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Anon gets forced to be part of TikTok video

2023.03.20 19:03 knauziuz Anon gets forced to be part of TikTok video

Anon gets forced to be part of TikTok video submitted by knauziuz to antiwork [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 18:21 VenlilSupremacist NoP: A Change of Pace: Chapter 4

First - Previous - (Soon to be released)
Memory transcription subject: Kilet, Venlil Aeronautics Mechanic
Date [standardized human time]: August 24, 2136
My eyes glancing over to the corner of my pad, reading the time. Damn.. It’s already the next paw? I moved my hands up to my eyes, trying to wipe away the grogginess that had seeped into me. Giving my face a few baps my gaze settled for combing the net once more. It had been hours since I sent my reply to Miles, but he hasn’t responded yet..
Maybe he backed out?.. Could humans do that? Does their side let them back out?
I let the thought mull itself over in my head for a while. A small sense of relief bubbled up inside of me. My mind considering the fact he may have just terminated contact, but I did my best to end such subconscious feelings.
He wouldn’t do that, his first message sounded like he was excited. It’s probably just his rest claw, that’s all.
As I returned my focus to a video I had accidentally clicked on, I felt the familiar feeling of my pad vibrating. A drop-down bar alerting me to a notification from the exchange app filled the top half of the pad’s screen. Immediately, my claws worked to press the notification, the pad silencing the video and displaying my chat with Miles. My eyes scanned his new message with a zeal that managed to surprise me.
“Kilet! I’m so glad you accepted my contact, you work as an aeronautics mechanic? That sounds kinda similar to what I do actually! I’m an engineer stationed on a UN ship orbiting Earth. You asked about the military, right? Well, it’s got its ups and downs. Lots of kids half your age sitting in officer spots thinking they know better, while us NCOs clean up their messes! Then you got the privates that manage to fuck up something as simple as right time, right place, right uniform!”
Most of what he said made sense, officers, they were the leaders, a lot like us, We have General Kam, I assume he’d be an officer in the human military. Though, the fact he said they were so young seems a bit counter productive, why trust the inexperienced to lead? Then he typed up something about an NCO? What in the Stars does that mean? My dexterous claws began to type a reply.
“No problem, this is all kinda much for me too! I bet we do pretty similar things, though engineers do more of the planning on our side, they don’t like to get their paws dirty. I had a couple questions, if you wouldn’t mind. So.. What is an NCO? The Venscript your words came back as just has it as three characters. Also why would your military trust the inexperienced to lead?” Hitting send I only had to wait a moment before a reply came.
“Ah, shit, my bad, the military has so many acronyms for things. Even our own kind doesn’t know them all. Basically, an NCO is a Non-Commissioned Officer, They are technically enlisted, while an officer is commissioned. Officers give orders, decide on a plan, and take charge. An NCO, depending on rank is the one to put that plan into action, works the kinks out, gets the lower enlisted to do their job. Also, we don’t trust the inexperienced. On the platoon level, you have your platoon leader, who’s either a fresh-faced second lieutenant, or a slightly more experienced first lieutenant. He’s paired with either a senior staff sergeant, or sergeant first class. The NCO at that level has been in the military for a decent chunk of their life, so the new officer relies on the advice of their NCO counterpart to lead the platoon. Usually you got three platoons in a company, which is all overseen by a Captain, his NCO counterpart is a First Sergeant. Above a company, you have a Lieutenant Colonel and Sergeant Major who oversee a battalion, by now both NCO and Officer have more than enough experience to be considered damn good soldiers. Above them you have your Colonel and Command Sergeant Major, they are usually in charge of a Brigade. Then it’s usually a Brigadier General and Command Sergeant Major for Division and above them is a Core, which is led by no less than a Major General (two stars) and no higher than a General (four stars) and a highly experienced Command Sergeant Major. I know that’s probably a lot, but that’s just the US military structure, there are I don’t even know how many other militaries on Earth. Sorry for the overload haha.”
My eyes scanned through his message as the rank structure of the predator military wormed its way into my head. Should he really be telling me this? I'm a random Venlil he’s never met! What if I wanted to use it against them? Does he really not see the harm in telling an alien species how their ENTIRE military works!? Still, his lengthy explanation made sense, it was basically like any other corporation, just with extra steps.
“Well.. That certainly is a lot, but it sounds pretty detailed. You said you were an NCO, right? Speh, I hope the Venscript doesn’t butcher your acronyms, what rank are you?” A tinge of curiosity washed over me as my mind drifted to thoughts of talking to some major player in the predator army, though I quickly reigned those thoughts in. He said he worked on a ship, not that he commanded one.
“I'm a Sergeant, we call it E-5. The ‘E’ part means ‘Enlisted’ and the ‘5’ part stands for the rank of Sergeant. I don’t make too many big calls haha, but I got a team of three soldiers under me. Pretty much I just get told by our lieutenant what parts of the ship are due for maintenance and then tell my three guys what to fix and when it’s got to be done. Nothing too glamorous, but tell me a little about you, I can’t sit here and talk about myself all day!”
Another unfamiliar word, ‘day’ Looking it up on the net I managed to find that it’s the Terran expression for when their part of the planet is hit by sunlight. So Earth isn’t tidal locked like Venlil Prime? I should have figured that, not many planets are. My head thought about things I could describe about myself, not a lot was coming to mind…
“Uh.. Well, I like music, but any sentient does really, so I guess that doesn’t help. Venlil music is pretty calming, or there’s a lot of emotion in it, some songs are sad, some are happy, it just depends on what the artist wants to convey. Besides that, I enjoy the occasional drink or two, but my job is pretty demanding, so I don’t get out very often.” That’s seriously the best you can do Kilet? You’re talking to someone who just recently learned about other life, and this is all you got?
“Music is definitely needed on the ship, we’re stuck up here in a metal box for what feels like eternity, just chilling out definitely soothes the mind for a bit. Human music is pretty similar actually, but I've read we have quite a few more genres than most other species! Maybe I can show you a bit sometime. Though, I can relate to the workload, we work some pretty insane ‘claws’ as you guys would say, but when we get some shore leave, or a weekend on the ship there’s plenty to do. Video games, movies, a few restaurants, or just our own stupidity to keep us company.”
My mind drew a bit of a blank, of course I knew what movies, and restaurants were, but what did he mean by ‘their own stupidity?’ Did he also mean that Terrans regularly engage in simulations to pass the time? This must be how they got so good at hunting!
“So.. I know what a few of those things are, but what are ‘Video Games?’ I don’t think I've heard the expression before, but I imagine we venlil have something similar.” Miles’ reply came shortly after my own message. At least I wasn’t boring him away from me.
“Well, it’s basically like.. A virtual game that you play to pass the time. Most Terran games are pretty violent, but that’s more our drive for competition! We always want to improve our own skills, I personally enjoy a nice cathartic session of Farming Simulator 2135. Life gets pretty hectic over here, so spending some downtime tilling the virtual fields lets me forget the stressors of the day.”
He’s saying he likes virtual farming? I can’t say that I liked the idea of farming myself, but it’s better than being addicted to one of the more ‘violent games’ they have available to them..
Memory transcription subject: Sergeant Rowan Miles, Engineer Aboard the USS Patriot
Date [standardized human time]: August 24, 2136
I had just finished my reply to my new fuzzy friend when a loud crash echoed down the hallway. Setting my phone down on my bunk, I made my way down to investigate. The sight that greeted me was none other than my three joes lying on the floor with mop handles and tipped over mop buckets. “What in the name of fuck are you three idiots doing!?” In truth, I wasn’t pissed off, it was kinda funny actually, but I knew a camera was lurking somewhere down this hall, and didn’t feel like getting an ass-chewing tonight. Private Murrey was the first to stand up and address me.
“Sarnt.. We uh, Morrales and I-”
I cut the boy off, raising my voice as I stepped inches from his face. “I can’t FUCKING hear you, Private! Your mouth is moving, but all I hear is SHIT!!” Murray, Morrales and Peters snapped as straight as a board, placing their hands behind the small of their backs and feet shoulder width apart. “Hooooooooooly sheep shit, Privates! It’s like God himself came down and touched my ears, THANK YOU!! Now, continue!” This time, it was Peters that spoke.
“We were jousting with the mop buckets, Sarnt.” He answered with as straight a face as he could, hardly flinching while at parade rest.
I pinched the bridge of my nose and looked upwards towards the low ceiling. “Fucking idiots, Listen, Dumbasses, we don’t get a lot of time off, but for putting your retarded asses on the hot seat, guess what? I want this entire fucking hallway swept and mopped. Time. Fucking. Now, Privates!” The trio scrambled away and slowly jogged down the hallway carrying the mops and buckets, raising my voice. I shouted at them as they fled, “HURRY UP, WAITING ON YOU, ASSHOLES!” watching as their light jog increased to a brisk one. Turning away, I headed back for my bunk. Idiots, they haven’t memorized where the cameras are by now?
Sitting down on my bunk, I used my thumbprint to get past the lockscreen, checking to see if Kilet left any messages.
“I can imagine, what’s it like being cramped on a ship for cycles on end?”
“You there?”
I let out a tired sigh and began to type a response since Kilet was still shown as ‘online.’ “Sorry, sorry, you know how I mentioned we have our own stupidity to keep us company? Well, let's just say my boys got a little too stupid for their own good, now they get to clean the hallway.”
“Oh.. sounds kinda stressful, What were they doing to get such a ‘reward?’”
A lighthearted chuckle escaped from me as the notion of sweeping and mopping being a ‘reward’ in a sense it kind of was, I could have smoked the dogpiss out of them. “Well, they decided to use our mop buckets as vehicles, on camera, I'm sure the Commander wouldn’t like to see something like that go ‘unrewarded’ as you’d say.”
“Sounds like you guys have a lot of rules, though I think I can understand not wanting your soldiers to be wheeling around a military ship in mop buckets, I bet I could fit in one of those pretty easily!”
The thought of pushing Kilet around in a mop bucket through the corridors of the ship gave me quite the mental image, for some reason, I imagined him wearing a pirate’s hat standing triumphantly one foot propped against the lip of the bucket. Land-Ho, Human! Bring the ship port-side to the sandbar! We’ve treasure to bury! Shaking my head a few times to drive the image from my head I typed up a reply. “That just gave me the best idea, but hear me out, you’ll need a hat, and I'll need to convince the specialist at security to have the cameras experience a mysterious blackout.”
Memory transcription subject: Kilet, Venlil Aeronautics Mechanic
Date [standardized human time]: August 27, 2136
I spent the next three paws falling into a rhythm, waking up, checking my pad for messages, giving a quick reply, going to work, and spending the rest of the paw chatting with Miles. At first I didn’t quite know what to say, or how to talk, but eventually the words just came naturally from me. Every paw I came home looking forward to telling Miles all about work, how Vemlix screamed at another mechanic, or how Logistics ordered the wrong part for some thrusters. I tried to ask Miles about the U.S.S Patriot, but he insisted he couldn’t tell me much, mostly because most of the specs were ‘classified.’ I guess the UN actually protects most of their secrets well. Instead, I told him all about the transport shuttles, how I diagnose things, and how I fix them. It became obvious to me he’s a really good listener, even letting me ramble on and on about how stressful the claws used to be prior to the borders being shut down.
Arriving home after another late claw of work, I plopped down onto the couch and opened my pad as per my routine. Pulling up the exchange app, I let my claws work over the Venscript keys, typing up my usual messages to Miles.
“Hey, You, what are ya up to? No LTs giving you the runaround like yesterday, I hope?” Hitting send I began to wag my tail in the air, patiently watching the chatbox’s animation indicating he was typing a reply.
“Hah, I wish, Lt. White forgot to include fluid checks on the preventative maintenance due today, when I tried to correct him he got all pissy, and insisted it wasn’t until next week, I had to pull out the calendar and show his West Point ass just how wrong he was, but hey, I got some exciting news!”
Leaning closer to the pad, my thoughts began to fill with useless jargon as to what Miles could mean. Exciting news? Did he get a promotion? Did one of his ‘joes’ manage to fix something all on their own!? “Ooooh, what happened? Don’t keep secrets, go on, tell, tell!”
“Well the UN is taking us off the Earth defense rotation, some other unlucky sops get to take our spot! Instead we’re being docked in orbit just above Venlil Prime. That’s not even the best part! The crew is due for some shore leave. I’ll get to come planet side for a little bit and meet you in person! Ain’t that gonna be great?”
My initial reaction wasn’t quite what I hoped it’d be, a primal fear got stuck in my throat as shivers crawled up my tail and spine. I’ve never actually spoken to a human face to face. Messages were one thing, but even that took some time getting used to.
I tried to list off how many humans I've even seen in person, but that quickly became harder and harder to remember.
I've seen a few around in the Capital, but I've never actually approached any and only from far away. Am I ready to meet one? Am I ready to talk to one?
My thoughts raced out of my own control for several ‘seconds’ as the humans would say. Shaking my head, I quickly reigned them back in. Miles wouldn’t hurt me, he’s listened to whatever I’ve said, as boring or menial as it was, he’s asked me more about myself than most Venlil I know! He just looks different.. That’s all, Kilet.. Suppressing my initial fear at the thought, I tried to keep as much primal terror out of my next message.
“Wow! That’s amazing news, Miles! You’ll love Venlil Prime. The Capital is a gorgeous city, I’ll show you around the sights and maybe a little of the country, though a few of the Venlil might not be so kind out there. A lot of us are still scared of humans, but I'm sure that will all pass with a little time.”
Where will he sleep though? There’s no guarantee a Venlil would give a hotel or room to a human.. It could sour his whole perspective. Or worse.. Upset him. Still, the idea of hosting a predator I just met in my house wasn’t exactly the most appealing thought. Besides, I doubt the owner of my complex would appreciate getting complaints from the other tenants. Without giving Miles a chance to reply, I began typing another message.
“Do you have a place to stay over here? The military wouldn’t just dump you planet side and say ‘figure it out’ would they?”
“Usually, yes, that’s exactly what they’d do, but we’re not on Earth, plus the diplomatic incidents that could occur from us just wandering about the civilian side are endless in the eyes of the big-wigs. As far as I'm tracking, they are gonna put us up at a building near the government complex. The locals near there are the most exposed civilians to human presence.”
Relief flooded my brain as soon as the thought of hosting him was expelled. As nice as this was going, sleeping, fully exposed to a known predator, was just a little out of my comfort zone..
“Well, that’s good, though it’s kinda disheartening to hear how they’d treat you if you were getting shore leave on your home world, what if some of you don’t have the means or ability to get a place to stay off the ship?”
“Most of us would just return to the ship every night and go out during the day. Typically, we have a recall time regardless, like ‘You can go no further than two hours away from the ship in case of emergency recall’ sort of thing.”
I was about to type up a reply when I saw the familiar three rotating dots next to Miles’ name, erasing my message I decided to wait to see what he wanted to add.
“Shit, sorry, Kilet, but I gotta go for a bit. Command meeting with all the engineers about this month's tasking and duty rosters. Commander got pissy cause some lazy sham artist decided he was too good for CQ”
The only thing I managed to understand from all that jargon was ‘Gotta go for a bit,’ ‘Command Meeting,’ and ‘Taskings.’ As for what a ‘month,’ ‘CQ,’ or ‘sham artist,’ I have absolutely no idea. Though, if he said he had to go, he probably didn’t have the time to explain.
“Alright, I’ll talk to you later, Miles, just message me whenever.”
Without much to do, and Miles seemingly busy, a curious thought popped into my head. Without noticing I found my claws pulling up Rivis’ profile, I clicked the ‘call’ button and turned up the pad’s volume. After two rings I heard a ‘click’ and the familiar voice of my dark furred friend.
“Hello? Call to tell me you backed out on your partner, eh?”
I slapped my tail against the couch cushion out of annoyance, my words laced with a similar amount of sarcasm. “No, Actually, I called to see how you and your partner are going. Miles and I are doing great, thank you very much.
Rivis let out a soft chuckle that almost sounded like a series of squeaks before speaking. “Zoey and I are alright, though the texting app doesn’t like half the stuff I bring up. It’s always ‘Inappropriate topic this’ or ‘inappropriate topic that.’ Worst part is I know it’s for my sake, but I wish there was some way to turn it off. How can I learn about these humans without seeing all sides of them?”
I didn’t exactly mind the restrictions myself, they were there for a reason, to ensure curious Venlil aren’t scared off at a moment's notice, but I didn’t really have the energy to get into a biological sparring match with Rivis right now. “I hear you, I kind of run out of things to talk about too.”
“Well, that’s just your own fault. You have an infinitely curious alien that thinks you’re the most adorable thing they’ve ever seen at the tip of your claws, and you can’t think of a single thing to talk to them about?”
It took me a ‘second’ to get through Rivis’ reply, a light bloom forming over my snout as I pondered just how ridiculous my previous statement actually was. “Fine.. I see your point, but what should I ask?”
“Their culture? Their history? Personal and general, Their herbivore diets? Their hobbies? Their music? Their science? Their religion? I can keep going.”
…You really are braindead, Kilet.
“Okay, okay, I get it. When Miles gets back I can ask about some of that stuff, but I was also curious, do you have any plans to meet Zoey?” This was the question I really wanted the answer to, Rivis put on a brave face for these humans, and I haven’t seen him show anything besides curiosity. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all just a front, or short lived bravado.
“Of course, we’re just waiting for a window when either the exchange program offers, or she can visit here on Venlil Prime. Whichever comes first really. How about you?”
“Yeah, Miles is coming over for shore leave in a bit. I told him I’d give him a tour of the city, take him to a few local hotspots. Nothing too fancy, but I'm sure he’ll appreciate it.”
“Mmmmhm, I'm sure he will too, you really can’t be too overbearing on him. With the way the humans know they affect most Venlil, you’re almost granted immunity, they’ll assume responsibility for any offense. They’re dancing around our feelings right now, you’d have to be an idiot not to see that.”
I took a short pause as I really listened to Rivis’ words.. They sounded ‘wrong’ somehow, off.. “Rivis.. Don’t you think that’s a little manipulative?” He had always been a very grounded Venlil, but I just assumed he was more quizzical than most, but to be honest I never had a lot to compare him to.
“Maybe, but it doesn’t change the fact that’s how this first contact is treating it. Zoey told me so many humans applied to the exchange program, but hardly any made it in. Meanwhile our government was practically begging us to sign up. Listen, all I’m saying is don’t feel nervous about what to talk to Miles about, you can’t be wrong, Kilet. I have to finish up cleaning, but let me know how it all goes on your end.”
I heard the beep of the call end as I sat on my couch, a little stunned by just how easily Rivis described it was to manipulate these predators, maybe that isn’t what he meant. The possibility of a Venlil lashing out, acting scared all to get pity and trust from a human felt far more predatory than anything these humans have shown me so far..
“Bye, Rivis” my empty words rang out to no one on the other end of the call as I sat the pad down, a new dilemma surfacing in my mind. I hope no human meets a venlil like that.. No sentient deserves having their trust turned into a toy.
First - Previous - (Soon to be released)
Thanks so much for reading Chapter 4 of ‘A Change of Pace’ things are starting to kick off between Miles and Kilet, who knows what future shenanigans are held in store for the two? I like to think I'm getting better at this whole writing business. Yall can be the judge of that! So long as you guys enjoy the story I'll keep at it! As always, thanks to all the fanfics that inspire me! I’ll list them at the bottom as per usual. A giant thanks to SpacePaladin for their amazing universe, and I could never forget my lovely Proofreader(s) for this chapter, a big thanks to you guys as well!
"A silly little man"
Fanfics that Inspired me:
End of the Line
Foundations of Humanity
Nature of a Giant
Lost and Found
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2023.03.20 18:20 iwaspoisoned-com Costco, Trader Joe's, Aldi, Kirkland Signature - The FDA and CDC, along with state and local partners, are investigating a Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen organic strawberries import... r/Costco/ #costco #traderjoes #aldi #kirklandsignature #hepatitisa #strawberry

