Craftsman drill press table
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2017.05.01 22:54 kappamale Craftsman 113 Owners Community
A sub for all Craftsman tools from the golden age of the Craftsman name when things were quality made (pre-2000s most likely). Ask questions, share restorations, and show off modifications.
2023.06.09 00:13 Bl1tz-Kr1eg Analysing the Second West Russian War Part 2 - International diplomacy
Alright, so this is part 2 of my analysis of the 2nd WRW. Part 1, where I looked at the pure statistics, is here
While the outcome of the Second WRW will mostly be decided on the ground, international actors can play quite the role in giving Russia a fighting chance, or alternatively hastening their downfall. In this post I will analyse the diplomatic activity that might surround the conflict, along with the possible inputs of the following:- The Pakt The US Japan Italy And some others.
For continuity from my last post, we're assuming a scenario where both powers are somewhat successful going into the mid-70's. For Germany, Fash Speer, with the Pakt including Iran or the UAR, or even both. For Russia, a decently competent unifier like Zhukov, Batov, Suslov, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk or Viatka, but no one too extreme on either end. We're also assuming the war begins in 1978, giving Russia about 6-7 years to consolidate and re-arm post reunification.
So lets start with the war itself. But not what's actually going on. Rather, what it would look like to the international community?
Well, to begin with, a long-dead power has just risen from the ashes of a radio-silent wasteland (where no one knew what has been going on for two decades) possibly following a radically different ideology from its predecessor, the USSR. This new Russia is now, to the disbelief of everyone, is going after the first power of Europe and one of the world's superpowers - a nation that already put it down twice - with a complete disadvantage in manpower, material and support. To anyone with a brain, and a less than average knowledge of domestic affairs in both nations, this is a losing fight, and you wouldn't be ridiculed for suggesting Germany's got this under control.
But there's more going on.
In the background, a web of diplomacy laid by both sides for half a decade prior is now starting to come to fruition. Let's see the options.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The Pakt
- The Pakt by the mid-70's has the potential to be massive. Covering half of Europe in most runs, and possibly more, along with significant influence in the Middle East. People tend to forget the Pakt in their WRW headcanons, but it really is a major player here. After all, is the Pakt not a defensive alliance? But let's assume that none of the nations of the Pakt (apart from Finland and Iran for reasons I'll elaborate on later) want to get directly involved. Germany can still rely on the material and diplomatic support from the entirety of the Pakt, as well as neutral Pakt-aligned nations like Sweden and the UAR. These nations would most definitely condemn Russia, and would cut all trade to Russia, as minor as it is. Additionally, the Zollverein, an EU of sorts, has enough trade flowing within it to keep Germany and it's industry afloat for the duration of the war. The United States
- Surely, the United States will step up! Upon the commencement of the WRW, the last beacon of liberty will waste no time in embargoing the Pakt, and flooding Russia with 5.56cm Democracy! Or will it? Lets consider a few things. Assuming Speer is in charge, and has spent the last ten years signing trade agreements with the OFN and lifting embargoes, why is the US going to just throw away a massive revenue stream for what is most likely a losing fight?
As mentioned above, for all observers this is most likely a losing fight for Russia, and the US needs to balance supporting Russia and not antagonising another nuclear superpower when they already have their hands full with Japan.
That's not to say the US won't covertly support Russia with supplies. American Equipment is far superior to Russian Equipment here, and it's use could help balance the scales in the conflict. But the most likely scenario is for American support to amount to covert aid and nothing more.
This may change if Russia wins some quick early victories, and the prospect of a Russia victory grows. In that case, the US may decide it's worth putting all their eggs into the Russian basket, and one could expect diplomatic and material support to grow.
TLDR - It's gonna be a careful balancing act. Japan
- On the other side of Asia and the Pacific lies Japan. I'm gonna start with uncomfortable conversations here - Japan and Germany have very little reason to be antagonistic to each other. Their spheres largely do not interact, and Japan has far more pressing concerns in the Pacific.
On the flip side though any American supported Russia would be seen as a threat to Japanese interests, especially since the prospect of a victorious Russia turning their attention to Primorsky and Vladivostok isn't unrealistic.
Unless someone who is explicitly pro-Japan is in charge, actually providing concrete benefits to the Sphere, there is very little chance of Japan throwing their weight behind Russia. Italy
- Most people wouldn't expect Italy to be Russia's greatest supporter, but hear me out. Italy has a lot of reasons to want to fuck Germany over, as a Russian victory and collapse of the Pakt could see Italy swoop in and pick up the pieces, replacing Germany as Europe's first power. I can see Italy throwing some support behind the Russians, mostly through material and diplomatic support. Considering Italy, even at its weakest, controls the Suez and the Mediterranean, and has a healthy oil supply from the Gulf, an embargo on or from Germany could be weathered. The Italians, nuclear armed, know that Germany wouldn't dare fight both Russia and Italy together.
However, it's still a balancing act, given that Germany literally borders the Italian state. It's just as likely that Italy could support Germany too. The Pakt (part 2)
- I said earlier that Iran and Finland could get directly involved. And it depends entirely on momentum. Should the Germans weather the offensive and begin pushing back, Finland may consider it well worth their time to open up another front and take Karelia back. Iran could potentially share a border with Russia, should the Russians decide to absorb Central Asia, and it's very possible that the Iranians could see the 2WRW as a threat to their own security, similarly throwing their full weight behind Germany should the latter start winning. Around the world
- China - Too busy. India - Bigger fish to fry. Iberia, Britain, Brazil, Argentina - Depends on alignment.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Equipment and supplies.
We've already established that some powers will send minor to significant amounts of aid to Russia. But how might this look on the field?
To begin with, Japan is the only country that could provide significant amounts of aid to Russia, if they wish to
. Why? Ports. Russia has ONE
port that it could use throughout the year, and that is Magadan. The arctic ports? Frozen half the year. European ports? Kriegsmarine says hello. Japan can largely bypass this by supplying aid through Manchuria, but regardless of who provides the aid, be it the OFN, CPS or Italy, there is no chance in hell they provide enough to arm every single one of the millions of Russians flooding into Moskowien.
Most likely, foreign aid will be limited to select elite units, while the vast majority of the Russian Army is equipped with domestically produced (and likely outdated) equipment.
On the other hand, the Germans would have access to their own domestically produced arms, as well as material produced around the Pakt.
The nuclear option was never off the table. Both are nuclear armed nations, but to lump them into the same category is ludicrous. Russia by the mid-70's has at most five to ten nukes, mostly low-yield, with the first one coming only in 1972. There's no way they can mass-produce nukes with most of their experts dead or emigrated, and with an industry that is a shadow of the USSR's. Germany, on the other hand, has tens of thousands of various tonnage, and even if most are in disrepair or disuse, they still have orders of magnitude more.
Although I think a nuclear exchange is highly unlikely, someone pointed out in the last post that Germany can and most likely would use tactical nukes if pushed far enough, and I agree to an extent. Where I disagree with most on this sub is 1) When they'd use one and 2) The response. So, here's a scenario I want to propose :-
1) When - Moskowien is a money sink, and largely useless as anything more than a buffer state, at least that is what most of the sub thinks. I think it's worth more, but Moskowien is still worth less than the other three RK's. If the Russians begin to threaten Ostland, Ukraine or the Caucasus, I can definitely see Germany consider the nuclear option, issuing threats. If Russia pushes too far, off go 10 low-yield tactical nukes to turn a few field armies into a smouldering crater in the ground.
2) The response - Russia, of course, would be furious. Off goes the entire Russian arsenal in response. A few get intercepted, three or four proceed to turn a few frontline cities in Ostland or Ukraine to ash (realistically the Russian's don't have long range capabilities to hit Berlin or Vienna only six years after reunification). Well done, the Russians have no more nukes left, and Germany is PISSED.
A few people think this would spur an all-out OFN and CPS response, but I ask the question - will the US and/or Japan really want to start an all-out nuclear war over a few low-yield nukes in a country that wasn't even on the map ten years ago? More likely there would be widespread condemnation of the Reich, with the OFN, CPS, Italy and even some Pakt nations embargoing and diplomatically isolating Germany, but no all-out nuclear war.
Well, that's it. Personally, my opinion from last time stands. Russia's best chance is to strike fast and hard, capitalising on a moment of weakness, and keeping their aims limited to Moskowien and the Caucasus. If the war drags on, Germany just gets stronger as the Russians lose momentum, and a war of attrition would be disastrous.
This is just my analysis, and all this is subjective. I'd love to know what you guys think. Perhaps next week, I'll analyse in detail the industrial and logistical situations of each side.
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2023.06.09 00:06 chriszimort Added a Coin Door to my T2!
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Saw another user had been able to order a coin door directly from Arcade1Up and gave it a shot - they ended up selling me two! Ended up just drilling some holes and press fitting it in. Used the light kit from Retro530. Very happy with the results. submitted by chriszimort to Arcade1Up [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 23:47 EvitoQQ Retro Joshi #481: Jd’ August 19, 2001, GAEA Augst 19 - 26, 2001, JWP August 31, 2001 & NEO September 1, 2001
Retro Joshi #481: Jd’ August 19, 2001, GAEA Augst 19 - 26, 2001, JWP August 31, 2001 & NEO September 1, 2001
2001/08/25 Jd' BS Japan (08/19)
Week two of this taping looked awful so I skipped it. Fang Suzuki & Sachie Abe vs. Ariya & Obacchi Iizuka and Ayano Omori vs. Haruka Matsuo comprised that show. First week was more interesting. 2nd Generation Athtress Yumi Oka Debut Match: Keiko Furuta & Teruko Kagawa vs. Yumi Oka & Chiaki Kashida (7:33). Some of these athress matches have been fine on a very low level, but this wasn’t one of them. Oka was easily the worst one so far and had no idea what to do at any point. DUD. Sumie Sakai Requested Special Match: Sumie Sakai vs. Megumi Yabushita (20:21). Worked as a total grudge match with Yabushita playing the role of the Bloody early on, though not as well because she’s not a complete maniac devising all kinds of wild spots. It turned their typical submission vs high spot work. It worked better than you'd think but they don’t really seem to ever take their work to the next level. It was another good and entertaining match from them though. ***.
GAEA G-PANIC 52 (08/19/01 - 08/26/01)
8/19: GAORA Cup Tournament 1st Round: Mayumi Ozaki vs. Meiko Satomura (13:34)
Ozaki’s actually working at a reasonably high level this year compared to the last couple of years. This was a good and energetic match. The two spent most of the match answering each other and blocking the big blows. The finish didn’t work great with Ozaki countering the Death Valley Bomb into a sloppy DDT. It was a good match though. ***
GAORA Cup Tournament 1st Round: Aja Kong vs. KAORU (10:34)
Remember that excellent match they had in 2000? Yeah, this was not that. They played off a bit of what they did in that match but it was pretty clear Aja didn’t give a shit and was just going along with whatever KAORU had in mind. So it was just a total spotfest brawl with a ton of Police interference. It was okay for what it was, but that was about it. **1/4
GAORA Cup Tournament Final: Mayumi Ozaki vs. Chikayo Nagashima (6:17 / 13:34)
They showed all of that KAORU nonsense and chopped the tournament final in half. What they showed was their typical fast-paced high level work but the editing killed it. Still worth *** though.
HHH 2nd Title Match: Kaori Nakayama vs. Sakura Hirota (5:43)
Sabu Hirota. The only funny bit was Hirota accidentally destroying her belt, Nakayama won by hitting her with the other garbage belt. 1/4*
8/26: AAAW Single Next Challenger Tournament Semi Final: KAORU vs. Aja Kong (9:50)
KAORU beats Aja twice on the same show, and this made their match earlier in the show look like a technical masterpiece. Just awful garbage wrestling. I can’t believe they showed the finish in slow motion, KAORU missed that shitty uppercut by a mile. *
AAAW Single Next Challenger Tournament Semi Final: Meiko Satomura vs. Toshie Uematsu (11:42)
This match was pretty good for a while, but Ozaki kinda killed it when she told them something, which prompted them to start badly brawling and using weapons. **1/4
AAAW Single Next Challenger Tournament Final: Meiko Satomura vs. KAORU (11:40)
Shitty KAORU garbage match where they just do a bunch of random stuff again. Fuck off. KAORU sucks, that’s it, that’s the review. *
They showed an angle where Chigusa returns and turns heel.
Kaori Yoneyama vs. Haruka Matsuo (9:13)
We seem to be hitting the dregs of JWP. Haruka is decent when compared to the athresses, she didn’t do anything wrong unless you want to nitpick at some sloppily executed stuff, but Yoneyama has 5 times the impact behind everything she does, even her basic stretching. This was a fun rookie level match though. *1/2
Kobina Ichikawa vs. Yuka Nakamura (14:01)
Mostly boring stretching and comedy with some lousy brawling and spots thrown in. Yeah, you don’t want to watch this. 1/2*
Command Bolshoi vs. Tsubasa Kuragaki (14:40)
A lot of stretching, but turned into a decent match in the closing minutes with Bolshoi pressing for a submission win and Tsubasa trying to turn it into a striking and spot match. Bolshoi was too clever for her though. **
JWP Tag Title Match: Ran YuYu & Misae Genki vs. Azumi Hyuga & Kayoko Haruyama (21:42)
This was more like it, Haruyama was there to get slaughtered and that’s what happened early, she fired up pretty well though. The best action was supplied by Azumi and Ran, but Genki was good too. What was odd was that Azumi and Haruyama were in the heel role, doing the heel spots and Haruyama was interfering frequently, though at least that gave her the chance to be effective. Azumi & Haruyama won the belts, which is actually kind of a shame because Ran & Genki were a cool tag team. Genki nailed them with a chair after the match. ***
NEO Summer Vacation Doesn't End 9/1/2001 Tokyo Differ Ariake
NEO Kitazawa Tag Team Title / NEO Itabashi Tag Team Title Match: Yuka Nakamura & Yuka Shiina vs. Tanny Mouse & Yuki Miyazaki (15:14)
This was okay. Our boot scootin’ baby actually seems to be improving a bit, she still works like a second year junior but she’s getting more fluid, either that or Miyzaki and Tanny are just carrying her better. Tanny was okay until she started with the comedy spots. Miyazaki was the best one in the match as usual, and Shiina was solid. **
Acute Sae vs. Chiaki Nishi (2:40, 6:10)
The thing with comedy wrestlers is they get stale after you've seen the act a few times and that's definitely happening with Nishi0. Sae beat Nishi for a bit, and then Nishi went outside and Sae chased her all around the building, which caused a double count out. Then they had just restarted the match. Sae went and killed Nishi’s stuffed toy and they had more so they used those as weapons and they ended up chasing each other around the building for a second time. All this nonsense took around 10 minutes total and it felt like an hour. DUD
Kyoko Inoue vs. Chaparita ASARI (4:53)
ASARI ran around doing her spots, threw a bunch of chairs on Kyoko outside and tried to make the most of this. Kyoko was awful again, really sluggish, barely went with the spots and sold nothing anyway. I’d say ASARI deserved better than this. 1/4*
Mima Shimoda vs. Yoshiko Tamura (10:20)
A little different to their previous matches, this one was a Shimoda 10 minute sprint and a good one. Tamura opened with the red mist and got a jumpstart but then got beaten around the building. Once they were back in the ring it was mainly back and forth spots. Pretty exciting and good match. ***
NWA Women's Pacific & NEO Title Match: Misae Genki vs. Lioness Asuka (20:40)
They worked a pretty good mat based match in the first two thirds and then we were off with the table spot and high spots in the last third. Lioness ended up getting fed up with Genki and thrashing her on the outside, though I’m not sure she ever put Genki over as enough of a threat to warrant resorting to it in the first place. Genki got one last burst in after that with a pair of G Drivers, but Lioness just crushed her. Match was good but never really felt competitive enough. **3/4
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2023.06.08 23:29 Zerkom122 Which drill to go with? I don’t have any power tools and am just a homeowner.
2023.06.08 23:27 Drakolf Dragon Rising- 24. Divine Agency:
She was malice and hatred, her efforts to undermine the Empire's efforts for peace- in spite of everything the Humans had done- had culminated in her attempting to simply raze everything and force the issue.
Brave and Noble Kurtulmak, God of Kobolds, had roared with all of the ferocity of a Dragon, sacrificing himself to ensure Bahamut, the Justicemaker, could strike Tiamat's heart, and in his final breath, begged Bahamut to protect his people.
"That's a load of fucking bullshit
!" I yapped.
The Priests of Bahamut recoiled at my words, clearly not anticipating that I- who miraculously returned, whose resurrection was clearly
a divine miracle, and was thus also clearly a sign of Bahamut's favor- would be pissed.
"There is absolutely zero
fucking way that actually happened!" I snapped.
It was a full day since my resurrection, and I'd been exhausted. I was still
exhausted, but I absolutely was not having any
fuckery. So I calmly asked them for the account of what had happened, after overhearing them talking about how Bahamut had clearly
brought me back and pushing the holy vestments on me.
Which I did wear, because I wasn't going to go around naked.
This of course was the wrong choice because it gave their story some implicit weight.
"Alright, so first off, Asgorath was the one who brought me back, not Bahamut." I said, shutting down that narrative immediately
. "Second, the only reason he did that was because I guess
I impressed him? Third, he brought me to Bahamut's palace, Bahamut didn't bring me there, and fourth-" I paused, my anger at the situation briefly giving way to a pang of grief. "And fourth, Kurtulmak was already dead when Bahamut arrived."
"Imperator, clearly you must still be exhausted and confused from-"
I flung Magic Missiles at him, he was sturdier than Humans, but he still died. "Bring him back!" I ordered. "I though he'd survive."
This of course terrified the priests, who did bring him back immediately.
I stood up and walked over to the window overlooking the area. The town had been eradicated, it was only thanks to our efforts to get Darastrixthurhi livable that the nursery survived.
"Do any of you remember what Christianity was like?" I asked.
"Y-yes, Imperator." One of the Priests stated.
"Stop acting like a Christian, and start following your God's tenets, or I swear upon mine I will kill you and leave him to deal with you."
"Ruuk, that's enough." Tallyn warned. "We lost most of our family, we didn't know what to think of what happened, we went with what made sense."
"I can understand that." I said. "Mistakes happen, and sometimes things are misunderstood." I shot a glare at the Priest. "I will not tolerate attempts at gaslighting me into believing your story. Bahamut is ashamed
He looked away, then looked back at me before bowing. "I am sorry, Imperator. Please forgive my transgression."
"I've already killed you once." I said. "You don't need forgiveness, you only need to do better. Make your actions your apology, words are meaningless before Bahamut." The way he stared at me with such profundity indicated that he had absolutely not considered that before.
"Tallyn, what the fuck is going on when something that basic escapes your notice?"
"Times have been difficult." Tallyn replied. "Galax was killed on that day, he gave his life protecting us from Tiamat's breath weapon."
"A shame. He was a dick, but he was at least on the right path. Who's in charge of the Temple?"
"That would be Mitne, the Dragonborn." Tallyn replied. "We've been quarantined since the attack, except this time, it's for a good reason."
"Yeah, Kurtulmak's divine essence is causing Humans to turn into Kobolds, but without his guidance." I said. "Have they at least let anyone out?"
"No. It extends to anyone we touch, anyone we try to heal. We chose to be quarantined."
This wasn't even square one. This was the table being flipped by an irate player who didn't get their way.
"Any negative effects on our people?" I asked. He shook his head. "Good, there's that, at least. Did any worshipers of Kurtulmak remain?"
"There were some holdouts, but..."
"But?" I pressed.
"We converted them." Tallyn said. "Not by force, I know you would never forgive us for that, but since Kurtulmak is dead... There's no point in worshiping a dead god."
"I see." I said. "I want everyone who was affiliated with Kurtulmak's Temple brought to me immediately."
They hesitated, but complied.
There were only fifty of them, all dressed in Bahamut's vestments.
"I'm going to give you all a choice." I said. "Remain in Bahamut's Temple, or join me in a fool's errand to worship a dead God." They looked at each other. "Until yesterday, not a single one of you made any efforts to worship him, I am currently the only one stubborn enough to do so. Now, make your choice. If you will join me, cast aside your vestments, and pledge your service to my God. If Bahamut complains, he can bother me about it."
The way they removed the vestments indicated they only went with Bahamut's Temple because they were convinced to, or maybe even forced to, I couldn't trust that Tallyn knew everything.
"Tonight." I said, looking at them critically. "We will be performing a public ritual in Kurtulmak's honor. If the Temple of Bahamut deigns to strike against us, do not kill them if you can help it, but make them suffer, for they act against their God's wishes."
Maybe. I wasn't entirely certain why he searched for me, or why Asgorath brought me back- the latter, at least, I could think as doing it just for the sake of doing it, maybe there was some sort of balance my being brought back would achieve, or maybe he wanted Kurtulmak's story to have a more satisfying ending, I wasn't certain, nor would I ever really be
All I knew was, if there was some way to bring him back, I would most certainly do it, and the first thing that came to mind was worship, there was a reason why Gods needed followers,
In spite of my exhaustion, keeping my resurrection a secret was a Bad Idea. If the Temple of Bahamut's new High Priest was a problem, he'd try to do more than a little gaslighting,
I looked at the Priests of Bahamut, who observed this all with disappointment in their eyes.
"Gather the people." I said. "Tell them their Imperator has words that must be heard."
One of them scowled, I walked up to her. "Is there going to be a problem?" I asked in a low tone. "Do not think for a second I did not see that look you gave me. A year may have passed, but do not forget the antagonism the Temple brought me under better
leadership. I was the one Bahamut directed when platinum was needed for your Temple, I was the one who had the platinum sword forged."
I paused, bending over to keep her looking at me as she tried to look away. "Your actions now dictate whether I return as a benevolent leader, or a cruel tyrant, I will happily go either way as long as what needs to get done gets done. I am electing
to do good, in honor of your God's pact with mine. I do not need
to be. Is this understood?"
"Yes, Imperator." She said.
"Direct your High Priest here." I said. "Tell him his Imperator wants him for words."
"Imperator, the High Priest does not answer to anyone other than Bahamut." Another spoke.
"He will, if he understands what's good for him." I said. "Last I recall, Mitne is not a Kobold, he was Human before he was reborn, and unless he has proven he understands what is necessary for the Warren, and not just
his God's glory, I cannot trust that the very concerning actions I've seen today
are not indicative of a more systemic problem."
"We serve Bahamut's will." The third Priest stated.
"Your names, tell me them." I said. They blinked, confused. "Are you disobeying a direct order from one whom Bahamut sought out in death, whom Asgorath saw fit to return to life?" I asked. "Or am I only a convenience if I am compliant to the machinations of the Temple?"
"Rahmut." The Priestess spoke, her gaze turned downward.
"Kuudra." The first spoke, his gaze meeting mine evenly.
"Farin, Imperator." The third spoke with slightly more respect.
"This one gets it." I said. "The people gathered now, the High Priest brought in here immediately. Failure to do either will be considered treason. Is this understood?"
"What, may I ask, is the punishment for treason?" Kuudra asked.
"For the time being, a sharp slap to the face. I'll move up to the death penalty if it gets particularly egregious."
"Fuck's sake, did you forget our salute?" I asked. They froze. "Out."
"Imperator." I looked toward the fifty, all saluted. I smiled and nodded.
Slowly, the people below gathered, Tallyn returned, and for a moment, there was a moment of tension between us.
"Does my manner of addressing your Temple displease you, Tallyn?" I asked.
"I'd be lying if I said it didn't." He replied. He held out a bundle of cloth, and I took it. My eyes widened as I saw the crimson sheen of the leather armor Kurtulmak had made for me.
"I thought I was incinerated?" I asked.
"Our Artificers classify it as a legendary item, unsurprising considering it was created by a God." He said. "It takes more than a solid blast to destroy an item like that. I may have needed to punch a few Priests to get it out, Bahamut will take it out of my hide at his discretion.
My once-blind eye ached. "He will not."
The words came unbidden from my own lips, I held hands grasping my shoulders firmly. Tallyn's eyes widened, he knelt immediately. "I speak through your Imperator, and shall only reveal myself when necessary. Tallyn is, and always has been since that day two and one half years ago, my claimed agent upon this world."
The chuckle I heard did not come from my own mouth, yet it reverberated throughout the room. "He has made me almost regret giving him my regard many times."
"What is your wisdom, my God?" Tallyn asked. "Justice and Good above all else, yet even Evil may be paid unto Evil. So long as justice is served, so long as Good is preserved, the means to achieve that Justice may be forgiven. Ruuk understands what I need
*, I will tolerate his indiscretions so long as it achieves that ultimate goal."*
I felt those hands loosen, for a moment, I felt like I was going to faint. 'I am here, Ruuk, as I always have been. Do what needs done.'
Bahamut's voice echoed in my mind, and the aching in my eye faded.
"The people are gathered." Tallyn spoke. "Let them know their Imperator has returned."
I put on my armor, finding comfort in its presence, and I strode toward the balcony. It was dead silent before I showed up, and the only indication that anyone realized who I was, was a few startled gasps. 'We have imbued you with further power.'
Bahamut spoke. 'A year is a long time to be gone, this gift will ensure the people understand who has advocated for your return.'
I climbed onto the balcony. "Altiuiri thran hansa tairais."
My words reverberated with power, and I stepped off of the balcony. The screams were short lived, once the spectral wings burst out from my back. I descended such that everyone could clearly see me.
"By the effort of Bahamut, and the grace of Asgorath, your Imperator has returned." I spoke. "I am very, very disappointed, I am gone for one year, and everything goes to shit."
I made it obvious that, in spite of my clear disapproval with things, I was trying to be humorous. A handful of people laughed. Good, I didn't need fear quite yet. Everyone was dressed in some kind of vestment, which told me a lot about how the prior administration ran. I could feel Bahamut's anger burning within my heart. 'They are required by law to show fealty to me.'
He spoke. 'I grant you permission to destroy this mockery of my will.'
"To those who do not feel the need
to pledge your fealty to Bahamut, disrobe immediately. Those vestments are nothing but a mark of slavery to a faith you do not follow."
I could see palpable relief in the eyes of most of the people, who didn't even hesitate to undress. "To the rest, may your faith to your God be respected, you are the ones who have use
for such things- even so, you are not required to show your devotion in such a way. Disrobe, if it is your desire."
A handful of Kobolds undressed. "Place the vestments over there." I said, pointing at an empty spot. They did so. 'Now, burn this mockery against me.'
I pointed my finger at the pile, each vestment folded with respect. "Docar ethim nil'gnos."
