Craftsman riding mower parts

[Fallout 3] Platinum #8

2023.05.31 17:53 revengeronees [Fallout 3] Platinum #8

[Fallout 3] Platinum #8
My favourite game of the series to platinum. This is my third time now bc i had to create new account twice. I always get the platinum in one character playthrough. The leveling trophies i just reload the save before leveling and reduce karma to evil or neutral. Try to stay in good karma tho. It takes about mhmm probably 20-25hours max. The game isnt that long and it only has 17sidequests (which are all trophy related) you have to do them in a certain order so you can do em all in one character. Only bad part in this game is the nuka cola quantum quest. Other then that its a fun ride!
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2023.05.31 17:52 Schliede 23 [M4F] Shooting my shot

Hey! I'm looking for someone to be my constant. A constant being someone who's almost always available to talk with me (mostly through chat naman- I'm not that clingy). There has been a lot of things going through my life right now and I just want someone to share my struggles with. I'm not going to make you my emotional dumpster naman, I know my limits and you can share your day, your problems, and your struggles with me, as well!
More about me: - I'm a working professional (I'm a licensed engineer) - I'm working overseas (that means I can't meet you unless I go visit my family in the Philippines) - I'm a very good listener (my alma mater has taught me how to stay open-minded, and I got to be a safe space to a lot of my friends during my university days) - I might sound really formal here, but I'm also very chill and lax to talk to! You can speak your heart out with me, and I can ride along with anything! - I'm a no-nonsense person- I tend to be very frank and straightforward but at the same time making sure that whenever I am, I try to not be offensive din. - I have a set routine for my day- I work on myself, my career, and my hobbies and interests on a daily basis! - I'm not looking for anything NSFW. I know it would be a part of relationships in the long run but yeah, in the LONG RUN. - I'm single, which means we can start as friends but it can turn into something more if we agree (or disagree but talk) on things.
About you: - Emotionally available - Easy to talk to (we can talk about anything under the sun and literally the conversation wouldn't end) - Would help me carry conversations (I'm introverted but I can talk a lot when I get into the zone) - Single - Somehow have similar views or have similarities in general (pertaining to my points above)
If ever this piques your interest, please send me a DM on Reddit! Please do send and introduction so that I'd get to know more about you! I prefer Discord as our main medium of communication if we ever decide that it's a match! See you in my DMs!!! :D
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2023.05.31 17:49 ReVGC Battle Network 3, and me

It took a loooong time but I'm finally able to do my BPT (Bullet point thoughts) on BN3! Keeping the tradition going as I've done for MMBN1 (discussion post here) and MMBN2(discussion post here). If you've completed either of these games and want to share/read other discussion points feel free to post a reply to any of these threads, regardless of when you come across them. Unless I've edited otherwise, I'm still accepting new notifications for these kinds of posts. There is ALOT to talk about here and I honestly am forgetting some things. If you get tired of reading, skip to the bottom for the TLDR.
MMBN3 was probably the game I played the most on GBA. My cousin was randomly playing it on GBA emulator and I was like "hey, that looks like MMBN2!" and the rest was history. I think we eventually had three GBA carts we played on? Though we interestingly really never got that far and that's saying something, lol. MMBN3 not only had a postgame, it had a postpostgame!! From 20 years ago! And its postgame itself was already as long as a real game! Soooo much freaking content in this one title and it made sense as it was originally intended to be their Swan Song ... until Capcom said "No, develop MMBN4 ASAP" and then MMBN4 became the highest grossing MMBN title riding off the coattails of BN3's success. ._. But that's neither here nor there for this conversion so without actual further ado, lol:
SPOILER WARNING for MMBN3! I've easily over 150 hours in this entry alone and that's 93% my fault but the other 7% ... I blame the changes. Going to recollect my thoughts and emotions from the beginning as best as I can so there'll be moments of praise and criticism randomly structured together.
TLDR: I think BN3 is overrated and I've a loooot of bones to pick with it.
I also think BN3 is peak BN and for now still remains as the one I consider the best.
But BN2 is still my all time favorite.
(We'll see how I feel after I get through Vol2)
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2023.05.31 17:43 m80mike I Was a Foreman at the Grazer Tower Demolition

Summary: A demolition firm struggles to take down a damaged building for their mysterious clients
I Was a Foreman at the Grazer Tower Demolition
By now Grazer Tower has faded as a household name but to some the rumors and madness surrounding it refuse to die. The demolition of the massive three hundred twenty foot octagonal hotel left a gap in the Atlanta skyline but little fondness in anyone's hearts. I have no particular first hand insight into the freak lightning strikes on the 30th floor atrium which killed 13 people but I am willing to tell my side of the story about the demolition effort leading to the botched implosion. I tell this as a full, open, and honest disclosure. The legal maneuvering and ink has dried, all of the dead are buried, and all the bleeding stopped. The scars remain, the pain persists, the things I saw there are burned in my head even after they've been discredited into the conspiracy theory woodwork of the internet. The lightning storm struck on a Sunday afternoon and the next day for all we knew the bodies were still warm when a lawyer representing the owners of Grazer Tower entered our corporate office. I look back on it now with open and clear eyes and realize it was all very strange from the start when my Lead Foreman, Tom, and I were called into the meeting in progress.
The lawyer and now our client, looked like a fairly normal man in his mid thirties aside from his impeccably white suit which was ironed to the point of looking like stone rather than cloth. Beside the white suit his lips were an uncomfortable maroon and glossy. Besides this he spoke in a plain, clear, and disarming manner refraining from legalese and maintaining a firm but not imposing eye contract with whomever he was speaking directly to.
He told us in no uncertain terms he was instructed to contract with our firm to take down his client's building. Tom and I were shocked when we heard this after all, the lightning disaster, while tragic and perhaps undeservedly tarnishing in the short term to the Grazer Hotel's reputation, did not render the structure unusable nor unsafe to its surroundings. The worst damage was that the steel dome of the 30th floor atrium had collapsed into the vaulted restaurant and ballroom of the 29th floor but that's where the structure damage started and ended, in fact aside from the 28th, 29th, and 30th floor, city engineers working overnight already declared the building sound. So while perhaps still time consuming and costly, repairing the building was definitely possible and cost effective but owners, to make an analogy, were basically insisting on totaling a car after a minor parking lot fender bender. They gave us a specific date by which the building needed to be taken down. When our Boss, Jim, rebuffed the lawyer, not only because the date was challenging and soon but also because it was possible we could have it dropped BEFORE the date specified. The lawyer insisted the building go down on the date given – not later and not earlier. Jim swallowed hard and then glanced at Tom and I. Then the lawyer involved the name of the head of the owner's group, a Mr. Rohmer.
Mr. Rohmer, according to the lawyer, was offering our firm one hundred percent of the cost upfront and another twenty perfect of the total cost plus any overruns – stating if the implosion came early or late, it would mean all very little – no, that's no a typo, that's how the lawyer phrased it from his client, Mr. Rohmer. With that detail out of the way, you can see how the car totaling analogy breaks down considering the owners did not stand to profit from it's demolition – in fact quite the opposite.
The lawyer chuckled a bit to break the tension. He explained his clients and Mr. Rohmer in particular were an unorthodox bunch and then even insisted he wear the white suit in any of their dealings. The lawyer produced a tablet PC from his messenger bag and leveled it to Jim. On the tablet was all the banking confirmation codes ready to go for a direct deposit into our firms account alongside a contract. Jim seemed to hiccup or belch in excitement as he hurried around the short side of his desk to sign it since his stubby t-rex arms could not reach across his desk.
The firm was committed, we were committed – I was committed and I started to mentally cramp up over the challenges we all faced. The Grazer Hotel was in the middle of a dense urban grid. It had to be precise drop with virtually no margin for error. Jim poured us a dram of scotch from the bottle hidden under his desk. None of us a second thought about Rohmer's cryptic remark – after all, how often did you get a one hundred twenty perfect no-bid contract walk in off the street, out of the blue?
A combination of exhilaration over the money and anxiety over the work load kept us all from sleeping that night. Jim and Tom ended up going out and having a wild night to celebrate while I went home to mentally prepare not only myself but also my wife and kids. As a family they were staring down a month and a half of late nights and weekends with no dad. My wife was frustrated until I told her about the bonus and then she said she'd fill the lonely time making plans to send the kids to Disney World and then find a place for us to spend alone together. The promise of a much needed vacation after this only super charged the butterflies in my stomach further in anticipation of this challenging season ending.
As the assistant foreman I had office and on-site duties. Most of it was coordinating between the two. This included personnel, setting up site security – including guards and cameras to keep urban explorers and vagrants of out the dangerous site and satisfy OSHA hazardous work place safety requirements. The most challenging duty was site prep which included disposal of furnishings, removal of windows and other flourishes of the structure's facade which could become deadly shrapnel during an implosion. Fortunately, despite all of this, the nagging questions about permits and clean-up contracts were already handled by the lawyer. Rohmer's group also waived any rights to furnishings which means they could be unceremoniously hauled out in any way we chose to and disposed of.
Now I suppose some of these things should have came as red flags to me – or at least some one in the company but we all justified it as the group must have connects and short cuts to permits and it was a relatively new building, only about twenty years old in fact and furnishings – whether old or new probably weren't of any antique or sentimental value. All in all these were blessings since they freed our hands a bit and made a near impossible deadline more possible.
Of course the good news came with some bad news. The city engineers forbade us from working at the 28th, 29th, and 30th floors – unless we brought in a separate crew to stabilize those levels first. This was quite the fly in the ointment for the controlled implosion plan we sketched out. The 30th floor wasn't as much of a problem but the 29th floor ballroom and the weakening of the 28th floor meant we can't inspect for how compromised they were by the steel atrium dome. For all we knew if we blew the 27th floor on down the dome could shift and topple over the top three floors outside of the implosion safe zone, imperiling people and nearby structures.
I raised holy hell about it while Tom stood calm. It could take months to stabilize and clear those floors and far more money than I thought our eccentric client would pay in overruns. Jim waved me off mid sentence and simply told me he'd take care of it. That was good enough for Tom so it had to be good enough for me. I went back to my job – securing site and planning drop.
Although we had a problem with the top floor our saving grace lie in the basements. It had a three story subterranean parking garage, a basement level pool, and a utility sub-basement. We could easily smash the first ten or twelve floors into that deep footprint. Also the utility sub-basement gave us a clean cut off from the grid and a fairly convenient way to protect the surrounding grid without interruption. Still, at least part of our team would take have to take three weeks out of our six and change to handle the utilities.
The first week was hectic, they always were but we hit no major snags. By the end of it were on schedule and all of the parts were coming together. We thought maybe, just maybe, we were well on our way to an early Christmas bonus but nothing could prepare us for what was coming.
If you work on a site long enough and work anywhere on the site security reporting chain you're bound to get a few questionable reports from your night guys. Let's face it, for folks who are wake all night five or six nights a week poking around with flashlights chasing shadows, every building every where is haunted. I've been on the site security chain for thirteen years so it was easy for me to dismiss reports from the night guys about unusual glows on gutted floors and stairwells, elevators which moved on their own with no one calling for them or inside when they opened on a random floor, or the security cameras and cellphones constantly going offline on the 27th floor and the utility sub-basement.
I wasn't convinced anything of concern was going on until I got called on site by the test drilling team. This team was responsible for sampling the support materials to determine where it was best to place the explosives and what explosives would be best to use. They reported the interior supports were designed in an unusual way with a honey comb of unorthodox metals and concrete not reported on the building's records or blueprints. Specifically, they reported the concrete was impregnated by some kind of metal veins which gave off a bright shimmer. I was asked to come identify it but they claimed it disappeared by the time I arrived.
I was irate at the team and their supervisor for having me to come on down on site for something that sounded so wrong to begin with. They showed me a grainy cellphone video and told me they would swear on a stack of Bibles the sparkling compound welled up in the test coring like mercury, turned blood red and bled on the floor before disappearing into the torn up carpet. I chastised them for making this up and threatened to get new sub contractors if they kept wasting my time. I spoke with a separate sample team on the lower levels and they too discovered some unusual metal compositions – ones which were different then the ones found the top floors. One of the engineers speculated that the contrast in metals between the top and bottom floors could be cause the building to hold an electrical charge, like a battery or like a capacitor. Either way, the engineer said it would require more explosives than initially thought to take down the structure.
A couple of weeks later we were painfully behind – glass removal in particular was going slow because those contractors claimed they were constantly losing their toys. They also claimed one night to have cleared the top five floors on the east side of all their glass – only for all the windows to appear fully intact the next morning. I was forced to end their sub contract due to misrepresentation of work accomplished.
The glass wasn't the only thing slowing us down. The wire and plumbing removal was hindered by the wires somehow were fused to the pipes and in some places, the pipes were fused to the load-bearing members – we thought maybe it was due to the lightning strikes but that really didn't make sense since all of the wiring and plumbing otherwise seemed to work fine before we turned off the utilities. The only thing going for us was the helicopter loophole. Instead of accessing the 30th floor through the condemned floors we were able to get work teams on the atrium floor by helicopter. The bodies of the 13 were removed before we started working and before the atrium fully collapsed into the ballroom but the teams working on the roof reported many unusual artifacts including stained glass and Greek letters comprised of unusual amalgams of metal.
All of the strangeness culminated in the disappearance of one of the night time security guards named Phillipe. I say disappear because his girlfriend filed a missing persons report with the police and when they came to investigate Tom was busy with the atrium operations so the job fell to me. I walked the investigator through guard's smart phone filed reports from the previous evenings. Admittedly I was behind on my end approving the reports so I was embarrassed when things in the report took a turn. His reports including the same odd glows the others were reporting in the stairwells and seeing metallic veins throb on the walls.
His last reports stuck in my head: Report: Sub-basement 4 clear, 0312. Report: Sub-basement 5 clear, 0305. Report: Sub-basement 6 clear 0237.
His “all clear” reports documented levels of the building which did not exist and the further he went into the areas which did not exist, the automatic timestamps went backwards in time. It made no sense – unless he was confused as to where he was due to intoxication and there was software glitch with the timestamps. I was forced to give the investigator no firm explanation.
It's easy to write off a high security guard – they're flaky by their nature and have plenty of reasons to ghost a part time gig and even to pull prank on their final reports. I almost wrote it all off until I saw his girlfriend – apparently his fiance, handing out missing persons fliers outside of the site gate one morning. She seemed absolutely heartbroken and I got stabbed in the gut thinking maybe this wasn't a ghosting and prank after all. Seeing is believing and the next week I started to believe. Tom was finishing up on the atrium level. We used some heavy lift choppers to remove the rest of the frame and glass. Now we could get a better look into the section which collapsed into the 29th floor. We started by using a series of video drones to investigate the melted twisted dome through the collapsed roof. We quickly learned that the drones were being interfered with as their feed would cut out or their batteries would die almost immediately upon entering the ballroom.
So, we had to cut some corners, against city regulations, we let Tom and two others rappel in from the roof on secured anchored lines with helicopter over watch support. We needed to do this because we needed make sure that collapsed wreckage would not move and potentially change the implosion direction. Tom got twisted in his gear as he tried to lean into one of the holes in the roof. He slipped and fell in, disappearing from sight. We frantically radioed for Tom as the other two workers abandoned their own attempts to peer in and scrambled to Tom's aid. Tom was pulled out of the section uninjured but he appeared to be in shock, he looked wild eyed and shook as he was put on the helicopter and lowered back to ground level. Within minutes, Jim called us back to the office to discuss the near miss.
Two weeks to go and week behind, a missing guard, and now a near fatal accident. That for Jim, was the last straw. Tom and I had run out the rope Jim gave us to hang ourselves with. Jim slammed his hand on his desk as he catastrophized, red in the face, nearly breathless, he yelled we could very well kiss that twenty percent goodbye with the way things are going. He pressured Tom to go on the record after his dip into the structure that the atrium debris ball in the ballroom posed no threat to the implosion. Tom was elsewhere. He stared off in a thousand yard stare before replying to Jim that it posed no threat. Then Tom headed for the door. Jim screamed at him that he wasn't done chew us out but Tom only said he had to get back to it. I supported Tom and followed him. He and I headed back to the site to secure the night shift changes – another night not at home and having a late dinner.
I asked Tom in the car ride back what he saw in there. Tom was fixed in a trance and barely responded. He said it was wild. When we got back to the site, Tom separated from me through the gate while I strolled across the street to grab us some dinner from a street vendor. As I stood around waiting for two gyros and two cokes I could help but be mesmerized by the gutted tower. It seemed to breath in the spotlights inhaling puffs of the dust and dirt on the site and then exhaling it. A faint glow, barely perceivable against the light pollution, seemed to brighten, dim, and fade from the upper floors with each of the building's breaths. I was transfixed on it and it was the first time the building gave me an eerie feeling.
I got back on the site, food in hand, there was a buzz in their air as the night shift streamed in and the day shift streamed out. I barely had my hardhat seated corrected on my head when the site's emergency alarm blew. The interim foreman tossed me a radio as I was swept with him and our site occupational safety and emergency personnel to the basement.
Our increasingly panicked footfalls blotted out the squawk of the radios but I could hear one name again and again in the equally panicked messages – Tom Tom Tom. Whatever was happening was happening to Tom.
We reached the pool level and a trail of gasps proceeded me into the pool. There was Tom in his vest and hardhat face down in the middle of the pool with crimson oozing out him into the cerulean tiles lining the drained pool. We piled in from the ladders and shallow end to get to him. It was apparent when the first folks reached him that he was dead. They hauled him out on a stretcher and to our shock he looked like he had been dead for much longer than possible and his skin was water logged despite there being no water. He had died of fall trauma possibly despite the pool only being six feet deep. The paramedics also claimed he had water in his lungs. Then I noticed he was wearing his rappelling harness weaved in his vest – but that made no sense – he took it and his vest off when we were getting chewed out by Jim. Why would he put his rappelling gear on again.
I was the assistant foreman no more. Now the buck stopped with me. As they took Tom to the morgue we all knew the show must go on – our client demanded it, Jim demanded it and Tom would have wanted it that way. The same police investigator from the guard's disappearance met with me over Tom's death. They said it was standard procedure with work place deaths. I gave him a copy of the footage on an SD card and left the moment after it left my hand.
I had the recording queued up to the time of the commotion. The video we provided had a poor angle and was focused on the door to monitor access – the comings and goings of people. It was shift change so people were filing in and out Tom was somewhere in the crowd. The pool was one of the areas which required both foot patrols and constant video monitoring. I hit the rewind button on accident and watched his body lie there and lie there and then the timestamp sped past the 1900 hour mark. We were in traffic from meeting with Jim at that time. This was impossible but I kept my finger on the rewind button. Around 1400 the camera shakes a bit and there is slight glow reflecting on the doors so I let it play back to the shake. There is a soft green glow and then could hear a heft thud in the room. I gulped knowing that was Tom falling into the pool around the same time he fell into the hole in the roof. The soft glow turned brighter and brighter like a laser shining into the lens – something that wasn't present on the rewind. There was a flash of an incomprehensible shape or form on the screen. I was physically hurt in my eyes like I had just stared into the sun. I was left dazed with the shaped burned into my eyes with each blink. Then the camera system shorted out and a tiny puff of smoke left the memory module. The cameras blinked off wall to wall, the whole system was dead.
With the cameras fried, regulations required someone high in the company to be on site or we'd have to leave for the night. So I stayed knowing we couldn't afford to lose an hour much less an entire night. I circled the pool between approving payrolls and directing the increased security guard traffic required to monitor more areas. I was thinking about what I would say at Tom's funeral. I was thinking about Tom's family and what they would think about his apparent suicide.
I was forced to patrol the rest of the sub-basements as well since most of the guards were at the site perimeters or higher levels. I would have to follow paths of Phillipe, the disappeared guard, and all of the other guards who had mismatched timestamps on their increasingly strange reports. If not for today's incident and the recording of Tom's death, I would have stood fast to the idea that these reports were the product of night jitters and drugs but now, no.
I gritted my teeth as I exited the pool area to patrol the lower levels. I hated this building I muttered to myself. I couldn't wait to see it all rumble. I thought about which part I'd like to keep from the site to place in Tom's casket – then I realized it probably wasn't going to be an open casket funeral. I was lost in my thoughts and hatred for the building as I roamed through the parking garage into the utilities basement. I lost track of where I was as I weaved down stairwells.
I shown my flashlight on the wall and the floor level sign said “Sub-basement 999”. I stopped cold in my tracks. I was hoping it was a prank but I knew it was no prank. Then I thought maybe I'd have some answers. Maybe I would finally see what all the strangeness was about. But then I freaked out about Phillipe's disappearance and turned to run back up the stairwell. I ran up four levels to what I thought was the lobby and I pushed the door open.
My jaw hit the floor when I saw a black and white galaxy – the stars were black and the space was white with gradations of gray. The whole room was just white outer space and the whole universe swirled fast counter clockwise. I tried to breath and when I did the galaxy shrunk before my eyes until it was the size of a tiny of marble and then even smaller to a speck of dust. I reached out as it floated towards me. I stared at the speck in a cold sweat. As I stared, I was looking deeper and deeper into impossible detail. In the dust I found the milky way galaxy, I found our solar system, I found Earth and then I found North America, and then I found myself back in the pool room dripping in sweat.
Time seemed to skip and space was malleable in that hotel. As we approached the deadline to drop it, some jobs which would take hours took days and some jobs which would take days took minutes. The anomalies seemed to swarm tonight and day and yet we pressed on. Tom was buried and I couldn't go.
We met the deadline and the city came out in numbers to watch us drop the thirty floor structure. They gathered nearly two blocks away clad in ponchos and dust masks bracing for the implosion triggered by half a ton of high explosives.
I was so burned out and demoralized. My mantra became “this is for Tom, this is for Tom” and it was the only thing carrying me to this day. I chalked up all the anomalies and even my own experience on 999th sub-basement level as a reaction to shock, loss, grief, and exhaustion.
We were on the thirty minute countdown and Mr. Rohmer's attorney was designated as the trigger man. He stood there with Jim and I in the command trailer with the detonator remote. The remote triggered a two minute countdown on the charges from a master control station in my command trailer. All the charges had to be hardwired old school style because we were getting too much walkie talkie and radio interference from inside the structure for any other method of trigger to be reliable. I was too tried to make a stink about insisting I do it. I just wanted it to be over but suddenly a freak thunderstorm brewed up over the city. The skies were overcast and we were on the verge of having to abort the implosion until the next day – despite the next day being a day past the deadline. If we didn't abort and went through with the implosion, there was a strong chance the shock waves from the blast would bounce back off the lower cloud base and shatter windows and ears across the city.
I sat in my command chair at the perimeter in dismay, almost in tears as it started to rain. I felt my heart drop into the acid of my stomach as I ordered the suspension of the implosion for the day. The lawyer, surprisingly, did not resist. I watched as the crowds dispersed from the viewing lines and police started to permit traffic back through the streets surrounding the site.
Then a group of unauthorized personnel threw open the door of the trailer. They were a mass of men and women clad in pressed white suits, stoney faces with thin maroon lips, one of them carried a white covered book.
The attorney dropped his eyes and head in deference to elderly man at the head of the congregation. The attorney addressed him as Monsignor. The man introduced himself as Monsignor Rohmer and he placed his hand on his attorney, calling him a cousin of the congregation, stating there will be no postponement and no delay.
Rohmer, a man I judged to be in his late 50's or early 60's was bald and covered it with a white derby hat. He was tall, about six five, and thin, so thin his suit fit him like snake half shedding its skin. His was face long and his cheeks thin and worn like a mountain side. His voice was steady and low like waterfall. Everything he said bloomed with authority and confidence. He ordered the building would be dropped in twenty minutes.
I told him I didn't care if he was the owner, the building could not be blown in this weather and I snatched the detonator out of his attorney's hands. Rohmer, moving faster than I believed humanly possible with some kind of martial arts move swiped the detonator from my hands. Simultaneously, he had two of his followers press Jim against the wall. They put him in a sleeper hold and he slumped down to the floor barely getting a word out. Then Rohmer gestured to his flock to follow towards the building.
They left in a fast deliberate almost choreographed walk like a flock of geese flying in formation. I grabbed the radio to get police help but I realized that was hopeless. I watched as our trailer was shrouded in the same interference we experienced in the building's interior. The CCTV monitors flickered out and the radio squawked static. Then I realized Rohmer had no control over the detonation and no way to contact his followers still with us in the command trailer. So I did what I had to and pulled the master key out of the master detonator in the command trailer and chased after the flock. I needed to know what was happening I needed to see with my own eyes what all of this was all about.
The Congregation had reached the lobby and I saw the trailing end of the clad white congregate into the stairwell. I darted at my best speed to follow them.
I reached the stair well door. I found Rohmer standing on the top step, apparently waiting for me. I was out of breath while he began to speak to me in his booming voice. He explained to me that if the building did not fall in the next twenty minutes, all of Earth would be pulled, sucked, inside out and down through the building into the black and white universe. The entire building, but especially the atrium dome, he continued, was designed and built to create and then temporarily contain an impossible shape, a living form, a 4 dimensional object, a tesseract, when struck by lightning in the presence of thirteen self-sacrificial Congregate members. This shape would slowly expand and cause space and time anomalies before growing so large inside compared to its size would pull us all into place with no life.
The shape was still in the process of forming even as we spoke, he said. It would reach critical mass and dimensional contortion and the only way to stop it was to disfigure and crush it in the hotel's collapse. He led me into the pool level where his entire congregation was sitting cross-legged where Tom fell. A green pulse, like a laser, came down from the ceiling into the group's center, where their white book lay open on blank pages. I had a feeling this glow was being projected down from the ballroom where the dome of the atrium was taking its final fourth dimensional form.
After a loud chant from the white clad followers, the book slammed shut and turned from a brilliant white shimming cover to one black as night. As they passed around book, their white suits turned black and the formed a single file line. Rohmer left my side and pulled the detonator from his suit. He showed it me and tossed it at me. In my panic I reached out with both hands to catch it but I forgot I still had the master key in my sweat slick hand and it fly out and fell at the foot of Rohmer.
I asked what he planned to do with the key without a lock and a jammed detonator. Rohmer bent down and grabbed the key and looked me without a hint of concern. He took the new black book into his hands and opened it facing the wall of the pool. A new green pulse launched from the book and flickered on the tiles. An octagonal outline appeared to frame a hazy image of a tropical beach. One by one Rohmer's congregation walked into the side of the pool, into glow and seemed to arrive safely on the otherside of the beach.
Once all his compatriots were on the beach, he turned a page in the book and reopened it, projecting another octagon portal on the side of the pool. I could see his destination – it was the command trailer. He stepped through portal and yelled to me from the other side that I had two minutes. The portal sealed.
I could hear the warning sirens we installed going off above me. Needless to say, I made it out, just barely. I reached the perimeter fence screaming to anyone who was in ear shot to run away. The building imploded as planned but I was caught in the dust cloud and developed tinnitus severe enough to be comparable with combat veterans.
The shock waves from the explosions were reflected off the cloud base and channeled down the street by other skyscrapers. Virtually every window in a two block radius around the site was shattered and hundreds of people were hurt in the resulting stampede and vehicle collisions caused by fleeing from the flying glass cascade. Parts of downtown looked like a war zone for weeks afterward.
Rohmer and the rest of his group, including the lawyer, had disappeared out of the trailer in another portal leaving a suitcase of gold equaling the twenty percent promised. Our company was fined, sued, and threatened with criminal charges and eventually put of business. There wasn't much left after paying the cities fines and lawyer fees.
Though I was spared any direct sanctions, I forced into an early retirement. I've had time to research Rohmer's group. There are at least six mentions of figures like Rohmer on the deepest parts of the conspiracy web. They seem to show up at a locale experiencing paranormal activity with a white book and then leave with a black book. Their departure usually marks the end of any strangeness. I can't be sure but this congregation seems to be summon demons, which they exorcise, by trapping them in their books. Trapping maybe a poor term to use since, as in the case of the Grazer hotel encounter, they can apparently cleanse the anomalies and then use the book containing them to weaponize a portion of the traits of whatever their unholy creations posses.
I suspect Rohmer and his congregation, now with the ability to teleport, are accelerating their plans, to whatever ends these paranormal means enable them.
Theo Plesha - Sequel to "Flush" by Theo Plesha on The Chilling App
submitted by m80mike to ChillingApp [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 17:37 Xj9229 Madi Meadows Rides the Sybian Part 1

