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Vaughan's 10-year Action Plan to Fight Traffic Gridlock

2023.03.30 05:42 West-Acanthocephala3 Vaughan's 10-year Action Plan to Fight Traffic Gridlock

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2023.03.30 04:58 Righteous_Fury224 Sympathy for a Succubus - Meridiana’s Story. Part 4

Greetings once more my lovely readers!
Yes it is I, the marvellous, maleficent Meridiana, your scintillating spectacularly sexy Succubus here yet again to regale your with my tale of adventure in the modern world.
I know you’re excited, so am I!
Now then… right… here we go.
“This will do nicely,” I said with conviction because it was true.
No summoner had ever treated me this well before, well not without me charming and dominating their mind so utterly that they became my helpless worshipful slaves but that’s another thousand or so stories which are, quickly frankly, boring. I mean really, who wants to hear about a slave that is always wanting to kiss your ass all the time? What? Plenty do apparently? (My Magus is in the office at the moment and can hear me speak aloud as I type – he thinks it is most amusing) Ahem…
I shall have to investigate and perhaps create an account to make even more money. How wonderful!
“I am glad you are satisfied Meridiana. This saves us a lot of time. Later you can go shopping and buy whatever you wish but for now, you will have to make do with these clothes. Now I’ll quickly show you how the shower works and operation of the toilet.”
The Magus took a step back from the walk-in wardrobe and gestured back to the ensuite bathroom that my sumptuous bedroom contained.
I followed him as I needed to learn everything about my new home.
Inside the bathroom was a large glass cubicle to the right with a metallic spigot set high up on the marble tiled wall. There was an enormous triple mirror above a marble topped bench that had a wash basin cut into the centre of the bench with yet another metal spigot coming up and out of the bench. To either side of the main mirror were cabinets behind the smaller mirrors and cupboards under the bench.
“This is the shower. You pull that level there and water will come from the shower head above. Turn the level to the left and the water will get hot and to the right, cold. Shampoo and soap etc all there for you. Same with the wash basin tap. More things are inside the cabinets and cupboards for your use.”
The entire bathroom was covered in tiles making it look like a Roman bathhouse. Well sort of, as this was actually clean and most Roman baths, even at the height of the empire, were filthy places. You didn’t go there to get clean… well not really. You went there to get sex, food (often bad) and do business with either your patrons or clients, depending on who you were on the social ladder. Some bathhouses were better than others but meh… the Romans may have perfected the Aqueduct and running fresh water but they zero concept of keeping the bathwater clean and fresh.
“This is the toilet,” he said pointed to the porcelain seat with a lid next to the marble bench. “You operate it by pushing the metal button on the top of the cistern. See the roll of paper there next to it?”
I nodded.
“Clean yourself up with that then dump it into the pan and flush it all away. We don’t use Tersoriums anymore but there are wet wipes if you need them. Put the lid down first before you flush as germs spray everywhere when you flush.”
“No rough sponges to scrap my nethers clean? I used to like that Magus,” I said with a teasing smirk.
He shook his head slowly, rolled his eyes and carried on.
“Inside the cabinets are perfumes and lotions that you can indulge yourself in as well as teeth cleaning brushes, mouth washes and toothpaste.”
The Magus opened a cabinet revealing a vast array of perfume bottles of varying shapes, sizes and colours. My heightened senses inhaled the heady mix of powerful scented oils and fragrances. There were also make up products that I could see, a cornucopia of beauty in creams, pastes and shades, all would be worth a fortune back in the day.
“How utterly delightful,” I murmured, taking in what would be worth tens of thousands of Solidus (gold) back in Constantinople in perfumes alone, just sitting there inside a bathroom cabinet. He closed the cabinet.
“Behind you is the heated towel rail with towels, obviously, for you to dry yourself with.”
“Ahh… I know of these. Some of the Emperors’ nobles had copper pipes that performed a similar function in their bath houses, piping hot running water through them.”
I examined the towels which appeared to be of the same high quality cotton as my white soft robe that I was still wearing.
“Alright. I suppose you’ll be wanting a shower to clean up then?” he said with a flat tone.
“Will you be joining me Magus?” I said as I let my robe drop to the floor, smiling coquettishly at him.
He took a step back.
“No. Let me be absolutely clear: you are epitome of perfection of the female form. That is evident and indisputable. I cannot and will not have sex with you Meridiana. I know of your needs… for seminal fluid as it is one of your main sources of nourishment. That will be provided to you. Simply put, I know you will use my lust as a means of controlling me. I just can’t let that happen. Too much is at stake and I have worked too fucking hard to let my little head rule the big one. I’m not going to risk my plans for a quick knee trembler, no matter how tempting it is. I shall stick to raping the right hand for my needs. Now have a wash because you reek of sulphur.”
My jaw dropped in shock once more. I was lost for words at this point.
I was extremely and deathly affronted.
If I were not bound to him, forbidden to harm him I would have torn out his heart and shat inside his gaping chest wound for those grievous insults!
I narrowed my eyes, the infernal light flaring up but held my rage tightly within.
He watched me, almost bemused, with folded arms.
“You’ve never been rejected before have you?”
“No! How dare you refuse me like that? And saying that I smell!?! Intolerable!”
I folded my arms back over my heaving bosoms, as I was almost panting with frustration, barely holing my fury in check. Never before have I been spoken to like that, and had the offender been able to walk away still breathing.
“You do stink Meridiana. The stench of hell is on you. That needs to go. I am sorry if this insults you but remember, I said I was always be truthful with you, even if it is a painful truth.”
Now that made me pause.
I had never considered my odour in the past because everyone stank.
The Magus didn’t.
He was also extremely clean, free from lice, fleas and other unsavoury parasites and pests, unlike most of the people from Gerbert’s time. In fact he had a pleasant aroma of some scented oils, Sandal Wood, Lavender and Bergamot maybe? The scent emanating from him was faint but my enhanced senses could easily detect it now that I focused on it. He was also correct. I would most definitely tried to enslave him with sex as all males in the end are ruled by their cocks and balls. In addition, he was very well informed as to a Succubus’ needs. Normally we have absolutely no trouble in getting a man to “donate” his life giving juice to us. We do not need it everyday yet after a week or so in the universe, the hunger becomes powerful. Yet that was never a problem… until now.
“You are correct Magus. I do have the foul reek of hell on me and yes, I will require the fluid of life to survive here,” I said in cold clipped tones back to him.
“And you will get it from me, in a specimen jar, as and when it is necessary.”
“You take all the romance out it,” I muttered tersely, pouting and scowling at him.
“That’s the point Meridiana. You are not here to be my lover or replace my dead wife. I will appreciate your company as it does get lonely but I’m also used to that too. I want to learn from you, not fuck you. I can get that from any woman for the cost of a mere small sum of cash. It just does not interest me at all. What does interest me is all you have experienced and learned. That I find interesting. And of course, get you to flay and eviscerate the evil fucks who truly deserve it. Now, please, have a shower. Use the shampoos and soaps, you will feel better for it. Then find something to wear and join me back out in the lounge as I want to show you how the TV works.”
“TV? Huh?”
“The Television. Words are now often abbreviated into simple letters to save time in speech. Much like the Romans did with their inscriptions.”
“Oh… I see… hmmph! Well since you do not wish to embrace the unearthly delights my body would bestow upon you, I bid you begone from my bathing chamber!” I said pointing out, demanding he leave forthwith. I was not going to tolerate his presence any longer.
“As you wish,” he said with a dry ghost of a smirk on his lips as he backed away closing the double wooden doors as he left.
Now I was alone inside the bathing chamber, I leaned up against the cool tiled wall and let out a long exhalation. A few moments later I could hear music coming from the “lounge” room as he called it. It was gentle and honestly, relaxing. I listened for a minute, letting the notes and melody wash over me as the window next to the porcelain seat or toilet was partially open. My mood calmed as I suspect was his intent.
My admiration and dare I say it, respect for my Magus grew exponentially. Such self-control and discipline! Again, this was worthy of a Demon Prince such his control over his base urges. No male, or for that matter female, had ever resisted my allure. Often I had no need for employing my demonic powers of Charm and Suggestion as the humans would be almost begging me for my touch. No matter, I had time and he was male. Somewhere down the road of this… ‘partnership’, he would succumb to my charms, be begging on his knees to enter me and when that happened, he would be mine!
With a small sigh I picked up my discarded robe, it was far too valuable to leave laying on the floor even though the tiles were incredibly clean. There were hooks on the back of the double doors which I hung it upon then opened up the glass door to the ‘shower and stepped in.
The lever that activated the shower was in front of me, in the central position.
Pull it I suppose?
I screamed!
Cold water blasted into my face and body.
A cold laugh emanated from the lounge room.
“YOU FUCKING BASTARD!” I screamed back at the Magus as he chuckled to himself.
Then the water began to warm and became extremely pleasant to my senses.
He knew this would happen and didn’t warn me! Oh how delightfully, devilishly, and charmingly devious is my Magus. A harmless prank but also a lesson for me. Ask more questions! I admit I am supremely arrogant. After all I am an extremely powerful demon possessed with powers beyond human imagination, well that is not true as your kind have a vast imagination and have already worked out what we can do in a game of all things! Ahem. My point is that I must be much more humble and considerate of my new world. I have no desire at all to be returned to hell. I would butcher tens of millions of humans and demons to stay here if need be.
I stood in the shower, letting the warm clean water cascade over me in a very pleasing and powerful way. It was… bliss. Turning, I examined the various plastic bottles of soaps and shampoos, opened a few and sniffed the contents. Taking one that suited my senses, I proceeded to wash my hair with it. It was glorious dear reader. Nothing like this was present during Gerbert’s time. Yes there were scented oils, unguents and balms but nothing came close to this splendid liquid that nourished my hair, making it feel even silkier than before.
I stayed in the shower for a long while, playing with the heat and also the shower head as I discovered it could be adjected to differing levels of spray. Finally I had had enough so I depressed the lever and stepped out of the shower, reaching for my lovely warm fluffy towel. Despite the Magus being who he was, he was trying to make my new life comfortable. That was a small mark in his favour but he had a mountain to climb for those insults he gave to my self-esteem and dignity. I would find a way to make him pay or demand more in the way of homage and tribute for him to overcome those insults!
I took my time in selecting make up, lotions and balms plus testing all the perfumes that obviously once belonged to his wife. She had quite a range of beauty products as I later discovered they were called. Yet strangely, they were hardly used? Interesting.
Satisfied that my make up was alluring but not sluttish and wearing a few discreet dabs a scent called Issey Miyaki which was wonderfully fragrant, I left my bathing chamber and walked nude to my wardrobe to select something to wear.
The light was still on as I examined the hanging row of gowns, dresses and other clothing. One nearest the door caught me eye. I gently took it off the hanger, feeling the incredibly soft plushily wonderous material in my hands. It was a long dress, simply cut to allow the arms to be almost fully exposed while at the same time extended well past the knees, just stopped a few inches above the ankles. The colour of it was like red wine splashed on white linen (the Magus told me it’s called Burgundy) and it had a most intricate and repeating pattern or motif upon it to the likes I had never seen before. I had to wear this!
Adjusting my body size to be slimmer and a few inches taller, I eventually fit the dress perfectly. I made sure though that my tits still fully filled the bust region of the dress and my hips swollen just wide enough to still draw the eye. I saw many pairs of shoes and sandals on racks upon the floor. I selected an elegant but simple design of sandal and came out back into the lounge area.
I was again stunned but this time so was my Magus.
The reason for my surprise was that the ‘television’ was on. I could see moving pictures all lit up in incredible colour and fidelity and sound coming from the massive black metal and glass device. It was mesmerising!
The Magus however was shocked at seeing me in the burgundy dress. He closed his eyes as a flash of pain washed over his face. He drew in a shuddering breath, focused his towering will and recovered. I could feel it! Even I was taken aback by what he just felt within himself. It was such utter sorrow and anguish. While normally I would relish that in my victims, this time I did not as the bond between Magus and I allowed pain, of any kind it seemed, to flow between us. He finally spoke,
“Perhaps I should have gotten rid of that dress,” he said in a hollow low voice.
“Why Magus? It’s simply a dress?”
“It was one of the first ones my wife bought for herself when we were initially courting. She always looked so lovely in it,” he sighed as he stood up and sadly regarded me. “And now you do too.”
I blinked.
I had always been told that I was beautiful, a paragon of female perfection yet I knew that was often flattery or the results of my charms and suggestions or domination. The Magus would never lie to me. He meant everything he said. It made me feel…strange.
He sighed deeply once more, pinched the bridge of his nose while he gathered himself.
“I thought I was past this… but obviously not. No matter, it is a good lesson for me. I must not give in to it. I am the master of my own reality, I am free to choose whatever state of being I desire, I do not desire feeling s of loss and sadness,” he mostly to himself before continuing, “Now… since you took your sweet god dam time in the bathroom, a trait that seems to extend to female demons, we now have no time for me to show you how the TV works. Instead, we will go for a drive. I am going to show you what the wider world looks like Meridiana. How long is it since you saw the ocean?”
Now that was a question I did not expect.
“Unnhh… centuries?” I shrugged, mystified yet intensely curious now as I was aware of what he meant by a ‘drive’. We would be going out in his metal and glass box, also known as a car or automobile or vehicle.
“I am glad you are ready to go. Just a few things Meridiana, some rules you need to follow. One – we do not shit where we eat – that means no killing in this city unless it is absolutely, I truly mean absolutely, necessary. We need to stay hidden, especially you. As I said earlier, there are demons who have made Earth their home. Your presence has not been noted yet but once we start our campaign, you will draw attention from others of your kind to yourself. So no going out and draining stupid young men just because you feel like a bit of fun. Do you understand? I want the chant of three to know you fully comprehend!”
His Sea Green eyes flashed with power.
My eyes widened as I felt the force of his will, held in check, just barely brushing against my mind.
“I accept, I accept, I accept,” I said hastily. His sorrow had been morphed into anger. Not at me as such, at the world in general but it wouldn’t take much for me to be the brunt of his ire. This is common amongst Demon Lords and Princes, those used to wielding power and have supreme control over their mind and will.
“Next – there are a few people I still call friends. They may visit me from time to time and even meet us out in the wider world. As such, you will be my new partner for the sakes of appearances. They will see this as me having finally moved on and accepting the loss of my wife. We will have to concoct a suitable narrative that will bare up to scrutiny so that you will pass as a normal human woman who has gained my affection. None of these people are to be harmed and if they are ever under threat, you will help them as best you can. Don’t think you can use them against me either as I will know and I will break you worse than your lord ever did. Do you understand?”
“I accept, I accept, I accept,” I repeated in a meek voice. He would hurt me in way that my lord could not even imagine. This I knew instinctively and once he had broken me, would cast me back into hell to be tormented for eternity. He’s so dreamy!
“Oh, one final thing for now, we don’t wear shoes inside the house. I know I have mine on but that’s because I was in the garage and it’s a dirty place and I forgot to take them off once we came upstairs. This is not something you need to be bound to by oath by the way, just it’s better and cleaner for us both plus it makes it easier to keep the floor clean.” He paused for a moment, considering his next words. I was puzzled by that request but saw the logic of it so what do as he asked. He then spoke on,
“You are going to be… stunned for want of a better description in a few minutes once we get going. Just remember who you are, what you used to do, how to blend in and observe. I think that you will enjoy this Meridiana. Now, come on, lets go and have a look at the beach. I think it will do us both the world of good. Follow me please,” he said as he gestured towards the stairs. I nodded and quietly followed him down the staircase back to the basement garage.
He stopped briefly back at the kitchen bench to retrieve a.. hat? Of the likes I’d not seen before which contained a leather wallet (I now knew what somethings were) sunglass and a set of keys. He also handed me a pair of sunglasses and took off a bright red, wide brimmed floppy hat from a hook that was behind the door that lead down to the basement stairs. I took the items wordlessly from him, mildly amused by it all. We descended the short flight of stairs.
The summoning circle was still there, the blood now fully congealed.
“Magus…as question if I may?”
“How was it possible to you to have used so much of your blood in making the circle of summoning and binding and not be dead?”
He laughed and smiled, them walked over to what I now knew was a refrigerator and opened the double doors.
“Phlebotomy my dear Succubus!” he grinned with a devilish smile and harsh glint in his eyes.
I could now see a plastic bag, full of blood, hanging inside the fridge.
“I have a dear trusted friend, who is a medical doctor, that for the past couple of months has taken my blood and we stored it here inside the cold fridge. She thinks it’s because I might need an operation, a medical procedure. Once I had enough, I rested and rebuilt my power and strength and voila! You are here and bound to me. Science and magic, an unbeatable combination!,” he broadly grinned as I gaped in astonishment at him.
I could now see a container next to the fridge that had at least half a dozen of the soft plastic bags with the residue of his blood still within them.
What genius!
No wonder he wanted to fully bind me and he worked out why none of the previous summoners had ever truly succeeded in fully binding a demon to it’s summoner. The ENTIRE circle had to made of their blood. And no one in the past had ever had the method in which they could safely store and preserve their blood for such a use.
“I had to have a few infusions of blood to replace what I lost as well as it’s unsafe to give out so much in a short time. Lucky for me Victoria is a very caring, understanding, and above all, discrete person. I think you’ll like her. She’s probably one of the nicest people you will ever meet. And again I stress, she is inviolate, untouchable. You might be surprised at making a friend you know?”
I nodded, not wanting to argue with him. And he might actually have a point. I might need allies beyond the Magus. It never hurts to have a backup plan.
He stepped back over to the car, opened a front door and gestured that I take a seat within.
I did so, carefully so as not to bump my head on the vehicles roof. I stared around the cars interior.
“Ahh, if I may? I need you to put your seatbelt on Meridiana. Here, I’ll do it for you this time. You take this buckle on the belt,” he said as he showed me what he was speaking of, “and insert the buckle into the clasp next to the right side of your waist, just there,” he said as he leant partially over me and placed the buckle in the clasp with a little click. “Now you are safe and secure.”
“Why would I need to be retrained in such a fashion Magus?”
“Good question Meridiana. Basically it is for your own safety as we will be on the road with other cars and drivers and sometimes, humans being the idiots they are, fail to drive properly and thus become a danger to others as well as themselves. The seatbelt will stop you from flying out of the car if we are impacted by another vehicle.”
My eyes widened then narrowed.
“I would not be harmed by such an event. You should know this.”
“Oh but I do. I know only an enchanted or blessed weapon or magical attacks will harm you however, the local laws demand that all who travel in vehicles must wear seatbelts and I do not wish to attract the attention of the local police if they spot you not wearing one just because of your demonic invulnerability.”
“Ahh… I see. Prudent. I respect you thinking of outcomes and possibilities Magus. It is… refreshing.”
He gave me a brief nod then closed my door, walking around to the other side that had the wheel in front of the seat he was going to sit in. He got in, buckled his belt and inserted the keys into the base of the column that the wheel rested upon. Pressed a small button, the massive metal wall that was in front of us suddenly began to open much to my surprise.
“I used a remote to open the garage door Meridiana,” he said with another dry smirk at seeing my reaction.
I sniffed and turned away, trying to pretend not to be impressed. It didn’t work.
Starting the engine, a little roar of life came from the front of the car. He reached down to his left and pulled a small lever, shifting into a setting that read D. The vehicle suddenly began to move, slowly at first. The Magus carefully eased the car out of the garage and I now saw that it opened into a large paved laneway that was lined with houses, all adjoined to one another.
Simply astonishing!
My eyes were wide once more as I gaped at the marvellous building acumen in front of me.
The Magus turned the wheel that he held in his hands which in turn guided the car in the direction he wished it to go. Now I can fly, when in my true form, but this was just so nice. Sitting comfortably in a soft seat, having cool air gently blow on you from small vents in the front of the dashboard as I later learned it was called… just bliss. Flying is hard work by the way. Ever run up a hill? That’s what it’s like. You can do it and once you’re at a certain level, you can glide along easily but getting into the air… not so much fun to be honest. Yes I know, I’m a demon and lies are second nature for us but in the case of flying, this is true. It’s a thing I don’t need to lie about.
The Magus had us sedately travel down the laneway till we came to a junction where he turned right. All the while I was staring up and around the buildings about us and then I caught a glimpse of the bright blue sky above us. No matter who long I have lived, that sight never failed to move me. You humans always seem to ignore the wonder that is around you. Ahh well.
My eyes grew even wider once we turned into the main tree lined street as I saw even bigger buildings ahead of us.
“Those are apartment blocks, or what the Romans would have called Insulae,” said the Magus casually as we drove past them.
“Some things don’t change do they?” I said in idle fascination as we continued.
“I suppose not,” he replied as we now came to a stop in front of a number of coloured lights mounted in a sequence upon yellow metal poles. The lights were red at the moment.
“Red mean stop, green means you can go and amber means go very fast,” he remarked as he saw me staring at the lights in some confusion.
“Oh… I see..” Not really but I sort of understood.
The light changed to green and we moved off once more, this time traveling a speed faster than a galloping horse. I was in complete awe as we effortless travelled down the well paved, black road, seeing other cars driving alongside us and in the opposite direction. Trees were everywhere as were hundreds of buildings. I could see people waling along the side of the road on a paved path, leading dogs on a rope?.. I couldn’t quite tell. I saw a man on a very slim, two wheeled device, his legs pumping away on some small peddles that his feet seemed to be attached to.
“That’s a bicycle,” said the Magus. I nodded once more as it was almost overwhelming.
“Where are the city walls?” I asked in a small voice as we must have travel a few miles by now.
“We have none.”
“We have no need for such things. This city has over two and a half million people who live in an area than spans probably about seventy miles north to south and about thirty or so from the coast to the hills in the east. This is the lucky country Meridiana. Our shores have never been invaded, well they were once by my ancestors, taking it from the indigenous peoples who had lived here for probably sixty thousand years of more? Non one is really sure or perhaps you might be?”
“Terra Australis?”
“The Romans know of it? Incredible!”
“They heard of rumours of it from traders from the far eastern Spice Islands. The only people who bothered to head that way were divers for the rare shells of creatures that lived in the reefs there.”
“Ahh Troccus Shell of course. Makes complete sense. Indonesians must have been sailing from their islands down here for thousands of years but simple fishermen don’t write historical journals for later generations to read now do they?”
“No, they don’t. I found fishermen to be a mostly rough, ready, usually rude and definitely ignorant bunch of sea lice infested peasants. Literacy and leaning and the preservation of knowledge was never high on their list of priorities,” I replied with a smirk.
The Magus nodded with his own smile. I could see that these little snippets of my experience were intriguing for him as he mentioned that he is a historian, a scholar of learning. A person who was almost on my level of intellect.
We carried on down the wide open road in comfortable silence for now as I sat and admired the incredible vista sweeping by us.
Soon we crested a hill after a few more stops and starts at various intersections contained the coloured lights on poles.
I couldn’t help but let out a gasp of delight as I suddenly saw the magnificent blue ocean before me.
Far off in the distance I could see massive ships?... just sitting there in the ocean. There was an island on the horizon that was clearly visible as it was a perfectly clear late afternoon.
We drove down the descending hill and turned onto a very busy road that was full of cars and people.
“Aha! We are in luck Meridiana!”
“We are?” I had no idea what he was talking about.
“We got a parking spot right there. People pray for these you know?” he said as he guided the car into the free space between two other cars.
“They do? Who do they pray to? Do they offer sacrifice for such eventualities?” I wondered as he parked the car.
“Maybe? My best friend calls upon a goddess he named Pamelia, goddess of Parking, invoking her name in praise when he finds a free parking spot in a good location.”
I shook my head with amusement and disbelief but I knew the Magus wasn’t lying. It was just so ridiculous that it had to be true.
“Praise Pamelia then?” I said hesitantly.
“Indeed,” he replied as he switched off the car’s engine. “Just press the red button on your clasp and that will release your belt. The door handle is just there,” he said as he pointed to it.
I did as he said and was out and standing on concrete pavers that formed a neat and well-constructed pathway that led past busy tavernas, shops and eateries, all full of people enjoying themselves.
“Come this way Meridiana. I’m going to buy you a Gelato. I think you will enjoy it. Oh, put on your hat and sunglasses, you’ll feel better and blend in more,” he suggested.
I did so and what surprised me even more was that he offered his left arm for me to hold.
“We have to look normal Meridiana, although most people are going to take one look at you and think what the hell is that gorgeous woman doing with that pudgy, middled aged old fart then?”
I let loose a genuine laugh.
“True but they don’t know who you or I are,” I said with a demure smile back at him.
“And that’s the point. Always leave the proles guessing.”
And with that we walked down the path, with many furtively looking at me. I notice that I drew the glances of women more than men as women always compare themselves to others, they simply can’t help it. It pleased me greatly and I ignored the stares and longing looks from both sexes, keeping a serene smile on my sensual lips as I lightly held the Magus’s left arm between my hands.
We soon came up to a busy food venue that had a large lit up sign saying “Gelato!”.
We made our way into the venue with little fuss, just briefly waiting to be served as the people working behind the counter were quick and efficient.
“Hmm… I think I’ll get you a Rum and Raisin double scoop to start with,” said the Magus.
I shrugged, not knowing what that was but knowing what Rum and raisins were.
“One Rum and Raisin and one Vanilla double scoop in waffle cones please,” he requested. The server nodded and I was again astounded as the Magus just took out his phone and tapped it to a device that the server held out. That was a financial transaction!
We got our Gelatos, walked out, crossed the busy road, found an empty bench, sat down and I tried Gelato for the first time. Dozens of people just walked by us with little regard.
I closed my eyes as I sampled the ice cold substance.
Nirvana in food form!
This must be just like living in Paradise.
submitted by Righteous_Fury224 to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.03.30 04:35 table454545 Trip Report: 9 Days in Tokyo/Izu Peninsula

