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The Empty Car

2020.09.25 09:08 ColeZalias The Empty Car

The smoke of the highwaymen’s iron curled into oblivion. The blackened bullet hole stood a mere few feet from the startled passenger. The rest of the occupants were mesmerized by the loud snap of the shot.
The masked outlaw returned from his transient state and examined the horrified face of the man he’d nearly shot. He turned to his fellow crew members who were swiftly moving down the aisle with a leather bag at the ready. Sprawling hands appeared from each seat, dropping glittering medallions and necklaces into it.
They could not tell, but his smile was the widest it had been. The adrenaline had finally faded and all he could feel was the pleasure of counting the billfolds they had hustled.
He moved down and towards the vestibule that connected the cars.
“Finish up with them, boys. I’ll get started with the rest.”
The others cackled and yipped like a pack of wild hyenas. He unlocked the doorway and found himself in the vestibule.
His head spun with euphoric feelings. Thrill. Riches yet to be evaluated.
The train had been like chum to a shark. They could not resist.
White table clothes dangled over metal trollies. Broom handles sticking out of the piles of assorted equipment and provision. He pushed them away with the side of his boot. They clattered, setting forward a chain reaction of fallen cans and bottles.
He laughed and reached for the second door.
Once he opened it, however, the car was empty. Instead of a crowd of anxious passengers, all he was met with was an empty space accompanied by the rhythmic rustling of the train.
He stepped forward cautiously. His head cocked and his eyes vigilant.
“Stop right there!”
A voice had called out from behind one of the padded seats.
He emerged, the brim of his pale hat covering his eyes. His wispy beard pricked out and danced with the motions of his lips.
The outlaw and thrust his gun forward and aimed at his torso. “You better march yerself back on that their seat partner” he huffed.
“Or else, what? You’ll shoot me?”
“Your god damn right set your ass back down and hand over your valuables.”
The man stood up and the rest of him was visible. A yellowish duster jacket dragged down to his ankles. A fur padded collar embroidered the design.
He shifted the right side. The outlaw cocked his weapon. “Quite fussing their pal. One wrong move and I’ll fill you full of daylight.”
His coat shifted and a gleaming golden reflection shined in the outlaw’s eyes. A badge. Sheriff’s office.
“A lawman,” the outlaw said. “How’d you know?”
The lawman stepped out into the centre of the aisle. “Wasn’t hard. We’ve been tracking you since that last town you and your boys shot up.”
The outlaw laughed. “So, we left a trail, but it seems one of us isn’t staring down the barrel of another man’s iron.”
“Maybe so. But I assure you by the time you pull that trigger, there’ll be a new hole where your eye used to be.”
“Is that so, sounds like a challenge.”
“No challenge. I’ve seen others like you. Young men sent down the wrong path.”
The lawman stepped closer. “I’m sure you never wanted this kind of life in the first place. So, I’m willing to bargain with you.”
“What kind of bargain?”
The lawman took another step.
“You can pull that trigger. Kill me dead. And step off this train with all the jewels you’ve round up. Or. You can put the gun down, leave, and hope to god you never see me again.”
The lawman pulled his coat back further. His leather holster was in sight. “But you better be quick enough, boy. Because there ain’t no second chances.”
The outlaw’s smile faded. He looked at the intense glare from his unwavering eyes. Bluffing, he thought. An old man like him would be lucky to get a steady grip on his pistol.
The lawman looked at the outlaw and saw a confused young man. Someone desperate turned to crime.
The outlaw’s hand lightly fingered the trigger of his gun.
“I pick option one,” he said.
And the moment when he said that. A shot rang out. The hand of the lawman tensed and swiftly twitched.
He saw the life leave his eyes. Blood trickled from the small divot from his forehead. The muscles in his body loosened.
The gun twirled and inserted itself back into the holster, while the lawman stepped over his body.
submitted by ColeZalias to ColeZalias [link] [comments]


2020.09.19 21:20 newrottweiler Puppy refuses to listen to spouse during training

I also posted this to Rottweiler to get some advice.
Hi! We have an 8 week old Rottweiler that we brought home about a week ago. She’s gaining weight well, and has already learned sit, no, leave it, let’s go, lay, down, stay, come, and wait. Puppy preschool starts in about a week. We’re hoping that helps out the relationship between them. She is NOT treat motivated and is obsessed with praise. We usually do training sessions when she is hungry, so kibbles have been working. But once she doesn’t want them anymore praise is what keeps her interested.
She listens to me perfectly fine, and housebreaking has been going very well! We take her out about every hour to relieve herself. If she has an accident, she does it right by the front door, but we are currently on day 3 of no accidents. She tends to start getting bity when she’s over stimulated and zooming around, but she has been biting less and less as she is realizing biting means play stops.
However, she keeps drawing blood on my partner. She absolutely will not stop. When he tried yipping, she bit harder. When he stopped play, she tried to bite his pant legs. Then, when he left her area, she just sat and cried and howled for 5 minutes. She doesn’t do any of these things with me.
My spouse is having a lot of problems with her refusing to listen to him, and won’t go potty for him outside. We have been having equal training times during the day, both one on one with her and together. She is constantly nipping him and just staring at him blankly when she tells her a command. The only thing she will listen to from him is sit and down. When he tells her no, she snaps at him. When he tries to take her potty, she just has a tantrum on the leash and stares up at him blankly.
Eventually she will potty for him, but he has to run with her around the grass a few times before she’ll stop and start sniffing
I’m not sure why she’s acting this way or how to help him with training. We treat her exactly the same (or as close to it as possible), and have the same amount of one on one time with her. If anything, he plays with her more and walks her more than I do.
How can we get her to stop biting and start listening to my spouse?
submitted by newrottweiler to puppy101 [link] [comments]


2020.08.31 14:28 MythyDragonwolf [Path of the Taelesol] - Chapter 1

Check out MythyWritesWords for a full repository of my writing!
Next Chapter (To be continued)
Aesia smelled smoke. Everything was burning, falling apart. Dead bodies were piled around her, enemy and friend alike. Shaji was nowhere to be found but the ache in her heart told her the truth she’d never wanted to hear. Her left arm hung limp beside her, blood flowing from the gash in her shoulder. Defiance burned in her soul as she stared at the dark beast’s glowing red eyes. Her joints ached from her white knuckle grip on her blade. She roared and they charged one another, ready to finish this-
A pressure on her chest made Aesia grunt and she opened her eyes to a familiar brown-eyed gaze dominating her vision. She smiled and reached out to stroke her companion’s muzzle, giving the Pandrylyr a soft coo. “Yeah, it was that dream again,” she said to the large canid creature, working her hand up his head to his horns, scratching at the base of them and getting a pleased murr in return. She rubbed deeper for a moment and smiled as his long, flowing tail thumped against the floor, but before they could spend the day like this, he backed up and plopped his fluffy butt on the floor. He cocked his head and gave an inquisitive bark, tail wagging slowly.
“Yeah, yeah, Shaji. I know. Today’s the big day.” She sat up and stretched, giving a smile to her dragonwolf. “Still, no reason to slack off on morning training. Come on, let’s get ready.” She smiled at the little snarky bark he gave. “Oh, don’t pretend you didn’t want to.” Aesia put a kettle of tea on the fire, still smiling as she pulled on her clothes. By the time she was finished dressing, the water had steeped with the leaves and she strained a cupful. The scent of peppermint wafted through the air and she sighed softly.
Shaji plodded around near the front door impatiently while Aesia threw together a quick porridge breakfast. “Hey, don’t get too worked up. They’ll be here soon,” Aesia said softly, portioning the food into two bowls. She placed one on a side-table and leaned against the wall to eat from hers. There wasn’t much taste to savor, though it took the edge off the hunger. The stress she had to look forward to had already made her stomach churn slightly, and she didn’t want to have too much to lose.
It hadn’t been a moment after Aesia finished eating when a knock on her door echoed through the small barracks room. Shaji gave a happy yip and bounded to the door, using his jaws to pull it open and reveal another Aer and dragonwolf combo.
“You excited for today?” Iruthel said with a smile. He’d become a trainee at the same time as her, and they’d trained under the same master for the five years they knew each other. Enta, his companion, plodded into the room and nudged Shaji with her muzzle.
“You know it. But we have some time until the ceremony, so how about we take a flight?” she asked, grinning at the two pandrylyr. They responded by bounding about after one another as if they were still pups and not fully-grown winged canids capable of carrying their bonded Aer in full combat gear.
Iruthel smiled softly and nodded. “Never gonna say no to time with you,” he winked, grinning devilishly when she blushed. “I’ll go get myself armored. Meet you outside in ten?”
“Make sure you strap up tight. Don’t want that armor coming off too easy,” Aesia shot back, though her face was still red as Iruthel and Enta left. Shaji gave a warbling chuff and looked to his Aer with twinkling eyes.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Come on, we need to get ready.”
-----
Aesia tugged on her gauntlet, making sure it was snug against her hand before rolling her shoulders to help the leather settle against her body. Then, for the final touch, she knelt and placed Shaji’s helmet atop his head. “Handsome as always,” she whispered into his ear. The flexible barding perfectly complemented his blue and white coloring, and Aesia’s armor had been dyed to match her partner’s fur.
Shaji chuffed in response to her praise and spread his wings almost to the point that he took up the entire room, making Aesia laugh and stroke one of his horns. His tail wagged from the affection and he nosed her cheek before she stood back up.
“Come on, let’s get going,” she said to her companion, leading him out of the large door and into the barracks hallway. She remembered back when she first bonded with Shaji, and how wide it seemed. Yet now, with a pandrylyr that was as tall as her shoulder, she had a greater appreciation for why their cities were built as they were. They reached the gate which separated the barracks from the training ring and strode out without hesitation.
Sunlight struck Aesia’s eyes and her vision took a moment to adjust even as she moved forward. She stepped out onto the training ring and looked to the sky. Deep blue, wispy clouds, and a gentle breeze. A perfect day.
She was distracted long enough that she did not hear footsteps behind her, and didn’t notice the presence until arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her back. She hummed and leaned into Iruthel, smiling when he buried his nose in her hair. “Hey, someone’s gonna see us.”
“And what’re they gonna do? Say we don’t graduate? It’s literally an hour away,” he said before kissing her head softly and releasing her. “We’ve been training since we were fifteen, I don’t think they’d push us back just cause of a little hug.”
“You sure about that?” Aesia purred softly before pressing into a soft kiss. She held her lips to his for a moment before pulling away. Without another word she ran along the nearby perchway and leapt off, plummeting towards the mountain valley far below the city. Air roared in her ears during the freefall, stealing her laugh for no one else to hear. She fell for a few seconds before Shaji sped under her and spread his beautiful wings. In a motion born of many years practice, Aesia spun her body and landed on his saddle, sliding her feet into the stirrups and grabbing the saddlehorn to steady herself. Once she was situated, Shaji swooped upward and leveled out. Aesia gave Shaji a pat to thank him for his good work before nudging him upward with her knees to gain a great view of the city.
Ardymon was the capital of the Aer realms, and to Aesia it had been home for the last five years. A shining jewel of a city, it was built into the side of a mountain, supported by carefully carved pillars. Perchways stuck out every which way for pandrylyr wild and bonded to land, leap, and bask. Every tier was built to support the rest, just like the Aer people. From the councilors to the laborers, every Aer was important.
“You just love to show off, don’t you?” Iruthel called as he and Enta pulled up alongside them. His smile was wide and would be contagious if Aesia wasn’t already grinning like a kid with candy. “Excited for today?” he asked as he moved to sit sidesaddle facing her. The flight was gentle at the moment, so there was no worry of falling.
Aesia leaned back and looked at the sky for a moment. “How could I not be? We’re finally going to be knighted, to be full Taelesol.” She looked back to him and winked. “Not gonna have to hold back either.”
-----
The flight had been a blast, but duty called. Shaji landed on the disk at the end of a perchway, using leftover momentum to dash along the platform until reaching where it met the city. Aesia slid off the saddle and scratched her giant pup on the head. “Good job, partner.” Shaji’s tail wagged at the praise while they waited for Iruthel to land. Once he did, Shaji pounced at Enta and they began to speak with one another. Barks, yips, murrs, trills, and any number of small movements looked and sounded like a true conversation, though one that the Aer couldn’t understand.
“Hope they’re not gossiping about us,” Iruthel said with a hidden grin, patting his gold and brown partner on the flank. “I don’t think I could handle the embarrassment if they pieced it together.”
“Don’t be silly, I know you don’t want to hide anymore,” Aesia countered, and Iruthel laughed.
“I’m a silly guy. Thought you knew that.” His tone was teasing and lyrical, and his smile made her blush.
“Woooooowwwwww!”
A young Aer ran up them, admiring the pandrylyr, the Taelesol, and the armor that matched rider and mount. His grin was buck-toothed and freckled, and the young man bounced in excitement. Aesia couldn’t blame him, of course. When she was young, there was always something majestic about seeing a Taelesol, even ones she’d spoken to before. They were heroes of the Aer, after all.
“Can I pet them?” he asked, and Aesia giggled softly. He had manners, at least.
“You don’t ask us, you ask them,” she responded, and the kid thought for a moment before nodding. He looked to the Pandrylyr and approached while tall and trying to appear confident. He’d undoubtedly seen pandrylyr before, as they lived in the cities beside the Aer, but the awe that a bonded one inspired was much different. As he got closer, Shaji and Enta stopped their conversation and looked over to the child.
“May I pet you?” he asked softly, and Shaji stepped forward first. The beast towered over the youngling, but even so he lowered his head to be close enough that he could be touched. Enta, meanwhile, plodded to the child’s side and nudged him with her muzzle. Just giant pups they were, loving the attention. “Hey hey, maybe I’ll have one like you someday?”
Iruthel nudged Aesia to get her attention and winked when she looked his way. “Well, you might,” he said, sauntering to the child and kneeling beside him. “Pandrylyr are smart about people. They’re attracted to good hearts. Do you have a good heart?”
“Yessir! I help momma with the chores every day after learning!” he said with confidence and pride in his voice.
Iruthel smiled and nodded. “Good, good. Now, let me just see something…” He pressed a finger to the boy’s chest, and Aesia felt the familiar hum of magic just before Iruthel’s hair stood on end as if he had been struck by lightning.
“Oh, oh boy. A good heart indeed!” Aesia’s eyes danced as Iruthel once more demonstrated his way with children, the young man giggling. “A pandrylyr may very well pick you one year. But remember, everyone is important. Just because I’m a Taelesol doesn’t make me better than you.” Both Shaji and Enta barked and nodded in agreement, and the boy’s beaming smile shone like the sun. “Now, what’s your name?”
“Kalik, sir!” the young man said. “Oh, uh, I gotta go! I was gonna go to the knighting!”
“Is that so?” Aesia spoke up finally, smiling at the boy. “We were headed there as well. Why don’t we go together?”
-----
Aesia looked up at Kailk as the boy rode atop Shaji, the pandrylyr walking very carefully to make sure that he could stay on. They were given a respectful berth by other Aer, but generally everyone just went about their day. The walk to the first tier of the city wasn’t a long one, and soon the group arrived at the amphitheater. Iruthel helped Kalik down, and both waved him off as he ran to join a woman that they assumed was his mother.
“Guess it’s time,” Aesia said, nuzzling into Iruthel’s side for a moment.
“Nervous now that it’s finally here?”
“Mhm.”
“Don’t worry. It’ll go great.” Iruthel took Aesia’s hand in his and together they walked through the parting crowd. Their trainer nodded to them as they stepped up the stairs and took position behind him. Their Pandyrlyr sat to either side, and Aesia squirmed a little with all the eyes of other trainees and Aer upon her. Their trainer, Havaar, stood tall with the silver of age in his hair. He was silent for a moment, letting the clamor quiet, before he spoke.
“I first met Iruthel and Aesia five years ago, during one of the driest bonding seasons in history. As with all new trainees, they had just bonded with their pandrylyr and did not know what to expect. Aesia had come to us from Raasam, far to the south. My job was to mentor those worried children into heroes, warriors that will protect the Aer for generations to come.”
“And let me tell you, it was not easy. They fought each other tooth and nail for years over the most nonsensical things. At one point I even thought I would need to separate them. Now, though, we have two more Taelesol that I am proud to welcome into our ranks.” Havaar smiled and turned around. “Aesia Lorrin, Iruthel Marka. It is with great pride that I recognize your knighting. You are both fully-fledged Taelesol; sworn to protect, sworn to fight. Do you accept?”
“I accept, under honor and sky!” Aesia roared, as did Iruthel. Pride burst in her chest as the gathered Aer erupted into a storm of cheers, applause, and howls led by their own great beasts. She felt Iruthel’s arm slide around her waist and looked over to him. He was grinning that devilish grin as he pulled her to stand in front of him.
“No time like the present,” he whispered before kissing Aesia full on the lips. Her eyes went wide, but she soon melted into it, holding her friend and partner close. As soon as their lips touched, sparks literally flew around the couple and the crowd roared louder in approval.
“It’s about time!”
submitted by MythyDragonwolf to HFY [link] [comments]


2020.08.31 14:23 MythyDragonwolf [Path of the Taelesol] - Chapter 1

Aesia smelled smoke. Everything was burning, falling apart. Dead bodies were piled around her, enemy and friend alike. Shaji was nowhere to be found but the ache in her heart told her the truth she’d never wanted to hear. Her left arm hung limp beside her, blood flowing from the gash in her shoulder. Defiance burned in her soul as she stared at the dark beast’s glowing red eyes. Her joints ached from her white knuckle grip on her blade. She roared and they charged one another, ready to finish this-
A pressure on her chest made Aesia grunt and she opened her eyes to a familiar brown-eyed gaze dominating her vision. She smiled and reached out to stroke her companion’s muzzle, giving the Pandrylyr a soft coo. “Yeah, it was that dream again,” she said to the large canid creature, working her hand up his head to his horns, scratching at the base of them and getting a pleased murr in return. She rubbed deeper for a moment and smiled as his long, flowing tail thumped against the floor, but before they could spend the day like this, he backed up and plopped his fluffy butt on the floor. He cocked his head and gave an inquisitive bark, tail wagging slowly.
“Yeah, yeah, Shaji. I know. Today’s the big day.” She sat up and stretched, giving a smile to her dragonwolf. “Still, no reason to slack off on morning training. Come on, let’s get ready.” She smiled at the little snarky bark he gave. “Oh, don’t pretend you didn’t want to.” Aesia put a kettle of tea on the fire, still smiling as she pulled on her clothes. By the time she was finished dressing, the water had steeped with the leaves and she strained a cupful. The scent of peppermint wafted through the air and she sighed softly.
Shaji plodded around near the front door impatiently while Aesia threw together a quick porridge breakfast. “Hey, don’t get too worked up. They’ll be here soon,” Aesia said softly, portioning the food into two bowls. She placed one on a side-table and leaned against the wall to eat from hers. There wasn’t much taste to savor, though it took the edge off the hunger. The stress she had to look forward to had already made her stomach churn slightly, and she didn’t want to have too much to lose.
It hadn’t been a moment after Aesia finished eating when a knock on her door echoed through the small barracks room. Shaji gave a happy yip and bounded to the door, using his jaws to pull it open and reveal another Aer and dragonwolf combo.
“You excited for today?” Iruthel said with a smile. He’d become a trainee at the same time as her, and they’d trained under the same master for the five years they knew each other. Enta, his companion, plodded into the room and nudged Shaji with her muzzle.
“You know it. But we have some time until the ceremony, so how about we take a flight?” she asked, grinning at the two pandrylyr. They responded by bounding about after one another as if they were still pups and not fully-grown winged canids capable of carrying their bonded Aer in full combat gear.
Iruthel smiled softly and nodded. “Never gonna say no to time with you,” he winked, grinning devilishly when she blushed. “I’ll go get myself armored. Meet you outside in ten?”
“Make sure you strap up tight. Don’t want that armor coming off too easy,” Aesia shot back, though her face was still red as Iruthel and Enta left. Shaji gave a warbling chuff and looked to his Aer with twinkling eyes.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Come on, we need to get ready.”
-----
Aesia tugged on her gauntlet, making sure it was snug against her hand before rolling her shoulders to help the leather settle against her body. Then, for the final touch, she knelt and placed Shaji’s helmet atop his head. “Handsome as always,” she whispered into his ear. The flexible barding perfectly complemented his blue and white coloring, and Aesia’s armor had been dyed to match her partner’s fur.
Shaji chuffed in response to her praise and spread his wings almost to the point that he took up the entire room, making Aesia laugh and stroke one of his horns. His tail wagged from the affection and he nosed her cheek before she stood back up.
“Come on, let’s get going,” she said to her companion, leading him out of the large door and into the barracks hallway. She remembered back when she first bonded with Shaji, and how wide it seemed. Yet now, with a pandrylyr that was as tall as her shoulder, she had a greater appreciation for why their cities were built as they were. They reached the gate which separated the barracks from the training ring and strode out without hesitation.
Sunlight struck Aesia’s eyes and her vision took a moment to adjust even as she moved forward. She stepped out onto the training ring and looked to the sky. Deep blue, wispy clouds, and a gentle breeze. A perfect day.
She was distracted long enough that she did not hear footsteps behind her, and didn’t notice the presence until arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her back. She hummed and leaned into Iruthel, smiling when he buried his nose in her hair. “Hey, someone’s gonna see us.”
“And what’re they gonna do? Say we don’t graduate? It’s literally an hour away,” he said before kissing her head softly and releasing her. “We’ve been training since we were fifteen, I don’t think they’d push us back just cause of a little hug.”
“You sure about that?” Aesia purred softly before pressing into a soft kiss. She held her lips to his for a moment before pulling away. Without another word she ran along the nearby perchway and leapt off, plummeting towards the mountain valley far below the city. Air roared in her ears during the freefall, stealing her laugh for no one else to hear. She fell for a few seconds before Shaji sped under her and spread his beautiful wings. In a motion born of many years practice, Aesia spun her body and landed on his saddle, sliding her feet into the stirrups and grabbing the saddlehorn to steady herself. Once she was situated, Shaji swooped upward and leveled out. Aesia gave Shaji a pat to thank him for his good work before nudging him upward with her knees to gain a great view of the city.
Ardymon was the capital of the Aer realms, and to Aesia it had been home for the last five years. A shining jewel of a city, it was built into the side of a mountain, supported by carefully carved pillars. Perchways stuck out every which way for pandrylyr wild and bonded to land, leap, and bask. Every tier was built to support the rest, just like the Aer people. From the councilors to the laborers, every Aer was important.
“You just love to show off, don’t you?” Iruthel called as he and Enta pulled up alongside them. His smile was wide and would be contagious if Aesia wasn’t already grinning like a kid with candy. “Excited for today?” he asked as he moved to sit sidesaddle facing her. The flight was gentle at the moment, so there was no worry of falling.
Aesia leaned back and looked at the sky for a moment. “How could I not be? We’re finally going to be knighted, to be full Taelesol.” She looked back to him and winked. “Not gonna have to hold back either.”
-----
The flight had been a blast, but duty called. Shaji landed on the disk at the end of a perchway, using leftover momentum to dash along the platform until reaching where it met the city. Aesia slid off the saddle and scratched her giant pup on the head. “Good job, partner.” Shaji’s tail wagged at the praise while they waited for Iruthel to land. Once he did, Shaji pounced at Enta and they began to speak with one another. Barks, yips, murrs, trills, and any number of small movements looked and sounded like a true conversation, though one that the Aer couldn’t understand.
“Hope they’re not gossiping about us,” Iruthel said with a hidden grin, patting his gold and brown partner on the flank. “I don’t think I could handle the embarrassment if they pieced it together.”
“Don’t be silly, I know you don’t want to hide anymore,” Aesia countered, and Iruthel laughed.
“I’m a silly guy. Thought you knew that.” His tone was teasing and lyrical, and his smile made her blush.
“Woooooowwwwww!”
A young Aer ran up them, admiring the pandrylyr, the Taelesol, and the armor that matched rider and mount. His grin was buck-toothed and freckled, and the young man bounced in excitement. Aesia couldn’t blame him, of course. When she was young, there was always something majestic about seeing a Taelesol, even ones she’d spoken to before. They were heroes of the Aer, after all.
“Can I pet them?” he asked, and Aesia giggled softly. He had manners, at least.
“You don’t ask us, you ask them,” she responded, and the kid thought for a moment before nodding. He looked to the Pandrylyr and approached while tall and trying to appear confident. He’d undoubtedly seen pandrylyr before, as they lived in the cities beside the Aer, but the awe that a bonded one inspired was much different. As he got closer, Shaji and Enta stopped their conversation and looked over to the child.
“May I pet you?” he asked softly, and Shaji stepped forward first. The beast towered over the youngling, but even so he lowered his head to be close enough that he could be touched. Enta, meanwhile, plodded to the child’s side and nudged him with her muzzle. Just giant pups they were, loving the attention. “Hey hey, maybe I’ll have one like you someday?”
Iruthel nudged Aesia to get her attention and winked when she looked his way. “Well, you might,” he said, sauntering to the child and kneeling beside him. “Pandrylyr are smart about people. They’re attracted to good hearts. Do you have a good heart?”
“Yessir! I help momma with the chores every day after learning!” he said with confidence and pride in his voice.
Iruthel smiled and nodded. “Good, good. Now, let me just see something…” He pressed a finger to the boy’s chest, and Aesia felt the familiar hum of magic just before Iruthel’s hair stood on end as if he had been struck by lightning.
“Oh, oh boy. A good heart indeed!” Aesia’s eyes danced as Iruthel once more demonstrated his way with children, the young man giggling. “A pandrylyr may very well pick you one year. But remember, everyone is important. Just because I’m a Taelesol doesn’t make me better than you.” Both Shaji and Enta barked and nodded in agreement, and the boy’s beaming smile shone like the sun. “Now, what’s your name?”
“Kalik, sir!” the young man said. “Oh, uh, I gotta go! I was gonna go to the knighting!”
“Is that so?” Aesia spoke up finally, smiling at the boy. “We were headed there as well. Why don’t we go together?”
-----
Aesia looked up at Kailk as the boy rode atop Shaji, the pandrylyr walking very carefully to make sure that he could stay on. They were given a respectful berth by other Aer, but generally everyone just went about their day. The walk to the first tier of the city wasn’t a long one, and soon the group arrived at the amphitheater. Iruthel helped Kalik down, and both waved him off as he ran to join a woman that they assumed was his mother.
“Guess it’s time,” Aesia said, nuzzling into Iruthel’s side for a moment.
“Nervous now that it’s finally here?”
“Mhm.”
“Don’t worry. It’ll go great.” Iruthel took Aesia’s hand in his and together they walked through the parting crowd. Their trainer nodded to them as they stepped up the stairs and took position behind him. Their Pandyrlyr sat to either side, and Aesia squirmed a little with all the eyes of other trainees and Aer upon her. Their trainer, Havaar, stood tall with the silver of age in his hair. He was silent for a moment, letting the clamor quiet, before he spoke.
“I first met Iruthel and Aesia five years ago, during one of the driest bonding seasons in history. As with all new trainees, they had just bonded with their pandrylyr and did not know what to expect. Aesia had come to us from Raasam, far to the south. My job was to mentor those worried children into heroes, warriors that will protect the Aer for generations to come.”
“And let me tell you, it was not easy. They fought each other tooth and nail for years over the most nonsensical things. At one point I even thought I would need to separate them. Now, though, we have two more Taelesol that I am proud to welcome into our ranks.” Havaar smiled and turned around. “Aesia Lorrin, Iruthel Marka. It is with great pride that I recognize your knighting. You are both fully-fledged Taelesol; sworn to protect, sworn to fight. Do you accept?”
“I accept, under honor and sky!” Aesia roared, as did Iruthel. Pride burst in her chest as the gathered Aer erupted into a storm of cheers, applause, and howls led by their own great beasts. She felt Iruthel’s arm slide around her waist and looked over to him. He was grinning that devilish grin as he pulled her to stand in front of him.
“No time like the present,” he whispered before kissing Aesia full on the lips. Her eyes went wide, but she soon melted into it, holding her friend and partner close. As soon as their lips touched, sparks literally flew around the couple and the crowd roared louder in approval
“It’s about time!”
submitted by MythyDragonwolf to MythyWritesWords [link] [comments]


2020.08.25 13:03 FFBot Official: [Index] - Tue , 08/25/2020

PLEASE READ

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The following users have helped the most people in all of the threads:
User # Helped in thread

Official: [Add/Drop] - Tue , 08/25/2020

User # Helped in thread # Helped in all threads Direct Link
MmmRice 1 1 Comment
HercHuntsdirty 0 2 Comment
nickhenne 0 0 Comment
SxytonFN 0 0 Comment
glasgow26 0 0 Comment
boatymcboatface808 0 0 Comment
joe183288 0 0 Comment
Joeydoyle66 0 0 Comment
Sam2428 0 0 Comment
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Official: [Keeper] - Tue , 08/25/2020

User # Helped in thread # Helped in all threads Direct Link
MyPIsInsignificant 25 27 Comment
holyplankton 8 8 Comment
downtown_josh 5 5 Comment
zombiejeesus 3 3 Comment
iamgarron 3 3 Comment
Ktemp72 2 2 Comment
t1break 1 2 Comment
threevo 1 1 Comment
doctorjay56 1 1 Comment
JesyouJesmeJesus 1 1 Comment
bktheanalyst 1 1 Comment
youbabygorilla 1 1 Comment
hotfabian 1 1 Comment
BarristanSelfie 1 1 Comment
HauckPark 1 1 Comment
Imagine_Matt 0 7 Comment
Bornimmortalx 0 1 Comment
whitehotpanda 0 1 Comment
ZDSilver95 0 1 Comment
mblim 0 0 Comment
and 30 others.
This table will be updated every ~15 minutes.