I spoke, and the firebolt streaked toward the pile, setting it ablaze instantly. There were a few shocked gasps.
"May this affront to Bahamut's ideals be burned away, zyak qe coi
"Tomorrow." I said. "I want each of you to write any complaints or criticisms you may have had in the preceding year. If for whatever reason you do not have access to paper or writing implements, I will ensure you have something
, if only to ensure clear communication. You will write your name, as well as anything that comes to mind, no matter how petty, no matter how insignificant. And if anyone bars your way toward delivering these to me personally
, you have every right to strike them down, as they will be a traitor to the Empire." 'Call out the name of Kova, have her approach.'
"Kova." I spoke, "You are within this crowd, approach."
A female Kobold slowly made her way over to me. she was bruised, her eyes downcast. "What has happened to you?" I asked, lowering myself to stand before her.
"I- spoke out against the Temple." She said. "They beat me for blasphemy." 'This is my gift to you, it is your own power, you do not need to pray to me for this.'
I gently rest my hand on her, guided by Bahamut, but not controlled. I spoke, "Irisv itov erlelee."
I felt a rush of power completely unlike Sorcery, the bruises healed, her dull scales regained their luster, she looked up at me with wide eyes.
"Brutality to our own is evil." I spoke. "Speak freely, your voice is the voice of the Empire, as are the voices of your fellow Kobolds. In benevolence or tyranny, I would never silence you."
I had some very sharp words for Mitna.
I pulled away from her and flew up again. "Tomorrow." I spoke. "Though I work within the gifts given to me by Bahamut, I will be leading a ritual in honor of Kurtulmak." A quote came to mind. "That is not dead which can eternal lie; and with strange aeons even death may die. Until the day I die, I will not give up on my God, our
Emperor. Go in peace."
I flew back up to the throne room. "Tallyn." I said. "Why have beatings
occurred under your leadership?" I asked.
?" He asked.
Footsteps echoed as one of the Priests returned. "Imperator." Farin stated, he started to bow, caught himself, and then saluted. "The High Priest has refused to see you." He said.
[Navigation for 'Dragon Rising'-                       
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2023.06.08 23:24 traitor25 CaRMS 2022-2023 Pathway Experience + Advice/Tips from a UK Graduate CSA Perspective
Hey guys! I just wanted to put up my own experience moving through this year’s Canadian Resident Matching Service or CaRMS
cycle so that others have a bit more clarity into what to prepare/focus on for future cycles. Here’s a bit of my background in a nutshell below to give some context:
I am currently a 27M Vietnamese-Canadian studying abroad (CSA originally born in Winnipeg, MB but spent the majority of my life in Ottawa, ON) awaiting to start family medicine residency on July 1 in Brandon, Manitoba but started this journey back in 2015.
I originally did 1.5 years of my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa before seriously deciding on medicine as my career path. During my 1st university year, I applied to different medical schools in the UK (I think only Cardiff + Bristol considered me briefly but still turned down in the end) but got rejected from them. I was only invited + accepted to the MBChB programme at the University of Buckingham Medical School which lasted for about 4.5 years starting from January 2015. I had also done 2 electives in Ottawa (one under neurosurgery and the other in orthopaedics) during my final year of medical school prior to graduation in June 2019.
From there, I entered into the Foundation Programme in August 2019 (equivalent of medical internship in the US/Canada), which I did under the West Midlands South Foundation School, with pretty much all my time being in Worcestershire county. I did my FY1 rotations at the Alexandra Hospital, Redditch and my FY2 rotations at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Worcester. During this time, I had attempted the MCCQE1 exam twice (failed at 202 in January 2020, passed at 236 in October 2020) and attempted the NAC exam once (failed at 390 in March 2020). Ultimately, I withdrew early before my last FY2 rotation in April 2021 to focus on my 2nd NAC exam attempt, gain some clinical experience/connections on Canadian ground, and sort out other personal issues. I attempted the NAC exam again in October 2021 but failed at 1364. After taking a mixture of time off to mentally recover with family support and studying for the USMLE step I via UWorld as a distraction from November 2021 to April 2022, I took up a few different private NAC courses in the following chronological order from then onward to figure out where I was lacking at up until my third NAC attempt (passed with superior performance at 1452 on September 17, 2022):
- BeMo’s OSCE Preparation Platinum (all done virtually over Zoom; first session on April 11, 2022 and last session on August 28, 2022 for a total of 13 sessions).
- TutorIMG NAC OSCE Live Online Course (all done virtually over Zoom; first session on July 21, 2022 and last session on August 30, 2022 for a total of 11 sessions over).
- Medical Training Express Live Online OSCE Course (all done virtually over Zoom on July 28, 2022 and last session on September 10, 2022 for a total of 12 sessions).
- Mark’s MedSckool Reviews (technically took last year in person from August 30 - September 3, 2021 and again virtually over Zoom from August 22 – 26, 2022).
After I received notification of my NAC exam result on November 3, 2022, things were pretty hectic as I was busy entering into this year’s CaRMS cycle preparing different things:
- CaRMS documents (e.g. personal CV, personal letters, letters of reference/LOR’s, MSPE/MSPR, post-graduate internship regarding Foundation training, university & high school transcripts).
In total, I applied to about 105 different programs and 76 unique, personal letters to go along with them.
- Additional exams (FMProC and CASPer) – wrote my FMProC exam on December 12, 2022 and CASPer exam on December 15, 2022 after registering for them separately.
I primarily used a combination of the PasTest SJT question bank
(went with 6 month subscription for £4) and free, online practice SJT’s provided for Foundation Programme Applicants as per the UKFPO website
while I signed up for BeMo’s CASPerSIM Gold
(3x mock CASPer sessions with feedback from different assessors).
- USMLE Step I (wrote on November 29, 2022 but had been revising for it again since my 3rd NAC wrapped up; was originally a backup plan in case I had failed the NAC for a 3rd time as you’re only allowed a maximum of 3 attempts).
- F2 Standalone application – the application window was opening on January 16 this year and was preparing evidence of my previous Foundation training + securing my Reapplication to Foundation Training form from my previous Foundation School director.
- Volunteer shadowing at local family medicine practice (managed to shadow a GP in Ottawa for both Canadian experience and fortunately an LOR in the end).
- Mock interview scenarios – did not have any previous formal/professional interview experience so I practiced with a combination of family members, my previous NAC study partner, and BeMo’s Residency Interview Gold Program (3x mock interview sessions with feedback from different assessors).
I recall having my joint FM ON interview first on February 3 followed by my FM MB interview second on February 13 (both were around midday/noon).
- USMLE Step II CK (after passing the USMLE step I around early December, I was intermittently studying for the USMLE Step II CK until Match Day on March 22, 2023).
I have already been in contact with a mix of people from both inside and outside Reddit regarding NAC practice and general info/advice around the CaRMS process. A good starting point about common, high-yield complaints to prepare for can be found on the MCC website under the “Medical Expert
” tab. Outside of private NAC courses, I primarily used a mix of Dr. Basil’s notes (for focusing my history-taking approach), Geeky Medics
/Macleod’s Clinical Examination (for structuring my physical examinations; focusing it down for NAC’s time limits came through practice), and the USMLE First Aid Step II CS mini-cases (for inspiration of mock NAC scenarios to do). I personally never used much of other mentioned NAC resources so can’t really say too much as to how useful they are:
- Edmonton Manual, “Master the NAC” by Dr. Bryce Lowry
- “NAC OSCE – A Comprehensive Review” by Canadaprep
- “OSCE and Clinical Skills Handbook” by Dr. Katrina F. Hurley
- “Canadian IMG’s Guide to OSCE and Practice” by Dr. Hanan Ahmed
The most important thing other than the following tips below would be to find ~1-2 regular, dedicated NAC partners you can study with and exchange honest feedback to each other with (nicely organized NAC partner spreadsheet (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10Kk6YJtFKKn9IY3g96cC-rIWBQGyxtMUB9YQkAfND1g/edit#gid=0
) with NAC partners made originally by u/MarinatedinPeace
). Other specifics (ex. what can I bring?) around the NAC exam can be found on the MCC website but I generally recommend that ~3-4 months of time practicing 1-2x/week then ramping up to every other day (ideally everyday but I understand everyone has different backgrounds and recency of studying/practice) in the last 1-2 months seems to be a good time frame.
During my time giving advice about both, these were the most important points in terms of approaching preparation for the NAC exam that I've encountered:
- Make sure you exhaust the presenting complaint(s) as that will ensure your following questions into the systems review (mostly for ruling in/out the 3-5 differentials on your list) + associated risk factors (i.e. PMedHx, PSurgHx, medications, allergies, smoking, alcohol, drugs, social living/financial conditions, occupational history, travel/immigration history) will be focused on what's relevant as not every section of a mnemonic needs to be asked (ex. SOCRATES, OCD PQRST AAA, COCA OCDCS, PM BINDE, MGOS, DIGFAST/MSIGECAPS).
- If a patient is acting in pain, acknowledge it and try to address it on the spot if you can by offering pain relief with a follow-up question about allergies to ensure it's safe to give.
- Counselling can be difficult as it's not a format many people are used to but you still need to take a focused history regardless so that your management options are personalized/tailored to the person in front of you (ex. do not discuss smoking cessation/NRT as a long term management option for someone you're counselling about asthma for if they told you clearly they are a non-smoker; do discuss changing to hypoallergenic soaps/shampoos if they have an asthma exacerbation triggered by a new shampoo they tried out 3 days ago).
- Be wary that you're expected to rule in/out differentials (you should have ~3-5 by the time you enter after knocking) that you have considered outside the door within the time given (ex. don't stop asking other questions about PE, pneumothorax, GERD, or costochondritis even if the case sounds dead on for acute congestive cardiac failure).
- Do not try to track the time on the timer in the room because it can be anywhere (the side, top of a wall, behind the SP/examiner) and your focus should be on the SP/examiner anyways.
- Make good use of transitioning statements when moving between different sections of your consultation whether it's the history or physical exam (ex. after exhausting the presenting complaint, you could say "There is a list of other symptoms we look for in patients experiencing [insert their presenting complaint/issue if applicable] and I just want you to give me a yes or no answer, OK?" to transition to the systems review).
- PLEASE show empathy and kindness when the SP is acting/says something unusual ex. SP appears visibly down in mood, poor eye contact, and slow in speech so acknowledge it, "Mr. Anderson, I see that you appear quite down in yourself. I want to assure you that everything we discuss between us will remain confidential unless required by law." This also applies to situations where the patient's most pressing issue is different from what's on the door (ex. door vignette suggestive of abdominal pain hinting appendicitis but the patient abruptly drops that they're pregnant).
- Make good use of the time (about 1.5 minutes) outside the door to write your ~3-5 differentials along with any relevant investigations, management/counselling, and follow-up.
- Don't forget to ask about vital signs and any pending lab work/investigations if a station has a physical exam component (ex. highly relevant to ask if vital signs are available and if a FAST USS + routine bloods have been done in a patient you suspect with a dissecting AAA just before you're about to start your physical exam).
- The SP cannot lie to you however they can be vague or provide a different answer other than a clear, "No." ex. You ask the SP, "Have you ever smoked any tobacco or cigarettes in the past? and the SP responds, "Well, not recently that I know of, doctor." This is your cue to probe further about what they mean by "not recently".
- Some NAC stations can be mean by giving you normal investigations in what seems like a highly suggestive history/physical in an attempt to mislead you ex. You complete your history/physical exam and your working diagnosis in a 3 year old child with 4-day history of fever, SOB, and purulent sputum production is bacterial pneumonia but you're handed a normal CXR (treat based on the clinical evidence gathered/known not on your gut feeling).
Same is true vice-versa where a patient presentation seems benign but then the examiner hands you an alarming investigation ex. 35F in ED has symptoms consistent with likely viral URTI but the examiner hands you an EKG that shows saddle shaped ST elevation in line with acute pericarditis.
- Avoid repeating or leading questions as it wastes time, unless it’s to clarify something a patient says that you may not understand, and looks unprofessional (remember the CANMEDS framework expected for CMG's in your clinical approach; these are some ways I practiced phrasing my intro, "How would you like to be addressed today?" or "How would you like me to address you?" or "What name do you usually go by?").
- You can place the exam sticky labels you get on the back of your hand prior to entering a station so you don't fumble/experience difficulty handing it to the examiner (?unless the MCC decides you can just verbalize your candidate code for the NAC this year).
- Introduce yourself as a doctor not a medical student (you're assuming the role of a family/ED physician or PGY-1 resident on exam day depending on the scenario).
- Don't assume a patient's mode of address/pronouns used. Ask them first how they would like to be addressed today.
- Make sure to clearly wash your hands AT THE START of BOTH your history-taking AND physical examination.
- Even if you feel like you messed up the previous station, try as hard as you can to push it out of your mind until the NAC is over. You can cry, vent, or get frustrated AFTERWARD but not in the stations themselves.
These next points are more towards preparing for upcoming CaRMS cycles from what I've gathered reading/listening around:
- High MCCQE1 & NAC scores (most people who were invited for interviews, if not matched, to ON FM from the CaRMS 2024 Discord server and the CaRMS stats spreadsheet set up by Carms#5615 (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1HAtnmyfCIAxKIux2akj8-hgWGvPgOVejVlfEHXuUa-8) had QE1 scores > 250-260 and NAC scores well above 1420-1430.
- Research into how CaRMS works to really have a careful look at the general overview, current year timelines, program descriptions, past trending data (may need to scroll down page further) in previous cycles. This will give you a good idea into what to have ready in time for the CaRMS file submission opening.
For reference, the rates of matching in R-1 as a current-year IMG was about 72.3% and 30.1% as a previous-year IMG according to the table on slide 11 of the CaRMS 2023 forum presentation
. This goes down further in R-2 as a current-year IMG to about 39.0% and 12.5% as a previous-year IMG (about 751 went unmatched after R-1 and 822 went unmatched after R-2 for previous-year IMG’s).
- Recent practice or graduation (my last time practicing clinically was in April 2021 as an FY2 doc at the time which was only 2 years back at the time of my application (my year of graduation/YOG was 2019 but I know that time since YOG or gaps in studying/training are scrutinized especially if they're big like >5 years so it'd be worthwhile having an explanation ready if this applies to you).
- At least one Canadian LOreferee (seems a lot of university programs prefer applicants who have had clinical exposure in the form of shadowing/electives/observership with a Canadian doctor related to their field that you're applying to; mine happened to be a GP in Ottawa I connected to via family friends).
- Personal research around First Nation/Indigenous Peoples of Canada (this one is very specific particularly to Manitoba as they had several questions around ethnic minorities + Indigenous peoples; ex. smudging as a common Indigenous practice that even I only became aware of via the IMG/IEHP resources provided by Ontario Health Force or [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])).
- Canadian research and electives - at the time of application, I was involved in a systematic review around women's health issues (had not been published at time of application) and I had done two electives under neurosurgery + orthopedics (heard that observerships don't count as formal clinical experience relative to electives so this was important too).
- High CASPer + FMProC scores (had 4th quartile score for CASPer and 516/4th quartile for FMProC which I know a lot of FM and some psych/pediatric programs look at).
- Try to secure as many Canadian LOR's/referees as they're favoured over international ones (ideally 3 but even 1 seems to be good), shadowing Canadian doctors depending on where you're applying to (ex. FM has the biggest seat pool so reach out to Canadian GP's around you to see who's willing to take you on).
- If you have the time and money for it, try to apply to as many programs and attend their relevant socials/events (can be found on CANPREPP closer to the opening of CaRMS) that you think you may have a chance at as you'll never know who might invite you later on for interviews!
- Really rank by your TRUE preference as CaRMS will prioritize your rank order first BEFORE considering how other programs ranked you (Rural Brandon was my 13th choice out of 22 programs I ranked across FM ON + FM MB). Even if you ranked a program at the bottom of your ROL, as long as that particular program has ranked you and they still have an available spot, you will match to them in the end!
There's a YouTube video regarding the CaRMS Match algorithm
which clears things up nicely.
- Make sure to check your main email’s spam/junk inbox during the period where interview invitations/rejections are sent out as they can end up here sometimes (my joint FM ON interview invitation ended up in my spam and it is time sensitive to take it up).
In terms of the QE1, I think a lot of other people on Reddit have covered that much better than I have in terms of approaching it as I agree that a combination of UWorld Step II CK question bank
(personally found Canada QBank
questions and explanations to be lacking relative to UWorld in retrospect even if the price was much friendlier) and the Toronto Notes are the way to go. I also used Sketchy videos as a nice support for pharmacology/microbiology related topics.
Overall, I was glad to have had the opportunity to try for FM ON in the first iteration even if it didn't work out as I understand they only invite the top 300 applicants for interviews and even fewer of those 300 match (only ~80-90 from I heard but could be wrong so feel free to correct me). I understood the possibility my poor QE1 score and 2-year gap from formal clinical training may filter me despite my other scores being good.
I’m sure there are other things in this that I didn’t quite cover or explore (ex. the F2 Standalone process, IELTS/OETS, BC CAP/AIMG requirements, gaining permanent residency/PR, clinical/physician/medical assistant positions, CV/PL structure, thoughts around the different private programs/courses I took etc.) but I’m more than happy to discussing finemiscellaneous points via Reddit, Discord (herrdok#6944), email ([[email protected]
)), text, or virtual/phone call. For the time being though, I’m not taking on any new, regular NAC practice partners but would consider it once I figure out things more
Otherwise, thanks to anyone reading this wall of text (if anything is incorrect/inconsistent, do let me know and I can have a look), looking forward to giving advice where I can, and best of luck to everyone moving through what is an extremely vague, challenging, and unforgiving process for matching into Canadian residency!😊
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2023.06.08 23:23 Affectionate-Ad2081 The Case for Tim Duncan as the GOAT
I know what you're thinking: no way; there's no chance Tim Duncan is the GOAT. He's not even the best player of his generation you might say. You're thinking there's no way Tim Duncan belongs in the same category as MJ or LeBron. If you believe this, there are three things that you'll probably bring up as I make this argument.
- The Second Act: If you're the kind of person who rates players through spreadsheets, his career in the 2010s is statistically underwhelming.
- The Peak: You might say that Duncan never had a real peak where he was the most dominant player in the league on a daily basis, like Shaq.
- Greg Popovich: Duncan has always had Pop, arguably the greatest coach of all time in his corner.
I hear you, and I will address these later on in this post. First, let me address Duncan's stats and accolades.
Duncan's notable accolades from his NBA career are as follows:
- 5 Championships
- 15 All-Defensive Teams (8x First Team, 7x Second Team)
- 15 All Star selections
- 2 Regular Season MVP's
- 3 Finals MVP's
Duncan's 5 championships are more than Larry Bird or Wilt Chamberlain, his 15 All-Defensive selections are the most of anybody ever, his 15 All Star appearances are tied for 3rd all time, he has as many regular season MVP's as Kobe and Shaq combined and only MJ has more Finals MVP's.
Don't forget about his college accomplishments though, because remember: Duncan came out of Wake Forest after four years despite people like Jerry West who said he could have been the number one overall pick had he left after his sophomore year.
Duncan's accolades form his collegiate years:
- 3x NABC Defensive Player of the Year
- 2x ACC Player of the Year
- 2x consensus All-American
- 1997 Naismith Player of the Year
- Most rebounds in NCAA history.
These NBA and collegiate snapshots of his basketball career, should be enough to have him at the table of the GOAT conversation. You're not convinced yet, let's dig into some more numbers.
Here's where Duncan ranks all-time on some of the major statistical categories across his NBA career:
- Points: 16th
- Rebounds: 6th
- Blocks: 5th
- Steals: 158th
- Assists: 100th
These career totals, admittedly, are substantially less impressive than other players at his position, like Kevin Garnett (19th in points, 9th in rebounds, 18th in blocks, 18th in steals, 55th in assists), Karl Malone (3rd in points, 7th in rebounds, 70th in blocks, 12th in steals, 61st in assists) or Dirk Nowitzki (6th in points, 26th in rebounds, 53rd in blocks, 94th in steals, 155th in assists). And that's because you can't judge Tim Duncan's numbers like you can with most players. Imagine in 15 years if somebody said to you that Russell Westbrook was better than Steph Curry, citing how many PTS, AST, and REB Westbrook had. You'd laugh right? Because you know that numbers do not always tell the full story. It is impossible and irresponsible to discuss a player's ranking without mentioning the stats that exists, but by measuring players purely by their basketball reference page, you're leaving out context and the story in which those numbers were achieved. That context is what makes those numbers meaningful.
Such is the case with Tim Duncan, whose success and greatness transcends a box score. You can't judge Tim Duncan with numbers alone. The fact of the matter is, that if you ran a team and if you could pick from any NBA player that ever played the game, and your goal is to win, you would pick Tim Duncan.
Offensively, Duncan was dominant for his first ten years in the NBA. From '98 to '08, he averaged 21.6/11.8/3.1 while playing on one of the slowest teams in the league. In that span, the Spurs never ranked in the top half of the league for PACE. Adjusting his stats for PACE and looking at his stats per 100 possessions (31.2/17.1/4.5 with 3.5 BLK at 50.8 FG%), you're looking at a big man who was every bit as productive as any other offensive player in the league at the time.
You already know about his skillset. He was, after all, The Big Fundamental. He could pass out of double teams, face up and break down the defense with surprising agility, consistently knock down shots from the elbows, and torch any big man in the league with his array of moves in the post and suddenly imposing physicality. He could masterfully run a PnR with any guard with working limbs. And, of course, he had his signature bank shot, one of the most consistent and reliable shots of all time along with Kareem's Sky Hook and Dirk's fadeaway. Those skills never deteriorated throughout his career, except perhaps his last year.
This is where I want to attack the 2nd idea that his second act was unexceptional. His scoring numbers dipped in last 8 years, where he never averaged over 20 PPG. But, as the Spurs offense became more collaborative and free-flowing, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili shouldered more of that scoring burden as Duncan aged. Duncan's shot attempts fell, though he remained efficient. His skills hadn't waned; the Spurs just didn't need him to score 28 points every night. He retained his role as alpha dog during this stretch and contributed in other facets of the game. He could pick his spots, put his teammates in position to succeed, and save himself undue punishment and wear until is was needed. That's why in 2013, at the age of 36, he became the oldest player ever named to First Team All-NBA.
Duncan was never a prolific scorer, even in his prime. His game was never predicated on gawdy point totals like Malone or Dirk. With a different offense, he took fewer shots, and with fewer shots, he scored fewer points. In his last eight years, he remained a tremendous rebounder, was the go-to guy in crunch time, and the best defender, maybe ever. And this is what hurt his stats: the lack of flashy numbers for defense outside of blocks and steals. It's so hard to measure how much a drive was cut off because of his presence or a shot that was altered because of his contention. There are some metrics that attempt to measure this, like DRTG, Defensive Win Shares, and Defensive +/- , and while it is an inexact science, these measures do a fairly good job at assessing a player's impact on defense. Duncan's ranking in those metrics is unmatched:
"Duncan guarded centers and power forwards (sometimes even small forwards) with equal success. And as the NBA became more and more of a high pick-and-roll game, Duncan accepted the extra responsibility of getting involved at the perimeter, while never abandoning basket responsibility. Nobody was better than Duncan at being both an advance guard and the final fortress."
- 95.6 DRT (3rd all time)
- 106.3 Defensive Win Shares (2nd all time)
- Defensive +/- (5th all time)
These metrics along with his All-Defensive selections serve as a testament to how Duncan thrived when the opponent had the ball. Legendary basketball writer, Jack McCalllum wrote this for SI in 2016 after Duncan retired:
FiveThirtyEight published this
article in 2016, where analyst Neil Paine calculated career WAR values that took into consideration defense and offense, and Tim Duncan led the WAR rankings, by a mile:
- Tim Duncan: 109.2
- KG: 96.2
- Karl Malone: 95.4
- David Robinson: 89.3
- Hakeem: 85.9
- LeBron: 82.8
- Kareem: 78
- Larry Bird: 74.2
- Shaq: 73
- Pippen: 72.7
What does all of this mean? It means that Duncan was a tremendous offensive player, despite the lack of volume, and one of if not the greatest defenders of all time. In short, his value as a two-way player is virtually unmatched in the last 50 years of NBA basketball.
Enough with the numbers. I want to talk about Duncan when it mattered the most: the playoffs. You can look at any numbers, read any article, or talk to any fan who paid attention to the game at the time, and you'll come to the same conclusion: Tim Duncan was a killer in the playoffs. All of his most memorable performances came in the postseason, and more often than not, came in crucial games when his team needed him most. From his near quadruple double in 2003 to close out the Nets and earn his 2nd championship to his 25 point first half against the Heat in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals ten years later, there was never a moment too big for Duncan. Here are his playoff numbers, significantly higher in almost every category than he his in the regular season:
- Points: 6th
- Rebounds: 3rd
- Blocks: 1st
- Steals: 46th
- Assists: 33rd
His '99 championship run was phenomenal, where he tore through a young Kevin Garnett, the newly assembled Kobe-Shaq Lakers, Rasheed Wallace's Trailblazers, and the Patrick Ewing-less 8-seed Knicks on his way to being named the second youngest Finals MVP ever. His 2002 campaign was incredibly underrated, as he carried one of the worst teams of his career to 60 wins and outplayed Shaq before being beat by the two-time champs. His 2003 season was his best season, and we'll get to that in a second. Just know that his running mate, David Robinson, averaged 8.5 PTS and 8 REB in the regular season and that Duncan's 5.9 win shares in that playoff run remain the most of anybody in a single postseason.
In the mid-to-late 2000s, Duncan's Spurs remained a fixture in the playoffs against competition like Dirk's Mavs, Nash's Suns, and Kobe's Lakers. He repaid them with two more titles in '05 and '07. He also gave us one of the clutch shots of his career in Game 1 against the Suns in 2008 with this 3 point game-tying three pointer in OT
Like I said earlier, in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, at age 36, playing against Wade, Bosh, and apex LeBron on the road, Duncan put up 25 points in the first half. It would have gone down as an all-time series clinching performance had it not been for Ray Allen's iconic game-tying 3-pointer.
