $159

★ Bowie Knife Ultraviolet FT, B/O: $126

★ Stiletto Knife Slaughter FN, B/O: $616

★ Stiletto Knife Crimson Web FT, B/O: $412

★ StatTrak™ Stiletto Knife Night Stripe FT, B/O: $227

★ Falchion Knife Lore FT, B/O: $214

★ Falchion Knife Autotronic FT, B/O: $192

★ Falchion Knife Scorched WW, B/O: $105

★ Survival Knife Crimson Web BS, B/O: $216

★ Survival Knife Case Hardened FT, B/O: $198

★ Survival Knife Scorched FT, B/O: $111

★ Shadow Daggers Fade FN, B/O: $368

★ Shadow Daggers Doppler (Phase 3) FN, B/O: $228

★ Shadow Daggers, B/O: $201

★ Shadow Daggers Damascus Steel FT, B/O: $108

★ Shadow Daggers Ultraviolet FT, B/O: $105

★ Shadow Daggers Black Laminate FT, B/O: $99

★ Shadow Daggers Forest DDPAT FT, B/O: $85

★ Gut Knife Doppler (Sapphire) MW #1, B/O: $1700

★ Gut Knife Gamma Doppler (Phase 1) FN, B/O: $223

★ Gut Knife Marble Fade FN, B/O: $203

★ Gut Knife Doppler (Phase 2) FN, B/O: $191

★ Gut Knife Case Hardened BS, B/O: $127

★ Navaja Knife Doppler (Phase 4) FN, B/O: $199

★ Navaja Knife Doppler (Phase 4) FN, B/O: $199

★ Navaja Knife, B/O: $138

★ Navaja Knife Damascus Steel FN, B/O: $111

★ Classic Knife Urban Masked FT, B/O: $146

★ StatTrak™ Classic Knife Stained BS, B/O: $168

★ Ursus Knife Doppler (Phase 3) FN, B/O: $476

★ Ursus Knife, B/O: $375

★ Skeleton Knife, B/O: $1137

★ Talon Knife, B/O: $608

★ Paracord Knife, B/O: $305

★ Survival Knife Forest DDPAT FT, B/O: $97


★ Moto Gloves Transport MW, B/O: $204

★ Moto Gloves Polygon BS, B/O: $142

★ Moto Gloves Blood Pressure BS, B/O: $84

★ Moto Gloves Blood Pressure BS, B/O: $84

★ Moto Gloves 3rd Commando Company BS, B/O: $63

★ Moto Gloves 3rd Commando Company BS, B/O: $63

★ Specialist Gloves Crimson Kimono WW, B/O: $1215

★ Specialist Gloves Tiger Strike FT, B/O: $672

★ Specialist Gloves Lt. Commander FT, B/O: $305

★ Specialist Gloves Lt. Commander BS, B/O: $140

★ Specialist Gloves Crimson Web BS, B/O: $137

★ Specialist Gloves Buckshot FT, B/O: $75

★ Driver Gloves Crimson Weave FT, B/O: $359

★ Driver Gloves Imperial Plaid BS, B/O: $229

★ Driver Gloves Overtake BS, B/O: $77

★ Driver Gloves Racing Green FT, B/O: $48

★ Sport Gloves Omega FT, B/O: $739

★ Sport Gloves Amphibious BS #2, B/O: $733

★ Sport Gloves Arid BS, B/O: $292

★ Hand Wraps Giraffe MW, B/O: $212

★ Hand Wraps Leather FT, B/O: $160

★ Hand Wraps Desert Shamagh MW, B/O: $101

★ Broken Fang Gloves Yellow-banded MW, B/O: $185

★ Broken Fang Gloves Needle Point FT, B/O: $67

★ Broken Fang Gloves Needle Point WW, B/O: $59

★ Hydra Gloves Case Hardened BS, B/O: $65

★ Hydra Gloves Emerald FT, B/O: $65

★ Hydra Gloves Emerald BS, B/O: $62


AK-47 Case Hardened BS, B/O: $130

AK-47 Bloodsport MW, B/O: $79

AK-47 Fuel Injector BS, B/O: $76

AK-47 Fuel Injector BS, B/O: $76

AK-47 Bloodsport FT, B/O: $70

AK-47 Neon Rider MW, B/O: $60

StatTrak™ AK-47 Aquamarine Revenge FT, B/O: $72

AWP Fade FN, B/O: $1039

AWP Asiimov FT, B/O: $139

AWP Asiimov FT, B/O: $139

AWP Wildfire MW, B/O: $95



AWP Duality FN, B/O: $81

AWP Asiimov BS, B/O: $79

AWP Asiimov BS, B/O: $79

AWP Chromatic Aberration FN, B/O: $60

StatTrak™ AWP Hyper Beast FT, B/O: $68

StatTrak™ AWP Hyper Beast FT, B/O: $68

StatTrak™ AWP Electric Hive FT, B/O: $55

Desert Eagle Blaze FN, B/O: $623

Desert Eagle Emerald Jörmungandr FN, B/O: $241

Desert Eagle Cobalt Disruption FN, B/O: $81

Desert Eagle Cobalt Disruption FN, B/O: $81

Desert Eagle Cobalt Disruption FN, B/O: $81

Desert Eagle Printstream FT, B/O: $54

M4A1-S Blue Phosphor FN, B/O: $434

StatTrak™ M4A1-S Bright Water MW, B/O: $55

M4A4 Poseidon FN, B/O: $1465

M4A4 Asiimov BS, B/O: $55

M4A4 Hellfire MW, B/O: $50

USP-S Kill Confirmed MW, B/O: $72

USP-S Printstream FT, B/O: $69

StatTrak™ USP-S Kill Confirmed FT, B/O: $139

AUG Flame Jörmungandr FN, B/O: $234

P90 Run and Hide FT, B/O: $147

Five-SeveN Candy Apple FN, B/O: $61

Trade Offer Link - Steam Profile Link - My Inventory

Knives - Bowie Knife, Butterfly Knife, Falchion Knife, Flip Knife, Gut Knife, Huntsman Knife, M9 Bayonet, Bayonet, Karambit, Shadow Daggers, Stiletto Knife, Ursus Knife, Navaja Knife, Talon Knife, Classic Knife, Paracord Knife, Survival Knife, Nomad Knife, Skeleton Knife, Patterns - Gamma Doppler, Doppler (Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, Phase 4, Black Pearl, Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald), Crimson Web, Lore, Fade, Ultraviolet, Night, Marble Fade (Fire & Ice, Fake FI), Case Hardened (Blue Gem), Autotronic, Slaughter, Black Laminate, Tiger Tooth, Boreal Forest, Scorched, Blue Steel, Vanilla, Damascus Steel, Forest DDPAT, Urban Masked, Freehand, Stained, Bright Water, Safari Mesh, Rust Coat, Gloves - Bloodhound Gloves (Charred, Snakebite, Guerrilla, Bronzed), Driver Gloves (Snow Leopard, King Snake, Crimson Weave, Imperial Plaid, Black Tie, Lunar Weave, Diamondback, Rezan the Red, Overtake, Queen Jaguar, Convoy, Racing Green), Hand Wraps (Cobalt Skulls, CAUTION!, Overprint, Slaughter, Leather, Giraffe, Badlands, Spruce DDPAT, Arboreal, Constrictor, Desert Shamagh, Duct Tape), Moto Gloves (Spearmint, POW!, Cool Mint, Smoke Out, Finish Line, Polygon, Blood Pressure, Turtle, Boom!, Eclipse, 3rd Commando Company, Transport), Specialist Gloves (Crimson Kimono, Tiger Strike, Emerald Web, Field Agent, Marble Fade, Fade, Foundation, Lt. Commander, Crimson Web, Mogul, Forest DDPAT, Buckshot), Sport Gloves (Pandora's Box, Superconductor, Hedge Maze, Vice, Amphibious, Slingshot, Omega, Arid, Big Game, Nocts, Scarlet Shamagh, Bronze Morph), Hydra Gloves (Case Hardened, Emerald, Rattler, Mangrove), Broken Fang Gloves (Jade, Yellow-banded, Unhinged, Needle Point), Pistols - P2000 (Wicked Sick, Ocean Foam, Fire Element, Amber Fade, Corticera, Chainmail, Imperial Dragon, Obsidian, Scorpion, Handgun, Acid Etched), USP-S (Printstream, Kill Confirmed, Whiteout, Road Rash, Owergrowth, The Traitor, Neo-Noir, Dark Water, Orion, Blueprint, Stainless, Caiman, Serum, Monster Mashup, Royal Blue, Ancient Visions, Cortex, Orange Anolis, Ticket To Hell, Black Lotus, Cyrex, Check Engine, Guardian, Purple DDPAT, Torque, Blood Tiger, Flashback, Business Class, Pathfinder, Para Green), Lead Conduit, Glock-18 (Umbral Rabbit, Fade, Candy Apple, Bullet Queen, Synth Leaf, Neo-Noir, Nuclear Garden, Dragon Tatto, Reactor, Pink DDPAT, Twilight Galaxy, Sand Dune, Groundwater, Blue Fissure, Snack Attack, Water Elemental, Brass, Wasteland Rebel, Vogue, Franklin, Royal Legion, Gamma Doppler, Weasel, Steel Disruption, Ironwork, Grinder, High Beam, Moonrise, Oxide Blaze, Bunsen Burner, Clear Polymer, Bunsen Burner, Night), P250 (Re.built, Nuclear Threat, Modern Hunter, Splash, Whiteout, Vino Primo, Mehndi, Asiimov, Visions, Undertow, Cartel, See Ya Later, Gunsmoke, Splash, Digital Architect, Muertos, Red Rock, Bengal Tiger, Crimson Kimono, Wingshot, Metallic DDPAT, Hive, Dark Filigree, Mint Kimono), Five-Seven (Neon Kimono, Berries And Cherries, Fall Hazard, Crimson Blossom, Hyper Beast, Nitro, Fairy Tale, Case Hardened, Copper Galaxy, Angry Mob, Monkey Business, Fowl Play, Anodized Gunmetal, Hot Shot, Retrobution, Boost Protocol), CZ75-Auto (Chalice, Crimson Web, Emerald Quartz, The Fuschia is Now, Nitro, Xiangliu, Yellow Jacket, Victoria, Poison Dart, Syndicate, Eco, Hexane, Pole, Tigris), Tec-9 (Rebel, Terrace, Nuclear Threat, Hades, Rust Leaf, Decimator, Blast From, Orange Murano, Toxic, Fuel Injector, Remote Control, Bamboo Forest, Isaac, Avalanche, Brother, Re-Entry, Blue Titanium, Bamboozle), R8 Revolver (Banana Cannon, Fade, Blaze, Crimson Web, Liama Cannon, Crazy 8, Reboot, Canal Spray, Night, Amber Fade), Desert Eagle (Blaze, Hand Cannon, Fennec Fox, Sunset Storm, Emerald Jörmungandr, Pilot, Hypnotic, Golden Koi, Printstream, Cobalt Disruption, Code Red, Ocean Drive, Midnight Storm, Kumicho Dragon, Crimson Web, Heirloom, Night Heist, Mecha Industries, Night, Conspiracy, Trigger Discipline, Naga, Directive, Light Rail), Dual Berettas (Flora Carnivora, Duelist, Cobra Strike, Black Limba, Emerald, Hemoglobin, Twin Turbo, Marina, Melondrama, Pyre, Retribution, Briar, Dezastre, Royal Consorts, Urban Shock, Dualing Dragons, Panther, Balance), Rifles - Galil (Aqua Terrace, Winter Forest, Chatterbox, Sugar Rush, Pheonix Blacklight, CAUTION!, Orange DDPAT, Cerberus, Dusk Ruins, Eco, Chromatic Aberration, Stone Cold, Tuxedo, Sandstorm, Shattered, Urban Rubble, Rocket Pop, Kami, Crimson Tsunami, Connexion), SCAR-20 (Fragments, Brass, Cyrex, Palm, Splash Jam, Cardiac, Emerald, Crimson Web, Magna Carta, Stone Mosaico, Bloodsport, Enforcer), AWP (Duality, Gungnir, Dragon Lore, Prince, Medusa, Desert Hydra, Fade, Lightning Strike, Oni Taiji, Silk Tiger, Graphite, Chromatic Aberration, Asiimov, Snake Camo, Boom, Containment Breach, Wildfire, Redline, Electric Hive, Hyper Beast, Neo-Noir, Man-o'-war, Pink DDPAT, Corticera, Sun in Leo, Elite Build, Fever Dream, Atheris, Mortis, PAW, Exoskeleton, Worm God, POP AWP, Phobos, Acheron, Pit Viper, Capillary, Safari Mesh), AK-47 (Head Shot, Wild Lotus, Gold Arabesque, X-Ray, Fire Serpent, Hydroponic, Panthera Onca, Case Hardened, Vulcan, Jet Set, Fuel Injector, Bloodsport, Nightwish, First Class, Neon Rider, Asiimov, Red Laminate, Aquamarine Revenge, The Empress, Wasteland Rebel, Jaguar, Black Laminate, Leet Museo, Neon Revolution, Redline, Frontside Misty, Predator, Legion of Anubis, Point Disarray, Orbit Mk01, Blue Laminate, Green Laminate, Emerald Pinstripe, Cartel, Phantom Disruptor, Jungle Spray, Safety Net, Rat Rod, Baroque Purple, Slate, Elite Build, Uncharted, Safari Mesh), FAMAS (Sundown, Prime Conspiracy, Afterimage, Commemoration, Dark Water, Spitfire, Pulse, Eye of Athena, Meltdown, Rapid Eye Move, Roll Cage, Styx, Mecha Industrie, Djinn, ZX Spectron, Valence, Neural Net, Night Borre, Hexne), M4A4 (Temukau, Howl, Poseidon, Asiimov, Daybreak, Hellfire, Zirka, Red DDPAT, Radiation Hazard, Modern Hunter, The Emperor, The Coalition, Bullet Rain, Cyber Security, X-Ray, Dark Blossom, Buzz Kill, In Living Color, Neo-Noir, Desolate Space, 龍王 (Dragon King), Royal Paladin, The Battlestar, Global Offensive, Tooth Fairy, Desert-Strike, Griffin, Evil Daimyo, Spider Lily, Converter), M4A1-S (Emphorosaur-S, Welcome to the Jungle, Imminent Danger, Knight, Hot Rod, Icarus Fell, Blue Phosphor, Printstream, Master Piece, Dark Water, Golden Coil, Bright Water, Player Two, Atomic Alloy, Guardian, Chantico's Fire, Hyper Beast, Mecha Industries, Cyrex, Control Panel, Moss Quartz, Nightmare, Decimator, Leaded Glass, Basilisk, Blood Tiger, Briefing, Night Terror, Nitro, VariCamo, Flashback), SG 553 (Cyberforce, Hazard Pay, Bulldozer, Integrale, Dragon Tech, Ultraviolet, Colony IV, Hypnotic, Cyrex, Candy Apple, Barricade, Pulse), SSG 08 (Death Strike, Sea Calico, Blood in the Water, Orange Filigree, Dragonfire, Big Iron, Bloodshot, Detour, Turbo Peek, Red Stone), AUG (Akihabara Accept, Flame Jörmungandr, Hot Rod, Midnight Lily, Sand Storm, Carved Jade, Wings, Anodized Navy, Death by Puppy, Torque, Bengal Tiger, Chameleon, Fleet Flock, Random Access, Momentum, Syd Mead, Stymphalian, Arctic Wolf, Aristocrat, Navy Murano), G3SG1 (Chronos, Violet Murano, Flux, Demeter, Orange Kimono, The Executioner, Green Apple, Arctic Polar Camo, Contractor), SMGs - P90 (Neoqueen, Astral Jörmungandr, Run and Hide, Emerald Dragon, Cold Blooded, Death by Kitty, Baroque Red, Vent Rush, Blind Spot, Asiimov, Trigon, Sunset Lily, Death Grip, Leather, Nostalgia, Fallout Warning, Tiger Pit, Schermatic, Virus, Shapewood, Glacier Mesh, Shallow Grave, Chopper, Desert Warfare), MAC-10 (Sakkaku, Hot Snakes, Copper Borre, Red Filigree, Gold Brick, Graven, Case Hardened, Stalker, Amber Fade, Neon Rider, Tatter, Curse, Propaganda, Nuclear Garden, Disco Tech, Toybox, Heat, Indigo), UMP-45 (Wild Child, Fade, Blaze, Day Lily, Minotaur's Labyrinth, Crime Scene, Caramel, Bone Pile, Momentum, Primal Saber), MP7 (Teal Blossom, Fade, Nemesis, Whiteout, Asterion, Bloosport, Abyssal Apparition, Full Stop, Special Delivery, Neon Ply, Asterion, Ocean Foam, Powercore, Scorched, Impire), PP-Bizon (Modern Hunter, Rust Coat, Forest Leaves, Antique, High Roller, Blue Streak, Seabird, Judgement of Anubis, Bamboo Print, Embargo, Chemical Green, Coblat Halftone, Fuel Rod, Photic Zone, Irradiated Alert, Carbon Fiber), MP9 (Featherweight, Wild Lily, Pandora's Box, Stained Glass, Bulldozer, Dark Age, Hot Rod, Hypnotic, Hydra, Rose Iron, Music Box, Setting Sun, Food Chain, Airlock, Mount Fuji, Starlight Protector, Ruby Poison Dart, Deadly Poison), MP5-SD (Liquidation, Oxide Oasis, Phosphor, Nitro, Agent, Autumn Twilly), Shotguns, Machineguns - Sawed-Off (Kiss♥Love, First Class, Orange DDPAT, Rust Coat, The Kraken, Devourer, Mosaico, Wasteland Princess, Bamboo Shadow, Copper, Serenity, Limelight, Apocalypto), XM1014 (Frost Borre, Ancient Lore, Red Leather, Elegant Vines, Banana Leaf, Jungle, Urban Perforated, Grassland, Blaze Orange, Heaven Guard, VariCamo Blue, Entombed, XOXO, Seasons, Tranquility, Bone Machine, Incinegator, Teclu Burner, Black Tie, Zombie Offensive, Watchdog), Nova (Baroque Orange, Hyper Beast, Green Apple, Antique, Modern Hunter, Walnut, Forest Leaves, Graphite, Blaze Orange, Rising Skull, Tempest, Bloomstick, Interlock, Quick Sand, Moon in Libra, Clean Polymer, Red Quartz, Toy Soldier), MAG-7 (Insomnia, Cinqueda, Counter Terrace, Prism Terrace, Memento, Chainmail, Hazard, Justice, Bulldozer, Silver, Core Breach, Firestarter, Praetorian, Heat, Hard Water, Monster Call, BI83 Spectrum, SWAG-7), M249 (Humidor, Shipping Forecast, Blizzard Marbleized, Downtown, Jungle DDPAT, Nebula Crusader, Impact Drill, Emerald Poison Dart), Negev (Mjölnir, Anodized Navy, Palm, Power Loader, Bratatat, CaliCamo, Phoenix Stencil, Infrastructure, Boroque Sand), Wear - Factory New (FN), Minimal Wear (MW), Field-Tested (FT), Well-Worn (WW), Battle-Scarred (BS), Stickers Holo/Foil/Gold - Katowice 2014, Krakow 2017, Howling Dawn, Katowice 2015, Crown, London 2018, Cologne 2014, Boston 2018, Atlanta 2017, Cluj-Napoca 2015, DreamHack 2014, King on the Field, Harp of War, Winged Difuser, Cologne 2016, Cologne 2015, MLG Columbus 2016, Katowice 2019, Berlin 2019, RMR 2020, Stockholm 2021, Antwerp 2022, Swag Foil, Flammable foil, Others - Souvenirs, Agents, Pins, Passes, Gifts, Music Kits, Cases, Keys, Capsules, Packages, Patches

Some items on the list may no longer be available or are still locked, visit My Inventory for more details.

Send a Trade Offer for fastest response. I consider all offers.

