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/r/QOTSA Official Band of the Week 22: ZZ TOP

2023.06.02 13:01 House_of_Suns /r/QOTSA Official Band of the Week 22: ZZ TOP

Sometimes a band gets so big that they somehow outshine themselves. They reach a point in their career where it does not matter if they release a new album or not; fans just want to see them tour. No one gave a damn that Led Zeppelin had not released a new album since the 1970’s; everyone just wanted to see them play again at the O2 Arena in 2007. When The Who played the Super Bowl halftime show in 2010 they had only released one new album in 28 years, and no one cared. And no one cares that Guns & Roses aren’t making new music. They still packed arenas to see how much cake Axl had packed into himself.
We’re going to take a dive into a blues power trio from down south who have zero need to release any new music, since their recording career stretches back over five decades. They had amazing and groundbreaking success in the ‘70s, the ‘80s, and the ‘90s before hitting the max level. Instead of playing to win, they now play for fun. Their sexually charged lyrics and videos inspired generations of teens to both dress better and worry about their fly. And you can bet that their fuzzy, bluesy tight sound had a huge impact on our very own desert dwellers.
It’s time for us to take a walk with That Little Ol’ Band from Texas. This week’s featured artist is the legendary ZZ TOP
About Them
The Power Trio is a tested and true format for a rock band. Lots of examples come to mind: Cream. Rush. The Police. Biffy Clyro. King Buffalo. Them Crooked Vultures. (Wait a sec. Just three members? Clearly, not everything is bigger in Texas.)
There is a member joke there somewhere, but I just can’t get it to come. Hmm. Perhaps it will come if you play with it a bit.
Hey! Stop that. Get your mind out of the gutter.
ZZ Top’s original and founding member was William Frederick Gibbons. Born in Houston in 1949, the front man was originally a drummer but, after studying with Tito Puente in New York City, picked up the guitar at age 13. His dad was a musician in show business, which allowed Billy to get an insider’s view of the industry. By the late ‘60s, he had been in and founded a number of bands and had even befriended the late great James Marshall Hendrix. One of his first bands, a psychedelic/art house band called The Moving Sidewalks, toured with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This meant that Gibbons was actually mentored by Snagglepuss himself. They also toured with The Doors, where Gibbons saw the legendary self-destructive band somehow manage to rise above conflict and make music every night. The Moving Sidewalks generated a following all of its own with a couple of hit songs, and things seemed to be headed in the right direction.
Things were going absolutely great until bassist Don Summers and keyboard player Tom Moore were drafted into the army to fight in Vietnam. Don't you just love the ‘60s?
Gibbons and drummer Dan Mitchell added a new keyboard player, Lanier Greg, and tried to make another run at it. But the chemistry was all wrong. Gibbons rechristened the band as ZZ Top (an homage to BB King), and declared that he wanted more of a straight up rock approach than the art-house kaleidoscopic sound.
Gibbons, Mitchell, and Greg (isn’t it weird when last names are also first names too?) recorded the single Salt Lick in 1969. This generated a bunch of interest and a recording contract. Decisions over the direction of the band ensued and it quickly became clear that Mitchell and Greg did not agree with Gibbons’ hard rock approach. That ended up being a poor life decision for them, but a great one for a couple of other guys.
Clearly, Gibbons needed a new rhythm section.
Fortunately, he found a package deal.
Dusty Hill and Frank Beard - also both born in 1949 - had been playing together on the Dallas-Houston-Fort Worth circuit in a number of bands, including The Warlocks, The Cellar Dwellers, and a fake cover band called The Zombies. Both the Duster and the (then ironically) beardless Beard also heard the siren call of rock and roll. Hill was classically trained and was an accomplished cello player before moving to his signature bass. Frank ‘Rube’ Beard appears to have been born with drumsticks in his hands (which I imagine might have been uncomfortable for his mom).
Beard joined the band first, along with bassist Billy Ethridge, who had played with Stevie Ray Vaughn. Ethridge balked at signing a contract and so joined Mitchell and Greg on the list of ZZ Top’s former members. Their lineup was set. Hill and Beard anchored the band in a rock-solid, tight, bluesy fashion. Gibbons meshed perfectly with this duo, and his Hendrix-inspired guitar work was on another level. Hill provided backing vocals, and Gibbons’ low throaty growl was an impressive counterpoint to his soaring fretwork. The talent was all there; now they just needed to record some music.
But success was not instantaneous, not by a long shot.
Their first album - appropriately called ZZ Top’s First Album - gives insight into who the band were to become. In this 1971 release, you can hear their raw sound. The record peaked at 201 on the charts, and had only one single - (Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree. It did give them material to go out and tour. The boys gelled on that tour and went back into the studio with renewed energy, and emerged with 1972’s Rio Grande Mud. The disc was a step forward in refining their sound. The album almost cracked the top 100, and the only single - Francine - went all the way to number 69.
But the band knew that their third album, Tres Hombres, was something special. It is the epitome of Southern Rock: bluesy, fast paced, sexy, and irreverent, it is just over half an hour of pure magic. And while the album went gold and peaked at number 8 on the charts and is worth your time, it was one particular single that rocketed them to stardom. You know it and you love it, and a-how-how-how-how: La Grange. It is still in heavy rotation on classic rock stations today. And why not? The song is an absolute banger of boogie woogie blues, written about a visit to a whorehouse. What’s not to love?
La Grange propelled them to popularity. Tours sold out. Venues got bigger and bigger. 1975’s follow up album, Fandango!, was half live album (with some covers) and half new material - like an EP with bonus tracks. They covered the Elvis Presley classic Jailhouse Rock, Willie Dixon’s Mellow Down Easy, and John Lee Hooker’s Long Distance Boogie. The boys had rock and blues chops, and had 5 years of touring experience. These were bold statements that cemented their musicality as well as honoring their roots. But side two of the disc had another track that you’ve come to love. You ain’t asking for much: You’re just lookin’ for some Tush. Tush was the perfect sexually charged follow up to ensure that they were not one-hit wonders. It was written in a ten-minute spasm of creativity at a sound check, and has gone on to be one of their most popular songs.
While Tush topped the charts, ZZ Top went back into the studio to record their full length follow up, 1976’s Tejas. The name of the album means ‘friends’ in the Indigenous Caddo language, and was the basis for the name of the state. You know what that means? It means that the name of the state is ‘Friends’. Just like the ‘90s sitcom. Don’t mess with Friends. Anyways, this was an album of experimentation for the band, and unlike its predecessor it came out half baked at best. Billy Gibbons has called it a transition album. What actually happened is the band transitioned into a hiatus from touring and recording, taking some significant time off. They had recorded five albums in six years and spent virtually all their time on the road. The latest effort was just not up to their standards and was a step back. It also completed their recording contract.
What was the solution to this burn out?
Facial hair of course.
The boys took a few years off before landing another recording contract, this time with Warner. Over those months, both Gibbons and Hill grew what would become their signature long ‘Texas Goatee’ beards. Frank Beard did not grow a beard (though he did finally succumb to peer pressure from his bandmates in 2013, and his is much more neatly trimmed). So while they were resting/relaxing/getting their groove back/aligning their chakras or whatever, they also started to reinvent their signature sound as the world moved towards a decade of legendary excess.
The first step on this reinvention journey was 1979’s Degüello. The title literally means ‘decapitation’ but idiomatically refers to a fight to the death. Clearly, the band decided to tackle their transition head on. The album was not as successful as Tres Hombres or Fandango!, but it was not the flop that Tejas was. It did spawn a couple of singles - I Thank You (which was a cover) and the signature hit Cheap Sunglasses. Both are staples at ZZ Top concerts to this day. Degüello was quickly followed up in 1981 by the album El Loco. This was really the first time ZZ Top incorporated a synthesizer into their sound. As you know, the synth was THE new wave sound of the 1980s. Gods help us, keytars were once popular. But Gibbons, Hill, and Beard did not abandon their edge. The single Pearl Necklace was an immensely popular innuendo laced tune from this album. And no, I will not explain what a pearl necklace is to you.
Ask your mom.
Over the course of their first seven albums, ZZ Top had steadily grown in popularity and become a truly extraordinary live band. More than a decade of touring together meant that they had not just cut their teeth. They had found the Tooth Fairy, beaten her senseless, and added fangs to their jaws. They were ready to tackle whatever came their way.
Their huge breakthrough coincided with the birth of music videos and MTV. 1983’s Eliminator was an absolute monster of an album. ZZ Top were everywhere. They completely embraced the Music Video as a medium and became pioneers in this new genre. They branded their band with a 1933 fire-engine red Ford Coupe, which was on the cover of the album. They even had a signature hand gesture that they used as the car went by. The car belonged to Billy Gibbons and embodied his hot rod obsessions. It was featured in the videos for Gimme All Your Lovin’, Sharp Dressed Man, and Legs. Other singles from the album included Got me Under Pressure and TV Dinners. Eliminator is still the band’s most successful album. They were at the absolute height of their popularity with a massive audience. No doubt the 10-year-old Joshua Michael Homme watched those videos on a small screen in the California desert, little knowing that he would one day collaborate with Gibbons.
Seeking to capitalize on the popularity, the band went back into the studio and released Afterburner in 1985. It featured the signature hot rod on the cover and spawned two more singles - Sleeping Bag and Velcro Fly. Afterburner was not an innovative album by any stretch of the imagination. It simply built on the success of Eliminator and replicated the sound. If you blended the two albums together it would be very difficult for a novice fan to guess which song came from which disc. But hell, when you release the most popular album of your career and are earning millions of dollars for that sound, it is not time to mess with success. Or with Texas. Or with Friends (though Ross was a pain in the ass, IMHO).
That desire to not screw up a good thing was also evident in their next release, the retrospective re-release Six Pack. This was a great way to earn some bucks with a simple repackaging of existing tracks - I’m looking at you, K-Tel… - and introducing them to another generation of fans. This was not a bad thing at all - you gotta get that green whenever you can, because fame can be fleeting.
ZZ Top closed out the decade by going Back to the Future. Literally. They appeared in the third installment of the Michael J. Fox trilogy as the olde-timey house band (complete with rotating guitars) in the saloon scene. The single and signature song from the movie, Doubleback, appeared on their 1990 release Recycler. The album spawned two more singles: My Head’s in Mississippi and Concrete and Steel. Recycler was not as successful as its predecessors, but it did effectively max level the band. In the 1970’s they were a scuffling bar band that hit it big. In the 1980’s they were one of the most popular bands of the MTV generation. And in the 1990’s they achieved superstardom. They had hit the level where it truly no longer mattered if they ever released new material again. They could simply tour on their back catalogue alone and sell out stadiums.
It is clear that the band realized this as well. In the thirty years since Recycler came out, they have released five albums of new material: Antenna in 1994, Rhythmeen in 1996, XXX in 1999, Mescalero in 2003 and the critically acclaimed and Rick Rubin produced La Futura in 2012. This was equivalent to their output in their first six years.
In contrast, they have released no less than eight greatest hits albums, cover albums and live albums in the same time span. Greatest Hits came out in 1992. One Foot in the Blues was released in 1994. The massive compilation Chrome, Smoke & BBQ came out in 2003, and is a fantastic place to start if you are a new fan. Rancho Texicano was released in 2004, Live from Texas came out in 2008, and Double Down Live hit shelves in 2009. Live at Montreaux came out in 2013 and Tonite at Midnight: Live Greatest Hits from Around the World was released in 2016.
As recently as 2019, there were rumors that a new album was in the works for our Septuagenarian heroes. Lord knows the boys from Texas have nothing left to prove to anyone.
It was then that tragedy struck. Dusty Hill had to leave the band during a tour in 2021. The reason given was a hip injury. His guitar tech, Elwood Francis, filled in. Shockingly, Hill died at home at the age of 72 just five days after leaving the tour.
Fans were shocked and mourned the stalwart bassist. Per his wishes - and it seems he knew something wasn’t quite right - ZZ Top did not break up. Francis replaced Hill on bass, and the band soldiered on. In 2022, they released Raw, a soundtrack for a 2019 documentary about them. This was Hill’s final release.
You can still catch them on tour. They are going to be out there this summer, touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd, for something they are calling ‘The Sharp Dressed Simple Man’ Tour.
Go buy some tickets. Don’t miss your chance to see a truly iconic band before they are gone.
Links to QOTSA
The Reverend Billy F. Gibbons was a big part of the Lullabies to Paralyze album by our Desert Dwellers. He played guitar and provided backing vocals on Burn the Witch. He was co-lead vocalist and lead guitar on the QotSA cover of Precious and Grace, which he originally released as a ZZ Top tune on the Tres Hombres album. He also provided the guitar stylings for Like a Drug.
But the connections don't stop there. Billy sang the lead vocal track on the recent Desert Sessions tune Move Together, and he played guitar on Noses in Roses, Forever.
What may be most important to QotSA fans is that Gibbons was the first person, almost two years ago, who hinted that Queens were working on a new album.
And now we know he was right. Never doubt a Reverend.
Their Music
Salt Lick
(Somebody Else Been) Shaking your Tree
La Grange -- Live on Howard Stern
Jailhouse Rock
Tush -- a fan made video. It is not subtle.
Cheap Sunglasses
Pearl Necklace -- Live
Gimme All Your Lovin’
Sharp Dressed Man
Legs -- the ultimate makeover video
Got Me Under Pressure -- Live at Montreaux
Sleeping Bag -- Let’s go out to Egypt and check out some heads...
Velcro Fly -- also somehow in Egypt
My Head’s In Mississippi
Concrete and Steel -- vintage video
I Gotsta Get Paid -- from La Futura
Show Them Some Love
Previous Posts
Alice in Chains
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Rage Against The Machine
Run the Jewels
Royal Blood
Arctic Monkeys
Ty Segall
Eagles of Death Metal
Them Crooked Vultures
Led Zeppelin
Greta Van Fleet
Ten Commandos
Screaming Trees
Sound City Players
Iggy Pop
The Strokes
All Them Witches
submitted by House_of_Suns to qotsa [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 12:25 Rhion-618 Just One Drop - Ch 88

