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[The Primeval Apocalypse] - Chapter Thirteen (collaboration with u/hydrael)

2023.04.01 16:20 AuthorRKeene [The Primeval Apocalypse] - Chapter Thirteen (collaboration with u/hydrael)

[The Primeval Apocalypse] - Chapter Thirteen (collaboration with u/hydrael)

The Primeval Apocalypse by Robert Keene and Alex Raizman
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Author's Note:
It is completely coincidental that today, April 1, 2023, I am posting Chapter 13 of this book. However, it's also completely hilarious if it's not coincidental, so I absolutely did it on purpose and you should all play along.
Also don't forget to downvote this post because April Fools Day is opposite day, right?
I took the lead creeping through the tunnel back into Jamestown. I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t really have a plan, but there’s not a good way to explain to a giant dog-crocodile-dinosaur that I was just going to improvise your way past the guard. And I didn’t really want to explain how I knew her well enough to trust that I could pull it off.
“Where the hell have you been?” Jenna hissed when I finally emerged from the tunnel. She pointed at the wooden case I had crudely strapped to my back. “And where did you get that? I thought you were joking about being out there so long!”
“I never joke,” I said with a smirk. “I lack the cognitive capacity for it.”
“You’re not going to charm your way out of this,” she snapped at me. “I was about ready to go fetch James and get a search party going. I was… I was trying to get into a frame of mind where I’d be identifying your body before dawn, you dumbass!”
“Don’t you trust me?” I asked, trying to pretend to be hurt. Her concern was honestly pretty touching. I had expected her to be pissed because I could have gotten her in trouble, so it was surprising that she was concerned for my well-being. “I’ve been hurling myself into danger for months—years, even, if you count working retail during a pandemic—and I know perfectly well how to get back out again.”
Jenna sighed.
I could see in her eyes that she was warring with herself between holding on to her irritation and being relieved that I was alright. Her anger was starting to win, which wasn’t a good sign for what was coming next.
“Speaking of trusting me,” I said before she could put words to her thoughts, “I really need you to not freak out, okay?”
Noaich emerged from the tunnel behind me, leading with his big toothy snout.
To her credit, Jenna didn’t scream or shriek. Instead, she drew her sword in a flash and lunged. I considered it a minor miracle that I managed to pounce on her before she struck, grabbing her around the wrist with one hand and around the waist with the other. The offensive focus of her build meant that she was numerically stronger than me, and could have broken my grip easily, but the hand on her waist was enough to know that this wasn’t a fight.
“Easy, Jenna,” I said quickly, “it’s okay, he’s with me.”
“What the hell is it?” she demanded, shaking me off. She didn’t put her sword away, but she didn’t strike as the giant lizard finished squeezing through the opening in the brambles.
“He’s my new friend,” I said, not fighting to keep my grip on her. I moved to kneel down beside the critter and put a hand on his scaled neck, just behind his downy feather crest. “His name is Noaich and he’s going to grow up to be a big scary wizard someday.”
“How is that supposed to be comforting?” Jenna snapped, the tip of her sword moving to line up a deadly thrust if Noaich made one wrong move. “He looks like he’s gonna eat you in your sleep!”
“I told you I leveled up, right?” I said. “I picked my subclass. I’m a Beastmaster now, and this is my pet.”
Noaich gave me a sidelong glance. Wild Empathy conveyed to me that he didn’t really like the connotation of the word ‘pet.’
“Sorry,” I said quickly. “That’s just the word the system uses for the feature. I think of you as more of a sidekick than a pet.”
Noaich didn’t like ‘sidekick’ any more than he liked ‘pet.’
“Listen, as soon as you’re big and strong and doing all the work, you can call me the sidekick,” I said. “Until then, I’m the one putting my neck on the line so you can grow up big and strong.”
That seemed to mollify the critter. And when I looked back at Jenna, I could tell that the sidebar had actually helped my case. The conversation had humanized Noaich a little bit. The tip of her sword had dipped a few inches as she peered at the creature with a bit more curiosity than anger now.
“As a Beastmaster, I’m a support class now,” I explained. “Noaich’s abilities will help make everyone more powerful. And he can watch my back while I’m out causing trouble.” I scratched at the scales behind his feather crest.
Despite himself, he leaned into the touch, enjoying the attention.
“I thought you were melee, like me,” Jenna said. She pointed to the hand axes on my hips. “I thought Beastmaster would be a ranged class thing.”
“I guess it isn’t,” I said. “All my new unique abilities seem proof of that.”
Though now that I thought about it, it seemed possible that the same subclasses might be available to multiple base classes. I had, after all, gained Bow as a class skill. Perhaps there was a ranged base class that could take Beastmaster as a subclass and gain melee skills in the same way that Marauder had gained scout skills. Though a beastmaster with that base class would have much different core abilities.
Weird, Noaich conveyed to me, looking back and forth between Jenna and me.
“What’s weird?” I asked him, giving Jenna a glance to make sure she knew I was talking to the reptile.
Understand you. Don’t understand her.
“Yeah, that’s the other side of Wild Empathy,” I explained. “You understand when I’m talking the same way I understand you. But without you having a similar ability, you can’t understand anyone else any more than they understand you.”
“We need to talk to James about this,” Jenna interrupted as she finally sheathed her sword. “I don’t know if we can have him just wandering the town. He’ll cause a panic.”
I realized that she was right, of course. While I was interpreting Noaich’s grunts and body language as something roughly approximating words, it must not have looked quite so innocent to someone who was hearing the low growl in his throat and watching the narrowing of his slit-pupiled eyes.
“First thing in the morning,” I said. With my latest achievement upgrade, my detection radius now encompassed the whole town even from the edge here. I didn’t even have to concentrate to find James’s centralized wooden hut and identify his current state. “He’s asleep right now. And I imagine if we barged in on him, he’d be mortified to be caught as he is.”
“How do you—” Jenna began, before stopping and instead asking: “what do you mean about being caught as he is?”
“New Beastmaster toys,” I said, tapping my temple. “My Detection skill is absolutely insane now. And trust me, you don’t want to know. I don’t want to know, but my new detection radius didn’t give me a choice. And I bet he’ll be happier if I don’t go around gossiping about it.”
“I don’t think I can let you in, then,” Jenna said at last, seeming to ignore the fact that we were already in. “Like I said, you’re going to cause a panic, and I don’t think you’re going to get as lucky with every other guard as you’ve been with me.”
I almost blurted out something inappropriate, but in a display of incredible strength of character, I chose to keep the comment to myself. After all, Noaich could understand me, and I didn’t want the embarrassment of explaining to a tiny little lizard guy the particulars of human courtship.
“You have a point,” I said instead. “I think we should be fine in the morning, though, when it’s light out and people can clearly see he’s with me. We just need to avoid a panic, right?”
“I don’t think that’s enough,” Jenna said, her voice taking on a hedging tone. “I think we should talk to James before we bring your new buddy into town. Rick will be looking for an excuse to get rid of you, and this might be just the chance he needs. So you will have to—”
“Wait, what?” I interrupted. “Rick? You mean Richard? Why would Richard want to get rid of me?”
“Because…” Jenna blinked at me for a second. “Because he hates you? You know that, right? He hates your guts, Colin. Like, a lot.”
“Shit,” I muttered, shaking my head. “What did I ever do to him?”
“You’re a sarcastic asshole,” Jenna said with a smirk. “I might think it’s cute, but Rick can’t stand you for it. And you’re always second-guessing him in front of James and making him look bad. I honestly think he might straight-up murder you if James starts listening to you instead of him.”
It wasn’t a surprise for her to point out that I’d always been a bit snarky with Richard. His dour demeanor made it feel natural to pick on him.
The results of that did come as a shock, however. I thought I was building a begrudgingly friendly rivalry dynamic, and not making him into a dangerous mortal enemy. Besides, James was too skilled of a leader to obviously choose sides firmly enough that it would escalate that far.
Personally, I’d always thought that he was siding with Richard instead of me more often, but now that I re-examined it, James had always been carefully neutral. It’d just always felt like he’d been ignoring my side of it when he’d just been sidestepping a conflict. It seemed like Richard had come away with the same impression.
I had just never taken it that personally, and I felt like it was weird that Richard had.
“Yeah, that reframes a few things,” I grumbled. “The last thing I want is to cause that much trouble.” I nodded my head to Noaich towards the tunnel through the town’s protective bramble wall. “Let’s get out of here, buddy. Jenna and I will make a plan in the morning, and we’ll handle this like mature adults and avoid getting stabbed in the back.”
Spending the night in the dirt outside town wasn’t ideal, but Noiach didn’t seem to be put out by it at all, and happily turned around and started to crawl back out. Before I could kneel down to follow, Jenna grabbed my hand. Her other hand comfortably fit along my jawline, her thumb on my cheek. I was surprised to find that her hands were warm.
She turned my head to look her in the eyes.
“Be careful out there, alright?” she said, suddenly very serious. “You know what kind of things hunt out in the woods at night.”
“Of course,” I said instantly. “Don’t worry about me, babe. I’ve got a Beastmaster radar now.” I tapped my temple. “I can hear danger coming from a mile away.”
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2023.04.01 16:16 av_1392 FOR SALE: $75 obo, 4K Roku Streambar and accessories. 21st St/30th ave pickup

FOR SALE: $75 obo, 4K Roku Streambar and accessories. 21st St/30th ave pickup
$75 or best offer
selling a brand new, unopened roku streambar, wall bracket/mount, and silicone remote covers. value of all 3 is about $110.
this was mistakenly sent to us (had our name on the label, but we didn’t order) and we have no use for it.
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2023.04.01 16:04 DropShotter Anyone use Samsung warranty service for TV repair?

So our 82 inch, less than 3 years old, developed two thin black lines going across the entire panel at the bottom. Same week it starts not powering on at all, the screen flashes light for a split second then it turns off, makes a clicking noise and then continuously repeats this process. There's also several dead pixels.
Samsung told me that it is all covered and they will be sending a repair tech out to service the tv. They are even sending a secondary tech out to help since the tv is wall mounted. I thought that was pretty great and their customer service has been excellent through this process.
But here's my question. What happens if the tech can't fix the issue? He may be able to fix the power cycling since it could be just a blown capacitor or something, but I'll be really surprised if he can fix the actual panel issues. Do they offer to replace the tv? Credit the amount you paid for it?
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2023.04.01 16:01 Kyraryc Young Justice Cheshire Backup

Respect Cheshire

"I don't even trust myself."
Jade Nguyen grew up the daughter of criminals. Her father was an assassin for the League of Shadows, and when her parents separated she went with her father to learn the art of assassination under his tutelage. She would later become an assassin herself, donning the grinning mask of a cat and taking the name Cheshire, and in that role come into opposition not only with the Team, but with her sister Artemis.
Scaling: 1. Artemis/Tigress 2. Red Arrow 3. Aqualad 4. Kid Flash 5. Miss Martian 6. The Team









Smoke bombs
Appropriately-sized shoutout to IamNotaChinaboo for collecting and clipping several gifs!
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2023.04.01 16:00 AliceBurek Chapter 2 "City of Lira"

It was morning. Around forests and meadows. Summer was slowly beginning. Only a month has passed since the end of the war. The crisp Andaroln air was in the air. On a chestnut horse, Lord Kylian Tarington came to the city of Lira. A city that, several years ago, still belonged to the Sundaroln Empire.
During the war, it was taken over by the Kingdom of Andaroln. And the lord of the city was Silas Tarington. Then in the war with the Kingdom of Ithrandil, the elves occupied this city and it was occupied for years. The stalemate caused by losses on both sides prolonged the war. The Andarolians would not be satisfied with peace if even part of their territory remained in the hands of the Elves.
Now that the borders are back to what they were before the war and no one has gained anything, Kylian has returned to the city where he spent his teenage years. His father died in the war Lira belongs to him now. He was a thin man in his twenties of medium height, with a round face, a low forehead, a small potato nose, large, prominent ears, short black hair, and a goatee. He wore a simple leather vest, trousers and boots. He was looking at the city with a happy look from his small green eyes.
It was a city surrounded by a wall, but at first glance, the glory days of the defensive structure are over. The once black wall, made of Sundaroln bricks scorched by fire magic, had gaps that were only partially filled with simple ordinary stones. The Sundaroln magic strengthened the wall, but the Andaroln stonemasons could not recreate it. Andarolian stone walls were up to thirty feet high. The Sundarolians could build three times as tall.
The Lord's companion was his Father's steward, Sir Thalis. A man in his fifties with short blond hair and green eyes, a wide mustache and a small rounded nose. In steel mail and half helmet.
— Sir Thalis, you have always been faithful to my Father, but I am a completely different man. Will you be faithful to me even if I turn my Father's legacy upside down and make it mine? — Young Lord asked.
— I will follow you, my Lord, whatever your beliefs, I swore to you and before that to your Father Silas — Sir Thalis replied.
They entered a gate guarded by guards. It resembled an arch. There were neither bars nor a wooden gate with bolts.
— Lord Tarington — the guard bowed when he saw the Hare Crest on the cloak thrown over the horse.
— It's a pleasure to welcome you to Lira.— He added.
— I will go to the palace at once, I would like to receive my advisers at once. — He said to the guard and left.
They passed simple wooden huts. Some of them were burned, and some were crushed by the stones from the catapults that flew over the wall during the assault. Fire was burning in some of the fireplaces. Driving down an unpaved road. They passed through the northwest gate of the city and found themselves in its northwestern part. This part was inhabited mainly by Andarolians and Andarolian buildings prevailed here. The townspeople looked at them curiously. The city was divided into four parts and was the second largest city in Andaroln. Separated by the crossing of the Iliana's River with the Tascal's River, which is a kind of border between the Sundaroln Empire and the Kingdom of Andaroln. The Lord's Palace was located in the south-eastern part of the city. That's where he was heading.
As they approached the bridge. A paved road appeared, and houses from wood scorched by fire magic appeared. Sundaroln buildings prevailed here. They were black, but with beautiful clay tile roofs and glass windows, not just wooden shutters for holes in the walls like Andaroln homes.
Now the looks of curiosity turned to contempt. There were many Sundarolans in the city who did not feel Lira belonged to Andaroln. In addition, due to the slightly darker complexion of former Imperial citizens, the inhabitants could easily recognize the origins of other inhabitants. And that just gave them more reasons to hate themselves.
They finally reached the Palace. A beautiful marble building with soaring towers and huge red glass windows. The roof was also covered with clay tiles. The palace was surrounded by a ten-feet-high marble wall. More of a fence than a fortification. Two guards stood at the gate to the wall. Armed with spears and a round wooden shield bearing the Crest of the Kingdom of Andaroln.
They bowed as Kylian and Thalis rode in. Then they entered the palace as the grooms took the horses from them. The young Lord walked the red carpet towards the throne, passing the rows of marble columns of the great throne room. Even the throne rooms in the palaces of the Sundaroln Empire were made as if the Emperor himself would sit there. Behind the throne hung a great Banner with a white hare on a blue background. Kylian sat on the throne. Lord Thalis stood at the steps to the marble throne. The two guards who guarded the throne bowed as their Lord passed them.
Soon the advisers arrived, they were nobles in beautiful furs and leather boots. One of them came out against the Lord. It was immediately apparent to Tarington that they were all Andarolians. An older man with long, well-groomed gray hair and a gray beard stepped ahead of the rest.
— Your Lordship, we are glad to see you back. — Said the adviser.
— Joren, what can you tell me about the current situation in the city? — Lord Kylian asked.
— Well, Your Lordship, the wall of the city is destroyed, we are effectively pacifying the Sundaroln independence movements. There is drought and food shortages. — Joren replied.
— Then I have a task for you, gather the guards and find any representative of this resistance, tell him I want to talk to him — Lord Tarington ordered.
— Lord, do you want to talk to these people who kill our people in dark alleys, burn granaries, and contribute to all sorts of crimes? — the advisor asked incredulously.
— I gave you an order, Joren. — Kylian answered him briefly, annoyed.
— Yes, Lord — The adviser left, not looking thrilled.
— There are supposedly elves here, is that true? I'd like to see them — Lord Tarington said.
— Follow me, please — one of the guards said. Kylian and Thalis followed him. To the left of the throne. To the stairs down. The guard began to speak, he was an Andarolian about Kylian's age. He wore tabard mail and a half-helmet like most of Lira's guards.
— In the dungeon under the palace there are important Elven commanders who ruled Lira, they are powerful mages, so they are guarded by our mages. Overall, there are over two thousand high elves in Lyra, but those are the ones your Lordship wants to talk to, right? — Guardsmen asked.
Thalis was a bit struck by the fact that some guard started a conversation with the Lord so uninvited, without even asking permission. However, Lord Tarington took no notice of it.
— Yes, I want to meet them. — He responded.
They passed rows of empty cells. Bars and only small covered windows through which you can't even stretch your hand. The dungeon under the palace is a dark room lit by torchlight. The air was heavy and smelled like death. Five mages in blue robes stood at the end of the hall, accompanied by two more guards, guarding the cell. They bowed as the Lord came. A baby's cry rang out. Kylian hadn't expected to hear him in a place like this. In a slightly larger cell, he saw about ten High Elves, including a woman with a small child. They had small straw beds on the stone floor and five buckets. They were all handcuffed and dressed only in linen tunics. They had silver skins and all kinds of hair colors. Their eyes shone with different colors of yellow and green. Tarington looked with disgust at the conditions in which the starved elves lived.
— Why are they so crammed into one cell? — Kylian Asked.
— We don't have enough mages to keep an eye on each one individually — one of the magicians replied.
— Take this woman, find her a chamber in the palace until we find an alternative — Kylian ordered.
The guard took the keys and opened the cells. He went inside. And he went to the elf, grabbed her arm and dragged her out of the cell. One of the elves aggressively ran to the bars.
— Where are you taking her? — He asked. He had long hair the color of dried grass and yellow eyes. Like most elves, he was slim, tall, and narrow-shouldered.
— To a better place, somewhere where she she will have a bed and can wash up, you'll come with us. — the Lord answered him, and the attendant guard seized him by the arm.
— What is your name? — he asked the elf
— Tommen — He replied. They returned with the Elf back to the throne room. However, Kylian did not sit on the throne, he stood face to face with Tommen.
— Uncuff him — He ordered guards.
— I don't think that's very reasonable, you know I'm a mage — replied the elf contemptuously.
— You're so starved that you won't even let out a spark, I know a thing or two about magic, listen, I can't let you go. — Lord Tarington said.
— I'm your prisoner why would you do that? — said the Prisoner.
— I can't let you go, because even if I do, you won't cross the east pass anyway, they're building a castle there, there's a lot of Andarolians there, and as prisoners you're completely useless. — Kylian replied
Meanwhile, several Sundarolans entered the throne room, accompanied by Joren and the city guards.
— You are not interested in farming, you want our knowledge and magic, we will not pass it on to the Andarolians, you are our enemies. — said the elf.
Lord Tarington spoke loudly — Not to the Andarolians, but to the people of Lira, today it will not mean the same thing, if you want to get out of these dungeons and become citizens of Lira, you must give something in return. The Lira has burned too many times, I'll make sure this was the last time. To achieve this, we need to repair the wall, I know you know barrier spells that will harden it, we need weapons, and we need to solve the drought problem. For this you need cooperation. — he paced the room and looked at the Sundarolians now. — Yours too, can you fix the wall? — He ended with a question.
— Why would we repair the Andarolian wall? — replied a middle-aged Sundaroln man with dark eyes and black hair. Dressed in linen clothes.
— Because the southern one is whole, and that's where the Empire is, after all, the northern one is for defense against Andaroln, that's also in your favor, isn't it? — Kylian asked. The Sundaroln fell silent.
— Believe in me and I will believe in you — Lord Tarington began, and turned back to the Elf. — I know you don't like this lifestyle, in Ithrandil you are guardians of the balance of nature and you live in harmony with it, but you have no other home — He said.
The Andarolans present in the hall were shocked..
— Joren, have the townspeople gather at the palace, I have a speech to give — Kylian ordered.
— He didn't ask me if I agreed — Tommen said to Thalis.
— Consider it respect to you, no Andaroln Lord would ever offer it to you, they just thought you were too smart to turn down the offer. — Thalis replied to him.
— We're not some Fall Elves to be driven by money and power.. — the Elf added, but he knew that Lord Kylian was right. They will not return to the Elven Kingdom. And what he wants to create may turn out to be good
Two hours later it was noon. Lord Tarington was standing on the balcony of the palace. It was a Sundaroln thing. The palaces had balconies so that you could speak to the people from them. Outside the walls of the Palace, there were a lot of people. Were all the inhabitants really here? Everywhere he looked, the streets were packed. He spoke.
— Dear people of Lira, I am your new Lord, so I want to announce the changes that are coming. Today is an important date, in about a year you will choose a new ruler of Lyra. — conversations began in the background — For the city from this day forward will be called the Free City of Lira, no Kingdom, or Andaroln, or Ithrandil, or Empire of Sundaroln, none of them has kept you safe. You have suffered sieges and occupations again and again. If they can't keep us safe, then we have to do it ourselves, and to do that, we have to build our city together across divisions such as race and ethnicity. We will use the common knowledge that diversity allows us to do. We'll make it strong. We need schools that will teach young generations, not only to write and read, but even magic, because here in our Lira, access to magic and science will not be determined by social status, long live free Lira — he shouted at the end and raised his fist in the air.
The crowd fell silent. People looked at each other. Finally someone broke out of the crowd and also raised his fist in the air. — Long live the free Lira — He shouted. More and more people started joining. Finally the crowd started chanting "Long live the free Lira"
More as alwyas on my Wattpad. Please share If you like it.
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2023.04.01 16:00 WaveOfWire One Hell Of A Vacation - Chapter 60