Madi Meadows Rides the Sybian Part 1 submitted by Xj9229 to Guvuvk [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 17:30 ItsEsmeJones [M4A] When Donnie Met Baby Pt. 2 [Unhinged Mafioso Speaker][Brave Listener][*Definitely* Not Yandere][Reverse Comfort][Dom to Sub][Shipwreck][Rescue][Being Vulnerable][Supernatural?][Protective][Possessive][Super Loving][Lore Drops][Comedy?][Oh No He's Hot][CW: Hate Crimes Against Lizards]

Part 1
Context: You were a DJ for a strip club. At least, you were before you met the mobster Donovan Greywater aka 'Donnie'. You met him during a tense shift at the club, and he's been hung up on you ever since. He's crazy, there's no questioning it, but he's got a lot of redeeming qualities! He's even taking you out on a fancy cruise for your first big couple's activity. Doesn't that sound nice?
Setting: A distinctly reptilian island
Tags:[M4A][Unhinged Mafioso Speaker][Brave Listener][Definitely Not Yandere][Reverse Comfort][Dom to Sub][Shipwreck][Rescue][Being Vulnerable][Supernatural?][Protective][Possessive][Super Loving][Lore Drops][Comedy?][Oh No He's Hot][CW: Hate Crimes Against Lizards]
Usage: You may tweak or record this script. Gender flipping is OK! Please credit me if you use this script in any of your projects. If you would like to use this script for a paywalled recording, please note:
Monetization: All forms of monetization are OK with me! Youtube, Patreon, etc. I would appreciate being able to listen to the recording, if possible. Let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!
Other Donnie appearances:
Sweet as Honey Pt. 2
Breaking the Bad Boy
The Prince of Crows
Check out the rest of my scripts by using the Script Directory
[Scene opens in…???]
[SFX: Faint hissing/tropical forest ambiance/ocean waves lapping sand nearby]
[...You were on a boat, you’re sure…]
[SFX: Faint sounds of a boat collision/crash/people screaming]
[...You were on a boat with your boyfriend before it hit a reef]
[You were with… Donnie]
[SFX: The Listener falling into the water before the memory fades and they begin to wake]
[SFX: Reptilian hissing]
[Your eyes open slowly. Everything hurts]
[SFX: Louder reptilian hissing]
[Your brain runs through your love of animals encyclopedia. Komodo dragons currently are ranking in the “fuck that” section]
[SFX: Donnie sprinting]
“Godamnit, you giant septic tank of a fucking monitor lizard, back off my BABY!”
[That’s about when you get to see your mobster boyfriend full-on suplex a ten-foot prehistoric middle finger]
[SFX: Confused, panicked hissing]
[Donnie throws the poor creature aside, panting]
“...It’s OK… Ship crashed, we’re on a fucking Komodo island, I just suplexed a Komodo dragon, it’s fine…”
[SFX: A LOT more reptilian hissing]
[Your boyfriend snarls through his teeth, clenches his fist, and whips around]
“...Or I’m going to have to make you fuckers extinct in the sanctity of your own fucking home… C’MON, YOU KNIFE-TEETH HIDIN’, CHEAP-CAMPIN’, GRAVE-ROBBIN’ muddaFUCKAS!”
[You curl in a ball, trying to protect your twisted ankle while your boyfriend squares up with near-literal dinosaurs]
[This is it. This is how you both die, you’re sure of it…]
[Pause - Break]
[Somehow, you both still live. About an hour after the initial confrontation, Donnie has you riding on his back as he hurries through the dense jungle]
[Donnie laughs as he carries you on his back]
“Shit, I didn’t expect to take out twenty of ‘em either! Guess boxing with Enzo is actually doing me some good. Told you we weren’t dying today!”
“Yeah, the one that doesn’t understand memes. Nice guy. Kind of a dumbass, tho.”
“Hell yes, I’m gonna tell him I beat up twenty Komodo dragons with my bare fucking fists! And teeth, a little…”
“Hey, One-Eye bit me first. Fucker.”
[His voice softens]
“Hey, hey...We’re gonna be OK, Baby, don’t you worry. This ain’t my first ship-crashing scenario. How’s the ankle…?”
[He sighs]
“...First vacation together as a couple and the ship sinks… My fuckin’ luck… Just wanted to take my sweetheart somewhere nice and BOOM! Fuckin’ Komodo Island. Komodo my fuckin’ ass.”
“...Hey. You wanna hear the greatest love story never told?”
[He chuckles, still hefting you with ease]
“Well, it begins with a man named Lucien Greywater and a little bellhop at a hotel. A mobster staying at a nice hotel when someone ran in to try and gun him down and this little sassy minx named Milly charged the guy with a suitcase! Knocks him clean out!”
[He laughs, maneuvering through the brush]
“I know! And then Miss Milly turns back to look at Mr. Greywater, who is in absolute awe, by the way, and says, ‘Dang Mister, don’t you know how to protect yourself? You outta get you a bodyguard’.”
“What did he say? Well, as Dad liked to recount it, he put on his most devastating romantic smolder and said, ‘Yeah? You’re hired’.”
“Oho, I don’t think Ma was expecting him to be that confident either, especially not after that display. But… for all of his faults, Pops always knew what he wanted, and that feisty little bellhop had just stolen his heart, right in front of him!”
[Pause <3]
“Heh… Yeah. Dad wasn’t always warm… He didn’t always have a kind word… but I knew he loved Mom, and Mom loved me, so… I think that’s enough, you know?”
[SFX: Him continuing to jog]
“It’s been a while since I been out here but I think I have a spot for just such a disaster as this.”
[Donnie laughs]
“Baby, I’m psychic, remember? I have a lot of shelters, bug-out plans, weapons, and various other means to keep my business from crashing pretty much worldwide, and, yeah, crashing on Komodo Island was one of those. Didn’t expect I’d be piggybacking my partner during, hehe. Ah! There we go. See that little cabin there?”
“Eyup, all ours, and Komodo free… Well, it better be. I don’t mind putting more lizards in the ground but I also don’t wanna get yelled at if the fuckers are endangered or something.”
[SFX: A lock being fiddled with and a door swinging open]
[He manages to get the cabin open and carry you in, setting you down on an immaculate couch]
“There we go… You sit right here for a sec, Baby, OK? I’m gonna wrap your ankle.”
[SFX: Cloth ripping]
[To your shock, he rips his expensive jacket for strips of cloth and wraps your ankle]
“Huh? What about my jacket?”
“Pfft, yeah, it’s expensive. Who cares? If it was sentimental, I wouldn’t wear it, and I can always just toss on a damned muscle shirt or somethin’. Your ankle’s hurt… and Donnie wants to take care of his Baby, alright?”
“Heh… God, I love that smile. Sit still, OK?”
[SFX: Extended cloth shuffling/ripping mixed in with some Donnie grumbles/swears]
“There we go… Phew, honestly? Being shirtless is a lot nicer in this heat, sheesh.”
“...Someone’s ogling me.”
“Hey, you’re allowed to! C’mon… How come you won’t look at me for more than a second or two?”
[He sits next to you, listening while you explain]
[Long Pause]
“...Partners in the past were richer than you and treated you like property, so you’re leery about not being able to take care of yourself…”
[He nods, more to himself than anything or one else]
“...Anyone I’d know?”
“You want ‘em dead?”
[He huffs but nods again]
“...I get it. I have a lot of power and a lot of money and I’m a scary guy. I’d be fuckin’ scared to trust me, too…”
[He tenses as you rest your head on his shoulder but immediately eases]
“Oh? Resting your head on my shoulder, huh?”
“Heh… Yeah, I don’t doubt you don’t know a lot of people that’d fight a dinosaur for you… but I would. I know most of those assholes would have left you there to be food, but when Donovan Greywater says he loves someone more than his own life, he means it.”
[...Pause <3]
[He giggles a little with that raw chaos energy]
“Ooh, you never noticed how buff I was? Oh no, not my Babydoll flirting with me while we’re both delirious off of adrenaline.”
[You share a little kiss, at ease]
“Hmhm, mwah. I do love kisses from you… But, ah, before we start acting like randy idiots, let me go ahead and put in a request for emergency rescue. I saw a bunch of people swimming for another part of the island, but I doubt everyone made it off the ship…”
[He stands with a sigh, running his hands through his hair]
“...I’ll make you a strong drink while I’m a it. Gotta take care of my Baby, eh?”
[Pause <3]
“I’d love a back rub when I get back, Sweetness. You hear any hissing or lizard sass, you know what to do.”
[He tosses his head back and laughs]
“Godamn right! Aim for the throats and insult their ancestors!”
[With that, he heads off into what you presume is the kitchen. It’s not exactly how you saw your first vacation with your new boyfriend going but… fuck it, right? He beat up dinosaurs for you and he’s hot]
[To be continued?]
Note: The Only Thing Komodo Fear is Donnie.
submitted by ItsEsmeJones to ASMRScriptHaven [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 17:29 OperativeTX Praying for guidance with career

