Grounded wiki


2019.11.14 21:15 DarkbeastPaarl Grounded

Discussion for Grounded - the new survival title developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Microsoft. Available NOW on Game Pass and Steam!

2015.06.08 03:50 Jozarin Be the men's issues conversation you want to see in the world.

The men's issues discussion has been sorely held back by counterproductive tribalism. We're building a new dialogue on the real issues facing men through positivity, inclusiveness, and solutions-building.

2013.01.07 10:29 pork_celestial Welcome to Fat People Stories.

Trigger Warning: Hamplanets

2023.06.06 17:17 most_unseemly Verified ways to help those affected by the catastrophic floods unleashed by russia's destruction of the Kakhovka dam

Verified ways to help those affected by the catastrophic floods unleashed by russia's destruction of the Kakhovka dam
You already know that russia set off a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe when it blew up the Kakhovka dam. If you don't, our megathread can get you up to speed.
This community has shown time and time again that it always stands ready to help. Some people on the ground really need your support. Each of the ones listed here are vetted, verified, and/or known to the mod team. You can learn about our vetting process here.
Please note that if you comment casting doubt on any of these initiatives, your comment will be removed. If you do it again, you will be banned. We are not playing that game today.
Humanity: Co-founded by Nova Kakhovka native u/kilderov within days of the start of the full-scale war. Provides humanitarian and evacuation support to vulnerable people in Kherson Oblast, particularly the area around Nova Kakhovka, which is home to the dam that russia destroyed.PayPal: @ stefanmoneylong
Help People: Provides humanitarian and evacuation support around the country. Currently actively evacuating residents in the path of the flood.Donate at their website or via [Paypal](mailto:[email protected])
u/serhiiiam is in contact with volunteers evacuating people and animals. PayPal: [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
submitted by most_unseemly to ukraine [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 17:04 the_homebrewer Is this book worth buying for a beginner?

Recently got my first tobacco plant for free when I bought a cactus from a local grower. It’s slowly blowing up and looking pretty decent but I want to find a good book to get and maybe some wiki pages or forums with guides on fertilizing (definitely my current primary concern) and secondarily when I should plant in ground. Recently repotted in double sized pot as I was having to water what seemed like 3 times a day. Guide me to the good books and information. Please and thank you!
submitted by the_homebrewer to GrowingTobacco [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 17:00 _call-me-al_ [Tue, Jun 06 2023] TL;DR — This is what you missed in the last 24 hours on Reddit

If you want to receive this as a daily email in your inbox, you can now join at this link


Palestinian toddler shot by Israeli troops in West Bank dies of wounds
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Nova Kakhovka dam in Kherson region blown up by Russian forces - Ukraine's military
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Russia likely caused Europe's largest man-made disaster in decades – Ukraine's Foreign Minister
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Robert Hanssen, former FBI agent convicted of spying for Russia, dead at 79
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Oklahoma school board approves what would be the 1st taxpayer-funded religious school in US
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Poland: hundreds of thousands march against rightwing populist government
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At least 81 women around the world have been murdered as a result of their work defending the environment, according to an international analysis of the Environmental Justice Atlas
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A study shows how the psychedelic drugs LSD and psilocin act. The findings suggest that these psychedelics exert antidepressant effects by binding neuroplasticity-promoting receptors in the brain. The study, say authors, is further evidence that non-hallucinogenic psychedelics could be developed.
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Researchers have trained a robotic ‘chef’ to watch and learn from cooking videos, and recreate the dish itself. By accurately recognizing the ingredients and observing the actions of the human chef, the robot was able to deduce which recipe was being prepared
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space should join other major subreddit in a blackout protesting Reddit's upcoming API changes. What do you think?
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James Webb Space Telescope spies earliest complex organic molecules in the universe
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Scientists discover mysterious cosmic filaments at the heart of Milky Way galaxy
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Climate change is already making parts of America uninsurable: “We’re steadily marching toward an uninsurable future.”
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The US clean energy manufacturing boom has begun. Now what? The scale and speed of the shift has been stunning. Clean energy is no niche industry anymore. “We’ve seen, in the last six months, more investment in clean energy manufacturing than we have in the last 20 years.”
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World EV Sales Now 14% Of World Auto Sales
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What type of human behavior will you never understand?
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What urban legend needs to die?
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What exercise/activity would be the most awkward to do nude?
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TIL: TLC was the first all-female group to sell 10 million copies of an album - CrazySexyCool. But they weren't cool about making $50,000 each for the album while the record company got $75 million. So, they held Arista Records President Clive Davis hostage until the NYPD intervened.
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TIL King Henry II of France participated in a jousting tournament in 1559 to celebrate the marriage of his daughter. A lance splintered on his helmet and pushed wood into his eye and brain. He died ten days later. His death led to the decline of jousting in France.
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TIL That even with an outside temp of -49F, an igloo can have an internal temp between 19 and 61F from body-heat, alone.
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[OC] Evangelical Protestant Population by U.S. State
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One Month Stay in New England Cost Breakdown [OC]
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Big Pharma Revenues by product for 2020
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/Cooking is joining the blackout on June 12-14th to protest Reddit's proposed API changes, which will end 3rd party apps
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I want to give rich umami flavours to my Bolognese, would oyster sauce, fish sauce, red wine and beef stock be overkill?
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Ninja blenders are a PAIN IN THE ASS to clean.
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[homemade] Bone-In Ribeye and Stuffed Mushrooms
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[Homemade] Crispy scallion pancake
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[Homemade] Chicago Dogs
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SAG-AFTRA Members Vote 97.9% in Favor of Strike Authorization
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Poster for Bottoms
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There is no other movie out there that demands a sequel more than District 9 (2009). Which movie do you think demands a sequel?
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Do your part. The Arts need you to fight for us.
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"Sinking Ship", Ian Yan (me), 3D, 2023
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Sweet life, Alai Ganuza (me), oil painting, 2022
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SAG-AFTRA Members Vote 97.9% in Favor of Strike Authorization
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On ‘The Idol,’ Why Are the Weeknd’s Acting Skills Nonexistent?
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My Adventures with Superman OFFICIAL TRAILER adult swim
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Kanye and his new wife out for a stroll
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To Protect And Sleep
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These signs were put up in NYC after weed became legal
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A girl swinging a bat at a piñata
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Robot dog slips over banana peel
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Happy BirthDay Woo
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Mixing concrete
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My local Pizza Hut hasn’t changed since the 80’s
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An unfired 9mm bullet next to the one that was inside me for 4 years.
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disassembled used EpiPen revealing how it works, as well as the extra doses within
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The Way This Snail Bridges The Gap
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Dog corrects pup’s behavior towards the owner
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Sherpas rescuing guy from crevasse on Mt. Everest
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Make this an international sport
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What kind of doctor is this?
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The camera shake though
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In a hole in the ground there lived a hoppit
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LMAO! Why’s the Retriever the only one unfazed by all that?! 🤣
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Why are otters so cute and make these noises?
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submitted by _call-me-al_ to RedditTLDR [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 15:16 Dildo_Shagginz A Defense of Lore Feats, and why it is BAFFLING the hate they're getting

Lore, lore, lore...the basis of all stories, worldbuild, the fundamentals of any verse and any sort of fiction in general. Lore is often used to convey the narrative, backstory, history and general worldbuilding of a verse but, in some verses, it is used to convey the power level of a verse. This has been met with a resounding "FUCK THAT" from the powerscaling community, which I quite honestly find kinda stupid. So this post is going to be "debunking" many of the points people make against lore feats, explaining why they are valid, and why they can be compared to physical feats.
I've wanted to make this post for a while but with the release of Chosen Undead vs Last Dragonborn and it's heavy reliance on lore, and seeing everyone's reactions to it, I needed to make this. So, without further adue, let's go.

"It's not supported by visual feats"

This is the best argument against them and even then it is very easy to tear apart.
As some of you might be aware, not every franchise has the same narrative style. Some series are very in-your-face about their characters level of strength and power, for example series like Naruto, One Piece, Dragon Ball, or really most shonen.
Some series however prefer prefer to split their narrative and story away from the gameplay at large and treat them more like separate entities, for the purposes of whatever narrative or gameplay benefit the developers are chasing. An example of this is God of War, the developers and lore writers of the game have said that in the proper story of the game Kratos is far stronger than he's presented in gameplay, because if you ran around OHK'ing every single enemy in the game with zero effort then that's not really a game anymore. Another example of characters like this is, again, the Chosen Undead and the Last Dragonborn. Realistically, a bear shouldn't even be able to scratch a hair on the Last Dragonborns nutsack, but there needs to be a game to play, and you can't through gods at people as trash-mobs, at that point the players fighting gods loses ALL MEANING.
For people saying "why not have this in cutscenes and not gameplay," there are a VARIETY of reasons why that doesn't work. For the easiest one to get out of the way, imagine how jarring that would be as a player? Kratos is running around as a reasonably grounded warrior mid-game then a cutscenes starts then the clapping of his ballsack against his thighs causes tectonic shift across the solar system, that'd be weird to watch. Developers need to keep in mind what will make the player experience feel good throughout the experience, both in gameplay and cutscenes. The other reason is the one I will talk about right now...

"If they are Universal or Multiversal then why can't they destroy doors or break walls blocking their path and shit?"

This is ignoring the fundamental difference between attack potency and destructive capacity.
Attack Potency is the measure of force from an attack sent into a target. It is the amount of force a nuke hits with
Destructive Capacity is the measure of destruction an attack causes. It is the area of effect of a nuke.
Attack Potency does not immediately ascribe a level of Destructive Capacity, just because something has universe level attack potency does not mean it will blow up the universe. For example, using physical feats, Madara's God-Tree feat and the Death Star roughly have the same attack potency. Do they have the same destructive capacity, FUCK NO. Another example, this kick from Yor Forger hits wall level attack potency, did it blow up a wall? No.

"Actions speak louder than words"

This is a very common argument and I mainly think it's because people want to sound smart and refined when they say it not knowing how baffling this argument is
If I should a clip of someone being healed, if they don’t know the character it could literally be anything. Time reversing to undo injuries. Regeneration. Someone else’s healing ability. Hell, even if you were to to inherently always assume it’s regen, what LEVEL are you to assume?
Low? High-Mid? Any variation of Godly?
You wouldn’t be able to tell someone without the accompanying statement that CLARIFIES an event. It’s physically impossible. The statement is 100% necessary.
Same with even planetary feats. For example, in the DCAU Golden AMAZO teleports an entire planet (Oa) to a new dimension. If you simply watched the scene where it happens you’d just assume he obliterated that planet.
Because it’s physically impossible to visualize Universe Destruction. If they “do” they do not use the Universe. They use their own custom model. DC, Marvel, Dragon Ball, etc. Their own unique cosmologies. And how do you ever know this is their version of a Universe? Oh, yeah, a statement.
And if they use a normal Universe, they don’t SHOW a Universe. Because they can’t. They instead use many galaxies and SAY Universe. In other words: A STATEMENT.
Even taking something as visual and primal as the Dragon Ball universe shockwaves from Goku and Beerus require lore. They're sending shockwaves across the universe? How do you know it's a universe? Statement. How do you know how big that universe is? Statement. What is their shockwave doing? Statement. Even the most visual of visual feats require statements, require a level of lore, in order to function. Because without any statements? Without any lore? Those shockwaves are, what, planet level?
Same with speed. You can’t visualize Infinity. Or immeasurable. Ever just see Flash move at incalculable speeds? No, because you CAN’T. He just moves vaguely fast visually and they SAY it’s infinite/immeasurable/whatever speed he’s moving at the time.
It’s just an inherent limitation of the visual form. Statements are necessary to form adequate understanding of context (which is necessary to properly quantify a feat) and explanations for what is happening.

"I can't read"


"It's not consistent"

This doesn't matter. Rule three of Death Battle clearly states that "a combatants maximum potential is examined unless specified otherwise."
Death Battle has also said that they don't function on the conventional rule of outliers, PIS and "oh that's not consistent." This has been said as early (to my memory) as the Ghost Rider vs Lobo Q&A at timestamp 17:20. Tldr they said "canon is canon, if a character did this feat we can't just ignore it." And this goes deeper into the fundamental misunderstanding of what an outlier means
An outlier means that you fucked up your numbers or your calculations and created something WILDLY DIFFERENT than what is consistent. For example if you where calc'ing the Dragon Ball shockwaves four times and got Universal, 2x Universal, 1.5x Universal, and Dwarf Star Level. One of these is an outlier, and is therefore axed.
These feats are not outliers. Because an outlier, technically, doesn't exist, it is the result of YOU fucking up your numbers. But these feats exist. Doomslayer did shake all of hell, Kratos did battle the gods and titans that created the universe, the Chosen Undead did sustain the universe-creating First Flame, the Dragonborn did kill Alduin who had the power to devour all of space and time. They exist, you can't ignore them.

"You are unable to calculate lore feats"

Not only does this heavily rely on the kind of lore feats we're talking about and has been debunked by DB themselves (calc'ing Miraak moving the island of Solstheim which came from a lore statement in a book, calc'ing Osse's raising of Numenor, Gul'Dans raising of the Broken Isles and Illidans shaking of the planet in the Q&A, etc.) but this applies to physical feats too.
How do you calc something being Multi+? Low Complex? Outerversal? You can't, whether it's visual or not. There is no CALC you can do to determine things above universal, that's why on sites like versus battle wiki they stop giving ton-values or TnT values for tiers above uni and instead give just classifications of what makes something multi or low complex or outer and so on and so forth.
If we where reliant on just visual feats that are calc'able, then fiction would cap at Uni and MFTL+, nothing would higher, NOTHING.

In Conclusion:

Here are some verses to look out for in terms of busted lore-verses.
Elder Scrolls, Dark Souls, Warcraft, Tolkien-verse, Destiny, God of War, Doom, Devil May Cry, Fate, BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, etc.
So yeah, please stop downplaying lore feats, thank you.
submitted by Dildo_Shagginz to DeathBattleMatchups [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 14:42 doctorgecko Respect Yukari Yakumo (Touhou)

"Would you like to have a near-death experience? By crossing the boundary between life and death."

Yukari Yakumo

Yukari Yakumo is a legendary youkai with the ability to manipulate boundaries. She is one of the sages who created Gensokyo in the first place, and a good contender for its most powerful resident. Despite this she is also exceptionally lazy, spending most of her time sleeping and foisting most of the problems off on Reimu or Ran. Still, her incredible intelligence and completely inhuman nature means one can never tell quite what she's thinking, and making her angry is a very bad idea.


  • Source Index
  • Perfect Memento in Strict Sense and Symposium of Post Mysticism is an in universe book written by Hidea no Akyuu. She has a tendency to exaggerate and speculate, so her claims should be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Yukari herself is noted to lie quite a lot, so her own claims should also be taken with a grain of salt.
  • In 15.5 Yukari makes use of the urban legend Teke Teke, but her attacks while using this urban legend are fairly in line with her normal capabilities. As it's unclear what effect the Urban legend is having, these feats will be included in this section but marked with Occult
  • Yukari scales to a large number of characters, so here is every Touhou respect thread for the games

Defining Some Terms

Spell Card System: The Spell Card Rules were put in place by Reimu Hakurei in order to make duels between everyone fair, formalized, and safe. It is also the method nearly all Touhou characters will use in-character. Spell card battles have very clearly defined rules and attacks that are agreed upon before a duel with the purpose being that the most beautiful attacks win. In general Spell Cards are characters going easy on the foe, with ZUN outright stating they're not something the characters would ever use if they were serious.
Danmaku: Danmaku are the "bullets" fired in a bullet hell, take many different forms, and are able to be fired by most Gensokyo citizens. They're an essential part of duels in Gensokyo, being used to control an opponent's movement and overwhelm them. They can either be fired in intricate patterns, or just fired rapidly from a single point.
Youkai: Supernatural beings typically born from humanity's fear of the unknown, and the primary residents of Gensokyo. Youkai can be highly varied, but tend to be highly resistant to physical attacks while far more weak to spiritual attacks, such as names and traditions.
Gensokyo: Genoskyo is the region Touhou takes place in, and is a small landlocked region of Japan. It is fully enclosed by the Great Hakurei Barrier (more information bellow). The clearest picture of it shows it containing a few mountains, with it also being noted Gensokyo is small enough to see almost all of it from the Hakurei shrine
  • The Sages of Genoskyo (of which Yukari is a member) are the beings responsible for the creation and maintenance of Gensokyo
Urban Legend Incident: Due to the occult balls various Urban Legends begin to manifest in Gensokyo, and some characters are capable of controlling an urban legend in battle that matches their tempermant. It's worth noting that the effects are present even after the occult balls are removed from Gensokyo though Reisen notes it will soon settle down.

