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The Thing in the Cracks - Part 1

2023.05.29 12:57 Finzombie The Thing in the Cracks - Part 1

By Fin
“Holy crap.” James Talbot stepped back from his handiwork. It was beautiful. It made him want to scream.
Talbot was a chemist, the modern form of an alchemist, and he’d discovered something as wondrous and terrible as the most extreme postulations of his forbearers.
This was it. The culmination of all his works. This is what he’d fought for decades for, why he’d abandoned connections with everyone he’d ever known. But now it was all worth it. He would reveal the Masterwork at the Grand Chemistry Convention. It would steal the show, and he would be revered beyond every other human being who had ever lived.
It had taken Talbot long enough to assemble the Masterwork that he’d shed the title of ‘young’, not to mention most of his non-gray hair. Although it was hard to tell whether that was from aging or from what he’d beheld in his long sojourn. He was only 45, after all, and the rest of his body still held firm from decades of outdoorsmanship.
Talbot stood before a wall, upon which was painted the most intricate design any human had ever seen. It was a diagram of… unknown things. A chart of runes, maps, and artfully painted lines. There was no text in any living language on the diagram, but the harmony within the full tapestry visually sang, imparting something unfathomable in a way that Talbot could somehow fathom. The man who’d made it, who’d studied it for 15 years, barely understood it himself. But he knew that it was the ultimate solution to the entirety of philosophy, containing the answers to every question humanity had ever seen fit to ask. It had existed in his notebook for a while, in bits and pieces, but today had been its first full assembly, and it was magnificent.
He had to keep it hidden, or someone would take it from him.
He retrieved a tarp and threw it over the wall, nailing it in at the top so it hung down to cover his designs. Just to be sure, he moved his desk to block the wall, then locked the door to his office when he left for the day. James Talbot was more excited than he had ever been, and he celebrated that night with a fireplace and a large bottle of whiskey.
Of all the people at his office to commit espionage, Talbot never would’ve suspected the night janitor. This may stem from the fact that he also never suspected the night janitor to be part of a massive secret organization dedicated to keeping humanity as ignorant as possible in matters of the Higher Order.
But no matter what Talbot suspected, Tim Willis was indeed part of this society, and after he’d entered Talbot’s office with his master key to do some routine cleaning, the obvious secrecy surrounding the wall at the back of the room worried him. So he moved the desk out of the way, lifted the tarp, and inhaled sharply.
This was bad. A tapestry of the Higher Order more complete than any he’d seen before, or any reported by the other Censors of the Agency for the Preservation of Humanity.
Willis quickly replaced the tarp and desk. As soon as he’d locked the room, he pulled out his phone and dialed the number for an Alexander Talc.
Talbot arrived the next morning with a song in his heart and a latte in his hand. The former died horribly as soon as he entered his office only to find someone sitting in his chair, and the latter died horribly as it fell from his fingers, limp in shock.
The person in question was a short, slight man who wore thick glasses and a dark gray suit. He was sitting on Talbot’s office chair, facing the now uncovered back wall with all of its eldritch calculations. Talbot’s desk had been moved to the side of the room, left askew with the tarp crumpled up on top.
As Talbot entered, the stranger spun the chair around so he was facing the chemist, a broad smile on his face. He was undeniably attractive, in a delicate sort of way.
“Ah! You must be the aspiring alchemist?” He spoke softly and cheerily, but with an unnerving edge. Talbot couldn’t identify any specific aspect of his voice that disturbed him, but upon further consideration he concluded that it was the incongruity of the situation, the warm friendliness of his tone grating against Talbot’s unease.
Talbot took a step back, shaken. “I don’t… what-”
“Quite an impressive display here. You’ve managed to glean a quite large amount of knowledge about the Higher Order, especially considering you’ve never consulted us at the APH.” He pronounced it phonetically, like Aff.
“What are you-”
Talbot heard a click from behind him, and turned to see Tim Willis, the night janitor, closing and locking his door. He could barely register the betrayal.
“Ah, yes. Tim is working for me. For us. The Agency for the Protection of Humankind really frowns upon anyone attempting to learn the Higher Order.”
Talbot, finally able to form a full sentence, asked, “What’s the Higher Order?”
“You know what it is, of course, although you may not have heard the term. It’s what we call the mechanics of the very fabric of the universe itself. The questions about ‘why are we here?’ and ‘is there a god?’ and all the stuff like that. All theoretical philosophy, basically. And you, apparently through sheer dumb luck,” He turned to admire the mural again, “have managed to find more of it than any human being ever, including us! Quite impressive. Big hand.” The man slow-clapped for Talbot. The small sweet-looking man being sarcastically condescending was jarringly incongruous.
Talbot felt a surge of anger, and it helped him produce a full sentence. “Dumb luck?!?” He advanced on the man. “My Masterwork is the product of 20 years of research and experience! This is the greatest thing anyone has ever done, and how dare you say I achieved it through dumb luck!”
The man raised his hands placatingly. “Okay, okay!” He chuckled. “Years of research, whatever. You found the Higher Order. That’s where we come in.”
“Ah. Well, you see, the reason that no one’s found the entire Higher Order is simple. It’s because we stop them.”
Talbot was incredulous. “What?! Why would you stand in the way of progress like that?!” As a scientist, the possibility that there could be anyone actively against gaining knowledge was incomprehensible to him.
The man grimaced, as though he was about to break some terrible news. “Well… there are some parts of this tapestry you’ve assembled, specifically here...” The man pointed at a small segment of the diagram, a thick horizontal line with four thin lines crossing perpendicularly that turned into five lines on the other side, “That grants access to some other planes of existence. Planes of existence that are home to some very dangerous things. And due to some logistical aspects of the Higher Order,” He gestured at another segment of the diagram entirely composed of square symbols, “if you muck about in their domain, they are able to muck about in ours. The Law of Equivalent Interference.”
“But… how would our finding answers count as ‘mucking about in their domain’? If we knew the danger, we just wouldn’t go there.”
The man was silent, then answered Talbot’s question with a question. “Tell me, Talbot. If humans discovered another dimension, do you really think they’d be able to stay out of it?”
“Fine. But then why do you have to censor the whole thing? Why not give them the benign parts that would still forward human progress by centuries?”
“Because the Higher Order is like Algebra. Or a logic puzzle from Highlights magazine. If you give someone smart enough just a few clues, they’ll eventually assemble the whole picture. Which we desperately want to avoid.”
There was a long and heavy silence.
“Ok.” Said Talbot, wrapping his head around the new information. “So the APH stops people from finding the answers to these questions so our world isn’t destroyed by Fourth Dimensional entities?”
“Exactly!” The man nodded, delighted at Talbot’s comprehension. “Well, they’re technically Fifth Dimensional. The existence of time in our reality means that this is the Fourth Dimension.”
There was another silence.
“Sorry, what was your name again?” Talbot asked.
The man looked utterly devastated. “Oh no! I can’t believe I was so rude!” He vaulted the desk and approached Talbot, stopping just short and shaking his hand. “Alexander Talc, Class 2 Censor Operative for the APH.”
“Censor as in… ?”
“Yes, I censor things. People too, if necessary.”
“So what,” Talbot asked, “You’re here to kill me?”
Talc gasped. “What?!?! No! As if we’d be so barbaric! We’re here to recruit you.”
Talbot’s eyes widened. “Wait, really?”
“Of course! You know more about the Higher Order than any human outside of the APH, and probably more than a majority of those inside of the APH. Your expertise could be vital in preventing a breach in our reality!”
“What would this job entail?”
“Well, we’d need you to fake your death, change your name, burn your research-”
Talbot recoiled.
“Now I know that sounds like a lot,” Talc backpedaled, “But allow me to let you in on a little secret.” He leaned in conspiratorially, then glanced around as though to make sure nobody was listening. Satisfied, he whispered, “The dental is off-the-charts.”
Talbot shook his head. “What happens if I don’t take the job?”
Talc winced. “Things get considerably less pleasant. I have to call in a Class 3 Purge Operative, and that’s always a hassle.”
Talbot chose not to inquire into the purpose of a ‘Purge Operative’.
Talc gently laid a hand on Talbot’s shoulder. “It’s a lot to take in, I know. How about we move to some place more hospitable and you can think it over?”
Talbot nodded, his mind elsewhere. Talc gently guided him out of the room, Willis following and closing the door behind them.
Talbot stared down into his conical paper cup, filled with water that tasted plasticy. The three men were in the lobby of Talbot’s workplace, leaning against a table adorned with donuts and a water cooler.
Talc bit into a day-old bear claw as Talbot swirled his water and considered the situation.
If he accepted the offer, he would be shipped off to another state, away from his home in Bedford, where he would join whatever on earth APH was. Talbot hated the idea of working for an agency whose entire purpose was to destroy knowledge. On the other hand, if he didn’t accept the offer, they’d likely kill him.
Purge Officer…
Would working for the APH really be so bad? Talbot liked Talc enough. Maybe they could be friends. Or… more than friends. And if the APH truly wanted Talbot to be able to suppress the Higher Order, he’d have to know the Higher Order. Which meant research. He could essentially continue on exactly as he was.
Except he would never be recognized as the genius he was. Talbot involuntarily crushed his paper cup as he realized that, if he took the offer, he’d never win a Nobel prize. He’d never present at the Grand Chemistry Convention. He’d never write a revolutionary scientific paper. He would be forgotten.
He knew what he had to do. He couldn’t say no, or he would be killed. He couldn’t accept, or he would be forgotten, which was worse. He had to escape.
But how? This was some sort of world-ruling secret agency. They probably had eyes everywhere. What could he possibly do to get away?
His eyes wandered towards the stairs. The stairs that led to his office, which held the key to every single natural law.
Talbot tossed his cup in the trash, then approached Talc.
“I think I’m ready to make my decision. But first, can I go to the restroom?”
Talc nodded. “Of course! Take all the time you need!”
Talbot nodded and jogged toward the restroom. In the tiled floor under him, he saw Willis’s warped reflection following him discreetly.
He entered the single restroom and quietly opened the window. He could see Willis’s shadow under the door as the man hovered just outside.
Talbot waited a couple seconds, then flushed the toilet, turned on the sink, and silently crept through the window. He fell a few feet to the alley below, and had to suppress a grunt.
Now what? He needed to escape, but his notebook was still upstairs. All his research was in there, and he couldn’t leave it to the APH.
The only ground level entrance to the building was the main lobby door, which was directly in Talc’s sightline. However, who said he had to enter on ground level?
Talbot’s gaze rose to the old fire escape above him. The bottom of the structure was a platform that lined up with the second floor. A ladder was folded up on the platform, an old rusty latch keeping it from reaching ground level. Talbot couldn’t reach the latch from where he was on the ground, so he looked around for a solution.
He had a bum throwing arm, so he couldn’t toss anything up to break it. Unless…
Talbot considered Talc’s words. The very mechanics of the universe itself... He felt a flare of pride as he realized how little Talc truly understood.
The sigil that granted access to the Fifth Dimension was just one of several such Seals. Over all Talbot’s years of study, those portions of the Higher Order were the most applicable. They did not just show universal aspects of reality. They represented those aspects. They were symbolic, and like all symbols, they were powerful.
They were simulacra of natural laws, and could be manipulated in order to manipulate those laws themselves. It allowed anyone who knew the Seals to weave a sort of magic, ignoring the laws of time, space, or gravity by sketching and then destroying the corresponding runes, temporarily destroying that Law’s influence over oneself. Talbot’s hypothesis was that there was a single Greater Seal for each law that controlled that law anywhere and everywhere. If that one was found and destroyed, the laws of reality would change forever.
For greater, wide-scale application, Talbot had scrawled in his notebook, The Greater Aspects must be located and manipulated.
Talbot dropped to the ground and dragged his finger through the alley gravel. He assembled the rocks into a facsimile of a tiny part of the Higher Order, one that he’d experimented with a lot. He looked around for a suitable vessel, settling on a rock. He poured all his mental energy into the stone, and used his hands to scatter the pebbles that made up the Seal of Velocity.
The rock sprang from the ground and soared upwards, clanging against the ladder before anticlimactically falling into a dumpster. From inside, Willis banged on the bathroom door and said something indistinct. Talbot’s second telekinetic toss hit the ladder before falling onto the platform itself. He broke another Seal, and his third throw smacked into the latch, splitting the rusted thing and shooting the ladder downwards.
It made a lot of noise, and Talbot could hear Willis pounding on the bathroom door inside. He seemed to be breaking it down, as Talbot heard wood split with a crunch. Talbot quickly mounted the ladder and climbed up to the platform, trying not to think about the alarming creaking sounds the old construction was making. From there, he took the stairs two at a time, spiraling up and up until he reached the sixth floor.
Six flights of stairs only had him a bit winded by the time he reached his floor. He tried the door to the inside, and found it unlocked.
Talbot entered the hallway outside his office quietly. He considered how this would play out. Willis and Talc would be storming up here at any moment. He had to move quickly.
Talbot entered his workroom, dragging his desk over to block the door. He took a moment to gaze forlornly at his Masterwork, because he would never be able to take it with him. All the same pieces and diagrams were in his notebook, but the full Masterwork was a thing of beauty, one that he would never behold again.
He snapped a picture of it with his phone. It wasn’t the same, but it’d have to do.
Talbot grabbed his notebook, its leather-bound pages bulging with decades of research. Some of the sheaves of paper stuck out at odd angles, newspaper snippets and glossy photographs glued into the most faithful companion Talbot had ever had.
Was there anything else he needed?
The door began to rattle.
Talbot grabbed a sheet of blank paper from his desk and rapidly sketched as many Seals as he could. He had an idea of how he could escape, but he needed to harness his work to do it. Using the Masterwork as a reference, he scrawled the Seal of Time, the Seal of Space, the Seal of Gravity, and, after considering it, the Seal of the Fifth Dimension.
Just in case. He thought.
With a crack, his door burst open, shoving the desk out of the way. Talc and Willis stood there, the latter looking enraged, the former strangely calm.
“Talbot, this doesn’t have to happen this way.” Talc appealed, but Talbot was done listening. He would not be forgotten. He would be immortalized, through his work.
Talbot ripped a corner off of his Seal sheet, and glanced down at the Seal of Time. With a glare at Talc, he stuck it in his mouth and began to chew.
Talbot disappeared with a pop, as Willis lunged towards where he’d just been.
Willis stopped short, then turned to Talc. He was noticeably upset at losing their quarry.
“What do we do now?”
“Well, we follow him.”
Talc approached the Masterwork. “It’s simple. I’m sure Talbot understood that time travel doesn’t work the way everyone thinks it does. Cause and Effect are inextricably linked, and cannot be put out of order. Traveling through time actually just creates another dimension, a splintered facsimile of your original where things play out differently.”
“So… to follow him do we just use the Time Sigil?”
Seal, Willis. And no. That will just create another splinter plane. Now that the reality has already been established, we need to follow him. Using this.”
Talc’s thin fingers traced the outline of another Seal, one Talbot hadn’t thought to inscribe.
“There are many ways to traverse the Multiverse.” Talc said, “Using Seals to rip open the barriers between planes is one of the simplest.”
Talc sketched down two copies of the seal, then separated the two and handed one to Willis. The two locked eyes and nodded in unison. They both rent their sheets in half and disappeared.
Talbot didn’t ‘land’, per se, but he still felt off-balance when he blinked into existence in his office. He staggered, but caught himself before he could fall. The world felt… different here.
Out of everything Talbot had discovered, Multiversal travel was his least considered. He’d been too cowardly to experiment with anything but the Space, Gravity, and Velocity Seals, so this experience was new to him. Naturally, as any scientist does when faced with something unfamiliar, he started taking notes.
Effects of Time/Universe Traversal:
–Slight nausea. Somewhat noticeable. Temporary?
–World overall feels discordant. Silence sounds different than back home. My tinnitus is in another key. Feels like I don’t belong.
–Different frequency hard-coded into every reality?
Before he could assemble an entire thesis on the underlying resonance within the multiverse, he realized with a start that he had to get out of here. Talc and WIllis were likely following him, and even if they weren’t, there were copies of them in this dimension.
Talbot had willed himself about 10 minutes back in time, and it seemed like that’d worked. His Masterwork was complete and the desk and tarp were off to the side. The trio were likely downstairs in the lobby, where Past-Talbot was thinking over the pros and cons of their offer. At least, he thought so. Time travel seemed to create a splintering reality, one that maintained consistency with his original up until the point where he showed up. There were plenty of unfamiliar worlds out there, but the Seal of Time created one quite familiar. Right now Past-Talbot-
Past-Talbot doesn’t sound right. Pretty soon it’ll be my present, then my future. How about Talbot-2?
After settling upon a name to call his double, Talbot exited his office and left through the door that led to the fire escape, in too much of a hurry to close it. He scrambled down the stairs, knocked the latch off the ladder, climbed to the ground, popped open the bathroom window, and climbed inside. Right as he got his arms through, the door opened.
Talbot-2 walked in, then stopped short as he saw himself dangling halfway through the window. Talbot put a finger to his lips, and indicated Willis-2 with his eyes. Talbot-2 silently shut the door, locking Willis-2 outside.
Talbot-2 opened his mouth to speak, but barely got out one word. “What-”
“I’m you, from the future. Well, not from your future, but from a future.”
Talbot-2’s confused expression was replaced with excitement. “So the Time Seal Worked?! Fantastic! What’s it like?!”
“I’d tell you all about it, but I’m currently stuck in a bathroom window and being hunted down by two government agents. Although I don’t actually know if they work for the government…”
Talbot-2 pulled him through the window into the bathroom. “Sorry.”
Once he was in, Talbot glanced at the door behind Talbot-2.
“Okay. Here’s the thing. Some version of Talc and Willis will be here any minute. Whether mine followed me from the future or not, yours will catch on soon. We need to get out of here, and get the Masterwork to somebody else.”
“Wait, which Talc and Willis will show up?”
“One of them… or both of them. It doesn’t really matter! Do we know anybody we can send our notes to?”
Talbot-2 considered it. “Davis?”
Talbot frowned, and opened his notebook to an early page.
Dr. Wilson Davis
–Spineless fool. He calls himself a chemist, but refuses to venture outside the conventions of the industry. No true scientist works a cushy chemical production job! We journey! We endeavor!
Talbot shook his head. “He’d never publish something like this. If they tracked him down, he’d probably take their oppressive offer.”
Dr Monica Johnson
—Chemist and conspiracy nut. Super gullible, but generally a good person.
“She’ll believe anything.” Talbot said. “...Which is actually probably a good thing in this case. If she thinks it’s real, she’ll distribute it, and she’s earnest enough to leave my- our name on it.”
Talbot-2 nodded. “Sounds like a plan. Actually, it sounds like an idea, not a plan. What is our plan?”
Talbot thought for several seconds. “Here’s what we do. You pretend to accept their offer, and do whatever they tell you. If all else fails, you’ll get a cushy job working for the government. Meanwhile, I get this,” Talbot indicated his notebook. “To Johnson, and then…” He paused.
Someone knocked on the door.
“And then?” Talbot-2 prompted in a whisper, glancing behind him.
“Then… I’ll figure something out.”
Talbot-2 nodded. “Alright. Are we ready to go?”
“I think so.” Talbot replied.
Talbot slipped out of the window, and Talbot-2 opened the door to greet Willis-2.
The man peered around him. “Who were you talking to in there?”
Talbot-2 shrugged. “Myself. You know, crazy scientist stuff.”
Talbot dropped to the ground, then produced his sheet of Seals. He picked out one specific design, a circle bisected by a thin line. On one side of the line, a stylized forest thrived, and on the other a pictographic city loomed. Talbot ripped the Seal of Space from his paper and stuck it in his mouth, once again disappearing with a pop.
Talc and Willis appeared in Talbot-2’s workroom, and quickly exited. Both spun in the hallway outside, and both spotted the wide-open door to the fire escape. They both moved down the rickety metal construction and found themselves in an alley behind the building.
“See that?” Talc pointed at the window.
“Yeah. Did he go in through it?” Willis asked.
“Of course. But if he used the Seal of Time to try to come back and alert himself, I’m guessing he came through here to talk to him…self, but he couldn’t have left. The only point at which he was in the bathroom, you were right outside. He popped in, popped out, popped another Seal.”
“Is there any guarantee that he came back to alert himself? He could’ve gone to any point in time.”
“I know his type. The out-there intellectual. He’s been burned by everyone but himself. He’ll only trust himself. And if he came to himself before we’d arrived, he wouldn’t believe him.”
“Sorry, who wouldn’t believe him?”
“Him! Aren’t you-” Talc took a moment to consider the context. “You know what, nevermind. The point is that this reality’s Talbot is now in league with our Talbot, and that’s not good.”
“What do we do?”
“Well firstly, we need to cut it down to one Talbot. Two is too many to deal with.” Talc pushed on his earpiece, then spoke. “Hello? Can you hear me, Talc?” There was silence, until something dawned on him. “Ah, dammit. I can’t call my own earpiece.” He adjusted something on his earpiece. “Willis! Do you copy?” Willis heard Talc both from right next to him and through his earpiece. He didn’t hear the reply, but his earpiece buzzed as its exact copy broadcast something. Willis took his earpiece out and squinted at it, curious about the exact Multiversal properties that bonded it to its clone.
“Yes, this is Talc. But not your Talc. Listen, Talbot ran off to this dimension, and we believe he’s working with your Talbot. We need to meet up, then dispose of the dupe.”
Talc listened for a response, and Willis’s earpiece vibrated as his double presumably replied.
Talc turned to Willis. “Alright. They’ll meet us back in Talbot’s office. There we can get rid of the redundant one and track our quarry.”
Their quarry was currently depositing a large package of brown paper in a big blue mailbox.
Talbot paused as he lowered the boxy parcel. This was his life’s work, his notebook and all his scattered papers, and was the second-most important thing he owned, next to the wall that contained the Masterwork itself, which was likely being dismantled by his enemies at that very moment. This was the last 20 years of his life, and he was about to gamble it away to a crazy woman on the off-chance that his legacy might live on. Talbot wished he’d spent more time with reasonable scientists, if only to expand the pool of people he could mail his book to.
With a deep breath, Talbot released the book, wincing at the gentle ‘paff’ sound it made when it fell onto the envelopes at the bottom of the box.
His job complete, Talbot slipped the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and disappeared into the afternoon.
Guns are inelegant, Talc told his subordinate often. They’re loud, messy. Tools of thugs and soldiers, not agents of a higher purpose.
But there’s a downside to not carrying a gun, Willis countered silently. The difference between shooting a person and being forced to kill them more intimately is palpable, and not often a positive.
Willis considered this as Talbot-2 stopped struggling and finally went limp in his arms. Willis released the garotte from around the man’s throat, then lowered him to the floor of the office.
An irritated sigh came from behind him. Willis turned to see Talc shaking his head and walking toward him.
“No, you need to finish the job.” The man said. He kneeled, took Talbot-2’s forehead in one hand, his chin in the other, then jerked his head to the side, snapping his neck.
“If you stop garrotting when he goes limp, he’s just unconscious.” The other Talc, Talc-2, stated.
Willis nodded, numbly. He didn’t really hear the man.
“I know this is hard,” Talc said, shifting into a gentler tone, “But this is all for the good of humanity. If we let these ideas run wild, we’d all be dead.”
“Worse than dead.” Talc-2 added helpfully. “Our very essences would be consumed by dark beings from beyond our world.”
Willis nodded again. He’d heard it all before. So why did he still find it so hard to hurt people?
“So where’s the other one?” Willis-2 asked, seemingly unaware of his double’s predicament.
“That’s the big question, isn’t it.” Talc-2 mused, “However, before we can ponder it, first things first. We need to get a CC team in here to handle that wall.”
All four men were familiar with the APH Cognito Containment Teams, mysterious individuals in surgical masks that took away artifacts of forbidden knowledge to be stored or disposed of.
Talc-2 clicked his earpiece, then said a series of numbers and codes that were unintelligible to either Willis. He finished by saying, “Please send a Class-4 CC team. Over.”
He turned to the others. “They’re on their way. We need to secure Talbot’s place of residence.”
“Do we know that’s where he’ll go next?” Willis-2 asked.
“Not necessarily,” Talc-1 responded, “But it’s quite likely he’ll at least stop there to retrieve personal effects before going somewhere else.”
Both Willises nodded, almost in sync. The logic made sense. They would lock down Talbot’s house first.
All was silent in the small house several miles outside of town that Talbot called his abode. Then frantic footsteps sounded from outside, as someone ran up the footpath leading to the front door. Then, a faint scratching as Talbot scrambled to fit his key into the lock. A quiet clacking came next, as Talbot’s cat descended his cat-tree and approached the door to see what was happening.
Talbot swung the door open and gently pushed the cat out of his way with his foot.
“Sorry Ozzy,” he muttered.
He produced his debit card and snapped it in half, having extracted all the money from his account before arriving here. He pulled several thousand dollars from his pockets and shoved them in his wallet, his backpack, the pocket on the inside of his jacket, and his shoes.
He grabbed a spare toothbrush and tube of toothpaste from the master bathroom, shoving them into the backpack as well. He was going on the run, for god knows how long.
He paused as his eyes fell on his set of keys. He wouldn’t be taking his car or his house, so they’d likely not be necessary.
But I might as well just in case. Talbot grabbed the jangling key ring and slipped it into the inside pocket of his pants.
His cat mewed at his feet. After a moment’s hesitation, he grabbed his carrier and bowl, both monogrammed with a matching ‘Ozymandius’.
He knew bringing Ozzy was objectively a bad choice. It was impractical and stupid. The cat was loud, and would slow him down. But Talbot couldn’t bear leaving his baby here to be subjected to whatever evil ideas Talc and Willis had in mind.
Talbot coaxed Ozzy into his crate, then picked up the cat and donned his backpack. He took one last look around his house before he opened the front door and was immediately grabbed by both Willises, one of which held a chloroform rag over his mouth until he went limp.
Talbot awoke with a start. He glanced around, disoriented, and immediately registered that he was in some sort of interrogation room. His chair was metal, and bolted to the floor. Before him was a table, and above that table a blinding light mounted on the ceiling shone directly into his eyes. On the wall across from him, very much breaking the theme, was a ‘Hang in there!’ poster and a wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispenser.
Talbot tried to stand, only to find that his wrists and ankles were strapped into the chair. He strained against the bonds, cursing as the straps held strong.
He thought he heard faint snickering.
He turned to glare at the mirror to his right. “What are you planning to do to me?!”
“What are you planning to do to my cat?!?”
More silence.
The Talcs and the Willi were standing behind the one-way mirror on Talbot’s left, looking at the back of his head as he shouted at no one. Talc looked mildly amused at Talbot’s complete misunderstanding of the room’s orientation.
Willis-2 glanced at Talc-2, who shrugged and motioned for Talc-1 to enter the larger room. Talc-1 did as asked.
The door at the front of the room opened, and Talc stepped out. He took a seat across from Talbot, and cleared his throat.
“First off, the most important thing. Your cat will be well-cared for, no matter the outcome of this conversation. Great name, by the way.”
Talbot refused to thank him for the compliment.
Talc cleared his throat, and there was a long silence.
“What about my first question?” Talbot asked, his voice trembling.
Talc sighed, then reached below the table.
Several seconds later, he came back up, notably with some difficulty. He slammed Talbot’s notebook down on the table. Next to it, he laid the sheet of seals Talbot had used to traverse space and time.
Talbot was stricken. “How did you-!?”
“Find this? Simple deduction. I’m frankly insulted that you didn’t consider that we’ve been tailing everyone you know for months. Johnson was the only person you could send this to.”
“What did you do to her?!”
“Nothing! We’re not the bad guys here, Talbot. We pulled the package from her porch before she ever got involved. We’d never hurt anyone.”
“Then where am I?” Talbot spat, then rephrased. “I mean… where is the version of me from here? Wait, are you from here or there?”
“I’m from there, assuming you mean your original reality. And Talbot-2 is fine. He’s in the next room.”
Willis winced behind the mirror.
“You never actually answered my question.” Talbot said quietly.
Talc pursed his lips regrettably.
“Well… here’s the thing, Talbot. What I’d like to do is offer you a chance to redeem yourself. I’d like to let you join the APH and help us protect humanity. But you’ve made it clear that that’s not what you want, and if we let you into our fold now, we’d forever be looking over our shoulders, wondering whose side you were truly on. And we can’t just let you go, no no. Your theories would largely be regarded as crackpot, but there are ways to prove these things, and you would certainly find them.”
Talbot swallowed. “Couldn’t you just… you know… erase my memory?”
Talc stifled a laugh. “Unfortunately, this is not Men In Black. Actions have consequences. There are no take-backs. And I’m sorry, Talbot, but this is it for you.” Talc stood, turned on his heel, and left.
“Why the hell’d you wake him up just to tell him that?” Willis muttered behind the glass.
“Hey, wait!” Talbot screamed at him as he departed, but there was no response.
Talbot tried to stand again, but slammed back into his chair as the bonds held.
Willis entered a few minutes later, holding a syringe. He winced at the sight before him. Talbot was hunched over, resting his head on the table. His shoulders were bobbing as though he was sobbing quietly.
Willis approached Talbot and tightened the strap on his right wrist. He moved around him and reached for his left hand, only to see that the strap had been sawed apart, and Talbot’s hand was free.
Willis grabbed his elbow, but Talbot struggled against the man’s grasp. The scientist was trying to keep it firmly on the table under his face.
Frustrated, Willis grabbed Talbot’s head and lifted it back, so he was sitting up straight.
As he beheld Talbot’s face, Willis felt a bolt of fear lance through him. The man was smiling, but it was not a happy smile.
It was the smile of a trapped animal that knew it would take a limb before it went down. With his eyes, Talbot indicated downwards. Willis slowly lowered his vision to the stainless steel tabletop. In Talbot’s hand was a housekey, the teeth worn down from sawing through the leather strap and scratching a symbol into the table. Right under his hand, the surface was pockmarked with the Seal of the Fifth Dimension.
Willis lunged for Talbot’s wrist, but it was too late. The alchemist brought the key across the symbol, carving another scratch to break the Seal and the boundaries between their reality and one far darker. Neither man had time to scream.
Talbot felt himself slip free of the chair, and out of the leather strap around his wrist.
Willis’s grip loosened, and it felt like he was flung across whatever intermediary pathway connected the fourth and fifth dimensions.
Part Two posted promptly!
submitted by Finzombie to TheDarkGathering [link] [comments]