Thank you for reading this- I recently resigned my state job that I loved immensely due to fear of retaliation. I’m still so confused, angry and saddened by what happened. I can find no wrong doing on my part that would lead to termination by the agency. It’s a case management job and the management felt I did not ask right questions etc. Me, a coworker. And long term supervisor all were disciplined and now gone. I don’t know if I should reapply at my old job which was very stressed case management work and sometimes toxic work environment. They need help. I can ride this out a while in terms of finances but the lack of control and structure in my life is agonizing. I prayed to leave my formal job and found this job - which is now taken from me. I am applying for various jobs in my field. Please pray for peace in my heart and mind. Please pray God’s favor would abound and I would see His direction.
submitted by OperativeTX to PrayerRequests [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 17:28 TooTundraForYou Drop bar MTB, rigid MTB, or relaxed geometry gravel bike?

The current situation I'm obsessing over: I own a 1) 2022 Canyon Grizl CF SL 7, and 2) 2020 Norco Fluid FS1. My biking background has always been MTB. Grew up XC riding, switched to all mountain/trail bike late 00s, had a blast with that. I moved to a relatively flat area with fun single-track but not a lot of super technical trails nearby. I've been really loving my Canyon Grizl since buying it and haven't been giving the Norco any love. The Grizl is just so fun and fast on singletrack and makes the trails around here a load of fun to ride in addition to being able to cover a lot of distance in a typical ride. Now, somewhere between 25-50% of my riding time is chill gravel trails and paved trail rides with my wife on her XC and my kiddo in a Thule Chariot, and commuting. The Grizl has been okay for that, but part of me wants a more relaxed, slower, MTB-like ride for commuting, lazy adventures, and wishful-thinking adventure plans down the road (I work in some cool areas with good bike-packing/adventure opportunities).
My choices: I'm leaning towards selling my Norco Fluid FS1 and buying either a drop bar MTB (current choices: Salsa Fargo, Cutthroat, or Kona Sutra LTD), rigid MTB (Kona Unit X), or maybe a relaxed geometry gravel bike (suggestions needed). I don't really want to buy something that is redundant to the Grizl I own.
Any advice would be appreciated! What would other lean towards in this situation?
submitted by TooTundraForYou to whichbike [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 17:24 Admirable_Fall4614 Almost Killed Yesterday. Thank God for my Scooter.

On my way home from work, I was riding my scooter along a quiet side street, which is part of the bike route) where I came to an intersection with 4 way stop signs. I checked to see if anyone was coming and all appeared to be clear. As I started to cross, a large van comes speeding at me, seemingly out of nowhere. I felt like time briefly slow down enough for me to think. Something in my head told me to floor it. It was my only option, so I did.
The van just missed me and I was completely unhurt. Anyway, I replayed the scene in my head last night. Had I been riding my bike, which I do often, I would not been able to get out of the way fast enough. My scooter's fast acceleration literally saved me.
That being said, I thought about why I didn't see or hear that van coming. That intersection is on a hill, and it's difficult to see below the crest of the road. Needless to say, I won't be taking that street and intersection again.
submitted by Admirable_Fall4614 to ElectricScooters [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 17:21 GreaterBlueEvil [Event] Forest Home Open RP, 724 AU

Starting 1st Month 114 AD/724 Years After the Unification

Sea Dragon Point

Map of Dragon's Nest (Settlement) and Sea Dragon Point (Castle)
Previous Woods Open RP Thread
Dragon's Nest is a small settlement that surrounds the Sea Dragon Keep. It is barely more than a fishing village, named after the legend of Sea Dragons that were to once inhabit local waters, and their eggs that are supposedly buried under the settlement.
Sea Dragon Keep is the ancestral home of House Woods, bearing the same name as the peninsula which Woods rule over. It is sat atop a small hill, overlooking the settlement, as well as the nearby waters and part of the Western Wolfswood.
The castle is small, but well defended, as is necessary with its location on the Stony Shore. The Woods family inhabits the inner keep, and a yard separates the inner keep from the Sea Hall, where occasional feasts are held.
The Godswood creates a significant part of the castle. Unlike most Godswoods found throughout the Continent that usually have a single weirwood, Sea Dragon Point has near two dozen of these red-leaved sentinels, old and young, big and small, each with a different face carved into the pale trunk, watching the world with scarlet eyes. The Gods are watching, as House Woods motto brings to mind.

Woods PCs

Osric Woods (63)

Sea Dragon Point
The aging and bitter Lord of Sea Dragon Point prefers to live in solitude, spending more and more time in the Wolfswood, and leaving matters of ruling to his son and heir.

Aedan Woods (39)

Sea Dragon Point
Heir to Sea Dragon Point was raised in isolationism, for many have wronged his father, though he wishes to make his own path in the world. He spent some time in the Wilderness Beyond the Wall, in the spirit of the Woods coming-of-age tradition, and in an attempt to understand more about the strange dreams he had been having, and an understand of animals he feels. Married to Sirona Mormont, the not-so-young man hopes that he will do a better job as a family man than his father did, though it is not a particularly high bar.

Jeor Woods (12)

Sea Dragon Point
The heir's heir is a young boy, taking interest in nature and animals by the example of both his parents.

Wyllis Woods (9)

Sea Dragon Point
Aedan and Sirona's second son. Small boy.

Serena Woods (4)

Aedan and Sirona's only daughter, named after the Queen of the North. Little girl.

Sarra Stark née Woods (56)

Beautiful and ambitious in her youth, Sarra is wholly unlike the rest of her family. She loves her husband and their children unconditionally, though she somewhat struggles with a quiet life she is now be destined to lead. Still, she focuses firmly on ensuring that her children will get what they are rightfully entitled to.

Maege Umber née Woods (48)

Last Hearth
Willful and energetic, Maege is rather unlike her older sister (and insists loudly on that). She enjoys fighting, hunting and riding, and she is happily married to Rodrik Umber. Happy in her role in life as a wife and a mother, the pair is raising two little boys and a baby girl.

Ellard Woods (15)

Ellard was growing up in Sea Dragon Point as an orphan after his mother, lady Wylla, died giving birth to a stillborn girl, and his father, Jonnel Woods, subsequently disappeared into the Wolfswood and had not been seen in years. He had been sent to Winterfell to become a ward to Mors Umber, one of the most respect warriors in the whole Kingdom.

Nora Woods (43)

Bright and bookish, Nora is a very quiet woman, somewhat unsettling in her solemn appearance and intense gaze of her deep green eyes. The only child of Cailan Woods to still remember him, she had not forgotten, nor forgiven those who had taken her father from her. She is a frail, petite figure, looking younger than her age. She has complexion so pale she gets sunburnt even in Winter, and doesn't leave the castle walls often. As the Keeper of Secrets of the North, she takes her position in Winterfell very seriously.

Arryk Woods (41)

Arryk has grown up in Winterfell following the execution of his father, though he doesn't share his family's resentment towards the Starks. He is a relatively capable, strong fighter, though he has a gentle side to him - he has a great love for various tales, and often catches himself daydreaming of heroic acts or lands far away. He is a part of Rodrick Stark's Wolfpack, hoping to prove himself as an individual.

Kyra Slate née Woods (38)

Kyra had spent her whole life in Sea Dragon Point, once close friends with her cousin Aedan. But as people grow up, they grew apart. Wed to the heir of Blackpool, the pair recently welcomed their first child - a daughter.
submitted by GreaterBlueEvil to crimsoncentury [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 17:16 JetfloatGumby Advice on Exhaust repair ('08/14k miles)

Advice on Exhaust repair ('08/14k miles)
I have been riding the shit out of my XT, trying to save on gas and yesterday in the middle of Boston, it starts backfiring suddenly and the engine got way louder.
Some small exhaust leak under high pressure at high RPM must've just given way and now i've got complete separation between the exhaust pipe and the cylinder head.
My plan is to buy everything fwd of part 23 in this diagram:
-and hope ill be able to swap it out without too much disassembly.
Anyone done this before cheaper, easier or simpler, any advice?
submitted by JetfloatGumby to xt250 [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 17:00 alfinewoes Follow-up to my (now deleted) post about 42F who ended up at my place with a near panic attack

tldr: don't be a mess and don't get get involved with messed-up people
Background: 42F invited herself to my (43F) place after a date followed by a formal rejection and couple months of texting with a near panic attack and unloaded a lot of emotional baggage on me: told me a lot about her short failed marriage (they separated 10 years ago but didn't divorce) with narcissist with whom she had a child with, trauma caused by her sister's death, childhood trauma caused by her father neglecting them etc. At that state I was jobless and drinking.
Here's what followed. After that night she basically just ran away. Just short, formal texts, are you ok kinda stuff. I stopped drinking and got a promising job. We met and discussed what's going on. She seemed in s stable state at the moment. There were red flags even during that date: too much ambiguity. Everything she said left me in a confused state. There was another date where I said ok are you willing to give it a go or not? She said ok let's try.
I now believe it was one of my biggest mistakes and at my age I should've know better.
I met her kid and we got along. Met her family and a few friends, spent a lot of time together with a lot of very pleasant moments but there's always been something "off".
Sudden yelling over petty issues. Saw her abruptly yelling at her kind over nothing and following it with a hug.
Talking about "us" while at the same time seeming distant and uninvolved. Stuff like "what if I wanted a list of your friends and called you to see where you are?" followed by "nah, I'll obviously won't be doing that". Or "I'm constantly wondering if this can work and if I should get involed more". Like talking from an outside perspective. Or "are you sure you aren't the jealous type?" without any context.
She went to a therapist after the first panic attack a few years back but concluded it's a waste of time.
Her world is full of magical thinking. She tries to explain her (multiple) panic attacks and depressive episodes by imagined diseases. People around her (even a friend of hers who's a therapist) told her that it's time she started thinking about what her behaviour does to others. In response she just distances herself from said people. I accepted it as a coping strategy, planned a serious talk about the hypochondria but delayed it.
Astrology which she uses as a means for self fulfilling prophecies.
Preoccupation with death.
People in her past she just ghosted. Had sex with a good friend 4 years ago. Because it didn't result in a commited realtionship it made her feel like a s**t so she blocked him completely.
Bad with money. Doesn't plan ahead serious spendings and she just puts it aside as "being impulsive".
A constant very vague communication style, a vibe that she lives in a world where opposing things can exist simultaneously.
Obviously stuck emotionally in her marriage. Blames her husband for everything. Talks about him a lot and wishes revenge. He definitely seems like a messed up person himself but I was constantly left with the feeling she has her fault there. Her family and close friends (and pretty much anyone who gets close to him) not liking him being hard to ignore.
Her husband messes up the kid so that he revenges on her every chance he gets. She allows it and although she explicitly said that the kid already needs therapy (which, in case you forgot, is a waste of time), like with many other things it's just something that she will do in a vague future.
While writing this I found myself thinking what kind of person would get involved in that and not exit. Yeah, that's me. Emotionally she's maybe in her yearly 20s or so which speakes volumes about me being part of this.
Until one night I took her kind for a bike ride. She was in an anxious state over a recent cancer diagnosis of a relative and started unloading it on me by accussing me of being attracted to her best friend. I was left in state of perplexity. I didn't let it slide like I did with other thigs before and asked for an explanation. This resulted in other accusations (not paying at our dates which is false) and a whole can of worms opened. Like "that day you said X and Y and I let it slide because I didn't want a fight" etc. I told her that I believe she's not realising the consequences of her behaviour. I couldn't sleep that night and next day she acted as if nothing happened. I couldn't believe it and she texted "I was willing to let it go but I see you're still preoccupied with my friend". Things escalated and I abruptly told her all I had previously blocked, like I believe she's emotionally stuck in her marriage, that things went too far and the kid shouldn't have been involved, that I believe she likes to play the victim role, that maybe a good therapist is better than alternative medicine etc. She responded saying that at last my true self revealed and I'm a lot like her husband. She then blocked me. Deja vu, I know.
We met once afterwards. All I wanted to say is that I'm really sorry that things didn't work out (yeah, who would've known...). All I got in response was that she's 100% positive that she'll die of one of her imagined diseases and she needs someone to support her, not another kid to raise. Not much of a surprise.
It's too bad it took this to understand that myself am not ready for a relationship and I have a lot of work ahead. A stable, self confident man would've either not pursued this (huge red flags have always been there from both sides), or communicated in an assertive way and exited calmly when things didn't show signs of improvement. I'm ashamed that I likely did her more harm than good. I'm very sorry for that kid. This thing just added confusion in his world which is already full of trauma. Writing this almost made me feel sick.
So I guess the question is how not to be a mess and how to avoid messes.
submitted by alfinewoes to relationships [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 16:51 Humbleronaldo Considering a group set swap on my bike in a few months. Currently running Campagnolo Veloce it’s considered entry level yet feels amazing and is so enjoyable to ride but parts can be a hassle to find. Considering 105 r7000, Ultegra r8000 for convenience or Campy Centaur. What do y’all think?