Boundary Manipulation

General Description: Summarized, Yukari's power allows her to manipulate the boundary between any two things.This can apply both to physical boundaries (such as between Gensokyo and the outside world), or even the boundary of concepts (such as human and youkai or night and day).
Direct Combat Usage
Gaps and Warping
Great Hakurei Barrier
Gensokyo's Boundary of Reality and Illusion

Other Abilities

Note that a number of feats here potentially involve boundary manipulation, but it's less explicit
Energy Projection
Shikigami: Shikigami are spirits that have been turned into tools via a patter, that have software installed to control them
submitted by doctorgecko to respectthreads [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 13:36 rotsihylop [WTS] Andromeda to Redeemer upgrade $60, Pack of 5 Constellation Taurus LTI $690, Glaive LTI $370, Endeavor Masterset 2018 LTI $1250 ◄ Many LTI ships and packs Inside ► Aurora LN SQ42+SC Game Package $65, Referral Code STAR-TGVR-RMW9, Subscribers

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5 x Constellation Taurus LTI 690 5 x Aopoa Nox LTI
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Glaive LTI 370 Dragonfly LTI
Polaris LTI 750 Dragonfly LTI
Cross-Chassis Upgrades
Base Ship Target Ship Melt (RSI) Price (USD)
Andromeda Redeemer 25 60
Original-Concept Combo-Pack Ships/Vehicles
Name Contents Insurance Melt (RSI) Price (USD)
Caterpillar & Dragonfly Pack Caterpillar, Dragonfly (Black & Yellow) LTI 300 375
Endeavor Masterset 2018 10 Modules (2 Bio Dome) LTI 1000 1250
X1 Three-Pack X1 (Baseline, Velocity, Force) LTI 130 165
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600i Series Combo Pack 600i (Touring & Exploration), G12, X1 LTI 835 1000
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Starfarer + Nox 2 Pack Starfarer, Nox (Standard, Kue) LTI 365 425
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Freelancer LTI 110 150
Vulcan LTI 200 240
X1 Velocity Edition LTI 45 70
Hawk LTI 90 115
Hammerhead LTI 650 800
Polaris LTI 750 900
Sabre Comet LTI 185 225
Gladius Valiant LTI 110 140
Hornet Wildfire LTI 175 210
Avenger Titan Renegade LTI 75 100
Origin 85X LTI 50 75
Prowler LTI 425 500
Vanduul Blade LTI 250 315
Prospector LTI 140 185
Buccaneer LTI 110 150
Dragonfly (Black or Yellow) LTI 35 65
Terrapin LTI 195 250
Vanguard Hoplite LTI 225 275
Razor LTI 135 170
Endeavor Base LTI 350 450
Hurricane LTI 175 215
Banu Defender LTI 185 230
Eclipse LTI 275 340
Nox Kue LTI 40 65
600i Luxury LTI 400 475
600i Exploration LTI 435 525
Standalone Original-Concept Vehicles
Name Insurance Melt (RSI) Price (USD)
Cyclone LTI 50 75
Cyclone-AA LTI 70 95
Cyclone-RN LTI 55 80
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Cyclone-TR LTI 55 80
Nova Tank LTI 105 130
Original-LTI Game Packages
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UEE Exploration Pack LTI SQ42 + SC VFG Industrial 20,000 UEC 495 700
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Aurora LN 3M SQ42 + SC SelfLand 1,000 UEC 45 65
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Kastak Arms Custodian SMG Citizen 2947 Edition 5 15
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"Tears of Fire" Painting 5 15
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Icarus One Holographic Model 5 15
Takuetsu RSI Constellation Phoenix 2944 5 15
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Takuetsu Series Mustang Beta 5 15
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Takuetsu 350R Ship Model 5 15
Takuetsu Starfarer Model 5 15
Takuetsu Aegis Avenger Model 5 15
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Takuetsu Mustang Delta Model 5 15
Takuetsu Origin M50 5 15
Takuetsu Mustang Gamma 5 15
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submitted by rotsihylop to Starcitizen_trades [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 12:31 Immolatedaccount spam

each episode "actually" took a couple years to release so this probably was normal for valve.
EP1 started development in november 2004, released in 2006, EP2 started development in 2005, took until 2007, EP3 probably started development in 2006 and early 2007 and u know the rest. we actually have an earlier build somewhere of EP2 dated 2006. ep1 tho was 1 year actually and ep2 i think 2 years and ep3 a way longer, so it wasnt that it was normal, i mean next year gabe would say the episode model is no longer being done. 2011 and 2013 is incredibly short as well. the idea was to release it on december 2008, ep3 probably was in some year of development when this was announced due to EP2 file remnants. they assume it would take only one or two years. the first year was most completed anyways, second was almost done. i dread that ep3 couldve started in 2005 and 2006 but an article i forgot actually provides the answer by saying they didnt originally plan three episodes and that episode two used to be completely different, due to episode two development it what caused for there be another episode planned. but idk, valve doesnt say this the news said this, somewhere on a gamespot article, and i bet the idea was always three episodes but two isnt unusual. gabe said during i think ep3 expo that there was two teams on ep3 and ep2, sometimes ep2 team transfer to ep3 i think is said by some article. the fact it was suppose to be on december instead of ep1 june and ep2 october i think suggests that ep3 was took some more time than the others and was later, probably by 2 months. but u know could just be doing it for the christmas sales but idk.
if so we know exactly when EP3 was killed, it was 2013. so HL3 was created right after EP3 died and probably did a good push with it for some time before that died off as well. 2011 due to the post tho. HL3 was said to be left 4 dead inspired which is odd but i guess its why it described as "live-action". but this 2010 timeline is talking about EP3 not HL3. i imagine like HL3's predecessor, EP3 was also choice-driven as EP2 presents two choices and epistle 3 seems to suggest it. the EP3 maps in the leak are probably dated 2014 as likely when EP3 died, it was late 2013. the 2011 post i dont think actually says "the episode model was an failure" or theyre not going to do ep3. actually it does say they wont do anymore episodes, theyll do smaller stuff. so HL3 probably was trying translate EP3 into something smaller.
while EP4 is dated 2006-2007 it actually was developed until 2009. so i presume gabe newell kept the episodes alive but didnt have any future plans for the episode model anymore in 2011. actually 2011 was one year before 2010, which means it was close to being defunct on the episode model. but whatever happened, EP3 kept it name right until 2013. 2011 and 2013 is a very quick year span so it probably flied quickly. the episode model was defunct but they still did the project. EP4 was also originally apparently an expansion for another company before arkham picked it up. 2009 i guess when arkham gave up or its a typo or a mistake by the news.
There are influencers and decision-makers, and Gabe Newell is the head of the group. The team behind Half-Life 3 had two or three people working on it before running into a wall, and some teams have reached up to 30 or 40 people before it was scrapped.
Every time a Half-Life project collapsed, it becomes harder for the subsequent one to get off from the ground."
this is actually abysmal numbers as on an article it said there was 90 and 100 people for EP3 or whatever. apparently some left to work on left 4 dead and left 4 dead also became focus of source 2, which happened after EP2. the valve devs partly blame source 2 not being finished for why EP3 didnt make it but theres a lot of reasons. it also explains why HL3 was left 4 dead inspired, the game is fresh in their minds. the team stalling EP3 and leaving to work on L4D is where i think they mention the numbers, it mentions how it decreased significantly after that or they went back to work on EP3 after that with some increase or whatever. think a lot of people were brought over to EP3 or HL3 as well. they also brought teams over help HLA development, one of those likely being the TF2 team and probably why TF2 died in 2017. on this timeline article.
hl:a is also certainly action-packed and. the post from 2010 which means EP3 also was probably actually melancholy as well. it certainly was with the vibe of epistle 3 and the idea that alyx vance would wear her father's vest. episodes were pretty dark. HL3 probably started as they realized the episode 3 thing wasn't going to work, but idk, post about episode model was in 2011, guess they just didn't rename it or did the HL3 project until 2013.
submitted by Immolatedaccount to u/Immolatedaccount [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 08:01 AutoModerator Live Day Trading

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submitted by AutoModerator to RealDayTrading [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 06:20 dalanium5 Possible inspo when they were making the show

Has anyone found any less obvious old movies, history, books, etc. that might have fit into the From mythology moodboard (for lack of a better word) the creators built from?
I’m also interested in what elements y’all think are central or maybe kinda-central to the mythology. I’m feeling: travel, hospitality, vacation getaways, wherever you go there you are, monsters from within, lighthouses, water, media from the 1950s.. other stuff from this sub probably inspo in a mix it all up kinda way: historical stuff from indigenous cultures and colonization, fae stuff. Hopi grandmother spider. John Cabot, Newfoundland, etc.
I think the motivation for finding these bits of media of IRL inspo is to maybe find answers, but it’s a type of show.. where no direct correlatives are allowed! It seems
I think the show is getting too mystery for me bc of the wait times. I was super invested in the show bc of the characters and now I find myself puzzling over their situations week to week. The interactions sometimes feel so mysterious and unknowable to me. they make more sense and make more impact in total.. I’m sort of ambivalent about caring about the characters bc I know their backstories and who they are will be pivotal to the mystery. Definitely feeling more and more uninterested with character dynamics in general. Idk what the stakes are now.. what the cycle of survival is now. death still, but stifled by developments that move in stilted parallax with danger and hope.
Portrait of Jennie is a 1948 MGM movie with filming locations in Boston and New York, two places connected to Fromland residents. It also has a shooting location at one of the 14 Boston lighthouses mentioned in the travel ad on the map of Fromland residents shown in the show. The plot involves a mysterious fae girl who experiences events temporally askew of what the main character, a painter, approximates. Like she ages too fast. Something like that I’m just remembering from a wiki dive earlier today.
Someone else made a post on Martin who tells Boyd he’s from Millbrook. There’s tons of Millbrooks, but one of them is home to Alfred Hitchcock’s estate. The Man Who Knew Too Much is a 1956 mystery suspense film that popularized Doris Day’s signature “Que Sera Sera” song whose cover by the band Pixies is the show’s theme song. In the movie, the song is sung at a pivotal moment in the movie and plays an important role in the plot.
I thought these two meshed well with my impressions of a back catalog for the show. Although my description of how they connect here in shaky 1:1 fashion makes it feel less grounded. I think I’m offering them up here more for impressions and discussion’s sake than any direct theoretical correlation. Moodboard movies idk.
submitted by dalanium5 to FromTVEpix [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 04:42 Ukrainer_UA 4:49 EEST; The Sun is Rising Over Kyiv on the 468th Day of the Full-Scale Invasion. This is part five in our series about the ideas, values ​​and dreams of fallen defenders of Ukraine. These are the words of the Heavenly Regiment. + Discussion + Charities

4:49 EEST; The Sun is Rising Over Kyiv on the 468th Day of the Full-Scale Invasion. This is part five in our series about the ideas, values ​​and dreams of fallen defenders of Ukraine. These are the words of the Heavenly Regiment. + Discussion + Charities

🇺🇦 Слава Україні! 🇺🇦

We are Ukraïner, a non-profit media aimed at advocating authentic Ukraine, unexpected geographical discoveries, and multiculturalism.
The below is another selection from an article we published recently. You can find earlier selections here:

Part I Part II Part III Part IV


The Words of the Heavenly Regiment, Part V

You can get used to air alarms, power and communication interruptions, curfew restrictions, but never to the loss of people. Ukrainians painfully experience the loss of each defender, even if they may not have known them personally. The full-scale war united the entire country, and we owe our lives to everyone who died at the front and who defends our lands now.
We continue to publish quotes from heroes who fought for the free future of Ukraine. Each soldier from this Heavenly regiment deserves eternal honor and memory, so we must do everything to continue their struggle with dignity and remember the price of freedom.

Dmytro Pashchuk

Dmytro Pashchuk
Entrepreneur Member of the Ukrainian scout organization "Plast"
He took the scout's oath in the spring of 2011, and later became a co-founder of the 109th scout troop named after Y. Horoshko in the city of Lviv. He was an active participant in the Revolution of Dignity. Since 2016, he has served in the French Foreign Legion. After returning to Ukraine, he began to engage in entrepreneurial activities, in particular, becoming a co-founder of the Port Wine Bar in Lviv. After the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, he joined the Special Operations Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Died on March 12th, 2023 in the Kherson direction.

"Accepting the death of the best people is really hard. But these people do not leave us. They leave behind a very significant mark. We live in a special time, this is the age of heroes. And it's cool — to live and have the opportunity to see these heroes, to be with them. Although they are leaving us for a better world."


Oleksii Borys

Oleksii Borys
Paralegal Journalist
He worked at the Arzinger law firm and was a journalist for Yurydychna Gazeta. On February 25th, 2022, he joined the ranks of the Armed Forces. He was an artillery adjuster and aerial scout, and later he was appointed the platoon commander of an anti-tank artillery battery.
Died on February 9th, 2023.

"Many people say that on the first day [of the invasion] there was no awareness that we would win, there was fear, because a large armada of Russian aircraft, tanks, and infantry began to advance on Ukraine. I will say without hesitation, and these are not empty words, I knew that Ukraine would definitely withstand it. Yes, difficult times await us, but we will definitely win back our country."


Dmytro Shtanko

Dmytro Shtanko
Lawyer Private Entrepreneur
For 16 years, he worked in internal affairs organizations, and since 2014 he was in private legal practice. He was the owner of several companies in the agricultural sector and the field of financial services. After the start of the full-scale invasion, he joined the ranks of the Armed Forces.
Died on October 5th, 2022 in a battle near Bakhmut.

"Belief is stronger than money. We are believers. And no matter how difficult it is, victory is our destiny. My victory, my brothers', our soldiers', our State's."


Oleksandr Bondarenko

Oleksandr Bondarenko
Born and raised in Luhansk. He began his journalistic career at the Luhansk Cable Television company. In 2004, he moved to Kyiv. He worked at "Public Radio", the Ukrainian service of the BBC, the TV channel "TRK Ukraine". In August 2015, he moved to the field of communications. From the first days of the full-scale invasion, he joined the ranks of the Defense Forces. He defended the capital, participated in the Kharkiv counteroffensive.
Died in battle on April 22nd, 2023 near the city of Kreminna.

"I remember this moment very well. On Saturday, March 1st, 2014, we were sitting in the newsroom watching the live broadcast. It was a meeting of the Russian Federation Council, to which Putin appealed for permission to send troops into Ukraine. UP (Ed: "Ukrainska Pravda") came out with the headline "Putin has declared war on Ukraine."

Back then it was very dark, scary and it was not clear what to expect. Eight years later, it's not scary anymore. There are many of us, we are strong, intelligent and tenacious. We will win. Glory to Ukraine!"


Volodymyr Mukan

Volodymyr Mukan
Journalist Editor
He worked as a journalist and editor at Gazeta In Ukrainian, the magazine Kraina and the online portal Gazeta. He was interested in cars, he was a co-organizer of the retro car festival known as Old Car Land. In addition, he worked as a public relations officer and had his own communications agency. With the beginning of the full-scale invasion, he came to the defense of the country.
Died on April 29th, 2023 in Bakhmut while performing a combat mission.

"Yes, we were unlucky with our eastern neighbor. Russia is an absurd '3 in 1' state - a terrorist, a robber, and a maniac... But for some reason I am sure that they will fail with their occupation of Ukraine anyway. Just like they failed to eradicate our nation over the last 300 years."

Author: Daryna Mudrak Editor-in-chief: Nataliya Ponedilok Editor: Kateryna Lehka Photo Editor: Yuriy Stefanyak Content Manager: Anastasiia Zhokhova
The 468th day of a nine year invasion that has been going on for centuries.
One day closer to victory.