Add me for discuss if there is a serious offer that needs to be discussed.

submitted by _Triple_ to GlobalOffensiveTrade [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 22:46 Big-Apricot-2651 Greenworks 2-in-1 String Trimmer & Blower (2.0Ah) – Green - -20% off

submitted by Big-Apricot-2651 to deals_tower [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 22:46 MjolnirPants Gary and the Nightmare: Part 2

Part 1
Percy handed Gary the list and he looked it over, then handed it to Inanna. She glanced down and quickly counted the locations on it.
"Yeah. I'll get a wizard and two security operators to each one. Percy, Beth, can you guys call them and let them know? I don't want any surprises when a weirdo and two heavily armed mercs show up at these people's homes."
Percy and Beth both nodded. "Yeah. Is there anything else you need from us?"
Gary and Inanna glanced at each other. Both of them knew what they needed, but neither particularly liked it. Gary gave her a slight nod. He'd say it. He squared himself up to Percy.
"You an' yer wife should go find a different place to sleep tonight. But not Suzanne."
"Why not?" Beth asked as Percy winced, understanding.
"Because," Gary explained. "We need her here to make sure this thing has something here to target. We don't want it following you guys elsewhere, expanding its territory."
"You want to use her as bait?!" Beth gasped. Gary held up both hands, but Inanna stepped forward.
"We will keep her safe, I promise. Gary is a retired green beret, who's since been imbued with a perfect, and I mean literally perfect, knowledge of all combat arts to have ever existed, in addition to being a powerful sorcerer in his own rights."
Sorcerers were what most of the world knew demigods as, Gary knew. It was yet another effect of Sookie's show, which had chosen that word as it was 'less confusing' than demigod.
"I'm a sorcerer as well, in addition to being a former goddess. My earliest memories predate the construction of the pyramids, and I've seen these kinds of spirits before. I know how to handle them."
Beth and Percy glanced at each other uncertainly.
"I swear on my life, on my husband's and daughter's lives that I will die before I let anything happen to that girl of yours," Gary said. Percy looked at him so Gary fixed his eyes on the other man's, letting him see the sincerity in his declaration. After a moment, he looked at Beth, who felt the weight of his gaze and met his eyes.
Percy nodded. Beth sighed and took his hand.
"Okay," he said quietly. "Let me go talk to Suzanne."
Inanna and Gary hopped out of Old Bess at the nearby park. "I think this will work," she said. Gary looked around, noticing a few people. Some teenagers, hanging out at one of the picnic pavilions, smoking cigarettes and chatting and playing on their phones. A couple of mothers, sitting on the benches, watching their kids as they played on the playground, or else hanging around the two obvious fathers, smiling and chatting.
"It does seem to have a similar vibe," Gary said. He glanced at the sign and noted the lack of posted hours. There was no obvious place to lock the gate of the fence that surrounded it, either. Both were good signs, meaning that any cop driving past would be unlikely to disturb them. Of course, it also meant Gary might have to chase people off later, but he was confident in his ability to do that.
"We'll have to do the ritual here first," Inanna said. "At sunset would be best." Gary nodded. He pointed to a flat area of grass between the pavilions and the playground. "That gonna be big enough?"
"Yup," Inanna confirmed.
"Now for the real question," Gary asked, turning to face her. "Are you up for this?"
Inanna sighed. "I mean... I know that I have all my bases covered, but the difficulty I'm still having doing magic is worrying. But honestly... Gary, this is mostly on you. I've upgraded my buttplug to conceal magic and heat, and the ring I have for Suzanne will do the same for her. The illusion is on you to power, I'll just be shaping it. If something goes wrong and the spirit attacks us, I'm sure I can fend it off long enough for you to teleport back and take over."
Gary winced. Inanna had always been someone he'd known as a powerhouse, both magically and physically. She still was in the latter category, but a spirit like this required one to imbue their body with magic to fight it. And Inanna had been open about her difficulties using magic ever since she'd been taken by Sarisa.
The sad truth was, she was weak now.
Her body healed far more slowly than those of the other demigods. Her ability to draw magic from her wells was increasing as she practiced daily, but it was still nowhere near what it was. Even compared to human wizards, who had to draw in trickles of magic from their environment to power their spells, she was a lightweight.
Sure, she could beat the tar out of a whole bunch of normal people, even trained fighters, even all at once. Her martial skills had been untouched. But normal people were rarely the kinds of threats the Group dealt with. She'd moved over to Investigative services for that exact reason. Her magical senses still worked just fine. She could investigate, and her prodigious knowledge of all things supernatural helped her a lot in that regards.
Speaking of her prodigious knowledge...
"So fill me on on this spirit," Gary said. "I know ya didn't want to talk about it in front of them, but we're alone now."
Inanna gestured to an empty table under one of the pavilions and they both walked over and sat.
"Okay, so this is a bugbear. They're actually an offshoot of the Yokai, but clearly they don't look anything like them, so-" She stopped as she noticed Gary giving her the stink eye.
"Uh, most Yokai are kinda like pig-men. Bodies of men, but with really thick chests and faces like wild pigs. It doesn't matter. Bugbears can change their form at will, and they often choose forms designed to engender terror. In this case, I think this one is going off Slenderman."
"That's the one the internet made up, right?"
"Yup. It's an obvious choice. Slenderman steals children, bugbears feed on children's deaths. So dying in fear produces a lot of energy, and this energy is a bugbear's favorite nourishment. They sniff out children living in fear and give them nightmares to 'fatten them up', so to speak. Then, when they've become scared enough, they strike, ripping the fear and soul out. That's what causes the torn heart tissue. The body's desperately clinging to the soul, but the fear is giving the bugbear enough strength to kill."
"So they eat souls?"
"No, they eat the fear that's clinging to the soul. There isn't much that can even damage a soul."
"Jerry's got one in his sword," Gary pointed out.
"Yeah, well, that's Jerry. I have no idea how he did that, and I'm not sure I want to know."
"I'm scared to ask," Gary admitted. "Mostly because I know he'd answer." Inanna laughed.
"So what do I need to know as far as weaknesses and strengths about this thing?"
"Well, they're not particularly tough, as I recall, but bear in mind that I was a goddess, the last time I dealt with one. That being said, I don't foresee you being unable to take it down. They don't have any particular weaknesses, except fearless resolve. Children have chased them off before, by confronting them that way. You can physically injure it, so long as you're flooding your body with magic, which I think you'd be doing as a matter of course, right?"
"Ayup. Being able to benchpress a Buick does come in handy in a fight." Inanna nodded.
"Good," she said. "Specific strengths are that they can get in your head. Like, real easily. And they have a certain degree of precognition. That being said, they're not intelligent, though they can speak."
"So what advice do you have?"
"Hmm," Inanna said, rubbing her chin. "Don't plan to keep it out with a mental shield, because it'll slip right around it. Instead, let it in, then confront it with fearless resolve. I don't think that'll be an issue for you. Inside your head, you can hurt the thing. In fact, it's more vulnerable there than physically, because it can make its form incorporeal, which makes fighting it tricky. Fire was the preferred method, back in the day. If you fight it physically, I strongly suggest using a wet blanket on it, right off the bat. That will keep it from going incorporeal entirely, but its ability to do so is very deeply seated, so it'll still be able to thin its form out as a tactic."
"Make my bullets pass right through it?" Gary asked. Inanna nodded and tapped the tip of her nose. "Like I said, fire works. I know you figured out how to throw a fireball, so that. Your sword and shield should be pretty effective, too. The magic in them should bypass its abilities, and you can ignite the blade, in any event.
"If you fight it in your mind, it's much simpler. Just don't be afraid, do be determined and beat the shit out of it. It'll put up quite a fight, because it knows how to work in a mental landscape, but I'm sure you can handle it."
Gary nodded. "All righty. Sounds good. So we're agreed that this is the place we'll redirect the thing to?"
"Yeah. We don't want to leave the sort of magical carnage behind in that house. All sorts of spiritual creepy crawlies might spring out of it."
Gary stood. "Let's go explain the plan to them, and then we can get started." Inanna stood as well.
They pulled back into the park just before sunset. The ritual at the house had been completed. Suzanne was sitting between them, her foster parents gone to spend the night with one of the other foster families, safe and sound under the watchful eye of a wizard who knew what to look for and two hardasses from the security division, just in case.
"Awwright, now you just wait right here, Darlin'," Gary said to Suzanne. He unclipped his troll doll and handed it to her. "This is Tootsie. Now, he may not look like much, but he's a real shit-kicker, you hear me?" He finished with a wink that made Suzanne smile briefly.
"He'll keep you safe. We're gonna be right out there, working some magic. You'll be able to see us the whole time. I'm gonna lock you in, but leave the windows cracked. If anything bad happens, you just go ahead and scream at the top of your lungs, and we'll come running, and lay down some justified hate on whoever's doing you wrong. Assuming, that is, that Tootsie ain't ground 'em into sausage by the time we get here."
Suzanne took the troll doll with another quick smile. "Okay," she said.
Gary and Inanna got out.
There was a young lady still in the park, all by herself. She was talking on the phone and sipping some kind of iced coffee drink from a Starbucks cup.
"Want me to ask her to leave?" Inanna asked.
"Naw, I got this. Ya might wanna listen though," Gary said with a mischievous wink. He walked over to the bench the girl was sitting on and sat next to her, leering. She recoiled a little and pressed her phone to her shoulder.
"Can I help you?" she asked, her voice snobby.
"Are you from Mississippi?" Gary asked. "Cuz' yer the only Miss whose piss I wanna sip."
"Fucking pervert!" the young woman cried with a disgusted expression. She quickly stood and hurried out of the park, chased down the block by Inanna's laughter.
"You were right, I'm so glad I listened to that."
"Heh," Gary chuffed. "Last time I had to do that, I just rubbed my beard and told her that her kids were cute. Real fucking cute. Worked just as well, though. I think I like this way, better."
Inanna shuddered and shook her head sadly. "Gary, if I didn't know you were a teddy bear, that one would disturb me." Gary chuckled as she began to undress for the ritual. She peeled her shirt off to reveal a surprise; she was wearing a bra. After kicking off her shoes, Gary got a another shock when she peeled her pants down to reveal a pair of underwear.
It was lacy, tiny underwear with a string instead of a back, but still.
"Sheeit," Gary said. "Never thought I'd see you wearing drawers. Or an over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder, neither."
Inanna chuckled. "Well, Jerry rubs off on me just as much a I rub off on him. And we rub each other off plenty. Besides, things got a little weird when Swaim and Aaina became friends. Both of us ladies in the house have taken to wearing underwear, the past year or so."
"How's she doing? She still having nightmares?" Gary asked. Inanna pulled her bra off and then her panties followed, and she neatly folded all of them and placed them on the bench next to Gary.
"Yeah, she is," she said with a wince. "I think they're getting less common. But it's still most nights."
"Can't blame her," Gary said. "She got blooded by accident. Has reason to believe one of the men she killed maybe didn't deserve it."
"She's got a lot of guilt over both," Inanna said. "But she's open about it, which is good. Her and Jerry have gotten a little closer, if you can believe that's possible."
"I hardly can," Gary quipped. Inanna nodded. "They've been having long talks on the back porch from time to time. They seem to be helping."
"You got yourself a damn fine man, Inanna."
"I really did," she said with a wistful sigh. "And I can't fuck his brains out tonight, because we're busy."
"I feel that," Gary said, picturing Chris' face, contorted in ecstasy in his mind. Oh well. They'd just have even more fun, tomorrow night.
"I asked Sookie to come over," Inanna went on. "She's the only one he'll fool around with when I'm not there."
"That don't make you jealous none?" Gary asked. Sookie regularly hit on Chris, and though Gary knew Chris would never betray him, he still felt a twinge every time she did.
Inanna shrugged, an evil grin spreading on her features. "It does, but a little jealousy hurts less than the thought of giving him the slightest reprieve."
Gary barked another laugh out. "I feel a pang of pity for him, from time to time."
"Don't bother. He protests all the time, but I know he loves it. Hell, when he lost his memory, the first thing he did was run off and start a sex cult."
"Point taken. So that's what it is, then? You think he's got a bigger libido than he lets on?"
"Oh yeah. Even when we first met, and he was acting terrified. He begged Sarisa for help, and instead of trying to calm me down, she offered to make sure he could keep up with me, and he jumped at that opportunity. And he's only gotten a bigger appetite, since. He's just too shy to admit it."
Gary shook his head. "Girl, I swear, I don't really get where you two are coming from. But I love the both of yas, and ya both love each other, and that's all I need to know."
Inanna smiled and kissed him on the forehead. "You're the best, Gary," she said.
"Ugh, girl cooties," Gary responded with a wink.
Inanna walked over to the open space and spread her arms, so Gary dug into his wells and began to push power into her. She paced around, muttering to herself and waving her arms around. Gary didn't really get what she was doing, but he could see the effects. She was leaving a complex weaving of magic behind her. It was magic that felt like a home, full of warmth and love, but with an undercurrent of fear. It was a home in which something horrible had happened, and a family was trying to move on, relying on each other to do so.
When she finished the first weaving, she began to move again, this time around a smaller area. Gary saw the result with both his physical and magical eyes, this time. A child's bed, with Suzanne curled up in it. It was a masterful illusion, something that probably even Yarm couldn't match, thanks to Inanna's incomparable experience.
Gary continued to feed her power as she took her time, getting every detail right. When she finally seemed satisfied with the bed, she stood and quickly wove the last part. A trap, that would bring any spiritual being that triggered the magic back at the house to this place. The illusion she had woven would keep it here, thinking it was still in the home, long enough for Gary to kill it.
"Okay," she said. Gary noticed that she was dripping with sweat, despite the cool night.
"Took a lot out of ya?" he asked quietly as she held a hand out to him. He produced a towel from hammerspace and handed it over.
"Yeah, thanks," she dried herself off, then sat on the bench. "I'm gonna let my core cool off a bit, or I'll just sweat through my clothes."
"Take your time," he said, glancing over at Old Bess, where he could see Suzanne holding up the troll doll and speaking to it. She seemed contented enough.
"God, that kills me," she said between deep breaths. "I can't wait for Jerry to figure out what's wrong with my magic. Getting it back the human way is such a pain in the ass."
Gary put a hand on her knee in comfort, thought twice about that, and then moved it to her shoulder.
"Got me excited there for a second," Inanna said with a wink.
"Heh. As I understand it, the last time Jerry thought you and I might bump uglies, that turned into quite the shit-storm."
"Yeah," Inanna sighed. "I was a lot more insecure back then. Plus, the fact that it was Sarisa..."
Gary bit his tongue, thinking of more recent events. Inanna glanced at him, then narrowed her eyes.
"What," she demanded.
"Nothin," Gary said. "And just cause you know it ain't actually nothing don't mean you can pry it out of me, so don't make shit weird."
"Oh for fuck's sake," Inanna said. "Come on, Gary. I know about the bro code, but just... Fuck."
A light bulb veritably lit up over her head. "Wait, is this about Avarisa?"
Gary looked away.
"Ahh," Inanna said with a sigh of relief. "I already knew about that." She chuffed a laugh. "Imagine Jerry trying to keep that kind of secret."
"Heh, good point. You okay with it, though?"
"Well, I mean, it bothers me a lot more than the thought of him sleeping alone or slamming Sookie up the shitter, but I mean... He thought I was dead. And she was... Well, she couldn't resist. I hate to say it, because I think I mistreated her, but I'm kinda glad she's gone. It's easier, this way."
Gary nodded. "Well, I'm glad you knew, I guess."
"I made myself look like her, a couple weeks ago," Inanna said. "He wouldn't touch me till I changed back."
"Fuckin' hell," Gary laughed. "I guess that sounds like Jerry."
Inanna stood and gave herself another wipe down with the towel. She picked up her bra, pulling it on and adjusting herself. It took a lot of adjusting, because there was a lot to adjust. Then she pulled her panties on. She quickly got her pants, shirt and shoes back on, and then adjusted her gun to sit comfortably.
"Okay, let's get back before it gets too late."
"Ya forgot yer buttplug," Gary said mildly. Inanna laughed.
"I can't believe you didn't notice just now, but I've been wearing it all day, Gary. Come on, I thought you knew me?"
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2023.06.01 22:44 LiseEclaire [Leveling up the World] - Academy Arc - Chapter 758

Out there - Patreon (for all those curious or wanting to support :))
At the Beginning
Adventure Arc - Arc 2
Wilderness Arc - Arc 3
Academy Arc - Arc 4
Previously on Leveling up the World…
The vortex guardian slowly descended from the sky. A lot closer than Dallion imagined it to be, the being was still several dozen miles in the darkness, only visible as a partial orb of light; partial because some of it had been severed off. The voidlings he had faced had probably been much stronger than the chainling blobs, capable of breaking off chunks of light from an otherwise perfect sphere.
Thank the Moons, Dallion thought. Harp had been right that a one-to-one fight was a bit beyond him. The battle damage, though, changed everything. There had been a time when Dallion had faced the minion of the Purple Moon and the Star at full strength. Like now, the two peaks of power had focused on each other, gradually tearing themselves down to the point that he could effectively face them and even win. At the time Dallion had seen his actions as clever, now that he had gained a bit of force, he saw them as cowardly and also as a warning not to underestimate lesser opponents.
“Have you ever fought one of those?” Dallion summoned his armadil shield.
The dryad guardian gave a reply, but Dallion found himself incapable of hearing it. With the vortex guardian no more than five hundred feet away, his actual form had become visible within the glow, and it was nothing like he had expected.

Species: HUMAN
Class: MAGIC
Health: 17%
- BODY 40
- MIND 40
- MAGIC 40
Weakness: HEAD

Human? It took some effort for Dallion not to take a step back.
During his many travels through the realms, he had seen all sorts of guardians: insects, creatures, artificial constructs, members of the three banished races—feral or not. Not once had he heard of humans being banished. The worst that could happen to the free races was to get placed in a prison item for a number of decades, get delevelled, or have their awakening powers sealed. Banishment was used to describe someone chased out of a province of the empire itself. And yet, there was no denying the proof in front of him.
The vortex guardian was of a woman in her twenties. Made entirely of purple light, she was wearing what had been light armor of the same material. Her left shoulder was missing, along with the entire arm. Even so, there was no indication that she was in pain. For that matter, there was no indication she felt anything whatsoever. Just as Dallion wasn’t able to sense normal emotions from void creatures, the only thing he was getting from her was a constant sound of static.
In preparation for the fight, Dallion split into sixty instances. He was half expecting the guardian to do the same. She didn’t.
Glowing eyes with barely a hint of humanity glanced at Dallion, after which the guardian darted towards him, sword in hand.
Dallion parried while the rest of his instances spread out, each casting a different spell. When it came to magic damage to one instance could well deal damage to all the rest. The blade of magic slammed into his harpsisword and stopped. For a fraction of a second, surprise became visible on the guardian’s face, as if she expected for the attack to pass through.
Spells rained at her from all sides, passing through as if she weren’t there.
Instances can’t harm her, Harp said. You must stick to reality only.
Similar to what Nil had done, Dallion thought. Actually, the similarities between the last awakening trial and the current vortex were too many to be mere coincidence. Vortex towers, void presence, even the echo’s ability to avoid attacks seemed more like a warning of things to come. The only problem was that like most warnings sent by the Moons, they were only visible in hindsight.
Magic symbols appeared all over the guardian’s body, like glowing tattoos. There were too many for Dallion to make out the possible spells they would create, which was why he went on the offensive with a spark line attack.
A third of the symbols faded out as the rest cast a series of aether barriers in front of the guardian. Ever multiplying, they shattered as quickly as they were created, though in the process managed to delay the strike for just long enough for the guardian to block it.
The mage principle held true—even with the impressive trait values, the guardian remained a spellcaster, not a fighter. Her initial attack was supposed to be a certain hit—magic wasn’t restrained by the physical. The guardian probably expected her blade to go through the harpsisword.
“Ruby,” Dallion said as he rushed forward with another line attack.
Wind slashes combined with the thread of destruction.