Looking for revenge in the 2014 Finals, Duncan set the tone in Game 1 with the classic 21/10 game, while shooting 9/10 from the field. As his final playoff hurrah in 2015, trying to defend the title at the ripe age of 38 in Game 7 of a first round series against the Clippers, Duncan reached all the way back and put up 27/11, sinking crucial free throws to tie it, before Chris Paul hit a clutch, game-winning shot near the buzzer
The same Tim Duncan giving the business to a 22-year-old Kevin Garnett, was the same Tim Duncan taking a 26-year-old DeAndre Jordan to school. Duncan was ready to win championships from the day he entered the league to the day he left. And I think that is why his peak is used against him as an argument for GOAT status. The fact that his championship window lasted his entire 19-year NBA career and that his teams were always somewhere between 50 and 60 wins meant that it's hard for any one of his seasons to stand out from the rest. And for some unfathomable reason, being consistently great is less of an accomplishment than being great for short stints.
Like I said, his 2003 season was his best, after leading his team to 60 wins and his 2nd consecutive MVP, Duncan eviscerated everything in his path as he tore through the playoffs. He upended the Suns, ended the Lakers 3-year reign as champions, and outdueled Dirk before absolutely torching the Nets in the finals. By the time he was holding the trophy, it was clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that Duncan was the league's best, most complete player.
Now, I'd be lying if I said that Duncan's peak was higher than Shaq's. But I also wouldn't feel comfortable saying that the difference between the two is great enough for me to lose sleep over. To me, the truth is that Shaq was so much more of a spectacle. To watch peak Shaq was an experience unlike anything else. To see someone of his size and stature move so powerfully and fluidly is still something of a miracle. To see Duncan at the peak of his powers was a lot like seeing him seven or eight years later. He was just a little faster, a bit stronger, and a touch quicker in his prime. But do aesthetics denote superiority? I'd say, no. And though Shaq in his prime was certainly a more dominant offensive player, there was never a time where he could match Duncan's abilities as a defender, leader, or teammate. The two are the antithesis of each other. Shaq loves fame; Duncan loathes it. Shaq would sometimes show up to training camp out of shape, often battle with his co-stars and finished his career having played for six different teams. Duncan took great care of his body, cemented himself as the cornerstone of his franchise, and is one of the most celebrated teammates in NBA history. Shaq left a little on the table. You can never say the same thing about Duncan. Shaq cared a little too much about what everyone thought of him, while Duncan couldn't have cared less.
Let's tackle the third criticism: that he always had Pop. To me, Pop is the greatest coach of all time, but he would be the first one to tell you that he wouldn't be here without Tim Duncan.
For one, Duncan can play any style of basketball, in any era. You want to go slow school, old-pace, dump it off to the big man down low, let him bang and be solid on defense? Titles. Remove the hand-checking and illegal defenses, increase scoring and start moving toward the perimeter? Titles. The league goes small ball, the pace explodes and shooting and ball movement is more important than anything? The largest margin of victory in NBA finals history.
Secondly, he can play with any team. Honestly, has any superstar done more with less? Jordan had Pippen his entire run and Rodman for the last half. Bird had McHale and Parish. Wilt had West and Hal Grier. Russell had Cousy, Jones, and Havlicek. Magic had Kareem and vice-versa. Kobe had Shaq and vice-versa. And LeBron has had Wade, Kyrie, and AD. Duncan's best teammates? Old David Robinson, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, who combined for 5 Third Team All NBA appearances and 4 Second Team appearances during their time with Duncan. Parker and Ginobili are long shots for the HOF, and even though Robinson's in the HOF, he wasn't playing at a HOF level alongside Duncan.
Third, and most importantly, Duncan forged the culture of the Spurs. Pop was essential in acquiring players and reinforcing the culture that Tim wanted, but Duncan was truly the most vital component. The NBA is a star-driven league and finding a great player who hasn't gotten a coach fired is like finding a good Star Wars movie: they're few and far between. Not only did Duncan not get Pop fired, he let Pop coach him harder than any superstar ever. If Tim had ever thought to himself, "you know what I don't feel like getting my chops roasted in front of the whole team today because I didn't box out well in practice" he could have gone right to RC Buford, and Pop would have been gone - end of story. But Tim understood what Pop was about, and trusted him enough to be mentored in an unprecedented way. He set the example for his teammates, that no one is immune to criticism and that it's expected of everyone to leave their egos at the door.
In 2017, the Spurs SB Nation blog, Pounding the Rock, spoke to Sam Walker, author of "The Captain Class," a book which examines winning culture in team sports, from field hockey to rugby. In an exchange, Walker said this: "[T]he book's main conclusion is that the only one factor that must be present in order to maintain greatness over a long period of time is the presence of a particular kind of selfless, relentless, independent-minded, publicity-averse, emotionally composed captain with strong communication skills. And that's Tim Duncan. Duncan was a pure example of the species."
I love Pop, but I have to believe that Duncan was the catalyst that powered Pop to be what he is now. This isn't Belichick-Brady where you wonder who made who. Pop is the greatest coach of all time, because of Tim Duncan. If you want to take credit away from Duncan by saying he played for the best teams, you might be right, but only because he made them the best team. He gave up touches, let other guys hold the torch, put everyone around him in the best position to succeed, and he enjoyed it when they did.
When I said earlier that the thing that hurt Duncan's stats more than anything was a lack of defensive numbers, I lied. The thing that hurt Duncan's stats more than anything was the fact that he never gave a shit about stats or awards. Ever. He wanted his teams to succeed and he wanted to win. That's it. Just read about how his teammates talk about him: "The best PF ever! Thanks for the memories old man. A great player and teammate." - Lamarcus Aldridge "Sometimes all you NEED to say is THANK YOU....To the BEST EXAMPLE of a Leader, Brother, Friend." - Bruce Brown "Even tho I knew it was coming, I'm still moved by the news. What a HUGE honor to have played with [Duncan] for 14 seasons! - Manu Ginobili
I don't think there is a more beloved teammate than Tim Duncan. In the words of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, "...his understated selflessness made him the ultimate teammate."
Duncan was always the big brother. Correcting his teammates when they made mistakes and throwing his arms around their shoulders when things didn't go their way. He led in the most effective way possible, not with tweeting, bombastic words, or showy halftime speeches, but by example.
Of all the end-of-career farewell wishes, the one from his former teammate, Brent "Bones" Barry stuck out to me the most. He quoted Mark Twain, saying "'To be good is noble, but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble'; for your brilliance TD, I am grateful. For your skills as a player I am in awe. And for your friendship I am honored."
Milwaukee Bucks coach and former Spurs Assistant, Mike Budenholzer said to ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz in 2016: "The magnitude of that, the number of people in this league who have enjoyed opportunity or found fortunate spots in the league, you can trace it back to this one guy -- to the way Timmy played ball and the way he conducted himself. The 'culture' is Timmy."
The NBA is a league of superstars and dynasties - from Russell to Jordan, from Wilt to LeBron. We'll remember its history through its champions, and in the history of North American sports, no team has been as good for as long as the Spurs. San Antonio's success is completely unprecedented in the world of basketball. Aside from his lockout shortened sophomore season, Duncan won 50 or more games and qualified for the playoffs in every season of his NBA career. He finished his career with a win percentage of 71%, the highest of anyone, in any sport, ever. The Spurs run of success started in 1997, the year they drafted Duncan. Since then, he was the cornerstone, the engine of the franchise that has perpetually defined what winning culture looks like - in and outside of basketball.
And so I say again, if you could pick any NBA player from any era of basketball and your goal was to win, you would pick Tim Duncan. His abilities as a basketball player are what made him a superstar. But his consistency, willingness to be coached, love and support of his teammates, and humility are the things that make him transcendent.
I'll let Pop have the last word. This is what he said to the press after Duncan announced his retirement: "Everybody always talks about who they'd like to eat dinner with, if you had one night and you could go to dinner or lunch with someone. Some people say Mother Teresa, Jesus, the Dalai Lama...I could honestly tell you, my dinner would be with Timmy. He is the most real, consistent, true person I've ever met in my life."
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2023.06.08 23:21 El0n_Thusk Me (25) having fun at work with holiday substitute (20)
Last summer, three new holiday substitute started working with our team. Two girls and one boy. Both girls where very hot, however I could see one of the girls took the liking of me. The first two weeks of working together we kinda hit it of talking about everything. Week three was no different, however she started to ask me about kinky stuff when we where alone, like what type of girls I like, if I was seeing someone (I have a GF, but that's another story), what kinks I had. I told her mine and she told me her's.
Now she did backup a bit after I told her about me having a GF, however she played it off, and even started too dress a bit risky, when we where working night shifts alone, (we are a small store, only need two to close) by not wearing a bra and showing her thong when possible and brushing her ass ageinst my front.
At week four when she was comming too work not wearing her uniform, I had a break and the break room and dressing room is next door, however since I was the only one there she just undressed and flashed her tits and her tight ass in a sexy red g-string. I could not look away, it was so hot. She definitely saw me looking as she grabbed her tits and pulled on her nipple percing. That night she was teasing the living hell out of me. Pointy nipples all night and alot of ass brushing.
When we where about to close I asked her what her plan was and she just brushed her hand over my blugd and told me she likes the looks I have been giving her and that she wants me. I brushed my hand over her shirt only to hit her stiff nipples. I told her I was inn a relationship, she looked down on my raging boner, and said "I can see that".
As we where done closing and about to leave I stepped up behind her and grabbed her tits and massaged them asking her if this is what she wanted. "Something like that yes" she told me. I pressed my boner ageinst her butt and as I held one hand still on one of her boobs (the one with the piercing) I slowly when down her body with the other hand stopping right before her pants, I grabbed her panty line and pulled on it asking "Is this more like it?" She turned her head and I did not hesitate one second and I kissed her.
She locked her tongue with mine and we kissed as I pulled her closer ageinst my bulge, however I could feel hand going down my pants and a hand pulling down my boxer. At this moment all my blod when down to my dick and I just opened her zipper and pulled her string to the side and began to rub her she was soaking wet and I pushed two fingers into her. After like two - three minutes of rubbing I just grabbed her and pushed her ageinst a table standing next to the door. I ript of her panties and showed my dick deep into her, she was so wet. I moved my hand inside her sweater and pulled on her nipple percing, whilst she started to rubb her clit, I could feel her pussy pulsating and as I fucked her harder I could feel her jucies gush out and onto my dick. She screamed to fill her up. I want inn hard one last time and filled her wet, juicy pussy with my cum.
She turned around kissed me and pulled up her panties. Saying "That's what I wanted from you!" Safe to say we fucked a couple of times that summer! (I have more stories about our adventures) Sadly she is not a holiday substitute this year, but there is some new hot ones this summer!
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2023.06.08 23:19 Iron_physik A blast from the past; How 2 Hades breaching drills of my Death Korps Engineer section managed to take out 3 enemy Titans in a Apocalypse game ~ 10 years ago
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About 10 years ago, back when the german HQ of GW was in the big "Drakenburg" store there was a huge Apocalypse event going on
A picture of the store's display piece I could find (we did not play on that)
Chaos vs the Imperium, about 30k points if I remember correctly #The imperium
I brought my small section of Death Korps units (about 2000 points) to support the space marines in that event mainly with backline objective holding, artillery support and tank support
However I also brought about 200pts worth of Death korps engineers for some sneaky backline attacks.
The chaos was mainly different chaos space marine units and 4 chaos titans, 1 Reaver and 3 warhound scout titans. most of them where supplied to that game by the store owner Werner, and one of the warhounds was owned by one of the players
The imperium did not have anything really to match their firepower apart from 2 baneblades, however this did not stop us from trying anyway to kill them!
in the first turn we actually managed to severly hurt most of the enemy titans, they lost several shield points and where down about half their structure points
the lost shield points could however be mostly restored in the enemies 1st turn.
#A fatefull second turn
The reserves came, including 2 of the most OP units of the time point cost wise, 2 hades breaching drills Here they are
These 2 little guys had following profile back then:
TLDR: they worked like a drop pod, but when they hit something directly it would get a S10 AP1 hit with 2D6 armor pen against the rear armor
PLUS they had a melta gun that they could fire in the following shooting phase
Both drills where used against the weakest 2 titans on the enemy side, the Deep strike each reduced the enemy titans down to the last few structure points, and then... the meltas could shoot
Very lucky dice rolls on the Super heavy damage table caused the Reaver titan to detonate with the FULL power
a 6D6 radius that destroys ANY unit within without any chance to make saving throws against that: https://preview.redd.it/r18ro31i0v4b1.png?width=2296&format=png&auto=webp&s=2bf177111fbbb9475b820fe13ea5d0af67dcf367 https://preview.redd.it/6hpfrnek0v4b1.png?width=4080&format=png&auto=webp&s=4fa65cbec92971087426e0c26aaf0e68880bb556
That Reactor meltdown of the Reaver caused the warhound to the right of it to also melt down after more lucky dice throws (the emperor truely was on my side that game) however that explosion didnt do much
the other warhound that was sitting left of the reaver had a normal "wrecked" event and the last warhound was already outside the reavers blast radius... but it died later that turn from a land speeder's rocket launcher
All in all these 2x 50pts units managed to kill about 3000 points worth of titans and about half of the enemies deployment zone on the right flank thanks to a reactor meltdown, it was absolutely glorious and I marked that event down on the hades that killed the reaver and started the chain reaction:
Black skull = Warhound titan kills (the 3rd is from a different event), White Skull = Reaver titan kills
A Death Korps Hades Breaching drill managed to cause a reactor meltdown on a Chaos Reaver titan and that killed 2 more warhounds and about half the entire enemy deployment zone
2023.06.08 23:07 thepolecat NTD to me!
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I love estate sales and it's where I like to buy most of my tools now. Most of this I know, but I'm not sure about the little silver ends to the right of the streetrod manual. I'm pretty stoked about the railroad rail, the craftsman 39542 ruler, the old bellsouth belt bag and the beautiful brass hand drill (with lots of bits in the shaft!) submitted by thepolecat to Tools [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 22:59 JulianSkies Emergency Services Guild R&D: Stampede Studies
This little piece I wrote because I have zero mental energy to write something I care too much aobut the format and quality, and i've been wanting to have a look at this topic for a while.
Don't expect a lot of quality, but here have a thing.
[This video is shown in its raw form for purposes of transparency of the procedures. For the edited version please visit the Emergency Services Guild public-facing site]
[Content Warning: This video contains images of both stampedes and wartime stampede incidents of the following situations: Human First Contact, Operation Blindside, Sillis Occupation, Kolshian Scouting of Venlil Prime]
[This video will be subtitled instead of utilizing audio translation]
The camera’s view is completely obscured by a grey mass “I think it’s running, can you check it for me?” says a deep bassy voice of a human.
“Yes, i’m getting the audio and a very good closeup for your shirt” the voice of a venlil sounds hoarse
The grey mass recedes and the room becomes visible. A large naturally-lit room of plain appearance, there is a long table set in the center of it surrounded by chairs, the table itself is clearly designed with a holographic projector and at the far end of the room there is a large display.
There are seven people present, three humans dressed in grey outfits with red highlights, each one of them with a different insignia emblazoned on their breast but all three of them have similar themes, a helmet, an axe and a ladder is present on all three designs. Four venlil represent, two with sashes of office with the white with red stripe color and the exterminator’s pyre-and-shield insignia and two with armbands with the red pawprint.
“Alright, before we start the actual meeting, can I ask why are they here?” says one of the humans, well-built and with a lighter complexion, pointing at the two venlil with sashes.
“Because it’s part of our job? Because we’re involved?” says the one with greyish wool and dark spots
“I’m sorry if i’m skeptical why an exterminator is in a meeting involving public safety and stampede response”
“Because” the venlil’s voice becomes louder “It’s our job. And I’m already brahking tired of this whole act. I’ve heard every variation of ‘you shouldn’t be the ones doing this’ you can imagine. Every human I’ve met has said this, multiple times” he slams his fists on the table
“And I brahking agree, look!” he points at one of the venlil with the armbands “Our jobs literally overlap, why do we even HAVE this overlap? What could the exterminator’s guild do in a stampede that the emergency services guild couldn’t? Why is it that any job that requires you to have the slightest bit of tail to do it they drop on us? I don’t brahking know!” he’s taking deep breaths “So… Why don’t we skip this part and just get to the meeting?”
The humans are taken aback, while it seems like the venlil were quite unfazed at the sudden energetic outburst in a strange reversal of the usual reactions. “Not… Quite what I was expecting” that first human adds “Alright, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself for now”
With that, the human that had been adjusting the camera sits down and the arrangement of seating is visible clearly: The four venlil are on one side of the table while the three humans are on the other. One of the venlil with the armbands speaks up “We are gathered at this moment for a presentation of the United Nations’ Extraplanetary Emergency Response Division’s research on the nature and possible mitigation of stampedes”
“Present for this meeting are three human representatives of the UNEERD, Captain Fabia” a human female with short crimson hair and wiry build nods “Captain Jorge” the first human nods “And Captain Ishikawa” a human much taller human with shortly cut dark hair and mildly reddened skin speaking of a disagreement with the eternal twilight nods.
“Present are also four venlil representatives. Representing the Exterminator’s Guild are Division Lead Toss” the venlil who had the outburst earlier nods “Of the Stampede Response division, Division Lead Tunam” a venlil with a strangely reddish coat halfway between pink and red nods “Of the Behavioral Studies division” the speaking venlil himself, best identified by an eyepatch on his right eye, nods “Representing the Emergency Services Guild is me, Division Lead Onam of the Stampede Response division, and Division Lead Liram” the venlil beside him nods, a woman with a distinctive vertical striping pattern “Of the Medical Response division.”
Onam takes a deep breath “You may begin the presentation, Captain Jorge” he’s being incredibly professional
With that, Jorge uses a holopad to summon an image on the monitor at the far end, a simple bullet point list “Though all present here already know, I’ll state it for the record. The ESG has requested from the UNEERD an independent study of mitigating techniques for stampede events, both to help us increase our understanding of the local needs and to acquire an outside perspective that may improve their own understanding”
“We will be presenting our current findings, which have proven to be pretty surprising in my opinion” he gives another command to his holopad moving to the next slide “I’ll begin with the most important finding before we look into how we’ve reached this conclusion. But in effect, a proper stampede event can actually severely reduce to completely eliminate casualties in a situation of panic, however, those events can devolve into panicked flight as well as not every species is capable of those”
At that, Toss tilts his head to the side “Of all things… Stampedes preventing casualties? That’s really difficult to believe”
Ishikawa offers a shrug “I know. I’ll be honest we kind of came into this with, let’s say… A bit of a bias against you. But the observations held true, and it turns out the situation is considerably more complex than it seems”
Jorge nods “Take note this is mostly a preliminary study, we don’t have a lot of data of the sort we needed.” he pulls up another bullet list in the screen “Our work was focused more on the behavioral end, as you’ve more than proven to have the infrastructure and technical superiority here, but we have found a distinct lack of behavioral studies on stampedes”
Tunam takes a deep breath “Sure. More stuff we got wrong, as always” but before one of the humans can say something he waves dismissively with his tail “It’s alright, you’re just doing your job. It just gets exhausting hearing this every damn paw. Sorry for the interruption, please continue”
Jorge has a look on his face for a moment, something like worry and sympathy, before continuing “We have performed our studies by examining footage of stampede events with specific characteristics. First, monospecies events, with three examples. The stampede events during our first contact, as a sample of stampede events amongst the Venlil, recovered footage of an event in the Cradle during Operation Blindside, as a sample of stampede events amongst the Gojid. Take note that while this particular footage was from a situation far from any attack sites and before the arxur invasion, the reliability of it is shaky because of the wartime situation. And a stampede event on Sillis that happened recently in response to peacekeeper forces”
As he talks, three of the bullet points light up “Additionally, we later compared stampede events involving multispecies groupings. Particularly we have studied the very recent events here on Venlil Prime during the kolshian threat as well as a second event that occurred on Sillis involving a damaged dam” the last two bullet points light up
The female firefighter pipes up “We’re going to treat you like adults here but early warning we’re not going to be censoring any of the footage. I imagine given you all work with this there shouldn’t be anything you’re not familiar with”
The one-eyed venlil makes an assentive motion with his ears “Sadly, we’ve all seen enough of the carnage to be used to it”
Jorge moves on to the next slide, which contains video. He passes the holopad off to the human woman at his side “Your turn, Fabia”
She nods “We’ll start by examining this footage of the first contact. First tell me if there’s anything unusual you notice here” she says, letting the footage play. It’s an aggregation of a few different cameras, apparently from residential apartments. It shows the residents, all Venlil, running away from their apartments and spilling over in the streets, the residents of each apartment building start running towards where presumably the nearest bunker is. It only takes a few moments before they start pushing each other out of the way and the ones at the fringes of the herd end up unable to follow the group as the ever-growing mass of people start to push them against the walls of the buildings and side streets, a little while longer the first tramplings start to happen.
Tunam has had a very careful eye on the footage “This looks like a textbook case of a stampede. Nothing particular to it” he flicks his ear to the side
Taking the sign, Toss adds in “Dreadful, as always, but not even the worst example I’ve seen”
Onam sighs “I remember that one. Wouldn’t want to be those two knowing all of this was caused by them. But still, a pretty normal stampede, if anything a mild one”
Liram makes a dismissive wave of her tail “Didn’t even manage to overflow the hospitals, so i’m calling that one a win”
The sunburnt human bites his lower lip, trying to keep something inside. But ultimately it spills over “How bad is it for those kinds of responses?” it’s not so much an accusatory tone as much as a sad one.
“Very” is the only answer Onam gives.
At that, Fabia waves “And here is where a human, or more specifically outsider perspective helped.” she presses a couple of controls in the holopad, rewinding the footage to the start “I want you to pay attention to how this particular herd moves, just the one from the beginning of the video”
The footage plays again, showing the residents of the apartments rushing out, most take the stairs while a few take the elevators. There’s parents carrying their pups and some elderly being rushed along. The footage switches to the outside view where the whole herd of venlil from the apartment seems to erupt out of the front doors at the same time, it follows them for a bit until they’re closer to another group leaving their residence before Fabia pauses “Here’s where we noticed something, how much panic do you see in here?”
It’s Tunam’s turn to respond “Normal levels, i’d say, nothing out of ordinary. Which, they were expecting a raid or worse, so keep that in mind.”
Fabia nods “And that’s why the difference is important. Pay attention to their movement” she rewinds to the moment where they’re leaving the apartment building “Pay close attention to their feet” she zooms the video
The four venlil focus on it, seemingly unable to see what is happening “It takes humans at least months of training to be able to do this. They’re all moving in perfect synchrony” she rewinds one more time, and with the information out there it’s clear that at this point, this herd’s footsteps are moving in perfect lockstep “And I have severe doubts those people have any sort of training”
Onam turns his one good eye towards Fabia, then back at the footage, then back at Fabia “That… Yes, I can see that. But that has to be a fluke, if that is true then we wouldn’t have tramplings”
In response, Fabia changes footage. It shows a different apartment building, but the contents are similar: Up until the herd is a good distance away from the building their movement is synchronous and even the exit, though clearly panicked, seems to flow without injury. She shows footage from three more apartments “We thought that too, but this pattern repeats every time. This is a level of instinctive organization that’s, to me, supernatural. But at some point it breaks down”
The medical lead had his eyes closed in thought for a while now “That… Now that you say that… Stampede injuries are always outside. Well, no, not always of course. But less than twelve percent of them happen inside buildings, the vast majority happens on the streets”
The human woman passes the datapad aside, Ishikawa picks it up and calls up the footage again. It’s the same as the initial one, but it shows two herds approaching “And here’s where it breaks down. Look” he plays it as everyone pays much closer attention to the details of the video. The two different herds simply crash into each other, causing people to fall over and the two previously-synchronized groups to fall completely out of order.
Tunam’s tail swipes a short arc forwards “Ah, I see. Each herd is acting like a single unit at that point, so this situation is like two people running into each other. Now they’re on the floor and confused” he stares as the footage continues, and what was two groups ends up splitting into four completely disorganized groups “And the herds are unable to reform after that”
“This is where i’m going to introduce some specific terms we’re using here” Ishikawa adds “Specifically we’re referring to the organized movement portion as a ‘stampede’ proper. The situation where everything breaks down and they are completely disorganized we’re referring to as ‘panicked flight’, much how it is for us humans. And this specific situation that caused the breakdown of the stampede we’re calling an ‘impact’ event, given it was two herds impacting against each other”
Ishikawa then changes to a different piece of footage “And this will be the second breakdown situation we’ve recognized, a ‘command failure’ event.” he starts the footage, it’s a proper stampede, the video is from a camera on a defensive bunker proper, the masses trying to get inside are visible at the bottom of the image. Something happens in the incoming stampede, it slows down a little bit, before suddenly the back half overtakes the front half, tossing people into the ground.
“Notice how the approaching herd seems to be behaving as we’ve initially expected, even going so far as slowing down to prevent from barrelling into the people waiting to enter the bunker” he adds, before rewinding to just before the breakdown and zooming the video “But notice here, at some point those two start having a discussion while they run” the video is zoomed on a pair of venlil who seem to be shouting, though the video has no audio “Shortly after, the entire formation breaks and the rear speeds up, trampling the front”
The crimson venlil adds “They were following the one on the right…” he has a certain tone of awe on his voice “They all had their attention trained on him”
At that the female firefighter makes a questioning noise “How’d you figure that out?”
Tunam does a quick sideways flick of his ears in a dismissal move “I guess you don’t know how to see where we’re focusing our attention on when we don’t have to turn our entire heads for it. But pay attention to the ears, when they’re completely upright to take in sound they’ll be tracking whoever the focus is. As you can see, they were all focusing on the one on the right, which was the one being yelled at” he focuses on the now still image for a while “You can see he has his tail in his hands, while the one yelling at him has his chest first ruffled out.” his eye seems to focus beyond the image now “This herd didn’t break down because of another, but they lost guidance, is that it?”
Jorge sighs, but he has a slight smile “See, I told you it’d be wise to have at least one venlil in our team. Just from being able to read their body language he skipped past two weeks of comparisons”
Ishikawa gives a light sigh “But that’s correct. This is a ‘command failure’ situation. We’ve noticed that in every stampede there seems to be someone that works at least as pace setting, if not straight up herd leader. It seemed in cases to mostly be arbitrary, but once someone got in that position everyone would follow that one”
Jorge picks up the holopad again “Next up” the screen changes again, it’s another video that is quite clearly not on Venlil Prime “This one happened during peacekeeping operations on Sillis…” there’s a certain inflection of disgust in the human’s voice as he mentions ‘peacekeeping’ “You probably already know what to expect but I want you to focus on the differences here”
The video that plays out starts with what seems like a protest in front of a UN field base, the recording is from the body cam of a soldier on top of a watchtower. There’s a moderate mass of tilfish with all sorts of signs, there’s shouting. The camera turns to show an APC get close to the mass from inside the base, there’s shouting from the human guards but nothing happens, until the APC revs up its engine heavily. At the angry roar of the vehicle the protesters started to bolt, four large groups forming in different directions.