Official: [Rate My Team] - Tue , 08/25/2020

User # Helped in thread # Helped in all threads Direct Link
DrGoon1992 8 8 Comment
alexkwin9 6 6 Comment
TheHeintzel 4 4 Comment
Dasjtrain 3 3 Comment
lurker2080 2 3 Comment
mo_sf 2 3 Comment
DaRandomBro 2 2 Comment
FTCrunch 2 2 Comment
It_Rhymes_With_Geek 1 1 Comment
Keyon150 1 1 Comment
Pbsal11 1 1 Comment
TheChumGuzzler69 1 1 Comment
newg33b 0 1 Comment
mets1010 0 1 Comment
townghost88 0 0 Comment
cort_land93 0 0 Comment
ajdin313 0 0 Comment
Jamiec962 0 0 Comment
buugiewuugie 0 0 Comment
lapseofclarity88 0 0 Comment
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Official: [Simple Questions and League Issues] - Tue , 08/25/2020

User # Helped in thread # Helped in all threads Direct Link
srcup110 0 0 Comment
hendrix67 0 0 Comment
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TyBerns 0 0 Comment
OhKillEm43 0 0 Comment
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Zimmy2118 0 0 Comment
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Official: [Trade] - Tue , 08/25/2020

User # Helped in thread # Helped in all threads Direct Link
Usmlucky 8 8 Comment
Imagine_Matt 7 7 Comment
BennyJetss 3 5 Comment
A-Stupid-Asshole 3 4 Comment
Archie6655 3 3 Comment
110099223377 2 4 Comment
okmymoneywaylonger 2 2 Comment
HercHuntsdirty 2 2 Comment
mo_sf 1 3 Comment
MJinvestment 1 1 Comment
Econ_Ramblings 1 1 Comment
CdotLykins4 1 1 Comment
Mustangonly 0 0 Comment
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GrannyChomper 0 0 Comment
cactusbeard 0 0 Comment
Chillinthamost 0 0 Comment
Bossman28894 0 0 Comment
Pizza__Daddy 0 0 Comment
JewishSlashBrothers 0 0 Comment
and 8 others.
This table will be updated every ~15 minutes.

Official: [Who Do I Draft?] - Tue , 08/25/2020

User # Helped in thread # Helped in all threads Direct Link
Reed1212 5 5 Comment
CZKnight 3 4 Comment
Skullborn 1 1 Comment
whattittdoobabyy 1 1 Comment
Bornimmortalx 1 1 Comment
newg33b 1 1 Comment
Adethier 0 1 Comment
bradt1331 0 0 Comment
carolinaeagle 0 0 Comment
treyg2311 0 0 Comment
Hitman2504 0 0 Comment
theyellowdragon 0 0 Comment
mvarghese92 0 0 Comment
ChuckKnobPreYips 0 0 Comment
69_terminator_69 0 0 Comment
mw291 0 0 Comment
pinkbunny6 0 0 Comment
Titaniumhornet1 0 0 Comment
jakelaser1080 0 0 Comment
ipsabel 0 0 Comment
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submitted by FFBot to fantasyfootball [link] [comments]


2020.07.31 00:33 ashisagenius Major puppy blues - I don't know if I like my dog

I feel like the worst owner possible. She's a 6.5month old cockecavalier mix and she's inherited the worst of both breeds. She's on the go constantly like a cocker, and has horrible separation anxiety like a cavalier if just one of us are with her, making her a misery to spend time with alone. My partner and I work different shifts so she's not left alone, we crate her in the day to mimic our work schedules as much as possible, we waited years for the right time in our lives to get a dog, we researched breeds, researched breeders, spent months getting ready for a puppy, had 12 weeks of puppy training PLUS covid meant I've been wfh since March. I don't know how else we could have been more prepared for her.
But she's making our lives a misery. We can't sit at the table to eat without her scratching at us for attention no matter what we do (my legs are covered in bruises). She can't relax with us on the sofa without us holding her chew for her (she is fully capable of doing this herself), or her barking any animal noise on the telly (I never noticed how much dogs bark on TV before), or scratching at the back door when she doesn't need the toilet, or just staring at us whining and yipping. The only time we can relax is when she's shut away which isn't best for her necessarily. This is all after a 30 min walk, training, and a cool down.
Dos it get better?
submitted by ashisagenius to puppy101 [link] [comments]


2020.07.08 17:18 CreativeSobriquet Golf and Covid: Riding Alone or Doubled Up?

Here in Central Florida (mainly Greater Orlando) it’s been my experience that during these Covid times golf courses have been having golfers ride alone unless you stated you stated that you’re good with riding with your partner. No assumptions were made and no one made it seem like an inconvenience. And, from what I’ve heard, it’s actually increased pace of play. It’s been enjoyable, especially since I can listen to whatever music I want and not worry about offending anyone, but that’s another discussion for another thread.
This weekend though I went to Rio Pinar CC in southeast Orlando where we were greeted in the clubhouse with a sign that stated if we wanted to ride alone there would be a $20 additional cart fee charge. Mandating that you potentially ride with someone you don’t know while cases are on a steep rise here in the middle of America’s 6.5.
Yeah yeah, “if you’re scurred stay home hurdur” can be bleeted from the range, and you may have a point, but I’m more taken aback by the additional $20. I’m fine with the clubhouse requesting it, but I don’t see it as unreasonable to acquiesce to riding alone if someone asks. I was with my dad so it wasn’t a big deal to me, but I also like to get out and go by myself and the thought of being paired up with some Daren that has a “medical condition” seems worse than having the shanks and the yips in the same round.
What are your thoughts? What have you encountered throughout the pandemic?
submitted by CreativeSobriquet to golf [link] [comments]


2020.06.22 17:32 aimee0112 My dog has developed a biting behavior!


Hi there! I am desperately looking for some advice about my Lexi and her recent escalating biting behavior. Here is some context and the situation:
Lexi is a almost 4 year old "mixed breed" pit bull that we adopted 2 months ago from our local shelter. Her paperwork indicates that she was a surrender, and then she lived in the shelter for around 10 months and with a foster for 1 month. She transitioned from foster to us. We are 2 women and her previous foster were also 2 women. There were no previous indications of aggression toward people or dogs and she is a super sweet and goofy lover of a dog. We have had 2 pits previously but raised both from puppy and neither had aggressive behavior toward people.
Lexi has been great and is quickly acclimating and becoming trained (no more leash pulling or begging for food and will stop barking at outside noises with command!) Because of Covid we haven't been super social but my sister and niece (11yrs) come over weekly and Lexi is great with them. When we are on walks Lexi is totally cool when other people approach, are nearby, or even stop to talk to us.
When my sister brought her husband over with my niece, Lexi was fine. They came in the front door, sat down in the living room. She let him pet her and then went to her bed and slept - my niece pet her on her bed while we hung out. He's been over 3 times now, she has been fine. My dad came over with my brother and a male friend. They came through the back gate and hung out in the backyard. Lexi was cool, hung out got treats and pets from them and showed no signs of stress or aggression.
My best friend and her mom, and my godson (15yrs old), came to visit. They came through the front door. The grandma brought treats for Lexi and gave them to her almost immediately once coming through the door. Lexi was cool at first, smelling and wagging her tail and getting treats. They stayed standing as we headed out to the backyard for more social distance. Out of nowhere, Lexi jumped and yipped at my godson, a big guy almost 6ft, his hands were in his pockets. She did this several more times throughout the day, even once as he was in the hammock - she crossed the yard just to jump and yip at him and it seemed like she would bite, but didn't.
Fast forward a couple weeks. My brother (tall 6'5) comes over to fix the screen door which Lexi broke jumping at it. He was working at the front door and Lexi was hanging out, very interested in being near him. She was getting treats from me for being good and staying close (not leaving the porch). I walked away to get the baby gate so that she could stay hanging out without worrying about her leaving the porch area ( we are still working on that training), my brother was was working on the door hanging the frame - I got about 1/2 a room away, and apparently when my brother reached down to do something on the door frame, she bit his hand. 1 puncture hole in the flesh by his thumb. Weird because she had already met him previously and been fine and because she had been fine with him for the 1st 20 minutes he was working on the screen door. We put her in the backyard until he was done working.
Yesterday, Father's day, we had a BBQ with the family. My dad and step mom were the first to arrive. I open the door and Lexi seems excited to see them. Lexi is getting love from my step mom is meeting her for the first time. My dad (big guy 6'4) comes in with hat and glasses walks over the door threshold and into the house, and Lexi begins to growl at him. We try to stand next to him so she knows he's ok and tell her it's ok. Then as my dad takes his hat and glasses off and goes to sit down, Lex jumps and bites at his thigh. She only got his jeans. I tell her no, and take her by her scruff and lay her on her back in submissive. Then I let her up. Everyone is sitting now. Lexi goes to my dad and growls again, I tell her no and my step mom calls her. She goes over, gets love from my stepmom. We all get up to go outside, and on the way out, Lexi growls and jumps and goes to bite my dad again on his hand, which is holding his hat. My dad is a dog lover... so he suggests I give him some treats so he can work on getting her to relax about him. It seems to work as we are outside in the backyard. Lexi takes some treats from him, and even lets him pet her head a couple times. Lexi chooses to hang out in the house also because there are fireworks in the neighborhood. My sister and her family come over. Lexi is totally fine with all of them including the husband. Literally NO aggression. My brother shows up a little later, most of us are in the backyard but my partner is in the house with my niece and they let my brother in at the front door. Lexi immediately jumps up and bites him on his elbow.
I don't know what to do. It seems to be getting progressively worse. We tried to look for patterns - all men, all tall/large guys, all white. But it's not all men - our neighbor came and hung out on the porch one day. She was fine. I had the water filter guy come in and replace our filter, she was fine. She was fine initially with both my dad and brother. The only other thing is that in the last month (which coincides with increased behavior) we have had tons of fireworks of all kinds but especially the loud sonic boom m80s and cherry bombs. She is terrified of these. They start each evening at about 6pm and she is basically in panic mode until we go to bed at around 9:30. So much so, she doesn't eat her dinner. Won't go outside (for walk or to use the bathroom in the backyard after 5pm or if any firework has happened) We have been giving her Pet rescue remedy in her water. She has a special calming bed, and we created a 'safe space' in the house that functions as a cubby for her with an air filter for white noise. We are getting a crate delivered this week and I have signed her up for socialization with a local dog daycare.
I am upset because my family loves dogs, wants to love her and is even willing to take an occasional bite! But it is totally not ok to have a biting dog, especially a pitbull and I am worried the behavior is escalating and don't really understand why or how to prevent it. On a side note, Lexi is eligible for program with the Lancaster Prison for a 2 week intensive training but because they have been closed bc COVID that hasn't happened yet.
I apologize for the long post! I just wanted to provide as much context as possible. Thanks in advance for any advice or feedback!
Best, A
submitted by aimee0112 to Dogtraining [link] [comments]


2020.06.12 04:48 MisAmerica23 Leg/knee pain after long walks and exertion?

4 year old Pitbull mix
Female (spayed)
Adopted, 65 lbs
Southern California area
I've only had her for 4-5 months and my partner noticed that sometimes when she gets up from laying down and sleeping, she will limp a little bit. But these past two weeks she has completely not been walking on her back right leg only after long walks and running around. She is kind of clumsy, but she hasn't hit herself on any hard corners or surfaces that we know about.
I just bought her insurance, but of course they have an Orthopedic waiting period that is over in December. I am going to wait to take her to a vet and just try to be careful with how falong I take her on walks. She is eating and drinking water regularly. She doesn't yell or yip when she gets up or walks up the stairs.
I think it's her knee, while my partner thinks it her hip. Any advice or knowledge on what it might be?
submitted by MisAmerica23 to AskVet [link] [comments]


2020.05.22 20:06 SelenophilicSapphic Entitled Family Thinks it's Ok to Let an Aggressive Dog Run Free

Hey there Mr. Reddit and the Ree Army! This happened a couple of days ago but I forgot to post it the day of the incident. You have my full permission to use this post and any of my other posts in your videos! I'm always on mobile, so sorry if theres weird formatting. English is my first language, and I'm a fairly decent writer. This post is short and not so sweet, and i did not participate in this incident but was an onlooker in the situation. I've done the work of censoring out most of the swearing in this one for you. This one is a bit shorter than my other posts, so no TL/DR.
Our Cast:
EM: our standard entitled mom
EK: our standard entitled kid, looked to be about 7 or 8
NL: nice lady
NM: nice man
Now, for the story:
So if you read my first post about the Huckleberries, you'll remember I moved from America to the United Kingdom about 2 years ago, and almost a year ago now i married and had a silly baby boy. I gained quite a bit while pregnant, so i've started jogging around the neighborhood every other day to lose the baby weight.
I was jogging along a back road with my headphones in, minding my own business. As the usual, i see some families out walking, enjoying getting out of the house amid this quarantine.
Ahead of me was a chubby Karen-ish looking woman, surrounded by her 3 kids ranging between the ages of what looked to be 7 to 15, and with them was a fairly large black dog that wasn't leashed. Considering she looked like the Karen type, i kept to myself and crossed to the other side of the street to not bother her. I'm very nonconfrontational. The dog kept to its family and that was fair enough.
Going the opposite direction of the Karen family was this younger couple with 2 small yorkshire terrier-looking dogs, both on leashes.
All of a sudden as the families passed each other, the big black dog suddenly lunges away from its owners and begins snapping and biting at the little yorkies! From what it looked like, it wasn't playful. The yorkies were yipping in fear and snapping back in defence, growling and trying to get away from their aggressor.
The young lady, who is our NL, tries to shove the black dog away with her foot and nonviolently separate the two dogs, while her partner, our NM, scoops up one of their yorkies and is trying to grab the remaining yorkie but is having trouble getting ahold of it with the black dog trying to snap at his hands.
At this point i'm still jogging, and i know i'll have to run straight through this madness to get around them, so i slowed down to a walk as i tried to catch my breath. I paused the podcast i was listening to and was about to ask if i could assist, but at this moment the EM grabs her dog and finally pulls it off the NL and the yorkie that still was on the ground. I remained silent and walked past them as it seemed the situation was settling down, and kept to myself. And while it looked like i wasn't paying attention, i had my ears open.
NL, fuming at this point: why is your dog not on a leash?! It could have seriously injured our two little dogs, and even us! What's wrong with you to think its okay to let a clearly aggressive dog run free like that?!
EM, passing her growling dog over to her oldest kid by the collar: he's not aggressive! He was only playing. He's an amazing dog and wouldn't hurt a fly unless he was provoked. Your dogs were obviously threatening him! You need to keep those little rats at home in a cage where they belong.
I can hear EM's kids muttering amongst themselves, but i couldn't hear what they were saying. I can only assume they were agreeing with their mother. The NM is still holding one of the dogs, and has scooped the other up into his other arm at this point.
Both parties were beginning to head off their own directions, the Karen family was going the same way as me, unfortunately.
NM: i don't know if you're just a crappy pet owner or you're just too lazy to train that mutt, but you best hope it doesn't bite a dog that's bigger and meaner than yours. Then you may just not even have a dog anymore!
EM scoffs, flipping them off and continuing to walk away with her kids. EM: keep your rat dogs in check then, my baby has done nothing wrong!
NL: well at least our babies don't need a muzzle!
and this is when the EK speaks up.
EK: oh, F**k off! Yes, this 7 year old really dropped the F bomb on this couple. Her mom didn't even tell her off, and her siblings applauded her, agreeing.
I had to listen to this family gripe and groan about how their dog was only playing around, despite it having growled and blatently attacked these random people's dogs. While yes, it may not have been aggressive towards other people, this woman should have well known there would be other dog walkers out here and that if her dog was aggressive towards other animals that it should be leashed.
I picked up my pace and jogged further up ahead of them, and just hoped this dog wouldn't run up behind me and bite me in the butt.
Thanks for reading! I thought it was a legal requirement to keep dogs on leashes in the UK, but i don't know for sure whether its true or these people were just breaking the law. As far as i could see, the two yorkies were fine and i didn't see any blood, and this Karen was lucky the couple didn't press charges.
submitted by SelenophilicSapphic to MrReddit [link] [comments]


2020.05.22 20:06 SelenophilicSapphic Entitled Family Thinks it's Ok to Let an Aggressive Dog Run Free

Hey there Mr. Reddit and the Ree Army! This happened a couple of days ago but I forgot to post it the day of the incident. You have my full permission to use this post and any of my other posts in your videos! I'm always on mobile, so sorry if theres weird formatting. English is my first language, and I'm a fairly decent writer. This post is short and not so sweet, and i did not participate in this incident but was an onlooker in the situation. I've done the work of censoring out most of the swearing in this one for you. This one is a bit shorter than my other posts, so no TL/DR.
Our Cast:
EM: our standard entitled mom
EK: our standard entitled kid, looked to be about 7 or 8
NL: nice lady
NM: nice man
Now, for the story:
So if you read my first post about the Huckleberries, you'll remember I moved from America to the United Kingdom about 2 years ago, and almost a year ago now i married and had a silly baby boy. I gained quite a bit while pregnant, so i've started jogging around the neighborhood every other day to lose the baby weight.
I was jogging along a back road with my headphones in, minding my own business. As the usual, i see some families out walking, enjoying getting out of the house amid this quarantine.
Ahead of me was a chubby Karen-ish looking woman, surrounded by her 3 kids ranging between the ages of what looked to be 7 to 15, and with them was a fairly large black dog that wasn't leashed. Considering she looked like the Karen type, i kept to myself and crossed to the other side of the street to not bother her. I'm very nonconfrontational. The dog kept to its family and that was fair enough.
Going the opposite direction of the Karen family was this younger couple with 2 small yorkshire terrier-looking dogs, both on leashes.
All of a sudden as the families passed each other, the big black dog suddenly lunges away from its owners and begins snapping and biting at the little yorkies! From what it looked like, it wasn't playful. The yorkies were yipping in fear and snapping back in defence, growling and trying to get away from their aggressor.
The young lady, who is our NL, tries to shove the black dog away with her foot and nonviolently separate the two dogs, while her partner, our NM, scoops up one of their yorkies and is trying to grab the remaining yorkie but is having trouble getting ahold of it with the black dog trying to snap at his hands.
At this point i'm still jogging, and i know i'll have to run straight through this madness to get around them, so i slowed down to a walk as i tried to catch my breath. I paused the podcast i was listening to and was about to ask if i could assist, but at this moment the EM grabs her dog and finally pulls it off the NL and the yorkie that still was on the ground. I remained silent and walked past them as it seemed the situation was settling down, and kept to myself. And while it looked like i wasn't paying attention, i had my ears open.
NL, fuming at this point: why is your dog not on a leash?! It could have seriously injured our two little dogs, and even us! What's wrong with you to think its okay to let a clearly aggressive dog run free like that?!
EM, passing her growling dog over to her oldest kid by the collar: he's not aggressive! He was only playing. He's an amazing dog and wouldn't hurt a fly unless he was provoked. Your dogs were obviously threatening him! You need to keep those little rats at home in a cage where they belong.
I can hear EM's kids muttering amongst themselves, but i couldn't hear what they were saying. I can only assume they were agreeing with their mother. The NM is still holding one of the dogs, and has scooped the other up into his other arm at this point.
Both parties were beginning to head off their own directions, the Karen family was going the same way as me, unfortunately.
NM: i don't know if you're just a crappy pet owner or you're just too lazy to train that mutt, but you best hope it doesn't bite a dog that's bigger and meaner than yours. Then you may just not even have a dog anymore!
EM scoffs, flipping them off and continuing to walk away with her kids. EM: keep your rat dogs in check then, my baby has done nothing wrong!
NL: well at least our babies don't need a muzzle!
and this is when the EK speaks up.
EK: oh, F**k off! Yes, this 7 year old really dropped the F bomb on this couple. Her mom didn't even tell her off, and her siblings applauded her, agreeing.
I had to listen to this family gripe and groan about how their dog was only playing around, despite it having growled and blatently attacked these random people's dogs. While yes, it may not have been aggressive towards other people, this woman should have well known there would be other dog walkers out here and that if her dog was aggressive towards other animals that it should be leashed.
I picked up my pace and jogged further up ahead of them, and just hoped this dog wouldn't run up behind me and bite me in the butt.
Thanks for reading! I thought it was a legal requirement to keep dogs on leashes in the UK, but i don't know for sure whether its true or these people were just breaking the law. As far as i could see, the two yorkies were fine and i didn't see any blood, and this Karen was lucky the couple didn't press charges.
submitted by SelenophilicSapphic to MrReddit [link] [comments]


2020.05.12 18:12 jon_ster Thoughts for opening Jiu Jitsu gyms

Recommends for Jits
Jiu Jitsu to be exclusive private clubs Screening process (post-covid) to enter No more drop ins 1.
Screen and test all members and staff Recommend testing every 1-3months as available
Mat Uniform Minimum Req: Spat pants, socks, hand gloves Use under Gi
Cleaning before entering mat. Shower before/ at facilities if available If not: Wipe down arms hands and feet. Must all: Wash hands before entering mat/ Hand Sanitizer 2.
Light warm up technique of day on human partner (prechoosen as per date and time availability)
Remainder of repetitions done on sand bag weight/ hit pad/ heavy bag etc etc to activate muscle and muscle memory needed to execute move (ie hip toss sweep).
Instructor to wear mask as goes around to make adjustments as needed
Clean and wipe down with COVID virucidal approved cleaning agent. Allow air dry before next class or usage.
Works best as outdoor model. Beach/ open outdoor area Designate areas in Ground/sand Keep training spaces approximately 6 feet apart.
  1. Recommend exclusivity due to infectious ness of virus. Outsider can bring in. If exclusive can contain. As we learn more of immunity best to keep same/exclusive training partner.
  2. https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?title=A%20familial%20cluster%20of%20pneumonia%20associated%20with%20the%202019%20novel%20coronavirus%20indicating%20person-to-person%20transmission%3A%20a%20study%20of%20a%20family%20cluster&journal=Lancet&volume=395&issue=10223&pages=514-523&publication_year=2020&author=Chan%2CJFW&author=Yuan%2CS&author=Kok%2CKH&author=To%2CKKW&author=Chu%2CH&author=Yang%2CJ&author=Xing%2CF&author=Liu%2CJ&author=Yip%2CCCY&author=Poon%2CRWS&author=Tsoi%2CHW&author=Lo%2CSKF&author=Chan%2CKH&author=Poon%2CVKM&author=Chan%2CWM&author=Ip%2CJD&author=Cai%2CJP&author=Cheng%2CVCC&author=Chen%2CH&author=Hui%2CCKM&author=Yuen%2CKY
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html
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2020.05.08 14:38 AshleighBSB [Boarding School Blues] - Chapter 18: Parents' Weekend

[Cover] [Table Of Contents] [Chapter 1] [Patreon] [Discord]
Parents’ Weekend has finally come.
It gives us a break from the humdrum.
What will my parents say,
When they come here today
And I answer my teachers with “um?”
I am scared that they will come to learn
My most deepest and darkest concern:
That the work is too tough
I am not smart enough
And so home again I must return.
I will work hard to argue my case,
In a manner that they can embrace:
I belong at Hartfield!
This fact I will not yield!
Please don’t force me back to my birthplace!

The first day Melinda had arrived at school, she had noticed a row of flags was displayed on either side of the sidewalk leading to the Arts Center from the parking lot across the street. As Melinda and Sarah walked towards their Friday morning classes, they espied the flags, one for each state or country represented by a student at the school.
“So, when are your parents coming?” Melinda asked Sarah as they entered the glass foyer.
“Tomorrow morning. We’re meeting here. Crystal was really bummed she couldn’t stay over tonight.”
“It’ll be cool to see your sister again. Tell her I’ll sit with her for your game.”
“Aren’t you going to be with your parents?”
Melinda shrugged. “I kinda don’t want them to come. It’s hard to explain, but school is my world, and they’re just not a part of this world. It’s weird to have them here.”
“Oh, I get it. I felt like that when I first started going to boarding schools. Still do, really. I think if Crystal weren’t coming, I’d probably try to convince my parents to stay home. Of course, this is our first year here, so our parents probably want to make sure they’re getting their money’s worth.” Sarah smiled, waving to Melinda as she headed to her music class.
Melinda made her way up the concrete spiral staircase slowly, wondering how her parents would fit in the loft with all the other parents, when there was barely enough room for the students at the counter. Maybe the parents would sit in the center of the loft and the students would draw them.
Melinda giggled at the thought and took her usual seat, removing her notebook from her portfolio and pondering the upcoming weekend.
Melinda turned in her chair as she heard Mr. Rockwell enter the room, not surprised to see the rest of the students had filed in during her ponderings. When she turned her attention to the center of the loft, to see what they would be drawing, her eyes focused on the back of the room instead. The EMPTY back of the room!
Melinda was not the only one to notice the complete lack of clutter. “What happened to all the junk?” Her classmate Liz pointed a long pale arm towards the rear of the loft.
Mr. Rockwell smiled. “I thought it might be nice to make some room for your parents tomorrow. Apparently, Ruby has yet to adjust to the change as well.” He gestured to his small pug, who was running up and down the now empty space, yipping at the vastness.
“The room looks so much bigger,” commented a sixth-form boy whose name Melinda could never remember. Jack? Jake? Tom?
“Yes, and that brings us to today’s assignment. I would like you to draw the small object I will place on the other side of the room. You are to draw from your current seats.”
The other side of the room held a counter identical to the one where Melinda and her classmates were sitting. Melinda watched Mr. Rockwell place a small pyramidal prism that was most likely a paperweight near the middle. Slowly drawing lines with her pencil and ruler, Melinda contemplated the assignment. She understood she was supposed to show the vastness of the room compared to the size of the object.
Inspired, Melinda closed one eye and began taking measurements of the opposite size of the room using her ruler. If she held it just right, the counter was approximately the length of the ruler and the paperweight was around the five-inch mark. It was approximately two centimeters wide, she measured, flipping her ruler around to work with the smaller measurements, and almost as tall at its center.
Melinda continued to use her ruler to guide her drawing and by the end of class, she was pleased with what she had drawn. After getting the basic outline, she had used her finger to smudge her pencil into shadows and the final image was a reasonable depiction of the opposite side of the room. She was sure it was her best work so far and was almost equally certain she would never be able to duplicate that quality again.
Mr. Rockwell seemed pleased with Melinda’s drawing as well, since he asked her to sign it and submit it to him. Although he often asked students to do this, it was the first time he had ever asked Melinda. She could not wait to share this news with Sarah during her break.

