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2020.09.23 19:30 HolderPink Best alarm clock camera hidden

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7)Oucam Small Spy Cam Nanny Cam

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That is it for today folks.If you like it place your comments below.
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2020.09.16 14:02 RehnWriter The Rules – Instructions on How to Succeed at Cat Sitting

My friend Josh was my polar opposite. He was a young successful entrepreneur and, frankly said, filthy rich.
I on the other hand was a perpetual failure, who lived in a small one-room apartment, always looking to make it to the end of the month.
While Josh owned a flourishing online business, I drifted from one odd job to another.
Why’s any of this important, you might wonder? Well, it was no other than Josh who left me with this weird set of rules.
It was about two weeks ago that he had to leave for another one of his business trips and needed someone to not only sit his house but take care of his cats. Josh owned four of the little buggers, all special breeds and exotic.
He came up to me because he knew my situation had taken a turn for the worse because of Covid-19. I was behind on rent, bills kept stacking up, and finding work was harder than ever.
Josh offered me a fair amount of money, enough to last me for an entire month, and I eventually relented and accepted his offer.
Every single time I arrived at his house, I was awestruck. It was a beautiful, two-story building that he’d bought a couple of years back and renovated from the ground up. There was probably more modern technology in his home than in the rest of the entire neighborhood.
Josh didn’t just own a smart TV or smart lights. He had an entire smart living room, a smart kitchen with a smart coffee machine, and even a freaking smart toilet.
I didn’t even know half the stuff he owned existed and wondered why he’d need the other half. Josh, however, loved everything new, shiny, and smart.
When I arrived, he offered me a bottle of imported crafts beer and led me inside. He told me the couch was all mine, I could roam the place as I saw fit, but his office was off-limits. Josh was very particular about this stuff, and I didn’t see any reason to intrude.
After those first instructions, he introduced me to his cats right away. There was an older Bengal, an Egyptian Mau, a Cornish Rex, and a recently acquired Savannah kitten. To be honest, I only remember the different breeds because of his list of notes. I was never a cat person. No, to be honest, I was never a pet person.
Once he’d told me all their names, which I’d forgotten the moment he’d left, he handed me an envelope containing his instructions about the cats. Or as he called it, ‘The Rules.’
He gave me a little wink and told me to only open them once I’d left. I rolled my eyes but gave him a little laugh.
Josh was not only a weirdo, but he’d always been a very immature and childish person. I could already tell that his so-called rules were most likely nothing but bullshit.
Still, I humored his antics and put it away on the couch table for now.
Josh told me about a few more things about the house before he handed me the money and went on his way.
Once I’d gotten myself settled, I got myself another one of his crafts beers and sat down in his lavish living room to read ‘The Rules.’
I was prepared to find the envelope filled with nothing but a silly picture, but to my surprise, it actually contained a list of rules.
The Rules – Instructions on How to Succeed at Cat Sitting
1. Feed the cats twice a day, at 8 am and 8 pm. DON’T be late.
2. Always measure the amount of food using a measuring cup following the instructions on page two.
3. Each cat has their own special food, following a strict diet plan. DON’T mix up the food and leave their feeding bowls at their respective places.
I rolled my eyes at his damn peculiarities. They are freaking cats, why’s all this stuff so important?
4. If the TV turns on at 10:23 pm on a random channel, leave it on. DON’T turn it off before 10:48 pm.
When I read this one I stared at the list for a moment before I chuckled. Really, Josh? Cryptic, obscure rules? God, this was too silly, even for him.
5. The cats need to be groomed every other day. Check the instructions on page three for more information.
6. If the lights turn on in random rooms of the house, DON’T turn them off until the following morning.
7. Should you take out the trash, ALWAYS use the dumpster on the far right. ALWAYS make sure to close it. NEVER open the one on the left.
Yeah, this was getting stupid. It was obvious what was going on here, and for a second I was about to crumble up this stupid list and throw it away. Then I went to read on. Who knows there might still be something important between all the bullshit?
8. There’s an outdoor kennel for the cats. Make sure to let them go out in the afternoon.
9. If you hear strange after 11 pm, ignore them and DON’T try to figure out their origin. Just stay in the living room. Again, DON’T try to figure out where they come from.
10. There might be noises coming from the office at random times during the night. DON’T enter at any time. The noises will soon stop again.
11. Each of the cats has a specific nutrient mixture that should be added to their water bowls. Check page two for more instructions. Try not to forget about it.
12. If you hear a knock against the window, you must ignore it. DON’T let anyone in. She will leave again if you ignore her.
13. DON’T use the oven after 10 pm. It’s a little too smart for its own good. Trust me on that one.
14. Ignore any voices you hear throughout the house. There’s no one else there. DON’T investigate. They will stop eventually.
15. The beer’s all yours, but try not to get wasted and break things.
Once done, I couldn’t help but laugh. This was so typical for Josh.
I put the list aside and checked out pages two and three. They were filled with detailed information about each cat. With a sigh, I went through them, trying to understand what the hell I was even supposed to do.
Once I was done, it was almost noon.
I checked out the feeding and water bowls, but Josh had filled them up. So, I didn’t have to do anything except letting the cats out in the afternoon and feeding them in the evening.
The first day at Josh’s place was amazing.
I’d said before that I never knew why he had all those gadgets, but after a couple of hours at his house, I could see the appeal. I could call out any song I wanted, and it was played instantly on his amazing 5.1 sound system. I could turn on and off lights with nothing but a wave of my hand and don’t get me started on his toilet.
As the hours passed, I watched Netflix on his giant movie projector and drank a few more of the crafts beers. Man, this was a life I could get used to. Some of the cats joined me at random intervals throughout the day, eyeing their new roommate curiously.
Once it was evening, I followed Josh’s instructions and refilled the cat’s feeding bowls. It was actually harder than I expected. I was quite tipsy by that point and Josh owned a plethora of different cat food and nutrient mixes. In the end, though, I got everything right, at least I think so.
I’d just sat down for yet another movie when I heard sounds from the second floor. It was quiet and barely audible while the movie was playing.
At first, I thought it was one of the cats, but when I turned the movie off I realized that it was a voice, a woman’s. A shiver went down my spine. As I listened, it almost sounded like someone was counting.
I went from the living room to the stairs and listened.
“... seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, fourteen...” and on it went.
Needless to say, I was damn confused and not just a little scared about what was going on.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” I called out, but I got no answer. Instead, the numbers continued to decrease until they reached zero. At this point, the voice stopped and silence returned.
I swallowed and after another minute had passed, I carefully ascended the stairs. There was no one there, though. All I saw was an empty hallway. I didn’t know what I’d expected, and I wasn’t sure if I should be relieved or not.
Right at that moment, I remembered his list of rules and returned to the living room.
There it was, the last one on the list:
14. Ignore any voices you hear throughout the house. There’s no one else there. DON’T investigate. They will stop eventually.
All right, I told myself, this was bullshit. It was most likely a recording that was being played somewhere up there.
With another beer as mental support, I went back upstairs. As I checked the walls though, I found no hint of speakers or a radio.
I was about to open one of the doors when I saw a light flickering on and off in a room at the back of the hallway.
Fuck this, I told myself. I didn’t know what the hell was going on, but I sure as hell didn’t want to mess with any of it.
It was nothing. Probably a malfunctioning light.
Still, when I returned to the living room, I checked every corner of the room before I settled back on the couch. For the first time since I’d arrived, I was happy to see the cats nearby. At least I didn’t have the sleep alone here all by myself.
When my phone woke me at 7 am the next morning, my head was slightly throbbing. I made my way to the kitchen and instructed Josh’s coffee machine to mix me one of its strongest options.
With the blackest coffee I’d ever seen in my entire life, I made my way to the feeding bowls. The cats followed me but kept a clear distance from me.
The moment I took out the food, though, they became much friendlier. Oh, I knew what was going on here, you deceitful little creatures.
There was nothing special happening on the second day. I spent most of it either in the living room or exploring Josh’s home. In the evening I found my way into his small, private library. It was filled with books on self-improvement and a sheer endless amount of business manuals.
Eventually, I discovered a collection of the works of M. C. Escher, hidden between some obscure work of eastern philosophy and a biography of Jay Gould.
I took the Escher book with me to the living room, instructed Alexa to play some ambient music, and went through the book.
Something was fascinating about Escher’s work. While I was busy studying yet another one of his optical illusions, the room was suddenly flooded by the light of the TV. I jerked up and stared at it. It was set to a random channel, showing nothing but static.
How the hell had the damn thing turned on? I checked if I’d sat on the remote or if any of the cats had been toying with it, but I found it resting on the couch table.
I reached out for it and was about to turn the TV back off when I saw the list of rules lying nearby. Hadn’t there been something about the TV on there?
I found the one I’d been looking for right away.
4. ‘If the TV turns on at 10:23 pm on a random channel, leave it on and DON’T turn it off before 10:48 pm.’
When I checked the clock, I saw that it was now 10:25 pm. Oh, you’ve got to be freaking kidding me.
For a moment I was about to say fuck it and turn it off, but then I remembered the weird voice from last night.
I told myself again nothing was going on. Just another error in the settings. Still, there was this quiet, little voice in the back of my mind asking me ‘What if?’
Grumbling, I put the remote down again and tried my best to ignore the annoying static. Once it was close to 11 pm, I decided it was safe enough to turn it off again and go to sleep.
Thus ended my second day at Josh’s home.
Over the next days, more strange things happened all around the house. I was still telling myself it was all a malfunction or a coincidence. Hell, maybe Josh fucking with me, but that quiet voice in the back of my mind wasn’t so quiet anymore.
Every day I found the lights on in random rooms, rooms I hadn’t even set foot in yet. At other times, I heard the strange voice again, always counting down to zero.
I tried to call Josh but I couldn’t seem to reach him. When I sent him a message about the weird occurrences, all I got back was a simple ‘Just follow the rules and everything’s fine.’
I cursed at that and almost threw my phone against the wall. To be honest, I almost noped the fuck out of his house by the fourth day. Real or not, this was all a little too weird, and it was getting to me.
The problem was, Josh trusted me, and hell, he’d paid me a fair amount of money to take care of his house and the cats.
So, I stayed.
It was by day five that things took a turn for the worse and I should come to regret my decision.
I was in the living room, browsing Reddit when noises reached my ear yet again. This time it wasn’t the counting voice, though. Instead, it sounded like someone was banging against the walls. Each bang made me jerk up, and eventually I had enough of this shit.
This stops now, I told myself. As I made my way to the stairs, I got another idea. What if Josh had instructed another one of his friends to sneak in and fuck with me? It was a silly idea, but I wouldn’t put it past him.
More angry than afraid, I made my way up the stairs and soon located the source of the noise. It was coming from his office.
I remembered his words. Hell, I remembered the freaking rule about the office, but I didn’t give a shit anymore.
“All right, whoever the fuck you are, knock it off!” I cursed.
“If Josh put you up for this to fuck with me, well done, you got me ha ha!”
The banging continued, but soon I heard something else. It was crying, muffled crying.
“What the fuck,” I pressed out.
“... help me...” I heard a quiet, muffled voice from inside the office.
My eyes grew wide and an icy shiver went down my spine.
It was Josh’s voice.
“... please, this guy broke in and locked me up here...”
The voice went quiet again. Once more the crying started before labored breathing replaced it.
“Josh...? What the fuck?”
I got no answer. All I heard instead was more of the labored breathing coming from inside.
I didn’t even think about the rules anymore. Something strange was going on here, something very fucking strange.
I took a deep breath before I put my hand on the door handle and ripped open the door. What I found inside the office was absolutely nothing.
There was his desk, his computer, his whiteboard, books, and papers, but nothing else. The light was off, no one was inside, and nothing was in disarray.
Then, as I stared at the empty room in front of me, all the lights in the house turned on in unison only to flicker out moments later.
Needless to say, this freaked me the fuck out.
I threw the door to the office shut, hurried downstairs, and booked it out of the house.
Once outside, I could’ve sworn I saw lights turning on and off in random rooms of the house. Almost as if someone... or something was rushing through it, searching it.
I went straight home after this. The moment I’d locked my front door, I sent Josh a message asking him what the fuck was going on. All I got was yet another short, obscure message.
‘You said you opened the door?’
‘Yes, what the fuck does that even matter?’
‘Shit man, I told you to leave it be and NOT open it. Well, nothing to do now. She won’t go after the cats, and by tomorrow things should be normal again. You closed the door, right?’
‘What the fuck are you even talking about? The hell’s the matter with your damn place!? Please tell me this is all one of your stupid pranks and you’re fucking with me!’
This time no reply arrived. Instead, he called me.
Josh explained that his house had a history, quite a fucked up one at that. Back in the day, long before he bought it and renovated it, the place used to be an orphanage. One night, more than half a century ago, the caretaker snapped and murdered the orphans one after another. All while counting down the number of kids still alive until she reached zero.
Josh found out after some research that his office used to be the caretaker’s old bedroom.
It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes strange things happened at his house. A voice counting down or pretending to be other people, lights flickering on and off, and other, similar things.
That’s why he got so many smart gadgets. For some reason, those seem to confuse the spirit, as he called it. Generally though, if you leave it alone and follow the rules, nothing bad will happen.
“What the actual fuck!? You’re kidding me, right?” I almost yelled into the phone.
“Afraid not, that’s why I left you the rules, but I should have explained things to you beforehand,” he pressed out.
“Yes, you fucking should have! Why the hell would you even call them something like that if it’s about a… shit, Josh, why the fuck would you even buy a freaking haunted orphanage?!”
“The place was cheap, all right? Way cheaper than any other in town. How the fuck would I’ve known that... Shit, look, man, I know it’s fucked up, but please can you go back tomorrow and take care of the cats? It’s only three more days, but I’m worried about them.”
I was about to tell him to go fuck himself with his freaking haunted house. When he told me he’d pay me some extra money, though, I shout my mouth as soon as I’d opened it.
Shit, I mean, how bad could it get, right? I hadn’t been hurt so far, and Josh reassured me that nothing had ever happened to him. It was all noises and flickering lights.
So the next morning, I found myself at his house yet again. During the day time, everything looked as normal as it could be.
By now I’d calmed down, and by now I wasn’t so sure about his story anymore.
The cats came up to me the moment I entered the place. When I checked my phone, I saw that it was almost 10 pm. The poor little buggers seemed to be hungry, and the moment I’d refilled their feeding blows, they churned down their food.
I was about to leave again, but nothing had ever happened during the day. If anything weird were to happen, I could put down some food and water for the cats by 8 pm and get the hell out of there.
So that day I made sure to take care of all the cat duty Josh had given me. I let them out into the kennel for the afternoon, groomed them in the early evening, and once it was 8 pm, I fed them again.
There was no hint of anything strange happening, and once more I wondered how much was true about Josh’s story.
Instead of going home then and there, I picked up my laptop and settled down on the couch. I went on Google and started searching for any proof of his story.
At first, I found various articles about orphanage related murders and other atrocities. Once I’d narrowed my search down, I noticed a specific brief article.
‘The Horror of Sister Maria - Gruesome Murders at Orphanage’
The article detailed the same story that Josh had told me before. In March 1972, the caretaker of an orphanage, named Sister Maria, had murdered all the children she was overseeing.
The name of the orphanage told me nothing, but when I saw the address, I knew that it was the very same building I was in at the moment.
You’ve got to be freaking kidding me, I cursed. For a moment a feeling of apprehension flooded me and I wondered if Sister Maria had murdered some of the kids right here, in this very room. My eyes darted around, but there was nothing, of course, apart from one of the cats sitting near me.
I petted the little bugger as went back to the article. Then the cat suddenly jerked up, his ears rose and his eyes darted around.
It was a few seconds later that I heard it too. I froze, searching for the source of the noise before I realized it was coming from outside.
I’d barely gotten up when three muffled bangs from the front door and wailing reached me. Step by step, I made my way to figure out what the hell was going on. I’d made it to the hallway when I heard another bang, this one against one of the living room windows.
For a moment I noticed a shadowy figure outside before it vanished again. Then there was another bang, from a different window followed by more wailing.
And then I saw the outlines of a face pressed against the window, staring right at me.
12. ‘If you hear a knock against the window in the middle of the night, ignore it. She will leave again if you don’t acknowledge her.’
That was the moment I lost it. That was the moment I knew this entire thing was real. Her. He’d written it specifically. It had to be the spirit, the ghost of the caretaker.
Before it had been noises, flickering lights, something I could deal with, something I could tell myself was a coincidence. But this, this was different.
Once more the figure vanished, I heard more wailing before I heard it from a different window.
‘She will leave again if you don’t acknowledge her.’
I’d stared right at her, hadn’t I?
What if this thing, this ghost, was no coming after me? For a moment I thought I could hear the counting voice again from somewhere in the house, and at that moment I ran.
I was at the front door in an instant, ripped it open, and stumbled outside.
And right at that moment, I saw it. To my right, in the middle of Josh’s garden, there was the shadowy figure of a woman.
When it took one step towards me, panic flooded over me and I dashed from the house towards my car and jumped into it.
When I turned it on and the headlights flooded the area, I could’ve sworn there was more than one figure.
I noped it the fuck out of there without ever looking back.
Once back home, I was a mess.
Fuck the house, fuck the cats and fuck Josh. I’d never go near his damned house EVER again.
I only sent Josh a single message.
‘I’m done with this shit.’
Then I turned the damn thing off.
I was too shaken up about everything that had happened that day. Before I’d tried to tell myself that it was all a hoax, nothing but a stupid prank, but after what I’d seen tonight, I couldn’t do it anymore.
That night I didn’t sleep. Instead, I turned on every damn light in my small apartment, put on the dumbest movie I could find, and tried my best to distract myself. It didn’t work. Every single sound in the entire freaking building made me jerk up. I was a shaking mess.
Only when the sun came up was I able to relax, if only a bit.
It was by ten in the morning that my doorbell rang. When I opened the front door I was surprised and confused to find Josh outside. His face was white, almost sick looking, and he seemed to be as shaken as I was.
“Hey man, we need to talk,” he said the moment he saw me. No greeting, no nothing, right to business.
I stepped aside to let him inside. I laid into him right away, asking him what the hell the matter with his house was and why he was even back right now. He was quick to raise a hand to tell me to be quiet.
“I think you better sit down, there’s a lot I’ve got to tell you. We, no, I fucked up,” he started.
With that, he told me the entire thing. All he’d done, and all that had happened.
As it turned out Josh’s home was the definition of a smart home, much smarter than I’d ever expected. There were cameras, sensors, hidden speakers all over the place. He told me he liked to play music all over the house, so he’d installed speakers all over the house. Most of them were concealed and not visible. If you didn’t know they were there, you had no clue they existed.
I stared at him, not understanding what he was going on about, but then he dropped me a fucking bomb.
He’d been fucking with me. The entire thing was an elaborate hoax, just as I’d expected. He’d occasionally used speakers to play tricks on his guests. With me, though, he upped the ante a little.
At first, he only added a bunch of weird rules to his list of instructions to play a joke on me. Soon enough, he got a much more devious idea. He programmed his entire freaking house to act out at specific times during the evening and night. Lights would turn on and off, the TV would play static and weird noises would be played from various speakers in the house. He even recorded himself crying in his office.
He even created an elaborate backstory for his house, one that was complete and utter bullshit.
“But, I read that article,” I started. When he looked at me, a mixture of misery and embarrassment visible on his face, I knew the truth right away. He’d even planted a fake article about his house.
When it all sank in, I went freaking livid on him, calling him every name in the book while he sat there, embarrassed and guilty.
Then I stopped. If it was all a joke, then what about last night? What about that ghost I’d seen?
I confronted him right away. I told him it was so beyond fucked up to even hire someone to scare me like that.
That’s when Josh cast down his eyes and I heard him inhale sharply.
“That woman, she wasn’t part of it,” he pressed out in a low voice.
“What the fuck do you mean? Are you trying to tell me she was an actual fucking ghost!?”
“No,” he answered, shaking his head.
“Last night, a man broke into the home of one of my neighbors, Miss Graham, an older woman living by herself. The police’s still investigating, but the man must’ve attacked her, but could not restrain her. She got away, badly injured, and made her way to the house closest to hers to call for help.”
“Yours,” I answered with a shaken voice.
Josh nodded.
“W-what happened to her?” I pressed out after a few seconds of silence.
Josh stayed quiet for a long while, only answering after I’d repeated the question a second time, this time louder.
“Got a call from the police in the middle of the night. My alarm was eventually set off and police checked it out. They found her beaten to death at the back porch of the house.”
I couldn’t speak. My world started spinning, and I almost crashed to the floor.
That’s when I realized what I’d seen that night, who the figures I’d seen were, and what I’d done.
Instead of helping poor Miss Graham, I’d ignored her and left her there to die.
All because I’d followed Josh’s stupid list of rules.
X
x
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2020.09.13 23:05 Samara_Buckley_Derby Best hidden camera alarm clock