The camera follows one such group as it starts heading off down a street, unlike the venlil stampedes this one starts from moment zero with trampling and people moving into each other. At some point it’s visible someone at the middle of the formation seems to hesitate and slow down, causing the entire mass to slow down for a moment, and then someone else near the slower raises their arms. At this point this is too far from the soldier’s body camera to catch noise, but what seems to be a discussion has happened, and suddenly the stampede speeds up and the scene that follows gets considerably worse as the mass turns into a tangle of limbs cross across eachother and tearing itself apart as they try to move in the same general direction.
“It started bad” says Toss “But it got worse. I’ve never seen a stampede get worse like that”
Onam puts his tail on the table, tapping the surface gently with it “It happens as it grows in size but this group didn’t change. That did seem like a command failure situation causing it to get even worse, yes, but they seemed to already be very out of sync from the start”
The human with the holopad nods “And that’s the biggest failure of your treatment of stampedes showing itself.” he rewinds the video to when the APC starts roaring “And honestly, we were stuck on that failure mode for a while too until one of the younger members of our team spoke their mind. Pay closer attention to the amount of damage that is happening during the stampede here” they all lean closer as they watch the start again “How many wounds are you seeing?”
It’s the one-eyed venlil that answers “None… They’re not trampling eachther, they’re climbing each other, and walking under the others, somehow without hurting themselves?” his voice has a definite awe to it.
Jorge nods “Yep. Tilfish, both from their body plan and however way their kinesthetic sense works, appear to be fully capable of moving over, through and under each other like they weren’t even there. That seems to be pretty unique to their species”
It’s the red furred venlil that comments now “But they lose that coordination when the command failure happens, so they start to miss their movements and now we have limbs tangled on themselves and tearing themselves apart”
“Comparing medical reports from this with medical reports from the first incident with just venlil” starts the female firefighter “We see different wound patterns. A monospecies panicked flight of tilfish will lead primarily to damaged and removed limbs while one of venlil will lead to crushing wounds. Because your herd movement patterns and capacities are different, when the stampede fails into panicked flight the wounds are different”
Liram tilts her head to the side “That’s what you meant. We… Speh, the entire federation, has been treating stampedes like they behave the same for every species” her tail swats left to right for a while with an excessive amount of force “But this makes sense. And I presume you have an example of a species that doesn’t stampede up next, right?”
Jorge nods, moving to the next video. It shows a wide, long street “This one was recovered from the Cradle, this happens during the strikes on the orbital defenses but before the first orbital drop. Meaning, long before any ground operation starts” the video is sped up considerably at the start, the trickle of gojid into the streets is slow as to require that, but the flows from the buildings and side streets slowly thicken as more and more people start fleeing away from the camera’s direction. The mass that forms is enormous, taking up the entire street, and to flows and moves as if it wasn’t a mass of people, not even like a mass of animals, but it flows like a river, like it ceased to contain living beings and it now contained fluid particles.
Tunam, whose expression has been growing more and more serious by the moment, initiates “I… I’ve never seen a stampede like… It really shows the difference seeing the comparison, here we didn’t have groups forming at exit points and leaving, we have a slow trickle until the mass of people is…”
Ishikawa nods “Until the mass of people starts behaving like a fluid, completely detached from the will of the people inside of it” he puts his elbows in the table “Very much how it works with humans. At that point, you just need to let the flow move you and hope for the best, while trying to keep yourself safe”
Jorge zooms in the image, which appears to be sufficiently high quality to get detailed images of any particular member of the mass “You can even see the measures they take to prevent harming themselves” he directs the zoom to an area where you see the gojid have somehow arranged themselves back-to-back and front-to-front as they’re pushed and shoved, trying to avoid harming themselves on each other. It’s visible, however, they have no control over the motions as they’re simply being moved by the mass. One unlucky woman trying to hold on to some form of backpack gets pulled under the mass of bodies by the article. Most gojid seem to be taking conscious effort to keep their quills from flaring out, but many are failing and some trickle of blue can be seen on some backs
“Of course” the zoomed out area directs to a different section while zooming out “This is neither instinctual nor organized, as you can see the vast majority of the cases are like… This…” the best description of the moving mass of very sharp people being dislocated by nothing but panic and fluid forces is… A meat grinder. There’s more blue than brown visible and the speed with which the human moves the video elsewhere is quite indicative of how none of the present trained emergency workers had the stomach to witness it.
Liram has stood up “By the void… But- But- There’s gojid population on this planet! I’ve never seen anything like this when they’re involved!” there’s straight up panic in her voice.
With a command, Jorge moves on to the next slide “And that segues well into the next topic of research, multispecies stampedes” there’s a still image of a large street in the capital, mostly empty at this point “As you can imagine there’s behavioral differences in multispecies situations”
Jorge passes the holopad over to Ishikawa “This one is pretty recent, hell I still remember it myself. The kolshian probing attack” the video starts, and for a few seconds the slow foot traffic of the mostly empty street seems undeterred. Then, most everyone still walking the streets, which here in the capital means a variety of species from venlil and human to takkan and iftali, picks up their holopads at once. And with different degrees of urgency and reading speed, they start running.
Nothing seems to progress further than that other than people entering buildings, but after a while longer it happens, groups start leaving the buildings in large herds “As you can see” Ishikawa pauses “We see them exiting buildings in large groups, just as the stampeding species do” he let it play again. Just like in the first two videos the large groups seem to be moving roughly in coordination within themselves, but it seems to be a much more frail kind of coordination as the group’s form changes and shifts as the people inside adjust their position.
Ishikawa zooms into one of the groups “Here, check their movement” it’s visible that only a portion of them is moving in actual synchrony, the venlil as well as a pair of sulean and three krakotl seem to be moving very much in lockstep, and one human who seems to be acting as a leader as she points and shouts. Meanwhile the other humans, two takkan and a gojid aren’t moving quite in synchrony but seem capable of keeping themselves in formation thanks to the others around them. “Here we see the effect of a mixed species setting. The stampeding species manage to give enough structure to the group that the others can follow”
Tunam is staring intensely at the video “But that’s a very fragile configuration, isn’t it? The ones organizing on instinctive drive can’t possibly keep this much structure for long? Without training this is going to break down quickly”
Ishikawa nods “That’s what we thought as well but…” he lets the video play, and they watch that mass of bodies continue to move mostly organized down the street. At some point another equally mixed group starts approaching from the side, but one of the takkan appears to start shouting. But instead of things breaking down, what happens is that both groups merge together, there’s some minor bodily impacts but from the visible motions of the group there’s some shared apologies and they continue moving at a slower speed, matching the speed of the second group “That doesn’t happen, the whole situation is even more stable”
The video continues for a while, and Ishikawa zooms to the front of the formation. The human who’d been the apparent leader taps rather violently a venlil on the shoulder. There apparently seems to be a verbal altercation, but both give each other affirmative visual cues and the venlil speeds up a little bit. And the rest of the herd matches pace as the group changes direction to another street “And this is a smooth change of command, presumably the human that’d been the unofficial lead figured out who knew the shortest path to the bunker and they’ve began following him instead”
The crimson venlil sinks down in his chair “That’s… I’ve never seen a stampede move quite like that, even multispecies ones. It has to be you…”
“Much as i’d love to give us all the credit” Jorge starts “I don’t quite think it is. Or rather, it’s not something i’d say is inherently human. If it was, once that group changed command they’d break down, or it wouldn’t be able to merge that easily with a takkan mediating. No, I think it was just those specific humans being able to keep their cool that helped it.”
He looks at Tunam for a half second before continuing “Everyone else seems to be… Very prone to panicking quickly. And while we’re just as prone to panic we don’t seem to get there as fast as the others. For some reason. Keeping a bit of a calmer head allows the prevention of command failures and the overall effect of reducing the panic level in a herd enough that any member present has enough wits to negotiate through an impact as well”
Upon noticing Tunam’s souring expression, Ishikawa gives the pad another command to move on to the next video “To give a bit more context to an important part of the behavior we’re analyzing here, we have this one footage of what is essentially a stampede event, but not one most people would recognize as such”
It seems to be footage of Sillis again, most obvious by the number of tilfish present. The footage is from a cargo hauling drone in a work site by a river at the bottom of a dam. There are a handful of humans, a half dozen venlil and a gojid all wearing construction uniforms identifying them as part of one of the UN relief forces, the various tilfish around are also wearing bright construction vests and protective gear and with the exception of two of them, they seem to be trying their best to stay away from the others. Suddenly, the gojid who’s near the river looks down at his feet, then starts running away shouting. At that everyone other than the tilfish start running as well, the group slows down for a moment as the tilfish workers run towards the group and they all continue together up a hill. A few seconds after they crest the hill there’s suddenly water in the worksite as the dam cracks and collapses. The group stops at the top of the hill, and quickly they’ve brought up holopads to start doing damage assessment as a few head closer to the rushing waters.
“This, as you can see, looks nothing like what you expect out of a stampede. We’ve interviewed those workers remotely to get a better grasp of what happened” Fabia adds “Thanks to their sensitivity to ground vibrations, the gojid worker caught the dam’s damage early and called for the others to run, which caused the work crew to evacuate to higher ground.” she waves at Ishikawa, who rewinds the video and zooms on the group as it runs “As you can see, we have the organized movement of a stampede proper” and known his cue he skips ahead to the group on top of the hill “And they stopped quickly, as well.
The human with reddened skin rewinds the video again to show the moment the group slows down “And here’s the particular detail I want you to pay attention to. Notice the group formed when the gojid called out the emergency, but only two tilfish joined it. The two that were already talking with the UN forces”
Onam tilts his head, clearly in thought as his blind eye is facing the screen now “You’re saying there’s an influence of familiarity?”
In answer, Ishikawa shakes his head in negative “Yes and no, we believe this is an effect of threat-assessment. The two that trusted the veracity of the information about the danger moved as quickly as the rest of the herd, which had managed to form thanks to the presence of the venlil and tilfish. Only after the other tilfish recognized those two did they start moving”
“And the whole group slowed down for them, without breaking apart” the crimson venlil adds “This is very much not anything we’d consider a stampede, however as you said the synchronized movement happens and they even managed to clear through the obstacles in a surprisingly safe manner on the way out”
Jorge picks up the holopad again and moves on to the next slide “So to sum up our theories. Certain species have an innate capacity of large-numbers collective movement, what we call a stampede is simply that natural capacity displaying itself during mass flight. That capacity can be harnessed to reduce casualties of panicked flight by giving the moving group an organized form, but only as long as the organization can be sustained. This mass movement capacity also applies to situations where other species would still perform in an organized fashion, but its instinctive nature severely speeds up the process.”
Before he can continue, however, Tunam mutters a little too loudly “But the results you’re going to give us are going to be the same brahking thing as always”
Jorge ignores the muttering “To begin with we’re going to suggest a system similar to the fire brigades we have on Earth. Essentially, any group large enough, such as a company or an apartment building, needs to have a handful of people with some training in emergency procedures for fire escape, so they can guide the rest of the people.”
Ishikawa intrudes “And in countries with higher seismic activities like mine, those procedures also include how to deal with earthquakes for example”
Jorge nods, and takes a deep breath “Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Your threat-assessment skills are horrible, for some reason- No, I think for reasons we’re all acquainted well enough by now, you’re all very likely to jump at shadows, far more than you should. However, your flight responses are part of your nature, trying to fight your nature never, ever works, you always have to work with it.” he’s staring directly at Tunam, who has met his stare with his right eye “So the primary suggestion is to introduce a form of ‘emergency herd lead’ training in organizations so that we’re certain there are individuals capable of keeping command and a lower baseline of chaos during a stampede event as well as further research into better methods of performing such a function”
Tunam doesn’t flinch from the stare “Come on, say it”
“No. As much as I’d love to say something like what you think I will, I’ll be honest. You guys expect to face orbital bombardment threats with enough frequency that civilian bunkers are part of city planning. Not a human alive today could imagine living in this nightmare their entire lives, I’m going to give you some credit here. Plus, in real threat situations as seen in the last video, you have very beneficial threat responses.” Jorge adds
Jorge waits for a few moments, then continues “That concludes the presentation of the early findings and initial measures we’ve identified. It should be noted that this topic will require much further research, preferably from a multidisciplinary group with representatives of multiple species. Though those findings may be applicable at the present our suggestion is that any action taken at this moment be only provisional and on an experimental level until further research can be made”
Onam stands up “Very well, with that I declare the meeting concluded” he takes in a deep breath and sits back down, making an annoyed sound with his voice as he swats his tail to the side “What is it about you humans that you could see all those things?”
Fabia shrugs, sitting more relaxed in her chair “I don’t think it’s something special, we’re just outsiders with a different perspective.”
A loud screeching noise can be heard, and as everyone turns to face Tunam the source of the noise is visible as the hand he had on the table had dug its claws into it “It’s not like we haven’t found out those things before, isn’t it?” he doesn’t seem to be directing his words to anyone in particular
The one-eyed venlil tilts his head to the side “We did have that work group almost fifteen cycles ago. I remember they were considering a suggestion like what we just had right now, but the work group never went anywhere and we never got any real results”
Tunam stands up suddenly, sending his chair scattering “One more to the list I guess…” there’s a tiredness to his voice “I should figure out where they wound up…” he turns around and goes to leave “We’re done here, yes? I should go” and stalks out.
The remaining people in the room look at his exit confusedly, as Ishikawa comes over to turn off the camera the others can be seen leaving.
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2023.06.08 22:28 VitaParadise Clarice Lispector: The Servant
Her name was Eremita.* She was nineteen. A confident face, a few pimples. Where was her beauty? There was beauty in that body that was neither ugly nor pretty, in that face in which a sweetness eager for greater sweetnesses was its sign of life.
As for beauty, I don’t know. There may not have been any, though indefinite features attract as water attracts. There was, indeed, living substance, nails, flesh, teeth, a mixture of resistances and weaknesses, constituting a vague presence that nonetheless immediately solidified into an inquisitive and readily helpful head, as soon as someone uttered a name: Eremita. Her brown eyes were untranslatable, at odds with her whole face. As independent as if they’d been planted in the flesh of an arm, and were peering at us from there—open, moist. She was made entirely of a sweetness bordering on tears.
Sometimes she’d answer with a servant’s ill-breeding. She’d been like that since childhood, she explained. Not that it stemmed from her character. For there was nothing hard about her spirit, no perceptible law. “I got scared,” she’d say naturally. “It made me hungry,” she’d say, and whatever she said was always indisputable, who knows why. “He respects me a lot,” she’d say of her fiancé and, though it was a borrowed and conventional expression, whoever heard it entered a delicate world of animals and birds, where all respected each other. “I’m embarrassed,” she’d say, and smile, entangled in her own shadows. If her hunger was for bread—which she ate quickly as if it could be taken away—her fear was of thunder, her embarrassment was of speaking. She was kind, honest. “God forbid, right?” she’d say absently.
Because she had her absent moments. Her face would get lost in an impersonal and unwrinkled sorrow. A sorrow more ancient than her spirit. Her eyes would pause, vacant; I’d even say a bit harsh. Whoever was next to her suffered and could do nothing. Except wait.
Because she was devoted to something, that mysterious infant. No one would have dared touch her right then. You’d wait a little solemnly, heart constricted, keeping an eye on her. There was nothing you could do for her except hope for the danger to pass. Until in an unhurried movement, almost a sigh, she’d rouse herself as a newborn goat rises on its legs. She had returned from her repose in sorrow.
She would return, you couldn’t say richer, but more reassured after having drunk from some unknown fount. What you could see is that the fount must have been ancient and pure. Yes, there was depth in her. But no one would find a thing if they descended into her depths—except depth itself, as in the dark you find the dark. It’s possible that, if someone pressed ahead, they’d find, after walking miles through the shadows, the hint of a path, guided perhaps by a beating of wings, by some trace of an animal. And—suddenly—the forest.
Ah, so that must have been her mystery: she had discovered a trail into the forest. Surely that was where she went during her absences. Returning with her eyes filled with gentleness and ignorance, eyes made whole. An ignorance so vast that inside it all the world’s wisdom could be contained and lost.
That was Eremita. Who, if she rose to the surface with everything she had found in the forest, would be burned at the stake. But what she had seen—on what roots she had gnawed, on what thorns she had bled, in what waters she had bathed her feet, what golden darkness held the light that had shrouded her—she didn’t speak of all this because she didn’t know about it: perceived in a single glance, too fleeting to be anything but a mystery.
Thus, whenever she emerged, she was a maid. Who was constantly being summoned from the darkness of her trail for lesser duties, to do the laundry, wipe the floor, serve someone or other.
But would she really serve? For if anyone paid attention they’d see that she did the laundry—in the sun; that she wiped the floor—wet from the rain; that she hung the sheets—in the wind. She found ways to serve much more remotely, and other gods. Always with the wholeness of spirit she had brought back from the forest. Without a thought: just a body moving calmly, a face full of a gentle hope that no one can give and no one can take away.
The only sign of the danger through which she had passed was her furtive way of eating bread. In all else she was serene. Even when she pocketed the money her mistress had forgotten on the table, even when she took her fiancé supplies wrapped in a discreet bundle. Pilfering was something else she’d learned in her forests.
* “Hermit. “
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2023.06.08 22:27 m80mike I Was a Pilot on Strike. This is Why We Went Back to Work.
Summary: A labor dispute coupled with an outbreak of unknown disease pushes all sides to war and a new truth.
I Was a Pilot on Strike. This is Why We Went Back to Work.
I was the second in command activist pilot in the Union based at O'Hare International, the unofficial headquarters of the strike movement. I remember when our strike started to heat up very vividly.
Fred, our Union boss, and Leo, the first in command activist, were sitting in the pilot's lounge, watching the tv coverage flash our picket lines from airports across the country. Something like “what do we want? The Package. When do we want it? Now!”
The Package was the nickname for our list of demands which included more security in the wake of the so-called Body Bombings last year, better pay and benefits, more job security, and perhaps, most controversially, cleaner fuel and fuel efficiency standards for current and future airliners.
The TV chirped up again, “well, folks its the twenty first day of the pilot strike most jets have been grounded now for the last eighteen as the pilots and their associated ground personnel unions have occupied major airports – only major international carriers at the coastal hubs are landing or departing now as we've seen a huge increase in train and car travel as we approach the fourth of july weekend. That's right, and our next top story as we gather for the holiday for first time after the omicron wave, health officials are advising to watch out for symptoms of a new skin...”
Fred hit mute on the remote. Fred was a balding, thick man, with thick arm hair, rolling over his grizzled sun burned flesh like barbed wire.
Leo lit up a cigarette. Leo was short, thin, and young in his looks but old, like faux 50's old in his heart. “There's no smoking in here, Leo,” Fred said sternly.
Leo didn't flinch.
Then Fred broke a smile and chuckled.
“Media bums aren't even interested in what we want anymore.” I said.
“Only these media bums. Follow the money.” Leo mumbled over his cancer stick. “That media group got a lot of money out of the bailout. Probably more than us.”
Fred looked at his watch, “We should probably get going.”
“Make em sweat for once, for Christ sake.” Leo nearly spat out his smoke.
“I'm with Leo on this one, Fred” I said.
So we made the negotiators sweat a little longer.
About an hour later we finally met them at the table. We sat on the left, the various airline owners sat on the right. This was the third time during the last three weeks but now, there was a new guy at the head of the table, a Federal mediator.
The Mediator had black rimmed almost square glasses, thick gray hair, and a blotchy face, “I'm calling this meeting to order. Before I present this offer, I have impress upon both sides how essential it is we start our air travel again soon, both for the holiday but also the good of the country. I am at this time presenting a voluntary compromise – officially, the Federal government supports the pilots' initiative to enhance security in the wake of the last year's incidents and we are prepared to use some of the unspent bailout money to supplement private airliner's initiatives and spending. We are also sympathetic to pilots and ground crews positions on their pay and benefits. The Federal government, however, is not, at this time, interested in imposing nor supporting job security, nor fuel charges nor efficiency standards. I yield to the industry representatives for comment.”
The chief industry rep, Michelson Connery, was a young looking, smooth talking, sleaze bag with jet black hair from New Jersey who had a habit of touching his coke inflamed nose every five minutes or so.
“You know back in Jersey, we're used to being shaken down, as they say. Now we appreciate the nice talk, we appreciate your brass knuckles and tommy guns are firmly tucked away, we appreciate you're giving us a break or too, but a shake down is a shake down none the less. No deal. I yield.”
Fred sat up in his chair, his mouth agape, he cleared his throat while adjusting his microphone, “No deal.” He flopped back into his chair.
“Before we depart,” the Mediator quelled the commotion as both parties began to leave, “As I said the federal government has a strong interest in resuming flights as soon as possible, we are considering using our unique power to impose a settlement on the Union, if necessary.”
Fred lurched forward, “What kind of power? What kind of threat is this?”
“It's no threat.” The Mediator paused, “It's a threat to a threat, if necessary, we will invoke our powers under various emergency statutes to effectively Federalize pilots and ground crews – under those provisions, we would impose work or removal provisions to settle this.”
“That's total bull!” Fred lunged at the Mediator, “You're basically telling us all they have to do is wait it until you force us back to work! And what about the future? These efficiency standards aren't just about hippie dippie environmental stuff, its about fleet upgrades, fleet safety and thus worker and pilot safety!”
“Gentlemen, please, I putting something on the table and it has neither a definite nor indefinite timeline – in the meanwhile, your adversaries are hemorrhaging cash and depreciating their capital and you're folks – especially your ground crew union, are running out savings – I suggest you both, in good faith, consider the current and official Federal position in good time to sort this out sooner than later rather than a threat of a threat become a threat. Good day.”
Within hours, each side called a respective press conference. Industry denounced the compromise set out by the Feds while we denounced their denouncement. Neither side budged and neither side disclosed the Mediator's so called “threat of a threat”. We sat on the picket lines for another week as each side floated various non-serious proposals and misinformation in the media. We found ourselves back in the pilot lounge before our next round of serious negotiations. This time Fred and Leo were both smoking while I had to exhale bad news.
“The ground crew union is gunna crack first, Industry is offering them a side deal and I think they're gunna take it. They go back to work, it's gunna be next to impossible to leverage the whole of the hubs, then the scabs come in, they'll just work around us.” I told Leo and Fred. “Then we maybe we should float lower pay increases for ourselves. Overall, you pay the few pilots a little bit more, you pay the huge ground crew nothing more, that sounds like the win for us and Industry.” Leo pitched back. “Leo, where do we stand on public support?” Fred inquired.
“I don't know.”
“What do you mean you don't know?”
Leo clicked on the TV, “our top story tonight, farm fields across the country are now being seemingly afflicted by some kind of blight resulting in, at in some cases, widespread crop failures as the department of agriculture is mum. Meanwhile, more and more people are reporting severe skin deformations and damage while the CDC has been all but muzzled save for recommending that people stay inside and avoid direct sunlight. At this time there is speculation but no official word the crop blight and the skin disease are connected.” “See, it's all blight this, blight that.”
“So fake,” Fred said, “I've been out in the damn sun all week on the line and I've got nothing. Whatever the damn news wants to keep real progress from being made here. Anyway, I say we stay the course and we firm it up with the ground crews, have some solidarity.”
There was a knock on the door, “heh, maybe this good news.” Fred left his seat to open the door. A neutral representative walked through and announced the Federal Mediator has canceled the session. Leo and I brewed up from our seats to go raise holy hell with Fred at the mediator's delegation when all the television screens in the lounge turned to an Emergency Announcement Service message. Leo fumbled to unmute the television as the seal of the office of the President blasted on all the screens. “My fellow Americans, it is with great dismay that after nearly a month of grounded air travel across these great United States, because of a dispute over many complex issues, I am forced to use the power legislated to the executive branch by various emergency statutes, that I am announcing the immediate federalization of pilots and ground crews. Effective immediately, they will have a forty eight hour cooling off period before I am ordering them, as federal employees, to return to work or be dismissed. Also, their demands for higher pay and better benefits will be met in part by the conditions of Federal employment. I will be going to Congress, in the morning, to seek long term funding for our new national employees to secure their jobs for a long while. Any deviation from this will have significant physical consequences...”
The TV trailed off as representatives from the ground crews burst into the room in a ruckus, “Long term employment my ass! That jackass knows this is a bandaid – there's no way Congress is gunna pay us, in ninety days, we're as good as fired, begging for our old jobs with no retirement and no Unions.” Ground Crew Union Head Reggie Weston flipped off the TV. “I say, we sit on the damn runways after forty eight hours! You're with us, right? Can I get a yes yes?”
“And here we heard you were about to sell us out and now you're all about it huh?” Leo grumbled. “It was nothing like that. I swear. You know how much talk flies.” Reggie looked offended.
“I'm with Reggie, this is unbelievable, just like that our retirement plan, what? Probably gone? We're not employees anymore afterall. Forced to work – basically at gunpoint now. No. No. No.” I said. “Fred?” Leo prodded.
Fred stood there scratching his scalp in dismay and despair then he straightened himself up, took a drag off his smoke, and turned to us, “Tell all folks, we're going to war.”
We were a bit concerned some of the locals might pull off on the eve of the forty eight hour period but when the forty ninth came, they were steadfast and when they fired us, and then the cops came in, we were ready, both in the courts, and on the lines. On day four, ninety six hours after the announcement, the picket lines were more like trenches, and the pilot's lounge a war room. Each airport was a mini Battle of Blair Mountain. I had my arm wrapped up in an ice pack from a rubber bullet ricochet while Leo was still furiously blinking out yesterday's pepper spray. Fred hadn't been back from the riot on the runways.
Rocks, molotov cocktails scorch marks, and burned out tear gas canisters dotted the parking lots and tarmacs. Overturned vending machines, kiosks, and stacked chairs and tables from the food courts barricaded the concourses. A fire started in one of the hangers and it only just now started to burn itself out. They cut the power and we sweltered in that Midwest heat as we quickly discovered how poorly insulating all of the windows actually were. We had a few generators but they were being used to run the CCTV cameras which we connected to some of the TVs in the pilot's lounge so we could see which direction the next charge was coming from and send out warnings.
On the fifth day an injunction had been filed and granted against the entire federalization and the cops withdrew to their side of the no man's land. It wasn't a moment too soon as we the pilots and the ground crews were nearly depleted.
It was early that morning as the leadership started to gather in the pilot's lounge that we got our first of several mortifying discoveries.