Just got back from a 9 day trip mostly based out of Tokyo near the end of March.
Some background: This is my third time going, I've previously done the Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka loop and another trip based solely around Kyoto and Osaka. I found that I personally prefer to stay within a single region and taking day trips from there.
Day 0: Got to Narita in the evening after a 12hr flight, took keisei skyline to Airbnb, ate some Lawson's and went to bed
Day 1: Leveraged jet lag to go to Ueno park in the morning. Sakuras were in bloom and not many people so it was a real treat. Picked up a goshuincho at Toshogu then had some karaage as food stalls started to open. Went to Akiba after and shopped around, ate lunch at Kikanbon and went to Kanda shrine. Shopped around Akiba until the evening, then went back. Ate kaiten sushi at Moriichi Tabata which was really good.
Day 2: Went to Meguro river at 8am to try to get into the Starbucks reserve roastery, but lines already really long so we just walked down the river instead and looked at the sakuras. Had some coffee at a cafe and went to Asakusa for Sensoji which was crazy packed. Had monjayaki for lunch at Shichigosan which was really good. Went to kappabashi and got a nice whetstone and a fish scaler. Headed over to skytree and visited the pokemon center, had Isomaru suisan for dinner.
Day 3: Took the Odakyo romancecar to Odawara to pick up our rental car, started to drive down izu peninsula. Stopped by for lunch at Hirosu right on route 135 and had kinmedai for lunch overlooking the ocean, absolutely gorgeous and the owner gave us a bad of oranges as a souvenir. Drove to Jogasaki coast and had a quick hike before going to our ryoukan Hinodeya. Took two hotspring baths and had a mini party with grocery store food and drinks in our room.
Day 4: Ate the breakfast we booked and half-regretted cheaping out and not booking the dinner. Went to Izu shaboten park which would have been really great but it was raining and getting progressively worse. Had delicious hand made soba at Izu Koyosen and got our first try of real wasabi. Drove to Shuzenji and walked around a bit, then took the nishiizu skyline down to our second ryoukan Hinodeya at Toi. We had booked dinner at this location and it was probably my favorite meal of the trip. Took 2 baths here as well.
Day 5: We had also booked breakfast and again it was fantastic. Drove down to koganezaki, Dogashima, then Sawada park. Doubled back and had lunch at Dogashima shokudou, I had the dried kinmedai for lunch which was good but doesn't hold a candle to the fresh version. At this point low tide had finally come and we went onto the Tombolo land bridge which appears during this time and walked to the connecting island and back. We then headed to kawazu and walked a bit of the seven waterfall trail. We continued north, briefly stopping at Joren falls before getting to our last ryoukan Tatsuta. We booked their dinner which was presented in an outdoor dining area beside the river, and all the tables equipped with kotatsu making it a really unique experience and we loved it. Only had one bath before going to bed.
Day 6: The booked breakfast is also beside the river under kotatsu and it was really nice to see the river in the morning sun. Drove back to Odawara and returned our car. We dropped our bags in a locker and went to Odawara castle, then I had an anago tendon at Kisen-sushi which was just incredible especially when it was only 900Y. Next we went to the kamaboko museum and did the make your own kamaboko and chikuwa experience which was surprisingly fun. We picked up our bags and went back to Tokyo by romancecar. Ate some of the best skewers ever at Motsuyaki Tatsuya near our airbnb at Tabata station
Day 7: Headed down to kamakura and visited a few of the many shrines there, highlight was having tea at jomyouji. Had okonomiyaki and grilled oysters at Tsukui which was really great. We wanted to go to enoshima as well but it was rainy so we headed back to Tokyo and went to Nakano Broadway and bought some used haoris in the used clothing store in the basement. Had ichiran for dinner then headed back
Day 8: Went to Teamlabs in the morning but it was really crowded despite it being a Monday so honestly it wasn't that enjoyable. I thought the exhibits were just ok. Ate lunch at a soup curry place in Ginza which was pretty good and went back to Meguro to see the flowers in absolute peak bloom. The crowds were huge but it really was magnificent. Had dinner at and Izakaya, Motsuya at Nippori station which was really good.
Day 9: Dropped luggage in a locker and did some light shopping at Shibuya. Made a quick visit to takeshita street, had lunch at Ippudo and headed to the airport by Keisei skyliner and went home.
Language: We were a group of 4, we could all read hiragana and katakana, and have some elementary level of vocabulary. My partner is fluent enough to kind of communicate with good listening skills developed from watching anime without subs, but had difficulties formulating complex sentences. Even though we could read, it doesn't mean we could always understand what it was trying to say. We found menus at Izakayas to be particularly difficult with many contractions that were difficult to understand. We also prepared by learning some common names of fish (Aji, hirame, karei, etc. ) to help with menus.
Hotel: Airbnb in Japan isn't what it used to be and normal hotels are probably the more competitive option these days, but I still prefer the flexibility an airbnb provides. We booked an airbnb at Tabata station in Tokyo, which might seem like a strange choice, but it was well positioned on the Yamanote line approx. equidistant between Shinjuku and Akihabara. It's a really quiet residential neighborhood with some great small restaurants and almost devoid of tourists and we really enjoyed it. The airbnb came out to ~5000Y per person /night. We hopped 3 different ryoukans on our trip through izu peninsula, two of which I booked by website, and one by Jalan. The cheapest was 7700Y/person no breakfast, and most expensive was 21 000Y.
Car: I'm from a country that drove on the right side of the road, so it was a bit spooky with the car, but it only took ~1hr to get used to it. Car rental was 2000Y per day and we bought an extra 4000Y optional insurance
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2023.03.30 03:09 flustered_noodle Followed by a U-Haul

About two years ago, I was driving home from a friend’s house around 1:30 in the morning. For context, we both live in a relatively suburban area and the route I frequent when traveling between our houses is about a 12-15 minute drive. There is a mile-ish stretch of road on this route that has few street lights. Along this stretch is a storage facility and some other smaller industrial warehouses. While this road is usually heavily trafficked during the day, at night it is quiet and dark with few cars and people around.
I don’t remember when I felt like I was being followed. It was an acute sensation that something was off. I was the only car on this road until suddenly I wasn’t. Headlights appeared out of the darkness in my rear view mirror seemingly out of nowhere, and they were close behind.
I forced the feeling down. However as I got closer and closer to my house, that gnawing feeling of wrongness only grew worse. I turned into my neighborhood and, now under the glow of streetlights, saw the vehicle behind me was a U-Haul box truck. Weird, but not necessarily out of place. I decided to bypass my house out of an abundance of caution and to appease my rising feelings of unease. I made a loop around my block and…they were still there right behind me. I was being followed.
Oh shit. I decided I needed to get away from my neighborhood, because no way did I want whatever creep this was to know where I lived. I drove expeditiously toward one of the larger streets, the truck close behind. At once point, the truck sped up and was driving alongside my car on the wrong side of the road.
Turn after turn, u-turn, up and down several streets…I didn’t know what to do. And by some f’d up coincidence, we were the only vehicles on the road through this ordeal.
In my panic, I did (in hindsight) a not smart thing—I stopped in the middle of the street, rolled down my window, and tried to talk to the driver. The truck pulled up to a stop beside me, passenger window down.
I leaned forward and said ‘hello’ (mainly because I didn’t know what else to say and even when terrified, I’m still awkward). The driver appeared to be alone and wearing a black jacket with the hood pulled up. I could only see their hooded silhouette against the street light behind them, not their face or any distinguishing features. They did not respond to my greeting, instead just turned and stared at me.
I felt a ripple of fear and that was it. I floored it and sped off to the closest public safety center I knew of. They continued to follow me until I pulled into the parking lot and parked in view where I thought there may be cameras. The truck bypassed the driveway, flipped a u-turn and then was gone. I sat in that parking lot shaking and crying for a good 10 minutes, then left back to my friend’s house for fear the truck might still be driving around my neighborhood.
The following day, I sent a note to U-Haul and our police department (I got the truck’s license plate!), but no one has ever followed up with me about what happened that night.
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2023.03.30 02:18 Worrier_to_Warrior Day 0 but I still have hope I’ll defeat the urge soon.