Chapter 88 - From All I Believed

Morning, Two days before Shel
Captain Setar suppressed a smile as she watched the Ops door close. “Well, that was interesting…Ce’lani is a little cranky.” The last vestiges of sleep clung to her as she settled down into the command chair. She felt worn out, but it was the cusp of dawn, and Pod Seven had only just turned over control. “Report on station?”
“The perimeter’s secure,” Jelki replied crisply, pulling up the map of the campus on the main screen. “Pod One is on station and reports twelve by twelve. Sgt Ma’reis is already complaining about janitor duty.”
“Ah, first pod problems.” Setar shook her head, rubbing her eyes and blowing gently on her mug of tea. “What about the objective?”
“The objective’s secure,” Re’lan piped up, already sounding chipper. The woman could have been priestess of Jrafell. Her unwavering cheeriness would have been a character fault if she weren’t so devoted. As it was, it was a damned penance for everyone else at this time of day.
Jelke finished running the obligatory shift change checks and stretched. Things wouldn't get interesting until breakfast, but watching the perimeter was a given. It didn't keep the curiosity out of her voice, as she cocked her head and glanced over. “What was interesting with Captain Ton’is, Ma’am?”
“Mm! Well… it appears she’s expecting a call from Professor Warrick today,” Setar drawled out, taking a moment to savor their reaction. “She felt a need to remind me she’s devoted to Hele, and that if Be’ona or I let her sleep through the call, she’s going to ‘fuck us up the ass with a lasrifle and pull the trigger’.”
Re’lan was probably blushing like a cadet, but Jelke shook her head ruefully. “I expect there's a ‘but’ in there somewhere, Captain?”
“Well, yeah, she said that’s where the rifle would go…” Setar sniggered before taking a long sip from her tea, and slid a bit lower in the command couch. Her eyes wandered to the traffic on the board. “She also made it clear what’ll happen if anybody listens in.”
Thoughtful silence descended. Setar almost counted to twelve before-
“We’re going to anyway, right Captain?” Jelke asked nonchalantly. “You know, for security’s sake?”
“Sergeant, that would be a base infringement of Captain Ton’is’ privacy, which is in fucking short supply for everyone in this bunker.” She rubbed her chin thoughtfully, watching the steam rise from her mug. “Deeps right we are.”
_ _ _
Lady Wicama regarded her guest with interest as their autocab plied its way about the outskirts of Prelitauri. While she’d been free and cheerfully able to accommodate Khelira’s request, Monsignor Santino Barcio, or Friar Barcio, as he preferred, was not at all what she’d been expecting. She supposed it was a matter of exposure…
The Palace had never quite been the same since Princess Yn’dara’s wedding. Yn’dara was one of those odd Royals who, though well-regarded, was seldom in the public eye. A perennial favorite of the Empress, indulging her unexplained absences passed as a matter of course for the Court. Widely known to be estranged from her mother, Princess Arduina, no one enquired either deeply or often, so when she suddenly resurfaced, her return would have equally passed without comment… if not for the wedding.
Yn’dara had shocked the entire Nobility.
While it was common for any woman to marry into an established family and become a kho, the wedding should have been singular for a Princess. Princesses didn’t marry into families, Princesses formed them. And while Yn’dara technically had done so, she’d taken on four unmarried women at the same time as her husband, who was a Human! Favorite or no, the wags in the court were agog that the Empress accepted Adam so readily! The Empress, however, had been adamant; Yn’dara and her family had her blessings, and were to be left alone.
However, time had proven to be on Yn’dara’s side as well as the Empress.
After a wedding seen across the galaxy, Yn’dara’s family settled into a life of public duty. They spent long trips away from Shil, and while quietly dismissed as ‘pleasure excursions’, her trips often showed the throne to the outer provinces. Although her public engagements were few, she’d become a vocal advocate of the Empress’ reforms against graft and corruption, and, gradually, the jealous mutters about scandalous excess and Human debauchery faded away. Her marriage remained an unusual footnote, but time had demonstrated the value of Yn’dara and her wives to the throne.
Then there was Prince Adam.
Rumor held the Prince had made a favorable impression on the Empress years before, at an event hosted by Yn’dara’s mother. While details had never been forthcoming, a more significant story about Adam wafted briefly through the ranks of the Golden Glaives.
Both stories had been effectively silenced, but Wicama knew who to talk to, and being Khelira’s guardian carried a certain clout all its own. Though that influence waxed and waned over the years, raising Khelira required being aware of events that could shape her future, and she’d proven herself to be discreet. Over time, doors had opened and words had flowed.
Time had been on Prince Adam’s side, as well.
As the years passed, she’d had an exposure to Prince Adam that few of the court and none of the public enjoyed. She’d been wary at first, but he’d been a good friend and mentor to Princess Khelandri before she joined the Marines, and however infrequent his presence, he always displayed a keen mind, a loving heart, and a steadfast duty to his wives. Privately, he absolutely doted on young Khelira and possessed a loyalty to the Empress that you could bend battlesteel around. The two got along famously - after all, he was a veteran.
Not Navy, mind you, but you couldn’t have everything.
And so, as Humanity began making forays upon the galactic stage, her first impression of the species had been favorable. She’d witnessed Adam mature into his role with the court, and while the issue of children remained unspoken, that faded as well. At the time, Yn’dara had been sixth in the line of succession. A year after the wedding, Kamaud’re became an adult, followed a year later by Khelandri, and the matter became largely moot.
As for a second impression on Humans, Khelira had provided enthusiastic reports about Thomas Warrick. While the Princess thrived at the Academy, Warrick seemed to be something special.
The absence of a father in her life had been a void that no woman could properly fill, but she’d done her best. Although she’d entertained a few qualms, as the months passed by, Warrick remained a positive influence. Khelira’s messages were infrequent by necessity, but she’d written about her distress over Warrick’s family and clearly been moved. Prince Adam carried his own scars, but what veteran didn’t? He hid them carefully around Khelli, and if Warrick had chosen not to, he’d provided a useful sense of perspective, instead. It was time for Khelira to grow up, and that meant facing the grist of differing opinions and ugly realities. That was what education was actually for, and Warrick seemed to be doing admirably well as a grindstone.
All of that was before the library incident, which settled her opinion once and for all. While erratic, irreverent, and capable of violence, Humans clearly could be a positive influence when channeled in the right direction. Yn’dara had shown what a good Shil’vati woman was capable of with Prince Adam, and Lady Pel’avon was following suit.
And at least the wags at the Palace wouldn’t speak of Yn’dara’s state wedding again. As a subject for spectacle, Miv’eire Pel’avon’s had put it to shame.
Still, it was good to see Warrick married. While Professor Ha’meres scandalous exploits had faded from the public eye, older wo… more mature women didn’t forget such things. The man had been a daring adventurer - and an inveterate gadabout - and an unmarried man around that many young women was too tempting for some girls. A wife or two… preferably more… resolved such idle fancies. If the Pel’avon ceremony had been somewhat… questionable in taste, compared to Adam’s, it remained legally binding. Warrick was willing to settle down, and by all reports his wife had a proper sense of decorum.
Human men seemed to be a trial from the Goddess, but hopefully she and her kho-wife could sort him with time, love, and kindness.
While exposure to only two Humans was not what she’d call a comprehensive sample, in both cases her impressions had been quite positive. And so, when Khelli asked her to escort a Human Priest about the city, she’d been entirely willing.
Thus far, it had been an enjoyable morning. While there had been occasional missteps, their conversation had been delightful as they traveled from property to property. Even so, she hadn’t expected to meet such a kindred spirit.
Admittedly she’d stammered a bit when he mentioned eating the flesh and drinking the blood of his redeemer. On the other hand, she compared it to the first time she’d bled into the ocean, mingling salt in her blood with the seas. He’d turned shockingly pale, so she changed the subject. It was a purely symbolic act to Drepna - just a cut on the thumb, for goddess sake...
She’d taken extra care afterwards. Barcio could be clearly a sensitive male, but diplomacy was part of her work. Even calling her role ‘work’ was deceptive. She’d raised Khelira in every way an Empress could not.
It was easy for other women to appreciate the prestige of her position, but few understood the depth of it - or the satisfaction.
During her career in the Navy, her flotilla had provided direct support for the Empress, and they’d come to work closely over three tours. After Khelira’s birth years later, the invitation came from the Royal Household to act as her guardian, and she’d never looked back. Competition had been fierce for the prestigious position, but applying had been the best move of her life.
Empress Kamilesh loved all her children and had spent as much time with each of them as she could, but her work was all-consuming, and after her husband’s act of… Well, the Empress had been there, but she’d born her pain privately. She had lost herself in her work for many years before recovering a semblance of her former self, and her absence had taken a toll on her children. Kamaud’re had taken it the worst. Khelandri had bounced back, while everyone doted on Lu’ral. Barely more than an infant, Khelira had been far too young to remember. Wicama had been there through all of it.
It was a good life, and the princess was a delightful girl. For Wicama, the absence of a man in her life was something she’d felt now and then, but she invested her life in Khelira. The Empress treated her as a member of the family in all but name… and in a very real sense, the child you raised was your child.
Looking back, some women might insinuate she’d given up her personal life to raise another woman’s daughter. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
She had her calling - just as Friar Barcio had his.
Yes, he was a priest, and his religious strictures were very unusual. A male priest in any of the Shil’vati faiths would never be placed under such restraints, and for a man to go unmarried was noteworthy…
But she understood having a calling. Oh yes, she understood that as few others could.
After discussing his needs, they’d set out to examine three properties around Prelitauri. The Friar’s individual requirements were deceptively difficult when taken as a whole. A complex coupling a generous auditorium, ample administrative space, and he clearly needed substantial grounds to properly convey a sense of aura. Such accommodations were seldom on the market, and since he expected his colleagues to arrive in weeks, his need was immediate.
Thankfully, urban renewal moved in waves. The tides of such fashions meant Prelitauri was once again an up-and-coming area. While difficult to find, three older structures had the potential to be suitable, and so it was that she’d enjoyed learning about her guest as they explored the tiny district.
The Monsignor spoke four other Earth languages fluently. He tended to break into his native tongue and hadn’t mastered contractions yet, but his Vatikre was passable and he listened carefully, seldom needing to ask about a word. After limiting her contractions when she spoke, their conversation flowed easily.
Barcio had shown little enthusiasm for the first two properties, but their conversation regarding other matters never waned. She expanded on her devotion to Drepna, Shil and the roles of each goddess while asking careful questions of his faith. His own inquiries proved thoughtful, and he was as avid in politely asking after her beliefs as explaining his faith.
After their second hour together, she’d taken the liberty of calling Prelate Hi’meta Merlamiss. As a priestess of Drepna’s second circle, Merlamiss had proven a valuable contact over the years. Well connected, she enjoyed a good relationship with many other prelates of the Divine Halls; she also got on well with Xinfess, the Rakiri’s Speaker of the Dark Mother on Shil. A meeting with Barcio would readily open doors for his group that might otherwise prove difficult to attain, and while Barcio’s accent strained now and then, it was clear the Monsignor and the Prelate shared a questionably low sense of humor.
Given a chance, they’d probably get on famously.
Certainly, that would be a blessing. Their hunt for a suitable facility had not gone nearly so well, and while Barcio had been conciliatory toward the first two facilities, she could tell he wasn’t taken with either. The last property wasn’t high in her expectations, so she found herself casting her head to the side when it swept into view and he clasped his hands in excitement.
”*È bella!* This is beautiful,” he exclaimed. “It reminds me a bit of my childhood home in Sacile!”
She looked out at the complex with its low gabled roofs, as their cab wound up from the entrance. Beside the drive, a small river meandered through the campus past the main buildings. She tapped the console to slow their ride and considered the place in a new light. “I’m… well, a bit surprised to be honest, Friar.”
“Please! We have been traveling for hours now, and I am not holding a service.” The Friar spared her a warm smile, before gazing back at the premises. “I would take it as a great kindness if you would call me Santino.”
“Very well - on the condition you call me Wicama.” It had been some time since anyone called her by anything but title or rank, and the informality was pleasant. Still, as their autocab closed on the end of the lane, she let such thoughts go and considered the location properly.
The buildings were low, sensible cubes, but that was largely an end to it. The architect had made some unusual choices in Helkam motifs that strained understanding. A long colonnade bordered the river, and that seemed nice enough, but the buildings! Forgoing purple was one thing, but they were beige! With unusual elements and the repressively bland color scheme, it was small wonder the clerk handling the property confessed that the space had lain vacant. Its original owners went into foreclosure. The exotic design had proven unable to attract interest, laying dormant ever since.
Barcio… Santino… seemed delighted, however, and she pulled up the specifications on her omni-pad. “This site has two smaller auditoriums besides the main one, while the central building has four floors. One is underground, but all the floors face an interior atrium.”
As the cab gently halted in the car park, she climbed out to hold the door but Santino had already scrambled out and was examining the gardens with evident interest. Tall stands of parago trees were losing the last of their fronds for the year, but she had to admit the grounds were substantial. Yesterday’s storm had left the morning air cold and crisp, lending the gardens an appealing aspect. Untended since the last owners, much could be done with them.
She had given up trying to escort the Friar anywhere after their first two stops, and now they fell into an easy pace side by side as they strolled toward the main building. She turned back to the property itself. “So, this reminds you of your home?”
It wasn’t exactly Helkam architecture - domes weren’t covering every possible surface - but the builder had clearly been nodding in that direction. A promenade wound to the entry, supporting white chevrons that arced into the sky. The bright morning sky shone through clever cutouts, making the unusual design at least look light, rather than oppressive and unappealing. With a decent renovation, the facility had possibilities, and the price was comparatively low.
“*Si!* Oh, not so much like home, but there is the sense of it. I was born near the sea, and this feels… similar.” He gave her a depreciating smile before rolling his eyes. “It may not please everyone who is coming, but ‘everyone’ is not here, so I am allowed some indulgence! Better to have something waiting than nothing at all. I confess, some of my colleagues thought we’d only manage when the bridge to Messina is finished.”
“You should not have been sent ahead alone! Surely your colleagues were not that worried about a poor reception,” she tutted. Priest or no, there were decencies about a man traveling alone to be observed. “You shouldn't need a bridge to find a place for your mission. I don’t know where Messina is, but I’m certain Prelate Marlemis wouldn’t stand for it!”
“Tch! Excuse my poor efforts! The older I get, the more I remember things like yesterday. Unfortunately, the yesterdays I remember so well were thirty years ago!” Barcio smiled wryly up at her as they walked. “The ‘bridge to Messina’ used to be a saying… People dreamed of building a bridge to Sicily, and it became something that never happened. My English friends would instead say ‘when hell freezes over’. *Un'espressione volgare*, but very much to the point.”
“Ah… I’m sure we can manage something, and this could be made presentable. Maybe change the beige to a pale violet?” she offered helpfully as she made it to the door first, holding it open. “The aura inside isn’t so bad.”
“You’ve said that several times, but I do not know what you mean?” He paused in looking around the entry, which had an open foyer exposing the two floors above and led out to the atrium beyond. “What is ‘aura’? I do not think I know the word as you mean it.”
“Aura is… Hmm…” Wicama paused thoughtfully and gestured at the atrium. The interior was in better shape than the grounds, and the architect had done something clever. Not yet noon, a bevel along the top edge filled the space with sunlight. “Have you ever walked along a beach and wanted to save a shell? When you are there, that is aura… When you take the shell home and think of the beach, that is aura, but… less focused. Diminished. You sense the beach because of the shell, but you are not at the beach. Places can have aura, but it is more than character. If you move through a place and find yourself experiencing it? That is aura.”
“Mhm! *lodevole!*“I like this idea very much. It would be right at home in the Vatican. Not everyone understands a space can move the spirit, or lend power to a message.” He nodded thoughtfully as he cast his eye about the open space. “With the right advice, perhaps we can lead others to these halls.”
“Perhaps. If you tour the Palace, I hope you’ll allow me to show you about? A lot of the real gems are hidden from the public.” She watched as he wandered toward the double-helixed stairways bordering the room. Those were definitely Helkam; walking up one side without meeting someone coming down the other was an interesting experience… once. After that, they could be an absolute nuisance. Spotting the elevators, she called him back. “The nice thing is this place is inexpensive! That will pad out your funds for a good remodel.”
Wicama quietly thanked the Goddesses that the builder’s had the good sense to install normal Shil’vati-style elevators. The sides were open, granting a wide view out over the atrium. The grounds were terraced to create a small park; that could make the underground space bearable, and the plans made them seem spacious enough. Not to everyone’s taste, but pretty. “I feel bad for asking, but can you afford the building? If the price of the first two bothered you, we can find others.”
“I would not hear of it! Thank you for your concern, but we are economical with our funds, and were sent with a generous sum. This is an important venture to everyone involved,” Barcio clasped a hand over his chest, as he shook his head. “I can not thank you enough for your help! You have surely spared me weeks, and I might not have found something half so suitable. As it is, the grounds are enough to gain me converts. Father Roscio and Pastor Weber will surely plant a vineyard before the inside is half done!”
“It’s not a problem. I have plenty of time,” she replied, dismissing the matter as inconsequential. “I work at the Palace, but with the Court away and my daughter at school, I’m a bit at loose ends just now. At the very least, I insist on helping you through the paperwork. I wouldn’t put it past some realty clerks to try and overcharge you… Someone from outside Shil, that is. I’ll ensure they stick to the listing.”
“To someone not from Shil… or someone who is not Shil’vati, perhaps?” His head canted slightly to one side, but he smiled as he said it. “*Certamente!* I would not dream of preventing you, though Rabbi Kleinbaum will be bitterly disappointed she has nothing to moan about.”
“I hope you won't take this badly, as I’ve only met one Human.” Wicama gave him a smile. She was long past girlish uncertainty, and the Navy had taught her a generous measure of professional poise to go with her skills as a markswoman. “You aren’t what I expected.”
“You know the professore, then?” He sucked in a breath and pursed his lips. “I am still deciding what sort of man he is.”
“No, actually, I know another Human but I’ve not… I have not… met Professor Warrick.”
“So. You mean that I am not *un barbaro*? I am here to make sure that we are seen as something more than savage warriors, *capisci*?” He studied her expectantly. “While the Imperium is doing good work on Earth, some still live in want. The Imperium provides enough for all to survive, but not all live in plenty. We need to present ourselves well.”
”That seems like a very secular outlook.” She offered, as they rode up to the third floor. Barcio asked for an explanation of the word, and by the time they’d made their way through the first offices he had the idea.
“My church has not always troubled itself with such things, but our holy father is greatly concerned with such inequalities. He takes it upon himself to address such matters with the Governess, when their time allows.”
“Your church has a good relationship with her?”
“È straordinario! The Governess adores our food, and while she was adamant about taking quarters in the Vatican, she has taken pains not to disturb us.” He shrugged dismissively. “*Cosa sai fare?* It seemed a small price, and we have endured far worse.”
“I used to hear terrible stories about red zones on Earth, though the Humans I’ve met don't seem the sort. It is good that your… pulp?” She tried the word and was rewarded with kind laughter and a gentle correction. “It is good that your pope concerns himself with the full welfare of the people and works with your governess. Our prelates share the same concerns.”
“I thought the Empress was the head of your church? Now, I find you have many…” he groped for a word, frowning, and gave up. “*Questo accento è una prova di fede!* ‘Denominations’ is not the right word, but she is the one revered, yes?”
“Of course! The Empress has to show all of our virtues and none of our faults, but that’s part of her role. To favor any divinity over the others could cause divisions. She has her personal preferences, of course, but never lets them be known.” Wicama explained carefully. “It would be in poor taste.”
“And poor politics, I think?” Santino gave her a long look. At his height it was difficult, but he managed. “This makes sense to me now, that the Imperium leaves matters of faith alone. *Una benedizione inaspettata.*”
Despite the serious topic, his fervent reply brought a smile back to her lips. “It seems your pope considers politics as well as economics.”
“People will always defend economic theories which assume that growth will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice. This has never been confirmed by the facts, and expresses a crude trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.” He said, stopping to clasp a hand over his cross. “Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”
“That doesn't sound like scripture.” She offered cautiously, as they made their way into a wider suite of offices on the second floor.
“*Esattamente* The words of Pope Francis, a good and blessed man who appointed me to my position. His successor, his holiness John Paul the Third, is much of the same mind.” Santino said quietly. “Our savior washed the feet of others and urged all to do the same. The hardest step is to be involved. To work together for change, as well as to pray. That is why I am here.
“*I pigri di cuore trovano sempre una scusa* Some Humans, they are yet angry with the Imperium. Now they have enough, they are bitter not to have plenty. For some there is never enough - the true poverty lies within their hearts,” Santino said a bit testily. “Our faith teaches us to find salvation in eternal life, but others? *Pigrizia!* They see it as an excuse from taking agency in themselves. Jesus washed the feet of others - he did not lay down and wait for someone to wash his!”
Wicama turned the unfamiliar metaphor over in her mind but decided she had the sense of it. “Sham teaches us that helping our families and one another is the same as helping ourselves. ‘The rising tide bares us all from the reefs’.” It was a matter of faith… but that was why it was faith in the first place. On the whole, it seemed like a mature perspective that explained the changes she’d seen in Prince Adam over the years. “You’re here to meet with others, but this seems as much about knowing yourselves.”
“*Sì, non è una brutta cosa avere umiltà davanti a Dio.* Human beings, while we are capable of the worst, we are also capable of choosing the good. Of rising up to make a new start. We are entering the galaxy.” He gestured out the window at the world beyond. “If not now… when?”
_ _ _ “So, when are you going to explain this masterpiece you four have been cooking up?” Marin asked. Sammi and Sam were barely awake but the twins had already arrived, bright-eyed and enthusiastic, and Marin cursed the resilience of youth. The room was acceptably warm, but Ayen had complained about the cold and used the excuse to slip back into bed. She was considering her options for joining him.
Somewhere, somehow, Sammi had found their rabbit pajamas again. “Sam, explain it to her? You do it better.” Sammi yawned, but Marin suspected it was an act. Once something got their attention, sleep was usually an afterthought.
“What, now?” Sam had barely stumbled into the room and blinked. Bleary-eyed and barely awake, he looked like he’d been ambushed, which was exactly the case.
“Pllllllleeeease…?” They sat back pulling the ears, giving their best Roger Rabbit impression. Luminous green eyes peered out at Sam, imploringly.
“Alright… I need coffee, but fine.” Sam trudged over to the kitchenette and poked listlessly at the instant coffee. It was getting perilously low, but Marin was sure he’d brought more on the ship. Eventually Sam gestured at the K’herbhal sisters with his mug. “So the girls want to create an artificial topological soliton. It's like a black hole, except where it isn't… It's sort of a kink in space-time.”
“Made you say kink!” Sammi grinned impishly and the girls blushed. Marin shook her head but paid attention. It felt far too early after another late night, but once everyone was up you had to hang on for whatever came next.
“So, what's that got to do with this… hole you want to use for power?” Marin raised her voice just enough to drag the conversation back on track.
“It’s more like a side effect. If it cuts the right angle, it goes into a realm of space-time we can tap for power. Think of it as an obverse of an energy drain, so it's like a white hole.”
“Let me guess.” Marin shook her head and grinned, holding up a hand to forestall the inevitable. “Except where it isn’t?”
“Ummm… pretty much.” Sam grumbled, blowing at his coffee. Marin glanced back at the twins. With Sam busy, the twins had gravitated to either side of Sammi. There was room left on the couch, and she wandered over to settle in beside one of them.
The Sams had been complaining for years about a lack of ‘focal power’ for their mass compression technologies, and while a rubber duck inside a diamond was impressive, they’d wanted to do something more - a lot more. She suspected if the twins were providing the means, then they already had something about to surface from the depths of their imaginations. Over the years she’d learned to pick a bit, rather than take their answers at straight value. “And if things don’t cut at the right angle? You remember how long it took to get rid of the Navy, when you started talking about making black holes?”
“It's not our fault they didn’t understand,” Sammi said defensively, crossing their arms and pouting at her before the rabbit ears fell over their face.
“Who didn’t understand what?” Akeimei yawned at the door. She cast a wink her way before wrapping her arms around Sam and gave him a quick hug. “What did I miss?”
“Umm… a parallel universe, if the math is right,” Sam mumbled from the depths of his coffee cup.
“What? Like identical versions of us?” Marin watched Akimei’s nose wrinkled at the smell before she slipped away from Sam. Slipped down beside her, they rubbed shoulders a moment. “Tell me, is there one where I get more sleep?”
“More or less identical… though it's not like you need to go into a parallel universe for that sort of thing. There’s already a ‘you’ out there somewhere right now, to say nothing of past and future ‘you’.” Sam scratched his cheek idly for a moment “It's just the math. The universe is so vast that there are exact physical cosmic twins of us out there somewhere, not to mention even more almost-twins.”
“Sam’s right!” Sammi perked up excitedly, bouncing on the sofa. “Then there are quantum cosmic twins - which gets weird because particles exist in multiple states and you’d sort of overlap… but the easiest one is probably just another us elsewhere in the universe right now! That's sort of the point where things are since the universe is bigger than you can imagine!”
“So exactly the same… or almost.” One of the twins giggled. “Just like us!”
“Pretty much,” Sam nodded, slowly emerging from the depths of his coffee. “Another you out there on another Shil, or another me on a whole Earth, even - just a little bit different.”
“What? Like an Earth that never met the Imperium?” Marin canted her head, tossing out the obvious. It was hard to remember her life before, and she didn’t want to contemplate the alternative.
“Oh, I don't like that idea.” One of the twins stuck out her lip. “We want to come to Earth!”
“Yeah,” her sister nodded, though she suddenly looked glum. “I don’t know if Professor Warrick would mind though. He’d be with his wife and daughter, there.”
“Oh…” her sister's face crumpled. “I didn’t think of it that way.”
“Well, don’t…” Sammi hugged them both a moment, though they held the first twin a bit tighter. “The point is, somewhere he’s with them right now!”
“Wow, I guess so.” she brightened. “Just imagine! A whole Earth that never met the Shil’vati!”
“I wouldn’t worry, sis.” her twin nodded. “I think Professor Warrick is pretty happy right now.”
_ _ _
“I am not happy about this!” Tom glared at his omni-pad before tossing it down in frustration.
Miv looked up at her husband.
“It’s an honor!” She tucked her chin in and gave him a long, considered look, “What is it that’s bothering you - really? It wasn't Monsignor Barcio. Are you certain this isn't the same sort of thing?”
“Yes, I’m sure!” he growled, looking away like a guilty child. “Alright, maybe… but this uniform is the silliest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ll look like a mushroom, and the hat only makes it worse!" Tom grimaced at the omni-pad accusingly, "They won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, so now I’m on the rolls as a Warden Captain - whatever that is - and this ceremony is ridiculous!”
“The ceremony is traditional. Very symbolic... Besides, they don't make wardens out of anyone below the rank of captain - I looked it up. You were one before, so it's appropriate to make you one instead of a Warden Major or Warden Colonel.” She smiled at him serenely. “Surely, it can’t be the worst thing you’ve ever done.”
He turned to wag a finger her way. “I’ll take that bet!”
“Worse than our wedding reception…?” She crooned, teasing him. “Or maybe pre-term night? I swear by the Goddess no one will pinch your ass, except for Lea and I.”
“Fine… “ Her smile grew wider as he grumbled, but he was calming down already and there wasn't heat in it. Still, he stubbornly clung on to the point a while longer. "It’s in my top five.”
“I’m sure you’ll survive, husband. Now then, I have meetings all afternoon, so why don't you finish reviewing the menu? You’ll feel better when all this is over and you can go back to cooking, chess, or starting that eeeyiy club… You might even give Ce’lani a call or message her?” She gathered her coat and smiled demurely, though it harbored nothing innocent. “If I’m not here you’ll have perfect privacy… Just don't promise anything you wouldn't promise to me.”
“It’s iai-do…” Tom groused, but he was already picking up his omni-pad.
She blew him a kiss and made her way toward the commons. Tom would probably stew a while, but he’d make the call.
There would be time to meet with Ce’lani on the common, before she had to come home for dinner.
_ _ _
Tom looked over the banquet menu as if it might reach out and bite him. The words stared up at him with perfect innocence.
Appetizer: Fruit and Cheese Platter - Slices of various cheeses and fruits on a platter providing a delicate mix of sweet, tangy and creamy to invigorate the dining experience. Serve with a selection of sweet and semi-sweet wines.
Soup: Choice of Tomato or French Onion Soup - Served with a piece of baguette and cheese.
Salad: Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing -- an assortment of greens and fruit with a balsamic grain dressing to cleanse the palate.
Entree: Cornish Pasty - This herb-infused meat and pastry dish provides a counterpoint to the tangy taste of the salad and soup. Served with a creamy buttered mashed potato (a vegetable, humanely prepared!) with chives (also a vegetable). Served with a selection of wines or ales.
Dessert: Chef’s Sorbet Surprise - A sweet treat complemented by a palate cleanser, ending the meal on a piquant note.
His last call with Bherdin had been a trial and a half. Omni-pads were the definition of ‘high fidelity’, and hearing the little Shil’vati hyperventilate for ten minutes over the plan was pointless. At least Melondi had easier going with Vedeem on her side... one way or another this was happening.
As a final consolation, he relented on wearing matching suits. Bherdin frequently bemoaned Tom’s 'lamentable' fashion sense, and he perked up at that, promising to get him some appropriate formalwear for the occasion.
Privately, he suspected his Shil’vati friend was looking for a convenient alibi if a riot started.
In fairness, it probably wasn't a bad idea.
“Too late to use it myself…” he muttered. It wasn’t quite noon, and Miv was probably right. Instead of Chess Club or starting Iai-do practice or just cooking out at Human Food, he was stuck here at home. Miv’s place was bigger, but most of his stuff was still in boxes; it left him listless and climbing the walls. If this worked, at least things could get back to normal.
…Mostly normal…
He flipped back to the picture of the Warden uniform on his omni-pad. It was bad enough, but the hat made the whole thing look like a blue toadstool in silver filigree.
He swiped the picture away like an act of revenge, but didn’t toss the pad back on the table.
…Miv was right... and I promised to call Ce’lani…
Tom centered himself, pulling up the number. The universe was always in motion and a good Taoist accepted their part in what came. That was the lesson of ‘the Vinegar Tasters’, and it held true… The painting showed three men standing around a vat of vinegar. Each has dipped his finger into the vinegar and tasted it. The expression on each man's face showed his individual reaction.
The painting was an allegory for Confucius, Buddha, and Lao-tse. Confucius wore a sour look on his face. He believed life was out of harmony with the universe. As the second figure in the painting, Buddha had a bitter expression. Like the vinegar, life was painful and filled with attachments and desires that led to suffering. The last man, Lao-tse, was smiling at the taste. To him, harmony existed naturally and could be found by anyone at any time in any experience.
He thought about his buddy Dave. The old Marine would probably shake his head and tell him to ‘embrace the suck.’ It pretty much boiled down to the same thing.
Not that he was against calling. Miv and Lea had practically taken turns urging him on and giving their views on why it was a good idea. They hadn't harped about it, but he knew which way the wind was blowing. And Ce’lani’s message had been short, sweet in the literal sense, and the sound file she’d offered up had been…
…Pretty nice, really…
If he still said no, or decided he didn't like where this was going, they’d back his choice, of course. He didn't have a doubt in his mind… But with everything else in his life turned upside down, calling Ce’lani seemed like a calm in the eye of a storm.
…It's just a phone call. Leave the chaos at the gate…
He settled down on the couch to check his messages before giving her a call. It was nearly lunch…
submitted by Rhion-618 to Sexyspacebabes [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 09:51 Drakolf Altered:

I had only been around maybe a few months, working as a temp for my hopefully new boss.
He's a good guy, tries to do his best in spite of all the trouble that seems to find him, and generally, he does a lot to keep the city safe.
He goes by 'Nocturne', and no, I don't know his civilian identity, nor does he know mine. It's better that way.
I perform a primary support role for him, leveraging my powers to add some versatility in his struggles against superpowered crime.
For a Powerless, he's pretty fucking strong.
Wait, fuck, I mean 'Differently Powered Individual', that's the corporate term for it.
He doesn't deal with nonsense, when he captures a villain, he makes sure they don't come back. He doesn't kill them, just directs them to his therapist and tells them he's able to keep a secret.
When I'm not out with him fighting supervillains, I'm usually around the base, doing repairs to his technology, cleaning off blood, vomit, and the occasional mutagenic goo from his spare uniforms.
That's what he calls them, uniforms. Not costumes, not Hero Suits, they're his work uniform, and he'll be damned if people say otherwise.
So imagine my surprise when, during a deep clean, I found something odd.
It was the costume of resident nutjob and shock jockey Galvin. Literally, that's his name. I took it out and looked it over.
That's when I saw others, all of them from past villains, like Mutamex, who actually mutated him into a fish hybrid that required a lot of genetic therapy to reverse, or The Victorian, whose entire MO was trying to destroy modern technology and reset society to his preferred temporal state.
Last I heard, he'd been thrown into the past, and had left a letter thanking Nocturne for helping him when nobody could.
I also saw The Crocodilian's costume, and found it weird that it was actually a costume.
The Crocodilian was a weird one, he was constantly asking for help, but he'd go on rampages like nobody's business.
It occurred to me that these were all villains he'd defeated, people who had given up their plans entirely, or had been neutralized in spite of Nocturne's efforts.
Well, Nocturne was out for a few days, some joint operation that was too dangerous for support to tag along in, and you never really get a chance to have some fun.
So, I tried the costumes on.
Galvin's had some standard electricity enhancements in it, which boosted his already present shock jockey loadout.
The Victorian's was just an old, stuffy suit, and Mutamex's was better left alone, so they went back in.
One of the costumes had belonged to Tyrant, whose entire thing was brainwashing and mind control, and wearing the costume, I could tell those powers were enhancements, and I put it back before I got tempted to use them.
The Crocodilian's, however, was actually just a lizard suit, a harness, arm and leg bands, and a collar. It had always seemed to lifelike on TV, so naturally I put it on.
Or at least, I tried to. There was no zipper and no apparent way to put it on. It was only after puzzling it out that I realized the mouth was the entrance.
One quick tug later, and a widely distended opening later, I was actually comfortably slipping it on, my feet settling snugly, my hands finding the right fingers to fill, even slipping the head over mine was simple. I moved around in it, noting that it was actually pretty hard, that I had to kind of hunch over and walk on my toes.
In fact, it was surprisingly more comfortable like that. There were enhancements, like something to make the claws capable of piercing stone and using that to climb, being able to move around on all fours quickly, being able to whip my tail and wrap it around things-
Wait, tail?
I looked at my tail, which curled up as I looked at it. I grabbed my head and pulled, but it stayed on. I hurried to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I opened my mouth, expecting to see my face, but instead I saw a crocodilian mouth.
I looked at my hands, realizing I was registering them as being normal for me, and I was very quickly losing all sense of who I used to be.
I called Nocturne.
"What?" He asked.
"I, uh, have a situation here." I said.
"What is it?"
"Short version. I put on The Crocodilian's costume and am currently experiencing rapid loss of identity."
There was a pause, followed by, "Alright, stay on the line. Just keep talking to me."
"Okay. Do you know what is happening? Do you know why this is happening?"
"That costume is a quantum superimposition matrix, at least, that's what the lab boys say it is. It was something developed with the intention of creating Heroes out of DPIs, but it got scrapped early on. That suit is the only surviving one we know about."
"Basically, the biggest issue with it is that it overwrites your existence, putting you a step outside of time while it retroactively changes who you used to be, until you were always The Crocodilian."
I nodded. "What happens if it finishes?" I asked.
"Well, that's the fun part. You stop existing, replaced by a version of you that was always this. You're aware of what you were before, you're aware that an entire life you lived has been replaced, and reversing it requires some time travel shenanigans."
I nodded. "So, what's the plan?" I asked.
"That depends on you. If you end up liking what you're becoming, you can opt to simply continue living like that. Otherwise, you can let people know what's going on and we can undo the superimposition."
Now that I understood what was happening, I wasn't as freaked out about it. I knew that my choices remained largely the same, and I was getting the sense that I was simply going to be born this way.
"Thank you." I said.
"Don't start thanking me yet." He said.
"No, I'm making the choice now that I'm fine with it."
"Good, as long as you're fine. That said, you will be telling me when I get back, because I will forget. Nocturne out."
I took a deep breath and stood up, and as the change completed, I couldn't help but feel glad that I'd done something so recklessly stupid.
Even moreso, just my existence alone meant more had been created, and a part of me wanted to see how many more would be created if other people got their hands on one.

I never forgot that there had been a point where I wasn't the person I am now.
I still had the same powers, still had the same job, the difference was that I was created in a lab, rather than born.
The scientists were surprised, of course. They knew my existence meant the suit they had made had been used, and any use of it beyond that simply never happened. Nocturne fought a different crocodilian villain, someone who had deliberately mutated themselves. I learned this because I did as he asked and told him what I had done.
He wasn't happy that I'd done something so recklessly stupid, those suits were kept there specifically because nobody would ever look there, and that my actions technically counted as a containment breach since it directly led to more of the suits being made.
I did check on the people who had been my parents, their son looked like I had, but he wasn't the same, didn't have the powers I did, was straight up a DPI.
I continued working with Nocturne, he was a good mentor, a good boss, and even though that desire to see others become like me itched like nobody's business, I kept it contained, at least, until I couldn't hold back anymore.
I started a small meme, comparing Nocturne to a werewolf. Only goes out at night, never seems to be hurt for long, comparing his usual catchphrase to how they apparently howl at the full moon.
I even managed to find a video of him doing that under a full moon.
It started out slowly, mostly people cracking jokes about it being the weirdest, most random thing ever. And because it was weird, it was noticed, being shared and eventually finding its way to the Hero's Association, where it instantly became a common joke.
Nocturne didn't like it, but he kept a stoic front on it.
I brought it up once, not directly comparing him to a wolf, but asking him what he thought about it.
"I think it's a waste of everyone's time." He said dourly. "I can't think of a single reason anyone would compare me to a bloodthirsty monster."
"I don't know." I said. "Wolves are considered loyal creatures, and it's fairly popular to subvert the whole 'werewolves are evil monsters' thing." I gave a short laugh. "Besides, I think if anyone were capable of resisting a curse, it would be you."
I proceeded to tease him a little about it, but spinning my comparisons in a more favorable light, getting him to give the merest fraction of a smile before he began leaning into it.
First, it started with him at least saying that people were going to have their fun no matter what it was, and this was just the meme of the month, then going along with it when people directly mentioned it to him.
When it was time for the yearly costume review, it was suggested that he lean into it more, that there were some designs that could be added without compromising Nocturne's rigid insistence on his uniform remaining the same.
It was the only time he agreed to a change, but remained adamant that he had final say on the design and that he would personally work alongside the people working on it just to see that it was done correctly.
It felt satisfying, seeing how people reacted to this, some saying they finally got Nocturne to change up his suit and making it more badass, others saying they liked how he just went with it.
He seemed satisfied with how it all turned out, which is why I chose to bring up the QSMs.
"I'm surprised you went along with the whole wolf thing." I said.
"It grew on me." He replied. "It helps that the villains are even more frightened of me."
"Very much a benefit."
"Get me the laser attachment?" He asked.
I climbed up the stone wall and got the attachment from a high shelf. I gave a short laugh. "Before I put on the QSM, I could have never done that." I remarked. "Life's been a lot better since then."
"Yes, that time you recklessly put on villain suits not even thinking of the effect they could have on you."
"True, it was a stupidly reckless thing to do. But it worked out in the end." I paused. "The lab that created it, created me, made some others, they've got them in holding, so nobody uses them carelessly."
He looked at me. "Why bring that up?" He asked.
"Oh, sorry. Forget I said anything."
"No, I want to know why you'd share information like that." He continued.
"It's not classified, if that's your concern." I said. "In fact, the lab wanted me to advertise them, but the Association vetoed that hard."
He nodded, eyes still narrowed. I didn't bring it up again, pushing it would have made him even more suspicious.
I knew he was investigating them during his patrols, checking for anything illegal, but finding nothing wrong. So when he asked me about them, I simply told him that they were in storage behind heavy security, and that the only way one of those was getting out was if a Hero specifically requested it. "As I recall, the suits are of a tiger and a wolf, nothing too extravagant."
The way he breathed in, that slight gasp of having understood something, told me that he had finally taken the bait.
I was with him, when the lab let him trial the suit, seeing the way he smiled, as he touched his fur and moved around, indicated to me that he was enjoying himself, that he was going to keep it. As my memories shifted, changing him from just my employer to my brother, time shifting to accommodate the company starting earlier, how the number of us jumped from one to thirty, I came to a realization, one that shook me, yet nonetheless made me smile.
I had just successfully finished my first plan as a villain, and I realized I liked how it felt.
I wondered what would happen if I could convince the entire city to join us.
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2023.06.02 04:25 Semijestam Unable to reach character screen, Mepps says is a hardware failure, similar to weeks ago


Just wanna say, when was the last Feat menu UI, spreadsheet, updated? Glad it is in the form that it currently is. Search box.... really? Too much to ask? for a 2011 released game that began in at least 2008.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-giOx3BbgF8 2009 [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]). ....mmmph, Should have ended with inclusion of Darkseid (2016). Jack burst onto the scene also with his time capsules that year. https://forums.daybreakgames.com/dcuo/index.php?threads/jack-emmert-q-a.275241/ Jack is no longer a part of DBG, along with several others that had been there before Jack arrived. Jens, Chris, etc. It was made for the problematically unique SP3... https://www.cnet.com/home/smart-home/sony-ps3-is-hard-to-develop-for-on-purpose/
/wary. /[email protected] emotes. Meh. T rated game. Very old game. Instead of new powers or ability trees or different colors for powers.... allies. -.- Not including the OG mentors ASAP? ok. Different creative directors over years, Shirley.
It had become DPSUniverse by 2013 when role optional alerts was optional in settings. Good luck 4 healers that get matched up pug'n. :)
Last point: the Uninstall on PC DOES NOT WORK, and has not.... practically since launch in 2011.
EG7... /wary. /glare. It ain't Columbus Nova owned anymore.
Never considered this site as any game community, but since having issue with the official forum... and having begun using this site in recent years. oh! maybe a DCUO forum here. Shirley@[email protected]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5z4EnLrLi4 found this useful when i arrived at playing the game years after it released. the gmae is now offline/canceled.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQrHB4JV998 This is useful for DCUO currently.
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2023.06.01 22:33 Proper_Tea8445 Seeking feedback on the first chapter of my speculative novel [1571].

Thanks in advance for any and all feedback. This is my first novel and am working on material to begin querying agents.
Chapter 1
June 12, 2036, Franklin, North Carolina
I walked through the front yard to the front door. I dropped my duffel bags on the porch, stepped up to the front door, and knocked. Mom answered with surprise and worry on her face.
'Oliver? What are you doing here?' she hugged me as I stepped across the threshold. Winston, sniffed my legs wagging his tail in excitement.
'Long story, Mom, I’m out of the Army, for good,' I said. She nodded but didn’t ask any further questions. We moved into the kitchen and sat at the table to drink mugs of strong coffee.
'Do you want to tell me what happened?' she asked.
'Things went sideways.' I said. I realized I wasn't ready to talk about it just yet. 'I thought I could try and start up Dad’s welding business. I was always good at it, and I think I could drum up his old clients and stay busy with some work.'
'Well, it would be nice to have you around, honey. You’ll need to look through all his business paperwork and get caught up on all that.'
I nodded, 'We have time. I want to ensure I’m doing it right.'
'I understand, Ollie,' she said and smiled, 'let's go to the diner tonight, my treat.'
'I could go for some peach cobbler and ice cream. Sure, Mom sounds perfect,' I said, and we rose. I went to the guest room and changed out of the clothes I had spent the last 22 hours traveling in. I grabbed the truck keys, and Winston followed us down the hallway to the front door.
'Hold down the fort, Winston,' he wagged his tail in response.
'You want to drive?' Mom asked.
'I haven't had a chance to drive around Franklin in a long time,' I said, and Mom climbed into the passenger seat of the Tesla. Mom turned the radio to a classic rock station as I backed out of the driveway. I drove along the winding asphalt road to town.
'Hope it isn't too packed, it is Friday night,' Mom said.
'I'm sure we'll be ok; it's still early enough. I bet we beat the dinner rush.'
J's Diner was the only diner in town and could fill up quickly. I passed the large, green, metal sign welcoming drivers to Franklin, and approached the historic square of town. I made a couple of left turns to the diner's street parking and came to a stop. There were only two other cars.
'See, Mom, I think we'll get our cobbler pretty quick,' I said. I walked just behind her; the jingle of a bell announced our entrance.
'Just seat yourself; I'll be right with you,' a female voice called from behind a counter in the kitchen.
'Ok, thanks,' Mom answered.
We found a booth in the back corner of the small, red and white decorated restaurant. It had a 1950's theme and even a tiny 1957 Chevy hung from the ceiling. A waitress came around the front counter, her brown, hair in a messy bun and two menus in her hands.
'Here you are, Mrs. Banks,' she said, setting the menus before us. 'Can I get you two anything other than water?' She looked at my face and froze, 'Oliver, is that you?'
'Lacy?' I asked, now understanding why her voice sounded so familiar.
'I didn't know you were back in Franklin,' she said, smiling. I also noticed a large grin on Mom from her side of the table.
'Just got back, actually, a few hours ago.' I explained.
'Done seeing the world?' She said, her hands in the front of her apron, she sounded genuinely curious.
'You could say that,' I said. Lacy seemed unable to think of another question for me.
'Sorry, umm, just waters?' she shook her head.
'Waters are fine, sweety,' Mom answered, glancing between the two of us. Did Mom think this was actually going to work?
'No problem, I'll be right back,' and Lacy walked off.
'Don't be so weird, Mom,' I said, and she just shrugged her shoulders innocently. Our phones on the table between us began to flash and buzz loudly. I picked mine up and read the Alert Message, it read.
'What the hell does that mean?' Mom asked, jerked her head up to look at me, panic creeping into her features.
'The message said five minutes, assuming there was a good flash to bang on the message being created and sent out,' I said.
Suddenly, our phones’ screens flashed white and winked out, going black. The diner's lights began to flicker on and off until they dimmed too.
'We have to get out of here, Mom,' I said, sliding out of the booth.
'Ollie, what's happening?' she asked, following me.
'We have to get home, now,' I grabbed her elbow and began to steer her to the exit. I opened the door, and we stepped out onto the sidewalk.
The early evening sky was streaked with green and purple ribbons of bright, glowing light. The northern lights were flashing and strobing over Franklin. It was beautiful and terrifying. Mom muttered something under her breath at my side, but couldn't hear. The streetlights, had just started to turn on for sunset, flashed and remained off. All the stoplights around the town square shut off. Cars were strewn about the streets, people stood next to them, staring at their phones, and fear on everyone's face. Off to the south, a loud rushing of air could be heard. I stepped out onto the street to get a better look. A large commercial airliner jet was careening out of the sky directly at the center of town.
'Mom, get down,' I yelled, throwing her to the ground and covering her with my body. The explosion as the jet crashed into the northern edge of town was deafening. The earth shook, windows around us shattered and glass struck the asphalt and concrete. I remained lying over Mom until the roar of the blast faded. I stood and stared north. A giant ball of flame still rose into the sky, visible over the three-story buildings of the town.
'Oh my god, those people,' Mom gasped, 'we have to help.'
'They can't be helped,' I said. The text message and what was happening before my eyes started to fit together in my mind like a puzzle. Suddenly Buddha, was standing by me just a couple of feet away. He looked real, solid, his good eye catching mine.
'You have to get your Mom home, Stone,' Buddha said, 'this place is about to turn into a freaking madhouse, and you know it.' He was right, no matter how weird the conversation with my old mentor was.
'Come on, Mom, we can't stay here. We have to get home to the cellar and hold up,' I said. I climbed into the pickup and Mom got in the passenger seat. I hit the push start, but nothing happened. It was dead.
'We have to walk,' I said, 'Come on, Mom, it's only a few miles.'
I got out of the truck and helped Mom out of her side. She stared at the streaks of northern lights, waiting for another jet to plummet down on top of us. We walked the sidewalk to US 56, the highway that would take us out of town to the homestead. We turned and began the upward climb out of the shallow valley Franklin sat in the bottom of. We summited the last hill, longer and steeper than the first couple we had climbed.
'Stop, catch your breath Mom,' I said. She had done well. Mom was fit for a woman in her mid-fifties but the adrenaline was starting to wear off. She turned and looked back down the valley toward town and gasped. The whole northern half of town appeared to be on fire.
'The whole town is burning,' she said. Her voice reminded me of shell-shocked soldiers I had seen.
'Main Street and Garfield should keep the fire contained to those current blocks, I think,' I said. I hope it saves the grocery and hardware store. This isn't going to be wrapped up and back to normal anytime soon. At 2100 hours, we turned up the driveway and back to the house. We entered the front door and checked each room in the house. The power was off in every room. I lit a fire in the living room fireplace, and we sat on the couch. Winston hadn't calmed since we entered, continuously trying to climb into our laps for comfort. Mom eventually let him onto the couch, and he laid his head on her lap.
'Ollie, did you understand the message?' she asked, still looking into the fire.
'Just from some basic space weather information I hear in briefs,' I said. 'Space weather changes based on the Sun, what kind of radiation is coming off of, and hitting the Earth at any given time. The message said a flair, so the Sun must have blasted a huge amount of radiation at a given time, and it fried everything.'
'So when does it all come back on?' she asked.
'Hard to say, if it hit the whole country,' I paused,' then it doesn't.'
'God help us,' Mom breathed.
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2023.06.01 22:00 Khenal Dungeon Life 123