Reggie held a flashlight to his bruised face as he announced, “We lost contact with our brothers at LAX and Denver International.”
“How? Why? Did they surrender?”
“I don't know about LAX but I got this out of Denver.” Reggie played a video on his phone. It was poorly lit and unsteady but in the dark of the early morning you could make out the sound and outline of two large transport helicopters. As they hovered for a landing, someone out of the frame shone a large flashlight against the side. The helicopters were civilian in design and bore the shield of a notorious private military contractor – the Blackdogs. Some one else shouts “get ready!” as black tactical troops streamed out of the choppers and the video abruptly ends.
“Oh my god!” I exclaimed, “They're gunna try to Pinkerton us.”
“What about the damn injunction?” Leo stormed.
“It's an injunction on the feds, the cops. These are private operators. I'm assuming that they're bought and paid for by Industry.”
“You think they're gunna kill us?” Leo pondered.
It was then, the for the first time, during all of this, even after taking that rubber bullet, that I felt real fear and real uncertainty about the outcome and justness of all of it. It was the first time I considered blinking. Then it got worse.
There was a commotion at the door as some of the ground crew and pilots pulled in a makeshift stretcher with Fred laying on it.
“Oh my God, what did they do to him?” Leo exclaimed as he came to help pull him into the room. There was too many people around to see Fred clearly, something like a towel was covering most his face and head. Fred could barely speak and was clearly in some kind of distress. My thought was tear gas but none had been fired for hours and usually someone inundated with it start everyone off into similar distress.
The crowd broke as I huddled in, I shown my flashlight around him to see.
“Pull it off, pull it off, they have to see” Fred gasped.
Some of the ground crew members pulled off the towel and I could plainly see Fred's face and head – what was left of it anyway. I staggered back a step.
“It's the Blight, guys, half of the ground crew, they look like this, now!” Fred yelled. “I can't, I can't feel any of it and I can't see!”
His eyes were whited out like he had severe cataracts and his head, most of his face, and arms were encrusted in bulging, asymmetric, blotches, lesions, and black marks of various sizes and textures. It looked like he had been horribly burned.
“Hey, guys!” Reggie barked out over the shock and attempts to help Fred. “Cameras are down!”
“Well when the shit did that happen?” Leo exploded as he buzzed around the jerry rigged monitors hoping to get signal back.
I picked up my radio and asked everyone to report in, the south, east, and west reported but the north was just static.
Leo tried to rally some of the guys helping Frank to head to the north but they and Fred protested saying there weren't enough guys without the Blight to go stop a push if there was one. Everyone was silent just a moment and in that moment we heard the sound of some thirty guns cocking just outside of the pilot's lounge door.
“Fred Little, Leo Jones, and Mark Debs, step out of the lounge slowly and peacefully, we wish to negotiate the end of this.”
“Fred is incapacitated,” I yelled back with a dry mouth, “Reggie Weston of the Ground Crew Union, Leo and I stepping down. Don't shoot.” I said sheepishly.
Leo and Reggie looked to me to push open the door as I did I was immediately blinded by the tactical lights of some twenty or so submachine guns.
The same voice came again, “keep stepping through the lights, that's it, nice and slow, no one is going to hurt you. I just want to talk and show you something.”
Leo and I made it past the lights into a glare lit spot of the terminal where the commander of this platoon of Blackdogs with his two personal retinue stood with their helmets off, “I'm commander Don Doughty. I'm here on behalf of country and I would like to share something with you.”
“Commander, with all due respect, there's an injunction in place.”
“I know, that's why this is a private operation, not a military or police one.”
“Look, we don't have to go with you.”
“Look, you do. Now I'm going to level with both of you. We stormed the other airports today, you probably heard, a lot of my company men are hurt, a few near death, but we know you're not holding out. We know most of you have the Blight now and that's why we're here.”
“Why you're here, huh? No dedicated medical personnel, no biohazard suits? Kind of strange for what you're saying is a mission of medical mercy for a disease of unknown origin?” Leo perked up.
“It's not unknown. In fact, it's one of the most common diseases around. What is still unknown is if I have to drag you to what I want to show you or if you'll come willingly.”
Leo and I looked at each other and then back at Don. He was disarming and rational, something I hardly expected but he also had our number and between the Blight and the willingness of the government to now literally put guns to our heads to go back to work, I had so many questions and he was offering the answers. Leo and I went willing. We stepped out of the terminal and took a motorized cart to the fuel hangers as Don requested.
On the cart, Don started to open up, “Leo, Mark, tell me what you know about chemtrails.”
Leo scoffed while I replied, “chemtrails, yeah, I've some whacko come up to me in a few bars shouting in my ear about how as a pilot I am unwittingly spraying geo-engineering materials to change the Earth or make global warming real or spreading COVID or nerve gas in contrails. The kookiness seems to change by season. Why?”
“Next question. Do either of you know what CFC's are?”
Leo piped up, “Chloroflorocarbons, I think. They used to be used in fridges and spray cans before they were banned in the 80's – virtually globally because they were screwing up the ozone layer.”
We arrived at the hanger where the fuel was stored. Another small group of Blackdog troopers had one of the ground crew members in detention near the partially open sliding door. His badge was gone but I recognized the ground crew member as part of the fuel truck lead team.
“What does this have to do with anything?” I asked. As we all were led into the hanger where the fuel trucks were stored.
Don, out of no where saluted the fuel truck leader. To my astonishment, the fuel truck leader saluted back. They shared a “semper fi – once a marine – always a marine!” and then Don beckoned him, “show them, it's okay, show them what you know, show them what you do.”
The fuel trucker turn a spigot on the back of the fuel truck nearest to him and splashed some jet fuel from the truck on the hanger floor and then shone a UV flashlight on it and the truck without any change. He muttered out, “Ordinary jet fuel.” Then, turning to the truck adjacent to him, he shone the same uv light and there was a square code marking that appeared on the back of the truck. He turned the spigot on that truck, splashed out a bit of the fuel and then shone the light on it. The fuel reflected back a dazzling brilliant display of glow as it flowed across the concrete. “Not so ordinary jet fuel.”
“Now you see gentlemen, for the past fifty years or so, we've known that CFCs were impacting the ozone layer and created a hole, you were told, like everyone else, that the hole was healing and mostly fixed after we banned CFC's and other substances. Well, in truth, that's only partially correct, its healing or mostly fixed because we fixed it, or more accurately, because the great people who work in the sky and ground, by sheer volume of air travel across the world, had been burning this modified fuel, depositing its unique chemical composition into the atmosphere at altitude to keep that ozone hole closed or at least as protective as possible. Without it, well, look at your boss, look at the fields of crops failing across the country, look at the hospitals around the country filling up with ionizing radiation burn and cancer victims. Without you, there's holes in the ozone breaking open all over the North American continent.”
“We really have been spraying chemtrails this whole time.” Reggie murmured.
“Now, let me explain to you how this is going to work – as we speak, other Blackdogs, funded by the Federal government, are infiltrating every airport in the country and showing the rest of your leadership the same thing you just saw. We're also showing this to Industry. We're getting you the Mediator's deal. You'll have your old jobs back, and while a handful of you will go to jail for the rioting, none of you will be convicted of felonies or serve time. That's the deal. All you have to say is yes and tell everyone to go back to work now and then, with you all back in the air and back on the ground, the Blight will end.
In the end we went back to work, we took the deal. If you can call it a deal. It wasn't a deal but essentially a reboot with a cost of living increase. The other option was that some of us would be imprisoned, fined, be out of a job and oh yes, Leo, Reggie, and I shot on spot.
We were sworn to secrecy over the truth about the ozone layer and chemtrails but I'm breaking it. I'm breaking it because you deserve the truth. I know that this will end up in the internet gutter realm of aliens and bigfoot but I don't care. I'm big guy, a big name, and if anything happens to me, like an “accident”, I'm pretty sure that would only lend credence to what I've told you here.
submitted by m80mike
to ChillingApp [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 22:13 watchface5 $150 for this? Dusty but In great shape, not used very much. Any advice appreciated!
2023.06.08 21:40 Dixies60 Saying “NEVER AGAIN” (again)
| || | submitted by Dixies60 to Everton [link] [comments]
It’s May 7th 1994. I’m thirteen years old. As Everton were battling a tough-as-nails Wimbledon at Goodison, 2-0 down and desperate to somehow stay afloat and escape the Sarlacc pit of relegation, I was in my living room. Listening to the radio.
My dad was at the bottom of the garden. Away from any news. I went down with occasional messages. When the full time whistle blew, and we both realised that we’d miraculously escaped relegation - that Everton had lived to fight another day - Dad opened a bottle of Champagne. He recorded Match of the Day, and slapped a sticker on the spine of the videotape. I still remember what he wrote on there: “7th May, 1994. The day our club was reborn, a new dawn!!!”
I remember the sinking feeling when we were 2-0 down to Wimbledon in 1994. It’s a similar feeling to Everton - Bournemouth just a few days ago when Leicester were winning their game and the live league table had us in the relegation zone. But the feeling at the final whistle? Completely different. I didn’t want to dance around. Corks weren’t popping. I wasn’t happy.
Sean Dyche is completely right. This isn’t something to celebrate. We need to change. It’s fine to say - to scream - “NEVER AGAIN” from the rooftops. But we keep on screaming this. We keep on saying “NEVER AGAIN” again and again. It means nothing, as empty a declaration as the latin motto on our shirts. It’s exhausting.
Now is the nuclear winter of our discontent.
It all started several summers ago, when our Director of Football and Manager botched our summer squad surgery so badly that we’ve had to undergo several disastrous corrective operations since.
The cliche is that there’s no I
but it’s equally true for Everton that you don’t spell SUCCESS
with a $
… Us fans were just happy to have some money for once.
Instead of making do with pressing our faces to the transfer window and mournfully staring at the happy shoppers inside, this time we could take part in the madcap trolley dash! And as that summer ended we were more than happy to hold aloft our “We Won The Transfer Window” trophy.
It was only when the season started that everything came crashing down.
Our sky-scraping ambitions were met with barrel scraping reality.
It turns out that Koeman and Walsh, the supposed masterminds who would bring home the transfer bacon, couldn’t agree at all. Like squabbling siblings, the only answer they could come up with was to buy the players Walsh wanted AND the players Koeman wanted, despite many playing in the same position.
It beggars belief that we could splurge on our “Three Tenners” - Sigurdsson, Klaassen, and Rooney - and forget about a left back.
Or perhaps we didn’t forget. Perhaps we assumed that a 33 year old Leighton Baines would be more than capable of playing in the Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup, and Cara-bloody-bao Cup without succumbing to injury…
Everton’s mistakes repeat like rotten history, like the plaintive cry of NEVER AGAIN (again) — with us doing almost exactly the same thing with Seamus Coleman that we did with Leighton Baines.
It wasn’t just a left back that we missed out on in that madcap summer. Somehow we managed to ship off Lukaku to Man Utd and not buy a striker.
NEVER AGAIN (again)
Yet this year we did the same, trying to survive a season with one injured striker, DCL.
I preferred us when we were skint. And I miss our blue collar players. The ones who actually give a sh*t.
We’ve become a horrendous half-baked layer cake. We obsessively added more ingredients, more managers, thinking that it will taste better. But the players didn’t even know each other.
We are a horror movie, and not even a good one, I Know What You Did Last Summer's incompetent footballing sequel: I really don’t have a f*cking clue what I did last summer.
Even now, some fans kind of want this madness to continue. They aren’t sure Dyche is the one for us. Despite keeping us up after spending nothing. Despite making us play for the shirts. In the last day, looking at West Ham’s european trophy, many have unironically been pining for David Moyes, while ignoring the similar manager we have fighting for us.
If you liked this, I always appreciate eyeballs on my blog: https://dixies60.substack.com/p/never-again-again
2023.06.08 21:26 Helpful-Asparagus374 How important is competition to a beginner?
I'm kind of new to league, an APA 3. I don't necessarily dislike league, except for the fact I spend about 40 minutes on the road round trip, and since we don't have a ton of tables. I just stand around for a long time waiting for my turn to play. It can also run kind of late, and I work early in the morning. That said, it is fun.
In my head (not saying this is accurate), I can run drills at home, play against myself, etc, to make sure I'm making progress (e.g. now I'm doing three ball runs, now I'm doing four ball runs, now a game is five innings, now it's four innings, etc).
Once I am a bit better, I see more value to league, but imo the time I play league could be better spent practicing.
submitted by Helpful-Asparagus374
to billiards [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 21:13 Remarkable-Remote654 Dip your testicles and penis in my drink while I’m away…
This happened a few years ago, I w used to play pool for a pub team and my nephew wanted to join (he was 19 at the time) so a few of us would show up a few hours early at the pub to get a good few games in to sharpen up ready for our league game. There was about 5 or 6 of us in the pool room at the time, I had just bout a fresh pint of Pepsi (don’t drink kn a work night) and decided to nip off to the toilet. So my nephew decides he wants to dip his penis and testicles into my drink. Now I have a nose for when someone tries to play a prank on me and knew something was up as everyone went silent and one or two were smirking. I look at my mate as pick my drink up and he shakes his head slightly. I pipe up ok, who has fucked with my drink, the lads start laughing. Jonny says in my ear it was my nephew and to not drink it. After a bit of pressing he tells me what he did. So I remind him that I may be fat like an elephant, but like an elephant I never forget and you will.( I’m chubby btw not fat ) cue a fortnight later and the nephew strolls in with a large bottle of energiser energy drink, puts it down by the pool table and disappears to the toilets… cue my revenge, I grab the bottle and disappear behind the pool table, whip my trousers and pants down and rubbed the bottle neck between the cheeks of my ass ( I had showered after getting home from work and the pub was hot so I was a little sweaty), popped the top back on and pulled my trousers back up and put the bottle back just in the nick of time, nephew walks in opens the bottle, puts his lips around the neck of the bottle and downs the lot. Both me and Jonny laughed so hard as he did it. The nephew then asked what we was laughing at to which I reminded him of me telling him he would forget and also asked how my arse tasted.
To this day he has never tried to pull another prank on me.
submitted by Remarkable-Remote654
to pettyrevenge [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 20:41 Mista9000 Perfectly Safe Demons -Ch 14- Bruised and cheerful
Rosifo Girtwoud woke up feeling sore and exhausted. He slept well, but never as long as he’d have liked. He could hear his roommates moving around and getting ready for their days. Sitting up in bed, he stretched and took stock. His new job was physically demanding, but it was the best job he’d ever had. By a lot. He loved having his own room in a nice place, all thanks to his generous new salary! He could even afford to eat as much as he wanted, a luxury he’d not even dreamed was possible. Last night he ate three helpings of honey glazed pork at the pub! Still clumsy from sleep, Ros shrugged on a tunic and clean slacks, pausing for a second to appreciate the lordly quality of the garments. He still couldn’t believe he owned such nice things, and the Chief just gave it to him! Well, everyone got a few, but that didn’t make it any less special. Ros put on his belt as he went downstairs to the kitchen, where a few of his roommates were eating breakfast and the landlady was pulling some fresh buns out of the wood fired oven.
“Hey there’s the champ now!” called out Rikad, his housemate and co-worker.
“Heh, there are some perks to being the lightest guy on the squad!” Ros replied, referring to the agility drill he had won at work yesterday. Three days a week of training was by far the hardest part of the job, being trained by the Chief was like weathering a storm. Terrifying and dangerous, but something you could be proud of surviving. The other three days a week they worked were a holiday in comparison. Sitting on carts and standing by warehouses was easy.
Ros devoured his huge bowl of sweetened oats and then three buttered fresh buns. Pushing back from the long table with a satisfied sigh, he got up to leave for work with Rikad. The spring morning air was brisk, and they made sure to stay out of the way of loaded carts and riders that zipped by on the narrow cobblestone streets.
“What do you reckon the Chief will have us do today?” Rikad asked.
Ros snorted, “Quit embarrassing ourselves and pick up the pace?”
“Hah! That’s hardly a guess! I liked the knife throwing we did a few weeks ago, that was fun. I hope it’s not all runs and drills, I’m still aching from yesterday,” Rikad said.
“Yeah, I like combat drills. Other than when I have to spar with the Chief. He’s like a mountain that’s fast. I think the day I get a point on him, I’ll buy the whole team a beer!” Ros motioned a lunging jab as they walked.
“We’ll be too old to drink by then!” Rikad teased.
They were in for a typical training routine, a morning lecture on tactics and formations, some solo weapon drills, a short run, then a hearty lunch delivered from the nearby deli. Other days they just called a food cart into the yard with them, but Ros liked the deli lunches better. Also the novelty of someone else buying his lunches was thrilling. Ros assumed that this must be how pretty girls felt all the time. Maybe less sore and less yelled at. But maybe not.
The real highlight of the day was Ros got to see the owner of the whole company when he came out to observe their exercises. Ros hadn’t seen a real lord up close before he started at Pandemonium, and he thought it was one of the biggest perks. Mostly he looked like a tired doctor or shopkeeper, but Ros wasn’t disappointed. He had a nobility of his bearing, clarity in his eyes and an aura of authority. Even the Chief changed when he was around him! Seeing the him defer to anyone spoke volumes to their importance. Not only was he the lord of a whole company, he was also a mage! They were super rare even before the Church started purging all those heresies in their College of Magic, but now he wasn’t even sure there were any in the city!
“Agility drills are done! Imma talk to Mage Thippily, so you lot do some king of the hill sparring; Sword ‘n board! Ros and Kedril start!” boomed Chief of Security Stanisk.
Ros staggered exhaustedly to the equipment racks to get an arming jacket, leather helm, training sword and shield.
“Mage Thippliy is watching,” he whispered reverentially to himself as he geared up.
“Mind your tone or he’ll turn you into a turnip!” called Rikad.
Kedril grinned, “Hah, He’ll turn you into a turnip, Rik. He’ll just look at Ros and see his work is already done!”
Ros used to despise Kedril. He embodied everything Ros had yearned to become: handsome, confident, affluent, and sharp-witted. The team's dynamic was confrontational, rife with competition; they raced, fought, and scored against one another all day, three days a week. It had taken Ros a while to grasp that they were, in fact, a team. Kedril, infuriatingly attractive, devoted time to helping Ros in a few drills last week and offered valuable advice. So, albeit begrudgingly, Ros began to admire him. Kedril was older by a few years, substantially larger, and appeared to be one of the few who already had some training in arms. The prospect of sparring with him didn’t excite Ros.
Fresh from drills and immediately thrown into sparring, sweat trickled into Ros's eyes. The sting impaired his vision. He repeated to himself, 'Elbows in, shield up, tip forward, hips back,’ partially to fix his stance, partially to focus. Kedril was typically in better shape than him, but now appeared even more worn out. His guard was lax and messy, creating a gaping opening. Ros seized the opportunity and struck with a swift, precise jab. In the fleeting instant the jab took, Kedril's shield snapped into position, and his tip dealt a solid blow to Ros's ribs just beneath his sword arm. It was a feint - a brilliantly executed display of weakness where he was most prepared, exactly the tactic Stanisk had explained yesterday.
“Mashed Turnip!” Kedril shouted to the cheers of the others.
“Ros! You lost because your stance is awful! Keep lower! Coiled spring, lad!” the Chief shouted from across the yard.
Ros raised his hands over his head to cede the point and sat at the end of the bench. He hated losing, but he had expected to lose. He gratefully grabbed a cup of water and watched Kedril make short work of a few more challengers. It seemed like they were picking on him, but Ros was coming to understand they were also bonding with him, and these might be the closest friends he’d ever had. Not that it was a high bar, and he didn’t like all of them, but they had his back, and that meant a lot. Finally Jourgun, the biggest lad on the team, tore into Kedril with so much energy and fury that no amount of clever tactics could stop him. Even though he knew these were his friends, seeing Kedril getting bashed in the face with a shield was almost as good as seeing a real mage!
One thing Ros appreciated about training days was that they were shorter. After the sparring, Stanisk pulled aside Kedril and Jourgun for additional work, and dismissed the rest of the men. Ros trailed behind some of his newfound friends to a peculiar place where one would sit, fully naked, in a steam-filled room, all for two glucks.
“This is a sex thing, right?” Ros asked Rikad cautiously.
“What?! Light, no! It’s to relax and heal," Rikad explained. "They place herbs on hot rocks, we sit there, sweat, and breathe in the steam. It’s excellent, you’ll love it!”
“Sounds like we’re all naked and sweaty, though?” Ros remained convinced this was some intimate activity he wasn’t fully grasping. Rikad rolled his eyes and even paid Ros’s entry fee.
Inside the dim, tiled room was surprisingly comfortable. The steam smelled slightly of herbs and medicine, and it was so thick he couldn’t even see the far wall. A quick survey of the others revealed they were just as covered in bruises as he was, which gave Ros a fresh sense of camaraderie. They towelled off, dressed, drank some cold water, and left the strange business without any hint of the carnal encounter Ros had suspected. Despite his lingering confusion about the whole place, Ros liked it and wanted to come back. He appreciated his squadmates not making a single steamed turnip joke. He was hoping that didn’t stick as a nickname, he felt it didn’t remotely suit him.
After the steam, their muscles relaxed and the day's tension eased away. Ros and Rikad were starving. It had been hours since lunch, so they headed to a nearby tavern for drinks and dinner. Being able to simply enjoy food and drink without concern for the price was an intoxicatingly fresh experience. In fact, Ros enjoyed this newfound freedom even more than the meal itself.
After a huge dinner and a few beers Ros paused, and opened up a little.
"Did you know this is the pub where I talked the Chief into hiring me?"
"Really? To be honest, I've always wondered about that. No offence, but you're a lot smaller than the rest of us." Rikad pushed away his empty plate, taking a long drink of his beer.
"Yeah, I saw the Chief in here, dressed like a shining champion, buying ladies drinks and rounds for the whole bar. He was so confident and kind and relaxed. But also obviously dangerous. I’d never seen anyone like him!" Ros gestured to the tavern maid for a refill. "I must have been a sight. My clothes were more patch than original cloth, I was so skinny you could've counted my ribs through a sweater. Not that I had sweater money!" Ros reflected on the lean muscle he'd gained in recent months with inward satisfaction.
"Did the Chief take you for a beggar?"
Ros bristled at the suggestion. "Hell no! I've never begged in my life, I've always earned my keep!" his brief flare of indignation faded immediately. "No, he thought I was a refugee, from some starving backwater. Of course, I corrected him—after he bought me dinner!"
"Hah! The proper sequence," Rikad agreed, laughing.
"Anyway, he asked about my plans. I told him I was waiting till I was eighteen to join the army and serve the Emperor."
"You've certainly filled out since I met you, but I'm not sure you'd pass the army physical even now," Rikad cautiously speculated.
"The Chief was blunter about it. 'Yer so scrawny, a necromancer would find ya offputting, the army ain't gonna waste rations on ya.'" Ros imitated Stanisk’s gruff rural northerner accent.
"Hah! That sounds about right. Which makes your wearing company purple less clear than ever!" Rikad replied.
"Well, he asked if I knew my way around the city. I said I've tread every cobblestone here, so he offered me a job running letters and picking up parcels. Better work than sweeping alleys for a half-gluck and stale bread. I figured a fancy man like him would pay alright."
The waitress finally brought the next round, and Ros paused to take a long drink. Setting his mug down, he continued. "I walked into the Chief's office, and there he was behind that tiny desk with his book and quill. He looked like a cave troll trying to be a librarian. But I wasn't gonna laugh—it was still the Chief. He said, 'We don’t got a lot for now but I’ll give you a list in the morning, and see that it gets done.' I said ain’t fancy, I don’t know how to read! He didn't lose his cool. He simply nodded and said, 'Alright, just report to me in the morning, and we’ll get you started.' Oh, and he warned me never to speak to the Mage unless spoken to, which suited me fine."
Ros took another drink of his beer, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and continued. "I was hoping for five gee a day. I’d probably have done it for a lone gluck, to be honest. So imagine my shock when he apologised that he could only offer me twenty glucks a day!"
"Where were you living, that five would've been enough?" Rikad asked, curious.
Ros, slightly flushed from the beer, leaned forward. "Under a bloody hedge!" He burst into laughter at his own expense.
"That's rough man," Rikad commented, shaking his head.
Ros nodded. "It was, but it's behind me now. After a month or so of running errands, the Chief finally let me join the crew he was training. That's how I ended up a part of the elite guard of a learned lord mage."
Rikad, his face ruddy, pointed his finger at Ros’s chest. "It’s your attitude! You always train the hardest. It’s changed the whole team's tone."
Ros nodded again, serious. "I gotta! The fifteen hundred gee I make every month now is probably more than I did in the last decade. Total! I bet we make as much as a knight commander does leading a thousand soldiers!"
Rikad looked at him suspiciously. "Wait, a decade? Aren't you still a teenager?"
Ros shrugged. "It's been a long, hard time. Anyway, I know I promised to go to see that folk band with you tonight, but I'm spent. I think I might call it an early night." He finished the beer in two long gulps and stood up.
"I get it. Besides, tomorrow's Sunday. We can finally sleep in!" Rikad pointed out.
Ros woke to a frantic pounding on his bedroom door. It was still dark out.
“Go away! Keep it down! You’ll wake the whole house!” Ros grumbled, mostly asleep.
“Come on man! Emergency meeting at the training yard. We gotta go now!” Rikad hoarsely whispered.
“Ah, that’s not good!” Ros threw on some clothes and headed out the door with his friend.
“Think it has something to do with what Kedril and Jourgun were doing after work?” Ros asked.
“Maybe? That was hours and hours ago, and those guys are great, and they were with the Chief,” Rikad countered.
They jogged through the mostly empty streets. The moons were behind clouds, and the dew made the cobblestones slick. The faint flickering of their leviathan oil lamp cast strange shadows in the foggy night. The city felt on edge, too many people on the streets in the middle of the night, whispering. A few times Ros thought he heard something about thunder and demons, which did nothing to calm his growing panic.
“What if something happened to Mage Thippily? Are we all unemployed now?” Ros asked, knowing Rikad knew as much as he did.
“What is the business we guard? Something to do with magically formed super secret goods that no one was allowed to talk about. I think? I should have asked,” Rikad lamented.
Finally they made it to the yard, and Kedril was standing at the gate, torch held aloft.
“Good lads! Go into the workshop and take a seat. The Chief has some tea on.” Kedril’s voice was as calm and steady as ever, but his face was pale and drawn, and his eyes never focused on them, just scanned the night intently.
“Inside? Are you sure?” Ros had never gone inside; that was the single biggest rule.