Chapter fucking 60, and we answer the biggest question that’s existed since chapter two. I tried my best, so i really hope you like it. Point out any logic faults or inconsistencies as soon as you spot them, cuz i don’t want to ride this chapter out and have to contort later to accommodate it. Have fun, guys. I’ll see your opinions and theories in the comments!
First Prev Next Royal Road
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Adam leaned away from the recording device, the man sitting on a single chair next to a woman seated to his right, his partner smiling brightly as she took his hand. The room seemed to be a Union passenger accommodation aboard some transit craft, though the lack of flourishes suggested it was not a public ship. Adam cleared his throat, giving the woman an excited look before addressing the device.
“This will be our first contact with the newly discovered sapient races, and as such, a few of us representing Humanity have decided to record our experiences. All that we know so far is that they are insectoid in nature, and have developed in a peaceful society with a heavy focus on the arts. From architecture to sculpting, and anything else that involves making something into something else.”
He glanced to the woman, a passive excitement on his face as he got over the initial nervousness.
“My wife, Clara, and i are both excited to have been given the opportunity to participate. She is a xeno-pediatric specialist, so we hope to glean more information from her expertise while we are there. Out of the several hundred Humans who were selected to contribute to this introduction to the broader galaxy, we feel our reports back to the Union may aid in deciding if they will be welcomed with open arms, or if they will be assigned a section of the cosmos that they will be allowed to occupy without outside influence.”
Clara almost bounced out of her chair at the opportunity to chip in. “We look forward to presenting this log to the Human representatives, and we hope you find our findings useful in your decision!”
Adam laughed, reaching forward to end the recording. “You just want to meet their babies.”
“Of cour-”
The video flicked to the next scene, the area now an intricately carved, if a little rustic, room that seemed to be primarily dug out of stone, though it held lighting and very basic furniture carved out of the wall.
Adam had changed clothing, his wife not in the frame as the man visibly tried to get comfortable on the hard seat, his professional presentation abandoned as he spoke more casually. “It’s been two days, give or take, since we have arrived. The language barrier has been eased by a rudimentary translator that we were provided, but once we mentioned the issue to our hosts, they asked for one themselves and set to work in an attempt to improve it.”
The man chuckled as he gave up trying to make the stone less difficult to sit on. “It’s looking like the Union had sectioned off a newly developed planet for these introductions, with the Atmo’s blessing, and we are the fifteenth species to be shown to these people, though the first who require the kind of comforts like this.”
He gestured around the room. “The amenities you see that were provided to us were done in a few hours, once we described what we would need. We were hesitant to complain, rock isn’t exactly the best material to sleep on, but they asked if Clara would like to accompany them while they try to adjust our room as we wait for arrangements elsewhere.” The man snorted, a look past the device given to something else in the room. “It was pretty amusing to watch her walk out with an eight-foot-tall mantis-arachnid, i have to say.”
His eyes widened. “Right! The Atmo! I forgot to describe them.”
Joseph glanced at Pan, her paw gripping his hand firmly as she watched with a slightly worried expression. Violet seemed very interested in the two sets of subtitles under the video as the man described her race in far greater detail than the Grand Hunter would want to, using several anatomically correct words that sounded more like an incantation than anything recognizable.
“...And their forelimbs are two longer blades that they use for pretty much everything. It would be difficult to say how much they would be able to accomplish if they didn’t have a ‘sister-species’ with more manipulation to assist them.” Adam mused, a hand reaching up to scratch at his chin. “They’re much the same, though. From our limited translations, they seemed to have been a case of divergent evolution that converged again after gaining seven manipulator appendages rather than the two weapon-focused ones that the Atmo use. The Kuoori are visually similar, though lower in number. They’re the ones working on the translator, by the way.”
Clara’s voice called from off-screen, the volume lacking as she seemed to be talking from across the room. “You said you’d wait longer!”
Adam held his hands up in deference. “I just wanted to get the boring stuff out of the way!”
“We’re visiting our homestead tomorrow, and you want to spend the day giving them-”
The screen flickered as a feminine hand covered the image, the next frame of the video starting inside a much nicer construction, the furniture having moved locations around the room suggesting they had changed venue and looking far more comfortable for it. Several of the instalments looked much like the ‘Atmo couch’ that Mama had made for themselves at the base.
Clara spoke up before her husband could start. “We’re visiting a new wing of the habitation compound!”
“It’s a nest.” Adam corrected with a glare, though the smirk showed he was far more amused than annoyed at his wife’s enthusiasm.
She stuck her tongue out at him, all pretenses of the video being educational tossed out the window. She turned back to the device with a smile a mile wide. “They live in huge groups! I couldn’t count them all, but i think there are upwards of three-hundred here alone! And there are several places like it!”
“It’s a sea of colour.”
“It’s beautiful and you know it.” She countered playfully, prodding his cheek with her knuckle. Adam chuckled, pushing away the offending limb.
“I don’t think i mentioned how many colours there are.”
Clara lit up at the chance to talk more. “They are recorded to cover most of the visible spectrum, from what i was told, but majority seem to be shades of red and blue, with some green and yellow being far less common.”
“They’re also very eager to ask us about our interpretations of art.”
The woman rolled up her pants leg to display a stylized tattoo of a lighthouse against stormy seas. “They seen this and within an hour they started adding the style to one of their newest rooms.”
Adam rested his cheek on a fist, watching his wife with an amused and loving smirk. “I heard one of the other groups showed them origami and twenty minutes later there were forty Atmo asking for sheets of paper.”
Clara looked at her husband in surprise. “Really?”
“Yeah. Apparently another group-”
The scene changed to a stabilized recording, the device being carried by one of the two. A few moments passed as they panned over the expansive tunnel network brightly lit by a slightly green shade of white light, tens of Atmo stopping to wave to the couple once the pair had started the gesture. Clara’s voice again became prominent.
“We’re visiting their nursery today!” She whispered into the device, though it was pretty damn loud for what should have been quiet.
“Hatchery.” Her husband corrected, not very concerned by her volume. She waggled the recording device in his direction, answering that small question.
“We get to see the little baby Atmo!”
Adam shook his head, his own excitement showing through. “They’ll be in their eggs.”
“We get to see the little baby Atmo eggs!”
The scene cut to the ‘hatchery’, carefully carved divots lining shelves where hundreds of rice-looking ‘eggs’ sat upon what looked to be very soft materials that seemed closer to silk than anything else Joseph could identify. Each egg seemed to be about large enough to reach past his knee if you were to stand them up, making the scale of the room rather impressive. Adam had taken the device, his wife being supervised by an amused Atmo that looked oddly familiar, the blue coloration striking him as the same that Mama sported, though the green tint and similarity between the ones he had seen so far made it pretty clear that it was exceedingly unlikely for his Atmo to be the same one. He raised a brow at the chipped blade, though it was on the opposite side and thus settled the suspicion.
Clara tentatively pet an egg, glancing at the watchful Atmo every so often to make sure she wasn’t doing anything wrong, though her face was filled with wonder rather than worry. She asked if it would be okay to hold one, the subtitled response from the Atmo directing her to an area where the eggs were hardened and more able to manage her handling.
The woman looked to be in euphoric shock as she cradled the seed of life in her arms, Adam absently commenting from behind the device with a suppressed chuckle. “This is what happens when you get your wife pregnant.”
The screen flickered, a slightly longer pause between clips giving Joseph a chance to look at Pan. The female seemed to have been watching the Human woman cradle the egg with a longing deeply set in her eyes, the paw not resting within his hand laid to her stomach. The Grand Hunter gave her paw a squeeze, getting a sad smile in return before the next part of the video played.
Adam was alone in the room, though the distant voices suggested that Clara and someone else were talking in another part of wherever they were staying. Occasional clicks were replied to with laughter or questions, the woman’s voice carrying further than the indeterminate gender of the other. The man shook his head.
“If it wasn’t obvious; they finished working on the translator.” He turned his head to point at a thin cut behind his ear. “It wasn’t forced, before you ask. One of the groups apparently brought along an entire medical ward worth of textbooks and files, and just gave it to the Atmo. Looks like half of the time they spent with the device was training a separate version for text so that they could figure out how to implant it safely.”
Adam held up his hand to stop an imaginary rebuttal. “I know what you’re thinking, but we got to watch it be installed on several people who volunteered, and twenty three doctors confirmed it was on the up-and-up. Honestly, the Kuoori could probably perform a heart transplant in a couple minutes if they wanted to. Either way, we learned a few things!”
He clapped his hands softly. “They have royalty! Sort of. It’s complicated. There’s a ‘sub-species’ of sorts that are a bit smaller than the normal Atmo, and they have a slightly different exoskeleton structure than the usual you have seen so far. The biggest visual identifier is their legs. Atmo typically have conical legs, where as the sub-species have more angular legs. Think kite-shields or an orchid mantis. They can breed with normal Atmo, but the offspring are always female, have a very low chance to take after their mother, as far as their legs, and those who do are raised from hatching to lead. They spend most of their formative years under the guidance of one or more ‘Advisors’, kind of like guardians or parents for Humans, that helps guide them through morals, values, so on and so forth.”
His rolling hand showed how briefly he was condensing the history of the position, a muttered comment about how Clara was going to re-do it all in greater detail later showing that he was mostly just recording to remind his wife in future what to mention.
“The position is chosen by the ‘Hatcher’, who raises them to the point where they are able to begin the process, and approved by the mother Queen, if she is still able. Then the Hatcher will take a more supportive role in their life, rather than being directly influential. Think of it as a maid taking care of the kids until they are old enough for tutors to become available in old houses of nobility. Anyway. The ‘Advisor’ acts as their guardian and compass for how to act as a Queen, and it’s not a position taken lightly. The rest of the Nest’s second priority is the ‘Advisor’, after the young Queen herself, obviously.”
Adam leaned back on the carved couch, the soft material over it looking similar to what was used in the hatchery. “We were invited to see a ceremony as several Queens are nearing the proper age, though it won’t be until a year or so. We’re expecting the process to take about three, before we’re brought back to Sol, so it should make a fun addition to our time here.”
“Adam!” Clara called. “Red want’s to know if you want to meet her son! He hatched a few months ago!”
The man shunted his eyes closed, visibly pained at the moniker as he muttered something about Atmo adoring Human naming conventions. “Do i have a choice?”
“Do you want to sleep on the floor?”
A sigh escaped the man as he grinned, reaching for the device as he got up from his seat. “We’re recording it, ri-”
A clip of Adam on his knees playing with a tiny yellow Atmo was accompanied by Clara squealing every time the young one successfully caught her husbands hand between its blades, the two-foot tall child looking to the large Red Atmo in excitement with each victory in the little game that had developed.
Joseph felt Pan’s grip on his hand tighten, a tear building in her eye as her gaze refused to move away from the scene. Violet sat on the floor with her legs tucked underneath her as she silently continued the viewing.
The next clip showed that quite some time had passed, Adam looking like he hadn’t shaved in quite a while as he sat on the floor against a wall, the device held in his hand and pointed towards him.
“Clara went into labour early.” He started, the exhausted expression only saved by the smile of disbelief. “I know it’s been a long while since we’ve documented anything, but I’ll go over that later. For now? Remember those textbooks and the like that were given when they asked for a translator? Well, It happened to cover c-sections, and If it wasn’t for Red and Jack, I’d probably be here crying as opposed to just tired after helping our baby boy take his first breaths.”
The man laughed, a tear of relief running down his cheek. “We didn’t even get time to really figure out what was wrong. Jack, sorry, Red’s partner... Yeah, they like the sound of our names and insisted that we give them nicknames. Jack took one look at Clara and in all of thirty seconds we had twelve Atmo rushing us to their Human hospital. Yeah. Human hospital.”
A fresh chuckle emerged from the man. “Turns out that they were implementing every single thing they could copy from those books. Entire fields were populated by Atmo involved in this ‘mixed species introduction’ who wanted to be able to help their new friends. Some martial arts guys from a few sectors over even showed off their skills and now it’s a popular past time amongst the species. They’re sponges for information. Best yet? They learned that we have over a thousand languages, and have started work on adaptive translators, just because they were worried they wouldn’t be able to talk to any new Humans. It’s insanity.”
He paused, soft clicking was subtitled as a request for him to return since Clara had woken up. He winked to the device. “Time to go tell my wife she’s the first woman to be fully cut open by a new species.”
Static overtook the screen, Pan’s wide-eyed glance in his direction being met with his own. Joseph looked down to Violet, the Atmo seeming transfixed on the screen and oblivious to the importance of the information dumped on them so offhandedly.
A series of clunks and assorted handling noise ripped the question from his mouth as he refocused on the video, the scene switching to what looked to be several months later, based on the growth of the baby boy laying in a red Atmo’s arms next to Clara as she played with the now slightly larger yellow Atmo child. The two’s conversation was barely coherent as the noise from the four garbled most attempts to parse any particular words. Adam called out to them, gaining the attention of all but the baby boy who seemed more interested in slapping the exoskeleton of his seat rather than humour his father.
“So, what are we excited about?”
Clara rolled her eyes, looking far more well rested than Joseph would expect a new mother to be. “Just say that the next selection for the ‘Advisors’ is tomorrow, Adam.”
The husband sighed audibly. “At least pretend to document something.”
“I’m busy!”
“Playing with Michael.”
“He’s adorable!”
Red chittered, the subtitled text labelling her thoughts on how cute the Human baby was in return. Clara laughed, picking up the small Atmo in her arms and receiving a small cut on her arm from not being careful enough. Red started to worry before the woman dismissed her concerns and reassured Michael that it wasn’t his fault, the young insect taking greater care to tuck his blades, much to Adam’s amusement.
A flicker of the footage transitioned the scene to a massive hall with tall ceilings, large pillars sporting the style of Clara’s tattoo and several other more ‘realism’ inspired works that Joseph recognized from some co-workers who often decorated their skin. Many Atmo were standing orderly around the room as the device panned to show off the gathering, settling towards the ‘front’ of the room where three Atmo, each looking a lot like Violet, angular legs and all, sat on modified blocks. The three were different colours, two a shade of blue and one an almost orange colour, and all had ten Atmo standing nearby behind them.
Four young Atmo ‘Queens’ that were only slightly larger than Violet waited patiently as one of the adult Queens gave a speech about why each ‘Advisor’ was chosen, two falling into the category of an appreciation or excellence in one form of art or another, though one was chosen for their involvement in the newly developed medical fields that would enable them to assist their new friends.
One last young Queen remained, the rest being escorted out with commentary from the Human couple. She approached the orange Queen, her color almost the same tint, as the adult Atmo left her seating to address the room instead of remaining at rest. Clara apparently prodded Adam in her excitement in the different procedure, a hushed yell masquerading as a whisper for him to make sure he was getting a good angle.
A longer speech was given, vague and broad, until the Queen mentioned that she would be entrusting her heir personally to someone who may offer lifetimes of new experiences and values that would be irreplaceable to her people. An Atmo pushed Adam from behind to usher him to the Queen, the device snatched from his hands by Clara as she squeaked in excitement. It followed the man as he was presented to the Queen, a familiar blue Atmo approaching from off to the side. The Hatcher from when Clara held the egg, if Joseph was right.
The Hatcher lowered itself to Adam’s level, resting her blades over his back like the other Hatchers did for their selected Advisors, placing their head to his as the Queen continued her speech and Clara asked a nearby Atmo for an explanation of the gesture.
The response described it as a vestigial display of trust, for leaving one’s blades far from oneself leaves your life forfeit to whomever you do it to. The only people that a Hatcher would do it with is those they entrust the young Queens to, and a Queen will do it to accept. There existed no higher honour than to have the formality performed, so it was rare that one would, but if someone wished to deny, they would separate.
Clara visibly bounced in excitement, her voice cracking from tears of joy as Adam, hesitant and confused, accepted the embrace from the Hatcher, young Queen, and even the orange Queen herself, once she publicly announced that Humans were to be considered ‘allies of the Atmo’ in light of their contribution to their society and willingness to integrate.
The venue exploded into excited clicks and chitters, Clara doing nothing to fight her overwhelming emotions.
Joseph’s eyes started to dry from how wide they had grown, the strain stinging slightly as he looked down to Violet, the daughter having shrunk into herself as she watched passively. A million thoughts flashed through his mind, several of which were dedicated to replaying the moments where something exceedingly close to the video happened back when it was just them in the cave.
“Adam, have you seen Mary?” Clara’s voice called, the scene changing back to the place where they were staying, presumably with Red. The man quickly gestured for the orange juvenile Queen to hide behind the couch he was sitting on with a smirk, the Atmo quietly chittering as she complied.
“No, why?”
She entered the room, taking two steps before a loud click and a jumping figure emerged from behind the seating, causing Clara to jolt with a hand to her chest as she tried to look angry at her husband for encouraging the behaviour. Adam laughed, winking to ‘Mary’ and giving her a subtle thumbs-up as his wife tossed a pillow at him.
Many clips played, each snippets into the everyday life of the young Queen becoming more and more like a genuine child to the pair. Mary holding the baby and feeding him, her sleeping on Adam as Clara laughed, the group walking around the outside and Mary excitedly escorting them from place to place. It looked perfectly natural to Joseph.
They were a family. The Human couple had fully embraced the Atmo as their second child, and the young Queen seemed delighted for every second on display. Even going so far as to stomp all six legs in sequence when denied her request to stay up late so that she might watch the baby for a little longer, much to the couple’s suppressed amusement.
Static signified the next transition, Adam sitting at a table with a muscular man and chatting, Clara’s voice behind the device halting their joking for a moment. “So what did you do, Steven?”
The man, Steven, laid down his cup and pointed at the woman off-screen, a smirk on his face giving away his amusement. “I held a fighting competition.”
“With his Queen.” Adam added, his own entertainment gained from the reiteration of the conversation.
“Becky wanted to see what would happen if Humans and Atmo competed!” Steven laughed as he defended himself.
“And?” Clara chipped in, prodding him to get to the point. Steven shook his head as he worked down the chuckles.
“Well, David clocked Mark, the Atmo, and sent the big guy to the ground. It was a tense moment, I’ll tell you now.” Steven widened his eyes, his lips drew thin, though the smile still tugged the expression to a positive one. “Once Mark was helped back up, he complimented David, and the entire fucking arena blew up in cheers from everyone. Even Becky looked worried for a minute.”
“Because you almost caused a cross-species diplomatic incident.” Adam chided with a bemused shake of his head.
“Hey,” Steven pointed a finger at the husband, raising his cup with his free hand. “Becky loved it so much that she’s been taking lessons from the rest of us, and the Atmo have started joining in on our training to learn the art properly instead of just using it to dance.”
Clara snorted behind the device. “The art of smacking people with sticks?”
“And fists.” Steven added, laying one arm over the backrest of his chair. “It’s not everyday that you spar with living weapons.”
Adam reached over to smack the man over the head. “She’s supposed to be like your child.”
“And I’d want my kids to know how to fight off a bully!”
The wife sighed loudly. “You military boys...”
“Send it to the Union!” Steve protested, some of his drink spilling outside of the cup with the raised hand. “It’s a pretty good case to have them join if we show off how willing they are to embrace other cultures.”
Adam opened his mouth to argue, shutting it as he considered the point and giving Clara a conceding tilt of his head. “Sounds like a good idea to me. Every other race seems pretty isolationist. Can’t hurt to show some ‘unity’ to the Union.”
Clara perked up, her voice contemplative. “I’ll send it in the morning. Right now though, i need to go pick up Daniel from Red. The poor girl was nice enough to babysit for me for us to have this little get-together.”
“Tell Jack i said to-”
Static again, though this time it was just Adam sat alone at a table, his stubble showing that he had skipped shaving for a while. The man ran his fingers through his hair as he exhaled.
“It was a mistake. A huge fucking mistake, to send that to the Union.”
He rubbed the stress out of his eyes.
“They sent a retrieval force after Steven for ‘violation of protocol and intention to cause discord’. Ten armed soldiers came to crash the tournament and dragged him kicking and screaming.” Adam cycled a deep breath. “Becky did what her Advisor had taught her... She fought the bullies.”
A hoarse laugh escaped the man, his eyes glazing over for a moment as he spoke.
“It was a slaughter. Once the Queen made her decision, every Atmo who could fight, did. Steven and the guys ended up helping out part way through, once the guns started firing. One minute, forty seconds. It took a minute-forty from Steven yelling at a soldier approaching his Queen, to three dead Atmo and two dead Humans, surrounded by ten dead Union species.”
Adam leaned forward in his chair, his eyes hazy yet still meeting the device. “I don’t know what’s going to come of this, but we’ve been talking with the various adult Queens... They normally don’t gather like this, each controlling their own territory and convening for important events, but it would be a massive cultural and societal blow if this planet gets taken out, so we suggested an alternative. Sol.”
He braced his head against his thumb. “The system has flooded with Union ships, but if the tech guys can work with the Kuoori, we might be able to scramble their systems enough to sneak out a few ships. Maybe send them in random directions for a while before they set out to inhabit a few planets in our system to help them get back on their feet, where it’s safe. Where the Union won’t find them.”
He sighed, closing his eyes tightly. “We’ll find out.”
The screen flickered, Mary, the juvenile orange Queen, gently held the baby boy on her blades while Clara and Adam watched with strained smiles from the couch. Steven and a red young Queen, Becky, apparently, both stood by the wall.
Steven spoke first, his voice loud and intense as he snarled at the husband, Mary purring to soothe the Human child. “A planet-breaker. A FUCKING planet-breaker, Adam! They nuked the shipyard!”
“I KNOW, Steven...” Adam toned back his own shouting when Mary looked at him warily. “I know... We have eight ships ready... out of an expected two hundred.”
Clara touched her husband’s shoulder tenderly, worry evident in her expression. “Did they say what they’re going to do?”
“Fuck knows.” Steven threw his arm to the side. “The Queens want to send two hundred adults and forty eggs per ship.”
“That’s all?” She asked, her voice almost painfully dejected at the prospect of so few being given the chance to live.
“That’s it.” He confirmed, his rage bubbling under the surface. He lightly gestured to Becky. “They want to send the next batch of Queens to hatch en route, and enough Atmo to raise and provide for the rest.”
Adam scowled. “What about the Kuoori? They saved Clara’s life and sacrificed more than half their population to build these damned ships.”
Steven shook his head. “The Kuoori want to make a stand. They said that they have spent much of their existence being protected by the Atmo, and it’s their turn to do the same. They’ll be helping us distract the fleet.”
“But we don’t even have proper escape pods! How in the hell are they going to survive anywhere without the Kuoori to back them up?”
“It will be slow, but they are still an intelligent people, Adam.” Clara reassured him, her grip tightening on his shirt as the baby began to whine. She thanked Mary for holding him and left to feed the child. Adam rested his hands in his head as Steven exhaled, his anger exhausted.
“Adam, look. I know that we didn’t get everything ready, and there are lines that are going to be crossed, but this is their best bet. We get them out of the system and to Sol through whatever means we can. They’ll take backwater, never used routes. We’ll get something sorted for if shit goes south and they need to get off.”
“And then what, Steven? The fighters want to follow us to hell, the medical teams want to delay that journey as long as possible, and everyone else is fighting for the chance to defend the very people who spelled their doom.”
“It’s very Human of them, right?”
Adam laughed, though it came off as hollow. “Tooth and nail, to the last... What about us?”
“We’re staying.”
“You’re going. You’re taking Clara and the kid. Mary and Becky are going with you too.” He held up a hand at the protesting Atmo without turning his head. “It’ll be a smaller shuttle on a more direct route to Sol. We managed that much, it looks like. You can take maybe twenty others and some eggs. It won’t be great for a population, but they’ll bounce back with that many.”
“The seed-ships?”
“Like we agreed. Random routes to get them far away from this shit-show and then straight to Sol. It might be more than a few years, but the Queens should be hatched and ready to learn from the group you guys land with. They can hear what happened to them.”
The screen flickered again as Mary knocked it off the table in her curiosity, the anxious fidgeting leading her to interact with it.
Adam sat back in the original room where he made his declaration to Humanity, the bottle of alcohol half empty and no attempt was made to hide it this time.
“They managed to do it, at least.” He started, his expression flat as emotional exhaustion had taken even tears from him. “The seed-ships got out and will arrive in Sol... whenever, i suppose. The new translators were given to all of them and implanted in the young while they were in their eggs, so there shouldn’t be too much friction whenever they meet us. Schematics are available aboard the ships.”
He took another drink.
“Though we lost almost everyone. The Union kept up the planet-breakers. We got to watch as each world exploded. Kuoori, Human, Atmo... All obliterated.” The man took a breath and emptied his glass, a slight slur working its way into his voice. “Clara and Daniel are with Mary and Becky to help calm them down, and I’m here setting up the automated message for the seed-ships to use before they get out of range.”
The man slipped lower in his chair as he stared at the ceiling. “About a thousand Atmo are on each ship, all said and done. It was the most we could convince them to pack. Though, most of those numbers are whatever we could get from the Hatchery before it went up. Each ship was given two Queen eggs... the mothers didn’t want to abandon their people and new allies.” He laughed, some genuine feeling behind it. “Sarah, the orange Queen that left Mary with me, told me to raise her as my own along with Becky, once she accepted that Steven was trusting me with her. That, although it had been a short time, she thought Humanity would take care of her people... That they could live with us, and be better for it.”
Adam lowered his gaze to the device again. “The speech was something else, I’ll say that much. They addressed as many Atmo as they could and told those who would be leaving to find Humans, and they will find a home. A new Nest. A Family.” A tear, held in reserve for this specific memory, trailed down his cheek. “I want to believe that you will give it to them. Please. For the people who saved my wife, my child, and myself. For the people who gave me... Two beautiful and curious daughters, i suppose.”
Adam cycled a breath, fetching another cigarette from his pocket and igniting it in his mouth, taking a long draw before speaking as he exhaled. The sound of wood being carved inside of the terminal room filled the silence that the first exhale of smoke allowed, though Joseph was too focused to pay it any mind.
“They’re gone now. Red, Jack, Steven... Little Micheal... The Union took them with fire and brimstone as they raided and stole whatever they could before the rounds dropped. I watched it happen... We’ll arrive near Sol in a few months, since we need to fly under the radar, but this message will be distributed to all eight ships. Most will never know what a Human looks like, just that the few Adults and Hatchers were told roughly what to look for, and to entrust us with their lives. To do what Sarah and the other Queens asked of them before they made their last stand with their people.”
He nodded his head, taking another puff. The rapid scratching ceased after a small delay, a muted clatter punctuated the recorded words. “Let’s not let them down this time.”
Adam extinguished his smoke, folding his hands and sitting up straight, licking his lips with a tongue that was barely effective. “This has been Adam Callam. Hopefully, this isn’t the first time you have seen this message. If not, then i hope that you send whatever people are on this ship to their family. I hope it eventually includes you. Adam out. As Sarah said to those seeking refuge in the stars; May the Nest guide you to greatness, inspire your craft, and give you hope, for you are a pillar of the Atmo.”
The screen went dark, leaving the Terminal room to be dimly illuminated by the ambient light streaming in from the hall. A single line of Atmo text was translated below with the words Adam ended with, a familiar series of runes Joseph had seen on his armour that Mama crafted for him so long ago, displayed as the last frame of the video. The final words spoken from a Queen to her doomed people with a single wish that they might find somewhere to belong with a people they had just met, yet embraced wholly.
A choked sob came from Pan, the gravity of Violet’s situation hitting her like a canon.
Joseph’s adoptive daughter had lost everything before she was even able to know what she should have had. Her mother was dead, along with almost all of her own kind. Those that survived were sent in a desperate gambit to find somewhere that they wouldn’t be killed for just existing, and based on the fact that the Union had this message and not Humans, it didn’t look to be working out too well, to say nothing of the fact that her own ship had ended up so far from its destination and crashed into the one he was on.
It was the only answer he could come up with. The Union fucked with the cruise, dragged it all the way out here, and parked it directly in the path of the escaping Atmo ship. Add on whichever was taken out before it got to Sol, and that’s likely seven seed-ships still unaccounted for. He’d want to say that Adam had made it, but Rob not knowing about this before now suggested that it was the family's ship that was...
Who’s to say the other seven made it?
Violet, and whatever Atmo survived on this planet, could very well be the last of their people in existence... All because Humans taught them how to fight for sport.
Pan threw herself at him, the vocal crying stinging his soul to its core. He wrapped his arms around her and helped her to the ground next to Violet, the Atmo still quietly staring at the script displayed on the frozen screen.
A tablet lay next to her on the floor, Lilhun and Atmo script hastily scratched as if she was trying to reply to the desperate wish of a dead man in every way she thought might work, then discarded as the reality and futility of such actions set in.
Joseph held the tablet for Pan to read, his gentle patting drawing her attention between breaths. Her voice hitched while she read it, claws digging into his skin as her agony for the child renewed with his own before her screeching needed to be muffled by his chest. He felt his eyes burn as he rubbed her back and braced her head into his embrace, the heat pouring down his face contrasting the arctic chill in his core as her translation echoed in his ears.
“Please tell mother i found one, and that I hope she can meet him soon.”
submitted by WaveOfWire to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 15:54 xPenguinzx I was hired to clean out archives of old patient data for a mental institution, this was what I found...