Considering a group set swap on my bike in a few months. Currently running Campagnolo Veloce it’s considered entry level yet feels amazing and is so enjoyable to ride but parts can be a hassle to find. Considering 105 r7000, Ultegra r8000 for convenience or Campy Centaur. What do y’all think? submitted by Humbleronaldo to bicycling [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 16:50 ChemicalJello Importance of stack alone versus stack and reach together?

I've been thinking of buying a frame or a full bike that's only available online for me.
My question is whether stack should be given priority over the combination of stack and reach.
I have a bike that fits well, and know the geometry of it. It's a pretty aggressive geometry, although I also have a slightly longer torso for my height than I think. The bike has a fairly low stack and long reach, and I tend to ride my seat slammed almost (but not quite) all the way down for comfort reasons. For what it's worth, I got that bike built up from a frame as part of a professional bike fitting, so it was chosen with a lot of trial and error of different frame sizes, frames, components etc.
One company I sent detailed fit measurements to (not only stack and reach, but other complex measurements of the bike) and they came back with a size that matches their online size recommendation perfectly. This size is slightly taller stack than my current bike, but also a shorter reach.
This made sense to me until I went to some other frame companies, and their recommendations were for a frame that matches my current stack height, mostly ignoring reach. These frames seem significantly (although not wildly) smaller.
I realize bike geometry can be complicated and depends on angles etc. but should stack be "prioritized" given that it is so closely related to the hip-foot distance? Or is stack only meaningful in combination with reach and other things about the geometry?
I also realize I can get a longer stem but then that seems relevant to handling.
submitted by ChemicalJello to bikefit [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 16:41 MrC_Red [Update] 100 Great Rock Albums list CHANGES

It's been over a year since the original 100 Great Albums post. Since December 2021, I've listened to 375 Rock albums in total (just for fun, I'm getting paid for this!). Looking back at the original albums, I noticed I have a few with only 1 or 2 listens, whereas now I always try to aim for 3 at the minimum. So as this is a good midpoint (as I plan on stopping at the 20th post), I decided to revisit these certified classic albums and maybe upgrade/downgrade the ratings after more listens. I'll continue to edit grades on other posts if my opinion changes on them later on, but the 100 list got so popular that I feel like it should be left unedited.
Here's the format: Album (year) original grade [orig. Listens] // NEW GRADE {additional listens}
  1. Bob Dylan - Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963) B+ [2 listens] // A- {1 listen} More time to digest his lyrics only makes it better. Hard Rain, Blowin in the Wind and Masters of War are still the best here. He had the wisdom and poise of a 70+ year old man, as a 22 year old...
  2. Bob Dylan - Bring It On Home (1965) A- [3 listens] // A+ {2 listens} I can't overemphasize how great side two is of this album is. The songs aren't as musical as side one, so the lyrics are center stage and Bob Dylan ALWAYS captivates your attention. The electric guitar side is even better than I originally thought, but man does the second side has some of his best songwriting.
  3. The Beatles - Help! (1965) B+ [3 listens] // A- {1 listen} This is the album where I think they started making legit "respectable" music. The early Pop music they made before is nice, but it's not that fulfilling. The variety made this age very well: Hide Your Love Away, Ticket to Ride, Seen a Face, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Help!, Yesterday. It doesn't help that every album that followed it is considered one of the greatest albums of all time, but at this point, it was head and shoulders their best.
  4. Beatles - Rubber Soul (1965) A++ [5 listens] // A+ {4 listens} Highway 61 Revisited gets the credit as being the album to kick off the Rock renaissance of the 60s, but imo, the "album arms race" started with this one. Without it, the musical landscape isn't the same as the concept of an entire album of worthy material wouldn't have been as widely adopted. With the praise out of the way... it's pretty one note. A great Folk Rock album, but as it's often compared to other albums (cough Pet Sounds), it doesn't hold a candle to them.
  5. The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour (1967) B+ [3 listens] // A {3 listens} This is fun, bro. No it's not a legendary album, hell, it's not really a fully formed one as it's really a soundtrack compilation album. But looking at all the songs, they're just fun. Even a half assed Beatles album is still incredible (no I haven't listened to Yellow Submarine, why do you ask?).
  6. The Doors - Self-Titled (1967) A- [2 listens] // A++ {3 listens} Wow, this is why multiple listens are super important. Many of the songs I thought were "so so" are so much better compared to other Blues Rock I've heard so far. Ray Manzarek is a god on the keys and Jim Morrison is pretty magnificent on every song. It still feels dated, as it's not super complex in it's song structure (like in LA Woman), but every song is great. JUST short of a masterpiece.
  7. The Who - Tommy (1969) B [1 listen] // D++ {1 listen} I was being generous on the original post, I really didn't like this album. After one more listen, I really hate it. The story is complete nonsense and the music really doesn't make up for it. But that's not why I hate it so much; it's the length. If you're gonna be a late 60's mess, be your flamboyant mess and get in & get out. But it's an overly long, drawn out, bore of an album. It's mind boggling that anyone would prefer this over Quadrophena. Pinball Wizard is a great song tho, but don't tell anyone I said that.
  8. King Crimson - In The Court of the Crimson King (1969) A- [1 listen] // A {1 listen} listening to Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed made this album a better listen. That jazz prog rock, with a laid back feel instead of completely psychedelic. The rest of the album (outside the intro) was a better listen this time around with better context, as I remember being bored with much of it. Now that I'm familiar with early Prog Rock, this doesn't feel as foreign anymore.
  9. The Beatles - Let It Be (1970) B+ [3 listens] // A {3 listens} yea, I'm a Beatles stan. Yea, it's probably the weakest Studio Era album. Yea, I enjoy the atmosphere of this album more than the music itself; as a last who-rah of a crumbling friendship that can only be held together by creating music, as that is where the only fun is still found amongst these guys. Do I like to pretend that Don't Let Me Down is apart of this album, so I can grade it higher? Also, yea.
  10. David Bowie - Hunky Dory (1971) A+ [2 listens] // A {2 listens} this is Art Rock. Not being a glam/hard rock fusion makes it less heavy than its successor. It also suffers for not having multiple strong anthems to hold the entire thing. Changes, Life on Mars, Andy Warhol, Queen Bitch are all great songs, but I doubt any are in Bowie's top 5. The other songs don't hold up as much I remembered.
  11. Carole King - Tapestry (1971) A- [2 listens] // A {2 listens} Joni Mitchell's Blue was the driving force this time around. That personal folk storytelling, with that lively piano yet cozy, warm atmosphere. With more listens, I don't really love the lyrical composition as I just love the tone of the thing. I can sit next to a warm fire (or on a window sill) and turn this on and relax. I understand what the genre of Soft Rock is going for now.
  12. David Bowie - the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) A+ [2 listens] // Masterpiece {3 listens} Probably didn't give this one too much thought when grading it, as I think I just fell in love with a few songs on it and forgot about the rest. Listening to this front to back... it's flawless. I tried to find a song that wasn't good or that was kinda boring, but they're all perfect. I've listened to Ziggy Stardust and Starman COUNTLESS times in the past year, and will randomly get guitar riffs from random songs off this album to pop in my head. Of his 4 albums I've listened to, I still think Low is his best, as the atmosphere of that Side B is unmatched. But this album is what I'd consider objectively perfect, as every song is great. Easy masterpiece, and a great example of why sitting with an album is just as important as giving it a bunch of listens.
  13. Queen - A Night at the Opera (1975) A- [2 listen] // A {2 listens} Fun stuff. I enjoyed the multiple vocalists being apart of it instead of only Mercury, made it feel like a "stage play" with a revolving cast. I think I might have been a bit to harsh on this one, as most of the album wasn't that memorable, with how amazing Bohemian Rhapsody is. I didn't understand what this album "was" with it's vaudeville style, but now, I see that it's this halfway point between the Hard Rock and the Prog Rock of the 70s, with that theatrical flair to make it standout. Definitely worth checking out.
  14. Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (1977) B [2 listens] // A- {2 listens} In 1987, Rolling Stone listed this as the 2nd best album of the last 20 years (since 1967) only after Sgt. Pepper's and man, did that made it easy for me to view this as overrated. I think since listening to more Punk Rock that followed this, I start to see how much better they've done with this compared to others. The guitar playing actually changes throughout the song, Johnny Rotten is actually expressive and feels spontaneous, and the drumming is creative. But the real change in opinion is the guitar playing: the riffs on many of these songs are undeniably awesome, which gives Rotten so much to work on top of. My biggest gripe with Punk Rock is how repetitive some bands can be. Now after more listens to this, I can absolutely NOT say the same can be said about this album. It's varied and expressive; how Punk Rock should be.
  15. Steely Dan - Aja (1977) A [1 listens] // A+ {1 listen} better than I remember. The jazz rock combo is really good, it really leans into the jazz instead of simply using it as an aesthetic. It's not Prog whatsoever, just jazz with traditional Rock instruments. Honestly, you can barely tell if this would considered Rock at all. You really got to like jazz to love this tho. It has that free flowing feel of that genre, from the instrumentation to the flow of the singer. Great album! I'm assuming Steely Dan is hated by the rock community because of this heavy leaning into jazz. Which is understandable, but that doesn't mean they don't make phenomenal music.
  16. AC/DC - Highway to Hell (1979) B+ [2 listens] // B {1 listen} They haven't quite moved away from the Blues sound yet. Back in Black is a pure distillation of what Hard Rock should be as a stand alone genre, but they don't quite have that confidence in being that brash yet. Bon Scott does a lot of heavy lifting as Angus Young doesn't have that swagger in his solos yet. A lot of the songs aren't super great, but they at least still carry energy. Highway to Hell is a fantastic song, but the majority is just meddling around in this laid back blues style.
  17. Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms (1985) B [1 listens] // B- {2 listens} I originally wrote this off as one that I "just didn't get", with how insanely commerically successful it is. Now after listening to their Self-Titled album, it actually becomes even more disappointing as you know how much more they're capable of. There's such a signature style on it and this throws all of it away in exchange of a 80s soft rock sound. Walk of Life and So Far Away are good tunes, due to the guitar hooks; everything else is just shallow.
  18. Pixies - Doolittle (1989) A- [2 listens] // A+ {2 listens} Now, I view this band on the level of the Beatles or Velvet Underground as one of those influential bands that changed music. At the time, Doolittle was too weird for me, but with much more context from this era, this is just insanely great. Compared to Surfer Rosa, the versatility is on a different level. While it is great and varied, it's not exactly "great" in any one area, so I can see why the bands that were influenced by them are viewed as better, as their stuff would've been more focused in one style instead of all over the place. Great album, legendary band.
  19. Alice in Chains - Dirt (1992) A [2 listens] // Masterpiece {4 listens} This album is a grower. Every time I listen to it, I like another song from it. The harmonies are God tier, the guitar riffs, God Tier, the choruses, God tier. Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell... peanut and jelly. I've given out 2 masterpieces to grunge albums (Nevermind and Ten), so what makes this different from those is that Dirt takes its time in developing songs. So many of these songs start slow and somber, and quickly turn aggressive and passionate! Gnarly riffs on one song, than a few minutes later, you're listening to soft vocals behind a rough, tortured voice. Not a bad song on here, hit after hit, I got to say it's a masterpiece.
  20. Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral (1994) A [3 listens] // A+ {2 listen} the word "gritty" might get thrown around a ton by me, but I still haven't heard such a brutal, harsh sounding album while still having pristine production value. It's nasty and mean. Even in the slow moments, you can feel the pain, anger, or sadness in his voice. Compared to other stuff, it doesn't have that much replay value to it, as it's not exact what one would call "musical". But you got to call it what it is: art.
  21. Green Day - Dookie (1994) A [2 listens] // A+ {1 listen} It's just good music. Yes, the ceiling isn't as high as it could be, but it's so enjoyable that it is always a fun listen. The album is on point from start to finish, it's one of those "if you like one, you like it all" love it or hate it kind of deals. From Burn Out to When I Come Around is just Pop Punk perfection; the backhalf doesn't hold up compared to the start, but it's all still very good.
  22. Weezer - Self-Titled "The Blue Album" (1994) A- [1 listen] // A {2 listens} I only gave this one listen and only revisited it after listening to Pinkerton. Isn't not as dismissable as I originally remembered, as I only gave it one listen. It's more POP- punk thank pop-PUNK compared to Dookie, which led me to not care for it as much. And it's pretty good pop, with a punk style to give it some edge, I guess. I still like Pinkerton more than it, but it can definitely stand alone as a good album itself.
  23. Oasis - Definitely Maybe (1994) A [2 listens] // A+ {2 listens} Liam Gallagher is really good... but Noel Gallagher is the truth, bro. That dude knows how to make a great song. They aren't super complex, but they're all have perfect execution. Mix in that Wall of Sound effect with the guitars, it makes this stand out even more from the overwhelming stacked albums of the 90s. The non-single tracks aren't as strong compared to (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, as that album is damn near perfect imo. Great debut album.
  24. Radiohead - The Bends (1995) B+ [1 listen] // A {2 listens} If Radiohead didn't make this album, I highly doubt I would've listened to this. Which is a shame, because this is a really good album. On the flip side, being a Radiohead album also did more harm than good, as it gets massively overshadowed. I admittedly did a half assed listen to "get to the famous stuff". Fake Plastic Trees, the Bends, and Black Star are great songs. I've listened to Ok Computer so much that I come to think of it as their official "start" of their sound, when in reality, they set the stage on The Bends of what can be possible down the road. Also, they toured with Alanis Morissette with the album, so extra bonus points!
  25. Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004) A- [2 listens] // A+ {2 listens} better than I remembered. I definitely thought it was borderline pretentious, with how the song structure is when I originally listened to it. Now, without that stigma, it's not THAT abstract and I've come to admire the creativeness of it. I always love when there's women vocalists, to mix up the sound and so many different instruments add even more to the variety. It always feels like a new listen, with how many things I'll forget to notice and remember again.
  26. Lcd Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (2007) A- [1 listen] // A {2 listens} The first 4 songs are awesome; Get Innocuous with it's multirhythmic layering is my textbook PERFECT song, a 21st century "Remain in Light" homage. The rest just loses this energy and it's never found again. Compare the first track with the last one and it sounds like two different projects. I know you can call me a hypocrite with how much I love Remain in Light, but at least with that one, it's only the last song and not half of the album. Seriously tho, Get Innocuous is a top 10 song of all time
  27. Tame Impala - Currents (2016) A- [1 listen] // B+ {1 listen} Didn't expect my feelings to decrease, but compared to Lonerism, this is so mid. The lack of a real "great" song (Rihanna's Same Old Mistakes clears) makes it tough to love. It is consistent though, so it's still a good listen; just not a memberable one.
Albums I revisited, but no change in opinion. I feel like with these, I need to explain/defend myself more than I did on the original reviews:
  1. Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1965) A+ [4 listens] // {3 listens} After listening to a good chunk of their discography, I've come to two conclusions on Pet Sounds: 1) This album is truly lightning in the bottle as they NEVER reach it's level of consistency in quality from track to track. 2) Baroque Pop, while groundbreaking, came and went as fast as it arrived, mainly due to how abstract it is compared to its successor, Psychedelic Rock. Beyond that, there are a few skips that are solely due to wild creative mind of Brian Wilson. As a musical genius, dare I say better than Lennon and McCartney, but as a songwriter? Not even close imo. Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's are all great albums, while Pet Sounds can be argued to be their only great album (Wild Honey is also a good listen). I know bringing up the Beatles can be annoying, but the Beatles made great "hit singles" with their song layout, while about only half of the tracks on Pet Sounds are what I'd consider a traditional song. That's probably why I don't think it's so amazing (I kinda feel the same about progressive Rock) as I tend to favor music with a concise structure; even as unoriginal the structure may be.
  2. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced? (1967) B+ [1 listen] // {1 listen} I can't get into it. The songwriting isn't there, especially compared to the stuff that would follow it. This is him at his rawest, but it's a reason why Medium Rare is the most commonly cooked steak.
  3. The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed (1969) B+ [2 Listens] // {3 listens} Thought I would flip on this album, but surprisingly didn't change at all. I still think Gimme Shelter is the best Rolling Stones song and I still think You Can't Always Get What You Want is still a phenomenal album closer, but everything in between is pretty lackluster (besides Live With Me).
  4. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (1973) A [4 listens] // {1 listen} I do enjoy this album more now I know how other Progressive Rock bands sound like, but not enough to raise it a grade. I enjoy Time and the whole second side much more and the "emptiness" of the genre doesn't bother me as much. But the first half is still a little too abstract for my liking. However, I do see how people can view this as their GOAT album with how groundbreaking it's release was at the time and outside of only other Pink Floyd albums, there's nothing else in this genre that really matches the "entering another world" feel it creates.
  5. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (1975) A [2 listens] // {1 listen} Similar thoughts to DSotM, but this one has the more catchy "songs" and partly why I love it more. Welcome to the Machine and Wish You Were Here are fantastic, but overall not enough meat for my liking.
  6. The Ramones - Self-Titled (1976) B [2 listens] // {2 listens} I decided to give the Godfathers of Punk another try since I surprisingly came over to like the other Godfather, the Sex Pistols. And yeah... still isn't my thing. Way too one note, monotone singing, guitar takes over too much of the sound, etc. There are a few good hooks here and there, but you basically hear the entire song in the first 15 seconds. Everything I hate about Punk, stemmed from this album and made a lazier copy.
  7. The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dreams (1993) A+ [2 listens] // {1 listen} apparently the Smashing Pumpkins aren't considered grunge? If that's the case, comparing them to a Noise Rock band like a Sonic Youth or a Faith No More, they don't they don't rock out as much as I'd like. Also, I don't like how a few of these songs sound similar to each other. Today and Hummer of course are all top tier songs, but it's just not as much of a comprehensive project as Mellon Collie. Yea, it's definitely not grunge, as it would be much harder if it was.
  8. Radiohead - Ok Computer (1997) A++ [2 listens] // {4 listens} Close, but no cigar. The first 3 songs and the last 3 songs are PERFECT, it's the stuff in between that makes it fall just short. The run of Karma Police into Fitter Happier to Electioneering is also a great moment in the album. Honestly, it's just Exit Music being "okay" that really stops it from being considered a masterpiece in my eyes. Still one of the greatest albums of all time, but not perfect in my eyes. This album is my perfect barometer for an A++ grade; it's objectively a perfect, but on the subjective level, there's nothing that makes me "adore" it. I completely understand how anyone thinking an A++ album I graded is a masterpiece, as I have to personally love it that extra step for it to get to that level.
  9. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007) A++ [3 listens] // {3 listens A+/A+/A++} Let me end it on a positive review: I didn't really give a thorough listen to it at first, as I don't remember much from it. Over time, my opinion on it dropped as I truly didn't see why people find it so special as they do. Ok Computer easily has the better individual tracks, Kid A is easily the most experimental. After finally revisiting it, maybe because it's a great midway between the two, with a weird electronic-rock-jazz fusion. Feels like there's not a single wasted second; every beat and note is meticulous. It's more chilled and laid back, which threw me off on the repeat listens. The hodgepodge of electronic and experimental sounds, being used in this traditional lofi style instead of being a fast paced one, was the curve that made it hard to love it at first, but now I think that's what makes it unique in its execution. A LOT of these rhythms could have been large and bombastic, and I kinda admire it's restraint in remaining "down in Earth". Also the album cover is noteworthy, where it feels completely spontaneous, never fully knowing what to expect going in. Definitely deserves its high praise
Albums I also revisited, but no change in opinion. Don't have too much to add on these, but listed them as my grades are concrete on these compared to the ones I didn't choose to listen to:
  1. The Velvet Underground & Niko - Self-Titled "The Banana Album" (1967) A+ // Venus in Furs maybe one of the greatest songs ever composed
  2. Cream - Disraeli Gears (1967) A+ // It still holds up, so damn awesome
  3. Bob Dylan - John Wesley Harding (1967) B+ // yeah, he's kinda rambling on this one
  4. The Stooges - Fun House (1970) A- // it's "the Stooges", possibly their best
  5. The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street (1972) B+ // Nope, still didn't love it, still a mess
  6. Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1972) A++ // One I thought wouldn't have held up. I shall never question Sir Elton's greatness again
  7. The Eagles - Hotel California (1975) B // Great start, gets worst as it goes on
  8. Patti Smith - Horses (1975) A- // labeling this "Punk Rock" is a nicer way of calling this weird af
  9. The Clash - London Calling (1979) Masterpiece // Not only is there not a bad song here, but every song is perfect. Not great... PERFECT
  10. U2 - Joshua Tree (1987) B+ // I can't deny that there are some good songs on here, even if I'll never listen to it again
  11. The Cure - Disintegration (1989) A // after 375 Rock albums, Plainsong is still the greatest opening track
  12. U2 - Achtung Baby (1991) A- // you gotta admit Bono is pretty cool on this one
  13. Nirvana - In Utero (1993) A // love the Bass guitar's tone on this one, rawer contrast to Nevermind. I'm glad I didn't grow up in the 90s, as this will always sound so new and fresh to me :)
  14. System of a Down - Toxicity (2001) Masterpiece // Similar to Hybrid Theory, if this wasn't labeled as "Nu-metal" (and maybe didn't get so overplayed and copied), even the most pretentious critic couldn't deny how great this is
  15. Green Day - American Idiot (2004) A+ // Feels almost like a different band, the songs are much more nuisanced in its lyrics and its musical structure. That transition from Holiday to Boulevard still gives me goosebumps, such a great song.
  16. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever You Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006) A++ // a tour guide to the UK nightclubbing/pub scene, way better than it has any right to be honestly
Bonus: Ween - 12 Golden Country Greats (1996) A [4 listens B/A-/A-/A] Country is still a somewhat foreign genre for me and I've been kinda bored with the concept of it. But it's Ween, so they've fully earned my trust at this point so I'll give this a try. This style is more or less my biggest indifference with the genre: it's not heavy enough to be impactful as rock, yet not soft enough to be as intimate as Folk. It's in this inbetween grey area where it's just not super captivating for me. With that said, it's rarely has been the "so bad, I can't stand to listen to it" levels of boredom that it has been made out as. That signature tongue-in-cheek humor of Ween is here and it makes the project more enjoyable. With Ween, whether it's supposed to be satirical or serious, the quality of songwriting is always top tier, so it's very easy to take whatever they're doing with my full respect rather than viewing it as just a joke. Japanese Cowboy, Mister Richard Smoker, Powder Blue, Piss Up a Rope and You Were the Fool (the best one) are my favorites; but other than Fluffy, every song is a good time. What really sells this album in particular, is that none of these songs would sound out of place on one of their other Rock centric albums, which allows me to extend a lot more grace towards it. Pretty good listen. For what it is, it's pretty consistent, but there's of course better Ween albums out there.
submitted by MrC_Red to u/MrC_Red [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 16:36 Old_Contribution_196 Is having a motorcycle while being a student possible?