Costco, Trader Joe's, Aldi, Kirkland Signature - The FDA and CDC, along with state and local partners, are investigating a Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen organic strawberries import... Costco/ #costco #traderjoes #aldi #kirklandsignature #hepatitisa #strawberry
The FDA and CDC, along with state and local partners, are investigating a Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen organic strawberries imported by a common supplier from certain farms located in Baja California, Mexico. The frozen organic strawberries were sold to a variety of retailers under multiple brand labels nationwide in the USA. As of March 17, 2023, a total of 5 people infected with Hepatitis A virus have been reported in Washington state (including 2 probable cases). 2 people were hospitalized and no deaths were reported. Last Illness Onset: December 27, 2022.
There have been announced recalls of several Strawberries: - California Splendor recalled Kirkland Signature 4-lb. bag Frozen Organic Whole Strawberries with specific lot codes, sold by Costco stores in Los Angeles and Hawaii, and to two San Diego business centers. - Scenic Fruit Recalled frozen organic strawberries with the following brand names and Best By Dates distributed by Costco, Aldi, KeHE, Vital Choice Seafood, and PCC Community Markets in specific states, and to Trader Joe’s nationwide. * Simply Nature, Organic Strawberries, Best By 06/14/2024 * Vital Choice, Organic Strawberries, BEST BY 05/20/2024 * Kirkland Signature, Organic Strawberries, Best If Used By 10/08/2024 * Made With, Organic Strawberries, Best Before 11/20/2024 * PCC Community Markets, Organic Strawberries, Best By 29/10/2024 * Trader Joe’s, Organic Tropical Fruit Blend with the following Best By dates: 04/25/24; 05/12/24; 05/23/24; 05/30/24; 06/07/24
The investigation is ongoing, additional products may be included.
FDA gives the following recommendations: - Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not sell, serve, or eat recalled frozen strawberries. These recalled products should be returned or thrown away. - If consumers purchased the recalled frozen organic strawberries and ate those berries in the last two weeks, and have not been vaccinated against hepatitis A, they should immediately consult with their healthcare professional to determine whether post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is needed. PEP is recommended for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to hepatitis A virus in the last two weeks because vaccination can prevent a hepatitis A virus infection if given within 14 days of exposure. Those with evidence of previous hepatitis A vaccination or previous hepatitis A virus infection do not require PEP.
In case you experienced Hepatitis A symptoms such as fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, dark-colored urine, and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin), it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve issues and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance.
Read full report here
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2023.03.20 17:42 StartSingingJoshua Big Island Itinerary - Thoughts/Advice?

Hi all - We'll be travelling to the Big Island for the first time for a couple of weeks later this month. We're a family of three (2 adults, one 10-year-old). Looking for some feedback on our itinerary! Mahalo!
A couple notes/questions:
Here are our current plans:
Day 1 – Travel Day
Arrive late, pick up rental, head to accomodations (AirBnB in Kailua/Kona) to sleep
Day 2 - Kailua/Kona
Breakfast at 808 Grindz
Explore Kailua Pier and Ali’i Drive
Lunch at Umekes
Check out Kona Brewing Company for beer
Dinner at AirBnB
Manta Ray Snorkeling
Day 3 - Kailua/Kona
Go snorkeling at Kahalu’u Beach Park
Surf lesson for the husband and kiddo
Lunch at AirBnB, Da Poke Shack, or L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
Day 4 - Captain Cook
Coffee tour
Visit Kealakekua Bay – Captain Cook monument (view from land)
Lunch at Ka’aloa’s Super J
Snorkel at Two Step beach
Visit Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
Dinner at Huggo’s On the Rocks
Day 5 – South Road Travel Day
Check out Ho’okena Beach Park
Kula Kai Caverns? (worth it?)
Visit South Point Park
Lunch at Aloha Mix Food Truck (open to alternate options in the area -- looked at Big Dogs Hot Dogs and Taco Tita as well -- opinions?)
Visit Punalu'U Bake Shop - lilikoi glazed malasadas
Punaluʻu Beach
Dinner at next AirBnB (near Pahoa) or Pahoa Fresh Fish
Day 6 – Volcanoes
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (arrive early)
Lunch at the Volcano House
Volcano Winery? (worth it?)
Check out Uncle Robert’s Farmer’s Market - I've heard mixed reviews of this market lately (since COVID). Any recent reports? Worth visiting?
OR dinner at Pahoa Fresh Fish (or somewhere alse in Pahoa)
Day 7 - Hilo Area
Umauma Falls
Akaaka Falls
Check out Honomu Town
What’s Shakin’ for lunch
Visit Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
Check out Honoli’I Beach Park
Drive down Banyan Drive
Visit Lili’uokalani Gardens and Coconut Island
Dinner at AirBnB
Day 8 - Hilo
Visit Rainbow Falls
Visit Wai’ale Falls
Vist Kaumana Caves
Lunch in Hilo at Hawaiian Style Café
Alternate lunches: L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Hilo Bay Café, Hilo Lunch Shop, Puka Puka (thoughts?)
Grab some beer at Hilo Brewing Company
Visit beach parks if time allows: Onekahakaha Beach Park, Carlsmith Beach Park, Richardson’s Ocean Center
Visit Leleiwi Park, and walk to the tide pools
Dinner at AirBnB or Kaleo’s Bar and Grill (Pahoa) - thoughts?
Day 9 – North Road Travel Day
Drive the north road to Kamuela
Stop at Laupahoehoe Point
Stop at COBA for lunch (open to alternate options here)
Stop at Tex Drive in to pick up some malasadas
Look around Honoka’a Town
Take Old Mamalahoa Highway
Check out Cave #3
Check into next AirBnB (Manua Lani area)
Dinner at Brown’s Beach House
Day 10 - Home Base
Check out Manua Lani Beach Club
Lunch at Napua
Explore Manua Lani grounds
Dinner at AirBnB
Day 11 - Beaches
Check out Kohala Bay
Snorkel at Kikaua Point Park
Lunch at the Four Seasons?? SUPER open to alternate options in the area - they seem to be limited)
Manini'owali Beach
Check out Makalawena Beach?? (worth it? Seems like a bit of a hike)
Wawaloli Beach Park
Dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club – arrive early and wander ʻAnaehoʻomalu Beach
Day 12 - North
Check out Spencer Beach Park in the morning
Lunch/Tour at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company
Stop at Earl's Paauilo Store – Get Bento Rolls
Visit Honoka’a Chocolate Company
Manua Lani beach club in the afternoon?
Dinner at AirBnB
Day 13 - Beaches
Try to get into Mauna Kea Beach in the morning (before 9am) – if too full, go to Hapuna
Lunch at beach bar if we get into Mauna Kea, otherwise Hale I’a Da Fish House (Kawaihae Market)
Chill afternoon
Dinner at Merriman’s
Day 14 – Hawi
Brunch in Waimea at Hawaiian Style Café (opens 7am), MOA Kitchen (11am), or L&L (7am)
Drive up the mountain road to Hawi
Explore Hawi
Visit Kapa’au – see Kamehameha statue
Drive to Pololu Valley Lookout (52-5100 Akoni Pule Hwy, Kapaau, HI 96755), and take trail to beach if possible
Stop at Mahukona Beach Park?
Check out Koai’e Cove in Lapakahi State Park?
Anuenue Ice Cream & Shave Ice
Visit Beach 69
Dinner at AirBnB
Day 15 - Beaches
Manua Lani Beach Club in AM
Lunch at Cipriano's Kitchen
Free afternoon
Dinner at Napua
Day 16 – Travel Day
Lunch at Island Lava Java
Open to ideas on how to kill an afternoon in Kona!!
Dinner at Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill
Late flight
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2023.03.20 17:36 powerrankingsnba Official /r/nba Power Rankings #11 (3.20.2023)