Summary: Fighting immortals is a sweetheart job for someone obsessed with the afterlife. Dying on the job, however, is cutting it too close. However, Julian's curiosity with the great beyond pushes him a little too far, back to the land of the living and cursed with a newly damned soul, just like the immortals he's sworn to fight...
First chapter --- Previous chapter here!! --- Rate me on Royal Road! --- Next Chapter
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Handcuffs, bag over the head, half escorting, half dragging… Julian had never been on this side of an interrogation and he couldn’t say if he liked it much better than being blindfolded. In the heat of combat, it was easy to care very little about Lady Helga’s screaming henchmen as they clutched at newly made bullet holes and fell to the ground dead. But the longer time passed between combat and the eventual death of the hostile, the harder killing him would get. He’d been unconscious on the flight to Apex and sedated on the remaining several hours back to Fleur, but now he was awake.
Awake and, unlike Julian, guilty. Julian had to keep reminding himself of this crucial difference. This man had killed people. Julian had watched him and his cohort attack and shoot to kill. This man belonged to the same group as Monica and her infiltrators. This man would kill every single one of them if he had the chance.
Mercy wasn’t in the cards here.
“Stay behind the glass,” Laghardi said as they reached the room. “Interrogation tactics are ugly and your discomfort will be obvious.” She then continued into the room with Grace, Head of Surveillance Sykes, and Schmidt, shutting the door sharply in their wake.
Julian was waved into a room by Sofia Cortez, who smiled cheerily. “This will be so much better than yours. I felt pretty bad about that one.”
“Yeah, me too.”
She laughed and reached for her mug, only to curse when she found it empty. The two were joined by Malone and Lapinsky, who Julian wasn’t sure was technically supposed to be there but he certainly didn’t say anything to challenge him.
Sofia looked at the young man who hadn’t taken his eyes off the two way mirror and snorted. “Ah. Finally Pooja’s roped you in.”
He jumped, turning to her with a big smile on his face. “Sofi! I suppose I should have expected to see you.” She climbed to her feet and crushed Lapinsky in what Julian knew from experience was a rather terrifying hug. “So no one died then?” he asked.
She rolled her eyes and pointed at the seat between her and Julian. “It was a ruse. Just a ruse. The rebels mostly took each other out, make it look convincing, both those who are purportedly traitors and those good brave men who died.”
He nodded this over, stroking his chin. “Excellent. Who came up with this?”
Sofia nodded at the glass. “Who do you think?”
“Right then, hush it now, the show’s about to start,” Malone said, waving them down.
“Jackson Kjlad,” Laghardi started. “Follower of Lady Helga Von Marwitz. We have some questions for you. Answer briefly and succinctly and this will go well for all of us.”
The interrogation was almost disappointingly slow to start. The four in the surveillance room had access to multiple screens showing a close up of the prisoner, who was luckily a stoney faced man in his mid 30s. It’s not that a different outward appearance would technically change anything but Julian was at least glad to know they weren’t about to interrogate, possible torture, and then execute some 20 year old.
Still the man was unwilling to talk. The four interrogators split into a sorta good cop bad cop bit, with Laghardi and Sykes playing nice and Grace really taking the vitriol up a notch. Schmidt was, apparently, not meant to do much other than stand behind her and look menacing. As a pilot, he wasn’t best suited for an interrogation but he was the only other high ranking military official there.
It was about thirty minutes in that Kjlad finally said something interesting.
“You don’t have shit. That’s why you were there. You’re desperate.”
“We know about your invasion,” Laghardi said, likely surprising everyone on both sides of the glass. “We’ve hacked as much using the messages we’ve intercepted from your operatives. They’re very good, by the way. Very useful.”
The man’s face went from dusky to dazzling sunset in a split second. “They’re leading you on. They know you’ve got their scent. And there are others too, in there, that you don't know about. You’ll spend so much time trying to figure out which is which and who’s who that you’ll never be able to stop us in time. There might not even be an invasion, for all you know.”
That took nerve to make such an accusation. Unless Julian had missed something vital, there’d be no word of an invasion or an attack.
“I appreciate your cadency. We will, of course, consider this going forward.”
“I still haven’t told you shit, bitch—”
This rewarded him with a blow from Schmit so hard that Julian’s ears hurt and Sofia winced. “Keep talking,” the giant of a man growled. “Make my day.”
“You’re gonna kill me anyway,” the man said, a jeer on his face. “You’re gonna kill me not knowing anything.”
“We know there’s going to be an attack,” Laghardi said, tapping on her tablet almost bored.
“Anything new,” Kjlad clarified.
“Mmmmm.” Laghardi drew out the word nice and long before her eyes flicked up to Grace. The woman’s face, though still pale as she’d barely had time to recover from her wounds, reflected a fierce pleasure in the feeling of horror the prisoner was about to feel.
“Wait. Wait how did you know about the plans?” He struggled to glance at the four of them, keep them in his vision.
“We have people.” Sykes smiled, a calming presence that was sure to unnerve the hostage even more. “For example, take yourself. A young man, certainly good at his job, certainly not ready to die just yet. You could help just as much as those already working with us.”
The man spat. “Bluffs, all of it. You do not understand why we do what we do. Death strikes no fear in our hearts for we follow the way of the undying. We follow the path that brings us to salvation. None from our order could be swayed so easily by promises of the false life that comes by betraying our masters.”
Julian leaned forward now, interested more in what this man might say about the followers of the immortals than their immediate plans.
The room hung in eerie silence while the interrogators exchanged knowing looks. “The way of the undying,” Laghardi started, the words slow and languid in her mouth, “is not so unknown to us. You are not the only one with an immortal in your ranks. The antiquated ways of the old immortals have passed.”
His eyes jumped from them again, straining to see Grace, who stood just out of his range of vision. “You… you have an immortal in your ranks? A pathetic lie. Angelos Thanatos exists for one reason, to bring death to the angels among us.”
“Are they actually proposing that he worship Julian?” asked Lapinsky, a wry smile on his face. “Ever want to be a cult leader, zombie man?”
Julian didn’t respond to this, pressing a fist to his mouth, deep in thought.
“If you are so rigid in the ways of your mistress, then there will be no way to sway you,” Sykes said. “And we respect your loyalty if not the Lady herself. Not all of your fellow cultists have been swayed.”
Kjlad leaned back, face unconcerned. “You are not so clever as you think. Even if you do have an immortal. You know not our ways.”
“Humans all default to the same damn fear that runs us all,” Grace said. “The bravest fucking soldier can turn into a wimpering puddle if the right levers are pulled.” She stressed the last word in a way that made even Julian shudder.
“We know the immortals all hate each other,” Laghardi said. “It wasn’t hard to get their allegiances to change. But it was possible.”
Now even Julian wasn’t sure if she was lying. He looked over at Sofia. “Is she… that’s not legit, right? Like we don’t have Von Marwitz followers hidden in Omicron who are like, somehow worshipping…” He couldn’t finish the sentence and his face burned.
“Worshipping you? No, don’t worry about that.” Sofia laughed. “It’s a bluff but he’s acting kind of strange about it.”
“He doesn’t buy it,” Lapinsky said. “He’s too unconcerned.”
“I think he does,” Malone said. “Look how angry he was when we first suggested it. Especially given it was the truth and it’s possible even that, in hindsight, he could recognize Blake.”
“So why the sudden calmness?” Lapinsky said. “I don’t like it. It’s never good when they get calm.”
“It’s a clue,” Malone said. “I’m just not sure what it means yet.”
After this, the operative kept his lips shut. It was as if the interrogators had given him a piece of info that let him rest assured that he hadn’t, in fact, given anything vital away, even though he’d confirmed an invasion and even given them some insight into the minds of their enemy.
Later, after Kjlad was returned to his cell, with the plans to keep him there a few more days before one final interview, the leads all convened in the medbay. Usually the lounge would have been the ideal meeting location but Grace needed closer medical attention, especially since she’d skipped care earlier in favor of rattling the bones of their captive.
“I’ve started some auto decrypters on the cipher, to take a first crack,” Sykes said, leaning back as he sipped at a glass of fine brandy, the likes of which he’d had bottled and stored in his quarters ‘for decades, in case we ever actually had a victory’. He’d cracked a bottle only twice before and it made Julian’s chest swell just a tad, knowing that the old officer had some hope.
“Any luck?” Lapinsky asked. The renegade sniper had been added to their ranks, much to the amusement or even delight for most of the group. Only Grace and Sykes seemed to resent the addition.
“So far? It’s been about an hour.” The old surveillance lead pinched his lips. “This takes time.”
“Not like in the movies,” Sofia said, a little laugh on her lips. “None of our work is.”
He grinned. “Speak for yourself.”
“Maybe military or infiltration or whatever,” Julian said. “Not science. God could you imagine if it was all explosions and eurekas? Our funding would be astronomical if we could produce results like that.”
“Isn’t it already?” Grace asked. “Once the money went out to fund the new research opp, everyone got more cuts than you’d imagine.”
“And,” Laghardi said, “we got closer than anyone ever expected. An immortal of our own. So let’s not gripe about money. You’re all dead anyway. What I want to discuss is actually something separate from both the interrogation, something only tangentially related to even the cipher.” She paused then, looked at Lapinsky and then looked to Julian, almost as if sharing a brief conversation with the sniper.
“After those pictures you showed him on the helicopter, I think he can handle it,” the young man said. “Warn you though, Julian, it’s bad stuff.”
“What is?”
Laghardi pulled out her tablet. “Video. The full version of it, which even I haven’t seen. As recovered as we can get it. It might be a little shocking to you.”
Julian swallowed hard. “Ok. Ok let’s see it.”
He thought he’d become numb to violence but apparently it took more than a few bloodied pictures and one military excursion to do that. God, it wasn’t fair what the followers had done. Julian understood that these levels of violence and cold apathy towards human suffering existed in every military across the planet, regardless of whether he considered the military to be on the side of good or not. He knew that. He knew that the scene he saw in front of him wasn’t unusual and that the likes of Grace, Laghardi, and Lapinsky were watching with clinical curiosity.
But Julian’s eyes were glued to his former coworkers. To the various military units in the building leaping to action as if they could somehow fight the invasion off, not knowing what Julian already knew: that they’d all be dead by the end of the recording. No, the looks of grim determination did not betray the faces of people who suspected this would be a total wipe.
Instead, Julian was treated to watching Annie sprint into the cafeteria, shouting for Damien, who she didn’t know was long dead. There was visible confusion across anyone who noticed her frantic entrance, followed by shouts of confusion as the alarms began ringing through the base.
That’s when the invasion struck. The main doors flung open and people dressed all in black appeared in the doorway. There was no fanfare, no exciting maneuvers, nothing flashy, just the summary execution of everyone in the room. A few got away. A few scattered through the side doors, into the kitchen or the maintenance exits. Julian’s heart ached to see Corks grabbing a now hysterical Annie and thrust her into a side door, where he turned only to receive a round straight to the chest. He must have died thinking he’d given her a fighting chance.
But there would be no chance for Annie as she stumbled through the maintenance hall only to find a door burst open in front of her.
Julian looked away, eyes screwed up, nauseas. Why had Laghardi shown him this? Why had this been worth seeing?
“Julian.” The word, soft and hesitant, came from Sofia. “You don’t have to watch this.”
“Why are we watching it at all,” he asked, voice twisted with bitterness. “Do you all just enjoy this?”
“Yeah, we like watching senseless violence, it’s why we joined the fucking military division,” Grace said. “Get over yourself, Blake. You’re going to have to and there’s a reason the Colonel is showing us this, I trust.” She looked to Laghardi for assurance of this.
“There is and it wasn’t to make Blake uncomfortable nor was it to give you a chance to wail on him more, Sergeant. If you’re too compromised to handle this professionally, we can take this to the lounge while you recover from what has certainly been an exhausting and draining mission.” Laghardi’s eyes fixed Grace with a look of both stern force and cool compassion.
Grace groaned almost inaudibly and rested her head on her hand. “No, go on. I’ll shut up.”
The real point, it turned out, wasn’t to make Julian uncomfortable. According to the Colonel, there was a shot on the camera that showed intel deciphering an intercepted message, using Lady Helga’s code. Though the video was almost impossible to fully make out, Sykes was thrilled by the information. He went on and on about watching the cipher being cracked in real time was fantastically helpful, even if there wasn’t much raw info contained, ‘it’s the process, the process, it’s invaluable’.
All Julian saw was Corks ushering Annie through a door and wheeling around, just a flicker of triumph on his face as he began to call out more instructions and then—
He excused himself after the meeting and went down to the gym. All the soldiers he talked to swore up and down that venting steam by ‘beating something up’ provided some form of catharsis so Julian had at it. The facility’s training room was reasonably small but well enough stocked. His mile had improved from fifteen minutes to twelve and forty eight seconds but today he blasted past that, clocking in at eleven minutes and fifty six seconds. Despite running on fumes, having maybe half a meal and a couple period hour long naps since the actual mission, his body managed to pull out a strength he didn’t know he had.
After warming up, he tried lifting but the slow, methodical reps didn’t quite do it. So he went to town on the punching bags, hitting them like somehow they were the smug face of the Lady Helga herself, someone Julian had, admittedly, only seen in photos and paintings. She was the one responsible for this shit he was in and if he could have taped a picture of her to the bag, he would have.
“You’ll break your toes like that. Save the high kicks for ballet.” Grace’s voice didn’t quite rub on him like he expected it to, after her outburst in the infirmary. Maybe it was just that it felt so at home in the gym or maybe it was the amused tone, despite the rebuke.
“You kick.”
“When I need to. And never like that. Besides, my legs are stronger than my arms.” She stepped through the room, over by his side, posture tired but face resolved. “Let me show you.”
“Shouldn’t you be resting?”
She laughed. “I’ve gone longer than this. It’s only eighteen hundred hours. If I sleep now, I’ll be up too early. Circadian rhythm and all. Here.” She gestured at him to stand in front of her.
He did, chest still rising rapidly from the intense exercise.
She put her foot on top of his. “How much pressure do you think I need to exert to hurt you here?”
Before he could answer, she started putting weight down and he shouted in anticipation of the pain. “Ow! Stop! Very little, very little.”
“Alright. Now suppose I kick the inside of your foot.” She demonstrated by kicking the inside of his foot. “Wasn’t a gentle kick, but…”
“Didn’t hurt much.”
“Now picture the bottom of your foot. With a boot on especially, inside and bottom aren’t gonna hurt much but the top of your foot is weak.” She lined up to the punching bag and demonstrated a few kicks. “Kick with the top of your foot, you’re gonna break it. So leave that for the dancers, ok? Really...” she eyed his posture, “you should leave kicking for the dancers in general.”
He ignored this and treated the punching bag to a well aimed kick with the side of his foot. It connected well and and stumbled back a bit at the force. “I’m not half bad.”
“Punching,” she gave two jabs to the bag, “is rarely going to throw you off balance. Low kicks or kneeing someone are better for someone of your skill level but even that could be risky if they grab your leg. You lack the finesse to get yourself out of a situation where you’re stuck on one foot and being held by someone who is trying to kill you. This isn’t the Avengers. A punch doesn’t just glance off your face, maybe leaving you with a bloody nose and otherwise unharmed.”
“Yeah but I don’t like those movies too much. Like, they’re funny but that choreography—” he grinned “—should be left to the dancers.”
She grinned back and leaned against the punching bag. “Came out here to apologize. Which is weird, because I’m not usually asked to do that. But seeing as you aren’t a grunt who signed up for boot camp, Colonel says I gotta be nice to you.”
“Tall order?”
She sighed, fixing him with a hard look. “You don’t really know what my life or my job is like. I don’t like my men dying and the less likely they are to fall apart crying during combat, the less likely they are to eat it on a mission. How you felt losing your team isn’t something new to Laghardi or myself. In fact I know Kellermeister is probably kicking himself for losing myself and the others to your little coup.”
“Why do you suppose he didn’t buy my story?” Julian asked.
She rubbed the back of her head. “You’ve probably heard a lot of military bluster about R&D wasting resources with no results. Fuck, you just heard it from me. Reality is, they want a weapon that’s just gonna blast the immortals into the next life. They don’t want the risk that comes with taking someone like you on. Don’t like that kind of change. Willing to talk the talk and walk the same walk they’d walked for years but you tell them they gotta walk a new path…”
“So why you?” It was a question he’d been dying to ask in the moments of downtime, in the minute of ‘catch your breath before the next set’ or even in the walk from training to the showers and then to lunch. They’d talked, Julian couldn’t remember about what, but they’d talked about enough to fill every potential quiet moment. But not about her history, not much.
“I joined this fight cause immortals gotta die, no two ways about it. God didn’t make life the way he did expecting it to not end. But this immortality also doesn’t exactly fit in the bible so I needed to know how it all clicked. You’re the best path towards that, so I figured I’d give you a shot.”
He opened his lips, ready to speak before fully processing this, but Grace stood up.
“Gonna go to my bunk, getting some reading done.” She stretched her back. “Might clock out an hour early, get the extra sleep. Night, Blake.”
After her dismissal, he sat on the bench in the gym a few minutes longer. But his fire to beat up sandbags had worn off and he felt the call of his bunk as well. He departed for his room, fingers crossed that, come the morning, the progress of the various expeditions would outweigh the sorrow on his chest.
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2020.09.11 18:04 Samara_Buckley_Derby The Beginning of the End: Chapter 8 --- Behind the Mirror