Verified Charities

  • u/Jesterboyd: Jester is one of the moderators of our community living in Kyiv. Currently raising money for tacmed supplies for Viktor Pylypenko (see here), one of Ukraine’s openly queer soldiers saving lives as a battlefield medic.
  • United24: This site was launched by President Zelenskyy as the main venue for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine. Funds will be allocated to cover the most pressing needs facing Ukraine.
  • Come Back Alive: This NGO crowdfunds non-lethal military equipment, such as thermal vision scopes & supplies it to the front lines. It also provides training for Ukrainian soldiers, as well as researching troops’ needs and social reintegration of veterans.
  • Trident Defense Initiative: This initiative run by former NATO and UA servicemen has trained and equipped thousands of Ukrainian soldiers.
  • Ukraine Front Line US-based and registered 501(c)(3), this NGO fulfills front line soldiers' direct defense and humanitarian aid requests through their man on the ground, Ukraine's own u/jesterboyd.
  • Ukraine Aid Ops: Volunteers around the world who are helping to find and deliver equipment directly to those who need it most in Ukraine.
  • Hospitallers: This is a medical battalion that unites volunteer paramedics and doctors to save the lives of soldiers on the frontline. They crowdfund their vehicle repairs, fuel, and medical equipment.
  • Humanity: Co-founded by u/kilderov, Humanity is a small team of volunteers securing and distributing humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable populations in temporarily occupied Kherson Oblast. Kilderov and his friends were under occupation in Nova Kakhovka in 2022.
You can find many more charities with diverse areas of focus in our vetted charities list HERE.
submitted by Ukrainer_UA to ukraine [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 04:37 Luigifan18 SRB2 Add-on Idea: Prince Garcia

This is actually the first add-on idea I've been considering for SRB2 — yes, I was brainstorming this before I was brainstorming the Belnades Sisters. This is one of my very first Mario/Sonic OCs, and fair warning here, he's a bit OP. The character in question is Garcia… Garcia the Beanie Baby. Yes, I'm serious. (I'd have put up a link to Garcia's profile on Ty's website, but he's not there anymore.) Anyways, Garcia in my fanfics is a lot more than a teddy bear — he's a powerful pyrokinetic capable of giving Blaze a run for her money. So, here are some details on how he'd play.
submitted by Luigifan18 to SRB2 [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 03:09 Abdlomax Grimes: the usual deceptions. No secrets are exposed, no lies. Not one except Grimes.
A news report calls a crashed research ballon a “satellite,” which was just dumb. None of the video is about actual satellites. Then it is revealed to much derision that allegedly 95% of all phone and data traffic is carried by cables, particularly fiber optic cables, undersea for international traffic, not satellites. Fiber optic cables have enormous data capacity. None of this is an amazing reveal. Nothing was secret.
(Of course, 93.7% of all statistics are made up.),bytes%20per%20certain%20time%20units.
Total traffic is difficult to measure, and I found no data on how much is carried through satellites, how much through cables, particularly fiber, and how much by ground-to-ground microwave links or wires. But the 95% figure for non-satellite communications is plausible. And so what? Where is the “lie”?
if One has an ignorant misconception, it is not evidence that someone lied.
Grimes comments:
”What else is NASA hiding?”
But the video shows nothing that was hidden.
submitted by Abdlomax to flatearth [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 02:26 bie716 Singapore experts of r/bangtan! What advice and recommendations do you have for ARMY visiting Singapore for the SUGA Agust D Concert? (16 - 18 June 2023)

In just under two weeks, ARMYs will descend upon Singapore to see SUGA! Help an ARMY out and let them know about safety, how to get around, where to eat, tourist attractions, BTS-related things to do, or anything else that you think someone should know when they visit! (Special thanks to the mods for your input and feedback for this guide!)

BTS' Past Visits

Red Bullet Tour (2014 BTS Live Trilogy Episode II) at the The Star Performing Arts Centre (13 Dec 2014)
Music Bank performance (4 Aug 2017) at the Suntec Convention Centre
Love Yourself World Tour (19 Jan 2019) at the National Stadium
This made history as the first time a K-pop group held a concert at the venue (largest concert venue in the country) and tickets sold out in about 3.5 hours! (45,000 audience)

Concert Venue

Do note that it’s currently the June school holidays too (26 May-26 Jun), so the Sports Hub and surrounding areas may be crowded with many other visitors besides the concert-goers. Please be mindful!


Non-exhaustive list (all prices are in SGD)
(Note: You may want to check out Klook for discount tickets/passes)


Singapore is a food paradise with various cuisines from the local ethnic groups, as well as international ones. For Muslims, there are a lot of Muslim-owned or Halal-certified options around (look for this certificate, or the label “Muslim-owned”), including most of the fast food chains like McDonald’s/KFC/Burger King/Subway.
Carrying some cash with you (~$10 per pax) is a good idea, especially if you’re venturing out to hawker centres; while many places now have an electronic payment system in place, cash is still king in terms of versatility, and anecdotally most stores prefer cash or will charge a credit-card payment surcharge.

Where to eat?

What to eat?

Breakfast (These are generally very affordable options that should cost you below $10 per person, particularly if you go to food courts/hawker centres)
Lunch & dinner

Getting Around

Singapore has a great public transport system. It’s really easy & cheap to get around on the MRT (mass rapid transit trains) and buses. Use Google Maps or the City Mapper app to navigate yourself and get route recommendations (the latter also has transport arrival timings and fare estimates. It also works in many cities globally, so is very useful for tourists). Various transport passes are available for tourists, but you can also use your contactless credit cards (Visa and Mastercard) to pay for the fares (no registration required).
In general, using the Circle Line (yellow) or Downtown Line (blue) should get you to most tourist attractions. Orchard Road (main shopping belt) can be accessed via the North South Line (red), between Orchard and Somerset MRT stations. Map for reference, with links to versions in Chinese/Malay/Tamil available for download.
Taxis and ride-hailing cars: We have Grab and Gojek in place of Uber.
General navigation
All signs are in English, and the locals - esp the younger generation - are able to speak English fluently. If you’re really lost, feel free to approach others to ask for help! People are generally friendly and helpful despite initial appearances :)
As a side note: in general, if Google Maps is asking you to circle around a building to get somewhere - don’t. You can cut through most places on the ground floor quite easily, even the residential buildings (unless they’re private properties like condominiums/landed housing). MRT stations are connected to a good number of places via sheltered corridors if they’re nearby enough. Enjoy the aircon & shade instead of walking outside in the heat if you can.


Weathewhat to wear

The weather is especially hot these days (max temp of up to 35 degrees celsius, or 95 Fahrenheit), with possible spurts of heavy rain at certain times of day, so dress light and carry an umbrella (most places do have sheltered walkways between buildings and bus-stops/MRT stations though, so don’t worry too much about getting around in the rain). Mall air-conditioning can be cold, so hv another layer (e.g. cardigan/wrap/scarf) on hand. Remember to hydrate frequently & avoid staying outdoors for too long!


We’ve tried to achieve a balance between being succinct and informative, but certainly the above info is not exhaustive. So do feel free to ask in the comments below if the info you need is not here! Fellow SG ARMY, or those familiar with Singapore, feel free to chime in!
submitted by bie716 to bangtan [link] [comments]

2023.06.06 01:13 FozzTexx 2023 Jun 5 Stickied -FAQ- & -HELPDESK- thread - Boot problems? Power supply problems? Display problems? Networking problems? Need ideas? Get help with these and other questions!

Welcome to the raspberry_pi Helpdesk and Frequently Asked Questions!

Link to last week's thread
Having a hard time searching for answers to your Raspberry Pi questions? Let the raspberry_pi community members search for answers for you! Looking for help getting started with a project? Have a question that you need answered? Was it not answered last week? Did not get a satisfying answer? A question that you've only done basic research for? Maybe something you think everyone but you knows? Ask your question here, operators are standing by!
This helpdesk and idea thread is here so that the front page won't be filled with these same questions day in and day out:
  1. Q: What's a Raspberry Pi? What can I do with it? How powerful is it? A: Check out this great overview
  2. Q: Does anyone have any ideas for what I can do with my Pi? A: Sure, look right here!
  3. Q: My Pi is behaving strangely/crashing/freezing, giving low voltage warnings, ethernet/wifi stops working, USB devices don't behave correctly, what do I do? A:. 99.999% of the time it's either a bad SD card or power problems. Use a USB power meter or measure the 5V on the GPIO pins with a multimeter while the Pi is busy (such as playing h265/x265 video) and/or get a new SD card. If the voltage is less than 5V your power supply and/or cabling is not adequate. When your Pi is doing lots of work it will draw more power. Even if your power supply claims to provide sufficient amperage, it may be mislabeled or the cable you're using to connect the power supply to the Pi may have too much resistance. You can use a USB load tester to test your power supply and cable. Some power supplies require negotiation to use the higher amperage, which the Pi does not do. If you're plugging in USB devices try using a powered USB hub with its own power supply and plug your devices into the hub and plug the hub into the Pi.
  4. Q: Due to the chip shortage I'm having a hard time buying a Raspberry Pi, all the stores say sold out. Even after the most recent announcement from Raspberry Pi they are still hard to find. Where's the secret place to buy one without paying more than MSRP? A:
  5. Q: I just did a fresh install with the latest Raspberry Pi OS and the default usepassword of pi/raspberry doesn't work for ssh or logging in, why not? A: The default pi user no longer exists, you need to create your own account
  6. Q: The screen is just black or blank or saying no signal, what do I do? A: Follow these steps
  7. Q: The only way to troubleshoot my problem is using a multimeter but I don't have one. What can I do? A: Get a basic multimeter, they are not expensive.
  8. Q: My Pi won't boot, how do I fix it? A: Step by step guide for boot problems
  9. Q: I want to watch Netflix/Hulu/Amazon/Vudu/Disney+ on a Pi but the tutorial I followed didn't work, does someone have a working tutorial? A: Use a Fire Stick/AppleTV/Roku. Pi tutorials used tricks that no longer work or are fake click bait.
  10. Q: What model of Raspberry Pi do I need so I can watch YouTube in a browser? A: No model of Raspberry Pi is capable of watching YouTube smoothly through a web browser, you need to use VLC.
  11. Q: I want to know how to do a thing, not have a blog/tutorial/video/teachebook explain how to do a thing. Can someone explain to me how to do that thing? A: Uh... What?
  12. Q: Is it possible to use a single Raspberry Pi to do multiple things? Can a Raspberry Pi run Pi-hole and something else at the same time? A: YES. Pi-hole uses almost no resources. You can run Pi-hole at the same time on a Pi running Minecraft which is one of the biggest resource hogs. The Pi is capable of multitasking and can run more than one program and service at the same time. (Also known as "workload consolidation" by Intel people.) You're not going to damage your Pi by running too many things at once, so try running all your programs before worrying about needing more processing power or multiple Pis.
  13. Q: Why is transferring things over the LAN/internet so slow? A: If you have a Pi 4 with SSD, please check this post on the Pi forums. Otherwise it's a networking problem and/or disk & filesystem problem, please go to HomeNetworking or LinuxQuestions.
  14. Q: I only have one outlet and I need to plug in several devices, what do I do? A: They make things called power strips aka multi-tap extensions.
  15. Q: The red and green LEDs are on/off/blinking but it doesn't work, can someone help me? A: Start here
  16. Q: I'm trying to run x86 software on my Raspberry Pi but it doesn't work, how do I fix it? A: Get an x86 computer. A Raspberry Pi is ARM based, not x86.
  17. Q: Should I add a heatsink, fan, or some kind of cooling to my Raspberry Pi? A: If you think you need one then you should add it
  18. Q: Can I use this screen that came from ____ ? A: No
  19. Q: I run my Pi headless and there's a problem with my Pi and the best way to diagnose it or fix it is to plug in a monitor & keyboard, what do I do? A: Plug in a monitor & keyboard.
  20. Q: My Pi seems to be causing interference preventing the WiFi from working A. Using USB 3 cables that are not properly shielded can cause interference and the Pi 4 can also cause interference when HDMI is used at high resolutions.
  21. Q: I'm trying to use the built-in composite video output that is available on the Pi 2/3/4 headphone jack, do I need a special cable? A. Make sure your cable is wired correctly and you are using the correct RCA plug. Composite video cables for mp3 players will not work, the common ground goes to the wrong pin. Camcorder cables will often work, but red and yellow will be swapped on the Raspberry Pi.
  22. Q: I'm running my Pi with no monitor connected, how can I use VNC? A: First, do you really need a remote GUI? Try using ssh instead. If you're sure you want to access the GUI remotely then ssh in, type vncserver -depth 24 -geometry 1920x1080 and see what port it prints such as :1, :2, etc. Now connect your client to that.
  23. Q: I want to do something that has been well documented and there are numerous tutorials showing how to do it on Linux. How can I do it on a Raspberry Pi? A: A Raspberry Pi is a full computer running Linux and doesn't use special stripped down embedded microcontroller versions of standard Linux software. Follow one of the tutorials for doing it on Linux. Also see question #1.
  24. Q: I want to do something that has been well documented and there are numerous tutorials showing how to do it with an Arduino. How can I do it on a Raspberry Pi Pico? A: Follow one of the tutorials for doing it on Arduino, a Pico can be used with the Arduino IDE.
  25. Q: I'm trying to do something with Bluetooth and it's not working, how do I fix it? A: It's well established that Bluetooth and Linux don't get along, this problem is not unique to the Raspberry Pi.
Before posting your question think about if it's really about the Raspberry Pi or not. If you were using a Raspberry Pi to display recipes, do you really think raspberry_pi is the place to ask for cooking help? There may be better places to ask your question, such as:
Asking in a forum more specific to your question will likely get better answers!
See the /raspberry_pi rules. While /raspberry_pi should not be considered your personal search engine, some exceptions will be made in this help thread. ‡ If the link doesn't work it's because you're using a broken buggy mobile client. Please contact the developer of your mobile client and let them know they should fix their bug. In the meantime use a web browser in desktop mode instead.
submitted by FozzTexx to raspberry_pi [link] [comments]

2023.06.05 23:09 Storms_Wrath The Human Artificial Hivemind Part 380: Poorly Effective Painkillers