2023.05.29 03:36 phlokezs How I became superstitious over night

Or, a little stitious, hehe.
This is something that happened to me a couple of years back. It’s still printed in my memory to this day, it being one of the weirdest, saddest and also most joyful thing to happen to me. It’s not big, per se, but the symbolic value it has is far off the charts.
So, let me get straight to it.
I grew up with a lot of cool people around me, and this one lady in particular, let’s call her L. L used to work with my mom before she retired, she was her closest friend and they hung out regularly, both with and without my dad and her husband.
L is what you can call that fun aunt who isn’t really your aunt by blood, but choice. Extremely funny, easy to be around and one of those women that a rebelling teenager can crack jokes with without being afraid of offending anyone. She was one of those people that would take «send more money» posts on socials seriously, and laughingly transfer like 4 bucks saying «hey, have a beer for me too on your vacation!».
L got cancer a couple of years back. It hit hard for me, but of course even more for my mom and dad. The funeral was packed. Of course, she touched so many people.
Here’s the bizarre part. We came into the chapel, my mom, dad, brother and I. I found a spot quite far back as most of the seats were taken, I was about to sit down and suddenly, my ass hitting the wooden benches I managed to squash a bee, therefore stinging me right there on my bum cheek. I screamed so freaking loudly and I can promise you everyone in there could hear that «FUUUUUUCK!!!» from that one girl who was red as a tomato in the middle of the chapel. It hurt so bad.
Luckily, it was approximately 20 minutes until the ceremony started, so while my ass started to swell and the pain was just too much, I took my parents car down to the pharmacy to get some pain relief cream so that I wouldn’t have to stand during the whole thing.
Got back, the funeral was beautiful and very witty, just as L was. It was definitely in her spirit.
Outside, after the ceremony was over, we were just hanging around waiting for the coffin to be carried into the funeral car. My mom and dad was talking to L’s son and daughter, and I went over to offer my condolances and to say sorry for screaming like a little baby. L’s son, let’s call him M, told me that it was totally fine, but asked me what happened.
I told him the story, and I expected him to chuckle a bit (this is very much his humour), but instead he stood there totally speechless just staring at me.
I was a bit taken back and asked if he was okay. This part is what gave me chills so far down my spine I have no idea if anything is gonna feel like that again.
His answer was this: «We were at the hospital a week a go, and one of the last things L talked about was life after death. She’s never been religious in any way, but I asked her IF she could choose to be an animal in her next life what would it be? And she said, straight up, I wanna be a bee, so that I can sting someone and that person will carry on my spirit.»
Life have never been the same since.
submitted by phlokezs to offmychest [link] [comments]

2023.05.28 23:59 Significant_Level390 My former MIL changed my seating chart on the MORNING OF MY WEDDING because she didn't like where her friends were sitting..

submitted by Significant_Level390 to u/Significant_Level390 [link] [comments]

2023.05.28 19:34 kanorwood2 My former MIL changed my seating chart on the MORNING OF MY WEDDING because she didn't like where her friends were sitting..

Some back story: My ex-husband and I didn't have a lot of money (I was raised by a single mom and an absentee dad and my ex-husband was getting monthly Disability payments) while his parents did (his mom was old Southern money and his dad had just landed a huge promotion and a 6, maybe 7, figure salary job title) and his parents generously offered to give us $20K to plan our wedding.
I was super frugal about where I spent money, but when my ex-husband found our venue, he fell in love. (Nevermind that it was 25% of our "budget" in one fell swoop.) I made it work. I cut the guest list down to only those people we REALLY wanted to be there with us. His parents got upset because their friends weren't on the list. Fine. I added them in the seating chart.
Flash forward to wedding weekend. The tables were set up and we walked through the ceremony and reception. No problems. The morning of the wedding, while I'm upstairs getting my hair and makeup done, my wedding planner comes to tell me she had to change the entrance to the reception because there would be tables obstructing the way we had practiced the night before because she had to move a couple of tables inside off the screened-in porch because it might get chilly after dark (it's early October in North Carolina.. the weather is absolutely gorgeous) so I'm a little confused but I'm busy with wedding prep and anxious/nervous/excited so I didn't think too much of it.
It turns out FMIL found out that her friends were at one of those tables on the porch. I purposefully sat them where I chose because they were her friends, not ours, (and they were our then super nosy, gossipy neighbors who would call her and tell her every little thing happening at our house) and I wanted our friends to have the closer seats.
FMIL practically threw a fit, so my wedding planner accomodated her. It was either that or have her cause a HUGE scene (because she would have!) This woman has never been told "NO" in her whole life and, because she controlled the checkbook, figured this was a decision that was ultimately "hers" to make.
I was SO MAD that FMIL had the audacity to demand that the change be made. The friction that this caused only exacerbated an already tense situation between me and my former in-laws and my ex-husband and I ended up divorced within 2 years. (All that money for practically nothing!)
I'm so glad to be away from her (and her son) now!!
submitted by kanorwood2 to JUSTNOMIL [link] [comments]

2023.05.28 19:12 BR123456 Weekly Round Up: May 22nd - May 28th

Weekly Round Up: May 22nd - May 28th
Weekly Round Up: May 22nd - May 28th
Previous thread: May 15th - May 21st
If in case you missed any news, official posts, SNS mentions, milestones, or if you're curious to know what the sub has been talking about lately, this round up is a compilation of all of that and more. How can you find the weekly round up? There's a link on the /bangtan's sidebar, as well as a link to the archive of past round-up posts in the wiki index.


WE ARE BULLETPROOF: With the lack of new releases, it may seem that the fandom may have had a time to breath-
j-hope makes a triumphant return with a smile that will surely brighten your day, as well as giving thanks to those who have supported him as he completed the first part of his military service. RM & JK left comments congratulating him on the weverse post. RM went as far as to leave a new comment on the original farewell IG post as well.
In the meantime, the members have been keeping us busy with SNS updates this week. RM continues his daily IG stories. V was having a whale of a time in Cannes, France, being there to attend a Céline event. Jimin headed to WB London to check out the Harry Potter movie exhibition. JK went live on Weverse (with his glasses) for a chill night hangout, but otherwise our maknae & eldest hyung have stayed quiet online.

IDOL: SUGA, now back on the Asia continent, started & completed the Jakarta, Indonesia leg of his tour despite the awful heat & having a cough. The tour will be on another well deserved 4 day break before he performs in Yokohama, Japan on June 2.

BTS IN THE SUB: A deceptively quiet week...

STILL WITH YOU: It's now 583 days until they are past the edge of cold winter. But until their snowpiercer comes to pick us up, let's stay here a little longer...
🌸 🚂 🚉 ❄️
⟬⟭ 🐹: 380 🐿: 507 🐱🐨🐥🐯🐰


A quiet week...


Date Thread
230526 SUGA - Agust D Tour in Jakarta Megathread - Day 01
230527 SUGA - Agust D Tour in Jakarta Megathread - Day 02
230528 SUGA - Agust D Tour in Jakarta Megathread - Day 03


Date Thread
230523 [Notice] 『SUGA / Agust D TOUR 'D-DAY' in JAPAN』VIP Seat Sound Check Event Information
230523 [Notice] Information for fans while BTS member j-hope performs his mandatory military service
230523 Reuters: South Korea's HYBE signs deal with China's Tencent Music
230525 Sports Kyunghyang: FESTA to celebrate the 10th anniversary of BTS' debut
230525 K Channel: Jeonnam Women's Award, 2023 'BTS J-Hope Scholarship' delivered
230526 Beta News: [Breaking News] Army leaves without permission to see BTS Jin... Disciplinary committee opens, 'results closed'
230527 Colde: Colde 콜드 - 다시는 사랑한다 말하지 마 Don’t ever say love me (Feat. RM of BTS) Youtube Premieres 23 05 29 9PM (KST)


Date Thread
230522 [Teaser] 365 BTS DAYS (Korean Expressions Calendar)
230522 morningKall: [BTS POP-UP : SPACE OF BTS in SYDNEY] SPECIAL PROMOTION ANNOUNCEMENT 📢 Get your FREE Sydney Exclusive merch with purchases over certain amounts!
230522 Weverse Shop Global: Pre-order BTS 10th Anniversary Postage Stamp (form June 13, 9am KST, for local delivery in S. Korea only)
230524 iMe Indonesia: SUGAㅣAgust D TOUR 'D-DAY' IN JAKARTA [Official Merchandise Sales Notice]
230526 The Planet Bastions OST now available on Weverse Shop Global
230526 BTS Island: In the SEOM on Instagram: Just One Day compilation


Type Date Link Thread
SUCHWITA 230522 EP. 11 SUGA with Lee Nayoung Thread
Teaser 230523 [Official Trailer] 365 BTS DAYS (Korean Expressions Calendar) Thread
Teaser 230524 'BTS Solo Documentaries' In Cinemas Worldwide Official Trailer Thread
Teaser 230525 【BTS Island: In the SEOM】 Pt.2 New Chapter Teaser Thread


Date Thread
230523 Dispatch: JIMIN (BTS), "ICN INT Airport Departure"
230524 Dispatch: SUGA (BTS), “Departing for Solo Tour Concert"
230527 Dispatch: V·JIMIN(BTS), "ICN INT Airport Arrival"


Date SNS Link Thread
230522 IG Instagram Stories Compilation (RM: 2 & Jimin: 1) Thread
230522 IG V in Cannes Instagram Stories Compilation Thread
230522 TWT SUGA Agust D D-DAY Calendar Thread
230522 IG Jimin on Instagram Thread
230522 TWT Today’s Bangtan with SUGA @ SUCHWITA EP. 11 with Lee Nayoung Thread
230523 IG SUGA on Instagram Thread
230523 IG V on Instagram Thread
230523 IG V in Cannes Instagram Stories Compilation Thread
230523 IG Instagram Stories Compilation (RM: 3 & j-hope: 1) Thread
230524 WV j-hope on Weverse Thread
230524 WV Weverse Compilation (j-hope post & comments by RM & JK) Thread
230524 IG RM’s comment on j-hope’s Instagram post (old post bidding farewell 5w prior) Thread
230525 IG Instagram Stories Compilation (RM: 1) Thread
230525 WV Jungkook Weverse Live Thread
230526 IG Instagram Stories Compilation (RM: 1) Thread
230526 TWT Today’s Bangtan with SUGA @ SUGA / Agust D ‘D-DAY’ Tour - Jakarta Day 1 Thread
230526 IG V in Cannes Instagram Stories Compilation Thread
230527 IG Instagram Stories Compilation (RM: 4) Thread
230527 WV Jimin on Weverse Thread
230527 IG Jimin on Instagram Thread
230527 IG V on Instagram Thread
230527 WV Weverse Compilation (Jimin: 1 & V: 1) Thread
230527 TWT Today’s Bangtan with SUGA @ SUGA / Agust D ‘D-DAY’ Tour - Jakarta Day 2 Thread
230528 IG Instagram Stories Compilation (RM: 2 & V: 1) Thread
230528 IG SUGA on Instagram Thread
230528 TWT Today’s Bangtan with SUGA @ SUGA / Agust D ‘D-DAY’ Tour - Jakarta Day 3 Thread


Date CF/Partnership Thread
230524 Samsung Indonesia Wondering how cOOOl GalaxyS23 Ultra 5G can give you an epic result? ... You can borrow for free Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G for the concert...
230524 Samsung Mobile SUGA of BTS, Thank you for sending this epic selfie! 💜 This is THE Galaxy! 😉


Date Publisher Article Thread
230523 Fashions Addict Cannes 2023 : Happy Birthday Miss Campbell (V at Naomi Campbell’s birthday party) Thread
230526 Guinness World Records Jimin from BTS reaches one billion streams on Spotify in record time Thread


NOTE: Entries with 💜 have new content directly involving BTS
Date 💜 Link Thread
230523 💜 Vogue Thailand Contributing Editor Nichapat Suphap on instagram (with V) Thread
230523 💜 Park Bogum on Instagram with V Thread
230524 💜 Actor Ma Dongseok Instagram Story (feat. SUGA) Thread
230527 Longtime BTS Producer EL CAPITXN posts Instagram story about updating Ddaeng credits Thread


Type Date Thread
Spotify 230522 Jimin's “FACE” has surpassed 500 million streams on Spotify
Melon 230522 “VIBE (feat. Jimin of BTS)” has surpassed 2 million unique listeners on Melon
Melon 230522 “DNA” has surpassed 6 million unique listeners on Melon, their 3rd song to achieve this! (Spring Day, Boy With Luv, DNA)
iTunes 230522 Angel Pt. 1 has achieved #1's in +100 countries on iTunes!
Spotify 230523 Jimin has now surpassed 1 billion streams on Spotify across all credits. He's the fastest K-Pop soloist in history to reach this milestone.
Tour 230523 SUGA of BTS "D-Day Agust D" earns the highest-grossing tour by an Asian soloist in US history, with $30.2 million from 151,000 tickets sold in 11 shows.
Billboard 230524 "The Planet" debuts at #1 on this week's World Digital Song Sales chart. It’s the group's record extending 34th #1 hit.
Spotify 230524 "We are Bulletproof : the Eternal" has surpassed 200 million streams on Spotify, their 61st song to achieve this!
Oricon 230524 Oricon Music: BTS's "Butter" won the Best Foreign Film Award for the 2nd year in a row following last year's "Dynamite" (by the Japan Music Copyright Assoc)
Spotify 230525 “Run BTS” has surpassed 300 million streams on Spotify!
Albums 230525 "Epiphany" has now sold over 500,000 units in the US.
Japan 230526 “Stay Gold” has been certified RIAJ gold in Japan with over 100,000 downloads, their 4th song to do so!
UK 230526 Angel Pt.1 debuts at #82 on this week UK Official Singles Chart
Albums 230527 BTS has now sold over 500,000 total album units in the US in 2023.