Tarl considers his report, brushing the feather of his quill against his cheek and not minding the ink staining his fingers. It’s not often he gets to update two dungeon reports at the same time, but he really should understand by now that things simply work differently around Thedeim.
At least the actual contents of the reports aren’t too out of the ordinary, if one ignores the dates. Violet is progressing slower than her mentor, thank the gods, but still at a rapid pace compared to other dungeons. Her tentative designation as a toybox is still valid, which is nice. He could see the gremlin scion wanting to fight when he was there, but she looked less like a killing machine, and more like a child wanting to show what she’s learned.
He’ll have to keep an eye on Violet, if only to ensure delvers understand the implied rules of delving. His gut says she’ll stay as a toybox, but have a single chest, or maybe a small section of her territory, where delvers will actually need to fight to get whatever goodies she has. Perhaps she’ll lean hard into various metals. It’d help explain why Thedeim expanded and looks to be focusing on that himself.
Thedeim’s lava tubes will be interesting. Mythril and orichalcum will draw miners from across the kingdom once spring returns, as well as adventurers to guard them. While he expects Karn’s guild will have enough that can handle magma wyrms for the demand over winter, he doubts he’ll have enough for the influx in spring. In fact, the appropriate adventurers might be more occupied with the miners in the caverns. They might shift their operations to the tubes once they learn of the bounty of rare metals in there…
He shakes his head, banishing his wandering thoughts. Those details are for the adventurers and miners to sort out. His job is to provide the information they need to make the decisions, not try to guess what they’ll actually do with it. He’ll need to pay attention to the local smiths and see if he can get an upgrade for his daggers, though. His steel ones are the highest of quality, but mythril should help him hone his techniques better.
He sighs and closes his eyes for a moment, setting the quill down. He needs to focus. If he can’t stop his mind from wandering, there’s probably not much else to add to the reports. He holds that in the forefront of his mind as he opens his eyes once more, and checks the reports for mistakes. After a few minutes, he nods to himself, satisfied.
Thedeim’s new expansion is marked as hazardous, partially because of the potential threat the elementals and wyrms entail, but also because the specifics of the area are likely to change rapidly. The adventurers and even the townsfolk at large are still careful around Thedeim’s new projects, but they also trust him enough to take a closer look than might be strictly safe. With how remote the expansion is, at least the only ones likely able to get down to look will be ones experienced enough to tread carefully.
Violet’s expansion is also interesting, as is her apparent Secret Metalworks. He’ll have to wait and see what she actually cooks up. If Thedeim is helping her, Tarl isn’t even going to attempt to guess. He might somehow give Thedeim ideas, and that dungeon has enough of those already.
Before his mind can wander to what absurdity Thedeim could get up to, the door to the guild opens and a catkin enters. Tarl is drawing a blank on his name, but watches as he introduces himself to Telar.
“You guys want information on the local dungeon, right?” he asks, and Telar nods from behind her desk, and motions for the catkin to take a seat.
“We do, though our inspector just finished an inspection of Thedeim and Violet just the other day. If you have information you believe to be more recent, however, I can still pay coin for it.”
He takes a seat as she talks, and Tarl can tell he feels less confident in a payout after hearing that. “Ah. Well, I had a quest for Seaside Forge. Uh, Hrunter will probably be by soon, come to think of it. I just turned it in with him. Anyway, he wanted me to scout out the deepest sections of the dungeon to check on a feeling he had. I didn’t know the way down that deep, since most of my clients prefer the manor or the caverns at most.
“I spotted the new scion, peeking up through the dirt in the yard, and asked her for directions. She seemed pretty shy, but also seemed to agree to help guide me. I fought a bunch of various things on the way down, nothing out of the ordinary, until she led me out of the dungeon. Then into the other dungeon, the small one?”
Telar nods. “Violet, tentative toybox designation. She won’t receive her proper one until she gains a Voice.”
“Oh. Well, she has a little gremlin scion with a bladed gauntlet, and she wanted a fight. Not like she wanted to kill me, but she wanted to fight. Does that make sense?”
Telar smirks. “Not especially, but I understand what you mean. So you and the scion did battle?”
He shakes his head. “No. Well… yes, but first, I showed her a basic stance, attacks, and blocks with her gauntlet. It was maybe thirty minutes of training before we sparred. I killed her at the end, and the dungeon… Violet? Violet didn’t seem upset about it. Then the wyrm scion, Thedeim’s new scion is a wyrm, by the way. The new scion lead me to the tubes.
“I spotted a mythril and orichalcum node and gathered a bit, and I also saw a bunch of ants in there. Some were making their hills out of weird gray dust, but others were making them out of metals. Those ants looked a lot bigger than the dust ones, too.”
Tarl’s eyes widen at that and he gets up. Telar’s eyes follow him as he approaches, and she stays quiet to let him speak up.
“Crucible ants already?”
The catkin turns to look at the other elf. “Is that what they are? I haven’t heard of them before.”
Tarl nods and stands beside Telar’s desk. “They’re uncommon in our kingdom, but many dungeons in the dwarven holds have them. Their warrior-smiths will often specialize in fighting them, giving them access to high-purity metals without needing to pay a smelter or smelt it themselves. Are you a smelter?” he asks, curious about the catkin.
He shakes his head. “Technically, I suppose, but I’m a Steeldancer by class. I only have some mining and smelting skills to help pay the bills. Metal affinity makes it a lot easier to gather and purify.”
Tarl nods at that, and eyes the catkin up and down. Well-used yet well-maintained gear, implied to be a solo adventurer, strong enough to delve deep in Thedeim, careful and smart enough to engage the dungeon himself and achieve at least a working relationship. He nods to himself and holds out his hand.
“I’m Tarl, Inspector for this branch.”
The catkin shakes his hand pleasantly. “I’m Berdol, solo adventurer.”
“Have you considered a change in career, Berdol?”
The catkin shrugs. “Not really? I like doing the odd jobs and quests in the Adventurer’s Guild, gives me the freedom to mostly do what I want. Why?”
“Have you ever considered becoming an Inspector?” asks Tarl, and he can see Berdol almost laugh the suggestion off. The elf’s honest look makes him pause and consider for a few seconds.
“What all does it entail? And will I still be able to delve? Can I be in both guilds at once?”
Tarl smiles at that. A proper inspector needs to think things through, yet also be prepared to take advantage of new situations. “You’d apprentice under me, and yes, you can still delve. You can even remain part of the Adventurer’s Guild until your apprenticeship is finished, though you’ll have to take a few oaths to not share information for free. Trade secrets and so on, I’d expect Karn to get an oath or two out of you for similar secrecy about his business, too.”
“Why me?”
Tarl takes a few seconds to consider that question, before answering. “Do you know how many people ever even attempt to communicate with a dungeon or its scions?”
Berdol looks slightly taken aback at the question, and a frown slowly develops on his face as he thinks about it. “...not many? I don’t think I personally know anyone who has.”
“Yet you did. Not only did you try, not only did you succeed with the rather personable Thedeim without the benefit of addressing his Voice, but you also were able to communicate with Violet’s gremlin scion, too. There’s more to being an inspector than being strong enough to delve solo. You also need to be able to communicate with the dungeons and their scions, to be able to recognize they have needs and wants, even if you don’t know what those needs specifically are.”
Berdol chews that information over for a few more seconds before smiling. “What’s the pay like?”
Tarl grins and prepares to answer, but is interrupted by the door to the guild slamming open.
In the doorway stands the hairiest dwarf Tarl has ever seen. A thick leather apron and rugged pants attempt to hold the tide of red hair at bay, and thick leather gloves cover hands that only probably don’t have much hair on them. A bulbous nose sticks out above the braided mustache, and beady eyes perch above that, though they are wide and wild at the moment.
“Orichalcum and mythril! It has orichalcum and mythril!”
Perhaps Tarl should have put some thought into how the local smiths would react, after all.
< [Next>]
Cover art Want moar? Discord is a thing! I now have a Patreon for monthly donations, and I have a Ko-fi for one-off donations. Patreons can read up to three chapters ahead, and also get a few other special perks as well. Thank you again to everyone who is reading!
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2023.06.01 21:59 MaxAvery [Dreadgod] Max’s “Sure to please everyone” Definitive Cradle Ranking

I started my reread too early and I’ve been bouncing off the walls waiting for the final entry into the series. So I thought I’d recap on our shared journey and bring us all together in harmony.
Although we all know what happened to Harmony.
From the bottom up:

#11 Skysworn

It’s a little weird putting this last since it has one of my favorite openings in the series, but really just because it’s last doesn’t mean it’s bad. It does a good amount of work introducing stuff, we get the phoenix and redmoon, and the Akura clan, Mercy joins the gang, Ruby gets yoinked out, Oz’s Marble gets revealed, it’s not that stuff doesn’t happen, it’s just there’s no sense of purpose in the book. After the Jai Long fight, but after that the only real goal in the book is Yerin wanting to fight Redmoon hall, and then they don’t. All of our main characters are totally sidelined and we’re all sitting around waiting for ghostwater. Even though there’s great individual scenes, it just sort of meanders for the last two thirds of the book so number 11.
Best parts: Jai Daishou’s quest for revenge is seriously one of my favorite bits. Also Lindon just smashing the kid for the Kotai clan. After three books of Lindon hiding and fawning, seeing him go against someone on his own level for once is such a rewarding payoff. He needs a shell though.

#10 Reaper

This is my Skysworn problem all over again. One of the best endings in the series, but it ends a book that kind of wanders around a bit. I don’t mind the dungeon crawl but it gets a little repetitive for me as they go room to room without really giving character payoffs. It’s good to see the evolution of the dynamic between Eithan and Lindon/Yerin, but that change happened over the last two books. Nothing really shifts in the group dynamic and all the accomplishments feel incidental. Lindon makes a big deal about not leaving anyone behind and then immediately is like “Psych!” But also everyone leaves in order to help out in the Valley and they don’t. In fact the whole war in the Sacred Valley feels pretty. . . .meaningless. Like did anything really happen there in the first place? And are we caring about Jai Long or not? It’s nice to see Yerin and Lindon relax for a bit and the Twin Stars sect is fun, but it feels like not quite the right amount of it to be totally satisfying.
Everyone just feels underused. Mercy has always been a few levels behind the gang but managed to contribute important emotional intelligence and insights, here she just feels wasted. Yerin gets some fine slashy slashy bits, but nothing really challenges her this book. Dross’s bits probably are more fun on audiobook, but these personalities kinda grate on me. Also knocked down some extra points for the lack of Fisher Gesha. Dreadgod’s Gesha is right, you have all this time off and a broken Dross and you don’t stop in for a chat? Even Lindon’s advancement feels a little weird with Reigan Shen just scattering out natural treasures for the ambience. Meh.
I actually had this ranked higher but while writing this I had to bring it down. There’s some cool fights, but it just feels like grinding for XP until the end. The Eithan/Shen showdown is great and again the ending is spectacular. But otherwise not as satisfying as the average book.
Best Parts: The Destroyer Has Come (YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!). Also “Let him kick you.”

#9 Unsouled

Unsouled usually gets ranked near the bottom for folks and I really wanted to rank it higher, but it’s hard to compete with the full gang. It’s definitely a book that I need to tell people they have to get past the halfway point, so I suppose that’s a point against it. But also what a great turn in the middle. Will does such a good job setting us up for the generic fantasy genre before going “Oh you thought these were the stakes? A Kid Who’s DifferentTM needs to impress the schools in the Sacred Valley? F*** those stakes. The WORLD IS SO MUCH BIGGER” And honestly the ways he absolutely massacres those tropes are so good. When he joins heaven’s glory and they set him up with rivals that do not matter and months long objectives we never even bother with. The series would not work if we didn’t spend this time with the Unsouled Lindon and watching an actual interesting protagonist cheat to win and beat up kids and grovel his way to survival. It also does such a good job introducing us to the theme of there’s always a bigger pond. It helps make each step of the journey feel that much bigger and more awe inspiring because in this book Will made us feel like these hillbilly antics were actually powerful and impressive feats of the sacred arts. Great intro, lots of good character stuff, bottom of the ranks. Also looking back at it, how did a bunch of jades kill a sage?
Best Parts: Lindon in the Ancestor’s Tomb watches Elder Whitehall enter and look around for traps and feels his first bit of pride in the series. It’s a small moment but it sticks with me. Also Yerin when she enters and is all “The Disciple greets her master.” Also them robbing the lesser treasure hall.

#8 Soulsmith

7 and 8 flip flop a lot for me depending on my mood. Soulsmith is going here today because I think it takes the longest to get going. Besides that though there’s a lot to love in this one. Eithan and Gesha get really terrific, cinematic introductions and there’s a great sense of pacing and stakes in this one. Everything feels tough for the ol’ baby-head man and we get to see both the strengths and limitations of his scheming. Kral/Jai Long are also a really nice set of complex, relatable antagonists. I always appreciate how Will will let you get to know the bad guys and see them as the heroes of their own stories (but just messed up enough to cheer their deaths). Despite the slow start this book is always better than I remember and has a lot of heart in it. It is funny on this read seeing how Ethan is at the beginning. We think about how much Cradle changed him, but really it was Yerin and Lindon. That’s really fun storytelling.
Best Parts: Lindon advancing vs the Sandviper kid advancing sequence is something I always think about when I look back at the series.

#7 Dreadgod

This book slaps. Everyone gets a good amount of spotlight time and the Silent King is a great villain (RIP). On this reread I don’t mind the Jai Long death as much, but I still would’ve liked a scene with Kelsa and Jai Chen afterwards. This end to Jai Long arc kind of makes me wonder about the amount of time we’ve spent on his redemption arc, but if someone has to pay the piper, I’m glad it wasn’t little blue. The rest of the crew really gets to shine even with Eithan off world. The dynamics that have grown over the course of the series are really humming by this point and it’s nice to see different pairings. The heists are fun and the Redmoon Hall stuff is great. So why isn’t this higher on the list? Well Mercy feels a little too much damsel in distress. Once the Silent King is dead, the rest of the book feels a little lower stakes. Even with all the monarchs against the gang it doesn’t feel like there’s too much danger in that last fight. Also again needs more Fisher Gesha. \
Best Parts: That silent king battle is so good. Also the dreadnought city stuff is good. Basically anything to do with the Silent King. “Pew pew”

#6 Uncrowned

Just a few years after the Seven Year Festival Lindon takes the competition stage again. Imagine what he could do to the foundation level Sacred Valley 10 year olds now. These Tournament arcs are always a super fun part of Shonen Animes. And it is a great time the whole way through. Do characters learn things and change? Not so much. But does it have a scene where Lindon absolutely wrecks the Akura Clan’s top underlords? Absolutely. The book does such a good job building up Sophanaroth as the tournament’s boogeyman. That last Yerin/Lindon fight is everything. It’s a break from the serious work of the other books which is why it’s out of the top five, but man I could read the heck out of it.
Best Parts: Anything with Akura Fury, that opening scene with Lindon being tested followed by Yerin vs Eithan.
Odd Part: Sort of feel like this book’s emphasis on Yerin sensing the Way and Lindon not being able to is less misdirection and more…just kinda weird. Like…did Will change his mind? Coulda set Lindon up a little bit and would have made the beginning of Wintersteel feel a little more natural. But eh, no biggie.

#5 Ghostwater

Okay, okay, put away your pitchforks. I know this is a #1 for a lot of people. I get it. I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong. But the thing I love about the series is the great interplay between the characters and they’re all separated here. As a Lindon solo-quest it’s terrific: He does steroids, he does homework, he hangs out in a library, and he goes fishing. It’s great.
My main complaints: Harmony as a villain is a little flat. Every book in this series does a great job setting up the antagonists as fully realized characters, but here Ekeri gets that spotlight and Harmony is just sort of brooding ominously in the distance. Mercy and Yerin spend most of the book on the sidelines hiding. The Endless sword stuff we get with Yerin is nice, but it would’ve been nice to have them bond a little more.
So I know you’re wondering “Hey, Max, if you have so many complaints why is it ranked so high?” and the answer is simple: DROSSSSSSS BAAAAAAAAABY. We also have Fisher Gesha blasting emissaries out of the sky.
More importantly we see Lindon pushed against the ropes and for the first time relying on his own strength and ability to get out of it. Will had such great self-control in letting Lindon be terrible and weak for so long before he gets his legs under him and we get to see him level up not just through pounding the juice, but through his own hard work and ingenuity. It’s such a satisfying chapter in Lindon’s story.
Best part: ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I think I put my book down and screamed.