24/30 rankers reporting this week. /NBA's Power Rankings are published every two weeks which is a bit different from most rankings. Other than that we rank the teams the same way as our competition. If write ups are left blank the team rep decided not to submit. We encourage any user to fill in the blanks in the comment section.
# Team Δ Record Comment
1 Bucks -- 51-20 The Bucks are rolling. As winter fades away in Milwaukee, they have emerged as the clear-cut favorites to win the East -- and maybe the whole thing. They have a 2.5-game cushion over the second-place Celtics and Sixers with only 11 games left, and Vegas has finally given them their due respect as the title frontrunners. Giannis is the best player in the sport even if nobody wants to give him the MVP, Brook Lopez might be playing the best basketball of his All-Star career at 34, and Khris Middle is basically back to normal. Watching this team the last few months has been a treat as a fan, it certainly feels like the best Bucks team I'll see in my lifetime.
2 76ers +2 48-22 The Sixers are rolling and Joel Embiid might finally lock up a legacy defining piece of hardware. It's hard to argue against the Sixers being one of the hottest teams in the league right now, especially as some of the teams in front of them are having some stumbles down the stretch. A big reason why The Sixers are succeeding? Tyrese Maxey. He's once again found his aggression and his shot from deep. They'll need him and Harden to play at this level to finally break the second round curse.
3 Celtics -- 49-23 The Celtics are 7-6 since the All-Star break and have continuously floundered to find any sort of stable footing. The fanbase is fighting over whether to place the blame on Joe Mazzulla or Jayson Tatum, or a combination of the two. Tatum has been hot and cold all season, and recently has played awful. At the same time, Joe Mazzulla has had multiple questionable to outright malpractice coaching decisions, especially when it comes to in-game play calling down the stretch. To make matters worse, the 76ers finally caught up and overtook the Celtics for the 2 seed in the East. It's time to nut up or shut up for the Celtics, and the final 10 games of the season will determine how the fanbase and the team as a whole feels going into the postseason. They've got matchups @Kings, Pacers, Spurs, @Wizards, @Bucks, Jazz, @76ers, Raptors twice at home, and then the Hawks at home to close out the season. The fight for the 2 seed could very well come down to April 4th when the Celtics go into Philly, but before that you have to take care of business and win the games you're supposed to win, or else the Celtics won't even be in a position to fight for 2nd.
4 Nuggets -2 48-24 Despite remaining on top of the West, the Nuggets have struggled as of late, only winning 2 of their last 7 games. Defense and rebounding have disappeared and allowing second chance points has been a common theme. Despite this, the team is still at full strength and they still have time to adjust and refocus in time for the playoffs.
5 Cavaliers +2 45-28 The Cavs went 5-2 since the previous power rankings and will need to have a 5-4 or better record over the last 9 games to get their first 50 win season without LeBron in 30 years. With 7 of those matchups being against Brooklyn(2x), Houston, Charlotte, Indiana, and Orlando(2x), it would be a massive disappointment for them to go under .500 in this final stretch. Evan Mobley has been special over the last two months, averaging 18.8 ppg on 58.6% ts%, 9.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.4 stocks a game, while cementing himself as a DPOY candidate as the anchor of the Cavs #1 rated defense. On the season, he’s leading the league in defensive win shares, he has the most 3s contested in the league, and is in the 99th percentile rim protection. Cavs fans would take to the streets for anything less than 1st team all-defense for the 21 year old Mobley.
6 Kings +2 43-27 The playoffs are well within the grasps of the Kings.. showing they can beat some of the best teams in the league Fox continues to show he’s the 4th quarter assassin. Sabonis has been on fire throughout this tough stretch putting up triple doubles and making sure this team gets open look with his passing and screens.. Keegan “Keegan Murray” Murray continues to showcase his three point game as he is 22 away from breaking the rookie 3pt record held by Donovan Mitchell. This team continues to their mission to not only stay within the top 6 but have their eyes set on the 1 and 2 seed in the west.
7 Knicks -2 42-30 GO NEW YORK GO NEW YORK GO
8 Grizzlies +1 43-27 The team has responded nicely to the absence of Ja while he was on his healing retreat; and frankly there's a ton of praise to be passed around. Tyus Jones getting his first triple double, Dillon Brooks being generally a menace to society, David "Big Body" Roddy jumping up the rookie charts, but ultimately the love has to be centered around Jaren Jackson Jr. His last three games have him averaging 28/6/2 as well as keeping his blocks average close at 3. The version of JJJ we saw against Golden State is a guy that could be an MVP caliber player; an elite offensive rim protector and an elite post threat. His fouling has been much better all season, and the race for DPOY between him and Brook Lopez looks to be a photo finish. Ja comes back from his suspension on Monday, with a potential to make his first appearance on Wednesday against the Rockets; just in time to prime up for what looks to be a promising playoff run.
9 Suns -3 38-33 KD slipped during warm ups. Luckily he looks alright and I think he's just out as a precaution, but we gave up two important pieces to get him and it shows given the recent stretch of games while he's been out.
10 Clippers +4 38-34 Westbrook is starting to settle into his role, and Ty Lue is searching for the best rotations. Already Westbrook has been an amazing facilitator, and even when his shots aren't falling the way he wants to, he is still able to rebound, find open shooters, or just organize the offense in ways we haven't seen since CP3. With only 0.5 games behind the suns, the Clippers could regain the 4th seed for some home field advantage, likely against the Suns.
11 Heat +2 39-34 Things have gone better as of late but they're going to hopefully get better. We went .500 against teams in similar places as us as well as blowing the Grizzlies out of the water. Now we're headed into a couple difficult games mixed in with some games that we have no business losing. The tentative hope would be for us to sneak out of the play-in, although we're probably not getting passed our first match up. If we do avoid having to play the play-in tournament, then best match up to see us in the 2nd round would be the Cavaliers. However, a Celtics - Heat match up would be very exciting to watch. Or maybe a throwback of Knicks vs Heat from forever ago. First thing's first is making sure we are actually involved in the postseason this year.
12 Nets +4 39-32 The Nets are looking better defensively as the players get more familiar with one another. While the offense depends on good shooting from the three point line, defense is something that the Nets can control every night. High powered offense will give this Nets team trouble as they will have to scramble to match the offensive output some teams can put forth. It's a developmental season for this unit, they will look to hold onto the 6th seed and try to put upa fight in the playoffs as they move forward to the draft with 2 picks to work with
13 Mavericks -2 36-35 The Mavs may have saved their season off of Maxi Kleber's heroic 3 against the Lakers and Dwight Powell's 22 & 8 on 100% shooting vs the Spurs. The common factor in those games is that Christian Wood played 28+ minutes in both games, which has become a rarity. If the Mavs can finally play their three best players (Luka, Kyrie, Wood) for 30+ minutes each, they should be able to close their weak end of schedule out with dominance.
14 Warriors -4 36-36 The road Warriors strike again. The last time the Warriors lost at home was Feb 11th (8 game win streak) The last time they won on the road was January 30th (11 game losing streak). Nothing like sleeping in your own bed. With his wrist injury Iguodala is essentially retired. The once cornerstone roll player quintessential to the 2015 championship run will be forever a Warrior and fan favorite.
15 Thunder +6 35-36 The Thunder are still somehow alive for a play in spot. This week we play the Clipper twice and Lakers once and will likely determine the feasibility of whether or not we can pull this off. Every game has been super intense because the stakes have been so high (for us). Each win feels more and more important, and all I can really say is: the vibes are immaculate.
16 Lakers +2 35-37 The team built great momentum and really looked poised to get into the top 6, until they dropped two inexcusable losses to the Rockets and Mavericks, specially the Mavericks loss was a gut punch for the team and fan base. The Western standings are so fluid that the Lakers were a Kleber buzzer-beater away from being the 6th seed and now instead are the 10th. They bounced back on Sunday vs. the Magic led by AR’s career-high 35 and the hope is to keep fighting through till the King’s anticipated return within the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, AD has struggled with his offense as of late and the team needs the big man to tune himself back in for the final push.
17 Raptors -1 35-37 Toronto looks like a team slightly better than .500. For some fans, this gives them hope, while some other fans are worried the Raptors will be stuck in the no man's land for years to come.
18 Hawks -1 35-36 There's a lot of "Is Quin Snyder actually better than Nate McMillan" discourse going on right now. Mostly because the Hawks with Quin have also been terrible, but most people seem to be missing the point of why we brought Quin in the for the final 20 games. It wasn't for him to come in and turn our season around and win us a championship. There was never going to be enough time for Quin to make tangible changes. These last 20 games are for Quin to evaluate the roster and figure out who he does and doesn't want around next year. This team was always going to end up the play-in, but that doesn't matter because this season (and last season) was a wash the day they signed Nate to an extension. I don't really know if the future is bright or bleak, but it's the only thing worth focusing on.
19 TWolves -7 35-37 Tough season for the Wolves got tougher over the weekend. A season compromised by the injury of Karl-Anthony Towns got worse with Anthony Edwards going down to an ankle injury. Combined with so-so play and tough losses the Wolves season is looking like a disaster.
20 Bulls +4 33-37 Pat Bev was able to score 14 points in 2 and a half minutes, so I'm feeling better about this team. They have been playing better at both ends, and are actually making 3s now, shooting 42% since the last rankings. Whoever told Demar to start shooting 3s and Vucevic to stop shooting 3s was a genius. The next 2 games against the Sixers will show how this team can handle playoff talent in the East.
21 Jazz +1 34-36 The Jazz face a choice, so dire, To compete and let the players aspire, Or tank and aim for a high draft pick, For a new franchise star and experience to stick. To give up now, and look ahead, Or fight for wins, and never dread, To a future, with a top prospect in tow, To fight for each win and go with the flow. Lauri Markkanen, a star on the rise, could he lead the team, to a new prize, And Walker Kessler, has blocks to spare, should the Jazz keep pushing, or choose to take care? A dilemma, that weighs heavily on the mind, But the answer, they will eventually find, For every player, coach, and fan, Utah need to hold firm and take a stand.
22 Pelicans -3 34-37
23 Wizards -3 32-39 Lizards are part of a group of animals known as reptiles. They are most closely related to snakes. In fact, some lizards, called sheltopusiks, look like snakes because they have no legs! Many lizards today resemble the ancient reptiles of the dinosaur era. Their ancestors appeared on Earth over 200 million years ago. That was also the last time the Washington Wizards looked like a competitive, cohesive basketball team. Corey Kispert has been incredible these past couple of weeks as he prepares to become a married man. Bradley Beal continues to be enemy number one for fans as nothing he does can appease critics of his large contract. And unfortunately, it looks like the Wes Unseld Jr era could be coming to a close after this season and he continues to have worse rotation management than a flat tire. Its a sad season.
24 Pacers +1 32-39 The Pacers continue to tread water as the season winds down. Rookie sixth man Bennedict Mathurin and Tyrese Haliburton's injuries have put a damper on the final weeks, but Indiana still finds themselves just outside the play-in games. 8 of Indiana's last 11 games are against current playoff teams, so they'll probably need some assistance from the other playoff hopefuls if they want to sneak into one of the last spots.
25 Magic +1 29-43 Probably stuck in the same spot in the standings regardless of what happens rest of the season. So time to just look forward to the lottery and the draft.
26 Trail Blazers -3 31-40
27 Hornets -- 22-50
28 Spurs +1 19-52 Jeez we gotta stop timing these with drinking weekends, I live in Boston and St. Patty's is always a mess. The Spurs have been on a bit of a heater recently by our standards (as have Houston, for that matter), while Detroit seems to be leaving the rest of the tanks in the dust at this stage. Keldon and Devin have been playing great (Keldon's averaging 22/7/4 while Vassell is averaging 17/4/4), and are showing the potential of being great supporting pieces on a future playoff team. Zach Collins has been a stud since Jakob was traded as well, averaging 16.6/8.1/3.8 on 46/44/91 splits over that time, and more recently has average 23/8/4/1/1.5 on 53/57/100 since getting choked out by MPJ in a game. We have NOP, MIL, WAS, @BOS, UTA, @GSW, @SAC coming up over the next two weeks, home stretch time!
29 Rockets +1 18-53 Jabari Smith's surge mirrors what we saw from Jalen Green after the all star break last year, and it has brought newfound optimism to the Rockets fanbase, and KJ Martin seems to have stepped up in tandem. Make no mistake, the tank is still in effect, but we're seeing the first signs that the team could make the step up that is demanded next season.
30 Pistons -1 16-56 James Wiseman is coming off of what was probably the best game of his career last night against Miami. I've still got mixed feelings about trying to develop both him and Duren, but they have looked nice together at times recently - particularly against Denver when they were throwing each other lobs. Otherwise Ivey's cooled off on his shooting recently but his ballhandling continues to, generally, be getting stronger as the season wears on. Eugene Omoruyi has been a surprisingly strong late season addition that much of our fanbase would rather retain over Marvin Bagley. That said, the tank rolls on as we look toward a draft that seems to have more question marks in it - not less - as we inch closer to it.
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2023.03.20 17:05 Particular-Set-6212 [Cast & Crew] - Chapter 0

"Cat-astrophe"– a prequel short story
This is a prequel story I wrote for one of the characters in my book. If ppl enjoy, I think I'd like to post the full novel.
Set in early 1900s Boston, "Cat-astrophe" is about wealth, celebrity culture, and chronic depression. When these factors combine, we get an interesting character study :-) When someone repeats the same patterns over and over, at which point do you give up on them?