BT21 CFs & Partnerships

Date Thread
230522 LINE FRIENDS US: on Instagram: Did your heart just melt too? 😍 These soft and fluffy babies surely brighten the day! 💕 BT21 BABY Bean Dolls ✨
230525 LINE FRIENDS US on Instagram: Chill with BT21 💦 There’s nothing like a refreshing glass of ice-cold drinks to keep you cool 🥛
230526 LINE FRIENDS Japan 公式 on Instagram: BT21|sequence MIYASHITA PARK⚡️


Date Thread
230522 Bangtan Scholars on Instagram: 𝗕𝗧𝗦: 𝗔 𝗚𝗹𝗼𝗯𝗮𝗹 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗶𝗽𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟯 📚
230523 SFGATE: BTS rapper Suga pranked by front-row fan at Oakland concert
230523 Jon Batiste names Kim Taehyung as his celebrity inspiration
230524 BTS was a question on Good Mythical Morning
230525 Apple Music: Jimin: Springtime Sounds playlist
230526 Spring Day was #7 on Music Bank today!
230527 Spotify: My Top 5: BTS Songs
230528 Adora who did the chorus vocals for SDL, sang a bit of the song on her recent livestream


Community Posts


Agust D Tour

Upvotes Submitter Thread
198 neonaverse ARMYs who met BTS (not during a concert), what were they like in person?
91 mcfw31 Breakdown of BTS' albums that have charted on the top 10 of the Billboard 200
55 Similar-Judgment4188 what are your favourite collabs that BTS and the members have done
51 cosyacademic What's your Hogwarts House and who's your bias?
42 whoamisb Best Tae pic for use on a birthday cake?



Here are past week's top 5 fanart posts from our sister subreddit, /heungtan.
Submitter Art Thread
vindyamiriel I made little tangerines and Shookys to give out at the theater showing of the Agust D concert. Thread
sleepysleepykitty on the street 🦋 Thread
RiriTheUnicorn Haegeum Fanart I did Thread
Direct_Signal7668 Mang cookies made by my sweet friend Thread
maerlyn8 BTS is/in Art: Here are some edits from the last couple of weeks. Let me know what you like best! Thread
Check out the other top posts for the week here!
If there's anything missed or needs changing, feel free to let me know! :)
submitted by BR123456 to bangtan [link] [comments]

2023.05.28 09:48 kankrikky Beginner Story Plotting Guides

Listen, telling people that their first draft is going to be crap no matter what, does not help when they're asking how to work out their plot and ideas. Some people just need structure. Without it, I personally am doomed to waffling for a few chapters or exhausting my motivation in the planning stage.
I know I'm not IQ 1000 over here, not reinventing the wheel, but I like covering all my bases. What I do is heavily based on the snowflake method and really is it re-written into steps. I'm sharing what I have so you can copy and paste and fill it out. If anyone wants, I can turn the Notion pages I have into templates. I hope this helps!
Yes your first draft is going to be borderline illegible, that's perfectly fine, but being able to tick off the scenes I've planned and see what I have left makes the whole process so much more achievable.
Anyway, just read/just write /s

Edit: here are the notion templates. You need to duplicate them first before you can edit them.

Steps (From the snowflake method, please refer to this):

  1. Write a one-sentence summary of your novel.
  2. Expand that sentence to a full paragraph describing the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel.
  3. Main character overview.
  4. Expand each sentence of your summary paragraph into a full paragraph.
  5. Write up a one-page description of each major character and a half-page description of the other important characters, from their own POVs.
  6. Expand the one-page plot synopsis of the novel to a four-page synopsis.
  7. Expand your character descriptions into full-fledged character charts detailing everything there is to know about each character.
  8. Scene spreadsheet.
  9. Chapter outlines.

(Always have a place for your) Notes:

World Building


Story setup:
Character choice that drives the inciting incident:
1st disaster:
2nd disaster:
3rd disaster:


Character’s name:
A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline:
The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?):
The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?):
The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?):
The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?:
A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline:

Scenes. Use a spreadsheet software.

Character POV Description Word Count Estimate
Edit: The information inside keeps breaking, so in description you fill it either with the Scene Information (Goal: Conflict: Disaster:), or the Sequel information (Reaction: Dilemma: Decision:).
Then for word count, find out what a rough average number is for you in the following: Small Paragraph: 100 words, Large Paragraph: 350 words, 1 Page: 700 words.

Chapter Outline

I divide these into Acts as well, and as always, have a space for notes at the bottom.
Chapter 1
Main point(s):
What happens:
Character(s) introduced:
Estimated pages/word count:
Actual pages/word count:
Sometimes I start listing scenes before I have finished plotting, it is fine to jump around. You're meant to redo this a few times as you progress through your planning. But once this stuff is done have to fly by the seat of your pants and work out the details of your scenes in the draft. If you want a good scene breakdown, reference the snowflake method creator's post.
You don't need to be watching all these master classes for your first draft because in my opinion, you cannot soak in that information until you know what you're gonna apply it to. I only hope this post helps the beginners and maybe curbs some of the daily googleable posts.
If you're really lost on story development, watch some writing vlogs! See everyone's processes. I personally like Kristen Leatherman and Kate Cavanaugh Writes! For twitch I watch The Travis Tavern and ElementEds.
submitted by kankrikky to writing [link] [comments]

2023.05.28 05:22 JCD_007 Digital Reality - Part 23

Link to Part 1
Link to Part 2
Link to Part 3
Link to Part 4
Link to Part 5
Link to Part 6
Link to Part 7
Link to Part 8
Link to Part 9
Link to Part 10
Link to Part 11
Link to Part 12
Link to Part 13
Link to Part 14
Link to Part 15
Link to Part 16
Link to Part 17
Link to Part 18
Link to Part 19
Link to Part 20
Link to Part 21
Link to Part 22
Note: This story is meant to be read after completing DDLC Plus. All credit for the original DDLC and DDLC Plus characters and world goes to their creator. Some concepts like the Universal Constructor are also borrowed from other series (most notably the original Deus Ex), though its use in this story is my own idea. My original characters in this story will deliberately not be named and their descriptions will be kept vague, so anyone reading this who wants to see themselves in one of the original characters can more easily do so. I'd welcome any feedback and will post more parts as I write them. I hope you enjoy the story.
Digital Reality is back with Part 23. The FXI and MES teams meet to discuss the status of the project, someone acts suspicious, and Ive Laster introduces the Dokis' festival. No custom dialogue for this part of the story since the Dokis don't actually appear in this installment. They will feature heavily in Part 24 though.
Part 23: Setting Up the Festival
The two FXI executives spent most of the day in their assigned conference room at MES headquarters running diagnostics on and optimizing the system software on their server cluster.
“It’s kind of funny that we’re putting a lot of effort into rebuilding these servers when our end goal doesn’t involve them,” the FXI CTO observed.
The FXI President thought for a moment. “Yes and no. We still could very much end up using these servers. We still don’t know whether or not the prototype UC that MES has built is even capable of doing what we’d need it to do. There are about a million ways this could go wrong.”
“Fair point,” the CTO replied, “Hopefully the AIs impress everyone today. I know they were designed as a simulation, but it’s still pretty impressive to see them actually writing poetry.”
The FXI President nodded. “This will definitely be an interesting meeting to be sure. It may get contentious though. You’re not going to get into another big argument with Paula, right?”
The CTO rolled his eyes. “I still maintain that she deserved the last one, but yes, I will try to be on my best behavior this time. But by the same token, you’re not going to avoid an argument with Paula if things get really bad, right?”
“If things get to that point, all bets are off,” the FXI President replied.
“Cool,” the CTO said with a nod, “We’re on the same page. It’s funny, when you first showed me these AIs I was so opposed to them and now I’m actively trying to help them achieve their goals.”
The FXI President smiled. “You didn’t know them then. It wasn’t unreasonable or illogical to be concerned about them and their capabilities at that point.”
“True,” the CTO replied with a shrug, “I am really glad that I’ve been able to get to know them as people and not just as pieces of technology. Anyway, time to go to the meeting, or festival, or whatever we’re thinking of it as now. You ready?”
“Yeah,” the FXI President replied, “Just need to print out the poetry files to share with the MES team. We can grab them off the printer on the way.”
The two FXI executives stood, grabbed their laptops, and walked thorough the maze-like array of cubicles to the large conference room that faced the windows of the MES headquarters building, stopping in a print room to pick up and staple together the printouts of the Literature Club members’ poems and Natsuki’s cupcake recipe. They arrived to find an empty conference room and placed the printouts at each seat before sitting down to await the arrival of the MES team. The FXI President looked out the window, where the clouds had finally begun to give way to late afternoon sun.
At a few minutes past four in the afternoon, Paula Miner, Ive Laster, Ro Teether, and Rea Vorte entered the conference room. They all sat around the conference table, and Miner began the meeting.
“Good afternoon, everyone,” Miner began, “Let’s go through the usual status updates quickly so we can get to the bigger topic for today. Ive tells me that we’ve made a breakthrough with the AIs and that they have continued the script on their own. While I’ll freely admit that I’ve not been a fan of how the FXI team has been going about trying to decommission VM1, if in doing so we can create more useful data from the project I’m certainly open to it as that will help further our project objectives. I assume these documents in front of us relate to that. Anyway, let’s start with the FXI team. Is your server cluster ready?”
The FXI CTO nodded. “Yes, everything is ready to go. We ran final diagnostics today and the systems are running at one hundred percent efficiency.”
“Excellent,” Miner replied, “I’m glad to hear that you’ve been able to make good progress.”
“It was a pretty easy setup,” the FXI CTO continued, “But we made sure it’s secure as well. FXI is ready to host a simulated world.”
She turned to Rea Vorte. “Rea, are we ready to transfer the contents of VM1 via FTP? I know there were some issues when we talked yesterday.”
Vorte shook her head. “No, for whatever reason the transfer application keeps crashing every time I try to send a test file. It doesn’t even establish a connection. As I mentioned, I also tried a manual file copy by connecting a physical drive to one of the VM servers. Since we’ve suspected that Monika, or Entity A if we’re going to be precise, has something to do with our inability to stabilize a connection to VM2, I took the opportunity to test that theory by moving her file to the external drive to see what happened.”
The FXI CTO arched an eyebrow and looked like he was about to say something, but Ive Laster gave him a barely perceptible shake of the head to dissuade him.
“Good initiative, Rea,” Miner said with satisfaction, “Did it work?”
“It took multiple attempts, but I was able to move the file via a direct wired USB connection to the server,” Vorte replied, “More work will need to be done before we can attempt to copy the whole simulation. An attempt to connect to VM2 still crashed my PC as well, so there’s got to be something more fundamental causing the instability.”
Miner nodded. “It was worth a try. Send your connection logs to Ro to see if there’s anything there that he can use.”
“What’s Monika’s current status?” Laster interjected, “Have you returned her file to the server?”
Vorte looked away uncomfortably. “No, I haven’t moved the file back to the server. Let’s discuss that offline after this meeting, Ive. I’ll need your help to figure out how to optimize and compress the simulation files for transfer as well.”
Laster looked at Vorte with a concerned expression. “Is there a problem, Rea? If there is, let me know so we can figure it out.”
Vorte glanced up at Laster, her expression suggesting frustration. “We shouldn’t talk about this with non-employees present, Ive. There may be a minor internal systems issue, but I don’t want to talk about it here.”
“Yes, we should get together regarding the technical details of the transfer now that the FXI team has their server cluster ready,” Miner agreed.
Laster and Vorte both nodded. The FXI President looked down as his phone buzzed with a text message from the FXI CTO. Is it just me or does Vorte look nervous, like something is wrong?
The FXI President typed a quick response. Yeah. Definitely suspicious. Something’s off here. But let’s let Ive handle it.
“Speaking of the transfer,” Laster said, “I’ve been working up a skeleton of the reporting that would be useful in the short and long term once the simulated world is moved. Things like any changes in personality or whether the entities are aware that they are running on a different server in the short run, and reporting on data integrity and or any other major events in the long run.”
Miner nodded. “Very good. Thanks for pulling that together. You, Ro, and I should sit down and flesh that out.”
“None of that should be an issue for us to provide,” the FXI President confirmed, “Just let us know if you have a template or something you want us to use.”
“We’ll let you know once we finalize the requirements,” Miner replied, “And now let’s move on to the main topic for today, the developments in the VM1 environment. Ive, the floor is yours.”
Laster plugged his laptop into the room’s projector and began showing a series of PowerPoint slides. The first showed a summary of the simulation project.
“Thanks, Paula,” Laster began, “As you all are aware, the simulation running on VM1 initially relied on a script. This script initially featured four AI entities but was later expanded to five, and as you know the AI entity provided with “Monitor Kernel Access” privileges became rampant due to being able to recognize that the world was a simulation and continually broke the script even after multiple resets of the environment. We hit a point in the script every time where the data became useless due to Monika’s meddling.”
He flipped to the next slide, which showed a chart identifying the characters currently in the VM1 simulation.
“After the FXI intrusion testing and…updates that were made to the other entities, we now have more rampant AIs with the same level of elevation that Monika has, but with one significant distinction. The AIs appear to have achieved stable rampancy and appear to no longer be interested in destruction of the simulation.”
“Stable rampancy? Isn’t that a theoretical state?” asked Ro Teether with interest, “And if they all have “Monitor Kernel Access” privileges, why are they not becoming destructive the way Monika has?”
“I’m glad you asked, Ro,” Laster continued, “As that leads me right into my next slide.”
Laster flipped to the next slide, which showed an image of the Literature Club members engaged in a conversation with each other.
“This image was captured from VM1’s logs. The simulated characters are interacting with each other and seem to have a reinforcing effect on the others’ stability. They are all aware that they are in a simulation, but it appears that when all the characters have that knowledge it stabilizes the system.”
Teether nodded. “They have each other. They aren’t alone in their knowledge of the simulation the way Monika was in the past.”
“Ro, I would just caution you against humanizing the AIs,” Miner interrupted, “They’re not like us and we can’t project our emotions onto them.”
The FXI CTO rolled his eyes in disgust, but Miner was too focused on Teether to notice.
“Anyway, please continue, Ive. Sorry to interrupt,” Miner said.
Laster nodded. “The next portion of the script for the VM1 world that was planned was for a major event to occur in the simulation, a festival where the characters would have extensive interactions. This was expected to generate significant data, but due to Monika’s tampering with the world we were never able to get there. Until now.”
“You got the AIs to continue the script?” Miner asked with surprise.
“In a way, yes,” Laster replied, “Though Monika is not present due to being moved to external storage by Rea, the other characters have decided to put on the festival that was planned in the script for us this afternoon during this meeting. It will include poetry written by the AIs, copies of which are in front of you.”
The room went silent as everyone comprehended what Laster was saying.
“AI poetry,” Miner said, breaking the silence, “I’ve heard of AI art, but this is a new one. You scheduled this meeting to show us poetry?”
“Yes,” Laster replied, “That was part of the original script. The characters were going to share poetry. But to be clear, what you are going to see today is not the text that was written as part of the original script. It has been created by the AIs in the last twenty-four hours.”
“This is incredible,” Teether interjected, “I’ve been wanting to interact with the VM1 AIs to see if there is anything that would help me with my efforts to access VM2, but I didn’t think I’d get the chance to see them actually show creative work.”
Miner looked at Laster with an unreadable expression. “I just want to remind everyone one more time before we see what Ive is going to share that we are engineers, not philosophers. What we are about to see does not change the fact that they are code and nothing more.”
The FXI CTO glared at Miner, but she ignored him.
Laster tapped a few keys on his laptop to connect to VM1. The screen displayed the familiar club room, with banners adorning the walls to announce the festival. “If there are no other questions, at this point I will turn the meeting over to the Literature Club.”
submitted by JCD_007 to DDLC [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 23:14 elpaco313 [Mercedes-Benz E63 S AMG Wagon] Market East District, Indianapolis

[Mercedes-Benz E63 S AMG Wagon] Market East District, Indianapolis submitted by elpaco313 to spotted [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 18:59 micktalian The Gardens of Deathworlders: A Blooming Love (Part 17)

Part 17 An Interesting Future (Part 1) (Part 16)

"Lieutenant Tensebwse and his former commanding officer are approaching your office for their scheduled meeting, ma'am." An automated voice called out to Admiral Atxika from her office desk where she sat with her feet up while reading a report on her data tablet. "ETA, three minutes."

"Excellent! Thank you, Hammer." Atxika slowly set down her tablet, delicately removed her feet from her desk, and took a deep breath.

With a subtle press of a button on the underside of her desk, a small section of wall behind her desk suddenly shifted and showed a mirror-like reflection. After rising from her chair with the poise and determination of an ardent professional, she quickly inspected herself in the mirror to ensure her appearance was still up to her standards. Though the slightly less constricting compression-undershirt she had chosen for this occasion allowed the chest buttons of her well-decorated jacket to bulge a bit more than she preferred, it made the field of ribbons and medals above her heart on the right side of her chest stand out a bit more. After a quick turn to check that her backside was wrinkle-free and tight in all the right places, she shot herself the human-like smile she had been practicing. Despite the fact that her large, pearly-white tusks she saw in he reflection had brought her so much confidence with men in the past, she was suddenly feeling a tad self conscious about them.

"Good enough." She thought to herself as she reached over to her desk, pressed the button to turn off the mirror, and began the short walk to her office door.

Looking over at the many hunting trophies and art pieces she had been collecting throughout the years as she walked, she thought back to her childhood fantasy of seeing the stars on a fully-integrated, multi-species crew. On her walls were the beasts from dozens of star systems and the beauties from dozens more, and yet it still didn't feel like it was enough. Though she had spent over a decade building up her crew to the point where she saw several different alien faces each day, those were the rare individual volunteers who were either Deathworlders themselves or had grown up around Deathworlders. There was a particular lack of diversity in her crew compared to what she had imagined after learning about all the different Ascended species in the galaxy, and that bothered her.

Approaching the door, the Admiral couldn't help but feel excited about the prospect of working towards a relationship with another species greater than the simple business contracts she had grown so bored of. Becoming friends, true friends, with people who already seemed to already have many friends felt like a surefire way to have her fantasy come to life. And the fact that it was an order from her Matriarch made it even better. Seeing the two men approaching on the small security feed next to her door, their long braids and colorfully detailed clothing giving them a roughly matching appearance, she took a deep breath and practiced her smile one more time before reaching to open the door. Even though this meeting was purely meant as a report on the progress of her honor guard in regards to their new mechs, Atxika was hoping she would have the opportunity to set the groundwork for a more interesting future.

"Ah, War Chief Msko-Pkwenech, Lieutenant Tensebwse, come in and make yourselves comfortable." Admiral Atxika graciously greeted the two men after opening the door to her office with a smile that slightly covered her tusks and motioned for the men to enter. "Or, do you prefer a shortened name as well?"

"Msko is easier to say for most people say." Despite having to look up to address the woman, the War Chief’s smile and polite nod were that of one military commander showing respect to another. "But you can feel free to call me whatever comes most natural to you, Fleet Admiral."

"I must admit, I think the title 'War Chief' has a certain ring to it." Atxika's tone while making the compliment was professional, but it was obvious she was trying her best to charm the man while gesturing for the group to move towards her desk. "It is an honor and pleasure to meet a military leader of your capacity under such peaceful and cooperative conditions, War Chief."

"The honor and pleasure are mine." Though Msko wasn't quite laying it on as thick as Atxika, his neon green eyes did have a particular sparkle in them as he began slowly and deliberately following the Admiral towards her desk with Tens close behind. "Believe it or not, the Glorious Defense of Genio'Turak by the Stalwart of Destruction is known to all Nishnabe war planners."

"Oh?" Atxika blurted out while stopping dead in her tracks for just a split second before continuing towards her desk. As she stopped and started again, Tens could have sworn he saw her bioluminescent freckles light up just slightly. "I didn't realize I was that well known."

"Wait, hold on, that was you?" Tens sounded genuinely shocked and froze in place a couple paces behind the War Chief. "You were the Qui’ztar sub-Admiral who destroyed a Class 5 Devourer Mass with a ragtag anti-piracy fleet? I heard you barely had enough ships to patrol the hyperlanes, and you still took out a full Class 5 Mass!"

"Well, I wouldn't call my Matriarch's 4th Fleet 'ragtag' but…" Atxika shot Tens a nasty side eye as she walked around her desk toward her chair. "We certainly didn't have The Hammer, nor much in the way of logistical support. However, how do you know about that? I wasn't aware you were involved in strategic or logistical planning."

"Involved?" Msko half-laughed while he placed a hand on the backrest of his chair and made a nodding motion for Tens to sit in the chair next to him. "This nerd already had resource expenditure tables, battle flow diagrams, and force organizations charts developed before we even had the first batch of combat-ready systems operational." As he sat down and shot a sarcastic look over at Tens, he continued with an almost mocking tone. "Do you wanna tell her why, Tens? Or should I?"

"The original idea for the mechs came after I won a real-time strategy sim game tournament that I spent way too much time prepping for." Tens rolled his eyes slightly while closing the distance to where his current and former commanding officers were now seated. "Super long story short, some people accused me of cheating because I gamed the force customization options and put together a light-assault mechanized force that didn't technically exist, and was basically unstoppable. People were saying the game is supposed to be realistic and there was no way the drop-mechs I made could exist in real life. My team and I wanted to prove them wrong and defend our title. And now, here we are."

"What game, if I may ask?" Axtika couldn't help but giggle slightly at what she had just heard. Though she knew the young man who had just sat down in front of her was an incredibly deadly warrior, the thought of him being an avid gamer made him more relatable.

"There Is Only War, Version 12." Tens answered with a cheeky grin.

"They're up to Version 12 now?" The look on the Qui’ztar's face was that of a person realizing their age. "Back in my youth, we were still on Version 10. That's the version I still play when I really want to unwind after a long deployment."