#4 Bloodline

When I first read this book it was mid-pandemic and I hated it. Well, “Hate” might be a strong word but it was tough to get through. Now with a little distance I can recognize that I felt that way because Will did such an amazing job capturing so much of the mood of going home and dealing with folks not taking the whole thing seriously. Look I don’t want to make the comment thread political here, so sub out whatever thing you hate about going home that’s it. On this reread I just had to respect Will for the way he wove it into iteration 110. I think everyone had an idea of what it would be like for Lindon to go home and I don’t think anyone totally expected what we got.
There’s clear stakes, a huge pressing danger, really keen emotional cuts, and the book just felt completely unpredictable. We got to see Ziel and Mercy fight off some of their personal demons and we got to see Lindon really deal with failure in a deeply personal way. The writing in this book is some of the best in the series and it really drove home the sense of scale seeing places that loomed so large in Unsouled looking so dismal and small in this book. A lot of heart in this one, brah.
Best Part: “No. This is the path of the White Fox.”

#3 Underlord

This is probably the cleanest bit of storytelling in the series. Yerin needs to advance or die and the Yerdon (Lirin?) dynamic finally gets a chance to develop. This book just has a lot of heart and emotional weight and a great buy-in. I feel pretty bad for our Seishen kingdom antagonists in this one, which I think means Will did a good job in setting up their rivalry. Although the gang is often in mortal peril, it never feels as dangerous as it does here. I think Yerin’s character has really evolved in this book and seeing her vulnerable without losing her identity, that’s tough to do. Seeing Lindon really find his post-ghostwater swagger is also great to watch. Everyone really feels well developed here. We’re at peak Mercy, and her advancement in this book is the most compelling part of her arc so far. I think that this is also a really important Eithan book. I feel like it is the first book where he starts engaging with the team as friends rather than pawns in his celestial chess game. He’s warm and human and has some really funny bits. Orthos’s departure gets me every time too. The twist with the Akura team selections got me so good when I first read it. I have nothing bad to say about it. Premium Cradle.
Best Parts: Lindon opening his void-key in the vault. Eithan discovering Dross. And it’s a small moment but Charity losing her concentration as the gang runs into the portal during her speech is so good.

#2: Blackflame

The dragon advances. I remember the exact moment in this series when I started being a Cradle ambassador and forcing all my friends to read these books. It was Sandviper Kral’s funeral scene. It was here where I really understood how deeply Will understood the conventions in this genre and how good he is at flipping them on their heads. I was cheering on the book two villain after ten pages. This book beginning to end reinforces how unusually good this series is and how good Will is at letting any character have the spotlight. You could make the case that this is anyone’s book:
In other books Yerin might check the box as “Tough girl character” but here she has genuine pathos and real protagonist issues to work through. Learning to let go of her master and forge her on path ahead? Yaaaaaas (uncrowned) queen.
Jai Long could have been a scary forgettable MCU villain, but he really has agency and purpose and reading it from his perspective you kinda get it. Now has the ancestor’s spear and is going to finally restore his honor and capture the avatar destroy the Jai Clan only to be caught by Jai Daishou and forced into his service? Compelling af.
Little Blue could have just been an amorphous little blob in a terrarium the whole series, but in this book she…gets tiny little legs and stuff.
But really it’s an Eithan book. In other stories he’s just Master Roshi, the wacky comic relief mentor figure, but this legitimately is his story. The main conflict is his political war with the Jai Clan and the real climax is his fight against Jai Daishou. Yes he’s a big goofy trickster, but we see the cracks in his armor through his dynamic (and unexpected vulnerability) around Cassius. We get to see him sweat a little. We get little flashes of the person he becomes over the series. In Will’s blog, he talks about how this story started as a little short about the Janitor who is the embodiment of death, and you can see how much he loves writing this guy come across in this book. It’s also just cool and fun throughout. Plus it has a majestic turtle in it.
Best Parts: “I’ll tell your Remnant.”

#1 Wintersteel

I will fight you all day about this. ALL the character dynamics are dialed up to 11 in this one. We get the best development in Yerin and Lindon’s relationship, Eithan and Yerin and Lindon’s relationship, Mercy and Malice’s relationship, Mercy and Lindon’s dynamic, Yerin and Ruby’s dynamic. Just every strand on the spiderweb of human connection is vibing real hard. Because we’re closer to the end of the tournament and penance is hanging over the results the competition feels higher stakes, we have a dreadgod stirring, big political webs, dates! Everything.
I have a friend reading this right now and she’s texting me every 2 hours with an all caps: “THIS IS ABOUT POINTS” or “HOLY SH*T EITHAN’S FIGHT!!!!” Every two hours. And she’s right to do so.
It’s just hit after hit of stuff you didn’t know you needed. Everything is paying off, Yerin’s blood shadow, Eithan’s self-control, Lindon’s hunger.
I can’t. I can’t even.
Best Parts: Eithan vs Sha Miara, “I wanted to see the look on your face,” “I’m going to punch a hole in the sky,” the Points Sage, Ruby petting the bunny. Heck this whole book is the best part.
Anyway, since this is about points, upvote before you completely blast me in the comments.
submitted by MaxAvery to Iteration110Cradle [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 21:34 bIuesy AITA for not wanting to reconnect with my bio-dad?

My (23F) bio-dad (don’t know how old, probably late 40s? early 50s?) contacted me to say that he wants to meet & catch up after almost a decade of not seeing him. He also dropped that he would love for me to have a relationship with my 2 half-siblings (one I’ve met before, & one I haven’t). My mom expressed it would be good for me to be a “mentor” to them, which upset me. I don’t know them, & I do have a younger sister who’ve I’ve grown up with & try to be a good role model for already.
For context: Bio-dad would occasionally call for birthdays. But when I would bring it up to my mom she’d say “Oh, I’m glad! I reminded him, & hoped he would,” which, as a kid, was a bummer to hear he wasn’t doing it on his own volition.
Meanwhile I had my Dad (step-dad who raised me from birth) in my life who was amazing, so I wasn’t exactly…missing bio-dad, & when bio-dad stopped being in my life it didn’t feel like a shock or a loss.
My step-dad recently passed away which I’m still working through, so for bio-dad to come back wanting to reconnect, it left a bigger sour taste in my mouth. He didn’t do any of the work or care, & actively chose to remove himself from our lives (he told my mom the reason he stopped contact was because he needed to build his own family & wouldn’t be able to have one with her, as she wanted to be with my step-dad. my mom told him that was fine, but to include me in that choice was wrong of him. he agrees, & says that was his mistake & wants to make amends now).
I’m grown now — what’s there to say? I don’t want to share details of my life with him: my successes, my failures, my likes & dislikes. He had the chance & the time, & he made his choices.
I bet he’s a great guy, & I heard he is successful & a good dad to his other kids, but I just Don’t Care.
My mom finds it disheartening & encourages me to give him a chance or leave the door open. She also said it would be good to have another male figure in my life, which pissed me off even more because, again, step-dad recently died, & I’m not a teenager anymore. She wants me to “Do at least one thing for her” & message him back how I feel, but I don’t want to do that either. I may be resentful or spiteful or cold, but I genuinely don’t want to waste time or breath on this.
Am I being too harsh?
submitted by bIuesy to AmItheAsshole [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 19:20 Equivalent_Many_2134 Searching for Webflow instructors

Hi there !
Hope you’re all doing well !
My name is Thomas, and I’m the founder of Nocodable (https://nocodable.io), an online learning marketplace 100% dedicated to no code !
We’re actively searching instructors on Webflow to create courses on the platform in English.
As you may know, creating and selling online courses is a great way to diversify your income sources, as well as building your audience and generating leads for mentoring or coaching you may offer !
However, creating traction and finding customers for your course is a daunting task and requires a lot of efforts.
Which is why we’ve created Nocodable. To create a big library of no code courses that everyone can browse, and to help vocoders share their knowledge and be rewarded for it.
We’re commissioned base, so uploading your course is obviously 100% free, no subscription or whatsoever.
We’ve launched the platform on March 15th and we’re happy of the results. So far, we’ve had only French speaking courses, and we’re extending in English.
If you’re interested to talk about it feel free to contact me on the platform of your convenience :
I’d be happy to have a chat with you (even if you’re just curious) ! 😁
Email —> [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
LinkedIn —> https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomascouderq/
Oh and by the way, the platform is 100% built in Nocode (using Bubble).
See you !
submitted by Equivalent_Many_2134 to webflow [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 19:18 Equivalent_Many_2134 Searching for Nocode instructors !

Hi there ! Hope you’re all doing well ! My name is Thomas, and I’m the founder of Nocodable (https://nocodable.io), an online learning marketplace 100% dedicated to no code ! We’re actively searching for instructors on various Nocode tools to create courses on the platform in English. As you may know, creating and selling online courses is a great way to diversify your income sources, as well as building your audience and generating leads for mentoring or coaching you may offer ! However, creating traction and finding customers for your course is a daunting task and requires a lot of efforts. Which is why we’ve created Nocodable. To create a big library of no code courses that everyone can browse, and to help vocoders share their knowledge and be rewarded for it. We’re commissioned base, so uploading your course is obviously 100% free, no subscription or whatsoever. We’ve launched the platform on March 15th and we’re happy of the results. So far, we’ve had only French speaking courses, and we’re extending in English. If you’re interested to talk about it feel free to contact me on the platform of your convenience : I’d be happy to have a chat with you (even if you’re just curious) ! 😁 Email —> [email protected] LinkedIn —> https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomascouderq/ Oh and by the way, the platform is 100% built in Nocode (using Bubble). See you !
submitted by Equivalent_Many_2134 to nocode [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 19:03 trumpetcrash Lobo #20 - John Constantine

Lobo #20 - John Constantine
<< l < l > l >>
Author: trumpetcrash
Book: Lobo
Arc: John Constantine [#1 of 1]
Set: 85
PREVIOUSLY ON LOBO: After a galactic goose chase to find a man with a bounty on his head for his stolen time travel technology, Lobo discovered that the time travelling technology was a hoax and that he had no way to travel into the past and erase his despicable self. To make matters worse, Scapegoat – demon and his best friend – told him that he’d manipulated Lobo at birth to turn him into an unstoppable brutalization machine in order to help destroy the Divine – and Heaven – in the coming Revolution. Scapegoat, in an attempt to pry Lobo away from emotional and Earthly misgivings, instructs one of his demonic underlings to kill Lobo’s daughter, Crush. She’s bene on her homeworld of Earth for several weeks, scrounging around the streets of Gotham, but if she’s going to have a chance at surviving this demon attack, she’ll need some help…
Most people would expect a renowned demon-slayer’s breakfast to contain eyeballs or tentacles or something else that would make your average Earthling peel away in disgust, but these people overestimate the strength of John Constantine’s culinary palette; at the time that this tale took place, he started every day with a quarter of a box of Captain Crunch.
His demonic consort, Ellie, mentioned it every morning that she ate with him. “The mighty Constantine, eating cereal made for children.”
John, usually not completely dressed by breakfast-time (or lunchtime, for that matter), would shrug and flaccidly insult her own choice of calamari-kabobs.
One morning, though, there were no insults. John’s Captain Crunch went unsullied and Ellie just nibbled at her squid without committing to any particular bite. The air was heavy – not with sulfur as in Hell, but with the shadows of secrets – for several minutes.
Eventually, John spoke. “You haven’t been quite the same since I took ol’ Swampy and that alien to kill Negral,” he said. “Is his death still bothering you?”
Her red irises flashed up to John. “Of course not. I said I wanted to turn over a new leaf, and I meant it. I’m not sick of do-gooding yet, John. After all, variety is the spice of life.”
John nodded as if he hadn’t heard it a hundred times before. He returned his gaze to his breakfast bowl, but not before saying, “Anything interesting happening in the ol’ demon world today?”
“You’ve said “ol’” without the “d” twice now, Johnny boy. You feeling okay over there?”
“No misdirection, please. I just want to stay up to date in the demon world. That’s all. No fights.”
“You want to stay up to date, so you keep using the word ‘old’…”
John knew Ellie was hiding something but didn’t think he could get it out of there, so he just sighed and started to chew with his mouth open.
Smacking, his mother had called it.
It affected Ellie almost as much as it affected John’s mother. Her spine clenched, her eyes widened, and her nostrils flared.
“John–” she began. “You know I don’t like it when you chew with your mouth open.”
“I think I remember that.” John twisted his face in mock concentration while Ellie fumed. “But I also recall that I get pissy when people who I work with keep secrets from–”
“John, don’t be such a ba–”
She would’ve called him a “baby” and moved onto progressively worse insults if it wasn’t for the shriek of John’s cell phone. It wasn’t the phone in his pajama pants pocket that he would’ve happily ignored a call on, but the phone that was ceremoniously hung on the motel basement’s dingy wall with glorious Command Strip technology.
It was the emergency phone.
John left his Captain Crunch behind as he leapt out of his seat and towards the wall. He opened the phone, expecting it to be a costumed superhero or his friend Chas or maybe even his sister; instead, it was the voice of a burly alcoholic.
“Lobo,” John realized aloud. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“A demon named Scapegoat is orchestrating the final battle between Heaven and Hell,” he said simply. “And he wants to kill my daughter, who’s on Earth. You need to stop him.”
John cast a glance backwards at Ellie, who just smoldered.
“Where, Lobo?”
Gotham seemed more alien to Crush than outer space could ever hope to be.
Outer space was more colorful and more obnoxious than Gotham, but it didn’t seem as dangerous. Sure, there were entities of unbelievable power lurking on that forbidden moon or right behind that nebula, but they were too big to have the effect of a rusty shiv pecking at your ribcage. Space lacked the stench that Gotham entrepreneurs could bottle up and sell on the interstellar black market as a tool in any amateur torturer’s toolkit.
Despite it all, though, Crush couldn’t quite pull herself away.
She came to Gotham first to help fight the vampire hordes. She did her part and saved some people despite seeing terrible things. After getting her parents back to their land she should’ve gone back to L.E.G.I.O.N., back to her surrogate family, but she was too morbidly intrigued by Gotham to return. It felt like something that her father would’ve loved – the kind of thing that was in her blood. The kind of thing that was evil, demonic to the most extreme vector. The kind of thing she shouldn’t have gotten herself mixed up in.
She never did, really. She stayed out of the local vigilantes’ sights and did a little do-gooding work on the side. A few drug dealers had been locked up because of her. She tried to try booze – sure, she’d had a can of beer here and there back home, but she didn’t really want to even do that again now that she’d seen her father – and couldn’t bring herself to drink it.
That’s when she knew she was ready, when she was sitting at the bar and felt with absolute certainty that she’d never sit at one again off the clock. She stood up and turned away from her untouched drink, her chest slightly more swollen with self-confidence than before.
That’s also when she saw the demon.
At first, she thought that there was a tall, straight-backed man in a heavy black cloak coming to take her just-vacated seat. She shuffled slightly to the left to make way, but the man didn’t follow through the channel. That’s when she realized that his face wasn’t just dark-skinned, but fuzzy and humming too.
His face was moving, as if it was made of a hundred little–
Crush yelped a bit when the first centipede shot out of the cloak and onto her uncovered left bicep. The little thing squealed and tried to sink its pinchers into her muscle until her right arm came up to swat it. It burst with a small pop, but by the time it was dead there were three more skittering on her and more spraying everywhere else in the bar.
The crowd around her started to scream and rush for the exits. Crush heard one or two people holler, “It bit me!”, and saw at least three fall to the floor, but she couldn’t tell if it was because they were bit or because other people toppled them over and trampled over them in the rush to escape. Crush just knew she had to get the bugs on off her; she ran her hands over her arms and neck and she leapt into the air and landed behind the bar counter, momentarily out of sight of the centipede-man.
Crush had no idea what the centipedes’ bites would do to a Czarian, but she wasn’t hankering to find out.
The gap between the bar counter and the wall was lined with bottles of booze and sinks and drinkware and everything else that normal bar operations required. Crush was trying to figure out if she could use any of it when the shifting face appeared over her. A buzzing, claw-ended hand reached over the counter for her, coming for her face. It dropped insects that she hit away in mid-air with one hand as the other reached for her gun. Before she could grab it something else reached over the counter and yanked the demon away from her. She puzzled as she checked the cartridge in her gun and raised it.
Someone was dueling with the creature now, someone with oily gray skin and with the head of… a fish? This confused Crush more than anything else. Why was a walking fish trying to save her? She shook the questions from her head and shifted the gun to the right, aimed firmly at the bug man. Then something insidious flashed in her right ankle, and with a scream the gun fired and shot a blast of energy into her attacker. She couldn’t see the effect, though, since the sudden pain in her leg sent her rolling over the bar counter and onto the ground neck-first.
When she was next awake her vision of the bar, with the fish (no, shark) man bound to a bar-stool by a rope of skittering centipedes, was tinted red. Something in her leg was jerking back and forth, moving her flesh and muscle and bone and drinking her blood. It felt as if it had been happening for hours, but perhaps it was only seconds.
The man – no, the thing – in the cloak stood a few feet away, ominous and silent except for the chittering bugs that made up his form. She wanted to ask it why it had done this, why it was hurting her, who the shark-man was, but she was too busy screaming in pain.
The pain started to travel up her leg, and she thought that she might die.
Then there was a flash of light and there was a fourth person – being, at least – in the room. This one was a human man and a shaggy caramel-colored beard that matched the tousle of hair atop his head. He looked like a detective in the dingy trench coat he donned, and he held something in front of him that Crush couldn’t make out due to her pain-induced convulsions.
“Beelzey, Beelzey,” the man tittered. “Working with crawly critters now, are you?”
“My name is Beelzebub.” Its voice was like a hum that came from nowhere in particular. “Johnny.”
“John Constantine,” the man sighed. He raised what had been in his hand to his mouth, and Crush’s stomach sunk when she saw it was just a cigarette and not some weapon.
“Whatever. I’m here to stop you from killing her –” he waved a finger towards Crush. “And… whatever the Hell that shark thing is.”
“I don’t have the charm to kill that thing,” hummed Beelzebub. “It was just a nuisance.”
“Who gave you the charm to kill the girl?”
Crush thought she might’ve seen a centipede curl into a smile on Beelzebub’s face, but a fork of shooting pain ripped her attention away from it.
“That is not of your concern, mortal.”
“Then it’s a good thing I’m concerning myself with it.” Constantine pulled something else out of the pockets of the trench coat. “I think that you were given your charm by someone who shouldn’t’ve been giving it to you. I think that if I crush this rock–” he flashed a ruby pinched by his pointer finger and thumb – “that you and your buddies are screwed out of luck for the time being. Shall we try it?”
The buzzing got louder and something deep and evil started to howl in denial, but before the centipedes suddenly flying through the air could reach Constantine, he crushed the little gem between the folds of his palm. Suddenly the cloaked figure and all the centipedes – including the one in Crush’s leg – were gone.
After an indefinite period of time, Crush awoke with a little splash of water on her face. Constantine had laid her out on the pool table. Her mouth started to form into a question, but Constantine interrupted.
“Beelzebub tried leading a rebellion a couple millennia ago, and now he’s chained to the will of his hellish superiors. Apparently there’s a bit of a shakeup going on, though, since a low-ranking demon named Scapegoat was able to get him onto our plane of existence.”
“Scapegoat?” Her leg still burned.
“Apparently one of your dad’s old drinking buddies. Don’t give me that look, I’ll explain when we get back to the compound. You’ll be safe there, at least for a time.”
Crush was too weak to argue, so she just nodded and tilted her head to the other figure over the pool table. “Who’s that?”
The aquatic beast chuffed a few words.
“According to police databases, his name – designation, really – is King Shark. He’s a mutant that says a man who smells just like you broke him out of jail a few months ago. Says he’s in your debt.”
“That’s… that’s…”
“I know.” Constantine reached down and grabbed her shoulder. “Deep breath, now, okay? This’ll only take a minute.”
Crush found the motel – or whatever they called these things in Britain – unsanitary; she didn’t believe in staying overnight at a place where you have to check for cockroaches before you commit to each step.
The room they materialized in was sparsely decorated. There was a folding table, a few chairs to go with it, and some rudimentary appliances (coffee maker, microwave, etc) which sat atop a counter on one side of the room. Sitting at the table was a slender, evil-eyed woman with billowing red-and-black hair. When Constantine and his tagalongs first appeared, she looked pissed, but after seeing both Crush and King Shark, her expression turned to one of confusion.
“What have you gotten yourself into this time?” she tittered. “Is this the girl you’re supposed to return to her father?”
“Actually, Ellie, he wanted me to hold onto her and keep her safe until the war’s blown over.” John sauntered over to the table and took a seat, not bothering to guide Crush or her aquatic guardian. “So we’re gonna build a little compound right here.”
The woman – Ellie – rolled her eyes. “You think we can hide out from a cosmic war in the basement of this shitty place?”
“The battle will take place in some part of space far, far away, and you know how these battles go. No one will really win, nothing will really change. Let them measure their dicks for all I care. Besides, I used up quite a few favors getting the girl – Crush – out of a bind with Beelzebub. Best to lay low for a couple weeks.” He finally turned towards Crush and King Shark. “Help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge. There’s a room for each of you over there.” He pointed towards a hallway that sprouted out of the eastern wall.
“Well… thank you.” Despite her timid timbre, Crush really meant it. King Shark echoed with his own thick and rubbery “Thank you.”
“Are either of you hungry? It’s still breakfast-time here in England, but Ellie makes a mean grilled cheese, and if you don’t like those we might be able to find–”
“No thank you.” Crush put her hand up. “I’m just going to go lay down for a few. Thank you, again.”
“Be sure to shake the bedsheets!” John called as she sulked down the hallway. King Shark followed, but had the good sense to enter a separate room from hers. “There might still be bugs in them!”
Crush sighed a heavy sigh, for she was starting to think that this place was going to make Gotham look luxurious.
That night, John ignored Ellie’s soft, nimble hands and her puckered lips.
“We have guests, Ellie,” he groaned softly into her ear, for they were still tangled up in each other under the bedsheets. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’ll have to wait.”
“When did you become so prudish?” She twisted herself out of their twist and sat up on her knees. “It’s just an overgrown fish and a moody alien.”
“That moody alien is a moody teenage girl, Ellie. I don’t give a damn about the shark, but I feel weird–”
“John, you have sex with a demon every night. I think you’ve passed weird.”
John took a big breath of a sigh and brought himself up to look Ellie in the eyes. “Ellie, you’ve treated me like an annoyance all day. Why should I go out of my way to please you right now?”
“Because I’ll make you feel good too.” The invisible tongue of her pleasure started upon John’s neck, but he mentally swatted it away.
“The truth, Ellie. Something’s been bothering you.”
Her arms folded across her chest (not just to display annoyance, but also to accentuate her bosom), and she huffed and puffed in a way that the average mortal would incorrectly assume was improper for a demon.
“Fine.” Her face twisted up into something… crooked. “The other night, I was visited by a demon. Don’t get that look, we didn’t do anything. He summoned me to take part in the Revolution; apparently that Scapegoat guy really is amassing an unholy army to defeat the growing Divine army. And they want me in it, John. The want me in it.”
John tried not to draw back, tried not to show her he was scared. “What did you say, Ellie?”
Her face pinched. “That I’d think about it.”
“So you haven’t been on the outs with me because you’ve been regretting sending me to kill Negral?”
Hesitation betrayed her. “John, I –”
“Ellie… you’ve been doing so good, you’ve been acting like a real –”
“A real what, John?” she snapped. “What is it that you want me to be?”
His hands found hers, brought them closer to his chest. “The best possible version of yourself, Ellie. And how can you be that if you participate in the battle that might end the universe?”
“I’m a demon, John. Maybe it’s about time you get that through your skull.” Her voice was hard; she took her hands away, rolled off the bed, stood up. “I’m not chained to your mortal universe like you are.”
John followed her off the bed. “Are you sure about that, Ellie? Can you really mean that, now?”
When Ellie finally did speak, it was accompanied by a single drop of brimstone rolling from her eye.
Crush had spent her first day in the motel basement falling in and out of sleep before allowing the tides of drowsiness to submerge her until the British sun rose the next morning. She readied herself in her room and sauntered into the storage-area-turned-living-quarters – she still had to ask John and Ellie why they were staying at the bottom of a motel – and found it deserted. No matter; she took out her phone (the Terran one she could only use on Earth) and caught up on all the trends that she’d missed while with L.E.G.I.O.N. or fighting crime in Gotham. She expected that social media would feed her relief, but really, it just made her feel useless.
She was ready to find a way out of the basement when a figure emerged from the east-bound hallway: John Constantine. He looked as shaggy as always, but there was something about him – maybe the gauntness of his face and twitch of his fingers – that made him seem even less put-together than usual. Crush attempted a smile at him, but his eyes passed over it vacantly.
“Where’s Ellie?” she found herself asking, thinking the name of his lover would brighten him up. “You said she makes a mean grilled cheese.”
John, who’d found the coffee pot, let his hands fall away from the machine and turned towards her, knife-marks in his eyes. “She’s not going to be here for the foreseeable future.”
“Oh.” Crush cursed herself for bringing her up and cursed herself doubly when she realized that her mouth was asking, without her permission, “Why?”
“She had… other matters to attend to. A war to wage that I cannot be a part of.”
“Okay.” Crush vaguely wondered if this had to do with Beelzebub and the fact that her father had pissed someone off enough to try and kill his daughter. The idea of her father getting wrapped up with religious factions should’ve been comical, but she just couldn’t bring herself to laugh. “When am I –”
“You’re not getting out,” John said shortly, throatily. “Not until the Revolution’s been fought.”
“The Revolution?”
John, who had turned his back towards Crush and his trunk towards the coffee pot, now whirled around and barred his teeth. “The cataclysmic battle between Heaven and Hell that your father’s old friend has been planning for longer than you can fathom, the battle that, if the demons win, could spell subjugation for everything born for the rest of eternity! So, yes, we are staying inside my bubble!”
Crush had not been prepared for such a brutish, outright, emotional assault. It was more of a shrapnel-stuffed grenade than a tactical missile, in all honesty, but it was still frightening. She had the fortitude not to twitch, but on the inside, she squirmed.
“Sounds like the type of thing that we fight, then. Save the universe and all.”
Crush saw fire in John’s eyes; the fact that fire, so symbolically red, turns blue when hot enough explained why Crush could not make out the sheen over his irises and coronas.
“I have the place locked down with magic,” John said tightly. “Here we stay.” He snatched the coffee machine, unplugged it from the wall, and tore off to his room amid his billowing trench coat. Crush looked after him, wistful for something unknown, and sighed.
Eventually King Shark came out, helped himself to some of the popsicles in the freezer, lamented the lack of fish in the fridge to the best of his limited vocabulary’s ability, and sat next to Crush. She was bored of social media and sought to teach King Shark cards instead. The cribbage board proved too complex, as did any form of trick-taking game or even solitaire, but he was able to learn Go Fish quite well – as soon as he realized that one wasn’t supposed to eat the cards, despite the game’s name.
John darted in and out of the general living quarters for several days. Crush could never establish a conversation with him. She looked for any sign of spiritual warfare, but besides the tame terrorism and do-gooding of everyday life, couldn’t find anything.
One time, when he was grabbing a beer, King Shark asked about Ellie too. John gave him the same scarred look he’d showed Crush – although not as cutting as that one – and said, “That’s up to her, now. We can simply wish her the best.”
It wasn’t until the fifth or sixth day – Crush was losing track of time with only Go Fish to mark its passage by – that Crush was able to start a real conversation with him.
“Can you let me use my interstellar phone?” she repeated several times when he was grabbing a bottle of beer from the fridge. “I need to tell the team at L.E.G.I.O.N. that I’m okay.”
“You’ll tell them where you are, or that the Revolution is coming. That isn’t okay.”
Crush moved her hulking frame in between him and the hall to his room. “Why not? Don’t you want something to do something about it?”
John shrugged. “I’ve been doing things for a lotta years, sister.” He was mildly intoxicated. “Time to take myself out of the mix.”
“Ellie’s up there, isn’t she?” It was a bold assertion on Crush’s part. “And she’s on the other side. And you don’t want to fight her.” Nothing on his face, just alcohol-carved stone. “You don’t have to, Mr. Constantine, but you have to let me out.”
“And me,” grunted King Shark from somewhere behind them.
“And the King,” amended Crush.
For a moment she thought John would break, but then she found herself flying ass-over-teakettle and saw John stepping over her and into his room.
She and King Shark numbly discussed breakout plans, but she didn’t know the first thing about magical charms, and even if he did, he probably wouldn’t have been able to communicate it.
It was a surprise when, on the seventh morning, she woke up blinking the sun’s rays away.
“I didn’t think I had a window…” she grumbled sleepily before she pulled herself up and pulled herself into consciousness. “We’re outside!” She and King Shark really were deposited on the lawn of the motel.
John stood over them, neither smiling nor glowering. “I’m guessing you have a ship somewhere?” Crush nodded. “Safe travels. I won’t be able to transport you again. It’s a rather limited power, but it’s also a long story.”
Crush kept nodding as if she understood. “My ship seats three.”
“Then you two will have room to pick someone up along the way.” Now he smiled, but it was a sad one.
“Why are you doing this, John?” asked Crush, now standing and staring into his eyes. “Refusing the battle, I mean.”
“Because… I might love her, Crush,” he said. “And frankly, I don’t know how to deal with it. I’ve loved people before, but no one else is like her. I… it’s easier this way. I’m more of a screw-up than I let on, Crush, and you don’t want me screwing you and your father and whoever else you freaks accumulate up. No feelings.”
Once again, Crush nodded as if she meant it. “No hard feelings. Goodbye, John.”
“Bye, Crush. Tell your father I said hi.”
“I will.” Crush started walking then, not letting herself look back. King Shark followed obediently, although he did look back. He looked all over. Crush found his curiosity somewhat amusing, and idly wondered how he’d do in space, and how he’d do when fighting the hordes of demons that surely laid in their path…
NEXT TIME: The epic four-part “Lobo the Czarian” begins. We shift our perspective back to our favorite damned bounty hunter as he prepares himself for the battle of a lifetime and grapples with the realization that his lifelong friend and mentor Scapegoat had groomed him to be a tool of demonic destruction for his whole life. The next five months will be wild ride, folks, so buckle up! Thank you all for making it this far into not only this issue but this series, and if you only started reading Lobo midway through its run, I’d recommend going back through all of the earlier issues before reading “Lobo the Czarian” because it’s going to be a bit of a victory lap over all of this bounty hunter’s lore and what-have-you. See you all next month, and till then, stay safe and keep on readin’.
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2023.06.01 16:01 United-Confection697 Bored at internship