TW: depression, domestic abuse

Catherine Ophelia Hughes was born on June 16th, 1893. She was quickly nicknamed Kitty, her mother believing that it was a darling name and therefore fitting for their daughter. She was a darling child. By the age of 6, she had big, dark eyes; long, carefully curled locks of brown hair; and a pale face, like a blank canvas, against which the other two stood out.
In the Hughes’ drawing room, Kitty banged on the piano while singing a ditty of her own creation. Her piano playing was imperfect, to say the least, and her song lacked a melody or coherent words, but her voice was high and sweet.
“You didn’t tell me your daughter was a musician,” some visiting man laughed to Mrs. Hughes.
“She might have a real talent,” mused Mr. Hughes through the pipe he was smoking, sitting in his armchair. He took the pipe out of his mouth and turned to his wife. “We could get her into lessons, couldn’t we?”
Mrs. Hughes looked at the girl doubtfully. “If she’s old enough. Kitty, come here.”
Kitty hopped off the piano bench and stood in front of her parents. Her hands fidgeted with the folds of her white, lacy dress. “Stop that,” said her mother, and she stopped.
“Kitty,” said her father. “Do you want to learn how to sing properly? Professionally?”
“Yes,” she said.
The visitor laughed again. “And do you know what the word ‘professionally’ means, Kitty?”
She turned to him. “Yes,” she said more emphatically.
“This is a smart one,” the man commented.
Mrs. Hughes took Kitty’s hand. “All right, then. We’ll see about it. Now, let’s leave Father and his friend, shall we?”
Kitty and her mother left the room, and a few weeks later, Kitty had her first lesson with her new singing teacher. Through practice, Kitty quickly learned to refine her musical ability, and by 9 years old, she was regularly performing for friends and neighbors, and several times in Christmas pageants and other children’s plays.
One night, her mother was out of town visiting family, and Kitty thought it would be the perfect chance to escape the confines of their home. She had only seen the rest of Boston on occasion, mostly just her parents’ friends’ houses, and of those, mostly the upstairs rooms, where she and the other children were placed during social events to keep them from causing trouble. Tonight, Kitty wanted to cause trouble. She escaped her nanny with an excuse and snuck into the carriage. She hid under one of the seats and covered herself up with a black blanket so she would be less visible.
Her father had said he was going to the theater, and she wanted to see a real play, not just a Christmas pageant. She was going to sneak out of the carriage when they arrived and form her plan from there about where to go and how to not get sent back. Kitty knew she could think quickly on her feet, so she would find a way.
Waiting in the carriage grew hot and boring, although it was winter. She could barely breathe under the blanket. She hoped that they would leave soon and that no one was in a panic about her disappearance. If they worried, her father might not go to the play, and all this would have been pointless.
But just minutes later, her father sat down in the seat opposite her, and the carriage took off. It felt as though they hit every bump on the road. At some point, Kitty was jolted so hard that she smacked her head on the underside of the seat. By the time they slowed to a stop, she was feeling nauseous.
The door opened, and Kitty got ready to follow her father out into the theater. But he didn’t exit the carriage. Instead, someone entered.
They sat down next to Father and closed the door. She could hear them kiss.
“I missed you,” said the newcomer with a giggle. It was a woman, and it wasn’t Mrs. Hughes.
“I’m sorry it took so long for me to get away,” Father said in a low whisper that sounded very unlike him. “Life has been… hectic, to say the least.”
“It doesn’t matter,” said the woman. “Where shall we go?”
“Wherever you want.”
Kitty didn’t know much, but she did know that her father and this woman were romantically involved, and that they shouldn’t be. She threw the blanket off her head and crawled out from under the seat. The woman screamed, and she and Father quickly separated.
Kitty stood up and stared at the two of them. Fresh, cool air hit her face, and her hair was all frizzy from her time under the blanket.
“Kitty,” her father spluttered. “What are you doing here?” His tone turned angry. “You snuck out? That was dangerous, and you know it.”
“What are you doing with her?” she interrupted.
Neither responded. They looked at each other.
Kitty studied the woman. She was obviously an actress, with long hair that she wore in styled ringlets. She was heavily rouged, and she wore massive earrings and strings of pearls and feathers on her bodice, which may have looked appealing on a stage from far away– but up close, she looked chaotic and disorderly and the opposite of Mother.
“I should go,” the woman got out.
“Wait–” Father said, and tried to hold onto the end of her shawl, but she tugged it out of his grasp and left the carriage.
Father closed the door and gestured for Kitty to take a seat.
“You shouldn’t have been here tonight.”
“Because you were going to be with another woman!” she burst out. “How could you? Does Mother know?”
“No,” said Father, “and we’re going to keep it that way. Don’t you see, Kitty? If she finds out, she’ll be heartbroken. You can’t tell her.”
She shook her head in disbelief. “But… but what you’re doing… It’s awful. And I’m not supposed to lie to people.”
“Think, my dear,” urged her father. “You don’t want to hurt Mother. Sometimes…” He paused. “... We must do bad things for good reasons.”
She briefly wondered what the ‘good reason’ was behind his relationship with the actress.
She nodded.
Father stepped out of the carriage to tell the driver to take them home.
When they arrived, before they left the carriage, he nodded to her. “You’re a good daughter, Kitty. You’re doing something very kind for Mother.”
Kitty said nothing, just combed her fingers through her messy hair and jumped out of the carriage. Father held her hand on the way into the house and dropped her off with the nanny, who gave her a good scolding.
And Kitty never did tell Mother about her father’s infidelity. Her knowing the truth would have made everything far more difficult. She didn’t know how much longer his affairs continued for, and she never asked.
Only a year after the carriage incident, she was sent to finishing school.
She was assigned a room, which she shared with another girl of the same age. Later on, she wouldn’t even be able to remember the roommate’s name. They spent their first few years together in a friendship filled with constant conflict: they’d fight, then make up and swear it wouldn’t happen again, but it always did. When Kitty was 13 or so, the other girl was moved back home with her family, and she never saw her again.
Kitty had already become popular from that drama, but after the other girl left, she became popular based on her own merits. She was growing beautiful: her hair had darkened to an ebony shade, and her face was starting to gain definition. She was at the top of every class. She could sing prettily, dance gracefully, and write with eloquence, and her manners improved every year.
With her newfound superiority to her peers, Kitty found that she quite enjoyed toying with them, playing little mind-games. Lies could preserve your mother’s innocence and keep your family together; they could also make you beloved, get you easy revenge, and reassure you that you were still, and had always been, the smartest one in the room.
Sometimes it was for tangible benefit, like scheming to become head of the school’s choir, and sometimes it was for no benefit at all, like making another girl cry just because she could. Kitty never found it difficult to outwit anyone, and she felt the need to keep testing the theory over and over again, trying to see how far she could go. It turned out that the answer was ‘as far as she wanted.’ She never received consequences, and she remained one of the most well-respected, envied girls of her grade, if not the whole school.
At some point, she developed her first crush on a girl, but she quickly ignored those feelings.
By the time of her graduation in 1910, Kitty was 16, about to turn 17. She was finally wearing full-length skirts and pinning up her hair. She had made it. In an environment full of wealth, delicate connections, and competition, some girls didn’t. They broke down, gave up on their schooling, and went home to their country estates; or they suffered an embarrassment and became forever shunned; or they drifted by, pathetic and unnoticed, their faces unremarkable and conversation bland, and went off to average marriages with average men.
Kitty was none of those girls. She had made it through by being more beautiful and talented and intelligent than all of the others. A bright future awaited her– one that she unquestionably deserved.
She accepted her diploma gratefully and drove back down to Boston with her parents and one sister, who had come to see the ceremony. Kitty didn’t know or care much about her siblings. She had two sisters and a brother, but she had never been close with any of them. As they traveled over the bumpy country roads in their automobile, Kitty opened the window and let the breeze run over her face to avoid a conversation.
When Kitty was presented in society, everyone was immediately impressed with her, as she had predicted they would be. It wasn’t a surprise when her parents started to talk about giving her a career beyond being a simple socialite; how would she feel about involving herself in the theatre? She wondered briefly if this idea was inspired by her father’s particular interest in the industry, but she ignored the thought and said that yes, she would like to try.
Her father got in contact with one of his oldest friends, Mr. Reed, whom Kitty had known for years. He was a director, and he found a way to get her a minor role in a production, and then another, and then another, until she was playing Ophelia in Hamlet– fitting enough, considering her middle name. This was the first role that she had had that had really shown off her talents. When they took their final bows at the end, the audience roared in approval for the young woman with the sweet face. She had been so endearing and convincing and true and tragic that she had won all of their hearts at only 17 years old.
After the performance, she cleaned up in the dressing room– the first time she had ever had one of her own. She stared at herself in the mirror, pleased with how everything had gone, thinking that she should reward herself somehow. Once she finished changing, she left to reunite with her family.
They were standing with a young man, who was the first to greet her. He shook her hand enthusiastically. “Miss Hughes, I just adore the theatre, and you… you show me exactly why.”
She gave him her nicest, most confident smile. “Thank you.”
“This is Mr. Sheehan,” her father said.
“Nice to meet you,” she said, and the man blushed. She turned to her mother. “Should we be going?”
The next day, Kitty went out in the city by herself, wearing a basic day dress so that she didn’t attract unwanted attention. She didn’t know exactly what she was looking for until she paused by the front window of a jewelry store. She liked jewelry. She should buy herself something nice.
Inside, she found a beautiful pair of earrings, silver and tiny and delicate. She bought them immediately, knowing that although they were expensive, she was soon to start earning far more money than what her father would give her as allowance. She left the shop with the earrings in a velvet box, feeling immensely satisfied.
In the next few weeks, she started seeing more and more of Mr. Sheehan from the play. He appeared at every dinner party and dance, and he visited her father to talk business in the hopes that Kitty would be around. Sometimes she was, sometimes she wasn’t. She found his devotion oddly adorable. Eventually, she decided to act on it. When he asked if they could begin courting, she said yes, not thinking much of it.
Their whole relationship was her not thinking much of it. Had she been seeing Sheehan or not, her life would have been mostly the same. She continued to perform in Hamlet. Her going out with Sheehan didn’t even make much of a difference in the amount of suitors she attracted, since everyone still refused to accept that they didn’t have a chance with her. She moved on from Sheehan to Danny, and then to Joe. None lasted long, and she hadn’t been in love with any of them. She wasn’t going to lie to herself: she knew it was because she had never trusted a man. She simply hadn’t met any good examples. Her father was a cheater; her manager, Mr. Reed, was a pathetic little man who complimented everything she did; Sheehan had been unremarkable; and so were the rest. At some point, she carried out a brief relationship with a girl, a fellow socialite named Amelia. It was nice, and Kitty didn’t carry much fear of being discovered because, as far as she had seen, she could do whatever she wanted and her parents would be none the wiser– but she didn’t love Amelia, either.
Next came Roger.
She didn’t love him any more than the others, but she couldn’t deny that he was a handsome, charismatic man. He was young, wealthy, and well-connected, and they were something of a golden couple together.
In public.
In private, he drank too much and threw her around like a rag doll. He had always been too physically aggressive, but one day, when she told him that she wouldn’t be seen with him in that state, with his face glowing red and strands of his hair falling over his forehead, he slapped her.
Kitty stumbled back, not so much from the blow as from the icy shock running through her veins. He stalked closer to her.
“What’s wrong with you?” she said in a high-pitched tone. “I won’t be near you when you’re like this.”
“Fine,” Roger said, and thankfully didn’t try to lay a hand on her again. He just stood there in the center of his parlor, swaying slightly. “You can go.”
Kitty took her things and practically ran out the front door. She stopped at the stone walkway to catch her breath. She’d never been hit before, not even when she was a child. A hatred for Roger started to bloom in her stomach.
But the next day, he rang her up to apologize. “I wasn’t myself,” he said. She could hear him sigh into the microphone. “Will you forgive me?”
She did forgive him. She didn’t leave him. He was still handsome. And it had only been one slap, after all. She could handle that.
But she still didn’t love him. She developed a relationship on the side with a man named Paul. She didn’t feel so bad about cheating on Roger because he deserved it. She gained some sort of sick pleasure from the idea of making him upset, although she didn’t want to see what the consequences would be if he ever found out. She wasn’t going to test her luck.
The motion picture industry was starting to become more popular. For a while, films had been growing in length and scope. A decade ago, you could see a single gymnastics routine captured in moving images; now, you could see a full story play out. Kitty and her family sometimes went to showings at movie palaces. Even the poor could go to little nickelodeon theaters and witness the magic of film.
Mr. Reed, Kitty’s manager, proposed getting her a role in a film. She agreed. Her parents fawned over Reed, as usual. You’re so good to her– The reason for our success– Our dear friend. She didn’t dislike Reed, but she didn’t care for him. If she was going to do a film, that was her choice and hers alone. She could have easily refused.
When Kitty started in the film industry, she didn’t have to work her way up. The first role Reed found for her was a main character. At the film premiere, she and her co-stars were called up to the stage for a bow. They forced her forward to do a curtsy all by herself. She gazed into the crowd but couldn’t see any faces she recognized, which somehow made her feel better. It was a shapeless mass of smiling people, and all of them liked her.
Beaming, she touched her own cheek, feeling a pretty blush starting to form. She was wearing her Ophelia earrings. She gestured for everyone to join her in another bow.
She starred in several more films, and her fame grew. Instead of being simply popular with the rich, she was a figure beloved by all classes, as movies were more accessible to the general public than the elite theaters she had been performing in.
Kitty grew an obsession with checking her reputation over and over again. She perused magazines to see what was written about her. (All positive things.) She listened to others’ quiet conversations, paying attention to how they described her. (Positively.)
Roger hit her on two more separate occasions.
One day, she was walking in the street, watching the poor people go about their day. There was an advertisement for a nickelodeon posted on the wall next to her. Lightly curious, she paid her nickel and went inside.
A man was playing piano in the corner of the dark room. Everyone was clustered together, whispering, eyes fixed on the screen.
“Who’s that actor? He’s gorgeous,” said a woman in front of her.
“Don’t you know anything, Millie?” said another. “That’s Abie Myers!”
“Well, I know now,” Millie shot back at the girl who must have been her sister.
Who the hell was Abie Myers?
Kitty moved closer to the screen. He must be the lead. Some guy with a stupid-looking mustache and dark eyes. Come to think of it, she might have heard the name before.
But not as many times as she had heard praise of herself. Logically, she knew that she had nothing to worry about. People liked her. She and Myers could exist in the same industry at the same time.
But she still wished to be seeing herself up on that screen. Why had the girl known Myers by sight, but not her? She’d been standing right behind them.
She’d have to work harder than before, keep working until she was easily recognizable. It occurred to her that she still lived with her parents. She should get her own place. She should get more control over the roles she took. Her parents and Reed would see that she could take care of herself. Myers would be jealous of her.
That idea made her very happy.
So she bought her own penthouse apartment, where she wouldn’t be bothered by anyone. She still visited with her family several times a week and came to realize that she much preferred her parents and siblings in small doses. She liked to bring entire plates of food to her room and eat them sitting on her bed. She could do whatever she wanted.
Although she grew fond of isolation– a little too fond–, she still attended gatherings and parties. On New Year’s Eve, Roger hosted a celebration at his house. He invited most of his friends, all of whom were rich people in their 20s. Kitty felt far more free without the oppressive presence of her parents’ crowd.
Paul was there. She spent much of the night staring at him from Roger’s side. Which one should she kiss at midnight? She liked being able to choose– it was her own delightful secret.
She drank some champagne and started to feel lightheaded. Not enough to make her actually drunk– that would have been unwise. She wanted just enough to feel she was floating. The dress she had chosen was silver, patterned with black embroidery. She held a transparent black shawl around her arms demurely.
A little before midnight, she pulled Paul into a side room. She didn’t know where Roger thought she was, and she didn’t care.
“I wanted to get away the moment we walked in here,” she whispered, her hands wrapped around Paul’s shoulders. She tilted her head up so that their lips were almost touching. “You-know-who just wouldn’t let me go.”
“It doesn’t matter,” he said softly. “What do you want to do?”
“Whatever you want.”
The door opened, and a man peered inside. Kitty pushed Paul away, but it was too late; he had seen them.
“I was looking for the coatroom,” the man said timidly.
Kitty recalled that he was a friend of Roger’s, and her heart sank further. Mr. King. That was who he was.
“What are you… doing?” said Mr. King. “You’re still together with Roger, aren’t you?”
For the first time in a long time, she was lost for words. Her whole body was paralyzed with fear. She had been playing her little game against Roger, but whenever a thought came up of what would happen if he found out, she pushed it back and back. He wasn’t going to find out, so what did it matter?
But now King might tell him, and drunk, violent Roger might make a return. He was drunk right now on champagne and brandy. Oh, God. Her parents weren’t here. She didn’t know how she was going to get out of this.
“You didn’t see anything,” she said to Mr. King, her voice quavering. “You– You can’t tell Roger.”
Paul had his hands in his pockets, his face turned down uncomfortably.
Mr. King just looked deeply offended on behalf of Roger. “I can’t believe this.”
He turned back and walked through the door. Kitty ran to catch up with him.
In the dark hallway, she fought to remember his first name. King… William King. “William!” She spun him around. She was breathing heavily, panicked. “You can’t tell Roger. You don’t know what he’s like. He’s drunk right now, and he gets angry and physical. He’s going to beat me. He’s hit me before. He’s going to do it again if you tell him.”
William shook his head, confusion etched across his face. “Roger? Roger wouldn’t hurt a fly. I’ve known him a long time.”
“So have I!” she exclaimed.
“Why should I believe you’re telling the truth?” he said. “You’re lying to him every time you’re with… the other man. How could you do it? Roger’s a good friend. He doesn’t deserve to be treated like that.”
She shook her head, still too shocked to cry. “No, he’s not. I can’t stand him.”
Kitty realized that what she was saying wouldn’t make sense. She was going out with Roger, yet she hated him. She was usually a liar, but she wasn’t lying about his abuse.
William turned away and went down the staircase to the hall where everyone else was gathered. Kitty remained frozen in place in the dark.
Paul was probably still waiting in the room, too scared to leave. Asshole.
The clock struck midnight, and everyone cheered. It was now 1915.
Kitty pulled herself together enough to gingerly walk down the stairs. Her hands wouldn’t stop shaking.
When she made eye contact with Roger, it was obvious that William had told him what had happened. There was a dangerous glint in his eyes. He came to her and kissed her soundly on the lips.
“Happy new year,” he said. “Can I walk you home?”
She nodded but then realized her mistake. She should stay here, in a crowd of people, where Roger couldn’t hurt her.
But it was too late. They headed out. The walk back to Kitty’s penthouse was the worst five minutes of her life. She didn’t know how her legs kept moving. She thought she was going to faint at any moment.
She unlocked the apartment door, and Roger followed her inside.
He traced the patterns on her tablecloth with his finger. “Where were you just before midnight?”
“You disappeared.” He slammed a hand down on the table. “King told me that you were off with some other man.”
“I was with Paul.”
“Paul?” He looked up at her, his face a confusing mix of expressions. “And you’re not going to deny it?”
“Stay away from me,” she said weakly. “I don’t love you. I never have. I hate you.”
He took her by the hair and hit her in the face.
Hours later, Roger had long since gone, and Kitty was lying broken on the floor. The maid came in the early hours of the morning, found her, and immediately called for help.
If the maid hadn’t arrived, she might have died. Roger had given her a face covered in bruises, a broken arm, two broken ribs, and God knew what head injuries. She had passed out from the pain and dizziness.
The recovery took two months, most of which she spent in her room. It was a testament to her stellar reputation that no one thought she was hiding a pregnancy.
Or maybe some people thought that. She refused to leave the house to find out.
She allowed her family members to visit her, but not until her face healed up. After all evidence of a beating was gone, and only her broken arm remained, she said she had suffered a fall. The stairs at her building were notoriously steep. She didn’t want to go out in public until she could take her arm out of its sling.
She spent lots of time staring into her mirror, trying to make sure that her features were unchanged. Her nose hadn’t broken, so it went back to its nice, smooth slope. Her split lip healed up, and the small, pouty shape of her mouth returned.
The only visible sign of what Roger had done to her was a tiny scar on her upper cheek, which she guessed had been inflicted by a fingernail. Over two months, it never went away. She took to applying a tiny bit of foundation and powder over it each day to cover it up.
She finally started going out in public again. She signed her contract to do another film. She had had a brief illness, she told Mr. Reed, but she was ready to start working again. How glad he was to hear it!
The sickly sweetness he employed to speak to her made her uncomfortable, rather than proud and superior, as it always had.
She was changed, and she knew it. She looked upon everyone she met with suspicion. She didn’t carry on any more relationships with men, preferring to have affairs with women in dark rooms. Every man reminded her of Roger in some way or another.
Roger moved out of Boston in the two months she remained convalescing. She didn’t have to see him, and she was glad for it.
But she always wondered what would happen if she were to encounter William King again. He had been instrumental in the destruction of her spirit. She took to spreading rumors and falsehoods about everyone she interacted with, feeling that people as a whole were like King: naive but not harmless. She had to stay one step ahead of all of them. But, at the same time, she had to hide her overwhelming hatred for everyone around her; revealing it wouldn’t do for her fame and reputation.
So she perfected the persona that she adopted around everyone, including her family: chin slightly down to show off her eyes, hands folded, gentle smiles. At some point, she met Abie Myers, who turned out to be just as obnoxious as she had imagined. It took effort to keep her pretty, neutral face, but she did so, knowing that she was simply biding her time.
She was unstoppable.
Roger had tried to harm her, humiliate her, and take away her strength, but she was going to get the last laugh. She was going to increase by tenfold everything that had made her so successful: her talent, her beauty, her intelligence, her ability to lie and manipulate. She was going to become so powerful, adored, and controlled that she would never feel weak again.
Kitty’s next film premiered in the summer of 1915. She got ready at her mirror, making sure to cover up the tiny scar on her cheek. She put on those earrings she had bought four years ago. Looking at her reflection, she decided that they didn’t match the rest of her outfit, so she chose different ones.