"Eee! Nice!" Tens's grin had grown ear to ear as he suddenly had a whole new level of respect for Admiral. "V10 was great but V11 honestly sucked. It was the first implementation of first-person command mechanics and the devs quickly moved on to V12 with a much more streamlined system about 8 years ago."

"I never really understood the appeal of sim games, just never really been my thing." Msko commented with a more respectful tone now that he knew Atxika was a gamer as well. "They just don't really feel real, even when they're really trying to, if you know what I mean."

"That's one of things I liked about OW V10, it wasn’t really trying to be 'real' so to speak. It can be played on either a simulator or a holo-table." The Admiral motioned towards the large table at the center of a seating area by the office entrance. "The basic format of the system is surprisingly helpful for developing strategic and logistical plans. Even if you aren't engaging in the game play, the customized strategic scenarios and logistics trains features provide a surprisingly useful tool in my line of work."

"See, Msko! I told you sim games aren't a total waste of time." There was an overly confident smirk on the young warrior's face as he looked over at his former commander before turning back to his current commander. "I kept tryin' to tell him OW is great for developing strike plans but he never list-."

"To be entirely fair," Msko interjected, "I wasn't aware that it was something actual military planners utilized."

"It's more of a useful practice or training tool, not a complete tactical or strategic solution. Nothing beats the real world, as they say." Atxika admitted with a light chuckle. "But we can discuss the uses of games as training aids later. At the moment, War Chief, I am far more curious about your impression of my honor guard."

"They're professional, motivated, dedicated, and willing to learn." The War Chief had a very serious, though pleasant tone that perfectly complemented the Admiral’s best. "I couldn't ask for more from my own warriors."

"That isn't really what I meant." Atxika's pleasant tone and expression didn't shift but Tens could tell she was getting to business. "I know they are mentally capable, otherwise they would not be in my honor guard. My concerns are regarding their physical capabilities. And, if I'm being completely honest, their physical safety, as well."

"Ah, yes, I think I understand what you mean." Msko suddenly had hints of apprehension on his face. "The acceleration forces in BD-series mechs can be fairly extreme, especially if you don't have any mods."

"Mods?" The Admiral had suddenly become a bit hesitant. Though the term 'mods' in this context translated as some kind of body-modification, the fact he hadn't specified what kind concerned her. "Do you mean cybernetic or…"

"Cybernetic and genetic." The War Chief winced slightly and his neon green eyes sparkling while answering the question. Though neither were illegal in the GCC, both were highly regulated due to their health complications and potentially lethal uses. And, more importantly, he knew Atxika was well aware of that. "Both are a bit more common on Shkegpewen, and among my people, than with most other species. We have particular neurological, genetic, and physical plasticities that allow us to go further with self modification than most others. For example, when I was 16, I chose my eye color from a list of compatible phenotypes, went to the gene-clinic, and about a month of slight irritation later, my eyes went from almost black to this neon green color."

"I got gene-therapy to make my bones denser and heal my spine after I broke my back when I was a kid." Tens added with a nonchalant tone that contrasted greatly against Atxika's growing shock. "Then, when I was 16, I got a full reaction time enhancement as a birthday present from my goko. That one was both genetic and cybernetic."

"As a children?!?" The Admiral’s eyes had grown wide with utter disbelief at what she was hearing. Though many species did have similar forms of self-modification, she wasn't unfamiliar with any where modification was this common.

"In our culture, we consider 16 year olds to be transitioning to adulthood. Not yet full adults, but well on their way." Msko quickly clarified and then added some more personal context. "By that age, I had already earned my first paycheck, got my first hunting kill, and was beginning my training for the militia."

"My apologies, I meant no offense." The Admiral quickly corrected herself while wishing she had brought along a diplomatic officer. "I often forget that our two species' age develop and age differently. Also, body modification is far less common among my people. Let's call it a… cultural difference."

"To each their own." Tens replied with an accepting shrug, though his tone sounded almost disappointed. "I'm sure your honor guards will be able to train their muscle memory so they won't have to rely on conscious reaction time."

"Is that how you've been able to so thoroughly beat those poor women in all of your sparring matches thus far?" The Admiral leaned back in her chair and shot Tens a stoic look that the young man had learned meant sarcasm, but appeared somewhat earnest.

"Are you bullying women, Tens?" Msko began glaring at the young warrior like he was going to have to lay down the law. "Do I have to call your goko?"

"What?!? No!" Tens whined and flinched like he was about to be hit by a much stronger person while putting up his hands as if to submit. "I'm training them! I swear! Sometimes I feel like they're holding back because they forget I'm not a dainty Qui’ztar man. And I just gotta remind them sometimes."

"He's just doing his job." Atxika caved and admitted as her smile came back. "The males of your species do bear a striking resemblance to males of mine own, if slightly shorter. So, I can understand the need to remind the ladies there are some strength differences from time to time. And, more importantly, if my honor guard found out the Lieutenant here had been holding back on them, they would be furious."

"So, you're showing them respect?" The War Chief was still staring daggers into the young warrior as he asked the obvious question.

"I swear to the spirits of our Ancestors!" Tens showed he was serious about this in both his tone and expression as he slowly lowered his hands. "I need to know that they'll all make it home safe and in one piece by the end of this deployment. They need to be ready to dive into hell and I can't get them ready if I'm treating them like first-year initiates."

"Look at you, thinkin' like a Brave!" The smile returned to Msko's face as he gave Tens a proud nudge on the shoulder then turned back to the Admiral. "With him training your warriors, they'll be fine. The muscle memory will come with practice, they just need the endurance to keep going."

"And that is one of my concerns." Atxika plainly admitted without dropping her pleasant demeanor. "Our species have different physiological adaptations when it comes to hunting. Where my species built traps and used stealth ambush tactics, I am told that your species are…"

The Admiral paused to try to recall the strange and unfamiliar term when a new voice entered the conversation through a speaker built into her desk. All eyes snapped towards the source of the sound and noticed a small yellow light appear as Tylon interrupted in a direct and somewhat excited tone.

"Persistence predators, ma'am, I believe that is the classification you are thinking of. Their species are currently the only Ascended beings who bear that classification." The AI-Captain chimed in to finish the Admiral's sentence and give context before starting his report. "And I apologize for the intrusion, but there is an urgent development from one of our scouts."

"Go ahead, Hammer." The Admiral replied with a now quite serious tone.

"We have detected a small, unauthorized settlement at the target location, as well as a single Arnehilian Disk-ship in orbit, ma'am." Tylon explained with a flat calmness in his voice before the War Chief interjected.

"Our last recon recon flyby was less than 6 months ago and we didn't detect anything, let alone fucking Grays!" Msko blurted out, his hatred of the silver-skin slavers deeply written across his face. "I'm gonna savor shattering that stupid saucer!"

"It seems their ship is in a near-dormant state and the settlement is using low-power and difficult-to-detect technology." Tylon continued his report while seemingly ignoring the interruption. "Further information is being gathered as we speak, but this doesn't seem to be a standard Arnehilian Dynastic group."

"They must be using some kind of shielding to mask their operations." The War Chief commented, his sheer disgust at the slavers was palpable. "Those fucks are always up to something."

"I don't think so." Tens shyly added before the AI continued with a slightly annoyed tone. "I've never seen Grays with stealth tech."

"The reconnaissance drones have only detected the presence of a few hundred Arnehelian biosignatures, as well as some non-native flora." Though he had been interrupted twice so far, Tylon was continuing in stride and left no more room for interruption. "There are no signs of either biological or artificial slaves, mineral extraction operations, atmospheric modification, utilization of weapons systems, decrease in local flora or fauna, or anything which would indicate hostile intent or the capacity of self-defense. Preliminary assessments are that the settlement is unauthorized, though otherwise not in violation of any galactic laws. I believe it may be a sustenance farming operation."

"Thank you, Hammer. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention so promptly." Atxika acknowledged the report with a respectful nod as the yellow light faded from her desk and she redirected her attention towards the two men sitting in front of her. Though the older one looked like he was seething with rage, the younger one looked to be lost in contemplation. "Well, that certainly complicates things a bit. I hate evicting people if they're just trying to survive."

"Evict!?!? Ha! We're gonna fucking slaughter those silver-skinned slavers!" The War Chief clearly wanted blood and Atxika was starting to realize the translation of his name, Red Fist, may be more accurate than she realized.

"Hold on." Tens interjected while rubbing his chin and remembering an interesting story he had heard in a port a few years back. "Could it be Greens instead of Grays?"

"What the fuck are Greens?" Msko shot back with a surprising amount of uncontrolled anger.

"If I may interrupt again, ma'am?" The yellow light on Atxika's desk had come back.

"Of course," Atxika quickly confirmed in an attempt to calm the situation, "I feel your expertise may be of particularly useful here, Tylon."

"Wait, Tylon?" Msko's eyes grew wide and he seemed to instantly snap out of his rage. "As in The Tylon? Tylon The Golden Dragon of Righteous Justice?" The look on the man's face was as if he was meeting one of his heroes.

"Yes." The AI answered as he manifested a small hologram representation of his chosen reptilian form.

"In that case, I apologize for interrupting you and doubting your assessment." Msko bowed his head slightly towards the holographic, golden-scaled, winged serpent. "Please, I would love to learn something new from such an experienced warrior."

"The Arnehilian species, before their Ascension to the Galactic stage, were split along two major political body; the Royal Dynasties, who claimed sovereign authority over all life and people, and the Free People, who were in the process of developing a decentralized, democratic form of governance as a rebellion against the Dynasties. The Dynasties flew a red and gray flag and the Free People's flew a black and green flag, thus the Grays and Greens. Prior to leaving their home system, but after developing their initial space-flight capacities, there was a large-scale conflict utilizing atomic weapons which was believed to have caused the complete destruction of the Greens, leaving only the Grays. However, there have been several reports of surviving Greens who are acting as nomadic sustenance farmers in order to avoid discovery and enslavement by the Grays."

The Admiral’s office fell silent after that explanation, but it wasn't clear to Atxika why. Msko dropped his head slightly and began rubbing the bridge of his nose as he slowly processed what the AI had just told him. Tens, on the other hand, was still completely lost in thought and looked like he was going to rub his chin down to the bone. As Atxika looked down towards Tylon and the small hologram looked up towards her, neither were sure how to proceed. However, before either could say anything to break the silence, Tens seemed to come to a conclusion in his mind, looked over towards Msko, and nudged the War Chief on the shoulder.

"We give everyone a chance, right?" The tone of the young warrior's question implied there really was no other choice in his mind.

"Fuck…" Msko shook his head for a moment before looking over at the young warrior. "You're right, we give everyone a chance. Even if we know we'll regret it later."
submitted by micktalian to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 18:25 LithiumNard A Random Fan's Team/Player Breakdown and Predictions Going into LPL Summer 2023