So, it’s been only about 3 weeks since I started my first internship. I’m a program management intern for a very good company in the automotive industry, they work with very common and some up-and-coming manufacturers. I was thrown in the middle of one program they’re working on, and at the very beginning of another they started a couple months ago. Most of the time, I’ve just been sitting around twiddling my thumbs. A lot of the time I walk around, introduce myself to folks I haven’t met before/reintroduce to people I briefly met. I always, always ask if there’s anything I can do to help with absolutely ANYTHING at all. Usually it’s a “I’ll let you know” or “not at the moment”. My mentor has given me tasks to complete during my time here, but for one of the tasks another guy has done most of the heavy lifting for me. And the other task, I need to do an BOM with someone else. It’s a Thursday, and total, there’s 5 other interns here and maybe about 15 employees. Out of hundreds. Although I might be getting paid good to sit around, I’m not that type of person. I wanna be active and support this business but as of right now I don’t know what to do. It’s hard to learn the process of being a program manager when 1) my mentor isn’t around and 2) nobody else from the department is around. Anyone have any advice of what I could do?
Thank you for listening to my TedTalk.
Edit: maybe we should all come together and make our own company so we can never slouch around again✊🏽. We’ll be our own interns!
Edit #2: Everyone else thats in my position, let’s hope it gets better. Everyone who kindly suggest things for me to do, thank you oh so much.
submitted by United-Confection697 to EngineeringStudents [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 15:43 thrownawaz092 I don't THINK I'm an assassin? (Chapter 2)

"What was that!?" Kellista demanded as soon as the creature fully disappeared. "You said you would summon your salamander!" The effort to dismiss the familiar had knocked Culleo back on his arse and again all he could do was wheeze. "You did issue a command, right? One that it ignored?" Lithia, the younger Lyc prompted. "Yeah, he did. And whatever it was, it wasn't taking orders." Kellista confirmed. "Alright, but before we get ahead of ourselves, is that match over?" Lirren asked, looking over to Kalivine. The Dovkin took a moment before nodding. "I already saw everything I needed, and I'm sure we would all rather focus on this more pressing matter. Get the medbot." Lirren went to do as instructed, and Turri cheerily bounced over, somehow not at all tired from all the exertion from moments ago. "You saw what you needed? That means you have an answer then? How'd they do?" He looked over to the two kobolds who were the entire purpose of the battle. "Their tenacity impressed me. This fight was clearly stacked against them, they knew better than to meet us head on, so they went for a bold strategy." Turri shot Kellista a thumbs up. "I also like how aware they were. Even when locked in combat, you" he nodded to Kellista "were still aware of your surroundings, and managed to help your teammate while minimizing the risk it posed to yourself." Kalivine gave a sigh of relief as the medbot started its work. "And it's rare to see someone cast anything while that exhausted, let alone a summoning." Turri walked over to Culleo. "Hey, ya hear that? Big ole Kal says you're cool!" He said as he pulled the lizard to his feet. Culleo could only huff in response. "Aww he's all tuckered out!" Oh Break you! Culleo tried to curse. "Ho, Huff you" Culleo actually said. "I love you too. So!" Turri said, dropping Culleo with a thump as he turned his attention back to Kalivine. "That mean they're in?" "Not necessarily. As much as they can push, the fact that they needed to push so hard is a major concern. My familiar shouldn't have caused so much trouble, I myself am hardly warmed up, and that summoning, which was at the center of their plan failed so poorly it might have made things even worse for them. I don't like that one bit. Then there's also the matter of how you-" "Oi, Kal! Sorry to interrupt but we got a little somethin' you should see!" Lithia called out.
Turri and Kalivine looked over to where she was standing, and noticed the bag at her feet. "That's... Yeah it is, isn't it?" The bag wasn't too interesting. Sure it was an awkward size, and the lettering wasn't in a language any of them knew, but besides that it looked like an average old bag. Of course, it was the fact that it was there that made it interesting. "Guys, what do we do?" Kellista asked. "Can't you just send it back?" Lirren said, looking to Culleo. The medbot had made its rounds by this point, so he could finally start speaking properly. "But- but I already did! I ended the spell and sent the familiar back! Now that I've done that I'm no longer tethered, so can't summon or dismiss them anymore." They all exchanged nervous glances. That thing had ignored summoning orders, stared ALL of them down, and had tried to cast something before being dismissed, not to mention how it went from stock still to lightning fast reflexes in the blink of an eye. And now its bag was here.
"Well? Let's open it up!" Lithia reached for the bag and everyone else was too stunned to stop her. Unzipping it, she upturned the bad, dumping its contents onto the ground. "So, what do we have here? Some clothes by the looks of it." Lirren was first to speak up. "Lithia! What are you doing!?" "Uhh, checking out our sweet new swag. Obviously!" Turri answered for her. "Come on. Ooooh, what's this?" Turri, being the birdbrain that he is, was immediately distracted by the shiny piece of metal that had tumbled out of the jumble of clothes. He picked it up and started examining it closely, eyes expanding rapidly. "What are you...? Ah ha!" Pushing a knob that turned out to be a button, a solid 'Ka-chink!' made everyone flinch as a simple yet elegant blade popped out. Turri's eyes expanded even wider and a grin made it to his beak. "Oh this one's totally mine!" Culleo considered saying something, not liking how something he summoned was now being robbed. "Hey what're these?" Oh great, now Kellista was in on it too. She found a small pouch of brown spheres. Taking a sniff, she must have liked what she smelt because she popped the thing in her mouth. "Hey! This stuff tastes good! I think I found some candy!" She said, rolling the brown sphere around her mouth. Everyone turned at that, and Kellista realized the folly of showing off her prize as everyone went for a piece.
In the turmoil of grasping hands, squawking and muttering, and a couple pinched fingers, Lithia was the first in and out. She was terrifyingly nimble despite her size, and she brought up her prize to take a sniff of her own before her eyes widened. "Nobody eat these!" She suddenly howled at the group. Everyone stopped in shock as Lithia lunged towards Kellista, who was more than a little shocked when the Lyc twice her size picked her up like a toddler. "Spit it out! Spit it out now!" She said, shaking the kobold. Kellista opened her mouth and let the brown ball of goodness drop onto the dirt, ruining it. "Hey! Let her go!" Culleo drew his rapier and pointed it to the one threatening his friend. Lithia hardly even noticed the second kobold, but still did as asked. "What was that about?" Turri asked. "Those aren't candy. At least I don't think so. They're laced with caffeine!" With that grand statement the others quickly dropped theirs, Lirren caught a whiff from his own and yep! Caffeine. It was subtle, hidden under a network of sugar, but it was there. His joined the other on the ground.
Kellista had never been so glad to be shaken like that. She was about to swallow the thing! Two seconds later and she would have ingested poison, and she didn't like her chances at that point. "Th-thank you for saving me." She said, still a little shaken from being a little shaken. "Don't mention it!" Lithia replied with a grin. "But now I want to know why our guy had a bag of poisonous sweets on him. Any ideas?" The group exchanged glances, and Kellista piped up again. "I think he was an assassin!" All eyes turned on her and she almost felt the weight of their collective gaze. "Well think about it! What have we found? A disguise, poison you'd willingly eat, a concealed knife," Turri was still fiddling with it, and there were now several bits of metal sticking out at odd angles. "Which we now see comes with a lockpicking set! Honestly Turri put that down before you release a toxic cloud or something!" Kalivine, who had been nodding along interjected "and some kind of access card" while holding up another find. "Exactly!" Kellista cut back in. "And where is this all stored? In a nondescript bag that could just be left somewhere! Come on guys, you saw how it moved! It hardly made a sound and was getting ready to fight, regardless of its summoners instructions! Like it actually thought it could take us all!" Kellista was panting by the end of her little presentation. "I think she's right. It was also powerful enough to bend a summoning to its will like that. I'm just glad you were able to send it back. I don't even wanna know what it was planning." Lirren said. Turri sighed and dropped the knife, and they all came to the same conclusion. After a few quick seconds everything was back in the bag and nobody wanted to touch it anymore.
"So what do we do now?" Culleo broke the silence, "should we tell someone?" Kalivine nodded. "Definitely report this. I think Mr. Folksen is in today. He'll know what to do." With someone to pin the responsibility on a plan of action, the group headed to the main campus building.
After he finished inspecting the ground and distinctly not crying in the fetal position over lost chocolates, Micheal slowly picked himself up, dusted off his clothes, and began to walk home. What sucked was that even without his bag, he was still weighed down because of the detachable weights he had wrapped around his wrists and ankles, and now that he had let himself cool down, his limbs also felt like lead. He gave a mental sigh as he trudged along. The journey was slow and painful, but at least uneventful. As his house came into view, Mikey noticed that he still felt the imprint of his bags strap on his hand and shoulder. Kinda weird, because 'the incident' as he started referring to it as happened nearly 20 minutes ago now, and the imprint he could see was still in his hand. Focusing on it, he could still feel the fibers that made up the strap! He stopped and leaned over, looking closely at his palm. There's nothing to see, but he definitely feels his bag, not the imprint, but the actual strap like it was in his hand. "Wha...?" Closing his fingers and yes, there was something. It wasn't physical though, but almost like a breeze in his hand. He gave it a gentle tug and- "wait No! Not AGAIN!" started seeing spots in his vision.
Michael materialized back in the field with his eyes shut tight. "Come on! Are you kidding!? Why!?" He didn't care that he was making a scene in the middle of a pack of monsters, that eye thing simply couldn't be the only mode of transportation between worlds. His vision cleared however, and he saw that the field was now empty, which meant no dragon to eat him, and no kobold to send him back. But wait! His bag was here! Relief flooded through Mike as he found all his stuff was still there! Even the chocolate! "Oh, there is a god!" He said, popping one in his mouth. He stopped as he saw something, a half-eaten chocolate on the ground, clearly spat out. 'So, it's not that they didn't rob me, but team dragon is just too good for my stuff?' he thought with just a little indignation. Bad mood back firmly in place, Mike took a look at his surroundings. Now that there were no distractions, like a dragon in his face ('no, I willnot let that go any time soon!'), he could see the 'field' was the unkept land kind more than the soccer field kind, and this field was surrounded on three sides by buildings that were old enough that they might be ruins, and weren't styled like anything he had seen on earth. Knowing werewolves roamed the area, it was starting to feel like a monster town. Behind him however, stood a thick stone wall with a spiked fence on top of it. Although he had no chance to climb the wall, it did nothing to hide the grand, Cathedral looking structure behind it. The structure seemed to be carved out of marble, and was clearly maintained in stark contrast to the rest of the area. Looking up, Michael took back 'cathedral' and went with 'super palace' because this place was utterly massive. Sure, the base of the building was on par with Notre Dame but at higher levels instead of tapering out like most buildings do, it became larger and infinitely more extravagant. Seeing how he had literally been summoned here, Mike was clued in on the existence of magic, but the blatant disrespect for the laws of physics above his head confirmed that wizards were probably a thing. As the main body of the building went higher and higher, it seemed to thin out and seperate into a tangle of towers, courtyards, balconies and a whole lot of castle parts he didn't have words for, all forming a beautiful balance between chaotic and symmetrical. There were bridges that went to sections that didn't have anything under them, straight up floating islands, stairs that were rows of floating steps, and landings that looked like they disagreed on what way was down, all loosely forming a cage around a main structure that he could hardly see thanks to all the clutter around it. There was nothing on earth, even in games or movies that compared to the ridiculous levels of architecture going on in front of him. Seeing such beauty and grandeur so remarkably displayed in front of him, Michael was filled with deep emotion.
That emotion was pants-wetting fear. What the heck!? Was he trespassing on a literal god's doorstep!? Or, judging by the surroundings, was this some sort of local superpower that basically owned the very air he was breathing!? No, probably not, they hadn't aimed anything at him or yelled through a microphone that he needed to vacate immediately or be forcibly removed, but still! Michael stood there for several minutes, staring with a blend of terror, curiosity and fascination. He wasn't even sure how long it had been when he saw a new monster, one he did not have a name for, casually strolling towards the castle. Upon seeing the creature, it struck him that he was standing in broad daylight in the middle of a field in downtown monsterville. Luckily whatever it was hadn't noticed him yet, and he intended to keep it that way. He ran into the most deserted looking part of the ruins, hoping to keep eyes off him.
"So after he dismissed it, we noticed the bag hadn't gone back, so we took a look and it was clear the creature was a rogue of some kind." The six of them were gathered in an office several floors high in the school, and were busy relaying the events that had transpired concerning the summoning to one of the few teachers that were still available to speak with.
"How can you be sure? What was in the bag?" Professor Folksen, an older Kaikku and notable scholar asked.
"Well, the bag itself was unremarkable, but there was a concealed dagger and a caffeine based poison along with a simple disguise. And the dagger also had a set of lockpicks built into it too. When we realized what we were looking at, we decided to put everything back and come to you." Kellista continued, describing the scene quickly to the professor.
"You made the right call. With any luck your friend will pull their bag back, find their items intact and decide seeking retribution would be a waste of time."
"Sorry sir, pull their bag back?" Culleo asked.
"Indeed Mr. Zirrkus, this isn't the first time a familiar returned home without everything. The tether that allows them to find their way back to their own dimension remains until every piece returns with it. only then does the figurative door close and prevent them from coming back unprompted. Your friend has probably already taken their things back and has forgotten about this whole thing." Mr. Folksen said reassuringly.
"But wait, if there's still a tether to this world, couldn't it come back instead!?" Culleo asked with panic rising in his voice.
"No no, that won't be an issue. When a familiar is partially returned like in this case, the mana of its homeworld acts as an anchor, any attempt to pull itself back through without the summoners assistance would just pull everything to its origin. Even if it did have a way to come back, you've given it no reason to seek you out."
"But this thing managed to circumvent my summon, couldn't it find other workarounds if it could do that?" Culleo was struggling to keep his voice in the same octave.
The old scholar shook his head. "That would require a monumental misunderstanding of magic. There may be some things we've forgotten about mana since the jolt, but this comparison would be on the same level as worrying that gravity might fail because someone was able to hack your comm. It has no reason to return and even if it did, there would literally be all the mana in a world holding it back. You can relax dear Culleo, it's not going to seek out vengeance against you."
Culleo tried to calm down, he did his best to consider his mentors words and see the clearly laid out logic, but his nerves just wouldn't go down. He had a mantle of dread over his heart that just wouldn't abate. Ragged wisps of the tether seemed to remain, so faint they just might be his imagination, but something inside him was screaming that this wasn't over.
Seeing the apprehension on his pupil's face, Folksen tried another approach. "Come now, you said this duel took place on the eastern field, yes? Well let's go check it out." The old bird had clear signs of aging, wrinkles, loss of feathers and colour, but it did nothing to slow him down as he briskly made his way to a nearby window. "Now where, ahh! I can see scorchmarks. That's where you fought, yes?" He called as the young, spry and physically fit students caught up. Kalivine confirmed. "Yes, right over there. The creature was summoned by those two gouges" he said, pointing to some damage in the turf. "And what do you see?" Folksen asked. "...the bag is gone." Lirren answered. "Exactly. And what do you know? No assassins at our throats. The tether has been severed, we don't need to worry about them coming back. Now I want you kids to get home early tonight and have a good night's sleep. The school year officially starts tomorrow and you don't need to let this keep you up all night."
Culleo nodded numbly. Seeing the empty field had only made the icy grip on his heart squeeze tighter, but everything was exactly as professor Folksen had said it should be, and he couldn't find any reason to doubt it. "Alright teach, that sounds like a good idea, I'm headed out before this lot gets me into any more trouble." Turri said before giving Culleo a clap on the shoulder "Cully! You two need a ride? Don't worry about it, it's no biggie!" He didn't even wait for a response as he grabbed Kellista's hand and began leading the two kobolds out to a landing pad and a few minutes later had the two on his back as he flew through the night. Even two on his back, kobolds were sufficiently smaller than kaikkus that Turri was able to glide most of the way.
"This whole thing really is eating at you, huh?" Turri asked, and it took Culleo a moment to realize he was being addressed. It was starting to get into the evening, but people were milling about, so Turri had taken them higher than strictly necessary to give the kobolds some privacy. "...I'm not really sure why, but yeah. Everything that Professor Folksen said made sense, and this kind of thing doesn't normally bother me, but I just can't shake this feeling..." Culleo trailed off as he considered the problem. "I bet you're just stressed from not getting an answer!" Kellista interjected, "We've been working forward to getting a spot with the Divvani faction for months now and we didn't even get an answer! It's just nerves, man!" Culleo had honestly forgotten about that, but Kellista was right. They just threw everything they had in an all or nothing battle that would probably have an effect on the rest of their lives, and didn't even know if they had won. As Culleo looked forward as best he could into the headwind, he really hoped his friend was right.
_________________________________________________________ Authors notes
Alright, I know I already broke my 'once a week' promise by posting this, but don't expect a habit of it! I'm just a little ahead in my writing and I'm sticking with that standard.
The first shall be previous and the next shall be in a week or so.
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2023.06.01 14:35 C0LLIN_47 I got bored and started thinking way too much about the concept of Rodeo. For anyone who can be bothered to read, here is my breakdown of the greatest trap album oat.