It started with an itch. An itch along the edge of my right eye. An itch that I scratched and rubbed. An itch that wouldn’t go away. It was like I’d gotten dust in it, or a speck dirt that I’d only been massaging deeper into my eye. Yet, no amount of tears that welled to the surface, or water that I splashed into my face seemed to fix it. It was an itch I tried to bear, thought I could bear, but I was wrong.
‘Do you want me to help?’
My brow furrowed, head twisting while I searched for who’d spoken. I was alone on the sidewalk, walking my daily route along the local park. The air was crisp that morning, a subtle breeze had been whistling in my ear all throughout the walk. I wondered if perhaps it had been the wind, its gentle caress that had whispered a tune into my ear. I felt ridiculous in the moment, the one eye I wasn’t covering with my hand swiveled to check my surroundings. There wasn’t even a tree for someone to have been hiding behind.
I smiled a slight grin, shaking my head as if it would help quell the rising embarrassment. Yet, there was an undeniable appeal to the offer. The constant rubbing and probing had started to morph into a pain, more a prickling annoyance than anything substantial. Yet, I’d long since become annoyed with the inconvenience. Mind drifting to such dramatic thoughts, I weighed the offer. I’d give anything to make the itch go away. Before I raised my hand to poke at the sensitive area once more, I glanced around with embarrassed trepidation. No one was near, yet my face was warm, flush from the unavoidable awkwardness. “Sure,” I said quietly, my voice nearly cracking, “help me out.”
I didn’t know how to explain it, but my eye stopped itching. More than that, the pain dissipated too. It was like it had never happened. I removed my hand from where it had been pressing against the socket, blinking away a moment of blurry half-vision.
I went about my day without giving it another thought, letting the warmth of the sun soothe my concerns until it dissipated back into an oddity of the otherwise mundane morning.

The next day, the itch returned. It was not the slow escalation that built over time, not like the morning last. It returned immediately, and without the encouragement of my touch a searing pain came to join it. It was sudden and brutal, like nothing I could have prepared myself for. I winced, sucking a short breath through clenched teeth while the agony felt like a nail had punctured my eye, an invisible hammer pounding the stake deeper through the orb as it burrowed towards my brain. Beneath it all, was the desire to wipe at my eye, to press into it deeper with the flesh of my palm, anything that would lessen the pain and overwhelming urge to scratch at it some more.
My jaw opened with a click, muscles tightening around clenched joints. I started to cry out, the overwhelming pain so profoundly unique, unlike anything I’d known before. A shaky hand rising to my face, I pressed the back of it into my face, wrist twisting as the bones of my knuckles rolled into my eye socket.
For a fraction of a second, the white hot poker that had been stabbed into the edge of my eye lessened. But it only lasted for part of a breath, just long enough for me to think that the worst of it might be done. Oh, how I was wrong.
The torture leaped from the edge of my eye to encompass the whole orb. With a feeling like knives were dragging their edges in sadistic figure eights against the gelatinous flesh. My stomach twisted, and I was sure that I would empty my breakfast onto the floor. All the while, my world was starting to spin, encompassing delirium gripping my mind. I cried out in pain once more, this time wetted by moisture that streamed down my cheeks and poured from my nose. I don’t know when, but I’d entered the fetal position, my free hand wrapping around my knees to pull them closer to my chest – as if that would somehow help me.
As the pain continued to increase, my thoughts became muddier, with every passing second it was becoming harder to form a cohesive thought. I knew my limited options were becoming even scarcer, I knew that soon I would black out from the pain and by then my fate would be sealed. I tried to think of something to try, except only my screams rattled my brain, the only brief respite being when a fresh inhale was needed to produce more of the painfilled noise. I didn’t know who would hear, I lived alone, and the walls leading to the outside world were fairly thick. Even if someone heard me, and happened to call the police; even if they made it to me before I gave myself a hernia - what could they possibly do?
Between a volley of screaming that my tucked head had been directing to my knees, I stopped to suck in a short inhale. When I started again, a new sound pulled at the back of my mind, barely audible over my own voice.
‘Do you want me to help?’
Silence filled my home. Jaw creaking from its fully extended position, vision blurred from the tears that covered both pupils while I hesitated. Did I hear that? I wondered for a fraction of a second. “What?” my voice rasped in a hoarse sound, my throat torn from my abrupt and violent usage of it. The voice was more like a whisper when it had spoken to me, I was unsure if I’d even heard it or if my mind had conjured it in the delirium.
“Would you like my help?”
My head nodded furiously, a new round of tears spilling to the surface. “Yes, yes,” I begged, “please make it stop.”
Same as the last time, the pain melted away as abruptly as it had come on. With shaky limbs, I rose from the floor, my breath still quivering as quiet whimpers escaped my lips. Blinking away the moisture I stared at the floor in a confused amazement, wondering what was going on, or if I’d maybe imagined the whole thing. Besides the constant shivers from the dump of adrenaline and the crust along my cheek I didn’t have any hard evidence, or witnesses to the strange episodes.
Dragging feet across the floor, the adrenaline gave way to such a heavy exhaustion, the urge to collapse on my bed and sleep for a day was an alluring proposition. After what felt like an extremely long minute of lumbering to the bathroom, I made it to the mirror, hoping to find some proof of my pain that I could show someone.
When I looked up at the reflective pane hanging above the sink, I flinched so hard that I nearly fell into the tub behind me. The image was distorted, like an object held so close to my face that part of it had duplicated. In the mirror, half of my face seemed the same as I’d seen it when I brushed my teeth a few hours earlier.
The other half of my face was a sickly green, holes pockmarked my flesh with red and pink beneath. Aside from my pumice stone complexion, gashes dragged deep wounds erratically at different angles across my face, many of the creases formed lips of hardened puss and gangrene. Some of the wounds dug deeper to show the milky white bone beneath. The front of my nose had also fallen off or decayed to a point where all that was left was the twin tunnel leading into my brain. In the ghoulish half of my now haunting visage, my eye popped from its socket. The eye lids long since decayed to leave a permanently wide-eyed expression, the gaps between the yellow stained orb and the socket gave it the appearance of floating inside my face.
My otherwise normal eye widened, panic and confusion crawling up from the depths. Directing my hand to rise to my face, I watched it slowly creep from the bottom of my vision. As it crossed into the half of my face that was closer to a mummified husk, my digits changed. The skin around my hand turned putrid, the digits became gangly, while fingernails curled and fell off. Waving my fingers in front of my face, I watched the bones and sagging skin sway like a tattered curtain. I gawked at the sight with a morbid curiosity for a few seconds before yanking it from view, a sudden urgency brought on by fear of it as atrophying if I held it out for any longer.
Hidden from view, I clenched my hand in a few investigatory squeezes, rubbing into it with deep massaging presses. It felt normal, but I needed to be sure. Eyes drifting down, I caught a glimpse of my exposed forearm. Like my hand, craters of decaying flesh marred the limb, some gaping holes as large as quarters, they patterned the limb like a macabre art piece.
Head snapping to the side, I quickly looked away from my hands and arms. As my vision swept from the normal scene into the altered sight the cabinets and walls transformed. In the edge of my vision, they were aged, wallpaper curling into a soaked yellow, spackles of black mold staining its surface.
What is this? I wondered, still struggling to comprehend what my eyes were showing me, each of them showing a different version of the same image. My neck craned to the side so I could look at the same spot along the wall with my other eye. In an instant, it returned to the plain taupe as soon as it entered the other half of my vision. The cheap replica painting and few family pictures, reformed into something cohesive.
Careful not to glance at the mirror or anything else that might show me my reflection, I rubbed my hand along the forearm that had been spackled with lesions and sores. Underneath my fingers, I felt the dry skin and thin hairs all standing at attention. But no holes, I remarked with a shaky breath. I stepped from the bathroom, with my eyes straight ahead. It’s in your head, it’s not there – I’m fine. The thought brought a measure of comfort, like the knowledge that I’d been imagining everything would leave my physical form intact. That was until I realized that viewing the world through a glass of atrophy and death was still far from normal.
Can I just cover it? The thought was so simple and would be an easy solution to my problem. Suddenly brimming with hopeful vigor, I shut my right eye, the one that had been so abruptly afflicted with the visions of decomposition.
Confusion battered at my mind when my sight remained unaltered. It was odd. I felt the side of my face scrunch, my eyelid closing over the orb, yet my view of the withering wall was unaltered. Cupping my hand to cover the eye, it didn’t block the twisted sight either. Investigating the other eye, I was quick to find that it could still be closed as normal, but all that did was limit my field of view while plunging the remainder of my vision in a gut-wrenching hellscape.
I grunted quietly at the new oddity, unsettled for what came next.

For six days, I shut myself out from the world. I hid. I got used to walking corpses handing me pizza, and me handing them money that had long since shriveled and faded into blank notes, yet they always accepted it with a smile. Have you ever witnessed a half-mummified body smile? Witnessed the lesions about his face twist and curl along bloated cheek bones, or the black stained teeth that hung at an angle loosely in his mouth by a stubborn corner. I of course could still see the man through my other eye, the image oscillating between decomposition and the youthful vigor of a young man trying to make a few bucks on the side by dropping off pizzas.
Each day I couldn’t stomach more than a few bites. The concept of eating was difficult when from the corner of my vision I constantly saw rotting food. Food I’d just ordered fresh that was shrunken and shriveled, taken over by carpets of mold black and green. The toppings turned from their vibrant colours of red and green to stomach churning shades of black and grey. Even if I looked to the ceiling to avoid glancing at my food, I was then treated to stained plaster, littered with holes that revealed the deteriorating wood behind it. If I could manage a few bites, it tasted like the pizza I’d known and loved before. But I couldn’t purge the images of the rotten meal from my mind, the thought was always there to shut down any thoughts of a meal.
It wasn’t just the lack of nutrients either, being unable to shut one of my eyes made sleep near impossible. Even with curtains drawn and the lights turned off, the pitch black surrounding was insufficient. Something about my brain knew that my eye was open, and refused to offer anything resembling acceptable sleep. After being awake for three days, I did eventually sleep – it wasn’t for very long. Three hours if I recall correctly, jolting awake immediately after my brain caught up to what it believed was the still open eye. The days after were profoundly lethargic, doing anything felt like it took hours, each moment of it like wading through a muddy bog. As well, the biological need for my brain to shut down every few hours left me nodding off constantly, only to wake a few minutes later.
I felt myself at my limit, my mind stretched to the absolute edge of what it could handle. How many more days can I go before a psychotic break? Until a stroke finally takes me? From my seat at the kitchen table, I glance to the counter, eyeing the arrangement of cleavers and blades with a quiet alluring. Quickly, my head shook. Not yet.
“Would you like my help?”
I jolted up from my chair. Snapping to attention with a sudden surge of energy. The quick movement dizzied my vision, pulling me to the side as I wobbled slightly. After recovering my wavy vision, my neck snapped to both sides for a quick examination of the small room. It was empty. “Hello?”
“Would you like my help?”
It was like the voice was in my head, echoing in both ears, seeming everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman, a perfectly balanced timber that betrayed no emotion, neither malicious nor benevolent – it was simply there.
“What are you?”
Pausing for a long bout of silence, the voice held its answer, before finally responding with the same question. “Would you like my help?”
My mouth opened, but I nearly bit my tongue with how quickly my jaw shut. Shaking my head violently, I rubbed my arms vigorously, hoping it would quell the hairs that had risen along each of them. I knew the truth. It doesn’t help. It was the voice that made my vision like this. The piercing pain is also thanks to the voice’s ‘help’. But, I couldn’t deny that the thought of a full night’s sleep, of a meal that I didn’t immediately evacuate afterwards was incredibly appealing.
Had I been more rested, had I not been so exhausted and desperate, I might have possessed the fortitude to turn down the proposition. However, I was not, and I did not. “Yes,” I croaked in a voice that was dried to the limit of what my body could handle. Like the food, water had a similar effect on my brain, taking on the look of liquified sewage, like pond scum with a wisp of foam atop it.
Almost immediately, I felt a pinch behind my eye. It forced a wince from me as I withstood the discomfort, only for it to dissolve a moment later. My vision had returned, in my kitchen I saw my cabinets and stove top, the table I was sitting at and the half-eaten slice of pizza from last night. I lunged for the twisted remains of the meat supreme, wolfing it down in two ambitious bites. Stumbling to the sink, I cupped my hands beneath the open faucet, frantically funneling warm tap water into my stomach.
I felt like a man lost in the desert, stumbling into an oasis after days of exhaustion. Ignoring the protestations of my stomach, I jumped to the fridge where I’d stored the rest of the leftovers. Ripping contents from the shelves, they were scattered onto the table in a chaotic feast that I couldn’t wait to dive into.
That was when I heard a sound. It was quiet like the voice had been, simultaneously all around me and nowhere at the same time. I’d heard it for the briefest of instances, like a word half caught at the end of it being spoken somewhere in the distance. Struggling to place it, the noise sang out again. The quiet screech of metal is what I heard, like a knife being dragged against steel somewhere in the distance, as if it was the faint echoes of someone sharpening a knife. Or a rusted pair of scissors opening.
It screeched once more, this time louder and closer, with the unmistakable click of shears closing. Instantly, the vision in my recovered eye blurred, as if they suddenly needed glasses. Stumbling backwards in surprise, I was mostly amazed to not be feeling any discomfort besides the few squeals of metal I’d heard in my ear. Once more the metal wailed, and this time the vision in my blurred eye shifted. The obfuscated items of green and red dulled, its hues becoming barely legible, closer to grey than their original colours.
My breath skipped, then drew short inhales quickly through my nose. Between my rapidly drawn breaths, my ears picked up the quiet screech once more. I froze, immediately clenching every muscle I could while even my lungs paused.
One second.
Nothing. Whatever was doing this to me was relishing in the fear that was starting to scratch at my mind.
Then the snip. I flinched at the subtle pinch, and the darkness that immediately fell on the side of my vision. It wasn’t like an eye was closed, where my field of view should have become narrower. There was only darkness. A dribble of moisture trickled down my cheek, not tears but something else. Raising cautious fingers, they poked towards the wetness that continued to flow down to my chin, quickly returning with tips dyed a crimson red.
A part of me was terrified, too terrified to stumble to the mirror and see what the voice had done to me. But the much louder part of my mind demanded sleep, so I curled up into a ball on the floor, grateful I could finally close my eyes. Tomorrow’s problem will be dealt with tomorrow.

The next morning I woke with a spasm coursing through my limbs, like I’d been jolted awake by a bolt of lightning. A stabbing pain raced down the back of my neck, creeping into my spine with its barbed wire touch. Along the side of my head was a different pain, this one dull and thumping to the steady beat of my heart. My arms and legs felt sore, with a sensation of pins and needle gripping the one arm that I seemed to have slept on.
My mind wandered while I struggled to my feet, trying to recall the faint lickings of the terrible dream that I’d suffered last night. But as my eyes drifted to the wall, and the black void covering half of my vision became more apparent, I remembered. It wasn’t a dream at all.
Wobbling legs carried me to the bathroom. Both hands gripping the sinks edge, I couldn’t look. Fear scratched at the back of my mind, I knew the truth, I didn’t need a reflection to confirm it. It was only after I felt my knuckles whitening from the pressure for several long seconds that I pushed through the heavy fog, gathering the will to look at the reflective pane across me.
Where there should have been my eye was a crater. With its true depth hidden by the shadow of my skull, I could only imagine how deep the cavern in my face went, the parts I could see were lined with the near black crimson of dried blood. Beneath the hollowed socket were also thin streams of dried blood, forming narrow paths towards my chin like pain filled tears. I raised a trembling hand to my eye, like I’d done before, but this time to see if what I was seeing was in fact real. I watched in the mirror while tremors rocked my extended finger, watched the finger descend into the crater that was the eye socket. As my hand flinched, part of a fingertip rubbed against the moist flesh that lined the inside of my socket. I felt no pain in my face, but the rest of me felt like I’d just been punched in the gut. My stomach immediately flipped and I suddenly had to contend with the urge to empty my stomach into the sink.
My breath was shaky, shuddering air that I tried to control before it got away from me. But I felt myself losing the battle, each breath harder to draw than the last. In, and out. My feeble commands were having little effect, the dread becoming stronger as I knew what would come next. Like a hunter in the night, one second I felt fine, the next second, a dryness at the edge of my remaining eye. It twitched slightly, a tremor in the nerves that could have come from anything. I couldn’t yet tell if it was a lack of moisture in the air or something more.
Then my eye started to sting, and I realized I’d been holding it open for a few seconds straight. Fear demanded it be held ajar, unsure if it was a natural discomfort or the beginnings of the next round of torture.
Only holding it open for a few seconds longer, I eventually blinked. Breath held, while my lungs froze. Still unsure if I conjured the new itch, I tested the feeling in my eye. Is it gone? I wondered when I couldn’t feel anything more than the slight stinging along its edges. Chest finally collapsing, I drew long breaths with shut eyes. With each shuddering breath, I analyzed the sensations that coursed through the nerve endings along my face. I’m fine, I promised myself.
Then the urge to rub at my eye became stronger, forcing twitches all along the side of my face, even down to my jaw. Don’t. Instead I clenched my hands while my mind drifted to something else that might distract me, like the stale air flowing in and out of my nose, the rattle of the furnace creeping through the vents.
I didn’t even realize what I was doing until it was done, the back of my hand pressing into my eye socket and slowly wiping across it. Dry skin from the back of my hand was wetted, the cracks along my skin filled with the moisture my eye had been producing. More tears joined it as I realized with a jolt what I’d done.
“Wait,” I whispered in a shuddered breath.
It didn’t wait. Like a needle, a stabbing pain pierced the side of my eye, feeling like it punctured through to the other side too. A howl of pain escaped my lips, echoing in the acoustics of my narrow bathroom. Legs immediately giving way, I fell to the floor, already half curling into a ball atop the small shag carpet I’d laid by the sink. Palm pressing against the eye, I let my vision go black while stars of white spackled my vision. Short hissing breaths filled the room as I grappled with the return of the violent pain. Even as it felt like the stake plunging through my eye was twisted, as the nerves and sinew wrapped around each other into an unimaginable squeezing – I fought it.
I don’t know where the strength had come from, the sudden urge to resist became everything that I set my mind towards. Grinding my teeth together, my waning strength was being battered, it had been seconds and already my will was on the precipice of collapsing all together.
Then an image fluttered into view. It stole my breath, air freezing as shock gripped my system. My stolen eye was still gone, the right side of my face covered with inky nothingness. The remaining one that had been covered by my hand, abruptly shifted into a sideway view of my floor. I saw my bathroom tiles, chipped and faded; the carpet, patchy and molded; the walls, chipped of its paint, made pale by years of sunlight, and stained from years of neglect. What I saw was not my bathroom, not the bathroom I’d been in when I collapsed to the floor.
Like a sadistic poem, the itching, pain, and macabre vision assaulted me all at once. It was like it knew that my will was brittle, that my desire to resist was hanging onto the edge of the cliff by only my finger tips.
Then something shifted in my mind, a final surge of resistance. A spiteful rebellion gripped my thoughts, a rage that flared up abruptly with the surging of a wildfire as it tore through a forest of dried kindling. I wished to confront the source of my torment, to grip it by the neck and throttle it into submission. As I tapped into this new reservoir of strength, my hands balled into fists. Where the fuck is it? I demanded in my mind. As if I’d summoned it myself, the voice spoke. “Would yo–”
“Fuck you!”
“Would you li–”
“No!” I screamed my throat raw.
“Would you like my help?”
“I would like you to leave me. I’m never going to ask for your help.”
For a few long seconds, the voice didn’t respond. It left me with the unbearable itch that no amount of rubbing could satisfy, the sadistic agony that I was powerless to quell, and the knowledge that my vision had been plunged back into the unescapable hellscape - but at least it was quiet.
Until it wasn’t.
“Would you like my help?!” It suddenly screamed in my ear. I flinched in surprise, it was the first time that the cool dispassion of the voice was broken. “Would you like my help?!” It repeated a fraction of a moment later. “Would you like my help?!” Shouting over and over, the voice didn’t pause to breathe, repeating the words as soon it had finished the furious request. As the vicious battery of the question continued, I tried to fight it, shaking my head violently as if it would loosen the sound and even screaming alongside it to drown out the noise. Nothing worked, the unending noise persisting in my mind.
With each attempt to break my will, the question was starting to sound different. It was changing slightly, with at first minor variance in its tone, and cadence. With each failed attempt, the difference in the request after it became more stark to the point where I was starting to hear different ages, genders, and even accents in the repeating petition.
Cupping both hands over my ears, it did nothing to mute the sound. I screamed to drown out the sound, but the voices were louder. My face grimaced in stalwart resistance. I’m not going to give in, I assured myself. The voice had taken enough, I would give it no more ground.

How foolish I was. I know this now.
My jaw was impossibly sore from clenching teeth into a twisted grimace; sweat matted down hair against my forehead, and stained my shirt with the proof of my defiance. My will was brittle, a resigned exhaustion filling every one of my muscles. “Would you like my help?!” A woman yelled, she sounded Asian, eerily close to the woman who worked the counter at the small Chinese market I used to shop at. The requests had changed their tone some time ago, I don’t know how long I’d been curled in the ball before it, and I don’t know how much time has passed since. There was a desperation to her sound, a brief and frantic plea before she was shunted to the side in place of the next voice in the endless queue.
“Would you li-” the next one started.
“Fine,” I whispered in a voice so soft I barely heard it myself. The voice heard me though, halting its request now that I’d finally caved. In the silence I thought I could feel it relishing in my pain, soaking in my surrender and what little fear I could muster for what comes next. And as one second drifted into the next, a part of me started to believe that nothing would happen.
That was when the voices responded. In a booming chorus, ten thousand voices spoke as one, “thank you.” The thundering voices were impossibly loud, simultaneously loud enough to fill a stadium but also bearable as it echoed in my head. They sounded as tired as I felt, and the relief in their tones gave me a measure of calm. I was exhausted, too exhausted to feel anything when the screech of the twin metal blades scratched my mind. Managing to get my feet under me, I rose to stand.
My vision had turned back to normal once more, and I knew it was all but a fact that it would be for the last time. I would have liked to look at a sunset if it was going to be the last thing I saw, but I doubted the cruel voices would allow me that mercy. So I stared at my haggard features in the mirror. The gaping maw that was my right eye no longer bothered me, a grim acceptance finally quelling the shock and revulsion I’d felt before. In three quick cuts, the view of my face went from blurry to grey, and then finally to black. With a relieved breath, my hand wiped the new trickle from what was my last eye.

That was a week ago. My friends and family thought I’d lost my mind, that I suffered a mental break and decided to scoop my eyes out with a spoon. At first I was in disbelief, then rage, but after a few days of quiet contemplation I’d made my peace with it.
Who could blame them if they didn’t believe my story; the voices in my head, the unscratchable itch, the unimaginable stabbing pain, the visions of rot and decay that had become everything I saw. Who could blame them if they didn’t believe me when I told them of the rusted scissors in my mind that snipped at my eye before plucking it from my head. I could barely believe it myself, some nights questioning if maybe they were right.
However, I could blame them for having me locked in an institution. In the solitude of my padded room, I was given time to think, to recall the events and search through what I felt. It was in that sterile room, beneath the quiet buzzing of what I could only assume were fluorescent lights, the truth solidified in my mind.
I am not crazy.
I am not delusional.

“How did that feel?”
“Good, I guess.”
“That’s good, it’s good to talk about these things.”
“You’re the doctor.”
“That I am. I’m going to leave this with you, use it to record your thoughts or whatever you’d like. It’s yours, you won’t have to share the recordings with anyone unless you want to.”
My throat is itching, and no amount of water, tea, lozenges, or even salt water gargled has helped. The men and women in flapping coats say that I’m sick. BUT I’M NOT SICK. I know it like I know that water is wet.
I tried to make them understand, but they wouldn’t listen. Even as the two larger men wrapped thick hands around both my arms and carried me to the far end of my padded cell. Even as I kicked and screamed and fought furiously. Even as the needle slipped into my skin to deliver the fluid that would ‘calm me down’. Even as I begged and pleaded with them to just kill me instead.
My throat is still itching.

I record this now, knowing I’m dead. It’s almost impossible to talk, each entry takes most of the day, but I need to record something of myself.
I’ve accepted that with a desperate trusting in whatever comes next. The only hope that I truly cling to in this life is that someone finds this, and that they believe me.

I can barely swallow. Water, saliva, even air all struggle to slip down my neck. I hear the quiet murmuring of the nurses and doctors when they check on me, they think I’m doing something to myself.
I try to tell them that it’s back, but they only give me more drugs.
“I don’t understand it,” I heard one of them say.

A nurse came by with my medicine. I asked her to kill me. She said the medicine was a muscle relaxant for my throat.
I told her it wouldn’t work.
I made her listen to my choked sobs as she locked the door behind her.
Why won’t they just kill me?