As she sat at her regular lunch table later that morning, Melinda smiled at Sarah and Larry, who were whispering quietly to each other as usual. “Hey, are you guys doing anything with your parents tomorrow? Like all going out or something?”
Apparently, neither Sarah nor Larry had thought about introducing the other to their parents, since both of them grew very wide eyed and quiet.
“Um,” Sarah managed to get out.
“I wasn’t really…” Larry began.
They began a very quiet discussion as Walter joined the table and gestured in their direction before turning back to Melinda. “That looks intense. Did they have a fight?”
“All I did was ask if they were going out with their parents tomorrow.” Melinda turned to Walter. “What about you? Is your family coming?”
Walter glanced at Larry and Sarah, but they were so absorbed in their own conversation, they took no notice. He still spoke guardedly, choosing his words carefully as he replied. “My brother’s returning to campus tomorrow. Because he’s done with all his work stuff. I’m working on convincing my parents to shadow him tomorrow, check in with his teachers and so on, since it’s his first day back.”
“They’re both coming? I thought they didn’t usually do that.”
“They don’t. But, my sister is really annoyed with my mother and has been taking good care of herself just to get my mother out of her hair. My mother is leaving my sister alone for the weekend, sort of like probation.”
“That’s good, right?”
Walter shrugged. “I have no idea. You know what happened the last time my mother left her alone.”
Melinda nodded. Several weeks ago, Meghan had been hospitalized for mismanaging her diabetes and her mother had moved into Meghan’s New York apartment to teach her how to better care for herself. Melinda changed the subject.
“Um, what about Ava?”
“What about her?” Walter nervously began looking all around before remembering Ava was in class that lunch period.
Melinda tried to suppress her smile at her friend’s anxiety, understanding he needed comfort, not ridicule. “I was wondering if you were going out with her family. Or if you were introducing her to yours.”
“Definitely no on the second one. I’m just not ready. I already talked to my parents about it. There’s going to be a lot of commotion with my brother coming back. He didn’t tell anyone he was coming, not even his roommate. His classmates are gonna be pretty shocked tomorrow when he shows up sitting next to them. It’s still going to be crazy. I didn’t want to add my own stuff into that craziness. I try to stay away from all that.”
“Does your family know about Ava?”
“A little. Basically, they know I’m seeing a girl named Ava. That’s pretty much all I’ve told them about her. I may have mentioned she’s in my math class.”
“Are you going out with her family?”
Walter shook his head. “I might go out with my family. We’re still working out the details. Otherwise, I plan on hiding out in my room. I’m hoping to convince my parents not to stay for my game tomorrow. This is my world away from my parents. I don’t like the thought of them invading.”
Melinda laughed loudly enough to interrupt Sarah and Larry’s conversation. It took her a moment to catch her breath. “Sorry. It’s just that I said exactly the same thing to Sarah this morning!”
“What?” asked Sarah. “About you not wanting your parents to come?”
Melinda nodded and Larry agreed with her. “Yeah, I like my parents visiting because I miss them, and it’ll be great to go home for a couple of days. But, I don’t want them shadowing me around. It’s gonna be weird.”
“You guys are both going home, right?” Sarah and Larry both nodded in response to Melinda’s question. She turned to Walter. “You?”
“Nope. My parents are going away for the weekend and no one will be home, so I’m staying on campus. You?”
“Ditto. My brother has a tournament Sunday and I don’t see the point of going home to sit around by myself. I’d rather hang out here.”

When Melinda arrived in the greenroom for her tap class that afternoon, her dance partner Brody handed her a costume.
“You need to try it on and Livvy will pin it if it needs any alterations. Madám Cherí said it should fit, since she took your measurements that day, but she wants to make sure.”
Melinda tried not to remember how embarrassed she had felt when her ballet instructor pulled her aside during class to wrap her with a measuring tape. She was the only Hartfield student performing in the Hartford Ballet Company’s upcoming Nutcracker performance.
She took the hanger from Brody and examined her costume. It was a gingerbread brown dress with a large white ruffle collar and three large round white buttons down the front. The bottom of the dress flared out with a white zig-zag sewn near the bottom hem and a fluffy white petticoat underneath. Melinda unzipped the back and stepped into it over her leotard.
Livvy zipped Melinda into the dress and stepped back to examine her. “Those tan tights are the right color. And, I think the dress seems to fit right. Do the first combination, make sure it moves okay.”
Melinda did her best to do the first combination in her stockinged feet on the carpet, but it was enough movement for both Brody and Livvy to agree that the costume should not need any alterations. Melinda returned the costume to the hanger and put on her tap shoes while Brody explained he would bring the costume back to their school to keep with the rest until the dress rehearsal in two weeks.
The rehearsal went very smoothly and by the time Mr. Pablo announced the end of class, they had managed to run through the entire performance twice without any mistakes. Mr. Pablo had the class sit on the edge of the stage as he spoke to them briefly, critiquing each dancer with minor adjustments to their performances. He told Melinda she needed to relax and make each move flow a little more as if she were not really thinking about which move came next. Melinda smiled, although she was thinking to herself that would be very difficult since she did indeed spend most of the dance thinking about which steps followed.

“I think I’m hallucinating!” exclaimed Melinda’s friend Xandra at dinner that evening. She placed her tray on the table and squeezed between two other friends. “You guys will NEVER guess who I saw walking around the campus this afternoon!” Xandra tried to pause for emphasis, but her excitement got the better of her. “Kara McGregor, the actress, was here. With Adam Evans, from CAVEmen!”
The table erupted in speculation.
“Wow!”
“No way!”
“I wonder why they’re here.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Dre asked. She was a huge CAVEmen fan and Melinda wondered if she had figured out Walter’s secret. “They’re married. Like, to each other. I bet Meghan McGregor and Patrick McGregor go here.”
Xandra shook her head. “No way. Wouldn’t we have seen them by now?”
Melinda saw Walter’s brother entering the dining hall through the side door, with his parents just behind him. It took them quite a while to cross the room to the servery, since Pat was constantly stopping to greet his friends and classmates. She smiled as she pointed a fork in Pat’s direction.
“Um, I’m going to take a wild guess here, but, I think Patrick McGregor is a student.”
She looked away quickly to avoid making eye contact with Pat, but she instead caught Walter’s eye. Since everyone was watching the celebrities that had entered the room, no one noticed Walter silently mouth “thank you” as he began to clear his tray. He excused himself, mumbling something about meeting up with his parents, then went through the smaller seating area to the dishroom. By the time he emerged, his family had entered the servery and Melinda espied Walter escaping through the side door before his parents or brother could spot him.

Melinda was surprised to see Walter walk into their usual study room that evening, but she was even more surprised to see his parents walk in behind him. Melinda stood up nervously, unsure how she was supposed to greet them. Should she act like the adoring fan or their son’s friend?
Walter shut the door and smiled apologetically to Melinda. He brought his bag to the table and turned to his parents. “Mom, Dad, this is my friend, Melinda. Melinda, these are my parents.”
“Um…” Melinda glared at Walter, who eased the tension by laughing.
He shrugged. “I forgot. What you said about the advanced warning. I forgot.”
Walter’s mother extended her hand. “It’s nice to meet you. Kara Evans.”
“Um, you too,” Melinda managed to squeak. “I mean, it’s nice to meet you, too.” She tried to remind herself that she was meeting Walter’s mother, but all she could think was I’m shaking Kara McGregor’s hand!!!
“Walter’s told us a lot about you,” Walter’s father shook Melinda’s hand in turn. Now I’m shaking the hand of the lead guitarist of CAVEmen!!
“Um…”
“Oh, just sit down already.” Walter gave a sigh of frustration as he turned to his parents. “See, this is why I didn’t want you to come here. How is she supposed to help me with my math homework if she’s too starstruck to talk?”
Melinda spoke softly. “I don’t help you. You just copy my answers.”
Mr. Evans laughed as he sat in one of the comfy chairs. “Man, this place hasn’t changed much. I think we studied in this same room, Kara.”
Mrs. Evans sat across from him. “No. Our study room had a fireplace. But, these may be the same chairs.” She wiggled a little in her seat as she leaned back, folding her legs under her.
“Are you two going to stay here the entire study hours?” Walter’s a less-than-amused tone was nearly a whine. "Because we aren’t going to be able to concentrate if you’re talking. I promise, we’ll do our homework and we don’t need chaperones.”
“Walter, we’ve barely seen you the past six months. We’d like to spend some time near you, even if you won’t talk to us.” Mr. Evan’s one this topic had already been discussed.
Melinda finally found her voice. “Um, I don’t want to be rude, but I thought parents were kicked off campus at study hours.”
Mrs. Evans spoke in an affected tone. “Well, normal parents are, but we’re not normal parents.”
Walter glared at his mother, who giggled and continued in her normal voice. “Oh, I know. That came out completely wrong. I was trying to be funny, but it made me sound like a diva. And I’m not. Lemme try again. We’re not normal parents. Our son missed the first, what’s it been? Six weeks?”
When her husband nodded, she continued. “He’s missed the first six weeks of classes. We’re meeting with most of his teachers tomorrow, but the Prices thought it would be easier to meet with them this evening. He’s got both of them this term. They asked us to wait until break so they could get their kids to bed first. But, don’t mind us. Really. I’m just gonna close my eyes and take a little nap in this truly wonderful chair while you do your math homework.”
Melinda was surprised when Mrs. Evans actually did close her eyes. She glanced at Walter who shrugged and began taking his books from his bag. Melinda sat back down to begin her math assignment. By the time she had finished the third problem, she risked a glance at Walter’s parents, both of whom were sitting in the comfy chairs playing on their phones.
“I can’t concentrate,” Walter announced a few minutes later. “What did you get for number one?”

Saturday morning, Sarah and Melinda made sure to arrive at the Arts Center earlier than usual so their families would not be waiting for them long. As soon as they entered into the glass gallery, a miniature version of Sarah flew at them, hugging them each in turn. As she released them, she turned to her sister and began signing.
“Crystal says she’s super excited to be here,” Sarah interpreted, “and she missed you. Wait, what about me?” She turned to her sister.
“I saw you three weeks ago,” Sarah interpreted for Crystal. “I haven’t seen her, she means you, Melinda, in forever. It has not been that long. Besides, you barely know her.”
Melinda got the impression that Sarah’s parents could sense an argument brewing, because they immediately were greeting Melinda, subtly placing themselves between their daughters. Sarah wanted to show her family around the building before her class, so she told Melinda they would meet up in their usual place second period.
Melinda checked the time on her phone, wondering where her parents could be, when she noticed a text from her mother explaining they had left later than they intended and hit traffic due to some sort of accident on the highway, so they would meet her after her first class. Melinda told them she would be in the Arts Center for the next hour or so and they could wait for her there.
At the end of class, Melinda turned back to her table to pack her belongings, and she saw her parents enter the building through the doors below. She called to them and waved, causing them a moment of confusion as they searched the echoes trying to determine the direction of Melinda’s voice.
“I’ll be down in a few minutes,” she called to them. “Just sit on the couches over there.”
After stowing her portfolio in her third floor flute locker, she returned to the lobby to greet her parents. She gave them each a big hug, and she even had a slightly awkward hug for her brother, before gesturing for them to sit.
“Sorry we’re late,” Melinda’s father began.
“Don’t worry about it. You only missed my art class and there weren’t many parents there anyway. You would have been bored, sitting there watching me draw.”
Joey made a sound that suggested he would have indeed been bored, then he went back to playing on his phone. Melinda’s mother glanced at him, before turning to Melinda.
“So, what’s on the schedule for today?”
Melinda dug around her backpack for the page she had written out the night before, in case her parents lost her during the day. She handed it to her mother.
“Here you go! We’re going to hang out here for a while and you can meet my roommate and her family. Is that okay?”
“Of course,” replied her mother.
Just then, Melinda noticed Crystal rushing into the room from the stairwell. She did not see Sarah or her parents anywhere, but Crystal saw Melinda and ran right to her, signing frantically.
“Is she alright?” asked Melinda’s mother. “Do you know her?”
“Yeah. Hang on a sec.” Sarah had only taught Melinda a handful of phrases in American Sign Language, but she was able to sign slow a couple of times. Crystal stopped and smiled, signing something in return that Melinda thought might have meant forgot.
Melinda spoke clearly, knowing Crystal read lips best when someone was speaking at their normal speed but making eye contact. “Crystal, this is my mother.” She pointed to herself, made the sign for mother and pointed to her mother. “And this is my father.” She signed father as she pointed to him. “And that’s my brother.” She pointed to Joey as she signed brother.
Crystal started giggling and shook her head as she pointed to Joey. She repeated the sign Melinda had just done, shaking her head. Then, she made a similar sign while nodding her head, and Melinda realized why Crystal was laughing. Melinda had called Joey her sister.
Sarah and her parents entered, her mother signing as she exclaimed, “There you are. We were looking all over for you.”
Crystal replied and Sarah turned to Melinda. “She said she wanted to tell you all about the music class. But,” she turned back to Crystal, “she can’t understand you.”
Crystal shrugged and signed something to Sarah, but the girls just began signing furiously to each other for a moment before their father interrupted them, also signing as he spoke.
“Melinda, are these your parents?”
“Oh, yeah. Mom, Dad, these are Sarah’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tran.”
Everyone shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. The adults began discussing the traffic snarl that had delayed Melinda’s parents, so Sarah explained that her music class had an experiment where students and their families would feel the music in their hands and bodies. Apparently, Crystal was so excited by the class that she had rushed out when class was over to share it with Melinda, while Sarah and her parents had stayed behind to speak with the teacher.
At the end of the free period, Melinda led her family across the lawn to the Science Center. Her physics teacher had placed chairs along the outer edge of the room for the parents, but Joey sat at Melinda’s table and continued to play on his phone while the class spent half an hour discussing gravity. It was yet another occasion where Melinda was glad to have completed the assignment ahead of time, since the lecture was difficult to follow.
After class, Melinda gave her parents a quick tour of the science building, showing them where she performed her lab experiments and the giant pendulum at the bottom of the nearby staircase. They ended in her favored fishbowl lounge, a room with a round window looking into the corridor opposite a bank of large windows looking outside towards the language building. Melinda and her family settled into the comfortable chairs for the remainder of the period.
“So, how are your classes going?” Melinda’s mother asked. “I had absolutely no idea what Mr…What is his name again?”
“Waldo!” Joey offered, not looking up from his phone.
“Joey!” Melinda’s father was not quite able to keep the amusement out of his voice, since Melinda’s teacher did resemble the character in the children’s book with his sandy hair and glasses, and his tendency to pair his blue dress pants with shirts that had broad horizontal stripes.
“His name’s Mr. Wilson,” Melinda supplied.
“Yes, that’s right.” Melinda’s mother glanced at the schedule Melinda had written out for her. “I had absolutely no idea what Mr. Wilson was saying. Did you?”
“Yeah, pretty much. I found that if I do the reading ahead of time, it makes it a little easier to understand what’s going on in class. My study partner is really good at understanding things and explains anything I don’t get in the reading. By the time I have class, I can usually follow what’s going on.”
“That’s pretty smart,” said her father. “But, I guess that’s why you’re here.”
Her mother changed the subject. “So, tell me about your friends. We’ve met Sarah. When will we meet the others?”
Melinda hesitated, embarrassed to have her friends meet her parents, and vice versa. “Well, I’m not too sure. Walter is in my Latin class, so you’ll definitely see him there. As for anyone else, you’ll probably just meet them when we run into them.”
Joey looked up from his phone. “So, when’s lunch? I’m starving.”
Melinda’s father checked his watch. “It’s quarter after ten. How can you be thinking about lunch?”
Joey shrugged. “I’m always thinking about lunch.”
They spent the remainder of the free period discussing Melinda’s dance class and the upcoming Nutcracker performance, which her parents were planning on attending.

Melinda led her parents to the auditorium a little early so they could have their choice of seats in the comfy chairs for their form meeting. Walter arrived shortly after, parentless, and sat beside Melinda.
Melinda swiveled her seat to look at her parents. “Mom, Dad, this is my friend, Walter. He’s my study partner. Oh, and my CCD mentor. Walter, these are my parents. And Joey.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Luzzelli.”
Melinda’s mother smiled. “You, too. We’ve heard so much about you.”
“Really?” Walter shot a quizzical look at Melinda.
“Are you by yourself today?” Melinda’s father asked.
“For now. My parents are shadowing my brother today, but I spent time with them yesterday, so I’m fine with it.”
Walter looked like he wanted to say more, but people were slowly filling the auditorium and their deans, Sally Hunter and Mr. Birkenhead, were standing by the podium in the center of the sunken lecture hall.

As Melinda and Walter led the way to their Latin class, Melinda heard Joey ask loudly, “Is that Patrick McGregor?”
Joey was pointing towards the path that led from the Arts Center towards the dorms, where Pat was walking with his parents.
Melinda tried to think of something to say. Even though Pat had disappeared behind the building, Joey was still looking in his direction. She tried to be truthful without giving away too much information. “Well, I did see Patrick McGregor in the dining hall last night. It looked like he’s a student here. He probably has a humanities class right now.”
“Like history,” Walter added.
“That’s awesome. Do you think I can ask him for an autograph? OH! Do you think his parents are here for Parents’ Weekend? Maybe I can get their autographs!”
Melinda could see Walter growing uncomfortable the longer Joey spoke, so she patted his arm to reassure him before replying to her brother. “Joey, I am NOT going to go up to someone and ask for their autograph while they’re just trying to go to their classes. Do you KNOW how rude that is?”
Her father nodded. “Melinda’s right. If the McGregors are here today, they’re students and parents, just like everyone else. We can ask for their autograph later.” He gave his son a conspiratorial wink.
Walter sighed as he held the building door open for everyone and Melinda led the way into the classroom. The small room felt more cramped with so many parents and Melinda was secretly glad neither Walter nor the sixth-former Laura had brought their parents to class that day.
Mr. Henderson led the class as he would any other day, pretty much oblivious to the extra people in the room. At the end of the period, Joey dashed out of the room to see if he could catch another glimpse of Patrick McGregor, even though Melinda had explained that he was probably on the other side of campus by now. Melinda’s parents chased after Joey, but Melinda took a moment say goodbye to Walter before following her parents out of the room.
They met halfway down the path towards the Science Center, and Melinda continued to lead them across campus to the math building. Sarah and her family were entering the building as they approached and Crystal made sure she sat near Melinda during class.
As Sarah and Melinda tried to follow Mr. Davidson’s lecture and work the problems on the board, Melinda could hear Joey’s video game beeping annoying beside her. After a few moments, she realized that Joey was behind her, not beside her, and she looked over to see Crystal playing Joey’s favorite game. Melinda waved her hand in front of the screen to get Crystal’s attention, then pointed at the screen and her own ears, then back at the screen. She had no idea what she had actually signed, but apparently, Crystal understood, because she muted the game immediately and rubbed her fist over her chest in what Melinda thought may have been the sign for sorry.
After class, Melinda told her brother that Crystal had been playing the same game as he had.
“Really? Cool.” He turned to Crystal. “What level are you on?”
Melinda was going to remind him Crystal couldn’t hear his question, but Joey had already started making gestures to Crystal. He pointed to his phone, showing her on what level he was currently attacking alien donuts, or whatever the game was about, and she held up her phone with a proud smile.
“Oh man!” Joey replied. “But, how’d you beat level 150? I’ve been stuck on it for days!”
The two of them occupied themselves by sharing their game during English class, muted of course, while Sarah and Melinda participated in the class discussion about the latest book of Odyssey.

[Table Of Contents] [Chapter 19]
Follow follow Patrick McGregor's story in Confessions of a Teenage Celebrity (Chapter 2, Part 1)
A Note From the Author
Have your parents ever come to your school? To you class? What was that like for you?
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2020.04.30 01:49 DrManhattan16 A Very Different Game (Pokemon CYOA)