Kedril just nodded. Ros and Rikad looked at each other for courage and moved forward. The big yard door to the workshop opened a crack, and warm light was spilling out. Rikad motioned Ros to go first, and he poked his head in, fully expecting to lose it.
“Oy, is that Ros? Git your scrawny ass in here,” Chief Stanisk rumbled.
The two men felt like flies exploring a web, but inside was surprisingly normal. Five other guards were already there, and the room was a lot like any other workshop. It had planked floors, shelves and tables and one corner was even converted into a kitchen. There were a few simple stools set up, and two incredibly luxurious loungers. Like everyone else, Ros and Rikad took a stool. The Chief gestured to a kettle and mugs for the tea, but no one seemed interested.
“What’s happening, is everyone okay?” Ros finally asked.
“Short answer is yes, for now.” Stanisk said calmly. “We’ll give the other lads a few minutes to get here, then I’ll explain.”
“Holy light, sir! You aren’t wearing your armour!” This unsettled Ros more than anything he’d seen all night, it was like seeing a bear shaved. Chief was just sitting there in trousers and a shirt, sipping tea. He’d never seen the Chief without armour.
“Needs cleaned,” he answered cryptically.
Follow up questions were interrupted by the rest of the men arriving, followed by Kedril and then Jourgun, who must have been watching the far gate.
“Alright, gather round, at ease.” Stanisk started. He looked relaxed which was probably a good sign.
“You lot were hired to protect the interests of our operations. There was an attempt on Mage Thippliy’s life tonight, at his meeting. Security Specialists Kedril and Jourgun did excellent work, and I have full confidence in all of your growing abilities. Our concern is there will be additional attempts."
There was a murmur of apprehension. The mage was the company. Without him there was nothing to guard. No one here wanted to lose their jobs, but they had been suspicious from the start. The pay didn’t match the work.
Stanisk paused as Mage Thipply and the elv, that had only been speculated to exist, came down the ladder from the loft. The mage was dressed like normal, in his brown pants and a white shirt, frameless glasses and a short well maintained beard streaked with grey. The elv was wearing an oversized sweater and long stockings. It had the effect of making her upper body look human, but with the long spindly legs of a shore bird. Her huge nocturnal eyes stared at them all unblinkingly, and her long narrow fingers with too many segments wrapped around a mug of tea. Ros was both intimidated and repulsed. It was like a bird or an insect pretending to be a person, but with eyes that had intelligence and cruelty.
“Ah! Um, thank you all for coming!” The mage was directly addressing them, Ros grinned despite his fears and worries. “There have been events over the last week or so that have culminated tonight, and I no longer think that our operation in Jagged Cove is viable.” The mage saw the reaction of the crowd turn sharply negative. He hastily added, “Of course I’m not closing up shop, we’re just moving to another location. A location outside of the capital region, and I’d like you all to join us.”
Ros sighed and leaned back in relief. This wasn’t bad news at all. He’d gladly move to the bottom of the sea for the Mage. He could feel his pulse returning to normal, as other people started asking questions.
“What? I can’t leave the city, I got a wife and kids!” a guard named Theros said.
“Oh, I just started dating a baker's apprentice, is there an option to stay?” Jourgun asked.
The elv stood up, and addressed the room with an icy indifference. “This is not a negotiation. There is a ship that is leaving in about six hours. If you are on it, you will remain employed. We have also made considerations for your families. They are welcome on the ship, and you can find new homes in the town we relocate to.” She subtly nodded to the Chief before continuing. “Chief Stanisk values your skills so highly that he convinced the board of directors to offer each of you a five year contract. The contract will have some additional employment conditions, but there will be a 5000 glindi signing bonus. Follow Chief Stanisk’s instructions to get on the boat, and we’ll see you there. Or not.”
She returned to the ornate chair, and the room erupted into chaos.
“Holy light! That’s so much!”
“I’d be insane not to sign!”
“Where are we even going?”
Ros grinned from ear to ear, what’s to decide? This was the best possible outcome! Free money to see the world! Packing his bags would take no time, and he could carry everything that mattered in one trip.
Stanisk took command of the room, “You with young ‘uns, we got the company wagons for you waiting, get a move on. I’ll take the mage’s personal wagon and do a loop to Kedril’s, Eowin’s and Klive’s. The rest of you, leg it! Meet back here in three hours and tell anyone what asks, that you took a job out of the city. Be vague! Come on, pick up the pace you helpless kittens!"
submitted by Mista9000
to HFY [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 19:52 eltendo At the end of THE Padma Lakshmi’s Top Chef, it’s crazy to look back at nasty criticism she faced at the beginning
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I’ve been seeing all the Goodbye Padma press and this AV article noted the harsh disrespectful criticism (published in the New York Times, no less!) toward her as a host. I don’t know if this was a one-off or common at the time, but either way, the point is, those words have zero weight. None. If they are good for anything, it’s a laugh. And perhaps the retrospect of time contributes to that, but if the disrespect doesn’t matter now, it also doesn’t matter then. submitted by eltendo to BravoTopChef [link] [comments]
Thank God Padma took herself seriously!! For her gifts and talents and knowledge, and gave herself a chance to blossom and grow in a garden with a few weeds bent on calling her someone’s trophy wife. We the fans and viewers have certainly reaped the enjoyment of her being at the top of the Top Chef table, with all of who she is - powerful, compassionate, funny, and more.
Im feeling especially inspired by this lesson, because as a young woman working on my self acceptance, I really look up to Padma and her journey. I’m growing the courage to bet on myself in an artistic career change and it’s been hard feeling “ready” with this fear of being a failure before I even begin. This is helping me clarify my focus, to take myself fully seriously.
Ugh! With that said it’s hard to say goodbye to one last Padma Lakshmi episode, but I’m happy we got her as host for this long. Happy finale day everyone!
2023.06.08 19:39 Trash_Tia My friends participated in a “special screening” for a well known game which has been almost ten years in the making. I don’t recognize the people who came back
Three days ago, my housemates were alive.
And I wasn't losing my fucking mind.
Three days ago, I awoke to my housemate, Misty, shaking me.
Misty was usually the last to roll out of bed out of all of us, so I figured it was something important. My housemate wouldn’t get out of bed for nothing. She valued her sleep—often comparing her bed to a safe haven. Her place of solitude. I was right there with her, until she startled me out of slumber. I opened my eyes to find her face roughly three inches from mine, her expression lit up with excitement I couldn’t justify this early in the morning.
She smelled of toothpaste breath and her raspberry scented body wash. Her thick black curls framing her face were still damp from what I presumed was a shower, hanging in tangled knots in front of wide, almost unseeing eyes. When I first met her, Misty Kang had been my crush for a while. With a Korean father and a Texan mother, she definitely caught eyes when we hung out. We had a thing in freshman year, which quickly fizzled out once we started living together. Never date your housemates.
I will just say that.
Over the last few years, Misty has become one of my closest friends.
When she knew I was at least conscious, my housemate was grabbing my arm and yanking me out of bed. “Get up!”
I was barely awake, and those were the only words I could fully distinguish.
I shooed her away for a moment and swung my legs out of bed, taking a minute to blink sunlight out of my eyes coming through the blinds. “Sam.” Misty was in front of me again.
I don’t think she understood the concept of being half asleep.
She wouldn’t leave me alone, waving her arms wildly. Her shadow under the soft morning light almost reminded me of one of those inflatable tube guys.
“Huh?” My voice was a low croak, and her smile widened.
“Guess who’s just scored tickets for an actual screening of the first five minutes of gameplay for the most anticipated game of the decade?”
“What?” Her string of words wasn’t making sense in my caffeine deprived mind. It just sounded like gibberish to me, initially.
Like we were in some cheesy commercial, she was the lead, and I was the confused NPC with the WTF expression. But when I went over it in my head, words started to slide together like a jigsaw puzzle. Misty didn’t get excited about video games. Well, she did. Though, my housemate was one to get excited on behalf of someone else. After living with her for a while now, I had concluded she was a follower.
By that, I mean whatever others thought or did or said, she copied it. If her Twitter followers were mad at bad takes, she would drop all of her own opinions on said follower and focus on what other people said. We had Korean barbecue for takeout the other day, and Misty clearly did not like it from the creased look on her face, and her very obviously spitting it politely into a napkin.
Jay, my other housemate, liked it.
And so did I. So, naturally, Misty announced she wanted more.
I had to watch her suffer through two more portions before she excused herself—presumably to throw up. Blinking at my housemate who was clearly excited for Jay, I resisted the overwhelming urge to roll my eyes.
“Slow down. What game? What are you talking about?”
I got out of bed and threw on my robe, half aware of the mess from last night on my desk. Another attempt to finish an essay which just wasn’t happening. The monster energy cans and takeout Chinese wrappers were embarrassing. I got a basic run-through as I headed downstairs with Misty right behind me, practically breathing down my neck. From what I understood, there was a Reddit post.
That was all I got from Misty’s squealing. She leapt down the stairs after me with a spring in her step. The clock above the front door told me it wasn’t even 9am. The smell of bacon, however, was quick to arise me from the dead.
Jay was in the kitchen making breakfast. I noticed his laptop was open on the table, and every so often he’d peer at it with wide, almost disbelieving eyes. Jay and Misty were complete opposites, which made them great people to live with. Jay was a quiet book who was slightly on the pretentious side, routinely quoting something philosophical to piss me off.
He had rich parents on the other side of the world, but the guy himself was fairly humble and had mostly detached himself from said family.
My housemate was usually well put together. In fact, I barely saw him in his pajamas, excluding game nights. That morning, however, he was a disheveled mess, still in yesterday’s clothes.
He offered me a grin. I glimpsed sauce from last night’s dinner still staining his chin. Jay hadn’t brushed his hair or even put on deodorant.
I caught a whiff of BO when he ducked in front of me, his gaze glued to his MacBook. It was rare when Jay ignored basic hygiene, so yeah, I was going to guess this was a pretty huge thing. “I did tell her not to wake you up, y’know.”
His slight aussie accent was always refreshing on a morning. Born in Australia and moving to the states when he was ten years old, Jay still had a slight tinge in his accent. I had seen pictures of his family, and the guy had definitely gotten most of his dad’s genes, thick brown hair, and freckles. While his dad was built like a pro wrestler however, Jay was leaner like his mom.
I shrugged. “I was already awake.”
“Liar.” He didn’t look away from his laptop.
Looking closer, I glimpsed the Reddit homepage.
“So, you have won something.”
Jay didn’t answer. I could tell he was excited by the way he could barely keep still, bustling around the kitchen, barefoot. “Coffee?”
His voice was more of a Misty-like squeak, and I half wondered for a moment if they had switched bodies, or he had at least become one with my other housemate through a chemical explosion. In our kitchen, which was yet to be cleaned after a cooking disaster several nights ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if something was living on the countertop. I nodded, slumping into a chair. “What’s going on? Why is Misty freaking out?” I nodded at his laptop. “She said you’ve won something?”
As if my housemate couldn’t hold it in anymore, he nodded, turning his screen towards me. “You know____, right?”
“Yes.” I sipped my coffee, eyeing a toaster strudel sitting on the countertop. "You mean the game which has been coming out for a decade."
He ignored that. “Well, what if I told you one of the developer’s posted on the official sub this morning?”
He nodded with a grin, and I wondered it this was one of those rare times when Jay was blindly looking through a red flag to see what he wanted. I had heard of these types of scams, and Reddit was a breeding ground for them.
Gamers were pretty intense. I didn’t realize I was pulling a face until I caught his lips curving into a smile. Jay was usually the skeptical one.
“You don’t believe me.”
I downed my coffee to avoid replying. When I had drained the cup, he was still staring at me with amused eyes.
“You think it’s bullshit.”
I shrugged. “You said it,” I said. “I’m pretty sure that game isn’t even partway through development. Didn’t Twitter leak a still last year? Also, they’ll be bringing out a new console before that game comes out.”
I leaned back in my chair. “It’s more of a pipe dream, at this point.”
“The leaks were fake,” Even he didn’t look sure. “Anyway, that’s not the point. One of the dev’s posted on the official sub this morning. He asked if we were all excited for the new game, asked if we could post some of our favorite NPC dialogue, and he’ll DM winners.”
“Uh-huh.” I nodded at the screen. I had already checked my phone for an internet meltdown concerning this post, but there was nothing. “And where is that post now?”
Jay didn’t look at me. “It was deleted. So it only reached a certain number of people.”
“Oh, it was deleted?” I couldn’t resist a smile. “What a coincidence.”
When I laughed, Jay scowled, showing me his screen—navigating his trackpad to his Reddit DM’s.
To my surprise, there was actually a message from what I guessed was a throw-away account.
While I was skim reading the DM, Misty hurried in, all dressed and ready for the day. I peeked at her outfit from Jay's laptop. Cute.
Extravagant, but cute. My housemate cranked the radio up before bouncing between us, a toaster strudel hanging out of her mouth.
Misty was a living animated character. Ignoring her wide smile, I turned back to the screen. “Congratulation!!” The DM started with capitals.
It took me reading it twice to realize there was a clear spelling mistake. I sent Jay a pointed look, but he was too busy practically vibrating with excitement. If the guy had any more caffeine, he was going to explode. “Since when did winning DM’s start with a typo?”
“I knew you were going to say that.” Jay curled his lip. “They were clearly excited when typing the message.”
“But this is supposedly an official,” I said. “Surely they would make sure it’s professional?”
My housemate didn’t reply, shooting a look at Misty, who rolled her eyes.
“Wow.” I squinted at the screen. “I am so sorry for caring about your safety. You do realize these types of scam’s usually end up with you being sold on the black market, right?”
I shuddered. “I’ve heard horror stories about underground markets specializing in illegal organ harvesting.”
“Or…” Jay’s eyes were glued to the screen. “You could be happy for me?”
I frowned at the rest of the message, which was just a capitalized freak-out about the upcoming release of the game, before inviting Jay (and a friend!) to a five-minute preview of gameplay, as well as a Q&A. There was a location and a time, which was brow-raising. “10 at night.” I said. “Who hosts a gaming convention at 10pm?” I leaned my chin on my fist. “Unless they wanted to lure as many gullible people as possible, and ship them to some organ harvesting factory on the other side of the world.”
Jay scoffed. “That’s dark.”
“You’re actually considering going to a 10pm gaming convention in the middle of nowhere. I’m trying to wake you up.”
Jay nudged me that time. “It’s real. Relax.”
“And.” I pointed to the screen. “No phones? Why would they ask you not to bring your phones?”
“To stop us filming content,” Misty sang. “Duh.”
I groaned, leaning back in my chair. “You’re on his side? This is clearly shady!” I didn’t get mad unless something was seriously pissing me off, and this was one of those times. Jay was a smart guy. There was no way he was falling for this bullshit. I thought he was joking around when he spent the day tracking the location on Google Maps. I went to class like normal and got updates through text. At lunch, Jay agreed with me and said it was in fact shady, and he wasn’t going. By afternoon classes, he was texting me in paragraphs explaining his own skepticism but had found several “friends” on an online forum who were also going and had changed his mind once again. The guy couldn’t make up his mind. He was driving me crazy.
Misty sent me several videos of Jay pacing the kitchen with his MacBook in his hands. She was broadcasting his mental breakdown via Instagram stories. But then she started to send me pictures of herself in different outfits, asking me for my opinion on each one. At that point, I turned my phone off. My housemates had lost their fucking minds. I did my own research though, just to make sure I wasn’t actually going to lose them to a shady cult.
I searched for the game itself, but just as I thought, it was shown as still in development. Every “update” was just fan speculation.
There were YouTube videos and TikTok’s of fake leaks, but nothing was real. It was either AI generated, or badly edited. By the time my classes had ended and I had turned my phone on, I had a barrage of missed calls and texts.
Most of them were from Misty with her outfit changes, and Jay changing his mind again.
This time he was convinced it was all a scam, his texts full of typos and crying emoji's which he never used. Before it hit me that Misty was most likely using his phone to text me.
I was right. When I walked through the door, I was greeted by both of them sitting on the stairs. Misty was scrolling through Jay’s phone, while the boy had his head in his hands. According to Misty’s last text, he was back to being excited to go.
From the look on his face, eyes shadowed with sleep circles, light brown curls slipping from under his hood, I wasn’t sure what Misty meant by “excited”. The guy looked the complete opposite. His mind had been consumed by the game, and the idea of seeing new content.
When I dropped my bag and folded my arms, fixing the two of them with my best disapproving parent look, Misty jumped to her feet. “Sam!” she waved Jay’s phone at me. “Did you get my texts? We’re actually going now!”
The 100+ texts on both messenger and iMessage said otherwise.
I nodded, my gaze on Jay. “Both of you do realize it’s a scam, right?” I softened my tone despite growing progressively more irritated. We were grown adults, not kids. I could understand a group of teenagers falling for it, but two twenty-three-year-olds?
This time, I ducked in front of Jay. “Hey.” I pulled down his hood, and he groaned, burying his head in his knees. “I don’t want to freak you out, so listen to me, okay?”
I exhaled out a breath. “I’m not saying something bad is going to happen to you, because it most likely won’t—and yes, I admit I’m being paranoid.” When he lifted his head, blinking through bedraggled curls, there was a faint smile on his lips. “But.” I said. “You are most likely going to end up disappointed. Which I don’t want, because you won't shut up about it for weeks."
I was only partly joking.
For a moment, I thought my housemate was going to wake up, and nod, laughing at how crazy it was.
Before shook his head and jumped up.
“I’m going to take a shower, alright? I should start getting ready."
I admit, I exploded at him.
We argued while he was in the shower, and I paced up and down the hallway, coming up with multiple reasons why he was definitely going to die, and only two positives if it was in fact real. In the end, I gave up worrying all together. I didn’t say anything when the two of them were hurrying around looking for shoes and missing car keys. I didn’t realize they were gone until the door was clanging shut, and a text was coming through. I didn’t look at it until an hour later, and I had calmed down.
Jay: 1h ago: Stop worrying, lmao. We’re good! I’ll keep my phone just in case. I’ll make sure to avoid the organ harvesting 😉
Another from Misty a few minutes later: “Love you! Chillll, kay? 😭😭 It’s going to be fun! I’ll take pics!”
Followed by: “Oh shit, we can’t. I’ll try to sneak some!"
Attached to the text was a photo of the two of them. Misty with a wide smile and a peace sign, and Jay who looked like he was mid-shout, his eyes on the road.
Those texts were… at least comforting, I guessed. Maybe they were right. I figured I was paranoid, and they in fact would really be okay.
But that didn’t stop the anxious coil in my gut when I tried to force down takeout pizza. I attempted to focus on my essay to distract myself, but I couldn’t stop glancing at my phone, and checking Twitter. There was a hashtag on the DM, which was just “PlayStationGO.” When I searched for it, however, nothing came up.
Sure, it was a private convention and only a select few knew about it, but nothing could escape Twitter.
Somewhere, someone must be talking about it. After scrolling through endless tweets though, I realized I was wrong. There was nothing.
That put a bad taste in my mouth.
10pm came, and I held my breath all the way through a Netflix TV show I was forcing myself to watch, half asleep, slumped at my desk.
I could barely distinguish the plot.
I just had a vague idea of the character names, and some of their motivations.
Midnight passed, and I was struggling to stay awake.
I glanced at my phone.
No messages, just a notification from Spotify reminding me my favorite band was playing nearby.
Still nothing. I fell back to sleep.
This time, I stayed awake for a few minutes glaring at my phone before my eyes grew heavy.
My phone buzzed with a text from Jay, but I could barely desipher it: "can't feel help my head hurts Canshdhsn727272_6798mi/!! _&go home please. (Sent from: PlayStationGo™️ BETA)."
3:54: am. I was wide awake, blinking at a notification which had popped up from an unknown number. I was trying to figure out what number it was, when my phone vibrated again and I almost jumped out of my skin.
After a moment of hesitation, I answered it.
I was trying so hard not to think of the possibility of it being the emergency room, or even worse, the cops.
All of my worst nightmares had come true in a single second.
“Hello?” I whispered in a croak.
“Are they in the house with you?” The stranger’s voice came through in a hiss of interference.
His words sent my mediocre dinner lurching back up my throat. “What?” I managed to get out. “Who?”
“Your friends.” He said, and I leapt to unsteady feet, my gut twisting and turning.
“No.” I found myself taking slow strides toward the window, brushing back the curtain and peering out into the night. “Why? Did something happen to them?” I paused.
“How did you get my number?”
“That does not matter.” His voice rattled in my ear as I rushed downstairs, almost stumbling down the bottom two. “I need you to get out of that house. Now. Get as far away as possible.”
I could hear his rapid breaths.
He was driving. I could hear the rumble of the engine. With my phone pressed to my ear, I obeyed his instructions, pulling open the door and stepping out into the cool night, a brisk breeze grazing my bare arms was just enough to stop my thoughts spiraling.
I was barefoot, in nothing but a robe, staggering down the driveway. The night was calm and silent; our neighborhood was asleep, each window drowned in darkness. I couldn’t breathe, my clammy fingers wrapped around my phone, as this stranger broke down over the phone. “Whatever you do,” he gasped out.
“Do not, I repeat DO NOT remove the PlayStationGo—shit!! He hissed out, static rattling the call. The guy seemingly got ahold of himself, and the wheel, and continued. I started to walk—where I was going, I had no idea.
The stranger lit a cigarette. I heard the click of a lighter and his exhalation of breath. “It was a BETA version, but we had to rush it. This was not my idea. My boss is a greedy man. He wanted to release the game last year, which would have meant widespread infection. Luckily, that did not happen. We did manage to delay it, but only by a year.” His words barely made sense to me as I struggled to get a word in, peering in the dark. “It was supposed to be a virtual experience of the game—a whole new angle of gameplay. But testing was difficult. First, on monkey’s, we lost multiple subjects. Tonight was supposed to be a…well, I guess you could call it out first attempt on human subjects,” his laugh was bitter. “I knew the tech wasn’t finished. And I tried. Believe me, I fucking tried. I tried to blow the whistle, but these bastards know where my parents live."
Something squirmed its way down my spine.
“So my friends were lab rats?” I said stiffly. “You used them?”
I fucking knew it.
I knew it was too good to be true.
“Yes and no. Listen to me, the people I work for are hunting them down. Trust me, I don’t want my bosses to find them because a life of experimentation will await them. Torture. Do you hear me? It does not matter if subjects fail. They don’t care. As long as there is at least a light at the end of the tunnel for them, they will see it as a win, and bring the publication date closer. They will not be treated as humans. Your friends signed a contract before trying out the tech, where the small print stated that, under section 3, player engagement, all subjects must agree to offer themselves as participants in later updates. I silently cursed Jay for always skipping the terms and conditions when buying games." The man stopped to breathe.
“I have told you multiple times, and I won’t say it again. Get as far away from that house as possible. I will take care of them. I will make sure of it." The sound of squealing engines, and I stopped power walking, coming to an abrupt stop. The silence of the night around me, compared to the sound of the highway he was on, traffic horns and the wind rushing through the window was an eerie contrast, a disturbance to the heavenly bubble we were trapped in.
“What do you mean ‘take care of them?” I had to swallow a yell. “Hey! What are you talking about?
“I’m sorry.” Was all he replied with. “I’m afraid it is too late. There was once an opportunity to save the mind during the initial level of the demonstration. However, once the PlaystationGo has been fully attached to the base of the subject, we no longer have control of it. Once integrating itself into the cerebral cortex, the PlayStationGo can only be removed by signing out of the player’s account,” his breath was heavy. “On this unfortunate occasion, however, your friends are unable to navigate the system due to a malfunction which scrambled their brains,” He trailed off. “Which has left them stranded in the game."
I let out a breath. “Right.” I said. “That’s.. bad. I mean, it’s a fucked-up piece of technology, but they’re just playing a game, right?”
There was a pause, before the man laughed.
“Young man, I don’t think you understand,” he said. “The PlayStationGo was created to give the player a full virtual experience of our game. The PlayStationGo is not a physical object. Created with nanotechnology, it attaches itself to the subject’s brain and is supposed to create a personal gaming experience for each player. As I said, however, it is not finished. It is yet to be released to the public, and of course, we are expecting certain ethical arguments due to the controversial—”
I pulled the phone away from my ear, shaking my head. I didn’t need to hear his attempts at trying to save his own skin.
“You need to help them,” I whispered. “Do you hear me? Can you do that? Can you help them?!”
“That is what I am trying to tell you,” He said.
“I know you are upset and confused, and believe me, I offer my apologies. But you need to listen to facts. During initial testing, our subjects were conscious enough to know where their home was. We are unsure why this happens, though we have linked it to territory, as well as the main character of the game heavily influencing their actions. I have been tracking them from the testing facility, and they are incredibly close. Please get as far away from there as possible. If you are no longer in the vicinity of the house, I can end this quickly and quietly before we gain attention.”
I wasn’t sure what I was going to say. Maybe start fucking screaming at him, because he was talking about getting “rid” of my friends, after their mistake.
“Do you understand me?” He said, when I couldn’t reply. “Your friends are lost causes!”
Before I could answer, though, headlights were suddenly coming around the corner, and I found myself paralysed to the spot. The car which swerved twice, crashed into several trash cans, before reversing and coming straight towards me, was not Jay’s car. Jay’s car was an old hunk of junk he’d gotten from a scrapyard. Jay’s car had doors which were practically hanging off, and a stereo which exclusively played either static gibberish, or old tapes I had no idea how to use. This car was bright yellow, and definitely had an option to drive itself. When the car came to a stop, inches from careening into me, I lost all control of myself.
I was vaguely aware of my phone slipping from my fingers and hitting the sidewalk. But I was too busy staring at the two shadows in the front of the car. The driver, and the passenger.
And the muffled screaming coming from the trunk.
When the door swung open, a figure stepping out, I did not recognise my housemate.
The stranger told me I wouldn't, but I didn't believe him.
Jay had left the house in casual jeans and a sweater, bearing the game's logo.
Now, I found myself face to face with a man with my housemate's face and features, his smile and eyes-- but something had been severed in his eyes and twisted in his expression. For one, Jay was wearing a suit I knew he couldn't afford, the sleeves torn, collar pulled open, smears of red staining the front.
His pants had cufflinks, and the Rolex on his wrist had definitely been pulled off someone's corpse.
The silver was stained a revealing scarlet. Drinking in his face, he looked like Jay. His curls hung in front of his eyes, freckles speckling his cheeks, but everything else wasn't. It wasn't until I was glimpsing what was moulded into the flesh of his hand, did I remember how to move. But then I was taking all of him in, everything my mind had intentionally skipped, because I didn't want to believe the stranger on the phone. Nanotechnology, the man had said in a hiss.