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2023.03.20 17:01 brown_knees123 Wedding Anxiety: My Dread of Dancing is Ruining the Big Day

My wedding is coming up in a few months, and I'm honestly dreading it. I'm especially nervous about the baarat and reception because I'm not a great dancer, and I always feel like I look like an idiot. I'm okay with the first dance because we'll get lessons for that, but other than that, I'm pretty much lost.
Whenever I've been to weddings in the past two years, I've purposely avoided dancing. I'll usually stand in the back of the baarat, and I even ditched my best friend's reception after dinner because I didn't want to dance. It just gives me so much anxiety, and I feel like it's equivalent to putting someone on stage and forcing them to do comedy or sing even though they don't have years and years of experience.
My fiancé loves to dance, and it upsets her that I won't even join her. She's worried about what people will think if they see us leaving the reception early. She also feels as if she has to avoid dancing because I refuse to join, which shouldn't be the case. But honestly, I just can't stand the thought of being on the dance floor. I have a (self-diagnosed) condition called beat deafness, which means I have trouble with rhythm, and that makes me even more anxious.
I'm not looking forward to the fact that at our wedding, we'll be expected to dance for several hours. It's impossible to plan out all your dance moves because the songs always change up. I feel like if I'm not dancing, I'll be standing around looking awkward, but if I try to dance, I'll just embarrass myself.
I don't know what to do. I have to go to the weddings of two friends in the next couple of months (groomsman for one of them), and then it's my own wedding, where I'll be the center of attention at the baarat, the reception introduction, and the open dance floor after the reception.
I'm hoping for some advice on what to do.
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2023.03.20 16:39 dotbarnfather Domantas Sabonis is Quietly Separating Himself from the Rest of the Pack When It Comes to the Conversation Around 3rd Best Center in the NBA

On March 15th, Domantas Sabonis recorded his second triple-double in as many games against the Chicago Bulls. His 14 points, 10 assists, 17 rebounds somewhat went underdiscussed after some guy named De'Aaron Fox hit a game-winner following DeMar DeRozan’s four point play to tie the game. But also underdiscussed: that triple-double put him at 11 on the season, now second most in the NBA behind Nikola Jokic’s incredible 28.
Sabonis has quietly had a career defining season. His 19.2 points per game (ninth among centers) is his best since 2020-21. He’s averaging career highs in rebounds (12.5, best in the NBA) and assists (7.2, second best among centers in the NBA). His splits have been amazing– 61.2% from the field (career high) and 35.5% from deep (arguably the best of his career if we don’t count 52.9% in 2018-19 on 0.2 attempts per game).
But it is tough to talk about a player like Sabonis – not because he isn’t great, but because of the two centers ahead of him in Jokic and Embiid. And Jokic is arguably a better version of what he offers. Then again, he wasn’t selected last when it came to the NBA All-Star Game. He was second to last among the reserves. Things might be changing.
The Sacramento Kings will never be his team while alongside De’Aaron Fox yet in many ways, his influence this season could create the argument that he has been the most important when it comes to this Kings glow-up. And before anyone gets way too deep into the weeds, Fox is clearly the best player, I’m just gassing up Sabonis.
Sabonis is very much an underrated passer. Per game, he’s recording five or more passes to six different Kings players. He, Jokic and Vucevic are the only three centers in the NBA to average more than 50 passes made per game. And his assists pointed created (19.2) averages out to 2.667 points per assist – speaking to just how good he has been about finding the open man to generate a good three-point look. For reference, Jokic is looking at 2.49 points per assist, Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 2.34, Julius Randle is at 2.68 and Embiid is at 2.54. It does help that Sabonis has players like Kevin Huerter, Keegan Murray, Malik Monk and Harrison Barnes being absolute friends behind the arch. But they still need the ball in their hands to shoot. It has also been nice to see his flexibility in the post – passing 49.2% in post-up situations.
And what has also been refreshing is that he isn’t reliant on the pick-and-roll – averaging only 2.5 possessions per game. Instead, it has been his plays cutting to the basket, give-and-go situations – scoring 68% of the time and getting to the line 20.9% of the time on 3.8 possessions per game.
While everyone knows where his scoring is coming from—78% of his shots coming less than 8 ft from the basket—he’s shown a flexibility of he to get there. Overall, he has quietly been assisted less than his two counter parts – 60.5% of his makes being assisted compared to Embiid and Jokic’s 63.4%. And less than 8 ft from the basket, he’s assisted 55.4% of the time compared to Jokic’s 59.7% and Embiid’s 64%.
This isn’t trying to break the wheel, change the world or the narrative that it isn’t a two-man race for best center in the NBA right now. But Sabonis is quietly making a good case to create some separation from the rest of the NBA when it comes to the argument around best centers. Still not a defensive juggernaut, his contribution on the offensive end has been incredibly important to one of the best stories in the NBA -- if not the best. And while he continues to receive recognition (3x All Star, 4 All-NBA votes in 2020-21), it might be time to start taking his campaign a little bit more serious.
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2023.03.20 16:20 StillMaintenance7125 Will anyone tell the mormons this is not OK?