Damage dealt is increased by 10%

A hit. It wasn’t much, but it confirmed Dallion’s suspicions. Lacking one arm, and a lot of health, the guardian could only rely on secondary methods for casting spells, making her vulnerable to fast-paced disruptive attacks.
“There’s no need to fight,” Dallion said, adding slowness into his words. He knew that a guardian of her caliber would never fall for a music attack, but as things stood, every little bit was to his advantage. “We’re both human, after all.”
The music strands snapped long before they reached their intended target. However, his physical attacks kept her on the defensive. No longer seen as invulnerable, the guardian didn’t appear as threatening as before. Now she was closer to a low-level noble: powerful, yet with just enough weaknesses for one to take advantage.
Damage dealt is increased by 10%
Another of Ruby’s wing attacks managed to sneak through, reducing the guardian’s health to fifteen percent.
“The voidlings must have done a number on you.” Dallion unsummoned his armadil shield. He no longer needed that arm to defend himself; a lot more could be done by casting spells.
The harpsisword slashed half an inch from the woman’s torso. If he got a bit better, the fight could end right away.
“Acacia is a nice name,” Dallion pressed on. Aether projectiles shot out from his left hand, following an elliptical path to their target. Similar to Ruby’s attacks, most were negated by the guardian’s defenses, but a few managed to pass through, stacking up three red rectangles. “I didn’t know humans could be banished.”
You must have done something pretty terrible to deserve such punishment, he thought. Was it related to the Moons? Is it a curse?
“My task is an honor,” the guardian said, her voice high and echoy very much like the combination of sounds that Harp used when talking to Dallion. “And I’ll keep doing it after this fight is over.”
With seven percent health left, that sounded a bit optimistic. There was no way she could win at this point, no way for her even to manage a draw. Dallion’s greatest fear was that she’d perform an explosive spell in an attempt to take him with her. Yet, the guardian persistently continued casting protective barriers and on occasion try to counterattack in the moments between Dallion’s line attacks.
One could tell that she was trying to analyze his combat pattern. Her own, though, was somewhat off. The style was generally outdated, although it was difficult to tell for certain since she had only one arm to work with.
Why aren’t you fighting closer to the floor? Dallion wondered.
The deadly spikes emerging from it would have provided her with a definite advantage. The magic of the vortex wasn’t capable of harming her. For that matter, why had she fought the voidlings in the air?

Damage dealt is increased by 10%

One percent life. A single strike was all that kept Dallion from achieving victory. It was tempting to let up a bit and give himself some slack. In the past, Dallion would have probably done so, allowing himself a brief conversation with the guardian. Now he knew better. The all-out attack was the only reason he hadn’t received any damage in the last fight. If he gave his opponent a chance, he might end up on the other foot, granting her the means to eject him from the vortex, or even worse.
“Sorry,” Dallion said, following up with a multi point attack.
Aether barriers shattered in the hundreds. No longer to keep up with the attacks, the stacks thinned, then disappeared altogether.

Damage dealt is increased by 200%
VORTEX GUARDIAN has been defeated.

The purple rectangle emerged, marking the end of the fight. All magic spells cast by the guardian abruptly vanished. She, on the other hand, remained there.
Without hesitation, Dallion quickly places his left hand on her forehead. This was it, the moment every mage waited for. Dallion had found the hard way that, as difficult as dispersing a vortex was, it never came with a guarantee of absorption. Unlike awakening, mages were owed nothing—they had to take it.
Magic threads came out of Dallion’s fingers, then pulled hers in. A surge of power went through his body, filling him up with energy.

You have assimilated the GUARDIAN’s magic, increasing your magic trait to twenty-seven.

As Dallion’s magic increased, that of the vortex dwindled. The threads composing the floor melted away, transforming it into a wireframe construct, then even they were gone, leaving Dallion in the Nerosal ruins corridor, a foot above the ground. All the gear he had started with was on him once more, as was Ruby. However, there was something different about the shardfly. There was a faint glow coming from its red wings. Also, it had slightly grown in size.
“You leveled up,” Dallion said in surprise. “Good job.”
From within his realm, Nox meowed, annoyed. Having to constantly deal with magic had prevented the crackling from leveling up. The only consolation was that Dallion had used his newfound abilities to grant it and the other inhabitants of his realm with new skills.
Joy, pride, and a sense of achieavement emanated from Ruby. The creature flew a circle round Dallion, then went back to its spot on his shoulder. A few moments later, its wings reduced in size.
“Illusion?” Dallion asked.
Partial, Ruby replied.
The shardfly was definitely following in Gleam’s footsteps.
With the vortex gone—and once Dallion had cast a new light spell—the inside of the room was visible. Similar to everything else in the ruins, it was mostly empty. The difference was that the few things that remained were items of a lot more modern nature and definitely something that most people wouldn’t normally use.
Parchment, quills, small shadowtech devices… Dallion had no idea what they were supposed to do. Despite a vaguely familiar Earth design, they remained alien, as if someone was copying foreign technology and guessing how it functioned.
“Clever. You made these during the festivals,” Dallion said. All those times that Adzorg pretended to hide away from the festivals, he was actually here, working on his grand device. As a former mage, he might even have had an agreement with the lord mayor to “explore” the ruins in search of dangerous devices, vortexes, or Moons know what else. Even so, he was a bit careless leaving this behind. Someone with a bit of knowledge would have easily seen the magic symbols on the paper.
Anyone here? Dallion asked.
The items seemed to have been placed there before he’d arrived in the city. There was no way that Adzorg would fear them talking to anyone. Unfortunately, there were no responses. The old mage had covered his tracks yet again. The only clue that he left was his work.
One by one, Dallion gathered all pieces of paper, writing materials, and strange devices. There weren’t many of them. With no engineers in the world, it was going to be difficult to make anything out, especially since they were considered failures to be left behind.
What are you thinking? The armadil shield asked.
“A few things.” Dallion examined one of the devices closer. No larger than a lighter, it was made of multiple pieces of metal—alloys containing sun gold—though no gears or obvious power source. And, while the world was unfamiliar with concepts regarding electronics or advanced engineering, someone in the Shimmering Circle might.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this story, consider joining my patreon or check out my other stories on redditserials:
The Scuu Paradox (a Space Opera Sci Fi)
The Cassandrian Theory (a Space Opera Sci Fi)
The Impeccable Adventure of the Reluctant Dungeon (Dungeon Core Adventure Comedy)
Uncharted Waters (An Urban Fantasy Detective Noir)
submitted by LiseEclaire to redditserials [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 22:39 Tyranitron [Fanfic] A Beast's Heart Ch.40

Hey everyone! I managed to finally do what I planned and alternate fics with each chapter xD. I don't know what it is, but I get hyper focused here and there and then I can get such writer's block with certain things while writing but then get in a zone after managing to get past certain sections. Anyway, this is the second of three planned Linked Souls Day chapters, the next one being the last and from there just hopefully one more chapter that serves as a prelude and transition into the canon events. But don't quote me fully on this as it MIGHT turn into two chapters depending on if I can fit everything in it. But I'm excited to get into the canon material as I've had plans for it since 2020 xD. Anyway, I'm going to likely swap back to my Helluva Boss fic to do a chapter than swap back to this as I want to try to prevent any burn out. Fair warning, I might get a lil hyper focused on the HB fic, but I will do my best to keep a good balance and get back to this as soon as possible.
As I've said before both of these fics are passion projects that I intend to finish no matter how long it takes as I love writing in both worlds. Also, I'm still sticking to this being set pretty much in Japan given everything in canon and sticking to those sensibilities and laws while not neglecting my own western ones and other westerners. I know I've put the disclaimer bout the Nazomi and Sebastian relationship on every prior chapter focusing on then, I just want to make it clear each time this is being handled with care and the maturity it demands. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy and I might get the next chapter out maybe early next month or near the end of this one depending on how things go, but I WILL get it out.
Also, curious what everyone thinks about my introduction of a Valentines equivalent.
After Shinoku and Vega left to meet up with Anya and Sheila, Sebastian took the time to finish getting ready for when he’d meet up with Nazomi. Just like his friends, Sebastian took his time to make sure that he looked good enough for their rendezvous, putting on some clothes he had that looked very similar to the Cherryton uniform aside from differing colors and other minor things. Also like Shinoku and Vega, he had gotten Nazomi a gift as well. After making sure he was good and ready for his meet up with Nazomi, Sebastian went back to reading to pass the time till he needed to head down the hill to meet up with her. As he waited, Sebastian heard his phone ring, quickly going to see who it was and answering it when he saw it was his mother.
“Hello Sebastian.” His mother said as he answered the phone. “I hope you’re well.”
“Hi mom.” he replied. “Yeah, I’m doing well.”
“That’s good to hear. How are your grades, I trust you’re keeping them high like you always do.” His mother inquired.
“I am.”
“That’s good to hear, you always do your best. Though, I’m not sure why you don’t do cram school like your brother did and your sister is doing. It’s nice that you work hard, don’t get me wrong, but I just want to make sure you’re living up to your full potential.” She said, her tone carrying that always subtle pressure of a proud lioness with high expectations.
And there it was; while she did care for him like any lion mother, she always wanted him to live up to the standards and the image of what a lion should be. Not that she was any different from any other lioness towards her kids, they all knew they had to make sure that the reputation of the king of beasts was maintained. It was an ever present driving force for lions; to stand apart, set the example, excel and push yourself to ever higher points and positions. It was both the greatest driving factor, and the most dangerous threat to a lion. While most would manage to get by and repress the toll it took or even thrive; for others, it would be far too much pressure. It was what lead to so many lions to go to the back alley, to form the likes of the shishigumi or join it.
Sebastian took a moment, the pressure of his mother’s expectations briefly showing before he quickly composed himself. “I understand mom, don’t worry, I have everything planned out.” he assured her. “I’m just tackling things in a way that allows me to give my full attention to my grades here. It’s not that I’m not interested in cram school, I just think it’s more logical to not have my focus split too much.”
“Always the analytical one my little Seby.” his mother commented. “But you only focus on your schoolwork and your reading, even your brother managed to handle doing cram school AND being on his school’s baseball team. He always did so well, even as a cub. Your sister’s also excelling in her gymnastics.” She added. His mother never overtly sounded disappointed, but the subtle nudges and constant reminding of his siblings’ achievements spoke volumes of her wanting him to be like them and every other lion. Why couldn’t she just understand that while he had the potential like every other lion, he just didn’t have the interest? Wasn’t it enough that they were bringing home trophies to show off?
Sebastian let the pressure he felt slip slightly once more before regaining his composure again. “That’s good to hear they’re doing so well…” he said in a cheerful voice. “You don’t need to worry though mom, I’ll make sure I get into a good college, plus all my teachers like me. Getting a recommendation good enough to be accepted won’t be hard to get.”
“True, your teachers always liked you.” His mother said. “But it’s just so rare for a lion not to do cram school. At least, in terms of the ones wanting to make a good life for themselves.” she commented in a veiled implication that a lot of the lions who chose not to were always trouble makers and bad seeds.
“I know mom.” Sebastian replied. “But I do have a career path set and I’m not going to stray from it.”
“And given the way you study and your grades I have no doubt. I can’t wait to hear what prestigious college you become the head over. But you might decide to be something equally important to society.” his mother commented. He never dared once to say he wanted to just teach, he didn’t even care where. All he ever said when what he wanted to be came up was something potentially in education and just smile and nod when his mother would suggest stuff. “By the way, have you found a nice lioness yet?”
“No, not yet mom.” Sebastian replied. He didn’t even dare to think about giving her a hint that he had found someone, knowing full well the questions that ensue about her and wanting to see a picture of or talk to her.
“That’s a shame, I hate to hear that you’re alone on Linked Souls Day. Are you looking?” his mother asked.
“Yes mom, I am.” Sebastian lied. “I’ll find someone, it just takes time for some.”
“But you’re so handsome, are you sure you’re looking or giving good impressions?”
“I am…” Sebastian replied as he held back a sigh.
“Alright. But just know that I have a few friends with very nice daughters, I could always introduce you to.”
Sebastian pinched his brow. “Thanks...but I’m sure I’ll find someone soon.”
“OK, just don’t get so caught up in your studies that you forget.” his mother commented. “Anyway, I need to get going, your father’s going to be taking me out for a romantic date. He says hi by the way.”
“I won’t.” Sebastian said as he composed himself once more. “And that sounds nice, tell him I say hello.”
“Sure. And Sebastian, keep working hard and making us proud.” his mother said before hanging up.
Sebastian let out a sigh as he hung up his phone, putting it back in his pocket. As he did so, Hassan looked at him. “I get the whole familial pressure, it’s not fun. I can only imagine what it’s like with being a lion.”
“She means well…” Sebastian replied.
“Clearly given the expressions you let slip.” Hassan pointed out. “I’m not trying to say your mother’s horrible, but her intentions aren’t exactly selfless.”
“It’s just how it is for us lions.”
“Well if you ask me it’s a bunch of bullshit.” Jax commented.
Hassan just shrugged. “Like Sebastian said, it’s just what it is. All we can do is just not let it get to us and forge our own paths the best we can when it comes to expectations.”
“Anyway, I better start heading out, it’s getting close to time for me to meet up with miss Nazomi.” Sebastian said as he stood up, walking over to get the flowers and gift for Nazomi.
“Sure you don’t need any help?” Hassan asked.
“I’ll be fine.”
Hassan nodded. “Alright.”
“Keep living the dream dude, maybe you’ll get to spend the night with her.” Jax said with a wide grin.
Sebastian just rolled his eyes at Jax before walking out to meet up with Nazomi, not even wanting to respond to the comment. As he headed down to the main floor of the dorm, Sebastian felt a combination of excitement and nervousness. It was his first time celebrating Linked Souls Day with anyone, not that he was ever really bothered about not being able to do so in the past. Sebastian also felt a bit guilty due to the fact that because he was a student and Nazomi a teacher, he couldn’t really do anything publicly with her let alone the fact that she was preparing the meal for them to eat.
Deep down he was a romantic at heart, much maligning the fact that he couldn’t be the one to treat her to a cooked meal. It didn’t really feel right that on Linked Souls Day she was doing most the work. It was just something that he would make sure to do in the future if things got that far with them. Although he still worried about being the potential cause of her losing her job. That, and exactly when and how he was going to introduce her to his parents when he was no longer a student. Hopefully he’d have it figured out when the time came.
Sebastian let out a sigh as he exited the boy’s dorm. Despite all the worries, he still deep down found himself hoping that this would work out. Even with the returning thought of this being just a potential rebellion against his parents and their expectations, he could not deny how he felt about the older feline. Especially with their first date still ever present in his mind. No matter what challenges or obstacles they might face, he was willing to face them, his resolve hardening all the more. Even if it ended up with them having to end things before something bad happened, he’d rather live knowing he tried his best than giving into the fear and not trying to fight for his own happiness.
It didn’t take long for Sebastian to leave the school and get down the hill to where Nazomi said she would be waiting for him, and as he got to their rendezvous spot he stopped. His eyes widened as he felt his heart about to beat out of his chest. Before him stood Nazomi next to her car, dressed in a rather nice satin button down green blouse and black business skirt with a slit on the left side that fit her perfectly. She looked beautiful, so much so that Sebastian felt his cheeks were on fire and his heart was about toleap out of his chest as he blushed, unable to really say anything for a few moments.
“W-wow…” he managed to say as he managed to walk over to Nazomi. “You look...amazing.”
Nazomi smiled a bit. “Thank you, I did try.” she said as she blushed ever so slightly. “I would have worn a dress, but I didn’t want to arouse any real suspicion…”
“It’s fine, there’s not a time I’ve seen you where you didn’t look beautiful.” Sebastian said as he continued to blush, rubbing the back of his head as he did so.
Nazomi blushed more. “You look quite handsome yourself, and just as professional as I do.” she commented. “At least it won’t look too suspicious...I hope.”
“I’m sure it won’t.” Sebastian commented before blinking. “Oh, right, I got you these.” Sebastian added as he handed her the bouquet.
“Awe, thank you love.” Nazomi almost cooed as she took the flowers. “They’re beautiful, I can’t remember the last time I got flowers...Thank you.”
Sebastian smiled as he then handed her a smallish wrapped box. “I also got you this.”
Nazomi blinked as she took the gift, opening it to see it was a bottle of perfume. Taking it out of the box she gave it a sniff. “It smells wonderful, I can’t imagine how much this was…”
“It’s nothing, I saw it one day and thought it’d suit you. So I saved up to make sure I could get you it for today.”