Summary: Fighting immortals is a sweetheart job for someone obsessed with the afterlife. Dying on the job, however, is cutting it too close. However, Julian's curiosity with the great beyond pushes him a little too far, back to the land of the living and cursed with a damned soul, just like the immortals he's sworn to fight...
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Handcuffs, bag over the head, half escorting, half dragging… Julian had never been on this side of an interrogation and he couldn’t say if he liked it much better than being blindfolded. In the heat of combat, it was easy to care very little about Lady Helga’s screaming henchmen as they clutched at newly made bullet holes and fell to the ground dead. But the longer time passed between combat and the eventual death of the hostile, the harder killing him would get. He’d been unconscious on the flight to Apex and sedated on the remaining several hours back to Fleur, but now he was awake.
Awake and, unlike Julian, guilty. Julian had to keep reminding himself of this crucial difference. This man had killed people. Julian had watched him and his cohort attack and shoot to kill. This man belonged to the same group as Monica and her infiltrators. This man would kill every single one of them if he had the chance.
Mercy wasn’t in the cards here.
“Stay behind the glass,” Laghardi said as they reached the room. “Interrogation tactics are ugly and your discomfort will be obvious.” She then continued into the room with Grace, Head of Surveillance Sykes, and Schmidt, shutting the door sharply in their wake.
Julian was waved into a room by Sofia Cortez, who smiled cheerily. “This will be so much better than yours. I felt pretty bad about that one.”
“Yeah, me too.”
She laughed and reached for her mug, only to curse when she found it empty. The two were joined by Malone and Lapinsky, who Julian wasn’t sure was technically supposed to be there but he certainly didn’t say anything to challenge him.
Sofia looked at the young man who hadn’t taken his eyes off the two way mirror and snorted. “Ah. Finally Pooja’s roped you in.”
He jumped, turning to her with a big smile on his face. “Sofi! I suppose I should have expected to see you.” She climbed to her feet and crushed Lapinsky in what Julian knew from experience was a rather terrifying hug. “So no one died then?” he asked.
She rolled her eyes and pointed at the seat between her and Julian. “It was a ruse. Just a ruse. The rebels mostly took each other out, make it look convincing, both those who are purportedly traitors and those good brave men who died.”
He nodded this over, stroking his chin. “Excellent. Who came up with this?”
Sofia nodded at the glass. “Who do you think?”
“Right then, hush it now, the show’s about to start,” Malone said, waving them down.
“Jackson Kjlad,” Laghardi started. “Follower of Lady Helga Von Marwitz. We have some questions for you. Answer briefly and succinctly and this will go well for all of us.”
The interrogation was almost disappointingly slow to start. The four in the surveillance room had access to multiple screens showing a close up of the prisoner, who was luckily a stoney faced man in his mid 30s. It’s not that a different outward appearance would technically change anything but Julian was at least glad to know they weren’t about to interrogate, possible torture, and then execute some 20 year old.
Still the man was unwilling to talk. The four interrogators split into a sorta good cop bad cop bit, with Laghardi and Sykes playing nice and Grace really taking the vitriol up a notch. Schmidt was, apparently, not meant to do much other than stand behind her and look menacing. As a pilot, he wasn’t best suited for an interrogation but he was the only other high ranking military official there.
It was about thirty minutes in that Kjlad finally said something interesting.
“You don’t have shit. That’s why you were there. You’re desperate.”
“We know about your invasion,” Laghardi said, likely surprising everyone on both sides of the glass. “We’ve hacked as much using the messages we’ve intercepted from your operatives. They’re very good, by the way. Very useful.”
The man’s face went from dusky to dazzling sunset in a split second. “They’re leading you on. They know you’ve got their scent. And there are others too, in there, that you don't know about. You’ll spend so much time trying to figure out which is which and who’s who that you’ll never be able to stop us in time. There might not even be an invasion, for all you know.”
That took nerve to make such an accusation. Unless Julian had missed something vital, there’d be no word of an invasion or an attack.
“I appreciate your cadency. We will, of course, consider this going forward.”
“I still haven’t told you shit, bitch—”
This rewarded him with a blow from Schmit so hard that Julian’s ears hurt and Sofia winced. “Keep talking,” the giant of a man growled. “Make my day.”
“You’re gonna kill me anyway,” the man said, a jeer on his face. “You’re gonna kill me not knowing anything.”
“We know there’s going to be an attack,” Laghardi said, tapping on her tablet almost bored.
“Anything new,” Kjlad clarified.
“Mmmmm.” Laghardi drew out the word nice and long before her eyes flicked up to Grace. The woman’s face, though still pale as she’d barely had time to recover from her wounds, reflected a fierce pleasure in the feeling of horror the prisoner was about to feel.
“Wait. Wait how did you know about the plans?” He struggled to glance at the four of them, keep them in his vision.
“We have people.” Sykes smiled, a calming presence that was sure to unnerve the hostage even more. “For example, take yourself. A young man, certainly good at his job, certainly not ready to die just yet. You could help just as much as those already working with us.”
The man spat. “Bluffs, all of it. You do not understand why we do what we do. Death strikes no fear in our hearts for we follow the way of the undying. We follow the path that brings us to salvation. None from our order could be swayed so easily by promises of the false life that comes by betraying our masters.”
Julian leaned forward now, interested more in what this man might say about the followers of the immortals than their immediate plans.
The room hung in eerie silence while the interrogators exchanged knowing looks. “The way of the undying,” Laghardi started, the words slow and languid in her mouth, “is not so unknown to us. You are not the only one with an immortal in your ranks. The antiquated ways of the old immortals have passed.”
His eyes jumped from them again, straining to see Grace, who stood just out of his range of vision. “You… you have an immortal in your ranks? A pathetic lie. Angelos Thanatos exists for one reason, to bring death to the angels among us.”
“Are they actually proposing that he worship Julian?” asked Lapinsky, a wry smile on his face. “Ever want to be a cult leader, zombie man?”
Julian didn’t respond to this, pressing a fist to his mouth, deep in thought.
“If you are so rigid in the ways of your mistress, then there will be no way to sway you,” Sykes said. “And we respect your loyalty if not the Lady herself. Not all of your fellow cultists have been swayed.”
Kjlad leaned back, face unconcerned. “You are not so clever as you think. Even if you do have an immortal. You know not our ways.”
“Humans all default to the same damn fear that runs us all,” Grace said. “The bravest fucking soldier can turn into a wimpering puddle if the right levers are pulled.” She stressed the last word in a way that made even Julian shudder.
“We know the immortals all hate each other,” Laghardi said. “It wasn’t hard to get their allegiances to change. But it was possible.”
Now even Julian wasn’t sure if she was lying. He looked over at Sofia. “Is she… that’s not legit, right? Like we don’t have Von Marwitz followers hidden in Omicron who are like, somehow worshipping…” He couldn’t finish the sentence and his face burned.
“Worshipping you? No, don’t worry about that.” Sofia laughed. “It’s a bluff but he’s acting kind of strange about it.”
“He doesn’t buy it,” Lapinsky said. “He’s too unconcerned.”
“I think he does,” Malone said. “Look how angry he was when we first suggested it. Especially given it was the truth and it’s possible even that, in hindsight, he could recognize Blake.”
“So why the sudden calmness?” Lapinsky said. “I don’t like it. It’s never good when they get calm.”
“It’s a clue,” Malone said. “I’m just not sure what it means yet.”
After this, the operative kept his lips shut. It was as if the interrogators had given him a piece of info that let him rest assured that he hadn’t, in fact, given anything vital away, even though he’d confirmed an invasion and even given them some insight into the minds of their enemy.
Later, after Kjlad was returned to his cell, with the plans to keep him there a few more days before one final interview, the leads all convened in the medbay. Usually the lounge would have been the ideal meeting location but Grace needed closer medical attention, especially since she’d skipped care earlier in favor of rattling the bones of their captive.
“I’ve started some auto decrypters on the cipher, to take a first crack,” Sykes said, leaning back as he sipped at a glass of fine brandy, the likes of which he’d had bottled and stored in his quarters ‘for decades, in case we ever actually had a victory’. He’d cracked a bottle only twice before and it made Julian’s chest swell just a tad, knowing that the old officer had some hope.
“Any luck?” Lapinsky asked. The renegade sniper had been added to their ranks, much to the amusement or even delight for most of the group. Only Grace and Sykes seemed to resent the addition.
“So far? It’s been about an hour.” The old surveillance lead pinched his lips. “This takes time.”
“Not like in the movies,” Sofia said, a little laugh on her lips. “None of our work is.”
He grinned. “Speak for yourself.”
“Maybe military or infiltration or whatever,” Julian said. “Not science. God could you imagine if it was all explosions and eurekas? Our funding would be astronomical if we could produce results like that.”
“Isn’t it already?” Grace asked. “Once the money went out to fund the new research opp, everyone got more cuts than you’d imagine.”
“And,” Laghardi said, “we got closer than anyone ever expected. An immortal of our own. So let’s not gripe about money. You’re all dead anyway. What I want to discuss is actually something separate from both the interrogation, something only tangentially related to even the cipher.” She paused then, looked at Lapinsky and then looked to Julian, almost as if sharing a brief conversation with the sniper.
“After those pictures you showed him on the helicopter, I think he can handle it,” the young man said. “Warn you though, Julian, it’s bad stuff.”
“What is?”
Laghardi pulled out her tablet. “Video. The full version of it, which even I haven’t seen. As recovered as we can get it. It might be a little shocking to you.”
Julian swallowed hard. “Ok. Ok let’s see it.”
He thought he’d become numb to violence but apparently it took more than a few bloodied pictures and one military excursion to do that. God, it wasn’t fair what the followers had done. Julian understood that these levels of violence and cold apathy towards human suffering existed in every military across the planet, regardless of whether he considered the military to be on the side of good or not. He knew that. He knew that the scene he saw in front of him wasn’t unusual and that the likes of Grace, Laghardi, and Lapinsky were watching with clinical curiosity.
But Julian’s eyes were glued to his former coworkers. To the various military units in the building leaping to action as if they could somehow fight the invasion off, not knowing what Julian already knew: that they’d all be dead by the end of the recording. No, the looks of grim determination did not betray the faces of people who suspected this would be a total wipe.
Instead, Julian was treated to watching Annie sprint into the cafeteria, shouting for Damien, who she didn’t know was long dead. There was visible confusion across anyone who noticed her frantic entrance, followed by shouts of confusion as the alarms began ringing through the base.
That’s when the invasion struck. The main doors flung open and people dressed all in black appeared in the doorway. There was no fanfare, no exciting maneuvers, nothing flashy, just the summary execution of everyone in the room. A few got away. A few scattered through the side doors, into the kitchen or the maintenance exits. Julian’s heart ached to see Corks grabbing a now hysterical Annie and thrust her into a side door, where he turned only to receive a round straight to the chest. He must have died thinking he’d given her a fighting chance.
But there would be no chance for Annie as she stumbled through the maintenance hall only to find a door burst open in front of her.
Julian looked away, eyes screwed up, nauseas. Why had Laghardi shown him this? Why had this been worth seeing?
“Julian.” The word, soft and hesitant, came from Sofia. “You don’t have to watch this.”
“Why are we watching it at all,” he asked, voice twisted with bitterness. “Do you all just enjoy this?”
“Yeah, we like watching senseless violence, it’s why we joined the fucking military division,” Grace said. “Get over yourself, Blake. You’re going to have to and there’s a reason the Colonel is showing us this, I trust.” She looked to Laghardi for assurance of this.
“There is and it wasn’t to make Blake uncomfortable nor was it to give you a chance to wail on him more, Sergeant. If you’re too compromised to handle this professionally, we can take this to the lounge while you recover from what has certainly been an exhausting and draining mission.” Laghardi’s eyes fixed Grace with a look of both stern force and cool compassion.
Grace groaned almost inaudibly and rested her head on her hand. “No, go on. I’ll shut up.”
The real point, it turned out, wasn’t to make Julian uncomfortable. According to the Colonel, there was a shot on the camera that showed intel deciphering an intercepted message, using Lady Helga’s code. Though the video was almost impossible to fully make out, Sykes was thrilled by the information. He went on and on about watching the cipher being cracked in real time was fantastically helpful, even if there wasn’t much raw info contained, ‘it’s the process, the process, it’s invaluable’.
All Julian saw was Corks ushering Annie through a door and wheeling around, just a flicker of triumph on his face as he began to call out more instructions and then—
He excused himself after the meeting and went down to the gym. All the soldiers he talked to swore up and down that venting steam by ‘beating something up’ provided some form of catharsis so Julian had at it. The facility’s training room was reasonably small but well enough stocked. His mile had improved from fifteen minutes to twelve and forty eight seconds but today he blasted past that, clocking in at eleven minutes and fifty six seconds. Despite running on fumes, having maybe half a meal and a couple period hour long naps since the actual mission, his body managed to pull out a strength he didn’t know he had.
After warming up, he tried lifting but the slow, methodical reps didn’t quite do it. So he went to town on the punching bags, hitting them like somehow they were the smug face of the Lady Helga herself, someone Julian had, admittedly, only seen in photos and paintings. She was the one responsible for this shit he was in and if he could have taped a picture of her to the bag, he would have.
“You’ll break your toes like that. Save the high kicks for ballet.” Grace’s voice didn’t quite rub on him like he expected it to, after her outburst in the infirmary. Maybe it was just that it felt so at home in the gym or maybe it was the amused tone, despite the rebuke.
“You kick.”
“When I need to. And never like that. Besides, my legs are stronger than my arms.” She stepped through the room, over by his side, posture tired but face resolved. “Let me show you.”
“Shouldn’t you be resting?”
She laughed. “I’ve gone longer than this. It’s only eighteen hundred hours. If I sleep now, I’ll be up too early. Circadian rhythm and all. Here.” She gestured at him to stand in front of her.
He did, chest still rising rapidly from the intense exercise.
She put her foot on top of his. “How much pressure do you think I need to exert to hurt you here?”
Before he could answer, she started putting weight down and he shouted in anticipation of the pain. “Ow! Stop! Very little, very little.”
“Alright. Now suppose I kick the inside of your foot.” She demonstrated by kicking the inside of his foot. “Wasn’t a gentle kick, but…”
“Didn’t hurt much.”
“Now picture the bottom of your foot. With a boot on especially, inside and bottom aren’t gonna hurt much but the top of your foot is weak.” She lined up to the punching bag and demonstrated a few kicks. “Kick with the top of your foot, you’re gonna break it. So leave that for the dancers, ok? Really...” she eyed his posture, “you should leave kicking for the dancers in general.”
He ignored this and treated the punching bag to a well aimed kick with the side of his foot. It connected well and and stumbled back a bit at the force. “I’m not half bad.”
“Punching,” she gave two jabs to the bag, “is rarely going to throw you off balance. Low kicks or kneeing someone are better for someone of your skill level but even that could be risky if they grab your leg. You lack the finesse to get yourself out of a situation where you’re stuck on one foot and being held by someone who is trying to kill you. This isn’t the Avengers. A punch doesn’t just glance off your face, maybe leaving you with a bloody nose and otherwise unharmed.”
“Yeah but I don’t like those movies too much. Like, they’re funny but that choreography—” he grinned “—should be left to the dancers.”
She grinned back and leaned against the punching bag. “Came out here to apologize. Which is weird, because I’m not usually asked to do that. But seeing as you aren’t a grunt who signed up for boot camp, Colonel says I gotta be nice to you.”
“Tall order?”
She sighed, fixing him with a hard look. “You don’t really know what my life or my job is like. I don’t like my men dying and the less likely they are to fall apart crying during combat, the less likely they are to eat it on a mission. How you felt losing your team isn’t something new to Laghardi or myself. In fact I know Kellermeister is probably kicking himself for losing myself and the others to your little coup.”
“Why do you suppose he didn’t buy my story?” Julian asked.
She rubbed the back of her head. “You’ve probably heard a lot of military bluster about R&D wasting resources with no results. Fuck, you just heard it from me. Reality is, they want a weapon that’s just gonna blast the immortals into the next life. They don’t want the risk that comes with taking someone like you on. Don’t like that kind of change. Willing to talk the talk and walk the same walk they’d walked for years but you tell them they gotta walk a new path…”
“So why you?” It was a question he’d been dying to ask in the moments of downtime, in the minute of ‘catch your breath before the next set’ or even in the walk from training to the showers and then to lunch. They’d talked, Julian couldn’t remember about what, but they’d talked about enough to fill every potential quiet moment. But not about her history, not much.
“I joined this fight cause immortals gotta die, no two ways about it. God didn’t make life the way he did expecting it to not end. But this immortality also doesn’t exactly fit in the bible so I needed to know how it all clicked. You’re the best path towards that, so I figured I’d give you a shot.”
He opened his lips, ready to speak before fully processing this, but Grace stood up.
“Gonna go to my bunk, getting some reading done.” She stretched her back. “Might clock out an hour early, get the extra sleep. Night, Blake.”
After her dismissal, he sat on the bench in the gym a few minutes longer. But his fire to beat up sandbags had worn off and he felt the call of his bunk as well. He departed for his room, fingers crossed that, come the morning, the progress of the various expeditions would outweigh the sorrow on his chest.
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2020.08.11 08:18 Jern92 MOO