Fiction, I had thought.
Before I saw the reality of it, a writhing metallic like substance glued to the guy's temple, and slowly, very slowly, inching down his cheek, already forming around the bridge of his ear, a very faint blue light flickering.
Something must have alerted him. His cavernous eyes left mine, and he twisted his head—and I heard the sound of his neck snapping, his head lolling to the left slightly, his eyes flickering. I watched his whole body seem to sway back and forth, ready to fall forwards.
Before the newly formed device on his ear turned red, then green.
It was almost like he was… rebooting. As if coming back to life, Jay lifted his head at an awkward angle, before looking straight through me. The blood vessels in his eyes had popped, rivulets of red beading down his face. He should have been dead, I thought. No. No, he was dead. That… that thing was keeping him alive. “Well, shiiiittt,” he said. I could sense the game dialogue which had taken over him, forming on his mangled tongue.
“I’m a man on a mission.”
In jerking movements, he turned and marched back towards the car, opening the door, and sliding into the front seat.
I remembered how to move, ducking to grab my phone, before something slammed into the back of my head—and I saw stars.
I didn’t remember hitting the floor, only the soft sound of her voice, a seductive murmur repeating NPC dialogue, and her kitten heel sticking into my spine, forcing me onto my face.
Misty. I was expecting her to get it over with. But when she dragged me to my feet, sticking the barrel of a gun into the flesh of my neck—I figured she was still playing the game.
Twisting around to meet her eyes, lifeless and empty, only filled with light from the device which had taken over half of her face, I felt sick to my stomach. This thing wasn’t a games console or a virtual reality headset.
It was an attempt at coercing and programming something you already don’t understand, to do something impossible.
I could see that in the way the things had visibly chewed and eaten through her flesh, devouring her from the inside and out. I could see what was left of the dress she had worn earlier, but something must have gone wrong with her too. Because Misty had thrown on another outfit over the top, a diamond necklace hanging from her neck.
I caught a thin river of red pooling down her right temple, trying to ignore the twitchy way she moved, just like a character. From the way Misty walked, stumbling, I already knew she was gone. My housemate had newly acquired strength, throwing me in the trunk of the car where three other hostages were, and slamming it shut on my attempts to reason with her. She didn’t tie me up or restrain me.
In the dim light I could just make out though passing streetlights, I could see the trunk opened from the inside. Which was too easy.
Still though, Jay was driving recklessly, and every time I tried to throw the damn thing open, I was knocked backwards, rolling into a screaming girl, who was bound by her hands and feet. It took me multiple attempts before I had the trunk open, freezing cold air blasting me in the face. I untied the other hostages, but when I told them to come with me, they just stared blankly at me, and continued begging for their lives—and it only took me glimpsing what was attached to their temples, a familiar writhing metal plate, for me to understand. They too were playing the game. This time, as NPC hostages.
I found myself gingerly touching the trembling metallic flesh of the girl's fingers bound in rope. It had a slimy consistency, and I swore, I felt something bite into me.
No way, I thought.
This thing was sentient, yes. But it wasn't living.
Listen, I wish I could tell you what it was like to jump out of a moving car, but I can’t.
I remember it as lunging out of the trunk, hitting the freezing cold air, before hitting the ground head first, neutron star collisions exploding in the backs of my eyes.
What I do remember is waking up on the side of the road. Hours later. The sky was bright blue, a scorching sun blinding me when I managed to force my eyes open.
The early morning rush hour flew by as normal, and I wondered how ignorant American people had to be to ignore someone knocked out on the side of the road.
It’s not like I was nowhere near civilization. There was a fucking Subway right next to me.
When I had gathered myself, I remembered I had no phone. I couldn’t go home in fear of running into my rogue housemates playing their own fucked up version of _____ in their head. My plan was to try and find my phone, get in contact with the stranger who blew the whistle on my friends being dangerous, and find them. They couldn’t be far., right? And even if they weren’t themselves… someone would be able to save them.
If someone could do this to them, surely they could reverse it.
I felt sick, tired, and I was starving.
So, with some loose cash I’d found in my pocket, I bought a Subway and a Coke.
The woman at the counter smiled widely at me. She leaned forward, with a wink. “Nice cosplay!”
I didn’t understand what she meant until I swore I felt something… move its way up my pant leg. I ignored it, and it happened again, this time it felt like something was… biting.
A bug, maybe? I had been laying on the side of the road for around six hours.
When I went to the bathroom, though, I found myself staring at an all too familiar glint of silver creeping its way across my temple. Like it was sentient, parts of it sider webbed towards my ear while the rest writhed into my hairline.
I pulled up my pant leg again, and there it was, a fungus-like metal substance which had already formed in two solid metal masses on my knees. I remember grazing two fingers across the thing beginning its slow feast of my flesh. I remember trying to pull it off, hissing in pain when I risked ripping off my own skin with it. I remember shaking my head and being in denial, even when the lights dimmed above me, and the bathroom door in front of me became more of a shadow. When I strode back through the Subway store, I began to see slight flickers of light above each person, highlighting something not quite there yet.
I could see it already starting, beginning to take over my thoughts. Cars which sped past were suddenly highlighted, and at the corner of my eye, if I concentrated, the outline of a map was starting to appear. Even now, when the room is almost completely taken over by shadow, and my thoughts are half my own, and half not—when a metallic device is beginning to form over my eyes—I know if I hold on, this thing won’t take me. I have considered killing myself, but that wouldn’t… be right.
How could I kill myself when there is so much left to do?
This developer was right. I don’t even know where I can sign out. There’s what looks like the beginning of some kind of index when I look up, but it’s not… finished. I can still see entangled pieces of code struggling to load what I’m guessing was log out. Whatever this thing is, it’s taking over me. Fast. Like a fungus, like a virus, it will not stop until it’s dragged me into the game, until it's leeched itself onto me.
I can feel it happening right now. It's been slow.
Almost painfully slow.
But maybe that is the point. Maybe part of the game is to feel my own thoughts beginning to unravel in favor of something else entirely.
Time is going by…. Fast.
Five minutes ago… I was trying to get home. But I can’t remember where I live.
I can’t concentrate.
I can’t think straight.
I have a phone—but I don’t know how I got it. Did I steal it?
Every time I move, the slowly emerging map comes to life at the corner of my eye jerks with my movement. There is a car parked nearby.
I know it belongs to the man with a child.
But a confusing blur of light is highlighting it to be something of importance. Reality is crashing in front of me, replaced with contorting shapes and bursts of color I have to blink through.
I keep hearing... sirens.
Jay is messaging me.
On what, I'm not sure.
But I need to find him.
I’m sure one mission won’t hurt, right?
submitted by Trash_Tia
to TheCrypticCompendium [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 19:25 Drakos8706 Powerless (part 37)
Captain Vohr’Doe was waiting in the hangar as Kahv’Hosh set the shuttle down, a slew of emotions raging inside her, all vying to be the leading sentiment. Though, she - of course - would probably have to lean more towards 'gratitude’, if made to pick a single one. She was more
than grateful that her crew were no longer in danger - and yes, that even included him
- and that those pirates were no longer a threat to anyone else, either.
And then there was the obvious awe at the humans had weaponized gravity
; she had heard the horror stories of what could happen if a gravity plate malfunctioned - she had to have electrical replace the ones in the gym just a few days ago, as Kyle had pushed them up to 15G in his training - but to actually use it as a weapon?
And, of course, there was an overwhelming amount of anger. Well, maybe not anger, per se; but there wasn’t really a word for the feeling between extreme frustration, and anger. What kept her from completely
registering it as anger was her wholehearted belief that he had good intentions for having something so destructive on board her ship. But that only just
tempered the vexation she felt at him having smuggled a gravity bomb onto her ship!
Not only that, but there were two
crates that had been marked as ‘gravity generators’, which she had initially assumed were for his comfort, to put his room - or possibly his campsite
- to a more comfortable gravity. But she could see now how very wrong she was.
As the door to the shuttle opened, she watched first Admiral Shane, then Kahv’Hosh exit the craft. Kyle exited after a delay of a few seconds, and after sweeping the hangar with his gaze, he lowered it when it met her’s, looking for all intents like her nephew when he gets caught doing something he shouldn’t, and - not for the first time - an almost motherly feeling came over her. Which wasn’t so
far out of the question, seeing as - according to the data provided on them - humans were by far
the shortest-lived people in Galactic Records, where the shortest-lived species after them - the rahv’oyeck - averaged around 500 years, give or take a few decades.
Not to mention the fact that - for however short a time, he was a part of her crew, and as such, she instinctively felt protective of him, the fact that - as his captain - she was responsible for him notwithstanding. Plus, he really did
seem to be almost ‘childlike’ at times, with a simple - almost naive - attitude towards the goings on around him. Not that he was clueless
when it came to interacting with others; as many of the crew had come to find out, apparently.
But it was his obvious contrition that tempered her attitude, so that when they had made their way over to her, it had simmered down to intense irritation. Once they were standing before her, Kyle finally looked up to meet her gaze, and she felt her heart soften further at the expression on his face; not that she would let him know that, of course.
“Would you care to explain yourself, Mr. Redding?” she asked, being sure to keep the edge to her voice; she couldn't be seen as ‘soft’.
“I didn't know that they were sending it,” he began quickly, ”I only found out about it after I got to my equipment room, the first time.”
,” she replied, and at his confused look, continued,
; plural: there were two
crates listed under ‘gravity generators’, and they were both the same size. I don't believe that the other one actually
contains gravity plates stacked up; not this
Kyle gave a look of understanding, and she believed that he really did
momentarily forget about the other one.
” he said, “Two. Yeah, I didn't know they were gonna send them
“And afterward, it never occurred to you to tell me that you had two
bombs on board that could make this entire ship - and everyone on board - become one dense atom?!
” A little more edge crept into her voice than she would have liked at that moment. It was Admiral Shane, however, who answered; taking a step forward, he cleared his throat.
, if I may?...” It was the respect - the deference - in his voice that gave her pause, and helped to calm her thoughts a bit. She nodded in affirmation, and he continued,
“What would happen to us - in the immediate
sense - if this ship were to lose all power right now; primary, and
emergency backup power?”
The question seemed so random, that her mind basically blanked out, and she found herself saying the first thing that came to her mind.
“We would all begin floating, seeing as the artificial gravity would be out, as well.”
,” he continued, “And short of directly
supplying power to the artificial gravity, how could we get the plates to work?”
She began to understand his point.
“I see where this is going, Admiral, but unless I’m very
much mistaken, there were no ports on that box that would accept any power crystals with the required energy to fuel that miniature black hole. Which means that it had
power the whole time.”
“That's true,” he said in a mollifying tone, “But the power to the core was disconnected, and needed a code that would cause even an A.I.
trouble hacking it, as it's a 300,000-page code, randomly coded in every
written language known to humankind. There are even symbols in the code that don't show up on the screen, if someone were to try to hack it manually; an A.I. is needed
to even crack
the code within a year. And only Kay’Eighty has the codes for those two programmed into her memory.
,” he concluded, “While I agree entirely
with you that he should have let you know about them, I can give you my word - on behalf of the honor of all
humans - that no amount of damage could cause an accidental activation. While I won't say that the other one is harmless
, I can assure you that there is no chance of it going off by accident. However, I won’t hesitate to take it off of your ship, if you so desire.”
She took a moment to digest everything that Admiral Shane said, and eventually came to a conclusion.
, I’ll allow him to keep it on the ship; I would
say that there's likely never
going to be a reason that we would need it, but I would have said the same thing this morning, and we can all
see how wrong that was.”
“If you like,” Kyle offered, “We could attach it to like, a missile, or something, and Kay’Eighty could give you a data chip with the code for it.”
She thought for a few seconds, then nodded.
“That sounds acceptable; but what if we need it detached?”
“She can attach it to the outside on a molecular level with her nanobots, and detach it the same way.”
She nodded her head, and then sighed.
“Well, I won't pretend that I’m not happy about the way this all played out; still, I’m just glad their cargo holds and brigs showed no signs of life. At least we didn't send any innocents to their doom with that ploy. You could have at least
told me what it was when I asked you why you needed the scan of the pirate ships in the first place.”
“Yeah,” he replied in that casual tone of voice that she would tolerate from few others, further enforcing that matronly feeling over him, “But we didn't have time for you to be pissed off at me, then… But - for the record
- I am
sorry for not telling you; I should
have let you know a lot sooner.”
She gave him the sternest look she could muster in that moment, and replied,
“I’ll accept your apology if - and only
if - you let me examine this fruit tree of yours.”
Kyle's face brightened, and a wide smile appeared as he said,
; you could've come seen it any time.”
She smiled at him, and turned to leave, passing Kah’Ri, who had held back - as per her request - while she talked to Kyle about the heavy ordnance he had on her ship. She heard the impact of the two, and the sound of them kissing, that was immediately mixed with the sound of hurried footsteps as Kahv’Hosh and Admiral Shane gave the two their privacy.
The meeting with the Council went smoother than she could have expected, with them simply stating that - as a interstellar ambassador - Kyle was authorized for a higher level of weaponry utilized in his protection, and as his current ship of transport, the Golden Egg had the authorization to use such weapons, if need be. They did - however - require any and all recordings of the interaction to be sent to the Council, for analysis of their capabilities.
There was also the matter of Grol’Rosh, the suul’mahr representative who had watched the probe’s descent into the dark of the planet below. The doctors felt that it was best to keep him in a medically induced coma, as when he was conscious - and heavily restrained - he was moaning and whimpering, rambling incoherently about the ‘darkness that sees, hiding the sea of flesh’, of ‘clawed feet on chitinous arms, too-long hands reaching from fanged tentacles’; and the sound, which he mentioned as the ‘screams of the damned from so many mouths, they know all, 'THEY ARE THE HOLES LIKE EYES!!!’
She noted the looks that ranged form disquiet, to disgust, but it was between the humans that she saw a look of understanding horror pass.
“But…” Kyle began weakly, looking at Admiral Shane, “That was just a movie
“Well,” the Admiral replied in a slightly dazed voice, “I think it’s safe to say that blowing the planet up is out of the question.”
?” Kyle began in amused incredulity, “A piece of it’s gonna hit a wormhole, and go back in time to Alaska sometime before the 1980’s?” The laugh he ended this with was close to hysterical, to which the Admiral shrugged.
“At this point, I wouldn’t rule anything
out. However, the more likely
scenario would be that it lands on a different
planet, wreaksand havoc from there. Even worse would be for it to hit a previously uncontacted, sapient species’ home world. The results of a single cell of this… thing’s
biomass were to make it to a planet with living creatures on it would be beyond catastrophic. There’s no amount of destruction - short of throwing it into a star, or a black hole - that I would trust the safety of the galaxy to, when it comes to the lifeform that calls this planet its home.”
Chairwoman Hahss’Chom spoke up at this.
“While I obviously have no knowledge of this movie the two of you reference, I must say that your assessments of this seem to be at least plausible
. I don’t know so much about the time travel
aspect, but it would seem that this would be the best summary of the events, here. It would appear
that a sapient race evolved on this planet, and that their Gift was that of assimilation. At some point, it would seem they began assimilating each other, until they reached a critical mass, and ‘they’ became ‘it’. And from Grol’Rosh’s description, it doesn’t sound as if this is a pleasant experience for whatever they… it
has become. I believe that it is not only a matter of protection for the wider galaxy - universe
, even - but also as an act of mercy that we should put this… thing
out of its misery.” There was a general murmur of agreement around the council chambers as no one seemed to want to disagree with that sentiment.
They moved the Golden Egg to the other side of the system from the planet, keeping the sun between it and them. Upon hearing about the ‘darkness that sees’, Kyle had exclaimed that that was what had bothered him so much about the planet; the darkness was watching them. They didn’t want to find out if the life form on the planet may be able to ‘stack’ itself ‘up’, away from the planet, and reach out to the ship were they to get over the dark side, but at the same time, no one wanted to be under the gaze of such a massive
They were parked in that system for almost an entire Standard week, though, it should have been longer; however, with their A.I. able to make the calculations for them, they were able to drop further into subspace, where not only do the ‘shadows’ become larger - therefore reducing the ‘space’ needed to travel - but the speed of your craft rose exponentially, so it was extremely
easy to overshoot one’s target, going a ‘shorter’ distance at a greatly multiplied speed.
The moon/ship was amazing to behold. It had - originally - had an outer layer of ice, with an inner ocean, and a deeper ice layer, followed by a rocky mantle, and heavy iron core. The humans - but really, the A.I.
- had mined out the iron core, and used it in building the outer shell of the craft. The water was harvested - according to their records - and support columns on the inside were used to maintain integrity of the craft. It now appeared for all intents and purposes as a giant metal moon, with engines on one end, and millions of lights that dotted its surface, obviously viewports. A close-up scan showed that it was blanketed in guns, but those were obviously only big enough to serve as defense; it was apparent that this ship wasn’t built as a gunner.
Once it had come into the system - keeping out of ‘view’ from its dark side - they enveloped the planet with the craft’s tractor beam, the space around the planet lighting up to an almost gray aura, as the beam took hold. Once they had reported a full grip of the planet, the Europa Contingency dropped back into subspace, the planet ‘disappearing’ with them, only to ‘reappear’ around an hour later, the ship’s massive engines working more efficiently in subspace to move the much larger planet. Once they reappeared, the light around the planet went out as the Europa Contingency released it from the tractor beam, dropping back into subspace for an easier retreat from the sun.
No one wanted to go to look at what was happening to the planet, which would entail either getting into its range of ‘vision’, and also the possibility of seeing whatever it was that drove the suul’mahr representative insane. Readings showed the loss of mass, as the planet was burnt up in the corona of the star, and everyone watched on as the sun continued to consume its wayward planet. With the planet also having been thrown
- not simply having 'fallen
' - into the sun, it wasn’t long before it had been fully encased in the cleansing fires of the star.
She was also relieved to see that the humans had appropriately somber expressions, obviously taking no joy in the destruction - the mass loss of… ‘life
’ - that they were responsible for. They watched the reading coming in with the seriousness of attending a loved one’s funeral, and never spoke a word, not in praise, or even the acknowledgement of what was happening. She was glad to see that they weren’t entirely aggressive, that while they had the capacity to not only think
of these types of weapons, but to also create
them, that they weren’t the type of people who would use
them so willingly. She could see in their faces the regret they had in destroying this planet, even as it was done to save countless others; for someone would
eventually break quarantine, either to try to exploit the resources ‘available’, or to use the ‘lifeform’ on the planet for their own twisted ploys. And so this was a necessary evil; though they were empathetic enough to realize it for the evil that it was.
After they had witnessed the destruction of the planet, the Admirals insisted on escorting the Golden Egg to Captala’Ellats, the space station that was the next stop on their itinerary. Not having any reason to refuse a military escort, Captain Vohr’Doe graciously accepted, and they were soon on their way; this had certainly
earned a bit of a reprieve for her crew, and she wouldn’t say no to a bit of shore leave, herself.
The time it took to travel between that system, and the station went by fairly quickly for Kyle. He’d been alone most of his life, with little to no friends, so to have a group of friends now - who actually wanted
to spend time with him, who would seek him out to do so - brought him to a new high that he had never acquired in his memory. But having acquired a girlfriend - one who came from a people whose culture emphasized affection - brought him to a level of bliss that he didn’t think was possible. Kah’Ri had taken to spending her nights in his room, as the only real difference between general, and officer’s quarters was a bigger gym, that also served as a bit of a lounge for the officers.
He had - of course - applied for shore leave, and it had been immediately approved. Kah’Ri had also applied, and likewise was approved immediately; she had apparently never really gone on shore leave that much, only ever going at certain spots that were closer to any drahk’mihn colonies they happened to go near, or similar space stations. They had opted to get a hotel separate from the one that the Captain would be hiring to room the crew, as staying in the same hotel as the rest of the crew on the same space station would be little different than being on the ship. Zeck’Tish had recommended her cousin’s hotel, stating that he could use the business. Not that he was failing - Captala’Ellats was a major space station along the trading lanes - but with the divide between insectoid, and vertebrate species, he didn’t get as much business as others might. Of course the insectoid races all patronized his hotel, but with the insectoid species making up only about a third of all
known species in the Federation, that wasn’t as much business as one might like.
And so he was currently on a call with Kohr’Sahr and Kahs’Hahn, having invited them to meet up a few days prior.
“... and so we’ll have to stop by the Council Headquarters to give our testimony of our time spent with you,” Kahs’Hahn was saying through Kohr’Sahr, “But we should be able to meet up tomorrow; we’ll send you a message when we arrive on-station, and we’ll go from there.”
“Sounds good,” Kyle said, just as he heard the door open; he’d given Kah’Ri the authorization to unlock his bedroom door without her security card, and she’d authorized him for her’s, in turn, “We’ll see you, then.”
?” Kohr’Sahr asked - he had long since learned to tell the difference between their slight accents when talking.
Kyle turned to Kah’Ri, smiling as he put his arm around her waist, and she slipped her tail around his, while wrapping her arms around his shoulders. He noticed her eyes widen slightly as she saw who was on screen, and he looked in time to see Kohr’Sahr’s eyes also
widen in shock. He opened his mouth slightly, and Kyle noticed the barely perceptible shake of Kah’Ri’s head. Kohr’Sahr then cleared his throat, and said,
“Well… it seems as if we made quite the impact on you, eh Kyle?” ending in an awkward chuckle.
,” he continued, “I don’t want to keep you from packing; Kyle, we’ll talk later. It was nice meeting you,” he added to Kah’Ri, and before either of them could reply, he cut the call short. Kah’Ri gave a soft sigh, then turned to walk to the bag she’d left on the floor by the ‘wall’ in front of the door.
“Come on,” she said, “We’ve docked with the station, and it’s time for us to go.”
Grabbing his own bag from the bed, he followed after her, locking his door behind them, and slipping his arm back around her waist.
“Did you know him?” he asked as they made their way to the elevators; she sighed lightly, but answered with a simple,
“Well,” he pressed gently, “He seemed to know you
… What are you, like, a runaway princess, or something?” While he finished with a light chuckle, Kah’Ri gave another slight sigh, and stopped walking. Kyle looked at her, feeling a growing sense of unease.
,” he said as she remained silent, “Are you
She closed her eyes for a second, then turned to look into his eyes.
“I promise,” she said, and he was absorbed by the genuine care in her gaze, “I’ll tell you everything
; but not right now. Later, when it’s just you and me, I promise I’ll tell you the truth.”
He looked into her eyes for a second, seeing the tears that wanted to come, and simply reached out, putting his hand on her cheek, and drawing her in for a kiss. As they separated, he gave her a small wink, and said,
“C’mon, let’s go see this station.” She gave him a shy smile, and they set off again.
After they’d been checked out by one of the other security chiefs, they were met by a crowd of their crew mates, all of whom were milling about outside the ship. They were soon informed why, as the Captain came up to them and informed them that the Federation Council was conducting interviews with a number of the crew, most notably those who’d had contact with Kyle; they would be conducted by the Council Representative for their people. Kyle also had an interview scheduled, though his would be with the suun’mahs Representative, in a mirror reason for the interviews of the rest of the crew: where the crew was obviously being interviewed to see how the newest species fit in from their
point of view, he would be interviewed to see how other humans might react to the Federation, along with a chance to voice any grievances of his own.
Soon enough, they had all been contacted by their respective Representatives, and led off into separate rooms. Kyle was glad to see that this wasn’t an interrogation room, again, looking more like a general conference room. The suun’mahs who was to be interviewing him was male, and hadn’t seemed taken aback by the presence of Cheshire, indicating that while he may - or may not - have known about Cheshire himself
, the human drive to turn predators into traveling companions was nothing new to him.
“Well, Ambassador Redding, this shouldn’t take too long; a few questions about your time in the Federation, so far, and then we can have you out of here, and enjoying your time off.”
“Thank you,” he replied, “And please, call me Kyle.”
Representative Ran’Teek smiled as he put what Kyle recognized as a holocamera on the table.
“Of course,” he stated, “You don’t mind if I record this, do you?”
“Of course not,” Kyle responded.
The questioning indeed didn’t take very long, barely even ten minutes worth of explanation, while other parts he was able to supply with a simple transfer of video data. Kay’Eighty made her appearance for that, and Representative Ran’Teek had a few questions for her, as well. Mostly about what she may need for the A.I. to be properly accommodated in the Federation, though he was obviously in untrodden ground, on that topic. Soon enough, they were done, and had exited the room.
“Well, Kyle,” Representative Ran’Teek stated as they made their way to the ‘streets’ of the station, “I guess this is where we part ways; unless you’d like for me to show you around? I still have quite a bit of time before our ship leaves, and it would be my pleasure to show you a few sights.”
Kyle checked the time on his wrist, and seeing that he also had no message from Kah’Ri telling him she was done, he could see no reason to refuse.
“Sure,” he replied, smiling, “That would be great.”
submitted by Drakos8706
to HFY [link] [comments]
2023.06.08 19:18 iamthatis 📣 Apollo will close down on June 30th. Reddit’s recent decisions and actions have unfortunately made it impossible for Apollo to continue. Thank you so, so much for all the support over the years. ❤️
It's been an amazing run thanks to all of you.
Eight years ago, I posted in the Apple subreddit about a Reddit app I was looking for beta testers for
, and my life completely changed that day. I just finished university and an internship at Apple, and wanted to build a Reddit client of my own: a premier, customizable, well-designed Reddit app for iPhone. This fortunately resonated with people immediately, and it's been my full time job ever since.
Today's a much sadder post than that initial one eight years ago. June 30th will be Apollo's last day.
I've talked to a lot of people, and come to terms with this over the last weeks as talks with Reddit have deteriorated to an ugly point, and in the interest of transparency with the community, I wanted to talk about how I arrived at this decision, and if you have any questions at the end, I'm more than happy to answer. This post will be long as I have a lot of topics to cover.
Please note that I recorded all my calls with Reddit, so my statements are not based on memory, but the recorded statements by Reddit over the course of the year. One-party consent recording is legal in my country of Canada. Also I won't be naming names, that's not important and I don't want to doxx people.
What happened initially?
On April 18th, Reddit announced changes that would be coming to the API
, namely that the API is moving to a paid model for third-party apps. Shortly thereafter we received phone calls, however the price (the key element in an announcement to move to a paid API) was notably missing, with the intent to follow up with it in 2-4 weeks.