So yeah, I’m new here. I’m very frustrated with myself because I can’t stop or at least I feel that way. Last night I had the urge but ignored it. I just failed today after being on a 6 day streak. Of course we should avoid triggers and I do but even going to the gym I may see a woman with a really nice body. I don’t know if that’s actually a trigger for me. Anyways, the reason I brought up the gym was because I want to use it as an escape route when I’m feel tempted. My planet fitness is open 24/7 so that is an option for me. I’ll be killing two birds with one stone because I’m literally running away from temptation and burning calories at the gym. Besides that, I don’t know what else to do man. I’m currently on the road to self improvement and becoming an attractive male. PMO causes me to have more anxiety and social anxiety. It takes away my confidence and even causes depression which will make it harder for me to work on my self confidence. I really need to kill this habit I’ve been doing since a boy. I feel disgusting afterwards. Even if It’s 3Am, 5Am, 7Am and I have the urge I’m going to the gym and I know I’ll feel good that I’ve done something to improve my mental health, body and confidence rather than doing something that’ll kill me slowly. I’m currently looking for a job and I’ll be taking a class over the summer. So hopefully those things will keep me busy.
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2023.03.30 01:47 ChrisDWrites STARLIGHT (The Z Team Book 2) Chapter 32: Double Dealings

Read THE Z TEAM: Book 1 on Amazon in ebook/print/Unlimited here.
Reading Links: Royal Road ScribbleHub
Book 1 Sample Start Book 2 Start Previous
The docking cycle completed.
Dash peered through the viewport of the Stardancer’s outer airlock hatch. Beyond, the docking bridge extended five meters to the Honest Day’s Work. The other ship’s hatch was open, exposing a bare airlock within. Nothing stood out as threatening, but an ominous aura projected like a scene from a horror vid, where unknown monstrosities lay in wait on a ghost ship.
He cycled the Stardancer’s outer hatch. Standing at the threshold, he felt gravity weaken as he lingered on the edge of the dampener field. He turned back to his crew. They regarded him with varying degrees of wariness.
Dash said, “Remember the plan. I’ll do the talking. Your only job is to project confidence.”
“No problem there,” Gaius said, smoothing his freshly gelled hair, and earning a nervous laugh from Ruki.
Dash faced forward before they saw the expression on his face. If his damn pilot put as much effort into his job as he did his extracurricular activities…
He buried his griping and mustered the expression of a no-bullshit captain. Gripping handholds on either side, he tipped into the bridge and launched himself forward. His eyes remained on the opposing ship as he floated through, ignoring the surrounding thin shell that always made him nervous.
He reached the other side and pulled himself into the Honest Day’s Work. Gravity took hold and his feet pressed to the deck.
He waited for the rest of the crew before they all exited the airlock into a short corridor that ended at a cargo hold. It was packed on either side with a large variety of crates and containers. The arrangement appeared haphazard. Most had open tops, having already been rifled through. The air held an off-putting scent of spice with a metallic aftertaste, like a bad cologne.
Five men awaited them. They wore tactical-style utilities and boots. Lightweight weapons harnesses wrapped around their shoulders and waist. They each carried a holstered pistol, but the empty hardpoints on their harnesses indicated they frequently wore more arms and equipment.
Their appearance wasn’t surprising given the state of their ship. This bunch was trouble, the kind of people who gave recovery agents bad names. They worked shady contracts and preyed upon the less fortunate. The complete opposite of a competent professional such as Cutter.
Dash was suspicious of agents’ presence in Tyrcellus, and why Acculturation used them. He figured the morally-deficient crew was here to make as much cred as they could, and using them was the only way to get the stolen goods into the system with a tight deadline. Labeling it as repossessed equipment allowed the agents to deliver them without a lot of questions or forms to fill out.
This wasn’t going to be easy. Dash gave them a stern nod to cover for his wariness. “I’m Captain Anderton. We’re here to receive the delivery.”
“Captain Raines,” the man in the middle said. He had a sharply lean face like a predatory bird. His cheek bulged on one side where he sucked on stim chew.
He nodded at a small stack of four cases off to the side between the two groups. They were each barely larger than a good-sized piece of luggage.
Dash opened the license on his PD and scanned in the ID tags of the cases. The license confirmed it was the correct delivery.
“Seems like a lot of trouble for some little boxes,” Raines said.
“If someone wants to pay me for retrieving their little boxes, that’s fine with me.” Dash sent the license to Raines’s hub for confirmation. “We’ll load them ourselves. It was nice doing business with you.”
Raines held up a hand. “Not so fast.”
Somehow, Dash knew it wouldn’t be that easy. “What’s the problem?”
Raines swept his eyes over the Stardancer crew, lingering on each of the singers, then back to Dash. “I received an interesting message right before you arrived. Some Ministry of Security agents want me to hold on to you and your cargo. You’re wanted for questioning about the shooting on Sanctum. Is that true? You shoot up a channel station?”
Dash’s gut churned. The operative team must’ve figured out what Fraenk had done and tracked down the license granted to the Stardancer. He hoped his old friend was okay.
Raines watched Dash’s face intently, looking for a tell. Dash smirked to cover for his angst. “Do I look like the type to shoot up a channel station?”
Raines’s eyes flicked to Dash’s sidearm. “You never can tell with certain folk.”
“I have a Commonwealth-sponsored license. Unless these Ministry of Security agents have a warrant, they have no legal right to have you detain us.”
“True, but he did offer us a lot of cred. I’ve been known to bend the rules for a lot of cred.” Raines’s crew chuckled at that.
Dash sucked on his gums. This scumbag was trying to scam him. “We’ll be taking our cargo now.”
“No, you won’t,” Raines said. “It’s pretty simple, my friend. Make me a counteroffer to let you walk away. I’ll tell the agents that you had already left by the time I saw the message.”
“I don’t play these sorts of games. I’ll go to SecForce if I have to.”
Raines grinned. “Go ahead. They can’t do shit all the way out here.”
Dash held Raines’s gaze. He had the payout from Acculturation. It was a decent amount, and he was sure that he’d get reimbursed if he had to spend it paying off the agents. “Fine. How much do you want?”
“How much are you offering?”
He sent an offer to Raines’s hub. The other captain snorted. “That’s the best you got? Looks like the cargo’s staying with me.” Raines moved a few steps closer to Dash. “And so are you.”
“Not going to happen.”
“You sure about that?” Raines said as his goons placed their hands on their pistol grips.
Gaius and Wesley froze in place. Dash couldn’t see the singers standing slightly behind him, but he heard a gasp that sounded like Ruki.
Raines swapped his chew to the opposite cheek. “Here’s how this is going to work. You’re going to take that mighty little pistol of yours out nice and slow and place it on the deck. Then we’re going to lock you up until this business with the security team gets settled.”
Dash raised a hand to rub his chin. Raines licked his lips in victory.
“Here’s my counteroffer,” Dash said and snapped his arm forward. Dorothy shot out of his jacket sleeve and smacked into his palm, her stub barrel pointed at Raines’s head.
Behind Raines, his crew started to draw their sidearms but halted when Dash shook his head. “Don’t even try it.”
Raines’s eyes narrowed in fury at the tiny but potent weapon aimed at his nose. “You slimy—“
Dash thrust Dorothy a few centimeters closer to Raines. “That’s enough out of you.” Raines quieted, his upper lip quivering. Dash said, “I’d like to revisit the terms of our arrangement.”
“You may have drawn first, asshole, but you’re still outgunned,” Raines growled. “You shoot me, my crew will kill every single one of you.”
“You’re right. There’s no chance we’re walking out of this alive if it comes to violence,” Dash said. His tone went deadly serious as he stared deep into the other captain’s eyes. “But you’ll be the first to die after I turn the inside of your head into an empty fuel cell.”
Raines’s confident expression finally faded, replaced with a mask of fear as he envisioned the potency of Dorothy at point-blank range.
“He’s lying,” one of Raines’s crew said.
“We can take him,” added another, tensing as if he was going to draw.
“Shut the fuck up, both of you! He’s not lying. He’ll do it!” Raines bellowed. Sweat dripped down his bony cheeks. “What do you want?”
“You give us our cargo and I’ll give you half my original offer. When we’re underway and see you’re not in pursuit, I’ll send the other half,” Dash said. “Have your crew place their guns on the deck and step back. I want no tricks, no funny business. Do that, and we can all walk out of here with what we want.”
Raines’s swapped his chew again, mulling it over. “Deal.” To his crew, he said, “You heard the captain. Lay ‘em down and back on up.”
The crew slowly pulled their weapons, all four of them looking as if they wanted to take a shot at Dash. But none of them did, and they backed away.
Without taking his eye off Raines, Dash spoke over his shoulder to his crew. “Grab our cargo and return to the ship.”
His crew reluctantly moved forward. The singers went first, taking the smallest cases. Raines’s crew eyed them with an enthusiasm Dash didn’t like. Clutching the cases, the singers shuffled past Dash, eyeing him with concern. He nodded at them reassuringly. “Go. I’ll be right behind you.”
Gaius and Wesley teamed up on the largest container, muscling it to the airlock. Wesley floated across the bridge first, then Gaius guided the container through the stretch of zero gravity.
“Walk with me,” Dash said to Raines.
They moved in unison to the last container. Dash instructed Raines to pick it up, then they both moved toward the airlock. As they walked in sync, Dash spotted one of the crew stepping closer to his weapon. “I can see you, idiot,” Dash said to the man. Raines grimaced as the crewmember backed off.
Inside the airlock, Dash and Raines set the container down, then stepped back into the interior of his ship. Dash transferred half the creds, wincing at the thought of funding the exploitative operations of this scum.
Raines accepted it. “You better make good on your promise.”
“I keep my word,” Dash said and tapped the panel. The inner airlock hatch closed, separating them.
Raines stepped to the viewport, shooting Dash a deadly glare. Clutching the last container, Dash backed to the threshold of the Honest Day’s Work and launched himself through the bridge without another look back.
They were safe.
Layers of radiation-proof hull, superstructure, dampeners, conduits, hatches, and the inhospitable expanse of space protected them from harm.
Still, Celescia could not settle herself.
She leaned against the bulkhead, her breaths coming in short, irregular gasps. Yet again, the Provenance had tried to take her, their power extending like a sinister force from their compounds and castles in the heartland of Preemona. A tension squeezed her chest as if their shadowy hand had closed around her. Her body felt numb like she was drifting through her own consciousness, a bystander to her trauma.
There was a dull thud as the Stardancer’s docking bridge retracted. Outside the airlock viewport, the hull of the Honest Day’s Work began to drift away.
“Gaius, get us out of here,” Dash said, staring out the viewport.
“Where are we going?” the pilot asked.
“Away from them.”
Gaius’s eyes focused on virtual controls. A subtle lurch as the Stardancer swung around, then fired the main engines. The Honest Day’s Work slipped out of view. Still, Celescia couldn’t shake the fear.
“I’ve got us heading sunward. They’re not in pursuit. Unless they have a change of heart, we’re clear,” Gaius reported, then asked Dash, “Are you paying them the other half?”
“Yes. I figure they’re more apt to come after us if I don’t,” Dash said and faced his crew. He looked each of them over before settling on Celescia. She took him in; the hair that was always a bit of a mess, his thoughtful eyes, the silly protrusion that was a Human nose. For all their quibbles and animosity, she saw his spirit in its pure form, one that held none of the ugliness and bigotry those recovery agents possessed. A simple man who put his life on the line for her and her partners, while her own government tried to abduct her once again.
Facing her unexpected savior, the last of her composure slipped. Her head drooped, knees went weak.
She broke down.
Dropped in slow motion to the deck.
An unseen force buoyed her, resolving into the sensation of gentle arms wrapped around her back, a body pressed to hers.
“I got you, kiddo,” Dash said.
Celescia’s grief poured out in body-wrenching fits. Dash stayed with her, held her, absorbing each convulsion, suffering with her. She wasn’t sure how long it lasted, but it came to a swift end, the angst dissolving from her core.
Strength returned, she lifted her head and found Dash peering down at her.
“You’re alright,” Dash said. He lifted a hand to her face. His fingers touched her skin, causing her to inhale sharply.
He straightened her interface.
She noticed the feel of other hands on her shoulders. Ruki and Yanna stood by her side. Dash released her, and she embraced her partners. She convulsed as her grief rallied for a second wave. But she was ready now and smothered it. Standing tall, she sucked in a deep breath and then let it flow out, her composure restored.
Celescia cleared her throat and addressed the crew. “I apologize for that.”
“There’s nothing to be sorry about. It was scary for all of us,” Dash said.
“You will be reimbursed. I promise.”
Dash smiled. “I know.”
“Would you have shot that man?” Ruki asked.
“He thought I would. That’s all that matters.” Dash peered down at the cases. “Now, who can tell me why the hell these things are so important that we had to go through that?”
Celescia peered at the cases. No longer distracted by the threat of the other crew, she took in the bare hardshell exteriors, noticing the lack of markings.
Wesley kneeled next to the largest of the cases, examining the locking mechanism. “I think I’ve seen ones like these before.” He stood, facing the others. “Prior to my tenure aboard the Stardancer, I briefly served at an exclusive health facility that focused on longevity treatments. I didn’t interact with the advanced equipment directly but saw it carted around. I believe it’s some sort of medical manufacturing devices.”
“What’s so important about these that Kordut would want Acculturation to have them?” Dash asked.
“That’s a question for Regent Anncellis,” Celescia said. “I will message her with news of our success, then we wait for the rendezvous coordinates from her.”
“Gaius, I want you on the bridge with one eye on the Honest Dealing until we get those coordinates.” Dash looked between each of the singers. “As for you three, a distraction is what you need. We’ve got real cargo now. It’s time we put your technician training to use.”
“I can assist,” Wesley said.
“You check on Tinker. Our new cargo techs can handle it themselves,” Dash said.
Wesley nodded and left after exchanging a look with Ruki. Celescia wondered what went on between the two of them. Ruki was nearly always in sight, but that didn’t mean she and Wesley spoke over a private comm.
“I’ll meet you in our quarters,” Celescia said to her partners. “I’d like a moment alone with the captain.”
Now it was Ruki who gave Celescia an inquisitive look. Celescia waited until the other two singers stepped away before speaking. “Why did you risk your life for us?”
“All our lives were at stake. That crew was scum. Who knows what scheme they had planned.”
“Still, it was very brave.” Celescia noticed a different kind of pressure over her body; one of warmth and compassion. She held her hands out, palms up. Dash peered down at them, then back to her. He raised his up slowly. She took both of his hands and squeezed them. “I’ve always believed in our cause, but your actions have left me with an unshakeable conviction. One that I couldn’t fully understand unless I lived it myself. We may be different, but our spirits are good and just. My sisters and I are forever grateful for your friendship.”
Dash gave her an uncomfortable grin that was somehow endearing. “Uh, thanks.”
Some part of her wanted to hold on longer, but her hands opened, releasing his. Dash stepped back, and gestured to the bay, the awkwardness draining out of him. He gave her that grumpy smile of his. “If you thought that would get you out of doing work, then you were sorely mistaken.”
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2023.03.30 01:31 LeeCloud27 ACT 2-7-3: Dwell Blind Upon the Siren's Song