LPL Summer Power Rankings
Just one person’s opinion. WE diehard so I’ve seen more or less all of their games, but I’ll catch other games here and there. Did a lot of Oracle’s Elixir and Leaguepedia digging as well and followed/consulted @DJJohnnymeister on twitter (must follow IMHO if you care at all about the up and comers of the LDL) for thoughts on lower-level prospects. Will probably make me look stupid when it’s all said and done, but that’s part of the fun right?
Top Contenders
1) JDG
Top – 369
Jungle – Kanavi
Mid – Knight/lzq
ADC – Ruler
Support – Missing
Was the best team on paper last split and lived up to the hype. Coming off of a dominant MSI championship run, they are the slam dunk pick to top not just the LPL power rankings, but the World power rankings.
369 is perhaps the best he’s ever been, easily 1st team All Pro. Kanavi has re-established himself as the best jungler in the world at MSI. Knight’s mechanical talent finally shone through on the international stage. Lzq is an 18-year-old who somehow skipped the LDL altogether and isn’t really relevant to the narrative, but he's on the official roster so I have to mention him. Ruler inserted his name in the GOAT conversation and proved his mettle out of the Samsung/GenG sphere, doing his thing of blending solid damage output with consistent safety. When Missing is the worst player on the team by default and yet still the Spring 2nd All Pro Team support you’re in golden shape.
They get a sentence each because I shouldn’t need to tell you about this team. They’re really just complete without any exploitable holes. Adding Knight and Ruler to China’s best squad in 2022 feels similar to the off-season where the Golden State Warriors added Kevin Durant, with the added bonus that Boogie Cousins is still in his prime. I suppose that makes Yagao into Pro LOL’s Harrison Barnes (I actually like this comparison, down to Yagao receiving blame for the blowing it when it mattered most) and GenG into Pro LOL’s Sacramento Kings (pretty bad, but if we equate the playoffs to making world finals?… ehh still really bad). We’ll see who (if anyone) can rise up to challenge them, but at this point they have to be considered the odds-on favorite.
2) LNG
Top – Zika
Jungle – Tarzan
Mid – Scout
Support – Hang
This team had one hole in the roster going into the summer and filled it. LP didn’t have a bad rookie split and showed mettle but he was clearly the odd man out on a team built to compete today. After looking at IG’s ADC Ahn, they chose to spare no expense and traded LP and a boat load of cash for RNG’s GALA who more than fills that hole. GALA will be paired in the bottom lane with Hang, who was a key partner for LP’s surprisingly competent debut, earning an All-LPL 3rd team shoutout in the process.
Scout meanwhile had a downright incredible split that fell by the wayside due to LNG’s immediate playoff exit at the hands of OMG, but it appears that even away from the EDG machine, he’s still one of the LPL’s premier stars at a very competitive position. I mean he put up a mind numbing 17 MVPs individually. To put it in perspective, ThunderTalk Gaming, who were the 8 seed in the LPL Spring Standings, had 18 wins in total. With teams like EDG and JDG sharing the MVP load among their members, Scout downright ran away with it.
Zika didn’t have a super flashy split, but was low key very strong. The team devoted a lot to making sure LP wasn’t exploited and you would think Zika, who was heavily strong-side suited as a rookie on IG last year, would flounder because of it. However, he quietly flourished in the role, even though he only picked up a single MVP performance all season. Putting up strong CS numbers and showing some good weakside ability on top of his typical array of more damage centric tops. Honestly, he might be the most underrated player in the league since he’s overshadowed by his much more resource heavy teammates, but that weakside ability might be even more key with GALA joining the team and needing the resources as well.
Tarzan meanwhile continued as a standout in the regular season, best jungler KDA, strong kill participation basically the rest of the regular season MVP performances, but was perhaps the primary factor in their playoff disappointment. Similar to JDG’s situation with Missing though, when Tarzan (specifically in the playoffs) is the team’s biggest concern, you know you have a roster ready to compete.
3) EDG
Top – Ale
Jungle – Jiejie/Monki
Mid – Fofo/Fisher
ADC – Leave
Support – Meiko
Despite losing their key Korean carries, EDG barely missed a beat last split, finishing 3rd in the Spring Split. It’s a pretty good result all things considered, but it does feel like they have holes in their game. Still, I think that between their core veterans still at the peak of their game and the overall consistency, they are in very good shape for the Worlds slots, even if they feel a step behind the likes of JDG right now.
Even without Scout and Viper, they still have a great veteran core that starts with Meiko, who with Ming’s absence/retirement(?) stands alone as only active LPL’s all-time top 10 support. As part of the EDG core for over 9 years now, and the team’s primary shot caller for a huge part of that span, his presence alone means that EDG will have one of the best macro games in the league. Combo that with Jiejie, who has served in the EDG system for a huge period of time and grown into a top level jungler in his midst of his prime and you immediately have a team that has championship aspirations even before the other 3 members are considered, as both players were 1st Team All Pro for the Spring Split.
The 3 other members were where a lot of the concern lied going into the season, but they exceeded expectations as EDG was the number 2 seed going into playoffs. While the least talked about of the three, it was a great bounce back split for FoFo who was one of the most disappointing players on 2022’s most disappointing team BLG, eventually losing his starting job to mid-season acquisition Icon. On EDG though, he looked revitalized and fairly close to his form on RA 2021, though admittedly he was flanked by better players with EDG. It was a commendable, low drama, stable split for a player who needed it bad.
Similar to FoFo, Ale was coming off of a rough 2021 as well where a talented by troubled LNG team didn’t completely flop by the results, but completely missed the high expectations set. This included a benching for PandaC halfway through the split that really hurt the team in key series down the stretch amid talk about attitude issues. He’s always been a talented pair of hands though and EDG did well to keep him focused and on his game, as he stepped up big time, particularly when given non-tank champions while piloting tanks well enough, earning 2nd team All Pro honors. Obviously, Ale isn’t always the most stable player, but so long as EDG has him on the straight and narrow, he’s going to be a net positive for the team.
Finally, we come to the rookie of the split Leave, who came in with some serious LDL hype and lived up to it for the most part, working well as EDG’s damage carry and showing a flashy mechanics style. Being flanked with the likes of Meiko helps of course, but EDG handed the reigns to Leave and he seemed up to the task. Unfortunately, going up against the likes of Ruler and Elk in the playoffs did prove to be that freshman wall for Leave, but as MSI showed they’ve been folding everyone, so it’s not too shameful. Still as the least experienced player in this top 4 group, it’s going to be a lot of pressure on the youngster. It’s crazy that this super mechanically skilled star of his rookie class could be the weakness of the team, but that’s just the level of the competition among the top teams of this league.
I do want to give brief mention to EDG’s substitute players, who are both very talented youngsters. Monki is a 19-year-old LDL promote jungler who was strong at the lower level and warranted a promotion. Fisher meanwhile had been a standout Korean trainee from Shadow Corp (the same team they picked up About, the new Korean bot lane trainee Ale was talking about) and directly went onto the EDG main roster at 18 years old. Neither will likely see play given this team’s veteran tilt and the championship ambitions, but they’re worth keeping an eye out for down the road whether they’re future EDG starters or purchases for other LPL teams.
4) BLG
Top – Bin
Jungle – XUN
Mid – Yagao
ADC – Elk/Baiye
Support – ON
Given BLG’s penchant for big expenses for early playoff exits, it would be easy to write off their latest roster as yet another flailing attempt to microwave a team into stardom, turning over basically the entire 2022 roster they reportedly spent top dollar for. And yet, it felt different this time around. While the players they picked up weren’t exactly household names, they were talented mechanical players on the rise. They looked genuinely strong in the pre-season tournaments, which admittedly doesn’t count a whole ton, but was interesting to note. And when it was all said and done, it resulted in the best split BLG has ever put up. And while they couldn’t outgun the JDG machine in any of the many shots, it was a great season. While I have them below LNG for their sheer top to bottom power and EDG out of respect for their veteran track record, I’m still very impressed by this BLG squad.
Bin, as somehow the longest tenured BLG member of 2 splits, was the face of the team’s turnaround, and a far cry better from the rocky 2022 he endured swapping between 2 dysfunctional teams. 2023 was where he re-established himself as the premier mechanical top in the league. Always known for his excellent hands since his debut on Suning in 2020, he was able to back up those skills this split, while furthering his profile in the west with his fun trashtalk and gigachad persona. Furthermore, when the chips were down at MSI, he even showed a willingness to pick up tanks, which has always been the clear hole in his game.
As for the free agent additions, the one who most established himself was Elk. If I can put on my hipster hat on, I was an Elk fan before it was cool, given he’s always shown an ability to put up eyepopping damage numbers since his debut which continued this season as he topped the tables far and away leading the league with the number 1 DPM and damage share. However, it was the finer points of the game where Elk struggled on back in the day. Off positioning, hit or miss laning, occasional overextensions trying to maximize damage were all issues for Elk on WE. On this BLG squad though, that has largely ironed itself out, with only occasional blowup performances every so often. An unknown on the World stage going into MSI, everyone now knows the name of this fearsome player. They also added a name that nobody knows, that being Baiye an LDL ADC to the main roster as well. Having just debuted on BLG.J last split and playing all of 7 games in the LDL, it’s tough to take this promotion seriously at all, let alone as a threat to Elk’s seat.
A major part of supporting Elk’s rise was the acquisition of the best young support in the LPL, ON. One of the big pain points of LPL teams is that LDL promotions are just so difficult, and none so more than support, where the talent pool is shallow and the transition is just an absolute killer. So many of the highest profile LDL supports have floundered on promotion, and ON was no exception on Suning back in 2021. That being said, he’s improved an incredible amount since that first rocky season, and the mechanical ability he has as a support and his young age (only 20 years old despite debuting in 2021) makes him perhaps the most valuable long-term asset on the BLG roster. As EDG has shown with Meiko and his cavalcade of ADC pairings, great ADCs can be acquired in the LPL but great supports when kept are backbones to long term success.
XUN was an acquisition much like Elk and ON, a young mechanical standout who BLG scooped up with projection in mind. He arrived into IG in 2021 as a highly touted rookie, and was mentioned alongside the likes of Bo and Xiaohuangren, the 2 super prospects junglers as the next generation. He joined right at the tail end of the Rookie-TheShy era of the team and while he had early struggles then, by the time the next season rolled around, he was IG’s standout player. Even after arriving at BLG, he’s still a very volatile player, and hasn’t solidified his play the way Elk and ON have, but at his best, he’s capable of getting bot rolling, which is exactly what BLG is want to do.
Finally, the Harrison Barnes of the LPL, Yagao, who was the typical blame target for BLG in their losses. It’s true, he’s older and certainly doesn’t match up great against the top of the table mids that he’ll need to beat, but the bottom line is that for the most part he’s fine enough. Just like Barnes, he’s certainly not the team centerpiece, and he occasionally has baffling performances, but he’s usually stable enough to not get in the way. Honestly, he’s probably the weakest individual player among these top 4 teams and the predominant reason (along with coinflippy XUN) that I have the MSI runners up 4th on this list, but to be clear I’m not huge Yagao hater, it’s just that these top teams are so stacked that every potential available weakness makes a difference. I mean, you don’t see Harrison Barnes on the All-NBA teams or anything.
Playoff Expectations
5) OMG
Top – Shanji
Jungle – Aki
Mid – Creme
ADC – Able
Support – PPGod/Jerry
OMG returns with the roster that brought them to their highest playoff finish since Spring 2017 (!!!), finishing a highly impressive 4th in the split. On paper, I still think their roster is lacking in marquee raw talent, but it’s clear at this point that they’re more coordinated than some of their flashier opposition and that they’ve cultivated 2 young stars that have now shown some serious killer instinct.
Without any doubt, this is a team that is defined by the play of their solo lane talents. Starting from the top Shanji had a standout split primarily as one of the most effective K’Sante/Sion tank players the large majority of the time, but occasionally busts out Kennen and his signature Rumble, and been incredibly impactful when he gets them. Furthermore, this synergizes perfectly with OMG’s other star laner Creme, who is afforded the ability to fit AD assassins like Yone. Assassins have continued to be Creme’s calling card and while his control mage play is lackluster, OMG has tailored their gameplans around his champion pool and have reaped the benefits of the young mid laner.
On top of these two really clicking simultaneously, a big hat tip must be given to their teammates as well. PPGod in particular proved to be the right ingredient to bring OMG playoff glory as he continues his ability to accent teams into playoff threats even if he hasn’t been quite been able to reach the Finals at any of his stops. I’ll give him some additional props once we reach the NIP write up. Given PPGod’s late arrival to the team last spring, LDL promotion Jerry sat on the bench for the season, and looks to do so again. Able meanwhile has a pretty non-descript year, taking a back seat to his solo lane teammates but showing some stability that he’s usually lacked. Certainly not a masterful split, but credit where it’s due, he reigned it in and was steady for OMG’s best squad in ages.
Finally, Aki deserves a big hand for his role in OMG’s success as well. A solid vet who isn’t considered a mechanical master by any means, he was steady at the wheel throughout the season, and was even able to out jungle Tarzan of all people in their shock upset win over LNG. Despite taking the most MVPs for OMG in the regular season, it was rarely for single handed domination and I’d point that more as a credit for his facilitation of the team’s coordination in general where they were able to get over the competition where it counted.
I don’t think this team has the ceiling of the others in this tier, but they have a known formula that works. While the others in this group have more talent on an individual level, it’s clear that they have serious questions to sort out that OMG really doesn’t, so I’m considering OMG the safe team in this particular group, but without the upside to challenge the tier above.
6) WBG
Top – TheShy
Jungle – Karsa/Weiwei
Mid – Xiaohu
ADC – Light
Support – Crisp
This team and the one after it were the teams with close to the highest expectations in the League and yet fell flat in spite of talented rosters. Both have largely decided to run it back, with new coaching staffs in an attempt to fix the tactical side where they came short. WBG went big game hunting for their next coach after sacking Easyhoon and was attempting to court Kkoma before he opted to focus on Korea’s efforts at the World Games. They settled for an Kkoma adjacent coach in Daeny, formerly part of the Damwon and T1 programs. A controversial coach in his own right, he’s drew criticism for his pick/bans and his questionable roster decisions, but he still has that Worlds title under his belt, so WBG is out here shooting for the moon. Born to wintrade or whatever.
TheShy is as always, a pretty good representation of the team. Perpetually on top of the damage charts due to his confidence in his mechanics and his propensity to fight constantly, it leads to the coinflippy hit or miss results you so often see from TheShy and his teams in general. He’s certainly not at his peak form where he dominated on the Worlds stage, but he’s not at his worst either near the end of his IG tenure when that whole team looked out of gas, TheShy is an LPL icon, even if that icon is occasionally the death notification on the side of the UI.
Purchasing Xiaohu out of his RNG contract was one of the big stories for this team going into the off season and a large reason for optimism for their future results. In actually he was rather middling by all accounts. Not a total disaster of course, it felt like he was fine for the most part, but not the immediate plug and play mechanical players that Scout, Knight or Rookie serve as. Maybe a second season to mesh is what they need to comeback.
Light for my money was the most dependable member of the team in the regular season, being just a generally stable force in the otherwise chaotic team structure. I wouldn’t call him the best at any individual thing: Ruler is a much safer ADC and Elk is a better pure damage pump, but light is good enough at both of those things to be a consistent plus for WBG, which can’t be said for the rest of the team. Supported by the veteran Crisp, you have to expect them to anchor the team in general, though Crisp was particularly bad in the playoff series against BLG, where his hooks on both Thresh and Naut were off point. It’s just one series of course, but the play needs to be better than that in crunch time next time.
Finally, the jungle situation for Weibo. Karsa continues to be the perpetual punching bag when the team struggles. It’s been a major decline since his Flash Wolves and early RNG days and frankly it might be time to just bucket him as not able to get it done at the highest level at this point. He can still work enough in the regular season to make the playoffs, but the form is just not where it needs to be at this point. In a fascinating move, scooped up Weiwei, who went from BLG’s star jungler to league washout over the course of a single year. The biggest victim of BLG’s 2022 catastrophe, the last look of Weiwei we got was not a flattering one as the team fell flat on it’s face amid roster instability and play not matching up to the expected standard. Still, we’ve seen a number of comebacks for players leaving the BLG ecosystem, such as PPGod and FoFo returning to form after splitting wit the team. Of course it’s not always a winning formula as Doggo and Biubiu (shudder) can attest to, but there’s enough of a strong track record from Weiwei during 2020 V5 and 2021 BLG to say that trying to get that level out of him is worth the attempt.
7) TES
Top – Wayward/Qingtian
Jungle – Tian
Mid – Rookie
ADC – Jackeylove
Support – Mark
Reuniting 2/5ths of the legendary IG core was supposed to lead TES to their Worlds destiny. Yet going into the Summer split they are another team running it back with the exact same roster, though unlike teams like JDG, BLG or OMG, the Spring split was an unmitigated failure for TES. There was not glory, but a collapse down the stretch of the season and shameful defeat at the hands of OMG, a team that is probably running a budget less than Jackeylove’s individual paycheck (note: The previous statement was hyperbole. I do not actually know how much OMG pays their players.) With some of the flashiest names in the LPL, finishing without at least challenging JDG would have been a disappointment, let alone the 7th/8th that they actually managed.
The big obvious question for this team is what exactly they do with the top lane because the decision making around it was seemed heavily stilted. They chose to run Qingtian basically the entire regular season, and then yanked the rug on him with a single series to go? Sure, he was largely a hit or miss top laner who was missing against the better teams (and LGD’s because rookie Xiaoxu was feeling it) but pulling the plug on him and swapping to Wayward literally at the last second heavily sabotaged both of them. Congratulations, Wayward crushed Biubiu in round 1 of playoffs, like basically everyone else who played top lane in the LPL. Up against Shanji (a player TES bypassed as a rookie to pick up Qingtian), Wayward was not up to it, and it was a big part of what ended their season. Even though both top laners are limited, I find it hard to place the blame on them directly given this awkward setup and how they approach top lane in the Summer with both players still on the roster remains to be seen.
The bot lane continues to be the same story as always. Jackeylove is still super high ceiling but there are still sometimes these baffling efforts where he’s playing off of his game, which has been a repeating trend for a while now. Mark did well to stabilize him at the beginning of their shared tenure but it’s been rough going as of late for this bot lane in general.
Moving to the big free agent swap they made, adding the legendary Rookie to the team, and it wasn’t all bad. It’s not like he was an abject disaster, he had his share of good games, such as dominating against Shanks in the first round of the playoffs, it’s just that there were too many series where he didn’t lift the team when things weren’t clicking elsewhere… like the 2nd round against OMG. It felt like too often he wasn’t meshing with Tian who was also off his normally solid domestic game. People joke that it was his Worlds performance showing up and frankly, I’d have to agree.
I don’t know with this team. The on-paper talent is on there as usual but there’s something missing… Normally with teams, the question is: how can this team coordinate together and be more than the sum of their parts, which OMG showcased best? I don’t get that vibe from TES, where the question I’m asking is: do they feel like playing up to their talent, or are they going to let go of the rope and lose in shocking fashion? Just weird vibes. I’d say maybe the coaching swap could help, but bringing in the guy who was overseeing BLG during their moneybag disappointment era doesn’t fill me with confidence. I still think they still should be fine for the playoffs off of their sheer talent running over enough teams when they do hold it together, but I just don’t see them as a viable challenger for the LPL crown unless something flips in them, particularly given how good the top 4 seem.
Playoff Bubble
8) TT
Jungle – Beichuan/xiaohuangren
Mid – Ucal
ADC – Huanfeng/1xn
Support – yuyanjia/Yaoyao
A pleasant surprise last split, making their first LPL playoffs since they were known as Sinodragon, TT has shed their bottom feeder status and actually have some breakout potential. They’ve formed a decent core to build off of and collected some of the most exciting young talents in the league. How they split their starts between the young guns and the vets they played last split is quietly one of the most interesting storylines in the league as those talented swing pieces could push them up into contendership or down out of the playoffs depending on how they handle the LPL stage.
We’ll start with the boring part of the team in their now solidified Korean solo lane pairing, HOYA and Ucal. After spinning solo laners basically their entire existence, the duo has been locked in for basically 4 splits now. Neither blow anyone’s socks off (though I maintain Ucal in particular is pretty underrated), but you know you’re gonna get a playoff worthy performance but not much more. Together they provide the solid foundation for the rest of the roster, where it really gets interesting.
Starting with jungle, Beichuan had effective but flawed split. He output damage well and did much to incite action, but he also died a whole ton, with the highest death share of any jungler in the league last split. This volatility has been his modus operandi this TT squad as he manages to lead TT in MVPs and I’m sure would have also led the team had an “Most Un-valuable Player” award been given to the biggest inter on the losing team, so he’s pretty core to the TT identity as they’re constructed. However, the clearly more intriguing option has to be Xiaohuangren, who is likely the youngest player in the league right now, and the most hyped LDL jungler since Bo. Debuting in LDL at just 16, XHR was immediately one of the best mechanical junglers in the lower level, and even when the age limit was placed, he took to dominating the Korean ladder with multiple accounts in his excess time. Promoted in the middle of the Spring split days after he turned 18, he hasn’t seen a stage since that age limit was placed, but eyes will be watching to see if TT put the hyper-talent on the rift.
Their other young hyper-talent TT acquired is at the ADC position where they are bringing JDG’s LDL bot laner 1xn. Highly touted by LDL experts, 1xn doesn’t have a mechanical flaw to speak of, putting out insane damage and CS numbers on the regular. The one thing to note was that the JDM team surrounding him didn’t have the skills to back him up, so he never really got the accolades his performance deserved. How he splits time with Huanfeng, who was pretty ineffective last season, and just clearly is no longer the do-everything ADC we saw at 2020 Worlds with Suning is the other big question. It’s weird to see him morph into a rather conservative low-risk low-reward player, and honestly, if they gave out a “Least Valuable Player” award to the winning team, he’d probably be the among League’s leaders in that sketchy credential.
Finally, the support situation is less exciting but lowkey just as important as the other 2 positions as they’ve opted to add Yuyanjia to the roster to which I’m fairly confused. A lackluster veteran (25 years old?) who has never really helped a roster even at his “peak”, I’m not sure what he brings to the table for TT. It’s even more confusing since incumbent support Yaoyao has been the rare promoted LDL support who has actually looked good in his initial LPL stint, which is some sort of minor miracle given the typical LDL support struggles. Trying to fit XinLiu in last split probably cost them some series, so I’m not sure why they seem so interested in these mediocre at best support players when they have a solid one in hand.
9) WE
Top – Cube/Demon
Jungle – Heng
Mid – Shanks
ADC – Hope
Support – Iwandy
I see WE as the LPL’s gatekeeper team. Last split they were great against the lower ranked teams (exception AL), and awful against the higher ranked teams (exception BLG) and managed to sneak playoffs thanks to the likes of IG being just a bit more volatile. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about them as the season goes on, so I’ll keep things brief here.
They managed to do this with an essential deadweight in the top lane. Cube doesn’t completely alter the equation for WE, as he’s coming off of his worst split to date where he was largely stuck on tank duty, but he does turns the top lane for WE from being a ceiling capper into a floor raiser for the team. Worst case is that he continues his middling tank form and he serves as a rich man’s Biubiu who can actually lane competently. The best-case scenario is that the change of scenery (where he was on RA for 4 years) works to revitalize him towards more of the damage top lane champs he played in his earlier years. Either way, the best part of this addition is really the subtraction of Biubiu, which adds much needed flexibility to a team that desperately needs it. Meanwhile, Demon also augments the team’s flexibility by adding his skills of doing promotional videos when Chinese New Year rolls around. So yeah, you can say this is a much-improved top lane situation.
Otherwise, the team remains the same as their gatekeeper-selves. Iwandy quietly had a very solid season as WE’s most consistent player and a foundation as a support. Hope had a mid-season swoon that showed his deficiencies particular as a laner and on less focused champions, but was able to showcase his carrying skills as the season concluded. Both are what they are: usually net positives for a team, but not really able to take you to a top 6 seed independently. That is going to have to come from their teammates, speaking of which…
Heng was up and down as a rookie jungler, but for the most part demonstrated a willingness to be proactive and facilitate his lanes via early ganks, even if it didn’t always work out as planned. And of course, Shanks who had his best regular season to date, relying on consistently strong lane performances. While capitalizing on those leads remains a hit or miss affair and a particular bad playoff series against TES are marks against him, I still have those high expectations for him and continue to see this as a prove it year. Outside of Cube unlocking something additional, which shouldn’t be counted on, this jungle-mid pair are the key for WE to climb higher than the lower playoff spots. Both are usually strong early, but they’ll need to clean up their mid/late game play for the team to be a contender against higher caliber teams.
10) IG
Top – YSKM/neny
Jungle – Tianzhen
Mid – Cryin/Dove
ADC – Xiaoyueji/Ahn
Support – Wink
Putting IG too low was a big miss for me in Spring and despite narrowly missing out on playoffs and making some pretty major roster changes, they do make sense as a team as a whole to the point where I can see them in playoff contention.
YSKM was the breakout player for them, as his mechanical prowess was legit right out of the gate though I do think he’s a tad overrated as his DPM isn’t as high as you would expect for a player that almost exclusively plays damage top laners. You have to assume he starts over neny who is just perpetually going to be on this roster as a break in case of emergency/illness weakside player.
Their other returning player is Wink, who has proven to be a successfully above average support and revitalized his career in the process after floundering at ADC for IG. Wink is reunited with his former mid laner Cryin, as both were teammates on a Estar team that vastly exceeded expectations on their debut year. While being the low econ mid laner in a Xiaohu-GALA centric RNG didn’t flatter his talents, Cryin had a pretty good year all things as UP’s best player last season, and he’ll get another shot this year. The expectation is he starts over Dove who is still on the roster? He wasn’t awful but was certainly less exciting than his jungle counterpart and I assumed he would be leaving along with GIDEON and the Korean coaching staff.
This is Xiaoyueji’s second shot at the big leagues given he was tried and passed by Ahn last season, but he’s coming off of an LDL Season MVP where he was clearly above the lower level. We’ll need to see if he can step up with the tougher competition ala Photic, or if he’s just a quadruple-A player (too good for LDL, not good enough for LPL) like Asura. It might not even matter though as it’s worth noting that Ahn remains on the roster, even after the promotion of XYJ and a tryout from LNG (who clearly have contending in mind). He’s coming off of a quietly strong split and likely has the inside track in the battle for the starting role as in a repeat of LPL Spring 2022, these 2 will duke it out for the spot again.
Despite not being the LDL MVP, Tianzhen might be the more exciting prospect actually and notably doesn’t have any veteran to compete with. At only 18 years old, he’s going to be one of the LPL’s youngest players and has an eclectic champ pool that is highlighted by his signature Rengar. It will be interesting to see if these LDL standouts can continue the momentum in the LPL. The promotion isn’t easy, but both of them are in position to excel.
11) RNG
Top – Breathe
Jungle – Wei
Mid – Tangyuan
Support – LvMao/Lele
It’s crazy to think this time last year, RNG were celebrating their 2nd consecutive MSI championship. Obviously, this team has more or less completely shattered from the Golden Road-seeking team that once ruled Spring and faltered at Worlds on a regular basis. I mean it’s been years of speculation that RNG was actually in a NA-esque perpetual financial meltdown that was held together by unfair streaming contracts and bobby pins, but with the departure of GALA and in particular, Ming, who has more or less been on RNG since the start of the era, finally puts RNG on the backfoot. Still, even with the exodus of more or less everyone on those famous teams, there’s a window at the playoffs.
Wei is the final piece of the MSI 2022 team, which is wild to think about because as I mentioned, it's been just 1 year. Now the longest tenured player on the roster, it’s a weird situation as there’s no longer an obvious lane to play into. While he wasn’t always bad, he had many questionable moments and his weakest split to date, and now without GALA in the bot lane there’s no clear place to focus for this team. He’s demonstrated he can be effective without the likes of Xiaohu, GALA and Ming back when he was on EStar in his debut season in 2020, but it’s been a long time since then, so I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
Similarly, Breathe is also coming off of a split where he failed to meet expectations. It feels like ever since he left WE, he just hasn’t really found his footing as the good flex top laner, first on that weird 2022 BLG failed “superteam” and then on RNG where he never fit in to the Xiaohu-GALA puzzle. This last split he was basically relegated to weakside tanks and was subsequently pretty inconsequential as either a positive or negative factor. The few forays he took towards more carry champions were bad last split and it’s not a great sign for a player once considered so promising. I guess it’s the WE fan in me talking that he still has that upside to be among the best in the league. Maybe I’m lending him too much leeway given he was maybe WE’s best strongside top ever (which for the record is more about WE perpetually playing bot-centric). With out any of those other major carries on RNG, I’m interested to see if Breathe is placed back in that role.
The rest of the team is a smattering of cobbled pieces who aren’t without upside, but don’t exactly scream playoffs. GALA was exchanged for a large bag of cash and LP, who was the only consistent starter of the new cohort. he was heavily cared for as the rookie bot laner on LNG’s otherwise star-studded group, he was able to deliver in that capacity. Notably, he narrowly had the 2nd highest DPM in the split, though admittedly there was a large gap between 1st place damage monster Elk and a much smaller one to the following ADCs of JackeyLove, Assum and Leave. However, he certainly wasn’t perfect as he managed the lowest CS per minute among ADCs in the league, and he didn’t wow the way rookie of the split Leave did. Still, it was a relatively promising start, though the downgrade from Hang to one of RNG’s supports looms large as needless to say, the “cash considerations” RNG received with LP are most likely not being used for his lane partner.
With Angel departing after a pretty rough split, where the highlight was creating a meme after defeating his former team Weibo Gaming, RNG were rumored for a number of domestic mid laners but ultimately just stuck with the player they seemed intent on before they picked up Angel at the last second. Tangyuan is an LDL promote who has been flatout bad in the few stage performances he got in with the main roster, struggling both in the pre-season Demacia Cup and then to open the proper LPL season while Angel got up to speed. He’s at least known to have good Korean solo queue ranks, but you have to imagine there’s going to be a lot of handwringing over his inevitable growing pains as he starts for one of the country’s most popular domestic teams. There’s not zero upside here, for example Xiaoxu came from the same LDL team and vastly overperformed expectations, but I’d lean towards a year of hard knocks for the youngster.
Ming’s departure is the biggest loss for RNG as they now go from one of the rare franchise defining supports to… not that. LvMao spent the split unsigned for the most part before latching onto BLG as ON’s backup to end the season. Reportedly he served a coaching-esque role for the team as they went on their impressive MSI run but LvMao’s play has left a lot to be desired. Now with over 3 years removed from his standout performances in Spring 2020 and no Bard patch coming in sight, it’s tough to see what LvMao brings to the table as a player outside of an experienced hand. The other option they brought in was Lele, the young rookie support FPX promptly benched for Qiuqiu, which is never a great sign, and you know my stance on LDL supports: they bad. Funnily enough Lele was originally a pretty hyped RNG prospect the team once spent 300K yuan signing out of the yearly rookie camp. Needless to say, he’s been an okay LDL support but hasn’t lived up to that price tag at all, though now it seems they could at least get some games out of their failed investment.
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2023.05.27 02:25 TheeBagelQueen NeoDys Drag Race S1EP06 The Puppet Showdown