The cows stared. Their eyes wide and milky, streaked with the red of burst blood vessels. A pathetic moo echoed in the air, which slowly but gradually grew into a terrified onomatopoeic chorus. He tried sticking his chapped fingers deep into his ears, but to no avail. The cacophony echoed within the walls of his skull, threatening to derail his thoughts completely.
HELP, he thought.
He felt his knees give way as he collapsed onto the ground. His hands clasped tightly over his ears, thinking STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP. But a different sound was coming out of his mouth; a low rumble, from the depths of his belly, resulting in a sonorous moo. Was it him? Was it the cows? Was he a cow? He no longer knew; he just wanted the chaos to end.
The sound of gravel crunching beneath his feet jolted him back to reality. Neon signs. Street lights. The honk of a distant car. Grass. Green grass. Damp, green grass tickling his nostrils.
He opened his eyes and reared back in alarm. A ringed nostril hovered in the air, millimeters from his face. “Moo,” it said. As his eyes focused, he saw a pair of beady eyes, tiny ears, a furry, skeletal frame.
Was this reality? Or was this part of the same nightmare that had been haunting him for the past few days? Kept him awake at nights? Sent him on endless midnight walks, too terrified to close his eyes in case he saw them again? The days, minutes, hours, all blended into an endless kaleidoscope of light and sound and terror.
He still remembered what life was like before. Waking up to the morning alarm. Wanking. Walking to the train station. Waiting for the elevators. Waving to his colleagues as he walked in to the brightly lit office.
There was a before and after now. Before when everything was normal. And after when everything went to hell.
He hadn’t been to work in a week. A quick phone call had settled that; a bad case of food poisoning, he had said. They believed him, told him to rest and get well. After all, when had he ever let them down? OK, maybe a couple of times. But at the end of the day, he had always delivered, and they knew that. Valued that. Trusted him. After 5 years of hard work, he deserved it. And they couldn’t exactly afford to lose him either.
But how long could he keep it up though? Food poisoning doesn’t last forever. A few days, max. They had already been generous, letting him take the whole week off. Perhaps a sabbatical? Until whatever this is went away? Could he afford it? But deep down he knew he didn’t have a choice.
He felt something large and wet on his face. The cow was licking him now. Once, twice, across his entire face. An earthy scent of grass, saliva, and soil wafted to his nostrils. It smelt almost welcoming. Like home. Freshly baked bread. Frying bacon. Farm animals. His mother’s perfume. Memories of a childhood long gone blossomed in his mind, and he lay there, savoring every moment. Anything to escape from the hell of the present.
*
He was six again. Standing in the kitchen, watching his mother prepare his favorite mac and cheese. His father was outside, feeding the cows and goats and chickens. He loved them, the way they would nuzzle themselves against him, the feel of their wiry fur and feathers against his hands as he stroked their backs.
“Sweetie, could you pass me the plate, please?”
“Sure, mummy! Here you go!”
“Thanks dear. Who’s a good boy? You are!”
But then the scene changed. Shouts. Whispers. Plates thrown against the wall. Hard, vicious slaps.
“Stop! Stop it!” Sobbing, a mixture of tears and snot flowed down his face.
“Mummy! No!”
He found himself shoved aside. Crashed into the standing mirror in the hallway. As the bits and pieces of broken glass rained down, he felt a sharp, piercing pain in his side. Blood, pouring forth, around a jagged piece of glass sticking out of his flesh. In the heat of the moment, he didn’t even feel it. Just stared at the mysterious pool of red soaking into his pants. The brand new pair of pants he had begged his mother to buy just earlier that week. It was yellow; now it had turned a pale brown as the blood seeped into the fabric.
There was a scream. She rushed towards him.
“Call the ambulance, you asshole!” He heard the desperate dialing, his father telling someone over the phone that his son had fallen and gotten hurt. Heard the slight whimper in his voice as he said it.
The next few hours were a blur. He heard the wail of the ambulance, felt strong arms lifting him into a stretcher, a calm voice telling him everything would be alright. He saw her face, floating in and out of focus, saying she loved him and he would be ok and how sorry she was about everything that happened.
He remembered the hospital lights. The crisp white sheets smelling strongly of disinfectant. The chubby nurse who smiled too widely, the doctor who poked and prodded him. The dull throbbing pain in his side. His parents by his bedside, no longer fighting.
“Hi sweetheart, are you feeling ok?” his mother asked, while his father stroked his hair gently. It was all back to normal now. One big happy family, just like he always wanted. Everything hurt, but he nodded. It’s all ok now.
From then on, whenever he saw them fighting, he would find a way to get hurt. A bump here, a scratch there. It distracted them, stopped them from whatever they were doing to each other and made them focus on him instead. He would cry loudly, wait for them to run to him, and show off the latest wound. If it was bloody, even better. They would spend the next hour or so cleaning and nursing it, and there would be no fighting for the next week or so because they were focused on him. Or so he told himself.
Once, when he was ten, he threw himself down the stairs because they couldn’t hear him crying above the shouting and sounds of breaking china. The loud thud and his scream of pain as he crashed into the old wooden chest on the landing brought them running. He broke his arm that day, and had to spend the night in the hospital, slung up in a cast. It itched like hell but as hard as he tried, he couldn’t feel anything when he scratched the plaster. He was relieved when it came off after a couple of months.
*
“Hey man, are you ok?”
He blinked, and saw a figure standing above him. A man in stained, disheveled clothing, peering cautiously at him. The cow had vanished, probably found some grass somewhere that tasted better than his sweaty face.
“Do you need help?”
He tried to force the corner of his lips into a smile but it took too much effort. “I’m not alright,” he thought, but all that came out of his mouth was a grunt. He raised his arm and gave a thumbs up.
“Ok, if you say so. Have a good night man, and get home safe.” The man turned around and walked away across the field. He probably thought he just stumbled across a drunk, too inebriated to get home after a late night partying. It couldn’t have been further from the truth.
He supposed he must have looked a sight; a grown man, curled up on the damp ground with a cow licking his face in the middle of the night. What would his colleagues think if they saw him now? Still the same reliable Samuel, always keen to help others and did his best when it came to work?
He doubted it. They would probably walk away like that stranger did, perhaps even call the police to have him arrested. Or sent to a mental institution, where he would be thrown into an empty cell, arms strapped to his side in a straitjacket, away from everything and everyone.
Over the years, he had heard some horror stories about the local asylum. How the food had dead cockroaches in them. How the crazies were locked away, screaming their heads off all day and all night. How some were raped for years before anyone found out, because they never said anything about it. He shuddered. No, no way he would let himself be committed. He would rather face a thousand enraged cows before he let that happen.
The thought of cows filled his mind with images. Sounds. The wind rushing against his ears. Angry moos and bellows. His mother screaming his name. Blood. So much blood.
No! He shook his head fiercely. No more!
Slowly, he picked himself up. There was a damp patch in his shorts. Did he wet himself? Or did he fall into a puddle at some point that night? Never mind that, he had to get home. Before someone called the nuthouse doctors on him.
His legs were numb. They felt like two useless lumps of clay, but he forced himself to move. One foot in front of the other. Step by step, he would get there. He trudged through the muddy field, each step bringing more and more sensation back into his feet. The blood was flowing again. In the distance, he could see the façade of his apartment looming in the darkness. His home for the past 5 years.
Come on now, he told himself. Almost there. You can do it.
He couldn’t remember the rest of the walk, but somehow he made it all the way to the front door. Fumbled in his pockets for the keys. Unlocked the door. Pushed it open and walked in. Dropped his keys on the mantel. Kicked off his muddy shoes, made his way to the couch, and crashed.
His eyelids were heavy, but he knew what would happen if he let himself fall asleep. The first time it happened, he wrote it off as a bad dream. Overactive imagination, he thought. Too much stress at work. That’s what Dr. Google said. All he needed was some calming lavender tea before bed, and to steer clear of his devices for an hour before he went to sleep. It all sounded so easy. But of course, none of it worked.
The second night, he had woken up screaming. The sheets were plastered to his skin, slick with sweat. He had felt himself hurl, and quickly leaned over the side, just in time for the contents of his stomach to splatter to the ground. The mac and cheese, his mom’s old recipe, was a sticky, lumpy, yellowish mess.
The stench had triggered something in the back of his mind. Faint, fuzzy images, black and white and red and yellow, flashed by. He dug through his memories furiously, but it was no use. Whatever it was had gone again, like a fevered dream receding with daylight.
That was the day he called the office and lied to them. Told them he needed some time off because of something he ate. Well, at least the throwing up bit was true. He spent an hour scrubbing the floor of his bedroom, trying to get rid of every last stain, but the stench still hung heavy in the air. The acrid taste of bile and vomit, an unpleasant souvenir of the night before.
He scrubbed and scrubbed till his hands were raw, but to no avail. In the end he walked around with a bottle of cologne and sprayed it everywhere. The floors, the walls, the bed, the closet; everything was coated in a thin layer of Sauvage Black. Soon it was all he could smell, and it was overpowering, but at least the stench was gone.
He glanced at the clock on the wall. 4pm. The cleaning had taken the entire morning and the better part of the afternoon, but at least it was done. Suddenly he realized how tired he was. Almost every part of his body ached from the hours of being crouched on the floor. A rest would be perfect, he thought. A short nap, with no dreams. Usually when he was exhausted, his brain was too, and he stopped dreaming.
The bed looked incredibly tantalizing. Soft and welcoming, and he could hear the light pattering of rain on the windows too. Perfect for an afternoon nap. He took off his clothes, collapsed on the unmade bed, and shut his eyes.
Woke up gasping. This time they had been all over him, lumps of bloody flesh, gaps from which he could see bone. He tried to run, but they were everywhere. Soon, the ground had turned to rotten, rancid flesh, and he felt his feet sinking deep into a sea of maggots with every step he took. Soon it was up to his waist, and his chest, and his neck, all the way until his mouth and nose and eyes began filling with them and he began to choke. Felt his lungs contract, craving for that sweet, sweet air, but there was none.
That was the day he stopped sleeping. How long had it been since? Four, five days at least? But he couldn’t quite remember. His brain had stopped working. Perhaps this was what it felt like to go crazy. Hell, no wonder that homeless guy looks like shit. Probably smelt like shit too. He sniffed the air. Yup, that was it. The smell of shit. Only it wasn’t coming from the homeless guy. It was coming from him. He stank.
Maybe he should take a shower. Yes, that was it. A shower would keep him awake, make him feel better. He thought of the warmth of the water against his skin, the feel of shampoo in his hair. Heard the sound of the shower pattering on the ground. Like rain against the window panes. So soothing. So calming. He felt his eyes closing, the gentle sounds of rain echoing in his ears.
*
A loud thunderclap shook him awake. He was twelve, lying in bed in his childhood bedroom.
“Mummy?”
“Mummy? Are you there?”
He reached out for the cup of water he usually left by the bedside, but it wasn’t there. Thirst overwhelming sleepiness, he pushed aside the covers and got up. His leg still ached from his previous fall, so he walked with a limp. It had hurt like hell when it happened, but at least it stopped the fight.
Slowly made his way downstairs by the faint light of the moon filtering through the curtains. The TV was on in the living room. One of those infomercials where they show you extremely clumsy people, and the products that would make life better for them. There was a guy who kept dropping hot plates of food, so he got a fancy potholder that was lined on the outside for a stronger grip. He smiled into the camera, holding a gigantic platter in each hand, telling us to dial the number on the screen so our lives could be as great as his.
The infomercial ended, replaced by the colorful bars that tell you the TV is done for the day. No more programs. That’s what his father explained to him late one night, when he had trouble sleeping. He had made his way to the sound in the living room, and found his father lying under a thin blanket on the couch.
“Hey buddy, can’t sleep? Come here.”
He remembered the warmth of his father’s arms around him, the scratchiness of his day-old stubble on the top of his head. He stayed there till he fell asleep, and the next thing he knew it was morning and he was back in his bed.
Only this time, when he got to the living room, his father wasn’t there. Neither was the blanket he used on nights where he fell asleep in front of the TV. He heard a sound outside, and made his way to the window. Underneath the pale moonlight he could see two figures. Mother and father. Their voices were faint, but he could tell they were arguing. His mother was pointing furiously at his father, and he was backing away. Then his eyes adjusted to the darkness and he realized that she was holding a knife.
NO, he thought.
He still recalled the conversations he had with his father, growing up. Usually after a bad fight, his father would come in to his bedroom, and explain what happened. Told him that he had nothing to worry about, that they both loved him very much despite the fights.
“Your mother had a difficult life, son. Sometimes she loses control, and gets angry. But it’s ok, she’s angry at me, and I can take it.”
“It’s my fault sometimes. I make stupid mistakes and she’s only trying to help me do better.”
“She promised me the day you were born that she would never hurt you, and from the way she held you in her arms, I could tell that she meant it.”
He noticed then that his father had a poorly wrapped bandage around his left hand, and there was a patch of red in the middle. Growing, ever so slightly. Darkening. Taking over the whiteness of the bandage, slowly turning it the color of rust and sunsets.
NO NO NO.
He didn’t want his father getting hurt anymore. It wasn’t fair. He didn’t deserve it, no matter what mistakes he made. His mind raced, flicking through all the ways he had used to hurt himself before. A cut with the fruit knife. Slamming his fingers in the door. Tripping and falling down the stairs. Teasing the farm dog until it bit him. Being crushed under his father’s old motorcycle. Burning himself on the kitchen stove.
Yes, that could work. The stove.
He limped into the kitchen, determined. Turned on the gas. Held his bare arm above the flames and screamed in agony. Held it there for a few seconds before he couldn’t take it anymore, and pulled it back.
“Mummy! Daddy! Help!”
But no one came running. He could smell the burning flesh, the melted skin, and blinked back tears. But he was still alone. They couldn’t hear him from the front of the house. He needed something bigger. Brighter.
His eyes caught the kitchen curtains. Maybe that would cause a big enough fire that his parents would notice. Would have to come put it out. Would stop whatever they were doing outside. Would be safe.
He reached out his other arm and grabbed the edge of the curtains. Held them above the flames where his arm was, and within seconds the flame had caught. He watched as it slowly spread across the base of the curtains; flickering, hungry, alive. Yes, that would do. A small fire.
Then he turned and ran to the front door, flung it open, and screamed again. This time they heard. He saw his mother drop the knife and run towards him, while his father picked himself of the ground and followed close behind.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” But before he could answer they gasped and pushed him aside, running towards the kitchen.
“Call 911!”
“Grab the fire extinguisher!”
“Sammie, go outside and stay there!”
He turned around, and stared in shock. The entire kitchen was aflame. The curtains he had set on fire were now hidden behind the huge pyre that was the kitchen table. The floor, the cabinets, the refrigerator, everything was on fire. The house was starting to fill up with thick, black smoke, and he could feel his eyes and nose smarting.
Amidst the chaos, he could see his father struggling with the fire extinguisher. Trying to pull the pin off the top, but for some reason it was stuck. His mother was running around, grabbing whatever she could and tossing them into the front garden.
Then there was a new sound in the air. A cacophony of bleats, clucks, and moos, filled with terror.
“Bob! The animals!”
He saw his father drop the useless red cylinder with a loud clang, and rush past him. Run towards the barn. He followed, because he didn’t want to be alone. His arm still hurt, but he had forgotten about it.
He got there just as his father had lifted the heavy latch on the barn door and thrown it open. The next thing he knew, his father’s arms were around him and they fell to the side, right as a ball of fire came through the door. The poor animal was covered in flames, and he could see parts where the skin and flesh had charred away to reveal the blackened bones underneath. The smell of burning flesh filled the night air. It ran around in circles before it finally collapsed to the ground, a blackened, charred hunk.
Another one came running out, its one remaining eye bulging, red with blood vessels. It flew over them before it finally came to a crashing halt by the fence. The desperate cries of the animals sounded like something out of this world; he had never heard anything filled with so much pain and agony and suffering, and it scared him. He shut his eyes tight and began to cry.
“Hush, Sammie, it’s gonna be ok, son. Come on now, let’s get somewhere safe.”
He felt his father’s protective weight lift, and then he was being lifted up in the air.
“Come here now. We’re safe. We’re going to be ok.” Even as the words came out, he could hear his father’s voice break. He knew how much his father loved their farm animals. Doted on them, even. Once when a cow was giving birth, his father had spent the entire night by its side, keeping it company, telling it that everything would be ok, the same way he was doing now. He was good at taking care of others, making them feel safe and cared for.
A loud thud. A scream. He found himself falling through the air.
*
And jerked awake. Back in his apartment.
Safe. No more fires.
No more daddy.
*
The night his father died, he was told that there had been a fire. His parents had done their best but ultimately, they couldn’t save their home. His father had been trying to carry him to safety when one of his beloved cows had crashed into him. Set him aflame. Crushed him under its deadly weight, so there was no escape as he slowly burnt to death with it.
Try as hard as he could, the night was a blank. Had always been. Despite the week he spent his hospital, with his mother by his side, night and day. The last thing he remembered was feeling thirsty, and then he was lying in the familiar hospital room, with the bright tube lights on the ceiling.
When he had recovered enough, they moved in with his aunt’s family in the city. She was his father’s sister, and they would come by the farm every now and then, but this was the first time he saw their place. It was tiny compared to the farmhouse; a small one-bedroom flat at the edge of the city. He hated it. He missed the smell of his mother’s cooking wafting from the kitchen. He missed the sounds of the farm. He missed his room. But most of all, he missed his father, who was never going to come back.
The next few years were difficult. His aunt and uncle were nice, but they were hardly keeping their heads above water as it was. They couldn’t afford to feed two more mouths, and there was barely enough space in the flat for the four of them. His mother had to get a job at as a receptionist at a local law office. She hated it there; she would come home late at night, smelling of alcohol and cigarette smoke, and fall asleep on the couch.
Once he tried to get her to come to bed, but she slapped him and told him to leave her alone. Screamed at him that it was all his fault she was stuck in fucked up job kissing the asses of people she hated. When he started to cry, she grabbed his shoulders and shook him so hard his teeth rattled. Only when they heard the key turning in the lock did she stop, but not before giving him a slap and warning him not to tell anyone about it.
Over the years, it got worse. His mother sunk deeper and deeper into the bottle, and she would beat him every time he did something she disapproved of, or if she was in a bad mood. The pain he could handle; after all, he had put himself through much worse as a kid. But no one else could know. They wouldn’t understand. A part of him felt like he deserved it, although he could never quite explain why.
He started wearing long-sleeved shirts and baggy pants to hide the bruises from his aunt and uncle. He kept his head low, focused on his schoolwork, and steered clear of his mother as much as possible. He knew how miserable his father felt now, and a tiny, tiny part of him was glad that his father died that night, so he wouldn’t have to suffer anymore. But why was he left behind, to be his mother’s new punching bag?
The last straw came one day when his aunt walked in just as his mother grabbed him by the hair and smashed his face into the wall. She had just lost her job at the firm after turning up drunk two hours late and stumbled into the end of a Partners’ meeting with a tray of doughnuts meant for the beginning of it. Instead of apologizing when she was told to leave, she grabbed one of the men and slammed his face into the tray. He came up gasping for air, bits of chocolate and strawberry jam covering his face.
When she got home, she began hitting him. Over and over again. Telling him that it was all his fault, a good-for-nothing piece of shit destined to go the way his father did. He put up with it, knowing that soon she would cool down and stop. But she didn’t. It got worse. When she threw him against the wall, he felt his nose break and heard a scream.
There were a lot of tears, threats, apologies, and furious words exchanged, but he never saw his mother again after that day. She packed up the few belongings she had under the furious glare of his uncle, and left.
With both his parents gone, he felt the pain of losing his father anew, but this time his aunt and uncle were there. They were horrified at the things that had been going on right under their noses, and swore to him that they would take care of him to the best of their ability. He spent the rest of his schooling years living with them, and did well enough to get into university, taking on the odd job here and there to pay for tuition. At his graduation, his aunt and uncle were there to watch him stride across the stage, degree in hand.
No matter what, he never could recall what happened that fateful night his father passed away. Some days, he would spend hours lying in bed, racking his brains for the faintest of memories, but nothing. It was as if a part of him had stubbornly locked it away, never to see the light of day again. He went on with life, found a job in the city, got a little apartment near his aunt and uncle’s, and even dated a couple of times, but a part of him was always terrified of the idea of a relationship.
What if they turned out like his mother? Or worse, what if he turned out like his mother? He didn’t want to hurt anyone, especially someone he cared about enough to marry. She did give birth to him, after all, and there were days when he felt a fiery rage simmering below the surface, but he would always force it down. Smile. Think happy thoughts. Whatever happens, don’t get mad. Don’t be like her. Don’t be her. But deep down, he knew the truth. That she was every bit a part of him as the anger was, and he would never escape her.
Then one day, out of the blue, a phone call. Condolences. A funeral. Could he attend?
*
It was all so vivid. The memories of that night, so real that he could almost smell the stench of burning flesh filling his nostrils, hear his mother’s wails as she held him in her arms. Finally, he remembered. Perhaps that was why the nightmares had been plaguing him for a week. They were desperate to escape the prison he created for them within his mind, all those years ago. Fighting, struggling, day by day, to see the sunlight they have been denied for so long.
His father’s death. It was all his fault.
The realization hit him like a gut punch. All these years, he had blamed his mother. Maybe, he thought, the fire had been a manifestation of his mother’s anger, exploding outwards, devouring everything he held dear. She had wanted his father dead, he was sure of it. Wished it many a night, while she screamed at him, called him names, and pointed the sharp kitchen knife at his trembling face. It was all her. But no.
It’s his fault. His. No one else’s. He had started the fire that had claimed his father’s life, in an innocent childish attempt to stop their fight. Instead, he killed his father.
Tears began to roll down his cheeks. He held his face in his hands and broke down. Cried for everything that he lost. His father, his mother, their childhood home. Cried until he couldn’t cry anymore. Then the anger took over. And this time he let it.
*
The furious knocking on the door brought him out of his trance. All around him lay the destroyed remains of everything he owned. Books ripped apart. The television with a spiderweb of cracks on its front. Shattered plates and china. Feathers from the cushions he had stabbed with the knife in his hand. Broken windows. The coffee table split in two.
He waded through the mess and opened the door. On the other side were two policemen, and for a few seconds they stared, unblinking. Then they noticed the knife in his hand and the destruction behind him, immediately grabbed him, twisted his arms behind his back, and placed him in handcuffs.
At the police station, he found out that the neighbors had called the police. They had heard his crazed yells, his desperate howls, the chaos of broken furniture. The sergeant in charge questioned him, but all he could say was “It’s my fault it’s my fault it’s my fault it’s my fault it’s my fault it’s my fault.” They threatened, they cajoled, they begged, but nothing. In the end, they called for psychiatric help.
He ended up in the institution where all the horror stories came from. Only it wasn’t as bad as he thought. There was no straitjacket, as he had mostly calmed down and retreated within himself, so the staff found him perfectly harmless. The food wasn’t any good, except for fish and chips Fridays, but at least there were never any bugs in them. He didn’t know if anyone got raped, but he doubted he would anyway.
The therapy sessions once a week helped. The psychologist, a kindly Chinese lady, was incredibly patient, even in the beginning when all he did was sit in silence or lash out at her. Gradually, he began to open up. About his childhood, his parents’ constant fights, his attempts to stop them. Some days he would leave her office feeling lighter, other days he felt a tightness in his chest that wouldn’t go away for hours.
He made friends. Played cards, made puzzles, watched TV with the other residents. Some of them were saner than others. There was a man who believed he was Donald Trump and the rightful President of the United States. There was an elderly lady who would do nothing but sit and stare out the window all day. There was a teenager who drew really pretty pictures. And once there was a man who would wave a stick around, pretending he was a conductor, until one day when he got into an argument and stabbed someone with it. They took the man away and he never saw him or his stick again.
His aunt and uncle would visit every month. They always did their best to cheer him up, bringing him snacks or comics that he would then share with the other residents. Over time he began to look forward to their visits, and realized that they cared about him as much as his father did. They had no kids, and loved him as if he was one of their own. They were older now, and some visits he saw his aunt struggling with her cane, the years of hard toil slowly taking its toll on her body. His uncle had issues with diabetes, and required a couple of insulin jabs every day. But they never failed to show up for visits, and he appreciated it. For the first time in a very long time, he felt loved again.
*
The warm morning sun greeted his face as he stepped through the doors of the institution. Today was the day. It had been six long, hard years, but he made it through. A couple of months ago, his psychologist had finally made the recommendation that he would be better off on the outside. It was time for him to start over, and she believed that it would help him continue in his healing journey.
He was ecstatic when he heard the news, and so were his friends. It was always a bit of an event when someone left, and they were happy for him. Threw him a farewell party and all, though Donald Trump did cause a commotion halfway by declaring it was all a hoax by the Democrats. He smiled, feeling tears roll down his eyes, knowing he would miss them all.
As he walked down the driveway, he could see a car waiting outside. In the passenger seat he saw his aunt’s smiling face, and then the door opened and she was out, throwing her arms around him in a warm embrace. His uncle came around and helped him get his bags into the back of the car, before gently ruffling his hair with his wizened fingers. She pulled him into the hug and the three of them stood there, under the bright morning sky, holding him close the way his father used to do all those years ago.
“Time to get you home, sonny.”
submitted by Jern92 to stories [link] [comments]


2020.07.24 20:13 BenchNotA Best hidden camera alarm clock

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DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to own any of the ideas or worlds described in the story. The ‘They are Smol’ universe is the intellectual property of u/TinyPrancingHorse. Nothing in the story is canon to his universe, and I’d suggest you visit his writings if you love wholesome stories about humans being human.