I'm currently about to turn 17 and I've been looking at getting a motorcycle to commute around in and for pleasure. I've discovered I can only ride a 125cc bikes until I'm about 19 where I can move up a licence. Now I have a part time job where I only earn £5 hour, pretty bad but it has its perks. So on average I'm earning about £100 a week in summer working two 10hour shifts a week plus sometimes tips. When I get to college I'll probably be working 1 5-6hour shift a week which in a month doesn't earn me much. But I could always try pick up a second job that fits around my schedule. But is it possible to buy and keep running a motorcycle while in college with my earnings and stuff? I'll get help from my parents with a couple of the costs, but is it worth it? Or should I just wait till I'm 19 and in Uni to get an A2 which I might have better chance at managing the costs with?
submitted by Old_Contribution_196 to MotoUK [link] [comments]

2023.05.31 16:28 Ranzolax Yuuzai Desu: You are guilty of turning me on Chapter 7

Reminder that English is not my native language, I translated this using my own knowledge of English and the use of translation tools, if you find any errors please let me know.

As Morikawa and Matsui head towards the karaoke together, the other four members of their group have already started with the action.
Uchida finds herself with Kido's member in her mouth, granting the bespectacled boy fellatio, while Yoshizuka is pleasured by Aoyama's fingers. This is a part that the four of them are enjoying just waiting for Matsui to arrive and quote-unquote surprise them in this.
After that Yoshizuka just had to lure him to her and if necessary, ride him so that when they finally call Morikawa and she arrives she sees the 5 of them engulfed in lust, peer pressure is strong and Morikawa, though she would be is not exempt from falling for it.
A simple but effective plan, not the original, but one that had to be created through the unforeseen events they had, from the beginning they knew that not everything would go as planned; therefore, they were always willing to adapt.
At one point the entrance door of the karaoke was knocked, Aoyama released Yoshizuka and Kido hid Uchida behind him in case some manager did not notice what they were doing.
"Come in" Aoyama said, and who indeed entered was Matsui which brought a smile to Yoshizuka's face which instantly vanished as soon as she saw him enter next to Morikawa.
That wasn't part of the plan at all.
"Sorry for the delay" Matsui apologized looking around at everyone present.
It didn't take long to notice Kido with his back turned, who upon hearing Matsui's voice followed the plan without seeing the unforeseen and stepped back enough for the boy to see Uchida perform fellatio on the boy.
The eyelids of both Matsui and Morikawa opened to their maximum as they noticed what Uchida and Kido are doing.
Yoshizuka knew he had to improvise and quickly, especially when he watched Morikawa pull Matsui's hand and head for the exit.
"O please stay, the fun is just beginning" said the bespectacled girl throwing herself into Aoyama's arms and spreading her legs wide enough for the newcomers to see her panties moistened by Aoyama's previous touches.
Acting fast, the said boy brought one of his hands to the girl's crotch and another to one of her breasts, starting to massage both parts causing Yoshizuka to let out a few moans.
Matsui and Morikawa had been stopped by Yoshizuka's words and were paralyzed at the sight of what was being done before them.
Deep down they know it is wrong, that they should leave following common sense, but Matsui watched with morbid attention as Uchida sucked Kido's member and as Aoyama groped Yoshizuka's private parts. Such a sight caused a pressure to build up in his pants.
On Morikawa's side she was no better, the show was doing something to her, she felt her nipples, hardening and rubbing against the texture of her bra, she even felt herself salivating.
The raging hormones in them prevented them from leaving and he was left alone to watch.
"Come on sit down" Uchida said taking Kido's member out of her mouth, but not ceasing to stimulate him with masturbation.
As if they were slaves, Matsui and Morikawa obeyed by sitting together at the farthest point of the orgy.
Confused and aroused they tried to keep some respect, not looking, but his eyes always came back to look at them, no matter how hard they tried.
Yoshizuka felt victorious, they had achieved their goal despite the unexpectedness of them both arriving at the same time, the only thing they have to do now is to keep adapting, having sex with Matsui is no longer an option, the act may bring them to their senses and cause them to leave so it would be best to be content with having sex in front of them causing both of their libidos to reach their limit.
Yoshizuka pushed her legs apart when Aoyama pulled out his member and penetrated her, she didn't hold back her moans at all and kept her gaze always on Matsui making sure he was always watching her.
The two teens who had come together just watched everything mentally debating whether to leave or not, the lust and confusion of the moment prevented their bodies from doing the simple action of leaving.
And both would have stood transfixed on the spot had it not been for Matsui remembering that Morikawa is holding his hand.
He looked towards the green-eyed girl seeing her mesmerized at what's happening in front of her, licking his lips with a clear desire in her eyes, he's not much better as the bulge in his pants shows how much all this is affecting him.
he tries to think of what she should do, leaving was the most obvious option, but at the same time it was the one most quickly dismissed from his mind Why, he doesn't know.
He lifted Morikawa's hand he holds and that drew the girl's attention to him, her desire didn't diminish at all as soon as she did it, worse it increased much more.
With the moans in the air, the smell of sex and the skin colliding Matsui looked at Morikawa feeling more attracted to her than he had ever been, guided by the heat of the moment, the boy stuck his lips with Morikawa’s, and the girl did not push him at all, on the contrary, she accepted him.
Yoshizuka had lost herself for a few seconds in the pleasure given by Aoyama, when she returned her sight to Matsui she watched in disbelief as the boy was making out with Morikawa taking off her jacket and shirt to leave the breasts of the president in full view.
That was an unexpected, but perhaps a welcome one? She didn't know how to regard it.
Matsui stared raptly at the president's breasts, they are free before him, shirt, and bra off, he would have thought it was a dream come true, but lust let him think of nothing else but to take those breasts into his mouth.
He hesitated before doing so, looking into the eyes of the president asking her permission with a silent gesture, she nodded blushing and embarrassed.
Receiving permission, Matsui put one of the breasts of the girl he always liked in his mouth and with his hand began to massage the other, his movements were clumsy and full of hesitation, they were not the sure and exact movements of Aoyama or the rough and obscene ones of Kido.
His were slow, clumsy, replete with all the inexperience a boy of his age doing it for the first time might possess.
Still, for Morikawa, Matsui's tongue caressing her nipple couldn't have felt more pleasurable. She arched her back and covered her face with her hands, trying to lessen the embarrassment she feels from the act they are both performing.
Matsui continued to do so, as time passes gaining confidence and some knowledge of which tongue movements make the president's body tingle the most.
The act, though not physically stimulating for him, made him feel quite good, even pleased and that, increased when he felt the chairwoman's body temper and a great moan stifled by his hand escape her lips.
Although Matsui isn't one to consume so much pornographic material, he at least saw enough to know that the president had just come from having an orgasm and the simple fact that he knew he had managed to get one just by playing with her breasts made him feel terribly happy.
He pulled his mouth away from the president's chest and as he did so he noticed how the four other teens in the place had their attention on them without him knowing it, all attracted by the moan the president let out as she had her orgasm.
Their libido had gone down thanks to what they had just done and little by little rational thinking took power in them and then they realized that they are in a karaoke, in the middle of an orgy with four students they barely know just because they are in the same class.
Matsui wanted the earth to swallow him up on the spot and Morikawa covered her breasts with speed and awkwardness.
Matsui swallowed saliva and looked at everyone again "I-I... We better get going" he said looking towards the president, who nodded frantically, she put her shirt back on as fast as she could leaving her bra aside and together with Matsui, they walked out of the karaoke room.
"Shit... It went wrong" Kido pronounced.
"No, actually, it went well, the first phase was successfully completed, those two are going to want more" Yoshizuka said with a smile. She's partly frustrated that she didn't get to be with Matsui, but also happy that her plan worked, though unbeknownst to her not exactly as she thinks.
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2023.05.31 16:27 Deltiasgaming1 ESO Necrom Chapter: Essential Tips to Prepare for the Arcanist Class

ESO Necrom Chapter: Essential Tips to Prepare for the Arcanist Class
Reddit gang, dropping this here so you can prepare for Necrom Chapter and Arcanist class when it drops on June 5th for PC and June 20th for consoles. I hope this helps you get prepared!
Written Guide:
Video Guide:
ESO Builds: Update 38 -

ESO Necrom Chapter: Essential Tips to Prepare for the Arcanist Class

ESO Necrom Chapter is just around the corner, so prepare for Arcanist Class with our Top 15 Essential Tips and level up quickly!
The Necrom chapter launches on June 5th and June 20th, so you have very little time to prepare everything for the new class. In our guide, we included tips and pieces of advice we learned after countless hours and multiple characters leveled in ESO.

ESO Necrom Chapter: Essential Tips to Prepare for the Arcanist Class

In ESO, levelling a new character can be costly, long, and complex. Only the base game offers multiple skill lines, champion points, and guilds. You may be lost quickly if you are a beginner or play eso occasionally. What is the best race? How do you level up so that when you hit max level (50 and 160cp), you can jump straight to end-game content and feel powerful? We have answers to all those questions and more in our 15 simple essential tips to prepare for the new Necrom Chapter and the Arcanist Class in ESO.

Select Playstyle

Arcanist Class has many skills to enhance a unique, never seen in ESO before playstyle. As a result, in the Builds, we try to enhance the class identity. The following list explains shortly all you need to know about the new ESO class:
  • Arcanist class identity is built around tomes and ancient knowledge.
  • Class possesses complete tools within all three skill trees to fulfil all group roles and solo playstyles.
  • The class possesses a unique, strong damage debuff, the Abyssal Impact, which increases your damage to targets hit.
  • Arcanist’s rotation is based on Cruxes generation, debuffing enemies and channel damage.
  • Tanks and healers will enjoy this class due to the active combo system.