I heard a sound. I know I heard this sound. It was like a whisper, gentle as a wisp of smoke, but it was there.
“Would you like me to help?”
submitted by xPenguinzx to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 15:46 wholesalewoodhoods Island Hoods

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2023.04.01 15:29 Wise-Significance-47 Conversations with a Shadow

The lady down the hall suggested I confront him, but what does she know? She may have been born during the war but that doesn’t give her any special powers of deduction. She doesn’t know him like I do, she doesn’t have to endure his nightly torture. I’ve banged on the paper-thin wall that separates our homes many times. I’ve screamed at the top of my lungs for silence. Still the incessant cacophony of slammed doors and of television channels turned too loud continued to haunt me. Yet these other forms of audio pandemonium paled in comparison to his infernal whistling. An off-key melody that feels familiar yet is impossible to place. When he isn’t screaming at the television set with wrong answers to quiz shows, his whistling is a constant. A piercing trill that travels through my ears and stabs like a dagger into my brain. The lady down the hall says he’s hard of hearing, that may be so, but I know he hears me. I know he knows his actions are driving me to the brink of insanity. I sense his malicious intent. I sense him plotting my demise.
The thought has crossed my mind, before you ask. Yet the fact that it has must mean that I’m not. I once heard that if you think you’re mad, you cannot be. That the insane have lost the faculty to notice their insanity. What the rational mind believes to be insanity, the insane know to be reality. It felt like the slow descent into madness, I was aware of that feeling. So at least I wasn’t completely gone yet. It felt close though, and I wasn’t sure how to go back to normality.
It had been another tough night. The din from my neighbour’s television thundered through my flat. I laid in bed with my eyes closed tight and wax plugs inserted into my ear canals. These did a little, yet not enough. The boom of each piece of dialogue shook the four walls of my bedroom. The piercing melody of his whistle cutting through the air and into my mind each time he walked to the bathroom. I’d been to the doctors that day, though I’m not sure why. I knew what the outcome would be.
“I’m going to prescribe you some tablets, Mr. Mellin.”
I took the prescription paper and threw it into the bin on my way out. I wanted to vent to someone who had to professionally withhold any judgement. I explained every detail, every feeling and thought that had occurred due to this onslaught of noise and sleep deprivation. Yet I hadn’t wanted a medical solution. Taking a pill was no solution at all. I wanted the noise to end, not to have my sense dulled into acceptance.
The noise would finally stop in the early hours of the morning, the amber glow of the dawn creeping through the curtains. I would sleep for an hour, two at most, before I had to get up for work. My productivity had slipped. Staff meetings where I was once sharp as a tack were now nothing more than an endurance test. Could I remain awake for the next thirty minutes? I’m sure the meetings were important, yet it was such a struggle to stay awake the words refused to settle in my brain. White noise. Everything had become white noise.
One night as the din finally subsided, I heard a voice.
“Hello, Simon.”
The voice sounded as if it was coming from inside of me. I asked who it was, though I believed the voice to be a figment of my imagination. An audio mirage brought on by weeks of sleepless nights.
“I’ve been with you since the beginning, Simon.”
The voice sounded like mine, yet much more ominous. It tried to sound soothing, but the malice oozed through. I asked again who it was.
“I can show you, Simon. Stand up and I will show you who I am.”
I obeyed the instructions of the voice.
“Turn off all the lights.”
I obeyed the instructions of the voice.
“Turn on the bedside lamp and stand in front of it.”
I obeyed the instructions of the voice.
“Now turn around.”
I turned and saw my room. Nothing different, nothing out of place. No extra body within the space, my shadow stood against the wall.
Then my shadow waved.
I checked my own hand, expecting to see it raised and waving. Yet it remained motionless at my side.
“Simon, we need to talk. I’ve never had to appear this way to you before, but now I need to.”
I shook my head and wiped my eyes, trying to dispel the visage before me. Still my shadow remained, now pacing along the wall, and waiting for me to accept this reality. I still clung to the fact that I felt as if I was going mad. I felt as if I was losing my sanity. If I felt that, then I must have still had at least one hand on the steering wheel of sanity.
“We need to end this problem. You’re not well, Simon. If you’re not well, then I’m at risk too. This situation with your neighbour must end now. We need to act. You need to act. He won’t listen to reason, so now is the time for something more… forceful.”
A rage exploded within me. I despised the man who lived next door, yet to take the step towards violence was not something I wanted to do.
“It’s a matter of survival, Simon. If you don’t end him, he will end you. This has been his game all along. A slow demise that no one could blame him for. He wants you to fall into madness, to get to the point where you can no longer go on. The person next door is not a man, but a parasite. He has chosen this building as his host, and he plans to spread throughout. Once he has you out of the way, he’ll knock down the paper-thin wall and make your flat his own. He’ll continue to do this until he owns the entire building. This isn’t about you, Simon. It’s about everyone in this building. It’s about the lady down the hall. You need to be the hero. You need to end this virus.”
I’d heard enough. I went into the kitchen, yet my shadow didn’t follow. He remained projected against the paper-thin wall of my bedroom. I took the largest knife from the drawer and returned, my shadow waiting for me. Without a word I drove the knife into my shadow, into the paper-thin wall. My shadow split in two and vanished, leaving behind a large tear in the wall where the knife had struck. I removed the knife and peered through the hole. I could see into my neighbour’s flat, yet he was nowhere I could see. His flat was almost empty. The only visible items the television that had caused me so much pain, and a large fleshy pod in the middle of the room. I stared at the pink cocoon, what looked like veins seemed to run across it like a road map. It pulsated, as if it were breathing. No, not like breath. It was more like the throbbing of a heart. I was so disturbed by this thing before me, yet I couldn’t look away. A small tear opened in the flesh cocoon and that’s when I felt a terror like nothing before. That familiar whistle crept out from inside the cocoon. A single red eye appeared in the opening and stared at me.
I covered the tear in my wall with tape. It wasn’t the best solution, yet it was the quickest I had to hand. The following night there was silence. No noise from the other side of the paper-thin wall, no slamming of doors or blaring of voices from the television. No off-key whistle. I should have been happy, yet the silence disturbed be more. Sleep soon took me, the adrenaline of anxiety only able to stay at its zenith for so long. I woke in the darkness, disturbed by the sound of scratching against the paper-thin wall. As the tape covering the tear broke, a slither of light broke into my room. I saw a long finger searching around the wound in my wall.
Then I heard it. The death rattle whistle. That god-awful shrill song once again stinging my ears. The finger returned to my neighbour’s side of the wall, but the whistling remained. The thin slit of light disappeared, and my room was once again blanketed in darkness. I stared at the spot where I thought the tear in the wall was. A sense of dread brewed inside of me.
The red eye appeared in the opening and stared at me once again.
I flung my body over and covered my head with the quilt. I prayed for sleep, for this dread to end, yet when morning arrived, I was still filled with fear. I checked the hole in the wall, and it was once again sealed with tape.
The shadow came again the following night. The usual noises had all ended, except for the whistle. This was now constant, an eternal loop that stung my mind with each rotation.
“You see now, Simon. You see why you must end this.”
I nodded.
“Take the knife you tried to stab me with. Take it and kill this parasite.”
There was still a lingering worry in my mind that this was all projections of my decaying sanity. Yet either way, I felt I had to act. Either way, this was the only option. If I was insane, then this would be the alarm bell that would let the world know. They would throw me into a room where I couldn’t hurt anyone. If I was insane, that would be for the best. If I wasn’t, and this was real, then the same outcome could occur. If they couldn’t explain the monster next door, they might convince the world I was mad. That way there would be no questions. Yet even if locked away, I would have done something good with my life. The old lady down the hall was irritating but she didn’t deserve to the horror of this parasite.
I took the knife and plunged it once again into the wall, creating another small tear next to the first. I continued this until the paper-thin wall was nothing but slits. If I’d have known how flimsy these walls were, I would have complained. But my mind had more pressing issues to focus on. I pressed my back against the door of my bedroom, facing the wall head on. I charged towards it. Though I felt a harsh pain as my shoulder connected, the wall fell through on the first attempt.
The moonlight shone through the windows. My shadow to appeared against the walls of the monster’s flat.
“Don’t doubt yourself now, Simon. This needs to end.”
The flesh cocoon was still in the middle of the room, still pulsating. The whistling grew louder the closer I moved towards the pod. When I was inches away the noise was so painful it became difficult to continue. I covered my ears and took the last steps towards it.
Then it stopped.
No more whistling.
The only noise a deep bass hum. Was this noise from the flesh cocoon? Was it the aftermath of the damage caused by the whistle to my hearing? I wasn’t sure but I let that mystery fall to the wayside and focussed on what was before me. I plunged the knife into the flesh cocoon and the pod let out an ungodly cry. The pod writhed in pain. It never moved from its spot, yet its upper half swung violently around in anguish.
I stabbed it again.
And again.
I continued to stab until the flesh began to fall away. It fell to the floor and dissolved. It bubbled like acid yet left no mark on the wooden floorboards. When all the flesh had fallen, I realised what I had done. Sat in a chair facing the television was my neighbour. Not a monstrous parasite, but a man. Now the flesh cocoon had gone, only the man remained. The knife was still inside of him. I began to panic. I turned to my shadow projected on the wall and asked for clarification. Yet my shadow did not respond. I pulled the knife from my neighbour and threw it to the floor. Shaking him with both hands I screamed for him to wake. There was no sign of life. I realised then that I was mad. That the last vestiges of my sanity had crumbled away, and I was left only with the realisation of my madness. I picked the knife from the floor and wiped the blood onto my shirt. There was no point in trying to hide what I’d done. I didn’t want that. I deserved to be locked away forever. That was the only way. I began to walk back towards my own flat, through the broken wall, and to the comfort of my bed. Though I would be drowning in my madness, perhaps I could now find some quiet. Perhaps now I could find some peace. Perhaps now I could sleep.
Then I heard him whistle.
The same off-key melody started up again as I walked away. I tightened my grip around the knife and turned to face my neighbour. He was stood now, though his body still appeared limp. He looked more like a puppet held up by strings than a man. A single eye was open, the burning red of its iris staring at me.
Was I mad?
I’d come this far already. If I was already past the point of no return, then what harm could a few more steps have?
I raised the knife and ran towards the creature.
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2023.04.01 14:59 Recent-Development10 [A Terran Space Story: Lieutenant Saga] - Chapter 101

That pit in John's stomach just got bigger with his latest dream. A request is made to protect John during the mission, but what is his decision? I hope you enjoy.
The next chapter will be out on Tuesday.
A Terran Space Story: The Lieutenant Saga
Academy Days First Previous Next

Chapter 101: A Curious Case of the Slip Space Blues

Three days later. November 12th, 2266. 17:22 CNS Waukesha – Captain’s Quarters
John was in deep sleep, though it was far from restful. There had been three full days of arguing with the scientists. Complaints about intolerable conditions and not having enough computer resources at their disposal were chief on their list. A sense of dread hung over John’s head as they got closer and closer to their destination.
He hid that well too; his crew had no idea that John was feeling the way he was. Then again, the crew wasn’t aware of the full scope of what was going to happen. Most wouldn’t for that matter. The senior officers did, and while he had hoped to avoid it, it would be hard to not explain in some detail the Marines that were coming with the scientists. John still didn’t feel as if he could trust the scientists.
Bringing in a portion of the Marine compliment wore on John. Ordering someone to their sure death was something that John was prepared to do. But ordering them to a foolish death was not an acceptable outcome. And yet, here he was doing just that.
John rubbed his eyes and opened them. He was no longer in his room. And he was curiously wearing a void sheath and could see parts of what he presumed were from his Broadsword power armor on the ground in front of him. He walked forward, knelt down, and picked up a broken chunk of armor.
“Fucking hell. I hate slip space because of this shit,” John said as he casually flung the chunk of armor away from him.
“So quick to judge is this one,” the eerily haunting voice said from behind him.
John responded with only a loud sigh as he slowly turned around.
“Yet another judgment has been made.”
“Having one dream about you is happenstance. Two begins to be troubling,” John paused as if at a loss for words.
“Interesting, the conclusion that this may not be a figment of your imagination has been made. We didn’t think you capable of accepting that,” a chuckle could be heard from the ethereal being, “At last this soon that is.”
“I’ve not accepted anything; I still don’t know what this is.”
“A warning. Surely, you’ve seen the surroundings.”
“No, I haven’t surely seen this,” John said as he spun around, “Obviously it’s from the predecessors. This is their architecture. As is the writing, their language doesn’t make much sense to me. It’s obviously not spoken in a way like ours is. That is what appears to be my suit of power armor too.”
“So close, yet so far away,” the Specter said, “You have a keen mind, but you refuse to open it to other possibilities.”
“You aren’t from this species, are you?” John rubbed his hand along the wall.
“No, mine came from so very far away and long ago. Both of your species were nothing more than star stuff while mine was at its epoch.”
“You said I’d get a choice to restore myself to what I was. Will that happen here?”
The Specter nodded slowly, “The mad yet brilliant one called Dr. Norman had medicines with the capability of curing you. Though the cost of doing that would be to betray everything that you held dear. Too strong was your anger and hate to accept the request.”
John nodded as he continued to walk down the path while letting his hand rub against the wall. He couldn’t feel any deformities or mistakes in the wall. It was as if it was perfectly cut or hewn. How could that be?
“Depending on your choices you will be presented with but another chance to regain that which you cast aside for the sake of vengeance. Accept it and you will regain that which you have lost. My kind and I will come to you no more, but not all is what it seems to be.”
“Restoring my abilities is a trap?”
“I believe your species prefers to call it a double-edged sword. Everything comes at a price,” the Specter vanished from his sight and reappeared behind John, “While you will not have to sell your soul to the devil, the ultimate price you will pay will be unknown to you.”
“That’s presuming I’m even presented with an opportunity. I could sabotage this whole shitshow…”
The Specter began to laugh creepily before looking square at John, “Sabotage is likely, but nothing you can do yourself. There is nothing to be found or gained by digging in the halls of the long-dead. You and your peers would do well to heed that warning.”
John shook his head as he looked at the door in front of him. These conversations were growing tiresome. He could infer through the conversations that he was being groomed for something. But what was that something? He didn’t have enough information to make a decision one way or another.
“What precisely are you?” John said as he squatted down in front of a door.
The Specter chuckled softly, “You believe that I’m real now?”
“Real is subjective. I think it’s safe to say that you aren’t merely a component of a dream. The conversations feel too salient for that,” John paused as he rubbed the door frame, “This isn’t a dream, despite it happening while I’m clearly sound asleep. I think there is a connection to slip space. If I had to guess I’d say you were incorporeal life forms that are bound to this dimension that we call slip space. Though for what reason you are actually talking with me, and the others is beyond me.”
“My kind and I are aspects of the universe. The purpose we serve is still opaque to you. But yes, we would be incorporeal based on your definition, though we are not bound to this dimension you call slip space.”
“But you visit us here because the difference between reality and dream is not as stark as it is in real space, no?” John stood up once more and began pressing, to no avail, a panel near where he’d presume controlled the door.
“To some, not all. Your species’ dream walkers are more receptive to our visits here.”
John finally turned to face the Specter, “And yet I’m no longer a dream walker.”
“What you once were will always be a part of you. While you may no longer access those powers as you once did, you are no less a dream walker now than you were a decade of your years ago.”
“What do you want of me? Why not lay it out all at once so we can stop this silly song and dance?”
The Specter chuckled as he leaned in close to John, “Because if we did that you would reject our offer out of hand. It seems our time has come to an end once again.”
John grinned, “You said if I accept the offer to repair me you will stop visiting me like this, right?”
The Specter took a step back. While John couldn’t see its face, the body language was clear that it was surprised at the parting words. The Specter watched as John disappeared. A smirk was on John’s face before he faded from this dream world. Finally, the Predecessor structure disappeared from view.
A featureless plane of white remained. There was no horizon in this new plan. Nothing but white extended out for infinity. The Specter was the only thing that looked different than the infinite background. Then a light flashed from nowhere when the light subsided another being stood in front of death.
“That was most unexpected. No one has ever personally sabotaged an opportunity at ascension,” the new being said.
“He is still young, defiance is a characteristic shared by all at that age,” the Specter said woefully, “Doubly so for him and his race. Though I wonder if the words were said in jest.”
“Spite-filled is how I’d call that interchange,” a third voice appeared from behind the two beings, “That race’s scanners will read him as one of them, but I’m not as convinced as the rest of you are that this restoration potential you speak of is a sure thing. Or that it will work in the way you presume it to be.”
The Specter looked at the newcomer, “Why do you say that? Their technology was able to cure what ails the young man.”
“What ails that young man is not the same as the damage they suffered that was repairable,” the new voice said more insistently.
The bright one then finished the conversation, “Be that as it may, it will be interesting to see what he chooses to do. My foresight is unable to read that one.”
The three incorporeal forms then dissipated one after another. The first to leave was the one that arrived in a bright fashion. After that, the newcomer left. The Specter wavered for a moment but then left like its fellows.
00:12 CNS Waukesha – Officer’s Lounge
John looked like a haunted man as he walked into the officer’s lounge. He didn’t want to admit that the Specter was real, but that was seemingly the case now. It was bordering on the impossible that something bigger was happening. But at least he now knew of a way to end those silly and somewhat pointless meetings.
“What the hell would they want with me?” John muttered to himself as he poured himself some coffee.
John stopped pouring mid-cup and set the pot of coffee back on its warmer. His hands were noticeably trembling. That meeting shook him up more than he thought. He closed his eyes and took two deep breaths. The shaking in his hands had largely subsided.
“Captain, it’s good to see you, but aren’t you up a bit early?” Paige Crannek said.
John took a sip of coffee as he turned around, “Good morning, Lieutenant, I couldn’t sleep worth a damn. Should still end up getting some good rest before we end up at our destination.”
Lieutenant Crannek placed her coffee mug on the table and sat at the table, “I don’t get a good feeling about this mission, sir. They are hiding something.”
John nodded, “That’s been evident since the moment I met their leader. I get the feeling they aren’t as loyal to the Confederacy as they purport to be.”
“There’s something else though. It’s present in all the senior members. We just don’t know what it is. The best way I can describe it as a driving force.”
“They are eager to see inside the ruins.”
“No sir, obviously that is something they wish to do. But it’s something more,” Paige paused, “I’m sorry I can’t be more specific.”
“I understand. It can’t be easy doing cursory scans while in slip space. This dimension makes things feel so much odder than they are.”
Paige nodded, “I’m sure your glad not to have the dreams anymore.”
John grunted, “Were that the truth.”
“That is fascinating. My dreams always focus on me watching, well I guess I’d call them beings. But the surroundings and beings themselves are always out of focus. It’s as if they stand above me. I can sense them, but I am nothing more than an ant to them.”
“Did you ever see any of the figures more clearly than any others?” John took a sip of his coffee, “Ugh, I hate this drink.”
“Yeah, he looks like the Grim Reaper. Or what we have generally associated with that. Black cape, scythe, ghost-like with a black robe. It always wears a hood too. That figure is the most in focus to me,” Paige took a deep breath before taking a sip of her coffee, “It looks huge though. Like I’m an ant or something.”
“Terrifying more like it. The beings never seemed to notice me. In my psy-ops training all my classmates commented on seeing the same thing. Though the scenarios that they witnessed were all different,” Paige looked at her captain, “What dreams did you have? Presuming you don’t mind me asking that is.”
“Oh, I don’t mind. They were vivid, though I found myself in a location that seemed connected with whatever mission I was on. It was just weird; I swear beyond the location there’s an infinite plane of nothingness. This ghost-like thing always wanted to have conversations but they never made a damn bit of sense.”
“Wait, you’ve talked to them?”
John grunted again, “You and your classmates shared a similar dream because of your close proximity to one another. How well developed were your unconscious mind blocks developed back then?”
Paige shrugged, “Not as well as they are now.”
“You underwent a minor gestalt of psychic capability that formed on that ship with you and your classmates. It makes sense that y’all developed similar dreams since you all were in the same place together,” John paused, “None of the other classes had similar dreams to yours though, did they?”
“How do you know so much about that?”
“I remember everything. I spent a long-time theory crafting all of this stuff. Plus, when you’re a teenager working for Naval Intelligence free time is something you have in abundance. Freedom not so much,” John leaned back in his chair and sighed, “I suspect we’re training them the wrong way, but I have no evidence to back that claim up any.”
“Do you ever wonder why we developed the gifts that we did?”
“Gifts? I’d call them a curse or worse,” John said as he stared out of the viewport, “Hard to figure out why we evolved in that direction. I think it’d be really interesting to see what precisely triggered that step in our evolution though.”
“I can see how people would call them a curse. But the benefits…”
John looked at his psy-ops officer, “Paige, we force those with the truly exotic gifts to register themselves with the government. That same government dictates how and where some of them live. Those that are just burdened with telepathy are monitored for the totality of their life. While I can understand, even appreciate, some of the things that are done, I chafe at our willingness, no eagerness, to steal freedom from those people.”
“But if we don’t…”
“We do so for the greater good. It’s a way for the majority, who don’t have those abilities, to maintain power and control over those that do. That’s what it does. No more, no less,” John took a drink of coffee before sighing, “No one fights that good fight because it’s not a fight worth fighting. There’s no way for those with gifts to win. They willingly accept the chains the government thrusts upon them.”
“I didn’t know anyone with these abilities would feel that way. I never thought that my life was intruded upon that strongly.”
“We’re lucky to have not developed any telekinetic capabilities. The damning thing about all of this though,” John closed and rubbed his eyes, “I think that it’s all necessary. We have to do that to ensure our society functions and moves forward together.”
Paige nodded, “In the end, the greater good wins out.”
John nodded, “It’s a necessary evil that powers our society which is fueled by hubris and hypocrisy.”
Paige smirked, “I didn’t think you’d be this pessimistic.”
“Call it tiredness or weary of this space, or even this mission that’s dredging up that part of me. Nothing about this makes me feel good.”
“Sir, I think this goes without saying, but stay on guard. My team and I will continue to get to the bottom of our gut feeling. With any luck, we will be able to understand or pull out what the scientists are hiding.”
John nodded, “Keep up the good work.”
John silently finished his coffee. He was deep in thought, that sickening feeling that this mission was going to end poorly was one he could kick. There were so many different scenarios John was running through his head trying to improve his odds of survival.
00:45 CNS Waukesha – Marine Armory
John was standing in front of his suit of Broadsword power armor. He was typing into the left terminal. A screen on the right sight updated something, a frown appeared on John’s face as he stopped typing and leaned back and over to look at the other screen.
“Stupid split screens doing stupid split things,” John muttered to himself.
“That modification to the dual fusion core has increased output by three point seven percent,” Eve said, “It will increase fuel consumption by naught point three percent. Effectively shortening the duration, you can operate by four minutes.”
“That is what you call a win-win,” John smiled as he skimmed the screen.
“Captain Lief, I didn’t expect you down in our neck of the woods,” Captain Bart Tyler said as he walked into the drab room.
“Captain Taylor, never mind me. Just tweaking my armor’s systems.”
Bart grinned, “You can call me Bart, I’m not a line officer and frankly I prefer it when the captain of the ship treats me more casually.”
John shrugged, “I read ya loud and clear. Well, Bart,” John grinned as he stared at another screen, “To give you more detail I was able to increase my power output without reducing my active work time significantly. That should result in my shields or plasma weaponry being used more often or recharged more quickly.”
“Got a bad feeling about this mission, sir?”
“You ever write a time-delayed and conditional message to a loved one before a mission?”
Bart nodded, “Four times. Got delivered twice. The missus was a wreck after the first one, but damn near wanted to kill me the second time she got the ‘sorry I’m dead’ message.”
“Alice has received a message like that from me already,” John paused for a moment, “Back when I was on the Des Moines. I get the feeling the scientists are going to get me killed.”
“My marines and I are ready…”
John turned to face the commander of the Marines onboard and interrupted him, “The Marines will not be going with them into the base. I’m not willing to risk their lives. They will stay behind at the above-ground research facility. Their orders will be to seize the facility if the worst, and very likely most probable, scenario occurs.”
“Captain, I must insist on guards accompanying you. You need my men’s help.”
“I appreciate the desire to do so. But my mind is mad up. I am not sacrificing any lives beside my own on this mission,” John gestured to Bart, “I know, I know. All of your Marines would be willing to lay down their lives for anything I order them to do. I don’t want them to do that. Not here, not now. I will risk my life, and my life alone, on this mission.”
“I’m not going to convince you otherwise, am I?”
John shook his head, “No, no you are not. Worry not, it’s not likely they will be able to do anything to me in that,” John gestured over his shoulder to his suit of armor, “Besides, I’ve made a few upgrades to that beast.”
“I’d still feel better if my men were guarding you. How do you think it’ll play out?”
John grunted, “The best-case scenario is I live, the structures go poof, and most of these shit-for-brains eggheads go poof with the alien structures.”
“One hundred credits on that happening,” Bart was grinning as he immediately placed the bet.
“Bart, I love that optimism, I really do,” John slapped Bart’s shoulder, “I normally don’t like losing, but I hope I lose this bet.”
A Terran Space Story: The Lieutenant Saga
Academy Days First Previous Next
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2023.04.01 13:59 rikuzero1 Global exclusive Volt-Fortitude simulacra Yuno (subject to change)

Global exclusive Volt-Fortitude simulacra Yuno (subject to change)

Type: Volt - Fortitude
Simulacra: Yuno
Weapon: Proteus
-Shatter: 10.50
-Charge: 14.00
-Attack 18
-HP 1165
-Crit 14

-Fortitude Resonance: Cry of Weakness: Holding down the skill continually taunts nearby enemies and deal bonus shatter damage for up to 3 seconds and applying 1 mark of Predation to each enemy every 0.5 seconds. Upon releasing the skill, a magnetic needle substitute is made for 2 seconds times the duration held plus 1 to which aggro is temporarily transferred until expiration. Enemies that attack the substitute are taunted and receive 0.1x reflected damage. Become invisible for 4 seconds or until the Wanderer attacks an enemy or the substitute expires. While invisible, movement speed is increased by 35%, dodges cover twice the distance in the same time, and the next attack that hits a target deals +100% shatter damage and weakens the target's ATK by 15% for 10 seconds. Cooldown: 5 seconds x duration held + 10 (Max 25s).
-Non-Fortitude Resonance: Cry of Strength: Holding down the skill continually lowers aggro towards the Wanderer while dealing damage equal to 225% of ATK plus 12 per second for up to 3 seconds and applying 1 mark of Predation to each nearby enemy every 0.5 seconds. Upon releasing the skill, leap at the target with a horror beast claw, dealing dash attack damage equal to 418% of ATK plus 22 as a guaranteed crit with +30% crit damage and reducing the target's crit resistance by 5 levels for 10 seconds. Detonates any magnetic needle nodes touched by the attack independent of their cooldowns, each node dealing area damage equaling 76% of ATK plus 4, recovering 15 weapon charge per node detonated, and placing an additional node for 12 seconds. Cooldown: 2 seconds x duration held + 10 (Max 16s).
-Predation: Per mark up to 5 marks, enemies have crit resistance lowered by 2 levels and for critical hits taken: receive 1% more shatter and have 2% reduced elemental resistance. The Wanderer's movement speed increases by 3% per nearby mark active, up to 5 marks. Marks decay at a rate of 1 every 5 seconds.