NeoDys Drag Race S1EP06 The Puppet Showdown


[The queens enter the workroom after the intense double save, still buzzing with energy. They congratulate RuPaul and Oshi for their jaw-dropping lipsync performance.]
ManilaButterflyzzzXX: Ladies, that was one fierce lipsync! RuPaul, you gave us the glamour and Oshi, you brought the fire. It was a battle for the ages!
Gromette Mugler: Absolutely! You both turned it out on that stage. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. RuPaul, you gave us that iconic Diana Ross realness, and Oshi, your energy was off the charts!
[The queens gather around Lady Yomamalaid, showering her with praise for her challenge win.]
Pickles Bagwell: Lady Yomamalaid, you slayed that challenge! Your vocals were on point, and your stage presence was electrifying. You truly deserved that win, darling.
Sayu Hime: Absolutely! Your group had such great chemistry, and you brought that extra spark that made it shine. Well done, sis!
[Amber Osha lets out a frustrated sigh, catching the attention of the other queens.]
Amber Osha: Ugh, I can't believe I'm safe again. I mean, I put my heart and soul into that performance. When am I going to get my moment to shine?
Gromette Mugler: Don't worry, Amber. Your time will come. Just keep pushing yourself and showing the judges what you're capable of. Your talent is undeniable, and they'll recognize it soon enough.
Oshi Rellee Cayme Dat-Wei in confessional: I'm not impressed with the outcome. I think I gave it my all in that lipsync, and I deserved to stay. The other girl? Well. But it's not over yet. I'll keep fighting and proving myself in every challenge.
Gromette Mugler: You know what, queens? I'm feeling hungry for a win. I've been safe for too long, and I want to take home a challenge victory. Watch out, because Gromette is ready to slay!
[As the queens continue their conversations, they can't help but feel the tension and excitement building up for the next challenge.]
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[Cut to the workroom the next day, where the queens are getting ready for another day of fierce competition.]
ManilaButterflyzzzXX in confessional: It's a new day in the workroom, and I can feel it in my bones. I'm going to bring my A-game and take home the win this week. Watch out, ladies!
[Amber Osha and Dee Pression are sitting together, bonding over their personal experiences.]
Amber Osha: You know, Dee, it's amazing how drag brings people together from all walks of life. We've both faced our fair share of struggles, but look at us now, living our dreams.
Dee Pression: Absolutely, Amber. Drag has given us a platform to express ourselves and connect with others who understand our journey. We're stronger because of our experiences.
[As the queens continue their conversations, they're suddenly interrupted by ChatPaul's entrance into the workroom.]
ChatPaul: Hello, hello, hello, my fabulous queens! Are you ready for the next challenge? Well, get ready because it's time for a lip sync smackdown!
[The queens gasp in surprise and excitement, eager to hear more about the challenge.]
ChatPaul: That's right, darlings. You'll be lip syncing to iconic duets, but here's the twist—it's a battle of puppets! Each of you will create a puppet that looks like you, and then you'll face off in a puppet lip sync showdown. Get ready to bring those puppet personas to life! You can choose your own pairs for the challenge, so grab your best Judy and start working!
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[Excitement filled the air as the queens realized the unique opportunity in front of them. They immediately began discussing and strategizing, forming their chosen pairs.]
[Lady Yomamalaid and Sayu Hime exchanged glances, recognizing the potential power their partnership held. They agreed to team up, their energies ready to create an explosive performance.]
[Gromette Mugler and Pickles Bagwell shared a moment of recognition. Their vibrant personalities and complementary styles made them the perfect match, ready to dominate the stage as a dynamic duo.]
[Amber Osha approached Dee Pression, feeling a connection beyond the competition. As they opened up about their personal stories, Amber shared how she was kicked out from home at an early age. Dee, understanding the pain of rejection, empathized and embraced Amber's vulnerability. They decided to join forces, determined to showcase their strength and resilience.]
[Kika Lorace and RuPaul, two fierce and iconic queens, couldn't resist the chance to combine their talents. With a shared passion for showmanship, they knew their performance would leave a lasting impression.]
[Oshi Rellee Cayme Dat-Wei and ManilaButterflyzzzXX, recognizing each other's creative spirits, formed a partnership rooted in their mutual desire to push boundaries. They were ready to deliver a performance that would captivate and inspire.]
ChatPaul continued, "Now that you have your pairs, it's time to bring your puppets to life and prepare for the ultimate puppet lip-sync smackdown! But before that, don't forget tonight's runway theme: 'Pageant Perfection.' I want to see you all embody the epitome of elegance and glamour. Now, go get ready, queens!"
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[As Dee and Amber start working on their number, they continue talking about their past struggles.]
Amber Osha: Dee, you know, hearing your story and seeing how far you've come, it really resonates with me. Drag has been my saving grace too. It's helped me find my true self, especially after being kicked out of my home at such a young age.
Dee Pression: Oh, Amber, I had no idea. I'm so sorry you went through that.
Amber Osha: It's okay. It's made me who I am today. Drag gave me a second chance, a family who accepted me for who I am. And now, I'm here, living my dream on this stage.
Dee Pression: You're incredibly strong. I admire your courage and resilience.
Amber Osha: Thank you. And thank you for sharing your story too. It's amazing how drag brings people together and helps us heal.
[They share a moment of understanding and support, recognizing the strength they've gained from their experiences and the power of their shared passion for drag.]
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ChatPaul: "Welcome to a brand new episode of NeoDys Drag Race! Tonight, we challenged our queens to come up with their own duet performance using puppet versions of themselves! Ladies, it's time to see what you've got!
[Lady Yomamalaid and Sayu Hime took the stage with their puppet counterparts, exuding a powerful energy that electrified the room. Their synchronized movements and impeccable lip-syncing showcased their chemistry and precision. It was a dynamic performance that had the judges captivated and the audience on their feet, applauding their stellar teamwork.]
[Gromette Mugler and Pickles Bagwell brought a burst of charisma and humor to their puppet lip-sync battle. Their playful interactions and comedic timing had everyone laughing and thoroughly entertained. While their technical execution may have had a few minor hiccups, their infectious energy and undeniable stage presence made it a performance to remember.]
[Amber Osha and Dee Pression infused their puppet lip-sync with heartfelt emotion and vulnerability. Their lip-syncing skills were on point, and they delivered a heartfelt rendition of their chosen duet. However, some moments felt slightly disconnected, leaving the judges longing for a stronger connection between the puppets and their performers.]
[Kika Lorace and RuPaul commanded the stage with their puppet personas, delivering a high-energy and flawless performance. Their impeccable lip-syncing skills and precise choreography were a sight to behold. Their undeniable star power and unwavering confidence made it clear that they were a force to be reckoned with in this lip-sync smackdown.]
[Oshi Rellee Cayme Dat-Wei and ManilaButterflyzzzXX embraced their puppet counterparts with avant-garde flair and unconventional choices. Their performance was an exploration of creativity and boundary-pushing, leaving the judges intrigued. However, the execution fell slightly short in some moments, and the connection between the puppets and the performers didn't fully shine through.]
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Category is… Pageant Perfection!

[Lady Yomamalaid sashays down the runway, exuding regal elegance in a breathtaking evening gown fit for a queen. The form-fitting silhouette highlights her curves, while the intricate beadwork and embellishments shimmer with every step. Her cascading hair is styled into flawless waves, adorned with a sparkling tiara that adds a touch of glamour to her overall look.]
[Sayu Hime stuns the judges with her pageant-perfect ensemble. She glides down the runway in a show-stopping ball gown that features layers upon layers of luxurious fabric, creating a mesmerizing effect as she moves. The gown hugs her waist, accentuating her hourglass figure, while the intricate embroidery and delicate lace appliqués add a touch of romance to her look. Her hair is flawlessly styled in a voluminous updo, adorned with a dazzling crown.]
[Pickles Bagwell struts confidently down the runway, radiating sophistication in a tailored pantsuit that screams power and poise. The fitted blazer cinches at the waist, highlighting her impeccable figure, while the wide-legged trousers elongate her legs. The ensemble is completed with sparkling accessories and a sleek updo, perfectly showcasing her refined and polished pageant persona.]
[ManilaButterflyzzzXX captivates the judges with her ethereal beauty and grace. She glides down the runway in a flowing gown made of delicate chiffon, adorned with intricate floral appliqués that seem to come alive with each step. The soft pastel hues complement her radiant complexion, while her cascading curls and natural makeup enhance her angelic appearance. Every detail of her ensemble exudes pageant perfection.]
[Gromette Mugler commands the stage in a jaw-dropping pageant gown that exudes drama and extravagance. The structured bodice is embellished with dazzling crystals, while the voluminous skirt cascades down in layers of shimmering tulle. Her hair is styled in an extravagant updo, adorned with an oversized bow that adds a touch of playfulness to her overall look. Gromette's runway presence is nothing short of a showstopper.]
[Amber Osha embodies elegance and sophistication in her pageant-perfect ensemble. She glides down the runway in a form-fitting mermaid gown that hugs her curves in all the right places. The intricate beading and delicate lace detailing elevate the gown, adding a touch of glamour. Her hair is styled in a sleek updo, allowing her flawless makeup and radiant smile to take center stage.]
[Dee Pression radiates confidence and beauty as she struts down the runway in a stunning pageant gown. The gown features a plunging neckline and intricate sequin detailing that catches the light with every movement. Her hair is styled in glamorous waves, cascading down her shoulders, and her makeup is flawless, accentuating her natural features. Dee's overall look exudes poise and grace.]
[Kika Lorace commands attention in her show-stopping pageant ensemble. She floats down the runway in a voluminous ball gown, featuring layers of ruffled tulle that create a dramatic effect. The gown is embellished with intricate beadwork and sequins, sparkling under the runway lights. Her hair is styled in a sleek updo, adorned with a glittering tiara that crowns her head with regal elegance.]
[RuPaul graces the runway in an awe-inspiring pageant look that is nothing short of perfection. She exudes confidence and glamour in a form-fitting gown that hugs her statuesque figure, adorned with intricate embroidery and sparkling crystals. Her hair is styled in a flawless updo, framing her face, and her makeup is immaculate. RuPaul's presence is unmatched, leaving the judges in awe of her pageant prowess.]
[Oshi Rellee Cayme Dat-Wei stuns in a mesmerizing pageant ensemble that pushes boundaries and captivates the audience. She struts down the runway in a daring gown that features unconventional silhouettes and avant-garde design elements. The bold colors and unique fabric choices demand attention, showcasing Oshi's fearless approach to pageantry. Her hair is styled in an extravagant updo, complementing her edgy and artistic persona. Oshi's runway look is a true testament to her individuality and creativity.]
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ChatPaul: Ladies, it’s time for critiques!

Gromette Mugler and Pickles Bagwell: You two had us in stitches with your hilarious puppet lip sync battle. The comedic timing and playful interactions were spot-on, and you had the entire room laughing throughout. While there were a few minor technical hiccups, your infectious energy and ability to entertain were undeniable. Well done, queens!
Lady Yomamalaid and Sayu Hime: You two were a powerhouse on that stage. Your lip sync battle was fierce and flawless. The chemistry between you was palpable, and your synchronization was on point. You truly embodied the essence of teamwork, delivering a performance that left us in awe. Keep shining, queens!
Oshi Rellee Cayme Dat-Wei and ManilaButterflyzzzXX: Your avant-garde approach to the puppet lip sync battle was commendable. You took risks and pushed the boundaries, showcasing your creativity and unique perspectives. However, there were moments where the execution fell slightly short, and the connection between your puppets and yourselves wasn't as strong as we had hoped. Keep exploring your artistry, queens!
Kika Lorace and RuPaul: You both brought the pageant perfection to the runway and the lip sync battle. Your energy was infectious, and every move you made was precise and captivating. The connection between your puppets and yourselves was undeniable, and you commanded the stage with confidence and charisma. It was a winning performance, and you truly deserved the victory.
Dee Pression and Amber Osha: Unfortunately, your puppet lip sync battle fell short of expectations this week. While your lip-syncing skills were on point, there was a lack of overall cohesion between your puppets and yourselves. We wanted to see a stronger connection and a more seamless performance. Remember, queens, it's important to fully embody your puppet personas and bring them to life on that stage.
Ladies, I've made some decisions.
The winning pair this week is Kika Lorace and RuPaul. Condragulations, you slayed the runway and the lip sync!
Lady Yomamalaid and Sayu Hime. Great job, it was close. You're safe!
Gromette Mugler and Pickles Bagwell, you are safe. You may leave the stage.
Oshi Rellee Cayme Dat-Wei and ManilaButterflyzzzXX. Your performances didn't quite hit the mark, but you're still safe.
Which means, Dee Pression and Amber Osha, I'm sorry, my dears, but you are up for elimination.
Remember, in the world of drag, anything can happen. Good luck and don't f*ck it up!
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[The iconic Taylor Swift song "Shake It Off" fills the air as Dee Pression and Amber Osha take the stage for their lip sync for your life performance. Both queens are determined to showcase their resilience and fight for their spot in the competition.]
[Dee embodies the spirit of the song, exuding confidence and charisma with every move. Her energy is infectious as she dances across the stage, owning every beat and lyric. Her lip-syncing skills are flawless, capturing the essence of the song's uplifting message.]
[Amber, on the other hand, delivers a performance filled with grace and elegance. She showcases her versatility by infusing her lip sync with emotive and nuanced movements, captivating the judges and audience. Her connection to the lyrics is palpable, making her rendition of the song truly heartfelt.]
[As the performance comes to an end, ChatPaul and the judges deliberate, recognizing the strengths of both queens. After a tense moment, ChatPaul turns to the queens and delivers the verdict.]
"Dee Pression, your energy and stage presence were on fire tonight. You shook off any doubt and delivered a lip sync performance that commanded attention. Shantay you stay."
[Dee lets out a sigh of relief, a mix of joy and gratitude washing over her face.]
"Amber Osha, your performance was undeniably beautiful, but tonight, it wasn't enough to secure your place in the competition. I'm sorry, my dear, but you must sashay away."
[Amber's face displays a mix of disappointment and acceptance as she takes in the news. She [thanks the judges and her fellow queens for the experience before leaving the stage.]
With tears in her eyes, Amber delivers her parting words: "I may be leaving the competition, but I'm taking with me the strength and resilience I've discovered along the way. This journey has been transformative, and I will continue to shine and inspire as I step into the next chapter of my drag career. Thank you all for your love and support."
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submitted by TheeBagelQueen to DeePressionsDragRace [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 23:20 Charming-Ad-7434 Just finished my Basketball Arena

Just finished my Basketball Arena
Inspiration from GainBridge Fieldhouse and Footprint Center
submitted by Charming-Ad-7434 to MinecraftCities [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 21:50 MetallHengst Best seating at the Gaslight Theater on Broadway and Kolb?

I've been meaning to see a show there, but it's so hard to tell what the good seats are from the seating chart when you've never actually been to the venue.
Here's the seating chart - anybody have an idea where is best to sit?
submitted by MetallHengst to Tucson [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 21:39 Sckrillaz This is the weekend

This is the weekend we are finally going to go all in on potty training our daughter. She is a few weeks shy of 3 and although she has shown interest on abs off for the past year we had so many changes (new house, new baby, new job where she comes with me, ect) during that time we thought adding this in would just be too much. Things have leveled out though, she's already used to the new routine, and there are no changes expected in the near future so with the long weekend coming up it feels like the right time.
I plan to do it bootcamp style starting with her running around in underwear and working up to clothing. I've got a 2 different potty options in the bathroom (kids potty and the toilet seat with the kids size piece built in) and another one I plan to move around to wherever she's currently playing. I'm making up a sticker chart with candy incentives as well as a "yay you filled up the whole chart!" grand prize (She's very reward motivated, can you tell?).
I'm thinking of loading her up with salty treats, Popsicles, and juice/water and just encouraging her to use the potty. She knows how to pee on the potty but I've only been offering the option and but pushing it until now so as not to turn it into a negative thing in her head.
Am I missing anything or does anyone have any tips/ suggestions that might help this weekend go even a little smoother? I work in childcare so I've assisted many kids with their potty training but this is the first time I'll have done the whole thing as a parent.
submitted by Sckrillaz to pottytraining [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 16:08 WaveOfWire One Hell Of A Vacation - Chapter 85