Will anyone tell the mormons this is not OK? submitted by StillMaintenance7125 to exmormon [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 16:17 LordIlthari Monsters Chapter 73: Meanwhile, in death

I am The Bard, who must admit some certain fondness for some of my subjects over others. Any historian naturally becomes attached to some characters, and obtains a bias towards them. I am no different in this regard.
It hung like the bones of an ancient lizard king, awesome even in its deiscation. Highest of the high places, casting forth the dying light of the age, and covering the cosmos in an intense metaphysical shadow. None were beyond its antumbra, and heaven and hell alike were bound within its deepest umbra. The weight of history pressing down on reality was bound up here. Here, amidst the ruins of what had once been the seat of the first and greatest king of the age, where dragons first caught fire in their breaths, where they sang and the world was changed. Here, in ruined majesty, lay the breathless word of awe and mournful nostalgia. A kingdom who’s shadow was graven onto the name of the world itself.
Akar. The first and true Akar. The plane of Io. The birthplace of Bahamut and Tiamat, and where the king of heaven died, and the end of the age began.
Many were the treasure seekers, pilgrims, historians, and other sundry who wandered those halls. Many more were the defenders. The servants of Bahamut and Tiamat alike, agreeing only in this, that the ancient palace, their once true and perfect home, should not be defiled by pillagers and scoundrels. So, suffice it to say the presence of the Black Hound Scoundrels was not welcomed.
Raymond’s sword was broken, again. He’d liked that one too, an ancient ilithid weapon, projecting a blade of light though a psionic focusing crystal. It had served him well, right up until the point where the blue dragon’s lightning bolt had overloaded the arcane technology and blown it up in his hand. He was also missing a limb again, but this was less troublesome than when he was alive.
He hit the ground hard as he fell back, rolling over and over on the black marble floor. Several things were definitely broken. They had found themselves near to their goal, in what had likely been a planetarium of sorts before the fall of Io. The room was filled with great orbs, each one depicting in full a different plane of existence, and how they moved and danced around one another in the great cosmic game. Each globe was about three times the size of a man in radius, and formed of material from the plane it depicted. The floor was graven of marble quarried from the negative energy plane itself, malefic energies safely disapated, and opposite it, a ceiling of glowing hypermatter from the positive energy plane supplemented the light of what appeared to be a miniature star in the center of the room.
That light was quickly obscured as the earth shook from the impact of an ancient blue dragoness landing in front of it. One of Tiamat’s consorts, fair and terrible as the sea and stars. The room crackled with static electricity, a storm system building within the confined space from the raw elemental power of the ancient dragon. She stalked forwards, reading another blast fit to reduce Raymond to ashes. As she opened her mouth, something hit her in the chin. The lightning backfired, and blew dragoness and defender alike back.
Pure angel-white armored boots tore up the surface next to Raymond as Elsior ground to a halt. Her wings flared, tensing for another burst of motion. Aegis snapped to the side in a ready position as the white lion guarded her friend. “Ray, you doing okay?”
”Fine. Just give me a moment.” Raymond replied. He focused, charging the depleted stone around him with his power, awakening a fragment of its prior energies. Once charged, he drew it up around himself, reforming his lost limb from the planar material. “Right. Good to go.”
”We cannot afford to be delayed by this guardian overlong.” Aegis warned through their shared mental link. “It must be removed rapidly.”
”Cualli can’t hold her. That’s how the last one broke.” Lamora warned. The changeling flashed into being, emerging from the form of a microscopic bacterium, only to deliver a devastating slash across the dragoness’s face. Her silver blade slashed horn and eye alike, sending the dragoness reeling with an eye cut out and a horn crashing to the floor. The shapeshifter goddess caught the blood from the wound in her palm, then in a crash of thunder, there were two dragonesses in the room, grappling with one another with fang and claw, tearing up the room in their struggle.
”Well best figure something out soon, we’re running out of zombies.” Keelah replied. The kobold, well, not exactly a kobold any longer, reported from the entrance to the room. Beyond it, the corridor was filled with the sound of clashing blades. She snapped around the corner, twin crossbows raised. Demonic energies began to charge from her weapons, then snapped out in a howling chorus as a rain of hellfire burst from the twin weapons. Tiamat’s lesser forces felt the sting of Avarice and Arrogance, as they rained amidst their ranks. She heard the chant of an Abashai sorcerer, and focused. The chanting devil had their spell cut off midway as Keelah fired a focused blast that punched through the sorcerer’s bodyguards and into his skull. The demonic energy exploded, rending the sorcerer to pieces and covering the nearby minions with gore. She fired another shot, this one a scything wave, and bisected a trio of white abashai that had managed to break through Raymond’s wall of zombies.
Despite her efforts, the undead were flanked, and annihilated. “Correction.” She updated. “We are out of zombies.”
”This necessitates a mightier minion.” Raymond remarked. “Cover me!” He pressed his hand to the black surface of the floor, and began to channel. At the same time, Lamora lost her grapple with the blue dragon, who threw her down with her teeth upon her throat. Unfortunately for the dragoness, biting a changeling is somewhat less than effective, as Lamora flowed like mercury away from the bite, taking on her true form and landing a devastating counter-slash along the dragonness’s wing. It turned towards her, roaring in anger, only to be checked and knocked back by a brilliant white flash.
As several of the dragoness’s teeth fell to the ground, Elsior landed, blade directed at the dragoness. “I’ve never fought a dragon before. Have to say, you’re disappointing.” This enraged the dragoness, who focused her fury upon the white lion, and the chamber shook with their battle.
As Raymond focused, the ground began to raise up into an arch. The sorcerer remained focused utterly on his work, defenseless as he chanted a ritual of awakening and binding. The minions of Tiamat surged forwards towards him, but then there came the sound of the unbreakable breaking. With a chime of shattering time, Keelah re-entered the fray. The fourth dimension cracked about her, as the demoness of time channeled the power of the abyss into the gears of the cosmos themselves.
She was about them and untouchable, fragmented across a dozen parallel worldlines, each one tangled in a gordian knot as reality bent at her whim. Her enemies were slowed, moving in molasses as no speed could avail them, and she likewise was a blur, her newfound abyssal power amplifying her speed, and time accelerating around her to push demonic enhancements even further. She was a one-woman platoon, single-handedly trapping the forces of Tiamat with enfilade fire, sniping their commanders into paste, blasting, ripping, and tearing the horde with a storm of abyssal energy.
Then, it was done. Raymond’s ritual completed as the gate stood ready. With a shout of warning, he activated it. The weak died instantly, reduced to their fundamental elements as the power of the negative energy plane ripped into the planetarium. A singularly unfortunate dragonborn was too near to the gate when it activated, and was pulled through, his body stretching out weirdly as the dimensional distortion inflicted a status scientifically know as “spaghettification” upon him.
Then from the gate came winged death, or perhaps death in the shape of wings. It came with an unsound, an unshriek, and an unboom. Its form perhaps suggested a vulture, or some other kind of carrion bird. But it was an impression, an image in the mind which tried to attach something known to the unknown thing. It was a storm of many black wings, and many eyes. About it was an unflame, an echo of the silence before the first words were spoken. The men of Akar called these creatures Nightstalkers, for they were the hunters and the dragons of the deathly plane. The shape of death, with it antithetical resonance, fell upon the brightest source of life, the blue dragoness. The two forces ripped against one another, lightning flashing desperately as silence smothered the thunder.
The scoundrels ran. “Minion.” Keelah grumbled as time wearily mended itself around her. “Minon. Minion implies you can control that thing!” She growled.
”Theoretically, I can.” Raymond replied. “Though I’d rather not try to put theory into practice right now.”
”So, in other words, you aren’t controlling it.” Keelah said.
”Why do you think I’m running too?” Raymond replied, and Keelah started running faster.
Then, they were there. They knew it at once, the presence of the place was palpable. A wrongness, a sorrow, a stain and scar upon the fabric of the world, invisible but impossible to miss or ignore. Raymond and Lamora felt their stomachs churn, their hair stand on end. Their senses screamed at them that this was a place nobody should be in, a place that should not exist. An absolute defilement hung upon the area, an abomination of desecration so severe that the world screamed around then.
Elsior fell to a knee, struggling to breathe from the overwhelming pressure of the area. Even empowered by Aegis, the dragonborn felt it more strongly than any of them, a death so profound its mere memory was enough to cause her heart to briefly stop, fitfully start, and then stop again. If she remained overlong, it would kill her. The effect upon Keelah was less severe, but without an artifact to protect her, she suffered terribly. The kobold was not a kobold any longer, her shape was formed from the material of the abyss, held together by her sheer ego more so than by any natural law. In this place, her scales screamed, writhed, and began to rip off her body into a twisting coil around her. Her skin boiled under it, her crossbows reknit themselves into her flesh. She retained her shape, her size, but more and more she leaned further away from the draconic heritage and into her new demonic nature to desperately avoid the ancestral agony gathered in this place.
It was odd, one of the simpler rooms in the great planetary palace. A dining room, with three chairs suited for draconic beings. It hadn’t been touched in centuries, nothing had even been here to shed the dead skin cells that would produce dust. Whatever meal they had been eating was long since rotted away, but the table was still half-set, broken plates and cookware scattered. It was as though it might have been left only a few minutes ago. If not for the blood, so much blood. It painted the walls, the floor, the ceiling, the furnitutre. Dried and set like stone into the fabric of the world, the blood of Bahamut, of Tiamat, and of their father.
This was where Io had died. This was where Bahamut and Tiamat’s war began, where they ripped their father’s heart from his chest and tore it in twain, split between them. It still carried the echo of Io’s dying scream, a memory potent enough to bring those with draconic blood to their knees. A memory potent enough to help fuel the birth of a new god of the dead.
”Ray. Grab it. Quickly.” Elsior ordered. “We aren’t meant to be here. Nobody is meant to be here.”
”On it.” Raymond replied, setting down his staff. It began to flicker, grey light sweeping out from it and scanning over the room again and again and again. Ghostly images began to form, memories of the room, playing back in reverse across the centuries. It had been so long that the process would take some time. “It’s set.” Raymond said, and placed a charm on the staff to return to him when it had captured the memory sufficiently. “Let’s get out of here.” He said, moving quickly back towards the planetarium. Everyone knew what waited for them there, it was better than this place.
”I just hope that your staff can get you the memory fast enough.” Keelah grumbled, piecing herself back into her false form. “There’s been trouble enough with-“
”Keelah, if you jinx us I’m going to kick you halfway back to the abyss.” Elsior cut her off.
Lamora stiffened. “Too late. She’s coming. Ray, timeline on that memory?”
”No idea.” Raymond replied. “At its current rate, maybe five minutes.” He started to sprint, and the others continued, Elsior picking up Keelah to bear her along more swiftly. “Maybe the nightstalker can slow-“
He went silent as they emerged back into the planetarium, and the world rent. An overwhelming dominance threatened to stop the hearts of everyone. The nightstalker turned its many-eyed gaze towards the rift and what came through. Drawn like a moth to a flame, it turned its gaze from the desiccated remains of the ancient blue dragoness and hurled itself towards the coming prismatic light. There was a sound like an earthquake, like a hurricane, and like a meteorite impacting as pure chaotic energy ripped it apart, blasting the apex predator of the Negative Energy Plane to dust in an instant.
The ground shook, as a thing unmatched in beauty and in horror stepped through. Five heads snaked on five necks, built upon a powerful body. The very magic of the room trembled as an impossibly powerful aura made the strands of the universe quiver. Five voices spoke in one, in absolute rage and fury, as Tiamat, queen of dragons, made her presence and displeasure known. “YOU DARE. YOU DARE, TRESPASS UPON MY HOME, IN THE PRESENCE OF MY PAIN? YOU COME, CRAWLING AMIDST THE TOMB OF GODS, AND THINK TO ROB IT, TO DARE TO STEAL FROM THE QUEEN OF DRAGONS?”
Lamora covered the scoundrels in a spell of invisibility, but Tiamat turned her gazes upon it and stripped the spell away with all the ease of a mother throwing away a sheet a troublesome child was trying to hide under. “I SEE YOU THERE, LAMORA, FALSE GODLING, PATHETIC LITTLE EXCUSE FOR A DEITY. EVEN IN YOUR MIGHTIEST FORM YOU WERE NO MATCH FOR ME. DO YOU THINK THIS LATEST MORTAL YOU USURPED WILL AVAIL YOU?”
”AND AS FOR YOU.” She finished, snarling at Keelah. “Who’s familiar are you again?”
Keelah grinned. "I am the goddamn eggshell caught in the universe's gears, holding it back from sheer spite even when I should be broken. I am the demoness of time, the greatest thief in the cosmos, the abyss couldn't hold me, and heaven can't keep me out. I am Ordani, a godslayer, and a true daughter of Io. In other words bitch, I'm your worst nightmare!"
There was a moment of stunned silence as Tiamat processed that she’d just been defied in the midst of her holy fury. Furthermore, that she’d been defied by a kobold of all things. A slave race dared to defy the queen of the universe? She was simply stunned by the audacity. Then, she ceased to be stunned, and became enraged. All five heads focused on the kobold, opened their mouths, and the battle was on.
A wave of annihilating prismatic energy roared towards Keelah, only to be intercepted by Lamora. As perhaps one of the most powerful attacks in the cosmos bore down on her, Lamora simply raised up her blade, and cut. The wave of destruction parted like the red sea, as Lamora stood, framed by the light of her blade and the apocalypse crashing past her and her party. She may have been the weakest among the gods, but to underestimate the heroine with a thousand faces was the utmost folly!
Elsior roared a battle cry and rocketed forwards, blade set to pierce the dragon queen’s adamantine hide. Only for her to miss, entirely. She paused, confused for a moment as Tiamat seemed to utterly vanish. However, as she looked down, and beheld a prismatic dragonborn, it was clear she had only changed her shape. A blast of supercooled acid hit the white lion, beginning to melt through her armor as it froze her solid to the ceiling.
Time shattered around Keelah as she took cover behind the planets, opening fire with a dozen piercing shots. They shattered in the air a meter from Tiamat’s form, and she calmly waved a hand. One of the planets Keelah was cowering behind exploded into corrosive gasses, instantly melting two timelines to goo. The gas rapidly spread, forcing Keelah to cover her mouths and hold fire, lest she risk igniting the gas.
Tiamat raised her hand, and fired a blast of fire. It was no stream as with a normal breath weapon, but a concentrated ball of heat and death, more akin to a fireball than a normal breath weapon. Raymond hurled a singularity at a nearby planet, dragging it off course and into the path of the fireball. The fireball hit it, and ripped the planet apart, sending magma spraying throughout the room. Irritated, Tiamat glared towards Raymond. A moment later, a bolt of lightning ripped out of nowhere and slammed into the mage. He went sprawling, body ablaze. As he rolled, he lifted his hand, and redicrected the energy. The power was still enough to blast his directing arm to ashes, but he managed to send the majority of the attack back at Tiamat.
The queen of dragons didn’t even deign to block the attack, letting the bolt of lightning pass harmlessly over her. She was the daughter of chaos itself, and no elemental magic could harm her, not even her own. The blade of Lamora on the other hand, could. As Tiamat was blinded from being inside a lightning bolt, Lamora struck, landing a glancing blow on the dragon queen’s arm. The hero’s blade slashed open the virtually indestructible scales, drawing a goddess’s blood. The dragon queen’s eyebrows suddenly raised, and she retreated away from Lamora, teleporting to the other side of the room and firing off another blast in her direction.
Keelah moved clear of the gas, and began hammering Tiamat’s position with fire. Tiamat once again blocked it, only for one of the bolts to vanish, replaced with a now one-armed mage. Raymond held a spike of pure negative energy in his remaining hand like a spear, and drove it into the wound Lamora had opened. The spear drove in, and wrapped itself around the dragon queen’s arm like a shackle. Tiamat’s eyes went wide, and she smiled briefly before moving in to rip Raymond’s head off. He shouted an alert. “Her magic’s sealed! Now!”
Tiamat’s foot swung with enough force to reduce the mage’s torso to paste, but it didn’t connect with him. Raymond vanished, and the dragon queen’s heel instead connected with the brilliant white armor of the White Lion. Elsior grunted, but she had traded blows with Ascalon, Tiamat was still murderously strong, but she wasn’t a fighter. “My turn.” She replied, stepping in and answering with an attack that hurled Tiamat across the room.
Tiamat landed on her feet, scales smoking but unbroken. Even a full-powered attack from Aegis could only bruise her scales, not break them. The power of a trueborn goddess was not something any mortal weapon, even an artifact, could overcome with simple brute force. That didn’t seem to stop the scoundrels though, as Elsior charged, Keelah opened fire, and Raymond hurled another singularity, this one aimed directly for Tiamat’s throat.
Tiamat smirked, and reality bent. Elsior found herself suspended in the air, dangling from invisible threads. A wall of crystal interposed itself between Keelah’s bolts and their target, and Tiamat conjured a staff of similar crystal, using it to focus a blast at Raymond’s singularity. The miniature black hole froze solid, fell to the floor, and shattered.
”Magic sealed my as-gh!” Elsior swore, as Tiamat crossed the distance and struck her. Her armor unraveled, and the dragonborn lost her grip on Aegis. She hit the ground sprawling, chest caved in and body starting to tear itself apart. It was like she was coming apart at the seams, body fraying like a damaged tapestry.
”It is sealed, this is something else entirely!” Aegis shouted, blade struggling in the threads before Tiamat casually picked the greatsword up in one hand to examine it like a child studying a new toy.
”Indeed, oh treasure mine.” Tiamat mused. “I am Tiamat, axiomatic to dragons. Where they are, I am also. All dragons, and all things that are called dragons. Do you understand? Besides, I could hardly call myself the greatest sorceress in the cosmos if I limited my self to only a single continuity’s power.”
Aegis tried to fight back, forming armor to restrict the dragon queen’s movements, but he could find no purchase. Every time he tried to manifest the restricting plates, he found his progress blocked by strange structures, as though the underlying threads of reality had been woven into armor for the dragon queen.
Lamora struck, and was deftly parried by Aegis. The two goddesses clashed for a few seconds. Lamora was far more skilled, but the gap in raw power was too much. Tiamat was toying with her. Keelah circumvented the wall of crystal and prepared to fire, but the wall collapsed into eyes, which intercepted her bolts with freezing rays of their own, before turning towards her. Raymond reformed his arm, and shaped a singularity into a staff. He swapped with Lamora, giving to buy the cleric time to heal Elsior.
With a two handed blow, Tiamat shattered Raymond’s staff, staggering the mage. Then, she drove the blade into his stomach, and twisted. Raymond was a spirit, not a man, but this was still a ruinous blow, and he fell forwards onto the blade. Still, he grit his teeth, and vanished, taking the blade with him. Lamora reappeared in his stead, and in a single motion, slashed open Tiamat’s throat. The dragon queen staggered back, before her blood flash froze, keeping her avatar in the fight. Lamora lunged to finish her, but invisible threads caught her blade and redirected it. With a thunderclap, her blade severed the shackle sealing Tiamat’s magic.
In a surge of power, Tiamat resumed her true form and hurled Lamora back. Her power was simply too great for the scoundrels to face even this aspect. Keelah opened fire, piercing the dragon queen’s hide with many bolts, and then ran for cover as Tiamat swept her tail out and threw half the room at the kobold in return.
Raymond leaned on Aegis like a cane, holding his essence in with one hand. He focused, mending himself to the point where he wasn’t about to disapate, but the effort left him weakened. He was practically out, and nothing was even slowing Tiamat down. He looked about, and gaze focused on the sun in the center of the room. He had one more gambit.
”I have an idea. Give me a moment, and time moving as fast as possible on that star.” He requested.
”I hope this one works Ray.” Keelah warned, and then fired a bolt. The sun began to spin faster. Elsior took back her blade, and with a roar of challenge, once more faced down the queen of dragons. Her brilliant blade met the fang, claw, and crushing tail of the dragon goddess, their blows shaking the ground, before Tiamat focused another prismatic blast and hurled her back. She advanced, as ruin came to the planetarium around her. The orbs were desiccating, falling back to their component elements and being drawn irrevocably to the star in its center, which began to swell and turn a sickly red.
Tiamat advanced on Raymond as he chanted, focus entirely on his spell. Keelah bombarded her but her attacks were only pinpricks. She prepared a blast to finish the mage, only to be intercepted by Lamora’s fist, and the bellowing roar of a Tarrasque. The sight of that monster drove Tiamat into a berserk frenzy, and she threw herself at Lamora’s mightiest form with an animalistic rage. She bit and tore and rent, tearing massive chunks off of the changeling. Her magic and breath weapons seemed forgotten as she screamed in utter rage and hate for the thing in front of her. All Lamora could do against the onslaught was defend, and not to protect herself truly, but to simply die more slowly.
”There’s not enough mass!” Aegis warned, as the last of the planets were dragged into the swirling maelstrom of the star.
”Then we’ll have to use acceleration as a substitute!” Raymond retorted, and hurled a singularity into the heart of the star. “Elsior! Throw the sun at her!”
Elsior looked at Raymond like he was crazy, and then shrugged. If this didn’t work, they were all dead anyways. She hurled herself into the heart of the star, trusting her armor to protect her from the incredible forces at work. With a cry, she threw the dying sun at the queen of dragons. “ORDER ON ME!”
Raymond threw the last of his power into briefly phasing the scoundrels out of existence, as the star impacted Tiamat and exploded. The queen of dragons was resilient, but even her armor was nothing before the force of a supernova. The planetarium vanished as the power of a collapsing star, even a miniature one, ripped it apart. But as the blinding light faded, Tiamat still stood, smoking and battered, stunned, and breathing heavily, but stood.
But so also did the scoundrels! Emerging back into existence, they attacked with everything they had left. Keelah blinded the dragon queen with an unendring rain of abyssal bolts, giving cover for Lamora to take on her true form and carve a ruinous slash across one of Tiamat’s throats. Elsior took the chance, shedding her armor and moving with enough force to create a sonic boom, she struck the weakened throat with all her might. In a spray of divine blood, the head severed, and with a crash, the red head of Tiamat fell to the ground.
Tiamat’s rage was incalculable. Her wings stirred up a veritable hurricane, throwing the scoundrels off of her as she took flight. The scoundrels looked up, and awe came upon them as the empress of dragons began to cast a spell of incomprehensible power. She wove together ley lines, the very flows of magic through the cosmos, and she wove them into being, not one, but five at once. Then, they began to align, one to each cardinal direction, and one pointed like a targeting beam directly at the scoundrels.
Raymond was unconscious, so Lamora called Cualli to hand and activated it. The scoundrels vanished into the staff, and it vanished into itself seconds before the spell began to activate. A beam of brilliant white light filled the air, and the ley-lines collapsed into themselves, into the directing one, and hurtled downwards. The scoundrels re-appeared on the Astral Hound moments before a spell powerful enough to shatter a planet detonated on the space they had just been standing. Akar’s ancient magics held it together, directing the force outwards. The plane survived, barely, with a seventy-mile wide hole punched through it, straight from one end to the other.
Keelah rushed to the Astral Hound’s helm and swiftly began directing the aethership away from Akar as fast as it could go, supplementing her own power to accelerate it through time and space even faster. They watched with baited breath, as they prayed that Tiamat’s aspect wouldn’t chase them down. Forutnately for them, the damaged avatar was destroyed by its own working. Within Ascalon’s domain, the true dragon queen raged that her prey had escaped her, though privately, she was mildly amused that any mortal had managed to push one of her avatars so far. It was the first time in a very, very long while.
”Did you get it?” Keelah asked as soon as Lamora restored Raymond to consciousness. “Because that was far too close to have been for nothing.”
Raymond focused on the staff, and projected out the memory. “Yeah, and I see why Tiamat didn’t want us to find it.” He replied. The hazy grey memory stood clear, as Io breathed his last, and his daughter wept for what she had done.
”Well that’s a fascinating little parcel of information, beyond simply its use in creating our own deity to counter her.” Aegis remarked. “But perhaps not the most actionable piece we recovered on this expedition. Did any of you notice what wasn’t there?”
”Even as supposedly the good half you’re an insufferable smart-ass you know that?” Keelah replied. “Just fucking tell us.”
”Takes one to know one mini-Mat.” Aegis replied. “There were no forces from Ascalon’s own armies. It was exclusively Tiamat’s.”
”Given her response to us being there, I think she’d have killed him if he tried to add his own.” Elsior replied. “Though, that probably wouldn’t stop him.”
”Exactly.” Aegis replied. “He’d only avoid having his own forces around to monitor the situation, and probably try to kill all of us, if there wasn’t already something else he needed them for. He’s preparing to make his move.”
”Another invasion of Akar?” Raymond guessed. “It’s only been fifty years. He can’t be ready for that so quickly.”
”We don’t take losing well.” Aegis replied.
”Fair enough. Even so, we’re going to need more information, and more firepower.” Raymond considered. “This memory is only a part of what I’ll need, and the energies required will take more than a little while to accumulate.”
”So,” Keelah considered. “What I’m hearing is that we need to break into heaven again.”
”And persuade an archangel to not only avoid killing us, but come with us. Because there’s no way Kazador will come with us without her.” Elsior groaned. “And maybe somehow pick up Matlal on the way, providing he’s not busy on the mortal front.”
”He will be. Can’t keep himself out of trouble that one.” Lamora remarked. “Though as for persuading Senket, I suspect she has words for Ascalon long overdue.”
”No doubt. So, in the interest of not having to ask Kaz to reforge me, please don’t tell her who’s soul is in this sword.” Aegis requested, with not a little fear.
submitted by LordIlthari to The_Ilthari_Library [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 16:03 Logna9000 The Storyteller