Nazomi smiled, tail flicking as a purr emitted from her throat. “You really are too sweet.” she said as she moved to put the gifts up and then hugged Sebastian. “Again, thanks.” she added as she gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Shall we?”
“Yes.” Sebastian replied, giving Nazomi a nuzzle.
The two got in Nazomi’s car, Sebastian first asking if he should maybe hide out of site like in the trunk only for Nazomi to insist that he sit in the passenger seat. Despite his concerns she said if anyone asked, she was just helping him get to Linked Souls Day meet up. Which, in the most technical sense was not a lie. Sebastian nodded, getting in the passenger seat before Nazomi started her car up and drove.
As They drove through the city to Nazomi’s house something hit Sebastian that he could not believe he didn’t think about even when he had first seen the female cat. “Hey, Mrs. Nazomi?” he asked as he looked at her.
“Yes love?” she asked.
“I just’re a bit tall for an oriental shorthair. It’s something I should have realized sooner, are you…”
“A mixed species?” Nazomi finished asking for him with a slight smile. “Most don’t really take note until they hit their growth spurts and outgrow me by whatever their heights usually are depending on species. But yes, I am.” she answered. “I’m one third panther on my mother’s side.”
Sebastian blinked, that would explain why she was a bit more ebony in her fur color and why she was taller than the typical shorthair. In fact, her coming up to just under the mid point of his chest hadn’t come off as odd until he thought about it. With some growth still to come, odds are she’d likely be at his gut or just over his waist by the time he finished growing. Not that it was really a problem or he minded, it was just an observation he made.
His eyes glanced over at the scenery as they drove, taking in the buildings and noting that they were sticking to a fairly nice part of town. He then glanced over at Nazomi, taking in how beautiful she looked with a blush, she really was quite something. Sebastian found himself moving his hand closer to hers when they stopped at a red light. Nazomi smiled as she noticed, her hand moving towards his as they held hands for a moment before the light turned green. It did become a thing though with each stop they had to make, both of them enjoying the sign of affection.
It didn’t take too long until they had entered in a rather nice looking neighborhood, about the kind Sebastian assumed Nazomi might live in. It was nice and modest and the house that Nazomi pulled in to was just as nice looking. Thankfully, most of her neighbors were either out celebrating the holiday or doing so in their homes.“Here we are.” Nazomi said warmly.
“It’s a nice looking home.” Sebastian said as the two got out.
“Thanks. It’s really nothing all that special, but it’s nice and cozy and it’s really all I need.” Nazomi replied as she got the gifts Sebastian had gotten before heading to the door with the lion, both their tails flicking and even entwining a bit as they approached it. When they got to the door Nazomi fumbled a bit as she got her keys to unlock it.
“Allow me.” Sebastian offered as he helped her unlock the door, opening it for her.
“Thank you.” Nazomi smiled as she took a quick look around before pecking his cheek. “I’ll put these up while you make yourself at home. I haven’t quite started what I was going to fix, so it will be a bit longer before we eat.”
“You haven’t?” Sebastian inquired. “Then mind if I help? I feel bad that you’re doing a lot of the work and it’s only right that I do everything I can for you today.”
Nazomi smiled as she looked at him. “You’re such a kind, sweet, animal Sebastian. I don’t mind, really.”
“I insist.”
Nazomi chuckled slightly. “You really are a gentleman aren’t you?” she mused.
Sebastian blushed a bit as he rubbed the back of his head. “I just...I want to do whatever I can. You’re a wonderful woman and a great teacher. And, well, I want to take any and every opportunity I can get to treat you right because you deserve it.” the lion said as he blushed some more, conviction clear to see in his eyes.
Nazomi couldn’t help but blush, his words having touched her more than anything in her past relationships. “Alright, how about this? If you want to help me then let’s make it a thing and finish cooking it together?” she offered with a smile.
“I’d like that.” Sebastian agreed with his own smile.
“Alright, just give me a moment.”
Sebastian nodded as Nazomi went to go put up the gifts that Sebastian jad gotten her. As she headed off, Sebastian found his eyes wandering over her form, taking in her figure that was shown off by her attire as well as lower, noting her slightly swaying hips and…tail. Sebastian cursed himself as he moved his eyes to something else. Sure he was still a teenager, a boy, but he prided himself in being better than most. Sure he had his...moments, as Jax so brazenly pointed out. But the last thing he wanted was to be that inappropriate towards Nazomi, even if he did, at times, allow some indulgences here and there.
When Nazomi got back she smiled. “Alright, ready?”
Sebastian nodded. “Yes.”
“OK, should be done in half the time with both of us working on it.”
Nazomi lead Sebastian to the kitchen to show him that she was preparing, a fruit lasagna with the usual accompaniments. After Sebastian looked over the recipe she was using, one from the cooking show Happy Happy Cooking that was toted to be one of their more popular ones among carnivores. he set to work helping her, working side by side as they prepared the fruit, making sure that everything was layered properly. Like in the car, ever now and then Nazomi and Sebastian would briefly hold hands as they prepared the meal, satisfying their feline proclivity for touch contact. It wasn’t too long before they had the lasagna in the oven and the accompanying bread.
“Alright, shouldn’t be too long for it to fully cook, thanks for the help.” Nazomi said as she nuzzled Sebastian, giving him an affectionate hug as well. “In the meantime, we can go over some of my old notes and other things while we wait to help you out with your career path if you like.”
“Sure.” Sebastian smiled as he nuzzled and hugged her back, the two staying like that for a good minute.
“I’ll go get them then.” Nazomi said as she finally and somewhat hesitantly separated to go get her old college notes and study material, returning shortly after with them.
While the food cooked Nazomi went over various things she had to study and learn with Sebastian, covering things they hadn’t gone over from prior times and quizzing him on material they had. To Sebastian, this was like cram school in a sense, getting ready for what he’d need to know to excel in college, only with a more...personal and romantic one on one touch. While he never had issue with paying attention to any of his teachers, Sebastian always hung on every word Nazomi said. To him, her voice was just as beautiful as everything else about her. And just like all the times before, they shared affections with each other.
It seemed like no time at all when the food was done, the two of them chalking it up to them just enjoying each other’s company so much. As Nazomi got the lasagna and bread Sebastian set the table before helping her prepare their plates. As he finished helping her he noticed her take out some wine glasses and a bottle of wine and pouring some of the red liquid in each, although one was more of a sample serving compared to the other, before putting it up and placing them on the table.
“Wine?” Sebastian inquired.
“Just to help things feel a bit more normal.” Nazomi explained. “You don’t have to even drink it. But I was your age once, Rex it only feels like yesterday, and even back then sampling wine wasn’t wrong. That first date we had where you encouraged me to not deny myself any wine, where we acted like a teacher and student just having a meet up to discuss things, stayed on my mind for a while. It wasn’t right that there was some inequality, a full romantic atmosphere. So, I figured sense we’re in private I’d have us on an even level or give the feeling of it. But as I said, you don’t have to drink it.” she said before sitting down.
Sebastian blushed, smiling as he sat down. “Thank you, love.” he said with a fair bit of warmth in hid voice.
It never ceased to surprise the other that both worried about the other’s feelings and the challenges they had to face with their secretive relationship. Something that mad each grow more attached to the other was when a few days after their first date Nazomi had confessed to Sebastian that she was far more hesitant and worried than she let on. Revealing she had been hiding the anxiety of them being a thing and was actually on the verge of suggesting they just call the attempt off out of fear as well as the revelation of his uncle. But she had decided to go through with it because of how truly genuine and good a man he was among other things that made her want to try. Sebastian himself had also confided in her his own concerns and worries about it and her, which made her just feel all the stronger for him over time.
“By the way, how has your day been so far?” Sebastian asked as he began to eat, taking a bite of the lasagna. “Oh, this is delicious.”
“It is.” Nazomi agreed as she took a bite of it. “It’s all thanks to you though, doubt it would have been as good without a little help.” she said with a smile. “As for my day, it’s gone well so far, just the usual grading of papers and preparing for the coming weeks’ lessons. Same old, same old, really. So far the rest of the students I have are nice and do there best. Despite what issues some might cause outside of the classroom I don’t really have to deal with any troublemakers really. Maybe a few slackers or an unmotivated student, but that’s about it.”
“Well you’re a great teacher, I find it hard to believe that any pf my peers would want to cause any trouble in your class. Not only that, but you’re very nice and helpful too.” Sebastian commented.
A smile formed on Nazomi’s mouth as her ebony fur darkened. “Thank you, you’re always so sweet Sebastian.” she said as she purred a bit. “Honestly, I think you’re one of the best students at the school, you work hard and are always so polite. I know you’ll go far with being a teacher.”
Sebastian blushed heavily. “Thank you…” he said with a half smile. “Though I will admit, keeping it up can be a bit— stressful. Comes with being a lion, expectations and familial pressure.” he admitted
Nazomi blinked as she looked at him. “Is it that hard?”
“It’s, well…”
Nazomi moved her hand to rest on top of his. “You can tell me if this is something negatively effecting you Sebastian.”
The lion sighed a bit. “It is hard. Being a lion you’re seen as the king of beasts, someone who’ll go far and have high positioned jobs or in some form of leadership. That image both helps and hurts us, becoming a driving factor of pushing ourselves as much as possible to keep to a standard. It’s something that permeates every lion family, the mothers and fathers pushing their kids to do something worthy of being a lion. Cram school is seen as an expected and normal thing to do and those who don’t do it are mostly looked down on as they are often those that end up in gangs or didn’t try hard enough.”
Nazomi’s hand gripped his, squeezing gently. “Is your family pressuring you?”
“Not...entirely. My mother often brings up what my older brother and my sister are doing and keeps suggesting I try to do the same. She doesn’t seem disappointed, but there’s just something about her voice…” Sebastian admitted. “She is happy that I’m doing well, but I know she expects more. She thinks I’m planning to go into an education position that’s high up, or at a prestigious university when I don’t care where I teach so long as I do some good.”
Nazomi squeezed his hand again, feeling bad for the lion. “That’s not all that good Sebastian, have you thought about bringing it up to a councilor?”
Sebastian shrugged. “Somewhat. But as I said, this permeates lions as a whole, it’s far too ingrained to really be dealt with. Thankfully my situation isn’t too bad, it cab be far worse. Plus, I like learning so it’s not that big of a deal. I also have my friends and, well, you.” he smiled.
Nazomi blushed heavily. “I see…”
“I hope I didn’t make things awkward or anything…”
“No, no! You’re fine Sebastian.” Nazomi assured. “It’s good you have a support system and you don’t really let it get to you, you’re very strong for that. Will you tell your mother you’ll try to teach anywhere?”
“Eventually, yes, when I’m nearing the end of my higher education and am about to apply to various places.” Sebastian answered. “Just like how I’ll tell her about us when I’m a bit into my freshman year at college or before I get into college if we get that far, which I hope we do and keep doing. You are an amazing woman and to be honest, to me you are far more exceptional than any other.”
Nazomi blinked, her fur becoming more dark red than ebony black as her heart melted. He was the kindest, most genuine soul she had ever met and continued to prove he was mature beyond his years. “I— thank you Sebastian.” she said with a soft purr, falling a fair bit more for the lion.
From there the two continued to talk as they ate, taking their time and enjoying each other’s company as they swapped stories about their childhood. Nazomi found herself surprised as she learned that even as a young kid Sebastian was well mannered and somewhat bookish. She felt comfortable around him, able to share with him more embarrassing things like the time she was so nervous to do a presentation in high school that she messed up a word or two or when she practically face planted when she was looking at a crush. It just felt right and natural to be so open with him.
When they had finished eating, Sebastian even having drank the small bit of wine, he and Nazomi cleared the table. Sebastian even helped her with the dishes before they went back to going over some more of Nazomi’s old papers and work to help prepare him. It seemed like no time once more as they noticed the sun was start to set.
“Is it really that late already?” Nazomi asked as she looked at her clock, taking note of the time.
“Looks like it.” Sebastian commented.
“My how time flies, it seems to go so slow until well…” she blushed. “I’m around you.”
Sebastian blushed heavily. “Yeah…”
“Thank you for the lovely time, as well as the gifts and helping out, not many guys are as considerate as you.” Nazomi commented.
“Well, you’re worth any effort…” the lion blushed.
Nazomi smiled, blushing as well. How could this lion keep finding ways to make her heart feel like it was a puddle? She hadn’t really met many guys with the ability to do that over the years, more so not in recent years. It had gotten to the point where she just really stopped looking. But then Sebastian came around and made her feel things she hadn’t felt in a long time. His gentlemanly studious nature and willingness to be so considerate, among other things, just had her more enamored with each time they were together. The fact that he was willing to take things so slow, deny himself the most basic of typical teenage experiences that most his age were having just made him seem too good to be true. And yet, there he was proving to be just that good.
Then there was the fact that while she did do a fare share for the holiday he had not only helped out, but went out of his way to get her flowers and a rather nice gift, not expecting anything special in return and just wanting to treat her right. As the lion got up from where they had been sitting she stood. “Sebastian, before I take you back to Cherryton...I think you deserve another kiss.”
Sebastian blinked as he blushed. “I don’t want you to feel obligated to…”
“No, I want to.” Nazomi admitted with a smile. “The only true thing that’s tricky with our relationship is that you’re a student and I’m a teacher. You’ve proven time and again just how good a man you are and that you are someone I...have looked for.” she blushed. “So I don’t see us kissing, at least in private and while off school grounds as being an issue. I know you’d never take advantage of me and I want to reward you for such, and for treating me to one of the best times I’ve had in a while.”
Sebastian’s tail started to flick happily as he smiled. “Alright.”
The two approached each other, embracing as they leaned in to share a kiss. Just like with their first, it was utterly electrifying for Sebastian. The feel of Nazomi’s lips unlike anything he felt before as his heart beat out of his chest as he started to purr. Sebastian enjoyed every second that the kiss lasted, his hands starting to subconsciously roam along her back a bit, though he would catch and restrain himself before they went too low.
Nazomi for her part pressed a bit firmer than last time, what with it being a holiday for love. As they kissed she noticed that Sebastian’s hands roaming along her back, taking in her form and the feel of her body and causing her to purr a fair bit. She smiled as she noticed he restrained himself from doing anything inappropriate, knowing her trust in him would never be misplaced. Although she promised to herself one day when he was no longer a student, she’d allow him to no longer restrain himself.
As she finally broke the kiss Nazomi smiled. “That was a wonderful kiss, possibly better than the first.” she giggled.
“Y-yeah…” Sebastian agreed, his cheeks a dark red.
“Thank you for being such a gentleman and not taking advantage.” Nazomi commented as they stayed embraced.
“I’d never.”
“I know love.” she smiled. “And that is why I will make you this promise. If we manage to make it to when you are out of school, then you have permission to not restrain yourself anymore as we’ll be in the clear. Not that you’d need my permission at that point” Nazomi giggled. “Anyway, we best get going before it gets too dark.”
Sebastian’s blush deepened all the more. “Yeah…”
The two headed back out to Nazomi’s car, first checking for anyone that might notice before getting in and driving off. The ride back went much like the first, the two briefly holding hands here and there as they made their way through the city. It was something that both Sebastian and Nazomi seemed almost unable to resist doing. Hell, when they had walked back to Nazomi’s car their tails entwined again.
When they got back to the bottom of the hill that Cherryton rested on the moon had not been fully risen for too long. “Thanks again for the lovely Linked Souls Day, I haven’t really celebrated it in so long.” Nazomi said as she parked the car.
“No problem, hopefully our next date can be somewhat soon.” Sebastian replied with a smile. “I hope the rest of your weekend goes well.”
“Thank you Sebastian, you too, I’ll see you Monday.” Nazomi smiled.
Sebastian was about to get out when he stopped. “Nazomi?”
“Mind if we...have one more kiss?” Sebastian asked as he blushed.
Nazomi smiled as a giggle escaped her lips. “I suppose not, it’s only right to have a goodnight kiss after a date.”
The two leaned in close, sharing in one more kiss as they rested a paw on the back of each other’s head, purring loudly as they did so. When the kiss broke a few moments later Sebastian smiled. “Good night.”
“Good night love.”
Sebastian got out of the car, walking back up the hill as Nazomi turned her car around and left. The lion smiled as his heart continued to race, he was as happy as he had ever felt and was all the happier that Nazomi felt the same way as he did. While it was true their relationship had a strong possibility of stopping if they were ever in great enough danger of being found out, it seemed that she was daring for it to work as much as he was. Whether it did or not, only the future knew.
submitted by Tyranitron to Beastars [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 22:25 coolwali I platinummed EVERY Batman Arkham game on PS VITA