The Arcanist uses abilities to create and consume Cruxes, small triangular glyphs floating around the character (3 max). You will use specific skills to generate Cruxes and additional abilities that consume them, amplifying abilities and triggering important class passives.
Crux consumption could provide more damage, longer duration, cheaper resource cost, and more healing. Additionally, it generates and activates important passives. For example, Crux-consumption can give you more weapon/spell or critical damage. The more you use Cruxes, the better.
The following brief guide explains the combat with the ESO Arcanist class in builds:
  • Use one primary skill as a tank, damage dealer, or healer to generate Crux.
  • Consume that Crux with one or two skills for better damage, healing, and defenses.
  • Start building Crux again to use the other skill for another in-combat advantage.
  • In between combing Crux, maintain your buffs, healing, and damage over time skills.
  • Your build wants to find the sweet spot of constantly generating Crux and consuming it for bonuses.
  • You don’t want your build to have zero Crux or constantly three without a “dump” skill.
Now that you have an idea about the basics of the class, what should you play and why?
As a damage dealer (DPS), The Arcanist excels in stamina DPS. Primarily due to a variety of factors like medium armor passives, dual wield passives and medium armor choices that carry damage. Can you do well as a magicka based Arcanist damage dealer? Yes, but in group settings, medium armor excels due to its passive critical damage vs light armor penetration passive. If you want optimal, high end DPS, we recommend stamina based Arcanist as of the making of this guide.
Tanking on the Arcanist is exception with crowd control, unique buffs and debuffs. The fact that you have a built in class taunt along with built in major and minor breach means you can use different gear and weapon choices. The Arcanist also has Minor Courage passive which is exceptional for group play. Consider them one of the best tanks in PvE or PvP at launch.
Similar to tanking, the Arcanist healing is exception due to the buffs and passives. While the main burst heal, or lack thereof is weak, it makes up for it with huge buffs and debuffs that every team wants. Current, the Arcanist is an exceptional healer, just use Restoration Staff abilities for burst healing rather than in class skills.
Player Vs Player: In PvP, the Arcanist is quite weak compared to other classes. It lacks a burst heal, or delayed burst damage skill, and the class really wants you to use the Fatecarver skill “beam.” This is fine in PvE where enemies rarely stun or disrupt you, but in PvP, this isn’t the case. The class does have strong passives, and ultimate selections and with either a proc heavy loadout in melee, or a ranged beam build you can make it work.
Opinion: we recommend playing the Arcanist a stamina-based damage dealer for both PvE and PvP.

Race Choice
Does Race Matter in ESO? In general, no, you may get a maximum of 8% increased DPS going from an Argonian (weakest) to Khajiit/Dunmer (strongest). Most players won’t feel this unless they are trying to do bleeding-edge content. However, we do have some strong choices and recommendations for those looking to mid-max their Arcanist.
  • Stamina DPS
  1. Khajiit
  2. Dark Elf
  • Magicka DPS
  1. High Elf
  2. Dark Elf
  • Healer
  1. Breton
  2. Argonian
  • Tank
  1. Imperial
  2. Nord
Khajiit is the recommended Stamina Damage Dealer choice. With a unique 12% critical damage and balanced stats, and resource regeneration, Khajiit is all around the best choice. Only weakness is ESO’s 125% critical damage cap. Only in situations like trials parse dummies (21 million health) or fully min-maxed trials groups does this become an issue.
Dark Elf is a great secondary choice. What makes Dunmer’s (Dark Elves) great as damage dealers is balanced weapon/spell damage and max stamina and magicka pools. Major downside is the lack of any resource sustain or health.
High Elf is the recommended choice for magicka damage dealer Arcanist. The reason why, High Elf has a unique 5% damage reduction while channeling. This helps take less damage using your main channel as a damage dealer or a healer. The racial choice also has great passives for damage and resource sustain.
Dark Elf is also a great choice for magicka damage dealers for the same reasons its great on stamina.
Breton is the recommended racial choice for healing. With strong resource sustain, max stats, you will always be able to cast your skills when you need them.
Argonian also makes a great healer and is usually an optimal choice for PvP.
I would recommend an Imperial for reduced ultimate cost and cost of your abilities as a Tank.
Nord Race has a quick ultimate generation.
Don't freak out about the race you can always change with the race change token, and you must love your character.

Picking Faction

There are fantastic players in every faction, which doesn't matter in PvE unless you plan to play PvP with your friends in Imperial City, Cyrodiil or Battlegrounds. For maximum potential builds in PvP "Any race, any alliance" feature, available from the crown store, will allow you to pick any race regardless of your alliance. It's a one-time purchase and of the most useful purchases in ESO.
Also, you can change Alliance with another very expensive token from the crown store.

Storage Space

Get storage boxes in your house for supplies, including gear, potions, food, etc., everything you are going to need to start leveling your new Arcanist character. When Necrom Chapter goes live, you can equip it and enjoy the class.
You can buy storage chests from Writs Vandor, located in each faction's main City (Grahtwood, Stormhaven, Ebonheart) with master crafting writ vouchers. Boxes are also available for Tel Var Stones in Imperial City Vendors or from the Crown store. Each player can own up to 4 large (60 slots) and 4 small (30 slots) chests. There are 360 slots available in total.

XP Boosters

If it's your first time playing ESO. I would not recommend the fast grind method, play slow and enjoy the game, though you can likewise use all XP boosters. However, if you're like me and have leveled multiple characters, you can start saving XP boosters now for an optimal way to rush to the end game.
The fastest way to level is to kill mobs with ESO XP boosters. You want to maximise the number of killed enemies per second. The Blackrose Prison Arena and Skyreach Catacombs are my preferred grinding spots. Here’s how you can maximize your XP gains if you’re in a rush to the end game:
  • 10% from the Training trait for each armor & weapon piece (purple quality)
  • 10% from ESO Plus Membership
  • 10% from the Ring of Mara equipped (if you are married to another player and grind with a partner)
  • 10% for being in a group of two
  • 1x Drink or XP Scroll Booster
  • 100% from in-game Events (Witches & New Life Festival etc.)
The easiest way to level quickly are cost-effective 100% XP boosters, grinding with a partner, having all training gear, purple quality or better. For example, I highly recommended Heartland Conqueror Set, which gives your training trait 100 more effectiveness. Order’s Wrath, Daedric Trickery, Oblivion's Foe and Wretched Vitality are other good setups for damage, defences and resources, craftable and easy to obtain.
To make the process even faster, you can make multiple sets of training armor (for levels 3, 10, 20, 30, 40 etc.) to make sure you stay powerful as you grind your way to 50. So that's when the storage boxes come in handy. Store all gear sets there and be ready for the grind.

PvP Boosters

Leveling PvP skill lines are important due to the passives and active abilities that everyone uses, even if you play PvE. For example, Reviving Barrier is an extremely useful ultimate skill in PvP and PvE for tanks, healers and, sometimes, damage dealers. Also, reaching support rank 9 grants Magicka Aid and increases your Magicka Recovery by 10% for each Support ability slotted.
Once you hit Level 10, you'll receive the invitation to Cyrodiil and start the introduction to PvP Quest. Upon completion, you'll get an alliance rank three, and two skill points. It's a good start, so you should never skip it.
Nextly, you can level alliance skill lines quickly on a new character if you use a Colovian War Torte and play low-level battlegrounds. Colovian War Torte is a craftable consumable that grants a 50% alliance point boost for 30 minutes. It is affected by the Connoisseur and Brewer passives from the Provisioning skill line. Despite being categorized as a food when crafting, the tortes can be consumed at the same time as regular foods and drinks. The 30-minute duration pauses if you log out and can be used as early as level 10.
The Molten War Torte and White-Gold War Torte are more powerful versions which grant 100% and 150% experience boosts, respectively. Note that while these items do provide a bonus to gains towards your Alliance War rank and skill lines, this bonus does not apply to leaderboard scores.

Gold for Inventory

The next essential tip on how to prepare for the Arcanist class and ESO Necrom Chapter is crucial Inventory Space. Save gold to max out your new Arcanist character carrying capacity. Each character that you create in The Elder Scrolls Online will start with 60 slots. You can increase the characters' inventory space by buying Pack Merchant upgrades up to 140 in total inventory Upgrades from Pack Merchant cost 179 700 Gold. Also, train your horse in the stable master to increase it by extra 60 slots to reach 200 inventory spaces in total. If you own a guild, you can also use its Bank for extra 500 item slots. Lastly, special pets from Crown Store can increase the inventory capacity by additional 20 slots.

Mount Speed

Like mentioned above, you can buy an upgrade for your mount at any stablemaster in towns. Each point in carry capacity will permanently increase your characters' inventory space by 1. You can only upgrade one of the thee mount perks every 20 hours.
However, you can speed up the process of horse upgrades if you own any riding lessons. Sometimes those upgrade items are part of daily login rewards or can be bought from the crown store. So check up on your stored daily rewards. This can give you a nice early start on your new arcanist.
As mentioned before leveling your PVP skills is essential, the Continuous Attack passive will give you a 30% mount speed boost and unlocks at Assault Rank 3.

Alchemy Mats
The alchemy skill line is necessary to level up on each character because of the Medicinal Use Passive that makes resulting effects last 30% longer and is a key to better combat performance. As a result, if you're using potions, you get more Recovery Weapon or Spell damage or whatever potion buff you have. Consuming potions in ESO has a 45-second cooldown, and with the Medicinal Use Passive, they last 47.5 seconds, which essentially gives you 100% uptime in combat, assuming you're consuming them on cooldown.
So, buy enough alchemy items to max out the alchemy skill, cheap ingredients, in guide traders, like buying and mixing wormwood or spider eggs with scrib jelly will get you from 1 to 50 quickly. Change out your solvent, you can start with Ichor, and as you level up, finish with Alkahest. Take advantage of this potion passive right away. Trust me, at the end-game, it really helps your survivability with resource sustain and running Buffs on cooldown.


The best food to prepare is the one that works at all levels, for example, Artaeum Pickled Fish Bowl, Candied Jester's Coins etc. you can get those recipes just by playing during in-game events, collecting rewards or from guild traders.
Jewels of Misrule
During leveling, I highly recommend Jewels of Misrule for beginning players without a lot of champion points because it gives max health and extra recovery and really carries your survivability. Additionally, it’s cheap.
Witchmother's Potent Brew
For magic users, Witchmother's Potent Brew it's going to give you Max Magicka, Max Health and Magicka Recovery.
Dubious Camoran Throne
Stamina-based users can use Dubious Camoran Throne similar to Whitchmoder purple food but increases your Max Stamina Stats.
You can make potions yourself, buy them from Crown Store or from daily rewards. You can also use the Endeavors system to buy some consumables. Another good option is Alliance potions for Alliance Points if you play PvP. You can buy them from Alliance Siege Merchants in Cyrodiil main gates or Battleground vendors in any major city. Alliance potions give these really important Buffs, and it'll help increase your damage and survivability.
Start collecting those consumables and put them in your bank or storage chest so you can have them available right away for your Arcanist.

Repair Kits/Soul Gems

Stock up on repair kits and Soulgems, especially if you’re grinding monsters. The normal repair kits you can get from Crafting writs or buying from guild traders. Additionally, you can obtain the special group repair kit for tickets from Impresario Vendor, who can be found in every big city.

Master Writs
For those that want to max your arcanist fast without grinding, is by using Master Crafting writs. Master writs are the fastest way, making you capable of reaching level 50 within 30 minutes. With a 150% xp boost from food and eso+, you only need 215 total alchemy or enchanting writs to reach level 50. Here is what to do if you want to level up quickly in eso by using Master Writs:
  1. Stock up on Master Writs. You can get them from Daily Writs Rewards. The more motifs and traits your character knows, the higher your chance of receiving a master writ. You can also buy writs from guild traders.
  • Alchemy and enchanting writs are the most optimal since they can be power leveled almost instantly and are fairly cheap to craft.
  1. Get writs certified with a new character. Find Danel Telano and Milenith in the main starter city of your faction: Daggerfall, Davon’s Watch, or Vulkhel Guard.
  2. Level up your crafting skill to max (of 50), and take the passives.
  3. Use your XP boosts
  4. Consume Master Crafting writ (you can have one type active at the same time)
  5. Craft the required items.
  6. Turn the crafted items to the master writ vendor. A good City to do master writs is Ebonhart in Deshaan, where crafting stations are close to the master writs vendor so that you can complete them quickly.
  7. Complete Master Crafting Writs on your new Arcanist character until you reach level 50.
This is one of many reasons why crafting writs and crafting in eso is so useful.

Stock up on transmute stones by doing daily random dungeons, Battlegrounds or reaching tier 1 rewards in the Cyrodiil campaign on all your characters. Reaching tier 1 rewards can be completed by simply preparing the walls in Keeps, no PvP is required. Buy stone repair kits from Siege merchant, place them in your quick slot menu and repair damaged keep walls. You'll reach tier one quickly.
New sets are coming with ESO Necrom Chapter, and some of them will surely be used for the arcanist class, so it's an essential tip to be prepared and stacked up on transmutes.

Maxing Crafting
If you are interested in maxing out all the crafting lines on your arcanist, then you can pre-purchase intricate items from guild traders to deconstruct. Let them sit in your mailbox, and loot the mail on your arcanist to get a leg up in crafting quickly. Be sure to unlock the green CP "Inspiration boost" to make this even faster.
Gear pieces with the intricate trait can drop from any monster or crafting writs so hold on to them and place them in your storage chest or bank and be ready to level crafting on your new Arcanist character.

End Game Sets

There are just a ton of great sets that I use in my builds but here is a list of all great End-Game sets that are worth collecting for your Arcanist:
Damage Dealers:
  • Deadly Strike
    • Obtainable in Cyrodiil or Guild Traders
    • It increases your damage for channels and damage over time which equals pretty much everything The Arcanist does.
  • Soulshine
    • Obtainable in Reapers March Zone, Overland Set
    • Easy to get, base game, good damage set and is beginner-friendly. It grants you 369 weapon or spell damage for five seconds, and you'll be able to keep a high up-time on it.
  • Coral Riptide
    • Obtainable from Dreadsail Reef Trial, High Isle Chapter
    • For more advanced players with stamina builds. You lower your stamina, which increases your weapon and spell damage up to 740. Hart to maintain but very powerful option.
  • Whorl of the Depths
    • Obtainable from Dreadsail Reef Trial, High Isle Chapter
    • Excellent"proc" set that does really really good damage and comes in light armor
  • Pillar of Nirn
    • Obtainable from Falkreth Hold Dungeon, Horns of the Reach DLC
    • Another fantastic "proc" set that also does great damage and will be meta when Arcanist launches
  • Sul-Xan's Torment
    • Obtainable from Rockgrove Trial, Blackwood Chapter
  • Ansuul's Torment
    • Obtainable from Sanity's Edge Trial, Necrom Chapter
    • I'll be using it with The Arcanist as its five-piece bonus fits perfectly with the stationary Arcanist playstyle in PvE.
ESO had hundreds of sets, and this list is also long, so what to focus on? If you’re reading this, We're assuming you want to get powerful quickly and reach end-game content, so that’s what we will gear for.
Also, here are some essential tips for Leveling skill lines to max out skill points, skill lines and morphs and be ready for anything in-game:
  • Unlock Skill Lines (mages guild, fighter and undaunted)
  • Level all Armor (light, medium and heavy)
  • Unlock ALL Weapon Choices (dual wield, two-handed, bow etc.)
  • Setup Skill Bars with dead skills to level the maximum amount of them at once.
  • Level and change out skills and morph to level them all.

ESO Articles, Guides, and Builds

Thank you for reading the ESO Necrom Chapter: Essential Tips to Prepare for the Arcanist Class Guide! Also, consider watching me on Twitch. Feel free to ask me questions about my builds and the games I play, or check out my YouTube Channel.
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2023.05.31 16:23 Seamoose_Art NoP 2177: City of Dreams [5]

Credit for the original story goes to u/spacepaladin15. All critique is appreciated, as is excessively lavish praise (if you can find any left over after reading the other works in this community). Enjoy!
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Memory transcript subject: Tressa, Venlil civilian
Date [Standardized Human Time]: February 29th, 2177
Location: City 23, Venlil Prime
“Come on, just move over a little! You know tails need more room than that!”
“I've moved over as much as I can. Any more, and I’ll get impaled.”
“You… actually, why is Burai even in the back with us? Shouldn’t it be him driving?”
“Trish doesn’t get distracted by our bickering like I would be. You should be thankful I’m back here and not up in front.”
“Oh yeah, real thankful. If Sasha bleeds out getting stuck by you, I’ll make sure to thank you before throwing you out the back.”
“Out the back of my own truck? Tressa. My dignity, please.”
The phrase rang hollow. None of them had any semblance of dignity, not while stuffed in the back of the vehicle like cattle. Tressa’s tail was already starting to get sore, and he had to imagine sitting packed next to a Gojid without the protection of wool was a harrowing experience for both Sasha and James, even with thick clothing that could cushion the blow instead. That Trish was allowed to be free of this torment simply by virtue of her focus felt like an insult. The injustice of it all stung at him, an annoying buzz at the edge of his mind which jabbed every time he had to reposition so his tail didn’t get crushed.
He fought with his own self-control to not constantly complain during the entire trip, but it was a hopeless losing battle. The whole trip to the upper layer of City 23 was punctuated by an orchestra of whining in every voice but Trish’s.
Beast, as Burai so affectionately referred to it, was not helping the matter. The thing groaned in protest every time it was met with an incline, and despite Trish’s apparent skill in taming it, it felt as though it might simply give up at any moment. It wouldn’t, they all knew; Burai took good care of it. That was cold comfort for the long ride up. It felt less like a trip, and more like some novel form of torture.
“Ladies and gent—”
As the back door slid open, Tressa practically bolted into the open air. Or tried to, anyway. His desperate bid for freedom was interrupted by the body of an gray-quilled Gojid, playing the role of a suborbital flight attendant. Spikes slid across the flame-resistant fabric of Tressa’s coat, saving him from a painful impalement and leaving him stumbling and embarrassed.
“AH! Uh… s-sorry, Burai, I didn’t mean—”
“It’s fine.” Burai seemed more bothered by the forced break in his little performance than the high-impact Venlil slamming across his chest. “I know you’re desperate for some fresh air. Here, let me get out of your way.”
He stepped aside, dramatically sweeping his claw towards the now-open walkway and bowing slightly in a reprisal of his role. “Welcome to City 23, the twilight jewel of Venlil Prime. We hope you enjoy your stay!”