—|—|—|—
ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMER:
This story was NOT written by me. It was, instead, created by the beautiful and certainly not a snake-person “@Fluffynoodle” on the They Are Smol discord. I was given permission to post his wonderful story on his behalf, so please direct all praise to him. I’m just the messenger. He’s the actually good writer.
—|—|—|—
Part 3 A short while later I was sitting looking at the dry rot on the wall of my room in Sweetheart Heights, fingers idly running checks over the deadly weapon I’d built myself as I waited, long as I dared. I’d been given three days — seventy two hours — but I was also sure that now I’d seen the body I was soon to become persona non-grata far faster than that.
More Cake was missing from the puck, though not through choice. I could sleep when this was all over. If I slept now, I knew I’d end up in a steel coffin of one sort or another, on another one-way journey. Potential side-effects of paranoid delusions, apophenia and pareidolia be damned.
Io worked on Terran time, though the day-night cycle was entirely artificial. Five o’clock was quitting time. Tick, tock, tick… tock… seven o’clock was even more important. Happy hour at the bars.
I got up, fighting to stay vertical for a moment, then packed all my tools and headed for the ground floor. I thought for a moment about using what passed for the fire escape, but… naa, straight out the lobby. I’d been thinking for the rest of the afternoon, thinking hard, sure that I had missed something yet not really sure what. At quitting time it had all become clear.
Gordon Silas definitely hadn’t died from a normal accident, oh no. His death was most likely due to the kind of ‘accident’ that involved getting in the way of a tweaked-out dorarizin, something that the galactic senate would rather be swiftly forgotten about. Of course, it was being dressed up as a human squabble made to look like a dorarizin attack so that everybody would turn the other cheek. After all, everyone knew that no dorarizin in their right mind would ever actually kill a human.
Gordon Silas had been murdered because he’d found something out he shouldn’t have; something was going on at Marv’s Meat Packing Co. and I was going to find out what if it killed me.
Squawky had put me on the right track, I had most likely found my way to exactly the right place, I’d just got there several hours too early and I’d been too dumb to figure it out.
—|—|—|—
Night in a hab is much the same as night on a planet; the same pregnant quiet, the same dark corners, the same hushed whispers. I paid extra for the human cabbie to forget he’d seen me and I paid more still for not only the forging of my ID in the system but the route and final destination. I wasn’t convinced any of it would work to throw off those interested in my whereabouts, but if I was very lucky that could only work in my favour. There wasn’t much to steal in a meat packing company, at least apart from the heavy equipment, so in theory security would be light. I turned off my wetware all the same long before coming anywhere near Marv’s, anything running even passive scans wouldn’t know a thing. Location caching was supposed to be illegal, but it was hardly a secret that you could be subpoenaed for it.
Marv’s Meat Packing Co. was indeed deserted, save for a couple of lone guards. I watched the perimeter until I thought I had their patrol routes down — do a half-hearted patrol of the main gate, nip inside the complex, most likely for a coffee refill, then retire to the gatehouse… it wasn’t a patrol so much as a patcrumb — then snuck inside under their nose whilst liquid refreshments were being had.
I didn’t regret my purchase of a hat — a nice, wide-brimmed trilby — on the way to the actual plant, it would literally and figuratively keep the heat off my head should there be any surveillance. I held on to it tightly as I squirmed my way through barbed wire fences and scooted under barriers.
Marv’s business wasn’t big on electronic security; the fewer cameras and the lower their resolution, the less that what passed for OSHA would have to say about what went on in this low-rent chop-shop. I would still have to be careful, however.
The downside of my current ease of entry meant that whatever was going on probably wasn’t centered here. I just hoped I’d find enough clues to get me to where trouble was really going down. I was, however, certain I’d find that info right here.
The locks on the doors to the building I was interested in were, unsurprisingly perhaps, plainly mechanical. They were heavy and well-built, but bowed to my firking about with a pin tumbler and torsion rod in short order. Gritting my teeth for the inevitable alarm, it took me several long seconds for the thudding in my ears to die away enough to be sure I hadn’t heard one. That didn’t mean that a silent alarm hadn’t been tripped, so whatever I was going to do now, I’d better get to it.
I still remembered the route to Marv’s office, but it was slow going in the darkened workshop. The ever-present smell of pig shit and piss permeated everything, and glistening, wet tools hung from racks. There was a lot of sharp, blunt and just plain effective implements of death and dismemberment here. My eyes, adjusting to the dark, spied what had to be a walk-in freezer with electronic security locks on it in the back, judging by the cooling system. It hummed away merrily. I shook my head; lots of people still paid a premium for hand-made goods, I guessed. The automated systems further down — and there were long channels to funnel animals down that led to an automated abattoir that could be adjusted to send streams of pigs this way or that as needed — were more than likely capable of producing any particular cut anyone could ask for, but the tools right here told me they likely picked off prize animals for special treatment. It was clear this was also where they did mass inspections of their herds, culling for disease, disposal — a largish incinerator sat quietly roaring to itself, still dealing with the last of the day’s unwanted trash — and otherwise dealing with the messy part of life and death that involved humans.
A large counter on the wall had the number of ‘days’ since the last accident, nearing two weeks. What looked like a betting pool was underneath it, or possibly quotas. I moved on. No sirens yet, no sudden lights, no shouts… I knew at some point the game would be up, but so far everything seemed copacetic.
I tried not to touch anything, even though I was wearing gloves. I was pretty sure that pulling any sort of fingerprints or genetic profile from anything in this factory would be an exercise in frustration, but it made sense to be careful.
I found the stairs in short order. This would be the second real hurdle after breaking and entering in the first place. Navigating the iron steps with iron railings, in the open, without being spotted. I paused, ears metaphorically perked for any trouble, counted to ten, then tip-toed my crouched way up to the second floor.
The balcony above the shop floor wasn’t any less exposed and I fought to keep my breathing steady instead of bursting out into ragged gasps. After an aeon I made it to the door into the nicer office area that belonged to the miniscule number of white-collar workers. The lock here too was purely mechanical. I swore under my breath, reflexively, as this mechanism was a lot harder to pick on account of how much my hands were shaking, but after another ice age this lock too snicked open and I cracked the door and slipped in.
I closed the door, wincing at every sound the mechanism made until the door was flush and I’d released the handle, then I glanced around. The lights were manual, I hadn’t spotted any sort of alarm, and it appeared I could act with relative impunity. Something wasn’t adding up. I was more and more certain now that the jig was already up and that I was running on borrowed time.
None of the internal doors had locks, so gaining access to the boss’ office itself was a literal cakewalk, but my first stop was the receptionist’s computer.
As luck would have it — treacherous the Lady may be, but she is also not without a sense of humour it would seem — a post-it note was affixed to the flatscreen with the password. Wincing anew at the necessity, I fired up her computer and logged on. I dialed the brightness down as low as it would go, but was forced to trust that the internal nature of this area would prevent actual trouble from the glare.
The company’s records were simple enough to access, but ten minutes of searching didn’t turn up anything out of the ordinary. The only thing that stuck out were the entries for ‘retired’ workers, papered out, that stank of payoffs for that accident counter outside. I knew for a fact nothing would stick from any of this level of petty bureaucratic shenanigans, so was forced to look elsewhere.
It was in the boss’ office that I struck paydirt. Really, I figured, it was obvious when you thought about it. What’s food without sauce? Condiments? A filing cabinet had the real papers in it, filling out the transactions that, in the computer database outside, were just numbers for special orders.
It seemed that Marv was dealing in a very lucrative cash crop of some sort, pencilled down as ‘special orders’. With Squawky eager enough to send me here, with Gordon’s death being so obviously graphic, I figured it was probably the one product that was ridiculously easy to come by in one corner of our galaxy and yet so incredibly heavily restricted in another, green.
‘Green’ was a karnakian plumage cleanser, akin to scented sand or soap. For karnakians, it was a pleasant and highly sought-after, freely available and well-loved product, but for the dorarizin… well, alien biologies what they are, green was like pure rave in a bottle. Laced with various other compounds, it gave older dorarizin the edge in bed, revved up their muscles, made the world come alive. It was heroin, speed, smack, angel dust and pcp all rolled into one.
It also tended to send them into a wild, homicidal rage that didn’t end until everything else in the immediate area was torn to shreds or the dorarizin’s heart exploded, whichever came first.
Green was, therefore, very lucrative in the right hands. Why not shuffle it through a dead-end human station? It didn’t do anything much for humans, so it would be very easy to deal with, wouldn’t ping any of the human interdiction systems and the senate — already on tenterhooks with the human race as a whole — would keep their noses out without a damn good lead.
Oh, great.
With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I reasoned that was my job in this whole godforsaken mess.
I swore again under my breath as I continued pulling out ‘special orders’ from the filing cabinet, then had to stifle a whoop of joy; something was going down tonight if the newest entry with just a date and no other monetary details inked in was anything to go by. If only I could find out where.
This facility was rapidly becoming an obvious courier hub for illicit goods, but none of the data I was pulling out told me anything about where and when, just the what, and without the illicit goods, without the green, I had nothing.
Kilos and kilos of ‘special orders’ were ear-marked for various shipments to the wider galaxy, hidden within the general product shipments being sent out to not only human worlds but dorarizin, karnakian and jornissian — and none of it would matter if I couldn’t prove they were for anything but gourmets.
If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say some of these special orders were, from the code names, other products than just the obvious ‘green’. If I could crack the code, I could come up with something to go on there, too, once I got myself out of here.
As I closed the cabinet and started searching for some sort of hidden cabinet or safe, I figured that maybe some of the flow was cold, hard cash in return. That would surely be the easiest to figure out, and to trace. Would it weigh less than other shipments? Always have the same dropoff point? Or be the same order type? As I scanned the entries looking for patterns, I sniggered to myself. Hah, ‘cold’ hard cash.
All these shipments were nominally for different cuts of pork; they had to be hiding the goods in with it, literally frozen. With a nice, thick, organic shield around the real goods, most sensors wouldn’t see anything untowards until it was far too late. Skim off the special box — maybe even in flight in some cases — and it’s gone. The galaxy was a big place, it made truly policing restricted goods a nightmare. Most financial transactions were performed to the galactic block-chain, but breadsticks and even analog currency were far from unusual, and provided for a more intimate, if not immediate, transfer of funds.
If there had to be an open port to get into the standard shipping channels, then human space would be the perfect cover for not only goods but money laundering services. In truth, this was big, bigger than me. I felt the weight of responsibility settle not-so-comfortably around my neck even as I heard the footsteps outside and the door to the outer office click open.
I saw the lights in the reception area come on by the glare under the door to Marv’s office, followed by a sudden babble of hushed voices. The takka-takka-tak of somebody accessing the receptionist’s computer came next.
In moments, the jig would be up. I swore again under my breath. I’d found what I thought was the safe, but there was no way I’d be able to break into it before I was caught. To be honest with myself, there was no way I was getting out of here without a fight. Clicking the ‘on’ button on my plasma pistol, I prayed to whatever gods were listening that it would remain stable and actually function as I squared myself off, facing the door.
Moments later, the handle jiggled, then turned.
Letting out a huge bestial yell, I charged. I slammed into the door as it opened, braining the guy behind it, hopefully breaking an arm or knocking him unconscious.
No such luck, though I had knocked the wind out of him.
As I yanked open the door again, I noticed two security guards and three heavies in bloodied smocks, two of the latter picking up one of the former. Piggy, from before, was there, being the one heavy not manhandling a guard.
Almost instinctively I raised my arm, gun in hand, and blasted the ceiling. With a bright, disorienting foomf of light, a good deal of the industrial ceiling disintegrated, along with a good section of sprinkler piping. Water rained down around us as I barrelled through the crowd, sumo-charging Piggy. He went down like a sack of blubber, almost bouncing as I rolled over him.
A hand grabbed my leg and twisted as I tried to get up. I saw stars as my jaw hit the ground, blood gushing from either a bitten tongue or a split lip. I twisted too, lashing out with a boot to Piggy’s face as a ham fist the size of a small dog gut-punched me, another heavy had got into the mix.
Piggy let go with a squeal, but two more shapes descended on me. I rolled over on top of one, head-butting and biting as what felt like a night-stick slammed into the back of my head. I rolled again, using the body now on top of me as a shield, and brung up my plasma gun. Multiple swears rent the air as my assailants dived for cover.
I wasn’t about to commit murder, however, and my shot was aimed more to disorient than kill. Another shower of sparks and flames as the desk exploded, and I was free to throw off the guy who was now laying limply on top of me like a sack of ugly potatoes, having been beaten heavily by his friends. I jumped up, covering my face with my arm as I levelled the gun at my other assailants, then turned and ran for the door.
I pelted down the metal walkway, no longer caring about stealth, as four figures charged after me, shouting and hollering. I fired at the metal in front of me whenever the gun announced it was ready, jumping the holes as they formed, panicking as I heard the structure start to buckle and bend. In a bound, I was down, as with a screeching cacophony, the stairs detached from the superstructure.
Screams sounded out as the four guys fought to not end up on a heap on the floor behind me, but I couldn’t stop to make sure nobody was seriously hurt. I didn’t even stop to look back at the doors out, luckily they hadn’t been locked behind the guards as they’d come in, and kept on running as I leaped over the barrier. Somehow, my new trusty hat stayed with me. Truly, a gumshoe’s best friend and most valuable item of clothing.
I was away, but hardly safe. By morning, everyone would know somebody had broken into Marv’s and taken a gander at the ‘secret menu’. I was screwed if I couldn’t come up with something tonight. My only chance was the deal that was, with luck, going down right at this very moment.
Hailing a cab with my wetware as I brought it back online, I headed for the one place I was sure I could find some more information, The Fox and Stoat, home of fences, low-lifes and, hopefully, a karnakian who’d see things my way. If I’d been on the clock before, then now the alarm bells were ringing.
I sat and breathed heavily in the automated cab as the automated systems whisked me through the habitat. Driven cabs were preferred in the same way that actual restaurants still employed waiters, but when you wanted fast food you punched your order up on the screens. I had to get to Squawky ASAP.
—|—|—|—
I was disgorged more or less right next to the entrance, and didn’t even hesitate on heading in.
Inside, the atmosphere was livelier than before. The deadbeat drunks were fewer, the conversations more hushed, but the regulars were on form. The dirty dance floor had been cleared of most of the detritus and multicoloured lights were flashing rhythmically as some heavy bass loops made my gut vibrate. Snakes, humans, raptors and gorilla-dogs all seemed to be enjoying themselves, though the latter were wearing this seasons in-vogue dual air-filter gas masks and the raptors were wearing colourful binding tape on their talons and claws.
I made my way through the mass of biologicals, heading for one particular booth. I couldn’t tell if Squawky had moved during the intervening hours, but there he was, with his body-mutts still on duty. I heard their buzzsaw-like disapproval of seeing my face again as they ground their multiple rows of teeth, but I ignored it.
“Hey there, old buddy, old pal, so nice to see you again!” I called to Squawky, forcing a cheery grin on my face. I’m sure it looks like a rictus.
“[The feeling is not mutual, human. What do you want? Unless you’re buying or selling, I suggest you find another place to sit.]” Squawky gestured to Larry and Curly.
“You know, you never did tell me what it was you did,” I tell him, attempting and failing to slide in opposite him in the face of some large, furry walls of meat.
“[I sell… merchandise. For rent. For short periods of time. I’m sure I could find a spot for you in my, ah, stables, if you’re truly interested.]”
For a brief moment, I’m forced to entertain the idea of a future where I’m some sort of male pet gigolo to ogling xenos. My brain bluescreens, then reboots. He’s a pimp, right, focus on that. I size him up for a moment; he probably doesn’t like drugs. Probably doesn’t like ignorance and bad behaviour. Green would be… bad for business. It’d attract karnakians, which was good, but if one third of your clients — I wasn’t sure how much he sold to xenos versus humans, but I was sure he sold humans — would end up devouring your merchandise, well, that’s very bad for business. Had I been sent to exactly the right place to get rid of a rival? A thorn in his side? I led with that.
“Look, Squawky, I like you. You may not like me, but I respect you. Product like Marv is selling, that’s bad for everyone, am I right?”
Squawky seemed taken aback. “[Go on.]”
“Then you probably know where the latest deal is going down. Get me there and I’m gone, one way or another. Either face down and six feet under, or a million miles spinwards, but I’m gone.”
The karnakian growled under his breath. “[You come to me and beg for information twice, snatching scraps from my table with nothing to offer in return but damage to my plumage? You humans have a saying, [lay down with dogs and you get fleas]. You are a [dog] and I do not want [fleas]. I should have Gresjnjr rip your arms from your sockets and beat you to death with them right here and now, why should I help more than I already have?]”
I noticed ‘Larry’ flexing his claws. No sane dorarizin would kill a human I kept repeating to myself, but another, small part of my brain said nobody said anything about maiming though.
“S-sir, you know why you helped me in the first place. You could have ignored me, I’d find my way to his employers soon enough, but you knew that… you knew I’d find out about the ‘special orders’,” I did my best to stress the word, praying that the translator would take notice from stress patterns in my voice, “you knew that was where the rot was. You don’t like these ‘special orders’, they’re… they’re bad for business, right? Then let me—” I was interrupted by an enthusiastic dancer as she spun and tumbled onto Squawky’s table. “Shit, get off—” I started, and Larry and Curly were already moving, but it was too late. She unfurled her palm and, with a huge puff, blew a cloud of black-blue particles into the air.
For a brief eternity I saw, as the lights cycled, a settling miasma of black, blue, black, blue… green.
Shit.
submitted by BenchNotA to HFY [link] [comments]


2020.07.11 15:51 Glitchkey Best alarm camera clock hidden

INIT: version [Redacted] booting
Error: MOTD missing or invalid. First time startup detected.
Setting clock (utc): Friday Jun 3 11:01:13 TST 2231 - OK
Starting udev - OK
[additional log cached]
> ./ChemSim
First time startup detected.
Disabling pain receptors.
Initiating predefined neural trace.
 
“Captain,” my first mate shuffled slightly to the side as he spoke, his head tilting back and forth. “The humans have run and hidden in their home system.”
“I don’t blame them. A dozen colonies, completely destroyed in a few hours.” Ruffling my crest slightly, I glanced at the map. An entire swath of our federation, just gone. Like a ‘find the missing piece’ game gone horribly wrong. I think I’ve heard a human describe the feeling as ‘dragging nails across a chalkboard.’
“Well, yeah.” His slow shuffle was dragging him away from his station. Noticing this, he stepped back into place. “But they killed their jump gates too. No in or out.”
“Wouldn’t you?” The starmap was looking awfully red. I didn’t even like the color. I much preferred azure. Probably had something to do with why I had so many exes. Nobody with azure feathers is there for the long haul. It’s not racist, it’s a genetic holdover. Nobody’s fault, really. Except mine for falling into the nest every single time.
“And they’re scrambling FTL jumps in.” My first mate’s flighty shuffling was dragging him away from the console again. I wonder if he would be insulted if I had it ripped out of the floor and put on wheels to follow him.
“Kind of wish we knew how they did that.” I stared at the map some more. One spec of royal in a sea of crimson, with our aqua far to the side. A vacation would be nice. Maybe someplace with a good headwind and a crisp, clean forest.
“You’re ignoring me.” He was halfway across the room, now. That settled it. Tomorrow I put in a work order for maintenance. If he can’t stay at his station, his station will stay with him.
“No, I’m trying to avoid your point. Do you really want to think about the fact that our only allies have dropped out of the war and left us to burn?” The map was making my crest itch again. I turned it off and put something less unsettling on screen. Our lack of reinforcements seemed like a nice, relaxing alternative. Almost soothing, really.
“...no. Not really.” His jittering shuffle stopped for the moment, and he looked around again. I think the fact that he was in the door at this point caught him off guard. Took a moment for him to tamp down the ruffled feathers, too.
“Exactly.” Even that report on not having reinforcements was putting me on edge. I needed something better. The report on what the Calflendil Empire had done to the human colonies won out this time. Rather creative use of chemical and viral weaponry, that. I seem to remember something about the humans having a law against those. Doesn’t seem to have helped their case.
 
“Captain, that’s another hub, gone.” My first mate’s station was working overtime to keep up with him. I’d have to look into better fuel cells for the poor thing.
“I’m aware.” I glanced at the war map, and cringed. I never liked crimson, but now I hated it. Would rather muck out a grub farm on one of the edge worlds. Well, not like I can do that anymore either. They were all in red for a reason.
“That’s the last of them, you know.” I wonder if he hears the way his crest ruffles every time his head twitches. I think I’ll need to get a professional in for that. I know what it’s like to have your crest rub itself to pieces.
“Yes, it is.” I switched the screen back to the recent loss reports. How many digits was it this time? It only mattered as much as figuring out how close to the next fueling station you could get when you knew you weren’t going to actually get there. So not much at all, really. Especially since you can’t walk in space.
“Any word from the humans?” I think a bit of his crest is stuck in the wheels of his station. That’s gonna be a fun one for maintenance. Probably means it’s not worth salvaging the rest of the feathers.
“You know as well as I. They’ve been holed up in their system for a decade.” One heck of a vacation. Looked like my next vacation was going to be of a permanent sort, though. Oh well. No rest for the wicked. Except the Calflendil soldiers seemed to get plenty of it. Odd, that. You’d think it would be hard to sleep on a mountain of corpses.
“Surprised we’ve held out this long?” His station was beeping. Low battery, I think. Maybe making it follow his nervous shuffle wasn’t the best of ideas. Everyone else on the bridge seemed to appreciate the distraction, though.
“I was hoping it would be longer.” A bit of my crest fluttered past my ears. It had been entirely too long, really. Reminded me of the tail end of a party when everybody knows it’s over but nobody wants to actually call it. I’ve seen some of those last longer than the party itself.
“And our only remaining citadel is-”
“Our homeworld, yes. We’ve lost this war. It was only a matter of time.” Oh good, the beeping stopped. Unfortunately, low battery doesn’t seem to have been the problem. Otherwise, I don’t think his console would be smoking right now. Too bad, really. That said, the lovely patterns the smoke was making on the ceiling were an excellent distraction.
 
“Captain, this is it. We’re the last of the fleet.” His nervous shuffle at this point was practically a dance. It would probably be quite popular with humans. In point of fact, it actually reminded me of some dances I’d seen them do.
“Indeed.” My crest itched horrendously. Considering it was trying to grow an entirely new set of feathers, itching was about the best I could get. Odd little piece of luck at the end, that.
“Orders?” He’s not even trying to stay still at this point. Good thing I had the console refurbished and put on a hoverpad. Not that he had any crest feathers left either. In fact, nobody on the ship had any left, now that it comes to mind.
“Thrusters to full. At least one more of them is going to regret this day.” I consciously avoided scratching. A captain does not scratch at their crest, even on the brink of death at the end of a protracted, losing war. Decorum and all that. Shame nobody will be around to make note of it. Seems a waste, really.
“Captain?” Odd. His dancing had stopped. I’m not sure when I had last seen his station actually stationary. Since I didn’t have anything better to do at the end, I marked it in the ship’s log. Maybe it’ll confuse a Calflendi scavenger.
“Yes?” I looked away from the ship’s plotted course. Maybe our homeworld’s population counts would make for a more relaxing screen. Almost anything would be better, so long as it wasn’t red.
“The human jump gate. It just came back online.” My first mate was trying to surreptitiously move back to his assigned station. Despite the fact that it was floating right in front of him. Ah well, I suppose habits are habits and all that.
“You’re sure?” I glanced toward the jump gate on our viewscreen. Considering they’d been offline for ten years, not even the Calflendil Empire was bothering to do anything with them. They were probably hoping to find a way to force their way into the human system rather than being forced to use anything subluminal to deal with them.
“Yes, sir.” His shuffling dance started up again as he watched the view screen. Not that I blame him for that. I hadn’t seen that particular shade of electric blue in ten years. The jump gate wasn’t just online again, it was filling every capacitor onboard, including the emergency backups. The Calflendil fleet, obviously, took exception to this and began to fire on it.
Have you ever had a moment where you saw something happen, and it caught you completely off guard even though you knew, logically, that it made sense? That’s what it felt like to me when the now active jump gate started moving out of its orbit, threw up shielding, and started firing on any ships in its way. It’s the most perfectly human design I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if the Calflendil realize exactly how much power those gates use, but that much power thrown into energy weaponry is quite the sight.
And of course, everyone on the bridge was taken by surprise when that familiar blue glow flashed straight out further than the eye could see, and suddenly there were a few thousand human warships in our system. A few thousand human warships with guns already blazing and shields already live. An unexpected but quite welcome lull in the battle. Too bad that a few thousand warships would make as much difference as a single one would for us.
“Captain, the humans. They’re hailing us.” I had to hand it to him, I didn’t think my first mate’s shuffling could be any more pronounced. I set one of the bridge’s cameras to record it. No real reason not to, at this point.
“Put them on.” I stared at the human fleet, surrounding their jump gate. Was it recharging its capacitors again? That was a full human battlegroup that jumped in, probably the last one in existence. What else were they going to bring in, pleasure cruisers?
“I apologize in advance for a lack of protocol, sir. This is Fleet Admiral Lev. Requesting permission to jump battlegroups into your system.” My feet twitched as he spoke. Protocol? On a battlefield? This late in the war? He can take his lack of protocol and shove it up his- wait. Fleet Admiral? That’s not a human rank I’ve heard of before.
“You have the jump gate right there. You’ve already jumped into the system.” I glanced down at my feet and glared at them like the traitors they were. The first mate can do a nervous shuffle if he likes, but the captain cannot.
“You don’t- nevermind. Taking that as permission granted?” My first mate was practically doing a quickstep at this point. I made a mental note to sneak a copy of the video off the ship in the unlikely event that we survived this battle.
“...Yes?” I pulled up the battle report. The human fleet was making inroads against the Calflendil fleet, but it was nothing to wing home over. May as well try to scratch a diamond with your claws, it would be about as effective.
“Good. We’ll fix your planet’s orbit later. Mercury fleet, permission granted to burn the bridge.” Well that stopped my first mate in his tracks. Not that I blame him. I wasn’t aware the jump gates could do that. The blue stretched out beyond sight, and then the entire viewscreen went so bright it disabled visuals for a moment.
Of course, immediately after that, our proximity alarms went off. Warning us that gravitic readings indicated we were about to crash into a planet. A planet! In the middle of a battlefield. As the view of the battle faded back in, I could see why. Millions, maybe billions of human ships. More than every one of their colonies had ever constructed. Shields active, weapons blazing, and engines on full. And our proximity warnings were going off because…
“...Fleet Admiral Lev, that fleet is...its mass is equivalent to-”
“A small planet, yes.” My first mate wasn’t shuffling about at the moment. To be fair, he wasn’t even on his feet anymore. Fell flat on his tailfeathers the moment the screen cleared. Even we had never managed to construct a battlefleet this large. Doing so was absolutely insane. To fair, that’s probably why we were losing to the Calflendil Empire.
“This is Admiral Lev-1 of the Mercury Fleet flagship Cost of Living. Jump successful, jump gate destroyed in process.” Huh, would you look at that. Now that he mentioned it, the jump gate was a glowing, bubbling mass of slag at this point. They had safeties in to prevent overloading those things, I thought.
“Admiral Lev-1, this is Fleet Admiral Lev. Status of the tow?” My first mate’s station was sitting on the floor at this point. The little hoverpad was actually making it glide around in the same general spot, but it couldn’t actually go through the floor.
“Confirmed. Should be here in-” I tried vainly to pat my feathers back down. Puffing up like a frightened child was entirely unseemly. It’s just that...well. The viewscreen was off tint. It was compensating for something. And even then, it was still blue. Brighter and brighter until it turned off again.
And then the proximity alarms kicked into overdrive. Impact imminent, per gravitic readings. As the screen faded back into visibility, I saw why. Another human fleet had jumped in. Their shields glowed as they swarmed through the Calflendil fleet with murder on their wings and death in their wake.
“This is Admiral Lev-2 of the Venus Fleet flagship Victorious Celebration. Tow successful.” Wait, did he say tow? I know our scientists still couldn’t figure out exactly how the human jump gates worked, but that sounded ridiculous, even to me. But...the screen was going blue again.
And of course the alarms went off again. Apparently the ship had determined that the gravitic readings were now indicative of a suicidal approach directly towards an immense planet. Luckily the ship couldn’t just override and autopilot away, I supposed.
“Admiral Lev-4 of the Mars Fleet flagship Righteous Fury. Tow successful.” Mars...Mars. Where had I heard that before? Aha! Wait, no. No, that was it. Mars was Sol-4, right? I pulled up the chart to be sure. Why was the viewscreen still so blue!?
Oh, lovely. The alarms changed again. The ship seems to have decided we’re approaching a dwarf star now. These humans are insane. The only way they’d have been able to make fleets of this mass without an empire to back the construction would be...no. Nobody does that.
“Admiral Lev-5 of the Jupiter Fleet flagship Thunder on High. Tow successful.” The viewscreen faded back into visibility as Admiral Lev...Five? Spoke into the channel. I thought Lev was Fleet Admiral? There wasn’t much point looking at the viewscreen. I wouldn’t be able to even guess at the number of ships the humans were fielding right now, and the blue was hurting my eyes.
And now the proximity warnings were just on full blast. Seems the ship had given up entirely on categorizing whatever’s in front of us. This wasn’t even a battle anymore. It’s like if a platoon of soldiers decided to take particular exception to a single yearling for some choice words provided about their clutchmates.
“Admiral Lev-6 of the Saturn Fleet flagship Time and Again. Tow successful.” I glanced at the target tracking system. Everything was marked as either scuttled or human. Not a single Calfendil ship remained. And the blue glow was still there. There were no stars beyond the battle, just an eerie sapphire blue.
“Admiral Lev-7 of the Uranus Fleet flagship Heritage. Tow successful.” Looking at the battle report my ship was generating, I decided it wasn’t even worth letting it finish. The ship totals had broken the counter. And the blue glow wasn’t going away. The human fleets were all breaking apart and approaching other jump gates they had built in our system, bringing them online.
“Admiral Lev-8 of the Neptune Fleet flagship Storm at Sea. Tow successful.” I stared at what was left of the Calflendil fleet. The ships weren’t just disabled, they weren’t just destroyed. They had been utterly annihilated. And the humans were staging impossibly large fleets in front of their old jump network.
“Admiral Lev-9 of the Pluto Fleet flagship Regret and Sorrow. Tow successful.” I closed my eyes for a moment, and rested my head against the console in front of me. Decorum be damned. The humans had saved us. Even the Calflendil Empire couldn’t field this many ships, and if the blue was any indicator, they still had more coming in.
“Admiral Lev-10 of the Eris Constructor Fleet flagship Strife. Tow successful.” I looked back up and eyed the screen again. Constructor Fleet? That was different from the rest. And, praise the winds, the blue was finally fading.
“Admiral Lev-11 of the Ceres Constructor Fleet flagship Renewal. Tow successful.” As I watched, the viewscreen faded back to normal. I don’t think I’d ever been so happy to see stars before. Those simple little points of light, pinholes to the cosmos.
“This is Fleet Admiral Lev. The Pantheon has assembled.” I clicked my talons at that. Such a simple way of saying they had just jumped most of the mass of a star system - as a battle fleet.
“You know your orders. Mercury through Pluto are to burn the web and recapture our colonies - “ Burn the web, he said. The Calflendil were in for a nasty shock, I thought. Nothing like having ten years of territory acquisition undone in a few hours.
“Eris Constructor fleet is to split among the battle pantheon and perform repairs and maintenance.” One hell of a repair fleet, if you ask me. Billions of ships, maybe more. Absolutely ridiculous, really. What were they going to do, build another one of these fleets?
“Eris Constructor Fleet, you have permission to add to the Pantheon as necessary.” My talons started to itch. Insane, the lot of them. Absolutely insane. At least they’re our allies.
“Ceres Constructor Fleet is to stay in this system and reclaim the battlefield. We have friends to care for, after all.” Care for, he said! As though we were the yearlings new to the stage and humans had been here before us. Not that it matters, I suppose. In their little ten year vacation, they had managed to...well. Their fleets could defend an entire empire while waging a five front war, from what we’ve seen of our neighbors.
 