You know those moments in movies where the audience knows there’s something or someone behind a character? Then they slowly turn around and get jump scared or attacked?
Well, that’s the situation I was in. The whump as something landed behind me made me calmly turn around and face what stood behind me. Two small eyes watched me with curiosity, encased in metallic feathers. It was a bit below my height, so I could see the underside of its wings and the blood-red color there. I wasn’t unaware of the sharpness of its wingtips either, I knew those things could cut through rock with some difficulty. The bigger danger, however, was the beak made to tear into flesh.
This was, without a doubt, the Skarmory I’d been asked to deal with. It cocked its head, and I knew I was in trouble. Birds like this only did that when they were curious, and they had no compunction to be gentle.
Thankfully, my Pokémon weren’t far away. A yip from my right made the predator looked left. My Lucario, only a bit more than half the size of the Skarmory, woofed and whined a bit. His eyes suddenly glowed, and my head felt weird.
“Why are you taking them?” he asked, referring to the Mareep and Miltank running inside now, spooked by the predator.
The Skarmory chattered softly. “Baby need food.”
Lucario shook his head. “Go somewhere else. These are not for you to eat. There is plenty of prey in the forest or valley.”
“No food left. Will take!”
“No, you won’t!” Lucario barked, baring his teeth.
I could see the shift from “curiosity” to “enemy” in the mother’s eyes. She jumped forward, talons opened to grab and painfully dig into flesh to prevent prey from escaping or breaking off when she flew away. Lucario easily jumped out of the way, the Skarmory’s movements almost like slow-motion for him. The Skarmory turned and tried to attack again but squawked as it was suddenly dragged through the air to the left.
What waited, about 40 meters away, was another of my Pokemon, Magnezone. Its three eyes were all focused on the Skarmory as its two large magnets pulled the bird through the air. The movement stopped as the Skarmory was held in place a few meters from Magnezone. All three eyes glowed, then a streak of white blasted down with tremendous noise, nearly knocking me over. I grimaced when I saw what had happened.
The Skarmory’s feathers, previously bright silver and strong, were now darkened as they smoldered. A disgusting stench of burnt flesh and metal filled the air. I backed away instinctively when I saw what looked like melted brains oozing out of the ears and nose. “Fuck, how do we deal with this?”
“She’d probably eat it,” Lucario suggested, a bit farther away due to his sensitive nose.
“Yeah, probably. Good job, buddy,” I said to Magnezone. The floating magnet grumbled appreciatively before I recalled it into its Apricorn. Opening a different one let my Darmanitan out. Immediately, the gorilla smelled the burning flesh, and only her deference to me prevented an immediate gorging. Though when I nodded at the corpse, it was like someone was digging a hole into the dirt, but the dirt was flesh. Feathers, bones, and the talons flew away once the flesh was melted into her mouth.
“Wow, you really do control Pokemon like that?”
I turned to see Mrs. Gamwell. She had a wizened face from working under the weather all year long. Out here in the Golden Frontier, there was no such thing as women staying inside for housework. “Yeah. They’re partners to me.”
“I see. Is the beast dead?”
“She’s eating what’s left of it,” I gestured to Darmanitan.
“Good. Lost three of my best cows to it. Any more and I’d be in deep shit.” People in this world referred to Miltanks as cows and Tauros or Bouffalant as bulls, regardless of their gender.
“Well, I’m just glad we could deal early on. There’s a lot of them out there who we have to put down after its too late and the damage is done. I’ll be heading back now, ma’am, unless you needed anything else?”
“No, we’re fine.”
“Good, good. Can I bother you for some water before I go? It’s hot out here.”
“Oh, yes. Come with me.”
The Gamwell’s farm wasn’t too large, but it was packed with crops and a surprisingly large field for their Miltanks and Mareeps to graze. Such pokemon were entirely domesticated now, to the point where wild specimens were mostly rare except far from civilization. They also had the side effect of giving most farms access to electricity.
As I filled my water bottles from their spigot, I saw a young boy and girl run up to me. “Can you show us your Pokemon?” they asked in unison. Clearly, the two of them had been dying to meet Pokemon they had never seen before.
“Sure thing, kids. There’s one of them right now,” I pointed to Lucario, looking at the scenery. Cuttler’s Sea beckoned in the horizon, and I could see what looked like a flock of Wingull flying away. “You mind them getting near, buddy?”
Lucario turned and walked up to the children in response. They patted his fur and scratched behind his ears. All of his species liked that, apparently.
“What’s his name?”
“He’s a Lucario. I don’t have a nickname for him.”
“Woah. Do you have more?”
I nodded. “There’s one over there. Don’t go near her, though. She doesn’t like anyone other than me getting too close. Hey, girl. You finished and cleaned up?”
Darmanitan hooted yes. I rubbed a bit of water where some leftovers were, getting the blood and a feather off her face. “There we go.”
I turned to the kids. “This is a Darmanitan. She’s a fire-type and packs a mean wallop.”
“Can she breathe fire!?” the boy asked. In response, Darmanitan blew a small flame that came uncomfortably close to the pair, causing them to shriek and fall back. “Hey!” I yelled, giving her a light smack. “Behave! Sorry about that, kids. She thinks she’s being funny. You alright?”
“Woah! That was so cool!” The boy exclaimed, the girl clearly agreeing but hiding behind him.
“Yeah. Anyways, kids, I have to go now. Be good, okay?”
They were disappointed, but they waved me goodbye as I walked away.
++++
I was, thankfully, only a half-day’s journey from Goldenrod City. This call out to the Gamwells had been a milk run in comparison to some of my other requests. That time with a rampaging herd of Tauros had been horrific and protracted. For the herd, of course, since Lucario knew Aura Sphere.
Said Pokemon was walking alongside me as we enjoyed the mild breeze blowing from the direction of the sea. The lack of trees or other covers from the sun meant even my wide-brimmed hat didn’t do much to keep me cool. It was summer right now, which meant even the evenings would be bright and warm.
As the sun dipped behind the horizon, the lights of Goldenrod City emerged. The surroundings were a sea of golden grass gated behind fences; plots of land owned by the oldest farmer families that had gathered here so long ago.
“Hey, Ryder! Long time no see!” I heard from above and to my left.
“Hey, Volcker. Glad to be back,” I replied with a wave. Ryder was one of the people who watched from small observation towers for anything that might endanger the city. It was rare, most Pokemon now understood Goldenrod wasn’t going to tolerate being host to wild animals, but the strongest wouldn’t hesitate before trying to harm us for a perceived slight or simply for existing. That’s when called people like me to deal with it.
As we approached the city, the number of people I saw increased. They were mostly farmhands who greeted me as we walked past them, eventually getting to the gate. It was a metal one that could be slammed down in an instant if necessary. A three-meter tall brick wall surrounded the city itself, a project that had only finished recently. Contrary to the games, there was no mall, radio tower, or train station. This was not an environment that would let us build such things easily. The tallest buildings rarely exceeded two stories.
The man at the gate, Carl, did a double-take as he saw us. “Hey, Ryder’s back!” Carl let us through without another thought, his words drawing some eyes and turning heads.
“Hey, Ryder!”
“Hope you’re doing good!”
“Back already?”
It felt good to be liked by everyone in the community. Lucario enjoyed it as much as I did even if he didn’t admit it.
++++
Dinner was a nice meal of steak, peas, carrots, and gravy at Mayor Alfheim’s home. The Alfheims had been gracious enough to practically adopt me into their family after I had saved their pioneers’ caravan from a roaming Tyranitar.
“I’m happy to see you’re back safely, Ryder,” his wife said as we ate dinner. “I get so worried when you travel so far.”
“I wasn’t in any danger, Mrs. Alfheim. Ilex forest isn’t as bad as it looks.”
“Yeah! He’s got Darmanitan with him too! She’d burn any bugs that try to mess with him!”
Mayor Alfheim was a thin man with blond hair and a penchant for suits. His wife had a similar color of hair and was addicted to drawing. How their daughter Whitney had pink hair and was obsessed with being another Pokemon trainer or “Ryder” in her words was beyond me. Yes, this was the same Whitney who would have terrorized an entire generation with her Miltank in another life.
“Don’t speak with your mouth full, Whitney,” her mother chided.
“How was Master Kurt?” Alfheim asked.
“He’s good. I got more Apricorns from him. But he says he won’t leave Azalea Village.”
“Hmm, that’s unfortunate.”
We ate in silence for a few minutes. “I think I’ll be going back out tomorrow for Cuttler’s Mountain,” I stated.
“And why is that?” Alfheim asked.
“The Skarmory I put down apparently had a child she was feeding. Normally, the birds stay on the mountain, but she flew all the way down here for food? Something’s not right up there, and it might be good to figure out what.”
“I think that’s far too dangerous, Ryder. There’s a reason people don’t go up there,” Mrs. Alfheim warned.
“I know. I’ll be careful.”
“Can I come? Please!” Whitney asked.
“Absolutely not, young lady. The last thing Ryder needs is to watch out for you too up there.”
She sulked. “I never get to go with Ryder anywhere.”
“Tell you what. If your parents are okay with it, I’ll take some easy work nearby and you can come with me then, alright?”
She perked up, eyes begging her mother.
“You shouldn’t indulge her like that, Ryder, but fine. When he comes back, you can go with him provided it's not too far, Whitney,” Mrs. Alfheim relented.
++++
The next morning, I headed out directly east, waving out to the two watchtowers as I hiked into the forest. Unlike the anime, you would rarely see Pokemon just walking around unless they were the kind that was dumb and/or didn’t move fast. Caterpie and Weedle were good examples, content to eat leaves until they were ready to evolve.
That didn’t mean it wasn’t dangerous. One false step could leave you caught in a web to be digested later. Or a Stantler buck would decide you were too close to a herd you hadn’t even seen and charge you much faster than you would think. But for the most part, humans and Pokemon understood the concept of live and let live.
Just to keep myself safe, I had Darmanitan walk with me. The ball-shaped gorilla’s constant grunts and the sheer heat coming off her body was an excellent deterrent; fire-type Pokemon did not get fucked with in a forest unless the inhabitants were confident they could deal with it, and my Darmanitan would melt their bodies before they could react if they tried anything.
Telling exactly where I was couldn’t be done with the thick tree cover obscuring the stars, but three days into my journey, I started crossing a lot more hills. That was the first sign I was getting close. By the end of the third day, the trees had thinned enough to see the dark-colored mountains that divided Johto in two. Think about the area enclosed by Azalea Village, Violet City, Ecruteak City, and Goldenrod City in the games.
Once we were at the base of Cuttler’s Mountain, I brought Lucario out of his Apricorn. “Think you can find its nest?”
He didn’t answer right away, taking several minutes to sniff in multiple directions. “I think we need to go that way,” he pointed towards the slightly shallower slope to our left. “But there’s a lot of scents here, and some of them are really strong. And not just flying types too.”
“Do we need to leave?”
“I don’t think we have to. I’ll keep an eye out for anything.
“Sounds good, buddy. Alright then, let’s see if our luck’s good.”
++++
The sun was directly overhead, and I was thoroughly soaked in sweat as the air thinned with the climb. My water supply was half empty simply from this trek alone, I couldn’t keep this up for too much longer. We must have climbed a few thousand feet on the narrow paths we could.
“Over here!” Lucario suddenly jumped up and climbed directly up by sticking his hands and feet into the hard dirt and rock. The benefit of being able to punch icebergs into submission.
“I can’t climb that fast, buddy. Hold on, don’t go without me.”
Sheepishly, Lucario came back and practically hauled me up the mountain as well until we made it to a small hole that was invisible from the bottom. A few shrubs, green all year in this climate, covered most of the top as well, meaning a casual glance wouldn’t reveal the hole. It was just large enough that I didn’t fear the rock breaking and sending me to my death.
“Her smell is really strong here.”
“Probably because the air doesn’t circulate. Smells like bird shit and rotten meat to me,” I grimaced. “I think it’s best you go in there.”
“Oh, that’s weird,” he said as he slowly walked in. A minute later, he came out holding a gray egg with silver triangles on it. “She didn’t have a baby; she had an egg.”
“Huh, I was wrong. Still, this is way better than a possibly aggressive baby Skarmory. That thing would have remembered its mother.”
“What do we do with it?”
“We’ll take it back with us. We might just get an addition to the team who can fly us everywhere.”
“That would be nice,” Lucario replied, no doubt imagining how fast it would be compared to walking.
“Right. How long do you think it’ll take before it hatches?”
He just gave me that look.
“Stupid question, got it. Let’s get out of here.”
Suddenly, a cacophony of caws sounded throughout the air. First one, then several black shadows appeared on the ground. Looking up, we could see the forms of multiple Braviary, Pidgeot, Skarmory, and even what looked like a pair of Talonflame.
“They’re all flying away from here,” Lucario commented.
The answer as to why became clear as three, no, four massive shadows flew in the direction of the haphazard flocks. I knew without a doubt these new Pokemon were the reason the Skarmory had hunted so far from her home.
“We need to get out of here. We can’t stay in the hole, and the only tree cover is all the way at the base.”
“They’ll just see us.”
“We have to risk it. They’ll probably just smell us anyways, and the last thing I want is to get buried in rock or burnt alive.” I poked my head out a bit. “Looks like they’re chasing those birds for now. Let’s go slow and hug the ground.”
The descent was silent for the most part, tension cutting into the air itself. A few times, we had to stop and go prone, completely still as we saw something in the air on the horizon. But the hours passed, and the sun dropped lower as we made it further down.
Only a few hundred meters away from the forest, I dared to grin. Thank G-“Look out!”
I spun and saw a terrifying sight. Time seemed to slow down as an open mouth with four short fangs rushed down at me. Six turquoise spikes encircled the mouth, while tough scales of a similar color covered four stumpy legs, while the underside of the wings was red, just like my blood, my brain helpfully provided. But the worst part was the aura that rightfully told me to be afraid. To not even breathe. To question my own right to exist.
A blue in my vision suddenly slammed into the attacker, speeding time back up to normal and causing both Lucario and the attacker to crash several meters away. My faithful Pokemon proceeded to slam his tiny but powerful fists into the other’s belly but had to jump back just in time to avoid a massive stream of fire that made me sweat even harder. Just then, a part of my memories clicked, reminding me that I had seen this Pokemon before.
A Salamence. But not just any Salamence.
As you might think, most Pokemon got more powerful as they aged. Whether by evolution or life experience, they got stronger, faster, or smarter. But like humans, most Pokemon also reached a point where their bodies peaked and subsequently declined. Old age was not an uncommon death.
Pseudo-Legendaries were very different. They never stopped being at their peak. Ever. Their potential never degraded with age, meaning that the leaders of any murder (the name for a group of pseudo-Legendaries) were immensely strong, having likely beaten any rivals in the group. If they were male, it meant killing.
This one, however, had gone a step beyond. Somehow, it had found something I doubted to even exist. A Mega Stone for its species.
The Mega was quick to react with Lucario no longer beating into it. More deftly than it had the right to be, it turned over and stood up, seeing me standing there frozen. The growing flame in its mouth made me sprint towards the forest, but I knew it was a doomed escape…until Lucario once more came to my rescue by jumping on the damn thing’s head and punching its mouth downwards. The Mega coughed and jumped around, trying to get him off. It shrieked in pain as the fists continued pummeling it.
A strong gust of wind made me turn around and my heart to drop a few meters. Those weren’t shrieks.
They were distress calls.
Four more Salamence, their mouths bloody, were flying directly at us. One flew a narrow stream, practically a jet, of fire at Lucario, forcing him to once more retreat. With perfect dexterity, he jumped next to me.
The Salamence landed, snarling and hissing at each other until the Mega roared at them. I didn’t need Lucario to know he was claiming us as his to kill. Its nose was an ugly black and blue, bruised like fruit from Lucario’s fists. Blood dripped from its nostrils, running down its mouth and falling onto the dirt. A stare-down commenced as the Salamence watched us, the Mega licking its wounds without breaking eye contact.
This fight was a doomed one. The only Pokemon I could trust wouldn’t be too hurt was Darmanitan, but she wasn’t built to take too many hits, and four Salamence was a bit too much for Lucario and her. Magnezone wasn’t fast enough for my preference here, and my Leavanny and Samurott were useless.
‘This is gonna suck.’ With one swift motion, I opened my last Apricorn to let the sixth member of my team out. Without waiting, I turned, yelling at Lucario, “RUN!”
As we ran into the forest well past the Salamence’ view, I heard the powerful roars and the first clash of flesh on flesh. The ground shook until I couldn’t even see, trees splintered under powerful attacks, and the air was filled with an ozone-like smell.
I hugged Lucario and my egg-filled backpack. All we could do is wait.
++++
The sun’s fading light contradicted my feeling that several hours must have passed as the fighting progressed. No more than 15 or 20 minutes had passed, I realized.
The ground was still, the air quiet. I looked over our hiding spot, an old tree that had fallen over. “Looks like he’s done.” We both knew this next part would suck.
Where the forest met the mountain was now destroyed entirely. The trees were pulverized or simply destroyed, falling into others or onto the ground. Massive holes had been torn into the ground, creating fissures of various lengths and sizes.
My sixth Pokemon was gorging himself on Salamence meat and bones. I knew not to interrupt him.
Pseudo-Legendaries all possessed an immense pride with their territoriality. The existence of something they acknowledge as their possible equal was never to be ignored, period. So when my six-foot-tall Haxorus had emerged, Lucario and I ceased to matter.
I had no doubts he would win. Haxorus weren’t naturally faster than their pseudo-Legendary counterparts, but the difference in battle experience and training demolished that weakness. Massive gouges in their bellies had spilled their entrails and stomach contents out while one had been decapitated. The Mega’s fate had been worse; his wings had been torn off and face torn off so the brain was exposed.
The smell of blood hit me all at once and I threw up. Haxorus turned around as he heard this. Blood, fat, and gristle covered his face, but there was not an ounce of hatred or wrath in those eyes. He ran to me, hugging me close enough to practically kiss me. I resisted throwing up again as his soiled face met mine.
“Good job, Haxorus. You really saved us. Had a good fight?”
He gave me a smile made of bloody teeth.
“Okay then. Are you done eating? We have to go soon.”
He whined at that.
“No gorging, remember? You can’t move for a long time after you stuff yourself,” I rebuked. That was enough to make him consent. With a few more mouthfuls of flesh, he went back in his Apricorn. Thank God. There was no equivalent of badges here, meaning I had to maintain my Pokemons’ loyalty. Haxorus was barely controllable as a result, and a rampaging dragon would commit destruction on the continental scale if not stopped.
“I don’t care what happens, we’re taking that mission with Whitney after we get back,” Lucario asserted.
“Amen.”
Pokemon CYOA
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2020.04.27 13:10 Xenosaurian Does Alien and Predator Take Place in a Shared Universe?

Does Alien and Predator Take Place in a Shared Universe?
Official artwork for the cinematic universe as explored through the iconic comic books \"Fire and Stone\" and \"Life and Death\".
Introduction
During this past decade, there has been an increasing focus on what should be considered canonical within the fictional universe of the Alien, Predator, Alien vs. Predator, and Prometheus franchises established by 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios under the new rule of The Walt Disney Company) and featuring the eponymous Alien (Xenomorph) and Predator (Yautja) creatures. In regards to this, one could argue that there are basically two different groups of the fanbase involved in this debate, and let's call them the separatists (who argues for a separation of this shared universe into separate universes) and the universalists (who argues for a single shared universe and generally reject the notion of separate universes). Now, for the following article I intend to examine this debate and eventually determine which side is most likely to be objectively true (or what is canon and what is fanon) and most consistent with the mindset present at 20th Century Fox throughout the past four decades that these franchises have been in existence.

History
It all began in the first decade with the release of the motion pictures Alien directed by Ridley Scott, Aliens directed by James Cameron, and Predator directed by John McTiernan and released back in 1979, 1986, and 1987 respectively, and following the financial and critical success of these films and their shared themes, 20th Century Fox decided to begin moving towards developing a shared continuity between these franchises, beginning with the comic book line Aliens Versus Predator by Dark Horse Comics, which also produced the single Aliens and Predator comics, in 1989 and promoted this as the Aliens/Predator Universe which would continue for decades to come.

Promotion for the official Aliens/Predator Universe.
From there on it continued to the big screen with Predator 2 directed by Stephen Hopkins in 1990 which prominently featured a Xenomorph skull in the trophy room of the Yautja spaceship for the entire audience to see (noting that some people like to refer to this as an "easter egg" as an excuse to overlook it, although this is clearly not an actual easter egg as that would imply a secret or hidden, non-serious, ambiguous reference to some other work, whereas this skull is a clear-cut reference positioned in plain sight and requiring an in-universe explanation). It was the idea of the director as a way of showing off all the different species and creatures that the Yautja have hunted and killed, while also acting as a nod to the popular comics, and this only further popularized the concept of a shared universe and resulted in several new products being released.

Xenomorph skull inside trophy room of the Yautja spaceship in \"Predator 2\".
During this second decade of the 1990's and during the development of Alien 3 from 1992 directed by David Fincher and Alien Resurrection from 1997 directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Fox continued to develop several comic book lines including Aliens: Space Marines (1992), and even video game adaptations such as Alien vs. Predator (1994) and Aliens Versus Predator (1999) which subsequently received sequels in terms of Aliens Versus Predator 2 (2001) and Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction (2003), and various toy lines such as those produced by Kenner and based in the shared universe such as the Aliens: Hive Wars line from 1998 which included both Xenomorphs and Yautjas.

Example of various products promoting a shared universe.
But not only that, Fox was actively looking to develop a motion picture adaptation of this shared universe and thereby seal the deal (and Sigourney Weaver reportedly stated that this was a reason why she wanted her character of Ellen Ripley to be killed off in 1992's Alien 3), with an early script being produced and titled The Hunt: Alien vs. Predator and written by Peter Briggs in 1991. The draft was rejected however, and it wasn't until the third decade on our timeline that director and writer Paul W.S. Anderson came onto the scene and pitched his own version of the film to Fox (including elements written by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett who also worked on the original Alien film) that it finally happened and AVP: Alien vs. Predator was released in 2004 and the shared universe was officially cemented together.
Worth noting here is that Anderson decided to also incorporate the character of Charles Bishop Weyland, played by Lance Henriksen from Aliens, to provide a more solid connection to the Alien films in that this character serves as the original founder of Weyland Industries (or Weyland Corporation), being one of the ancestral companies to the infamous Weyland-Yutani Corporation, and Anderson also stated that his character would serve as the inspiration for the Bishop line of androids which were designed in the honor and likeness of Charles due to his many great achievements in life such as discovering the pyramid structure on Bouvet Island in Antarctica before his death in 2004.
On this topic, Paul Anderson stated in an interview with IGN; "the role was written for him. I wanted some casting continuity with the Alien franchise even though it is set 100 years after our movie. The only person that could be was Lance. He, of course, was an android in the other movies. That was the idea behind that. I thought it was kind of a neat idea … I wanted to use the Weyland-Yutani Corporation in some respect. So the idea is that Charles Bishop Weyland is like Bill Gates, but his area of expertise is robotics. He's made his money in high tech and he's like the father of modern robotics. So that when the Bishop android is created in 150 years time, it's created with the face of the creator. It's kind of like Microsoft building an android in 100 years time that has the face of Bill Gates. The idea with Weyland is that his character is a man who is dying and like a lot of rich men who are facing the end, they realize that money and power aren't enough. What they want to do is leave something behind. So it's kind of like his longing for immortality that precipitates a lot of the events in this film, but also explains why his corporation would build something with his face." (See: Alien vs. Predator (2004) - Paul W.S. Anderson Interview and Paul Anderson Talks AvP)
During the same interview, while asked about whether the new film would implement any changes to the Alien and Predator mythology, Anderson stated; "I wouldn't f**king dream of that, no. That's beyond me. The movie is designed to be a sequel to the Predator movies and a prequel to the Alien movies. In no way does it contradict or go against anything in the Alien franchise. We've been very careful about that. It's set in the present day and on Earth, so it's like 150 years before Sigourney Weaver's out in space. It really makes sense. When you see this movie and then those movies, well I understand why she was completely ignorant of the existence of Aliens, but the Weyland-Yutani people did have an awareness of them. In that respect, there is a mythology to it (and there is a lot of mythology in the movie), but it is more related to Earth history rather than the history of Aliens and Predators. I'm not trying to explain away their genesis or anything like that. The idea is very much inspired by something Ron Cobb did for the very first Alien movie. I don't know if any of you have the original Alien book (which was done ages ago), but it had some original artwork from Alien for the pyramid that was never built ... Ron Cobb did some really cool designs, which were hieroglyphics showing the eggs … and that was very much an inspiration for this movie. It was a strand of Alien mythology that existed already but that never made it in Ridley Scott's movie."

The origins of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation featuring Charles Bishop Weyland, the inspiration for the Bishop android purportedly designed by Michael Bishop Weyland in the far future, and Miss Cullen Yutani, the acquisitions agent working together with Project Stargazer and Weyland Corporation to acquire Yautja technology for reverse engineering and the eventual development of faster-than-light travel drives for vessels such as the USCSS Prometheus and the USCSS Nostromo.
The film was a financial success which revived the Alien and Predator franchises and lead to the production of a sequel, AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem directed by brothers Colin and Greg Strause and released in 2007, to further establish the shared universe, and this time the Strause Brothers sought to help achieve this by introducing the Yutani Corporation, the second ancestral company to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, and setting up the ending with a Yautja plasma gun being brought to Miss Yutani (played by Françoise Yip) to intentionally insinuate that this piece of extraterrestrial technology will lead to the advancement of our own human technology to the point that we would develop faster-than-light drives such as those fitted aboard the commercial starship USCSS Nostromo, and thereby setting up early versions of AVP3, including an AVP3 written by Liam O'Donnell, as revealed to be leading directly into the timeline of the Alien films in an interview with io9.
In the same interview, Greg Strause stated; "The original ending for AVPR, that we pitched them, ended up on the alien homeward, and actually going from the Predator gun, that you see at the end, it was going to transition from that gun to a logo of a Weyland-Yutani spaceship that was heading to an alien planet. And then we were actually going to cut down to the surface and you were going to see a hunt going on. It was going to be a whole tribe of predators going against this creature that we called "King Alien." It's this huge giant winged alien thing. And that was going to be the lead-in, to show that the fact that the Predator gun is the impetus of all the technological advancements that allowed humans to travel in space. Which leads up to the Alien timeline."
Greg continues; "That was the idea. They never got any of the equipment from the first Predators. It's the first time they ever received any intact working technology left over. So they could take that and reverse engineer, figure out what the power source was - all of those things. And in theory, that would enable that company to make massive advancements in technology and dominate the space industry. That was the whole idea, was to literally continue from Ms. Yutani getting the gun - and then cut to 50 years in the future, and there's spaceships now. We've made a quantum leap in space travel. That was going to set up the ending, which would then set up what AVP was going to be, which would take place 100 years in the future. That was kind of the plan."
This cinematic universe would subsequently be reflected in various other products, including novels, toys, and new lines of comic books such as Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War (2010), and not to mention video games such as Predator: Concrete Jungle (2005) featuring several references to the films such as Charles Weyland and Yutani Corp, as well as featuring Xenomorphs and the MOTHER computer, and Aliens vs. Predator (2010) which referenced Charles Weyland and Ellen Ripley, and featured Karl Bishop Weyland played by Lance Henriksen and acting as a "descendant" of Charles, along with creature designs and mythology from AVP and AVPR.

Example of various products promoting a shared universe.
However, following the generally negative reception of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, Fox decided that for the fourth and last decade on our timeline to focus on developing the main series again and began with Predators directed by Nimrod Antal and released in 2010. This film was described as serving as the Predator-equivalent to Aliens from 1986 and featured several references to that film, such as the main group of soldiers fighting off a group of extraterrestrial threats and taking refuge with the sole survivor on the planet within a large abandoned facility, and more directly during moments such as when Isabelle delivers the line "I'll do us both" to Edwin which echoes the conversation between Ripley and Hicks. Noting that the lower jaw on the Berserker Predator's mask was stated by the director as belonging to a Xenomorph. But to make sure the audience understood that the shared universe remains intact Fox decided to release several home video collections featuring all Alien and Predator films up to that time, such as the Alien/AVP/Predator - The Ultimate Annihilation: Nine Movie Collection released in 2011.

Material promoting a shared universe.
Then in 2012 came the next chapter in the cinematic universe, Prometheus, where Ridley Scott returned as director. It was particularly at this point that some fans started to question whether Fox was still upholding the shared universe or whether it had been dissolved, and it largely arose from speculation about the apparent discrepancy between the character of Peter Weyland, as introduced in the film, and the character of Charles Weyland, from Alien vs. Predator. I address this issue in the following article and explain why this is not a problem (noting that promotional material such as the Weyland Industries website still uses the name "Weyland Industries" as popularized through Alien vs. Predator); Are Charles Weyland and Peter Weyland Related?
This started a big debate within the fanbase which was only further encouraged when Fox released the sequel Alien: Covenant in 2017, also directed by Scott, and the issue this entry brought with it in terms of the question regarding if the David android featured within the film actually serves as the original creator of the Xenomorphs or not, and whether this affects the official timeline as presented through Alien vs. Predator. I also address this issue in the following article and explain why this is not a problem; Did David Create the Xenomorphs?
It seems however that Fox completely disregarded any concerns about the shared universe having supposedly been disrupted considering they kept producing and promoting products which further affirmed the existence of the shared universe. Most noteworthy in this case are the Fire and Stone (2014-2015) and Life and Death (2016-2017) comic books by Dark Horse Comics which acted as continuations to the 2012 film Prometheus and officially connected the Alien, Predator, Alien vs. Predator, and Prometheus franchises together and featured several references back to the films.

The iconic \"Fire and Stone\" and \"Life and Death\" comic books promoting a shared universe.
These storylines were further affirmed by the release of the 2014 technical guide Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, which also affirmed the films Prometheus, Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection, and the video game Alien: Isolation, the latter which also mentioned Weyland Industries, as first originating in Alien vs. Predator, within a data terminal, and by extension its comic book sequels Aliens: Defiance (2016-2017) along with Aliens: Resistance (2019) and Aliens: Rescue (2019).

The technical guide \"Alien: the Weyland-Yutani Report\" and the video game \"Alien: Isolation\" promoting a shared universe.
There were also novels affirming a shared continuity, including The Rage War Trilogy consisting of Predator: Incursion (2014), Aliens: Invasion (2016), and Alien vs. Predator: Armageddon (2016), and also their prequels Aliens: Bug Hunt (2017) and Predator: If It Bleeds (2017) as well as the connected Alien: Out of the Shadows (2014), Alien: Sea of Sorrows (2014), and Alien: River of Pain (2014). The contents of these novels were also referenced in Fire and Stone, Life and Death, and Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report. Empire Magazine also addressed all eight films in the Alien franchise, counting AVP and AVPR, in their November issue of Empire Classics - Alien: The Complete History of All 8 Films (2018).

Various novels promoting a shared universe.
Empire Magazine promoting a shared universe.
This also included video games like Aliens: Colonial Marines from 2013 (which featured the "Pups" from Prometheus along with Peter Weyland's Weyland Corp and the character Michael Bishop Weyland from Alien 3 to refer back to the connection between the Bishop androids from Aliens and Charles Bishop Weyland), AVP: Evolution from 2013 (which even featured the logo of Peter Weyland's iteration of Weyland Corp on the main menu while tying into the 2010 film Predators and the 2010 video game Aliens vs. Predator), the Soldier's Inc. - Alien vs. Predator event from 2015 (which implied Charles Weyland's company and Peter Weyland's company to be synonymous), and Aliens vs. Pinball from 2016 (which promoted both the films Aliens, Alien vs. Predator, and the video game Alien: Isolation as being part of the same world).

Various video games promoting a shared universe.
There were also board games such as Clue: Alien vs. Predator (2016) and AVP: The Hunt Begins (2015) and its expansion packs AVP: Unleashed (2017) and AVP: Hot Landing Zone (2019) which also tied together all the films and included creatures from the films and the new games such as Aliens: Colonial Marines as if they existed in the same universe. The world of the aforementioned Alien, Predator, and Alien vs. Predator novels and previous comics of the Aliens/Predator Universe such as Aliens: Defiance, Aliens: Resistance, and Aliens: Rescue acting as sequels to the video game Alien: Isolation were also included in the tabletop game Alien: The Roleplaying Game (2019).

Various board games promoting a shared universe.
Funko Pop, Loot Crate, and Titan also partnered with 20th Century Fox in producing their own Alien and Predator line of figures and merchandise based upon the films, as well as their very own 360° VR short film titled Predator vs. Colonial Marines (2016). Not to forget about all the other new toy lines such as Prime1Studio's Alien and Predator line, the Alien & Predator Classics by NECA, and The Alien & Predator Figurine Collection by Eaglemoss Collections, all which feature characters from all twelve films and treating them as if they belonged to one and the same universe. (See: Predator vs. Colonial Marines - Loot Crate 360° VERSUS Theme Video)

Various toy lines promoting a shared universe.
The popular Eaglemoss Collections \"Alien and Predator Figurine Collection\" promoting a shared universe.
Finally, we arrive at the last piece of the puzzle, namely the 2018 film The Predator directed by Shane Black. This film only further confirmed that the shared universe remains intact and included several references back to previous films, including the appearance of Alexa's spear made by the Scar Predator from a Xenomorph tail at the end of Alien vs. Predator along with the return of acquisitions agent Miss Cullen Yutani (played by Françoise Yip) from the end of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.

Scene from \"The Predator\" featuring Alexa's spear made from a Xenomorph tail as originally featured in \"Alien vs. Predator\".
Although the most noteworthy detail is the existence of two deleted scenes which served as alternate endings to the film and featuring the characters of Ellen Ripley and Rebecca "Newt" Jorden (both played by Breanna Watkins) from Aliens in a Weyland-Yutani pod and wearing a Weyland-Yutani breathing apparatus in the likeness of a Xenomorph Facehugger, and these scenes would of course further affirm the space-time traveling aspect of the Yautja's technology as introduced at the start of the film. Granted, such deleted scenes may not be present in the final product (although they may be present in later re-releases), but their mere existence most certainly sends the message loud and clear that the shared Alien and Predator universe remains intact or otherwise these scenes would never ever have even been conceptualized, produced, and filmed.

Alternate endings to \"The Predator\" featuring Ellen Ripley and Rebecca \"Newt\" Jorden in a Weyland-Yutani pod and wearing a Weyland-Yutani breathing mask.
Even through their Alien, Predator, and Alien vs. Predator websites and social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube does Fox keep promoting their relationship. Noting that the MU/TH/UR 6000 Interface which was active on the official Alien Universe website around 2016-2017 acknowledged Predator, Yautja, and Charles Bishop Weyland among other things as classified information, thus clearly implying something. (See: Alien: Covenant MUTHUR WebsiteTeasing New Aliens vs Predator Movie? and Alien Covenant Teasing New Aliens vs Predator Movie? and The Rundown Season 1 Ep. 1 ALIEN ANTHOLOGY and The Predator Holiday Special 20th Century FOX)

Various promotional images from the \"Alien\" and \"Predator\" social media accounts.
Most recently we also saw the release of the new comic by Dark Horse Comics titled Alien vs. Predator: Thicker Than Blood in 2020, marking the beginning of the fifth and latest decade on our timeline. Adding that news recently broke of an Aliens vs. Predator anime series being developed for Netflix which was apparently sadly cancelled during Disney's acquisition of Fox along with various other Alien and Predator products. Another thing worth noting here is that some people like to argue that "just because new products uses the same logo and references to the films that doesn't mean it's acknowledging the films", except that it makes no sense to use the exact same logo introduced and associated with the films and much less make references to the films if they're not connected, adding that this nonsensical argument could be made for any other work bearing the Alien, Predator, and Prometheus titles, and the overall context will make it clear that we're dealing with a shared world.

Cover for the new comic book \"Alien vs. Predator: Thicker Than Blood\".