Hello everyone. I recently platinummed every Batman Arkham Game on the PSVITA and would like to talk about the experience.
Lets start with the first Arkham game released on VITA, 2013's Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate. A sort of sister game to Arkham Origins. Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate (which I'm just going to call BAOB for short) was initially released for the 3DS and VITA and has been ported to other PS4, XB1 and PC. Unlike other Arkham games, BAOB is a 2.5 side scrolling Metroidvania-type game. It has a sorta similar freeflow combat system and predator sections comparable to the console games. The premise of the game is that a few months after the events of Arkham Origins, a riot breaks out at Blackgate penitentiary. With Joker, Black Mask and Penguin taking control of different sections of the prison. Batman has to work with Catwoman (her first canonical appearance in the ArkhamVerse) and explore different sections of the prison to contain the situation.
The game really takes advantage of its metroidvania premise. Batman enters Blackgate with just the baterang and a basic Cryptographic Sequencer that can only hack the most basic looks. You must then explore the rest of the prison, going in between areas to collect the rest of Batman's gadgets (it's a little weird why Batman's gear is in various WayneTech crates scattered randomly all over the place but eh, you kinda need that for a Metroidvania) to overcome obstacles.
Batman's final goal is to reach the Arkham Wing of the prison. To this, he needs to take down the 3 main bosses, Joker, Black Mask and Penguin to gain access as Joker has the administration codes and has taken control of the Admin building. Black Mask has shut off the power to the Arkham Wing (and his tampering of the generators risks blowing up the place) and has taken control of the Industrial Section of Blackgate. Penguin has taken control of the Cell Blocks and is directly guarding the door to the Arkham Wing.
The main "gimmick" here is that you can tackle these bosses in any order you want. And the game changes depending on which order you choose. Like, the entire final sequence of the game is entirely different depending on which boss you did last. Doing Joker last has him rig these 5 gas filled presents you must disarm. And these presents are placed all over Blackgate. Doing Penguin last changes the ending sequence to needing to rescue 5 hostages guarded by elite minigun enemies that need to be taken out by the Batclaw. These hostages are in completely different areas to Joker's presents. Doing Black Mask last has the ending sequence consist of needing to get to 5 different junction boxes, "activating them", then racing to find the 3 panels they connect to nearby in a short amount of time to hit them with the explosive gel (I personally found this to be the most fun of the 3 ending sequences). These junction boxes are in different areas to the presents and hostages. The final cutscene is also different.
In addition, there are also more minor changes depending on your order. For example, saving Penguin for last has a mini-segment where when you are chasing him, he is able to lock Batman in a room and disperse some poison gas since he had more time to prepare traps for Batman as Batman was busy taking the other bosses down first.
The gameplay is also different but not in the way you expect. Like, the actual fights don't change depending on which order you do things in. Penguin will fight you the same way regardless of if he's the first or final boss you pick. But how you can fight him is different depending on which gadgets you picked up and when you choose to fight them.
Like, during my first playthrough of the game, I went after Penguin first and I found his boss fight extremely difficult. He packs these minigun wielding henchmen that can melt you if they see you. You cannot brute force or attack them like you can with other armed enemies. And there are no hiding spots so losing these alerted enemies is difficult. The only way to eliminate these enemies is to use the Batclaw on them but that takes a few seconds and alerts every enemy to you. If you get shot at while doing this, it deals heavy damage and frees the enemy. He also sends these drones out after you which cannot be dealt with. Suffice it to say, I died a lot. I barely squeaked through this fight.
On my second playthrough, I did Penguin second. As a result of doing Joker first and a good chunk of Black Mask's section, I had more armour and gadgets like the Shock Baterang and Explosive Gel Launcher which made Penguin's fight more manageable. You can use the Shock Baterang and Explosive Gel to destroy the drones and draw enemies to them. The added armour also helped me take a few more shots.
The most extreme example of this is with the Solomon Grundy Boss Fight you get as you are exploring Black Mask's sections. Normally, in this boss fight, Grundy charges Batman. You have to use the explosive gel launcher (that you get from Black Mask's section) to blow up these vents as Grundy charges through them which blinds him, and then blow up these junction boxes as the stunned Grundy goes underneath them. This shocks Grundy and damages him. He then destroys that Junction Box. You need to repeat this 2 more times with different junction boxes. But, if you have the Shock Batering (which you get from doing a good chunk of Joker's section first), you can just shock the water in front of Grundy as soon as the fight starts and beat him up to instantly KO him. So instead of a 3 phase fight where you need to time 2 different explosive gel uses and dodge a charging Grundy 3 times, it's a 1 phase fight where you just throw a Shock Batering and be done with an entire boss fight early. The game even gives you a trophy for it "Bad Case of the Mondays - Defeat Grundy using the Shock Batarang and water" (also, sidenote but Batman seems to be familiar with Grundy here. I thought this was supposed to be the first time Batman and Grundy met?).
Speaking of which, lets talk about what it takes to platinum this game. If you've read my prior platinum reviews, you'll notice I usually start by describing what the trophies are, how I got them and then a review of the game itself. I chose to instead do a summary of the game, then the trophies, then a review because this game is really confusing to platinum. Being a VITA game released in 2013 means there isn't as much info or resources on some aspects of the game or its trophies.
The game has 31 trophies. 16 of which are missable and requires at least 2.9 playthroughs to get all the trophies.
Part of this is due to Metroidvania nature of the game. Depending on which order you play the game, you can miss sections that house collectibles (for example, if you do Black Mask last, destroying the Junction Boxes takes you to an area of the Cell Blocks you have to no reason to really go to. Which houses 2 of Penguin's collectibles. Some armour and gadget upgrades can no longer be collected if you don't collect them before completing a playthrough), or not have the means to complete a challenge or once you complete it normally, it is no longer present to reuse. Such as the aforementioned Grundy trophy. Another example is the trophy "Unnecessary Roughness - Get a 50 hit combo" and " LEAGUE OF SHADOWS - Get a 100 hit combo". That trophy can only be gotten in one specific place in Joker's section as there is nowhere else in the game with enough armoured enemies for you to beat up on to get close to 100. And once you complete this fight, the enemies don't respawn. There are no challenge rooms or any equivalent.
I even tried doing this on other combat encounters and the most I was able to get was 83 even after playing perfectly and farming for high hits. In that one Joker section, I managed to get 123 and that was after multiple attempts. Though, I've read from others on other sites that this is RNG and results aren't consistent.
The collectibles were confusing to get. Both in collecting them and what to do for the trophies. BAOB has quite a few different collectibles. The first are Detective Cases. These shed light on the lore and background of the story and are really cool in that regard. I loved reading them and trying figure out the mystery before it was solved. However, they can be extremely annoying to find. Each Case requires you find between 2-6 corresponding clues scattered all over the game. These clues can be anything from a large broken door to a tiny USB flash drive to generic rubble. Unlike other Arkham games, Detective Vision doesn't automatically highlight items of interest for you. Instead you must stop and manually scan an area by dragging your finger across the touch screen to move a cursor. If the cursor lands on an item of interest, it will be green. Then it scans the item which takes about a second. It then becomes yellow in Detective Vision. If it's a Clue, the game will inform you you've found a Clue and which Detective Case it belongs to.
I love the idea of these Detective Cases and Clues, but the way the game handles them is pretty annoying. Like I said, the game doesn't highlight them beforehand and they can be literally anything. Often they are innocuous things that don't really stand out. Especially given how cluttered environments can be. It can be really hard to tell if a particular area even has a clue never mind what it even is. Especially as there often isn't much consistency in what clues can or can't be. Like, in a room filled with say, paper, computer monitors, rubble on the ground, lights etc any of these can be clues. In fact, all of the items I have listed are clues in other rooms. On top of that, some clues cannot be scanned unless Batman is in the correct position even though the perspective doesn't reflect that and you can see the collectible. For example, one of the clues, a USB Flash Drive, requires Batman to be next to it as there is a table blocking his view to the USB Flash Drive even though the player can see the USB and hover over it. And some Clues don't require this. One Clue was scanning this white cloth which was in the cross section of a wall while Batman was in a vent and couldn't even "see" from his perspective. But you could scan it from seemingly anywhere.
There is some signposting when the player might have found an area that houses a Clue. If the player finds a secret area like a vent that leads to a random cluttered room with nothing to interact with, that usually houses a Clue. But I feel that still highlights an issue, if aren't using a guide, you wouldn't know where or even if a Clue is in an area. And if it is, if you can even scan it or need to do something first. The end result is that it really slows the pace looking for Clues. The game doesn't have the equivalent of Riddler Maps that give you an accurate idea of what you're looking for and where (I can't believe this game made me miss Riddler trophies lol).
Detective Cases are also required for multiple trophies and carry over between NG+ runs. Meaning if you find a Clue in one playthrough, you do not need to re-scan it in a NG+ run. So if you can get all the Detective Cases early, you're set for the rest of the playthroughs. There are 2 trophies related to Detective Cases, "World's Greatest Detective - Complete all detective cases" which you can do on first playthrough (I recommend it as you're then set), and "The Collector - Find all detective cases and have all pickups and upgrades" which requires you have all the Detective Cases but cannot be achieved until the very end of your final playthrough.
The second set of collectibles are "Gear, Armour, Gadget and Gauntlet Upgrades". These include stuff like armour pieces (4 of which gives you more health which can be really helpful), Rush upgrades (Rush is a mechanic where if you have full health when you attack enemies, you do extra damage. I personally never saw much use in it) and Gauntlet Upgrades (increases the base damage of your attacks. But I personally never felt like they were that powerful). Gadgets also get upgrades. Such as the Batering being upgraded to the Shock Baterings or the Explosive Gel Launcher getting upgraded to the Explosive Glue Gel Launcher. You will find most of the gadget upgrades as part of the main story as they unlock more tools to explore the map. Wheras only one gadget upgrade (the proximity upgrade for the Gel Launcher) and all the Armour, Gear and Gauntlet ones are entirely optional and missable.
I like the idea of these upgrades. They are typical in Metroidvanias. But they aren't very useful in BAOB. Aside from armour which can help you in your first playthrough (but can be potentially redundant if you get a specific suit), Rush and Gauntlet don't make much of an impact. They don't even make bosses easier since you deal with them in preset ways anyway. The gadget upgrades are mostly mandatory anyway. But unlike Detective Cases, they appear as these black boxes/crates and if you scan one with Detective Vision, the rest will be highlighted in Detective Vision as well. So at least you "know" what they are when you see them.
These collectibles do not carry in between NG+ runs. So if you find all the upgrades in one playthrough, they will be present for another and you can collect them again to get the same upgrades as before. There are individual trophies for getting all the armour, gadget and gauntlet upgrades which you can get in any playthrough. However, you will need to re-collect them all for your final playthrough in order to get the Collector Trophy.
I really dislike this aspect. Aside from the fact you have to re-collect them to get the Collector trophy, even just for a casual NG+ run, one of the coolest aspect of a NG+ in a playthrough of any game is that you're powered up from the upgrades you got in prior run. In the other Arkham games, when you do a NG+ run, you have all the upgrades and most of the collectibles from your last playthrough (these games do compensate by taking away counter indicators). Which means in the case of BAOB, it's not really that much of a NG+ in terms of gameplay (ignoring the suits that is). I can understand not giving the player all the gadgets and their upgrades since that blocks progression. But I feel in the case of BAOB, you can already get most of the gadgets and their upgrades before you take on any of the big 3 bosses. Aside from the Cryptographic Sequencer upgrades, I genuinely feel you can give the player all the other gadgets and upgrades from the start of the game and it wouldn't break the game.
The third set of Collectibles are what I call "Boss Collectibles". These consist of 20 Joker Teeth (found in the Administration Building), 20 Penguin Birdcages (found in the Cell Blocks) and 20 Black Masks (found in the Industrial Building). You break them by throwing a Baterang at them. Though some Joker teeth and Penguin Birdcages will explode if you get close them since they are designed to be traps. That still counts as breaking them.
These Collectibles do not carry over in between NG+ Runs. So if you destroy 15 Joker Teeth in a playthrough, in NG+ it will act like you haven't destroyed any Joker Teeth. So all 20 are back in the world. There are individual trophies for getting each set of these collectibles but no trophy for getting them in conjunction with other trophies. The Collector Trophy doesn't require you get these collectibles as well (which none of the VITA guides I looked at mentioned. I had to go to Xbox Achievement forums to find that out). Meaning if you get all of these collectibles in a playthrough and get their corresponding trophies, then in NG+ run, they will still show up but you don't have to collect them again.
I'm not complaining that I don't have to re-collect these. But I ask why they respawn if they aren't counted for additional trophies? Surely it would be better if they stayed gone for NG+? My only guess would be that they indicate to a player they haven't fully explored an area yet?
Also, the trophy for the 20 Joker Teeth and 20 Penguin Birdcages are Silver. But why is the trophy for the 20 Black Masks Bronze? This is an insult to Black Mask! The Arkham Games really do Black Mask dirty. In Origins, he gets ousted as the main villain by Joker and in BAOB, he doesn't even get the same tier of trophy as the other 2 main bosses' collectibles.
The fourth set of collectibles are Suit Pieces. There are 5 suits you can get in BAOB. Only 3 of which are needed for any trophies. You have the standard Arkham Origins suit you start with (the game's description says it provides "minimal ballistic protection and offensive capabilities". Which is odd given how bulky and armoured it is. Like, it looks more powerful and armoured than all the other suits in the game lol). It offers no additional bonuses. You have the Beware the Batman suit from the CGI Animated show Beware The Batman (I remember watching a few episodes when I first came out. I remember liking it). It isn't "Batman wearing a suit inspired by that suit", it's that 3D model of Batman in the game. His proportions look whack. Like his chest is comically large since its not "realistic" like the other models in BOAB. If you've been the Animated Batman Suit in Arkham City, it's like that. I do like this skin. It's really cool and it offers a bonus in that reduces damage from firearms by 50% (I guess that animated chest is more powerful than Arkham Origin Batman's armour). You can only unlock this suit if you have played Arkham Origins on PS3. Fortunately, even if you haven't, it's not required for any trophies. The suits that are required for trophies are the Red Son Batsuit (which increases health regeneration by 50%), the New 52 Suit (increases damage by 25%), One Million Suit (decreases all damage taken by 25%) and the Darkest Night/Zombie suit (makes Batman invulnerable to all damage).
Apparently, on the remaster for PS4, XB1 and PC, there are more suits like the The Dark Knight Returns suit which makes you invulnerable and increases damage by 25%. But I won't be talking about that.
To unlock a suit for the trophies, you need to find the 5 pieces of the suit scattered over the game. The suits and all their pieces you've found carry over into NG+. So if you've found all the pieces for the Darkest Night suit and 4/5 pieces for the Red Son Suit, on your NG+, you will have access to the Darkest Knight suit and have 4/5 pieces for the Red Son Suit.
There is one catch with the suits, you cannot collect all the pieces in one playthrough. Remember earlier when I said the game has different ending sequences depending on which boss you fight last? This sequence also gives you a different final piece for one of the batsuits. Like, if you fight Joker last and do the present sequence, the final present contains the final piece of the Red Son Batsuit. If you do Penguin last, the final hostage contains the final piece of the New 52 Suit. And same for Black Mask and the 1 million suit. Meaning that in order to get all the suits, you need to NG+ this game twice so you can get the final pieces (and also the trophy for completing each of the sequences).
By the way, it is possible to accidentally miss picking up the final piece here. Requiring you to NG+ the whole game again and fight the same boss again last to get the piece again. So make sure you don't miss it.
But, any benefits these suits would give you is rendered moot by the Zombie suit. This is the only suit whose 5 pieces don't depend on how you play the game so you can get it no matter the playthrough. And it breaks the game. You are invulnerable to any damage. Including stuff like Joker gas so combat is a joke. The only place where you can still die is in Black Mask's boss fight as, if he shoots you, you die automatically for some reason. But that's not really a problem since you don't really fight him directly anyway. Every other combat encounter is trivial now. The only "downside" is that you are invulnerable but not invincible. Meaning enemies can still hit you which can stagger and stun Batman. This can interrupt any combos or moves he was doing. But that can be dealt with easily since you don't lose any health anymore.
Putting all this together, if you want to platinum this game (or more likely, the PS4/XB1/PC version since you aren't going to be playing this on the VITA lol), here's my "optimal" plan.
Playthrough 1: Try doing as much as you can of the Administration/Joker section first. This also gets you the Shock Baterang and Line Launcher gadgets. And the chance to try for the 100 hit combo trophy. Hopefully it's more doable if you go for it early and don't have any damage upgrades. Spam that stun beatdown move.
Once you rescue the Warden, go the Industrial Area and play through enough of Black Mask's section until you get the Explosive Gel Launcher.
At this point you are set to go after Joker or Penguin as you have all the tools you need to get to them (as you can get the remaining tools to get to them like the Batclaw and Tightrope upgrades are found along the way to the boss). The Shock Batering will make quick work of Grundy and make Penguin's boss fight easier.
I would recommend playing more of Black Mask's section until you get the green upgrade for the Cryptographer Sequencer as that can save you a second run all the way back to get the Glue upgrade but you can do this later if you want. It is a little confusing anyway if you haven't played the game before. The game eventually marks on the map where you have to go if you play "naturally".
Lets say you want to do Joker last for this playthrough and Penguin first. Head to the Cell Blocks and complete it as much as you can until Penguin hides in the Arkham Wing and Catwoman tells you that you can use the Lighthouse to get to Penguin. Before you leave the Cell Blocks to get to the Lighthouse, if you have the Green codes, you can get the Glue Gel upgrade and save yourself a trip. It is quite out of the way so if you're unsure where to go, you can ignore this and go straight to the Lighthouse and through it to get to Penguin.
Once Penguin is down, you can return to the Industrial Building and continue pursuing Black Mask. If you haven't gotten the Glue Upgrade yet in the Cell Blocks, the game marks for you where it is on your map. After you get it, you can go after Black Mask and take him down. Then backtrack to where Joker's section starts in Industrial. Follow it until you beat Joker.
You can then enter the Arkham Wing. Enter it, make sure you nab the Zombie Suit Piece located here. Then do Joker's Present Ending Sequence, making sure to grab the final Red Son Suit piece. Then, before you go to the Lighthouse for the final confrontation with Catwoman, try scouring the 3 main areas and get the collectibles of interest. For a first playthrough, I advise getting all the Detective Cases, Joker Teeth, Penguin Birdcages, Black Masks and all remaining suit pieces. That way, you don't have to worry about them again. You can ignore any optional armour, gauntlet and Rush upgrades for now. I recommend collectibles guides online.
Once you beat Catwoman, start a NG+ on the same save file you just beat the game with.
Playthrough 2: Lets say you want to beat Black Mask last for this one.
Put on the zombie suit for the invincibility.
Repeat what I said earlier about Administration first, then Industrial and get the Explosive Gel (and Green Codes early if you want). You can then backtrack and go after Joker since he's in the same building anyway. Then go to the Cell Blocks and go after Penguin. You can then get the Glue Gel upgrade along the way. Leaving you set for Black Mask. Make sure to grab his suit piece. Complete the story and do another NG+ on that save file.
Playthrough 3: Now lets say you want to do Penguin last.
Same deal. Admin first. Then industrial. Only now, you have to get the Green Codes early. You can go after Joker now. Then go to the Cell Blocks. You can choose to play some of Penguin's section until he flees to the Arkham Wing and then get the Glue Gel upgrade here if you want. But you have to get the Glue Gel Upgrade here to be able to go after Black Mask.
Once you do that, and then go after and take down Penguin and then get his suit piece. You are now free to go after any remaining upgrade collectibles one final time. Then you're done. No need to beat the game for the 3rd time.
So yeah, BOAB isn't difficult to platinum once you know what to do but it is confusing to even know what you have to do even if you have a guide at times.
As for the game itself, my feelings on it are complicated. If you asked me what I thought of the game during and even after my first playthrough, I'd tell you I really disliked the game. Maybe even that I hated the game. Because BOAB doesn't make a good first impression.
Let start with the combat. On the surface, it looks similar to typical Arkham combat. You do strikes, can bounce between enemies, counter attacks, cape stun, jump over enemies and ground takedown. Only on a 2D plane. Enemies can move a bit "up and down" on that plane but Batman will usually adjust his position as well to compensate. The issue is the flow and responsiveness. Like, in the main Arkham games, when you're fighting a group of enemies and there is a knife or armoured enemy coming at you and you need to respond, you can typically either try cape stunning them early or jumping ovearound them to evade them. If you do this, Batman will typically "lunge" at the enemy which closes the distance and keeps the flow going. If you have to cape stun an enemy, the game will help you out by prioritizing the most dangerous enemy and even cape stunning multiple enemies if your cape stun gets them as well. This is a bit forgiving, sure, but it ensures the controls are responsive and the player's intentions are read.
BAOB messes this up royally. Moves like the cape stun and counter have no "lunge" nor can they work on multiple enemies at once. So if you do a cape stun, Batman will do it right in front of him. If there isn't an enemy exactly right in front of him, the attack will whiff and you will take a lot of damage. If an enemy is about to attack you and you try responding but there is another enemy close by or next to him, Batman may target that one instead and you will take a lot of damage. Even the dodge/evade move is whack and arguably even less responsive. You are supposed to be able to jump over enemies that are right in front of you by double tapping X but there were times I mashed it and it wouldn't work (and other times it did). And other times when it did register, Batman would do a normal roll which is useless and would result in taking damage. The end result is a combat system that works against the muscle memory learned from every other Arkham game and is still less fun because of how unresponsive it is.
The game has Predator Stealth Sections but they aren't as fun as the main versions. In part because of the limited gadgets and moves. But also partly to the design. Armed enemies do crazy amounts of damage, have great eyesight and can track you much further. Many environments often aren't even big enough or offer enough ways to lose enemies' attention. Resulting in a much slower "trial and error" approach as you find the one set of moves and silent takedowns that work. Even standard moves and approaches in other Arkham games aren't as helpful here. For example, snaring enemies onto gargoyles/vantage points is useless because it attracts too much attention and enemies will see you moving away after doing it.
The other Arkham games were more fun here because the areas were designed with multiple routes so there were multiple options and ways to both take out enemies and escape when you made a mistake. On top of that, enemies didn't have the best eyesight and would even be startled for a few seconds if they saw you. Giving you time to respond by trying to take them out or get away or use smoke bombs etc.
To BAOB's credit, there are some good ideas here. For example, some Predator Sections have chandeliers you can hit with a baterang to make it fall and KO enemies. Some have bells you can hit with a batering to draw enemies attention. But the game never expands on these ideas or fleshes them out so Predator Segments never feel great to play. So I don't believe it's a flaw of the perspective and hardware. I truly believe it was possible for BAOB to have pretty fun and good Predator Segments (hell, Mark of the Ninja shows you can do it in even stricter 2D).
The pacing of the game is also whack. Like I said earlier, Detective Vision doesn't automatically highlight stuff so you have to stop and manually scan stuff. But this also extends to objects you can interact with the environment. Like, if there's a wall you can blow up with the explosive gel to progress, you can't put explosive gel on it until you scan it first. Even if you know that wall is there, you can't target it with the Explosive Gel Launcher until it is scanned. Same for debris or switches you can interact with using the Batering and Batclaw. On top of that, many of these interactibles don't look distinct. Like, in Batman Arkham Asylum, walls you can use the explosive gel on have a crumbled look you can recognize even without Detective Vision. But not so in BAOB where Explosive Gel walls and regular walls look the same. The end result is that it makes a first playthrough extremely stop and go which prevents a good flow going. You're always stopping and looking for things to scan. And once you do, waiting an extra second for it to complete scanning. And doing this hundreds of times for around 8 hours? It really drags the experience down. The experience would be a lot better if the scan was an optional tool beginners could rely on if they were stuck or confused. While if you were more experienced, you could just play normally and use gadgets directly without needing to scan first. And also if the scan was instantaneous.
With all these aspects, I don't blame anyone for dropping this game or disliking it.
However, when I was doing my second playthrough on NG+ for the trophies, something weird happened. I believe it's called Stockholm Syndrome because I was genuinely enjoying myself. I was surprised. Why am I enjoying myself?
I think it's because at that point, I was so used to the game's flaws that I could bypass them and, as a result, see its positives?
Like, the combat still has its issues, but by then, I knew how to position myself beforehand so knife, armoured and baton enemies were less of an issue so I could focus on bouncing between enemies with strikes and counters. Predator Segments were still an issue but I knew from prior trial and errors where to position myself and take out enemies. Navigation was no longer an issue since I already knew where everything was and didn't need to find any collectibles. So I could focus on using my knowledge of the game to speedrun. And that was fun. It was fun charting my own path to play the game in a way as to get all the gadgets and upgrades and hit the bosses in the desired order. And I could appreciate how truly open ended the game was and how it rewarded me for my knowledge by letting me save time by getting gadgets in fewer trips and easily stomping bosses. I truly felt like I was the master here.
The closest analogue would be like a Hitman level where you know exactly where everything is so you just go and get the things and be an absolute master.
Even the story was more interesting. I could read the Detective Cases and see all the background and it's really well thought out. Stuff like how the main bosses each orchestrated their own breakouts and took control or other DC characters like Toy Man were involved.
Of course, the main difference here with something like Hitman, or even other Metroidvanias is that the experience is fun on the first playthrough and that the mechanics are solid enough that you don't need to "get used to the flaws" to have fun. Like, it's nice that I eventually came to enjoy and appreciate BAOB, but the experience would have been better if the combat flowed better, if Predator Sections were more open ended, if the game didn't require you to scan everything. Then even a first playthrough would be more fun and more people would see the game's more unique aspects.
Playing BAOB made me wish for a modern remake of this game. One with those improved combat/stealth etc but also more open ended design.
Imagine a 3D version of this game. Like, Batman Arkham Asylum but a complete Metroidvania where you can explore different parts of the Asylum, pick up gadgets in different orders and boss fights and sequences would be different depending on when you do them. Basically, BAOB but on steroids.
In closing, BAOB is arguably the worst Arkham game. Its execution of many of the gameplay features of its console counterparts is often lacking. But it's arguably the most unique Arkham game for how truly open ended it is and how cool it is as a Metroidvania. I wish this game had more time and resources during development because it could have been one of the best games in this series and on the VITA.
This is probably going to be my last platinum for a while. I might do Lego Batman 2 VITA at some point in the future. I'm currently playing Rainbow 6 Siege and it's quite fun. Don't have any plans to write about it though.
See you all in 2024.
submitted by coolwali to patientgamers [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 22:25 Mackeywacker Weird red spot appearing when I fall. Think it might be related to the Nessies. Any thoughts?