The title itself embodies the way in which Travis describes his rise to fame, as well as the lifestyle that got him there; rebellious, chaotic, wild. Not only this, the word ‘rodeo’ is an homage to Travis’s home city of Houston Texas, and is used to personify the out of control nature of Travis and his journey.
The opener describes Travis’s mindset before the fame, “A young rebel against the system, refusing to conform or comply to the ways of authority”. In this track we see how ambitious and determined Travis is to make it to the top, however, he is still young, naive, and immature, as connoted by the title, ‘Pornography’.
Oh My Dis Side/3500:
‘Oh My Dis Side’ and ‘3500’ are both bona fide trap songs that portray the setting in which Travis grew up in. He recounts the “late nights” and “street life” in H-Town as drugs, violence, and partying become more and more heavily involved in his life.
Throughout the 4th track ‘Wasted’, Travis continues to describe his immature, irresponsible lifestyle. He also notably emphasises how much he is willing to sacrifice in order to achieve his goal, “I‘ve been grinding, slaving overtime since I was a fan”.
‘90210’ acts extremely importantly as the turning point of the album. In this track, Travis depicts his transition from life in Houston Texas, to his new life in LA. He has taken the biggest risk yet in search for wealth and fame, and finds himself in an unfamiliar setting with no idea what the future holds. This atmosphere is captured perfectly by Kacy Hill’s eerie vocals. Travis in the first half of the track talks about feeling home sick and being lost, in the second half however, he basks in the glory of finally making it and realising his dreams, “She love me I done made it”. Beverly Hills, area code 90210, is an estate in LA known for it’s wealthy inhabitants.
Pray 4 Love:
On the sixth track, ‘Pray 4 Love’, we see Travis beginning to settle into this new lifestyle, he is still feeling homesick and feels somewhat over his head but recognises the sacrifices he has made to get to this point and must carry on. The title shows that Travis is hoping the industry and those around him act in his favour instead of against him as he becomes more successful, “They don’t wanna see us win”.
By ‘Nightcrawler’, Travis has fully indulged himself. His dreams of partying, fame, and the lavish LA lifestyle have become reality, and he has fully embraced it with no holding back, “Order more bottles, order more models”.
Piss On Your Grave:
On the heavily rock influenced ‘Piss On Your Grave’, Travis, together with his mentor Kanye West, go all out telling the world, and everyone who doubted them, that there is nothing that can stop them now. Travis also makes it very clear that he is done with scumbag executives who try to hold him back, or any fake people trying to use him as he starts to make a name for himself in the rap game.
In ‘Antidote’, Travis finally feels entirely immersed and part of the culture, the lifestyle, and the area, “Poppin’ pills is all we know, in the hills is all we know”. He also starts to establish a trustworthy inner circle as he relentlessly parties in LA, “It’s low-key at the night show”, “It’s lit at the night show”, “Everything can happen at the night show”.
Now living the highlife, Travis touches on the downside of fame and success on ‘Impossible’. He describes feeling alone, longing for true love, and escaping fake friends. Use of the word ‘impossible’, is widely considered to be referring to Travis’s yearning for a girl. However, it could be alluding to his desire to change the world with the music he makes, which feels to him like an impossible task at times.
Maria I’m Drunk:
Following a similar theme, on ‘Maria I’m Drunk’ Travis craves the real, genuine pleasures he experienced in his earlier life, while using the juxtaposition of weed and alcohol to display the disparity within the lifestyle he has adopted. In part 1, ‘Maria’, he searches for affection and lust, “Calling for Maria, Lost without Maria”. In part 2 however, ‘Drunk’, Travis, with features from Young Thug and Justin Bieber, talks about taboo pleasures such as alcohol and girls that he enjoys otherwise, displaying the contrast within his lifestyle, “Drinkin’, sippin’, slow”.
Flying High:
On ‘Flying High’, Travis puts these feelings behind to savour what he has achieved by chasing his dreams of stardom as he enjoys the glory that comes with it. He feels on top of the world as he cements his name at the top, “If you ain’t up on my level, disappear, please don’t reply”.
I Can Tell:
‘I Can Tell’ is Travis reflecting on his come up, and career thus far. This shows how much he has matured on his way up through the music industry. He recounts how he started making music as a kid, “It all started in the basement”, and everything he had to go through to get to where he is now. In other words, he’s had the experiences, and has come out on top to “tell the tales”.
Apple Pie:
The last track ‘Apple Pie’ shows Travis letting go of everyone/everything he used to depend on. He has escaped the shackles of his humble Houston beginnings, “Made it from the spot straight to Quintana”, created a name for himself, and is in the process of leaving behind a legacy. He is somewhat nostalgic about this as he remembers the comfort and simplicity of his old lifestyle, but recognises he is on the right path now, he is taking things into his own control and writing his own destiny, “I need my own pepper please, my own legacy, my own remedy”. T.I’s final spoken word contribution encompasses the concept of the boundary breaking debut album, “Will he make it? Was it worth it? Did he win? Will he survive? The Rodeo”.
‘Rodeo’ sees Travis Scott approach the trap genre with abundant creativity and innovation. This album changed hip hop forever, and is to this day one of the most progressive and groundbreaking pieces of concept art ever made that continues to inspire and influence all of hip hop today. The End.
P.S. Some of this is probably/definitely complete bs lol so don’t take too seriously. I highly doubt Trav put this much thought into the story of Rodeo but still a cool way to think about it imo.
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2023.06.01 12:01 selfimprovement231 Personal business coach houston Business Coaches Houston

There is a song by musical group Alabama. Its title is “I’m in a Hurry to Get Things Done”. The song begins with the following:
I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh, I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
Even I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.
There is no doubt that we are in a hurry up world. Between emails, texts, phone calls, zoom calls, face to face meetings, work and just doing the basics of taking care of ourselves and others there is excessive strain. What happens when the body and mind are subject to excessive strain? The tension, the worry and the feeling that we must continue to run the race of life at a high-speed wear us out mentally, emotionally and physically.
Hurrying and running all the time has an adverse effect on your health. In my personal business coaching practice in Houston, I encounter the debilitating effect of always being in a hurry with several of my clients. One of the things we collaborate on is how they can slow down.
To an “on the go” businessperson, the phrase “slow down” is threatening and an implicit condemnation of how they are conducting their business and life. What slow down is addressing is that one must take time to do the following, reflect, evaluate and then respond. One must pause. The final component is that one must find adequate rest.
What is the cost of not taking a pause and of not getting adequate rest? There will be more incorrect decisions which take greater time and energy to correct, weakening you further. And the cycle repeats and things get worse. I once had a mentor who observed my hurry up mode and that I never slowed down. He was an executive with a large national corporation. I was reflecting on something that I was involved in not being done right which was going to cost me more money and time. I had the money. I did not have the time.
As he listened, he smiled. When I finished, he asked if he could make an observation. He said, “In your too busy life if you don’t have time to do it right the first time, when are you going to find time to do it right?” That question stopped me in my tracks. It became clear about the mess I was creating. Then he said this: “To move forward in business and life you must slow down and get more things right the first time. Only when you get things right the first time are you positioned to speed up.” Slow down. Get it right the first time. You won’t be slowed down going back and correcting your mistakes. Without having to correct your mistakes, now you can speed up.
Get More Info : Personal business coach houston
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submitted by selfimprovement231 to u/selfimprovement231 [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 08:45 bala46 Tw-Umair Rana’s harassment case that was swept under the rug

Tw-Umair Rana’s harassment case that was swept under the rug submitted by bala46 to PAKCELEBGOSSIP [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 03:18 OGilgamesh2 Actual play - Part 1 : The World, the PCs, and the Beautiful (insectoïd)

Hi everyone,
I've juste finished the first major adventure for my current game. I'm pretty satisfied with it, and thought it could make for an interesting read. So I'll make a couple of posts that go from the initial setup to the end of the adventure.
The posts willd be divided between:
The format will probably evolve as I learn how to make the text more legible.
Okay, enough blabber, on with the post!
Oracle / Game Master Emulator
Part 1 : The World, the PCs, and the Beautiful (insectoïd)
Me: I'd like to play in a fantasy world, and maybe explore a map? Okay, let's drop a bunch of dice and see what kind of map I get.
I drop 2-3 sets of polyhedral dice on a sheet of graph paper and arrange them so I have two cities, some settlements, mountain ranges, forests, etc.
Me: Okay, not the most interesting map in the world. Let's flesh out this town there. Give it a problem, a theme and some factions, see what I can get.
Using Maze Rats, I get:
Name : Aïrjinh
Theme : Martial law
Problem: At war with another town
Factions and their goals
Incorruptible city guard, goal = Enforce law
Righteous dark cult, goal = Defend leader
Ruthless spy network, goal = Spread beliefs
Me: Wow, those dice are really bringing home the war atmosphere. Hmmm, but, looking at the map, the whole fantasy schtick is really not grabbing me. Maybe I could switch over to Grok?!'s setting? I could say the town is instead one of the isles floating above the wasteland. Yeah okay, that sounds cool. Where do the characters start?
After four rolls on Grok?!'s random tables:
A squalid residential district inhabited with slugmen ruled by a collective consciousness.
Me: Oh that's sweet. My characters are definitly starting in some bar over there. The locals' morale would pretty low, I guess, and I don't see them trusting strangers easily. The city guard could be part of the collective consciousness, being part of some sort of hive mind, awesome. Hey, now I need some characters! I could roll from the book for all three of them, but I'd like to at least have an alchemist. I should also have a decent stat spread in the party.
**I've rolled most character details, but not necessarily from Grok?!. If something is reeeeeaaaally weird, it's probably from Grok?!.
Varridian Ingrix Piqtalhi
Stats Physical = d10 Mental = d4 Social = d6 Stats Physical = d6 Mental = d10 Social = d8 Stats Physical = d4 Mental = d6 Social = d10
Personnality Nervous Motivation Find better life for yourself Background Elven barbarian prince Appearance Towering Trouble Pursued by rival family Personnality Ambitious Motivation Find mentor Background Paranormal alchemist Appearance Delicate Trouble Blackmailed for cheating while gambling Personnality Honorable Motivation Acquire fame & status Background Vampiric bard Appearance Brutish Trouble Repeatedly exiled from clans
Resource slots Resource slots Resource slots
1. Barbarian armor & weapons 1. Alchemist traveling gear 1. High society clothing
2. Plasma launcher 2. Bomb recipes 2. Flute
3. Retractable ft. pole 3. Fire bombs 3. Fangs
4. Attache of forged documents 4. Weighted dice 4. Poems book
5. Magic magnet 5. Auto-aiming slingshot 5. Darts
6. 6. 6.
7. 7. 7.