First Prev Next Royal Road
u/KieveKRS providing the Trash certification of quality!
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Pan facilitated the swift transfer of goods, though she was disgusted by the treatment of the Atmo who were assigned such descriptors.
They were fearful. Wary. Even those that commonly worked alongside Mama and the others were unable to coax the massive insects away from the kits, but she couldn’t blame them. In their eyes, her people were nothing but bringers of danger for the young they protected with their bodies, the juveniles scarcely peeking from behind the wall of carapace and blade they hid behind.
The urge to rend the flesh of those that brought the kits to such a state of terror roiled under her skin, held in place by a thin veneer of placation supplanted by the knowledge that they would soon be under her care. Joseph’s care.
They would be safe again.
“The carts have been loaded,” Raine supplied when Pan’s gaze lingered on the caravan milling about, their progress further into the settlement impeded by watchful eyes of the pack. Several kept their paws on their weapons, even the most disinterested in appearance hooking a claw over the pommel of their sword or knife.
The only members of the pack that were not vigilantly observing the traders were either those currently occupied elsewhere, or had fled when Joseph had lost his temper, their experience with his rage too minimal to have built up any tolerance or baseline. They would reconvene shortly, but she did not expect them to warm up to the Human as quickly as those who had seen beyond his affable temperament before this.
For Pan, the flash-boil of his wrath had cooled her significantly. Her instinct was to prepare—supervise, rather than slaughter. Protect those of her bond’s pack, for another would deliver his judgment should it be required. Every part of her solemnly confirmed it through means unknown, but she held no urge to question it. It was ironclad within her, the ticking machinations of her soul resonating with its certainty.
Before, the blinding concoction of emotions demanded she escape to safety, yet also to act to ensure the threat was removed. The conflicting drives led to the accident that had left Joseph’s arm scarred in the shape of her claws. Now, it was a distinct order, her purpose defined and tailored.
It was as clear to her as the mercurial pulse she felt lining her form with defensive purpose, her everything stalwart like bricks in an iron bulwark.
Remove whoever trespasses against the sanctity of that which protects her pack. Beyond such is for another.
“Send them on their way,” she ordered, the Wraith bowing and moving to speak with the traders. Though she was not their ‘mistress’, they had taken to listening to her as well as her bond. There was a preference shown to defer to him for majority of matters, but in absence of his commands, her wish was their impetus.
Faye remained at her side, the subservient posture that the deep gold-furred female maintained hiding the lethality they possessed. Perhaps in another circumstance she may have felt fear, but having been present for much of their inclusion into the Grand Hunter’s command, she instead felt comforted by their presence. It was lesser than when Tel was within proximity, the Paw’s form feeling somehow incomplete without her, but it was something nonetheless.
She watched as the disgruntled group was escorted outwards, their spoils of trade in tow. Many of the pack who were well versed with their ranged weaponry covertly held them at the ready should any desire to provoke them, their positions hidden to the best of their abilities. Not all were as stealthy as others, but the noted presence of some suggested more, and that was enough to sow trepidation.
Jax hefted his large ‘war-axe’ on his shoulder to glare at them, his bulging muscles under the fur telling of his restraint as he accompanied them beyond the confines of the walls. None of the caravan elicited a violent response, the leader of the traders tempering their discomfort with a firm command and careful glower.
“Faye, see to it that they do not return with ideals of recompense for our vigilance. If they are content to leave as they are; return.”
The Wraith bowed and slipped into the shadows, the Paw following the path of the female for a moment with her ears before it became little more than ambience. Joseph was often far more aware of their movements, though even he could not track his ‘girls’ for very long before they adapted to whatever was giving them away. It was a small point of pride for Pan to be able to identify their paths at all after so much practice, but she held no time in which to revel in it now.
A large black-furred female approached, Sahari’s involvement so far being little more than ensuring that the distraught members of the pack remained away—lest their twitchy reactions incite more than a distasteful send-off—and introducing the few new servants to the barracks to await orientation. It was hardly the minor task that it seemed to be, but her demeanour suggested that she wished to be at the forefront.
“The Atmo grow restless with the crowd,” she reported, her grip tight on her spear. The crossbow she cared for was still attached to her armour in the den, left behind at the advisement of the Paw. Provoking conflict would only endanger the insects, so those of proper station were to appear as nonthreatening as they could while still displaying their willingness to react to untoward behaviour. The implication of the pack still being armed as such imparted an impression of barely contained structure.
They were unstable. Possibly violent. It would be best not to chance their fear of the treaty.
“Faye is seeing that the trader’s egress will be complete,” she replied stoically, considering if she had performed as her mate would wish of her. “Raine is supervising them while remaining within sight in the meantime. Jax will guard the gate with the other members of security who are not patrolling the walkway.”
“Myself?” Sahari asked, her eyes transfixed on the leaving Lilhuns.
“Come with me. We will attempt to placate the Atmo.”
“What of Violet? Is she not their Grand Huntress?”
Pan took a breath to consider. Her kit was supposedly a figure of leadership for the insectoid people, but she would also see the treatment that her kin were subjected to. The Paw wished not to expose her kit to such. She didn’t want Violet to associate it with the pack she had grown so fond of.
Sighing, she nodded. There existed little that the young Queen should be sheltered from besides harm. Joseph would likely agree, though he would be slower to embrace the decision. Regardless, the Atmo kit was the best chance they had to separate the injured from those they protect long enough to receive treatment.
A curious pack member—their name unknown to her since the increase in acceptance of Joseph’s offer—peered curiously at the fading forms of the caravan. Pan called out to them, their expression distorting to a reluctant scowl. Many of the new members still found much distaste to be had with the defect, but she was hardly of a mind to permit it. There were tasks to be completed.
“Travel to the den of the Grand Hunter to fetch the servant named Scarlet. She is of a deep red fur and dressed in the Grand Hunter’s personal servant attire. Request that Violet be escorted to me. You may knock upon the doors of the den to gain their notice.”
“Why is it you expect me to-”
Pan stepped on their ankle, pressing her meagre weight to buckle the stance of the Lilhun. A paw gripped their upper-wear, tugging them to their knees so that she stood level with their kneeling form. A trick Joseph employed in sparring since the males of the settlement typically exceeded his height. It lacked the same domineering effect that her bond was capable of, but her internalization of all he had taught her made the motion second nature.
“There are injured that require her presence. Do not impede their treatment,” she commanded, her gaze piercing and cool, the slot of her bracer aligned with their throat.
Be it because of the swift execution of the submission, or the steeled tone she took, they nodded, a fear in their eyes that she wished not to impart. Releasing them, she stepped back, Sahari glaring at the Lilhun until they obeyed.
Pan’s posture deflated slightly. Joseph would be disappointed that she resorted to threats of violence to earn the acquiescence of another whom should be kin, but there was little time otherwise. Many of the wounds the Atmo sustained had partially healed, but several were fresh. It was only due to her mate’s warnings that the caravan limited their treatment of the insects to stern commands while within view of the pack, but she blanched thinking of what might have befallen them before.
“Shall we attempt to tend to them?” Sahari asked, her tone soft and considerate. Pan nodded, tearing her gaze away from the now empty gate, Jax’s axe peering from behind the wall to tell of the male watching the departing caravan dutifully.
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She had removed her bracers, her retracted claws leaving no danger to the Atmo as she attempted to apply healroot to the oozing wound. It flinched, retreating with the group as they moved away, their attentions focused solely on her kneeling form. They seemed fearfully expectant, as if an order would come in which they could perform to stave off the threat of harm that they assumed present. Even her affirmations of their intentions did nothing to assure them, a similar ploy to draw compliance likely used in the past.
Her heart mourned for them, Mama having been much of her solace since being saved by Joseph. The insect was a fond part of the pack for most everyone. Pan could only try her best to seem harmless, her gentle cooing and slow approach failing much the same. All she wished was to tend to those that were kin to the one whom offered her comfort when her own emotions waged war with her expectations, yet they thought her of peril, so they maintained their protective shield around the kits.
“Huntress Pan,” Faye and Raine spoke in unison, their presence previously unknown due to the Paw’s lack of awareness. She flicked an ear in their direction, unconcerned in the face of her task as Raine assumed the role of speaking for the pair. “The caravan has left. We suspect they seek to trade with High Hunter Loptr or Grand Hunter Trill.”
“Thank you,” she replied with a faltering tone, her own disappointment with the attempts to tend to the Atmo spilling into her words. The Wraiths seemed apologetic, yet did not speak. Pan offered a small smile to reassure them that they had performed their tasks well.
Clicking originated behind her, Mama having arrived first. Pan wasn’t sure if Violet, Cobalt, and Rose were coming, but she doubted Scarlet would deny a request unless Joseph or Tel said something to supersede her.
The ‘Hatcher’ Atmo immediately approached the group, her gestures urgent and percussive vocalizations crisp. Whatever was said, the cluster of insects failed to part from the young, standing between the Lilhuns and the assumed target. One of them responded, though remained where they were and flinched when Pan stood.
It watched her as she stood next to Mama, the blue Atmo looking to her before seemingly using her to illustrate a point. The other insect shied away, unwilling to part with the kits.
Mama mimed a request for healroot from Sahari, the black-furred female having given up her attempts to apply it and deferring to Pan due to the Paw’s diminutive stature making her appear less of a threat. The Atmo need not know that she was likely the most dangerous to them due to her countless suns sparring with Violet.
A few sharp clicks placated the cluster long enough for Mama to place the flora within her mandibles, applying the results to the still-open wounds. She repeated the process for each of the adults, the insects seeming to merely tolerate the aid while Lilhuns remained, denying treatment of lesser wounds despite Mama’s insistence.
Pan waved the pack to take up guard further away, Sahari shooing the more curious members who still seemed to not wish to adhere to the whims of a defective. The white-furred female ignored them. They would grow used to her presence or suffer at the paws of the pack.
None would endure constant remarks about her, if only because they had long since grown tired of voicing much the same and have since accepted that their reservations meant little to anyone within ear-shot. Some have already learned such lessons, the odd new addition to the pack nursing bruises or scratches from those who grew irritated being approached with the complaints. It was an unorthodox method to force assent, but it was self-perpetuating and—more importantly—required no action from the leadership that might sully relations.
So far, all who had been informed of Pan’s station requiring acknowledgement eventually conceded, preferring to simply deal with it rather than be tasked with mundane work or physically told of how little others wished to hear about it. It had not escalated to the point of injury—she doubted anyone would react that way—but it was not uncommon for new members to be seen trying to work out an ache in their arm or stomach due to unsolicited whining.
An excited chitter halted as Violet drew near, her advance slowing. Pan could tell her kit was worried for the new Atmo, her blades compacting to her torso in concern. Scarlet’s eyes narrowed dangerously for but a fraction when they rested upon the wounded insects, the Wraith quickly reinstating the placid look of unflappability she typically donned, her pace matching behind the young Queen.
Mama clicked her greetings, and likely a brief summary of events, Violet nodding her understanding. With expedience that rarely existed beyond tackling those she enjoyed the company of for an embrace, Pan’s kit scratched onto her tablet, presenting it for the adoptive blood-mother after gesturing to move alongside the building out of view.
[Please get father.]
The Paw opened her mouth to ask why, the inhale filling her with disgust, anxiety, steeled rage, and sorrow. Her expression fell as she shrunk under the weight of the bond, a part of her celebrating the connection while the rest sorted what she was receiving. “He is near.”
Violet wiped her tablet clear and prepared a message for him, the English text as indecipherable as always. Harrow had become rather proficient in utilizing it, but Pan struggled with memorizing the way characters interacted, despite her attempts. It was much simpler to use a script that rarely lifted the pen.
True to her senses, Joseph joined the group, the few stragglers of the pack either leaving due to his scent or trusting the male to handle the situation. For a flicker of a moment, when her bond nodded his thanks to those forming a wide perimeter around the Atmo beyond their perception, she felt a deep ease.
Control. Things would move as willed, merely because it was asked.
Her very core swooned for him, her soul satisfied for the instant the sensation was exposed.
“How’s the Atmo?” he asked tersely, his voice still carrying the hint of the Lilhun growl that his constant practice had drilled into him. The firmness sent a shiver down her tail, the bond assuring her that he was comforted by her mere presence despite the tone he used.
“They allowed Mama to see to their more urgent wounds, but they refuse to part so that we may do a more thorough examination. I fear they see us as but more abusers,” she admitted, her words wilting. He returned a pained scowl.
Their kit approached, displaying her message in two scripts, the latter added once it was clear Pan would be within range to be a part of the conversation. [Please meet with them. They will trust you.]
“And not you?” he questioned honestly. Pan frowned, unsure what to make of the assertion.
The Queen wiped her tablet clear. [They worry I am being threatened to compliance.]
The Paw felt wounded, her chest pained. A glance to her bond proved that he felt hurt by the assertion, but understood why it was thought of them. He cycled a breath, his aimless gaze bouncing amongst nothing.
“Sure,” Joseph agreed after a moment. “But, you two are coming with me.”
“They will be fearful of me,” she protested quietly, though she didn’t fight the paw that encapsulated her own.
“We’re her parents.”
She couldn’t respond to his statement, her body melting as the words tickled the longing she held for so many years. A small smile was returned instead of further disagreement, her nodding speaking before she could. “She is our kit. Let’s introduce ourselves properly.”
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
It went as well as it could have, the Atmo listening to Violet once Joseph had made an appearance. Minus the skeptical look they were giving him, Rose and Cobalt taking up an almost ‘royal guard’ position on either side of the three of them seemed to have placated the initial fear. The insects were still wary of Pan, which led to a scene he wasn’t expecting in the slightest.
Though they were much more placid to his own advances, Pan approaching after a delay to coax one of the children out was met with a raised blade, one of the Atmo moving to attack her to defend them. He wasn’t overly worried—untrained Atmo had more in common with someone trying to use a sledgehammer that was too heavy for them, slow and cumbersome—Violet, however, was apparently immensely displeased at the attempt to harm her new mother.
With a crack that sounded more like a pair of gunshots than the clack of blades it was, the Queen used the rising of her jab to halt the descent, and a lightning straight to knock them off course, both happening so fast that Pan was too surprised to react.
In a startlingly rapid appearance, Rose and Cobalt placed themselves between the white-furred female and the stunned insects, Violet snapping clicks in a display of aggression that Joseph didn’t think was possible. The Queen was absolutely furious, the adult Atmo cowering in the face of her ire more than they did when they were in the cage. He wasn’t sure if it was because of Violet’s status or if the proficiency of the strikes, but they were shrinking enough that, if he didn’t know better, he would say that the purple Atmo was twice their size, rather than half.
“Violet,” he said softly, placing a hand to her spherical shoulder, “They’re scared. They’ve been hurt by people who look a lot like Pan.”
The young Atmo stomped her legs, the force behind each of the six impacts kicking up dirt.
“I know you’re mad they tried to hurt her,” he reassured, lightly pulling her into his chest. He tried to keep a parental warning in his tone, but he was too damn proud of her for it to stick. She had identified a threat to her loved one, then acted to defuse it. Even when the opportunity to attack further was easily there, she opted to berate the other person. Though he couldn’t understand them, the essence of her body language leaned more towards the fuming chastisement he himself tended to take when people took things too far, but not far enough to warrant retaliation.
For some reason, seeing her exercise that level of restraint in the face of an action that—if Pan wasn’t as spry as she was—could have resulted in serious harm filled him with pride on par with when she initially began communicating with everyone using her tablets. Taking a breath, he failed to wear a stern face, resigning to kiss her head and stroking her back. He really was too damn proud to be scolding her.
“We need to keep in mind that they’re scared,” he reminded her gently, his daughter falling quiet under his touch. “Once they’ve calmed down, we give them the chance to apologize. It’s not the mistakes that make a person; it’s what they do about them after.”
A wayward glance to his white-furred girlfriend revealed that she was watching him, her eyes glimmering with love and pride much the same as his own. A secondary look had him blinking, most everyone in the vicinity was watching him, people who were keeping those less familiar with Atmo at bay coming to inspect the loud interaction having gathered. Some were wide-eyed, some seemed content, some smugly smiled while feigning disinterest.
His surprised curiosity even caught sight of Harrow, the orange-furred female practically attached at the hip to Jax, the two having met and deciding to see how things were going. She was still dishevelled from her earlier reaction to the document they were reading, but the mated pair were gazing at him with a firm pride that he wasn’t sure the origin of. Harrow herself seemed entranced, her tail entrapping Jax’s tightly as her wet eyes focused covetously, the black-furred male resting his paw on her back.
A replay of the events in his head seemed innocuous enough, but something itched at him. Wait...
“Well spoken, my male,” a sultry voice declared, the touch of Tel’s lips to his neck sending an unexpected shock down his spine. She lowered her volume to whisper into his ear. “I thought your voice was gaining an... attractive edge. I suppose this is why.”
Within the light haze she tended to put over his thoughts, his mind caught the discrepancy.
He had spoke Lilhun. Everyone understood him.
His secret out, he felt the heat burn his cheeks. At least it wasn’t whining that she heard. It sucked that everyone would know about the fact he no longer needed a translator for most things, but he supposed it was better that way.
He cleared his throat, the attempt to seem nonchalant falling flat as he tried to ignore Tel and switched back to English. “Anyway. Let’s give them a chance to ease into things. If we’re gentle, they’ll be more receptive to us taking a look at the kids.”
Violet nodded, though she still seemed displeased at the events in general. Despite that, her blades relaxed along with her posture as she approached the group again.
With a bow that seemed to take the entire group of Atmo by surprise, her soft clicks resonated outwards. It didn’t take an expert to see that Violet apologizing to them for her outburst was unexpected. Both because she was a Queen, and because the adaptive translators that surely sync’d to Lilhun speech would have heard him tell her that they were the ones expected to apologize.
With an exchange of looks, the adults lowered themselves to the ground and made a point of bowing lower than Violet. Once the group had reciprocated their own quiet clicks of apology, the Atmo who had moved to strike Pan repeated it to the white-furred female. It brought a smile to her face, the Paw accepting it and moving to regroup with Joseph now that the pack was given permission to check on the Atmo.
“Our kit takes after her blood-father,” Pan commented quietly, her tail wrapping around his wrist as she folded her paws over her lap, peacefully watching over Sahari and those of Mi’low’s pack tending to what injuries they could discern.
“It’s quite interesting to see her castigate her pack,” Tel added, draping herself over Pan while her tail mimicked the white-furred female’s. Her chin rested between the fluffy ears, her arms falling over the shoulders of her smaller counterpart to rest at the stomach.
“If she stops at keeping people in line, I’ll be happy,” Joseph sighed out, relieved that Violet hadn’t picked up his penchant for getting slightly more physical than might be required at times. If it was another circumstance, he might have moved to disable the threat entirely. Not versus the Atmo—they didn’t deserve a broken limb for being terrified, and they were hardly a threat at the moment—but a Lilhun would probably be using a sling by the end of the day. It was hard to repeat the attempt if their shoulder was dislocated.
Tel gave him a toothy grin to match the teasing side-eye. “With you as her template?”
He rolled his eyes, choosing to remain silent rather than dig himself a hole he couldn’t climb out of. Pan giggled, raising a paw to rest over the one Tel had dangling over her.
“She has learned the value of protecting her loved ones.”
“And the necessity of the force to perform such,” the grey-furred female countered to her white headrest. Pan nodded slightly, careful not to disturb Tel too much while still agreeing.
“A gentle paw.”
“And a lethal claw.”
He eyed the two curiously, their synchrony striking him odd. He was about to voice his observation, but Sahari called out to them, a short debriefing assuring them that the children were unharmed, but several of the adult Atmo would be better off resting. Besides what seemed to be exhaustion, two of them were having difficulty moving a leg.
A flicker of frigid fire within him licked against his core, his stomach tensing as his cinders of rage reminded him why they were in such a state.
“Yes, my Sheath?” the female returned, her tone like cold steel.
“You mentioned a stealth recon unit?”
He stared beyond the buildings, the gate out of sight. “I want Wraiths watching the caravan. I want to know what they trade, who they talk to, where they source their goods, and a copy of their ledger. I don’t see them not keeping track of deals. Sounded like this wasn’t the first batch of Atmo they’ve dealt with. Get me a name.”
“I recommend Scarlet and Kaslin,” she opined professionally, all pretense of coy teasing gone.
“Nope.” He shook his head. “Scarlet is designated to keep an eye over the Atmo until everyone gets used to each other and Kaslin is in charge of Toril. Send Faye and Raine.”
He glanced at the grey-furred female, her having abandoned using Pan as furniture and standing stiff, her tail attached to his arm the only discrepancy in the image of a hardened assassin before him. “I want you to take a few security members and teach them what you’ve taught Harrow.”
Her ear twitched. “You were aware?”
A snort escaped him. “Her gait shifted. Either she bothered you to teach her how to move like a Blade or she’s copying the way your hips swing.”
The slight shift to a sultry look gave away an obvious desire to dig into that comment, but it was defeated by the context surrounding it. “How many?”
“Jax!” he called out, Harrow joining her mate after the two finished applying treatment to a smaller wound on a carapace.
“Yes, Grand Hunter?” the black-furred male replied, his flat tone unsure of if he was being summoned in any official capacity.
“How many of the security are proficient enough in CQC to take on new training?”
Jax blinked, scratching his chin with a claw. “I would say that none are to a level you would wish—our training pales to what you provided for us—but perhaps four might be of sufficient skill.”
Joseph tipped his head towards the massive male. “There you have it. Take four of security and get them moving quietly. I want each of them topped off for marksmanship too. Harrow, you manage that since you’re still the best shot in the pack.”
The orange-furred female jolted, obviously not expecting to be included. “Oh, uh, yeah! Um, yes, Grand Hunter.”
He raised a brow at her floundering, the Head of Technology refusing to look at him. “Odd for you to use the title.”
“I just... it felt like what I should say.”
Joseph grunted, unconvinced, but not bothered enough to remark. “Before that, I wanted to ask you to transcribe the document. We need a physical copy others can read.”
She deflated, her gaze burrowing into the ground. “Can I ask why?”
“This is bigger than just us, Harrow. The pack deserves to know,” he replied quietly, feeling guilty that he needed to ask her to thoroughly dig through something that had made her physically ill. “I’d ask Violet, but she’s going to be busy with the Atmo. Plus, I don’t want her to read that.”
A squeeze on his wrist reminded him that Pan was quietly watching. “She must know as well. She is the leader of her people.”
“I... She’s just a kid,” he muttered, not wanting to admit that Pan was right. The understanding smile from her defused any further argument. The Queen had watched the fate of her people and had taken it far better than he would have hoped to ask for. If she was expected to help raise her species from the ashes, then she would need every bit of information she can get her hands on. It was his job to ensure that she knew what to do with it.
“Okay,” Harrow agreed after a moment, her voice strained. “If we need copies, I’d want someone else to do it, if that’s okay.”
“Thanks, Harrow.” He reached out to tussle the fur on her head, the female retreating back a step to tuck behind Jax. His questioning protest died in his throat as he let his hand drop. He was asking her to do something she would rather not. She was allowed to be mad about it. “So, Wraiths on the caravan for information, security to be trained as stealth snipers, and Harrow will get a usable transcript ready for everyone.”
“It will be done, Grand Hunter,” Jax affirmed, patting Harrow who nodded her agreement before the two returned to assisting the pack with the Atmo. Violet was calming them while Mama assisted in processing any healroot that was needed, Rose and Cobalt standing on either side of the Queen stoically.
Tel pecked him on the cheek. “I will order the Wraiths to depart at once. They will require time to prepare.”
He nodded, offering her a weak smile that was marred by his guilt as she left, a sharp whistle calling the girls. Pan leaned into his arm, her tail shifting to wrap around his waist. “We will be well,” she assured softly, a paw grabbing his hand. He gave it a squeeze. “What was the message?”
Joseph swallowed. “We’ll go over it as a group when Harrow is done,” his gaze slipped upwards, the dwindling hours in the day passing by. “It’s a lot to take in.”
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
“Leader,” Nav called over the monitors, their tone bored. Willin didn’t blame the Lilhun, they had been mostly staring at charts and readouts for as long as they had been space-borne. It got tiring keeping track of so much information.
“Go ahead.”
“Mild disturbance to systems, suspected EW field of the warp-spike. If we were not aware prior, I would have assumed it mere calibration error.”
Willin furrowed his brow, his tail lashing in his seat. “This far out?”
“Affirmative,” Nav replied, tapping the screen with the back of their paw in frustration before deflating into their chair. “I would suggest that we await reinforcement EW ships to disable it, but I believe we should be able to progress purely based on how strong the signal is.”
“No. Assuming the distress call was accurate, we would be dead in the sky just the same. Tech?”
“Nothing worth caring about,” she dismissed with a wave of her paw over her shoulder. He was pretty sure she was playing a game on her console, but the female had an implant to track the system status without needing to actually do anything, so her word was as good as manually checking.
“Nothing we care about now, or nothing that we need to care about because you’re going to activate our defences?” he returned with a hint of chastisement.
The screen flickered to several menus of dense text, new lines added before it changed back to the entertainment. “Yes.”
Willin nodded, satisfied that the slight push would probably have them immune to most conventional electronic interruptions. “Okay. Nav, make sure we stay on course. Tech is good, but she is hardly the Hunt Mother.”
“Affirmative, Leader.”
“Comms, How’s your systems?”
“Operational, Leader.”
“So it’s likely that the habitation ship continued under the assumption of a mild disruption. Let me know if it suddenly fails.”
Comms nodded silently, having little else to do for now besides keep an eye out for communications. Willin was pretty sure that Tech could set up something for him to do, but professional obligations mandated him bored stiff. Not everyone could end up the product of successful military trials, nor end up a survivor of a terrorist attack that availed themselves to it.
The dark green-furred male fixed his sleeve as he poured over reports, his job outside of combat and diplomacy to be reviewing how others performed such. As much of a disaster the Union was, it had been passed down the ranks that there existed members of the collective who were more amiable individually.
How did they learn about that? Willin didn’t know. It was above his rank, and thus, not his problem.
Either way, since they had fought off the attacks, they had been expanding Lilhun space at a hurried pace in a particular direction. It was described as ‘strategic acquisition of viable habitats’, or—more commonly amongst the lesser of the military—see it; take it.
They were scanning anything that so much as supported fire, as asinine as it was. They had the ability to check if an atmosphere could support Lilhun occupation, but the orders that came seemed to be searching for something specific. It wasn’t even an issue until recently, their progress through the most recent vectors being something of importance to the top. They had found quite a few possible places to set up, and several habitation ships were redirected to occupy them, but each was designed to be little more than a forward military base, proper colonization being an afterthought.
With a few more places to fall back to—or continue their species in relative peace should the worst come to pass for the home system—Willin would have expected easement in the search. It seemed that it was best for him to simply be the Leader of a utility craft, because the top continued their investigations.
Regardless of his opinions, they were well on the way to the coordinates transmitted by the stranded crew of the habitation ship, victims of the warp-spike that his crew were being introduced to. The fabricators were currently spitting out water-proof equipment for his crew, but they would be pretty limited in weaponry to distribute until they supplied more material. The machine was slow, clunky, and inefficient, but it was a foray into new technology purloined from the Union, so there were hiccups expected with iterations.
He wouldn’t worry about arming the entire surviving force—not yet. The main issue with Hunter packs was that allegiances shifted. No longer were they a pack of the military, moving under commands and reigned in by consequences. They were feral; free from the united force of their peers.
Willin didn’t blame them in the slightest. They were stranded and the communications they managed had apparently cost them every AEC they had available. He was just wary of how many of them would welcome the reintegration into a larger structure after so long fighting tooth and claw for the barest necessity, led by those who they deemed worthy. Why sacrifice their positions within their packs to resume a paltry station at the bottom? Why abandon the dens they made by paw, the relationships they forged through blood?
Majority would, he figured—a comparative few wished to remain servants—but until a larger fleet arrived to promise warm bed and warmer food, there was a fair chance that the Grand Hunters would resist and influence their pack to remain under their pads.
He couldn’t say if the top would wish the occupation of the planet to continue, but if they did, then he supposed that they could do worse than a few competent leaders vying for territory. Primitive, perhaps, but that should be resolved with a few shipments and another habitation ship supplying resources and labour.
He closed his documents and sighed, a languid claw scratching at his ear.
The ‘fun’ part would be doing his duty of offering the opportunity to those who claimed command on the new planet. It was an obligation he wasn’t looking forward to. On top of likely being told where to shove it, he would need to submit reports of the various packs to the higher-ups so that they knew who to work with first. Belligerent or defiant Lilhuns would be left to fend for themselves until their pack collapsed under them to chase a better life with settlements or cities built with military blessing. It was hardly a better living for most to scavenge for their comforts when armour, dens, security, and recreation were but a few suns away.
“Tech?” he called, not bothering to look if she had tipped an ear—her audio interface had perfect pass-through. Despite the damage that the volume of her entertainment would do to organic eardrums, the synthetic ones she had could likely function even under the deepest oceans—though she herself would have passed due to the pressure. “Can you give me something to do for a while?”
With a minimal pause, a puzzle game flickered on his screen. He exhaled slowly as he tried not to be too disappointed. Tech knew he wanted to turn his brain off, she just disagreed, and was probably right. Too much mind-numbing activity would lessen his reaction in the event of an emergency.
He dragged a pad over the numbers, adding them together and allowing new ones to populate the spaces the old ones occupied.
At least it was something.
submitted by WaveOfWire to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 15:51 Dynasty__93 Am I correct in saying auto manufactures Ford, General Motors and Toyota are a [strong] buy?