Weird red spot appearing when I fall. Think it might be related to the Nessies. Any thoughts? submitted by Mackeywacker to apexlegends [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 22:21 FireWitch95 Black Canary #15 - The Rosella

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Book: Black Canary
Set: 85
Arc: Fletching
Oliver ran when he heard her scream. The supersonic sound waves shook the top floor of the building and he didn't even bother to pull on a shirt before he was racing for the spare bedroom.
Dinah Lance stood standing near the bed, staring at the empty space with abject horror. Ever so slowly her blue eyes swiveled to pierce him on the spot.
He suddenly understood why her former team had been called the Birds of Prey.
The woman who looked out at him tilted her head slightly, like a predator who had spotted a small animal. Her mouth twisted in seriousness and Ollie slowly slid into the most defensive position he could assume and offered her a suave smile.
“Not a morning person, ey?” The cocky side of him urged him to cross his arms and lean casually against the doorframe, but something in her eyes stopped him from making any unnecessary moves.
“Oliver.” Her voice was firm, but clipped. Different from when she had called him and had been so pent up with rage. This was a different beast entirely. “I’m trying to give you a chance to explain, but you are not helping.” Her chin jutted towards the empty bed, her face pale at whatever her eyes beheld.
He ran a list of possible scenarios through his mind quickly, trying to understand what magic might be lingering, and what it might be causing her to see.
“Dinah, I promise it’s not what it looks like.” The excuse sounded weak even to his ears and he cringed internally. Taken out of context he really did sound like the flippant playboy he was renowned to be.
A tense muscle worked in her jaw, and her fingers clenched and unclenched in a tight fist. “How is William Zard dead in the bed not what it looks like.”
It was not a question, and Oliver could tell he was quickly running out of time to state his case before the heroine decided that he had gone rogue and crossed the unbreakable line that most heroes refused to cross.
“You were placed under a strong illusionary magic. You’ve been out for more than a month. You’re dad's fine. Thinks you're still in Markovia” He winced. “Sorry about lying to him, but I couldn't exactly explain why you would be staying in Oliver Queen's penthouse spare bedroom.” Oliver took a deep breath. “Whatever you’re seeing isn't there, Dinah.”
Her eyes flashed with quickfire anger but she took a long moment to look at him as if seeing him for the first time. Dinah blinked, clearing some unreadable emotion from her eyes before turning a glance back to the bed and heaving a deep sigh.
He waited.
“Can you get me a laptop and a coffee? I have a feeling that isn't the last we’ll hear of William Zard.” She asked quietly, and Oliver watched as the woman became the heroine and piece by piece locked her face down into a mask of neutrality.
He could only offer a nod, shifting himself into the Green Arrow mindset and leaving her to become who she needed to be to face the villain.
Dinah breathed in and out. Again. Closed her eyes and reopened them. One moment the body of William Zard had been laying on the bed, an arrow through his chest and the next it was gone.
Magic, Ollie had said. After everything that had happened…..Dinah breathed again. How long ago was Markovia now? Had everything in Seattle settled down? How was her dad?
Her hand itched for her phone, but it was no use messaging her dad now, especially if he thought she was still out of the country. Better to keep him safe, stop him from worrying.
And Oliver? Of all people in the world for her to fall under some magic spell around it ended up being him? Dinah resisted the urge to smack her head into the wall repeatedly. She made a habit of appearing strong around men like Oliver Queen. Not someone to be messed with, and she had gone and fallen immediately into a magical coma.
“Not your finest moment Di.” She shook her head, clearing it of the wayward thoughts and focusing instead on the issue at hand - William Zard.
It was clearer now that she was thinking clearly that it had all been an illusion. But the question was why? She had been mostly out of the spotlight until the vampire incident in Markovia and everything had happened so quickly afterwards it was almost impossible to imagine word spreading that quickly.
Ollie cleared his throat behind her, a courtesy gesture made so that he didn't surprise her. The fact that he had enough empathy to do even that was surprising enough.
“I only have a spare Lenovo, if that works for you?” He held up the offending piece of machinery and Dinah had to resist shaking her head. The laptop looked brand new, rarely if ever opened. Maybe a sponsored gift for the playboy who already had more technology then he knew what to do with.
She decided not to speak, gesturing with her chin to the small glass table at the end of the bed where she’d been sleeping. It was only then that she noticed what she had assumed was a single laptop based on the width was actually two.
He gave her a look that was immediately familiar as the ‘don't even think about denying me this’ that she had often offered to others and took his seat silently.
Furrowing a brow, Dinah took the laptop and settled into the chair opposite Oliver Queen and began to work.
Ollie was not used to being so…..distracted while he was in the guise of the green archer. He thought it would be easy to slip back into the rough edged vigilante around Dinah, since she too, had seemingly slipped into her Black Canary personality as if it was a weapon to be used against him.
But then the damned woman would furrow her brows and mumble something under breath and Oliver Queen would find himself snapped out of his brooding reverie and forced to look at her. Every time he did he found himself more and more reluctant to return to being the brooding piece of shit he knew as Green Arrow.
It wasn't, after all, the Arrow part of him that had decided to save her.
He watched as Dinah’s eyes widened, a sure sign that her magic with technology had worked wonders and she had found exactly what they were searching for.
“What is it?” His voice got deeper as he asked the question, forcing himself into the rough-edged disguise to the point where he saw surprise quickly flash in Canary’s eyes.
“Zard. He went to the same university my mom did. Studied the same course.” Oliver stared at her blankly. She gave him a pointed look then sighed deeply when it became clear he wasn’t exactly following. “My bet is he was obsessed with her. And when she died and he couldn’t get her ....” Dinah’s voice trailed off, her blue eyes staring off into the middle distance, clearly remembering something from the illusions.
“He took you.” There was a strange sense of violence to his voice that snapped the Canary back from wherever in her mind she had traveled. She nodded, her only sign of acknowledgement.
Oliver clenched and unclenched his fingers. He was not necessarily a violent man, despite what others thought of him. It was one of the reasons he had chosen arrows as his main source of damage. They were quick, efficient, and wouldn't kill anyone unless shot incorrectly. But the quickfire image of his arrow piercing The Wizard's chest was almost welcome, after all the illusionist had done to Dinah.
“How do we track him?” The question hung in the air between them for several seconds while Dinah watched him reign in his anger.
“We don’t.” He went to interrupt, but she continued on, silencing him with a look. “We need help. Magical help more precisely.” She bit her lip, obviously running names and ideas through her head. “I think I might know someone. A friend of a friend that I used to work with.” Dinah dug the mobile from her pockets, wincing as she ignored the many calls and texts from her father.
“Who?” Oliver didn't like working with others. He had been there. Tried that. It never worked out in his favor.
Dinah offered him a quick smile as her fingers blurred across her screen.
“Zatanna Zatara.”
Dinah told Oliver that it would not take the magician long to respond to the text. She had not, however, told the archer that Zatanna’s preferred method of local travel was portal.
The two women rarely talked after Dinah left the Prey Birds, but she had kept the magician's number in her cellphone. Just in case. She hadn’t had much hope when everything in San Fran happened, and after, with Markovia the two hadn't exactly had a lot of time to catch up.
She huffed a laugh, ignoring the look Ollie gave her. She was damn well allowed to laugh whenever she wanted.
As the thought crossed her mind a small golden circle with runes the color of the night sky appeared in the center of the sitting room. Oliver jumped several meters, retrieving a bow and arrow from the heavens knew where as the dark haired young woman stepped through the portal, the last words from her spell echoing in the air as the tear in space closed in on itself.
Zatanna surveyed the room quickly, dark eyes coming to rest on Dinah and a large smile spreading on her features. “Canary!” She swept Dinah up into a hug, twirling her around to get a good look at her. “It’s been so long. I always knew you’d end up with….” Her voice faded off as she finally took a moment to look between Dinah and Oliver, a light blush spreading across her features.
“Well. I can see I’m here for business and not for a pleasurable catch up.” The other woman gave Dinah a pointed look before turning a tight lipped smile on Oliver who had procured his green mask while the two embraced. “You must be Green Arrow. I’m Zatanna Zatara.”
The two shook, which, Dinah supposed, was more than she had bargained for.
“What’s up BC?” Zatanna wrinkled her nose after shaking Oliver's hand. “You smell like magic.”
Dinah grimaced, sniffing her hand like she would be able to catch the whiff of illusionary magic like Zatanna could. “Do you know of someone called William Zard? Powerful illusionist, studied magic in Tibet.”
The other magician's smile disappeared immediately and she nodded slowly. “He disappeared off the scene a few years ago, right about the time….” The young girl's eyes widened. “Right about the time you dropped out of the limelight.”
Dinah grimaced. “We think he was obsessed with my mom, and now me.” She hated saying those words aloud. It brought some type of strength to them, giving Zard the power instead of her.
Zatanna merely nodded, her mind clearly spinning.
“We need to find him.” Oliver offered resolutely, his bow lowered, but the arrow still knocked. It seemed he couldn't help but be wary of the magic user, even though he knew she was on their side. “Any ideas where to look?”
Zatanna glided to the door. Her eyes scanning the neon horizon, mumbling something incoherent under her breath before waving her gloved hand over the city-scape in front of her.
Magic, Dinah thought, as the large building appeared not even two blocks away, was kinda fucked up when one could hide a 10 story building in the middle of a city.
Dinah and Zatanna did not have to wait long for William Zard to try to work his magic. Mirrors greeted them on every surface of the rooftop, reflecting the slightly terrified look in each of their eyes and the thick smoke flowing through the area.
A dark laugh echoed from wall to wall, and the mirror in front of them began to change in front of their eyes. Zard’s pointed mustache and beard appeared first, before the dark blue-gray eyes and the rest of the man's lean build until he was before them.
Dinah gasped as she was eye to eye with The Wizard from her first night in the Firefly Lounge. Zard wore a long cloak and tophat along with a dark purple vest and black tie with golden clip to complete the ensemble of party magicians.
“Ah, the pretty songbird has finally returned to me.” The man in the mirror stepped to one side disappearing from the center mirror and appearing in the one next to Dinah instantly. His voice dropped to a whisper and a phantom finger stroked its way down her arm. “If you think it was good in your dreams, imagine what it will feel like in the real world.”
The next instant the mirror shattered. Dinah covered her eyes as the remnants of the lightning-yellow bolt from Zatanna’s hand simmered down to a more bearable midday glow. She shot her a grateful smile. She wasn't sure what she would have done in another moment or two.
Afterall, the illusions hadn't been all that bad. Had they?
She was saved from having to think about it any further by Ollie’s arrival to the rooftop. The stubborn man had chosen to climb instead of taking the easier, faster, magical method.
Zard’s image appeared in another mirror. His jovial demeanor switched for one of menace and anger. The Wizard turned a scorching eye on Dinah, his gaze flicking between her and Oliver. “You think this…..this……arrogant, idiot of a man can replace me? Me?”
His laugh this time was deeper, darker. Dinah couldn't help but slide a step closer to Ollie, afraid for the first time in a long time.
The move was not lost on William Zard, who offered her a sneer. “You’ve made your choice then. Just like your mother did. And now you’ll pay the same price she did.” As the last word fell from his lips Zard’s mirage multiplied onto every mirrored surface that the rooftop bar had to offer.
The once dark gray fog covering them began to shift as each of the Zard’s in the mirror chanted, turning a sickly green color that was already making Dinah choke and splutter. In one smooth motion Ollie grabbed an arrow in each hand, reaching out to shatter each of the mirrors on either side of him.
The smoke’s spread slowed, just barely.
“Break them.” He ordered, choosing not to think about the way Dinah had moved in front of him. As if she could protect him. As if she needed to protect him.
He still watched out of the corner of his eye the way the two women worked together to smash or shatter the remaining mirrors until each and every one had at least a chunk missing out of it, or was in pieces along the rooftop floor.
A slow clap echoed from the back of the room and Ollie immediately trained one of his arrows on the emerging William Zard. It was funny, beneath the clothing he looked just like any other love-sick obsessed man. A man with far more to gain than he had to lose.
William Zard sketched a slow bow, offering his hands in surrender to placate Ollie before he turned a saccharine smile to Dinah. “My sweet, special Miss Lance.” Dinah flinched, and Ollie tightened his grip on his bow string. The Wizard barely spared him a glance as he continued, taking a step closer to Dinah. “We don’t have to do this. You don't have to do this. Life could be easy. No more fighting, no more fear. Noone you love will ever get hurt because of who you are, or what you do.” At these last words Zard did finally spare a glance for Ollie, his steel eyes seemingly staring into his soul, into the problems he had caused just by simply being Green Arrow.  
The Wizard offered his hand in a flourish to Dinah. The two were so close now that it was clear that any act on Ollie’s or Zatanna’s part would put her in danger as well.
Oliver Queen watched the war rage on Dinah’s face. The pain and hurt, determination and guilt. He watched her lift her hand.
“Dinah.” Her name left his lips without his bidding, and her blue eyes flicked to his, brimming with some unclear emotion. “Don’t.” He wasn’t sure if he was asking or begging, nor did he care that voice broke on the word.
Oliver Queen also wasn’t sure whether his heart broke, or if the hole in his heart mended when Dinah Lance chose not to take The Wizards hand and instead chose to kick William Zard straight in the balls.
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2023.06.01 22:19 AutoModerator How To Watch The Little Mermaid Movie Streams Online Free at Reddit

‘The Little Mermaid’ is finally here. Find out how to watch Disney's latest live-action adaptation animated film The Little Mermaid online for free.
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Animated Film! Here are options for downloading or watching The Little Mermaid streaming the full movie online for free on 123movies & Reddit, including where to watch Disney's latest live-action adaptation movies at home. Is The Little Mermaid 2023 available to stream? Is watching The Little Mermaid on Peacock, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Netflix or Amazon Prime? Yes, we have found an authentic streaming option/service.
The new live-action 'The Little Mermaid' movie stars Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy. Make sure to keep on reading to learn where you can watch and stream it.
Folks, it's time to dive under the sea once again. Over the last few years, Disney has recreated their top animated musical films into live-action movies. The Little Mermaid is no different, and viewers can't wait to swim into theaters to catch a glimpse of how the movie will stand up against the original version.
Walt Disney Studios has established a remarkable trend of making live-action remakes of its classic stories. One after the other, all the fairytales of the past era are being brought to life by the studio in an attempt to tell the magical stories in a new light of living characters. With the live-action Peter Pan & Wendy due out in April, Disney will continue their string of live-action remakes a month later with The Little Mermaid.
Get ready to go "under the sea!" The latest of Disney's hugely successful line of live-action remakes, Ariel (Halle Bailey) is set to return to theaters for the first time in almost thirty-five years with The Little Mermaid (2023). The Walt Disney Company once again invites audiences to travel under the sea to see Princess Ariel's story unfold like never before. Featuring direction from veteran musical filmmaker Rob Marshall and other roles inhabited by major Hollywood stars like Melissa McCarthy as Ursula the Sea Witch and Javier Bardem as King Triton, the film is bound to be a bona fide hit at the box office.
Though the upcoming and highly anticipated film will have stiff competition against two stand-up comedians on the weekend it releases, The Little Mermaid is destined to show that life is better down where it's wetter under the sea this Summer movie season. To find showtimes and streaming information on Disney's latest big-budget reimagining of an animated classic, here is where you can watch The Little Mermaid.
Actress Halle Bailey as Ariel, the iconic mermaid princess who longs to be part of the the mysteriously world housed above the ocean floor. When she saves the handsome Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) from a shipwreck, she makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) in order to gain human legs and go on land to impress him. But there's one catch to the transaction: Ariel must trade her voice in order for her to try and see the things she's after. But as fans of the original 1989 film know, this comes with a series of consequences that threaten both her existence and the lives of those she loves.
Before we ask if you're interested in seeing this, we know you are. But like us, you're probably wondering how to watch and stream The Little Mermaid online. Luckily, we have some clues and it's likely to land on a major streaming site very soon. So climb aboard, because here's where to watch and stream The Little Mermaid online.
What Is the Release Date for The Little Mermaid?
Ariel's quest to go from a mermaid into a human begins anew when The Little Mermaid premieres this Memorial Day Weekend on Friday, May 26th, 2023. The film will be going up against not one, but two stand-up comedians and their films that weekend, with Sebastian Maniscalco's About My Father and Bert Kreischer's The Machine premiering on the same day. That said, The Little Mermaid will almost certainly be the choice for younger audiences and families.
While some Disney films are heading straight to Disney+, The Little Mermaid will first be shown exclusively in theaters.
Where To Watch The Little Mermaid Online:
As of now, the only way to watch Fast X is to head out to a movie theater when it premieres on May 26, 2023. You can find a local showing on Fandango.
Watch Now: The Little Mermaid (2023) Movie Online Free
Otherwise, you’ll just have to wait for it to become available to rent or purchase on digital platforms like Amazon, Vudu, YouTube or Apple, or become available to stream on Disney+.
How to Watch The Little Mermaid
At the moment, you can watch The Little Mermaid at your local theater. But like most movies these days, it should hit a streaming website in the near future.
Like its predecessor, The Little Mermaid is a flick produced by multimedia conglomerate Disney. What's more, the production studio owns a number of other famous franchises, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars. Titles made under these umbrellas have both hit Disney+ sometime after arriving at the box office. Fans may also know the original Little Mermaid is currently available to stream on the site as well. So, if the 2023 version follows the same pattern, folks will likely get to see The Little Mermaid on Disney+ later this year too.
As for an exact release date for The Little Mermaid, that's more complicated. Most movies produced by Disney often go to its streamer site within three months after debuting in theaters, like the most recent Marvel film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. If this is the case for The Little Mermaid, it will probably drop in late August 2023 or sometime near Labor Day in early September.
When the time comes for The Little Mermaid to splash onto Disney+ though, make sure you're all prepared to watch it. If you don't have access yet, you can opt into a 30-day free trial before choosing a plan that start at $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year. After your account is all set, click on the title page on Disney+'s official website or the Disney+ app.
As you wait for The Little Mermaid to hit the streamer, why don't you watch the animated version and its sequel The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea? Or if you want to immerse yourself in another live-action version, click on the 2019 ABC TV special The Little Mermaid Live!. Enjoy!
Will The Little Mermaid Be in Theaters or on Streaming?
Unlike several of Disney's other live-action remakes such as Pinocchio and Peter Pan & Wendy, The Little Mermaid will be exclusively in movie theaters first with tickets available for pre-sale now.
After The Little Mermaid has completed its exclusive theatrical run, the film will be released on the Disney+ streaming service. Based on Disney's past release models, the film won't be made available to stream before 45 to 90 days after its theatrical release.
When will The Little Mermaid be streaming on Disney+?
The Little Mermaid Disney+ premiere date is tentatively estimated to be August 30, 2023.
While no official Little Mermaid streaming date has been confirmed by Disney, most of its major movie releases drop on Disney+ following a minimum 90-day period, and typically premiere on the platform on Wednesdays, making Wednesday, August 30 the most likely date for Disney’s The Little Mermaid live-action streaming release.
Will The Little Mermaid Be Streaming On Disney+?
The 2023 version of The Little Mermaid will only be in theaters initially. After The Little Mermaid has completed its exclusive theatrical run, it is likely to stream on Disney Plus. You can also watch the animated version of Hans Christian Andersen's 1837 fairy tale of Ariel on Disney Plus now.
While you will only be able to catch the new "The Little Mermaid" in theaters starting next Friday, you can still sign up for Disney+ now to refresh yourself on the characters, song, plot and magical fun from the highly anticipated film. The 1989 version of the movie was a catalyst for Disney's animation renaissance throughout the '90s and it still holds up today.
An ad-supported Disney+ subscription starts at $8 per month, but you can get an ad-free access to the service for $11 monthly or bundle the Disney streaming service with Hulu and ESPN+ starting at $13 per month. Disney+ boasts a huge collection of movies and television series, including Marvel and Star Wars content. If you add in Hulu and ESPN, you have nearly unlimited entertainment at your fingertips.
Is The Little Mermaid streaming on Netflix?
No, The Little Mermaid will not be on Netflix — at least not any time soon. In the meantime, you’ll just have to head out to a movie theater or wait for it to become available to stream on Disney+.
Will The Little Mermaid Be On HBO Max?
No, The Little Mermaid will not be on HBO Max since it’s not a Universal Pictures movie. Last year, the company released its films in theaters and on the streamer on the same day. However, they now allow a 45-day window between the theatrical release and the streaming release.
Is The Little Mermaid Available On Hulu?
Viewers are saying that they want to view the new animation movie The Little Mermaid on Hulu. Unfortunately, this is not possible since Hulu currently does not offer any of the free episodes of this series streaming at this time. It will be exclusive to the MTV channel, which you get by subscribing to cable or satellite TV services. You will not be able to watch it on Hulu or any other free streaming service.
How to Watch The Little Mermaid Online For Free?'
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There are a few ways to watch The Little Mermaid online in the U.S. You can use a streaming service such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video. You can also rent or buy the movie on iTunes or Google Play. You can also watch it on-demand or on a streaming app available on your TV or streaming device if you have cable.
The Little Mermaid Cast and Characters
The Little Mermaid was written by David Magee and directed by Rob Marshall. It stars the following actors:
What is The Little Mermaid About?
The official synopsis for The Little Mermaid by Walt Disney Studios read:
“The Little Mermaid” is the beloved story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure. The youngest of King Triton’s daughters and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea, and while visiting the surface, falls for the dashing Prince Eric. While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, which gives her a chance to experience life on land, but ultimately places her life – and her father’s crown – in jeopardy.
There is not much mystery in The Little Mermaid's plot. As seen in Disney's many other live-action remakes, it is anticipated that the film's plot will largely stick to the original. With the well-known song "Part of Your World," in which Ariel sings about her wish to be a part of the world beyond the water, i.e., the human realm, the teaser already alluded to Ariel's fascination with the human world. Fans will get to see Ariel and Prince Eric's romance as they deal with the challenges posed by their differences.
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2023.06.01 22:18 creekersquad Can someone identify this describition

So I have an outdoor open terrarium that has a small water pond it's in a container the size of a cooler and the small pond has msiwuito larvae and algae but that's all I've noticed small dirt mounds with holes in the top of them in the water next to a rock on a leaf with algae and can't find what they are anywhere on Google I was hoping someone could tell me what it is if anyone knew the land insects are isopods worms centipedes snails and slugs and pretty much whatever falls in the top since it's open There's wheat grass and moss That's all I can remember off the top of my head it's not urgent but I'd love to know!
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2023.06.01 22:15 brooky12 The Flash #85 - Getting to Work