This is a recounting of events from my childhood. I know this is a bit of a cliche, but if you don’t believe me, I understand, I wouldn’t believe this story either.
I was in sixth grade the first time it happened. Nothing was weird about the day, nothing that could prepare me for what would happen.
That night, I was lying in my bed, trying to go to sleep, when I noticed a bright light shining from under the door of my closet. The light shone many different colors, from an emerald green to a dark gray and finally settling on a deep blood-red. I watched curiously, since the light in my closet was normally a bright white, and nobody had been in there all day. All of a sudden the lights shut off. Not just the closet light, that would be too simple. All of the lights in my room instantly shut off. The soft lamp I sleep with next to my bed, the lava lamp in the corner of my room, even my speaker playing it’s white noise shut off. It’s at this point I’ll say that it was about 3 am, and understandably scared shitless. What happened next was easily the worst thing that could’ve happened. In the pitch-black of my room, I heard the sound of my closet door creaking as it opened. The second that noise spoke out through the darkness, I couldn’t move, not only from the fear, but even if I wanted to, I was in a state of sleep paralysis. Nothing happened for several minutes, the only thing keeping the time being the red numbers on my alarm clock. The next thing that happened will be imprinted on my mind forever. I heard a scuttling like a thousand spiders crawling along the floor. The sound seemed to last for hours, giving me an extreme sense of anxiety along with the feeling of pure terror. The sound grew closer and closer to my bed, until it was right by my side. A voice sounded from the darkness after a time of silence. The voice sounded like the embodiment of all the possible sounds of grinding and all the voices of the damned in hell collectively shouting.
“I am the culmination of humanity’s darkest fears, put into being by the writers who long for the darkness, I am the inspiration for the most disturbing of stories. I am, the Storyteller,
You young child, are lucky enough to encounter me, only those who have a true connection to the darkness within themselves may be granted this chance. Now let the fun begin.”
This entity, the storyteller, then opened a book they must’ve carried from my closet. As it opened, a bloodred light shone from the pages like it had from my closet, illuminating this monstrous creature. I have never felt as afraid as I did in that moment. The creature had the head of a man, but with all the features of a corpse. Rotting skin, sunken eyes, but he had long, skinny teeth, like those of a whale, but more plentiful. His body I could not see, but he had eight limbs, all human arms, that looked as if he had taken them off other’s bodies and sewn them onto his. As he finished looking through the pages, he began to read, looking up to me as he did.
“You always knew to fear your closet door, and keep one eye open forevermore;
Something is waiting for you to douse the light, it dances across your room at night;
Hungry, it shambles towards your bed, you forget in that moment, the brave words your father said;
Terror washes over you, more than any child should feel, and those sleepless night continue, making you an evermore delicious meal.“
As he finished, he slowly closed the book, and I was thrust back into darkness. The scuttling resumed, and instead of heading back to the closet, it came closer to my bed. I felt a change in pressure on my bed sheets, and had the horrifying realization that it was climbing onto my bed. He moved his face closer to mine, until it was an inch away, and whispered to me in a soft tone, “Sleep well child, for these events shall soon come to pass.” With that, he backed up, climbing off of my bed. The scuttling noise continued back to my closet, and the door creaked shut.
I was baffled, assuming it was all a dream. So I walked to my closet, and opened it, not sure what I would see. But nothing was there, just a normal closet. I decided that I was just tired, and that it was all a hallucination, and tried to go back to sleep. But I could not get that face out of my mind, with its sunken eyes and horrifying smile. As the sun came out, I lay in bed, unable to get even a wink of sleep. For the next few days, that sight would haunt me, always accompanied by the scuttling, the never ending scuttling. But as all things, the memory started to fade from my mind, never comprehending the gravity of the situation.
About a month after the night, I saw something on the news, and it all came rushing back. In the next state over, there was a small child found dead by his parents. The local police were extremely confused, for the child had been bitten in half, but the teeth marks matched no bite marks that exist on earth. There was a blood trail that led from the bed to the closet, and the trail went up the wall, and ended in what was one of the most disturbing images imaginable. There was a pool of blood on the wall, as if gravity did not apply to it, and there were handprints, eight of them, in a circle around the pool. In writing above it all was a message that said, “Ready or not child, I draw closer.”
Understandably, reading this as a middle schooler shook me to my core. I realized that my experience was not a dream, as I had convinced myself, but a real event, where the creature could influence what happened in the world. The day was a blur, and it seemed that nobody else had seen the newspaper article. A week went by, and my fear diminished more and more as nothing happened. Then, that night, it happened again.
I saw the light from under my closet door. I willed myself to wake up, convinced that it was all a nightmare. When nothing happened, I got out of bed and ran to the door, but it seemed to be locked from the outside. I yelled for my parents, but it was as if the sound was swallowed up by the presence of the light. I ran for my bed, defeated and terrified, and threw the covers over my head. As I saw the lights go out, I froze, in that state of sleep paralysis again, hoping that the covers would be enough to save me. Beneath my blankets, I could barely hear the scuttling, but it was clearly still there. Then the worst thing that could’ve happened became real. The covers were being pulled off of me, exposing me to the freezing dark of my room.
I did not see the creature as it was pulling off the covers, but once it started opening its ever-present book, I saw the red light shining from it, illuminating the face of this disturbingly made creature. I was stuck, staring into the eyes of the storyteller, just waiting for him to begin reading, knowing what was coming next.
“You thought that I, was only a dream, a nightmare where despite your best attempts, you could not scream;
The days went by, you slept protected by a simple locked door, I awaited, hidden away beneath the very floor;”
The book was slammed shut, throwing me back into darkness. The scuttling grew towards my bed, and the creature climbed up, and with his face an inch away from mine said,
“Young child, if you should sleep tonight, the souls of the damned shall come up, and take flight.”
He then scuttled back to my closet, and shut the door, and I felt his presence leaving. As what happened last time, I sat in my bed, wanting to be relieved of this hell. This time, it was only 2 weeks after that night's events when a newspaper article came out about a very disturbing death. It was another child, bitten in half by an unknown creature. This time however, there was no blood trail to the closet, there was a trail to a huge hole in the floor. The investigators were baffled, since the bedroom was on the second story, yet there was no hole on the first floor. It was as if the hole was a portal, sending whatever went in it into an endless dark abyss. There was, however, another pool of blood with the 8 handprints surrounding it, and in writing above it, “Closer and closer I come, hidden away from the wrath of the sun”.
The most disturbing thing, without a doubt, was the fact that this all occurred in the next town over. The two occurrences created a line that perfectly pointed to my town on a map.
As the days went by, I got a more severe sense of anxiety, knowing that one of these days, he would return. I tried getting people to let me sleep at their house, but somehow there was always an excuse to keep it from happening. People noticed that I was beginning to break down, and they kept asking what was wrong, but I felt that telling them what happened would violate some rule and make the situation worse, so I said I was just having sleeping problems, which was partly true.
After about a week, as I was going to bed, I felt that tonight would be the night that he came back. I tried to prepare myself, but the experience that night was by far the most traumatizing by far. I saw the lights from the closet, and I froze, trying to steel myself for what would happen next. The lights went out, and the darkness felt so much more full than in the past. The sound of the door opening was even louder than it had been. The scuttling, by far the worst part, sounded much angrier and determined than in the past. It came up to the bed again, and this time, the storyteller immediately climbed onto my bed. He then opened the book, and the color was so much brighter. The entire experience seemed more alive, more real, as if the storyteller’s connection to reality was somehow stronger.
“You tried to thwart my return, but it cannot delay the damned from being burned.”
He brought his face closer to mine, and since his presence felt so much stronger, I could finally smell him. I truly wish I hadn’t. He smelled of rotting corpses and burned plastic, all combined with the strongest smell of mold I have ever smelled. I could feel bile starting to come up through my throat, but it stopped, held back by some unseen force. After several moments of silence, the storyteller said “Young child, three times I have visited you, pray that I don’t visit you again.” And he crawled off my bed, scurrying back to the closet. And the moment it shut, I leaned off the bed and relieved myself of my dinner. I just sat there, contemplating his words. Sadly, I didn’t know how to keep him from coming, so I just told myself that I had to suck it up, and hopefully he would not return.
This retelling is making it seem as if I was calm during these encounters, but I am leaving out details about hours upon hours of screaming, waking up in cold sweats, and days of research, looking for documentation of this being, but finding nothing, I am leaving out the extent to which I was losing sleep, slowly going insane from these very abnormal meetings, and being unable to talk about them. At this point, I was starting to have mental breakdowns in the middle of class. The counselors at school kept calling me in, asking what was going on.I told them I was just having trouble sleeping, which was true, but I couldn’t say what was really happening.
Only two days after this meeting, I heard about the occurrence. I learned of it rather quickly, considering it happened right down the street. A sinkhole had opened beneath the house at the end of the street, swallowing it completely, but naturally it wasn’t a normal sinkhole. The rims were lined with obsidian, a deeper black than I had ever seen, and it seemed that there was fire inside the stones, because along cracks of stone, a bright red was flickering. In addition to this, the sinkhole seemed to go deeper than was physically possible. The hole had carved through bedrock as if it was sand, and seemed to solidify the mantle of the earth so it could come up from the center of the earth to swallow the house. The hole was also ringed with fire, which never seemed to go out, but never spread. Also, if someone listened closely, they could hear a faint screaming, as if the hole went all the way down to hell. As was the theme with these events, there was a child, bitten in half by the outside of the hole. Another pool of blood, with 8 hands surrounding it. But this time, there was no message, but a drawing of a face, the horrifying face of the storyteller.
Now obviously there was a pattern. It is only now that I realize that this occurrence continued the line on, closer to my house.
While the investigation was going on, I wanted so badly to tell the investigators what had been happening, but I didn’t because I would be considered a crazy person and maybe even institutionalized, which I know would only make it worse, because then I couldn’t escape the encounters. My parents were beginning to tell that something was wrong, and they were getting more calls from school. I was falling behind in all my classes. My breakdowns were getting worse and more frequent. I was having depressive episodes, and I was feeling more and more stressed. I felt as if this would happen one more time my mind would shatter.
It was one day, only one day between this occurrence and his next visit. I saw the light, and I started to panic. I was running around my room, trying to use the furniture to block the door, but it's as if everything was bolted to the floor. I went for the window, thinking I could climb out, but as soon as I opened the curtains and looked out, I wished that I hadn’t. The outside world was nowhere near what it used to be. I used to be able to see a vast forest and tons of wildlife would come up to the house to look at the strange structure in the middle of their home. Even at night, I could see almost as well as during the day due to there being no light pollution. But there was nothing, a black, empty void containing nothing. It was as if my room had been taken completely from the normal world and thrust into nothingness. I resigned myself back to laying down on my bed, convinced that I couldn’t do anything.
As soon as I was comfortable, the light shut off. The whole time I was thinking to myself, it’s just a power-outage, it's just a power-outage. Except deep down, I knew what was coming next. I waited, and listened for the sound of the door opening, but it seemed as if days went by before there was any activity. When the door finally opened, time seemed to freeze. Everything was happening slower and slower, making my anxiety levels increase drastically. When the scuttling ensued, it seemed to go up the wall to the ceiling. It was soon shown that what I heard was correct, for the storyteller was suddenly right above me. When he opened the book, the red light showed that he was capable of making a web-like substance, and he was using it to hang from the ceiling like a true spider. He sat there, with the book open, for what seemed like a lifetime, before he finally began to read.
“When you awake to the clock’s tics; you will hear from above you faint clicks.”
He closed the book, then dropped himself closer to me, and said, “soon child, soon.” And with that, he brought himself back to the ceiling, and scuttled back to the closet and closed the door. I immediately ran to my window to see if I was still in the void. But when I opened my curtains, I saw the familiar sight of the forest, with the stars and the moon shining down on it. It seemed that the storyteller had the power to isolate his victims in an endless void, severing them from the real world momentarily.
It was the very next day when I saw cop cars pulling up to my neighbor’s house. I immediately knew what happened and sat in a corner, trying not to cry. A dear friend of mine had been killed, bitten in half like the other children, with the pool of blood and 8 handprints surrounding the dark red liquid. And the face of the storyteller was drawn again, in perfect detail. This time however, there was a hole in the ceiling of the room, going to the attic of the house, but there was no sign of entry from the attic. His alarm clock was beeping when they found him, flashing the time it went off. 3:00 on the dot. I was so much in grief that I didn’t even go to school, all I did was sit around and feel sorry for myself.
I didn’t even get a full day to grieve. I was visited by him again that very night. I was lying in my bed, the same as I had done the entire day, when I saw the lights from under my closet door. I didn’t even move or try to fight it, I was utterly hopeless. The lights went out and although my adrenaline was rushing through my body, I couldn’t bring myself to even try to move. The closet door slammed open, causing me to jolt suddenly, and I was caught off guard by how forceful it felt. I waited for the scuttling, but it never came. There was the creaking of something jumping off of the floorboards and I felt the sensation of something slamming down onto my bed. Then I felt the storyteller scurrying up my bed towards me. He thrust his face towards mine, and the smell was so much worse as it rolled over me. It smelled as if the power was shut off in a morgue for a month, with all the bodies rotting, along with the bad breath of all the souls in hell thrust into my face. He was smiling, more than he usually would, as he opened the book. The light seemed darker, more vibrant, and for some reason I knew that the light meant something important. He stayed there for a few moments, watching me with that wide smile that showed all of his sharp, needle-like teeth. He finally began to read, but it only made the situation worse.
“ Satan gave responsibility to I, and I have made many more children cry;
The fears of children are hard do douse, when I am in the safety of their house“
He closed the book slowly, stayed there in the silence for many moments, then made sure his face was as close to mine as it could be before saying,
“Dear young child, the final day of reckoning is upon you, and everyone knows it to be true.“
Then he crawled off of the bed, and scuttled back to the closet before slamming the door shut. Unlike other times, I couldn’t figure out what this one meant. With all of the other visits, I was able to vaguely guess what would occur, just not when. The choice of words made this time so much more confusing, and I lay in bed, trying to figure out what it meant until morning.
As soon as I opened my bedroom door, I knew something was wrong. There was an air about the house that made my hair stick up on end. I walked towards my parents' door, and I smelled the scent of heavy amounts of iron. This caused me to run to my parents' room, and the smell only got stronger. When I opened their room door, I immediately began to vomit. Both of my parents were on the floor, bitten in half, as was the storyteller’s motif, and there was a trail of blood from their bodies to the closet, and just like the first time, there was a pool of blood on the wall, unmoving as if gravity didn’t apply to it. And surrounding the pool of blood were the 8 easily recognizable handprints. The writing above the pool of blood read, “Tell others about your experience, and you will wish you had an end as easy as your parents.” The investigators pulled me aside and asked me what the writing meant, but I had to deny that I knew anything. I was never accused of killing my parents, because there were cameras in the hallway next to both mine and my parents’ rooms, and neither of our doors opened that night. I was put into an orphanage, and adopted by a very loving family. I did further research on the storyteller, but there was no writing anywhere of anybody ever encountering it.
Well, that’s the story. I think 20 years is long enough for the storyteller to have forgotten about me, and it’s time that I get this story out there, to tell people about this being. Maybe somebody can find a way to kill this creature. Through all my research, I never discovered what I had done to trigger this motion of events, and there is nothing I can warn you from doing. But I gotta go, I’m starting to see a bright light from my closet door.
submitted by Logna9000 to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 15:52 ellentintin 22 [F4M] Philippines /anywhere/online - looking my future man who I'm gonna fetch at the airport