Massive concrete skyscrapers intertwined with glass and plastered with neon dominated the skyline, casting the streets below in a mixture of shadow and vibrant color. Roads and walkways weaved through the architecture like blood vessels through some strange inorganic beast, teeming with activity. Carefully maintained vegetation splashed natural color against the cold metal and unyielding concrete. And through it all, an eternal sunset cast soft illumination on every unshadowed surface. City 23’s upper layer was nothing less than an artistic statement, a crown jewel of the Federation’s empire.
While a compelling narrative about the Federation’s superiority, it had a few holes. The rectangular skyscrapers, for instance, were a distinctly human design, as were the shimmering panes of glass adorning them which acted as decoration more than functional windows. According to official Federation mandate, these architectural masterpieces were examples of the Venlil’s architecture, the masterwork of an emotional and artistic prey species which proved superiority over the predatory scum that they couldn’t help but tolerate due to their tragically overwrought empathy.
Below the bustling streets of City 23’s upper layer lay the dilapidated ruins of a counterargument. An old Venlil-built city; the lack of sunlight and state of ruin did it no favors, but even in its prime the city was hardly a marvel. Thick outer walls and barriers which divided the city into clean, ugly segments that could easily be quarantined in case of a predator attack spoke of a scared people who valued practicality over art. The pawful of new buildings speckling the sprawl were far more appealing despite their cheap construction; that they were built primarily by humans was hardly a secret. But nobody who lived up above in the new city which blotted out the sky would ever bother learning this. Why would they ever bother to leave? Despite its fraught history and muddled origins, the pristine beauty of the “twilight jewel” was undeniable.

Tressa found that his initial breathlessness at the glimmering city hadn’t abated during his long bout of musing, and quickly drew a breath before he passed out. The air tasted of vegetation, a sweet smell which felt almost overbearing for one used to the ash and grime of the sprawl. He took several more deep breaths, savoring the scent. The rest of the group was similarly awestruck; even Trish, who muttered a poem under her breath in lieu of showing her awe through body language. To an onlooker, the sight of an interspecies herd staring wide-eyed at the routine sight of city life must’ve been rather amusing.
Or it would have been amusing, were there anyone to observe it. Trish had set them down in a parking complex, shockingly quiet for its proximity to the spaceport. Having Beast at their backs shielded the posse from prying eyes, affording James and Sasha the rare luxury of breathing that fresh air without the masks that were mandatory for human visitors to the upper layer.
Of course, it couldn’t last. They had a job to do, and being arrested for civil disruption wasn’t part of it. The two slipped on masks which covered their “predatory” eyes and teeth. Unfortunately, without enabling the passthrough cameras, it also blinded them, a fact James was rather harshly reminded of when he tripped on his first step. He quietly muttered something about a muzzle, but his words were muffled by the mask; he’d forgotten to enable the microphone as well.
As they left the parking complex and walked out into the street, James’ complaints suddenly went silent. Tressa looked to see if they’d gotten separated, only to see a thing which superficially resembled his human friend shambling behind them. His natural body posture had given way to a practiced imitation of a more timid stance, his head held low to not look anyone in the eye. Even though his face couldn’t be seen through the mask, Tressa knew he was wearing the vacant expression and incurious eyes that so many cured humans were marred with after extensive electroshocking.
He tried not to gag at the sight. Seeing James replaced by this mocking imitation of a human was nauseating, even as a mere disguise. He couldn’t bear to imagine how the first generation of cured humans felt, seeing loved ones crushed into lifeless husks by their Federation handlers and wondering if they could perform submission convincingly enough to not suffer the same fate. The humiliation alone would be enough to break most species.
Humanity, however, was not most species. Even in the face of a genocide bordering on speciocide, with so many of their people killed or maimed, they managed to maintain that spark of life. They found allies on Venlil Prime and refuge in remote colonies where the Federation’s grasp was distant. They made themselves too useful to kill outright, put on a face of passivity while preserving their culture in secret. While it was difficult to watch James play the part of a model human citizen, it was nothing more than an act.
Sasha never bothered with an act. She held her head high. How she’d survived the Terran genocide with such an apparent distain for the powers that be was a mystery to Tressa, though he knew well enough not to ask her directly. She strode down the street, sweeping her covered eyes around in movements which Federation officials deemed “Predatory”. Biologically superior species had eyes which could see everything around them at once, and didn’t have to twist their heads around in a revolting motion just to get a good look. In their infinite wisdom and mercy, they’d tried to cure humans of the inclination; even provided them with a widened field of view through the mask’s cameras. If any exterminators saw Sasha rejecting their gift by looking around in a way that came naturally to her, there could be hell to pay.
Tressa patted down the side of his coat, making sure the pistol was there. It was. He relaxed marginally. The crowd didn’t seem to be taking any notice of their prideful human compatriot anyway. As long as they didn’t run into any authorities, they’d be fine. It wasn’t a long walk to the Rising Star anyway; they could get in, find the package tucked underneath some chair, get out, spend a while milling about the city to avoid drawing suspicion from any wayward surveillance algorithms that were supposed to be decommissioned years ago, and be on their way.
Sasha suddenly stopped. Being a full head taller than the rest of the crowd, she would naturally be the first to spot trouble. She craned her head forward to get a better look at something off in the distance, and swore quietly but audibly.
With no warning, she ducked her head low and veered off into a disused alleyway while motioning for the rest of the group to follow. A steady walk turned into a brisk jog, not stopping until she reached some sort of rusted-out balcony that opened up a view of the city ahead. She crouched down, retreating slightly into the shadows while making room for the rest of them to watch from the abandoned walkway.
She flicked her head as if to silently direct their vision, but the gesture was unnecessary. They could all see the problem, glinting in the eternal evening sun. A number of problems, actually; a small herd of Venlil in silver suits which swarmed around the base of the Rising Star hotel like flies. All armed to the teeth and moving in one sickening single motion as they covered ground, a precession of glittering grim reapers which stood directly between them and their target.
A patrol of Exterminators.
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2023.05.31 16:13 gmatocha I had a dream...

I picked up a guy going to a not-so-great part of town. $14 for a 40 mile ride, which I wouldn't take except - dream. He added five stops taking me further and further from home. I checked my range (I drive an EV) and barely had enough to finish the ride. When I looked back there were three pax (in dream logic this wasn't surprising). I told them I couldn't do the extra stops and to chose one. The one in the front seat (there was now one in the front seat) started to politely but firmly argue. They wouldn't agree and tell me which one. The one sitting on the center console (there was one now one on the center console, and I mentally kicked myself for picking up five pax) said to stop at a grocery store. We went inside to discuss. They couldn't agree, so I ended the ride and went back to my car. They (all seven) followed and I expected trouble, but my car had been stolen. I woke up.
True story. Might be time to quit.
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2023.05.31 16:08 SpacePaladin15 The Nature of Predators 120

First Prev
Patreon Arxur POV of the Cradle Series wiki Official subreddit Discord
Memory transcription subject: Captain Sovlin, United Nations Fleet Command
Date [standardized human time]: January 15, 2137
The predators’ war strategy hinged around hitting the two Federation founders where it hurt. The Kolshians always offer severe resistance, as they proved they could hold their own against the masters of killing, after all. During my therapy sessions, one topic discussed was the reality that the Commonwealth could’ve intervened on the cradle. They’d possessed the technology and the numbers to smack an Arxur raid down like it was nothing; instead, they’d watched as the Gojids were pushed to the precipice of extinction.
Had I known about Nikonus’ apathetic view of our woes, back when Cilany and I visited Aafa, I would’ve gutted him with my claws then. The Kolshians would be the more satisfying of the founding duo to combat; I could envision the smug look on their chief’s face. However, on an objective level, it was clear-cut which conspirator was the easiest to undermine. The Farsul States were the brains of the empire, and their worlds were ripe for the taking.
The Farsul and the Kolshians disagreed on the handling of humanity’s survival, with the States contributing to the ill-fated extermination fleet. Their ships were known for being damage-sponges, a more prey-like and displayable attribute than their conspiratorial counterparts. The Farsul elders, like their Ambassador Darq, made a grave error of judgment at the summit on humanity; tipped off about their genocide participation by Earth, the Arxur moved in on their homeworld, Talsk. The grays’ raid nearly succeeded, and was warded off with substantial losses.
I’m sure Talsk has rebuilt its forces, just as Earth has replaced their army. Still, they’ve been weakened by the war, while the Kolshians have been waiting in the wings.
Cilany listened astutely, as I told her via FTL call-link what I was authorized to disclose. “So let me get this straight. You’re going to drop into Talsk’s inner orbit within minutes, and land solely to access the Galactic Archives?”
“That’s correct,” I answered. “Humanity can’t afford to spare troops on an occupation. They don’t bomb civilians either. The goal is to trap the Farsul within their own world, and cut them off from the galaxy.”
“And they’re pulling any crew with training in ground combat from the starship? Including you and your human pals.”
“Crewing the ships was equally as difficult as building them, Cilly. Logistically, we don’t want more mouths to feed up here, and we also need men for every battleground and occupation across the galaxy. Sillis, Fahl, Mileau, ground defenses. If you can hold a gun and keep your wits, you’re part of the landing party.”
Tyler referred to it as being a utility player in a game called baseball, which involved smacking a stone with a metal club. I didn’t grasp what he was on about, and I didn’t dare to ask. That human was rather unapologetic with his predatory hobbies.
Cilany pressed her toes to her head. “So you’re cobbling together the ‘nonessentials' from your ship, and they’re all heading planetside during an orbital battle? That’s suicide.”
“The predators have a distraction planned. The Farsul ships should be…concerned with other events. I’ll be fine. We’ve got a plan.”
A plan that involves de-orbiting a lunar body, and fits in with the general picture of Terran psychosis. A normal day in the United Nations’ service.
“Thanks for the non-answer,” the Harchen reporter grumbled. “I thought we were friends, Sovlin! Give me something. Like…why was there satellite footage of naval armaments being loaded on to Terran carriers, which we know from subspace trails were heading Federation-bound?”
That was the other deranged part of the mission, which was anything but a routine landing. The Terrans noticed a patch of Talsk’s ocean was unreadable by standard sensors, during stealth recon. Intelligence coupled this with communications between Archives staff, discussing “shipping exercises.” Like any normal species, the primates drew the conclusion that the Farsul were hiding incriminating information underwater…and based their mission parameters on this assumption.
Did the United Nations believe that habitats under the ocean were possible? If the humans weren’t grasping at straws on this one, I’d be beyond impressed with their deductive skills. At this point, I didn’t think their insanity was up for debate. Cilany wasn’t going to hear intel that was damaging to their species’ reasoning skills from me.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know about the boats,” she pressed. “What good do those do in an orbital clash? Are you landing by water ship?”
I jabbed a sharp claw at the camera. “If you wanted to know that, you’d be here with us. They’d sign off on it, undoubtedly. Believe it or not, humans send reporters with their troops into war zones.”
“I’ve heard of them. ‘War correspondents,’ covering conflict from the front lines, armed only with a camera. I’m willing to take risks for a scoop, but that’s lunacy! I, as a non-human, like to gather my stories in areas without active firefights.”
“These FTL comms saved your ass then. You’d be out of the loop for weeks. I’ll keep you informed of the results when the mission is complete.”
“I won’t push you more, for now. Whatever you find in the Archives, I want to be the first to know.”
“I’ll see what I can do. So long.”
My eyes turned to the triangular shuttle waiting in the hangar bay. I was aware the Terrans had a myriad of new contraptions, but this design seemed foolhardy to me. A narrow, aerodynamic vehicle was optimal for atmospheric travel. Thankfully, I didn’t have to pilot this craft; while it was made to transport crew, it was self-flying.
Samantha and Carlos had saved me a seat, while Tyler and Onso manned what was considered the back-up pilot and co-pilot’s chairs. What I’d been told at the briefing was that we would descend to sea level, before transferring to a submarine. My immediate inquiry was if the humans had ever seen a Gojid swim, but they just laughed. The amusement was followed by a patronizing smile, and a response of “That won’t be necessary.”
I swear, if the plan is for me to ride on Carlos’ back and no one is telling me, I’m gonna claw some binocular eyes out.
“Hello, Onso.” I recalled Dr. Bahri’s advice to be kinder to the primitive in my inner dialogue, rather than regarding him only by his innate ignorance. “You ready?”
The Yotul flicked his reddish ears. “I mentioned on shore leave that I wanted to break Farsul skulls. They have their paws in every pot, every mind in the Federation. I’m sure as shit ready to fight them.”
“I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous. Land creatures don’t belong…sinking into the ocean. I mean, this submersible ship does not float. How do we get back up?”
“Same as flying. Air currents versus water currents. You trust human tech or you don’t.”
“I’m more comfortable in space too, but it’s good the navy is finally going to get a cut of the action. Humanity needs to win on every terrain and theater of war,” Carlos growled.
“My comments about the space era aged like milk,” Samantha griped. “I called a sailor friend of John…of my husband’s ‘obsolete’, and now they’re airdropping warboats. Just my luck; I’ll never hear the end of it if they get a single kill.”
I gently tapped her hand with my paw. “It might be good for you to reconnect with some of your old friends.”
“Spare me the ‘Kumbaya’ therapy shit. I mean, good for you, but you don’t need to proselytize.”
Tyler cleared his throat. “Let’s keep it professional, people. We’re pulling a stealth jump behind each of Talsk’s four moons, but we can’t get closer than that. Entering real space any second.”
“As if you’re professional,” Onso snorted.
“Remind me how many game controllers you’ve broken? We’re so close to kicking these Feddies in the backside, and I want—no, I need to get this perfect. Are all of you ready?”
“I’d like to live to see the Federation fall,” Sam sighed. “Ready, sir.”
“And I’d like to live to see galactic peace,” Carlos countered. “Ready here too, sir.”
Before I could offer up my own assent, Tyler raised a hand for silence. The shuttle’s digitized replica of the main viewport depicted the shadow of a moon, and a small handful of human carriers snuck through other gravitational hiding spots as well. Launching too soon or too late would result in our demise. We had to wait for the distraction to draw the Farsul’s attention; I had no idea how humans planned to move the smallest lunar satellite.
The fact that we got this close, under their nose, shows the lasting consequences of the Arxur attack. The Farsul’s barebones defenses aren’t equipped to catch us in their net; their outposts, with key scanners, were picked apart too.
The enemy would be alerted to our presence, once the predators made their move to disturb the smallest moon. The target body lagged a short ways behind our satellite haven’s orbit, which meant our carrier could watch the show. Human military affairs always intrigued me, from how they conjured the impossible with every battle. There was “thinking outside the box”, and then there was ignoring the box’s existence altogether. Rules and conventional wisdom didn’t apply to them.
Our viewport plucked stills of box-shaped human craft. In real time, they were blurs that accelerated from behind the target moon’s shadow; that energy expenditure definitely caught the Farsul’s eyes. The objects had been gaining momentum within subspace, and exited warp at a mind-boggling pace. These were evident drones, though they were unlike the Terrans’ conventional battle technology. I squinted in confusion, as the lead cubical craft blazed toward the deformed rock without slowing.
The first impact caused a geyser of debris to erupt from the moon, while the drone was obliterated. There appeared to be a slight slowing of the lunar body’s orbit, though it was fractional. It was insanity to think they could redirect a celestial object’s momentum. The humans were undeterred, however, and launched more of the peculiar boxes into the moon.
“Reverent Protector,” I murmured. “They’re chipping away at its momentum. Throwing ships at it…”
“Until it changes course.” Carlos released a shrill noise by blowing air through his teeth, which made me flinch. “It’s simple kinetic impact. I remember we used this same tech to deflect an asteroid from Earth back in 2129.”
Onso flicked his ears. “It’s like shifting a boulder that’s already rolling downhill. It’s got a shit ton of momentum, but you collide enough objects, with enough force, and you could theoretically change where it’s rolling to.”
“So this was a brute-force planetary defense system, that you weaponized because you’re predators. Carry on, I guess,” I huffed.
Panicked Farsul ships rushed toward the moon, but they, understandably, were not prepared to stop murderous monkeys from dislodging a massive satellite. The United Nations chipped away at the orbital momentum, deflection by deflection, until the speeding rock had visibly changed its arc. Talsk’s gravity won out in the absence of a blistering orbital velocity, and the mile-wide rock began to careen toward the planet.
Tyler took that as our cue to launch the triangular shuttle, which was prepped for this moment, away from our carrier. The Farsul vessels concentrated fire on their falling moon, and struggled to simultaneously fend off Terran warships which harassed them on approach. To top it off, our big guns were within orbital range, but the predators were using precision strikes against bases rather than antimatter city hits.
There was no way for the enemy to watch for surface-bound transports, with all of the chaos preoccupying them. I wasn’t surprised that no craft moved to intercept us, and that the ride down to Talsk’s surface looked to be seamless. The idea of descending below the ocean still left me riddled with unease; my spines were bristling, and it wasn’t from the humans’ eyes.
“Your crazy plan worked.” I tried to focus on the Farsul missiles fruitlessly impacting their own moon, rather than the blue patches enlarging before us. “I’d love to have ears inside the enemy ships. They don’t even know what hit them.”
“Ah, yes. Doesn’t it suck when your moon becomes a meteor with a few love taps?” Sam snickered.
Tyler allowed himself an amused snort. “Yeah, I hate when that happens. Really ruins your day.”
We breached the atmosphere in graceful flight, with flaming resistance enveloping our ship outside. The battle overhead receded into the background; it wasn’t our job to spectate the Farsul moon’s fate. Our shuttle’s autopilot had everything under control, throttling through the outer bands of a foreign world. It slowed our pace to a manageable glide, once the sparkling ocean grew nearer. Water stretched as far as the eye could see, even from hundreds of meters up.
There was nowhere to land that I could make out, and the ropes and parachutes at the rear of the aircraft pushed a suggestion into my brain. What if the plan was for us to jump or rappel from the aircraft, onto a submarine’s hull? Where were the submersibles anyways…had their airdrop not preceded us as planned? My claws wrapped around the harness tighter; everything that could go wrong was at the forefront of my mind.
We’re slowing down, but not fast enough! Something must be off with the computer. We’re going to slam belly-first into the water, not hover.
The humans weren’t panicking, so I tried to convince myself that those thoughts were my fear speaking. However, the choppiness of the waves was visible, and I saw no way to stop in time…at least, not without an inertial dampener failure and the death of us all. My remaining spines were trying to escape from my back; I was almost ready to scream to brace for impact. A mechanism shifted in the shuttle’s belly, and it was then that I suspected we were gliding for a landing.
We touched the surface of the water, but instead of sinking, we bobbed gently like a leaf. Our supports splashed the water, and slowed, while balancing atop the waves like it was nothing. I breathed an uneasy sigh of relief, grateful that I had kept my mouth shut amid the humans’ composure. The predators always had wild plans, like plunking an airworthy craft into desolate seas. We were out of the proverbial burrows.
Then, without warning, the floats gave out, dropping all support from the triangular craft. Primal terror gnawed at my heart, as our ship started to sink.
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2023.05.31 16:08 chuckhustmyre [TH] 100 CEMETERY (Part One) by Chuck Hustmyre