Me: Okay, I think I got everything I need to fiddle around with. So we start in a bar, slugpeople are sitting on tables on the walls and ceiling, rather than the floor. We probably have the only table made for outsiders. Piqtalhi is playing the flute to pay for hospitality, and we're looking for work.
I wonder if I should start by looking for work though? Aïrjinh provides a lot of opportunity to get in trouble. ... ... I know! Varridian is currently hunted by a rival family, probably a noble house that wants him permanently gone? So this family sent a bounty hunter that's going to crash through the bar's door!
All right, let's roll for this bounty hunter. Let's give them 3 traits and 5 resource slots.
*Rolls on Grok?!'s tables*
Traits Resource slots
1. Beautiful 1. Beguiling tongue
2. Duplication 2. Enthralled minion
3. Insectoid 3. Plasma launcher
-- 4. Small hot air balloon
-- 5. --empty--
Me: Okay, so that flightless butterfly comes crashing through the door, spots Varridian and immediatly shoots plasma from its plasma launcher. Their minion also approaches. Various duplicates surround the bounty hunter.
To block the plasma, Varridian kicks up the table!
Roll Physical (d10) = 6. Success!
Ingrix chucks a bunch of fire bombs to get rid of the duplicates!
Roll Physical (d6) = 5. Success!
Piqtalhi reveals her fangs and jumps on the minion, going for the throat!
Roll Physical (d4) = 4, explosive dice, roll again and add the total!
4 again!
2! So it's 4+4+2=10!
That's a ''Yes, and...''!
Me : The minion is gone, and Piqtalhi is full of blood. The bounty hunter clearly didn't expect to have such a hard time. In an instant, they lost many of their weapons. So they get scared and try to run escape. Varridian doesn't like that, and wants to knock them out. I don't think there's any real need to roll for that, so let's say Varridian throws some piece of the now burned table and hits them right on the back of the head.
The owner of the place clearly isn't happy. He tells us to leave now, or else everyone here will get arrested. We agree and decide to leave the bounty hunter there. As we exit, we notice the smal hot air balloon they came in. We could steal it and leave the island with it? Sure, but this isle is cool and I'd like to stay here a bit more.
Oh, I know! Ingrix is looking for her mentor! Let's say she's here because her mentor is imprisoned here somewhere, but she doesn't exactly know where. If they leave the island, due to its erratic trajectory, she might never be able to find it again!
Okay great, so the group has a good reason to stay on the island, but what now? There probably are sewers close? Yeah sure, let's say that there a sewer nearby, and that the group goes right in to avoid the city guard. Off to a great start!
End of part 1
So here's part 1, hope you've enjoyed! The next few posts might contain less tables, but no promise.
submitted by OGilgamesh2 to Solo_Roleplaying [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 22:37 AslandusTheLaster Deadman

Original prompt: [WP] You're a misunderstood necromancer, with a passion for dance. You resorted to necromancy because you could never find a crew passionate or flexible enough to match your choreography. (link)
I approached the gate to the cemetery, my group at my back. Naturally, said gate was locked. Alas, it seemed my dreams would have to sit by the wayside, forgotten by history and unappreciated by the world.
Just kidding. I gave a sharp whistle, and the necromantic abomination behind me reached out with six of its twenty arms. Six that didn't have eyes on the palms, I hoped. Fixing those bad boys was always a pain in the butt. Regardless, the Mass of Flesh tore the gates off easily and tossed them to the side to let us enter.
"Thanks, MOF. I'll see if I can give you a snazzy new ability next time you need a tune-up," I said, stepping through the gate. Every time we had an obstacle like this, it only served to vindicate my decision to experiment on the corpses of those bandits that had attacked me when I had just started out.
As we got closer to the mausoleum at the center of the graveyard, I slammed directly into a massive wall of magical force. Theoretically I could tear it down, but that would expend most of my magic...
"Hmph. Matilda? Do you see a way through this?" I asked.
The translucent young woman floating behind me drifted up and examined the wall. Being an ethereal being, she had a much easier time seeing the magic at work than the rest of us did. She quickly turned toward a pair of tall headstones and floated between them, showing what seemed to be a deliberate gap left in the wall.
"Over here," she said. Her voice was a soft whisper, barely louder than the rustling of leaves. It always made me a little sad, mainly because she would probably still have her flesh if I had managed to rescue her from those cultists before they sacrificed her. Oh well, as my necromancy mentor always said: Waste not, want not.
"Right, thanks Matty. Let's go, everyone," I said, leading the others through the gap and toward the concrete building.
The mausoleum looked to be locked, but I could vaguely hear someone shouting from behind it. As we rounded the building, the lich standing atop a raised coffin came into view. It was seemingly giving a speech to a group of low level undead, mostly skeletons and zombies, that were probably too brain-dead to properly understand him.
"Tonight! The village of Dungraith shall fall, and our ranks shall swell! Tomorrow! The Town of Orlin! Then! The world shall fall! A new order shall be made! They will discover the peace of death, then the unity of undeath!" the lich said.
The crowd around him didn't react at all, so I started clapping instead. The lich jumped at the sound, turning to face us.
"Adventurers? Hah! You're too late! I, Jeremeus, great harbinger of Thalryx, have already amassed a mighty army! Soon the age of undeath shall cast its shade upon the world!" he said, waving his arms over the assembled horde of shambling corpses.
"Cool. I mean, not cool, Thalryx is a prick, but you seem fine. The name's Gunwald. This is Matilda, that's MOF," I said, gesturing to my followers as I spoke. I finally turned to the last member of our group, a female orcish vampire. "And this gal is Kilgore. Together, we are DEADMAN!"
On the last word, I struck a pose and the others stared blankly at me. In hindsight, maybe zombies weren't so bad, at least they had an excuse for their bad reaction times.
"Guys, you were supposed to strike the chord when I said that. You know, like we practiced," I said.
"You come before me with a mere four people? When you meet the king in the afterlife, be sure to tell him he should have sent more men!" Jeremeus said, making a visible effort to ignore my attempted introduction.
"No, no, we're a band. Matilda's on vocals, I do the choreography, MOF plays percussion, Kilgore's our bassist," I said, the others pulling out their instruments as I spoke. "And we are DEADMAN!"
That time, they actually responded. Matilda let loose a death metal scream, MOF slammed on one of his cymbals, and Kilgore plucked a note off her bass.
"Much better. Now then, we're in the market for a new guitarist, and you seem like just the chap for the job," I said.
"This is a farce. I am the forebear of a new age! I am no guitarist!" he said.
"Perhaps I was unclear," I said. I raised my hand up and snapped my fingers, casting Claim Undead over the entire crowd. All the lesser undead turned to face Jeremeus. "I am offering you a friendly invitation to join our band. You should accept before it becomes less friendly and less inviting."
The lich looked around, but I could see he still had some determination in his eyes. Well, stubbornness, determination implied he'd have some chance of victory.
"Uh, you should really listen. I used to have 3 fledgling vampires and a dozen thralls under my wing. Used to. I wasn't on board with joining either and, well..." Kilgore said.
"Hey now, the groupies are still alive. They're back at camp, as alive as they day I graced your castle, busily preparing soup for us to politely pretend to eat," I said.
"They're thralls, not groupies. The implications of the terms are much different, please stop calling them groupies," Kilgore said.
"Well, as I was saying, the groupies are back at camp, safe and sound... Or as safe and sound as they were under Kilgore's wing anyway," I said. "The whole 'being used as blood cattle' thing makes it rather hard to say they're properly safe."
"I have a medical need for blood, if I didn't get it from willing donors I'd have to take it from-" Kilgore began shouting. She was cut off by Jeremeus yelling over her.
"Are you people out of your minds?!?!?! You're having this argument here, surrounded by my army, in front of my face!" Jeremeus said. He turned and looked around at the zombies and skeletons encircling us all. "What are you dipwits waiting for? Attack!"
Jeremeus pointed at us, giving the order to his former underlings. None of them moved.
"What? I said attack!" he repeated, pointing more aggressively.
"I don't think he's caught on yet," I said. I began snapping rhythmically. The horde around us began snapping in time as well, following my example. MOF and Kilgore took the hint and started playing along to the beat.
"So here we are, boy, upon this hallowed ground. Thought you'd bring along an army, maybe sack a nearby town?" I sang. Matilda floated around behind me offering backup vocals, though the only discernible words she offered were just repetitions of the last part of each line.
"That just isn't how it works, son, not now, before or ever. If you wanna make a change, you've got to be a bit more clever!" I sang, spinning around and pointing at Jeremeus.
"So trust me on this one, boy, this cycle's old as time. Because violence, it solves nothing, and hist'ry tends to rhyme," I sang, snapping in time again as I walked toward Jeremeus, cuing the others to adjust the beat. The horde around us closed in as well, still snapping in time.
"Believe me now, lad, this is something I would know! I've been marching 'round for decades, through heat and rain and sn-" I said, then went silent as Jeremeus smacked me across the face with the metal scepter he was carrying.
"Gunner!" Matilda shouted, interrupting her vocalizing. I held up a finger to her, before shoving my jaw back into place. It was a minor injury to begin with, and my natural regeneration fixed the damage that was there in seconds.
"I'm fine, Matty," I said. "That was rather rude, Jeremeus."
I grabbed the lich by the neck and smashed him into a gravestone, dragging his face along the rough surface. He managed to get a hand on my arm and pulled away, stumbling and falling onto his back in front of the horde.
"Wait, wait! Did she say Gunner?" Jeremeus asked.
"Uh... no?" Matilda said, her voice a slight whimper.
"No, no... It makes too much sense... All the talk of seeing this before... Gunwald... Gunner Wal- Gunner Walden!" he said, piecing the deception together. If blood still pumped through his veins, that would've been about the point that he went pale.
I sighed, pinching the bridge of my nose.
"Sorry..." Matilda whispered into my ear.
"So are we still planning to recruit this jackass or does he get out of joining the idiot brigade since he nearly took your jaw off?" Kilgore asked.
"Quiet! Do you have any idea who you're talking to? It's the Emperor of Death!" Jeremeus said, somewhat fumbling his words.
"I don't think you've earned that nickname yet, jackass," Kilgore said to the lich.
"What? No, not me! Your boss!" he responded, pointing at me. Kilgore looked at me for a moment, then back at Jeremeus.
"I refuse to believe anyone who would go by 'Emperor' would be caught dead in sequined leather," Kilgore said.
Jeremeus ignored her and turned to me. Then he asked, "Aren't you supposed to be dead? I mean, you rally together an army beyond numbers, crush every military force in your way, take down multiple kingdoms..."
"...Kill untold numbers of innocents, destroy large amounts of infrastructure that never got put back together quite right, set back the rights and public perception of the undead by a few centuries, yes. Apparently two hundred years wasn't long enough for people to forget me, but I've got to at least fix my own mistakes," I said.
"...But now you're here? Managing a band?" Jeremeus asked.
"Yes. So what do you think about joining now?" I asked flatly.
"Absolutely! Uh... I don't actually know anything about music, but I'm sure I can learn," Jeremeus said.
"That's the spirit. MOF? Do you have the guitar?" I asked.
MOF reached up to the basket on its back and pulled out the instrument, handing it to the new recruit.
"I'm sure Kilgore can teach you the basics, we've got a performance next week in Orlin," I said.
"Orlin? That might be... problematic," he said.
"Why?" I asked.
"I already sent them my declaration of war," he said.
I pinched the bridge of my nose and sighed.
"...Fantastic," I said. Good or bad, this was definitely going to be a memorable concert.
submitted by AslandusTheLaster to AslandusTheLaster [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 16:02 Army_unistar [Sauce] Whats the plot/story you would create If you can create your own manhwa?

Ik we all have our own secret plot that we created when we read tons of manhwas. It may be weird, cliche or traumatic plot but ik we all have one.
Please DON'T steal the plots that people share without consent.
I'll go first
But it's a little long, sorry yall I'm not good at story telling.
Byeol is a successful detective, crime investigator who can hear others thoughts by pressing her left thumb. Yes she can control it but she can only use it on two faced/lying not on innocent people. After work she went to her usual pub and found a cute handsome guy. Yep honey she had one night stand with this random cute stranger. Little did she know that he is a student in the academy where she is giving speech next week. But it looks like he is a loner. And he failed the exam twice. She gives a speech infront of the guy who knew her little secret( that she is little dominative). Ha Neul, also have his little secret, he is little traumatized by hearing other people's thought, but here comes the classic, he cant hear her thoughts. He doenst know how to control it unlike her. She helps him as a mentor to help him pass before going to Hawaii to spend her vacation (it's 3 months). Meanwhile he passed the exam and wonders where she is ( he doenst know). And he also proves that he is a good investigator. It's the day he gets appointed to a direct mentor, yes that's her guys wink wink . They start to slowly open up to eachother as they work together to solve crimes. So there is no childhood connection here but there is past life connection. They loved e/o in the past life (like in 40s) , but they couldn't be together bc they both were women in past life. And was separated and forced to marry some other guy. And these two are descendants/ reincarnation of them in modern world. They could hear others thoughts because, people around them acted like they supported them but backstabbed.(they wished if only they heard others real thoughts they would be together)They swore that they would find each other in next life. Idk if i explained that well though, it's like they have the power they wanted. And she will teach him how to control the power too. It's will be little slow burn(Not slowwww burn though) Definitely not adding the misunderstanding trope too, there should be communication. And their professional life and personal life are balanced in the story. They confess and start to date when he becomes a senior detective too. It doesnt center around only thier love life, And their professional life and personal life are balanced in the story.
There is no fixed villain here, it's just based on thier life and love. They solve crimes though and criminals could be bad people may be? Oh btw they wont know until the last that they are past lovers / about thier past life.
God i feel so good after ranting here what's in my mind though.
submitted by Army_unistar to manhwa [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 15:25 LimitlessHarmony Decoding The Asian Guy Dating Game In The US (15+ Years Exp)

Want to write a value post for this group for improving your dating life. No agenda.
Tired and also a bit sad to see younger Asian guys struggle. Some of you will resonate while others will complain.
I wrote this as another comment somewhere in this group, but there are, generally 2 types of Asian guys:
  1. Guys who see the differences in how we're treated and bitch and complain about it
  2. Guys who recognize the difference and do something about it anyway and win
Which one are you?
#1 When it comes to dating as an Asian guy, IMHO, the first step is recognizing the Unconscious Social Bias.
This is the weird or hesitant look you get when you try to talk to that hot girl who's not Chinese/your culture/Asian.
It happens for 2 reasons:
First, it's a biological response for safety whenever someone meets a person who looks like from a different tribe. Think about the first time you saw a really white person, or sometime who was maybe from Africa. It's a hardwired response.
Second, cultural conditioning. K-Pop is starting to change this, but large parts of US and other countries still consider "non celebrity" Asian guys as stereotypically boring, small D, predictable, not masculine, etc.
Until you get over this, dating just is 10x harder.
One way to get over it is style. Another is cultural adaptations in your speech patterns. Another is game. For example, a non Asian coach will say:
"Just go approach her with this, 'hey I thought you were really cute and had to say hello'"
This might work for a white guy, but your rejection rate is super high as an Asian guy
But if you say, "Hey, I know we look like 2 people from different planets, but I wanted to say hi"
*Calibrate - sometimes this is enough
If she's not giving you too much interest (verbally or read her nonverbals) then...
"Oh... it's because I enjoy meeting people I wouldn't otherwise run into..."
*Calibrate, sometimes this is enough and she will say "hey, what's your name""
"I'm on my way to see my friends but while I'm here... what's been the highlight of your week so far?"
This could be a second sentence but it's not necessary unless she looks confused or is about to give you a rejection line. The goal of this line is to extend the time to get some experience, but if your nonverbals are good you don't need this.
It is surprising how some people will give you more time once you mention you're on your way to something or there is a conscious time limit of when you'll leave, and this will give newbies a bit more room to practice as when starting out, it's likely you are nervous/anxious/don't know what to say.
Combine that line with a strong nonverbal language and you're in, most of the time. There are a lot of psychological events happening in those 2 lines.
Time constraint, social proof, unconscious bias brought to conscious awareness, unconventional question, anchoring the question.
#2 Once you get past the unconscious bias, the rest of the normal dating advice starts working a lot better. Non-Asian coaches have no idea what this is or what it feels like, so they have no clue it exists or how to overcome it.
This bias can return periodically, so you have to perpetually address it until it goes away completely. It's like a cat getting used to having your new puppy around. First it's scared, sometimes it gets antagonistic, then eventually it coexists in peace.
The opposite of the "social bias" is with famous people. They have "Unconscious Social Favoritism" . It sounds great but it's not. People treat you like their "image" of you instead of you and it's super uncomfortable unless you're at a fan event. When hanging out... it takes a few hours for most people to get used to them and just "hangout" and behave normally, because they're so nervous in their presence. We just have the opposite effect of that.
#3 The ratios and numbers matter if you're Asian
In the US, where I lived from 16 to 38 (wow, that's 23 years) here are the tier of cities and their difficulty:
NY/LA: Tier 1
Miami/Austin: Tier 2
SF/Seattle: Tier 3
SD/Vegas: Tier 3B
If you're having trouble in NY/LA, it's because you don't understand the points I'm making in this post. The diversity and sheer numbers are insane. Your race is only a small % of the factor in dating.
Miami / Austin is friendly, they are cultural very open, there's some minor racism but it's workable. The main problem is the limited population.
SF and Seattle have high male to female ratios and low quality, and therefore can be hard even though they are culturally very open to Asian men
San Diego is unique in that it has a very high male to female ratio, but the girls are gorgeous. However, due to military presence and beach culture, Asian men are not valued highly there. It's very hard to game the stereotypical beach blonde girls in SD. There aren't a lot of diversity in the type of girls there.
Vegas is unique is that lots of tourist, but off the strip, limited quality. Not racist, super nice people in Vegas, less racist than SD.
I was able to get girls in all these cities, but the work I put in to do so at a high level (what I consider a very high quality girl) was exponential.
So, where you live does affect your dating life and how much your dating skills can convert into actual results.

#4 The fundamentals
A lot of my clients freak out when they face failure... and as a conditioned response... they start focusing on a lot of things to try to improve their loneliness... picking multiple products, teachers, and getting all CONFUSED.
It's better to focus on 1 thing at a time, until you master the fundamentals.
For example, this week, I'm going to focus on how to say something clearly and get her attention.
This week, I'm going to try to get a girl / group to laugh with me (not at me)
One brick at a time.
It's boring, it's repetitive.... but this is the key to getting good.
Focusing on where you need to work on.

A lot of Asian guys don't have good style, or style that converts in western culture. You really have to study how this works. I combined K pop idols with style icons in America, and started putting together my own look.

A lot of guys have linear conversation skills. Focus on what's not being said. Focus on the emotion of what is said, Switch between the 2 listening modes and test your strength.
"My manager is giving me a lot of big responsibilities"
Depending on the tonality - the emotion behind it could be fear, or anger, or excitement.
Depending on what's said before/after, what's not being said is, "I'm excited I may be promoted" or "I think my manager is punishing me, work is stressing me out".
Your listening skills are a BIG factor in dating and most guys suck at it.

#5 The bedroom
Most Asian men have no sex game. I know this from many female friends. In fact, most men have no sex game.
When you live in the land of women for a while, you realize how bad most guys are. Take tantra class, and really learn about the female body and how it works sexually.
When I mastered this part of dating, it was like a whole new world opened up to me.

#6 The Racism/Rejection
When you're alone or feeling lonely every rejection feels hurtful - like a part of you is being picked off piece by piece. I get it.
Small things that shouldn't bother you suddenly hit hard. Like water torture, your mind starts playing tricks on you if you don't see a win after many months.
I get it. Been there. Many times.
This is when it helps to find a friend, or get a coach, or just reach out to someone. Try not to get into the gaming/porn depressive cycle cause after a while it's hard to break out of that.
The truth is, most "racist" issues are minor and not that important. If you spend your time trying to kick down someone else's ladder, you just might fall off yours on the climb to success.
The reality is that we have it better than Bruce Lee, and the interracial couple who had to win a supreme court case just to stay married (black woman and white man, I forget their names but there was a movie about it)
There's always something to complain about.
Focus on what works, and keep at it.

#6 The Hot Blonde
Yeah, I know it's stupid but it was my dream for the longest time. Then I got her, then another one, then a bunch and then I felt depressed!
I realized, like my mentor told me before I climbed this mountain, that "getting the girl doesn't make you happy". I realized that what does is - becoming a better man...
Speaking more clearly
Communicating with more strength
Being able to really listen to people
Being able to make real connections
Being able to express myself authentically
Being able to read social situations to create a win-win for you and your loved ones
Being able to sense/deflect or avoid or fight when necessary to protect your loved ones socially
All of these came from years of trying to be better with women.
I hope these lessons can help the younger members of this group.
Feel free to ask any questions below.
P.S. This used to be me, so if I can do it, I know anyone can.
submitted by LimitlessHarmony to AsianMasculinity [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 01:44 MrHairyEightlegs206 Extremely unbelievable story

Literally just found out my boss/mentor (I’m in an apprenticeship) is involved in a cult, not just involved but is the mother of the leader… what the actual fuck
Decided to research the business and came across a whole ass fandom page of their cult… where they have religious names and everything… and their whole life story is on there with pictures of them and everything… google their names and her sons literally a recognised philosopher that I’ve never heard of before.
I’m disturbed so I’m leaving and starting somewhere else 😅😅 oh my godddddd
submitted by MrHairyEightlegs206 to teenagers [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 00:34 theillustraitor Character References Pt. 1

Disappeared after my last post here cause its a bit hard to post about writing the plot lol Have been trying to do some character refs now though, and these are the main 5 characters for the 1st arc! I already introduced Yoshinao and Simon a bit in my last post, but they're a superhero duo; Simon has powers and Yoshi doesn't. Yoshi will also be the MC(mostly in POV, Simon is pretty much just as important). The two girls are Jane and Lina, and they're friends of Yoshi's, and do not know about Yoshi and Simon's work(gotta have some fun cliches lol). Yon on the other hand is the mentor to the boys, and was the one who taught them how to fight. She also usually treats their wounds.
Hoping to do parents, pets, and hero costumes next(probably should've done the costumes with this bunch, but oh well-)
submitted by theillustraitor to webtoon [link] [comments]