Conclusion
In conclusion, the case seems to be clear as to the Alien, Predator, Alien vs. Predator, and Prometheus franchises all taking place within a single continuity for as long as they've been around, and there appears to be no considerable reasons to oppose this rather obvious fact (it should also be noted that empty hearsay and unverifiable or contradictory claims and personal canon or fanon from individuals associated with or working for Fox hardly counts here).
After all, it would seem inconsistent of 20th Century Fox to hold to the position that a shared universe doesn't exist, and at the same time repeatedly demonstrate through their own products and media that a shared universe evidently and unavoidably must exist, without any clear boundaries or licensing issues, especially seeing as Fox owns each of these franchises and seem to relatively regularly resort to crossing them over, which also makes sense financially.
It should also logically come as perfectly expected, that essentially whatever new products using these licenses are released, for the general audience to conclude that these products simply and always exists in continiuity with each other, considering how irreversibly interconnected these franchises are by now and the fanbases which formed around them as a shared universe.
Ultimately, it seems we ought to realize that the evidence works in favor of the universalists holding to what is actually canon whereas the separatists hold to their own personal fanon, and I apologize if I've shattered the illusion of some people who prefer there to be separate universes for whatever reasons, but I can't deny the evidence and especially when bringing together the fanbase rather than separating it is so much more preferable and acknowledging the shared universe causes much less confusion continuity wise.
I also doubt that Disney/20th Century Studios have any interest in dismantling a profitable and established universe like this. For all intents and purposes, the shared universe appears at the moment to remain very much intact and active and has remained permanent since the very beginning across four decades, and only time will tell what this fifth decade holds in store for this Alien/Predator franchise and its fanbase.

The entire Disney/20th Century Studios collection.
See also: Timeline of the Alien, Predator, Alien vs. Predator, and Prometheus Universe
submitted by Xenosaurian to alienpredatoruniverse [link] [comments]


2020.04.25 03:17 TracingWoodgrains Lee Kuan Yew Book Review, Part Four: The Pathway to Power

Hey, /singapore! I'm back for one last look at From Third World to First, this time focusing on how and why Lee Kuan Yew remained in charge in Singapore and was able to create a stable mostly-one-party system in a democracy. I've had a lot of fun sharing this review series with you all and getting commentary and perspective from you all. Thanks for reading!
This is part four of a four-part series. If this is your first time seeing this, parts 1-3 provide useful context.
Part one: Growth & redistribution
Part two: You are free to agree
Part three: Race, language, and uncomfortable questions

The Pathway to Power

So far, my review has mostly left out one massive elephant in the room. Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. When he stepped down from office, he went straight into a close advisory role, sticking around the government in some official capacity until 2011. How was he in power so long? What was his approach to opposition and to political disagreements, beyond lawsuits? Where did he fall on the scale of democratically elected leader to dictator?
As with every other topic, LKY is pretty candid about this all. The best place to start, though, is likely not with the overt political battles. Instead, I'll focus where he focused early: the unions.
Unions
This section will dive into the weeds a bit more than most of my writing. It's for a good cause, I promise.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Singapore had, to put it bluntly, a union problem. Between July 1961 and September 1962, the country faced 153 strikes. In LKY's telling, most unions were under communist control, and all "had turned combative," having learned from British trade unions "all the bad habits and practices of how to squeeze employers for more pay and benefits regardless of the consequences to the company." (83)
So Lee Kuan Yew, ardent reactionary that he was, tore unions down, stripped protections and regulations away, and ushered in a new and gloriously productive era of unfettered capitalism.
Those of you who've followed this review so far won't be surprised to hear that's just about exactly not what happened. This chapter came early in the book, and it's where LKY's personal story started becoming really, really interesting to me. Why? Well, it's when he casually mentioned his political experience before becoming Prime Minister:
He was a legal advisor and negotiator, fighting on behalf of trade and student unions (and, unrelated to our current focus but fun to note, moonlighting as a free speech defender when a university socialist club published a "seditious" article). You might remember the quote from part one of my review, when a Labour party leader emphasized how committed a socialist LKY was. What did that mean when he took charge and faced trouble with unions? As he was urging unions to abandon some destructive practices, he was facing down against policies he was responsible for, protections he had fought for when his country's workers were being exploited, but that were damaging his country enough he regretted his decision.
He cites as an example triple pay on public holidays, which "led to cleansing workers deliberately allowing garbage to accumulate before public holidays to ensure that they would have to work on these holidays." (84) Elsewhere, he cites the trouble of employers investing in expensive machinery to minimize need for workers, leading to "a small group of privileged unionized workers getting high pay and a growing band of underpaid and underemployed workers." (84) With these and related concerns in mind, he went in 1966 to a meeting of union leaders from around Asia, asked them not to "kill the goose whose golden eggs [they] needed," (84) and got to work encouraging changes like pay for performance over time on job.
Union leaders objected. He pushed forward, but "took care to meet the union leaders privately to explain [his] worries... [in] off-the-record meetings [to] make them understand why [he] had to get a new framework in place." (85) That actually worked for most. Step one, then: come up with a careful plan, explain it in private, draw support. Step two?
Well, it's Singapore. One "irrational and ignorant" (85) union leader over cleaners and other daily-paid workers delivered an ultimatum asking for a pay raise and then called for some 2400 cleaning workers to strike. LKY ordered the dispute to arbitration to make the strike unlawful. When the union went on strike anyway, the police arrested the leader and 14 others. The union registrar issued notices of potential deregistration to the union. The ministry of health told the workers they had sacked themselves and could reapply for employment the next day.
And, the next day, ninety percent of the workers applied for reemployment, LKY had the support of the public, and union culture started to shift to a give-and-take. He went first to the union leaders, then to employers, urging cooperation and fairness, and emphasized that "unless [they] made a U-turn from strikes and violence toward stability and economic growth, [they] would perish" (88).
On to step three. In 1968, Singapore passed comprehensive laws covering leave, bonuses, and other points of contention. In 1969, they had their first full year without strikes. In 1972, they established a council between union members, employers, and government to determine annual wage increases. LKY requested his colleague Devan Nair return to Singapore to lead the union congress, and under his lead union delegates decided to focus their attention on setting up co-ops in taxis, supermarkets, insurance, and afterwards a strikingly broad array of industries.
The whole thing, at least in LKY's telling, was a spiraling and mutually beneficial arrangement. As union leaders got experience directing co-ops, they gained greater appreciation for the role of good management. To help "reduce the feeling that workers belonged to a lower order," (91) the government subsidized union land purchases for clubs, resorts, and other facilities. To nurture talent, the unions set up a labor college per LKY's urging, and he encouraged talented students returning from overseas to work in the unions and strengthen them.
Why do I emphasize this in so much detail? Primarily to underscore this quote:
Strict laws and tough talk alone could not have achieved this. It was our overall policy that convinced our workers and union leaders... but ultimately it was the trust and confidence they had in me, gained over long years of association, that helped transform industrial relations from one of militancy and confrontation to cooperation and partnership. (88)
And later, this reminder of his guiding ethos as he discusses the checks and balances of unions:
The key to peace and harmony in society is a sense of fair play, that everyone has a share in the fruits of our progress. (93)
As in tensions around race and language, as he approached the unions Lee Kuan Yew balanced strict, hard policy with the reassurance that he understood his people and wanted to help them--and, we Westerners don't fail to note, a side of authoritarianism. Reason and careful negotiation for most, coordinated and overwhelming force when negotiation breaks down, and pragmatic, prosperity-centered policy in the aftermath. It's a pattern you can see again and again. This pattern is one major reason to focus on the unions. The other is that both LKY and his greatest early rivals had their roots in that movement.
Communists
I:
Disclaimer: I am entirely unqualified to provide a thorough, balanced account of Lee Kuan Yew's rise and the controversies in Singapore's early history. My intent here is to present the story largely as LKY writes it. For other sides of the story, consider this BBC article, Wikipedia on the opposition Barisan Sosialis, biographies of those LKY names as communists in his book: 1 2 3 4 5, a couple of reddit threads 1 2 3 plus a journal articleScihub if you're feeling particularly ambitious. tl;dr: There was definitely strong communist influence in Singapore; some LKY accuses of being communists vehemently deny it and likely shouldn't be considered communist; even these non-communist leftists were heavily influenced by Mao and the Cultural Revolution.
Here's an understatement for you: Lee Kuan Yew was not fond of communism. Understandable, given that China went through the full sweep of the Cultural Revolution as he rose into influence. Throughout his book, he speaks of communists with a fascinating mix of fear and respect.
In his telling, the early history of post-colonial Singapore is framed almost entirely as a struggle between his People's Action Party (PAP) and communists. In the 1950s, there was a sort of uneasy alliance between LKY's moderate wing of the PAP, a left wing headed by Lim Ching Siong, and the underground communist organizations in place in Singapore, all eager for independence from Britain. As soon as the PAP became the majority party in 1959, though, that alliance splintered. By 1961, the PAP expelled its left wing (13 of its 39 members), which became the Barisan Sosialis. That's where the real fun began.
If you ask the Barisan, they were non-communist leftists. If you ask LKY, they were a front organization for communism. He takes evident delight throughout a chapter of his book outlining the rise and collapse of their party. The government was contested through the 60s, in and out of an attempted union with Malaysia. In 1968, though, the Barisan declared Singaporean elections illegitimate and refused to participate, electing instead to take inspiration from Mao and call the people of Singapore to "smash all the trammels that bind them and rush forward along the road to liberation" (Cheng 226). The people did not smash the trammels. Instead, the Barisan left the PAP virtually unopposed, granting it uncontested control of the government, and faded quickly from relevance. LKY mentions that it was this "costly mistake... [that] gave the PAP unchallenged dominance of Parliament for the next 30 years." (110)
From there, as he tells it, communist influence shifted into terrorist attacks and bombings during the 70s and a relentless "hardcore following of some 20 to 30 percent of the electorate" (111), as Maoist organization worked throughout the Chinese-speaking part of Singapore. LKY rushes through this, preferring to more specifically outline the falls of several of their leaders (and a few overt communists). Each spent years to decades in jail or exile, only permitted to reenter Singapore upon cutting links with the party and disclosing all past activity.
That may be too passive. Put more bluntly: LKY tossed them in jail, with British approval but without trial, and makes no secret of having done so. He is extremely open about his willingness to take whatever measures necessary to stop communism. His description of their conflicts sounds, simply, like an all-out war:
We learned not to give hostages to our adversaries or they would have destroyed us. (112)
And:
Could we have defeated them if we had allowed them habeas corpus and abjured the powers of detention without trial? I doubt it. Nobody dared speak out against them, let alone in open court. (113)
And:
They were formidable opponents. We had to be as resolute and unyielding in this contest of wills. ...Their ability to penetrate an organization with a cadre of influential activists and take control of it was fearsome. (114)
And:
Despite ruthless methods where the ends justified the means, the communists failed, but not before destroying many who stood up against them, and others who after joining them decided that their cause was mistaken. (119)
From 1963 to 1989, Singapore detained some 690 people, often holding them for years without trial. They required any political actors to affiliate with parties explicitly to "force [communists] out into the open and make them easy to monitor" (115). LKY spoke of the impossibility of progress while "communists retained their baleful influence" (108). In short, he did everything he possibly could to stamp communism and Maoist influence out of Singapore. Your level of comfort with these decisions will likely depend either on your opinion of communism or your commitment to free expression. Charitably, LKY saw the horrors of the Cultural Revolution and determined to stop it within his sphere. Uncharitably, he saw an opportunity to destroy his opposition and take absolute power, and he took it.
For me, though, far more compelling than his opposition to communism was his commitment to learn from their methods.
II:
See, even while LKY lays out his fight against communism, you hear fascinating hints of respect in his descriptions of them. He describes how the PAP, when they took office, were "sickened by the greed, corruption, and decadence of many Asian leaders" (157), and how a similar disgust led Chinese-school students in Singapore to support communism. They "saw the communists as exemplars of dedication, sacrifice, and selflessness, the revolutionary virtues displayed in the spartan lives of the Chinese communist leaders." (157) Later, when describing his conviction that "candidates must not need large sums of money to get elected" (164), he again cites communists, pointing out that they didn't use money to win votes.
Much earlier, when discussing his own need for security, he mentions that while "threats from racial fanatics [were] unpredictable... the communists were rational and calculating and would see no benefit in [attacking his family]" (5). And return to his description of communists failing. He mentions "the skillful and tough methods of the unyielding communists... were unforgettable lessons in political infighting." (112) When dismissively comparing a later opponent to them, he mentions they were "formidable adversaries... serious men, committed to their cause." (125)
Why am I harping so much on this point? Well, much has been made of Singapore's near–one-party system. From a two-party system like the USA, or the multi-party systems in much of the rest of the developed world, it's hard to picture a setting where one party wins every election, time in and time out, without assuming corruption. Lee Kuan Yew provides an explanation for it, and as with many of his lessons in the groundwork of politics, it comes straight from his encounters with the communists. This next quote is pretty long, but I'm sharing it in full because it strikes me as one of the most important insights LKY provides, one that is relevant for every ideological movement:
We had learned from our toughest adversaries, the communists. Present-day opposition leaders go on walkabouts to decide where they will do well, based on the way people respond to them at hawker centers, coffee shops, food courts, and supermarkets, and whether people accept the pamphlets they hand out. I have never believed this. From many unhappy encounters with my communist opponents, I learned that while overall sentiment and mood do matter, the crucial factors are institutional and organizational networks to muster support. When we went into communist-dominated areas, we found ourselves frozen out. Key players in a constituency, including union leaders and officials of retailers' and hawkers' associations, and clan and alumni organizations, would all have been brought into a network by communist activists and made to feel part of a winning team. We could make little headway against them however hard we tried during elections. The only way we could counter their grip of the ground was to work on that same ground for years between elections.
I emphasize this quote so strongly because it speaks directly to my own frustrations with ideologies. Anyone who steps away from an ideology because they believe something in it is untrue will almost inevitably notice, and grow frustrated, with just how many people brush off those same untruths. Lee Kuan Yew doesn't present a new concept here, but he articulates it clearly and directly: Absolute truth is mostly disconnected from success. Organized ideas thrive; scattered ideas fail. People need rallying flags. They lunge for teams. Truth matters a bit, yes, but much more importantly, what are you doing for people? Good organization beats a good idea every time.
If you want the best ideas to win, organize for them.
Did Lee Kuan Yew have good policy ideas? From my angle, yes. There's nothing remarkable about that, though. Plenty of people have those ideas. What truly sets him apart as a figure worth studying, in my eyes, is not just the quality of his ideas but the way he combines them with a depth of understanding of institutions and power.
And in part, he had his deepest adversaries, the communists, to thank for it.
So how did he do it? Why, 60 years later, does the PAP still hold 83 of 89 seats in Singapore's parliament?
Staying in power
I.
After winning all the seats, I set out to widen our support in order to straddle as broad a middle ground as possible. I intended to leave the opposition only the extreme left and right. We had to be careful not to abuse the absolute power we had been given. I was sure that if we remained honest and kept faith with the people, we would be able to carry them with us, however tough and unpalatable our policies. (111)
Our critics believed we stayed in power because we have been hard on our opponents. This is simplistic. If we had betrayed the people's trust, we would have been rejected. (121)
What do you do, as a new political party struggling to gain a foothold, then an abruptly dominant force, to get the trust of everyday citizens? How do you organize?
One tool LKY used was the People's Association (PA). He intended the association to be a hub, not just of political activity, but of useful community resources in general: literacy classes, technology instruction, cooking courses, so forth. To aid in this, he invited influential community members from "clan associations, chambers of commerce, recreational clubs, and arts, leisure, and social activity groups" (122), and set up more than a hundred community centers throughout Singapore.
Next came the "welcoming" and "goodwill" committees--activists in local communities called up to discuss things like road improvements, street lights, and drains on the one hand, delicate race relations on the other. Successful and eager members of these turned into leadership for community centers and "citizens' consultative committees" who received funds to provide public works, welfare grants, and scholarships.
None of these institutions were explicitly partisan. They were aimed at the maintenance tasks of community life, the uncontroversial but useful background structures. LKY mentions that many wanted to avoid active association with political parties, largely as a holdover from colonial times and threats of retribution. These institutions allowed the government to work with "elders who were respected in their own communities" (123), making it easier to reach out to people at all levels. Recall the time LKY worked with Malaysian community leaders to create plans for education--this structure was the means by which he managed it.
Add government housing to this (with its own "residents' committees", and you begin to see the strength of this soft power: layers and layers of semi-political community figures, helping people day-to-day, working alongside the People's Action Party even when not directly affiliated with them. As LKY puts it, "Opposition leaders on walkabouts go through well-tended PAP ground." (123) He credits his own political strength to public speaking skill, which he took advantage of in an annual unscripted address in Malay, Hokkien Chinese, Mandarin, and English, and in rallies around the country.
Voting another party into power, then, would mean in part needing to figure out a whole new system of organization at all levels. The PAP wasn't shy about using this sort of advantage, either. LKY rather proudly mentions one election where they promised priority public housing upgrades for constituencies that voted more strongly for the PAP, then follows it up with one of those lines that could only come from him:
This was criticized by American liberals as unfair, as if pork barrel politics did not exist elsewhere.
Honest. To a fault.
Viable opposition came in a few districts, eventually. That, too, he aimed to turn to his advantage. He spends time on one opponent voted into one precinct in 1981, a "sound and fury" (124) demagogue who took mostly opportunistic stands and who "probably kept better opponents out" (125). Realizing that some MPs hadn't ever faced serious opposition, LKY says, he "decided he was useful as a sparring partner" (125). There's a great moment, too, when he mentions a "shrewder" opponent who apparently reflected the population better by saying the PAP was doing well, but "could do better and should listen more to criticism." (125) In response, the PAP was respectful, aiming to encourage "nonsubversive opposition."
II.
As much as my American instincts lead me to look at this all and want to talk about how controlling and oppressive the idea of this sort of single-party rule is, I find it difficult to do so without proving too much. The US, after all, has two major political parties and a bunch of nearly inconsequential competitors, choked out by organization and history and election rules. On Singapore's scale, one-party leadership isn't unusual here. My home state of Utah has voted for the Republican party since 1968. Chicago, only a little smaller than Singapore, has been under one party since 1927. Organizing, providing services to encourage people to keep them around, criticizing opposition, and promising to help those who support them sounds like, well, every political party on the planet. And when measuring corruption, Singapore compares rather favorably to the US--and, well, almost anywhere else.
Take one element LKY focuses on: money and special interests in politics. Singapore made voting compulsory in 1959 and has enforced strict spending limits in elections throughout the PAP's time as majority party. LKY mentions that neither communists, nor the PAP, nor opposing parties have ever spent much money to win elections. In 2015, the PAP spent $5.3 million between 89 general election candidates. Sticking with Chicago as a point of comparison, their most recent mayoral elections saw a single candidate raise more.
LKY is dismissive as well of the idea of anchoring ministerial salaries low. He explains: "Singapore will remain clean and honest only if honest and able men are willing to fight elections and assume office. They must be paid a wage commensurate with that men of their ability and integrity are earning for managing a big corporation or a sucessful legal or other professional practice." (166) He points out with distaste the "revolving door" system in the US, where high-paid private sector workers are appointed to posts by the president, then return to the private sector with "enhanced value". Part of avoiding this was the decision to remove most perks and allowances and provide benefits as lump sums. The rest was a gradual process: freezing ministerial wages until 1970, then raising them from S$2,500 to S$4,500 monthly while his own was "fixed at S$3,500 to remind the public service that some restraint was still necessary." (168) In 1995, after periodically raising wages, Singapore fixed salaries of senior public officials at two-thirds of their private sector equivalents.
Despite this relative high pay, he shares several stories of times he persuaded people to take salary cuts for government work: a bank GM making S$950,000 per year who he persuaded to become minister of state at a third that salary; a chief justice who went from making S$2 million a year as a banker to S$300,000 in the court, who according to LKY "accepted [the] offer out of a sense of duty" (218).
III.
Most interesting, for me, is how LKY closes his chapter on maintaining control in the political system:
Will the political system that my colleagues and I developed work more or less unchanged for another generation? I doubt it. Technology and globalization are changing the way people work and live. ...Will the PAP continue to dominate Singapore's politics? How big a challenge will a democratic opposition pose in the future? This will depend on how PAP leaders respond to changes in the needs and aspirations of a better-educated people, and to their desire for greater participation in decisions that shape their lives. Singapore's options are not that numerous that there will be unbridgeable differences between differing political views in working out solutions to our problems. (134)
I get the sense that in aiming to maintain power, as in all else, LKY was a pragmatist. He did not aim to set up a dynasty that lasted generations or seek to obtain glory at all costs. He found a system that suited his country's needs at the time and put it in place, anticipating that Singapore would change as it needed to. Make no mistake: he wielded near-absolute power, and he knew it. But he did not abuse it.

Conclusion

One last question remains to be answered, not about Lee Kuan Yew, but about this review:
Why have I spent 12,000 words and the better part of a month poring over the policy of a tiny country of five million, and a leader who hasn't formally been in charge since 1990? What's my agenda?
Put simply, I think it's worth paying attention to. Not the specifics of the policy, so much: Singapore is a unique country, and solutions adapted to its culture and position are unlikely to translate perfectly to other environments. More than that, I am fascinated by the way LKY's approach cleaves at right angles the modern Western political landscape. Three points stood out from Lee Kuan Yew's achievement in Singapore:
  1. It was not inevitable. It's easy to frame things like this in retrospect as certainties of history, but I honestly think that's the wrong view of Singapore. It came close to collapsing in the 60s, and while it used its unique advantages as a port city to the full, LKY took it where he did with a series of careful, rational decisions. Policy specifics like welfare and health care, measured approaches to racial and political tensions, and the others detailed through the book could have gone a myriad of other ways under different leadership, resulting in a very different city even if it still developed. His political power came because he organized and planned for it.
  2. It was not evil. Growing up, I knew little about Singapore, but what I heard could be summed up as "clean place, pretty developed, freaky authoritarian, canes people, bans chewing gum." I've heard it referred to as "China lite" and generally seen, if not outright dismissal, at least heavy skepticism. I think some of that is unwarranted. Lee Kuan Yew had some 50 years in a position of influence to show his true colors, and from what I can see seems to have spent that time sincerely and single-mindedly focused on his country's welfare. Don't get me wrong, his approach has flaws and clearly doesn't align fully with US values, but I cannot find more to object to in his politics than in any other politician's.
  3. It was not reactionary. I said this before and deliberately emphasize it again. Lee Kuan Yew was not looking to the past and pushing against social change. He stood at the vanguard of his country's growth, mixing traditionally progressive and traditionally conservative ideas in surprising ways. One of the most consistent of LKY's messages was a focus on the future: short-term sacrifices for long-term gain, relentlessly pushing to apply new ideas and change his approach rather than seeking to preserve or return to the past. Framing it as reactionary instead of pragmatic leads to poor predictions and a distorted view.
We focus on political issues through the lens of our own culture. For Americans like me, that means viewing things in terms of constitutional rights, red and blue states with their increasing cultural divide, and confidence that we are positioned neatly at the center of the world. I enjoy looking at Singapore both to see when its challenges and responses mirror US ones and to notice where they diverge. For someone like me, dissatisfied with political systems close to home, not fitting cleanly into any local political subculture, feeling disenfranchised, it serves as both an example and an admonishment.
As an example, it is more personal. Lee Kuan Yew is one of the first politicians I've found who almost always discusses and solves problems in a way that makes sense to me and aligns with my ideals. While there are meaningful criticisms to aim towards him, I am mostly not the one to make them. I admire him and believe the world would benefit if more political movements shared his level-headed approach to difficult problems. If the US had a political party with principles similar to LKY's, I would join.
The admonishment, though, should speak to all who would like to see the world change somehow. I repeat it from above. The sheer frequency of people gaining power only to abuse it should warn against any notion that LKY gained and won influence because he was good or right. He gained influence because he understood influence, and his country was fortunate that he chose to use it for their good. Movements don't win influence because they are true or good. They win because they organize to fill people's needs. So what should you do if you want truth, effective policy, or your ideals to gain ground? Organize. Build structure. Help people.
Thanks for sticking with me through this review! My notes can be found here, for anybody who wants yet more and is curious about Singapore's military, banks, or other areas I didn't touch on. If you're interested in reading the book for yourself, particularly if you'd like to see the extensive foreign policy review that takes up the latter two-thirds or write a more scathing critique, I'd encourage you to go pick it up.
I'll close my review quoting Lee Kuan Yew one last time, this time the final paragraph of his book:
The future is as full of promise as it is fraught with uncertainty. ... That we have succeeded in the last three decades does not ensure our doing so in the future. However, we stand a better chance of not failing if we abide by the basic principles that have helped us progress: social cohesion through sharing the benefits of progress, equal opportunities for all, and meritocracy, with the best man or woman for the job, especially as leaders in government. (691)
Cheers!
submitted by TracingWoodgrains to singapore [link] [comments]


2020.04.24 18:55 TheTinyDragon [Let's Build] 100 Fantasy Pets in the Black Market