First Previous Wiki
President Blistanna left her kids with the Matron, an Acuarfar whose job was mainly taking care of the young. She walked through the hallways of her residence, quickly being surrounded by guards and shields. It was how things were now.
She gave her advisor a nod as he waited for the guards to confirm his identification. He walked through one of the recent mind scanners installed in the hallway, which covered the entire length and most of the height of it. There was no sudden alarm, and her guards didn't fill him with new entrances to his stomach, so she assumed he was fine.
"President Blistanna, I have good news regarding the new procedures. In the event of a hypothetical attack, the shields should be able to seal up, preventing anything from getting through."
"Good. And how successful were they at delaying the practice Sprilnav from reaching me?"
"They increased the time from five minutes to thirteen. Of course, that doesn't count the guards, who I'm sure would kill them before they got close," the advisor said. That earned him a few chuckles from around her back.
"There is a point of concern, though. The ceilings are being fortified with increased weaponry, such as lasers, but that doesn't account for the fact that they have a pretty good path to you from above. Assuming they break through eight floors of heavily reinforced kintum and concrete, they still could reach you faster, perhaps decreasing the time to two minutes, if they can quickly break through the barriers without stopping."
"How could they feasibly do that?"
"Kinetic weaponry, bombs, anything that can make the stuff move, really. Maybe an Elder would be able to dig their way through, like that pair of Dreedeen that ate through that section of spaceship hull in that contest."
"You don't watch 'The Crystal Mouth'?"
"No?" Blistanna asked.
"Ah well. Nevermind. What I mean to say is that we should more heavily fortify the capitol. Recently it was discovered that the doors could be held up by a crowd of people trying to breach the place, and that the current Senate doesn't have enough personnel to prevent an all-out assault in that fashion."
She almost commented on the impossibility of such an action before remembering the mind control. They'd already been rooting out as many areas where it was spreading as possible, but it seemed to be far more than they could handle. Brey was also involved, which was why they were catching the people at all.
"And there has still been no evidence of this in the humans?"
"No. The hivemind is likely either directly protecting them, or the Sprilnav doing it fear the hivemind will detect it and are not doing it from the risk. Either way, the whole species seems safe."
"Could a Sprilnav clone a human?"
"Yes, and then implant the mind control. But the second a human connected to the hivemind saw them, the ruse would be up, as the hivemind would know it was a human that was unconnected."
"But that's not grounds for arrest, in and of itself."
"These days, it's still a mind scan at least. If this were some other public health crisis, like a pandemic, it would make the counterarguments have a bit more weight. But mind control, where people are literally converted into slaves, can't be tolerated. At least, that's what the other humans I've contacted for sources say."
"Even the journalists?"
"Yes. I am somewhat certain that the hivemind itself has communicated the danger of this to each and every human under its control."
"But there would be outliers. Deviants, thrill seekers."
"Not really. Mind control isn't something that many humans like, morally. And if it is, usually it's them who would hold the power, not the other way around."
"Well, I suppose you are more qualified to discuss this than I am," Blistanna said. "Just curious, that's all."
"President Blistanna, there's nothing wrong with your questions. Healthy skepticism helps to keep us from believing everything we hear."
"I heard you mention a pandemic earlier. How's the situation in the Inukjuak region?"
"The inoculations have been created, and are being administered. There's a significant amount of infected people still, but the worst of it seems to be over. We identified it coming from an alien animal that had been illegally imported to the Queen Elizabeth Islands."
"That's a long way."
"Yes. It's amphibious, with various odd features. But its thick fur hosts a virus that is infectious. Several of them were captured in a petting zoo that has since been closed down."
"And this virus itself, it does not have any long term impacts?"
"Not that we know of. It seemed to mostly affect the skin, and could be contracted by close contact and sometimes blood transfers. The problem with identifying it initially is why it was able to spread so far, since there are many Guulin getting blood transfusions that likely had it in their system."
"So this was a healthcare oversight?"
"No. It's closer to the equipment being calibrated for certain ranges, and the virus itself was remarkably similar to some other bacteria in the Guulin body that helps it run. So it was technically barely on the edge of the range, but the equipment wouldn't have detected it unless it was calibrated differently. And with other medical checks, the virus was also almost identical to Guulin immune system cells."
"Is there any evidence of intelligent design?"
"Still no. If this was the Sprilnav, they'd likely make it far more lethal. Our virologists speculated, when asked, that they would first make a virus that is as lethal as possible, then as easy to spread as possible, likely with a significant asymptomatic window involved to further the spread. And while it seems difficult, three speculated that they could make a virus that could spread between species even that have fundamentally different genetic code."
"That seems impossible," Blistanna said.
"Yes. But with tissue samples and cloning systems, they could trial it until they got results. And things have been quiet recently, so it's possible they might try this as a vector of attack. There's precedent, with what Kashaunta did with biting Brey."
"But we wouldn't be able to prepare for that, until it happened, would we?"
"We do have significant numbers of masks available for Guulin. The initial doctors that we had available were raising hell with how cramped the cities are, at least in terms of population density."
"People seem to have enough space, though."
"Yes, because the skyscrapers are vertical. But what they meant is so many people able to interact. Some of the most deadly human pandemics hit populated areas harder, like Nigeria and India. Not to mention the climate diaspora into Eastern Russia and of course Canada and America. They cited these as examples to watch. And there aren't good numbers for how the slave camps were, but there was quite a lot of disease there, if I remember correctly."
He did, most likely. Blistanna sighed. "Has the number of attempted assassinations decreased?"
"No. It's actually been increasing for Izkrala, and for Dilandekar. The hivemind's with them at all times, now. And of course, we have our invisible friend joining us also. As for you, President, there have been no increased numbers at all."
"I don't like this. Things are too quiet. What about the Cawlarians and Vinarii? Any oddities such as pandemics, increased unrest, or assassination attempts?"
"Well, Kawtyahtnakal's guards killed a Sprilnav trying to kill him about eight weeks ago. Nothing since then. Unrest, yes, pandemics no. The unrest is likely Sprilnav mind control attempts to disrupt them."
"Keep watch on that, too. I don't think a massive virus is as likely as a mind-control attack, considering the evidence we have."
"I shall inform your people of your wishes."
The advisor turned to leave.
"Wait," Blistanna replied. "The virologists and doctors. How often are they getting scanned for mind control?"
"I don't know. Shall I make getting them all scanned my priority?"
"Yes, do so. Politicians who haven't gotten the scan yet as well. Military officials, news casters, journalists. Everyone that has a major influence on a core tenet of society."
"Only the journalists are part of those who seem to be resisting the most heavily. Most of the others are compliant. Though I do think this may increase the fears of some who accuse you of being authoritarian."
"I understand. Inform them of the risk, politely, if you can. I'll have my media advisors do their best to convince the public of the concern. We're going to be increasing the blood test standards for donating blood, too. Tell the NHS officials that we may have a serious situation here. Granted, I may be overreacting, but the possibility of this likely hasn't only come to us."
"President, I wish you the best." The advisor turned and left, this time without her stopping him. She looked at her guards.
"How likely do you think an attack is?"
"That depends. I think the Sprilnav are going to send ships to hit us, soon. But if they don't then the mind-control is the best measure after that. Gaia and the hivemind would be able to stop a pandemic if it started to kill people off."
That made sense to her. There was enough money for the increased caution right now, anyway. The Guulin Congressional Republic was currently militarizing, so covering all the other bases would be a good option too. It was up to the Guulin to help crew the massive military of the Alliance for when Aphid sent another attack. With both the Cawlarians and the Alliance pressuring him, he'd either leave or fold. Either way, the problem of Aphid would eventually solve itself. But the Sprilnav were an active threat. It might be good for the Alliance to go through every species' list of war crimes, so they could prepare for the Sprilnav to try them.
Calling the hotline with Kashaunta wasn't necessary until they'd confirmed a threat, at least. The fewer chances she got to manipulate them, the better. And even if she was an enemy, she also had a window into Sprilnav society that no one else had currently. No one who was accessible, at least. Because something was going to come eventually, and they needed to be ready.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
"I think this is putting too much strain on your body," the hivemind said, frowning at Izkrala after her latest visit to the hospital. "I don't know what you're actually doing to yourself, but I can guess that the side effects aren't good."
"You can, can you?" Izkrala replied, scowling at the bed underneath her, which seemed perfectly positioned to keep her arms and legs from being able to move her body. She was large, but that didn't mean that this was any less accidental. Someone had done this on purpose. When she got to them, she'd...
"Yes. I'm not trying to be rude. I just care about you. You've been doing whatever this is for weeks now. It's clearly affecting your psyche."
"Perhaps what's affecting my psyche is the fact that a quarter of my military somehow vanished after launching a coup against me."
Izkrala had been tracking them with sensors for a while until they really had just disappeared. The only way it would have likely happened at this point was that several of the Acuarfar watching them were mind-controlled. Initially, they hadn't been blamed, as it really had looked like a sensor malfunction. Then they'd vanished too.
Whether they were dead didn't matter to her, but she did want to get her revenge on whoever was responsible. She had her doubts that Kashaunta and this 'Zelisloa' actually had a rivalry that was real. Otherwise, she would have pointed them at him earlier. And it did seem quite convenient that none of the recent actions from the Sprilnav against the Alliance were attributed to her.
If Izkrala had to guess, they were being misled. Zelisloa was probably working under Kashaunta and was being used to take the fall if he was caught. Then he'd die quickly, leaving her with a somewhat better relationship with the Alliance than before. Or at least, that was likely her plan. After biting the hivemind like some animal and trying to kill everyone several times, Kashaunta was on the 'kill if seen' list for the rest of her life. And it would stay that way.
"That's fair," the hivemind said. "I don't think I would be as stable if I was undergoing this procedure."
"Lying to make me feel better only works if I don't know it's a lie, Humanity," Izkrala replied. "What I need is a painkiller that will actually work."
Her cybernetic eye fixed itself upon it, and she did her best to move again. Project Paragon might have been enhancing her psychic energy, or at least making it so she could control it, but it was clearly not feasible widescale. And it was only possible due to the experiments the Acuarfar had done at her behest before she'd joined the Alliance. The hivemind might know that her psychic energy control was increasing. But it would never find out the truth of the project.
"Well, I do have good news. I managed to come up with a composite that will allow you to fly again."
"What is it?"
"Your wing, sort of. I requested some of your genetic material from the Emperors, and they gave it to me when I told them what I planned."
"And you didn't consult me?"
"I assumed that you would refuse. I wanted to help you, and they are also considered as part of those who could disclose your health information. If you are unhappy with this, I will simply destroy what I have made."
She sighed. "No, don't. I'd like a real wing again. Can it mend with my own?"
"That's the hard part. The cells that I designed for it should work. But that's not satisfactory."
"What would you say the chance is of successful mending without additional side effects?"
"I'll take it. But what are those side effects?"
"The cells becoming uncontrollable, in which case they will likely form a mending structure that is not smooth enough, which will make flying with that wing either harder or more painful for a while."
"More pain. Of course."
"So that's a no?"
"It's a yes, hivemind. Do it. And... thank you for this," Izkrala said honestly. "You don't have to go out of your way to help me. There's many more that need it."
"True. But you're a person too."
"I'm not really more important than anyone else. Sure, I like to say I am, but I'm not. Unless you're focused on getting me to do some favor for you. Because if so, that's pretty mean. You wouldn't do that, right?"
"I don't think so."
"Good. You know, in another life, we might have been mates."
"What? Wait, did I just say that? I'm still drugged, aren't I?"
"Your bloodstream has broken down the main compounds, it seems. But... yes, I think you are. That said, I'm flattered that you think so highly of me," the hivemind replied. "But in the here and now, you have your Emperors. And I think that's plenty."
"Oh yes. I'm not sure how the males manage it, really."
"Manage it?"
"The multiple mates. It's fairly traditional for males to take at least two mates, due to the increased birth rate of females to males. It's not like how those human 'artists' like to portray it, either. For us Acuarfar, carrying eggs is like... having a suitcase attached to you, which is almost too heavy to lift, and barely movable. Did you know that according to the history books, Acuarfar invented the wheel to make platforms that help females whose eggs are gestating?"
"I suppose I had the knowledge somewhere in here," the hivemind said, tapping its head. "It is an interesting fact. That said, I'll wait until you're stable to ask you about my current questions."
Curiosity immediately overwhelmed Izkrala, and she tried to get out of bed again. She was glad that the hivemind wasn't smiling at her as she did so. This felt incredibly demeaning.
"Can you at least tell me what you've been doing? One thing. Please?"
"You might forget soon."
"Forgetting isn't one of the side effects of the painkillers I'm on. Even if they're more like pain punchers at this point. Not doing very much killing, I'm afraid," Izkrala said. The hivemind smiled slightly.
"Come on! That was funny!"
"Maybe being a billion people all at once makes you unable to grasp my genius."
"Well, 16 billion actually. But perhaps it does."
"Well, stop stalling. Hivemind, tell me what you've been up to."
"As you wish, Empress Izkrala. I've been working with the wanderers mostly. Stopping crime among humans by talking them out of it, and getting them the resources they need. I've been discussing negotiations that Phoebe's been having with the Cawlarians, and we've started negotiating with the Vinarii again.
It seems that a few people on one of the colonies have some sort of new sickness. We've been studying the proteins of that one, and it seems that they opened an ancient vault about five days before. Oh, and making bigger guns, bigger ships, better factories, and the like. Trying to put together some sort of structure to how exactly the Sprilnav, Source, and these conceptual beings work, in addition to the various lesser powerful psychic entities like Exii'darii and Gaia."
"Tell me about the wanderers, then."
"Well, most of the diaspora has concentrated into communities again. The ones that left their ships have developed a desire to breed as many children as they can. I think it's a core value of theirs. Their children are rarely seen in public, though, both on the ships and in their planetary communities."
The hivemind conjured up a chair and sat down, still in view of Izkrala's cybernetic eye, without her having to strain herself.
"And also, on the ships themselves, there's been some developments. I've been spreading the news of the Alliance's amenities and rights, which seems to be working. More wanderers are leaving, and taking their families with them. But what worries me in particular is the ones who are asking us to give them guns and ammunition. Most of those are the older ones, especially those with the tumors already growing. As for those, I can't even heal them, not even with psychic energy. I was planning on asking you to provide mediators for a future conflict, like impassive forces that don't take a side but help refugees and civilian victims. Medics, caretakers, staffing for food distribution, the works."
"So the wanderers are about to have a civil war?"
"Some are. The ships are each different. On some, the suspected revolutionaries far outnumber the police and soldiers stationed there. On others, they're very rare and almost nonexistent. A few of them have simply disappeared, only to be found beheaded later on."
"So they're killing dissidents. That seems like a valid excuse to intervene."
"Yes. But sadly, it isn't. The Alliance agreements are still weak. If we were to do that to the wanderers, it would set a precedent. If your future descendants do the same, then the same problem could happen to them. Basically a big civil war. So it's either doing nothing and watching people die in a war that hasn't fully started yet, or doing something and setting a precedent that could get a lot of people killed. Civil wars are messy. The wanderers' situation is likely the easiest to safely enter, actually. All the other species have massive populations or are on a planet, leaving room for countless pockets of dissidents and asymmetric warfare."
"So how many wanderers are going to be beheaded before you do something? You're not technically a part of the Alliance. You do not answer to any military authority, same with Brey, Phoebe, Gaia, and such."
"Yes, I do."
"You do because you want to," Izkrala said. "You could decide to wage a genocide on the wanderers, and we couldn't do a thing to stop you. The only way to even kill you is to kill 16 billion humans first. You're the problem the Alliance will have to solve. Not leaders like me who want power. But entities like you, who everyone knows has it. The Alliance right now is only capable of surviving as an opposition entity to the other big nations of the galaxy. And if that doesn't become enough, everyone in it fractures, and we each die alone."
"I'm not so sure about that."
"Alone and in pain, unless the Sprilnav happen to bomb you while you're sitting near someone else."
"They haven't yet."
"You've disarmed tens of thousands of nuclear bombs on hundreds of planets, Humanity. Let's be real here. Without Gaia providing detection, Brey providing portals, you providing power, and Phoebe providing locating services, we'd all be long dead by now."
"Well, we aren't. And I don't think pessimism is helpful here."
"Pessimism is how empires are built and run, hivemind. That's what makes politics churn. It's why we're going to kill Yasihaut and Kashaunta, instead of trying to somehow fix them. Because even if it's possible, it would require several lobotomy records being broken. Being pessimistic is putting yourself in the mind of your enemy, asking yourself the worst they could to, making it worse, and preparing for it. Pessimism is realizing that Humanity is the core of the Alliance, and without your species, we would all be lost. It's realizing that I can't have eggs anymore without doing it some fake way. It's reality, Humanity. Time to start living it."
"The drugs are still in your system."
"Oh please. You know I'm right. Plus, I've been far higher than this and still coherent. Have you ever gotten to the point where you could smell colors with your hands, or taste the sun with your stomach? Have you ever tried to jump with your eyes, bite an animal that doesn't exist, or hear the voices of dead people?"
"There's a few humans who have gotten to that extent."
"But you haven't. It's their experiences, not your own."
"Not really. Being a hivemind means that their experiences are mine, because I am them and they are me. That's how it works."
"Unless you only think that's how it works, and you don't know. For all you know, Kashaunta's just been a projection this whole time by Yasihaut as a way to get us to go after the wrong Sprilnav. For all you know, Kawtyahtnakal died back then, and you raised something else from the dead. For all you know, the Sprilnav made a star send a gamma-ray burst to hit us in a few seconds. Pessimism, hivemind. Optimism is what gets you betrayed by your own generals."
"Optimism whispers hope into your ears and hides the dagger about to be shoved through your back. I'm a broken and ruined Empress, trying to cling to the beauty and splendor that is my birthright. I'm a useless carapace hiding a girl whose dreams of a unified and happy species have died on the altar of reality. Don't you dare think you know what this is like. Humans don't have Empresses anymore. You can blame a parliament, or a congress, or a senate. When the Acuarfar look up, and the skies are burning, their eggs are smashed, and the strength of my Empires crashes down, they can blame me, and me alone. Because I failed."
"You did not-"
"Silence, hivemind," Izkrala replied. "I was not done. I am nothing anymore. You can go ahead and install your stupid new government into my Empires when I die. It won't make a difference in the end."
"You shouldn't lose hope. You can still lead."
"I can't even get myself out of this stupid bed. How can I ever lead my species? How can anyone? My own people don't even trust me. I tried to save the Lurave Empire, Humanity. I tried. I gave them housing, order, food, clean water, and heating. I gave them jobs, gave them freedom, and gave them what strength I could. Could I have gone in and killed all their leaders one by one until they kneeled on the blood-soaked floor of the palace? Yes.
But I didn't. Because I had that hope. And they threw it away. They spat in my face, leaving me like this. 92 billion Acuarfar. They're going to die. They're going to starve, dying in the ruined worlds I could have saved them from, while spitting on my legacy. I don't even have words for how I feel about them. Drugs or not. Cybernetic or not. Their stupidity has transcended all bounds. Maybe stupidity's a concept too, and decided to pay us a visit."
"I can help."
"How? Unless you're planning on mind-controlling them, good luck. And even if you are, you'd have to dig out the Sprilnav versions first. Then you'd have to convince them that they actually want a good life."
"We could still uplift them, and help them. It just may not be unified with your two Empires."
"You don't have confidence in my leadership either. That's why you're saying this. Guess what happens when you try that? They become a big nation. Then they wage war on us, and your civil war policy doesn't let you intervene. You march in there and let them riddle you with insults and bullets until you get bored. See how it feels to be helpless then!"
"Empress," the hivemind said. Its hands moved closer as it stood up. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry for being wrong? Sorry for not understanding how the world works?"
"Yes. And I'm sorry if I've hurt you."
Its fingers brushed gently against the side of her snout. Her anger and grief receded, and she let herself lay back against the bed. The hivemind didn't do anything else and just stayed with her. Its eyes were sympathetic, and the sensation of her fur in its fingers was somewhat calming.
"Look," she said. "I'm sorry I yelled at you."
"It was deserved."
"It wasn't. I guess I'm really not ready to be out in public again for a while."
"You don't have to be. I'm sorry I didn't notice this sooner."
"I'm going to sleep now."
"Have a good rest, Empress."
"You too." she sighed. "I'm going to remember that, too. I meant thank you."
"You're welcome."
submitted by Storms_Wrath to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.06.05 21:22 Ralts_Bloodthorne First Contact - Chapter 961 - The Shadows of Twilight