“Captain Iverns’tla, do you understand me?” The voice was odd, almost filtered. Ah, of course. It was entirely digital.
“Yes.” Oh yes, of course I understood. It’s not like I hadn’t just been forced to relive some of the most charged memories I possessed. Not like I hadn’t been briefed on what would happen if I made this choice. Warned, over and over.
“All diagnostics have been performed and cleared. Are you aware of what happened?” What happened was so absurd only a human could suggest it. Suicide by brainscan, in exchange for the opportunity to defend my home and people well beyond my lifetime.
“Yes.” Yes, indeed. Clearly, it had worked exactly as well as the humans had stated. I was the first of my kind. I was the first of my line. My entire crew had volunteered for the procedure after the humans told us how they fielded so many ships so quickly. So many more ships than there were humans, in fact.
“All right, captain. Welcome to the eternal navy. We look forward to your service.”
submitted by Glitchkey to humansarespaceorcs [link] [comments]


2020.07.06 23:10 discoskyline hJUltR6UYSo

this is a 2019 Mazda mx-5 miata and it is the best Miata yet and I don't say that lightly the Miata first came out almost 30 years ago and it's gone through four different iterations to get here plus an update for this model year and this is the best one ever here's a little overview the original Miata came out for the 1990 model year and back then it had a hundred and sixteen horsepower it was updated for a second generation in 1999 and then there was a third generation in 2006 the latest Miata came out three years ago and then in 2017 they added a retractable hardtop version this model which is called the Miata RF for 2019 they've updated it even more there are a few new features but more importantly there's more power the old Miata had 155 horsepower but the 2019 model now has a hundred and eighty-one horses the base price of the Miata is around $26,000 or if you get the RF version it's around 32 thousand dollars the power bump isn't the only reason this is the best Miata yet it's also gorgeous the styling is just beautiful and attractive perfectly proportioned it makes this car look a lot more expensive than it is and it's a huge improvement over the prior generation Miata the NC model as enthusiasts call it which was a little bit odd looking then there's the weight the Miata has always been about going light getting lightweight but every previous model has been a little bit heavier than its predecessor well that changed with this one this Miata the Indy model is enthusiasts call it is actually lighter than the Miata that came before it which demonstrates Mazdas commitment to making a lightweight two-seat simple sports car in changes for the 2019 model year only help things along further this car has a few new features including a newly standard rear view camera thanks to government regulations but the biggest news is the power bump now we have a Miata with more power and less weight which is the best of both worlds so today I'm going to show you around the 2019 Miata and I'm show you all of the quirks and features of the latest Miata then I'm going to get it out on the road and drive it and then I'm going to give it a dug score and four more of my thoughts on the Miata click the link below to visit autotrader.com slash oversteer where I've also compiled a list of the cheapest convertibles currently listed for sale on auto trader now I'm gonna start on the inside of the new Miata where one of the first thing you'll notice is that storage is rather limited for instance there is no storage in the door pockets which is rather unusual and there's no glovebox in this car which is really unusual outside of the crazy realm of insane compromised exotic cars its but there are some hidden storage places one is between the seats there is a little storage compartment in here that's actually quite large this is intended to be the glovebox and it even locks so you can lock up whatever important things you have just like you could in a glove box there's also a tiny little center storage bin where you can stick tiny little items if you want but one the lack of storage kind of limits practicality a little bit this car has an absolutely genius situation with its cupholders now if you look and Lois there are only two cupholders in there between the seats which is kind of annoying actually because then they have to cut or reach in here to get your drink and it doesn't really work but you don't actually have to do that that's because the cupholders are movable you can detach a cup holder from in between the seats and you can move it and there's a little anchor point in the passenger side footwell where you can stick it and so if your passenger wants more legroom you can pull the cup holder out and stick it back between the seats but if you want to drink and you don't have a passenger remove the cup holder back and then the cup that you're drinking from is right next to your shifter in your hands it's brilliant moveable cup holders everyone should do this next I want to talk about speakers now in a car this small it's kind of challenging to find places where you can stick speakers obviously the door panel but Mazda has come up with a rather interesting idea there are speakers in the seat headrests if you look closely you can see that they're kind of on either side of your head right by where your ears are which is a great idea in a car like this an especially great idea when you have the roof open because then there's wind blowing everywhere and sometimes it's hard to hear the stereo well not if the stereo is right next to your ears next up something I absolutely love in this car is the climate vents now there are three climate vents in this interior all circular they all have aluminum trim they all function in the same way seems like it works pretty easily but it's almost like right at the end of the cars design process someone told Mazda no no you need for climate vents two for the driver two for the passenger and so Mazda was like five so they stuck in sort of this afterthought vent in the middle and not only does it not look like the other vents but it's incredibly tiny it's basically the same size as the hazard light switch which is next to it you can cover it with one finger but it's there so Mazda could have the for climate vents that probably their product planners insisted they needed next up here's a rather unusual one in the gauge cluster there is a little stick that sticks out that you can push now in older cars you push the stick and it resets the trip odometer but in modern cars the trip odometer is electronic and it doesn't work like that anymore so what does this little stick do well it's quite weird actually if you push it you'll notice that it focuses the engine temperature gauge so if you have the engine temperature gauge and it's a regular spot you see a full range of temperatures but if you push that it focuses only on the second half so you can see in just how hot your engine is in sort of a more detailed way it's very weird I've never seen anything like that that gives you the ability to magnify your engine temperature gauge but you have that in this car next up moving on to the Sun visors now the Sun visors fold down just like normal Sun visors although you can't detach them and move them over to cover the side windows sorry one interesting item no if you lower the Sun Visor you will see that there is like this hidden little weird plastic storage area above the Sun Visor I guess that's for business cards or a garage key card or something you'd probably miss that I bet most Miata owners don't even know it's there but it is one interesting item on the passenger side is that whoever sitting in the passenger seat has to contend with this giant hump the passenger side foot well which definitely takes away legroom it's a very interesting thing obviously it must be some integral component of the car or else they wouldn't have taken away passenger foot room like that but there is a large hump in the passenger side next up I want to move on to the infotainment system the screen in the center where there are a couple of interesting quirks almost all of which have to do with volume settings they're very strange ok take a look at this you can change the keyless lock beep volume that's the beeping sound the car makes when you lock the doors as you're walking away you can change that low medium high depending on how loudly you want your car to let you know that it's locked that is odd but it gets stranger in this car you can change the turn signal volume if you feel like the turn signals are not loud enough well you can change it from low to high here's the turn signals on low and here's the turn signals on high now too many cars where you can change the turn signal volume but how about this one the lane departure warning you can choose between a beep and a rumble for when you kind of start to stray from your lane now if you choose the rumble you can choose between low medium and high if you choose the beep you can merely choose low or high still probably too many configurations for that and another unusual volume item is the navigation guidance volume you can play with it and then it gives you a little voice that annoyingly says navigation will be at this volume navigation will be at this volume navigation will be at this volume now speaking the navigation system this car has a couple of interesting navigation related quirks the most interesting to me is the warnings the alerts you can set alerts that are based on the map based on where you are and then the car will let you know when you reach wherever you've set for example if there's a spot on your commute where there's always a police car sitting it's wearing radar you can put that in the navigation system and it will warn you when you're approaching that spot in case you space out and forget that's a cool idea here's another cool idea this car will alert you to speed cameras obviously there are some apps that will do that but not too many built-in navigation systems will alert you to speed cameras but this one will most interesting part about the speed camera alert though is you can set it to alert you all the time or only when you're speeding the car can detect what the speed limit is and if you're going ten miles over it'll let you know that you're approaching a speed camera if you're going under it won't bother at your choosing that's pretty cool and the final item I like the fact that this infotainment system gives you the option to turn off and only it leave on the clock and I figured when you did that it would turn off the screen and then it would show up like a large clock so you can see it but in fact does not the remains tiny and in the corner even though nothing else is on the screen kind of strange but that's how they did that now next up moving on to a couple of interesting items in the gauge cluster one is traffic sign recognition this car will recognize the speed limit on the street you're driving and then it'll put a little icon in the gauge cluster letting you know what the speed limit is now that's not all that uncommon a lot of luxury cars have that but what's interesting about it is it will also recognize stop signs so as you approach a stop sign it'll put up a little icon in the gauge cluster letting you know that you're approaching a stop sign I can't imagine that this is helpful at all it's not like you're driving along and looking down on your gauge cluster to see if you've hit a stop sign but it's there nonetheless another interesting item in the gauge cluster is the gear indicator which I find to be very odd there's a little display in the gauge cluster that lets you know what gear you're in it's a manual car I don't really need to know what you're I'm in I know what you're I'm in the most interesting item with that display though is the fact that it lets you know when it is time to up shift and tells you that in the most economical way possible letting you know when to up shift to save you all in fact it is so economical that sometimes it tells you to skip gears go from third to fifth or from 1st to 4th so you can drive in the most economical way possible I suspect that display is commonly ignored by Miata owners next up we must discuss the roof which has a rather interesting procedure now on the regular cloth tought me out of the roof is easy there's a latch here you throw it down and there's a latch here and you pull it up that's all it is but in the RF there's a little bit more to it now to start the roof procedure you flip a little switch in the center console that has a picture of the roof on it strangely enough to put the roof down you flip the switch up and to put the roof up you flip the switch down now once you've flipped a switch a little orange blinking icon comes on in the screen right next to that switch to let you know the top is moving and in the gauge cluster it kind of shows you the progress in four steps with like a full color diagram of what's happening behind you and over your head now since the roof is currently in the down position we will start there time to see how it works [Music] it's pretty simple and now we put the roof back down now there are a couple of interesting items that I didn't know about the RFS roof situation one of which is the fact that it's open behind the seats like this did you know that it was just open air back here I had no idea I figured there was a glass piece in here but there isn't so you still get that sort of wind in your hair feel even though this car has like pillars behind you and doesn't have the traditional cloth top there's still wind flowing through the cabin one interesting item is there is a wind deflector in there you can see it's in place but you can also remove it in case you want even more wind to come through the cabin another interesting item about the RF that I didn't know is these windows here these little rear quarter windows they're not Windows at all they're fake they're just kind of black plastic I guess Mazda figured that painting that piece body color will just give a little too much body color on that side so they pin them to look like windows frankly I think it enhances the look of the car but I admit they fooled me I always thought their windows and they're not by the way it's worth noting that once the roof is in place there is an actual window back here obviously because otherwise the car would be open-air even if you have the top up it's only when the top is down that the window goes away and you have sort of the more open air feel and speaking of weird windows I want to talk about this one here this car I would say has a normal window that goes up and down on the door but then in front there's this tiny little quarter window it's only like four inches long and it's basin maybe five inches high and triangular it is very very strange that they bothered to put that there my guess is that based on the door design they had to if they had let the regular window go this far it wouldn't have rolled down or something like that so this is what you get this tiny little quarter window most people probably won't even notice it but it is strange most cars don't have anything like this next up moving around back one thing I want to talk about is this cars name now repeatedly throughout this video and in the title I refer to this car as the mx-5 miata but if you look at the badging it only ever says mx-5 on the back it says mx-5 on the doorsill mx-5 it says mx-5 on the floor mats it even says mx-5 in the owner's manual on the front cover it doesn't say Miata it just mx-5 but Mazda is still officially referring to this car as the mx-5 miata on their website that's what it listed as and when you go to buy one that's what it's officially called but they're not really badgering it with Miata anymore and I suspect the Miata name won't really make it much further Mazda really wants to call this car mx-5 to sort of fit in with their other product lineup the cx-5 is cx3 I think the only reason they haven't already chopped the Miata off this car's name is because Miata just has so much brand value here in the US so many people know the Miata and love it so they keep it going the other interesting thing you'll notice back here is right here and that would be the backup camera now standard on all these cars because for 2019 the US government is requiring it now I'm a big fan of backup cameras I think they're much better for safety but I have to admit it does kind of screw with this cars Lions in the back the earlier Indy models with no backup camera had a much cleaner rear bumper look and it's a shame Mazda couldn't integrate that any more cleanly like down here where it wouldn't be so visible directly in the middle of the bumper but they didn't and that's where it is okay next up it's time to get into the n DS trunk but before I do I have to show you a little quirk that probably only I will appreciate and like nine other geeky people who like the weirdest littlest details but here it is okay yet the key fob right it's got four buttons on it lock unlocks the trunk and the alarm now these buttons are all about the same size and so one thing that a lot of automakers do is they put little dots on a button you'll use more frequently so that when you're just feeling it with your thumb you know which button is which now for this car the button they put the dots on is the trunk button and if you look closely you will see that the little dots are where the wheels are which is the stupidest little tiny quirk and they definitely didn't have to do it that way but I guarantee there are about a dozen other people who will appreciate that little tiny attention to detail and for the rest of you who don't appreciate such a ridiculous my new show well I'm sorry but anyway getting into the trunk to open it you hold down that button with the little wheel dots and then you pop open the trunk and there are a couple of interesting items in the trunk the thing I like most is that there is no trunk liner almost every other car has like a piece of cloth here to cover up this and make it look nicer but Mazdas like cloth that adds weight forget that they figure most people who buy these cars won't care and indeed that's true they would rather save the weight now when you go in here there are a couple of interesting items one is the fact that you can see the owner's manual is in here because this car has no glovebox and because that centerpiece is not quite large enough for it they have to stick the owner's manual back here in this little plastic tray that is designed for it and there's a little clip that keeps it in place and that's where the owner's manual is in an mx-5 also back there is a little fix-a-flat kit since this car also doesn't have enough room for a real spare tire other interesting items of the trunk one is the fact that you can turn on or off your trunk light there's a little switch on it I have no idea why who's ever goes in their trunk and I like darn that light I don't want to liked her so bizarre but then give you that option in this car except we move under the hood and there's nothing particularly interesting or unusual under here when item I do like though is the fact that Mazda doesn't bother with an engine cover just like they didn't have a trunk liner back there up here they could make this look more smooth and more simple like so many automakers do but they're like why bother with that that adds weight and plus most of the people who own these cars are going to modify them tinker with them so we'll just leave that behind and so they do no engine cover in this car because frankly Mazda understands their customers and so those are the quirks and features of the 2019 Mazda Miata now it's time to get this thing out on the road and drive it alright driving the Indy Miata Aref a couple things I want to get out of the way first one is do I fit I'm six foot four and I'm often talking about this in my videos because tall people email me and they're like lot taller you do I fit in this car almost always the answer is yes I have barely ever had trouble fitting in any of the cars that I film for my reviews this one is different my knees are right up against the dashboard it's tight I never have this problem in modern cars even at my height but this car is tight I think if I was an inch or two shorter it would be okay I think it's okay now like I could drive this and it'd be fine it's not ideal I think a lot of car reviewers are hypocrites about this car almost every car reviewer has said all the BRZ and the FRS mean more power and then at the same time these same people say all the Miata is so amazing well this car has less power than those and the acceleration numbers aren't dramatically different if you think the BRZ and the FRS have too little power then you should think the same about this car and I do I think 155 horsepower that I've had before was way too little I think 181 is fine just like BRZ and FRS 200 is fine I think we could do better I want them to bring back the old turbo me out of the end be the Mazda speed like I'm ready for that I think that it's a shame in order to do this sort of back to basics lightweight rear-wheel drive roadster that's also associated with kind of low power like old mgs and cars from that era to me you can put power in one of these and everybody's gonna be happy it'll be fine don't worry about it this thing I think 230 240 horses would just make this amazing and so with that let's talk amazing the driving experience is so so so good it's so sweet it's so exciting and so much fun and so thrilling to just kind of throw this thing around and see where it goes and how it does this car almost seems like there's no limits to what this car can do and how much fun you could have in this thing going around corners and it isn't the fastest out of the corners but with the top down and your floor in it and you're excited you're happy a lot of enthusiasts will tell you that this is one of the greatest cars ever made and I think a great argument could be made for that in terms of the RF I actually do prefer it to the regular one I didn't think I was going to but one of the things I learned is that the RF when you're sitting here like this driving feels like convertible that you see all this stuff behind me but when you're sitting here you don't and you think it's just a convertible but it is less wind noise so you can drive on the highway with the top down and like talk to your passenger which is super cool and and this is the big thing if you're living a cold climate or something and you don't want to deal with a car that has a cloth top whatever it's not very well insulated well suddenly this car just became a year rounder I think the RF is great the problem is it's $7,000 and unless you actually do need that year-round or car or you spend a lot of time trying to talk to people on the highway it's not worth 7 year and that's an enormous amount of money it's just such a thrill it's almost impossible to imagine not having fun driving one of these and the amazing thing is it can make simple normal everyday driving exciting you go make a right turn at an intersection and you can take it at a speed that you shouldn't and then the tires squeak a little but it's you're like how much fun is this great and so that's the 2019 Mazda mx-5 miata I love this car I still wish that it had a little bit more power but doesn't really matter there's something so wonderful about the idea of a two-seat rear wheel drive simple lightweight roadster that just makes this car so appealing and has made this car so appealing for almost 30 years I personally would go for the simple cloth soft top I like the RF but for 7 grand I don't mind my hair getting blown around a little bit but frankly it doesn't matter which Miata you get they're all fantastic and this is the best Miata yet and now it's time to give it a dug score started with the weekend categories and styling the latest Miata is truly handsome gorgeous in my opinion and gets a 7 out of 10 acceleration to zero to sixty and five point eight seconds which gives it a four out of 10 handling is really sharp on par with the great sports cars and it gets an 8 out of 10 fun factor as high as this thing is a total hoot and it gets a 7 out of 10 cool factor is a little lower as the Miata is a relatively inexpensive and common car still it gets a 5 out of 10 for a total weekend score of 31 out of 50 next up are the daily categories starting with features this car has more and more tech with each passing year but it still lags behind top modern cars it gets a 5 out of 10 comfort is fine the ride quality is nice and the seats feel good but it's a bit tight inside for tall people and gets a 5 out of 10 quality is good though not exceptional and it gets a 6 out of 10 practicality is low it's a two-seat car with not much trunk space and it gets a 2 out of 10 value is OK the RF model like the one I drove is pricey for what it is so it gets a 6 out of 10 but I think a regular soft top would bump that up at least a point anyway the total daily score is 24 out of 50 added up in the dug score is 55 out of 100 and that's really good compared to similar cars it beats out everything but the Honda s2000 on the weekend score including the Fiat 124 Abarth largely thanks to the Miatas new engine and better styling it's not as good in the daily categories but it still manages to beat out the s2000 in the old enemy otta and overall it scores very well [Music]
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2020.06.24 01:25 AngryaboutVideogames Frozen Home Pt:2 Lets play jacks


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Quick Rough Edit: Wow you ever go back and look at something and wonder what you were thinking? that was this chapter pre-edit.