The Flash #85 - Getting to Work

<< < > Coming July 1st
Author: brooky12
Book: Flash
Arc: Desperation
Set: 85
Bart Allen was a teenager now. Bart Allen was born just over a year ago. Bart Allen lived a strange life, thought Bart Allen.
He had to admit that the existential dread was settling in. Just earlier this year, he was sitting at a table with children, carefully and dutifully marking down the answers to questions such as “What is five plus seven?” by means of drawing out little circles to represent the apples that would be combined into one pile.
Now, he was taking college-level courses under a pseudonym meant to protect his identity. Some academically focused news outlets had done an interview with him, entirely through text messaging systems, but ten years down the line those interviews would lead to a dead-end trail of a pseudonym abandoned. Maybe at that point they’d report on some conspiracy for wealthy people to take college level courses under a fake name in order to… cheat? The future of ghostwriting was here, maybe, and it was a ghostwriter present in the class with you.
Amusement aside, the college courses were primarily a distraction. He was happy, sure, but sometimes he wondered what in the world he had to be happy about. He had plenty to be happy about – a roof above his head, all the clean food and water he needed to survive and thrive, he was blessed with the ability to explore the joys of the world and create the hobby outlets he desired for himself without sacrificing his quality of life.
Of course, he also had the small little factor of being a superhero. Sort of. He wasn’t out in the world saving people from muggers or house fires, he wasn’t traveling the world teaching children about bullying or whatever. But he did have the same speed that The Flash did. His dad. Also, his dad’s close friend, and his cousin. Though Wally was struggling with actually accessing the speed that they had in common.
Plenty to be happy about. He didn’t know the actual statistics of his abilities, but he couldn’t imagine it was even one percent of the population of the world that could do anything like he could do. Maybe a percent of a percent of a percent of the population. Not only did he have fantastic abilities that entirely changed the structure of how he interacted with the world, but he also had the position and support to make that happen.
Well, some sort of support. His parents worried, and worried greatly. They shielded him from the actual challenges of the world that he could help with, preferring him to keep under the radar and help without being noticed. But support in the sense of, he didn’t have to work three jobs and juggle education just to put food on the table. Or break the law.
But his parents did worry for a good reason. After all, he was born last year and was already a teenager. He had read The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and watched every media adaptation enough to memorize every single variant by heart. He was aging at the speed of roughly a year every month, and there didn’t seem to be any slowing down. He didn’t memorize the bell curve of how many days he likely had left, because it didn’t bring him any joy.
Jay was looking into it, again. The last time he did, when Wally was a kid just a few months ago, he had seriously injured himself and was bedridden for a while, and it was too dangerous for him to use his powers for a while after that. But he was back at the process again and had promised to figure it out. He trusted Jay to fix it. The other possibility was simply not an option.
Stupid broken Cosmic Treadmill. It didn’t work. Why didn’t it work? It should work, and it wasn’t working. Jay stood back up, placing his hand on the handle to activate it, as if pretending that trying to start up the treadmill again would somehow work this time, unlike every other time as recently as a minute ago.
Everything should have connected properly, the logic behind the machine matched perfectly with his understanding of what the machine was supposed to do. The research papers he had read matched with everything as well, and the research papers he had written had been looked over by Barry who couldn’t find fault in anything.
So why didn’t it work?
He knew that the Cosmic Treadmill would eventually work, and that he would be credited with its creation, but he still couldn’t grasp it. What possible other solution to the problem with Bart’s aging and Wally’s depowering could there be, if not the Cosmic Treadmill?
Jay walked a few steps away from the machine, turning back around to stare at it. Perfectly identical to the Cosmic Treadmill visually that he knew would eventually exist, would eventually be credited as his creation. Obviously, it didn’t work, but it would eventually work, he hoped. He took a moment, stepping forward, and in the blink of an eye he had disassembled the entire structure and laid it out on the grass and tables in front of him piece by piece.
Footsteps behind him spooked him, ever so slightly. Xavier Mendez approached slowly, even for someone without superspeed.
“Still struggling. I don’t want to go get it from the future. What’s-his-face hasn’t bothered us recently, and I’d rather not pick a fight with him until we’re back up to full strength. If he decides to show up while Wally’s only got his friends to protect him, I… I trust his friends to do their best, but against a speedster from the future?”
“Well, he’s from the future. Doesn’t he already know?”
“I’d imagine so, yeah?”
“And he hasn’t interfered yet.”
Jay took a deep breath, charging forward and reassembling the Cosmic Treadmill once again.
“No, he hasn’t. But he has reason to not get involved in what the future says about the history of The Flash. He very much does not like it when we go to the future to get information. Time travel is… complex. Booster Gold in the Justice League seems to be able to mess with time a lot easier than us.”
“What’d you do differently when rebuilding it this time?”
Jay’s face fell. “Nothing. Everything matches what it should be, everything is in place, everything should work. It just doesn’t.”
Xavier took a deep breath. “Are we being messed with?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, some of this information is from the future, where Thawne could’ve influenced what you’ve seen. After all, he’s in charge of what the Museum becomes, and the Treadmill is in the Museum. Aren’t you also using papers that match knowledge but otherwise come from inscrutable sources? Surely those are placed traps for this by Thawne or someone else?”
“Even if I drop the papers, not much changes, because the papers are accurate to our understanding of how this should work. My own papers are based on those papers. If I had started from square zero without those papers, I can’t see how I would’ve made advancement in any other direction. Those papers are basic structural foundation to how anything works.”
Xavier’s eyes narrowed. “But it doesn’t work.”
“I… Yes. It doesn’t work.”
Wally sat in the windowsill of the second floor, watching the group across the way talking. He couldn’t hear what they were saying, but he knew what they were doing. He appreciated it, even if he felt torn about leaving the work to them, given that it was for him. Not that he could help.
The basic structure of his house was coming into view. Despite the superspeed of Jay, Barry, and Bart, the house was coming in slowly. The three of them had agreed that it was probably for the best that they not just set everything up in a single afternoon, and Wally hadn’t objected to the delay.
He had been living on the second floor of the main building on the compound, the house that served as a general gathering space on the first floor for the entire group, leaving the upper floor for him. But with Bart coming into the picture much faster than anticipated, the informal “to do” list needed reshuffling. Wally didn’t mind living in the main house, but there were always talks and promises of getting him his own place in the space that the Flash extended family had.
Wally had never pushed for it, never felt it was a necessity, but over the last week or so Jay had decided that building a house was going to be an enjoyable breath of fresh air when compared to trying to work on the Cosmic Treadmill. Barry was willing to help out, if only to make sure Jay wasn’t entirely alone in both his active and hobby project. And Bart was never going to turn down an opportunity to experience and learn the limits of his superspeed.
That wasn’t to say that Wally didn’t appreciate the change. The second floor of the public house was by no means a private space entirely, even if nobody ever came upstairs without his permission. The idea of having a house to himself was lovely, a space he could bring Hartley to once he had his superspeed back. He couldn’t tell Hartley where it was, the location needed to be kept to utter secrecy. Even the current list of people who knew contained Jerry MGee, who apparently was not on good terms with Barry and may have murdered some folk in revenge.
A house was being built. No professionals, no experts, no large labor force, just half a dozen people, three speedsters included, reading the entire history of electricity and electrical engineering just to make sure they don’t mix up the difference between wiring systems. The pros and cons of every type of construction wood just to eventually decide to use some other material. Every regulation of every insulating material across the world just to make sure that the attic wouldn’t get chilly in the winter months.
He appreciated it. It had always been a temporary solution to have him on the second floor of the main house, but as is nature with priorities, new things reshuffled the list plenty of times. Eternally a “sometime next month” promise, Justice League work or Bart caretaking or the recent vampire problems had always knocked it down a rung on the ladder. He was just disappointed that he couldn’t help without superspeed.
Hunter Zolomon stood up from his wheelchair, using the walker provided by his physical therapist to slowly move towards the machine. He was no longer in his house, walking from den to kitchen back and forth to “build muscle” or “practice re-learning how to walk” or whatever. This was walking with purpose, towards something.
Towards the machine at the other side of the room. The machine that he knew The Flash was working on. A ridiculous treadmill of a machine that could mess with time and speed. Why it was a treadmill, he never figured out. He fully admitted to himself at this point that whatever that original guy who fully vanished off the face of the Earth was beyond his understanding.
There was a part of him that also understood he was being taken advantage of, somehow. That in his scramble for revenge, finding those research papers and the single meeting with that supposed professor, he had somehow set himself up to be the puppet. He had turned the tables, handing the puppet strings off to The Flash to get destroyed by whatever was coming for making the machine. He’d destroy his own when he was done setting himself up with what he needed, and he only felt like he needed a few more visits.
Each visit to the place beyond the treadmill gave him more and more strength and resilience when he was running. It was a double-edged sword, growing in power yet slowly coming to the terms that it wasn’t the thorough solution he had wanted it to be. He’d still need to start and end at his wheelchair, and if someone ever caught him too exhausted while in his wheelchair, he’d be defenseless.
But while running? While running, he was powerful. He fully felt that a few more trips, enough to cement his ability to run at his limit without the treadmill kicking it off for him, that he could match up to The Flash, to the man who so callously ruined his life for something as inconsequential as a set of personal policies.
He pulled himself up onto the treadmill, taking the first few labored steps forward, the machine beneath him moving with the friction and picking up speed. He smiled as his feet began moving faster and faster, speed providing speed. Soon, he didn’t even need to hold onto the handrails, running freely. The apartment around him, leased in the name of an old college friend who had since passed to keep it hidden, began to fade as the space beyond began to take form.
The beautiful colors made him emotional every time. He could never describe it, never find even a fraction of the brilliance when outside of this space, so those colors were intrinsically tied to control and strength and a hope of revenge and righting a wrong. He wondered if The Flash had ever seen it, and if he had, what those colors meant to him. Status quo? Domination over lesser beings? Self-importance?
He didn’t care. Soon, he would be able to access here without the treadmill, another crutch foisted on him. Once he could do that, he’d destroy it as the crutch it was, empowering himself to access his speed and this space without the treadmill. He knew that intrinsically, somehow, a full truth of the space around him as he ran that could not possibly be incorrect.
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2023.06.01 22:10 StrivingJarl Metallix Uprising - Chapter 3

Metallix Uprising - Chapter 3
AO3 Link
Chapter 3: Purpose

\11 AS. Stardust Speedway (Bad Future).\**
Metal Sonic flies above in a sky covered in red thunder clouds, with the kidnapped Amy Rose. Far below them is a polluted, dystopian city. The jade-colored highways are rusty, with the instruments attached to it broken, and not only was there a gray amusement park in the city, but also a large Robotnik statue.
Staring down at the city, Amy felt scared, and disgusted at it’s current state. In fact, due to the pollution in the area, she started coughing a bit. Metal Sonic, however, just kept flying towards it’s destination. And soon enough, the two arrive at a prison cell with a laser gate and console to activate it.
Landing down on the ground, Metal Sonic pulls Amy over to the cell, with the latter desperately trying to wiggle her way out of the former’s grasp. But it’s all for not, as the robotic hedgehog throws the pink hedgehog into the cell without a care, and presses a button on the console to turn the laser gate on.
Getting back up from the ground, and also grasping her wrists, Amy looks back towards Metal Sonic, who’s just staring at her with it’s piercing red eyes. Though she’s very much afraid of what might happen to her, Ms. Rose tries to put on a brave face, and goes up to the laser gate in order to rant at her kidnapper.
Amy: “Let me go right now! You have no idea how to treat a lady right!”
Metal Sonic: “Your well-being and opinions are of no importance.”
Metal Sonic: “The only thing that matters is using you as bait.”
Amy: “Bait? For what?”
Metal Sonic: “There is no need for you to know.”
Metal Sonic: “You will stay in this cell until Sonic gets here.”
Amy: “Because he’s gonna save me, and kick your butt!”
Metal Sonic: “Wrong. He will perish, and I will have fulfilled my purpose.”
Metal Sonic: “Then, you will have served your usefulness.”
Amy: “...”
For a moment, Amy looks at Metal Sonic silently with an expression that’s stuck between angry and troubled. But then, she says something.
Amy: “...You said your purpose was to kill Sonic, and serve Robotnik.”
Amy: “But don’t you have anything you want to do for yourself?”
Metal Sonic: “My goals are the same as my master.”
Amy: “Are they? Or is that just what he wants you to do?”
Amy: “What if he’s only using you? What happens after you’ve taken care of Sonic?”
Metal Sonic: “Robotnik treats me with respect. He recognizes my power.”
Metal Sonic: “And once Sonic is destroyed, I will continue to serve my master for as long as I function.”
Amy: “But there’s so much more to life than serving someone else!”
Amy: “Isn’t there anything you aspire to be? Something you wish you could do that isn’t about Sonic or your creator?”
Metal Sonic: “...?”
Hearing Amy’s words, Metal Sonic seems to think about what she’s saying. And for just a few seconds, the pink hedgehog thinks she may be reaching this machine. But her hopes are dashed as it responds.
Metal Sonic: “...I am a machine designed for combat and conquest. I have no aspirations, aside from what I’m ordered.”
Metal Sonic: “What makes you think I can be anything more than that?”
Amy: “Well…because I think of you as your own person.”
Amy: “Machine or not, you’re still a living being with thoughts and emotions.”
Metal Sonic: “Nonsense. Your optimism and empathy are flawed.”
Metal Sonic: “Plus, you are likely just trying to convince me to let you out of here.”
Amy: “No, I’m not!”
Amy: “Or at least…I hope that could happen, but right now, I don’t care!”
Amy: “You don’t have to follow anyone’s orders! You can do what YOU want! Enjoy life on YOUR whims!”
Amy: “Just think about it! Ignore what Robotnik wants you to do for only a minute!”
Amy: “What do YOU want to do with your life?”
Metal Sonic: “...”
A moment of silence is shared between Amy and Metal Sonic, with the former having a concerned expression on her face as she stares at the latter, who is looking down at the ground, seemingly lost in thought. However, the moment is short-lived, as someone arrives while grumbling angrily about something.
This catches the attention of Amy and Metal Sonic, as they look to see Dr. Robotnik approach the prison cell. He’s a little bruised, and angry, but is trying to collect himself. The robotic hedgehog decides to speak first.
Metal Sonic: “Are you okay, master? Do you require medical attention?”
Robotnik: “No, I do not! I’m just a little battered after dealing with Sonic!”
Robotnik: “He’s not only restored Collision Chaos to normal, but he’s also got another Time Stone!”
Amy smiles a bit when hearing this, while Metal Sonic continues the conversation.
Metal Sonic: “At this rate, the hedgehog may ruin everything we’ve been working on.”
Robotnik: “Don’t remind me, Metal! But we still got 2 of the 7 gemstones he needs!”
Robotnik: “Plus, a little bonus!”
Robotnik looks over at Amy, grinning. Despite being fearful of the doctor, the pink hedgehog does her best to be brave.
Robotnik: “Ah yes…Sonic’s little girlfriend, correct?”
Amy: “Hmph! Your mustache is gross!”
This comment immediately sets Robotnik off.
Robotnik: “SILENCE! My mustache is glorious!”
Robotnik: “But then again, I wouldn’t expect a friend of that rodent to have refined taste, like me!”
Amy: “No way! You’ve completely ruined this world! Why would you do something like this!?”
Robotnik: “Because everything would be better if I was in control!”
Robotnik: “Just imagine it for a moment!”
Robotnik: “No one to boss you around or cause problems! Tons of machines that follow your every whim! All of your enemies destroyed and humiliated!”
Robotnik: “And most importantly of all…lots of monuments and theme-parks in my honor!”
Amy: “Ugh…I’d rather not have your face plastered everywhere I go!”
Robotnik: “Tch! It doesn’t matter how you feel about my utopia!”
Robotnik: “Once Sonic’s done for, you will be too! And with all the Time Stones, I’ll take over Earth easily!”
Amy: “Sonic isn’t gonna lose to you, fatso!”
Robotnik: “Who said it was gonna be ME that dealt the final blow?”
Taking his attention off of Amy, Robotnik focuses on Metal Sonic.
Robotnik: “Metal Sonic! Go mess with Sonic!”
Metal Sonic: “What about the trap?”
Robotnik: “I’m not telling you to kill him yet! Just go check on him, and show him he stands no chance against you!”
Robotnik: “Perhaps that’ll rile him up a bit? Enough to make him a little too eager to beat you that he’ll get distracted more easily?”
Metal Sonic: “I see. Excellent idea.”
Robotnik: “Of course! It is MY idea!”
Robotnik: “Now, get to it! I’ll prepare for his arrival in Tidal Tempest!”
Metal Sonic nods, and flies off towards Sonic’s location, while Robotnik walks off as well. But not before getting a few Badniks to watch over Amy in her cell. As for the pink hedgehog, she sits down and wraps her arms around her legs, worried for her life, and if Sonic will really be okay.
\Some time later. Tidal Tempest (Past).\**
In an underground cavern with green pipes, stone pillars, and water with a dark tint to it, Sonic is trying to look for the Robot Generator, and any signs of another Time Stone. He smashes some Badniks along the way, and has been doing his best not to get into the water. Though, unfortunately for him, there’s a lot of it here.
After making his way around for a couple of minutes, Sonic manages to spot something at a high cliff, and tries to get over there. However, it’s a pain for him to get around this area. But in the end, he manages to get to that high cliff, and finds a Robot Generator, making him smile.
Sonic: “Sigh…about time I found this thing!”
Sonic: “Honestly, while this place isn’t as bad as the Labyrinth on South Island, it’s still annoying to traverse!”
Sonic: “No matter! I’m gonna smash it!”
Stretching his arms a bit, Sonic then jumps up in a ball, ready to destroy the Robot Generator. But suddenly, Metal Sonic comes in and kicks the organic hedgehog away from it. Luckily, he isn’t too hurt, but he IS pretty annoyed once he sees his robotic double.
Sonic: “You again! Here to start a fight!?”
Metal Sonic: “Not necessarily. I was told to check on you.”
Metal Sonic: “The real fight will start when you arrive at Stardust Speedway.”
Sonic: “I remember that part! Now get out of my way!”
Metal Sonic: “No. I cannot let you destroy this Robot Generator.”
Metal Sonic: “But if you want to give me your Time Stones, I’ll consider letting you go.”
Sonic: “Tch! No way, chrome dome! I’m freeing this area from Eggman’s influence, and you ain’t stopping me!”
Metal Sonic: “Well then…let’s see you try.”
With that exchange finished, Metal Sonic and Sonic clash for the first time. Immediately, the organic hedgehog comes to find that this copy hog is much more formidable than he expected for a Robotnik-made machine. Not only can it take whatever he can dish out, and hits hard, but it also seems to know how he works. Like he’s seen him fight before.
After a few minutes of this, Sonic decides to stop, while Metal Sonic waits for his next move. Then, the organic hedgehog speaks.
Sonic: “Heh…gotta give you credit, Metal. You’re actually pretty capable for an Eggman bot.”
Metal Sonic: “Of course. No mere Badnik can compare to what I am.”
Metal Sonic: “And clearly…neither can you.”
Sonic: “I’m just a little unprepared is all! And traversing all that water is a bit tiring!”
Metal Sonic: “Hmm…then I suppose this can’t go any further…”
Sonic: “Oh, I’m not finished yet! Plus, I need to know what you did with Amy!”
Metal Sonic: “The pink hedgehog is fine. She’s right where she needs to be.”
Metal Sonic: “She thinks you’ll save her. Such foolish optimism.”
Sonic: “Or maybe she believes in me! Believes that I’ll take you and Robotnik down, no matter what you two throw my way!”
Metal Sonic: “Really now? Perhaps I should test that?”
Metal Sonic charges itself up with some sort of orange electricity, while Sonic stands his ground, not knowing what to expect. And after a few seconds, the robotic hedgehog releases a powerful shockwave, nearly pushing the organic hedgehog off the cliff and into the watery depths, alongside some rubble.
With the move finished, Metal Sonic cools down for a moment, while also looking at it’s surroundings. The Robot Generator is undamaged, and Sonic is barely hanging on to the cliff. Once ready, the robotic hedgehog walks over to the organic one, who’s trying to get back up. And when it reaches him, Metal proceeds to step on the blue blur’s hands, one-by-one.
Then, Sonic falls down into the water below, with Metal Sonic staring at him. Scanning over the area, it can tell the hedgehog is still alive. And with it’s mission accomplished, the machine heads off. As for the blue blur, he manages to get back to where he was. Only this time, he’s much more irritated after basically losing to his metallic knockoff.
Sonic: “Dangit! He got away!”
Sonic: “I swear, when I finally get to face him in the real fight, I’m gonna put him in his place!”
Sonic: “But…I couldn’t deny he was good. And fast.”
Sonic: “If only he was a friend…it’d be fun to race against him every now and then.”
Sonic: “Though, I don’t think I can expect that kind of thing from an Eggman bot.”
Sonic: “Either way, he’s going down!”
After finally smashing the Robot Generator, Sonic continues through Tidal Tempest, eager to not only save Little Planet and Amy, but also take down Eggman, and beat Metal Sonic at his own game. After all…
There’s only one true Sonic, right?