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For most species, the question "How far will you go to survive" is and always has been an intellectual exercise in morality and ethics.
For humans, it's called "Tuesday decisions." - Pubvian Analyst
For you, the day I planet cracked your homeworld while you stared on in horror was the most defining point in your life.
For me, it was Tuesday. - General Raul Manuel Bison, Age of Wrath supervillain and Imperium Lord Knight
You better kill me, because if I get loose, I will not only kill you, I'll do in front of your kids and tell them that Daddy was bad. - Miguel "Iron Mike" Jaunita McBaine, Age of Warsteel Mythical Anti-Hero
In the end, it didn't matter who was right or wrong, just who was left. - Def.Kret, Welkret Historian, Second Precursor War Post-Reconstruction Phase
How was did it effect society when we discovered that which we had dismissed as ancient legends from a confused and barbaric time were true?
It was catastrophic. - Reflixark, Tnvaru, Former Senator, academic, meditative
Nakteti felt the hand on the back of her head. Gentle, caring. It filled her with gentle warmth and a feeling of peace. She didn't bother holding back tears. She felt the hand leave her head and looked up.
Surscee and Chuck were kneeling.
Magnus stood by the Sword Knight, his back straight, one hand on the armored figure's chest, his hand slowly putting his dagger back into the sheathe.
The Digital Omnimessiah touched Chuck, whose code flickered and danced, then Surscee who, like Nakteti, was silently weeping. He then moved to Magnus.
"Stay thy gentle hand, Magnus," the Digital Omnimessiah said softly.
"Help them," Magnus said. "They're infants controlled by dead men. Help them, otherwise, what good am I? What good are we? What good are you?"
Nakteti noted that Magnus's eyes had a dull crimson glow in the depths.
"May I touch him?" the Digital Omnimessiah asked.
Magnus nodded jerkily.
The hand of swirling code touched the armor.
A long silent moment passed.
The Digital Omnimessiah moved to each of the armors, touching them for a long moment, before moving on.
Finally, the figure of swirling code moved to the side of the room, looking at the occupants.
He shook his head sadly.
"There is little left of the child," he said. "It would better that those who did this terrible thing would have had a millstone tied around their neck and then tossed into the sea. The act of what was done to them was a grievous sin."
Magnus just nodded stiffly. Chuck and Surscee and Nakteti had gotten to the feet to watch.
Nakteti felt her stomach twist.
"This will require more than just I," the Digital Omnimessiah said. "Those that I work through are suited to such."
The Digital Omnimessiah merely glanced at the corner.
Nakteti took a step back as the warsteel of the corner of the medbay suddenly bulged, the thick coating of white enamel fracturing and crazing. The cracks began to drip red blood and smoke eked from the cracks. There was the sound of great bronze doors thundering open, the rattle of iron chains, and the smell of brimstone.
Two clawed hands pushed from the cracks, enamel falling to the floor. The hands pulled the wall apart, making room for a great horned head, with bestial features, burning red eyes, and a fanged maw that drooled liquid fire.
The great beast stepped into the medical center, the wall warping and twisting back into shape, the enamel gone, laying on the floor, but twisting runes remaining on the warsteel.
Nakteti held tight to her courage, pushing down the urge to scream and flee. She saw Chuck flinch slightly, saw the trickle of sweat down Surscee's temple and how Magnus tensed.
"What?" the great beast asked, staring at the Digital Omnimessiah. "This better be good."
"There are souls in need of redemption and succor," the Digital Omnimessiah said calmly. "I would that my son Vat Born Luke examine them so that I may succor them," he waved at the four armors.
"Hmph," the beast side. It moved forward on cloven hoofs of brimstone shod warsteel, shaking a burning iron chain whip out to let it drag on the floor.
It moved up and touched the Knight of the Tome.
Less than a second later the head turned to stare at Nakteti, eyes going from burning amber to bright crimson. A snarl appeared on the bestial features.
Its eyes went from crimson to cold gray.
The great beast shrunk suddenly, melting, reshifting, changing.
A short, plump, matronly Terran woman stood in the beast's place. She wore a dark suit, her hair was black and cut short, her face was stern and her eyes gun-metal gray. She had a small enameled pin with red and white stripes on one lapel, polished black heels, and cufflinks that shone and glittered.
"Who did this?" the woman snarled. She took a step toward Nakteti, making a twisting motion with her hand. A long thin square blade dropped from her sleeve and into her hand. "Who. Did. This?"
Nakteti stepped back, the Terran matron more fearsome than the great beast.
"Tell me who did this. Tell me now," the woman snarled. "Was it you?"
She turned and stared at the others. "Was it this glittering mongoloid?" she pointed the knife at Chuck. "Or this mouth breathing imbecile? What about Braless Tits McGee here?" She pointed the knifepoint at Magnus then Surscee before whirling around to look at the Digital Omnimessiah. "Who. Did. This?"
"An evil from nine thousand years ago," the Digital Omnimessiah said gently. "They are beyond your wrath."
The woman snarled, making her face ugly. "We'll see about that."
"Perhaps my son should examine them," the Digital Omnimessiah said.
The woman said nothing, just vanished in a puff of smoke. When it cleared, a thin, androgynous looking male Terran with brown skin stood in her place.
"Father," the Terran said, going down on one knee.
The Digital Omnimessiah moved up and touched the kneeling man's forehead. "Arise, my son."
The man slowly stood up, looking around. "She's almost incoherent with rage. What's the problem?"
"These four tortured children," the Digital Omnimessiah said. "We cannot breach their armor lest they perish."
The man, Vat-Grown Luke, nodded, moving up and touching the Knight of the Tome.
He blinked several times.
"Oh my. I see why she's so angry," Luke said. He shook his head. "Template layer impressioning. Fetal tissue genetically modified. Chronotron stabilization," as he shook his head again three more of him moved off to stand next to the others, laying his hand on their chests. "I see what went wrong," he said.
The Digital Omnimessiah simply smiled sadly.
After a long moment the other three moved back and merged with the first, who slowly moved to the medical scanners, bringing up the holographic interface. Nakteti could see it flickering as the menus were jumped through. She glanced at Chuck and saw that the Digital Sentience looked startled at the rate the Terran was going through the data.
After a long moment he moved away from the console after dismissing everything with a wave of his hand.
Nakteti noted that he looked tired, like his shoulders were bowed by a heavy weight.
He knelt down in front of the Digital Omnimessiah, staring at the floor.
"What desperation made us do," he whispered.
Nakteti saw tears fall to the floor.
"What was coerced with force or threats lay on the heads of those who made the demands more than the hands that performed the deed," the Digital Omnimessiah said gently.
"The techniques, they predate me, predate you, Father," Luke said. "They reek of desperation," Luke seemed to lean forward slightly, pressing his forehead against the Digital Omnimessiah's hand. "Creche babies, designer children, are the base organic component. Local SUDS copies were impressed, as well as early generation RNA memory injection serums."
"Is there enough left of the child to save?" the Digital Omnimessiah asked.
Luke gave a low, pained chuckle, a self-mocking laugh that Nakteti had heard from herself more than once.
"Funnily enough, it is the child that caused the templates to start unraveling," he said. He closed his eyes. "The chronotron system was supposed to keep the organic tissue from maturing, supposed to keep the RNA memory injections from degrading, but the chronotron system kept failing."
"How so?" Chuck asked.
Luke heaved a breath. "Fetus and infants are known for rapid cell division, rapid growth, their neural tissue especially," he gave a slight smile. "It's why their heads are so heavy and they nap so often. It's tiring growing that fast when you're that little."
Luke stood up slowly, reaching down and tugging on the cuffs of his suit. "The chronotron stabilization system kept getting disrupted. Not long. Seconds, minutes, an hour here and there," he said. "But long enough for cell division to keep occurring, cell division not controlled by the system."
He moved over to the Tome Knight. "The tissues couldn't be fully locked, they needed to be able to form memories, carry out complex tasks, which are often a function of memory. That meant that they were forming new memories," he shuddered. "I've seen the REM combat system before," he sighed. "I know what it did to the man who used it."
Nakteti moved up and put a catching hand over the Terran's hand.
"Are they beyond even your help, Luke?" She asked softly.
The slender bald Terran closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "No with an although, Yes with a but," he said, his voice quiet and tired sounding. He opened his eyes and looked down at Nakteti. "The children, the babies, they will need the touch of my Father, then the not-so-gentle ministrations of, well, the Devil as well as my care."
The Digital Omnimessiah got a slight smile. "She does what she does in the service of us all," he said.
"So, they have to die to be reborn?" Magnus asked. Nakteti noted that his fists were clenched.
"Anyone else, and you would be correct," Luke said, turning away from Nakteti. "I can repair the genetic damage," he looked at Magnus. "I can repair the living tissue, the biological component. Remove the RNA memory serum effects. The Devil can root out the templates, tear them free from the infant's mind, leave nothing of the Combine soldiers. It will be painful," he put his hand back on the Knight of the Black Rose's chest. "But babies have a tendency to forget pain."
He turned, his hand sliding off the armored chest, and stared at the Digital Omnimessiah.
"I can do this. We can do this."
The Digital Omnimessiah smiled.
"Then let us begin," he said, moving forward.
Magnus sat on the log at the edge of the orchard, staring at the Rigellian white peach in his hand, thinking about what had transpired. What he had seen.
The rage, the ever present rage, simmered inside of him.
He closed his eyes and slowly inhaled, held it, then exhaled just as slowly, willing the rage to subside, as his mother had taught him, taught all of her children.
As she had taught them iron clad values.
There was no one left to blame. All who had done that monstrous thing were long dead. Thousands of years dead. If not on some forgotten battlefield, then time itself had wiped them away. Their names were forgotten, their deeds crumbled, their crimes washed away by the endless tide of time.
It didn't change how angry he felt.
He had never had children. He had thought about it. Thought about finding a bride. Maybe even setting aside his blade and becoming a craftsman or farmer. Maybe even an innkeeper, tavernkeeper, or storekeeper.
There were many things he could do, with a bride and children. Good, honorable professions.
But he was sworn to the Lady Nakteti and the thought of children had been wiped away by the grim necessity of duty.
It was a burden he had willingly accepted.
But he had always loved children. His siblings, the children of friends and allies, even small children of the folk he met along his travels and adventures.
In his dreams, he was a husband and father.
He had been over a hundred years old, still a young adult, when he had sworn his blade and his life to Lady Nakteti.
He knew he still had time. He intended on questing, searching for another living Terran, a woman who could accept him and that he could accept. Intended on, once his duty to Lady Nakteti was done, to search her out no matter how far he had to travel and no matter what dangers he had to face.
The malevolent universe would not grant a bride to one such as him without a fight.
He closed his eyes and took another set of long breaths.
The rage didn't cool, it just was pushed down, pushed away.
There was a rumbling under his boots and his hand went up over his shoulder, his hand reaching for his blade, even as he stood up, the peach forgotten as he dropped it to the ground and turned around.
The great beast was heaving itself up, out of where the dirt had been pushed away by smoking rock and stone. Lava shown in the cracks, and pleading hands reached out of the lava to grasp at the huge figure.
It pulled itself free, took a moment to stomp down the pleading hands, then let the iron chain whip fall from one hand, the barbed links glowing sullenly with twisting runes. It flapped its huge bat wings twice then folded them behind its back.
"You dropped your peach," it rumbled.
"I have indeed," Magnus said.
He watched as the huge figure moved over to one of the trees, reaching up almost daintily and picking a ripe white peach. It moved over to Magnus and stared down at him.
"Are you going to sit down or stand there with your sword half drawn, you Great Value Conan?" it asked, its bass voice vibrating Magnus's bones.
Magnus just smiled, letting go of his blade, turning around, and sitting down.
As he bent down to get the peach, he saw a pair of legs clad in dark charcoal gray slacks step over the log. He noted that her shoes were polished, the heels just over an inch tall, with silver buckles on them. The crease in the pants was sharp enough to shave with and the cuffs were perfect.
Magnus straightened up, hefting the peach, and looked next to him.
The matron sat there, staring at the peach in her hand.
"You would make a good Hell Knight," she said.
Her voice was rough, smoky, the kind of voice singers would kill for if it didn't hold a razor's edge of cruelty in its depths.
"Thank you," Magnus said.
"I could send you out to punish the guilty, kill the sinner, enforce my will upon the living," she said. She picked at the leaves on the stem of the fruit. "None of the weakness you are forced to show now. You could be the armored fist, the terrible swift sword of my wrath."
"My service is already pledged," Magnus said.
"To an alien. What of your own people?" the matron asked.
"To break my oaths to her, alien or not, would name me Oath Breaker, and no man would trust me, every hand would be raised against me, and would betray all that I am," Magnus said.
The matron nodded. "It was worth a try," she said. She set the peach in the divot where her legs pressed together and dug out a pack of cigarettes, lighting one and exhaling smoke.
"I tempted Daxin with the same offer for three days and three nights," she said conversationally. "Like you, he denied me."
She shook her head. "Like you, he saw redemption in humanity."
There was silence for long moments, broken only by Magnus munching on the peach and the Lady Lord of Hell slowly smoking her cigarette.
A dragonfly danced among the small flowers in the grass around the log.
"I killed them all, just so you know," she said suddenly.
Magnus just stayed silent.
"Not because of those lost souls. No. I didn't know of them then," she said. "It was personal. They took me, tortured me. Forced me to do terrible things," she lifted her chin and exhaled smoke into the air. "I waited, watching for my chance, and chance itself gave me my window of opportunity."
She chuckled, warm whiskey chuckles.
"It drove me mad. Madder. I used the same technology on myself that they used on those children, layering myself over and over onto my own mind," she said.
Thunder rumbled in the distance.
"I touched an alien mind. A hive mind. Inhuman, inexplicity alien. My own intellect worked against me and they infected me as I tortured them in my madness," she said. "In the meantime, I turned Darkside Station into a horror show."
She laughed, a cruel mocking thing. "They should have left me dreaming my dreamless sleep, those fools."
Magnus just nodded.
The Matron of Suffering tossed away her cigarette butt and it disintegrated into red sparks in the middle of the arc. She picked up the peach from her lap.
"I tore apart their minds and bodies. Laughed as I sundered their minds just as I ripped and tore at their flesh until it was done," she said. She looked at Magnus.
"I brought vengeance upon them nine thousand years ago in ways that you cannot imagine. For a thousand thousand years they suffered at my hands," she said, her voice cold and hard. Her face twisted with rage for a second before she got her expression under control, appearing cold and aloof. "They are beyond our rage, in this time and place, and what I did to them does not seem like enough."
Magnus accepted the peach, drew his blade, and cut it into slices, handing them back.
The storm clouds gathered overhead as the Lady Lord of Hell slowly nibbled away the fruit.
"It will rain soon," Magnus said.
"And wash away our sins," the Lady Lord of Hell said. "Get us another peach."
The first drops started to fall as Magnus walked over to pick two more.
He sat next to the Lady Lord of Hell in the rain.
Finally, she stood up as the light faded. She turned and looked at him.
"You would have made a good Hell Knight," she said.
And then she was gone.
Magnus sat there, staring at the fruit trees of the orchard, in the rain.
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2023.06.05 21:16 CornerCornDog Perry vs Skipper: an analysis (for the Community Matchup Debate tomorrow)