My players are beginning to amass a small army of animals. Here's the list I'm using so far. Let's try to get to 100!
  1. A teacup owlbear
  2. A blink corgi
  3. A pixie that will be loyal to its owner in the most chaotic way possible
  4. A recently reborn phoenix chick
  5. A possum with a wonky eyeball
  6. A unicorn that has yet to be tamed
  7. A seal that is secretly a selkie
  8. A minnow mermaid
  9. A tarantula-sized phase-spider
  10. A one-eyed black cat
  11. A one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater... the size of a hummingbird. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
  12. A ravenous Tarrasque which is the size of a small dog. Advised to be kept in a cage or on a leash at most times. (u/Sobek6)
  13. A parrot which regularly has prophetic visions of the future. (u/Sobek6)
  14. A mass of hair clumped together in a ball. No one is quite sure what it is or even what species it belongs to. (u/Sobek6)
  15. A frog which when enraged can grow to five times its size and will attack anything that’s in its path. If treated right, it will prove a very loyal pet. (u/Sobek6)
  16. A miniature hydra that loses intelligence with each head it gains. (u/sleepfriend1)
  17. Death dog with one head husky and one head Pomeranian. (u/sleepfriend1)
  18. A chimera cub that bonds to its master. (u/sleepfriend1)
  19. An undead parrot speaking in a long-forgotten language (u/PhaenonFredersen)
  20. Two halves of a dog which live independently of each other, but merge into the complete dog every midnight (u/PhaenonFredersen)
  21. A gelatinous cube that fits on a plate (u/PhaenonFredersen)
  22. A crawling claw that's trained to make gestures and give high-fives. (u/PhaenonFredersen)
  23. A raven that has the ability to speak, but only in poetic rhyme (u/Sirtoshi)
  24. A small snake made up of smaller snakes (u/Sirtoshi)
  25. A boar with a strong hunger for bacon (u/Sirtoshi)
  26. A large butterfly whose wings can change color, pattern, and shape (u/Sirtoshi)
  27. A two-headed monkey who enjoys singing and harmonizing with itself. (u/Sirtoshi)
  28. An octopus that can survive on land and likes swinging from trees (u/Sirtoshi)
  29. A small pack of five or six puppies that are linked in a hive mind (u/Sirtoshi)
  30. A glow-toad: Known to love water but often the species ends up a tasty snack for larger sea creatures. (u/DruidCrafting)
  31. A honey bear. It's a small magically animated bear vessel that is perpetually filled with honey. It can sweeten your meals if it's feeling affectionate or if it is feeling mischievous, it will get your gear quite sticky. As an added bonus, if you wander through the woods with it, there is a small chance the smell of honey might attract an unwelcome beast. (u/Belerophon17)
  32. A succulent that turns red and emits noxious gas whenever it hears terrible music (u/Snoop1000)
  33. A small animal (think fox, dog, raccoon) that is actually a Druid that got stuck in wildshape. Players won’t know this unless they manage a very successful use of Detect Magic/Arcana check with DC of 18 (u/dragonofthemw)
  34. A group of Mind rats all linked to the owners mind (u/Dragonsennin)
  35. A cursed shrunken head that tells fables about forgotten lore (u/PepeL33T)
  36. A large hermit crab currently living in a full plate helmet. (u/SvenLG)
  37. The ghost of a hawk. It solidifies into a crystal ball when called back to its owner, and will display what it saw while flying. (u/SvenLG)
  38. A fish that transforms into a longsword when out of water, and back into a living fish when immersed in water again. (u/SvenLG)
  39. A cow that only eats fresh fruit, and poops delicious fresh-baked pies. (u/SvenLG)
  40. A magically sentient elephant beetle that has convinced eight praying mantises to cling to its legs. They help it move faster, pinch harder, and scare the bejeezus out of anyone who hates spiders. (u/SvenLG)
  41. A mink that loves to attach itself to clothing as if it is fur trim. Will often attempt to sneak onto any unattended clothing in its area. (u/SvenLG)
  42. A pseudodragon the size of a fist, who is very excited about everything. (u/piaculus)
  43. A talking mouse who wants to ride on the shoulder of someone tall. Will sketch a seating platform for itself and constantly ask the owner to build and wear it. (u/piaculus)
  44. A rhinoceros beetle the size of a large dog. It is intimidating, but harmless. (u/piaculus)
  45. A blue heron. It will escape to the nearest calm water the first chance it gets. (u/piaculus)
  46. A gnome illusionist pretending to be a displacer beast cub. (u/piaculus)
  47. A spectral hound. (u/piaculus)
  48. Twenty-four blackbirds who take up the space of one, but will defend their home as a flock. (u/piaculus)
  49. A regular, inscrutable cat. (u/piaculus)
  50. A halfling-sized water elemental. It likes to splash people and play in fountains. Keep it hydrated. (u/piaculus)
  51. A talking cactus in a clay pot. It will always complain about the weather. (u/piaculus)
  52. A toy stuffed horse head on a stick. It's a real horse one day per week at random. (u/piaculus)
  53. A dire squirrel. (u/piaculus)
  54. A trained rat with glowing fur; upon closer inspection it's a naked rat that has a symbiotic relationship with luminous moss that lives off of the rats natural skin waste. Marketed as 'the impossible to lose friend!' (u/realShustyRackleford)
  55. A mobile, scarcely sentient tumor cluster; it's got no discernible features, but it coo's sweetly, purrs and sings to it's owner, food disappears into it's rippling folds and it flumps about with a glee unknown to mankind. Unknown to players is that it grows and mutates if fed carbs. (u/realShustyRackleford)
  56. A HOUSE HIPPO (u/SmackedNobly)
  57. A calm black cat with a third, glowing yellow eye in the middle of its forehead. Any attempts to read the cat’s mind will immediately cause insanity. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  58. An undead cicada exoskeleton. A necromancer that was transformed into a cicada as punishment died in his insectoid body and possessed the recently shed skin. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  59. A psychedelically-colored python with the unique ability to hypnotize and entrance enemies using the rhythmic movements of its body. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  60. A fish that is capable of floating through the air as if it was swimming in water. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  61. A hellhound that despite its species, is just an enormous lovable goofball. It is not hesitant to protect its masters if needed. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  62. A red-bellied hummingbird capable of telepathy. Unfortunately, the only thing that it cares about is getting laid and finding more nectar. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  63. A sloth that moves ten times as fast as a regular sloth. It’s quite disturbing upon first seeing it move. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  64. A fruit bat that starts as a baby but doubles in size each day, stopping at about pteranodon-size. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  65. A shape shifting humonculus that’s simply eager to please its masters. It can change shape at will, but cannot change its size, which stops at about knee height. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  66. An eight-legged horse with rippling muscles. If anyone asks to see the mare that sired him, the shop owner begins to dodge the question. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  67. A seemingly ordinary mouse that shoots out a bolt of lightning every time it sneezes. It is allergic to human dander. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  68. A domesticated fire salamander. It has been trained to start campfires upon seeing stacked piles of wood, and can even heat up drinks upon pressing its body against the outside container. (u/GuySingingMrBlueSky)
  69. A flying chihuahua with butterfly wings. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
  70. A bison composed entirely of shrubbery, vine, and bark (u/RollinRawlin)
  71. A mottled cat with iridescent eyes that seem to pay close attention whenever someone speaks. The seller is giving it away almost for free, seemingly terrified of it. (u/RollinRawlin)
  72. A blink dog bred to teleport longer for racing purposes. This one's too old to race any longer. (u/RollinRawlin)
  73. A guard cat. A little bigger than a dog, it's ear tufts and stripes make for an intimidating specimen before the prospective buyer even notices the w-shaped pupils. (u/RollinRawlin)
  74. A two tailed scorpion less than six inches long. The seller claims it's Abyssal stock, and fatally venomous. A PC with knowledge of nature or the planes may be able to vet that claim. (u/RollingRawlin)
  75. A skeletal rat wearing black rags as hooded robes. (u/DAREALTCE)
  76. A tiny mimic that changes form each night; book, potion bottle, hourglass, etc. (u/DAREALTCE)
  77. An unusually stoic albino bunny hailing from Caerbannog; its eyes never seem to leave you. (u/DAREALTCE)
  78. A goose made out of living metal, it sometimes lays eggs made out of precious stones. (u/DAREALTCE)
  79. An undead ferret (u/galewysteria)
  80. An orange cat that the seller claims is the familiar of an ancient, now dead, wizard. (u/Xurandor)
  81. A teacup psuedodragon, no bigger than the palm of a gnome's hand. It's quite friendly and loves little treats like tiny bites of meat and some live prey of larger bugs. Its tiny fiery breath is no stronger than a single match and lasts for a second (u/Xurandor)
  82. A Demi-Me. It is a one foot tall humanoid similar to a changeling that takes on your appearance once you’ve bonded. It mimics human behavior and social norms and can learn to understand basic language, but otherwise it only has animal intelligence and cannot speak except in squeaks and yips. (u/Clickclacktheblueguy)
  83. A palm-sized mimic that takes on the shape of inanimate objects, whose function it can easily perform. It does not take orders and changes shape once every 1d4 hours to something seemingly random. However, if you ever need a small item that you do not otherwise have, there is somehow an 80% chance that the mimic has taken the shape of the item. (u/Clickclacktheblueguy)
  84. A Plump yellow mouse with the ability cast a lighting damage equivalent of firebolt 2 twice per day (u/Jabwarrior58)
  85. A magical pitch black floating cat who is too lazy to walk so he learned how to cast magic and now he floats. (u/InflatableHippie)
  86. A plant that eventually grows into a useful worm companion with enough love (u/ZeeMyth)
  87. An albino wolf that is secretly an Arch Druid (u/Imasniffachair)
  88. A squid that lives in an orb of create water that leaks wherever it goes. (u/Grubby124)
  89. A tiny/small earth elemental trained to follow and obey. (u/Naxken)
  90. A young red drake robbed from a Tiamat’s cult. (u/Naxken)
  91. A specter chained to an magic amulet, so it moves with it and can’t make an attack unless the amulet's user says so. (u/Naxken)
  92. An intelligent gray ooze founded “in a far mine where the sand becomes gold...” (u/Naxken)
  93. A robotic mantis constructed by a cunning gnome before dying. It was a gift but the mantis a little bit too aggressive against grass. (u/Naxken)
  94. A book mimic made by a crazy mage who left it more than a year ago when buying a pet. (u/Naxken)
  95. The intelligent fish who once conquered the blue reef, but was defeated by a group of merrow. (u/Naxken)
  96. An Ustilagor. Being the puppy form of Intellect Devourers, this little brain-like creature feeds on thoughts, which can cause targets to suffer from confusion. Hopefully your care is mutual to it... (u/A-Simple-Farmer)
  97. A mouse possessed by a demon, tricked into doing so by a sorcerer. The mouse body severely limits its powers but if the mouse body ever dies and frees the demon housed within, there will be hell to pay. (u/Mythgirl)
  98. An oversized goose that you can ride, but is always angry and disobedient. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  99. A skeletal snake that walks on its ribs is yes dog slithering. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  100. A dehydrated toad that one submerged in water soaks it up to roughly fill the area of water (up to large size) and then slowly dries at a rate of one size per hour. Swelling up tires it out, so it will only do it a couple of times a day. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  101. A creature with one half that is the front half of a dog, and the other the front half of a cut, merged together in the middle. It can speak and communicate in common, but has very low intelligence. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  102. Three lights in a sealed, incredibly strong, glass ball the size of a basket ball. The three lights move around, increase and decrease in brightness and change colour to indicate their mood. They feed on light, capable of temporarily removing the ability of a light source to produce light by consuming it. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  103. A hand sized salamander that blazes red hot, but prefers to be cooled down and shifts to a blue tone with no fire when in contact with ice. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  104. A hand sized spider that eats hair and produces an incredibly strong silk that isn’t sticky, but is resistant to being cut. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  105. A demilitch-like undead that is a made from a panther’s skull instead of a human one. It has little magical ability and the disposition of a normal house cat. It normally only devours the souls of rats and mice it chases around. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  106. An crocodile that walks on its hind legs and has opposable thumbs. It is in all other ways, a crocodile. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  107. An animated bush that comes up to about hip height, and has its roots twisted to form short stumpy legs. It is always in the wrong season. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  108. An arrangement of 5 small, smooth, flat stones that move around by sliding on and off of each other one by one. They are very slow. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  109. A baseball sized hermit crab that after spending one minute drawn in to its shell in an environment or situation, can adapt to the situation in a way that is heavily beneficial to it. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  110. A large leech that feeds on magic instead of blood. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  111. A large, ridable mosquito that will only consume the nectar of sweet fruits. It needs a lot of nectar. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  112. A two headed snake with a head at each end. They aren’t poisonous, but one head can suck the life force out of a creature while the other head transfers that life force in to a creature it is biting. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  113. A chimpanzee with a Scottish accent and moderate intelligence. It’s speaks in an incredibly crass and belligerent way, but is seemingly subservient to it’s master to a degree of compulsion, not desire. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  114. A tortoise that is nearly indestructible while in it’s shell. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  115. An aye aye that never sleeps or blinks. It can insert its long finger in to people’s ears to influence their dreams and feed of their creativity. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  116. A floating spell book that can cast spells written inside it, but doing so causes it to become exhausted and the pages the spell was written on to become blank again. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  117. A large bee-like bee hive with wings and other features that make it look like a bee. It is full of a hive of bees. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  118. A tiny, feathered, flying snake that can control the wind in a very minor way around it. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  119. A kangaroo which has a punch that acts like a smaller bag of holding. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  120. A dancing sword with the personality of an excited puppy, often accidentally injuring people when it “licks” them. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  121. On oddly friendly shadow mastiff that is phobic of bright light. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  122. A monkey with the face of its master that always smiles. The only sounds it makes is variations of its masters laugh, with changes in style and tone based on its emotions and how it wants to communicate. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  123. A hollow clay figurine about 1 foot in height, that is fashioned to look like a mockery of a gnome. It can’t speak, and int very intelligent. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  124. An anvil with four arms that it uses as legs, walking on its fists and capable of climbing around. When fed metal, it later regurgitates weapons made from the metal given. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  125. A chameleon with characteristics of a rust monster, the chameleon sized. It’s tongue spreads the rusting property of the rust monster. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  126. A parrot that can translate orcish and goblinoid languages in to common, though speaks in a way commonly found among sailors. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  127. A chromatic pseudodragon that sneezes out its corresponding breath weapon, in a very minor variation of the full Draconic version. Whenever it does so, it’s scales rapidly change colour to a different one. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  128. An incredibly sticky pose that isn’t acidic, an is only corrosive to cold and silver, which it eats. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  129. A raven that coughs instead of crowing. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  130. A floating eye ball, roughly the size of a tennis ball, that can telekinetically influence things it is looking at and are close by. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  131. A tiny elemental consisting of around 15gp worth of mixed coins, that is happier the more it is worth. It can temporarily take control of larger piles of coins and wealth, but doing so drastically tires it. (u/ADangDirtyBoi)
  132. A magical wooden badger. It appears that this little dude was crafted by a druid to assist its partner with castle infiltration tactics and sneaking around. Always carries around the floppy ear broken off a wooden rabbit (seemingly its predecessor). (u/always_gamer_hair)
  133. A "baby unicorn" that upon closer inspection is actually a pony painted white with a pearly horn magicked onto its head. She's very affectionate and loyal. (u/always_gamer_hair)
  134. A talking snake with two heads. One generally tells the truth, the other sometimes lies, both are always sarcastic. Can assist with a heal check once every 1d4 days. (u/always_gamer_hair)
  135. A jackalope named Fredicus. You feel as if he is always silently judging your every move. He's very suspicious of dogs and wolves. (u/always_gamer_hair)
  136. A small (2d4) flock of birds that can appear as pigeons or sparrows when trying to be stealthy or as canaries or mockingbirds when they're trying to be noticed. (u/always_gamer_hair)
  137. A rock from the Elemental Plane of Earth that you are pretty sure is sentient, even if it's given no indication there of. (u/Critterkhan)
submitted by TheTinyDragon to d100 [link] [comments]


2020.04.23 01:55 MysteriousWritings7 Unusual Arrangements-- Chapter One

I was only twenty when I married Stephen Warburton, and let me tell you, it was not my decision. But I’m getting far too ahead of myself. My name is Teresa Mariana Reyna Quentin, or, should I say Warburton. My mother and father are Rosalie and Martin Quentin, old money diamond tycoons and very full of themselves, my mother especially. At least my father somewhat cared for me, but what with his business and dealing with the wicked witch who birthed me… He wasn’t what you could call the most attendant father. As for my mother who spent more time sneaking around with her plastic surgeon than raising her own daughter… She was nothing less than the definition of a whore. A beautiful yet hideous monster in a middle-aged woman’s body who dressed young in desperation to keep her youth. She was the entire reason that I was married to a privileged imbecile that I despised with every fiber of my being.
Stephen Michael Warburton… The man I had the dishonor of calling my life mate. On the surface he looked like Prince Charming from a storybook, but underneath he was nothing more than a snake. He was quite dashing with his platinum hair and icy eyes and perfect porcelain skin, but I’d seen underneath that flawless figure of his and it was horrible. He was spoiled and expected everything to be done for him. I thanked God that he even brushed his own teeth and dressed himself. He was constantly gone on business trips and hardly ever paid any mind to anything besides what he disliked when he returned home. I’m fairly certain he had flings during the majority of his trips, but I did not return his unkindness and kept myself faithful. After all, stooping to his level would’ve make me no better.
But that was before I’d had the honor of meeting him.
On this one particularly dull day I decided it would be nice to take a stroll along the street with my little Cocker Spaniel, Daisy. She stayed close beside me as we walked, holding her head high like the refined little lady she was. Her baby blue ribbon shone in the sun along with her glossy tan coat. The sun’s light filtered through the fence-guarded trees and made no sign that it would be dimmed, much to my dismay. I preferred days when it rained, as the dark melancholy of the sky often matched my mood.
Passing by the Kingsleys’ house, I waved at Reyna Kingsley who was placing a crown of daisies on her young daughter Matilda’s halo of copper curls. Reyna was decent company for me whenever I did not feel like going for a walk or heading into the deeper parts of the city, and she was always so cheerful it was difficult not to smile in her presence. She was a gay young woman only married five years to her kind-hearted husband, Lance, and marriage suited her quite well, as she seemed to grow more jubilant with each passing day. Her daughter took after her in form and face with a few hints of her father mixed in. Copper curls shinier than a new penny, green eyes darker than a forest, and skin soft and pale as a peach. Indeed, Reyna’s sweet disposition read clear on her face, and she was beloved by most everyone in the neighborhood of typically stuffy elite. She was also quite the attentive mother, always spending as much time with Matilda as possible and taking on her daughter’s schooling herself. She’d graduated from Harvard with highest honors, so who better to teach Matilda than her?
As I passed by I stopped for a moment and called Matilda over, allowing her to pet Daisy before continuing on. I admit that seeing that darling little girl’s face light up over my darling Daisy always made a pang of sadness run through me. I wanted a child of my own, but the day when I would hear such news from the doctor had not yet come, leaving me to be content with Daisy as my child instead. And so I spent my time spoiling her rotten and pampering her hour after hour. She loved me unconditionally, after all, so the very least I could do was return the favor. Stephen couldn’t stand Daisy or dogs in any sense, as he always thought them to be nothing more than chaos-causing nuisances, but he allowed me to have her so that I would have something to occupy myself whenever he was gone. He more than likely thought it better that a dog keep our bed warm than a man.
The sidewalk was mostly empty on this day, as many of the nouveau riche families we lived near preferred to keep to the inside of their lavish homes on hot days such as this one. There was very little in the way of old money in our city anymore, as many had moved and those who remained lost their wealth one way or another, making way for the young upstarts to come in and take over. Many of these people had pools on display in their yards, but they were mostly for show unless they had children to use them. Pools were as fashionable as parties, and it was always a battle for who could have the best of the best. One man on our block was so intent to win this unspoken contest that he had a full fountain installed in the center of his that shot jets that created ornate shapes every hour. Thomas and I had a pool as well, and I actually enjoyed using it for its intended purpose, typically spending my evenings just before dusk taking to the waters to relax myself before bed.
As I passed by the final house on the street before it opened up to the park I heard an unusual sound. It was one I’d heard many times before, as I’d made it myself every evening, but I’d never dreamed I’d hear it anywhere else. It was somebody leaping into their pool, and from the sound of things they were enjoying themselves immensely. Curious enough to investigate further I moved from the sidewalk to the lawn and approached the pool. A man who seemed no older than I was gliding through the water like a dolphin, his stokes slow and even and so precise it seemed he planned each one so meticulously it could not come across as anything less. He settled at one end after he’d gone a few laps and finally seemed to take notice of me snooping, and a curious sort of smile settled on his face.
The first thing I noticed was that he was rather handsome, but not in the way Stephen was handsome. His skin was tanned slightly and he had burnt dark hair that fell across his forehead only just short enough to see his eyes of amber fire. His body was quite muscular, and it was clear he took good care of himself. I suddenly realized I’d been staring for far too long and glanced away feeling my cheeks heat in embarrassment.
Seeming not to have noticed my improper behavior, the young gent lifted himself out of the pool and met me at the fence, his smile not having wavered once. God. He was even more beautiful up close, and I could see small dimples in his cheeks that did nothing to detract from his charming demeanor. “Hello, there,” he said genially. “How are you on this fine day?”
Finding myself grinning and flustered like a schoolgirl, I replied, “Quite well, thank you for your inquiry. I could ask the same of you?”
“Well enough,” he replied with a nonchalant shrug. “If I may ask what possessed you to come and peer over my fence this afternoon?”
I gestured to his pool, “Nobody ever uses theirs around here.” I thought it over for a moment before adding hastily, “Aside from me. I was wondering who might be breaking the unspoken rule of keeping their pools as decoration rather than a recreational device.”
He chuckled lightly and his shoulders shook slightly, “I never heard of this rule, though I did just move here from New York. Lovely place, albeit a bit too loud for my tastes.”
“You don’t like big cities?” I inquired.
He shook his head, “Never did care for them, but I couldn’t convince the little wife to stray too far from them. This was as small as she was willing to settle for.”
For some reason his mention of a wife deterred me from continuing to speak with him for a moment. I wondered to myself why I even felt deterred at all. This was only playful banter between neighbors, and I was doing nothing wrong by being friendly. After all, I was a married woman and he was a married man, therefore all conversation that was occurring between us was nothing more than innocent talk.
As though on cue, the woman whom I took to be his “little wife” appeared from within the house. She was shockingly dark, though it was clearly not her natural color, and she was shamelessly flaunting her perky little body in a two-piece swimming costume that was the brightest red I’d ever seen. She matched this color on her lips and the ribbon on her wide-brimmed white hat. Her long tresses of raven hair were curled tightly like minuscule springs, and her cat-like green eyes glinted with clear interest in me. She glanced between me and her husband in suspicion hidden under a bittersweet smile. “Nicholas, darling, who is this?”
I smiled and did my best to seem as non-threatening to this clearly territorial woman as possible, “I’m Teresa. I just came by to introduce myself.”
Nicholas looked to his wife and smiled in amusement, “She was curious because I was using the pool. Apparently they’re meant to be decorative rather than functional.” He looked back to me and gestured to his wife, “May I present my lovely wife, Clarissa Bellamy.” He glanced at her, “Are you coming in the pool today, dearest?”
Clarissa rolled her eyes, “You know I dislike swimming. Besides, it will ruin my permanent,” she said, patting her curls protectively.
I clasped my hands together, “Well it’s a pleasure to meet you both, and I’m pleased to be the first to welcome you to our neighborhood.” I paused, and for a moment an awkward silence fell amongst us. Clarissa seemed unconvinced by me, and even I felt as though I had something to hide with the way she was looking at me. “I’m hosting a party at the end of the week and I’d love it if you would both attend. You would have the opportunity to meet the rest of the neighbors.”
I was lying through the skin of my teeth and I knew it, and I couldn’t stand hosting parties, but I didn’t want this sprig of a woman to think I was flirting with her husband and it was the first thing to come to mind. Clarissa smirked at me as though it was so obvious I desired her presence at my insignificant little gathering, despite the likelihood that I had more wealth in my wedding ring than she did in her entire bank account. I admit I wasn’t exactly dressed like the daughter of a diamond tycoon at that moment, as I always preferred casual cotton dresses when I went out on walks.
“Well then we’d adore to come,” Clarissa said with smugness dripping from her every word. “I’m certain it will be quite the elegant soirée. What did you say your name was again? I’d know your address if you told me, as I’m always up to date on who lives where in my neighborhoods.”
“Teresa,” I replied, having to rely on every one of my manners courses from boarding school to feign pleasantry. “Teresa Warburton.”
Now I’m not typically the type of person to toss my husband’s name around like some rich snob, but Clarissa Bellamy had such an unpleasant air about her that I couldn’t help it, and the look on her face was more than enough to satisfy me. Even if she and Nicholas were new to this neighborhood they would’ve heard the name Stephen Warburton and heard about his even wealthier wife. Stephen and I were typically the topic of everybody’s gossip, as any rare parties we threw were considered to be the cream of the crop, and anyone invited to said parties were considered to be right up there with us with the honor of looking down upon their fellow neighbors. I always found it tiresome to deal with things so frivolous like social class, but Stephen always reminded me to keep up appearances and always persuaded me to throw at least one or two parties while he was gone. It was always something I deplored, but if Stephen came home and heard about what a charming hostess his little wife was while he was away… He was typically more agreeable before he had to leave again.
“Warburton? How delightful, isn’t is, Risa?” Nicholas said jovially, clapping his arm on her shoulder. He smiled at me and his teeth were brighter than my strings of pearls, “We’ve heard so much about your parties and Clarissa’s practically been dying to receive an invitation since we got settled in. What time will it be? We’d hate to be late.”
“Nine,” I said, immediately regretting my time choice. A nine ’o’ clock party meant it would run until at least two in the morning, and I’d be forced to keep faking smiles long after my patience had worn thin. But I didn’t take back my words, as I didn’t want to seem like a bore who threw parties in the midst of the afternoon and stopped them by early evening. No, that wouldn’t be very fashionable at all, and Stephen wouldn’t’ve approved. “Yes, nine, and it should run rather late depending on how many of the people I invite decide to come. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the two of you there.” I glanced at my watch and then made it seem as though I had somewhere important to be, “My apologies, but I’ve completely forgotten about my meeting with the decorators. I have to plan the color scheme for this party, though in all honesty I’ve decided on black and gold, but there’s simply too many different variations of the two colors that it’ll take me all day to just decide on one. Goodbye, and I’ll see you at the end of the week.”
I swiftly walked home and called a decorator who came posthaste. After all, one did not simply put a Warburton on a waiting list. I ended up deciding on old gold and ebony black for the color scheme, and the decorator said their team would show up on Saturday to get everything ready. I began to flip through the phonebook until I found a fairly new but fabulously popular caterer and ordered the most expensive of everything in their catalog including a marble tower cake that was over ten feet tall and thirty layers. Each layer would be frosted with bourbon buttercream and then exquisitely and excruciatingly decorated with black and gold fondant with the top layer being topped with a sculpted bottle of champagne that had been tipped over, leading to there being a cascade of sugar glass bubbles spilling out to the very bottom layer. It was decadent, it was over-the-top, and it would blow the last party I threw out of the water as usual.
Indeed, every time I threw another party it would be bigger and better than the last, leading to my reputation as the greatest hostess in not just my neighborhood, but the entire city. One party had a world-famous magician as entertainment, while another had an entire Broadway production be performed in my backyard. This time around I hired a troupe of world-renowned Barnum and Bailey acrobats to perform their flips and tricks above the heads of the party-goers. A giant fountain of rose champagne would be set beside the refreshments table outside, while inside there would be music pouring from every room as Louis Armstrong himself had been personally hired to play at my party. He’d done this on a few occasions and my guests adored him, and he and I had become rather good friends over the course of those chaotic gatherings. Anytime I needed him all I had to do was call. I had similar connections with some famous faces that crossed the silver screens such as Cary Grant and Claudette Colbert, although Cary hardly ever made an appearance at my parties as he was quite busy with his humanitarian projects… Meanwhile Claudette was more than willing to show up and mingle. Honestly I think she would’ve been insulted had I neglected to call her when I was throwing yet another one of my stylish sprees.
The week seemed to fly by and I already knew that the gossip of my latest party had been spread around our community. There were rumors about what phenomenal goings-on this one would entail. Who would be invited? What were they going to wear? What famous faces would be seen this time? What would the entertainment be like? But most importantly… How would the hostess present herself? I’d already planned for this and called in a favor with a a designer who I was a great customer of, Miss Madeleine Vionnet. She told me she would drop everything and make me the most stunning dress for my party, as anything I wore typically ended up being the talk of the neighborhood, and that lead to it being the talk of the city, leading it to Maddie being swamped with orders for custom dresses just like mine. She got free advertisement and new patronage, and I got fabulous gowns within a moment’s request.
The dress arrived early on Saturday morning, and it was everything I’d hoped for from Maddie. The softer than down black-and-gold fabrics were layered like petals on an elegant flower, and the dress slipped on my body as effortlessly as a teardrop down a cheek. The one thing Maddie could do that most people couldn’t was made me glad I had so much money to spend. Her dresses brought me so much joy and always made me feel so beautiful. I had my hair curled and pinned with citrine and onyx pins and had my face painted modestly. I never cared much for makeup but didn’t mind a little touch-up on special occasions like this one. Taking my newest purchase of a citrine necklace and fastening it around my neck I examined my appearance in my full-length mirror, making certain that nothing was out of place on me. No. I looked to be the epitome of perfection. Young, rich, beautiful… A woman every other girl envied to be and a woman every man who saw her wanted to be with.
I’ll admit that I was quite the pretty young thing in those days, and I was never too ashamed of that. I had a creamy smooth complexion and my face was the ideal oval shape. I swam and walked daily for my own enjoyment, but it also helped me keep my figure at the perfect range of a 6-inch wrist, 19 and 1/2-inch thighs, and a waistline of 24 inches. My eyes were always compared to a fine melted chocolate with a warm caramel center, meanwhile my hair was a deep merlot red. It was all part of keeping up with the idea that I was the perfect woman in her perfect marriage with her perfect husband. I put on my best smile and started for the stairs.
It was time for my party.
The guests all arrived promptly at nine, as nobody ever dared to be even a single second late to a Warburton party. Everybody who came in immediately began showering me with compliments about what a gorgeous party this was and how stunning I looked and how they were going to order custom gowns from Madeleine the moment they had the opportunity. I couldn’t help my smile turning genuine at Maddie getting a flood of new business. I traipsed around the house before deciding to make my way outside where the majority of my guests were admiring the acrobats flipping through the air and helping themselves to one glass of champagne too many. As I was about to take a glass for myself I felt a hand touch my shoulder.
I turned and was more than grateful to come face to face with Reyna, who greeted me with a rather loud and exuberant “Darling!” as we kissed one another’s cheeks in familiarity. “This is the best party you’ve thrown yet,” she proclaimed. “And you know the champagne fountain is always a favorite of mine.” She placed her hand on my shoulder and her smile dipped into concern, “But really, darling, you only throw parties like these when you’re upset. Tell me why.”
I shook my head at the notion, “I’m not upset, Rain, darling, just needed to fill my monthly quota. You know how Stephen gets. At least all of this will have people buzzing for a few weeks, and maybe he’ll be home by then.”
Reyna motioned towards the fountain, “Well I’ll be getting myself some more of this lovely rose bubbly. How you always know what to order for these darling get-togethers, I’ll never know. Come find me if you need me. You know how I adore our girl talks.”
I was actually grateful to get away from Reyna, which was more than a little surprise to me. I usually adored talking with her and going on and on about nothing and everything, but not tonight. Tonight I was hoping to see someone that I was shocked I even wanted to see to begin with. My mind was on Nicholas Bellamy, but try as I might I couldn’t find him anywhere. And then he ran into me, quite literally. From the looks of things we were both unhurt though rather shaken up.
“Mrs. Warburton,” he said with that smile I’d seen less than a week prior. “I’m dreadfully sorry about that. Are you alright?”
I kept my composure and nodded, “Yes, I’m fine, but thank you for your concern. I’m glad you were able to make it to my party.” I glanced over his shoulder expecting to see Clarissa not far behind him, but she was nowhere to be found. “Where’s your wife?” I asked a little too suspiciously.
Nicholas shrugged and gestured nonchalantly behind him, “Somewhere being envious about how amazing this party is.” He chuckled and I saw those dimples of his, “Between you and me she’s quite upset that you’re so popular for your soirées around here. That used to be her when we were still living in our old city. She’s not used to being beaten at something.”
I laughed at his playful banter, and for the first time in awhile I was happy to be in a man’s company. I spent most of the evening conversing with Nicholas while every now and again the stages of Reyna’s intoxication approached us to speak briefly before returning to her rose fountain heaven. I found out that Nicholas had made his money by investing in a little company that had managed to hit it big after the depression, and now he was set for life as one of its senior partners. As we spoke I noticed he wasn’t treating me like my other neighbors did, as they only complimented me on my dresses or my parties or my husband. He was taking the time for me to open up and be myself, which Stephan had told me repeatedly not to do, but I couldn’t help but be entirely genuine with Nicholas. There was something about him that was electric, and I felt myself being pulled to him like a magnet to a steel doorknob. And then I made a decision that would change things for me forever.
“Would you like to come over tomorrow evening and go swimming with me?”
Nicholas at first seemed a bit averse to my request, but that hesitation melted within a moment. “I’d love to. I’ll see if I can get Clarissa to come as well. About what time would you like me over?”
“Around seven, if that’s alright,” I replied. “I like to be in bed early.”
Nicholas chuckled and nodded, “Well you know what they say, “Early to bed and early to rise”
“Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” I finished. “Words I like to live by.”
“Well I should hope you don’t wish to be a man,” Nicholas joked. “As you are quite fetching just as you are now.”
I felt heat rising to my cheeks at Nicholas’s comment, and though I was certain it was meant to be nothing more than an innocent joke… I took it too seriously and hoped he had meant it seriously. Immediately guilt set in with me as I realized I was thinking such a thing about a married man… and me thinking such a thing as a married woman! But Stephan was never so romantic to say such things to me, and it always bothered me. I was his wife, wasn’t I? Why shouldn’t he tell me that he thinks I’m beautiful or that he loves me? Why shouldn’t I wish it of him? And now here I had a man in front of me that had given me such a compliment and I was acting as though I’d committed cardinal sin.
“Thank you,” I said as demurely as I could manage. “I hope you will bring Clarissa tomorrow. I think the more the merrier is the best attitude on such matters.”
Nicholas and I exchanged more idle prattle until the waves of elite began to ebb, and I bid him goodbye before heading upstairs to my room for bed. Reyna was sprawled out on my bed singing some song about the bright lights of Hollywood. I rolled my eyes and went about dressing myself for bed without giving her much mind. She often slept at my house for the night after a big party like this one, but I never minded much. After all, we were such good friends it was of no consequence to either of us.
I settled into bed, and Reyna muttered something that caught my ear, “You’re in love with Nicholas Bellamy…”
My previously half-closed eyes shot open as I looked at her, “What on earth are you talking about? I barely know the man, much less love him. Besides, haven’t you forgotten my wonderful husband?”
Reyna hugged me and stared at me as seriously as a person who’d had as much champagne as she had could, “Resa, lemme tell ju’ somethin’. In the year ju’ been married to Stephan, ju’ve been sooooo unhappy… But when ju’ was talkin’ to Nicholas… Ju’ was happier zan’ a clam. Ju’ need zomeone whoze gonna luuuuuuuve ju’.”
I scowled and did my best to cross my arms in Reyna’s embrace, “If you don’t stop speaking about such things I’ll put you out on the street and make you walk home.”
But I knew I wouldn’t, and so did Reyna. She snuggled closer to me and muttered something about me deserving real happiness. I ended up nodding off into a dreamless sleep and woke up to Reyna having disappeared. As usual Reyna had woken up and gone home before I did. I sat up and yawned, feeling Daisy beside me, and stroked her tawny ears. All day my mind wandered to Nicholas Bellamy and how he would be coming to my house to swim with me… with his wife… I repeatedly scolded myself and repeatedly felt very foolish. This was just a childish infatuation, and a very improper one at that. He was married and so was I, and I was fairly certain that he was happy even if I wasn’t.
With those thoughts running through my mind I’d lost track of time, only remembering the hour when I heard a knock on my door. I quickly changed into my swimming costume and rushed to meet my guests as one of the butlers opened the door. Nicholas Bellamy walked inside of my house… alone.
“Where’s Clarissa?” I asked stupidly.
Nicholas shrugged, “She can’t stand swimming, so she said to kindly refuse your offer on her behalf.”
Suddenly Daisy came running downstairs yipping excitedly and leapt into Nicholas’s arms, licking his face. I winced, half-expecting him to get after her as Stephen often did… But instead he cradled her in his arms and kissed her on top of her little head, petting her tawny ears and talking to her as though she were a darling little baby. I smiled in surprise and let out a small laugh, much to Nicholas’s intrigue. I was a bit embarrassed, but I wasn’t going to let it show.
“I haven’t seen any man give Daisy any positive attention in this house,” I said.
“Even when you have such an adorable little girl like this one?” Nicholas asked in surprise.
I shook my head, my smile falling a little, “Stephen dislikes dogs with such a fiery passion it’s a wonder Daisy doesn’t cause him to burst into flames.” I rubbed my arm, “He only let me have her so I’m not lonely while he’s away.”
Nicholas frowned, “He seems to be the type to dislike small fluffy things, doesn’t he? Quite a hard-looking man if I’ve ever seen one. What on earth do you see in him?”
I forced a smile as I started for the pool, “He’s a good man, really, just a bit harsh on first impressions. You really have to know him to love him, just as I had to,” I lied. “Would you like something to drink or are you alright?” Ever the pleasant little hostess, I thought bitterly.
Nicholas shook his head as we filed outside, “No, thank you, I make it a habit not to drink more than one night a week, and last night was it for me.” He eyed my pool, and despite his cool demeanor I could tell he was impressed by it.
My pool was the one thing I took great pride in, as it was the largest in the neighborhood and was very nice to swim about in. It was nowhere near as showy as some of the others, but it was over ten feet deep and had a sizable diving board that I typically spent the evenings springing off of. My love of swimming and diving came from me doing it professionally in college, and my adoration of it never faded. Keeping myself in practice was the best way to stay connected to those carefree days before I was forced to marry. I never even got to finish all four years that I wished, so I was stuck with an unsatisfying associate’s degree. But at least I got to experience what college was like for a short time. That’s always what I told myself to make myself feel better about not even being allowed to live the life of my choice once I was out of my wicked mother’s clutches.
I climbed the ladder and stepped out onto the diving board and jumped off, doing a twist as I landed in the water with nary a splash. I came up and looked at Nicholas expectantly, and he gave me a playful smirk that sent shivers down my spine. He climbed up the ladder and leapt from the board, splashing loudly and sending me across the pool. I quickly swam back over and splashed him playfully, to which he responded with an enormous wave. Soon enough we were in the midst of an unspoken diving and splash battle, and by the end of it we were both sitting on the pool steps and talking about nonsensical drivel. It was nice to have someone to talk nonsensical drivel with besides Reyna. Stephen hardly ever wanted to talk about little things. He was always thinking of the “big picture” as he called it.
Nicholas must’ve noticed the dip in my mood because his brow furrowed and he asked me, “What’s wrong? You’ve gone all quiet.”
I shook my head, “Thinking about my husband. How he never does anything like this with me.”
“You don’t really love him, do you?” Nicholas asked seriously.
Tears slipped down my face as I felt a release of pent-up emotions. “No, I don’t! I’m always forced to hide it from everyone. To be the perfect little wife who has the perfect marriage with a perfectly loving husband who’s faithful and attentive, but I don’t! I have nothing but miserable parties and endless supplies of champagne to empty my sorrows into night after night when in reality I can’t stand any of it! I’ve always hated those ridiculous parties and how Stephen is so cold towards me! I’ve tried so hard to love him, but it’s physically impossible to love a man who’s heart is as icy as his!”
I broke down and sobbed into my hands, and in a moment Nicholas wrapped his arms around me and hugged me close to his chest. We sat that way for what seemed like hours, and my audible cries sank into quiet sniffles and then finally disappeared entirely. Now I could comprehend the feeling of Nicholas’s warm skin pressed against me, and how his strong arms encircled me in comfort. Stephen never comforted me when I cried. Stephen never even cared when I cried. He would tell me to make sure my eyes weren’t puffy before I left our room and to reapply my makeup properly… But to show me real compassion? I’d found out that would be impossible.
I looked up at Nicholas, his amber eyes shining in the light of the stars above us, and without a second thought I kissed him. I kissed him and he kissed me back, cupping the back of my head with his hand and sending the warm feeling of affection through me. I suddenly broke away from his lips, coming back to my senses, and I shook my head in an attempt to clear it. “No…” I muttered. “This is wrong. You’re married. I’m married. I should never have invited you over. I should have—”
But his lips closed the distance with mine and silenced me, and I couldn’t stop myself. To be kissed because a man wanted me rather than to keep up with appearances… To feel what it meant to be desired… It sent ripples of joy through me, and I didn’t want this moment to end. The next thing I knew Nicholas was carrying me to bed, and what we did I had no regrets about. Was it horribly immoral and completely wrong? Yes. Would I have done any different if my mind was in a better place? No. No, I would have done nothing different and made no other choice than what happened between us on that night. I also had no idea it would cause so much trouble in the long run, but that trouble would soon rear its ugly head in a most cruel way.
When we awoke the sun was shining brightly through the gaps in the curtains, and for a few minutes I was in a naive state of euphoria at the fact that I was in Nicholas’s warm and loving arms. That all disappeared in no less than a second after I’d realized what we’d done. I sat up in a panic and began to fumble around for my clothes. So many thoughts were running through my head at once, “I can’t believe we did that. If Clarissa finds out…” I gasped, “If Stephen finds out! God, I’ve tried so hard! We haven’t even been married a year and I’ve been unfaithful! What on earth can we do?!”
But Nicholas seemed less than concerned with the situation at hand. He drew me in close and kissed me for a moment before pulling away, and then I saw that smile that gave me the impression he had a plan. “Nobody is going to find out anything, Teresa. Not Stephen, not Clarissa. No one. We’re going to keep this our secret. After all, for all anybody knows I’m just another friend of yours that can stay the night like Reyna does, right? Nobody will talk because of you. Because of your perfect reputation with everyone around here. You know nobody would dare to say anything against you because of how perfect you appear to them.”
I was skeptical, and I could tell Nicholas knew it. He sighed, “I know you must be worried, but I don’t want to stop seeing you, and I have a very good feeling you don’t want to stop seeing me. So we see each other on the sly under the guise of good friends meeting up to blather about boring things like parties and plays.”
I hated to really admit it to myself at the time… But Nicholas was right. Everyone in the community thought I was some sort of paragon of virtue, and if they didn’t suspect Stephen of being unfaithful… I was bound to be even better off. Nicholas and I could see one another as often as we liked with no consequences. That meant that we could continue such amorous encounters if we so chose… And in my mind I was playing with the idea that very minute.
At that moment Nicholas leaned forward and kissed me, and though it was brief I felt the same warmth that I had the night before. This was something special, and to let it just slip through my fingers wasn’t what I wanted to do. Right then and there I decided I wanted Nicholas in my life just as much as he wanted me in his. There was something between us, whether it was love or just infatuation didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to be given some sort of affection from someone, and Nicholas was right there to be that spark that I so desired.
But that spark would soon be fanned into a flame that I wasn’t at all ready to fight.
Nicholas and I were as careful as we could be with our whirlwind of a romance. He would stay the night under the guise of us getting a drink and swimming once a week. We were spending so much time together I’d even fallen under the habit of calling him Nick, and he called me Resa. Because of his choice to only drink once a week it was easy to slip under the noses of his wife and the other nosy neighbors. They assumed we were good friends and talked about the most boring of things. Reyna helped in this aspect, having told the neighbors she often was there with Nick and I when we were talking and it couldn’t have been duller. She said she’d seen more chemistry between the soaked kitchen floor and a sponge, which was perfect. Reyna was just as much of a paragon as I and her word was just as rock-solid, thus eliminating what little suspicion there may have been about my affair.
I knew it was wrong to sneak about in such a manner, and it was against the Bible to do so. I was a devout Christian and had my qualms with my decision to continue seeing Nick, yet at the same time I wanted nothing more than to fall into his arms anytime I saw him. I had quite a time keeping up the act that we were simply good friends, as we had to sneak around even the servants each time he stayed the night. They would surely have told Stephen about us had any of them ever caught us. Yet they never did, and for weeks we were happy to enjoy one another’s company in several different ways… I didn’t want to admit it to myself, as being married meant this was even worse than just an infamous affair, but… I was falling in love with Nick, and he was falling in love with me, too. I knew this because he told me so during one of our nights together, and in moments of true passion one can never really attempt a convincing lie.
“I want to be with you and only you,” he muttered into my ear.
I snuggled closer to him and relished in having his arms around me, “I want to be with you, too.”
Nick opened his mouth but hesitated to speak, unsure of what his words would mean to me. “I… I love you, Teresa. I love you and I never want to part with you now that I have you.”
I smiled and kissed him lightly, “That will never happen. I’m intending on staying here like this with you for as long as I can.”
He drew back from me suddenly and sat up, “I have something for you. I’d like you to wear it always.” He slipped out of bed and fumbled for his trousers on the floor before coming back with a small box in his hand. He opened it and I saw the most beautiful ring that I’d ever had the honor of laying my eyes on. The metal was silver and the setting was a large rectangular-cut emerald. He slipped it onto my middle finger and kissed my hand. “This was my mother’s wedding ring. She told me to give it to the girl who I thought deserved it the most.”
“Why not give it to Clarissa, then?” I asked, unable to sheathe my curiosity.
Nick shook his head and sighed, “I married her for the same reason you married Stephen. Money. She was a rich girl and her father had the company I now own in its entirety. Clarissa took a fancy to me while I was still an underling and I had a choice to make. Marry her and inherit everything or refuse her and be fired. Naturally I had no choice but to decide on the former. Now she’s tired of me but won’t divorce me out of materialistic obsession. I’m worth no more to her than one of her diamond necklaces. She doesn’t even know this ring exists.” He touched his forehead against mine, “And as far as I’m concerned… you are my real wife.”
I looked down at the ring and then to Nick… And the most saccharine smile spread over my face as I kissed him, “You are my husband, Nick, and I’ll never take the ring off. Ever. I promise you.”
submitted by MysteriousWritings7 to writers [link] [comments]