“Is that so? Okay… But that’s kind of lame. Here goes the roulette… \rolling sounds*”* … … “Aaaand the result is…The Haunted Mansion! (Wow, I can't believe some people are so incompetent at making decisions they leave it to somebody else. How embarrassing.) Anyways, head to that place now.”
The group immediately started to move towards where the location was at. They closed up the map and made their way over, all the while Satsuko pointed out various attractions, booths, and games he showed interest in. But as much he begged to try them out, the group wanted to focus on getting to their destination.
The route to the house didn’t take long, arriving at a big and tall building that looked old and unsturdy. It was painted in colors of black and dark purple, resembling an old western house. Above the house was a dark thundercloud that simply floated above, looking as though it would rain down any given moment, or strike the ground with thunder and electricity.
“Well, it definitely looks like a haunted house.” Sumireko said. “But it kinda looks like something that my old high school would make for Halloween.”
She pointed to the yard of the house, which was filled with cardboard cutouts of spooky ghosts, rickety signs with red paint written on them, and a poor attempt at creating a corpse using a mannequin and toilet paper.
"Looks like someone ran out of budget for the outside decorations. Heh." Mary said, examining one of the cutouts."
Suddenly, music that sounded like the kind belonging to the public domain began to play, and the sound of thunder cracked, while strobe lights flickered on and off. A voice of unknown origin started speaking in a deep and menacing voice.
“Muahahaha!!! Who dares arrive at the front of my domain!? You dare enter, you foolish humans!?”
“EEP!!!” Satsuko jumped from the voice, quickly grabbing onto Mary for safety.
“I am Dark Madness, the scourge of the gates of hell, the king of savage, the ruler of the anti-dimensions! Should you enter I assure you will face my wrath, you will cry for your parents to come pick you up after you wet yourselves!”
“Ahhh!! No! He sounds so scary!” Satsuko said.
“That’s scary???” The others thought.
“I can already tell you’re all shaking in your boots! As expected!!! I recommend you turn back around before you walk into your own graves! But if you heed my warning and enter regardless, then best of luck to you all… But not like you’re going to need it anyways since you’ll all be DEAD!!! MUAHAHAHAHA!!!”
The voice stopped and it became quiet. Satsuko was still shaking with tears while the others could only think about how odd the voice sounded.
“It almost sounded like they were using a voice filter.” Sumireko said. “Also, walk into our own graves? What kind of nonsensical script were they reading off of?”
“Well, we still need to go in and complete whatever challenge the host made for us.” Meiling said.
"Let's hope it's not as disappointing as this presentation." Mary said.
The group passed through a gate that indicated the entry, labeled with a somewhat poorly scribbled sign that said: "ENTER TO GET TERRIFIED"
"…dark." Satsuko muttered.
The door to the house looked as old as the rest. Sumireko reached to open the door when it opened up by itself, very, very slowly. In fact it was so slow that she got annoyed and pulled a Suika by kicking the door all the way open.
“If you’re going to open it by yourself, at least do it faster!” Sumireko shouted. The four then went inside the haunted house.
Inside was dark and hard to see due to lack of lighting. All they could see was a narrow hallway that went down a straight path, lined with various doors of different shapes and designs. They tried a few of the doors, but it was obvious they were fake after a quick attempt to open a few.
“Fake doors, oh wow, how scary.” Sumireko said with sarcasm. “Someone should take notes.”
“Well, I do have to agree with you on that.” Meiling said. “Though I feel like that’s because we all got out of a situation that was similar but more dire at the same time.”
They headed straight down the hall, reaching a corner that forced them to turn to their left. As soon as they all turned the corner something came out of the ceiling tile and fell in front of them. A few of them let out small gasps of fright, but only Satsuko shrieked in terror.
"W-what is that?!?" Satsuko asked.
It was a humanoid figure, a sack was over their head, their body was hung up by their neck with a rope. A red liquid looked to be dripping out from their fingertips, landing on the floor. At first glance it looked real, a sight to dread. But as they took a second look, it soon came to their realization that it was simply a mannequin covered in ketchup and lingering with a putrefact scent coming from it.
"It smells…really bad!" Meiling said. She carefully opened the jacket, revealing the nasty source: a piece of extremely decayed meat.
"Ugh! Get this off here!" Sumireko said, sealing her nostrils with two fingers.
“Ah, so you all have found one of my many victims? You must be petrified in horror. Maybe you all should turn around and leave before you end up exactly like this unlucky fellow.”
"Yeah, count on it" Mary said in a sarcastic tone. But before she could take a step further, she felt something tugging her dress. It was Satsuko, who was looking at her with a frightened expression, and teary eyes.
"I want to get out…Auntie…I'm so scared…" He said in a shaky tone.
“A…A…A-A-A-A-A–A-AUNTIE!!!!!????” Mary thought, her mind exploding with a flood of emotions. She certainly didn't expect that, and wouldn't particularly mind if it was another child, but to add insult to injury, it was her own wielder…in a regressed version of himself.
"Wait, i'm not your-"
Another ceiling tile collapsed behind the others. Satsuko quickly hugged Mary even tighter than before, shrieking with terror. The others however, were displeased with what they witnessed falling.
It wasn’t another fake mannequin pretending to be a corpse, no. It was a pile of dirty laundry.
“Dirty…Laundry?” Sumireko said.
“Muahahaha! Feast your eyes on such a horrible sight! The fear that all of you must be feeling, the pain your minds bear from looking at the smelly socks, and shirts with holes in them!”
Everyone didn’t know why dirty laundry would be considered scary in the slightest. Sure, it looked a little disturbing, but nothing that would exist in someone’s nightmares.
“Okay, let’s just keep moving.” Meiling said, pushing past the hanged corpse. Sumireko followed while Mary had to carry Satsuko with her due to the boy being too terrified to follow.
"Now that I think about it…I have a clue of how the so-called owner of this place is." Sumireko said.
They continued throughout the mansion, encountering more jumpscares and things that were supposed to be scary. They got things such as cold lunches, an F on a homework assignment, and a clothing store that had a sign next to it saying they’re forced to go shopping. Occasionally they got something that made them gasp or be startled when they saw it, such as a spike pit one of them almost fell into, a swinging axe, and a body bag leaking with maggots. But upon second glances it was revealed that the spike pit was made with pool noodles, the swinging axe was foam instead of metal and the body bag was actually a bunch of stuffing, and the maggots was cooked pasta.
On the other hand, Satsuko stuck his face on Mary's chest, trying to avoid seeing the things that the rest of the group considered not scary.
"I'm getting tired of this, honestly. Where is the exit?" Sumireko said.
“Maybe that door would lead us out of here.” Meiling pointed to a door that was close by. The door in particular however was covered with caution tape, fake locks, and several signs and warnings to not go in or face extreme consequences. That was without a doubt the door they needed to enter.
"Oh, you know what? Fuck this." Sumireko said, kicking the door down in frustration.
The door broke off its hinges, collapsing on the floor. The group walked into the apparent dark room, unable to see anything inside.
“Oh great, a dark room. I wonder what will be jumping out of the shadows this time?” Sumireko said with sarcasm. She walked forward, only to be genuinely startled by the sight of blue-colored flames igniting a meter away from her. “Oh geez! What in the!?” She shouted.
“Hahaha… Ahahahaha… AHAHAHAHAAAA!!!”
A large object appeared within the blue ring of fire, taking the form of a large skull with flames coming out of its eyesockets, snakes falling out of their mouth each time their jaw moved, and somehow was quite expressive. Sumireko, Meiling and Mary all sensed the figure being more threatening than what they believed. Satsuko only became more terrified, latching onto Mary with the grip of a bear.
“Welcome… To your doom!!! I am Dark Madness! I have come from a dimension where there only existed pain and agony. I was born with a terrifying curse that caused me to incinerate anyone who got close to me! You all should fear my power!!!”
Meiling stood in front of everyone else, getting into a defensive pose.
“Oh? What’s this? You dare challenge me? Surely you must not understand what I am capable of. I have conquered realms far more powerful than yours, defeated beasts of omnipotent force, harvested forbidden knowledge that added to my strength. You are but a fool if you think you stand a chance!”
Meiling kept her pose up, but it wavered as the skull continued to speak. She felt a lingering horror trailing down her spine, while the feeling of heat coming from the flames in front of her. The others were concerned on how to face this kind of threat, when Sumireko noticed something that stood out.
A green curtain that was over on the left side of the room. It wasn’t anything special, but its placement seemed quite off. She moved over to the curtain while the skull continued to speak. She reached over and pulled the curtain open, revealing a large machine, and a familiar looking figure standing by.
“You will all fall! You will all be destroyed once I use my-” The figure stopped, realizing something was wrong and turned around to face Sumireko. And her thoughts were correct, as it was another variant of Satsujin, except they were shorter and looked quite young, not as young as Satsuko, a bit older actually. His eyes were colored brown and gray respectively.
“I knew it.” Sumireko said, folding her arms.
The figure froze, unsure how to respond. They took the mic they were using to control the skull, and said. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”
There was no response. The group continued to stare at him, with a disappointed expression, except for Satsuko.
"It was…fake?"
“Yep, it was.” Sumireko said. “And it’s all thanks to… whoever this person is.”
Realizing that their cover had been blown, the teenage Satsujin quickly got desperate, and started to speak in a peculiar way.
“So…You have all figured it out.” He said, a hand close to his face. “The skull was merely a diversion I made in order to make you all drop your guard. The real opponent you face is me…Sateen!!!” He said in an edgy manner.
The others stared blankly, including Satsuko who had no idea what he was talking about. Mary on the other hand started to laugh, while Meiling showed disappointment.
“Sateen?” Meiling asked. “What kind of name is Sateen?”
“Shut up! It’s a cool name! It fits my dark and tortured personality! You wouldn’t understand the life I had!” Sateen said in an edgy tone. “Anyways…If you want to defeat me… You’ll have to beat my challenge!”
“And what’s the challenge?”
“You’ll have to come up with the darkest and edgiest backstory you could think of! If you can beat me then I’ll give you what you want. If you lose… then you’ll be trapped in an ever-spiraling tunnel of life and death! You will feel your soul leak out only to be pulled back in over and over, with no hopes of escape!”
Everyone was quiet. They all thought that his idea for a challenge didn’t seem too hard, especially considering what most of them had already gone through within a span of less than a week.
“Oh, and I will personally judge you on how edgy your backstory is. If it isn’t edgy enough, then you fail the challenge.” He added. “Let’s have you start, China.” He pointed at Meiling.
Meiling felt triggered, almost wanting to bash the kid’s skull in for the nickname. But she held back knowing violence will not get them anywhere at this current moment.
“Very well… You wanna know my backstory… Well I shall tell then.” Meiling said with a smirk.
"No, I have a better idea. Let Sumireko say hers."
“Wait…What?” Meiling said, hearing the voice speak. Mary and Sumireko were also confused.
"I know some things about her that you don't. Let's just say she used to be like him as well."
They looked at Sumireko, as she started to look the other way. “Um…T-that was a long time ago. Besides, I’m an adult, I’ve outgrown that phase.” She said.
"Yeah, that's why I need you to act like a nerd again. You are the only one here who can speak his same language."
“Can’t I just…Not embarrass myself?”
“Someone is trying to deny her past... You can do this… Unleash your inner chuunibyou.”
Sumireko shook her head in denial.
"Let's raise the stakes higher. If you manage to convince him to give up, I'll give you a reward later."
“...Ugh…In the name of Hakurei…” She had eyes on her, she knew what she had to do but mentally she was hesitant. Sumireko pinched the bridge of her nose, thinking about how awkward she’s going to feel, while Sateen started to get impatient.
“Well? What are you waiting for? Unless you’re actually a coward who already admitted defeat.” He said.
Bearing no other choice, Sumireko stepped forward, lifting her cape and showing a small display of her psychic powers by lighting a large flame behind her. She formed a pose, raising her arm to draw near her face while resting her arm on the other hand.
“My name is Sumireko Usami! Queen of the Occult! The Master of Psychokinesis! The Dweller of Gensokyo and the Outside World! I have been born with these powers that only manifested around Middle School! Though my powers are great I struggle in holding back for I fear of harming others! I have faced monsters, deities, and creatures of many shapes and sizes! I have suffered through the fires of hell and the taste of direct magic! I survived an encounter with a phone call from Mary and avoided being crushed by falling earth! If you dare face me, then you will face the terrifying power of a former high school student!!!”
What she said sounded both intimidating and cheesy. Sumireko stood there in silence, everyone looked at her with surprised faces that looked like they had nothing to say, nothing to show. The Psychic girl herself started to blush upon realizing that what she just said sounded very stupid.
“Oh god…I sounded like an idiot!!! I knew this was a bad idea. Why did I go through with this? This is exactly why I outgrew this phase!” Sumireko thought.
“Wow…So…cool…” Sateen said, amazed by Sumireko’s pose and self-introduction. “To think that a woman of such power has existed… A goddess even.”
“...Eh?” Sumireko’s blush faded, replaced with a look of confusion.
“...But that’s not enough. You were close, amazing even. But you need something more in order to impress me.” Sateen said.
"And guess who is behind you…" A voice said behind Sateen.
"It's me, the one and only…Mary!!!" Mary said, doing a cool pose with her blade. “I have been crafted by a legend along with my brothers and sisters, only to have been forgotten. I have been used in the name of blood and vengeance, but also sadness and misery. I swore to protect the boy I love, even if I were to forsake myself and my life in his name.”
“Woah…That’s also cool.” Sateen said. “Not as cool as the other girl, but still.”
As if feeling like she didn’t want to be left out, Meiling also joined in the fray, taking one of her usual fighting poses. “My name is Hong Meiling! I am the gatekeeper of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, the loyal guard of Remilia and Flandre Scarlet, the friend of a time-stopping maid and a 1-week magician! I grew up in Ancient China where I trained in martial arts! I left in order to find my purpose in life, only to face obstacle after obstacle. Through blood, sweat and tears I broke through those obstacles, leaving behind a bloody past!”
“Cool…” Sateen was also impressed by Meiling. “You are all so cool.”
"…But I will never be like that…" Satsuteen said, lowering his head.
"I'm worth nothing."
The others looked at him with concerned faces. The off-voice proceeded to explain the situation.
"One of Satsujin's desires was to be worth something. Years of mental abuse led him to this constant cycle of apparenting to be something good…only to fail loudly at it. This led him to experience a deep depression, and altered his own way of being. He became bitter and pessimistic, always blaming himself for not being able to fight back. But he did enjoy the little things in life, like going to visit his grandmother, eating dinner with his young brother, or even something as simple as eating chocolates. This is the physical form of his teenhood."
“So that’s why he’s…” Sumireko paused mid-sentence, thinking about how it makes sense now.
Sateen looked like he was gloomy, brooding with his thoughts and expressions, staring down at the floor and his hands. But he clenched them into fists, looking back up at the others with a different look compared to before.
"...No…I can't keep being like this…I have to be better…better…" He said, with a bitter expression on his face. He opened one of his hands, and a weapon manifested around his grip. Long like a spear, but the blade was cured and one-sided, making it a more unique weapon. He swung it forward, taking a stance as though he was in the spotlight for the moment. “This is my Spear of Acies! A powerful weapon that was crafted using the horn of a Qiongqi, sculpted by the hands of Hades’ bare hands, designed by the unholy priestess of hell! It’s power has the ability to slice down mountains in half, obliterate the souls of even the purest of living creatures! Only I have the strength to wield such power, even if it drains me in the process and turn me into a hollow corpse! I shall use it to express myself, and show you all what I’m truly capable of!!!”
He leaped into the air, twirling the weapon so fast it formed a circle. He spun around three times in two different directions before he landed back on the ground. He dashed right forward towards the group, chanting his ultimate special attack.
“Titan’s Wrath “Destruction of the 83 Moons of Saturn”!!!!!”
But then out of nowhere, as he was a second away from unleashing his attack. His foot slipped on the ground, causing him to fall forward and splat right on the floor. His weapon flew out of his hands, landing only a few meters away from him and the group.
Mary reached for it, and after a quick inspection, she said:
"This spear looks like it was sharpened with stones. Do you actually know how to sharpen something like this?!? The edge is all messed up, cracked, rusty and…"
She looked at Sateen struggling to get up. Or rather, he wasn’t trying to. He was too focused on holding back his tears while the sound of his sniffling was picked up.
“Damn it… It was going to be… so cool.” He said while his voice cracked.
"So much effort…for nothing."
"Why?!?! Why does it have to be just me, the one who always gets the bad impression?!?"
Mary realized that he was actually hurt, torn even from the level of humiliation he received after all the build-up. The thought of going up to him and comfort him came into her mind almost immediately, call it maternal instinct even. However, Sumireko already beat her to the chase. The Psychic Girl walked over to Sateen, sitting next to him and quietly patted him on the shoulder.
“I know how it feels, kid.” She said. “We all have had our fair share of humiliation…But that’s only because the normos don’t know how awesome we really are. You may think you screwed up but in reality we were lucky that we didn’t get obliterated by your weapon of mass destruction.”
“...R-Really? You don’t think I’m a fool?” Sateen asked, glancing at Sumireko.
“Of course. From one Chuuni to another, we should have each other’s backs. Also, that attack name you came up with, that was such a cool name. You got any other cool moves like that?”
Sateen was shocked by many factors. But the two factors that mattered most were that 1. He had someone who could relate to him in his edginess. And 2. It was a girl of all people that was talking to him. A girl that is now taking a closer look, seems very pretty with those glasses, that short brown hair, that gentle and smooth skin. He quickly looked in the opposite direction, turning his entire body around.
“W-Well. I-I am glad that you are impressed by me. M-Most people would either cower in fear or tremble upon my might, but you happen to be one of the few who are able to withstand my intimidating aura.” Sateen said, internally he was panicking, thinking of what to say that could avoid him making a fool out of himself once more in front of such a beautiful girl.
Sumireko was a little confused on how he was acting now, but Mary knew better. She could tell how he was acting because Satsujin acted in a similar way once before with Mystia.
"I remember when Satsujin had an anxiety attack when he got his face revealed to his newmet friends. He was so scared that someone would make fun of his scarred face, but hopefully Mystia was there to calm him down." Mary said.
"And when she complimented him…he went red as a tomato. Heh…Good times."
Another minute later, Sateen felt better about himself thanks to the confidence boost from Sumireko. He stood back up, looking at everyone, including Satsuko and let out a deep sigh.
“You have all bested me… But that is only because I was using just 1% of my power!” He quickly added. “Because I know that you wouldn’t stand a chance against me if I didn’t hold back, I willingly accept defeat for now.”
As he said that, a small light glowed in the room everyone was in. Out popped into existence a small blue key with a red gem in the center, flying around until floating into Satsuko’s hands. Then it was followed up by random victory music.
“Congratulations! You have acquired one of the keys needed in order to unlock the entrance to the Tower of Reminiscence!”
“Wait, really? That’s all it took?” Meiling asked the voice.
"Yeah. Doing things not-violently is also a valid option."
“So, we just need to get the rest of the keys in order to go into the tower then?” Mary said.
“Looks like it.” Sumireko said. “I think the map said we had four locations, so if this is key number one, then we only need to get three more.”
"And as for me? It would be shameful for an omniscient entity like me to not fulfill their promises. Here's your reward."
A strange-looking fruit appeared in front of Sumireko, which was reminiscent of a prickly pear's fruit , with a red and yellow color gradient across it. The surface of the fruit had a few marks in the form of veins, and the center of it displayed a skin fold resembling a closed eye.
“A fruit?” Sumireko said.
“Not just any fruit. This fruit gives anyone who consumes it enhanced power. Those who have devoured the fruit have grown both in physical and mental strength."
"Trust me when I say you would wish these weren't endangered to the point of near extinction. They have a godly taste."
“...Okay.” Sumireko said, biting into the fruit without a moment of hesitation. “Hm…Tastes very sweet and smooth."
"So, how are you feeling?"
“...Not that much dif-”
Sumireko paused, a flourishing sensation of psychic energy coursing through her body, her veins, her spirit. Her hair spiked up from the gust of wind that blew around her and against the others who surrounded her. It lasted for a few seconds before coming to an instant halt.
“...Woah.” Sumireko said.
"Oh, I should have said before that the effects kick in REALLY hard. Hehehe… Now…what if you try to read someone's mind now?"
“Read someone’s mind?” Sumireko said. “I don’t think I ever tried that before.”
"I'm not kidding, try it."
She did what the voice suggested. Looking over at Sateen, she concentrated with her mind a little, looking directly at him like how Satori would do it.
“Um…Why is she staring at me like that…Could it be that she has become impressed by my awesomeness? Maybe she wants to know more about my dark origin? No… Maybe it’s more than that!”
It worked, she was able to hear his thoughts. It sounded loud and clear as if he was actually speaking right now.
“No… Maybe she… in… with me… perhaps she would………”
But as she continued, her mind quickly turned foggy, and a mild headache ensued. She broke her connection with Sateen’s mind, shaking her head with slight fatigue.
“Ow… I guess I can’t do it for too long.” Sumireko said.
"The only problem is that you can do it on one person at once, but it's much better than having no control over it. And don't overdo it, or… you could cause yourself a thrombosis in the worst of cases."
After a moment to recover, Sumireko and the others decided to head to their next location. They pulled out the map, seeing one of the tokens that floated over the haunted house now gone, replaced with a little flag with a check mark instead.
"Please choose a new location to go. And no, no more effortless choices from now on, sorry."
View Poll
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2023.03.30 00:24 tawberri Trip Review (March 2023) - La Fortuna, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio - Part 1