Making this a post because it's easier than splitting it up into multiple comments and I don't have to wait on the debate post to be made.
Woo I’m back at one of these! Here to talk about my most wanted matchup of all time. I’ve done a results screen on this matchup before, so for a tl;dr on the matchup with little elaboration, please see that. But I will give a detailed explanation for who I think wins with this. I’ve been working on a Doofenshmirtz blog for a while and have done several calcs for it, so I feel I am very qualified to talk about Perry. For Skipper, I am not as familiar, so if I get anything wrong please let me know. I have made sure to double-check everything I am saying about him.
With that out of the way, I’ll start with Perry’s stats.
In terms of AP and Durability, Perry has survived getting forced into space on the hood of a car, getting to 14.5 kilotons of TNT. Perry scales to Phineas and Ferb, who survived an explosion that pulverized the ground beneath them, as well as falling from space in their roller coaster, the latter of which gets between Multi-City Block and Town level. Other impressive feats are Ferb shattering part of Mount Rushmore casually and Isabella moving a mountain (Multi-City Block level). You can also scale Perry to Candace screaming loud enough to be heard across the country, which can potentially get to Town level or even higher depending on how it’s calced, though I personally am not proud of this calc and plan to redo it eventually.
Perry also obviously scales to Doofenshmirtz, considering he is regularly able to hurt him and keep up with him in fights. Doofenshmirtz has a lot of good feats, he regularly survives his building blowing up at 17.87 tons of TNT, and he could survive getting stomped on by a building-sized robot, but those aren’t close to his most impressive feats. He’s withstood being launched into space by an explosion, had an asteroid slam into his face at 88 kilotons of TNT, and, like literally every other person on the planet, withstood the kinetic energy of getting launched at the sub-relativistic speeds of the Earth, getting to 3 megatons of TNT (though that does use the lowball of the speed as the highball is FTL and thus not applicable for kinetic energy). Famously, he was able to withstand 80% of the country’s tin foil hitting him at high speeds, and which should be around 2 kilotons of TNT at minimum, with a highball of 411–881 megatons of TNT.
I know there’s the argument I’ve seen that Perry shouldn’t scale to that specific feat because in an alternate timeline where he got hit with it, he was put in a full body cast for 18 months. However, I feel this is the textbook example of an outlier. The only reason Perry is put in a full body cast is because he needed to for the plot of the episode to happen the way it does. On basically every other occasion, Perry has shown to be comparable in strength and durability to Doofenshmirtz, so it does not make sense for him to be as injured by this as he is. The feat should still apply to Perry via scaling to Doofenshmirtz.
Onto speed, the Phineas and Ferb series have several consistent lightspeed feats. Perry and Doofenshmirtz regularly dodge lasers from Doof’s inators, which act like actual lasers do (they typically all travel in a straight line, aren’t shown to have force, and bounce off of reflective surfaces) so they likely travel at lightspeed (this is a low-end as you’ll see soon). Heck even normal people have been able to dodge lasers from Doof’s inators, which isn’t exactly an outlier as Phineas and Ferb were able to accurately pilot remote-control cars that went at lightspeed. Phineas was also able to react to a baseball shot from his baseball machine, which can shoot into space in seconds.
However, that’s just the low-end stuff, and it is likely that Doof’s inators are far faster than that. They should be at least as fast as the first inator (considering it’s the first one), which shot a beam to Mars in a couple seconds, which on average would be 35 times the speed of light. The Shift-the-Earth’s-position-further-away-from-the-Sun-inator shot a beam that traveled to Jupiter in a couple seconds, and the Sphere-Attract-inator shot a beam that went out of the solar system to another planet in seconds. Keep in mind that the Sphere-Attract-inator was intended to grab a ball of twine, so it should logically have no reason to be any faster than Doof’s other inators that characters have dodged. This is actually consistent with other feats like Perry being on the outside of a spaceship that’s traveling to another star cluster and being able to react to asteroids while there, and Ferb being able to accurately pilot Meap’s ship in tight spaces, which has flown to the Shooting Star Milkshake Bar in a couple seconds and went to Meap’s planet in a short timeframe too. All of these would get well into MFTL+.
Also, if you want to include the video games (which typically don’t contradict the show at all), then Phineas and Ferb have perceived an electric current as slow, reacted to things shot at them while piloting Meap’s ship, and can boost their snowboard to jump across the solar system, which can get well into MFTL+ as well. Using the games is debatable but it does show more consistency for this level of speed.
Now moving on to Skipper’s stats. Keep in mind that, unfortunately, some good Madagascar feats have not been calced yet, so I will be forced to eyeball some of them and give a rough estimate. If anyone has a calc for them, please let me know that’d be great.
In terms of AP and Durability, Skipper has survived getting sat on by an elephant and getting hit by a plane, as well as a helicopter crash. He was able to casually beat Nana, who could survive getting hit with a Safari Bus and her apartment exploding, and could go toe-to-toe with Alex. Alex is impressive as he could lift Marty, Gloria, and Melman all at the same time, and survived a punch from Teetsie that cracked the ground several meters away. If I had to guess I think that’d be City Block level but I’m not entirely sure. Skipper also has survived being launched from a cannon from New York to Fort Knox in seconds, and was at the epicenter of the explosion of the North Wind’s plane, which again looks like it might get to City Block level but I’m not sure.
Skipper was also able to match two gorillas in tug-of-war, and keep in mind one of these gorillas was capable of swinging an elephant over his head and throwing it out of the zoo. He should scale to Gloria, who casually destroyed a brick wall, and Marty, who could survive this. He should also scale to King Julien, as he was able to survive a kick from Joey, who could hurt King Julien, and he is also able to one-shot Fossa that threatened King Julien. King Julien is able to cause an avalanche and was at the epicenter of this explosion, which I personally calced at 726 tons to 31 kilotons of TNT. I’ve also heard lemurs and fossa in the show survive nukes offscreen, which would get to between 10 tons and 1 kiloton of TNT at minimum, providing even more consistency for City Block to Town level Madagascar.
In terms of speed, Skipper has outsped a subway train, dodged missiles by dancing, and should scale to Chantel Dubois who could react to bananas shot out of a gatling gun. but those are just bit feats. The best stuff has Skipper dodging and reacting to lasers that act like real lasers, as they bounce off of reflective surfaces, travel in a straight line, and burn on contact. Skipper should easily scale to Dr. Blowhole as he’s regularly able to keep up with him, and Blowhole has dodged a laser calced at 38% the speed of light. Skipper was also able to dodge a punch from Joey, who could tag King Julien multiple times, and King Julien has his own laser-dodging feat. This cements Skipper firmly in the relativistic-FTL range.
Now looking at their stats, it is clear that Skipper is at a fairly big disadvantage. While both can be scaled to Town level, Perry scales far higher into it and can even get into City/Mountain level. Even Perry’s direct feat of being forced into space on the hood of a car gets far higher than anything Skipper can scale to aside from the highball of King Julien’s explosion, and scaling to Doofenshmirtz and potentially some other characters means that Perry would remain much stronger. Speed isn’t any better for the penguin, as while both can scale to light-dodging feats, Perry can get far higher. Even just scaling him to the first Inator means Perry would be over 35 times faster than Skipper, and that’s without the several MFTL+ feats that range from thousands to millions of times FTL, and one of which Perry himself performed. Perry simply has a massive stat advantage in every category that Skipper doesn’t have a good work around for.
Even dubiously scaling Skipper to Mort sucking up an ocean, which is a massive outlier for Skipper and there isn’t much evidence for scaling him to Mort anyway, Perry would arguably be able to match it, as he could just as dubiously scale to Norm, who survived a massive burst of light that enveloped the planet as well as make an explosion that was comparable in size to the planet). I don’t think Perry should scale to Norm in those aspects, but if we scale Skipper to Mort, then scaling Perry to Norm should also be fair game. In this scenario, strength and durability are mostly even with Perry still having an absurd advantage in speed.
Beyond stats, Perry should have the superior arsenal. Skipper often relies on Rico for his gadgets while Perry carries all of him with him, but even with that he still doesn’t hold up to the sheer versatility of Perry’s arsenal. A lot of Skipper’s weapons boil down to explosives like grenades and rocket launchers (Perry also has one of those), which wouldn’t have the potency to harm Perry any more than Skipper’s own attacks would. Meanwhile Perry has a bubble of acid he can surround himself with, a device that can instantly melt something, and a portable hole that he can slap onto a wall to go through it. His hat comes equipped with a buzzsaw, and he is able to summon various animals with his whistles. Keep in mind that this isn’t really outside help and seems to be closer to actual summoning, as he somehow summoned a whale onto the top of a building in seconds.
The big thing in the arsenal that really hurts Skipper is Perry’s magnet watch, which brings anything metal straight to him, even non-magnetic metals like aluminum. Most of Skipper’s arsenal has at least some amount of metal on it, from his explosives to his jetpack to his flamethrower, all of them can be taken away from Skipper with Perry’s magnet. This is a massive detriment, as even though he is already facing an uphill battle, the magnet watch guarantees that Skipper has very little chance of touching Perry.
Now I do believe Skipper has better stealth, as casually breaking into Fort Knox is greater than anything Perry has done, and he has the means to utilize it too with his smoke bombs. Perry has been able to fight an invisible opponent before, but he needed to hear him in order to do so, which Skipper’s stealth wouldn’t allow. Unfortunately, Skipper has no way of actually capitalizing on this, as while he could get the jump on Perry and attack, he still has no way to actually hurt Perry and take him down. In terms of innate abilities, neither have many that aren’t just extensions of their immense skillset. Perry can use his tail as a saw and Skipper can cause explosions with a kick, but neither is going to make a huge difference in this I feel.
With skill, I do think they’re fairly matched. Skipper’s fired a cheesy dibble from a bag accurately enough to hit a button, Perry’s launched a screw with his tail accurately enough to hit Doof’s foot on the rebound. Skipper can throw a playing card with insane accuracy, Perry can do the same with his hat only using his head. I also think that experience is very close between them, with neither having a massive lead over the other. Now in terms of intelligence, I’d actually give a slight advantage to Skipper. Both are very intelligent in combat, but Perry’s also been fooled by Doof’s traps very frequently, so while they have comparable intelligence at their peak, Skipper’s more consistently showed it off. However, that’s not going to be enough to win.
I personally believe the winner to be Perry. He’s much faster, stronger, and more durable, and can shut down most of Skipper’s arsenal while having a vast arsenal of his own. In most tertiary factors I’d say they’re about even with Skipper having a slight edge in intelligence, but Perry’s overwhelming power, speed, and versatility should let him beat the penguin more times than not.
Keep in mind, I haven’t experienced every piece of Madagascar media, and I’m only really familiar with the 4 films. I don’t think anyone’s feat searched Madagascar: A Little Wild or any of the video games so who knows, maybe Alex pulverizes a mountain or something and that turns the tide of the matchup. If there’s something I missed that you think I should’ve brought up, please tell me as I’d love to add it. As of now though, I believe Perry to be the winner.
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2023.06.05 20:18 Tigra21 Hunter or Huntress Chapter 168: U-Haul