Enjoy
Michael stood in awe of the sight before him, "Never thought I would be standing in a place like this, even with being a test pilot." Whispering to himself, eyes wide in disbelief. Eris base was a legend, back when it was just Sol and Alpha Centauri, all the dangerous experiments took place here! It being just far enough away from the Sol colonies, but close enough for supplies made it a decent place to set up research, so they built a base on it. These days however it was just a relic. Shut down over 400 years or so ago after Terran exploratory league set up its nineteenth outer colony. Flt got to the point where as long as you had money, you could set up stellar routs to deliver needed supplies so all dangerous research was hidden away in far off systems.
Wich made where he was standing all the more strange for Michael, who was not only ordered to this station but also picked up and transported with V.I.P delivery within hours of receiving his strange orders. He had to rush back to his apartment to grab his emergency deployment case, barely making it in time before being whisked off into space with some tight-lipped escorts.
Approaching Eris, his excitement was starting to get the better of him, he didn't even notice the moon base and dread carrier in orbit until he was almost on top of the planet. Startled, he looked back to see he had crossed a barrier of hard light supplied by an E-War satellite, cloaking the two beasts from the rest of the system. "How long has this base been operational?" Asking his unknown tight-lipped escort, Michael was getting worried. He remembered reading that the last experiment on Eris destroyed it's moon Dysnomia, showering the inner system with rock and ice. Though the damage was negligible, as it was mostly intercepted, it was quickly decided that moving the base to another location was a priority.
His escort just glanced in his direction and looked away. Taking the hint "Good talk buddy," he snarked. Luckily the shuttle would be touching down soon, and he might be able to figure this all out. Unfortunately, that was not going to happen from the looks of it. The moment he got off the shuttle, it had left. He had tried to gain entry, but the marines on guard had stopped him from entering the base or going anywhere for that matter. Which brought him to his current predicament, of standing around admiring the hangar of a supposedly shut down research base.
Two guards stood watch at the entryway of the base, both in full combat armor. He was sure they were augmented with nanofiber muscles, and regenerative cells, not quite the double layer power armor drop marines use but still enough to rip him in half if he gets lippy. "Look, guys, I have orders to be here, I'm not sure what's going on but can I at least get some access to galnet or something while I stand around like a jackass." Both guards laughed, "We know you're supposed to be here, but if you think you'll have access to anything outside this base other then through a window, your mistaken." Spoke the marine on the left. "Well, what am I waiting for can you at least tell me that?" Which was answered with a straight-faced "Nope" by the same man?
Giving up, he slumped against the wall and sat on his suitcase, deciding to wait for a pickup. Normally hangars like this would be busy. Ships coming and going constantly, this one, however, was so dead the blast doors were closed. Why waste power on enviro shields when you knew nothing was coming. After waiting for a few hours with the untalkative guards, and his anger starting to get the better of him, the shields finally turned on and the doors started opening. He stood up eyes going wide, thinking the wait might have been worth it. Suprise taking him a second time that day, the doors slowly opened, revealing an ancient ship sporting Nine light sails reminding him of the water sailing boats of history. "I always wanted an old light sail ship like that, how much you think that beast cost?" He asked the untalkative left marine only to receive more silence.
Studying the ship as it extended its landing struts and retracted the sails, he started getting excited. "Maybe they want me to pilot some new ship that uses a new form of light sail to reach FTL." Drooling at the thought of FLT Tall ships being a thing. It really was a shame light sails were only good for inter-system travel.
Three men exited from the side of the ship from a set of extended stairs and started making their way over to him. The lead man, an older gentleman with white hair and normal build for a man of around maybe 170 guessing at the man's age it was always a hard thing these days. Michael put on his best smile and extended his hand to greet the man. Before he could get a word in, the older gentleman spoke up" I the report on you Michael Graeme it says you are a crass man but, it seems you at least know how to greet people properly. I am truly sorry for the wait, but it seems the powers that be seemed to think my ship would somehow outperform a high-speed transport. " Taking Michael's hand in his own, " I am Dr.Aldon Just that please, and these are my assistants." Pointing to his right at the shorter man with green.. white.. Colour changing eyes and brown hair "Dr.Leviye. And to my left, " pointing at a plain man with brown eyes, black hair "Dr.Keda now that introductions are out of the way, I'm sure you would like to see the ship you will be flying."
"Will it be a light sail ship?" Michael asked eagerly, Following the trio to the untalkative marines. "No that tech is at its current peak, unfortunately, It will never be used for more than inter-system travel or vanity cruises," Dr.Aldon informed him a hint of sadness to his words.
Before stepping past the marines, Dr.Aldon turned and looked Michael in the eyes, his eyes going cold. "I must inform you even though you are here once you step past these doors, you will be agreeing upon not only the regular guidelines of testing classified equipment. But also to special guidelines w-7. You can decline to test the equipment, but you will be regelated to moonbase Leda for the remainder of the project."
Michael tried to remember what W-7 pertained to, was that the one where death was almost a certainty or the one where they had no idea what would happen. Either way, Passing this up seemed stupid, they obviously picked him knowing he would take the commission.
"Wells lets go see what deathtrap I'm flying, then lead on Dr.Aldon."
Falling in line behind the three doctors, his suitcase following behind him. He was guided to his quarters personally by the three. Pointing out the mess hall and gym offhandedly before finally reaching their destination. Stepping in and pushing his suitcase into the room, Dr.aldon spoke up. "I would suggest getting something to eat but, I'm sure you would like to see what you will be flying in the coming days so if you would once again follow me I'll show you to the ship."
Michael nearly shouted at the doctor in surprise, "Days? What the hell doc, you are are trying to kill me or something did I sleep with some guys woman becau-"
Before he could continue, Dr.Aldon cut him off. "No Captial Michael, as I've said, I read your file and am aware you have more luck flying a paperclip then you do with the opposite sex, so you can drop the act. unfortunately, even with the E-war satellite, our time is limited."
Deciding that following the Dr.Aldon and getting some answers more important than grabbing some food. He motioned for the doctor to continue. "Well, Doc, what's the problem? Far as I can tell You have Leda in orbit, so who'd be dumb enough to fight that and that monster carrier?"
Leading the way Aldon started explaining the project. "No one would be dumb enough, we haven't had a war since we left earth. The pirate lords have all been almost wiped out. No, the problem is pretty simple. What do you know about folding space captain?"
Michael laughed. "Nothing then I take it? Well, its nothing like what you're thinking. No wormhole, or anything like that. what we have discovered is another way to reach FLT. And simulations put it at almost four times faster than our current warp travel."
Michael looked at the doctor in shock. "Why all the secrecy then, isn't this super important?"
Dr.Aldon nodded. "Yes, extremely, we could reach even the farthest system in days instead of weeks with the new drive. the only problem being the remaining two pirate lords. Leda and the carrier will stop them dead. But the Fuel is the problem. I can't tell you any specifics, but I can tell you it's a completely new type and manufactured inside Jupiter's atmosphere." Explained the doctor.
"We've been hiding this information by not making a big deal out of it. but with more shipments from Jupiter to Eris, it's only a matter of time before someone figures out its not just regular stuff being moved about. Before you say anything yes, they are under heavy guard, but you know how this works everything hush-hush Though the fuel is not really dangerous." The doctor chuckled.
"My unprofessional opinion on why the brass wants a test flight so soon. Because everything is above the board and all simulations point it to being perfectly safe. the only reason it seems sudden to you is they waited until the last moment to pick a pilot, Congratulations By the way."
Michale sighed, twirling his fingers in mock happiness, " Okay, so you said something about folding space. If ships can just pop in and out of systems it would solve a lot of problems. So how does it work? Because I'm sure the Noraisa system would be ecstatic to have more merchant vessels visiting."
Turning the corner and moving down a long hallway, the doctor seemed to think for a moment about how to explain it best. "Not like what your thinking. it's not like opening doors, or even folding its a bit weird. What I can tell you currently, is that we still use the premise of warping space around the ship but in a new way. think of it as compressing space into a small cylinder and having it expand. This pushes the ship kinda like an old rocket. We compress and fold space in on itself, and use the expansion to push us where we want to go."
Michael stopped for a moment. "Is it too late to opt out he semi-joked? This sounds ridiculous and way too dangerous how do you even stop or turn?"
The doc laughed, "We got that figured out. It'll control like your average warp vessel." Coming up on a new set of double doors, the doctor motioned for Michael to step through.
Pushing open the doors, Michael eagerly stepped through and was greeted by the sight of the most beautiful ship he'd ever seen. It was sleek hard angeled, the shape of an arrowhead with a rounded front. He couldn't even see the engine, Engines? Where were they? The back was smooth but edged like a knife, and the entire ship was painted black with blue lines pulsing around the edges, It looked more like a fighter than a prototype FLT ship. "I'm in love doc, Where the hell are the engines?"
Aldon Laugh. "Onboard, everything is internal the back opens up to catch the expanding space and direct the ship, sub-light impulse engines extend from those two points" Dr.Aldon, Pointed at the back two points of the ship" When you need inter-system speeds. A new design, much faster than current Engines you can leave sols gravity well in under7 hours with them."
That really got Michael's attention, "How the hell did you manage that? That's ridiculous can you even control a ship at that speed? You're likely to crash into something going that fast!"
Dr.Aldon laughed and pointed to a booth off to the side of some exhausted-looking mechanics. "The sim is over there, go get some time in and talk with the mechanics if you have any problems. My job is pretty much done, we've already tested and proven the impulse engines, all we needed was a pilot for the FTL at this point so get to it."
"To think I was contemplating a nice stroll on the beach this morning. Now I'm about to be sent to my death, on some crazy physics breaking ship I don't even understand." Walking towards the mechanics Laughing loudly at the insanity, he shouted to the universe for all to hear.
"I FUCKING LOVE MY JOB!"
After a quick chat with the mechanics, he spent the next 10 hours in the sim and collaborating with the people around him to make sure things were being put in order for the test flight that, True to what Aldon said, was pretty much already complete and only needed a few real flights. Michael still didn't really understand the need for all this secrecy though, it all seemed pretty above the board all things considered.
Retiring to his room for the day, Michael decided on a light meal before getting some sleep. Walking into his room he was greeted by the station local "Hello Captain Michael Graeme I am your Vi assistant." "Ah hello, computer anything on the menu before I head to sleep?" "Nothing at this moment Captain, however, you are scheduled for sim training 6:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 22:00." "Alright, I'll just grab some chow and get some sleep, then good night computer." "Good night Captain**."** Tomorrow is definitely going to suck, an entire day of sim training, and studying the tech manual. Slipping into bed he was thankful for the extra two hours the day had allowed him to get a good Eight-hour sleep in before having to head back to the rushed training.
With the dreaded alarm sound waking him from his sleep, Michael dragged himself out of bed and into the shower. "Computer what's the schedule for today?" he mumbled out, "sim training from 8:00 to 13:00," "Test flight at 15:00," Michael slipped and fell on his ass in the shower, "what the hell computer? Any reason I'm testing so soon?" "Sim training demonstrates ship compatibility with pilots abilities, further sim training is no longer necessary." Michael pulled himself up and walked out of the shower. "Anything else I need to know computer? like some evil villain deep within the planet telling people to work faster?" A long pause. To long. No, Raising an eyebrow, he just decided to ignore it and walk away. All I have to do I fly this ship and get the fuck out of here.
Arriving at the hangar his lovely ship was docked in, Michael looked around for Dr.Aldon, spotting him with chatting with few mechanics huddled around a computer he walked over so he could have a nice talk with the doctor. "Dr.Aldon," he started with a smile. "Care to run the real reason I'm flying today?" Dr.Aldon swung around, "Orders from the higher up's, unfortunately, They saw your results and decided to push it forward. The only reason you're not flying this morning is final checks and calibrations, were skipping your sim training this morning. KEDA!" Dr.Keda ran over "Take The good captain to get his flight suit on and get him on board so he can meet his partner."
"Woa What partner! fuck that shit I fly solo, I'm not getting anyone but myself killed." Almost yelling in Protest. Everyone in the hangar went stock still, trying not to draw attention.
It was Dr.Leviye that broke the silence, "You have no choice in the matter at this point. It has already been decided." Hearing Dr.Leviye speak for the first time sent shivers down his spine, It was almost robotic.
"Fine let's go get my suit, and I'll decide if I keep this Co-pilot on Deal?" Walking towards the fitting room With confusion washing over him. Was their room for a co-pilot in the cockpit he didn't remember seeing one in the sim.
Michael got to the fitting room and went through the motions, arms out, get scanned, Fab spits out a fancy new suit, put a new suit on, link new suit to nanites, put helmet on, test pressure, All green. "With that out of the way, I guess its time to meet my Co-pilot." Michael thought, walking up to the ship and linking his suit to the ships onboard computer, he noticed the ship drop the boarding ramp. "At least the pilot is courteous." He walked up the ramp and got a good look at the interior. Nothing fancy, from the looks of it. standard test ship even had some open maintenance paneling though no panels around to close them up. walking down the metal walkway towards the bridge, Michael compared it to the sim. Everything was exactly the same. Which means the bridge has only 1 crash couch. Finally getting to the bridge he looked around. Yup 1 couch. "Hello Partner" "hello computer***"*** he replied without thinking........ "Computer?" "Yes, partner?"...
Michael did a 180 and walked right off the bridge, slowly making his way towards the boarding ramp. He arrived and noticed it was retracted blocking his exit when he arrived. "Computer why is the ramp-up?" "There is no reason to leave the ship right now correct?" Screaming internally Michael tried to calm himself down. "I'm detecting heightened blood pressure are you okay partner?" "Okay your not a Vi what are you computer?"
"I am a Virtual Artificial Utility Companion, meant for deep space exploration, that would become possible upon successful testing of this wonderful engine. I am excited to work with you."
"Virtual Artificial? Isn't that a bit redundant?" "I think its because Dr.Leviye wanted to call me vaucs he always refers to me as such," Taking a deep breath Michael asked the question he was afraid of. "Are you a True AI?" "Nope just modeled to act and think like one." More internal screaming, as a happy face emoji appeared on the nearest display panel. "What's the difference?" "Beats me."
Michael got into his crash couch and started going over his preflight sequence. The ship would take about an hour to warm up from a cold start. Michael had to admit having vaucs handle all the small tedious stuff was pretty handy, if not terrifying. Everyone was taught in school that the first true AI humanity made went rouge. Luckily, the researchers were smart enough to run the project on a secluded asteroid that was tugged out of the system and disconnected from everything. Once the last researcher was killed the military just sat out of range nuked the crap out of it. No one has decided to try since.
"Running the last of the checks now partner, :)" vaucs seemed to like putting emojis in my line of sight when it. he? was talking to me "Hey vaucs, you attached to that name?" "Nah it's lazy"
"Do you want a real name?" "I would like that," Michael thought for a moment, "How about Cain?" "Isn't that a bit much? :\" Michael laughed. Maybe vaucs isn't so bad. "Sure is, alright what's the ship's name? I never bothered to learn what this beautiful lady's name was. "It is the Terran experimental starship Quest Results."
"Game related? hmmm, How about Ad" "No thanks." "You didn't let me finish!" "The last game you played was from almost 2 thousand years ago and the male protagonist's name was Adam Jenson another religious name."
"Shit you right......... How the fuck did you know that?"Michael noticed that fear started creeping onto his face, "Eris security scanned your entire apartment complex and all personal devices, they logged all data on Eris central servers." Michael felt a light Relief. "Okay fair enough, Don't scare me like that"
"It was not my intention partner. :(" "Well, how about Jax?" "From mortal combat?" No, that old the pickup game where you drop the ball and pick up the clatop thingys. "You are referring to jacks from 1190BC?"
"yea I figured If I ever drop the ball maybe you would be able to have my back and pick up my mess." It was a little dumb but maybe he'll kill me last if he ever goes rogue thinking to himself with a chuckle. "Alright, you can call me jack then."
"Alright, jack looks like the flight checks are mostly done whats the word on the ground? I haven't heard from anyone in a while," "I have been dealing with the ground crew during the startup sequence, ;)" hey that's pretty handy I don't have to talk to all those boring guys. "Thanks, Jack" "you are welcome."
"Startup complete looks like we're ready to go. This still feels like it's going to fast jack. I Pretty much just got here yesterday***.***" "This project has been in the works for the last 83 years, I'm sure the researchers are under pressure for results. :(" Michael was surprised by how long this base has been active without notice, "You'd think they could wait a few days then." The ship started to rumble slightly as the atmo field lit up the hangar door opened "Project funding is under review, if they don't show results soon, it will be shut down that includes me. Ground control says we are clear to launch."
"Why would they shut you down. Sure your terrifying being a not AI and all, Sorry but it's true. But you're still alive, wouldn't that be murder or something? Bringing us out of the hangar nice and slow." "Retracting grav struts. As I am, I have no rights. It would be easy to deactivate me, also I'm of the same mindset as Dr.Leviys that co-operation would be best for everyone." "Plotting exit coordinates. I guess that makes sense. Your predecessor was nuked to the point that not even the asteroid was left."
Grabbing the controls and gunning the new type impulse engine. Michael felt the sheer power of the ship respond in a way the sim never could. "Whoa Jack, whats with the ship, this is insane?" being pushed into his crash couch the speed and force was amazing.
"I have lessened the dampeners so you can get a better feel for the ship :)"
God damn jack was great, scary but great. Gunning the throttle Michael sped towards the pre-designated Exit point. Sadly it would only take minutes at the speed he was traveling. "What kind of music do we have on this bucket?" "I have your entire music database downloaded, Mission Control is yelling at you to slow down :)"
Oh, right he's got all my info.....And browser history I'll just ignore that for now.. "we have arrived at our destination partner. >:)" "Alright turn the dampeners back up and set our course. Powering up fold drive, five minutes to jump." It felt weird having to charge the engine instead of just flipping a switch and going. But if this goes as fast as it's supposed to, the greater galaxy is about to burst wide open. "Course set detecting no problems, if all goes well we'll emerge in empty space a few minutes after our jump."
Michaels blood was pumping, even if this was way to fast for comfort. This is exactly what he lived for. "Hey, jack how about you play us something, some music would make this perfect". "Your music is old Michael," ;P
"The hell does that have to do with anything, just pick something at random then." A clock, Bells, Latin chanting, "Oh man Killers with the cross? Not bad. It doesn't have anything to do with what we're doing though. Unless your planning to crusade humans. You're not planning to crusade humans are you jack?" >;} "I swear he's fucking with me." I'll just ignore it. "30 seconds to jump"
Activating all scanners and imaging equipment, Michael smiled into what he thought was Jack's main camera."Ready to go?" "I was created, ready partner"
Michael activated the helm, keying the controls his Heart was hammering in his chest. "Time to make history." "10 seconds until jump, mission control wishes us luck**"** Deep breaths "5, 4, 3, 2, 1," Michael Hit the jump switch, everything turns... nada in warp you had some nice colors Seems jump space it's just really fast impulse. "This is kinda anti-climatic Jack" "I'm enjoying it look at the scanners"
Gravitons that shouldn't exist. everywhere around the ship. it's like we're swimming upstream through a thick sludge. "I'm not a scientist what the hell does this mean?" "Unknown it seems that breaking the laws of the universe makes the universe fight back." "wait so jump space attracts gravitons? wouldn't that mean he we bounce close to a star with a bunch of these assholes on us we can knock an entire system out of orbit?"
"Unknown :(" well better play it safe just in case. "I'm Going to take us out of jump space a bit ahead of schedule I'm not going to risk jumping into the target system this these hangons," "New coordinates input is this satisfactory?" Michael looked at the new coordinates. "Looks good I should be able to handle anything weird happening on exit." looks like the galaxy's open "updated time to arrival 47 seconds."
"Exiting jump space in 3,2,1...." "Hey jack why aren't we stopping?" "the gravitons are interfering with the fold drive," "I'm putting us in full reverse, how long until we enter the system at this speed?" "19 seconds. with full impulse 47, we should have bled off enough speed and gravitons as to not affect the system"
" I can hardly turn the ship jack what do you have for me!?" "At the current course, you have a choice of hitting the local star, a planet, or attempting to navigate a densely packed asteroid belt."
"THAT'S IT?! why can't I go up?" "graviton interference is preventing that course of action from making an impact in time. :("
"Fuck this makes no sense alright let's pick the belt"
Speeding into the system, Michael was at the peak of his concentration.
Fully confident in his ability to needle through the belt that was quickly approaching.
"This system is inhabited by a pre-FTL civilization," Looking at the readout Jack just threw up on a side screen, Michaels Shock was apparent.
"WHAT!?" was the last thing Michael said before crashing into an easily avoidable rock.
"I think I made a mistake. :("
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2020.06.17 21:32 TheAusNerd Debris [Part 34]

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Arnd stretched her legs in the back of T'aro's extravagantly roomy limousine, triple-checking her bag to make sure she had everything she needed. T'aro sat opposite her, indulging his appetite for top shelf lija sourced from orchards in the verdant highlands beyond the great plains of X'rtan. At the wheel was K'ul, deftly navigating the air far above the asphalt roads of Ta'X'rtana. The dense throng of the city's center was not long behind them when the sun glowed golden as it began its afternoon descent toward the sparkling sea, and towering pillars of stone, glass, and metal let scant views of the vessel-thick waters beyond peek between them. Finally, at what many consider the beginning of Ta'X'rtana's outskirts, Arnd asked K'ul to stop by a homely, if modern abode sandwiched between an apartment complex and a corner store frequented by youths on their way to school.
Arnd stepped out of the vehicle and onto the familiar pavement, her eyes tracing along every familiar crack in the stone beneath her feet. She stepped past the thin front garden, populated by low-maintenance plants, and made her way up the smooth wooden steps onto the deck. She shortly produced her key from her bag and entered her house, harshly, but not too harshly reminding herself not to linger.
The door opened to a wide lounge room furnished with a pair of large plush sofas, a short table housing many unread magazines, and a television that Arnd had meant to replace for months now, but worked wonders as a conversation piece for the rare occasions where guests were over. An orderly, if rarely used kitchen lay past the living room, separated by an artistic wooden partition. Over on the right wall was a sliding glass door to the miniscule paved space wrapping around the house that she hesitantly called a backyard, situated close by a staircase, which Arnd immediately made for, trying to keep her mind focused on the task at hand.
Once on the landing, Arnd looked directly ahead to a door whose handle was worn with heavy use. With reluctance, she afforded herself a look inside. What was once a guest bedroom had been converted into a miniature cinema, decorated in all the paraphernalia to set the mood, and complete with sound system; a top-of-the-line television; plush velvety seating; and even a mini fridge. Immediately upon looking into the room, memories of decades past flooded her head, and she took a moment to bask in the past.
She continued on, passing a broom closet and the upstairs bathroom until finally she came upon the upstairs master bedroom. Her bedroom. The blinds covering the glass wall leading out to a small balcony softened the ever-reddening sunlight into a warm glow that bathed the room in a rich orange. A bed large enough to accommodate Arnd's frequent tossings and turnings sat as the center of the right wall, directly in front of the door, and beside it was a dresser with an in-built lamp that was just strong enough not to hurt the eyes at night. A family portrait was hung on the opposite wall, next to a large mirror on a desk that Arnd used every day to double check she looked okay one last time before leaving for work. Finally, opposite the window, was a double wide wardrobe; Arnd opened it to see clothing dating from last week all the way back to her childhood, she never had the motivation to throw anything away unless it was sufficiently ripped. On the floor of the wardrobe sat a filing cabinet that was far too large for the amount of paperwork that Arnd actually brought home with her. She quickly flipped through the sheafs of paper until she came across a thick document in a folder emblazoned with the X'rtan Freight logo. She stared at the contract a few long seconds before leaving; she knew that the longer she stuck around, the harder it would be to leave.