I’m currently in San Jose spending our last night in Costa Rica before we head back home tomorrow morning. I found these types of posts super helpful when planning my trip so I thought I would share mine. This was our itinerary:
Day 1 - Liberia > La Fortuna
Day 2 to 4 - La Fortuna
Day 5 - La Fortuna > Rio Celeste > Monteverde
Day 6 to 7 - Monteverde
Day 8 - Monteverde > Manuel Antonio
Day 9 to 11 - Manuel Antonio
Day 12 - Manuel Antonio > San Jose
Day 13 - San Jose > Home
La Fortuna - We had 4 full days here (including Rio Celeste) which was the perfect amount of time. It was really convenient having a car to get around as all of the attractions are a bit spread out. With a car we were also able to go everywhere on our own schedule vs having to join a tour which was great. We stayed in an awesome Airbnb 15 minutes out of town which I highly recommend if anyone wants the link. If you’re driving in from Liberia, make sure to complete your drive before sunset, our drive in was a bit traumatic as we left a little too late.
Food Spots:
Monteverde - I’m so happy we came here, the scenery was out of this world. We had 2 full days in MV which was just enough time. The drive in from La Fortuna was a bit rough in some areas but once we got closer to MV, the views were beautiful. I suggest figuring out the best roads to drive on vs blindly following Waze if you’re coming in from La Fortuna. We didn’t have a 4x4 but did have a high clearance SUV which saved us. I don’t think we would have survived the roads with a sedan.
Food Spots:
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2023.03.30 00:14 ecilart CAD vs reality

CAD vs reality
Hey Reddit! My partner and I have been looking for engagement rings for a couple months now. I’ve gone between a few styles and was starting to feel overwhelmed, but after trusting my gut I’ve decided to go with an oval solitaire.
I’ve fallen in love with a Susie Saltzman ring but she is unfortunately out of our budget. I took one style to a few shops and most I talked to had never seen anything like it. We have decided to go the custom route with a local jeweler. I hate to blindly replicate it but mostly liked the diamond detail on the bridge and how delicate it looks. This is the first CAD I’ve received from the jeweler and while it is similar, I’m a little disappointed (they sent it to me as an “exact replica”). However, I’m not really sure how CADs vs the ring in reality compare. It seems a bit clunky to me. Will this CAD as is turn out similar to the inspo pic? The parts that stick out to me as different are the cathedral arms (I’d like them to taper slightly and be straight on the inside), a thinner gallery rail (they mentioned curved might not be possible but I at least wanted thin). Or does this rendering look like everything is at minimum recommended width for structure and durability? I will of course talk to the jeweler with feedback but I hoped this community could help me collect my thoughts and level my expectations first.
Thanks for your time!
submitted by ecilart to EngagementRings [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 23:48 Keraiza Guide to driving the Master’s Tournament event in Augusta, GA (April 6-9, 2023)

Pretty soon drivers throughout Georgia and South Carolina should be getting quests for the Master’s Tournament. Some of y’all will be asking about whether it is worth it, and some of y’all will be asking about strategies for working the tournament, so I’ll try to cover both in this post. For reference, I have been an Uber driver in Augusta since 2017. I did two Master’s Tournaments as an X driver pre-pandemic and one Master’s Tournament as an XL driver last year (the two tournaments during the pandemic were closed to the public and were for members only). Sorry to the Uber Black drivers who are looking at this post, I don’t really have much experience to share with you about your platform, but hopefully some of this guide will still be helpful. I don’t do Eats, but they should do well here, too.
Market basics:
Augusta is a rate-card market. It pays UberX $0.60/min and $0.09/mile and pays UberXL $1.45/min and $0.22/mile. Those who are coming from an upfront market (and new drivers who decide to start during The Master’s) will be accepting trips blind (unless Uber goes upfront within the next week). You have to have a SC vehicle inspection to pick up rides in North Augusta, SC, so unless you are a SC driver, or you come from a border town and did the SC vehicle inspection, you might want to avoid that side of town (near downtown, Augusta). Alternatively, if you do have a SC vehicle inspection done, this is a great location to get trips that other drivers (including most taxi drivers) cannot get. Outside of the tournament, the Augusta market only has UberX and UberXL. The platforms that I remember from last year during tournament week included UberX, UberX Diamond, Uber Comfort, UberXL, Uber Black, and Uber SUV. I know Lyft (which normally only does Lyft and LyftXL) also has Lyft Lux, but I’m not sure of their other platforms.
Tournament basics:
The rideshare waiting lot for the Augusta Nationals (the name of the golf course which hosts the Master’s Tournament) is on Washington Rd about a mile East from Exit 199 of I-20. Most tickets can only be used twice for entry into the tournament. The entrance to the rideshare lot is just after the taxi lot entrance which is just after the Olive Garden restaurant if you are coming from I-20. The tournament starts at 8 am and ends when all the players are done on the course, typically around 5pm-ish. Those who attend to watch the tournament but are not members are called patrons. A lot of patrons will only come to see a particular golfer (Tiger Woods draws a lot of attention) and will leave when their golfer leaves (especially during practice rounds). Some patrons will sit at a single hole and will leave when all the players that they want to see for the day have come across that hole.
The women’s amateur tournament already began on Wed March 29, 2023, at Champion’s Retreat. The women’s tournament players get a practice day on Fri March 31 and will compete on Sat April 1 at the Augusta Nationals. Mon, Tues, and Wed April 3-5 will be the practice rounds. A lot of your middle-class fans will be here on one of these days as they will have a hard time getting tickets to the actual tournament; most of these patrons will only be here for a single day. Thu-Sun April 6-9 is the actual tournament. Most of your better-off patrons (and very lucky patrons) will be here during the actual tournament. They will often be here all four days. April 6-9 will be, by far, the busiest times of the tournament.
A lot of businesses arrange for tickets. Outside of C-suite employees, most of these tickets will be given out to customers and awarded to employees for a half-day visit (as they can be used twice) to get the most bang for the buck. This is good for UberX & UberXL drivers as a lot of these patrons who are there for half-day help fill up some of the time between the start time rush and the end of the day rush and are more likely to use Uber (or taxis) to get around.
Try to get along with the law enforcement and the workers at and around the Augusta Nationals. The Augusta Nationals has a reputation for banning and trespassing those who don’t follow their fairly stringent rules, although most of the workers there just work for the week. The Augusta Nationals have stripped members of their membership for things we might feel are small infractions; they certainly don’t care about trespassing a random Uber driver.
Augusta has two airports:
Last year, the quests were for $15/trip originating from the rideshare parking lot at the Augusta Nationals between 3pm and 7pm. This sounds great, but I only got a total of 7 trips during that quest time for the entire four days of the quest (and one of those trips was a “high priority” return after a very short trip). The big issues are that the tournament might end before 3pm for bad weather or might go beyond 7pm (usually because of weather delays). Also, every driver is trying to cram into the rideshare lot to get in the queue for that quest. Even if the tournament gets out during the quest hours, you will be fighting traffic out of and back into the rideshare lot. The lot seems to be designed for about 20 vehicles, but there were at least 60 vehicles crammed in most of the time last year. Drivers can also park at the Publix parking lot near the Augusta Nationals to get in the queue, but then you must crawl through traffic to get to the pickup. As a strategy, it might be worth it to jump into the Publix lot, though, to get your position in the queue to get one more quest for the night. The quest is what brings drivers to Augusta, but it isn’t really where drivers make their money….
Stories abound in and around Augusta about $100 tips that patrons give out during their visit to the Master’s Tournament. In the three years that I drove for the tournament, I only got some of these tips one year (last year) and none the other two years, but I received four of them last year for the following reasons: (1) being a military veteran, (2) returning binoculars that were left in my vehicle, (3) going through a Chick-Fil-A drive thru, and (4) making a half-dozen stops for one rider for cigars and alcohol and ice and other items. The first two tips were easy money; the second two tips cost a lot of time during high surges (although I would have still had a hard time doing better than the $100 during that time). If you are a young lady that is easy on the eyes (not sure of a better way to put it), you will have a much easier time getting the $100 tips, but you’ll likely also face some very stereotypical frat-guy behavior from the mostly older male crowd. Most people giving out these types of tips are not taking UberX or UberXL, though.
As an upfront market, real surges are hidden, but you’ll still be able to see sticky surges. The best time for surges (aka, the times when riders exceed drivers) are in the early hours of the morning, the closing hours of the tournament, and during late night. The event starts at 8am (watch out for weather delays), but the rides easily start before 5am. There are a lot of moving parts to get the tournament started, and a lot of the rides that you’ll give as an UberX or UberXL are to those who support the tournament rather than the patrons. Parking lot attendants, traffic control, hospitality, camera crews, etc., are all heading to work. Uber shines at this time as the other modes of transportation have a hard time capturing this traffic unless prescheduled. A lot of patrons will start coming in soon after the workers to try to get the “ultimate” spot, and patrons will keep coming in for several hours. At the end of the tournament, there is no magical place to be except as close to the Augusta Nationals as possible. Patrons, workers, etc. are all streaming out of the same location.
Hot Spots:
  1. Don’t bother around Washington Rd as patrons will be primarily walking (not worth fighting the traffic for such low fares to the tournament either, imho, unless you are very, very close already).
  2. West Lake is a huge location for pickups. It is a gated community, but if you tell the guards you are picking up at 3556 W Lake Dr (the Club House), they should let you right through the gate. You can even type this address in your app to get directions to it (without using your precious destination filters) and have your app look like you are actually going to there for a pickup.
  3. There are several subdivisions near Washington Rd and William Few Pkwy in Evans, GA, that are commonly underserved.
  4. Whole blocks within River Island Pkwy are rented out by Mercedes Benz and other corporations and is a good source of rides.
  5. River North Dr in North Augusta, SC, is a great source of rides for patrons for those drivers who have submitted a completed a SC vehicle inspection to Uber.
  6. Otherwise, workers and patrons will be staying in housing all over the city.
Roads to Avoid:
Law Enforcement:
The LE that you come across in Augusta are overworked outside of the tournament and will have had some really long hours by the time the tournament even starts. If you do something stupid enough to warrant the LE to actually bother going after you, expect at least a ticket. Be polite to LE because their fuses are already short. If you screw up, the best thing to do is to just apologize and accept the chew out if they are yelling at you from the road. Arguing will likely get you swarmed by police in Augusta.
Some notable things to point out:
Traveling from Other Markets:
One of the mistakes many drivers make is not recouping the costs of traveling from/to their market and missing the surges that result from other drivers leaving their market. I assume that a driver is not going to stay overnight in Augusta as the hotel costs are prohibitive. I also don’t recommend sleeping in your car because the local LE already have short fuses with the extra hours and the extra work brought on from patrons during the tournament (patrons routinely include heads of states and billionaires). If you are over 2 ½ hours away and don’t have a place to crash in Augusta, I wouldn’t bother.
Here is what I would do if I were in these other markets (but your reasoning or circumstances might be different):
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2023.03.29 23:37 Few-Distance156 St. David’s Road reconstruction begins between St. Catharines and Thorold

St. David’s Road reconstruction begins between St. Catharines and Thorold
A major road work project has started on St. David’s Road between St. Catharines and Thorold. The project involves the reconstruction of St. David’s Road (Regional Road 71) between Collier Road and Foley Crescent.
The project is part of a joint effort between the Niagara Region and the cities of St. Catharines and Thorold to urbanize the cross-section of the road, including the installation of curbs and gutters, new sidewalk on the north side, multi-use trail on the south side, upgraded local and regional water mains, new storm sewers and street lighting, and construction of a new road base, curbs, and asphalt.
The project is expected to improve traffic operations, safety, and active transportation along the corridor, which is a major east-west roadway connecting Highway 406 to Merrittville Highway.
The project will be completed in two phases. Phase one began on March 28 and will run until autumn 2023. Phase one will require a full road closure of St. David’s Road between Collier Road and Foley Crescent for the duration of the construction. Detour routes will be posted and access to local businesses and properties will be maintained as much as possible.
Phase two is expected to begin in 2024 or 2025 and will involve the reconstruction of St. David’s Road between Highway 406 ramp and Burleigh Hill Drive / Collier Road.
The project is being carried out by O’Hara Trucking & Excavating Inc. on behalf of the Niagara Region and the cities of St. Catharines and Thorold.
The public can find more information about the project on the Niagara Region website and can contact the project team with any questions or concerns.
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2023.03.29 23:34 MagicYanma Torchlight 3

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USS Cambridge, 2057.12.4, Candidate #103-D.

A young human stares up at the sight before him. It is not grand in any sense of the word but it still is impressive, a ship built to fly among the stars before him as they both stand on an alien world. The ship itself is full of scars, pock marks, and massive dents in its steel armor plating. Standing out from all the damage were two plates missing entirely, revealing the hull proper beneath.
“Ever weld before Kevin?”
He looks back to see his superior, a well-built woman of tan skin and in a jumpsuit like his but dirty at the sleeves. She pulls along a toolbox and a cart with a drape over it.
“Yes but nothing to this scale and definitely on ship’s my whole life like you… Tara, was it?”
“Yes and it’s time to get used to it, White Hat.” she takes out a portable welder and places it on a toolbox. “New to the ship means you get the big plate to do.”
“Hell of a ritual you all have here.”
“Hey, the Cambridge is a good girl but she needs her maintenance like any other. Especially since we’re supposed to be away from friendly space for long spans of time." She pulls out her own welder and uses her foot to pull over the cart with two large panels of pre-made steel plates. “Especially after losing two plates to a meteoroid. Lucky us nothing else hit or we'd be freezing up till rescue.”
“God’s sake, is this really necessary every time we lose an armor panel?” Kevin asks.
“Doesn’t matter what god you pray to, if something smashes through the side of the ship, we die.” she slaps the unlit welder into Kevin’s gut, “So try not to damage the plating. It’s all we have- got none of those fancy shields or massive 3D printers. Now, stop slacking, start welding.”
“Just great… Is it always like this?” Kevin groans before sliding down the face-plate and lighting the torch.
Tara chuckles.
“Welcome to the reality of interstellar travel.”