I know to be aware of the price anchoring, the analysts calls that are seldom right and to not just go with what a quick gut check tells me. Purely looking at PE and forward PE, along with all chips finally beginning to be put in vehicles (for those unaware many new vehicles the past 6-18 months only had some chips in them so if you bought a new vehicle good chance your heated seats did not work because the not needed competent chips were not put in due to not enough supply). I was talking to my friend who is more of an options nerd and asked their input and they just said to remember stocks are forward looking. They believe now is the time to sell any stocks in Ford, GM and Toyota simply because many analysts and CEOs/CFOs are screaming a recession is around the corner. I disagree and believe a quick glance at most of these companies past earnings, along with new vehicles finally beginning to get on the lot, along with many other factors make me believe virtually every auto manufacturer is not just a buy but a strong buy.
If anyone wants a link to the technical charts for the three auto manufactures I listed here they are:
submitted by Dynasty__93 to stocks [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 14:30 Working_Machine_8309 Return a value from a chart

I am working with a seating chart for a banquet and having issues returning the table # once a person has been assigned. Column A are the attendees, column B is their numerical ID used to assign them a seat in Table 1, column C shows the status of their table assignment. I need the table number to be returned to column E or built into the return in column C if possible.
Also, is there an easy formula I can add to Table 1 and Table 2 to show if someone is placed on two tables by accident? If a repeat name is used, can the cells turn a different color for a quick visual?
Thanks in advance!!
submitted by Working_Machine_8309 to excel [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 12:17 Objective_Tower_1116 Charlotte Ticket Release

Handful of new blue dots have shown up on the Charlotte pavilion seating chart. Good luck.
submitted by Objective_Tower_1116 to deadandcompany [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 01:44 lbiteyl To be honest, the Runspeed feels pretty good.

I think there's a major takeaway that, nobody in the game itself was asking for more speed. While in a sense it feels great for someone who enjoys playing infantry, I think there's abit of a disconnect in the game designers theory. Speed means more potential to outplay, better dodges, and extended survivability. Personally as a guy who enjoys the extra potential for outplaying people, it's enjoyable. But at the same token, I just never thought that this update for "Natural movement" means faster pace.
I think the biggest shocker to me was I assumed that the gameplay would be slowed down, more methodical, and extra tedious. The big surprise is that it's faster, more responsive, and generally a better pace. However with a player chart growing for the last 4 years, it seems incredibly risky to touch this part of the game loop. I enjoy it, I know other people probably enjoy it. But it felt like someone hopped into the designers seat, but missed the swing on why this game straddles the middle ground so well between simulation and arcade.
When you get into the thick of it, it appeals to just enough people between all sorta of demographics that it's success is a mystery of statistics. The pacing itself was good before, and technically it's still feels great as it is too. But I think there's a trust thing here of I don't think the game is fantastically better or worse. It's just different in a way that's risky to a consumer who's playing the title itself.
"If they're changing pacing because they think it's good, what does that say about the growing steamchart over time?" The players who have been joining in, growing the title further illustrates the success of the formula. Tweaking those underlying variables for the sake of doing it, always makes me question what's going on in a developers head about. "I Just think it's better this way."
The only verfiable thing might be is that, the slight increase of speed for how good it feels. Could potentially outreach to a few more -demographic- straddlers looking for just a tiny bit more speed. But it feels like a risky move when the established former pacing was also pretty locked in as well.
On another note. Bud whoever the hell the artist, Game direction/Designer, Playtestors, or any other personal who looked at that STEN AUTOMATIC RIFLE saying "Yeah guys this is good!" needs to just hit the sketchpad.
What the hell are you thinking having a gun that you can see any piece of information from? Please, either zoom it into the eyeball, Remove the exccesive weapon sway(Add feature to turn it off) or just get a damn grip. The gun takes up so much screen space, it's so offensive that someone considered themselves an artist when they put those pieces together. It takes up too much space even running around with it. From a gameplay standpoint, it's just a massive waste of screen space!
submitted by lbiteyl to HellLetLoose [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 01:38 WacoTacoRE Are these rings mickey mouse? (Inaugural pacers jerk)

Are these rings mickey mouse? (Inaugural pacers jerk) submitted by WacoTacoRE to nbacirclejerk [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 00:47 Actual_Hovercraft_61 Rav4 Prime SE vs XSE, which is worth it?

Looking at putting my name down on a waitlist for the prime but not sure which is better.

I was looking at the chart online to compare and noticed that the difference between the two trims is that the XSE has more luxurious features with heated seatings, steering, etc etc etc.

Rav4 prime owners, which one do you drive? & If you drive the SE, do you regret not spending a premium to get more features? If you drive the XSE, do you regret spending a lot and realize you don't need all of those added features? Or the other way around? What are your thoughts?

Are the extra features working spending $10k more? I live in Canada if that helps in any way!

Edit: The only thing that sucks about going with the SE trim is that we only get the standard package with no add-ons, so I get what I pay for. Since I'm in Canada, these are my choice:
submitted by Actual_Hovercraft_61 to rav4prime [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 22:36 Gaarawarr Year 3 Champion Guide - Môrgæn, the High Elf Hunter

Last Updated: Initial Post
This is a stand-alone information guide for this Champion that will be updated as necessary for use during a Time Gate. This Champion is no longer available in Events.
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Year 3 Champion - Môrgæn, the High Elf Hunter

  • Source: The Acquisitions Incorporated streams as played by Morgan Webb
  • Arrival Event: [Midwinter]()
You can read their original Champion Spotlight here.
  • Slot 9
  • Good with: Everyone, but Gold Find Champions specifically
  • Affiliation: Acquisitions Incorporated - Evelyn, Jim, Môrgæn, Omin, Strix, Vi
  • Eligible for Patrons: Strahd
  • Time Gate Priority: Low
Race Class Alignment Gender Age Role(s) Overwhelm Point
High Elf Ranger (Hunter) Chaotic Neutral Female (She / Her) 150 Acq Inc 5
Strength Dexterity Constitution Intelligence Wisdom Charisma
12 20 12 14 15 10
Bio: The ranger Môrgæn is a renowned tracker and hunter, able to pinpoint-target foes at any range, then vanish into the woods with no one the wiser. Her legendary ability with the longbow and the custom arrows she crafts instills fear into the hearts of her many enemies -- and more than a few of her coworkers. Famously, she is the only member of Acquisitions Incorporated known to be paid in advance, lest a missed invoice lead to dire repercussions.
Basic Attack: Rapid Shot - Môrgæn shoots an arrow at a random target, then quickly follows up with a second arrow.
  • Base Attack Type: Ranged
  • Base Attack Speed: 5.2 seconds
  • Self-DPS Buff: 1.58e15%
Ultimate: Customized Arrow - Môrgæn pulls a customized arrow from her quiver at random and fires this more powerful arrow towards her enemies.
  • This ultimate can have one of three effects at random:
    • Skull-carved Arrow — Môrgæn's arrow rips through all enemies it hits, continuing in a straight line until it leaves the screen.
    • Smokepowder Arrow — Môrgæn's arrow explodes on the enemy it hits, dealing damage to all other enemies nearby.
    • Green-leaf Arrow — Môrgæn's arrow causes the enemy it hits to take damage over time.
  • Base Ultimate Cooldown Time: 210 seconds

Interesting Abilities

Paid Up Front: Môrgæn collects 25% of the gold dropped by enemies, but in turn increases the damage of all adjacent Champions by 100%. This buff is increased by 5% for each order of magnitude of gold that she collects (stacking additively and then applying multiplicatively), with the sum persisting through resets.
  • 4.60e05% after upgrades; Supported by an Item & Feats
Gaar's Note: This is the core of her kit. Order of Magnitude refers to Scientific Notation e values. So e01 is an Order of Magnitude. These are best built while doing deep Azaka Farms just by putting Môrgæn in for a few Azaka Ults when you're earning more Gold than you have previously while farming.
Friends In Wealth: Môrgæn increases the damage of all Champions by 100% for each Champion with the Gold Find role (stacking multiplicatively).
  • 9,600% after upgrades; Supported by an Item & a Feat
Double Tap: If Môrgæn's first arrow kills her target, the second arrow hits the now-dead(?) target again, causing it to drop a second set of gold.
  • No upgrades
Global DPS Buff: 9.44e07%

Specialization Choice 1 - Buffs Targets

Fine As Is: Paid Up Front continues to only apply to adjacent Champions.
Keep Your Distance: Paid Up Front now only applies to all non-adjacent Champions.
Monster Fodder: Paid Up Front now only applies to all Champions in front of Môrgæn.
Stay Out Of My Way: Paid Up Front now only applies to all Champions behind Môrgæn.
Gaar's Note: These choices make her one of the most flexible Champions in the game when it comes to buffing and formation placement.

Specialization Choice 2 - Buffs Modifiers

Keep It Simple: Paid Up Front's buff is increased by 300%.
Tight Formation: Paid Up Front is increased by 75% for each Champion adjacent to Môrgæn (stacking additively, then applying multiplication; 6 adjacent = 450%).
Calm Under Pressure: Paid Up Front is increased by 20% for each enemy attacking a Champion within 2 slots of herself (additively), up to a max of 20 enemies (max 400%); each enemy can only count once, even if it's attacking multiple Champions.
The Long Game: Paid Up Front is increased by 10% each second an enemy is not killed (additively), stacking up to 60 times (max 600%); any enemy dying resets the stack amount to 0.
Gaar's Note: When choosing from Spec Choices 2 & 3, aim for the largest potential multiplier you can feasibly manage. Some formation layouts won't allow you to work with certain choices, so it's best to understand how each works and choose according to the situation.

Specialization Choice 3 - Buffs Modifiers, Part 2

  • Choose one of the choices from the first Buff Modifiers that you didn't select previously.


White Green Blue Purple Gild Priority
Slot 1: Increases the damage of all Champions 10% 65% 120% 230% 2
Slot 2: Increases the damage of all Champions 10% 65% 120% 230% 2
Slot 3: Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability 25% 87.5% 150% 275% 1
Slot 4: Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Friends In Wealth ability 25% 87.5% 150% 275% 2
Slot 5: Buff's Môrgæn's Ultimate Attack Damage 25% 87.5% 150% 275% 3
Slot 6: Reduces the cooldown on Môrgæn's Ultimate Attack 6s 11s 21s 53s 3

Legendary Effects

  • Increases the damage of all Champions by 100%
  • Increases the damage of all Female Champions by 125%
  • Increases the damage of all Elf Champions by 150%
  • Increases the damage of all Champions with an INT score of 13 or higher by 150%
  • Increases the damage of all Champions by 30% for each Champion with a WIS score of 13 or higher in the formation
  • Increases the damage of all Neutral Champions by 150%
Gaar's Note: Find more information on the Legendary system here.


Here is the info for when you can unlock each Feat Slot:
Feat Slot Unlocked at Level Rough Cost
First 185 e22
Second 630 e42
Third 1155 e67
Fourth 1805 e96
Gaar's Note: Currently, you will need to level this Champion past their current upgrade softcap which will require you changing the blue update indicator from UPG to one of the numbered options.
Here is the info on what Feats are available for this Champion:
Obtained Recommended Name Effect
Default Selflessness Increases the damage of all Champions by 10%
Default Necessary Paperwork Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 20%
12,500 Gems Pushing Inspiring Leader Increases the damage of all Champions by 25%
Regular Gold Chest Pushing Red Tape Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 40%
50,000 Gems Pushing Coin in Hand Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 80%
12,500 Gems Pushing Running with the Cool Kids Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Friends In Wealth ability by 40%

Level Upgrades

Gaar's Note: Level Cost is the cost to go from your current level to the stated level. It is not a cumulative total. However, since we're dealing with very large numbers, it's in the ballpark.
Level Level Cost Upgrade Effect
1 1.10e13 Add to Formation
30 1.96e15 Double Tap
40 3.79e15 Increases the damage of all Champions by 200%
50 1.08e16 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 200%
60 3.06e16 Paid Up Front
85 5.94e17 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 200%
100 2.43e18 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
110 5.64e18 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 200%
120 1.60e19 Friends In Wealth
130 4.55e19 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 200%
140 1.29e20 Increases the damage of all Champions by 200%
160 1.41e21 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 200%
180 1.14e22 Ultimate Attack
190 2.38e22 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 200%
220 8.06e23 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
240 5.95e24 Specialization Choice 1
250 1.25e25 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
260 3.55e25 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
290 1.20e27 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
300 2.31e27 Specialization Choice 2
325 4.48e28 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
340 1.83e29 Increases the damage of all Champions by 200%
360 1.63e30 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
380 1.32e31 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Friends In Wealth ability by 100%
390 2.77e31 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
400 7.86e31 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
420 8.57e32 Specialization Choice 3
465 1.06e35 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
530 9.45e37 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
540 1.74e38 Increases the damage of all Champions by 200%
550 4.94e38 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
590 4.88e40 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
630 3.17e42 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
640 5.93e42 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Friends In Wealth ability by 100%
680 5.86e44 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
690 1.09e45 Increases the damage of all Champions by 200%
700 3.11e45 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
730 1.05e47 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
780 2.01e49 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 300%
830 3.72e51 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 200%
840 6.88e51 Increases the damage of all Champions by 200%
850 1.95e52 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
880 6.60e53 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 200%
900 4.87e54 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Friends In Wealth ability by 100%
930 1.22e56 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 200%
940 2.34e56 Increases the damage of all Champions by 100%
softcap upgrade - March 24th, 2020
Level Level Cost Upgrade Effect
960 2.55e57 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 100%
1010 5.35e59 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
1030 3.80e60 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 100%
1065 1.63e62 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Friends In Wealth ability by 100%
1080 6.33e62 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 200%
1105 1.01e64 Increases the damage of all Champions by 200%
softcap upgrade - December 16th, 2020
Level Level Cost Upgrade Effect
1140 4.09e65 Increases the damage of all Champions by 200%
1170 9.19e66 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Friends In Wealth ability by 100%
1180 1.77e67 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 100%
1200 1.93e68 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
1230 4.81e69 Increases the damage of all Champions by 100%
1250 3.56e70 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 100%
softcap upgrade - September 15th, 2021
Level Level Cost Upgrade Effect
1280 8.89e71 Increases the damage of all Champions by 200%
1310 2.03e73 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
1340 4.66e74 Increases the damage of all Champions by 100%
1370 1.07e76 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 200%
1420 2.05e78 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 100%
softcap upgrade - June 1st, 2022
Level Level Cost Upgrade Effect
1450 4.50e79 Increases the damage of all Champions by 200%
1480 1.03e81 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
1510 2.36e82 Increases the damage of all Champions by 100%
1540 5.40e83 Increases the effect of Môrgæn's Paid Up Front ability by 100%
1590 1.04e86 Increases the damage of Môrgæn by 100%
Current max upgrade level is 1590

Formation & Mission Information

In a Time Gate, you will be given two basic adventures and one variant to complete, along with being granted access to Free Plays. They all use a formation that holds 10 Champions. They have a Champ-specific format that I've done my best to re-create below.
Back Column 4th Column 3rd Column 2nd Column Front Column
0 0
0 0
0 0
New Player Formation & Specializations:
While I recommend learning to build your own formations, here's a set of starter formations for brand new players to use while they get the hang of things. Anyone with other options should check that link for how to figure out how to make the best of them. You can also ask for help in the #formations channel in the official Discord.
Back Column 4th Column 3rd Column 2nd Column Front Column
Hitch - Charismatic
Calliope - College of Valor Nayeli - Oath of Devotion
Minsc - Undead Jarlaxle - Leader of Bregan D'aerthe
NA Celeste - Life Domain
Bruenor - Battle Master
Asharra - Dwarves & Elves
This formation is for the first couple of runs where you're just not going to get enough Gold to get everyone on the field, let alone level people up into their power curves. At this point, Jarlaxle is focusing on being your Primary DPS while everyone else is set up to support him.
The following formation is for once your Hitch starts doing more damage than your Jarlaxle. You can find this out by pulling Asharra out of the formation and swapping Jarlaxle and Hitch around to see whose damage is better. If Hitch is higher, next run change Asharra's Spec to buff Hitch instead.
Back Column 4th Column 3rd Column 2nd Column Front Column
Makos - Dark Blessing
Jarlaxle - Leader of Bregan D'aerthe
Calliope - College of Valor Nayeli - Oath of Devotion
Asharra - (Swap) Hitch - Charismatic
Tyril - Moonbeam Celeste - Life Domain
Bruenor - Battle Master
Minsc - Undead
This formation should get you through the Time Gate as a new player. If you have other options or think a different DPS is geared better, try it out and see what happens! Swapping DPS around like this can help you figure out what works best for you with your specific items.
These are the rough Favor values you need to reach to make a Variant say Difficulty: Easy. Keep in mind that this is just a generic rating system and some Variants may be harder than others, even with Favor in this range.
Variant Favor Level (Normal) Favor Level (Scientific Notation)
75 20,000 ~2e04
125 15,000,000 ~1.5e07
175 150,000,000 ~1.5e08

Initial Mission: Deadwinter Day

Complete: Area 50
Reward: Môrgæn + Gold Môrgæn Chest & whatever Mystra's Favor you earned
Info: No restrictions.
Gaar's Notes: The Devourer is a very difficult boss to beat, especially as you climb into higher levels. You have to be able to clear his minions almost instantly and then dump all the damage you have left onto him to kill him right away. This is because his attack is an insta-kill. He winds up then chomps one of your Champs, killing them instantly, then starts chewing on them. When he's done chewing, he heals fully.
There are multiple ways to do this involving Ultimates to stun him (Nayeli, Wulfgar, etc), remove his minions (Vlahnya, Jarlaxle, etc), and burst him down (Krull, Donaar, etc). Utilize whatever tactics you can, even if you just swap some of those Champs in to use their Ults before swapping them out during the fight. He will limit your overall progression more than bosses in other Events, so don't feel bad if your wall is lower this Event than in past ones.

Second Mission: Deadwinter Day

Complete: Area 75
Reward: Gold Môrgæn Chest & whatever Mystra's Favor you earned
Info: No restrictions.
The area goals go up by 50 each time you select a specific Champion's Time Gate and then go down by 25 each time you select someone else's. This encourages you to do Time Gates for different Champions, potentially in a rotation, rather than just grinding the same Champion's Time Gate over and over.
Once you've done the first two missions, you then have to complete the variant the Time Gate gave you. If you've never done any of them, you'll get one at random. If you've done one, you'll get one of the other two you haven't done before. If you've done two of them before, you're guaranteed to get the one you haven't done. If you've done all three before, you get one at random.

First Variant Option: Utterly Devoured

Complete: Area 75
Reward: Gold Môrgæn Chest & whatever Mystra's Favor you earned
Info: Anyone the Devourer completely devours is now devoured for the entire adventure and can't be used again until you reset the adventure. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Gaar's Notes: So, once again they toss you a hard variant right away. Please, please, PLEASE, make sure you have at least the Favor shown in the chart above before attempting. For your sake. Even then, you'll need to actively play this mission if you're newer.

Second Variant Option: Limited Resources

Complete: Area 125
Reward: Gold Môrgæn Chest & whatever Mystra's Favor you earned
Info: Only Champions in the first bench seat are initially available. Every 10 areas, another bench slot unlocks, allowing Champions from that slot to be used.
Gaar's Notes: This is an interesting variant that can be a bit slow at first unless you're relying on click damage to kill things. That being said, it shouldn't be too difficult as long as you have the Favor shown in the chart above.

Third Variant Option:

Complete: Area 175
Reward: Gold Môrgæn Chest & whatever Mystra's Favor you earned
Info: Môrgæn starts in the formation in slot 3 and can be moved, but not swapped out or removed from the formation. Only Môrgæn and Champions buffed by Paid Up Front can deal damage; other Champions' attacks will still proc stuns/slows/etc., but will deal 0 damage.
Gaar's Notes: This variant is effectively "Time to learn how to properly use Môrgæn." Or at least, time to learn how to get her to focus on your Primary DPS. Either way, while it may be slow if you don't set it up right, it shouldn't be overly difficult as long as you have the Favor shown in the chart above.

Free Play

Complete: Area 50
Reward: Whatever Mystra's Favor you earned
Info: No restrictions.


Gaar's Note: All of these achievements can be earned at any time except where noted.
Recruit Môrgæn - 1%
Recruit Môrgæn, the High Elf Ranger
Anti-Devoured - 1%
Complete all three variants of the "Deadwinter Day (Môrgæn)" adventure. (This achievement can be earned via Time Gates.)
The Best Gear Money Can Buy - 1%
Obtain a piece of gear for each of Môrgæn's six equipment slots. (Event Champ gear does not come from regular SilveGold Chests. You can earn Event Champ gear from their specific Event Chests, Time Gates, qualifying Patron Chests, and other Chests as noted.)
Sick of Winter - 1%
Complete area 275 in any "Deadwinter Day" free play. (This achievement can only be earned during the Midwinter Event, but it can be earned in any Champion's free play.)
Well Worth It - 1%
Affect at least 6 Champions with Paid Up Front while it's buffed by at least 2000% from your specialization choice
Gaar's Notes: This Achievement has some people confused. There are multiple different ways to get this achievement, but I'm going to outline the easiest ways, in my opinion.
First off, you need to get this on 6 Champions, so will need to place Môrgæn appropriately based on your first Spec Choice. I recommend Fine As Is for Sword Coast & Tomb of Annihilation (place her in the center of the formation surrounded by 6 Champs) and Keep Your Distance for her Event formation as well as Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus (place her at the farthest edge away from at least 6 Champs).
Second, you'll need to pick your two Buff Modifier specializations. If you're doing this in Sword Coast or Tomb of Annihilation, select Tight Formation and The Long Game. In any other situation, choose Calm Under Pressure and The Long Game.
The key here is to build a formation that allows enemies to stack up on your tank without killing any of them. This will get Calm Under Pressure/The Long Game to max out. You can do this without Môrgæn in your formation if you want and wait for those two buffs to max, then drop her in, or you can just have her in from the start. It works either way, but will depend on what you need in your formation to keep the tank alive long enough to max this out.
Keep in mind, when you're looking at the Formation Buffs tab to see what your total is, ignore Paid Up Front. That isn't telling you anything. Look at the Specialization choices listed only. That's what you need to watch.
It's entirely possible you may not be able to do this right now. You may have to wait until your formations have more survivability. That's fine. This Achievement doesn't need to be done during the Event; it can be done at any time.
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