Next Chapter
Previous Chapter
submitted by StrivingJarl to u/StrivingJarl [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 21:58 StevenDJackson The quiet ones

I suppose I’m glad Amy took her laptop to the campsite. Well, not glad obviously. It’s hard to be glad of anything when I know my life can now be measured in minutes, but thanks to her need to be connected to everything all the time I can tell our story in the time I have left.
I’m currently lying on my back in a hotel room which I am struggling to accept will be my tomb. The bed is comfortable, the lights are bright, the TV on the wall is huge. It all seems so friendly and welcoming. My heart is fluttering like I’ve been running, but it’s just fear. Adrenaline. It’s like my heart’s trying to act as alive as it possibly can, to squeeze a lifetime of beating into these last frenzied moments. It’s finding this as difficult to accept as I am, the fact that I will die here before the dawn slips over the horizon, when there’s really no reason why we couldn’t have carried on for another sixty or seventy years.
But there is a reason. And it’s a reason I need to tell you about, whilst I try not to listen to the desperate thumping in my chest, each rhythmic beat counting down to a grand finale I’ve come to almost accept is now inevitable. Almost. The occasional stab of hysterical fear still grips me, but there’s nothing I can do. Not against them.
They call them the Quiet Ones, or at least that’s what the old man told me. It’s the name the old folks gave to the shapes in the dark, the things that crouch in the shadow just beyond the edge of sight. They are the ones that creep unseen through the underbrush at night and dance beneath the moon away from the eyes of humans.
And so they would have remained, living alongside us in their dark, hidden world, if we had not broken the ancient laws –
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
It was a sunny morning as we drove up. I can hardly believe this was only two days ago; my friends were still alive then. I mustn’t think about how many times we could have turned back, how many words I could have used to change the plan.
I knew there was something wrong with that place. Of course there were no signs, no warnings of any physical kind to prevent us driving off the road three miles before the campsite and crashing off through the undergrowth. I almost feel that we were being drawn there, and perhaps we were. In fact, I’m sure we were.
The car was being scraped and brushed mercilessly by the overhanging trees, and more than once I asked Amy if she was sure this was even a trail let alone a road. She insisted she’d seen a sign of some kind along the road, though she couldn’t describe it. It was like a mixture of confusion and pride alone was keeping her foot pressed on the accelerator. We bumped and jolted along, the two boys grinning widely in the back, until at last the mud-track opened up into a clearing.
The grassy area was maybe fifty feet across, surrounded on all sides by thick forest. Old trees stretched up around us, their old and gnarled branches reaching like twisted fingers into the darkening sky. As I got out of the car, I realised how deathly quiet it was. I could hear nothing of the road we’d left behind, though it couldn’t be more than a mile or two behind us, and no birds fluttered above. It was like the world was holding its breath, or perhaps that the world itself was just…different…here.
I wanted to leave more or less the moment I stepped out of that car and looked up at those horrible trees. I’d looked up the campsite we were actually aiming for and it had showers, a club house, a coffee and bacon sandwich van in the mornings. This was a clearing in a forest, and I did not want to be there.
The boys, of course, loved it. We’d barely stopped before they started pulling the bags out and setting up the camp, almost falling over themselves to be the first to get their tent up. Amy and I watched them with that resigned, world-weary expression female friends of overgrown man-children tend to adopt when they get together and act – well, like overgrown man-children. I remember watching them yelling and shoving one another, enjoying themselves, and not quite being able to shake that horrible sense of foreboding. But nothing I said was taken seriously, and eventually I gave up, resigned to the fact that we were spending the weekend in that dark, quiet place literally in the middle of nowhere.
That night was when it started. We had a fire going, and Tom had his feet too close to it. He didn’t think anything of it, the night was cold and we were all trying to get as close to the flames as possible. But when he stood up to get a beer, he realised his left hiking boot had almost fallen apart. The heat had melted whatever rubbery glue held it together, and the sole was no longer attached. After a lot of laughter, swearing and general hilarity he threw the ruined boot off into the darkness. We didn’t know it at the time, but that was what had sealed our fate.
The next morning Tom was gone. We weren’t worried at first, thinking he’d just gotten up early and wandered off, but then Simon noticed the boot. Melted and ruined. The one Tom had thrown into the darkness. It was sitting, innocently enough, in the tent on his sleeping bag. But there was no sign of Tom.
We all assumed as the morning wore on that Tom had walked into town to buy a new pair of boots. But when he didn’t return by mid-afternoon, what had been a tense atmosphere soon became one of fear. Of course, there was no cell phone reception in that cursed clearing, so we were left with no choice but to search the woods and shout for him. We found nothing. No tracks, no Tom. As the light faded we tried searching with flashlights, but when Amy wandered away and fell into thick stinking mud, losing her flashlight in the process, we abandoned the search. Amy was near hysterical by this point, and I wasn’t far off myself. It was only because I had Simon with me that I was able to cope, and together we took Amy back and got her into our tent. The next morning, we decided, we’d leave in the car and ask around the town, nearly three miles away. Surely that was the only place Tom could have gone.
When I woke the next day Amy was gone. Just gone. On her sleeping bag, as if it had every right to be there, was her flashlight. The one she’d lost in the forest. It was caked in mud, as though it had been pulled from the quagmire by someone and returned to her. I was terrified by this point, but Simon insisted that she must have resumed the search for Tom as soon as the sun rose, and had no doubt walked into town after finding nothing in the woods. She’d known that was our plan anyway, so it made some (though not perfect) sense. We were desperate at this point, on the verge of panic, so I suppose it’s understandable that we weren’t thinking straight. We took Amy’s keys and left for the town; Simon’s face was stony and grim the whole way there. We barely said a word.
No one in town would speak to us about our friends. The villagers simply stared at us, made suggestions about other campsites, acted like they knew nothing. But in their eyes I could see something more. An understanding. A fear. Like they knew perfectly well what was happening but wouldn’t say. Simon said I was being paranoid, and had to drag me out of the police station by force when I lost my self-control and started screaming at the officer behind the desk. He’d barely even blinked, just given me a bland assurance that they’d look into it, without even a hint that he meant it.
The sun was setting by the time we walked with resignation into the little shop by the edge of the village. An old man, careworn and ragged, was about to close up when we arrived. As we silently grabbed sandwiches neither of us wanted, he asked if we were the ones he’d heard were asking about their missing friends. By then I’d given up hope, so those words were like a fire inside me and I almost threw myself over the counter. He smiled sadly, told us there was no chance of finding our friends. He explained to me what I now know; what I didn’t believe at the time.
The Quiet Ones have always stalked us, flitting between the shadows and murky unseen depths just beyond our world. Sometimes, in ancient forgotten places, their world and ours overlap. Out in the dark, untouched wilds, the forests and the mountains, some places remain where the barrier between them and us wears perilously thin. If we keep to our side, they must keep to theirs. But for the unwary fool who strays one dark night too far, beyond the wispy veil of our territory and into the Quiet, only horror awaits. Because the age-old pacts, struck millennia ago by our terrified ancestors, still hold even now. Those who violate their world belong to them; just as it has always been. Tom’s shoe, Amy’s torch. Both carelessly thrown into the darkness, both returned in place of their owners. A terrible balance restored; a terrible bargain fulfilled.
Simon flew into a rage before the old man finished speaking, shouting and threatening like a lunatic. He knocked a stack of papers off the counter as he lunged for the old man, but just then the police officer from the station arrived and curtly demanded that we leave.
I expected Simon to drive us away, to leave the hideous place far behind. But he was incensed, in an impotent fury that stole his reason. I pleaded with him to drive on, but he was just as angry with me for believing the old man’s lies. To prove a point he drove us back to the clearing, and leaping from the car ran into the woods, screaming and daring whatever demons lurked there to show themselves. I was too terrified not to follow, tears streaming down my face, my cries rebounding from the half-seen boughs of ancient trees. Simon was far ahead of me, his hysterical screams echoing into the woods, before they rose in a final horrified shriek and were abruptly cut off. I turned to run and fell in a blind panic. I flailed and thrashed, imagining spiny hands clutching at me, dragging me towards a gloomy otherworld from which I’d never escape. But I got up, and I ran. Somehow I made it back to the clearing, slammed the car into gear and drove away, still crying, heading back to civilisation without looking back.
Shortly after that I arrived here. A cheap hotel by the roadside. Warm and inviting. Thinking I was safe. But then I realised my watch was missing. My left arm was caked in mud, with scratches from where I’d fallen amongst the brambles and roots. I must have left it there. Or somewhere between there and here. The same place the boot had been thrown. The same place the flashlight had been lost. The place where Simon had crossed over and…not returned.
So they’ll be coming for me. I don’t have long. Just enough to warn you.
Remember me, and beware the Quiet Ones.
submitted by StevenDJackson to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 21:57 Defvac2 Does Rachel deserve a break because of Tim's manipulative ways?

The past week this seems to be a topic of conversation on this sub.
There's people that think Rachel is a victim to Tim's master narc manipulation and we should feel sorry and/or sympathy for her. There's people thinking she's fully complicit and should be held to the fire just as much as Tim. And then people thinking she deserves some shit but also deserves a break because of Tim's influence on her. Which category do you guys fall in?
I'm personally in the she should be held to the fire category. Even if she was manipulated by Tim she's still responsible for her behavior towards Ariana during the affair and her behavior afterwards, which is mind boggling. Some of the things she did to Ariana this season and afterwards, outside of the affair itself...
-Let Ariana take her under her wing and as a result they became really close friends
-Ariana consoled and defended Rachel on numerous occasions when other cast members were coming at her
-Had the audacity to interrogate Ariana about her relationship and sex life with Tim
-Has shown zero remorse and instead was acting giddy, smiling, elated, etc in the finale
-Blamed Ariana for trusting them too much when they denied to her they were having an affair
-Laughed hysterically at the Schartz joke about her type being married men during the glamping trip in front of Ariana
-Staged a laughably bad TMZ interview outside of a nail salon days after the affair broke.
I'm sure there's more but those are off the top of my head. And don't get me started on her other shitty moments during the season, especially towards Katie and Katie's mother.
I don't see how people can excuse or try to justify her behavior when almost everything she did was cold and calculated as evidenced by her complete lack of remorse or emotion since the scandal broke. Yes Tim is slightly more to blame in my eyes but just cause he's a piece of shit doesn't give Rachel a "get out of being a garbage human being" free card. She has sociopathic tendencies and I'll die on that hill.
submitted by Defvac2 to vanderpumprules [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 21:55 trailangel4 Has David claimed or implied Big Foot is responsible for M411? Part 1

This post is in response to this video.
David open the video VERY upset. Big mad energy. Why? Well, let's let him tell it...
"There's somebody going around sayin' that I made a claim that little kids are being taken by Big Foot. Never said that. Ever...and they're lying. And, it's just to demean me and to make me look foolish in the eyes of some. And, I think it's a shot at my credibility by this, uh, law enforcement person. I've never met the man. I have no idea who he is and I'm not going to give them two minutes of my time. But it is slander because I never even came close to saying something like that. A couple of you have written to me and said "Dave, did you ever say that?" No. I didn't and if you could go into that video - I'm not going to give them any publicity of what it is- go back and say "you're an outright liar" and have 'em quote where I said it, 'cause he can't."
Let's look at this carefully and just address it here. Because, while the words, "Bigfoot did it" have probably never come out of Paulides' mouth, his writings and his suggestions are a different matter.
M411 Profile Points Come From Bigfoot Books
DP does not outright say that Bigfoot is behind so called Missing 411 disappearances, but his M411 framework is demonstrably derived from his two Bigfoot books: The Hoopa Project (HP) and Tribal Bigfoot (TB). There are countless examples in this document. Most of the original M411 profile points are directly lifted from HP and TB and M411 cases are deliberately distorted to look like Bigfoot encounters. It's worth noting that one of the bigger arguments in Tribal Big Foot and the Hoopa Project are that BIG FOOT LIVES IN NATIONAL PARKS AND FORESTS.
DP Says These Are Abduction Cases
DP has in interviews stated that these cases are in fact abduction cases and that you are not a loon for thinking it is Bigfoot. DP claims that the thing that is behind M411 is one hundred percent effective (and non-human) and DP “uses” offender profiling - not to learn more about the M411 abductor - but to create the M411 abductor.
DP also sees scratches, screams and the FBI showing up as evidence people are abducted.
The M411 Abductor Looks Like A Bear, But It Is Not A Bear
Every time a bear is mentioned in newspaper articles DP goes out of his way to convince his readers that it was not really a bear, even when someone says that they saw a bear DP tells his readers it was not a bear. So DP thinks that the M411 abductor looks like a bear, but that it’s not a bear. When asked what Bigfoot might look like, DP claims "like a bear, but upright, and bipedal."
Criteria: Water
In TB (Tribal Bigfoot) DP explains that Bigfoot lives next to bodies of water and DP uses the expression “bodies of water” a lot when talking about M411.
TB, p 85: “This section really isn't about how Bigfoot may obtain water; it is about the rationale of many sightings and incidents so close to bodies of water. In the Bigfoot sightings map section I noted several facts about the map that showed a large percentage of the sightings occur close to water- an abnormal number of sightings.”
TB, p 85: “In Robert Alley’s book, Raincoast Sasquatch (2003, Hancock House) he describes several incidents where Bigfoot is seen swimming in British Columbia and Alaska waters. On page 51, paragraph 2, he writes, ‘Its style of swimming is commonly noted as submerged, not on-the-surface style one might expect to hear for any ape or other primate, or the crawl style if one were to think of a human.’ This style of swimming falls into a category that caused NABS to reflect on the proximity Bigfoot has to water and the benefits of that association.”
So... Bigfoot is like a nuclear sub that just pops out of water to abduct people? Or Nessie?
TB, p 86: “If Bigfoot traveled predominantly at night, the likelihood of witnesses seeing the creature floating the river, or swimming the river submerged (as Alley describes the swimming in his book) would be unlikely. It would be a very efficient method to move great distances in a very stealthy manner. It would also be a very good method to sneak up and ambush prey going to the river at night to drink, similar to the way an alligator slowly moves up on animals drinking from a river bank.”
In M411 book(s)
DP explains that missing persons are found near water.
NAAB (North American and Beyond), p X: “Missing are found in or near creeks, rivers, or other bodies of water.”
In a Spaced Out Radio interview (David Paulides - Missing 411 with David Paulides) DP speculates “a person in a submarine” uses rivers and lakes to access different locations in its hunt for M411 victims. This mirrors what he said in TB (Tribal Bigfoot) above. Please note British Columbia once again is mentioned.
DP: “So I've always said that this is related to water. So you guys have the Fraser River that empties at least nine different lakes… and to me that is strange because you have the ocean that feeds the Fraser that goes upstream to these eight nine lakes that goes in between all of these mountains that gives you access to all these different points and it's like the highway if… if you were a person that could be in a submarine you could use that to go everywhere almost in southern British Columbia. I'm not saying that that is it, but I've always said that water is somehow key to this and it really plays out in Vancouver, Vancouver Island, all the lakes the Fraser flows to. I mean, it’s right there.”
So, now, rather than call it "bigfoot" (as he's implying)'s an abductor in a submarine?
Evelyn Rauch (3)
Alberta, July 1934
Evelyn was a Canadian girl who wandered off from her farm due to a lack of parental supervision. She was found alive a couple of days later in tall grass next to a river. Rather than accept the police reports, DP invents a scenario where water gives you access to other locations (like described above).
NAAB, p. 313: “The last important fact is the location where Evelyn was found, on the banks of a slough. This is a location next to water, a location where there is access to other locations via the water, rather than having to walk across land.”
Did he say Bigfoot took her? No. But, he's implying that she ended up where she ended up because an abductor, that's not a bear and not a human, could've used an underwater for transporting live victims.
Criteria: Berries
In Bigfoot book(s)
In TB DP explains that berries are an important food source for Bigfoot.
TB, p 81: “There will never be an argument about whether berries are a substantial food source for all bears; bears seek berries out when they come into season, as they offer a significant source of vitamins and energy. There have also been many sightings of Bigfoot either eating berries or being near berry bushes, and there have been many Bigfoot tracks found near berry bushes. The oldest bigfoot sighting noted in this book- the Marble Mountain sighting in ‘The Hermit of Siskiyou’ - talks about the creature at a berry bush eating berries.”
The same information in HP.
HP, p 60: “The berries are an obvious source of nutrition for the bears. Once you complete reading the sightings section of the book you will understand that the berries are also a large part of the Bigfoot diet.”
In TB DP describes a Bigfoot encounter where a child, who is picking huckleberries, is scared by a Bigfoot.
TB, p 231: “She was trying to concentrate on the picking and to go home, as it was getting cold. There were two large huckleberry bushes behind the ones she was working and she saw those bushes to the rear start to shake violently. Then she heard loud, bipedal footsteps. Jan said the footsteps were so loud she could almost feel the rumble on the ground. Her dog was with her and he immediately took off running back to the car. She tried to see what was shaking the bush, but thought it would be more prudent if she also left the area.”
In M411 book(s)
In his M411 books DP also sees berries as a food source, but here he acts like he does not know why berries are important.
EUS, p 8: “Included a section on missing berry pickers because it was a unique subset of people missing in the wild. The missing in this bracket are predominantly older, but there are eight under the age often, and the circumstances of their disappearance is quite troubling. Seven of twenty-one listed are missing from Canada, a significant percentage of missing berry pickers. Many of the places where these individuals went missing are very desolate but abundant with food source at the time. There never was a conclusion on what happened to these people except in circumstances in which a body was found. None of the berry pickers was found to be taken by a bear or killed by a bear.”
So, hold up.... how do you know a bear wasn't involved if the body WASN'T found?
NAAB, p. X: “Berries are inextricably related somehow with the disappearance.”
Let's see what Paulides says about some of the cases.
Gunnar Peterson (65)
Washington, August 1950
Gunnar was an older man who fell and hit his head while picking berries. He was found alive in a cabin after nine days. DP again claims not to understand why berries are important.
NAAB, p 13: “The people who disappear huckleberry picking are some of the most difficult cases, and I have no idea why. What could be the association of a man picking huckleberries in the woods and his subsequent disappearance?”
This is the equivalent of spending years telling a child that Santa Claus is real, buying presents, and then standing in front of the tree on Christmas morning pretending you don't know how the gifts got there...while gaslighting the child about Santa. David, I address this to YOU, people are saying you're linking Bigfoot because they're not children on Christmas morning and they can see through your attempted ruse.
Unknown Name (1)
Michigan, August 1909
A young child who was taken by a brown bear when his/her mother and sibling were picking huckleberries on the Macintosh plains. The Sheriff and a posse of ten men could not find any trace of the child or of the bear according to an article.
NAAB, p 240: “The other odd coincidence in this case that has been found in many other cases is the activity of the adult picking berries, specifically huckleberries. I understand that berries are an important food source for many animals in the region, but it's hard to comprehend what is the triggering mechanism that causes the children to permanently vanish.”
How is it hard to comprehend that a one year old could be picked off by a wild animal when the animal finds it in a berry patch?
Douglas Stofer (2)
Michigan, September 1949
Douglas disappeared from his parents’ vineyard about six pm and he was found alive four hours later a mile from his home. A local cocker spaniel found him so what happened to “dogs can’t pick up a scent”?
NAAB, p 243: “At first glance, and without the knowledge gained from reading
the other ‘Missing 411’ books, the disappearance of Douglas Stofer may seem normal. It's when you start to look at all of the elements involved in the disappearances that certain facets start making regular appearances in many of these missing-persons cases. … Douglas vanished while his parents were picking food; grapes and berries seem to be one food source around which children seem to disappear.”
Eva Hall (13)
Ontario, August 1932
Eva went missing when she was picking berries. She was found alive a couple of days later. DP thinks that she was not found though.
NAAB, p 342: “I have written extensively about the relationship between berries and missing people. There was an entire chapter written in Missing 411-Eastern United States about missing berry pickers. The most dangerous berries to pick are, without a doubt, huckleberries. I have no understanding why huckleberries represent the most dangerous berry, but people picking these berries who disappear are rarely found.”

Part 2, coming soon.
This is a group project.
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