Personal Virtual Recorder File #23-2-AT, 204 D.G, 5th of Gransus - Executive Officer Atai, Kata-Haslin

The lights of the tracka car flicker as I make my return to the bridge, timing it before the start of Speaker Luril’s sermon. I assume the lights mean that Aran’s work on connecting the derelict is done along with restoring power to the Kata-Haslin. Sometimes, he works miracles… or they found it easier than thought. I presume the latter since he also has a flair for dramatics at times.
Up an elevator and walking about a few halls, I eventually greet a puzzling sight. My deck officers all standing by the doors of the bridge. With them are two other officers aboard: Chief Crewvi Kure and Senior Medic Ijik. I assume they're here to report things to the Captain but, I find they are all arguing to my detriment. Can nothing be right today?
“What is going on? Why is everyone outside the bridge? Why are Chief Crewvi Kure and Senior Medical Officer Ijik here?” I announce as I walk up to the gathering at the door. All eyes and ears turn to me. Most are with relief, though among many, one pair of eyes is far angrier than the rest.
“Well, look who finally decided to appear. Finally here to do work you’re meant to do Atai?” Kure states to me directly, even stepping forward. He is one of few Aavi on this ship able to stand and look me in the eyes physically without straightening our normally bent legs.
“I have been down in the holds, observing what happened with my own eyes. I need to know what we were dealing with personally.” I explain to Kure who in return flicks his tail sharply in his anger.
“Well, while you’ve been off doing that, I’ve been addressing the crew as best I can because a whole group of people refuses to tell me what’s going on! I call the Captain and get drunken rambling. I come up here and I find out she’s locked herself in the bridge and all the deck officers are out here!”
“Why is everyone out here and not at their post exactly?” I ask the other officers of the bridge. Reni and Ikai both look away to a nearby sign with fake interest. Jukli looks up at the ceiling with his interest focusing on the ventilation. Only Zawi stood her ground to answer me.
“The Captain is inside. Threw us all out on her order then locked the door behind us. Turns out, Kure informed her of her mistake.” Zawi snorts in Kure’s direction, to which the Chief Crewvi growls, baring his teeth at her.
“Heel Kure.” is all I give him as a warning. He may snarl and whip his tail at me all he wants but the rest of my officers and crew are off-limits to such behavior.
“Like the Great Darkness I will.” he cuts back at me, getting ever closer to my snout. “You have a lot to speak for.”
“What exactly do you want me to say? We shunt into real-space and debris smashes into us. If it happened in proper Domain space, would you have the same complaint?”
“I wouldn’t because there wouldn’t be random derelicts floating around! We’d also definitely not be taking random shortcuts!”
“So you wish to tell the Captain herself that?” I say, blowing out some of Kure’s steam. The Chief Crewvi just looks me over for a moment.
“No, but I do wish to see the Captain before she passes out.” Ijik finally comments, reminding me of his existence. “Zawi called me up here for a reason.”
“Well, that was when we were still on the bridge but right now…” Zawi comments. I sigh and walk up to the door.
“Well, I can head inside. In an emergency, Executive Officers have the same power as a Captain - including overrides.” I reveal to the relief of everyone here, aside from Kure who continues to look sour.
“And then what? She’s drunk and in the way.” Reni queries me in earnest.
I take a moment to mull over what choice I can have. Shoving her into her quarters and locking her in is impossible. She can let herself out at any time. In no way will she willingly go away. Nothing in the lower decks will distract her, even a sermon.
“Simple. I will speak with the Captain and… we will have her jailed to get her out of the way; especially for her crime of stranding us here.” I look at everyone else with a fierce eye. They all seem wary of the idea. Even Kure has a face of disbelief and timidity. I can't blame them of course. While I relish the idea, I know it may come back to harm us in the future, but it must be done if the Captain will resort to actions like this.
After a period of silence producing an answer for me from all, I continue.
“Zawi, contact Command Officer Myki and Second Command Officer Rune. Have them bring a small security team to the bridge. Do not tell either why they’re needed. If either does ask, tell them I finally snapped and I’m choking Kure out with my tail.” I instruct succinctly to Zawi who slowly nods. A few chuckle at the notion of me choking out Kure - who I know has the same feeling for me.
“Heh, you dream it.” the one I deftly dislike responds aloud. I just shake my head as I pull up an access card on my armband. A usual model alike everyone else that stores cards, identification, and currency.
It takes little effort on my part to take out the override keeping the doors shut with that card. Being XO, even a Captain’s lockdown can be overridden by myself using a simple handprint on an inset panel beside the screen. It recognizes who I am and unlocks without delay. Handy that in emergencies the Executive Officer is given override access as well. Once done, I turn and look at everyone else.
“I remind you all to stay out here. I will speak with her alone and distract her. Once Myki and Rune arrive, you may all come inside with haste. No matter what you hear from within, do not rush in without them aside you.” I order them all deftly.
“...Do you seriously intend to detain her?” Reni finally remarks to me in shock, speaking up for everyone after all the complacency. The other officers look about before voicing quiet agreements, aside from Kure who seems to be indifferent to the idea. If there is one thing I agree with the thick fool, it's that the Captain is an absolute travesty.
I take a deep breath, my tail drags across the ground and I look away. It is tough to relay exactly what the Captain is culpable of to them, even if most before me bore witness to it.
“She is the one who locked the ship’s navigation computer into going this route. Thus, she is the one ultimately at fault. Also, action must be taken to prevent further damage by her hand, especially in the state she is in, considering she is in there doing who knows what.”
“What damage could she possibly do?” Kure asks, curious for once instead of being indignant.
“Chief Engineer Aran told me that if we activate the K-L System, the ship will rip apart. Right now, she is on the bridge. With all the controls. Drunk.”
Finally, Kure and Ijik began to look on in horror at the door separating us all from the bridge. They look to the rest of the officers who look a tad despondent and back away. I finally take my entrance onto the bridge to see what the Captain is up to. The door quietly shuts behind me, sealing me in with the Captain.
I look over the bridge in silence by myself. Well, not myself - myself and the drunk Captain who is currently sprawling herself over what should be her seat but with her current act, a seat she doesn’t deserve.
“Captain Orun. You know well you cannot drink on the bridge, especially on duty.” I tell her, fruitlessly. The woman refuses to ever listen to what regulations require - running to her tempo instead.
“Don… don’t tell me what I can an’ can’t do Atai… I know… I know… I’m the Captain and I say… i’s fine. I’s fine…” Captain Orun replies to my irritation. I hold back the urge to raise my voice or do something rash.
“It’s not fine, Captain. You know what happened, what you caused.”
“I… I caused nothin’ you… you… you liar…” the Captain does her best to stand from her chair but leans on it heavily to keep steady. She then points a shaky, pathetic finger at me. “Liar… Always been a liar an… an… trying… tryin’ to upstage me. ”
“Sir, you’ve been Captain for two Asavai years. I have been Executive Officer for the better part of fifteen. The Kate-Haslin is not just a ship to me but a home and the crew is my family. You only see us all as peons and idiots to use.”
“Tha’s cause rh, you’re all… all from…”
“The Kinsiv Domain while you are from the Capital Domain? Yes, that is correct. What does that change exactly? Does that make us lesser than you? Under the Equalist society regimen, we are all equal aside rank.”
“Well… Rrr, well… equal is for… fools… You’re all not equal jus’ idiots from shit colonies.”
I bristle hearing such a farce. It takes a considerable effort not to clock her for the indignance. Instead, I just clench my fist while my tail whips behind me, the best way to let out my anger for now. The last thing I need is the Security team walking in and seeing me knock out the Captain after all.
“Last I checked, the current Council leader is from a colony in the Neris Domain. Are they an idiot too?”
“Hah… got in on a fluke… she’... she’ll be out by the end of the year. Just a… a… rrhh… An idiot who doesn’ know what is what.”
“Yet we are now stranded by someone who is supposed to know better. An alien ship stuck in the bow. Do not try and pass off what happened as my fault either. You chose the route and you locked us out of the navigation computer.”
“...this route is supposed to be… clear.”
“Well, it wasn’t this time. Prior shortcuts worked but not this one. It was only a matter of time before we end up either harassed by pirates or a statistic our families will all grieve.” I continue to rant. The woman who dares be Captain angering me as she continues to excuse herself.
Captain Orun growls as she throws the bottle in her hand past me. It clatters pathetically on the ground behind me, her angry throw completely sloppy due to her state. One look at it then back to Orun to see her gripping the back of her seat with her claws - a sign of anger and hostility.
“...a sham. Yer’ a damn sham. Always tryin’ to… one up me.”
“You’re already Captain. What could I possibly
“You want my seat! My hat… I… I know you do!”
“And? I can wait. I have the next two hundred years to try.” I comment, trying to keep a calm act as my anger bubbles and froths. In truth, I know I qualify for Captain. Years of experience on the Kata-Haslin and various other ships.
“Wait… wait… to what? Stab me in the back… an’ throw me away!?”
“No, just waiting for you to eventually move on as other Captains have. Running this ship is not glorious nor rewarding. I know and you know it. You don’t want to be here, you’re just here because it’s all you can manage to get assigned to.”
“An’ you can only… can only get assigned to a crap old freighter like this.” she charges back. A hand begins to search through her jacket, if poorly.
“No, I can move on and up but I choose to stay.”
“Move… move… no… I should just get rid of you before you try an’ move me!” Orun suddenly shouts. I spy her sloppily pulling out her light knife from her jacket and I start taking steps back. As much as I want to pull out my sidearm or sword, I would prefer not to get into immense trouble.
“Captain, you have the wrong idea of what I-”
I barely have time to stop Orun nor reply as she rushes forward, knife in hand. The door then opens right as Orun’s light knife slashes me on the cheek. It stings and burns for a moment and I stumble back into my console. The Captain has lost her mind entirely to her ales.
“Captain Orun, Officer Atai, is everything- what the!?” I hear Command Officer Myki call out only to end in shock. The others rush in only to see me block the Captain from another slash at me. Her drunken movements are easy to counter but hard to predict. This one, I deflect up and the knife slashes into my hat.
“Stop right there Captain! Drop that knife now.”
My savior, Rune, runs up and grabs the Captain. The female Aavi struggles, yelling and screaming as the security officer wrangles with her. Myki walks up and disarms her, simply snatching the knife out of her hand before allowing Rune to start dragging her back.
“We got the word you and the Captain were having a heated exchange. I can see it got more than that.”
“One can say that…” is all I can muster as Captain Orun continues to scream and flail.
“You’re all… you’re all dead! I’ll… I’ll have you all thrown out by the Terna for this! Lemme’ go!”
“Not happening sir but you’ve broken one of the top codes - you’ve attacked your crew. That requires, at minimum, time in the brig until the next stopover so judgment can be called.” Myki relays to the furious Orun as she struggles with Rune.
The Second Command Officer eventually manages to shackle the Captain who falls to the floor pathetically. I watch with everyone else as she screams, wails, and writhes. She makes all sorts of promises and threats to try and get us to let her out but no one moves. No one dares even try. We all want this, dreaming of this day to come. No one here is about to thwart that.
Eventually, Myki summons a DG drone to carry the Captain away. He places her on its platform and it whirrs off to the lower decks. He then turns to me.
“Well, I’d like an explanation before anything else.” the black fur Aavi before me says as he sits behind him.
“She found out she got the ship stranded. Came here drunk, and locked everyone out. I got in, confronted her before she could get us all killed and then you all came as she tried to kill me for ‘insubordination’ and else.” I relay in a factly manner.
“Remarkable,” Myki says in a rather deadpan tone. “We will have to review the Bridge Recorder to see if that holds up but considering you’re bleeding…”
I just nod and gently wipe away some of the yellow blood trickling down my cheek.
“How about you skip the sermon Atai? Clean up, gel over the wound.” Ijik recommends. “Seems I will be skipping it myself to sedate our former Captain - you’re the Captain now, by default. Welcome to your new job.”
“Thank you Ijik and I will call up the morning shift officers here to watch over after I’m done. Everyone, dismissed.” I calmly order despite the injury, my first one as the new Captain by technicality.
My crew slowly filters out until only Myki is left, still sitting there next to me. He lets out a soft snort as he stands.
“You know once we head back, we will all have a lot to answer for correct?”
“I will take responsibility, good or bad. If the Terna wishes to punish me… so be it. Anything to keep the ship and crew safe. Because… if she activated the K-L system.”
“The ship would be ripped apart. Yes, Zawi told me how bad it was before we entered. Stressed Orun needs to be detained before she does that.”
“If one thinks she’s mad now, she’ll be even madder when sober.” I say as something I can’t help but comment. Myki lets out a nervous laugh - the call of our people.
“Well, that’s for me and Security to deal with. You just worry about keeping us all alive, alright?”
Myki stands and towers over me. His exo-suit gives him not only incredible strength and agility but also height as his feet are atop metal facsimiles. My own gives me the same capabilities but weaker though it comes with far more computing features instead. Differing needs, as it stands.
“I’ll have to head down and see to her now. We will talk further later.”
Myki leaves me alone on the bridge. For the first time in a while, I have only silence aside from the noise of computer fans. It's comforting but foreboding as well. I settle for going to my quarters to clean up but as I walk out of the bridge, a sensor trip alarm goes off. With everyone away, either to the shrine or tending to Orun, I consider this a chance by the Spirits. Or possibly a coincidence? Either way, I move over to the console delivering the loud news to see it is a life support alarm.
“Odd… how is that possible?”
I check over thoroughly what the alarm is sounding off for exactly. I narrow it down to a fan obstruction - it’s simply not spinning anymore. Debris? Well, the ducts the derelict poke through are already in-active thus their alarms should not be going off. Further investigation reveals it is a duct fan on the side of Hold Twenty without a breach.
“What?” I growl before shaking my head. Whatever it is, it’s spreading. The number of fans jamming up is growing, slowly, one by one. These are not small fans either, the duct is quite large to move hefty amounts of air between the massive Holds. Slowly, I reach up. Do I contact someone for help? And who? Well, there is one Aavi that I call in. This is his field of work.
“Aran. I need you in Hold Twenty and now. Forget the sermon. There’s a problem.”
“...what now Atai? You know Luril is going to give us both a lecture if we-”
“Duct number two. Its fans are stopping one by one. Something is going on. Check your scanner if you don’t believe me.”
Silence comes to me from the comm. A minute passes then two. Five minutes pass before thankfully, Aran responds to me.
“...I’ll meet you there.”
I sigh in relief. It’s to my great thanks that Aran is the most reliable Aavi I know on this ship. I will need him to figure out what is going on and why our life support system is slowly shutting down. I hope no Aavi has decided to hide in the ducts out of sheer mind break.
The trip back to Hold Twenty is not quick, as I head against the flow of the crew to the shrine which lay in the aft. Because of all the delays, I arrive a half hour after I spoke with Aran. Said Aavi himself arrives ten minutes after that riding one of his TYA drones.
“The traki is too busy for this,” he comments as he hops down before me. His exo-suit’s leg springs let out soft puffs of air as they compress to soften the landing for him. “And we are missing a sermon that Speaker Luril wanted us to be there.”
“He can want what he wants, the Spirits can wait. The Kata-Haslin having issues takes priority, always.”
“Always being whenever convenient right? Most of the time, I’m the one who has to set aside personal time for problems.”
“Just check the system again before we look at it ourselves.” I tell him, with a flick of an ear. Aran snorts seeing that and my tone.
“Rrr… Okay so some stopped fans.” he brings up his wrist and begins to flick and flit with the screen. “A problem sure but the system can function without them through induction and…” Aran looks at his wrist to check on the current state of things. He taps away longer than I would like, his face growing slowly in worry as well.
“Is something wrong?”
“How…” he looks up at me with disbelief, “The fans have stopped all the way to Hold Seventeen now but… the last trigger was ten minutes ago. That’s a gap in time, I wonder why…”
“That’s… when I got here?”
I look about, wondering if someone is watching us. Aran does the same yet with our eyes and sensitive ears, we both come up short. Yet… I do feel that something is here, keeping an eye on us. From where though, I can’t fathom.
“Wait, look there. None of my team put that cover there… where did it come from?”
To my surprise, Aran’s observation is correct. Along the cargo floor, a blue plastic sheet drapes over a section of the wall paneling. It is hard to spot behind all the containers but it certainly is not normally there. We look at each other then hop down, letting our exo-suits take the fall for us and walk to it.
“Maybe… someone left this behind?” Aran says, looking it over closely. He moves it aside lightly to reveal a gaping hole leading into inky darkness. “...rah?”
“...rrr, that’s not good.” I finally mumble, seeing the hole.
A wall panel is ajar, leaving a good amount of space for any Aavi to slip through. Aran slumps slightly and I stand there in surprise. To open up the panel would take great strength without the necessary tools but it is clear whoever did this, somehow did. Inspecting closer, we both can see that they left marks behind from the sheer force, even bending the panel slightly.
“They used something blunt and strong. With the marks, a lever action like a bar.” Aran deduces calmly as traces a hand over the panel, “And… rrr… with great strength too. Whoever did this, either has an exo-suit like mine or Security’s.”
“So Engineering and Security. Who within either would wrench open a panel and start shutting off fans?”
“Not a clue, no one in Engineering has any suicidal ideas nor a reason to hide in the ducts. Security… they’re a good sort. If any are missing, the Command Officers would let you know.” Aran tells me. I nod at the thought. No call is coming and I know it - Myki is too insightful to let slip a single missing set of ears.
“I doubt it. There must be several members of the crew involved then. Kure is a fire-minded one, sometimes he can miss obvious holes while looking at dust.”
“Is someone messing with us? Why hide this?” Aran comments as he moves the tarp aside, revealing the full extent of the open panel. The cold air from within hits us both and I can see Aran shiver. It takes a moment for either of us to say anything else but eventually I find my voice.
“Well, it’s pretty clear whoever did this is trying to be as quiet as a jerta.”
Aran clicks his tongue. “They’re good at it too. Brave as well to walk in such a dark, enclosed space.”
I don’t respond. There is a lot to consider. Whoever is in there are disabling fans, which means they don’t have the Kata’s best intentions in mind - thus the crew as well. We simply cannot let them run amuck, as much as I would rather Security deal with the issue. Time is at hand and there simply isn’t much of it. Aside from that, it would take a considerable amount of time with how many are likely at the sermon which leaves only one immediate option.
I slump, my tail plopping on the floor with a quiet thud. Aran looks at me as I eye the darkness intently. “...we might need to follow them in and confront them.”
“You… rrh, you sure? They might-”
“They might break something more permanently. You know how bad that can be.” I quickly retort, to Aran’s detriment.
Aran slowly clenches a fist, his other clenching the hilt of his sword. “I know, I would just rather not confront anyone. I am no warrior. No soldier. No glada.” he lists, stressing the last one in particular. “If they are just… in a bad state, we are not the right ones to speak with them.”
“Better us than no one at all.” I move up to the open gap and look inside. Looking back to Aran, I spy his worry and give him a gesture of confidence: crossing a tight fist over my chest. He lets out a soft breath at it and steps up to me.
“Alright. You owe me plenty now. First repairing the Kata, then hooking up a derelict to the power system now this. Five rounds of kert, at minimum.”
“A deal on my honor then.”
I take a deep breath and step into the duct, turning on a light as I do. The darkness cannot hide them now.