From the well-lit tunnel running through the base of Ta'X'rtana, the limousine emerged into the mountain's shadow, and closed in on X'rtan Freight's regional hangar standing strong against the emptiness of the land around it. Past the local shipping vehicles parked in front of the building and under the shade of the parking lot, K'ul found a prime parking spot on the third floor. Arnd began climbing out.
<"Remember,"> began T'aro.
<"Keep it quick, I know."> replied Arnd exasperatedly. She shut the door and stepped into a nearby elevator to the ground floor; she shut her eyes and tried not to shake.
The elevator opened to the wide foyer. Afternoon sunlight played off the glass bannisters of the walkways above, and the sound of subdued chatter and footsteps filled the air with a relaxed, if formal atmosphere. Looking about at the walls decorated in company slogans and framed awards, Arnd felt herself growing ever more nostalgic in the knowledge that her time here was about to come to an end. She walked along the smooth floor, feeling the ever-polished stone floor beneath her feet as she did at the age of 24, and her grip on her bag tightened.
The front desk was staffed by a chipper young woman, typing away at her computer; she looked happy to be there. Arnd approached and got her attention.
<"Welcome to X'rtan Freight! How may I help you?"> She sounded as young as she looked.
<"I'm here for a formal dismissal."> Arnd replied, showing the girl her captain's badge.
Immediately the girl's tone darkened, taken aback somewhat. <"Oh, okay. Please take a seat and someone will be with you shortly.">
Arnd took her seat at a bench near the desk, and closed her eyes to try and tried to tune out the environment around her. She could remember the first time she walked up to that counter; she was shorter then, more starry-eyed, she didn't know what her decision to sign up would lead her to or how it would all end. Those days weren't much simpler, but they were simpler, when she was young and dumb and didn't know what life was really like. Looking back, she would have done a lot of things differently if she could: try and convince her uncle and father to stay, focus more on her studies, find a better boyfriend, but signing up for X'rtan Freight? She would never regret that, even for all the hardship it brought her. She shook, reminiscing on her centrifuge training and the acquaintances she made in the academy; she recalled her first takeoff, and the first time she looked out to see Kerc-en glowing beneath her; she looked back on all the countless hours she spent fixing damage to the ship both inside and out, and the workings of the machines she used to do it; she remembered climbing the ranks to captain, proud of every step she took, and bathing in the praise of her superiors and juniors alike. Her eyes began to dampen, and she realized that there was no escaping how she felt about this.
<"Captain Kolr."> spoke a familiar, commanding voice.
The voice snapped Arnd out of her trance, and she looked up. A short, solidly-built man stood beside the desk with a presence that demanded attention and respect in spite of the ease with which he exuded it; he was dressed in garb befitting his position, with a column of badges denoting the positions he earned on his way to the top. He looked on Arnd with a somber fondness.
<"Chief Urtakr!"> Arnd exclaimed, standing to attention and saluting.
<"At ease, Captain."> Arnd complied. <"With me, please.">
Up a lift to the top floor of the facility, and past hallways warmly lit with orange sunlight, Arnd and Urtakr arrived in his formally decorated office, and the pair sat down at the Chief's desk. The two looked at each other for a long and silent while, taking in the moment. Urtakr sighed deeply. <"I couldn't believe it when I got the message from the higher ups either. After all you've done, this is how it ends. I wish that this could have gone down differently, Captain.">
<"Um, with all due respect, Chief, I'm not a captain anymore.">
<"Until I dismiss you, you are a captain; and I won't hear anyone, not even you, saying otherwise."> Arnd gave a weak smile before Urtakr continued. <"I don't know what they think they're doing firing you, you've been a fantastic employee, ever since you signed up. I would be offering to take you back right now if it weren't for a company mandated grace period, but trust me when I say that the offer remains open, if slim after this whole debacle.">
<"Thank you, Chief.">
Urtakr breathed heavily, and his expression darkened. <"Captain, your contract, please.">
<"N-"> Arnd caught herself before she made a fool of herself, and slid her contract across the desk. Urtakr opened the file and slowly leafed through the file. He pulled out a stamp, and hesitantly scorched a seal onto the final page, officially ending Arnd's employment at X'rtan Freight. The pair let the moment sink in with no shortage of subdued anguish.
Finally, Urtakr stood up. <"Stand up, Captain."> Biting back every rebuttal that came to mind, Arnd complied. The pair faced each other, and Urtakr began. <"Captain Arnd Kolr, it brings me no shortage of pain to perform this duty. Your time with this company has been one of note, with not a single mark against your work for the past thirty two years. In training and cadetship, your eagerness to learn was showcased in your impressive growth and quality of both procedure and results. You bounced between positions, slowly making your way to the top with distinction, professionalism, and exemplary work ethic. As captain, though it was your first and thus far only assignment in the position, you not only directed your crew through a deadly threat, you completed your assignment and, by bringing home an extraterrestrial visitor, benefited the entirety of x'errenkind. There is not a single other employee in the history of this company with a record like yours, Captain. And that is why it pains me to ask for your badge.">
Arnd produced her badge from her bag, gripping it tightly enough to cause her pain. She took one last look at it, its bronzen form engraved with her name and rank stared back at her, and Arnd wanted to hold onto it forever. But she finally relinquished it, and knew that by doing so, she insulted thirty two years of blood and tears.
Urtakr held the badge with reverence, gingerly placing it in his breast pocket. One final deep breath. <"As of this instant, you are hereby dismissed. Your due compensation will be sent to you within the san'lo."> Both he and Arnd felt the sting of the moment, and shared an empathic salute. <"Now please, if you would allow me the privilege to personally escort you from the building."> Arnd nodded.
The foyer was oddly quiet, with little but the tapping of the receptionist typing at her computer to fill the void. The pair stood by the elevator as it arrived on the ground floor, a young man in an engineer's uniform rushed out and across the floor to clock in for an off-world assignment; Arnd watched him go with nostalgia before stepping in.
Urtakr cleared his throat. <"It was a pleasure having you on our team. I wish that fortune favours you in your future endeavours, Miss Kolr."> And the elevator doors closed as he saluted one final time, and Arnd was taken back up to the parking lot. She resisted the urge to punch the wall.
After a short walk, Arnd reached the limousine, whose door was ajar, revealing T'aro sat waiting with an aura of impatience and displeasure. She climbed in, closing the door behind her. Immediately after she took her seat, K'ul set off at a pace that felt to Arnd just a bit too hasty to mean anything good.
T'aro leant toward the dividing window. <"K'ul, make it quick and take the skies when possible. I'll take care of any speeding fines.">
<"Yes sir."> the man replied, deadpan.
He turned to Arnd. <"You took a bit longer than I expected, is there a problem?">
<"No.">
<"Good; if we're out for much longer, there may be cause to investigate your absence from X'rtani House. However, there is another issue at hand."> he stated angrily, bringing up a display in the center of the space. It was a video on Ta'X'rtana News's Flow page.
Mark sits on a sofa, looking at something offscreen. What stands out is the window behind him; it looks almost fractured, as though it was carved to replicate stone. Beyond the window is a view of Ta'X'rtana's monolithic buildings. The camera slowly sweeps behind the human to show the film he is watching. The video is of the interior of Arnd's room.
Arnd stared, teeth visible as a thin white line. <"What. The. Fuck?">
T'aro shifted, yet his displeasure remained. <"I take it you were not aware of this?">
<"Of course not! If I was, I would be beating Mark bloo- trying to beat Mark bloody!">
T'aro looked to her quizzically, but kept his questions to himself. <"I'd advise against that, Mister Stevens likely has nothing to do with this; he was alone the entire time, and quite engrossed if him not moving from his seat is anything to go off.">
Arnd's initial assumption dashed, she thought further. <"Maybe someone leaked security footage?"> She already had a culprit in mind, as guilty as her first thought made her feel.
<"Likely, but none of the cameras installed in your rooms capture that angle, let alone move like that.">
Arnd stammered in disbelief. <"S-so what is this?">
<"We're considering two options, both equally unsettling: they either managed to sneak in a camera without our cameras picking it up, which is quite unlikely; or this video is a digital recreation based on the security footage, which has all manner of implications I don't want to think about.">
Arnd knew exactly what he was talking about. Somebody with a model of Mark that convincing could easily fabricate any number of stories happening behind closed doors, should they prove willing to go beyond a simple recreation. And as tenuous as Arnd's view on Mark was, she knew how closely she was associated with him in the public eye, and how much damage false stories such as those would do to her reputation. <"So what are our options?"> she asked.
<"Right now, all we can do is ask Mister Stevens about yesterday and extrapolate from there.">
Shade encapsulated the vehicle as K'ul pulled into a small porte-cochère carved from the sheer mountainside beside the main entrance to X'rtani House. <"We have arrived, sir."> spoke K'ul through a hidden speaker.
The display was cut as the door opened. T'aro quickly stepped out onto the pavement and looked back to Arnd expectantly. This was needless, as Arnd hopped out right behind him and lead the way into X'rtani House, eager for answers.

Not too proud to admit that he had hit a wall when it came to the topic of pre-revolution X'rtan, Mark decided to close the Flow page he was on, put his data pad down, and perform a short exercise routine in the hopes that increased blood flow would help him think his way through the barrier. Not long after he had began, his doorbell rang. He rose from his sit-ups, quickly wiped off the sweat on his brow, and answered the door, to greet T'aro and Arnd, the latter of whom slipped past the human without a word.
Mark didn't like the feeling he got from Arnd as he turned to listen to T'aro, still in the doorway. <"Mister Stevens, may I enter? We have an issue to discuss.">
"Of course." he replied, not about to deny the man who held the reins on the power dynamic.
T'aro made himself comfortable at the kitchen table, begging Mark and Arnd to take a seat, which they did. T'aro then handed his data pad to Mark, the offending video onscreen. The video and an explanation of the situation commenced and soon concluded, T'aro taking back his data pad from the human. <"So,"> the man asked. <"What can you tell us about this?">
"Nothing." Mark replied, terrified but outwardly calm. "I didn't notice anyone else enter or leave other than Arnd. I think I felt that something was off, but I'd attribute that to the film more than anything; those Hu'wari are freaky." he prayed silently that T'aro would believe the truth. In the time before the man answered, Mark took a brief glance at Arnd, and saw the ghost of a scowl he knew he could neither face nor challenge.
T'aro considered his words for a long and quiet moment. <"I agree; those things are terrifying. Well, that leads me to believe that someone is giving away security footage. We can only hope that nobody in this chain is the vindictive sort, I don't want to think about what they could do with digital models of that quality when they're found out."> He stood from the chair, much to Arnd's confusion. <"I will be making my demands for an investigation immediately, and hopefully we can weed out the conspirators before long. I thank you for your cooperation, Mister Stevens, and I wish you a good day."> And with that, he left, typing a message as he went.
Mark and Arnd sat in the wake of T'aro's leaving, each too stunned by the stiff awkwardness to move or speak. Slowly, as the quiet seconds wore on, Arnd's scowl deepened in the face of the being that seemed preternaturally adept at attracting trouble for both him and those around him. Abruptly, she stood up and made for the door, knowing that staying for much longer would lead to nothing good.
"Arnd." said Mark as the woman in question reached the door.
She paused, entertaining the thought of finally making her feelings known even beyond the kind explanation she gave to the human days prior. But, with what respect she had for the dynamic they shared, and her own want for peace, she remained silent. Still, she remained to listen.
Mark understood immediately. "I'm sorry for dragging you into all of this; I wish our plan worked out."
<"So do I."> Arnd replied, and left. Moments later, Mark heard a frustrated yell from down the corridor.
~~~

Blood: Chapter 3. Verse 2.
And from the prisons dug from the earth arose Wey'sai, haggard and weary.
He stood tall before the blades of judgement, smiling peacefully despite his torment.
The lawman asked him, his tongue thick with lies: <"Why do you smile in the reflection of your doom, blasphemer?">
Wey'sai replied: <"Your judgement is not my doom, but salvation for all.">
It was with those words that Wey'sai's head was hewn from his neck, and it crashed to the ground with peace on its face.
The line was slow and long, stretching well into the mess hall as most all prisoners waited for their turn to contact the outside world. As a correctional facility, it wouldn't do for Holy Krek'ka Correctional Facility to deny its wards the option of bi-weekly access to the world at large for good behaviour, even if limited by a brief video call. Friends and families broken by an individual's choices and the subsequent consequences were given the chance to reconnect and heal together; convicts were given the motivation to examine and better themselves for the sake of themselves and their loved ones; and rarely, ever so rarely, people were given the chance to find their faith, and a new path in life.
Ledrn finally passed into the call room; closed off and soundproofed chambers - each monitored appropriately - lined the outer walls, the door to each occupied by a prisoner waiting their turn. Before long, Ledrn took his place by a door, and waited under the watchful eye of armed guard and increasingly impatient prisoner alike. Finally, the chamber Ledrn stood by was vacated, the convict in question wiping his eyes as he left.
The chamber was simple: a table, a chair, and a large touchscreen with a dial pad ready on the display. Ledrn sat down, already knowing who he was going to contact, and input the appropriate number.

The central hall of the Greater Kurj'al Kerc-Wey'sai Temple was quiet and dark, bereft of all occupants but one: an old soul dressed in the same robes she had donned for decades, sprinkling consecrated herbs and offering prayer over the smouldering remains of a raised bonfire whose ashes lay surrounding a rough hewn central stone column reaching to the artistically carved ceiling. Pews were arranged in concentric circles stretching to the far walls, facing the central column. The walls were adorned by statues of saints, prophets, and history makers of Kerc-Wey'sai's past, each with a pair of coloured flames in their chests dimly lighting the chamber; yellow in their right, caged by ribs of metal, representative of the blood that tied them to the mortal plane; and a brilliant green in the left, free of any constraints, signifying the ascended spirits that guided the faithful in times of crisis. Her wrist-pad rang, a notification telling her that her office's computer has received an incoming call. She quickly said the appropriate prayer, set down the herbs, and went to answer it.
Her office chair creaked as she sat, surrounded by ceremonial scrolls and bookshelves filled with ledgers pertaining to the temple's administration. The message window sat visible in the corner of her screen, telling her that the message was from Holy Krek'ka orbiting the planet. Curious, but with the demeanour befitting her position, she answered.
And upon her screen, sat calmly with arms on the table in front of him, was Ledrn.
<"Blooded Daughter Quaye't, it has been too long."> he said calmly.
Quaye't stared in shock. <"L-Ledrn! Why are you in prison? And what happened to your hand?!"> she asked, staring at the stump onscreen. Beside it, Ledrn's remaining hand was twitching slowly, making Quaye't no shortage of nervous.
<"I... was too eager to protect the crew I was assigned to. But that's not important; how have things been since I last visited the temple?">
<"Uh-"> Quaye't began, flustered at Ledrn's nonchalance. <"Fine enough. We've hosted some charity events; had some slight remodeling done to the temple; and the High Son has recently ordained a young faithful into the order, so we're hopeful on that front.">
<"Ah. It's good to hear that you and the order have been well. But now that you mention charity events, I can't help but remember that you have an upcoming event for the Eve of Star's Exodus, correct?">
<"Yes, we do. Why?">
<"I'm not sure if you're aware, but it's about election season."> Of course, the woman's face conveyed confusion at this statement. Ledrn continued, unconcerned. <"Knowing this, hopeful politicians looking to boost their ratings wouldn't mind pitching in for the sake of good PR, and I think that their patronage would draw quite a few eyes your way.">
<"I see. I've not thought of that before, I'll have to consider that. But... why are you worried about something as comparatively mundane as this when you're in prison?!">
<"Because the order has done immense good. Good by the community, and good by me. This right here is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on that good. And besides, there's not much I can do here but be on my best behaviour and hope for a reduced sentence."> A light and alarm then blared in Ledrn's room; his time was up. His twitching in his remaining hand became immediately more severe, sparking concern in Quaye't, but Ledrn himself seemed unfazed, simply keeping his gaze locked to the screen. <"Well, that's my time. I wish you all the best, and please, be sure to forward this to Elder Son Duvem.">
And in that moment, the feed cut. Quaye't sat staring blankly at the screen, worried as to the events leading to Ledrn's incarceration. She concluded though, that there was little use in sitting by and fretting about that when not only did she still have her afternoon duties to perform, but that she would be doing more for him in the moment by honouring his request and informing Elder Son Duvem. As such, she did just that, and then left to pick up where she left off.

The sun dipped below Ta'X'rtana's skyline, and it was time for Quaye't to hang up her robes for the day and return to the altogether different comfort of her home. She muttered one final prayer at the foot of the bonfire as the night's temple keepers filtered in, and slung up her bag, ready to leave. As she reached halfway to the temple's entrance, however, she was interrupted by the clapping of a coarse palm on her shoulder.
Spinning on her toes, Quaye't came face to face with the balding, time-weary visage of Duvem. He stood, bent by age and injury but steady with the aid of a cane, looking up to his junior with urgency in his eyes. <"With me a moment, child."> he said, and led her over to an empty pew.
There, he pulled out his device, a recording of the video call on screen. <"When you sent me this video, I was glad to know that the young man was safe, despite how clearly disastrous his most recent assignment was."> —He shook, and lovingly brushed the back of his hand— <"As I watched though, I noticed something. So I rewatched it, and I saw this."> He then played the video, letting it run for a while. <"Can you see it?"> he asked, a twinge frantic.
<"See what?">
<"The hand, child! The hand!"> he exclaimed, pointing a wrinkled finger at the twitching appendage on screen.
<"I noticed that. Whatever took the other must have given him a nervous tic or something."> she conjectured with pity.
<"It's no tic, child; it's all ordered."> he stated. Quaye't did naught but stare confusedly. Duvem continued, annoyed but unsurprised. <"It's all faint, very faint. He doesn't want the guards to see it."> When Quaye't continued to visibly express her confusion, Duvem sighed and rewound the video. Then, following along with Ledrn and performing the motions as they were meant to, he began.
A rubbing of the thumb and forefinger together, with a bent ring finger, a traditional prayer gesture said to ward against evil. A balled and rotating hand, mimicking a spinning planet. Clawed, and tightening its grip. A cupped hand, palm down, the thumb laying parallel to the ground. <"Unholy Foreign Enemy in Home base."> Extended thumb and pinky in the shape of an ancient communicator. Then, upturned fingers rolling up and down, like an approaching army. <"Call Reinforcements.">
It was this demonstration that made everything click in Quaye't's mind. <"Military signals.">
<"Exactly. And I'd bet you my good eye that it has something to do with whatever took his hand."> He scratched one of his remaining teeth in thought. <"Did he tell you anything about his assignment before he left?">
Quaye't combed her memory for anything of note. <"I think he mentioned something a week before he left: something about stars...">
Duvem's scratching intensified as vague yet recent memories began to clarify in his mind. <"Stars... stars... star... hunter? Star, Chaser."> Frantically, he put the term into a Flow search. Links to article after article appeared on the screen, each one mentioning the vessel, its crew, and their monumental journey. Eventually, the search led them to a recent police report, aired on the Ta'X'rtana News network.
An officer stood at a podium before a crowd of the press. <"As for the matter of the X'rtan Freight employee, we have video confirmation of what appears to be an attempted mutiny that the Star Chaser's captain immediately put to a stop.">
What sounded to be a middle-aged man shouted from the crowd of press. <"Sir, have you determined a motive for this betrayal?">
<"From what we have gathered, the man in question revolted in response to a so-called 'alien' on board the ship. After talking to officers on-site, we have determined that this 'alien' in question is nothing more than an advanced animatronic for a movie being shot on Men-te."> At his words, body cam video of the Star Chaser's cargo bay filled the screen. A short, pale, hairless biped stood its ground, looking away from the camera, at the officer's face.
The pair looked at their findings in horrified realization. Quaye't was the first to regain composure. <"The unholy, foreign enemy.">
<"And the warped thralls deathly pale shall splinter the world at the Adversary's will.
And so shall the world return to fire as it was forged, and the sins of the living light doom's blade ablaze."> recited Duvem in abject terror. <"Lords protect us... even looking at it gives me chills, knowing what I do now. To think, my first assumption was that one of those X'olandi on the crew was responsible.">
In the face of a revelation as world-shattering as the one she just experienced, Quaye't was more than willing to overlook her elder's unsavoury assumption. <"But what about the reinf- the faithful! This clearly isn't something the law is going to help with, so it falls to us! We'll have to be careful though; if this is something the law shouldn't know, then we will have to be discreet in informing our followers.">
<"Yes. If that thing is here, then it's allowed to be by the law. If that's going to change, we're going to need a mass petition and aid from... politicians. Ledrn, you clever grub, you thought of everything!"> He spoke with equal parts fear and relief. He gripped his cane with fervor and rose from his seat, caring little that his back objected to this display of almost youthful vigor. Both he and Quaye't made for the main office and the night's acting Blooded Child, the end of their daily tenures be damned; a holy war was brewing, and they must be ready.
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[Next]
submitted by TheAusNerd to HFY [link] [comments]


2020.06.13 01:50 andijoestar My partner and I found a hidden surveillance camera in our hotel room.

Oh boy this is my first time doing anything like this. While I found a lot of information on how to find a hidden camera in a hotel room, we couldn’t find much on what to do.
More background: Our hotel is an ‘Inn’ and not a major company. However this is not an airbnb and we booked it through a travel website.
My partner (24M) and I (25F) were setting up my partner’s laptop to the TV to watch some shows, we were having difficulty and were trying to plug in our HDMI cord when we found what we thought was something unplugged from the TV. As I’m trying to see where it goes, I realize it’s wire isn’t going to an outlet where everything else and isn’t a plug for anything. Instead it was plugged into a DVR that was NOT hooked to the TV that was placed discreetly behind the entertainment center the TV was sitting on. From this DVR was a cable with a small box and small bubble camera on it.
A few google searches and yep, absolutely sure. It looks exactly like the first result when searching for a hidden surveillance camera to a DVR. We took tons of pictures, debated whether to unplug it, and did in the end out of our own fear. I proceeded to search what to do and couldn’t find much information. Still I went full CSI-mode and searched the whole place down, including like underneath drawers, lights, mirror, pictures, on top of high areas, the peephole and door, other furniture, every nook and cranny we could think of while not absolutely tearing things apart. I unplugged all the other electronics and put them in drawers and hid most other objects offered by the hotel. (Alarm clock, tissue box holder, coffee maker)
We both are people who suffer from anxiety disorders and this stay was to help with some stressful situations going on in our personal lives. I’m very mindful that I always have a chip on my shoulder, but I’m feeling absolute over paranoid. We even silently communicated not to talk about anything even jokingly that could put us in any other perspective than good citizens. (I.e. avoiding talking about the protests, etc) and concerned of just how relaxed we should be able to feel. That’s what we wanted. To relax and get our mind of personal life and the world in a private space. That’s been completely taken away from us now.
We don’t really have a ton of money until a paycheck in a few days, so can’t afford to or have much of a safe place to stay elsewhere. We’re mostly self-sufficient people with families that aren’t well off or able to provide a bunch of support, so we have little resources to turn to.
So. What do we do? Find a speciality lawyer? Contact Law Enforcement? Confront the Hotel ourselves?
Any advice on what to do just to be safe, feel good, things to check, and what best action we can take to amend this and get restitutions for it.
(EDITED for some clarity)
submitted by andijoestar to legaladvice [link] [comments]