2020.03.24 15:50 alec_mc [H] Driver Gloves Lunar Weave BTA FT .18 (Clean Knuckles) [W] 8 TB/MP Arcanas

Hey guys,
Decided I want to trade my gloves for some arcanas while I search for my next combo.
The Gloves:
B/O - 8 TB / MP Arcanas
Alternate B/O - Specialist Gloves Fade BS or Crimson Web BS
\*Willing to add for a pair of Specialist Gloves Fade BS or Crimson Web BS*\**
Tradelink
Steam Profile
submitted by alec_mc to GlobalOffensiveTrade [link] [comments]


2020.03.24 04:15 alec_mc [H] Driver Gloves Lunar Weave BTA FT .18 (Clean Knuckles) [W] 8 TB/MP Arcanas

Hey guys,
Decided I want to trade my gloves for some arcanas while I search for my next combo.
The Gloves:
B/O - 8 TB / MP Arcanas
Tradelink
Steam Profile
submitted by alec_mc to GlobalOffensiveTrade [link] [comments]


2020.03.19 22:48 k_e_luk Went down the rabbit hole of official Chinese news sources today: situation is still dire in Wuhan right now (also Baoji, Xianxi and Zhengzhou, Henan suspiciously so). - LONG post

After a deleted post on an Apple Daily (4th in Public Evaluation on Media Credibility out of 33 paid/free papers and online media in HK) article abt whistleblowing Wuhan docs from makeshift hospitals - corroborated by RTHK (phone interviews), (warm to China in pandemic) Thailand Medical News and Radio Free Asia (and banned from Coronavirus for 3 days) ('cause 1/3 videos mentioned I embedded another link to was tweeted by sb I didn't know is in Falun Gong (easier for others w/ Eng subtitles),
I decided to spend a day digging through articles by PRC-run/owned media (all archived below) to see if it checks out.
Please read my validated prediction posted on Mar 6 first:
Mar 6 I worry seeing people heading out again, and fewer are wearing masks the last few days. Many flights from Shenzhen and Guangzhou to Beijing, Shanghai, Nanking, Hangzhou from 17:15 today were canceled due "public safety" concerns regarding the epidemic, confirmed by China Southern Airlines. Yet those departing from SH, HZ, and Chungking remained unaffected.
Shenzhen Airport posted an obligatory denial, but my Spidey sense says a 2nd wave just swept across two largest urban centers in S. China next to HK, which just resumed prod. Hoping for the best in 2 weeks since just <20,000 people cross into HK every day and most try their best to get around the bullshit self-quarantine.
14-day Quarantine for Arrivals from mainland China 65,943 Compulsory Quarantine Orders / 390 + Warning Ltrs (Mar 19)
Change in HK Case # Mar 18: +15.0% / Mar 20: +23.0% / Mar 22: +15.7% / Mar 23: +12.3% / Mar 25: HK needs lockdown measures by weekend: expert
May 27: China says BioEasy test kits'd have been >80% sensitive if Spain/Czechia used the right way * Mar 25: 80% error rate in 150K test kits sold to Czechs
Mar 26: Indian journo tweeted abt pressure to peddle Chinese gov't propaganda, fearing for their lives/careers. Another by WION#Current_team) Exec Editor, after hosting only int'l news prime-time Gravitas: Wuhan Coronavirus: China's propaganda franchisees
Mar 24: Misleads public crediting TCM for >90% recovery among 74,187 used nationally - adv. over W. med; "3 herbal meds + 3 decoctions"
Mar 23: 3,276 deaths/81,649 confirmed; asymptomatic cases not reported until onset since Feb 7 - DW * Fake health certs sold on Taobao to help board int'l flights
Mar 23: No hospital'd take one of Wuhan makeshift hospital patients "discharged" and now relapsed - RTHK * Feb 23: Contradiction abt 0 new cases 'tween Wuhan MHC and CCTV News
Mar 23: Article on Hubei state-run media journo whistleblowing on WeChat deleted
Mar 23: JPCM's Notice to Suspend Departure of Medical Asst. Teams from Wubei
Mar 22: EXCLUSIVE: ~1000 Chinese students in N. Ame WeChat grp broadbast transit flights info in Taipei: We must blame it on Taiwan for any outbreak - SET News
Chengdu 3/20 imported case: 55 F; FL resident from Jintang, Chengdu, Xichuan
JAX - (3/15) DL1664 - JFK - (3/15) DL870 - SFO - (3/16) CI3 - TPE - (3/17) CI551 - CTU
China HK Taiwan
Students abroad ~662,100 36,000 + 5,000 71,221
Imported (Mar 13 -) 554 252+10 (close contacts) 215
Mar 20: Xinhua News Agency tweeted "senators knew enough to dump stocks" #Trumpandemic after Dr. Yuen retracted column on the pandemic's Wuhan origin under social media and gov't pressure.* Tencent IEG CTO Milo Yip, posting retracted column for discussion, was wrestled into deleting Twitter by online mob
Mar 21: China VP and tycoon Ren Zhiqiang gone missing - RFI
Mar 21: Pre-print paper corr. China's cases to 700,000+ as of Mar 13 using Korea as benchmark Mar 17: Leaked pages from official Feb death list \* Mar 15-21: Wuhan traffic 30% less than avg
Mar 20: China Rewrites History of Silenced Dr. Li Wenliang - VICE (legit investigative journo)
Feb 28: Quarantined Wuhan Spiderwoman Climbs 8/F Down - Live Leak after 1, 2, 3, 4
More news updates here.

Here is what I read abt Wuhan (follow my thought process to connect the dots):
Sorry only translated the Nanguo article, but Google Translation is legible enough to gauge if everything adds up. Baidu (Chi Google/Wiki) links swapped for Wikipedia links (Eng if available).
  1. I first saw a tweet abt 3-4 extra phases of makeshift hospitals being built in Jinzhou, Liaoning, then another abt bodies kept being carried around in Erzhou, the city east of Wuhan
  2. But since it is a vid by New Tang Dynasty TV, founded by Falun Gong folks, it is likely half-truth (they did break news of SARS in China 3 weeks before Beijing owned up), and we don't know Erzhou resident Mr. Liu, so I searched for the first news article shown at 1:07
  3. It's on 104 members of the 4th batch of Guangxi Medical Asst Team (served in a makeshift hospital in Zhuankou, SE Wuhan) returning to the city by Nanguo Morning Post (under state-run Guangxi Daily) on Mar 14. "Signed up for a new battle" 4 days after the last mission, when there were supposedly few new cases. The warlike tone throughout doesn't sound like a wind-down in Wuhan.
  4. But why an article on Sohu abt the same news story with more details curiously deleted from the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University Hospital News? Them solemnly signing up after a team meeting, shown in this article, adds to the gravity to the situation, so who else can't leave/have to join Wuhan?
  5. Looked for more on the West Campus of Wuhan Union Hospital (an anti-pandemic State Key Hospitals where this team was sent). Turned out at least three more teams are reassigned after mere 24 hours of R&R (hardly enough after weeks of lost sleep), when Wuhan should be well on its way to resume full prod, accord. to Qianjiang Evening News (only provincial evening paper in Zhejiang) published online by The Paper on Mar 19.
  6. It says in the wee hours of Mar 17, 140 and 170 members of two Zhejiang (2nd-hardest hit province) Medical Asst Teams from Zhejiang University School of Medicine affiliated hospitals rec'd re-enlistment texts to report to the West Campus, followed by 142 on the third team from Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital dispatched to Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital ICU (Ward 1 alone has 11 patients, 6 on ECMO, 3 on CRRT).
  7. Read this report by Changjiang Daily (under Wuhan Municipal Committee; largest newspaper in central China) on Mar 15 closely, the Cancer Center of Wuhan Union Hospital (where the first two Zhejiang teams served) transferred COVID-19 patients to its West Campus on Mar 13-15. On Mar 14, 300 of the 3rd batch of Anhui Medical Asst Team joined West Campus ICU after a 5-day break.
  8. Wait...Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital is not one of the 7 (actually 13 since one is a grp of 7 in the same district) State Key Hospitals left receiving mild cases (see Pt 6).
  9. 850 beds, 126 patients in 1st batch admitted on Feb 13; 1,022 recovered over 32 days till Mar 15. So how many dead, how many transferred? Only 12 from Cancer Center to 9/F ICU West Wing in West Campus among all those moved on Mar 13-15 are acc'ted for. Then on Mar 15 3 pm, the Cancer Center celebrated discharge of the last 7 COVID-19 patients and another 15 to be transferred to Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital and the West Campus, so it can reopen 500 wards to cancer patients.
  10. Now a tweet by Radio Free Asia (NGO funded by US gov't indt. agency U.S. Agency for Global Media) today shows >30 patients lining up outside of Fever Clinic of Wuhan Union Hospital on Mar 18, who a nearby resident said many tested COVID-19 +ve.
  11. They shouldn't be waiting outside if they're patients transferred/discharged from makeshift hospitals. And not when it's been a while fever cases last queued up at different facilities. National TV coverage doesn't go against NHC started blaming the Hunan AC Milan fan and overseas Chinese (students) flying back, ordering everyone crossing provincial lines to self-financed tests and 14-day isolation camps.
1,200 beds and 700+ staffs at West Campus, 715 recalled to assist; plus at least 30+ patients flocked to the Fever Clinic since Mar 18; but China still says it's all fine and dandy, poised to teach 14 Dutch hospitals its ways, as shown by CGTN (by state-owned CCTV).
More on Baoji, Shaanxi :
  1. A search for news on Mar 12 (when the Guangxi team applied for assignment) abt the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism led me to an article on their visit to the Baoji Central Hospital and the opening of its isolation wards
  2. But then on Mar 16, Science and Technology Daily (run by Ministry of Sci & Tech) reported 0 new cases in Shaanxi since Feb 21 and the last COVID-19 patient at Baoji Central Hospital was discharged back on Mar 4...
  3. What about top news on Mar 12 in Baoji, Shaanxi? China Business Network (under state-run Radio and TV Station of Shanghai) reported that Biaoji Municipal General Office issued then retracted at 7pm 15 housing and construction policies, inc. Article 12: all banks have to lower down payment as much as possible, and max. of Housing Provident Fund Loans are raised from 400K RMB to 500K RMB
  4. So I checked the topic of the Mar 13 press briefing by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council: domestic infection control to retain foreign trade and investment...hmm
  5. Then People's Daily (official newspaper of CCCPC) picked it up and reported on Mar 17 that all visitors entering/residents returning to Shaanxi are subj to DNA tests,14-day concentration camp quarantine, and all expenses incurred.
  6. Public now complain to official media on Weibo abt being forced into isolation camp (4,200-7,000 RMB/14 days), even just from Wenzhou to Taizhou within Zhejiang. Someone did skip it after media friends' pressure at PKX back from Malaysia though.
Last but not least, Zhengzhou, Henan:
  1. Home of "Zhengzhou Poison King" Guo Waipeng, who possibly infected 40,000 around the world on 6 flights, 1 trip on High Speed Rail and 1 on reg. train. According to Orient Today: Guo flew from PEK - (Mar 1) EY889 - AUH (Mar 2) EY81 - MXP for the postponed Juventus' Coppa Italia semi vs. his fav AC Milan (Mar 4) - (Mar 6) EY88 - AUH - (Mar 7 0850 arrival) EY888 - PEK - complete mov't till he was caught lying after a fever and a +ve test (abt travel history, when confronted, abt not knowing Italy is infected from news before trip) and sent to hospital on Mar 10.
  2. But how could a dispatched labor in the law enforcement branch of Zhengzhou Transport Bureau afford a lavish 7-day trip of 24,000+ km? China Times (Taiwan) Chief Contributing Writer Huang Chuang-shia suggested Guo couldn't have been let out for a roundtrip in disease-ridden Europe when there were <10 new cases in China unless on a covert mission.
  3. News with inciting title widely covered (~251,000 Google News search results in Chinese as of Mar 19).
  4. Then China News Agency (2nd-largest state-owned press agency) framed it as a standalone case of impairing public health (culpable negligence) ruining national infection control effort (0 new cases for 12 days in Henan), for which Henan HQ Office for NCP Prevention and Control issued an emergency directive on Mar 12. Henan Provincial Public Security Dept reported 6,757 cases investigated and handled so far.
  5. On Mar 17, Xinhua News Agency (largest state-owned press agency) further drove the national narrative: NHC changes strategies to fend off imported cases among swarms of returning overseas Chinese (students). Main pts inc: protect Wubei (Wuhan) and ensure safety of Beijing, strengthen border health and quarantine efforts, adopt all measures to prevent/control COVID-19 in prod resumption, gradually resume normal medical services, and collab more with int'l org (WHO, EU, etc. - exc. the US) for breakthroughs in clinical research.
  6. A video by state-run Lhasa TV (Tibet) posted Mar 16 evening went viral: "You weren't here to build your home and motherland, but the quickest to spread the virus and enjoy benefits. We, China, do not support you giant babies."
Anchor Zhu Guangquan's censure:
  1. flying back for free med treatment after paying taxes for yrs to the US (apology later from Weibo user for fake post inspired by a similar news story on Mar 14 in Beijing)
  2. lying about travel history to evade quarantine in Henan (Taiwanese group MedPartner's query as to why Guo could afford such lavish trip)
  3. whining to infection control staff abt deprived human rights because a Chinese student returned from Italy should have mineral (not tap) water in hotel room under quarantine
After sifting through much, my conclusion is to warn as many people as I can abt CCP's sophisticated propaganda and the 2nd wave of COVID-19 outbreak. The US (never actually banned them) and others need to ban Chinese flights NOW .
CCP is not completely evil, but repeatedly shows no hesitation to benefit/harm others for its "face" & potential gains, e.g. rips Italy off selling 8M masks at 13.25 RMB (1.72 EUR) apiece because 26.4/31 tons of med supplies from the infamous Red Cross Society of China (governed by PRC's 1993 Red Cross Law) donation were earmarked to overseas Chinese.
China is now lying abt 0 new local case; resuming all prod w/ a task force coordinating 24/7; giving out <45,500 urns in Wuhan for Tomb-sweeping Fest (Apr 4) - AsiaNews
and lifting travel curbs on Hubei (Mar 24), inc. Wuhan (Apr 8),
Healthy residents will be allowed to leave from 12am Tue (Mar 24)
when at night of Mar 19
169 Hubei workers already arrived at Shenzhen North Station on Train G4315, greeted by HR & Social Security Bureau in SZ, where 16,703 workers are rec'd via chartered trains by Mar 18.
Until it's projecting holograms of the dead for news and blame it all on imported cases anyway.
submitted by k_e_luk to China_Flu [link] [comments]