-Fortitude Resonance: Unbreakable Will: When weapon charge is full or Phantasia is triggered, switching to this weapon from another weapon removes all debuffs from the wielder and constructs a metal plate wall that stops projectiles for 5 seconds while dispersing magnetic needles into a ring which pulls in enemies towards the wall before scattering on the ground, reducing the movement speed of enemies within by 30% while dealing continuous damage equal to 76% of ATK plus 4 per second for 5 seconds with increased aggro generation. Damage immunity lasts 1.5 seconds while the skill is active (unavailable in Apex League).
-Non-Fortitude Resonance: Revenger's Requiem: Quickly leap to the target and slash multiple times, dealing total damage equal to 580% of ATK plus 31 and scattering 3 magnetic needle nodes for 12 seconds, max 7 on the field. Each node can be detonated by any volt weapon's electrify effect upon becoming fully charged, each dealing area damage equal to 76% of ATK plus 2 and recovering 15 weapon charge for each node detonated. Node detonation cooldown: 5 seconds. Damage immunity lasts 1.5 seconds while the skill is active (unavailable in Apex League).

1\*: While wielding Proteus, dodge attack damage that also critically hits applies a Predation mark and deals +20% crit damage and +25% shatter.
2\*: Increase the current weapon's base ATK growth by 16%.
--Balance: For each mark of Predation active while wielding Proteus, dodging heals the Wanderer by 1% of max HP, reduces damage received by 1% for 3 seconds, and increases healing effect by 4% for 15 seconds. Cooldown: 10 seconds.
--Fortitude: For each mark of Predation active, unleashing any skill or discharge heals the Wanderer by 1% of max HP and reduces damage taken by 2% for 5 seconds. Cooldown: 5 seconds. In addition, for each nearby mark of Predation active while wielding Proteus, a party member unleashing a skill heals the Wanderer by 1% of max HP. Cooldown: 5 seconds.
--Attack: For each magnetic needle node detonated while wielding Proteus, heal the Wanderer by 1% of max HP. Cooldown: 10 seconds.
--Benediction: For each magnetic needle node detonated, heal party members by 17.5% of ATK within triple the detonation radius and increases party ATK by 2% for 5 seconds for each mark of Predation active.
--Only the highest stack of marks is counted.
4\*: Increase the current weapon's base HP growth by 32%.
5\*: Enemies receive 1% more damage dealt by the Wanderer for each mark of Predation. While wielding Proteus, restore 4 weapon charge points for each nearby mark of Predation active per second. Only the highest stack of marks is counted.
6\*: Increase Predation max to 7. In addition, increase Crit Rate by 1% and Crit Damage by 2% for each mark of Predation active. Only the highest stack of marks is counted.

"Originally invented by Project Ark for testing on G2-U subjects to wield inhuman instincts by substituting missing limbs with electrically charged magnetic needles in their insane plan to elevate humanity, this Proteus has been modified to recharge mid-combat and utilize metal plates which can camouflage."

==Normal Attack==
atk x5: While on the ground, attack 5 times.
-First Attack: Deal damage equal to 56.6% of ATK plus 3.
-Second Attack: Deal damage equal to 19.7% of ATK plus 1.
-Third Attack: Deal damage equal to 30%% of ATK plus 2.
-Fourth Attack: Deal damage equal to 47.1% of ATK plus 3.
-Fifth Attack: Deal damage equal to 136.8% of ATK plus 7 and strongly suspend the target.
jump + atk x3: While airborne, use normal attack to attack 3 times in a row in mid-air.
-First Attack: Deal damage equal to 107.9% of ATK plus 6.
-Second Attack: Deal damage equal to 114.0% of ATK plus 6.
-Third Attack: Launch the enemy at a nearby target or at the ground below if there is none, creating a shockwave upon landing that deals area damage equal to 142.8% of ATK plus 8 and stunning targets for 1 second. If the enemy cannot be launched, instead deal damage equal to 172.1% of ATK plus 9 and recover 100 energy weapon charge.

hold: Fortitude Resonance: Tap and hold normal attack to take a defensive stance for up to 3 seconds, reducing damage taken by 20% and recovering 10 weapon energy charge per 1% of max HP lost while held. Releasing the normal attack button while holding a direction performs a dodge covering twice the distance in the same time. Releasing before getting hit performs the dodge at no cost, constructs a substitute for 2 seconds to which all aggro is transferred until expiration, and the Wanderer becomes invisible for 2 seconds or until the Wanderer attacks an enemy. If a dodge cannot be performed, instead cast the standing version of this skill. Releasing the normal attack button without holding a direction unleashes an area attack that deals damage equal to 167.3% of ATK plus 9. Releasing before getting hit doubles the damage reduction, energy recharge, and shatter damage, while applying a 0.2x damage reflection to the area attack.
hold: Non-Fortitude Resonance: Tap and hold normal attack to gather magnetic needle nodes on the field and place them in a line towards the target, each node dealing area damage equal to 38% of ATK plus 1 and refreshing their durations. This consumes 1 node.

jump + hold: Tap and hold normal attack while airborne, or use normal attack while climbing, jumping backward, or using the Jetpack to trigger aerial branch attacks, to barrel downwards into the target with a horror beast form, dealing damage equal to 154.5% of ATK plus 8 damage, strongly suspending targets. The higher the altitude when triggering the attack, the greater the damage dealt, up to 600% damage.

dodge + atk: Tap normal attack during the short period after dodging. Let out a long and narrow projectile in sandworm form which penetrates the target and returns, dealing damage equal to 78.1% of ATK plus 4, and recovers HP and energy weapon charge proportional to total shatter damage dealt from critical hits. Restore up to 1 dodge if the attack shatters a target's shield. If Fortitude Resonance is activated and the Wanderer is invisible before attacking, taunt enemies hit. If Fortitude Resonance is not activated, detonate any magnetic needle nodes touched by the attack as if triggering electrify from fully charging a volt weapon, each node dealing area damage equaling 76% of ATK plus 4 and recovering 15 weapon charge per node detonated.

-Sixth Sense(1.2k): For every 1 second you or your substitute is targeted by an enemy, gain a stack of Adaptation which reduces damage received by 2%, increases resistance for the element last damaged with by 4%, and makes critical hits ignore elemental resistance by 2%, per stack up to 3 stacks. For every 1.5 seconds not targeted, lose 1 stack. Unleashing a skill with Proteus grants 3 stacks of Adaptation.
-Primal Instinct(4k): For every 1 second you or your substitute is targeted by an enemy, gain a stack of Adaptation which reduces damage received by 3%, increases resistance for the element last damaged with by 6%, and makes critical hits ignore elemental resistance by 3%, per stack up to 5 stacks. For every 1.5 seconds not targeted, lose 1 stack. While at 4 or more stacks, become immune to knockback on the ground and double the duration of Predation marks. Unleashing a skill with Proteus grants 5 stacks of Adaptation.

-2-piece set: Increase Crit Rate by 5/6/7/8% and Crit Damage by 7/8/9/10%. Taunting an enemy reduces its crit resistance by 2/3/4/5 levels for 3 seconds. This Matrix's effects work in the off-hand slot, but only the set with the highest star rating will take effect.
-4-piece set: Increases speed of obtaining weapon charge by 12/13%/14%/15% plus 2% for each magnetic needle node on the field. For every 1% of max HP lost, recover 5 weapon energy charge. In addition, for every 200 weapon charge recovered, deal volt damage equal to 7/8/9/10% ATK to nearby enemies. This Matrix's effects work in the off-hand slot, but only the set with the highest star rating will take effect.

==Character Background==
Log 1: Yuno, formerly known as Subject G2-U No.7, was born into the secret laboratory under Project Ark in the outskirts of Vera. On the surface, Project Ark aimed to conserve wildlife. Underneath, its true aim was to store the DNA of every creature into a human's to elevate humanity into the pinnacle of evolution and true apex of nature while obtaining the scientific freedom to exterminate all threatening species once stored. Comprised of 12 scientists and 36 miscellaneous staff, in secret they gave birth to 18 children to be used as the first generation test subjects. 12 designated G1-O subjects under the Overlay method of fusing animal parts to learn and integrate the DNA directly, and 6 designated G1-U under the Underlay method of injecting various substances such as blood and hormones to restructure the body instinctually as it grows. All G1-O subjects died, 4 of which died of surgical complications, 3 were hostile, and 2 were abducted by their defected parents and subsequently disposed of. 3 G1-U subjects died of poison-like symptoms and 3 survived with no apparent differences other than prominent hair growth and confused neurological behavior. Afterwards, 9 scientists and 28 staff remained, giving birth to the second generation of 16, 4 designated G2-O with significantly reduced fusions and 10 designated G2-U with varying degrees of raised injection levels and antibodies alongside the newly invented complementary equipment designed to wield prominent instinctive behavior in their intended form without physical complications, a fabric resembling a fur coat named Proteus. Proteus utilized magnetic needles attached to areas closest to the nervous system and used a battery to extend the instinct-induced neurological signals sent to the detachable needles to form substitutes for the missing limbs, taking from needle reserves located on the cuffs and collar when necessary. Of the 4 G2-O subjects, 2 couldn't move their fused limbs and were deemed failures, 1 became completely paralyzed and disposed of, and 1 showed remarkable success, becoming the focus of the project in preparation for G3-O. G2-O No.3 had little strength but had enhanced hearing and could pick up objects with his tail. Most of the G2-U subjects, however, showed hostility almost immediately after integrating enough with Proteus to form a weapon as if their minds were taken over by feral instincts and now had a fighting chance against their captors. Of the 10 G2-U's, 7 met their end this way, 2 were defiant but weak and thus kept until the final weeks of generation 2 to provide data for G3-U, and 1 strangely showed no signs of defiance nor reaction from Proteus. This was strange because G2-U No.7 received the strongest DNA injections. Because of his obedience, G2-U No.7 was allowed to work as manual labor while the project focused on G2-O No.3. What they didn't know was it wasn't that G2-U No.7 didn't possess the instincts he was given, it was that the first instinct he awakened to was one that let him foresee his death and adapt to the situation, becoming obedient and feigning weakness as well as internally mastering Proteus during each "failed" test. Eventually, G2-U No.7 developed enough affinity with Proteus to use his own hair and other metals as a substitute for the magnetic needles with or without Proteus, as long as they were connected by electricity. It was nearing the time in which the generation 3 phase of the project begins and G2-U No.7 could foresee the imminent death of generation 2. With each day he planted hidden hairs and metal plates in rooms, and once he had enough, he initiated his escape plan. First required getting G2-O No.3's cooperation. One night, G2-U No.7 tied together numerous strands of hair and with the small amount of electricity afforded to him with a night light he had innocently requested the week prior, he made this long thread travel through the air vents, as if it itself was a sandworm, into G2-O No.3's soundproofed room that he was almost never allowed to leave from, and constrict G2-O No.3's pinky until it dislocated. With this, G2-O No.3 would be taken out of his soundproofed room in the morning and put into the medical bay to treat his injury, and he can establish communication during the day he is tasked to clean the adjacent room. Whispering as to not be heard by security cameras, G2-U No.7 told him of their imminent death once generation 3 is born soon, and if he wants to prevent that, he has to follow through with a plan not yet disclosed. As the discussion is only one-way, agreement was decided on whether he lies to his escort by saying he could hear someone injured in the Proteus testing room as he's being escorted back. Evidently, the agreement was made. Just as G2-U No.7 heared footsteps toward that direction, he once again took out his long thread of hair, but this time he pretended to accidentally bump into the security camera while cleaning it, exposing the wires. With a lethal amount of electricity now, he quickly extended the thread across the room and into the hallway towards the Proteus testing room, reaching the door faster than the escort and connecting to the 2 strands of hidden hair on the sides of the door at neck height. As soon as the escort opened the door and tried walking through but instead came into contact with the thread, all of the siphonable electricity was channeled into it, killing the escort and shutting down the camera system. This was the moment he secretly trained his legs every night for. With the speed augmented by his strong saber-toothed wolf DNA, he rushed across the room, down the hall, and through the door before it closed, dragging the escort's body in with him. With the keycard he now possessed, he quickly unlocked and equipped Proteus just in time before the facility went into lockdown. But now with Proteus which he already mastered and a full battery, he easily ripped open the door with his horror beast claws formed by the magnetic needles. Then once he left the room, he picked up the couple hidden metal plates in the hall, attached them to his arms as shields, then sent out the rest of the magnetic needles to find and detonate with electricity each hidden strand of hair that was placed near lights and communications equipment, providing the cover of darkness for him to slip through the approaching armed guards. He stealthily killed each person nearby as he collected every metal plate to attach to Proteus and complete his defensive armor against the remaining guards and turrets he knew were waiting at the exit. As he finished, he met G2-O No.3. Being the kindhearted pacifist the staff raised him to be so he would obediently offer himself up as research material for generation 3, G2-O No.3 pleaded for him to stop killing everyone. The mind that was more human than monster remained unaware and manipulated into choosing his parents who gave him fake love. But to G2-U No.7 whose mind was only half human, he still saw G2-O No.3 as his only surviving comrade, the only one he could consider a friend despite their only previous conversation being one-sided. If only he could see the fakeness and lies, he could abandon these true monsters, even *if* they are his parents. With little time to talk, G2-U No.7 simply refused and headed to the exit, bluffingly threatening to kill him as well if he tries to stop him. As he turned the corner, he's met with the expected remaining guards and turrets, but suprisingly 2 scientists who didn't flee. They were G2-O No.3's biological parents. What's more, they didn't attack yet, as if they were waiting for something. G2-O No.3 then came into the room and the parents tell him that G2-U No.7 is about to kill them, his loving parents, and that he needs to protect them by killing. This was a desperate attempt at a pincer attack, but it was a useless effort, for they raised their child to be so pacifistic that no suddenly developed instinct could lead him to harm them. This would turn out well, G2-U No.7 thought, as G2-O No.3 would either be too afraid to take action or deal insignificant damage, but the worst case happened that G2-U No.7 couldn't have expected: he instead put himself between them and pleaded for G2-U No.7 to be spared and the fighting to stop. He had chosen not just his human parents but also a murderous half-monster as equals. Could he only see everyone here as redeemable humans? Could he have believed G2-U No.7's words because he couldn't imagine that anybody would lie? Distracted by the shock of seeing what transpired, G2-U No.7 couldn't react in time before the scientists took the first shot, killing G2-O No.3 who was in the way. Enraged at the betrayal of the greatest kindness he had seen in his life, G2-U No.7 lunged at them, indulging in his primal instincts as he ripped them apart in an act of pure predation. With him being the only survivor inside the lab, only he could hear the sorrowful cries he let out as the only person who treated him as a human died before him. This was also the first time he awakened to his gooseneck beast instincts, as it was only then he was allowed to express the feelings of strength in overcoming his enemies and weakness in losing what he desired to protect. If he would ever have something worth protecting again, he would protect it with everything he had without hesitation. G2-U No.7: escaped, age 6. G2-O No.3: deceased, age 6. Project Ark: mysteriously abandoned.

Log 2: As a monster who is a chimera of human, sandworm, saber-toothed wolf, horror beast, shielded beast, and gooseneck beast, the now free G2-U No.7 knew he could survive anywhere but wouldn't belong anywhere. And so, clinging onto the feeling of being treated as a human and the hope that he can meet someone like that again, he snuck onto a cargo ship and into Mirroria, a place where, strangely, his first thought upon arrival was that his friend would've complained how noisy it was. With a lonesome life in the shadows of Mirroria scavenging for food and electricity and running from M-SEC waiting for him, and with the hope of meeting a friend one day, he spent his new life being both the phantom protector of Mirroria and the phantom thief, who not even Captain Saki Fuwa could manage to catch in the end. 4 years pass, G2-U No.7, age 10, finds his life comfortable. Despite not yet finding a friend, being known as both a human-like protector and monster-like thief best suits him. Not even his instinctive foresight could warn him of how his comfortable life would get upturned by another beast in human form. One day in typical fashion, he would steal an unattended piece of food, but this time it wasn't merely a half eaten sandwich, it was a whole pizza! He swiftly snatched it and retreated to the rooftops to eat it in peace, but just as he was about to finish the last piece, a scream could be heard where he had stolen the pizza. It wasn't a fully human scream either--it had an intimidating sense of feral power behind it. Slightly unnerved, he hopped down and wandered off into the back alleys to not get involved. But he could hear footsteps follow him, even though he took secret passages and moved in full stealth that was impossible for humans to hear. It was as if he was being tracked by scent, which should also be impossible for humans. Surprised at how long the chase had gone on, he had forgotten about how much battery was left in Proteus, and when he hit a dead end, it was run dry and he couldn't scale the high wall. The determined creature finally caught up, but what appeared from the shadows was merely a girl with silver hair and 2 dogs. They only appeared small and harmless until he looked into the girl's eyes and for the third time in his life foresaw his imminent death, for he was powerless before her overwhelming power without Proteus nor a nearby power source. His only option was to play dead the moment she hit him. The last thing he remembered before losing consciousness was being yelled and barked at while being incessantly kicked despite playing dead. When he awoke inside a cozy room, the same monstrously intimidating girl stood before him and asked him if anything was broken, where his parents were, and his name. Up until then, he only had one name, the horrid name given by a group of monsters to treat him as an expendable tool, but it was also the only thing he had left to remember his only friend by. So with a tone of certainty and pride in what he is, he responded "Yuno." It was only later that Yuno found out the girl was only forced to care for his wounds by her caretaker so people wouldn't find out she beat up a kid and ruin her fresh public image. But that minor detail didn't matter--he once again felt like he was treated as a human, and if someone like her can belong here out in the open, then so can he. Although quite young, after hearing about his speed and skills, the girl's caretaker found him work at M-SEC and cared for under Saki Fuwa, who simply sighed at the sight of him as if she lost a race. Because he's too young to be publicly employed and his fighting is a bit unorthadox, he continues his role as the phantom protector but this time embracing his monster side where the phantom thief once occupied. Having Proteus repaired from years of neglect, extended to fit his growing body, and upgraded to collect energy mid-combat and to enable the armor plates to camouflage, this marks a turning point in his life. Ironically, with the same instincts he foresaw his death as a monster with, he now foresees his future as one where he is human and full of life. He will live as the kind of redeemable human his first friend saw in him, and he will protect everyone who gave him a chance and accepted him.

  1. "Project Ark" references Noah's Ark, the vessel used in the biblical event in which pairings of every animal were loaded onto the boat to save them from extinction due to a great flood. Just as the great flood decimated all but the surviving handful of animals, Project Ark sought to eradicate all but the creatures they would store within humans.
  2. Proteus is a prophetic old man in Greek mythology who could shapeshift and knew all things past, present, and future, and would only tell what he knew after being successfully caught. Because he could shapeshift into anything, he became regarded as a symbol of the original matter from which the world was created. Through the use of the equipment Proteus, Yuno could use the knowledge of the past within his library of DNA to construct weapons, complemented by his refined adaptation instinct to analyze the present and perceive his future survival. After being caught by Fenrir, he answered what she wished to know: his name.
  3. "Yuno" as a Japanese word/phrase can be written many ways in kanji and thus have various meanings. For "yu" this includes "friend," "help," "kindness," "connect," and "origin" among other meanings. For "no" this includes "wish/desire," "field," and "wild" among other meanings.
  4. "Ono," which would have been G2-O No.3's name had he survived, as a Japanese word/phrase written in kanji means "small field" but is often confused with "Ōno" meaning "large field." Confined within the small labratory and kept in his soundproof room, he never knew such a large world existed.
  5. Today is April Fools' Day.
submitted by rikuzero1 to TowerofFantasy [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 13:50 CIAHerpes Corpse lights have taken over the woods near my home. Something is living within them.