Evil often wears a mask.
John Burke felt his tendon tear. It happened just past the DEAD END sign, an instant after his foot struck the edge of the pothole. His right ankle folded and he went down hard--real hard--on the rough asphalt road.
Mid-summer morning, just outside New Orleans. Nylon jogging shorts and a tank top were no protection against road rash. His right knee hit first, then his hands. The pebble-studded pavement devoured the skin on both then bit into his hip, but he barely felt the hip. Maybe the shorts helped, or maybe by then John was in too much pain to notice.
He lay in the street--thank God cars were rare on Cemetery Road--bleeding, clutching his leg. Everything forgotten except his pain. He could see his ankle already starting to swell, turning purple along the inside. When he tried to flex it a white hot bolt of pain shot up his leg.
This is bad, John thought. Really bad. Doctor Van Dykes, surgery, months of physical therapy...
First thing--get off the street. John rolled onto his left side and had to stop and catch his breath as a wave of nausea washed over him. As the blood ran from his hands and knee where the road had carved away hunks of meat, he watched bright crimson drops splash onto the asphalt.
Hundred-year-old oaks overhung Cemetery Road, their branches draped in gray beards of Spanish moss that shaded the street. A quarter-mile past the DEAD END sign, the road bridged over the Chinchuba River, a slow-paced tributary no more than a couple dozen yards wide. Some mornings, mist drifted off the water's surface and into the woods on both sides of the road, giving the place a surreal look.
A perfect place to jog--run--John Burke didn't like using the "J" word. Jogging was what people did on weekends as they watched their bellies grow. John was a runner. At least four times a week with half-a-dozen races a year.
The nearest house--the only house on Cemetery Road--stood at the end, half a mile away, next to the graveyard for which the road was named. Maybe, just maybe, he could limp there, borrow a phone, call Gail. John looked at his watch, just 7:15. His wife didn't leave until eight. If he could get to a telephone she could pick him up and drive him straight to Doctor Van Dykes' office.
The trip was torture. Taking short hops on his left leg, he could make it only ten or fifteen feet before he had to rest. To rest John had to drop his right foot down and put a little weight on it and that sent waves of pain shooting up his leg. Behind him, he saw a trail of blood like red tears on the ground.
At the end of the road, the pavement gave way to a gravel driveway flanked on either side by two white stone columns. A six-foot, spiked, wrought-iron fence disappeared into the woods on either side. Hinged inside the columns gaped a pair of wrought iron gates. Mounted on the left hand column was a brass plaque with the number 100 etched in black. 100 Cemetery Road.
John paused at the top of the driveway and leaned against one of the gates to catch his breath. The drive descended at a slight grade, curved to the right, then vanished into the woods. He'd run past the driveway hundreds of times but had never actually seen the house or the cemetery. There was always something slightly unsettling about the look of it, something that made him pick up his pace as he ran past.
After a deep breath, he started hopping down the gravel drive, using trees along the way as resting points. The house was a hundred yards past the gate. A big two-story, clapboard construction, that looked run down, almost seedy. It had suffered years of wood rot and badly needed a coat of paint.
The gravel path ended at a two-car garage attached to the right side of the house. Left of the house, on the other side, past a stand of trees, John caught a glimpse of the cemetery. He could just make out a low iron fence and a few gray tombstones.
A wooden porch with a decayed railing spanned the front of the house. The front door was solid wood, without windows.
He leaned against the frame and knocked. A minute passed. John knocked again, this time pounding with the bottom of his fist. At least another half minute went by before he heard slippers shuffling on the floor just inside. The door opened just a crack and a white haired old lady peered out. "Yes," she said, suspicion in her voice.
John held up his right leg, showing his bloody knee and black and blue ankle. Exhausted, he didn't have time to mince words. "I'm hurt. Can I use your phone?"
The old lady looked down at John's leg. A look of concern washed over her face as she threw open the door. "Come in. Oh, my goodness, come in."
John stretched his arms across the doorjamb as he hobbled inside the threshold. "If I can just use the phone, my wife will come pick me up."
"What on earth happened?" she said, leading him through the foyer.
"Twisted my ankle in a pothole."
"Oh, my word," she said, turning to look. "Is it very bad?"
"I think so."
"Come sit down. Let me get you something."
The foyer floor was tile, but he wanted to be careful. "I don't want to get blood on anything."
She shook her head. "Don't be silly. Blood washes right out." The old lady stepped toward John and took hold of his left arm, letting him lean some of his weight on her.
In the den, John was relieved to see a wooden floor. As he dropped onto the sofa, he nodded toward a telephone on an end table. "If I can just use the phone..."
A strange look flashed across the old lady's face, but was gone in an instant as she nodded toward the telephone. "That one doesn't work." She pointed toward a door that looked like it led into the kitchen. "You stay put. I'll call somebody for you in just a second, but first let me get you some water."
John tried to protest, but she was determined. While she was gone, he eyed the room. The den was big, with six bay windows overlooking the woods behind the house. The room was filled with old-fashioned furniture and had a cavernous fireplace at one end, but it also had a worn look, and a smell. A smell John always associated with old age, with his grandfather's house in the last few years before he died.
Next to the dead telephone was a framed black and white photo of a pretty young woman in a riding outfit, posing at what looked like the front gate of a ranch. It was the old lady, much younger and much thinner.
When she came back carrying a tall glass of ice water in one hand, John still had both hands clutching his swelling ankle. He jabbed an elbow toward the photo, more for something to say than anything else. "Is that you?"
She nodded. "My father owned the Rocking R ranch.
The name was familiar. One of the biggest meat suppliers in the state. "Owned?" He stressed the past tense.
She nodded. "After Daddy died, we had to sell. Rising interest rates and the drop in beef prices, we got just pennies on the dollar." She sounded bitter.
For a second she stood quiet and John used the lull to introduce himself and explain how he'd hurt his ankle.
She handed him the glass. "I may have seen you jogging before. Looked like somebody was chasing you."
John thanked her and smiled at the image that popped into his head of this nice old lady lurking in the woods close enough to see the road. As he took a long sip from the glass, he noticed a slightly bitter taste that reminded him why he drank bottled. "You live here alone?"
"No. My husband and I are retired. For forty years we owned Muller and Son funeral home."
"That's where we had the service for my father," John said.
"I'm sorry." She patted his shoulder. "When did he pass?"
He had to think for a second. Time flies. "Two years this past spring," he slurred.
She stared at him with a look of compassion. "Our son would have handled that. We sold the business to him four years ago."
John's head began to spin. The glass slipped from his fingers as he crumpled to the floor. Darkness.
* * *
John Burke cracked his eyes and saw blinding lights. Then felt thumping. Someone was thumping on his chest. He opened his eyes all the way. White light, bright white light. Flat on his back, he tried to raise his hand to shield his eyes but his arm wouldn't move--at least not far. Just a couple inches then something held it. Same thing happened when he tried to use his other hand.
John felt a cold hard floor beneath him--the rough surface of cement--as he rolled onto his side. There was something wrong with his hands. They were trapped at his waist as he tried again to shield his eyes from the blinding light.
More thumping, this time on his left shoulder. He blinked several times to clear his vision. His eyes focused on a bearded, bare-chested, fat man, squatting on the floor next to him. A pair of steel handcuffs clamped on the big man's wrists were fastened to a belt encircling his waist.
"You okay?" the man said.
John just stared at him, realizing the man wasn't just bare-chested, he was completely naked.
"I said, are you okay?" the bearded man asked again.
"Where am I?" John's head felt like it was going to split open.
The naked fat man shrugged. "I don't know."
John looked down at himself and saw that he too was bare-assed, his own wrists handcuffed and bound to his waist by a two-inch wide leather belt. Using his elbow and good knee, John started to snake away from his new acquaintance.
"You can't get away," the man said.
Get away from where?
The pain in his ankle made him stop. He looked around, saw he was in a room maybe thirty feet by thirty feet. Besides him and the fat man, there were four other men in the room. All naked, all handcuffed and belted.
The bearded man hadn't moved. "It's not me you got to be afraid of." He pointed toward the room's only door. "It's the old man."
* * *
The old man had been in four times to bring food. Slop was more like it. He came into the room carrying the thick brown paste in a couple of five-gallon buckets. The stuff tasted like it had a lot of lard in it.
"How long have you been here?" John asked.
The bearded man--Skeeter he called himself--just shrugged. "The old man always keeps the lights on so we can't tell the difference between day and night."
Along one wall was a chest-high trough into which their keeper poured the paste. A second trough along the adjacent wall held water. Like animals, the men stood in front of the troughs, stuck their faces into them, and slurped.
Like everyone else, everything of John's had been taken from him while he was unconscious: shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, and most important, his watch. In addition to belted handcuffs, the other men wore leg irons, essentially a pair of oversized, stainless steel cuffs with a foot-and-a-half of chain between them. But John had been spared that, probably due to the size of his swollen ankle.
Skeeter didn't know why he was here, why any of them were here. "I was just hitchhiking"
He nodded. "On the interstate."
"The old man was driving a van. Pulled over and gave me a ride. After a few minutes he reaches into a cooler between the seats and hands me a beer. I'm talking about a sealed up beer. Popped the top on it myself. I took couple of sips, remember thinking it tasted kind of funny, like it got spoiled. Next thing I know I wake up here--like this." Skeeter tugged at his handcuffs, rattling the chain looped through the belt.
During the next several feedings John got pretty much the same story from three of the other four men. All hitchhikers, all picked up by the old man. The fourth guy, the one the others said had been here the longest, didn't talk. Just leaned against the wall in a stupor.
"Something in the food," Skeeter said.
"What do you mean?"
Skeeter patted his gut. "I didn't have this when I got here." He nodded toward the food trough. "And it makes you tired all the time."
* * *
Feedings. That's the only way John Burke had of marking the passage of time. Seemed like they were spaced out evenly, several hours apart, figured maybe three times a day. It was after the seventh feeding that the old man came and took away the guy who wouldn't talk--the sleepy guy.
He came in wearing a full-length plastic apron and carrying an electric cattle prod. He used the prod to shock the sleepy guy in the ass and wake him up, then delivered a couple more jabs to drive him from the room. Just after the door closed behind them, John heard the two bolts shoved into place.
"What the hell was that about?" he asked Skeeter.
"That's the third one I've seen him take."
"Do they come back?"
Skeeter shook his head.
"Where do they go?"
"I don't know. But...I'm afraid my turn's coming."
"I want to get out of here," John said, "and that looks like the only way out."
"Bad as this place is, I got a feeling what's on the other side of that door is a lot worse."
Hungry as he was, John barely ate. A couple things he'd noticed, the other four men were flabby and they slept a lot, especially after a feeding. The food--slop they called it--had to be the reason. The thick brown paste made everyone fat and sleepy. Something in it, some type of sedative, and maybe something else, something that made you want more. John couldn't remember ever being so hungry. Still, he only took a mouthful at each feeding.
And while the others slept, John worked. The leather belt around his waist was buckled at the back and secured with a small padlock. The handcuffs ran through a stainless steel ring in front. He'd tested the steel parts, the buckle, the lock, and the ring, but didn't think there was any hope of attacking them; the only weak spot was the leather itself.
So as soon as the others filled their bellies and nodded off, John would hobble to the drinking trough. He'd found a slightly rough edge at one corner and had begun scraping the belt against it. The belt was thick and the leather tough. The going was slow, but at least it was something. And something was better than nothing.
* * *
Just after the twenty-ninth feeding, that's when the old man came and took Skeeter away. He'd taken two more since that first one, and two new ones had come in. They came in one at a time, three feedings apart, and just like he imagined it had happened to him, the old man dragged them unconscious into the room and left them. They'd each awakened, naked, shackled, and groggy.
Then it was Skeeter's turn. He must have known because as soon as he heard the bolts slip back his face turned white. He backed himself into one of the far corners, trying to put as much distance between himself and the door as he could.
Skeeter had told John he used to be a wrestler, high school and college, back before the drugs and the booze, back before he'd hit the road. Since then he'd ridden his thumb, crisscrossing the country in search of a good time. Skeeter put up the best fight John had seen from any of them, but the belt, the handcuffs, the leg irons, and the cattle prod were just too much. One two-minute round was all the former wrestler had in him. After that, he was lying on the floor in a puddle of his own urine, a blubbering pile of flabby flesh covered in scarlet welts.
The old man grabbed the chain between Skeeter's ankles and dragged him through the door. Helpless, John just watched. The most terrifying thing was the old man's lack of emotion. No spark of evil in those eyes, just the look of a tired man trying to get through another day.
By the thirty-fifth feeding--John figured eleven or twelve days since he arrived--he had managed to saw through almost the entire two-inch leather belt, just an eighth of an inch remained.
Only one other of the original five who were in the room when John woke up was left. The old man came in, wearing his black plastic apron, and carrying the prod. In a minute it was over. He'd prodded the man through the door on hands and knees, the poor bastard doing everything he could to keep from getting shocked. This time only one bolt clicked into place.
For what seemed like an hour John sat in the middle of the room and watched the door, his stomach twisted with fear. Just as exhaustion overtook him and his head started to nod, the bolt shot open and the old man swept back into the room, wielding the cattle prod like a sword. John slid backward against the far wall as the old man's eyes fixed on him. But there was no hatred in them, nor malice as he strode toward John, waving the tip of the prod in a "come here" motion. As the cool wall pressed against John's back, he felt his bladder let go, felt the warm liquid spill down his thighs.
I'm going to die.
(to be continued...)
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