- A lot of focus on the crew of the Kata-Haslin but that's because I want to slow-burn first before everything else.
- Orun has been thrown in the brig. As deserved of course.
- The ducts are quite large as they must push vast quantities of air across ~8 kilometers.
- As per suggestion, I will add dates to the Cambridge and Kata-Haslin sections.
- Switching from 3rd to 1st Person for the story. Makes it easier to keep track of thoughts and actions.
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2023.03.29 23:08 Michael_Whitehouse The Pale Figures in the Woods Destroyed My Life. If You See Them, Run!

I've always tried to rationally think through how we got here. What happened to lead us down this path? Why did life turn out like this? When I do, my mind always comes back to that summer's day in Scotland. Everything stems from that like a collapsed vein; a happier time cut off from us in the past, and nowhere else to go but this tainted present.
Back in 1977, my wife, Jenna, and I saw something neither of us could comprehend. It changed us forever.
We were staying in a small Scottish village called Aberfoyle for a week at the time. It was a quaint place, surrounded by pleasant rolling hills, woodland, and lochs. From our hotel, we could explore the lush Scottish scenery, something Jenna had wanted to do since she was a kid. Her mother was Scottish, and although she had passed away when my wife was very young, Jenna always felt a deep connection to the country. It was a spiritual home of sorts.
She was fascinated by it. The vast spaces of green and rock. Clear blue waters, snow, rain, wind, and sun piercing through it, if you were lucky. It was the natural world in its element. Most of all, Jenna cherished the few memories she had of her mother telling stories about Scotland. It was a mystical place for her and her family, and that pull to see it first-hand only grew over the years.
I had spent my childhood in a small town in the Midwest. I'd had my fill of nature and preferred the streets of Boston as an adult, but when my wife turned 30, I knew that a trip across the Atlantic would make the perfect present. When I told her where we were going, she was so happy.
Aberfoyle village was barely more than a main street at the time, with our hotel - well, I say, 'hotel', but it was more of a bed and breakfast - sitting on one of the rare, empty backstreets. At night the place shut down except for a solitary pub, leaving us to breathe in the relative silence and darkness of the surrounding hills and forests.
The first night there we had dinner at a small restaurant. That night brought more than its fair share of surprises. The first was when I surprised Jenna with a silver bracelet engraved with a suitably soppy message on the underside. But that wasn't where the unexpected ceased. Jenna then dropped the biggest surprise of all - she was pregnant with our first child.
We had been trying for over a year and we were beginning to worry that something was wrong, and so to hear that she was pregnant was overwhelming. We celebrated - Jenna on the orange juice, me on the Scotch.
The next day, my head was pounding and I asked that we stay closer to the hotel rather than have our planned trip to Glasgow City. Jenna was a little put out, but by lunchtime, my headache had lifted a little and I suggested a walk through the countryside as a compromise. The night before, one of the locals had told me about a scenic walk through Queen Elizabeth Forest. It sounded perfect, and just a short drive away. If I had to hurl, at least I wouldn't be doing it in front of other people.
Jenna was excited to get out and about, and so we drove for about twenty minutes from Aberfoyle and parked in a small makeshift parking lot inside the forest. This was the place the trails started, and they could only be explored on foot. When we got out, the scent of pines was sweet in the air and the fresh smell made me feel much better.
Although I've been told the location is now more popular, on that day we saw no other cars on the road into the forest, and the parking lot itself was empty. The sun was high in the sky, and as we headed on foot towards what was supposed to be a relaxing forest walk, I remember smiling at Jenna. She was so beautiful.
A wooden information board showed us the route we were to take. Given her condition, I didn't want Jenna to overexert herself, so we took the path marked in green, which meant it should have been the easiest trail.
And it was, for a while. The path moved through pockets of pine trees and had clearly been used many times before. It was picturesque, and with each step, I started to understand why Jenna had been so happy to visit the place. There's undoubtedly something necessary about getting away from the world to lose yourself in nature. It's like we still have an ancient part of ourselves that gets nourished by the deep greenery.
As we strolled along the dirt path, we started talking about what we would call the baby if it were a boy or a girl. It was then that we realized we were not alone. In front of us in the distance, a young boy walked out from the tree line and stood on the path ahead about 50 yards away, just staring at us. He looked to be about 8 or 9 years old. Being in an isolated area, it would have been unnerving to begin with, but what immediately filled me with disbelief was the fact that the boy was clearly naked.
The sun reflected off of his skin, and his pale colour was stark against the green of the forest. What do you do in a situation like that? This was in the 1970s and, although there were always whispers of terrible things happening behind closed doors, it was long before the public truly accepted that many children were being abused or mistreated.
Still, the unsettling sight was soon replaced with concern for the child. Jenna picked up the pace and shouted 'hello', but something immediately made me grab her hand and stop her from running up to the boy.
I asked Jenna to stay put, not just for herself but for our unborn child's sake. The last thing I wanted was for a stressful situation to affect the pregnancy. Reluctantly, she stayed where she was and I stepped forward towards the boy.
As I drew closer, I realized just how pale and emaciated he was, as though he had been kept somewhere, malnourished and away from sunlight for some time.
'Are you okay?' I asked. 'Where are your parents?'
He just looked at me, the skin beneath his eyes darker than the surrounding skin. Cautiously, I moved closer with my arms open so as not to scare him. 'Let us help you. Maybe we could take you to the police or help you find your parents?'
The closer I got, the more I felt the uncertainty of the situation. There was something very wrong with the boy. I expected him to move back or show some sort of fear, but he didn't. In fact, I was sure that a subtle grin momentarily flickered across his face before returning to the same, sombre expression as before.
By this time, I was standing straight in front of him.
I asked him: 'What's your name?'
Again, he said nothing, but now he was looking intently into my eyes, and that gaze carried with it nothing but menace.
The boy then reached out his right hand and touched the centre of my chest. The touch of his fingers left me unsure of myself. I turned to look back at Jenna down the path to ask her what I should do. As I turned, I heard a rustling sound and when I looked back towards the boy, he was no longer there.
I followed the rustling to the side of the path. The ground dipped down into a slight incline. There, the trees and bushes created thick clumps of leaves and branches. It looked difficult to traverse, and I thought that the boy's naked skin must have been scraped and cut to pieces running about in there. It was so dim between the trees; a tangled green mess.
Waiting for a moment, I listened. There was nothing other than the occasional creak of a branch swaying in the gentle breeze. Above, the sun shone down directly onto the path, but just a few steps forward and I would have been engulfed by the dark of the forest. The difference in light was stark in my mind, and although I wanted to help the kid, everything about the situation left me in a wary state of mind.
Seeing no sign of the boy, I walked back to Jenna. She asked where he was. I said I didn't know and told her that he'd disappeared into the forest when my back was turned. Jenna looked pale, and she gave me a look I knew only too well. I'd seen it a few times over the previous few years - something was on her mind and she just had to get it out.
Jenna looked me straight in the eyes and said: 'I never saw the boy leave the path.'
She insisted that it was as if he had just vanished. One moment he was there, the next he was gone. I was caught in a difficult situation. This was long before the common cell phone. One of us needed to alert the authorities that there was a young boy stranded in the woods, running around as naked as the day he was born.
Considering how deep and thick the section of forest around us was, he could easily have fallen and hit his head on a rock or, later, died of hypothermia when the night came. There was only one thing we could do: One of us would have to stay put in case the kid needed help, while the other would walk back to the car, drive into Aberfoyle, and raise the alarm.
There was no question that I would stay in the forest, but I didn't feel right about letting Jenna go back to the car by herself. Even if she hadn't been pregnant, I wouldn't have liked it. But, Jenna was always stronger-willed than me, and although I would try to pull the usual 'strong husband' routine common at the time, she was nearly always immune to it.
Jenna insisted that she would head back down the path and that I should try and find the kid, but not stray too far. She would be back as soon as possible with help. I told her to honk the horn when she was leaving the parking lot, that way I'd know she'd got back to the car okay. I got a smile and a roll of the eyes in return, but she promised to do it if it made me feel better. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and walked back the way we had come. I watched her until she disappeared from view.
Although I'd spent the last 10 years living in Boston, I grew up in the Midwest, so hikes through the woods were not alien to me - but this was different. There was something off about that long stretch of path. It was flanked by pine trees so close together that the forest was as dark as twilight once you stepped off the path and into it - and that was something I had no intention of doing.
The tree line was like an impenetrable wall to me. Nonetheless, I stared intently at it in search of the smallest sign of life. I was sure that since I hadn't heard anyone moving around in there, the boy must still have been near. He would have made too much noise moving through the uneven and cluttered terrain.
There was a sense of loneliness about that place. No... Not loneliness, but isolation. Like it was an arm cut from the body of the world. Such environments infect the mind with paranoia, and as I was entertaining the stark atmosphere of the place, I kept my eyes on the side of the path from where the boy had first appeared.
My imagination took over. I began to think about the kid, lost in the woods. I thought about how he'd gotten into such a situation. And those thoughts were too dark to dwell on. I turned my mind to a lighter explanation. Maybe there was a loch nearby and he was swimming there with his friends, I thought. They took his clothes as a prank and then he'd followed the path trying to get back to town.
Yes, that made sense. It must have been something like that. But why did he not speak to me? And what of his skin: It was unusually pale, and that flicker of a smile on his face, it-+ caused me doubt just to think about it.
Continuing my vigil, I wondered why Jenna hadn't honked the car horn yet as she left the parking lot. I was sure she should have made it back there by then. That's when I thought I saw movement. I didn't know if it was a deer or the missing boy himself.
Slowly, I stepped forward to the edge of the path and peered in. The quiet of the place took over, and I stared steadily for any hint of movement. I was so focused that I had no time to react to the real danger. Something walked out of the woods from behind me at speed. I barely had a moment to turn, and when I did, something large and white put its hands on me.
It knocked me from the path, and as I fell down the incline into the trees and bushes in front, a searing pain cut across my vision. A branch of pine needles scratched across my left eyeball leaving me unable to see out of it.
Instinct kicked in and I fled deeper between the trees, the branches cracking and prodding around me as I did so. Blood and tears oozed from my injured left eye, and as I looked back momentarily with my right, I saw, standing on the sunlit path, two people. A man and a woman. Both were naked, and their skin was as white as the boy's I had seen, gleaming in the summer sun.
Both figures stepped forward towards where I was, and I quickly attempted to hide within the cutting embrace of a large pine tree, but it was clear that they could see me somehow. It was at that moment that I heard the distant sound of a car horn. A sense of relief cut through my adrenaline. I could at least be happy that Jenna had made it back to the car without incident. Hopefully out of the forest and away from my attackers.
The man and woman stared at me through the trees, their gaze dark and malevolent. Angry even. When he and the woman moved towards where I stood, I panicked and picked up a moss-covered rock on the ground at my feet. It was the only way to protect myself.
I watched, anticipating their movements, waiting for them to attack. The woman spoke to the man, and her words were unlike any I had heard before. It wasn't just the language that confused me, but I'm uncertain how any human could make such a sound. Beneath the words, there was an unusual noise. Each word lay on top of a breath, like a storm swelling and pushing through a constricted space. The man answered with a lower, yet equally airy voice.
There we were, waiting. I might not have understood the language, but I knew they meant to harm me, and for the first time the thought that I might never leave that forest alive rose up in my mind.
Just as the man finally lurched towards where I was, my heart began to race. If the sound of Jenna striking our car horn had made me feel more at ease, the second time it sounded put me on edge. When the horn sounded for a third, and then a final fourth time, I knew something terrible had happened. Jenna needed help.
There was no time for dialogue. These people, whoever they were, had undoubtedly hurt that boy we had encountered, and now they were hell-bent on hurting me and my wife. Who knew how many of them there were? I had to get back to Jenna to make sure she was okay.
The man continued moving forward, the pine branches breaking against his skin. When he reached me, I leapt forward and swung the rock in my hand with all of my might. When it contacted his head, I was certain I had killed him. Something cracked inside his skull. I felt it. Blood sprayed across me, and he staggered back onto the trail.
I will never forget the piercing, inhuman scream the woman let out when she leaned over to help her bloodied companion. The man's pale white face had come apart from the attack, his features now a flap of skin hanging from the side of his head.
The woman stood up to come at me, and shocked at what I had done, I ran back down the path. Looking back with my one good eye, I could see that she was still with the man's crumpled body, and so I focused purely on reaching Jenna.
When I got to the parking lot, I wasn't sure what I saw at first. The car door was open and Jenna was lying in the driver's seat. A small, pale white figure was hunched over her, doing something.
As I ran to the car, the figure, who I could now see was the boy we had first encountered, let out a screech, and held a bloody mess in his hands. I was too late. The boy scampered off towards the surrounding forest, but as he reached the tall grass just before the tree line, he stopped. Crouching down, he turned and stared at me, his white skin bleached red with my wife's blood.
I didn't care if I was going to die. I took a deep breath and turned to look at what he had done to my wife. She was sitting in the driver's seat, her eyes glazed, but I didn't understand. She was looking at me in a daze, smiling.
There was no blood. No visible wound that I could see.
'I dreamt about our child,' she said. Then she lost consciousness.
I pulled her still-breathing body out of the driver's seat and lay her gently in the back. She was talking to herself, mumbling something, as though she were in a deep, confusing dream.
My only thought was to get her to a hospital. Climbing into the car, I slammed the doors shut. All the while the boy covered in blood, nestling something in his hands, stared at me from the tall grass. But he was no longer alone. The man and woman I had encountered on the path were with him, and the man, though he bore a scar down the side of his cheek, looked as though his entire face had been sewed back on.
They watched silently as I drove out of the parking lot, and I was left with the uneasy feeling that they allowed me to leave.
Jenna recovered in a local hospital, and to my complete surprise and joy, our baby was still alive and healthy inside of its mother. We spoke with the local police. Of course, no one believed us, and why would they? There wasn't a scratch on Jenna, and bizarrely, even the blood which had sprayed across me during my fight on the forest path had vanished like disappearing ink.
When I asked Jenna about what happened at the parking lot, she said all she remembered was a flash of white on the windscreen, as if something had jumped up on the hood of the car. Then, nothing. But she did say she dreamed about a crying baby.
Months later, when we were back in Boston, Jenna gave birth to our son. He was beautiful. We were happy... For a few days. To our horror, just a short while after getting him home, his skin began to change colour, like food going bad because of the air. His skin darkened as he cried for his life. I called 911, but it was too late.
He stopped breathing in Jenna's arms. We were overcome with grief I can't describe, looking down at our beautiful boy, his skin now the colour of mould, his eyes frozen open looking up at us.
We heard the paramedics come into our home downstairs, but before they reached us, the miraculous happened. Suddenly, our son began breathing again. His eyes rolled around, and then his skin began to change colour back to its original healthy tone. But the change did not stop, it grew paler and paler, until there was no doubt that we were staring at one of the children of the forest.
Before our very eyes, and I will swear this until my dying breath, our son then began to fade away, just as the blood had evaporated on my clothes. As the last outline of him vanished, he let out the laugh of a child far older than his few days. That laugh moved off into the air and out through the nearest window, fading to nothing.
If it wasn't for the paramedics, who saw the last moment themselves, the police would have thought we disposed of our own child. We didn't. He was never our child to begin with. He was of the forest, and I'm certain that's where he now lives. Lost in a sea of green.
And what of our own unborn child? Was he taken from Jenna's body at the forest? Is it possible he lives there too? That possibility haunts me, as do these memories I've finally put into words.
Jenna and I remain married, though we swore after that day never to have another child. Perhaps the effects of what we encountered in that forest still linger in her body. Who knows what we would have brought into this world?
submitted by Michael_Whitehouse to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 23:04 Box_of_Hats Looking for a useful, easy to get Travel skill? Go to the Ettenmoors!