As I stood sipping a cup of green tea in the middle of the night, sitting on my porch and looking into the swamp beyond my house, sickly lights began to dance and flash in front of my eyes. I remembered my grandmother’s warning about the corpse lights.
“Teddie,” she said to me, sitting on the same porch twenty years earlier, smoking a cigarette and drinking a glass of wine, “do you see those lights? The ones that stay close to the ground, change colors and disappear or reappear constantly?” My small five-year-old self nodded.
“Yes, Grammie,” I said. “They’re pretty.” She nodded at this, taking another long drag off of her cigarette.
“Yes, they sure are,” she said gravely. “They’re also dangerous. You should never go into those woods at night, but especially when those lights are there. Where I’m from, we call them corpse lights. It means the fae are nearby. They like to hide behind the lights.” I nodded quietly at this. She had told me about the fae, how they sometimes kidnapped children and took them to their underground lairs, never to be seen again. She didn’t tell me what the fae did to those children, or why they wanted children at all. She simply said they were not to be trusted and that I should always avoid areas where they frequented, especially at nighttime.
“There are lots of fae haunting grounds near here,” she said to me. “It has been that way since before the Europeans settled this land centuries ago. The Native Americans used to consider that swamp sacred ground.”
But now I was an adult, and moreover, I was curious. I had looked up the scientific explanations for these lights that appeared and disappeared in flashes all over the forest and swamp, showing up in blue, green, red or white flashes that shimmered and vibrated. Supposedly it had something to do with the decomposition of plant matter and the resulting gasses that appeared. People had been seeing them for thousands of years, calling them by many names.
As I sat there, thinking about Grammie Greylock, who had died just a few years earlier, the old-style TV on the porch changed from some sitcom with too much fake laughter into the nightly news. A pretty young reporter sat at a desk, staring into the camera.
“And we start with some breaking news: the latest victim of the Westland Ripper was found today. Police say a woman in her thirties was found sexually assaulted and tortured to death by her father, who later told police he hadn’t heard from her in a week. This latest murder brings the known number of victims up to twelve. With us, we have Special Agent Ellis of the FBI. What can you tell us about this serial killer and the investigations?” The nondescript agent appeared on the screen, speaking deadpan into the camera.
“Well, unlike most known serial killers, this suspect targets both males and females. He is an equal opportunity killer. And he is extremely organized, planning his crimes in meticulous detail before…” I shut the TV off, rising and stretching out my arms and back. The news was always so depressing, and the latest crime had happened only a twenty minute drive from where I live, which made it even worse. My attention returned to those floating lights behind my house.
I got up out of my chair, chugging the last of my green tea quickly, and went inside to grab a flashlight. Without a second thought, I walked out towards the trail that wound its way through the swamp and deep into the forest.
At first, it was just a beautiful night hike. The stars were bright overhead, as there was no light pollution for miles in any direction. The moon looked nearly full, and my light caught many bats flashing through the trees, hunting bugs and squeaking in their eerie way.
Then I heard something that didn’t sound like any animal I had ever heard. It was a deafening screaming noise, but it wasn’t a fox or a fisher cat. I knew the cries of both of those animals, having heard them frequently living out here in the country. This was a sound like a woman overcome by the deepest grief, like the wail of a mother who just lost her only child.
“Hello?” I called into the darkness. The corpse lights began to drift towards me, floating a few inches off the ground and shimmering with colors. I stopped, an eerie creeping feeling coming over me. I immediately turned around and tried to walk back home as fast as I could.
But within a few feet of walking, the corpse lights started to cover the trail, smaller ones seeming to congeal into larger bubbles of flashing light. I saw flashes within, as if tiny bolts of lightning were flicking across the clouds.
Hesitating, taking a deep breath in, I put my right hand into the corpse light, the white shimmering seeming to lessen for a moment as I touched its surface. And then I could see every vein, artery and capillary in my entire hand.
Shrieking, I pulled it back out, looking down. My skin was back and my hand seemed totally fine. But my heart was still beating fast, and I felt eyes all over me.
“What in the hell was that?” I whispered to myself, regretting ever stepping foot in the woods.
I stared deeper into the corpse lights, and realized the surface looked like it was zooming into itself- as if it were a fractal image. I saw the same sparks of lightning arranged in the same way over and over as it moved faster, the white light on the outside shimmering as it moved towards the center.
And then a naked, sickly-looking woman stepped out of it, breaking my hypnosis instantly. At least, I thought it was a woman, until I looked at her face.
Her face was melting off, like candle wax. It deformed, beads of skin dripping off her nose and chin constantly, but it constantly reformed itself. Her eyes would be covered by the constantly shifting skin and muscle, but then reappear again, shining silver in the moonlight.
The body of the thing was thin and emaciated, looking like a cancer patient in the last days of life. I could see every single rib, and her hip bones stuck out over legs that looked like twigs.
But her hair was somehow the most disturbing part. It was stringy, black, and clotted together with what looked like blood. Drips of black fluid and dozens of writhing maggots constantly fell off the ends of each clump of hair, which was so long it reached nearly to her knees, being the only covering on her diseased-looking body.
Time seemed to slow down, and in a moment, I flashed back to a conversation I had with my grandmother.
“Never run from a fae,” she said as we sat on the back porch in the afternoon sunlight. “They will tear you apart. When I was a little girl, my grandmother told me the same thing, and it saved my life. I accidentally stumbled into one as a teenager.” I tried to think of her as a teenager, but my mind failed completely. I had always known her as a sweet, old woman. “And like my grandmother told me, you grab it, hug it as tight as you can, and it will hug you back.” I giggled at this, thinking of hugging a fairy. She smiled down at me.
“It’s not like a real hug, though,” she continued. “It’s like you’re hugging it with your mind, and its mind hugs you back. And it will take you someplace else, and if you keep hugging it long enough, it will be under your power. The fae cannot lie. You can even tell it to come to you if you ever need it, though I don’t recommend it. When it comes, it won’t be under your power any longer- it will be free, and it will be angrier and stronger than ever.”
“Why can’t they lie, Grammie?” I asked, snuggling closer to her on the bench, feeling her warm, comforting presence next to me. She shrugged.
“They worship the truth, live in the truth,” she said. “It’s like their religion. They don’t worship God, but they worship power, life and death and sometimes, evil. All those things spring from the truth- they have existed since the beginning of time. The fae cannot think except through that which has always existed, so it limits them and their minds.”
I shuddered, my small, five-year-old mind trying to comprehend it- and failing. I just hoped I would never run into one.
Trembling, a sickly sweet sweat starting to pop out all over my body as my adrenaline soared, I ran forward, arms out. I grabbed the thing across the chest, but part of me knew I was not grabbing it with my physical body at all. It was more like my mind wrapped around its heart. Its mouth widened into an O that took over most of its melting face, its silver eyes widened, and then I was out of my body completely.
We were descending through the ground together. I smelled the grass and leaves as we rushed through them like ghosts, and then we entered the dirt underneath. The corpse lights had expanded to become the entire world around us as we sped faster, forever going straight downwards. It felt as if I were descending through some gas giant, Jupiter or Saturn maybe. Multi-colored, thick gasses swirled all around us, huge lightning bolts sending white light shooting out in all directions, yet making no sound.
The melting face of the woman grinned up at me, lengthening fangs showing underneath the waxy dripping of her skin. I smiled back, even though inside I was terrified, and even thought I might die of a heart attack if this went on too long. I tightened my mind around her, seeing it like a rope twisting around her bony, naked chest, and I saw her grin turn into a grimace. She did the same back at me, and I felt my chest tightening, a suffocating feeling overtaking me. I couldn’t breathe, but the more anxiety and fear I felt, the more I kept tightening my consciousness around her body.
“Stop that,” she said in my mind, speaking telepathically instead of physically, her real mouth now opened into a silent scream. “You’re hurting me. You’re killing me. Release me now.”
“No,” I grunted through the suffocating tightness. “Not until you give up.”
“Release me, or I will drop you down here,” she responded, now yelling in my mind, sending all other thoughts scattering like scared fish in a pond. The corpse lights had begun to clear, and we were in some horrific landscape, deep under the Earth.
All around us, massive leeches crawled, ten feet long. Tortured beings of all kinds tried to run, but their tormentors were too fast. Some had massive holes on their chests and back and faces, clotted gore running out, but they healed again, and new swarms of leeches slithered over and lunged at them in turn.
Out of the ponds and lakes all around us, black water hid eldritch monstrosities underneath. But tentacles flew out anytime anyone ran too close to the water, fanged suckers ripping through the victims’ flesh, dragging them upside down and plunging them into the water. The echoing of the screams and the splashing of the water resounded back and forth across the light brown stones of the caverns, soft light spilling out from the rocks themselves. I saw other fae like the woman standing here and there, some of them sleeping in small nooks dug out in the cave walls, others helping to torment the beings and laughing about it as they did so.
“You… cannot…” I said through gritted teeth. She could not drop me unless I let go first. I felt her will beginning to give.
“I’m dying,” her voice screamed in my mind. “You’re killing me!”
“Then give up,” I whispered, though I also felt close to death. My vision was beginning to turn black, my head bursting with pain.
“I release you,” her voice said, and the pain was gone instantly. I kept hold on her for a few more seconds.
“Do you promise to do what I ask if I let go?” I said.
“Yes!” her voice said in my head, and I released her. Floating, I fell back a few inches, taking in deep, sweet breaths, my vision returning to normal, my heart no longer so tight it felt like a fist was closing over it.
“First, what is your name?” I gasped.
“My name is Lilin,” she said, her face melting faster, her eyes blazing with hatred and fury. Out of nowhere, an idea came to me- a dangerous one, but my instincts told me to go with it.
“OK, Lilin. Mine is Teddie. When I say ‘Come to me now, Lilin’ in the future, you will come.” She nodded, her eyes seeming to smile now, the look of hatred receding from her face.
“Yes, when you say, ‘Come to me now, Lilin,’ I will come.” Her voice sounded so spiteful and full of hate that I flinched slightly when she sent this message out.
“Now bring me back up!” I said, feeling relieved to have survived and not gotten stuck in this underground Hell on Earth. I drew close to her again, wrapping my mind around hers, seeing my mind’s projection of arms wrap around her strange, sickly body, and within moments, we were back in the dark woods. I was standing in my body at the same spot that I had been when I first saw her, hyperventilating as I swayed unsteadily on my feet.
“Get out of these woods,” she whispered in a low, demonic voice, “and the next time I see you, I will kill you.”
I walked out of there, pouring myself a huge glass of whiskey when I got home. But I still didn’t sleep that night. I was afraid of what I would see if I did. My hands were trembling so badly that, when I poured myself the fourth glass of whiskey around dawn, I dropped the entire bottle, seeing it shatter all over the porch.
A few weeks passed, and I began to wonder whether I had imagined the entire thing, maybe while sleepwalking or during some strange, isolated seizure event. After all, every day that passed made the encounter seem more and more like a dream.
The night that I saw Lilin again, I had just gotten home from work. I felt exhausted. It was Friday, and I just wanted to lay down and catch up on my sleep. I fell down heavily on the bed, and I was out almost instantly.
My dream was bizarre. I kept seeing that fae woman from the forest, her face dripping off the bones. When all the flesh was gone and puddled on the floor at her feet, she smiled at me, just a skull, and pointed up at the sky.
I looked up and saw a symbol I had never seen before- it looked like a backwards silver-colored seven with a diagonal slash through it, surrounded by a glowing white circle.
“Soon, I will be free,” she said to me, her skull chattering out of sync with the words, yet her voice still coming through loudly and clearly. “That symbol will guarantee it. And I will never stop hunting you until we are even.”
A crash brought me back to waking life. I sat up in my bed, looking at the alarm clock. 11:47 AM.
I heard footsteps crunching on broken glass in the kitchen. A few seconds later, a man with an executioner’s hood over his head walked calmly into my bedroom. On his forehead, he had painted the same symbol I had seen in my dream- the backwards seven with the circle around it. In his hand, he had an old-looking revolver, which he pointed directly at my face.
“Freeze, maggot,” he said, a tone of mirth in his voice.
“Who are you? What do you want?” I asked, now wide awake and frozen in terror.
“Well, the news calls me the Westland Ripper,” he said, giggling an insane, high-pitched laugh. “I guess it is as good a name as any.”
“Get the fuck out of my house,” I said coldly. He pulled the gun back, pistol whipping me across the jaw. I felt something in it give, my mouth filling with the warm taste of blood. I spit out a tooth.
“Why? What are you going to do about it?
“Now you’re going to be a good boy,” he said, his voice now as emotionless as a robot’s. “I’m going to tie you up, unless you want me to shoot your dick off first. Try anything, and that will be the result.” He pointed the gun at my crotch to emphasize his point, and then proceeded to pull out a coil of thick rope from his back pocket.
Though I rarely watched TV, even I had heard about the Westland Ripper. He had injected corrosive acids into the flesh of some of his victims, burned others alive, and the FBI allegedly believed he had killed dozens of people above and beyond his official body count. Not only was he a serial killer, but an extremely sadistic torturer.
I knew if he got me tied up, that would be the end of me. I did the only thing I could think of.
“Come to me now, Lilin!” I screamed, my broken, swelling jaw muffling my words slightly. I spit out small droplets of blood as I yelled. The killer raised his gun to pistol-whip me across the face again, but he never got a chance to bring it down.
The entire room filled with the corpse lights in an instant. Flashes of light shone on the insane, melting face of Lilin as she materialized behind the intruder, grabbing his gun arm and forcing it up higher with her bony, claw-like fingers.
In a flash, her mouth opened wide, and she bit into his armpit. Shaking her head from side to side like a rabid dog, she ripped off a huge chunk of skin and muscle. He was screaming now, blood pouring down his all-black outfit.
As she ate him alive, I got out of bed, sprinting out to my car. The screams of the man followed me, growing more and more desperate. When I reached the threshold of the front door, Lilin’s voice echoed in my mind.
“Where are you going, friend?” she asked in a mirthful voice. “I’m not done with you yet. You can run, but you can’t hide.” I pulled my phone out to call 911 and report the armed intruder, driving out of that town well above the speed limit.
The police only found a mess of gore in my bedroom when they arrived, an eyeball in one corner, a finger under the bed, and so on. Most of the body was just gone.
I never returned to that town. I sold my grandmother’s house that I had inherited, using the money to leave the state entirely. But I don’t think that will keep me safe.
Lilin isn’t gone. Despite moving three hundred miles away, I just looked out the window.
Under the streetlight outside, I saw the silhouette of a naked, emaciated woman with long, black hair.
submitted by CIAHerpes to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 11:12 Dryadversity Thoughts on the ecosystem of Caelid (and Mohgwyn), and the significance of Radahn "howling at the sky"

Thoughts on the ecosystem of Caelid (and Mohgwyn), and the significance of Radahn
Blood and flame
The first thing I'd like to discuss is the relationship between Caelid and Mohgwyn, which is beneath its eastern side. The theorist Quelaag posited that the blood in Mohgwyn might be the result of the blood from the conflicts and wars fought in Caelid seeping into the soil and into the underworld. My first thought was that the red in Caelid is scarlet rot, not blood; but now I think it could be both.
This gave me some ideas on what the burning stone structures found in Caelid are, and what their purpose is. Throughout the region is something called the "Smoldering Wall", which just looks like burning rocks—kind of like charcoal. There's also the Smoldering Church found at the border of Caelid and Limgrave, which has the same fiery and stony constitution.
the Smoldering Wall
The theory I had went like this: Scarlet rot drives people to madness (e.g. Radahn), provoking them to shed blood and slaughter each other. In alignment with Quelaag's theory, this blood seeps into the soil and drips into the underground, filling Mohgwyn with blood. This blood is then lit aflame with the power of the Formless Mother—which can be seen in Mohgwyn, as the same fire architecture is present here. The fire burns and rises back toward the surface, inciting more conflict and inspiring more bloodshed, thus creating a blood-cycle analogous to the water cycle. In this framework, liquid water is blood, and gaseous water is both a) boiling blood and b) fire.
My take is that the boiling blood is just blood that hasn't been heated enough to become bloodflame. You might notice that the Sanguine nobles' blood emits steam; since they are lesser officials in the dynasty's hierarchy, it would make sense that their blood would not be as powerful, or hot enough to ignite.
Sanguine noble blood
The Formless Mother and god of rot
I think this blood cycle could be more evidence for the view that the Formless Mother and god of rot are the same entity, or closely related. In a recent post, I talked about how the purple and green amorphous patterns visible in the Lake of Rot's map depiction support the theory that the Lake of Blood is analogous to cursed or rotted blood, and is being stabbed with the Ainsel River like the unalloyed gold needle. This is because the same purple and green coloring is found on Morgott's cursed sword, which we know contains the cursed blood of the Omen. So rot is compared to cursed blood, which I think can be brought back to the idea of rotted blood.
In the comments of that post, user ElA1to suggested this design on the Lake of Rot could also be representing the blood of the Formless Mother. I wasn't immediately convinced, because I didn't recall any mention of the Formless Mother's blood being cursed; plus, if the Formless Mother seeks out cursed blood as the game says, this might suggest her own blood doesn't have this quality. Why would she seek it if she already has it? Does she just want more? However, ElA1to's comment gave me the idea that the blood of the Formless Mother might be equivalent to the blood of the Omen, as a result of their symbiotic relationship. I think the Omens' and Formless Mother's blood might go through a blood cycle of its own: one in which the Omen sacrifice blood to her by wounding themselves, and in exchange, receive some of it back as powerups by wounding her in battle; the blood of the Formless Mother is actually their own blood returned to them.
So, there is quite a bit of information linking the Formless Mother to the rot god. As ElA1to mentioned, the Lake of Rot might be the blood of the Formless Mother, or analogous to it. Both rotted blood and cursed blood are something that is often suppressed by the afflicted, i.e. in the second phases of Malenia's and Morgott's fights. Fire architecture, which I think is interspersed with bloodflame, is found in both Mohgwyn (Formless Mother) and Caelid (rot). There are red geysers in both Mohgwyn, and in the Swamp of Aeonia. As Gideon the Half-Knowing noticed, there are only two "exultation" talismans in the game: the Kindred of Rot's exultation, and Lord of Blood's exultation. And finally, as I just discovered, the Mohgwyn swamp even contains scarlet rot.
I haven't been able to find scarlet rot anywhere else in Mohgwyn; it might just be this one spot.
All that being said, there's good reason to object to this theory of the two gods being the same. I'm sure there are multiple valid counterarguments, but the one I'd like to bring to attention is the antagonistic relationship between fire and rot. The description for Radahn's great rune reads: "The Great Rune burns, to resist the encroachment of the scarlet rot." Some have claimed we can see Radahn using this rune in the trailer (since he's on fire), and I think this is probably correct. Nonetheless, Elden Ring is a game with a lot to say about combining things that contradict each other. Even if the Formless Mother and god of rot are not the same, it does seem they share a particularly close relationship. Maybe, if bloodflame burns rot, this is another example of a war between gods, and parallels the conflict between Melina/The Greater Will and the Frenzied Flame?
Here's an additional angle, while we're on the topic: If rot is indeed the blood of the Formless Mother, then maybe this is why she seeks Omen blood—because Omen blood burns, and can resist scarlet rot. This would potentially make Malenia a mirror to the Formless Mother, and Miquella a mirror to the Omen.
More on the smoldering architecture, and its significance
Another idea I had on the fire architecture is that it represents ambition. As mentioned, the wall and church are both described with the word 'smoldering'. When Morgott ambushes us as we approach Leyndell, he says to us:
"I see thee, little Tarnished. Smoldering with that wretched flame of ambition."
So the flame of ambition smolders. This actually appears to relate to the cut content of the Smoldering Church, in which Bernahl's maiden could be found. In the restored content, she is seen covered in bandages, likely because she burned herself at the forge, or because she was preparing for it with lesser burns. Since becoming Elden Lord requires burning the Erdtree at the forge, there is a clear relation between the ambition of ascending to the Elden Throne, and fire. That appears to be the idea this church once, or still represents.
picture by Laurelinarean
There is a second hint in this line of Morgott's: the word 'wretched'. This word is used to describe the swamp in Mohgwyn. The last part of the description for Mohg's great rune reads:
"Mohg and Morgott are twin brothers, and their Great Runes are naturally similar. But Mohg's rune is soaked in accursed blood, from his devout love for the wretched mire that he was born into far below the earth."
I believe that when Morgott calls the flame "wretched", he is referring to the bloodflame rising from Mohgwyn. I also believe he is expressing his loathsome feelings for his brother, as well as himself, since like Mohg, he also possesses the flammable blood of the Omen. Still, I do think the wretched flame Morgott speaks of could also be the giant's flame, and the fire of the Crucible. I don't think there is necessarily a contradiction between these interpretations; Morgott seems to view all fire as bad.
The latter two interpretations, i.e. of the giant's flame and Crucible, actually have some evidence of their own, in the fire architecture I've been describing. I forget who it was (I'd cite them if I did), but someone noticed that the Mohgwyn mausoleum actually appears to be sitting atop, and embedded in, a petrified tree.
from the website Attack of the Fanboy
I'm not sure if they mentioned this part, but you can only see the fire on this petrified texture; the regular rock walls do not contain flames. If the theory is true, which I believe it is, then it's the fourth example so far of a region in the game being placed on or identical to a petrified tree. The other two are the Mountaintops of the Giants (credit to Eredin), Raya Lucaria, and Mt. Gelmir.
It's not hard to apply this new information on burning, petrified trees to Caelid. The smoldering wall and smoldering church might not be stone at all. Instead, I think it's more likely they are burning, petrified wood—once again, relating to Morgott's fear that the Tarnished will burn the Erdtree. This in turn could imply that all of common churches in the Lands Between are made of petrified wood.
The Wailing Dunes and ash
Basically, the theory is that the Wailing Dunes are not sand, but ash. I've already written a post on it where I explain my thoughts fully, so I'll just mention the name of the post instead of repeating myself. The post is titled "Could the Wailing Dunes be Ash?"
Giants, scavengers, and dragonrot
It's been observed that the giant dogs in Caelid have some similarities with the crows. They kind of walk like birds, and have been compared to T-Rexes, which were likely ancestors to birds. And so, I find it interesting that Gurranq, who is found in the region of Caelid called Dragonbarrow, is sort of like a combination of a dog and crow. Gurranq is a wolf, but the armor he wears, particularly his headpiece, resembles the body of a crow. Furthermore, Gurranq is a giant wolf, and giants are also found in Caelid. So I think you could argue that he's like a synthesis of various creatures found in this region.
Something interesting about the larger animals in Caelid is that they are known for being scavengers. Crows are scavengers, as are some dogs. The theme of scavenging ties into Caelid because the whole area is rotted; and rot arises from corpses, which actually makes Caelid something like the ideal habitat for these creatures. Radahn is also depicted as a scavenger, since he is explicitly said by Jerren to gorge on corpses.
A similar argument could be made for Gurranq. This is because Destined Death, which Melina calls "death indiscriminate" is able to consume (because it's fire) soulless bodies and spirits alike. (This is based on the idea that Destined Death can kill both body and soul, and is in this sense indiscriminate). To destroy whatever is left of the self (body or soul) is arguably similar to scavenging, since scavenging involves taking what's left of an organism, the body, and consuming/destroying it. So Gurranq, as well, is a kind of scavenger. Even more evidence for this is his appetite for Deathroot; if you eat something that is dead, that makes you a scavenger.
Gurranq: a combination of giant dogs (scavengers) and giant ravens (scavengers), who has the power to dispose of the remains of living (or half-living) things, and eats death
As the last part of this section, I wanted to share a thought I had on the dragons, and why Caelid (more specifically Dragonbarrow) contains so many of them. I believe it has to do with the poison-resistant attributes of great dragonflies, and that the regular dragons actually have some poison-resistant qualities as well. The great dragonfly head item description reads: "Head of a large dragonfly. Material used for crafting items. Long believed to have the ability to neutralize poisons." This neutralizing power is proven through the neutralizing boluses and immunizing cured meat, both of which require great dragonfly heads as ingredients.
Howling at the sky
Radahn imitates Godfrey, who is associated with lions. Radahn even identifies as Godfrey's lion, which might be an expression of admiration, or a more specific reference to Serosh. Yet, lions do not howl; they roar. What animal does howl? A wolf. This is probably why Jerren, earlier in the cutscene, likens Radahn to a dog:
"Now he gathers the corpses of former friends and foes alike, gorging on them, like a dog."
More evidence that that links Radahn's howling to wolves includes similar behavior from Gurranq and Blaidd. Depending on the conditions, Gurranq can be found outside the Bestial Sanctum, howling at the sky. It may not be a coincidence that this location is right next to the Wailing Dunes. Blaidd also howls at the night sky, atop the Mistwood ruins. So "howling at the sky" is a pattern that establishes Radahn as a character with lupine qualities.
Why is this important? Recall this text from Radahn's helm:
"Helm of the golden lion, with flowing red hair. Worn by General Radahn.
Radahn inherited the furious, flaming red hair of his father Radagon, and is fond of its heroic implications.'I was born a champion's cub. Now I am the Lord of the Battlefield's lion.'"
Radahn used to be Radagon's "cub", since a) he is his child, and b) Radagon is associated with wolves, e.g. in Marika's description of him as a "leal hound", and in Radagon's red wolves.
So Radahn used to be Radagon's cub, and in adulthood, he imitated the Elden Lord he admired most: Godfrey. However, "now", after losing his mind to Malenia's scarlet rot, he is left wandering, scavenging, and howling like the dogs in Caelid. He's been reduced to a contradiction; someone who still wears armor emblazoned with lions, but who no longer has the strength to properly identify with one. To put it one way, he has regressed.
Fire is arguably Radahn's primary visual motif. As the aforementioned description states, Radahn inherited Radagon's "flaming" red hair. You may recall that fire is depicted as a regressive force, e.g. through the Frenzied Flame, and in Radagon himself, who tried to undo the shattering of the Elden Ring through smithing—another process that involves fire. In line with this idea of regression, I believe Radahn not only regressed from lion to wolf, he also regressed to a wolf cub; a child.
Radahn howls at the sky because he has regressed to a childlike state. I don't think this is meant to represent immaturity, exactly, just the often-pitiable emotional states children experience, and their dependence on adults; I also think it's meant to reference the tendency for infants to cry. I believe Radahn is crying out in pain, for someone to kill him, and for his father, Radagon. And he does so by howling—which another wolf would surely be able to understand, even at great distances.
Finally, I'd like to mention a parallel that the conflict between Radahn and Malenia, and the former's regression to a cub, has with Sekiro. In Sekiro, when you die to Lady Butterfly, she says: "You were still just a puppy." Of course, Lady Butterfly is similar to Malenia, because Malenia is also a butterfly, and is associated with them. So in both games, you have butterfly women attacking characters associated with wolves, and reducing them to cubs. Also, the fight takes place in a burning room with flaming columns, which kind of resemble the fire architecture seen in Caelid.
The Red Lion
From what I've found, in alchemy, the red lion represents the maturing of the green lion after it's swallowed the sun, and corresponds with the tempering of primal instincts. This didn't sound like it matched Radahn at first... but the part about the red lion being "matured" does remind me of the wolf-to-lion evolution described earlier. Another factor is that if Radahn is taking after Godfrey, he might have admired his restraint just as much as his strength. Again, he seems to have compared himself to Serosh, who inhibits Godfrey's bloodlust.
It's worth noting that the green lion symbol in alchemy is sometimes depicted as having seven red stars along its side, which may connect to Radahn's role as the starscourge. Furthermore, the green lion is depicted eating the sun, which is a star. If the green lion eats stars, could the other stars along its body represent other stars that it's consumed? Maybe this is in fact what turned the green lion red—the consumption of red stars. (Or maybe this was just the interpretation FromSoft went with.) It could also tie into Rykard's goal of devouring the gods, since he is Rykard's brother, and the sun and stars were frequently identified as deities in ancient times.
the Green Lion with red stars, devouring the sun
It might be important that the final color of the lion, if the alchemical process continues successfully, is gold. Godfrey has a stronger association with the color gold than red, and Radahn may have been trying to reach this final state of development, only to regress back to a red wolf cub. Alternatively, it's possible the red lion imagery was intentional, and that Radahn was trying to fuse Godfrey's iconography with that of his own lineage and father.
A final thought on Radahn and regression
Bosses in FromSoft's games have a tendency to unleash whatever powers they were previously suppressing, as part of their second phase. I believe this became a trend after Bloodborne's The Old Hunters DLC, which features Lady Maria as one of its bosses. The fight is well regarded for integrating the story of Maria's self-loathing as a Vileblood, and her eventual decision to abandon her dignity by using her cursed blood against the hunter in her second phase. This exact narrative can be seen in Morgott's and Malenia's fights.
In Radahn's case, what he is "holding back" are the stars. Thus, it is entirely fitting that he introduces his second phase by becoming the thing he was fighting: a falling star.
by Yzzlthtz
In this case, since the stars are something are external to Radahn rather than something he was withholding as a part of himself, the transformation is not technically regressive. However, this makes comparison to that famous quotation from Nietzsche even more apt:
"He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself; and if you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you."
This is highly applicable to Radahn's narrative, for multiple reasons. First, as mentioned, Radahn becomes the thing he fought. Second, Caelid is where most of the dragons live; the Wailing Dunes are technically located in Dragonbarrow. And third, Radahn did indeed stare into the abyss, since holding back the stars would surely involve looking into space, which is often described as an abyss. Plus, Radahn is a Carian, so staring into space is something he was likely doing from a very young age.
link for the thumbnail: https://imgur.com/a/Szj1x9j
Gurranq howling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umGVg_A0epM
Post on the Wailing Dunes and ash: https://www.reddit.com/Eldenring/comments/10ja23l/could_the_wailing_dunes_be_ash/
submitted by Dryadversity to EldenRingLoreTalk [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 09:33 ScaredAnteater2188 Nothing seems to work and my mental health is finished