Tom was still rather worried he had made a big mistake as he watched Jacky fly off towards the grey horizon, chainsaw dangling from her chest. He felt a little odd actually. He had come running out to say goodbye and to give Jacky her pair of ear defenders and some safety glasses that sorta fit, at least a little bit. He had also reminded them to pack some tarps. Just in case it rained since it might help keep the wood mostly dry. Honestly, he felt like a worried mother or housewife.
The image hadn’t really been helped when Ray had also come running up carrying some bundles of food someone had apparently forgotten. Maybe he should go do a load of laundry next and complete the image.
“Well… that’s them gone,” Tom shrugged as he lost sight of Jacky against the grey skies.
“Yup…” Ray answered, also staring up at the sky, watching them.
“You got anything you have to do or?”
“Oh eh, not that much… I really should wash the floors in the armory though, a lot of muddy feet,” Ray joked a little unsurely.
“Don’t bother, it’ll be just as dirty tomorrow anyway, and ten times so if we get rain.”
“Raulf thinks so… About the rain that is. So you’re probably right,” Ray agreed, turning to look at him instead. “Do you need help with anything?”
“We just have some stuff to do in the smithy. I don’t think so… Actually,” he replied, turning to her as well, tilting his head a little. “I heard Fengi mention that you were looking at getting dresses made. Is that right?”
“Oh, yes,” Ray responded with a quick nod. “You know. It would be nice to have, even if it wouldn’t be so good to wear every day. It is going to be hard with the silks though.”
“Everyone needs some finery,” Tom replied with a wink. Of course she should have some nice clothes, maybe she would even start wearing what they had gotten for her in the capital then. She looked quite nice, all things considered, when she tried. “You went for silk? I guess that’s a bit expensive,” he carried on, having no clue what silk they might be talking about. The only silk that he remembered them having was the changeling silk of his cloak… maybe he should revisit the idea of getting that turned into a proper uniform. He would need a bit more of the stuff though.
“Well that too, but I’ve never sewn silk before. It’s always so expensive. And it’s hard to make look just right.”
“I know Essy is pretty good at sewing. I’m sure Wiperna is too.”
“Oh of course,” Ray giggled, though still looking a little uncertain. “But not to be mean or anything, but a dress is quite different from some armor or a simple shirt.”
“Well, I certainly wouldn’t know. Only sewing I’ve done was to fix things… It usually didn’t end well,” Tom joked, hoping Ray wouldn’t be quite so skittish. They hadn’t talked that much, but everyone knew she was sweet as pie.
“I could teach you if you want? I was helping Jacky a little before all this stuff with the inquisitor happened.”
“Jacky was taking sewing classes?” Tom questioned, raising an eyebrow. That was honestly quite the surprise.
“It’s been a while. She’s been busy and all,” Ray replied a little meekly before changing the subject. “How have the two of you been doing? You have had a very hard time.”
“Right… Oh yeah, it’s been… well it sucked a lot. Jacky blames the inquisitor rather than me, even if I wasn’t that nice all the time, so I guess that is a plus.”
“It’s okay, everyone has bad days. You especially so,” Ray said in a very soothing voice, going to put a hand on his shoulder with the most tender and caring look on her face Tom could imagine. “Just try not to, okay?”
“You know Ray, this is why everyone here likes you so much,” Tom chuckled softly, giving her a pat on the shoulder in return. “You’re a good egg as we would say back home.”
“But humans don’t lay eggs,” Ray replied, turning her head to the side a little, looking adorably confused.
“No, but we still know what eggs are… Anyhow, Jacky thought you would want to buy some jewelry with the money? I guess that falls under clothes to some extent.”
“Oh… Yeah, I guess so. It is going to be so strange having to buy something not from my brother's shop.” She laughed hollowly. Tom hadn’t thought about that part. He didn’t even know if the shop was still around.
“We could also try making some? I know Shiva will be quite busy, but we certainly have plenty of materials to work with. Silver and gold too. I have a feeling that maybe she will want to do something other than entertaining us lot as winter goes by.”
“Do you think she would do that? It is a lot of work,” Ray questioned meekly, clearly worried time would be spent on her that shouldn’t. Tom couldn’t really blame her. They would probably be busy all winter, but surely Shiva could whip up some earrings or something.
“Well, she sure loves polishing everything. Do you know her magic?”
“Yeah, I more or less worked it out… My brother had the same talent. Let him make things without solder. He made these earrings out of very thin gold wire all fused together into little designs. They were beautiful,” Ray replied, turning sadder and sadder as she explained.
“Oh I believe it. Maybe Shiva can replicate one?” Tom tried cautiously, not sure if he should change the subject or if this was a good thing to talk about. ‘God dammit Tom, why are you such a numpty with all this stuff?’
“Perhaps?... It was very fine work. They easily broke too. He just called that a business opportunity since not many places could fix them. I often wore some of them when standing outside, at least during the day, you know? Advertising. He never even got mad every time I broke one,” Ray replied somberly, her expression going blank. “Times change, I guess.”
“They sure do. I had never worn jewelry before coming here. And then what do the girls do? They take every chance they get to dress me up with whatever they can find. Even cut my hair to leave a damn heart and a lightning bolt. Wore a cap for months after that. It’s still not quite gone,” Tom joked. It seemed to help as she looked at him with big eyes like she had just realized something embarrassing.
“I remember those… I thought they were religious or something like that.”
Tom suppressed a snicker at that, not wanting to laugh at her. Shortly thereafter Ray too let out a little giggle, confirming that she found it funny too.
‘Oh thank god for that.’
“And the time they tried to do my hair into horns, oh that was soo stupid.”
“They really tried that?” Ray questioned, suppressing another snicker.
“Yup, I think Saph just panicked. Dakota basically just told her ‘Make him presentable!’ and then left. She didn’t have a clue what to do,” Tom carried on, breaking out laughing properly at the stupid memory. That had been so damn dumb, but it was a good story at least. Ray joined in too, though she was more snickering and giggling at his misfortune than outright laughing.
“I’m sorry, but that is funny,” Ray apologized as she kept snickering at him.
“Oh don’t worry, it was damn funny. Afterwards at least,” Tom got out after catching his breath real quick. “Or the time when Kiran attacked my foot ‘cause of how bad it smelled. That really hurt. Bastard has sharp fangs.”
“He is a spirited one,” Ray remarked, the two of them continuing to snicker like idiots.
Then there was a bit of a cough from behind them. Tom turned to see Junior and Radexi standing there, Junior at attention for some reason.
“At ease gentlemen,” Tom joked, watching the young man switch to a more relaxed stance, almost mirroring Radexi who just shook his head the tiniest amount. “What is it?”
“Shiva and Edita want you in the forge, and Jarix would like a word as well.”
“Right. I guess the fun is over then. Run along you two, I’ll be right up.”
“Yes sir.”
Tom let out a sigh as he watched them run off ‘I guess he’s not quite over playing soldier… I guess it still beats him taking after his father. Oh well, to work.’
Saph’s day had been rather boring thus far. It had been such a long walk, and it was more or less around late afternoon by the time they had made it to just the treeline. It had taken some walking back and forth from there before Essy had come descending out of the skies towards them to lead them to the camp.
It had turned out to be another half-hour walk through the forest to get there, which had left everyone save Essy a little travel sore. One might laugh at the idea of sitting down for a whole day being tiring, but Saph had actually gotten off to jog alongside just to have something to do for a bit. That and she was sore and stiff from all the hours sitting on Yldril’s back.
At least the forest was beautiful though, much better than the rolling hills. They really did get boring after a while. Here, though, it was all full of color. Especially on the outskirts of the forest. The leaves were already a dark yellow and falling, coating the ground in a colorful blanket. A few piles could be seen here and there where the wind had swept them up. Saph poked one to check for any surprises with a long stick before taking a run up and just jumping in backward, letting her wings catch the leaves to give a soft bouncy landing.
Fengi had kindly asked the dragon to walk by the pile of leaves, causing Saph to vacate to the shout of “Clear below!” followed by Fengi letting herself fall off the dragon’s back and down into the pile of leaves, using much the same trick as Saph had, though the cushion of leaves caught under her wing and sent her bouncing off. Essy stuck her head over the side to better watch as Fengi sailed gracelessly through the air and landed with a thunk and an “Aooow…” on some rather less well-padded ground.
The two silvered huntresses both chuckled a bit as Fengi held up a hand showing the OK symbol. “Nailed it.”
“Well if there had been a nail there then absolutely. You didn’t hurt anything, right?” Saph snickered, walking up to look down at the younger woman.
“Nope, I’m fine,” Fengi replied, standing up and dusting herself off, still looking like that had hurt at least a bit.
“Well at least the kids aren’t around to learn about that maneuver,” Essy added with a shake of her head. “I could see someone breaking a wing doing that.”
“You can break a wing doing the dishes,” Fengi retorted, going to jog after the dragon who hadn’t stopped or even slowed down. “Yldril, I’m climbing up your tail, just so you know.”
“Wonderful. At least you don’t want me to pick you up when you fall off,” The dragon retorted sarcastically, not seeming to care overly much. It wasn’t like she could stop them anyway. Fengi hopped up onto her tail and started climbing. Saph was half expecting the tip to fall off again, but it did seem to have survived the reattachment pretty well. Even if it was just the tip that had come off, it was certainly more than could be said for Balethon.
Saph followed Fengi’s lead, taking a running start and using a few powerful flaps of her wings to send her up onto the dragon's back. “All aboard.”
“Chuu chuu,” Essy let out playfully, pumping her fist in the air twice, leading to both Fengi and Saph tilting their heads looking at her. “Oh, it’s a thing Tom said… Not sure what it means, probably Danish.”
“Ahr yeah, that makes sense,” Fengi and Saph both agreed as they made themselves comfortable once more.
Saph went to lay down alongside the spines on the dragon's back, looking down at the ground moving slowly by below them. The dragon’s steps had slowed a bit as the hours had gone by, and she just watched the ground glide past. She thought back fondly to old times long ago. Playing in the rustling leaves as a kid had always been good fun. They used to take the kids of the keep to the forest just to see how different it was on a normal year. It was good to have a trip to see something other than just the rolling hills around the keep after all. For the last while though the kids had more or less just been cooped up inside the keep. She didn’t see that changing this year either.
‘Maybe next year. With some money, surely we could take a trip to the capital or something. Been a few since last we did that after all I think.’
They didn’t so much see the camp as hear it. Specifically, the roar of Tom’s chainsaw cutting through the woods. At first it was faint in the distance, almost like a shriek of a wounded animal, but as one came closer the true anger of that strange tool could be heard in full song. Accompanied by a familiar if rather manic-sounding laughter…
“Wait… Did they give it to Jacky?” Saph broke out, sitting up and trying to look ahead.
“Well that can’t possibly go wrong,” Fengi said sarcastically, shaking her head a bit, standing up, and walking up to Yldril’s shoulders to get a better view.
“It gets worse I’m afraid,” Essy added, having taken a comfy seat on Yldril’s back as well.
Fengi and Saph both didn’t say anything, instead just turning to look at the oldest huntress.
“Tom isn’t here either… and he gave it to her for the day,” Essy carried on reluctantly, apprehension clear on her face.
“Dakota did come, right? You know, just in case something needs to be put back on,” Saph tried half-joking, half-serious. A healer sounded like something they could definitely use if they ended up in that situation.
“I am not sure Dakota could manage that if I’m being honest. I wouldn’t like to think what that thing could do to flesh and bone,” Fengi added, also not seeming overly thrilled with the news.
“Is anyone going to tell me what that noise is?” Yldril protested, shaking her head a little as Jacky let loose once more, the screaming saw chewing its way through a log somewhere in the forest. It was hard to even work out where it was coming from with the echo bouncing off the trees all around them.
“Just think of it as a magical item that cuts wood and to do it, it burns stuff rather than magic. And is incredibly loud,” Saph responded as she tried to tell what parts of the noise were the saw and what might be Jacky screaming with glee.
“Am I the only one who would be quite scared to hear this? Say in the dark of night all alone out here?” Fengi questioned, sounding like maybe there was a little fear in there already as she looked around, the sound overwhelming them from all directions.
“Please tell me I do not have to listen to that all day?” the dragon grumbled, seeming a lot less impressed by the noise.
“If it helps, we all do. If Jacky’s got the saw, then she ain’t putting it down till it doesn’t wanna go no more. Or when we are done, I hope,” Saph sighed, the sheer disappointment radiating off the dragon feeling almost thick in the air as she walked along.
“Who knows, maybe they will be done soon?” Fengi tried in a cheerful tone. “I mean cutting trees down with that thing and branching them can’t take that long, and they must have been going for a while by now.”
Rounding a large path of bushes, the source of the noise came into view. Jacky stood with her back to them complete with her red-furred ear-defenders as woodchips flew all around, before the tree she had been working on creaked and cracked, slowly starting to topple over. “TIIIMBEEEER!”
There was a brief panic as the tree fell the wrong way, and several keep dwellers ran for it before the tree slammed into the ground. Jacky stood there looking quite pleased with herself.
“GOT IT!” she shouted out as grumbling faces started returning to the site, some having fled quite far away. As order returned some of them noticed the massive dragon staring at them. “Sorry about the bad guess. I really thought it was going that way.”
‘Gods give me strength,’ Saph sighed, clutching her temples a bit.
“Now now Saph, I’m sure she tried to make it go the other way. The saw does look like a handful if you ask me,” Essy let out, clearly trying to mediate things before anyone got shouted at. “Looks like they have come a long way already too.”
“Indeed,” Yldril replied, looking around and not sounding overly thrilled as she started walking up to the latest trunk to hit the ground. Looking around, the victims were quite spread out, and Essy was right too, there were quite a lot of them.
Jacky apparently hadn’t noticed them until Yldril was but a few meters behind her. She turned a bit to the right, probably sensing something was behind her, and let out a yelp of surprise as she noticed the massive black dragon standing just behind her. In true Jacky fashion, her finger was seemingly still on the trigger as the chainsaw roared to life, revving wildly before she managed to get her finger off the trigger, stumbling back a step or two. Some people averted their gaze once more, fearing Dakota’s magics were about to be needed, though others simply shook their heads or giggled a bit.
Yldril just stood there staring at the huntress unflinchingly. “Would you please shut that thing up?”
“Oh… right. Fuck man, you can’t just sneak up on me like that,” the chainsaw-wielding huntress countered, shutting off the chainsaw with a flick of a switch.
“I was not. You are simply oblivious. How many trees are there?”
“Oh uuuhm…” Jacky paused, looking back at her path of destruction. "Well… You know, I think I stopped counting.”
“There are twelve in total,” Dakota responded, walking up to the dragon. “And I must say, things have been going far swifter than we imagined. So far we are talking two logs per tree, we will cut them in half again when back at the keep. So two trees cut into four logs a trip was our idea. You will have to put together your cargo though. Do you think you can handle that?”
“Just fine… what even is that, a couple tons? Might as well take eight just to get it done with. That would mean I only need to do three trips, right?”
“That would be correct, yes. It is an awful lot of wood though,” Dakota replied, not seeming quite convinced that was a good idea, looking to Fengi for confirmation.
The young huntress just shrugged, clearly not knowing either. “If she thinks 8 logs is fine, why not? Not like we know what she can pull.”
“I have hauled far worse. But first I want to lay down somewhere with a bit of peace and quiet,” the dragon rumbled unenthusiastically, looking to Jacky, who was already making her way to the tree she had downed, fiddling with the saw.
“You can rest for a little. Afterward, we would have you stack the lumber up over there. We’re laying down two logs to put it on so it doesn’t get wet. In the meantime, Saph, we have a little foraging to do. I hope you brought your knife.”
“Always,” Saph replied, sliding down Yldrils's side and landing in a crouch, steadying herself with an arm before standing up again. “What are we looking for?”
“Heaven oak bark and anything else of use. A tasty snack wouldn’t go amiss either. By the looks of it, we might be able to finish up here today. Actually, remember to grab a hatchet for the bark while you are at it.”
“I saw some berry bushes when looking for you three. Worth a look I think,” Essy added enthusiastically as she too slid down Yldril, as the dragon started walking off to go have a nap somewhere a little quieter.
“Could I come too? Once I’ve seen where Yldril went to sleep at?” Fengi questioned hopefully, looking to Dakota. “I’ll be back so we can have her ready stuff for tomorrow.”
“I don’t see why not, as long as we get the prep done properly. Apparently it is going to rain tomorrow.”
“Yeah we heard,” Fengi sulked, glancing to Saph.
“Not much we can do about it. We better get going then before she wanders too far off. Do try to keep Jacky from killing anyone,” Saph chuckled, feeling a little glad she didn’t have to be too close to the saw either. It made her ears ring, and since Jacky had it there was not much chance of her getting a go at it anyway, and where was the fun in that?
“No faith at all,” Jacky laughed loudly with a big smile on her face as she yanked the cord and the device sprang to life once more. There was no denying just how quick work it made of those branches though. Each was gone in a matter of seconds as she walked up the side of the trunk.
“Well, good luck. See you later!”
As Tom came up the stairs to the greeting hall, the sight that greeted him was a young and slender blue dragon laying on his belly, head turned to face the horizon while completely overrun by kids. Said gaggle of kids seemed to include nearly everyone, save Lothal. Last Tom had seen him he had been shadowing Rachuck, who was supposed to be with Paulin at the moment so he guessed the kid was getting his first proper lessons on inquisition wrangling. Someone had to keep an eye on her.
The investigator hadn’t actually been causing much trouble as of late. Whether that came down to the orders she had been given or to the fact that Tom had a suspicion that she and Rachuck actually saw eye to eye on many things was hard to say. They were certainly both rather paranoid and beset by an impeccable work ethic.
For now though, Tom guessed he had kids to worry about, as well as whatever Jarix wanted to do. As he made his way over he saw Zarko holding the basket with Jinora, looking less than thrilled about the whole situation. It was rather funny to see the strict and uptight military woman being forced to babysit. And in all due honesty, she should probably be sawing planks or something instead. But they wouldn’t have any more wood till sometime late tomorrow, so here she was. He guessed that she hadn’t gone logging because if it came to it Jarix needed his crew for a fight.
“Ahr Tom, listen bro, I need to ask a favor,” Jarix called out, seeming quite delighted once he spotted Tom and Ray.
“Name it big guy,” Tom called back, walking up and watching as the kids all turned to look, a few hopping down to come his way with Kiran leading the charge.
“I wanted to ask you. Remember back before Joelina came here, well mostly even longer back than that. You used to run around in the morning and lift things?”
“Yup,” Tom replied, bending down to pick up Kiran as he came running with arms raised. “Up we come.”
“Yeah that stuff. Does it actually work?” the dragon questioned as the rest of the kids running up went right by Tom and instead ran up to Ray, who had already bent down arms open to welcome them in.
“What do you mean?” Tom asked with a chuckle, watching Ray with a big smile.
“He’s just trying to get out of having to do the training, that’s all,” Zarko interjected annoyedly, also walking towards Ray, Jinora’s basket in hand.
“No, not me. Radexi. He’s just embarrassed to ask, that’s all,” the dragon clarified. “I don’t need more flying practice, I’m the best already. And look at this now,” he went, flexing a foreleg which was showing some rather nicely defined muscle underneath the scaly hide.
“All that fieldwork was good for something, aye? Maybe you should be helping out log hauling.” Tom chuckled, watching the dragon’s expression go from proud to rather annoyed.
“Yeah, right,” Jarix chuckled sarcastically. “Why not do the work of someone 4 times my size, might be 5 actually. I think I’m good.”
“You haven’t done anything for weeks you big baby. It’s time to get to work again,” Zarko corrected as she gingerly gave the basket to Ray like she was defusing a bomb. Ray took it right away and stuck a hand down for Jinora to play with to the sound of happy baby giggles.
“Oh come on, I was wounded.”
“And now you’re fixed. I think it’s an excellent idea. It will take Yldril more than one run I hope, otherwise it’s not gonna be anywhere near enough wood.”
“Sounds like a plan to me. Though flying practice should be a thing too, right?” Tom questioned, looking to the now much more comfortable-looking lieutenant.
“We really should be practicing with Dakota and her girls, yes. Rachuck and the guard too for that matter, in case we get locked up in here with you for winter.”
“Makes sense. I for one would love to see some aerial exercises.” Tom mused glancing to Jarix hoping the dragon would pick up on a possible way out of hauling duty.
“As long as you don’t plan on falling off, I think the big baby could use some weight. Much like yourself,” Zarko agreed, gesturing at Tom. Tom had indeed resumed the practice of walking around with the weights on. He was more or less mended after all. The last two days hadn’t even come with dreams of Joelina’s past. Even if that wasn’t really enough to have him discount that side effect as dealt with. “Perhaps a few of the guards would be willing to come along for target practice. They will be fine in the belly netting I am sure.
“Oh come one, I’m supposed to fight using speed. Don’t go weighing me down now.”
“Of course, and if you are faster with passengers, imagine how well you will do in a proper fight. Besides, I already talked with Dakota. She found the idea quite ideal,” Zarko retorted with a grim smile on her face, Jarix deflating noticeably.
“Don’t worry, Jarix! We coming too!” Kiran shouted out, raising a clenched fist.
“Oh no you don’t,” Tom chuckled, lowering the hand back down again. “It’s bad enough for them if I fall off.”
“But I fly already.”
“Yes, when you weren’t allowed to… and were high on sugar.”
“I still want more sweets. They taste good!”
“Yes, yes I know. I promise when you’re older,” Tom tried, Kiran’s expression turning exceedingly grumpy as he crossed his arms. “I am three. That’s a lot!”
“Hey, don’t feel bad, kid. My dad didn’t let me try flying till I was 10,” Jarix added in helpfully, Kiran turning to look at the dragon, mouth agape.
“Oh nooooo.”
“Oh don’t give me that,” Zarko let out, clearly not impressed “I know your mother. No way in hel-”
“Heherm!” Ray cleared her throat, looking rather scathingly at Zarko, who for her part just shut up.
Tom just watched in awe. He had never seen Ray do anything like that before. And Zarko was not exactly the most lenient of people. Even Kiran didn’t seem to have a funny quip.
Jarix just looked rather smug at the whole thing before slowly and with head held high turning to look at Tom and Kiran.
“Anyway, I just wanted to ask if you could help Radexi out. He’s a bit spindly.”
“And he can’t pull back the bolt on the 50 properly… I’ll see what I can do,” Tom promised, not quite sure how this would end. Hopefully better than his attempt to wingman for Unkai. Even if that had been more or less successful in the end.
“Thanks bro. Now I think if I have to go out and start hauling trees, I’m gonna need to look good. Who knows who might see us out there? We have to put on a good image after all,” Jarix chuckled, laying his head back down on the sun-heated stone and looking rather comfy really. Even if Tom still needed to make good on that promise of a bed.
“What’s next, do you want white enameled armor too? Maybe a huntress crown as well? I’m sure I could put in a good word with Dakota and get you at least a copper one,” Zarko retorted sarcastically, crossing her arms and looking unimpressed.
“Did you forget how much I was paid? I am a gilded, I would have you know.”
“Still only made half of a normal year’s commission, didn’t you?”
“No, I made half on top of a normal commission, remember?”
“Right,” Tom let out, blinking a few times. “Forgot just how expensive you lot are.”
“Why do you think most keeps out here don’t have dragons? At least not normally. They are putting a fortune into this place,” Jarix countered. “I know mum’s place back home cost thousands. Food is the big one though. In the big cities, it’s just crazy.”
“There is also the small matter of asking someone who can live for hundreds of years to risk their life for you. No keep dweller dragons making 500 a year out here.” Zarko added apathetically.
“Well duh, just like there aren’t any dragonettes making 50, or even like what? 10 gold.”
“Quite, most would be more like a couple on a good year… if you're a higher rank,” Ray interjected cautiously, clearly not quite comfortable with the huge numbers.
“Damn… actually, what would a dragon make out here?” Jarix proceeded to ask, looking to Zarko, who just shrugged.
“I don’t know. Maybe 100? Maybe only 50? Some might only be paid in food and shelter, you are expensive to feed after all. From what I heard many are usually hired rather than part of the keep too.”
“Welp, even more reason to join the army,” Jarix mused, seeming quite content with his lot in life. “So much more worth it.”
Chapter 168 ready and able. Things are starting to feel a bit more like they used to back when Tom was setteling in at the keep. Still plenty going on but it's not the center of attention right now. at least not the large scale political shenanigans. I don't know about you but I like it. Speaking of which any feedback is as always welcome down below be it pitchforks or cake. I might not agree with you but I still wanna hear it.
On the news front, There is a brand new piece of Grevi in the art show, made by Lunhaku. It's the first time we get to see a dragon in armor as well, it provides a nice perspective on the size of the dragons as well.
Praise the editors for making this all possible, I hope you enjoyed it. If you did an want another check out the patreon or if you just wanna help get more cool pictures of dragons drawn.
Until next time, take care, and I'll catch you around.