I've recently been hunting for interesting cosmetics and decided to check out the Ettenmoors armour. Upon checking the LOTRO wiki, I noticed the Travel to Glan Vraig skill listed. It turns out it's really easy to get, has a super short cooldown timer, and connects to a few useful locations. Sorry if this is common knowledge, but I would have liked to have known this earlier, so I figured it may help someone else.
The Stables to the Ettenmoors have a minimum level of 20, so you can't do this right away with a new character, but pretty quickly.
Here's what you need to do:
  1. Go to the Ettenmoors. The South Bree stablemaster should have a route, as well as any housing district. Note that it's under the category "The Ettenmoors," not just "Ettenmoors."
  2. When you arrive, walk a little ways forward along the main road North-West to find the NPC "Sergeant-at-Arms Ascwyn" located at [21.0S, 13.5W]. Take the quest "Tutorial: Battle in the Ettenmoors."
  3. Walk northward along the road to find Captain-General Tordur located at [20.6S, 13.6W]. Hand in the Tutorial quest and then take "Tutorial: Outfitted for Battle."
  4. Talk to the relevant armour outfitter nearby to the West. They're all located on the same platform as the Captain-General and should be visible while you're standing next to him. Continue the Tutorial quest. You don't need to buy anything.
  5. Return to the Captain-General and complete the quest.
  6. Use the item you got titled "Tattered Map to Glan Vrag."
Congratulations! Now you have a travel skill with a one minute cooldown timer that returns you to the Ettenmoors! From the Travel spawn location, you can run a short distance south to the stable, which connects to South Bree, Thorin's Gate, Michel Delving, and Rivendell. As an added bonus, it also let me travel to Rivendell with a level 20 character that hadn't discovered it yet. This is only a minor convenience, since I think 20 is the level that you can get Gandalf to shuttle you there from the Prancing Pony, but it's still a nice touch.
submitted by Box_of_Hats to lotro [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 22:47 MappyMcCard Reverse VPN connection behind NAT without VPS, router to router - getting confused

Thanks to the help of this forum I've managed to get a stable WG connection up between two routers, one directly connected to the internet with DynDNS and one behind an ISP router which can't be bridged.
Through a ton of trial and error I've managed to get the following network up:
Router A (client) -> ISP router -> Internet -> Router B (server)
The client connection from router A is on router B's network
I have read several posts on doing this with a VPS, but this isn't quite the same scenario - I think it should be easier - and I'm starting to get quite confused with how to do this. Fairly new to networking and pulling my hair out.
I want to do this - reversing the VPN for one specific computer connected to Router B's network. It has a static IP set on Router B's network ( - I have tried setting the gateway for this computer to but it didn't work - and I didn't think it would.
It took quite some time to get the VPN up and running so I am quite nervous about editing and reimporting the config file on the client unless I'm sure what I'm doing is right. Do I add "Allowed IPs =" to the Peer section of the config file?
Would I be better off setting a static route on Router B, and if so, how would I configure this?
Config file is as follows:
PrivateKey =PK
Address =
MTU = 1400

PublicKey =PK
PresharedKey = PSK
AllowedIPs =,
Endpoint = DynDNS address:53113
PersistentKeepalive = 25
submitted by MappyMcCard to WireGuard [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 22:37 Carly_Neal Bad experiences with shuttle um

 i’m disabled and require the bus to get around campus and from my off campus apartment to campus in the mornings. i’ve noticed that many drivers i have time and time again on the same routes. some of these drivers are lovely and i make a point to say good morning or afternoon bc their job sucks and i really appreciate it. yesterday on the way into and out of campus, i requested my stop and they drove past it both times. today i got yelled at because the driver stopped way down the road from the stop and only opened the back doors, (didn’t want to run into someone coming off the bus) and when i and three others got to the front door my “good morning” was met with a “why didn’t you use the back door?” kind of frustrated comment, which really rubbed me the wrong way, since i was following the bus protocol. i get really anxious about if i’m following the rules there or not because i’m an anxious person, so i feel like i try to not be a burden to the driver. am i the only one who has these type of experiences? i wouldn’t want any of them to get reprimanded or anything bc it’s a tough job, and people suck, i just rely on the busses being able to take me to and from specific stops, and when they fail at that i can’t go class or end up late waiting for the next bus. 
submitted by Carly_Neal to UMD [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 22:15 annoyedsquish First road trip

How do you plan your road trip and what to see? I'm trying to use roadtrippers and it's only giving one possible route and the things on that route. I will be traveling with a preteen and want to be able to make it fun and make memories
submitted by annoyedsquish to roadtrip [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 22:10 Ahycae The "People" In The Woods

This story is a true story that happened to me around 3 years ago in Weatheroak, England.
It was the day after an interhouse competition at my barn (I do horse-riding) and I had decided to give my horse a bit of a break from strenuous work by hacking her down a local bridleway that was around a 6 - 7 minute walk from my barn. The bridleway was usually quiet at all times of the day; there were never any horse-riders or pedestrians or dog walkers, for that matter. The bridleway cut through a small section of a larger woods that ran alongside a small (and insignificant to the story) barn.
Me and my horse had gone down this bridleway numerous times before, alone and in the company of other people. It was a straight-forward path to follow; there were no forks in the path until you came to the end of the bridleway when you could choose to go to a riding stables or down the main road that led over a bridge. Me and my horse usually took the path to go onto the main road (we never had any reason to go into the riding stables, and that place was private).
For the first 10 minutes of riding down this bridleway, nothing happened. My gut was telling me that something was slightly off - my first red flag that I (stupidly) did not heed. That would come to bite me in the arse later. On the one side of the bridleway, there was a motorway (I don't know the name, I don't remember it). The traffic on the motorway was really the only thing that I could hear, and that would be the case for the majority of the ride. My horse seemed perfectly content; she seemed to be detecting nothing as we made our way deeper into the section of the woods that the bridleway cut through. It was now that my horse began napping (stopping suddenly and refusing to go forwards). My horse never does this, not even when she wants to go home; she only does this when she's spotted something that shouldn't be there, or she's spooked.
I tried everything to get her to go forwards: I used verbal aids and encouragements, I nudged her a few times with my heels, I gave her a couple kicks and then I tapped her with my whip and repeated this process a few times before she finally took a couple steps forwards, stopping again. Her ears were forward and not going back when I spoke to listen to me, and her eyes were set on something she'd seen - or was seeing - ahead of her. I decided to shut up and try and listen to hear if there was anything making any noises up ahead, and there was. There was a rustling sound in the ferns on the edge of the bridleway that separated the path and the rest of the woods.
The rustling sounded quite similar to the rustling human footsteps make when walking through heavy shrubbery. I recognised this straight away, but I decided to stay for a little bit longer; I hadn't got enough sleep the night before, perhaps I was hallucinating? Then again, what a coincidence that my horse was also reacting to what I was supposed to be hallucinating! The woods was quite dark, considering it was sunny outside, but the rays of sunlight couldn't reach the ground through the thick canopies of the old trees, so I was left having to squint to see into the distance. As my eyes adjusted to having to peer through the dark, I managed to make out slightly humanoid figures in the dark, slowly shifting around in the woods, though not towards me or my horse. They never even turned their heads towards me, so I don't know if they knew I was there. But I'd had enough, and quickly turned my horse around (she seemed grateful for that, and had finally kicked back into action).
My horse never bolts. She bucks, yes, and when I ask her to gallop she always goes pretty fast, but I've always been in control of her. But today, riding back home, I was not in control. She galloped all the way back home and, to be perfectly honest, I wasn't going to stop her from galloping home; I was practically shitting myself I was that terrified. That side of the woods didn't mount onto anybody's farm and, as far as I know, there is no public footpath that could lead THAT far into the woods.
To this day, I have never been able to identify what I saw. Those "people" in the woods did NOT look like people; they resembled them, yes, but they looked too tall and too lanky to be proper, well functioning people. I - and my horse - have been down that bridleway numerous times since, alone and in the company of others, and we have never had an incident like that again.
submitted by Ahycae to scarystories [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 21:42 SpookyLittleEgg 12 Days Itinerary check - Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka/Hakone - Would love some help on a few logistical questions and any Showa/Kayokyoku/Retro recommendations you all have!

Hi all,
I've been planning this trip for a while and was really hoping to get some feedback on my itinerary. I have not been to Japan since 2000 and was a kid, spent most of that trip doing more low-key areas around where my aunty lived in Fujisawa (Yokohama, Enoshima, Kanagawa etc.) so now I want to do a classic golden route. It will also be my boyfriends first trip.
I recently had to stop taking my ADHD medication so my brain has become incapable of getting my shit together on this, so more than anything would love if people would kindly help answer the logistical questions and request for recommendations at the bottom of my post!
Trip is from 17th May until 30th May 2023.
Day 1: Tokyo
7.30am Arrive at HND, Collect JR Pass/top up Suica etc.
Travel to hotel (Tokyu Stay Shinjuku East side) to drop off luggage
· 10.30am - Shibuya (Circa 4 hours)
· Return to check into the Hotel for 3pm
· 4.30pm - Harajuku area (Circa 3-4 hours)
· Shinjuku for the evening/night
Day 2: Tokyo
· Ueno Park
· Akihabara - Arcades & Gachapon!
· Asakusa – For Sanja Matsuri - Daigyoretsu Parade
Day 3: Tokyo
· Central Tokyo/Ginza - Imperial palace, Tokyo station area and shops (Muji, Itoya)
· Ikebukuro - Sanrio, Pokemon Center, Animate, Moe Garden
Day 4: Tokyo
· Early visit to Meiji-Jingu if did not have time on Day 1
· Shimokitazawa
· Nakano Broadway
· Odaiba – Gundam, Daiba Itchome Shotengai, Seaside park, view rainbow bridge
Day 5: Kyoto
· Travel from Tokyo to Kyoto as early as possible
· Half-day in Nara (Circa 6 hours) – Nara park, Todaiji, Kofukuji,Toshodaiji and Kasuga Taisha.
· Check into Park Hotel Kyoto (Downtown area)
· Nijo Castle
Day 6: Kyoto
· Travel to Arashiyama (Circa 8 hours):
- Togetsukyo Bridge
- Bamboo Groves
- Okochi Sanso Villa
- Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street
- Rakushisha Residence
- Tenryuji Temple
- Daikakuji Temple
- Gioji Temple
- Adashino Nenbutsuji and Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple
- Sagano Scenic Railway (If time)
· Kinkakuji
· Pontocho
Day 7: Kyoto
· Fushimi Inari
· Tofukuji
· East Kyoto/ Higashiyama/Gion areas:
- Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) > Philosopher’s Path > Taiho shrine > Eikando Temple > Nanzenji Temple > Okazaki Shrine
- Ishibe Alley
- Kenninji Temple
- Kodaiji Temple
- Kiyomizudera Temple
- Yakasa Pagoda
- Yasaka Kōshin-dō (Kongō-ji) Temple
- Shorenin and Chionen Temples
- Yasaka Shrine
Day 8: Kyoto > Osaka
· Travel to Osaka & Drop off bags at hotel (Namba)
· Kuromon Market
· Check into the Hotel at 4pm, then Umeda/Tenma areas
Day 9: Osaka
· Shittenoji if up early/or just skip depending on energy levels
· Shinsekai
· Namba area – Amerikamura, Dotonbori, Ema-Den, Rikuro’s
Day 10: Osaka > Hakone
· Check into Ryokan at 3pm - Explore, Bath, Rest
Day 11: Hakone > Tokyo
· Hakone loop
· Return to Tokyo for dinner, and check into hotel and chill eve/pack
Day 12: Tokyo
· Disney Sea
- Day’s 6 & 7 are nightmarish and I’m struggling to plan/prioritise. What is achievable? What should be cut if needed? (Definitely keen on seeing more cute, odd, mossy shrines too as well as the beautiful main ones though if possible)
- Sanja Matsuri – Could anyone help me on how I best experience this? Where to be and when for the parade? How late do festivities usually go on this day after main parade?
- Is it better to travel direct to Hakone from Osaka, or travel back to Tokyo and transfer to Hakone to use the Hakone pass? Would like to book a romance car for return to Tokyo, when and where is the soonest I could do this?
Showa aesthetic/Kayokyoku music/cream soda’s – Anyone got any recommendations for some retro spots? Murals/buildings with this aesthetic? Cute café’s/Kissaten? Bars/clubs with this kind of music/vibe?
Would love people’s best Gasha/arcade/photobooth recs other than GiGO chain/Purikura (Harajuku) /Gashapon Kaiten (Akiba)
submitted by SpookyLittleEgg to JapanTravel [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 21:11 IronManBow [H] Large List of Games [W] PayPal (US), The Last of Us Part I

Sgsflair 1: here --- 90+ Confirmed Trades
Sgsflair 2: here --- 15+ Confirmed Trades (no longer updating)
PayPal region is US.
Please use reddit private messages instead of chat once we come to an agreement
Leave a comment first before PMing or I won't respond
March 2023 Choice:
February 2023 Choice:
Survival Instinct:
Fighting Farmers:
In Case You Missed It: Gems of 2022
January 2023 Choice:
Black Friday VR Voyager's Pack:
November 2022 Choice:
October 2022 Choice:
Starlight Children's Foundation Games:
Valiant VR Bundle:
2K Megahits Bundle
LEGO At the Movies Games:
September Choice Games:
August Choice Games:
July Choice Games:
High Tier:
Medium Tier:
Low Tier:
Very Low Tier:
submitted by IronManBow to SteamGameSwap [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 20:46 KimLeTurtle Stolen wallet, what to do?

Hi! I have never posted on reddit before so please tell me if I'm doing anything wrong lol.
So, today my dad was robbed in the metro. One minute he has his wallet and the next it's gone. Out of his pocket. Now, we are staying near termini station but we cannot find a police station anywhere. We wanted to report the theft at termini station itself but the station was closed. Then we checked google maps and walked 20 minutes to, what we thought, another station. When we got there it was just a road. No station. We are back at our hotel trying to find somewhere to report the theft but I'm honestly so confused. I thought I found something but when I checked google maps all I saw was some kind of bridge.
We leave tomorrow around 11.30. Luckily my dad's passport is safe. His bankcard and credit card are already blocked. There is nothing else of value for the thieves in the wallet. Just my dad's driver's licence and hospital card. So a pain in the butt nonetheless.
Do you guys have any tips? Any help is very much appreciated. Thank you!
submitted by KimLeTurtle to rome [link] [comments]

2023.03.29 20:41 thefockinfury Can't connect to some HTTPS sites from inside docker container while WireGuard tunnel is up

My setup involves a bunch of Docker containers running in an Ubuntu Server 22.04 VM and communicating with the Internet via a WireGuard tunnel.
The issue is that some of the applications I'm running in containers are unable to get data from various URLs, e.g. while my Wireguard tunnel is up, but are able to do so when the tunnel is down.
Take one application for example: LNBits. It fetches some JSON from the following link to display in a UI:
This operation times out.
Inside the container, I'm able to:
However, I can't get anything from the URL above.
When I `curl -kv` that URL, I see:
[email protected]:/app# curl -kv * Trying * Connected to ( port 443 (#0) * ALPN, offering h2 * ALPN, offering http/1.1 * successfully set certificate verify locations: * CAfile: /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt * CApath: /etc/ssl/certs * TLSv1.3 (OUT), TLS handshake, Client hello (1): 
Then the request hangs and ultimately times out.
I've tried messing with MTUs to little effect. I'm out of ideas so am hoping one of you has solved this before!
My wireguard server config:
[Interface] Address = SaveConfig = true PostUp = ufw route allow in on wg0 out on eth0 PostUp = ufw route allow in on eth0 out on wg0 PostUp = iptables -t nat -I POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE PostUp = iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp -i eth0 --match multiport --dports 80,443 -j DNAT --to-destination PostUp = iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j SNAT --to-source PostUp = iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp -i eth0 --match multiport --dports 3092,9735,9736,10009,8332,5647 -j DNAT --to-destination PostUp = iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j SNAT --to-source PreDown = ufw route delete allow in on wg0 out on eth0 PreDown = ufw route delete allow in on eth0 out on wg0 PreDown = iptables -t nat -D POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE PostDown = iptables -t nat -D PREROUTING -p tcp -i eth0 --match multiport --dports 80,443 -j DNAT --to-destination PostDown = iptables -t nat -D POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j SNAT --to-source PostDown = iptables -t nat -D PREROUTING -p tcp -i eth0 --match multiport --dports 3092,9735,9736,10009,8332,5647 -j DNAT --to-destination PostDown = iptables -t nat -D POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j SNAT --to-source ListenPort = 51820 PrivateKey = [redacted] [Peer] PublicKey = [redacted] AllowedIPs =, Endpoint = [my IP]:42959 [Peer] PublicKey = [redacted] AllowedIPs =, Endpoint = [my IP]:53588 

My wireguard client config:
[Interface] PrivateKey = [redacted] Address = MTU = 1412 PostUp = ip rule add from table main PostUp = ip route add default via table main PreDown = ip rule delete from table main PreDown = ip route delete default via table main DNS = [Peer] PublicKey = [redacted] AllowedIPs = Endpoint = PersistentKeepalive = 25 

My docker-compose for the app in question:
version: "3.7" services: web: image: lnbitsdockelnbits-legend init: true restart: unless-stopped stop_grace_period: 1m networks: - default ports: - 3007:3007 volumes: - lnbits-data:/data - /home/lightningd/.lightning:/lightning:ro environment: # Global LNBITS_HOST: "" LNBITS_PORT: 3007 #LNBITS_FORCE_HTTPS: true LNBITS_DATA_FOLDER: "/data" LNBITS_RESERVE_FEE_MIN: 7500 LNBITS_RESERVE_FEE_PERCENT: 1.0 LNBITS_THEME_OPTIONS: "bitcoin" # CLN LNBITS_BACKEND_WALLET_CLASS: CoreLightningWallet CORELIGHTNING_RPC: /lightning/bitcoin/lightning-rpc # App LNBITS_SITE_TITLE: "LNbits" LNBITS_DEFAULT_WALLET_NAME: "LNbits Wallet" LNBITS_ADMIN_UI: true LNBITS_ADMIN_USERS: [redacted] volumes: lnbits-data: networks: default: driver: bridge driver_opts: 1280 
submitted by thefockinfury to selfhosted [link] [comments]