21m, had full body eczema my whole life. My eczema is pretty much everywhere. The few places that aren’t affected are the bottom of my feet, palms of my hands and my private areas. Even then I’ve started to get occasional dry skin on my armpits and around my ‘thing’.
GP’s have pretty much given me steroid cream after steroid cream and the same advice since I was a kid. I remember being maybe 8 years old saying ‘give me the cream with a lion picture bc that gets rid of it’ (fucibet or fucidin used to have this little lion picture on the tube). The same advice every time of ‘put more moisturiser on’ just got ridiculous. Hydromol ointment 7 times a day just isn’t practical to go about any part of the day constantly dripping. Once upon a time aveeno would keep my skin moist all day but it seems the moisturisers and steroid creams are exactly like painting over a crack in a wall. The problem gets hidden until it gets worse and you need a thicker paint. I’ve been given betnovate ointment on repeat prescription since I was in high school.
Around a year on ciclosporine was similar, it eventually stopped working. Started around July 2021 just after the worst flare ups. Most recently had 4 months on dupixent and the same thing. Started December 2022. This made my hair fall out after 2 months or so of using it and my vision blurry and constant stinging eyes after 3 months. Dermatology now want me on rinvoq which I’m not optimistic about. I’ll likely end up being good for a couple months and then add more problems to my list of issues. Nothing seems to work.
I’ve been depressed. Suicidal thoughts daily for months at a time but could never really attempt it. Only the thoughts of how my mum would feel and the best line my elder brother ever gave me stopped me from actually doing anything. ‘If you kill yourself it’s just a 1st class ticket to hell’ - I’m a Muslim and suicide is a major sin.
Now, I’m not suicidal. But there’s a sort of emptiness and hopelessness. A mindset of ‘these are the cards I’ve been dealt and there’s nothing I can do about it’. I’m getting used to constantly having this depression in my mind and having no confidence. Pushing 3 months now where almost every time I leave my bedroom I put a hood up or hat on. For around 2 years now I haven’t even bothered trying to talk or get close to a new girl. Why would I when I don’t have any confidence in how I look and don’t even look like my pictures anymore. Nobody wants somebody with problems like mine, people want positive not depressing. I’m smart enough to know I’m getting used to things that I shouldn’t be getting used to. I think of my future and it’s blank. What kind of life can I really expect for myself. The typical hope every guy has from young of big house, fast car, happy wife and kids and financially well enough to look after mum and not worry when bills come in is out the window. It’s just not realistic - how can I ever get that when I can barely keep a job due to constant absences caused by regular flare ups.
Failed out of uni whilst going through the worst flare ups ever. This is from when I failed in august 2021 to when I failed the repeat year in 2022. A daily routine of waking up unable to move, to the extent I’d starve myself as long as possible bc it was too painful to open my mouth. Then rip everything open like a wild animal and eventually I’d ‘finish’ itching every bit of skin on my body and sit crying and shaking bc the pain was so bad. From that point onwards I’d spend the rest of the day high on weed and come night I’d cry myself to sleep bc of how horrible the thoughts in my mind were. This was everyday for up to 3 months at a time.
My skin isn’t even bad right now but it’s only a matter of time till another flare up, and I guess this is my life. To top it off my liver reading from the blood test came up at 214 - it should be below 55 - and the docs straight away say it’s bc I smoke too much weed. I honestly think they’re clutching at straws here bc in 3, nearly 4, years of smoking my liver hasn’t come up once and 1 gram a day I wouldn’t call a crazy amount considering there’s been periods where I’d smoke 2 grams a day and was fine. Also, I’m sure all the medicines they give me such as the regular prednisolone courses and cyclosporine affect the liver. Not saying it can’t be the weed, just it could be multiple other things.
Right now, my hair still hasn’t grown back, I’m hesitant to start the rinvoq but I guess I don’t have a choice really. The docs want me to stop smoking weed which is my only real break from things and avoid gym bc sweating likely irritates my skin, 2 of few things I enjoy anymore.
Where am I supposed to go from here? What am I supposed to do with my life? I’ll probably end up having a heart attack on rinvoq knowing my luck, and watch the docs say it’s bc of the weed and nothing to do with the ‘safe’ medicines they give me that fix one issue by causing another. Appreciate anybody that read this essay, I guess I needed to vent my thoughts out somewhere. Any advice would be great ❤️
submitted by ScaredAnteater2188 to eczema [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 09:28 wecanhaveallthree [f][tyranids] A Time To Every Purpose

A recent post asked, 'how would you write a Tyranid story?'. This is my response. There might be more if the mood strikes, as the idea - and the challenge! - are definitely tempting. We'll see how it shakes out.
We are falling.
If space is bent - if the gravities of all the little lights and rocks align against us - then we can do nothing but fall. Down the darkling way. Down the four-dimensional plane. Down, down, driven down. We are thrust through the veil on Narvhal’s horn; we pierce the distance between here and there. We are carried on the carrier-beast’s final breath, riven by plasma and lance and exotic matter. Farewell, Narvhal. Farewell, our pursuers - farewell, for now. We shall surely meet again.
Will we be ready when we do?
Now, we must tell you, there will be deceit. We do not wish to call it deception, though clearly, we deceive. We speak to you in words we hope you will understand. We ask for your patience.
Imagine, then, a castle. Imagine grey-brick redoubts, grand old walls wrought by ancient masons that keep out the sprawl of old, dark woods. Imagine their bare branches, riven by snow and season, their rough, tough roots sunk deep into frozen earth. Imagine moving through the courtyards and gardens and finding not a soul, the attendants and groundskeepers and courtiers gone, lost, destroyed.
Imagine the creak of rusted hinges and protesting timber as you open the inner gates. Imagine an ornamental indoor lake filled with the deepest black you have ever seen, the darkness that dwells in the space beyond a dream, and know that the Lady is still here.
She leans on the balustrade, eyes twinkling, snug in fur and downy robes. The cold and isolation do not touch her. She is not weak, here. She is not shriven of biomatter and the last of her brood guard, her mantle seared and cracked by Imperial malice, frozen blood on the black carapace as it sculls slowly, painfully, through the void. She is whole and complete and wonderful and all-knowing and she cannot possibly fail.
‘Come to me,’ she whispers, and all must obey.
Now, imagine the smallest thing possible. A quark, a genome, something closer to an idea than a reality. Something so infinitely delicate can only be a child. It does not squall or cry in its amniotic cradle - it simply looks to the Lady, attentive as only those who yearn for purpose can be…
(Remember: this is not a castle, there is not the smell of woods in winter and age-crisped paper and elderly oak. These are metaphors, these are similies, these are likenesses used to convey a meaning so that you may understand what is about to happen within the ruined, half-dead husk of the Norn Queen, her last unmurdered birthing chamber and what few potential zygotes remain.)
…and the Lady guides the child up the swaying stairs, through the silent halls where knowledge sleeps (less, now, that the fleet has been so diminished, that a connection to the greater mind has been lost, but still, the distance is vast, vast as the space between neurons can be).
Together, they reach the observatory with its glittering silver latticed roof, and its gold-inlaid telescope aligned to the heavens. We watch, rapt, as possibilities pass us by.
Here is a world locked to stare at the system sun, one face afire, one cloaked forever in darkness. Narvhal’s cry echoes deep in the polar ice, trapped, refracted, and ultimately amplified. The hasp will be broken, tomorrow or in ten millennia, and the faces will reverse in a single day. In one destructive rotation, one brief spasm - utterly insignificant in the cosmic span - the world will shrug off all the creatures that dwell upon it. Unsuited to our purpose, even if the chance of discovery were not so great, but a valuable lesson. The Lady is satisfied that, even as it perishes, the carrier-beast dooms a thousandfold of its slayers. Efficient, as such things are measured.
Here is a world of springs and seas. Rich life teems in the waters and builds high on the shores away from the toxic volcanoes and gas vents that ridge the continents. Lethal to the natives. Useful to us. What could lair in those untouched places - what power could be coaxed from those hidden troves, its strengths married to ours? Rich metals. Deep deposits. Yes, perhaps, if the brood had not been so vastly reduced. Even a creche of infiltrator forms would suffice.
No, the Lady shakes her head. ‘Do you see?’ Her tone is not mocking, not condescending - the child has overlooked something that her experience has not. ‘The Inquisition have chosen this as their home. They seek the same seclusion we do. Their agents are among the population, and their attention would be quickly drawn to any attempt at planetfall.’
Ah. Of course. Our pursuers have others sworn to their same cause - some even more vigilant, even more vicious. Their presence is a concern. We will not risk their attention before we must. We turn away from the life-rich world for now.
Here is a world of cities, reaching to the clouds and the planetary crust. A mechanical metropolis that almost blinds the oculus with its bright potential. Even the Lady betrays a trace of hunger as she considers the possibilities. Surely in that choked, toxic atmosphere, we could arrive unseen. But where? And after that, how would we protect her? The officialdom of these worlds is not the only danger - their petty rulers, their slum-lords and criminal masses are just as paranoid, just as fearful of the alien, the unknown, the visitors from the stars no matter how humble or hidden their guise.
‘We only have one chance at this,’ the Lady says. Again, she shakes her head, though not without regret. ‘I cannot make you strong enough to prevail here. The flaw is mine. We look again.’
Here is a world ruined in such fierce, spectacular fashion that it may only serve as an example of galactic chance rather than spawning ground. Stripped of atmosphere, shattered by endless meteorite impacts, this shield world has endured so much in its eyeblink life. The inner system crouches behind it - we dare go no closer, fearing the sensors and snares and ships that glitter between those worlds. They are closed to us. What else is there?
Here is a world stripped by radiation, inhabited only by freakish bacteria that the Lady blanches to behold. No. Here is a world that could serve us in a million years, as life nests close to its molten heart, the surface in tectonic upheaval. No. Here is a world that barely deserves the name, a dwarfish rogue that skitters on an erratic, outer orbit. Docks and outriggers festoon it, rock-breakers and asteroid mines. Perhaps, if they were less attentive, but they would be just as alert to extrasolar intruders as the inner system.
After all, their lives would depend on it.
Not the outpost planet, then, but the voidships that service it? Would that suffice? The Lady demurs. She looks away - she consults her library. She does not like trusting our fate to the hope the child can subdue a transport alone, that the transport will not be looked for, and that it will contain what she needs. So many variables. So many possibilities. What are, in short, the odds?
If she does nothing, we perish. If she chooses wrong, we perish. Ah, the burden of leadership, without the greater mind to consult, without the pleasing absence of responsibility that the lesser forms have. We feel for her. Failure is not in her blood, yet she must confront it.
Above us, the heavens whirl. Time advances. Ichor drools into the void. The Queen’s flukes waver in fatigue and pain.
The Lady considers. The child waits.
She makes to speak - then cocks an ear to listen, as if to catch a trace of far-off, almost-familiar music. A moment. Another. She blinks. And, suddenly, she smiles, as beatific as any saint as their faith is rewarded.
Yes. This will do. There is one light that shines brighter, and closer, than any other. A ship, a crew, and a very particular cargo.
Again, she beckons the child, and together they walk the library halls. So many passages are dark, and so many shelves are empty. The loss will likely never be truly healed. Not even in the warm embrace of the greater mind. It is the way of things, we know. We cannot forget the harm that was done to us - we are wounded to the core, in our intrinsic structure. What weapons the Imperials employed have done to us what nothing else ever has (ah, yes, but for the Death - when we lick our wounds, do they taste of that calamity?). That, alone, makes our survival imperative. We must return this knowledge to the greater mind.
This nook has very few tomes left. Imagine them bolted and chained, confined to their cages of solid wood, as though they were dangerous beasts warded against escape (and what could be more dangerous than knowledge, properly used? Are we not living proof of that?). Certainly, they are. We know what damage these secrets have wrought upon this galaxy, for ten thousand years of furious anger.
And now we will put it to a use not dissimilar to that intended by its creator. The Lady delights in that irony as she untraps a book and bends down to show the child.
‘They were called the Silver Shields.’ A page turns. ‘They protected their home, far from here, with certain codes of valour and certain modes of conduct.’ Another page. ‘They failed, of course, but their remnants linger still - we took this one beyond the Wound. A strange tale, and one I will tell you in time if you wish.’ Another page. ‘Do you see what I intend?’
Do we?
We see the shining silver, the curve of the plate, and the intended - and often attained - psychological effect. We are (oh so very) familiar with beacons. We understand the importance of signals and ceremonies. We do not dispute their illogic; it has delivered us prey more times than memory allows. We understand the concepts they cling to. We understand oppression, and we understand freedom.
Yes, we have an intimate understanding of freedom.
We are presented with a unique opportunity. We must, then, shape a unique solution. Adapt or perish is the fundamental law of the cosmos. We have made ourselves synonymous with that law, entwined ourselves with it, and we live - we thrive - at the expense of those that do not.
‘A chevalier. A knight.’ The Lady weaves the last zygotes into a pattern that melds the book and the purpose. It will take time. There is so much damage, so much that has been lost. ‘A champion, yes? To guard my slumber. To secure my reawakening. To lead those that believe to their earned reward. Do you understand?’
The child does not cry - it does not struggle as the weaving takes it. This is something strange, something that is not provided in the shaping maps, the hard-coded, well-worn paths that end as carnifex, termagant, tyrant and uncounted others. There is pain.
‘I am sorry,’ the Lady does not wipe at her misting eyes. ‘You have no swarm to command, and there is no place here for a lord. You deserve more, and I cannot grant it to you.’
Here, we must leave. The Queen’s last powers are focused on the child. She has nothing left for us. We wither. We die.
Our final sight is the Lady holding the child close.
‘Be brave,’ she whispers, already fading into hibernation, into the dreamless deep. ‘I love you.’
Then she is gone, and so are we.
submitted by wecanhaveallthree to 40kLore [link] [comments]

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submitted by Starindia05 to u/Starindia05 [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 08:48 More_Manufacturer285 ****uGhhhhhhhh how do I apologize without flipping off the fuvkin handle???

Hey everyone idk. I need help. I’m lost. I’m hurt, angry,confused. I lost my mom last year and I’ve always struggled with addiction but I’m pretty much sober now(only smoking cannabis)
Ok no more context: I got into a a huge argument with my aunt who I currently live with because of the death of my mom. I’ve been smoking my wax pen in my room yk? I thought I was being careful. Smoking out the window, closing my vents and covering my door at the bottom. My aunt smelled this and basically was hella pissed. Idk this is where the argument started. But for the sake of time I’m not going to go into details that are somewhat irrelevant. Ok her and her husband start yelling and going off and doing all the xtras. I get so pissed I’m not even arguing back at them. I get so pissed I feel this intense feeling take over my entire lower body and arms. My hand s were shaking so much they hurt. So I punched the wall. It left a mark but not a crack.
anyways I proceede it storm out. Not even because I’m mad at them. I’m just surprised and in disbelief that happened. I’ve never been so angry before. I’m usually pretty chill and being angry is not a usual emotion . Hitting the wall was something I wasn’t even thinking about doing. All of the sudden I hit the wall idfk how it happened.
so I leave the house, and in such idk being surprised being upset idk. I couldn’t r bring myself to go back home. So I spent the night at a friends. And came back around 10am. When I came home my aunt answered the door and says nothing. She just moves to the side and let’s me in the house.Ok again for the sake of time I’ll skip some of the other things.
this is when things got extra heated
I go downstairs to try and talk to my aunt and apologize. I try to explain to her how I know I got too upset and I wouldn’t bring anything into the house again. She didn’t give me the chance. She started going on and on and ON about how she’s being disrespected in her house. Then she starts putting her finger in my face so all I do was move her hand out of my face. I didn’t hit her. I never actually forcefully or intended any harm. After that she started screaming saying I hit her. And I was like what the fuck?? So I get even more upset and before I even have a chance to get too upset like how I did previously. I leave.
maybe leaving isn’t the best way to have dealt with it. But how things turned out before I didn’t want anyone to see that side of me again.
I go to work, come back home and go to my room. I’ve been in my room only leaving for water because my room has a bathroom attached. I’ve just been here because I don’t know how I’m supposed to handle this situation. I’m posting this long ass story because I need help.
How do I apologize?? How do I approach her?? What do I say?? Please someone guide me. I’m so confused and upset and just experiencing a whirlwind of emotions all the time. I’m tired.
submitted by More_Manufacturer285 to MMFB [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 08:46 More_Manufacturer285 *****UGHHHHHHHH I hate being a teenager sometimes

Hey everyone idk. I need help. I’m lost. I’m hurt, angry,confused. I lost my mom last year and I’ve always struggled with addiction but I’m pretty much sober now(only smoking cannabis)
Ok no more context: I got into a a huge argument with my aunt who I currently live with because of the death of my mom. I’ve been smoking my wax pen in my room yk? I thought I was being careful. Smoking out the window, closing my vents and covering my door at the bottom. My aunt smelled this and basically was hella pissed. Idk this is where the argument started. But for the sake of time I’m not going to go into details that are somewhat irrelevant. Ok her and her husband start yelling and going off and doing all the xtras. I get so pissed I’m not even arguing back at them. I get so pissed I feel this intense feeling take over my entire lower body and arms. My hand s were shaking so much they hurt. So I punched the wall. It left a mark but not a crack.
anyways I proceede it storm out. Not even because I’m mad at them. I’m just surprised and in disbelief that happened. I’ve never been so angry before. I’m usually pretty chill and being angry is not a usual emotion . Hitting the wall was something I wasn’t even thinking about doing. All of the sudden I hit the wall idfk how it happened.
so I leave the house, and in such idk being surprised being upset idk. I couldn’t r bring myself to go back home. So I spent the night at a friends. And came back around 10am. When I came home my aunt answered the door and says nothing. She just moves to the side and let’s me in the house.Ok again for the sake of time I’ll skip some of the other things.
this is when things got extra heated
I go downstairs to try and talk to my aunt and apologize. I try to explain to her how I know I got too upset and I wouldn’t bring anything into the house again. She didn’t give me the chance. She started going on and on and ON about how she’s being disrespected in her house. Then she starts putting her finger in my face so all I do was move her hand out of my face. I didn’t hit her. I never actually forcefully or intended any harm. After that she started screaming saying I hit her. And I was like what the fuck?? So I get even more upset and before I even have a chance to get too upset like how I did previously. I leave.
maybe leaving isn’t the best way to have dealt with it. But how things turned out before I didn’t want anyone to see that side of me again.
I go to work, come back home and go to my room. I’ve been in my room only leaving for water because my room has a bathroom attached. I’ve just been here because I don’t know how I’m supposed to handle this situation. I’m posting this long ass story because I need help.
How do I apologize?? How do I approach her?? What do I say?? Please someone guide me. I’m so confused and upset and just experiencing a whirlwind of emotions all the time. I’m tired.
submitted by More_Manufacturer285 to depression [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 08:43 GreatHornedRat_UWU Hjulbrek Hunhivehr's Book of Grudges Written by Hjulbrek, Dwarf Templar of Hoar Entry #7: The Dance of the Dire's Web

[Out of Character Warning: If you have arachnophobia, please read at your own risk.]
Ches 08th, 1320 DR, Somewhere near Flint Rock in the Evermoor.
We've stopped this morning. Fiona says we need to wait for someone; she was vague about exactly who we were meeting at what time, but she said he was going to be a business partner. Come to think of it, I don't actually know what it is Fiona does as a Merchant; what exactly we are carrying with the carriage is obviously the usual spices, food-stuffs, and appliances that people can't get within Northern Faêrun, but there are three specific crates that are considered high value by her, even though she doesn't tell us what's in them. I bring this up because I tried asking about them this morning, more out of boredom than anything; she replied by giving me this odd smirk with a glint in her eye, and just told me:
"Don't worry that scowling mug of yours, darling. All you need to know is that it's going to make us a lot of coin; nothing too dangerous or morally questionable, though it depends on how you look at it. Besides, don't think I don't know that you had something to do with what happened in Rakkarin's Fjord. Why the face? What, you seriously thought that you and V'vyana disappearing for several hours, only for five mangled bodies to turn up once you reappear didn't seem a bit suspicious? We all got our secrets, love, and from what I heard you're little activities weren't unwarranted, at least by my standards. However, if we're going to work together as partners, you're going to have to at least tell me when and why you're going to go all judge, jury, and executioner on people. Bad for business, is all I'm saying, and I don't really like the prospect of being put on an actual bounty-list anytime soon."
I decided to shut up after that. She read me like a book; and here I thought we were careful. Speaking of "we", I think it's time I get some answers from that elf.
Person of interest: V'vyana Bathory, Elf Ranger. Currently employed as a mercenary under Fiona Stoutbroad…Stoutbroad? Is that slang for bigass? What the fuck am I thinking?!
Ever since the incident at Rakkarin's Fjord, I'm becoming more and more paranoid about who she really is; she isn't any normal ranger, that's for sure.
Cleaning up evidence, an adept with poisons, even her story doesn't make much sense. She says that she grew up in Luskan, one of the cities on the Northwest Coast that I whole-heartedly wished Hoar had burned to the ground for all the scum-ridden, irredeemable cutthroats produced by that sin-ridden metropolis. However, that makes me trust her even less; most rangers usually get their start away from metropolises or by contract in rural counties or with a Caravan company. Unless…you work as a slave-hunter or tracker for one of the many Matriarchal Houses in Luskan. All I know is that she is dangerous, and I have no idea why she came to Citadel Felbarr three weeks ago with Caldin.
We've stopped by a nearby cave, and Fiona told us that we'd have to leave the carriage here for now and begin unloading goods inside, specifically those three crates of heavy cargo. The carriage will be fine, as apparently this person we were meeting had people on standby in case anyone or anything tried to raid us…now that she mentions it, I'm getting this weird feeling that we're being watched, but I don't see or hear anyone off-road or within the hilly landscape. I could sworn I saw something moving above us, in the overhead caves, but I chalked it up to being a wild animal; either way, I don't like it here. The caves and the landscape around us are just too quiet.
Update, mid-afternoon
We've unloaded the cargo into one of the larger caves that go into the multiple canyons surrounding Flint's Rock. Big surprise, these caves weren't as uninhabited as we though; while keeping watch, I heard the scream of either V'vyana or Caldin echo from the inside of the cave. Me, Gus, and Fiona just looked at each other; Gus opted out, said he would really be much help in the darkness of the cave…that, and even though I've seen him lob off the head of a goddamned wyvern (a tale of which I'll definitely write up sometime), he's a coward when it comes being in any enclosed space underground.
Looks like it's up to me. Gus and Fiona are really worried about me heading in there; in desperation, Gus even offered to come with me, but we all knew that it would only slow me down, and I didn't like the idea of Fiona being alone. Reluctantly, Fiona agreed, but asked that I bring some chalk to mark where I'm going in case she needed to go after me as well. With the hot and damp climate that surrounded Flint's Rock coming from the Evermoor Swamps, I knew that donning my splint-mail for entering the cave would be like entering a furnace. Reluctantly, I had to go with a leather jerkin with chainmail underneath. I can hear the shrieks of what sounds to be V'vyana moving further down the cave; maybe I can just leave them there, not risk it?
Update, not sure what time.
Good news and bad news. I think I'm on the right track; came to this large Crossroad after running about five minutes. Looks like I was right about the heat because it's starting to get very musky in here; why is it so hot, could it be…
Right, good news. At the crossroads, I found what looks like be Caldin and V'vyana's equipment. Mostly just water and a cartography kit scattered about, but I did find a map of the cave-area that Caldin must have drawn up. Now onto the bad news…I found a blood trail moving down the centre-most tunnel, and I can tell it isn't from an animal. I need to hurry; Caldin wrote up a warning pointing to the tunnel with the blood-trail: "Weird, chattering noises and lots of webs. Best stay away."
I'm marking an arrow with my chalk so that Fiona and Gus will know where I'm going if they come look for me…maybe it's best that they don't follow me, but Fiona can be a stubborn lass.
Update, I need to get the fuck out of here.
Caldin was right. The cave has started grow thick with spider-webs; I had to use my torch to burn a path forward, but I can hear myself getting closer to the screaming. However, I'm no longer alone anymore, and I'm starting to get paranoid about anything that might be crawling on the cave-ceiling or on the ground. At first it was only a few spiders, silently scuttling in the shadows of this cave; however, as I got deeper and deeper, I started seeing hundreds of them. Big ones the size of a dog were watching me from inside burrows; the torch must be keeping them away, because all they can do is hiss and back away to the light's edge. I'm more terrified of the smaller ones, though; they're more silent, and I can see that they seem…bloated with what seems like venom. Hoar give me strength.
Update, still alive for now.
I've found Caldin, who seems to be taking the new surrounding rather well. The scorched marks and burned corpses of spiders lead me to him in a small burrow; nearly got my head blown off by blast of flames as I entered, having to shout Caldin down that it was just me. His robes were ragged and covered in webbing, and he seemed to have lost that stupid hat of his somewhere during the chase.
I asked him what the fuck happened to them, and where in Pharasma's Ethereal ass was V'vyana? His answer seemed to make things even more grim. While mapping out the two other crossways that split off from the centre-most area, Caldin noticed several old signs that covered the walls of the cave; he couldn't read what they said, but V'vyana could, saying it appeared to be Thief Cant in written form. While mostly a verbal language, Thief Cant can be written down, but it's more of a hieroglyphic style where certain combinations of symbols mean code-words or phrases. They found out exactly why these were written down after reaching the dead-end of the left path, finding the remains of what looked like a gang of smugglers.
This cave was used as a smuggling route, and whatever happened to these guys wasn't good. Three specific messages read:
"6th day of trek, 12 arcane crystals, 5 mithril chestplates. Rest for tonight, leave in morning."
"7th day, route is condemned! If see message, get out fast; only death here. Gnarl fucked us,he and five others stole haul while we slept, didn't tell us cave was home to a dire-spider nest! Don't know what he did, nest woke up; campfire keeps spiders away, but we have nowhere to go. 3 dead, dragged off by those eight-legged freaks, only four of us left now."
"8th day, can't breath. Smoke hurting, no sleep; Nyric, Sage, and Martyn tried to make a run for it, couldn't take it anymore. They got Nyric and dragged him off, but I think Sage managed to get away through a tunnel; Martyn's bitten, poison hurt. He told me to do it."
"9th, I've run out of wood, down to last torch. I can't let them get me like the others. I love you, Sage."
Both V'vyana and Caldin were ready to run the fuck out of there, but then they noticed that the two bodies in the make-shift campsight were beginning to move. The first body, bloated and writhing, started to break apart its flesh as a giant, 6ft spider just burst out; the second body began to pour out from its mouth and chest-cavity hundreds of tiny spiders, all swarming towards both V'vyana and Caldin.
It was V'vyana whose scream seemed to wake up the nest; didn't know that she was particularly afraid of spiders. After that, it was all a blur, and next thing Caldin knew he was running with V'vyana out of the dead-end. She must have mistaken the centre-most path as the exit, but in that moment Caldin just went with instinct and followed after her. He got grabbed by one of the big ones and dragged away to a burrow, but thanks to a bit of fire-magic Caldin was push them back. For the last thirty minutes, all he's been doing is burning anything that comes near the burrow entrance.
This is…a lot to process. I'm going after V'vyana, and Caldin agreed to follow me; he believes that, while she was bitten, he thinks that it wasn't one of the more poisonous varieties. We're heading out the burrow and following the blood trail. Hoar give me strength.
End Entry
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2023.04.01 06:40 SubstantialBite788 Freestyle Camping is Not a Good Idea