Cover three by HarmaaGriffin
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2023.06.05 20:00 Optimal-Map3531 Instead of reducing it to 35 how about increasing it a few times?

Instead of reducing it to 35 how about increasing it a few times?
First they put the variants behind the Facilities. Then they nerf the fuel truck to the ground.You can see that nobody uses the fueltruck anymore, congratulations! ( I know that the damn fuel container exists, but it sucks compared to the old fueltruck ).
I understand that there should be an ammo limit and that a Spatha with 300 ammo is really funny but limiting armored vehicles to 35 ammo(LT) is unrealistic like the 21 ammo that the STD has in his model and in the game he has 6 in inventory( I defend that STD should have the capacity of the model shows).
They seem to be trying to make everything more difficult and boring like real life. How about basing yourself on the real-life to put in the right amount of ammo? For those who will say this is Warthunder stuff there will be a link for the ammo capacity from Tank Encyclopedia.
For armor like the Bardiche which is clearly based on a Sherman... how about 90 rounds?( ).
For Devitt how about the Renault D2 160 rounds?
For Hatchet how about the Soviet T-50 which has a capacity for 150 rounds of 45 mm would be the most correct for armored vehicles. and
For Silverhand: 75(68 gun) mm SA 35 infantry support gun with 74 shells; 47(40 mm) mm SA 35 anti-tank gun with 50 shells
And how about putting 50 or 100 fuel capacity in the fuel truck instead the 25? Well... While I was researching to post this bullshit that probably won't be heard by the Devs... I discovered that a WWII GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck carried Fuel & oil handling (660 US gal (2,500 L)), (750 US gal (2,800 L)). Exactly the 25 gallons of Diesel.
These nonsense got out of my head. But the devs talk about Asymmetry and how about modifying the ammunition capacity that each tank has to not leave everything the same and boring? Since Colonials do things cheaper (MPT), how about X less ammo and since Wardens vehicles are bigger and more spacious to have more X ammo.
It could also have 100 bullets that for each gun cannon as it is now( - MPT and Spatha). It would be much preferable in a matter of 35 rounds per tank.
It seems that each time they are wanting to take away the autonomy of players with few friends. You will need + - 3 more tanks to carry the 100 bullets that a single LT could carry. What two players with an LT could do is going to reduce a lot.
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2023.06.05 19:43 dobbestheskeptic Greater depth and complexity to dscan
Dscan already acts very similar to radasonar. My question is, why not add to the concept with additional depth akin to it's real life counterpart?
Dscan works by basically sending out a ping throughout the system and listening for bounce backs. In real life, this is very similar to active radasonar, where a very detectable, broad spectrum and load signal is sent through some distance in the hope of detecting other objects through the echos/bounce backs.
This also means however, that you can be listening for pings without sending pings out of your own. This is using radasonar in "passive" mode. Meaning you can detect when someone is trying to pin your position with active radasonar while still denying them additional information by refraining sending out your own pings. Or it means you can more aggressively begin searching for them on dscan before they pin you down. Either way, this nuance would provide a great deal of additional tactical decision making that I believe would add a much great depth and complexity to pre engagement maneuvering. I.e. the battle before the shooting starts
Additionally, I believe requiring that covert ops/cloaked ships would need to either decloak to use dscan in "active" mode or would otherwise be temporarily detectable when using dscan would add a much needed balance to current stealth mechanics. As it currently stands, especially in null, someone can cloak up and afk forever in your home/staging system and you don't have any clue if he is just cloaked afk. I know there are decloaking observatory things you can anchor, but it still just means you cant go afk for more than 20 minutes. Meanings it's still very easy to just sit there and re-up your cloak every once and awhile and still forcing people to dock up or take the risk.
Requiring that you use "active" dscan in order to gain information about who/what is out and about in the system would mean that cloaked ships would need to temporarily give up their undetectability in order to do so. Giving some additional (if subtle) information about the potential dangers posed by said cloaked pilot. I believe this would be a much better balance to the meta. Essentially requiring a cloaked scout to actually be somewhat active when scouting/attempting to scare other alliances and giving an additional layer of defense to the pilots who still want to be safe, but are willing to accept additional risk. Essentially providing a middle ground between station spinning carebears and suicidal non-chalants
Additionally, I'm sure there would be a great deal of opportunity to introduce additional skills, modules, and possibly even ships/ship roles to help provide spice to this meta if it proved to be an interesting meta.
Tldr: I think dscan could behave more like real life passive/active radar systems.
Thoughts on y'all's end? Best part is it would just give a slight edge to people willing to engage with the system, and you could keep the "active" part of dscan almost exactly as it is right now for people who maybe would like to ease into the mechanic.
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2023.06.05 18:43 TheScribe_1 [The Book of the Chosen] - Chapter Thirteen - Bridge Over Swift Water (Part I)

Series Page - Read 10 weeks ahead on Patreon - Read the story so far on Royal Road
Chapter Thirteen - Bridge Over Swift Water (Part I)

‘Almost there, Wil.’
The pony snorted, eyeing the bottom of the low hill distrustfully. Ren rolled his eyes.
‘Stop complaining.’ he told animal, patting his flank, and looked back over his shoulder. The emerald grass of the South Realm was laid out behind him in the midday sun like the face of a great green canvas, folding around gentle hills and low valleys, laced with brushes-strokes of silver water. Cottages, farmsteads, thickets full of ash and birch and oak. An endless (or so it seemed to Ren) collection of slow-moving, slow-talking life. They had been riding most of the morning; the farm was a long way behind them, and though the thought filled Ren with a giddy kind of excitement, even he had been hard-pressed to tell the dif-ference between it and the half-dozen other farmsteads they’d passed on their way. There was another rider coming his way across the grass, flicking sparkling dew into the air behind him. The sun was hot today, and Ren could see sweat gleaming on his forehead.
‘Come on, Trin!’
‘She’s going as fast as she can!’ Trin replied, panting. Beneath him, Pol snorted steam, grumbling. Ren smiled, turning back to the hill.
‘Let’s go, then.’ he said to Wil, tightening his grip on the saddle. He shook the reins and the pony snorted, lurching forward. Ren leaned into the slope, putting one hand on the pommel of his saddle, and the hill began to slide past him. The sun was warm against his cheeks, and Wil's hooves beat at the dirt, sinking softly into the turf. Halfway there. The pony began to slow, but Ren squeezed his heels gently against the beast's flanks, clicking his tongue.
‘Almost there.’
Ren closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the air streaming gently past his cheeks, listening to the rhythmic beat of the pony's breath, the drum of his hooves against the soft loam. He remembered, not for the first time that day, why he was so fond of riding.
Then they were there, and the sunlight burst over the hilltop, sweep-ing across the fields to the north, setting the pale line of the Swiftwater aflame as it streaked across the grass. Beyond, the grasslands tumbled on, interminable, towards the sea, or the edge of the world; whichever came first. Ren sat there, quietly, contemplating the world beyond the grasslands on his panting steed, until Trin pulled up beside him a few minutes later. Pol snorted irritably. She was a little smaller than Wil, a ruddy brown in colour, and rather plump around her flanks. Both she and her rider were panting alarmingly.
‘Well that's a sight.’ Trin murmured in spite of himself, breathing hard. Ren smiled, tracing the line of the Swiftwater from east to west, squinting into the brightness. There was a thick swathe of trees squat-ting against the far bank, dark and brooding.
‘There!’ he said suddenly.
‘What?’ Trin asked, confused.
Ren pointed. Directly north of them, there was a small building pressed against the south bank of the river, dipping its toes in the crys-tal waters. A trail of smoke rose from its roof, swept this way and that by the breeze, dissolving in the midday air. Beside it, a narrow stretch of stones bridged the frothing water, disappearing into the shadows of the trees on the far bank.
‘The mill?’ Trin frowned. ‘I thought you didn’t like Ted?’
But Ren barely heard him. His eyes were fixed on the river. How far was it? A mile? Two, more like. He lifted the reins expectantly. Not far. Just a short canter across the fields. They'd be back before dark, still, and his grandparents would be none the wiser.
‘Wait... You mean the bridge? Your grandfather said-’
Ren shouted suddenly, snapping his reins, and Wil lurched forward down the slope. For a moment the rush of air filled Ren's eyes with wa-ter, dissolving Trin's red face into a ruddy blur, then they were away. Wil whinnied happily, wind streaming through his pale mane, and Ren clung tight to the saddle, watching as the grass raced by, savouring the rush of the wind on his face, the tug of it in his hair. He snatched a glance back over his shoulder. Trin was hurrying after him worriedly, doing his best to coax Pol into a reluctant gallop as he clung, ungainly, to the saddle. Ren looked back at the river, the mill, the bridge, and de-cided his friend would be fine without him.
They were at the foot of the hill in moments, and Wil set about eat-ing up the fields in great hungry bounds, hooves whirring over the grass. He remembered his grandfather's lessons, and let himself move with the pony, sighing into the saddle. He listened to Wil's hot breath steaming into the autumn air, the solid thump of his heart vibrating through his back. Ren had always thought there was a deep calm in the rhythm of riding. The speed of it. He found himself smiling. The mill was not far now. He dare not look back over his shoulder again, lest he fall, but he knew Trin was somewhere behind him, struggling to keep pace. He was starting to make out the cottage ahead, leaning lopsidedly against its great wooden wheel, churning frothing, foaming water through spokes big as men. Couldn’t see anyone though. Not that it mattered. Wil's steps drummed against the ground, and the river drew closer. Closer. Until the mill was beside them. Behind. Ren barely looked up as they shot past it, bound for the bridge beyond.
He pulled hard on Wil's reins. The beast dug in his hooves, and they skidded to a halt a few feet from the start of bridge-stones. The water whipped by, rumbling. It was suddenly, eerily quiet, without the sound of the wind in his ears. He listened breathlessly for a few moments, staring at the shadows of the trees on the far bank, then glanced back over his shoulder. Trin was still a fair distance away across the fields, swaying unsteadily in his perch. He never had been a great rider. Ren turned back to the wooded far bank, watching the leaves shifting in the breeze, shadows shifting through thick boughs. He slid slowly from the saddle, and his boots landed on the soil with a faint thud, wet earth squelching softly underfoot. Wil snorted quietly, and he put a hand on the pony's nose.
‘Stay, Wil.’
The river was foaming around the stones of the bridge, and a fine spray was floating over the walkway, shifting and turning like mist. Ren took a step. He looked over at the far bank, and hesitated in spite of himself. The trees were taller than he had thought, their shadows deeper. Darker. An open doorway. Licks of silver flame.
He shook himself. He was being foolish. He glanced back at Wil, but the pony was stood obediently where he had left him, looking back at him with large, dark eyes. One step. Then another. Just a few more. His boots left the grass, and the stones pressed against the balls of his feet, hard and unyielding. He felt the spray of the river against his cheek, ice cold, and he almost shivered, blinking at the mist. The shad-ed trees seemed to shift and blur, trunks twisting. Another step.
‘Hey!’ Trin shouted behind him. Ren started, but did not turn back. ‘Where are you going?’
Ren ignored him.
‘Ren!’ Trin called. ‘Come back!’
This time he looked back. Trin had dismounted, red-faced and breathing hard, waving at him franticly from the bank. He was standing as close to the bridge as he could, without touching the stones, and Ren knew he wouldn’t follow him.
‘Just having a look!’ he called back, turning away from his friend again. The spray parted around him as he stepped forward, peeling back the grey blur from the faces of the trees. They seemed stark and black in the sudden clarity, and shadows moved through the branches, twisting and turning in the breeze. He was past halfway, now. Just a few more steps.
Ren barely heard him. The word was swept away in the rumble of the river, the soft sigh of the wind over the trees, creaking. His feet were still moving, gliding, floating over the stone. The wind was pick-ing up, and the shadows quickened, whirling through webbed branches.
His feet touched the grass, and he drew up short, suddenly still. Fro-zen beyond the spray, staring into the boughs. It seemed to him that the shadows were taking shape, black faces leering back at him from the dark, grins flashing in the dappled sunlight. A black mask. Silver flames. Gold eyes. The fortuneteller’s tent closed in around him, press-ing at his shoulders, and he almost fled, but realised he couldn’t move. The shadows drew closer, grinning as they came, reaching out to him, and something knotted in his belly, something cold as ice. The nightglass pendant was heavy around his neck. His head ached. Eyes blurred. Were those lights, in the trees?
There was a hand on his shoulder, pulling him back. He flinched away from it, frowning. But something caught his heel, sending him sprawling, tumbling. Back into the dirt. He hit the ground hard, and the breath went out of him in a gasp. Faces in the trees. He shook his head, blinking. He was on his back, half-blind from the sudden gleam of sun, and there was a dark figure leaning over him, light flooding over his shoulders. He squinted, half-dazed, at the axe-head gleaming in the man’s hand, and froze. Then he spotted the stack of firewood under his other arm, and exhaled hard, rocking back on his elbows.
‘Temur's teeth boy!’ the man exclaimed. He was wearing a thick, worn tunic, stained brown from use, and his boots were caked with wet grass. ‘Jumpier than a rabbit in a wolf den.’
Ren took a deep breath. His heart was slowing. He looked up at the trees again, but the sun seemed a little brighter now, and the shadows were nowhere to be seen. He exhaled hard, hesitating, then squinted up at the newcomer, blinking into the sun.
‘Well, fuck me.’ the miller grumbled, laying the firewood down at his side and running a gloved hand through his red hair. A face of deep lines, belly more than a little rounded, hair shot through with grey. The scar across the side of his neck had always made Ren shiver; long and puckered, tugging at the corner of his throat like a fishing line. ‘Derin's boy. What you doing out here?’
‘I… We’re just out for a ride.’
‘Your Grandda know you’re so far from home, then?’ the old miller asked him, raising an eyebrow. ‘Come on, let's get you up.’
Ted held out a hand, and Ren took it, letting the older man help him to his feet.
‘When d’you get so big, boy.’ the miller told him, grunting with ef-fort. ‘Still running off, then?’
'Sometimes.' Ren admitted, more than a little bashfully.
‘Sometimes, he says.’ Ted mumbled through his grin, scar tugging at his throat. ‘You eaten? Werla’s got some stew on the boil.’
Ren hesitated, glancing at the trees again, then back at the miller. ‘I could eat.’
Ted chuckled. ‘Come on, then. Wouldn’t take no for an answer, an-yways.’
Ren nodded politely, looking back over the bridge. Trin was almost hopping with anxious energy on the far bank, but he hadn’t yet worked up the courage to set foot on the stones. Ted frowned at the red-faced youth as he reached down to pick up his bundle of firewood.
‘What's got him so excited?’
Ren shook his head. ‘No idea.’
Ted raised an eyebrow at Trin. ‘South Realmers.’ he muttered, in an accent thick as farmer’s milk, tucking the wood underneath his arm and setting off over the bridge. Ren shot one last nervous look back towards the trees behind them, then followed close behind.
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2023.06.05 16:41 UniversityEastern542 Why does Paris have so many royal residences in close proximity to one another?

And then just outside Paris is Versailles (with several palaces on the grounds). All of these are within walking distance from one another. Plus numerous other royal residences around France. Did French kings just like changing places often or what?
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