2020.03.17 00:03 BearLair64 Flight, Fight, or Freeze

Page 1 of 4
There are three basic options for survival: Flight, Fight, or Freeze. Each has an appropriate use and circumstances under which it should be employed. Any animal may freeze momentarily to assess a threat. Often that freeze ends in death, sometimes for them, sometimes for their companions. They may go to ground, hide, and then freeze in hopes that the predator(s) won’t be able to track them to their lairs. They may take flight: run, fly, or swim at their fastest. Sometimes they are quick and nimble enough, sometimes the predators and scavengers find full bellies. When all else fails, when there are no other options, there is a fight; usually to the finish…
“Here he comes” puffed Lloyd into the frigid mountain air, “Lean and mean, the fightin’ machine…. Top Vic!” he called to his approaching friend. His two companions echoed the sentiments and they all shook hands, exchanged hugs, and gripped shoulders. Then the four grown men locked arms over one another’s shoulders and faced into a tight circle with their heads down. On an unseen cue, they started breathing heavily and panting and then as one they raised their heads towards the heavens and let forth a ferocious howl, followed by individual yips and growls, and howls. The discordant noises ended in grins and easy laughter.
The quartet had been friends since early childhood and as adults, each year that they could all be together they’d met to have an adventure. They each took turns to host the events and each one had bonded them further. They were already like brothers, even though they each had distinctive personalities that to an outsider would make them appear incompatible as friends and each had taken a very different pathway into adulthood. Yet they were not just friends, they were brothers, not by blood but by choice. They were the, “Four Pack”. The name had started when Daniel’s mom had bought them a four pack of iced coffees when they were all around age eleven. They’d begged to try it and she enjoyed the faces they displayed when they, all together as always, took large gulps of the bitter drink. Once all of their parents and natural siblings heard the tale, they were dubbed the, “Four-pack of Bitter Faces”
They adopted the name and during high school, they played for the, “Timberwolves” football team or supported the team in some way, so the handle morphed into just, “The Four-Pack”. Victor and Lloyd played defense and offense respectively, Daniel worked the sound booth at the stadium and came up with light shows and other pre-game and half-time entertainment, and Matt played sax in the marching band. During baseball season, Daniel was the starting pitcher. Outside of school, they’d all taken martial arts classes together. That’s where Matt outshined them all. Always a bit thin and gawky, he grew into a lean man with incredible manual dexterity. He was quick and would end up putting the others in a hold before they could strike him into submission. It paid off when he later became a neurosurgeon, he needed the strong and agile fingers and his patients appreciated them. He’d had the hardest time getting away for this year’s gathering, since he and his wife had a young daughter and the Mrs. was a doctor as well at the Medical Center in Houston.
Daniel was a techno-geek when he wasn’t throwing curveballs and trying to out- strategize the other teams. He knew and followed everything baseball, even as an adult. His card collection was impressive and although he’d had a tough time paying for school, he refused to sell any of them. It didn’t matter, he found his life’s calling before he graduated and made a fortune in both hardware and software for aerial drones. He had married young, had a boy and a girl and then divorced. He found a better wife the second time, less glamorous but self-sufficient. They had two boys together and a very nice life in Georgetown, just north of Austin with their four-pack of kids.
Victor joined the Army even before they graduated high school. It’s all he’d ever wanted to do. He’d signed up for all the cool schools and was certified to, “kill the enemy on any terrain”; and he had, though he rarely spoke of those moments. This gathering held additional meaning so that The Pack could get together to celebrate the newly promoted, “First Sergeant Vic.” Victor and his wife had their own four pack of kids, three girls and a boy. His wife was a school teacher, so they were mobile when they had to be but he’d early on made Ft. Benning his home base and they planned to retire in northern Georgia in several years.
Lloyd had joined the Army with Vic but he only wanted college money. He did his three years and moved on to college to study Ecology and the great outdoors. As soon as he was eligible, he applied to be a Park Ranger for the National Parks. He and his girlfriend had gotten engaged in college but she’d died from an allergic reaction their senior year. He’d never had a serious relationship since. He’d always loved the outdoors but it seemed to his family, especially his younger sister and brother, who knew him the best, that he had fled to the wilderness in grief the way some people flee into religious orders after personal tragedies. He had fallen for The Big Sky country and worked the parks in Wyoming.
**** * ****
“So, you have everything you need Top Vic?” He glanced toward the rented SUV that Vic had picked up in Cheyenne.
“Roger that.” Vic replied enthusiastically. He nodded toward the Ranger Station where they’d decided to meet, “This our digs for tonight or do you have something more private… Private?” He grinned mock-viciously at Lloyd who’d in fact made it to Spec. 4 by the time he’d completed his term of service. Vic had made rank quickly during combat tours and would likely complete his career as a Command Sergeant Major and he liked to rub it in for fun.
Lloyd rolled his eyes and thought, He won’t let it go now, he will never let me live it down if he makes ‘Smadge’ (Command Sergeant Major). Besides, I did my share and my partner, ‘gave the last full measure’… “You know I have more pull these days, right? We’ll have a cabin off one of the trail heads. Not the trail we’re taking but close enough, it connects a little way uphill. If everyone will please mount his vehicle, we will be on our way.” Daniel and Matt had met up and shared a flight and then a rental from Cheyenne.
Before he hopped back in his SUV, Victor squeezed Lloyd’s shoulder, “I know you did your part brother and your canine gave it all to save the lives of his two-legged companions with pitiful sniffers. Rebel was a prince among dogs.”
Lloyd just nodded his thanks and teared up a little. His scout dog had uncovered an ambush and saved many human lives but he had taken a fatal hit. Lloyd had made those ‘Taliban terror-tards’ pay in blood but nothing he did helped his poor pup that bled out on that forlorn mountain trail in, “Af-shitty-stahn”. He hated that place and anything to do with foolish, violently minded ideologies…
He clambered into his official vehicle and led the way to his cabin just a few miles up the way. He thought about the gear and supply situation to avoid thinking about his personal losses. He’d laid in supplies of food, booze, and firewood as was expected of each host. He’d set aside gear for Daniel and Matt. They’d each have some but he doubted they would have everything necessary to hike the Tetons on the back trail he’d found. Vic may have, he’d told him about the terrain in general and what environment to expect in early Spring. The man was fit and Lloyd knew he could take care of business; Lloyd truly hoped he’d planned something special, Vic and the others loved a challenge.
**** * ****
They spent the rest of the afternoon and evening getting caught up and passing around a few of their favorite drinks. Except for Lloyd, who had to be on call with the park office, everyone agreed to leave his cell phone at the cabin. They would be out of range to use them anyway and every ounce they carried would be more to heft as they hiked. “So, Lloyd-oh, what’s the plan? The whitewater rafting trip last time was cool and sometimes cold.” Daniel cackled. He was still a nerd, even though he’d gotten himself in better shape at the behest of the new wife and the expensive gym and personal trainer he could easily afford these days.
“Well, ‘Dan-oh’, as I told you, be ready for a hike. It’s not a crazy long one, we are going someplace in particular. Looks like we have an entire week this time, counting today, your return trips, and the cushion / rest day that you will all need, that means four days of actual fun: one day in, two days on site, and one day out. I’ve provided the plan to the office because we are going where only I have been before.” Daniel and Matt made an effort to produce the theme from the original, ‘Star Trek’ series but it quickly fell apart into dorkish laughter. Lloyd pretended to give them a sour look but continued, “We’ll start right here on the trail by the cabin, go a few miles in and up, there’s a game trail that cuts northeast. It crosses some rough country but at the end, there is this spot…” at that point, his eyes grew distant for a moment. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen, I won’t try to describe it, just trust me, it’s worth the climbing and scrabbling we’ll have to do.”
Vic spoke up, “So it’s not a regular tourist trail?”
Lloyd shook his head, as much to clear his moment of reverie as to answer the question, “No, it’s no more than ten minutes flying distance from the head of the game trail. The terrain makes it much longer on foot. No other way to do it. A hidden gem in an already breathtaking landscape.” He looked up and around the room, “Just know that it is a far more dangerous endeavor than jumping out of perfectly good aircraft as we did on Vic’s last turn.” He looked askance at the big man and grinned.
That led to some laughter and ribbing, Daniel and Matt had not been thrilled, especially Matt, who had feared heights since a broken tree limb resulted in a pair of broken bones when he was seven. It had led to his fascination with medicine but had affected him up until his brothers indeed, if not in blood, coaxed (he claimed, “shoved”) him to jump. It had been the most exhilarating moment of his life and he had thanked Victor to the point that the big, scarred man had blushed.
Matt had repaid him on the next event. Victor had never cared for large animals. He wasn’t phobic, he just didn’t like the thought of riding a large living creature that he couldn’t completely control; he liked to be in control. He’d managed by the end of a short week at a dude ranch to ride like a Centaur and his new view on horses helped him immensely during his later, “Afghan Adventures”.
Daniel was into diving and had dragged Lloyd out to sea with the rest of the gang. Lloyd had an unreasonable fear of deep water. Not of drowning but of the creatures in the depths. One of his friends in college, who’d believed in reincarnation told him he must have died at sea in an earlier life. Perhaps he’d been a whaler… a little too odd for him, though he possessed a spiritual nature, past lives was a step too far. In the end, he dove just a little deeper than the rest of the group to touch the shipwreck that had been the object of their underwater quest and later in the trip actually petted a shark. He’d never have a love for the sea but he no longer feared its depths.
They all loved challenging one another and helping one another to overcome fears. It was the greatest strength of their enduring friendship. This trip would address Daniel’s uncomfortable feelings about being outdoors in the wilderness. He’d been briefly lost for several days during a family camping trip when he was five. He came back with no real memories of where he’d been but he’d become a dedicated urbanite. This hike, with people he trusted above all, would help him overcome his fears.
Lloyd ensured that each member of the party was packed and ready before they went to sleep. He checked each pack and had Vic do the same for him. He gave each a check-off list and they checked their own gear a second time. In addition to the other gear, Lloyd issued small locator beacons to each member of the party. He would carry a radio and back-up battery. He indicated a case that sat beside the sofa, “I have my own but each of you will need a pistol. We can all shoot, and if we run across any dangerous wildlife or Jason Vorhees types, we’ll be able to handle it. Two of these are borrowed, so please be careful with them. I have a couple of rifles but with four large caliber handguns, we should be able to take on any natural predators; no need to haul the extra weight.”
Matt looked thoughtful for a moment and then asked deadpan, “What about the unnatural predators?” He managed a nervous look for a few seconds, then waggled his eyebrows and burst out laughing. He loved science fiction but had never had much use for the supernatural. Neither had Victor, who laughed with him. Lloyd and Daniel looked at one another and shrugged, they’d always been both sci-fi and horror fans. They each took turns in the bathroom and turned in to rest and prepare for the big day tomorrow.
**** * ****
“Here’s the branch where we start the special trail.” Lloyd indicated a space between a pair of trees that looked no different to half the party than any other trees. Even Victor had to stop and study the area to gain his bearings.
Daniel looked around nervously, “Lloyd, this looks the same as every other tree we’ve passed. How do you remember for sure?”
Lloyd pointed up the trail about forty yards, to a small display that was placed beside the trail to describe some of the local flora and fauna. “That’s Display Marker #1708.” He then pointed to one of the trees that marked the, “gateway” onto the faint trail. “See the huge knot in that pine? It’s just before the lowest branches; it really stands out from any other tree in the area. Now look at the ground. There is hardly any straw on the ground in that direction and where it’s completely bare, there’s a rut that goes in the general direction we need. It’s not straight, it follows the path of least resistance, so that’s the track we’ll follow. At least for a while. I’ll point out some other landmarks as we go so you can get a feel for how to navigate. We’ll make you a woodsman yet Dan-oh. By the time we get back it’ll be ‘Dan-ell’ as in Dan’ll Boone”. He said the last with a light clap on Daniel’s shoulder.
“Yeah, well you are the one who looks like that lumberjack guy on the paper towels.” Daniel replied, sounding more himself.
Matt chimed in, “I don’t think it’s a man on the package anymore.”
“Well, Dan’ll said, ‘guy’, not ‘man’, and these days that could mean anybody.” Victor added while wearing an exaggerated look of innocence. The rest of the group knew that early in his career, he’d had to attend sensitivity training because of comments he’d made...
The rest laughed as Lloyd rolled his eyes, straightened his red plaid shirt with an exaggerated air of dignity, and then began walking forward on his game trail. He looked back and grinned at the lot of them to show he wasn’t actually offended; in fact his mood was ebullient, he was in his element. They trekked onward into the wilderness until the track took a sharper than usual turn as the terrain began to sharply rise. Lloyd stopped them for a rest break and again pointed out identifying features in the landscape. “We’ll be going up for a while but there’s a nice saddle between the high points, that’s the easiest and fastest route. It’s also easy to discern. After that, we cross some wild water and then a slow climb for a while. Don’t worry though, the final portion is a nice downward drop-off and then a sharp downward slope. No more climbing until time to go back to, ‘snivel-ization’.”
As they climbed, they started to encounter snow on the ground. It got deeper and they roped together for the last ascent onto and over the saddle. When they got back to lower ground, there was indeed a rushing rill of water, much of it still sheathed in ice. It wasn’t wide but the water was relatively deep and forceful and would sweep down anyone who was careless about crossing. Lloyd went first. He crossed on rocks that were slippery with ice and at the middle of the stream he had to leap from one ice-covered outcrop to another on the other side. He did it like a mountain goat to the envy of the others. He had a safety line attached in case he fell, so that he wouldn’t be swept downstream. When he made it to the other side, he tied off the rope.
Victor went next, he had a short line tied around the safety line. Victor made it like a man rather than a mountain goat, with a near spill when he made his leap. Matt made the crossing efficiently. Daniel made it to the leap in a display of confidence that impressed the others. Then he slipped and the safety line went instantly taut as his feet and legs sunk into the water. His personal line was still around him and he’d managed to grab ahold of the main safety line. Victor and Matt started to surge forward to help him but Lloyd held them back. He hissed over his shoulder, “No. Let him do it. He needs to make it on his own to boost his morale. He’s already slipped. He needs an individual victory.” Victor nodded and Matt simply relaxed a little to show that he understood.
Daniel used his grip on the safety line to swing his feet onto the rock on the far side of the leap. He pulled and slid his gloved hands until he was able to stand upright. He puffed a few breaths to regain his normal breathing pattern and then completed the crossing. The group halted while Daniel switched out his pants and socks. They all congratulated their shivering brother and gathered around him for another group howl…
…As the last of their howls faded to echoes among the surrounding highlands, they heard a chilling sound as the howls were answered and from none too far away. Everyone looked first to the north, in the direction of the haunting sounds and then towards Lloyd. He remained silent for a moment, then, “Apparently we have rudely awakened another wolf pack. We maybe sounded like a challenge. Probably best to get moving and get out of this dale and into the, ‘vale’.”
They crossed the last high point and started down he far side. Matt spoke up, “I thought you said this next part was a steep descent Lloyd.”
Lloyd nodded and came to a stop. The others gathered around him and he pointed forward, “Notice how the horizon seems to, ‘stretch’ just ahead?” Each of the others nodded and he continued, “That’s where it gets steep. Time to walk carefully. We may get closer to the edge than we think with the snow and ice cover. Wouldn’t want to take a step over that edge. It’s not exactly a cliff but we’ll need to use ropes and anchor points to descend safely. Tumbling down would be much quicker but we’d waste the rest of the expedition airlifting someone to the hospital.”
They made the descent without serious mishap, then covered the last small rise and looked out over the new horizon. None of them spoke or made any silly comments, they just breathed the thin, cold air deeply and stood mesmerized at the sight before them. The ridge they’d crossed turned into mountains that turned to the northeast. There was more high ground on the other side of an exquisite valley, at the center of which stood a clear mountain lake. The water was almost unnaturally still and calm. Trees grew right up to the edges in most parts on an arm of the northeastern mountains that protruded to create a cliff to which a tunnel of ice clung and through which a small river flowed. Where the waterfall struck the lake, the water churned but the ripples the impacts emitted were quickly absorbed into the dark surface of the water. The afternoon light was still bright as the Sun dipped mostly behind the mountains in the distance, golden rays reached upward into the heavens…
Lloyd started to speak, at first quietly but the volume and strength in his voice rose as he recited:
The world was young, the mountains green,
No stain yet on the Moon was seen,
No words were laid on stream or stone,
When Durin woke and walked alone.
He named the nameless hills and dells;
He drank from yet untasted wells;
He stooped and looked in Mirrormere,
And saw a crown of stars appear,
As gems upon a silver thread,
Above the shadow of his head.
The others listened enchanted. Surprisingly it was Victor who spoke first, “That’s from JRR Tolkien right? One of the parts about the Dwarves; my favorite of his, “Folk”.
Lloyd looked up and smiled, “Yes, the man had a poetic soul and knew his old world’s Myths and Legends. When I first laid eyes on this place, I knew it was Mirrormere, even though it was so distant from the lands of the Sagas and Eddas, the inspiration for much of Tolkien’s world building.” The rest of the men stared at Lloyd for a moment. They were all top of their trades and often forgot that he was top in his own field, at least locally. It was easy to forget his spiritual aspects since he had been such an emotional wreck after his Angela had died.
Vic squeezed and patted his shoulder and the group descended toward a small clearing at the edge of the lake and closer to the waterfall. After they’d set up camp and Lloyd had a nice campfire going, Matt spoke up. He’d been quiet as he normally was but it was clear that his usually tightly strung nerves had relaxed completely when he’d laid eyes on the pristine mountain mere, “So tell us exactly how you found this place Lloyd; and why it’s off the normal trails. The route was rough but no worse than any other challenging trail. Seems like it’d be a great tourist draw.”
Lloyd nodded, “True, I think it just goes the wrong direction. The Parks Service likes to keep things orderly. Besides, I don’t think anybody looked. Most of the park is rarely viewed or explored, just the trails. It’s truly wilderness. Oh, that reminds me, I need to check us in as arrived at our planned site.” With that he pulled out his radio and attempted to contact the Station or any of the Rangers who might be closer. At first he got nothing but static; eventually however, a voice crackled over the unit and he pronounced their arrival. It sounded like the other party acknowledged but the sound faded entirely to static and then nothing. Lloyd switched out the battery and twiddled the antenna and some of the controls but could get nothing more than brief bursts of light static. He tried each channel in turn but the device was unresponsive. He eventually shrugged it off. “They know we’re here and they know where here is, though I hated to share that bit of information… Now, where were we…?
“…Ah, how I stumbled onto paradise… Early last Fall we had a camper go missing. You know how it goes, it’s always, ‘an experienced outdoorsman’, usually because no one else would be in parts of the park where people tend to disappear. Anyway, he was with a group. They weren’t actually over this way but on the main trail where we started, a pretty easy hiking trail. Mr. Meyer, brought up the rear of their hiking line since he was the most experienced.” He glanced at Daniel and Victor to forestall any smartassed interruptions. Matt just stared, hypnotized by the fire and the tale, “When they arrived at their next rest stop, Mr. Meyer, Alfred, did not appear. Several of them backtracked, all the way to the last stop and saw no sign of him. The next hiker up the line claimed he hadn’t heard anything or noticed exactly when Albert had disappeared; he was the least experienced outdoorsman and had been focused on planting one foot in front of another, so he may have missed any unspoken stress by Albert.
“They contacted the Station and we sent out teams to search. Then we sent out trackers with hounds as we organized a larger scale search. The dogs just wouldn’t track.” His eyes grew a little distant with thoughts of his own canine but he gamely took up the thread, “The hounds would just circle a while, then whine and lay on the ground. I’ve heard of things like that but had never witnessed it. Not all dogs will track but these were hounds; bred and trained to it. Weird. So we formed lines and walked back and forth along the trail and pretty far to either side. There was no sign of the man. No lost gear, no scuffs in the dirt or leaves, no animal tracks, no blood splatter or drag marks. Like something had flown down and plucked him from the ground without giving him a chance to even call out to his friends…
“I sent my team to search unexpected areas where he may have wandered but to no avail. I ventured the farthest. I came upon that river that drops off into the lake and followed it to the cliff. I looked to see if he’d somehow fallen in and washed downstream. If he had, I found no signs of it. Then I reached that fall and looked out over, well… this!” Lloyd gestured around them as the last purple light faded in the west and the stars above lit the world with their own cold light. A gentle breeze, hinting of ice fanned through the trees near their encampment and the men gazed around at the pellucid lake and looming forest. It was as though they were among the first humans and no other world impinged upon this valley…
Vic was first to break the spell, “So how much of the area have you explored?”
Lloyd shook off his musing, “Oh, none of it really. I was at the far end of the search area; actually well beyond it. There are rapids above the waterfall. The water was shallow enough that any corpse would have snagged on the rocks. I felt bad for his family and friends. His disappearance was my first failure as a manager, yet no one seems to have held it against me. I just wish we could have found some sign of the man. I don’t like unsolvable puzzles.”
At that, their conversation descended into a brief argument over whether there was any such thing as an unsolvable puzzle. They moved on to whether there was a supernatural element involved. It was fun talk, the way they had chattered as boys, about everything from the most inconsequential subjects to how to solve some of the world’s massive problems. They ate supper and once it was prepared stored the rest of the food in a bear bag near the edge of the camp site. They were tired but spoke on into the night, the magic of the lake infused them with spiritual if not physical energy. Matt looked to his side at the surface of the water that mirrored the stars and the shadowy mountain spur, “I’ll be glad when Anabelle and I can bring little Charlotte to see this. Maybe we should start bringing the families. We’ve had plenty of adventure trips and we’re not…” His comments were interrupted by an ear-splitting howl from the woods just above, on the slopes that led up the mountain toward the top of the fall.
All of the men sat up in shock and Victor groped around for his pistol. Lloyd still wore his but simply looked around in a momentary shock, then started to relax almost immediately; just a lone wolf… he thought calmly... The night’s peace was shattered by answering howls and wails from various directions and distances around them. The forest came alive with the sounds that emanated from every direction but the lake. Yet echoes from the body of water made it seem as though even its depths had awakened to shatter the nerves of mere mortals who had dared to disturb the marvel of nature that was the valley...
The cacophony of howls and cries continued to gain in numbers and volume until even had the party of men attempted to speak, they would not have been heard. Their fire cast flickering shadows among the boles and limbs of the surrounding forest. Among the shadows flitted deeper shades, brief flashes of dark fur and bare human flesh. Figures darted among the trees and yipped and yelped to add a counter to the deeper howls and cries. The dance within the trees continued for what seemed hours but was no more than a few minutes. Then it all abruptly ceased… The forest went dead silent and still… Each of the men around the fire stood facing out into the darkness, each panting heavily in fear and from jangled nerves.
A low, cold, raspy voice called from the darkness, “We have heard your piteous cries: your meaningless cub howls. We have heard your foolish man-chatter of being a, ‘four pack’. Fenrir’s Pack, holds this territory. Your pack has challenged us… We accept!”
At that, the noise once again rose to a crescendo and this time it faded into the night rather than ending abruptly. The dark figures no longer menaced the men from within the night shadowed woods. The sounds covered any noises that Fenrir’s Pack made as they returned whence they’d come.
The men stood, nervously glancing into the darkness and flinching at every noise, even from the crackling of their own campfire. They eventually began to look inward toward one another. Victor was first to speak, “What the actual fuck was that?!”
Matt picked up some wood and tossed it on the fire. Lloyd stopped Daniel from doing the same, “We need to preserve the wood. None of us will want to go looking for more in the dark. Obviously there were humans involved but those animal noises sounded real; it wasn’t just people out there pretending to be wolves. It may be somebody playing games. Maybe some group found this place before us and is trying to get us to leave. That name, ‘Fenrir’s Pack’ sounded like a cult maybe; we get those or rumors of them.”
Daniel was first to break the tension, “Like old man Cranston trying to get us to leave the haunted woods so’s he could claim the silver mine… eh, Rrraggy?” He did his best Scooby Doo voice for the last line.
Everyone else stared at him. They would normally laugh at his spot-on Scoob impression but they just weren’t ready, there was still too much tension… too much fear… too much to consider. Victor growled, “Lloyd, what kinda freaks are out there? Is it just hippie dopers, hillbillies, somebody leftover from the Donner Party? What the fuck, bro?”
Lloyd, normally nonplussed, stuttered a little, “Li… like I said, I don’t know. There was no sign of people when I was here last time. I wasn’t supposed to go as far as I did on my own, so it’s not like I could ask around. Even when I gave the location for our camp, I kept it among the supervisors…”
Matt, calm as usual, broke in, “Well Lloyd, perhaps you should try the radio again. If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to stay up until morning and work out watches. Fire didn’t seem to disturb the animals if there were any.”
Lloyd tried the radio until the primary battery was down to 75%. The rest of the men gathered close to the fire. Eventually, when the radio hissed its last, Victor rasped out, “So Lloyd, no stories about anything like this? No legends or campfire tales?”
Lloyd sighed heavily. “There are tons of stories about spooky crap. I wouldn’t even know where to start. There are stories of voices coming from the dark, usually mimicking a lost member of a party or a human in distress. Those are used to lure people out into the woods. There are stories of animals snatching people, Stories of people just disappearing, UFOs, Squatches, Dogmen, Interdimensional Portals, you name it… National Parks are the heart of where such tales reside.”
Victor nodded, “So any idea who or what just came up outta the dark to jack with us?”
Lloyd stared into the fire, he had a small night vision viewer in his pack and with the fire, none of them would be able to peer successfully into the nightscape unaided. He’d need to dig out the little device. Vic had a similar one in his gear; again, he caught himself thinking of gear to sidetrack his mind from uncomfortable pathways… “This was weird, almost like it was rehearsed. Maybe even some kind of ritual insult / challenge thing. I think that there were plenty of warm bodies running through the woods. Odd that only one spoke and the rest seemed to obey some other cues. I just don’t know guys. This is not one I’ve heard of; voices in the dark that issue challenges…
“One thing though, he called it, ‘Fenrir’s Pack’. Fenrir was the original Big Bad Wolf of Norse Mythology. He bit off the Hand of The God Tyr and is Fated to kill Odin at Ragnarok. Nasty character, maybe it’s some kind of weird cult, though The Fenris Wolf was typically considered a monster, a Giant-Spawn rather than a God… That’s about the end of my Viking Mythology 101. Weird for this part of the world, I’d expect a native legend would be more likely to come to life.”
They continued to discuss the event but came up with no solid answers. Then they spoke of how they should spend the rest of the night. They settled on two-man watches for two-hour intervals. Lloyd and Daniel first, then Matt and Victor. It seemed unlikely that any of them would get much sleep but they trusted one another, so if it was possible, they’d rest. Each slept with a pistol and flashlight to hand and Lloyd and Victor each had their little night-scopes.
**** * ****
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