I used to pitch my tent wherever. If it looked interesting, I was setting up camp. I kept a tent at the ready in my trunk. There’s nothing exciting about a park; there’s no adventure in that. I didn’t camp out near someone’s house or anything like that, but I have found myself in some precarious situations. The worst yet, happened in East Tennessee.
I was traveling back to campus after spring break. There’s a spot of hills that I’ve always thought interesting. Between those hills runs a long valley. As I drive back and forth between Knoxville and Nashville, I always tell myself that I’m going to camp in that spot, but I never do it. I’m always pressed for time. I never leave in time though. Class is always the next day. Lost in music, I started ruminating on how boring my life had become. To hell with it, I was going to do it. I didn’t much care to do Calculus at eight in the morning anyway. I could afford to miss one day.
I pulled over to the side of the interstate, got my tent and backpack, and started hiking downhill to the valley. It was still early afternoon. The sun was still high enough in the sky to illuminate my way. The vegetation was thick. There was no human-made trail, no way to easily traverse the terrain. As I hiked through the briars and whipping branches, I reminded myself to buy a machete for instances such as these.
I found a perfect spot under a thicket of red cedars, with a nice flat area and no undergrowth. I pitched my tent and laid out my sleeping bag. I didn’t carry much on these excursions. I had a backpack with some crackers, a knife, lighter and a flashlight. It was usually a one-night affair and I’m gone the next morning. I spent most of the day exploring, but on this occasion, I was a little late. My main desire was to hike to the top of the largest hill to see the view and discover what was on the other side.
It took me about an hour and a half to make it up the hill. There on the other side was a wide expanse of nothing but trees. It looked like a green shag carpet rolled out across the landscape. I noticed directly at the bottom of the hill was an old wooden shed. What an odd place for a shed. The sun was farther down but I still had time to check it out.
I descended down to the other side of the hill, with a little haste. I wanted to make it back to my tent before it got too dark, but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. My curiosity piqued. I was excited for some adventure. I got to the shed, opened the door and walked straight in without surveying the inside first. I felt the earth beneath my feet give way, my gut lifting up as if on a roller coaster, and then fell hard to the ground, breaking my tibia. The pain was excruciating. I rolled around in agony, feeling the dirt and rocky bottom. I looked up and realized I had fallen down into a deep hole, not so deep that I couldn’t see the shed walls. The shed was only big enough to encompass and hide the hole. The hole seemed to be about twenty feet deep, no way to climb out and escape. There was still enough light to see up top, but down in the hole it was dark.
“We’re dead. You know that don’t you?”
I was startled. Someone else was down in the hole with me. I grabbed my flashlight out of my backpack. There on the other side of the hole was a young woman. Her whole being- body, face, and clothes were filthy with dirt and grime. Her lips were dried up and cracked.
“You almost hit me. Watch where you’re falling next time,” she said with a weak chuckle.
“How long have you been here?”
“I don’t know. I’m in and out of consciousness. Sometimes I wake up and think I’m home in bed, then realize I’m in this damned hole.”
“How did you get here?”
“I was abducted… and you?”
“I was camping and found this shed.”
She laughed. “So, you saw a creepy shed in the woods and went to see what was inside. Man, you’re a dumb fuck.”
“There’s no way out of here?”
“No, I’ve tried. Nothing we can do. I know you’re hurt pretty bad. I heard your leg snap as you fell. Man, what a sound. I hate to say this, but I’m glad you’re here though. I was getting lonely. I don’t mean I want you to go through what I’ve been through. I mean, I’m just glad you’re not him. Well, might as well introduce myself since we’re going to be spending a lot of time together. My name is Mary.” She widened her eyes and tilted her head forward, trying to evoke a response.
“I’m Gary.”
My leg was bent awkwardly, but no bone was exposed. Even though there was just me and Mary in the hole there were piles of clothing, a thrift store in the middle of the woods. I grabbed some blue jeans and a tee shirt. I tied it tight around my shin. I didn’t know how to make a tourniquet or even if I should. I just wanted to stabilize my leg the best I could.
There was an uneasy silence. What do you talk about when you are trapped in a hole?
“Him… you said him. It’s just the one guy?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know if I would call him a guy.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll see.”
“What do you mean? Does he come down into the hole?”
“Yes, and he takes you out of the hole and does things to you… experiments.”
“Then that’s our chance. That’s our only chance, is to knock the shit out of this fucker and get out of here. He’s not expecting me. He doesn’t know I’m down here.”
I started formulating a plan. There were enough clothes that I could hide underneath, and I had my knife.
“Mary, I want you to move forward. I’ll pack some clothes behind you. I’ll be buried underneath with my knife. You lean back on that pile… you know like you had made yourself a comfortable little bed or something. Ok?” She nodded her head. “When does he usually come?”
“I don’t know but it’s pretty regular.”
“How does he get down here?”
“He has a rope ladder.”
“Is he big? Have you ever tried to fight him… to escape?”
“No, he has some…” she hesitated, “some kind of power. It freezes me. I can’t move. I hear a ringing in my head and then I’m paralyzed. Don’t let him see you. We’ll know when he’s approaching. There’s always a humming sound and a clicking.”
I wasn’t believing anything she was saying. She had been trapped in a dark hole for who knows how long. She was losing her mind, starved of vital nutrients. Her imagination had started to create a different reality for her, one that I was unwilling to participate in.
I laid against the wall of the hole on my side. My broken leg was throbbing, as it was laying on the floor with my other leg on top. I couldn’t switch around though. I had to be facing the side the hole he would be climbing down. Mary threw a bunch of the clothing on top of me, leaving my face exposed so that I could breathe and not get too hot. I held my knife up to my chest. It was the old-fashioned survival knife, with a compass on the handle. I had long since lost the matches and string that came with the knife, tucked away in the hollow of the handle. But for my present purposes, the blade was, hopefully, all I needed. Mary leaned back against me. We waited.
After a while, I heard a humming and a clicking. The thought ran through my head that maybe Mary wasn’t crazy after all.
“He’s coming.”
“I know. Go ahead and cover my face.”
The humming subsided, but the clicking grew louder. I heard the door open, then the unrolling of the rope ladder with the wooden rungs tapping out a rhythm as it fell to the floor of the hole. Mary started to whimper in fear. I heard the man make his way down and then the thump of his feet as he jumped to the bottom. The hole lit up with a blue light. I felt Mary’s body go limp and then I felt her lifted up off of me. I slowly, quietly pushed away the shirt that was covering my face.
The man had his back towards me with Mary slumped over his shoulder. He was about to climb up out of the hole. He wasn’t that tall, but thick like a Neanderthal. He wore all black, with a long sleeve turtle-neck shirt. He was bald, but the oddest thing was where the blue light was emanating from. What skin I could see, on his head and his irregularly long hands, was glowing blue.
I was scared as hell. What was I about to tangle with? Yet, I knew now more than ever this was our only chance. I let him climb a few rungs before I sprung out and hobbled as fast as I could to the other side of the hole. He didn’t hear me. I know I had made too much noise, but he never reacted. I shoved my knife into his lower back. The clicking grew loud. I grabbed his shirt and yanked him down the ladder, pulling my knife out of his back, and thrusting it in the back of his neck. Mary fell hard to the ground.
He turned his head revealing large black eyes, devoid of pupils. He didn’t have a nose. His mouth was huge with mandibles projecting from each side. The mandibles fluttered angrily, clicking and humming, increasing in frequency. He, or it, pushed me to the ground, pulling my knife out of his neck and throwing it to the ground. It looked into my eyes, making a hypnotic contact that I could not shake. I heard a ringing in my head and my body went limp. I had no control over my limbs. I was frozen to the bottom of the hole, my plan unraveling.
Everything was a haze. I was barely cognizant of my surroundings so I don’t know when or how Mary regained consciousness, but I could see her sneaking toward the knife. My vision was blurry. I was fighting to not to pass out. I saw Mary get the knife and move quickly toward the being. She grabbed a handful of dirt and slung it at his head. He turned and she landed the knife in his face. He pivoted back toward me, and I could see she had stabbed him directly in one of his eyes. Black and crimson fluid streamed down his face. I could feel my body again, slowly able to move my limbs. I got up as fast as my recovering body would allow and started towards the ladder.
“Go Mary. Go, go, go. Get the hell out of here!”
She went up first and I followed pushing her in the rear as we went up. We were half-way when I felt him grab my broken leg. I shrieked; the pain was unbearable. I instinctively kicked with my other leg and landed a shot to his mouth, breaking off one of his mandibles. The creature fell back down into the hole. Mary and I made it out of the hole and quickly pulled up the ladder.
The creature recovered from its fall. Realizing it was trapped, it tried frantically to climb up the wall. I was relieved to see that it didn’t have any power of flight or levitation or some other weird alien power that would get him out of the hole. Mary and I watched as the blue shimmer of light banged against the walls, like a firefly stuck in a mason jar. There was nothing to do but leave it there and hope it starved to death.
It took forever, but we finally made it to my car. Mary drove me to the nearest hospital. She called the police and told them that we had escaped from an assailant with long black hair and a big bushy beard. I don’t know what else she could say. Who would believe the truth? She pushed the officials in a different direction from the shed, claiming that we had escaped from a house somewhere about ten miles from the actual location. I suspected she knew more than what she was saying, or even more than what she had told me. Maybe she knew that the creature would no longer be there, that something would have come and retrieved him. I don’t know. I do know that I never travel that way anymore and I sure as hell don’t ever go camping. Gaming is all the adventure I need.
submitted by SubstantialBite788 to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 06:37 LatterConfidence1 What should I ask for when asking siding project to be fixed?

I’m including some links to images so you all have a better idea of what I’m talking about.
Before purchasing my home the previous buyer had some Section 1 repairs done by a contractor. Unfortunately, shortly after living in the home we learned that the previous owners did some work to more or less cover up bigger problems. My husband and I have spent 10s of thousands of dollars to rectify these issues.
Some of the Section 1 work was to replace siding that had wood rot (we later discovered it wasn’t just the siding on part, but also support beans inside the wall). I include these previous issues just so you understand why I would like the contract to come back - we have spent a fair amount on rectifying issues in the past 2 years. We also believe that the contractor who did the siding saw some of the rot on the seams and just put new siding over it.
It has been about 2 1/2 years and the paint is flaking off of some of the siding and a crack has developed in one of the panels. As far as I know there has been no direct water on the siding, but it has been a wet and windy winter with very moist air.
The work is supposedly under warranty. I’d like to ask the previous contractor to replace the crack siding, to properly prime and paint the siding (particularly the cross beams which were obviously not primed), and to caulk around the cross beam on the siding. Is this reasonable? Am I missing something or going overboard?
submitted by LatterConfidence1 to Home [link] [comments]

2023.04.01 06:10 Soggy_Helicopter8589 [NoP] Hunter of hunters 17

Thanks all for reading! Sorry this chapter took longer than expected, but I didn't know where to stop, so this chapter is a little bit bigger than usual, I hope you all enjoy it!
Thanks to u/Frame_Late for my new profile picture, sadly the mods deleted the image from the main sub because they thought that it was a random image, but you can see it in his profile
Also, sorry for any mistakes, Im not an english speaker
And of course this is a fanfic from a story from u/SpacePaladin15, and the story is The Nature of Predator
Also, here is the whole NoP universe
(First) (Prev) (Next)
Memory transcription subject: Halai, ex-cattle prisoner N° 240524
Date [standardized human time]: November 13, 2136
As the demon ordered, I stood up and once again began pushing myself up the tube, and same as before, once I was probably halfway in there, every wall around me began pushing me upwards
Soon I felt how I entered his mouth once again, but unlike last time where I stopped there, I now passed through the terrifying saw-like teeth to get to the exterior
It was very cold, very different from the inside of the demon. Now I was cold and somewhat wet from the saliva of the demon, fortunately I heard the cracking of fire and I felt his warmth
But now, I was scared, not of dying of hypothermia, but from what was behind me
Something pushed himself around me, for some moments I thought that the demon had pounced me, but fortunately it seemed that it was only a blanket of some kind
"Well, I think you are dry" The demon said removing the blanket, then another blanket surrounded me, but unlike the one before that was white with dark spots, this one was silvery "That's a thermal blanket, it will keep you warm"
After that I heard footsteps from behind me, they were heavier than any creature that I had heard… Well, considering that he could eat me whole and without problem that would mean that he was huge
I fearfully closed my eyes as I heard the demon pass beside me. Then it sat down probably in front of me besides the fire
My muscles tense at the noise, my mind accelerates and my body began to pump even more fear chemicals through my veins
Fortunately, it wasn't the growl of the demon, but my own stomach
"Oh yeah, you will be hungry, tell me, you eat plants, like, any kind?" The demon asks such a stupid question, of course I can! Normal people eat plants
"Well, the only thing here is either frozen grass or leaves from the trees. If you can't eat those, I can create some pastes"
"L-leaves?" I ask mentally kicking myself, after all, I just asked a preda-
"Okay, wait a moment" Eh?
I can hear the demon standing up and then giving some steps. Then I heard the crack of branches being torn apart
"Here, take" The demon said
Without much else to do I opened my eyes slowly while looking at the ground, I could then see the sharp claws of the demon under a white cloth of some kind
I wanted to scream and run, but unlike before where the walls were visible, now they were invisible
Without fur or a warmth source I would die in minutes, so I had to bite my own tongue if I wanted to live
I looked a bit higher finding a whole branch being offered by sharp metal claws
My paws slowly grabbed the branch hoping not to trigger the instincts of the demon, then after his claws were free he grabbed another branch and sat down relatively far away from the fire
I didn't dare to look at his eyes, last time I looked at a predator's eyes I almost lost mine. Apparently that was supposed to be a defining gesture and the gray that I had looked at didn't like it. The only reason that I survived was because the demon feasted on someone else's corpse recently
The noise of branches being broken caught my attention. Not having a death wish I began eating slowly my own leaves
They were decently, especially after eating that tasteless kibble that the grays gave us for so long
Still curiosity got the better of me, and discreetly I stole a small glance at the demon in front of me
And to be honest, it wasn't what I expected
If my blurry memories served me well, the demon was supposed to be black as the night with red glowing eyes
But now? He was dressed in some kind of white clothes with a white mask that looked like a skull. I guess it made sense, after all, a black mass in a white forest stood out
But what caught my attention was what he was doing
Confused, I looked at him. He was bigger than even the gray that was about to eat me not so long ago. But the interesting part was what was eating
Despite being a predator, he was eating the branch. Not only the leaves, but the whole branch, wood included, and it was doing it with those sharp teeth designed to eat meat with surprisingly ease
But something else that I noticed was that it was a machine
A predatory machine
The nightmare only found in movies that didn't wanted to use the grays as antagonist, or direct antagonists was now sitting just before me
The thing ate in relative silence being the noise of the branches breaking under the power of those jaws,
the only noise
"You aren't eating" It said once again without moving his mouth "You can't eat it?" It asked turning his head to a side "Oh, wait, I didn't saw the tag" The thing stood up once again and began walking towards me
I froze as he passed me to be in my back, during that moment a sharp-flat tail passed by me at eye level
"Let me just…" The thing spoke softly behind my ear. I just stood there waiting for the blow
A metallic noise broke through the silence and with my side vision I could see the tag of my prisoner number that was connected to my ear through a metallic ring was now gone
The familiar weigh of my ear was now gone
"This is yours, you can toss it if you want" It said, giving me the tag in my paw "... So… Can you eat that or..?" It spoke softly, he then sighed and sat down "You should really eat"
I couldn't respond, I was frozen in fear by just looking at him
The thing eyed me through the tinted dark glasses that his mask had. But after some moments where we both looked at each other, he sighed once again before standing up
"Eat, if you didn't finish that once I return, I will be mad" The voice wasn't no longer trying to be gentle, but now it released his true form
Fortunately it left walking to the frozen forest and soon enough I lost complete visual of him, and to be honest, I didn't know if it was more terrifying to see the monster than not seeing it but knowing it was close

Memory transcription subject: Leon, UN "Jackal" special forces
Date [standardized human time]: November 13, 2136

After I left Halai behind, I dropped to the ground mentally exhausted
"What even am I doing?" I asked to no one
My mind wanted just to go to sleep, but I knew I couldn't. I had to watch out for Halai, even though he's terrified of me…And I thought that the camouflage clothes would help… Well in that case I don't this much clothes to cover me
I took off the hood that covered the back of my head and my antennas. Now I had a new camera available, I also let my colorful antennas to the exterior, and finally the fox tail that I had hooked under the camera so it didn't stood in the way, was now once again free
I began eating the branch that I took from the tree. It's leaves looked very similar to the pine trees that were in earth, but they were different, I couldn't pinpoint what, but it was
The reason that I was eating not only the leaves, but the wood too was because it gave me some biomass fuel, not nearly half as much as meat would, but it would be enough as long as I didn't do much moving or doing stuff in general
But now with the problem where I have an alien who's life dependeds of me, and at the same time, it's completely terrified of me…
I could try getting his trust… But how? Hmmm, well for starters I should patch the wound on the back of his head, the poor bastard had a very deep and nasty wound
I didn't do it before because I was scared that he wouldn't trust me, and I didn't want to sedate him
Well, he has no other choice, either he trusts me with that nasty wound, or he's getting into forced coma with sedatives
I could definitely keep him in my medbay unconscious while I feed him through his veins or with a tube going directly to his stomach
But that was something that I didn't want to do… But if it was something that I had to, then so be it

Now, it's going to be 3 months in this frozen hell hole, 3 months that I have to take care of him… Why did I even brought him with me anyway? Wasn't his species going to be rescued soon anyway?

Bah, what's done is done. Now I have to make sure he doesn't die
Food it's easy, if he's able to eat leaves then that's covered, if not, I will have to feed him through tubes from my medbay… Still, don't know if I have that much supply anyway
Then the next problem is water… We are surrounded by fucking snow, well, I will have to melt it, it's bad to eat a lot of raw snow if I remember well
Hmmm, my torch still has some ammo, so for now fire isn't a problem… The problem would be 'Where?' Where could I melt it?
I don't have a canteen nor somewhere to boil things… Yeah, he will have to get it through me, but how?
Well, my saliva is basically lube, it's something that can be eaten, and because it's a majority of water, he could get water from it… But I won't be spitting in his mouth anytime soon… So that's a last resort
Oh! I have 2 systems to refrigerate my internal components, the first one is the standard one, and the second one is the liquid one
I use a special liquid through a system of tubes through my whole body in case that I can't use air to cool myself down, for example this would be used in space where there isn't air, or in dust storms where sand gets everywhere. And as a bonus, it practically renders the federation flamethrowers as nothing more than 'bright smoke'
The liquid obviously isn't drinkable, but I don't think that I would be using this system anytime soon, so a good option is to replace the cooling liquid with snow, then use the little heat that I have to melt it down
Fortunately because this wasn't supposed to be used like that, the entry and exit point of the liquid was my tail, so every time Halai needs to drink, he won't need to enter my medbay, unfortunately because it isn't supposed to work like that, fill it with snow will be a pain in the ass
Also, because it's water, I will have to keep the system 'on' constantly so it doesn't becomes ice
Oh, I finished eating, well, let's check how Halai is doing
After walking the way back, I could see him eating the leaves of the branch that I gave him, but I could see and hear him sob uncontrollably, silent sobs that I could hear clear as day
He also looked all around constantly in every bite
That might be my fault, after all, I've just recently threatened him with me 'getting mad'. Obviously I wouldn't be, I've just used that so he ate. But I didn't took on account that despite how adorable he looks, he isn't a child, and I'm a Jackal
God dammit, well… I will wait a little so he finishes. In the meantime I will check what I have on me
>Arm bandages
>Survival kit
>Twin plasma pistols
>Repair kit
>1 Jackal MRE
>Four extra plasma cells
>Shoulder armor
Hmmm, well, I've got something at least…
The Jackal MRE it's something that only jackals can eat, that's because of the high amount of stuff that's in there, some of them are even poisons, but thanks to my robotic body I'm able to eat it without problems. And yes, it tastes like shit. I thought that there wasn't any worse food than the one the school gave us in 4th grade. But whoever created this piece of shit had done it
Congratulations asshole
Now, my survival kit has a manual flashlight, pen and notebook, watch, compass, Whistler, knife and a long rope
Meanwhile my repair kit has my torch and a few tools. Something very simple but that can help me do some emergency repairs. Okay, now how do I deal with putting water in my tail?

Oh, I've got an idea!
I open my med bay and with the knife I take a plastic tube that’s used in case I need to exchange the ones that I have equipped
With a small and quick bite I cut a small part, then I placed it in the relatively small hole from where the liquid is inserted. Fits like a glove. Obviously I wouldn’t be able to put much snow through that tube, but it will help Halai to drink like it was a bottle
Now, I take another tube part and this time bigger, this time with some heat and my hands I would expand the tube until it becomes a cone where I can stuff more snow more easily
Sadly the fire is with Halai and I don’t want to use my torch, so without much else to do, I grab my things and I walk towards him
He immediately after noticing me begins eating faster than before
“Relax, I won’t do anything” I say walking past him
I sat down by the fire and I immediately began heating the tube and with my claws i began expanding it slowly so it doesn't break, from time to time I stop this process so my claws don’t stuck with the hot plastic
Once I finish I get something that resembles an cone, it’s very crude, but it will help
“Come” I say to Halai who has been looking at me the whole time unblinking “I said come” I order while extending my clawed hand to him
As much as I don’t want to be like this, talking like my drill sergeant is the only thing that can take him out of his trance
Shaking from fear he stands up and slowly walks to me
"I won't do any harm, I'm going to check that wound"
Halai hesitates, but after some moments he finally grabs my clawed hand. As gentle as I can, I close my hand while I pull Halai towards me
Eventually he's right in front of me, even though I'm sitting, I still tower over him a little, still, I don't want to have him standing all the time, so I retract my legs until I'm sitting with my left leg over the right one
"Sit down" I say, he's in the space in between my legs, so I wait until he sits in on-
"Sit on my leg" I say as I see Halai began sitting on the cold ground, he once again hesitates, but eventually he sits "Turn around" I say
Once Halai turned I began evaluating the wound
And for 'evaluating' I mean let one of the AI do all the work
The wound is closed thanks to a thin string, but whoever did it, did an awful… Well, he was supposed to become a snack, so as long as he didn't bleed at the moment would work
Obviously I wasn't planning on eating him too… Well, in a lethal way at least. So to prevent any infection nor any more bleeding I would have to cut the string and sew back
Without much else to do, I grabbed Halai through the arms so he doesn't move with my lower arms
"Don't move, I need to sew"
"Your wound will infect with this awful sews" That seems to silence Halai, and because he isn't struggling I open my medbay. For something so simple I wouldn't have to get him fully inside, even though it's the best way to heal him
Halai's heart goes up quickly, but surprisingly he isn't resisting my grasp, so to end this quickly and not stress him more I began by the most important part of all, anesthesia
From my medbay several small arms that are connected to all kinds of medical equipment appear, and from one of them, the anesthesia one injects its contents in Halai's neck

Okay, let's do this
submitted by Soggy_Helicopter8589 to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]