The information they did provide however was: we will be moving to a paid API as it's not tenable for Reddit to pay for third-party apps indefinitely (understandable, agreed), so they're looking to do equitable pricing based in reality. They mentioned that they were not looking to be like Twitter, which has API pricing so high it was publicly ridiculed
I was excited to hear these statements, as I agree that long-term Reddit footing the bill for third-party apps is not tenable, and with a paid arrangement there's a great possibility for developing a more concrete relationship with Reddit, with better API support for users. I think this optimism came across in my first post
about the calls with Reddit.
When did they announce pricing?
Six weeks later, they called to discuss pricing. I quickly put together a small app where I could input the prices and it would output monthly/yearly cost, cost for free users, paid users, etc. so I'd be able to process the information immediately.
The price they gave was $0.24 for 1,000 API calls. I quickly inputted this in my app, and saw that it was not far off Twitter's outstandingly high API prices, at $12,000, and with my current usage would cost almost $2 million dollars per month, or over $20 million per year. That is not an exaggeration, that is just multiplying the 7 billion requests Apollo made last month by the price per request. Could I potentially get that number down? Absolutely given some time, but it's illustrative of the large cost that Apollo would be charged.
Why do you say Reddit's pricing is "too high"? By what metric?
Reddit's promise was that the pricing would be equitable and based in reality. The reality that they themselves have posted data about over the years is as follows (copy-pasted from my previous post
Less than 2 years ago they said they crossed $100M in quarterly revenue for the first time ever, if we assume despite the economic downturn that they've managed to do that every single quarter now, and for your best quarter, you've doubled it to $200M. Let's also be generous and go far, far above industry estimates and say you made another $50M in Reddit Premium subscriptions. That's $550M in revenue per year, let's say an even $600M. In 2019, they said they hit 430 million monthly active users, and to also be generous, let's say they haven't added a single active user since then (if we do revenue-per-user calculations, the more users, the less revenue each user would contribute). So at generous estimates of $600M and 430M monthly active users, that's $1.40 per user per year, or $0.12 monthly. These own numbers they've given are also seemingly inline with industry estimates as well.
Apollo's price would be approximately $2.50 per month per user, with Reddit's indicated cost being approximately $0.12 per their own numbers.
A 20x increase does not seem "based in reality" to me.
Why doesn't Reddit just buy Apollo and other third-party apps?
This was a very common comment
across the topics: "If Apollo has an apparent opportunity cost of $20 million per year, why not just buy them and other third-party apps, as they did with Alien Blue?"
I believe it's a fair question. If these apps apparently cost so much, an easy solution that would likely make everyone happy would be to simply buy these apps out. So I brought that up to them during a call on May 31st where I was suggesting a variety of potential solutions.
Bizarre allegations by Reddit of Apollo "blackmailing" and "threatening" Reddit
About 24 hours after that call with Reddit, I received this odd message on Mastodon
"Can you please comment publicly about the internal Reddit claim that you tried to “blackmail” them for a $10,000,000 payout to “stay quiet”?"
Then yesterday, moderators told me they were on a call with CEO Steve Huffman (spez), and he said the following per their transcript:
Steve: "Apollo threatened us, said they’ll “make it easy” if Reddit gave them $10 million."
Steve: "This guy behind the scenes is coercing us. He's threatening us."
Wow. Because my memory is that you didn't take it as a threat, and you even apologized profusely when you admitted you misheard it. It's very easy to take a single line and make it look bad by removing all the rest of the context, so let's look at the full context.
I can only assume you didn't realize I was recording the call, because there's no way you'd be so blatantly lying if you did.
As said, a common suggestion across the many threads on this topic was "If third-party apps are costing Reddit so much money, why don't they just buy them out like they did Alien Blue?" That was the point I brought up. If running Apollo as it stands now would cost you $20 million yearly as you quote, I suggested you cut a check to me to end Apollo. I said I'd even do it for half that or six months worth: $10 million, what a deal!
The bizarre thing is - initially - on the call you interpreted that as a threat. Even giving you the benefit of the doubt that maybe my phrasing was confusing, I asked for you to elaborate on how you found what I said to be a threat, because I was incredibly confused how you interpreted it that way. You responded that I said "Hey, if you want this to go away…" Which is not at all what I said, so I reiterated that I said "If you want to Apollo to go quiet, as in it's quite loud in terms of API usage".
What did you then say?
Me: "I said 'If you want Apollo to go quiet'. Like in terms of- I would say it's quite loud in terms of its API usage."
Reddit: "Oh. Go quiet as in that. Okay, got it. Got it. Sorry."
Reddit: "That's a complete misinterpretation on my end. I apologize. I apologize immediately."
The admission that you mistook me, and the four subsequent apologies led me to believe that you acknowledged you mistook me and you were apologetic. The fact that you're pretending none of this happened (or was recorded), and instead espousing a different reality where instead of apologizing for taking it as a threat, you're instead going the complete opposite direction and saying "He threatened us!" is so low I almost don't believe it.
But again, I've recorded all my calls with you just in case you tried something like this.
Transcript of this part of the call: https://gist.github.com/christianselig/fda7e8bc5a25aec9824f915e6a5c7014
Audio of this part of the call: http://christianselig.com/apollo-end/reddit-third-call-may-31-end.m4a
(If you take issue with the call being recorded please remember that I'm in Canada and so long as one participant in the call (me) consents to being recorded, it's legal. If anyone would like the recording of the full call, I'm happy to provide.)
I bring this up for two reasons:
- I don't want Reddit slandering me to internal employees or public people by saying I threatened them when they reality is that they immediately apologized for misunderstanding me.
- It shows why I've finally come to the conclusion that I don't think this situation is recoverable. If Reddit is willing to stoop to such deep lows as to slander individuals with blatant lies to try to get community favor back, I no longer have any faith they want this to work, or ever did.
What is an API or an API request anyway?
Some people are confused about this situation and don't understand what an API is. An API (Application Programming Interface) is just a way for an app to talk to a website. As an analogy, pretend Reddit is a bouncer. Historically, you can ask Reddit "Could I have the comments for this post?" or "Can you list the posts in AskReddit?". Those would be one API request each, and Reddit would respond with the corresponding data.
Everything you do on Reddit is an API request. Upvoting, downvoting, commenting, loading posts, loading subreddits, checking for new messages, blocking users, filtering subreddits, etc.
The situation is changing so that for each API request you make, there's a portion of a penny charged to the developer of that app. I think that is very reasonable, provided, well, that the price they charge is reasonable.
Claims that Apollo is "inefficient"
Another common claim by Reddit is that Apollo is inherently inefficient, using on average 345 requests per day per user, while some other apps use 100. I'd like to use some numbers to illustrate why I think this is very unfairly framing it.
Up until a week ago, the stated Reddit API rate limits
that apps were asked to operate within was 60 requests per minute per user. That works out to a total of 86,400 per day. Reddit stated that Apollo uses 345 requests per user per day on average, which is also in line with my findings. Thats 0.4% of the limit Reddit was previously imposing, which I would say is quite efficient.
As an analogy (can you tell I love analogies?), to scale the numbers, if I was to borrow my friend’s car and he said “Please don’t drive it more than 864 miles” and I returned the car with 3.4 miles driven, I think he’d be pretty happy with my low use. The fact that a different friend one week only used 1 mile is really cool, but I don't think either person is "inefficient".
That being said, if Reddit would like to see Apollo make further optimizations to get its existing number lower, I’m genuinely more than happy to do so! However the 30 day limit they’ve given me after announcing the pricing to when I will start getting charged significant amounts of money is not enough time to deal with rewriting large parts of my app to lower total requests, while also changing the payment model, transitioning users, and ensuring this is all properly tested and gets through app review.
Further, Reddit themselves said to me that the majority of the cost isn't the server, it's the opportunity cost per user, so the focus on 100 versus 345 calls, rather than the cost per user, doesn't sound genuine. At the very least providing even a bit more time to lower usage to their new targets would be feasible if they've historically provided it, and it's not the majority of the costs anyway.
Me: "Because I assume the majority of it isn't server costs. I assume the majority is the opportunity cost per user."
Why not just increase the price of Apollo?
One option many have suggested is to simply increase the price of Apollo to offset costs. The issue here is that Apollo has approximately 50,000 yearly subscribers at the moment. On average they paid $10/year many months ago, a price I chose based on operating costs I had at the time (server fees, icon design, having a part-time server engineer). Those users are owed service as they already prepaid for a year, but starting July 1st will (in the best
case scenario) cost an additional $1/month each in Reddit fees. That's $50,000 in sudden monthly fee that will start incurring in 30 days.
So you see, even if I increase the price for new subscribers, I still have those many users to contend with. If I wait until their subscription expires, slowly month after month there will be less of them. First month $50,000, second month maybe $45,000, then $40,000, etc. until everything has expired, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It would be cheaper to simply refund users.
I hope you can recognize how that's an enormous amount of money to suddenly start incurring with 30 days notice. Even if I added 12,000 new subscribers at $5/month (an enormous feat given the short notice), after Apple's fees that would just be enough to break even
Going from a free API for 8 years to suddenly incurring massive costs is not something I can feasibly make work with only 30 days. That's a lot of users to migrate, plans to create, things to test, and to get through app review, and it's just not economically feasible. It's much cheaper for me to simply shut down.
So what is the REAL issue you're having?
Hopefully that illustrates why, even more than the large price associated with the API, the 30 day timeline between when the pricing was announced and developers will be charged is a far, far, far bigger issue and not one I can overcome. Much more time would be needed to overhaul the payment model in my app, transition existing users from existing plans, test the changes, and have users update to the new version.
As a comparison, when Apple bought Dark Sky and announced a shut down of their API, knowing that this API was at the core of many businesses, they provided 18 months before the API would be turned off
. When the 18 months came, they ultimately extended it another 12 months, resulting in a total transition period of 30 months. While I'm not asking for that much, Reddit's in comparison is 30 days
Reddit says you won't get your first bill until August 1st, though!
The issue is the size of the bill, not when it will arrive. Significant, significant charges for the API will start building up with 30 days notice on July 1st, the fact that the bill for those charges being 30 days from then is not important. If you hear that your electricity bill is going up 1,000x and the company tells you, "Don't worry, the bill only comes at the end
of the month", I hope you understand how that isn't comforting.
What would be a good price/timeline?
I hope I explained above why the 30 day time limit is the true issue. However in a perfect world I think lowering the price by half and providing a three month transition period to the paid API would make the transition feasible for more developers, myself included. These concessions seem minor and reasonable in the face of the changes.
I thought you said Reddit would be flexible on the timeline?
That was my understanding as well based on what they said on a call on May 4th:
Reddit: "If there's an entity who's like 'Hey I'm showing really good progress', you know trying to like we're trying to get a contract in place, we're trying to do all that type of stuff, I don't think you're going to see us be like, you know, like overly aggressive on that timeline. And I feel pretty confident about that point by the way based on conversations I've heard internally."
However when asking about more time, such as a 90 day transition period to make the changes, they said:
Reddit: "On the 90-day transition, remember that billing doesn't kick in until July 1. So you won't see your first bill from July until the beginning of August, and it won’t be due until the end of August (It’s net 30 day billing). You do, however, have to sign an agreement to get paid level access on July 1."
Did you explicitly ask Reddit for more time?
Yes, my last email to them (including Steve) said:
In terms of timeline, what concerns me most is the short nature of it before I start incurring costs. I have a large amount of users at price points that I won’t be able to afford to support with 30 days notice. For instance, users who subscribed for a year for $10 six months ago when I had no idea any of this was coming, amounts to $0.83 per month or $0.58 after Apple’s cut. Even if I’m able to decrease my API usage down to the number in your charts, that still puts me in the red for everyone of those users for awhile with no recourse. A situation like this is one that is legitimately making me legitimately leaning toward shutting down the app, but one that I could salvage if given more time to transition from the free API to the paid API.
In prior calls you mentioned that provided I kept communicating and progress was being made, the timeline wasn’t an absolute.
Is that still the case, or is it now the case that the date is set in stone?
That was a week ago and I've yet to receive any further contact from Reddit.
Isn't this your fault for building a service reliant on someone else?
To a certain extent, yes. However, I was assured this year by Reddit not even that long ago that no changes were planned to be made to the API Apollo uses, and I've made decisions about how to monetize my business based on what Reddit has said.
January 26, 2023
Reddit: "So I would expect no change, certainly not in the short to medium term. And we're talking like order of years."
Another portion of the call:
January 26, 2023
Reddit: "There's not gonna be any change on it. There's no plans to, there's no plans to touch it right now in 2023.
Me: "Fair enough."
Reddit: "And if we do touch it, we're going to be improving it in some way."
Will you build a competitor? Move to one of the existing alternatives?
I've received so many messages of kind people offering to work with me to build a competitor to Reddit, and while I'm very flattered, that's not something I'm interested in doing. I'm a product guy, I like building fun apps for people to use, and I'm just not personally interested in something more managerial.
These last several months have also been incredibly exhausting and mentally draining, I don't have it in me to engage in something so enormous.
Will you sell Apollo?
Probably not. Maybe if the perfect buyer came along who thought they could turn Apollo into something cool and sustainable, but I'd rather the app just die if it would go to a company that would turn something I worked really hard on into something that would ruin its legacy.
To be clear: I am not threatening anyone in the previous paragraph.
Reddit states that the Twitter comparison is unfair
Reddit stated on the first call that they don't want to be like Twitter:
Reddit: "I think one thing that we have tried to be very, very, very intentional about is we are not Elon, we're not trying to be that, we're not trying to go down that same path. [...] We are trying to do is just use usage-based pricing, that will hopefully be very transparent to you, and very clear to you. Or we're not trying to go down the same path that you may have seen some of our other peers go down."
They now state that the comparison of how close their pricing comes to Twitter is an unfair one, and that when they said that above, they were apparently referring not to the pricing, but to the decision Twitter made to ban third-party apps at a rule level, not a pricing level.
I think regardless of whatever their intent/meaning behind the comparison to Twitter was, the result is the same: the pricing will kill third-party apps, just as Twitter did.
I said this to Reddit, and they responded that they don't think Twitter's pricing is unreasonable, and that if anything, if Twitter reversed the rule about third-party apps, they would probably increase the prices as well.
Just to be clear about how wrong and out of touch that is, without naming names, a formerly very, very high up person at Twitter messaged me on Twitter and said:
"The Reddit api moves are crazy. I’m not sure what choices you have but to move to another network. [...] That pricing is designed to prevent apps like yours forevermore."
So to be clear, even this person thinks this pricing is unreasonable. I do too.
Have you talked to CEO Steve Huffman about any of this?
I requested a call to talk to Steve about some suggestions I had, his response was "Sorry, no. You can give name-redacted
a ping if you want."
I've then emailed that person (same person I've been talking to for months) suggestions approximately one week ago about how Apollo could survive this, and I've yet to receive a response.
Do I support the protest/Reddit blackout?
Abundantly. Unlike other social media companies like Facebook and Twitter who pay their moderators as employees, Reddit relies on volunteers to do the hard work for free. I completely understand that when tools they take to do their volunteer, important job are taken away, there is anger and frustration there. While I haven't personally mobilized anyone to participate in the blackout out of fear of retaliation from Reddit, the last thing I want is for that to feel like I don't support the folks speaking up. I wholeheartedly do.
It's been a horrible week, and the kindness Redditors and moderators and communities have shown Apollo and other third-party apps has genuinely made it much more bearable and I am genuinely so appreciative.
I am, admittedly, doubtful Reddit wants to listen to folks anymore so I don't see it having an effect.
Your initial post in April sounded quite optimistic. Are you dumb?
In hindsight, kinda yeah. Many of the other developers and folks I talked to were much less optimistic than I was, but I legitimately had great interactions with Reddit for many years prior to last week (they were kind, communicative, gave me heads up of changes), so when they said they were aiming to have pricing that would be fair and based in reality, I honestly believed them. That was foolish of me in hindsight, and maybe could have had a different outcome if I was more aggressive in the beginning. Sorry. /canadian
(And to be clear, they did indeed say this. They used the word "substantive" and I wanted to make sure we had the same definition of something "having a firm basis in reality and therefore important, meaningful, or considerable")
Reddit: "That's exactly right. And I think, thankfully, the word is exactly the right one. It's going to have a firm basis in reality. I also just looked it up. We're going to try to be as transparent as we can."
Reddit claims they've reached out to developers who were bad users of the API, was Apollo contacted?
On May 31st Reddit posted a chart of large excess usage by some unlabeled API clients
, and stated: "We reached out to the most impactful large scale applications in order to work out terms for access above our default rate limits via an enterprise tier."
To be clear, Apollo was never contacted, and I've been told from someone internally that Apollo is indeed not one of the unlabeled API clients.
The only time that Apollo was reached out to by Reddit in any capacity about usage was late last year when we received an email about a 6 minute period where Apollo's server API usage increased by 35% before lowering again. Despite 35% for 6 minutes being a comparatively small blip (the above post references clients that are over by 500000%), we responded within 2 minutes. We offered to jump on a call with Reddit engineers if they needed an answer ASAP, identified the issue within several hours and Reddit thanked us for the fast investigation.
Full email transcript: https://gist.github.com/christianselig/6c71608cf617d2f881cd2849325494c1
Claims that Apollo has made no attempt to be a good user of the API
On the call with moderators, Steve Huffman said:
Steve: "I don't use the app, so I'll give you the best answer I can -- he does scraping so that he can deliver notifications faster, but has done NO EFFORT to be a good citizen of the internet."
First off, Apollo does no scraping, it's purely through authenticated calls to the API and has checks in place to ensure it stays within Reddit's API rate limits. I've open sourced the server code to show this
Secondly, to say we have made no effort is categorically false. I have so many emails reached out to Reddit on multiple occasions expressing concern about and bugs inefficiencies in the API, or ideas on how to improve things, or significant Reddit bugs that made things hard on us. When Reddit has had questions for us, as discussed above, we immediately jumped into action to get an answer as quickly as possible.
Here's an email of me giving a heads up to Reddit of IP address changes on our server:
Me: "With the new change it'll be maybe like, one IP address. This is all obviously still within the API rate limits as the requests are from individual user accounts that have signed in. Again, long story short the result will be more optimized if anything, I just wanted to give a heads up and ensure that it'd be okay if Reddit suddenly saw the server go from a bunch of different IP addresses to a single one which might cause some confusion if I didn't give a heads up."
Me wanting to make sure we were doing everything as best as we could:
Me: "Everything is going well, we just had a few questions about best practices making sure we’re following any suggestions your team has. Is there any way we could poke someone on your team with a few questions we’ve been having and have a tiny back and forth? We were just seeing some elevated response times, and just thought it would be great if we could maybe describe what we’re doing and see if anything seems off/suboptimal."
Me reporting to Reddit that the API has a serious bug in recording rate limits:
Me: "We obviously respect the rate limit headers and if a user comes close to approaching it (within 50 requests of the 600 every 10 minutes limit) we stop their requests until the refresh period occurs. However we're seeing some users have very, very weird rate limit headers. Things like "requests remaining: 0, requests made: 17,483, reset: 598 seconds left" which indicates they've somehow made over 17 thousand requests in two seconds which seems hard to believe."
Me suggesting to Reddit improvements that could help improve efficiency of notification API calls:
Me: "So like little stuff like that, where even if there's a streaming client or some way to minimize the calls there, I think it would help us both out enormously."
Further, when making suggestions
to your own employees, they themselves have expressed concern about how terrible the public API is:
Call on January 26, 2023
Reddit: "I cannot tell you how painful it is to use our API. [...] The API needs to change. Like it's just unusable. I am surprised that you're able to build a functional app on it to be honest."
Claims that third-party apps are not interested in talking
Steve: "Why not work with the third party apps? Their existence is not a priority for us. We don't use them. I don't use them. It's a part of our traffic but not a lot, and it's a lot of work on our side to keep them alive. If I have to choose where to put our effort, we're going to focus internally. I'm kind of open to it, but I haven't – and I can't convince you, but I don't get the sense that they want to work with us either."
I'm genuinely not sure where Steve has got the impression that I don't want to work with him. Despite reaching out multiple times and him
declining to talk, I've stated multiple times on calls, literally saying the words "I definitely still want to talk".
Reddit: "What I'm hearing is like, Yeah, great. We have this disagreement on pricing methodology, etc. But any feasible number that we get to, any number that's even in, the zip code of what we're sharing with you is unfeasible from your perspective financially. So it's like arguing around the edges of that price thing is like, it just won't make any sense to you. And I presume also just given the NSFW stuff and the removal of ads that makes it even more trickier." Me: Yeah. I mean, to be very clear, I'm not saying I'm walking away from the negotiation table and taking my basketball and going home and just gonna kick up a storm. That's not my intention at all. I definitely still want to talk. I'm not asking you to lower the price by a hundred times or something. I don't think – depending on what you mean by zip code – I don't think I'm so unreasonable that I'm requiring you to bend over backwards here."
I've also emailed Steve and the other contact directly stating that I'm interested in talking, and including ideas for how we could come to a solution:
Me: "I understand where Reddit's coming from in this. A free API, while appreciated, is not tenable for you especially heading into an IPO, and my only goal here is to come to a solution where we both feel understood. I also hear you that killing third-party clients isn't actually the goal, and in that spirit have been working on how to address your concerns from my end: [...]"
I don't know how you can say I'm not interested in talking when you haven't my most recent email in a week. To say it once more, I was very interested in talking.
On the other side of things, per the transcript, Steve and the other admin on the call don't even know when the discussions with third-party apps began.
Steve: "When did we start talking with them?"
AnAbsurdlyAngryGoose: "What month did you first start?"
Steve: "FlyingLaserTurtles? Do you remember? April or May of this year."
FlyingLaserTurtles: "Maybe late March? But yes."
Claims that Reddit has been talking to developers for months talking about these changes
Steve: "We've been in contact with third party apps for MONTHS, talking about these coming changes."
When you announce that the API will be charging developers, the most important portion of that conversation is what will be charged
, which was not available for almost two months after the initial call. From the time developers were told the price, to the time developers will be subject to the price, is 30 days, not "months". Months would have been very helpful, in fact.
What about existing subscriptions?
I've been talking to my rep at Apple, and over the next few weeks my plan is to release something similar to what Tweetbot did (Paul has been incredibly helpful in all of this) where folks can decide if they want a pro-rated refund on any existing time left in their subscription as Apollo will not be able to afford to continue it, or they can decline the refund if they're feeling kind and have enjoyed their time with Apollo.
For the curious, refunding all existing subscriptions by my estimates will cost me about $250,000.
A nice send off at WWDC
Apollo got mentioned a few times during Apple's 2023 WWDC keynote, even by Craig Federighi himself, and even during the Vision Pro announcement showing Apollo as one of the existing apps compatible with the headset (I'm sorry I won't be able to see that happen).
I was lucky enough to be there in person and it felt incredible. Some folks asked if there was any deeper meaning behind that, and while that would be cool, in all reality these things are so well produced that they've been done for a while now, so I'm sure it's just a coincidence, even if it's a really cool one.
A funny amount of people have reached out wondering about all the extra monthly icons I had queued up for Apollo. I love them, was so excited for them, and I'll make them available immediately for the short time left, but if you're curious here's a screenshot of all of them: https://christianselig.com/apollo-end/remaining-icons.png
We ended up with well over 100 custom icons created by incredibly talented designers, and I'm really sorry to those designers who didn't get to see their work launched in the app (to be clear, don't worry, I paid them all – there isn't some bs "exposure" agreement – but it's fun to have your icon launch and I feel bad!)
When is Apollo's last day? What will happen?
In order to avoid incurring charges I will delete Apollo's API token on the evening of June 30th PST. Until that point, Apollo should
continue to operate as it has, but after that date attempts to connect to the Reddit API will fail.
I will put up an explainer in the app prior to that which will go live at that date. I will also provide a tool to export any local data you have in Apollo, such as filters or favorites.
I want to thank a lot of people who have made this last week bearable. First and foremost, the communities, Redditors, and moderators who have reached out in support of third-party apps, making Reddit's gaslighting a lot more bearable in making me feel like at least someone was understanding me and in my corner.
My girlfriend's been absolutely incredible and supportive. This year was our 10th anniversary, and Monday was her 30th birthday. We're down in California for Apple's WWDC and had a bunch of things planned to do for her birthday afterward, and I feel terrible that we're flying home early to deal with all of this instead of making her 30th special. I'll make it up to her.
André Medeiros worked on the Apollo server component with me for the last two years, and it's been an absolute joy to work with a professional who knows so much on that side of things.
The iOS developer community has been unbelievably kind to me over the past several weeks, I've spent the last week with many of them, even staying at an Airbnb with a bunch of them (they ordered me pizza as I wrote this post!), and I've got so many hugs and condolences haha. Specifically want to thank Paul Haddad of Tweetbot/Tapbots/Ivory, Ryan Jones, Brian Mueller, Curtis Herbert, André Medeiros, Quinn Nelson, Paul Hudson, Majd Taby, Ryan McLeod, Phill Ryu, Larry Hryb, Charlie Chapman, Mustafa Yusuf, Adrian Eves, Devin Davies, Jordan Morgan, Yariv Nassim, Will Sigmon, Barry Hershman, Joe Rossignol, Michael Simmons, Joe Fabisevich, my family, and so, so many more.
Also want to thank everyone at Apple who have gone out of their way to be incredibly kind here (I don't know if I'm allowed to name names but you know who you are).
I'll be fine
No bullshit, I'll be fine. Through pure chance last year I spun off my silly Pixel Pals idea into a separate app, and that actually makes good revenue on the side. I also have savings. Recently (like last week) my city had its worst wildfires in history
with over 100 homes destroyed. That's brutal, losing an app is sad, but it's been helpful to me to recognize how much worse it could be just literally down the street from me.
Honestly. Apollo had an incredible run, I met the coolest people, by my last count talked with folks over 15,000 times in our subreddit about Apollo, and raised over $80,000 for my local animal shelter through Apollo. I feel incredibly fortunate.
I think I'll rewatch Ted Lasso though.
Supporting my work
I build a second app called Pixel Pals
that I spun off from Apollo that's thankfully done pretty well and I'll be spending more time on going forward. If you like the idea of digital pets it's a really fun app to check out. https://pixelpa.ls
If any media/press folks have any questions, please shoot me an email rather than messaging me on Reddit, I missed a few last week because my inbox was blowing up. My email is [email protected]
I think I covered everything, but if there's any questions feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer!
In the event that this post is taken down or you want to link somewhere else, it's also available at https://apolloapp.io
Thanks for everything over these last 8 years,
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