Before anything else please read everything. I am from the Philippines and if you are willing to be in a Long long distance relationship it is okay just tell me at the very start of the convo.
hello! kamusta? I am Ellen 22 yrs of age from the Philippines, currently taking civil engineering (hopefully I can graduate on time this year). I am introvert (I hate crowded and noisy places), I am thoughtful, caring, and kind towards people who reciprocate my kindness. I have a dream someday that I'll be helping people who needs help especially when it comes to education. Lastly I am the eldest so that puts a lot of pressure.
- 5'0 ft tall
- wavy brown hair
- dark brown eyes
- natural tanned skin
- cute nose (heart shaped) (my best asset)
I am willing to send picture and of course you should as well.
On my free time I love to dance (making tiktoks), try out my clothes and take pictures, watch movies (LOTR and HP), workout and read books. oh of course Karaoke (karaoke Queen)
So I am here looking for someone who I can talk to regulary to being friends and finally if ever (but I am not forcing) be in a longterm relationship ( I don't mind LDR as long as meeting me here in the Philippines will part of the plan). I don't actually give what I want in a man, I prefer you showing me who you are and how you treat people or your girl without any instructions given (plus points if you are God fearing and want a God centered relationship. I am Catholic). When it comes to physical appearance I have this thing on guys with light eye color (blue, green, hazel, etc) and pointed nose. Oh please I prefer video calls and voice calls over text.
Send me a message and please be creative. See yah!
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2023.03.20 15:50 ellentintin 22 [F4M] Philippines /anywhere/online - looking my future man who I'm gonna fetch at the airport

Before anything else please read everything. I am from the Philippines and if you are willing to be in a Long long distance relationship it is okay just tell me at the very start of the convo.
hello! kamusta? I am Ellen 22 yrs of age from the Philippines, currently taking civil engineering (hopefully I can graduate on time this year). I am introvert (I hate crowded and noisy places), I am thoughtful, caring, and kind towards people who reciprocate my kindness. I have a dream someday that I'll be helping people who needs help especially when it comes to education. Lastly I am the eldest so that puts a lot of pressure.
- 5'0 ft tall
- wavy brown hair
- dark brown eyes
- natural tanned skin
- cute nose (heart shaped) (my best asset)
I am willing to send picture and of course you should as well.
On my free time I love to dance (making tiktoks), try out my clothes and take pictures, watch movies (LOTR and HP), workout and read books. oh of course Karaoke (karaoke Queen)
So I am here looking for someone who I can talk to regulary to being friends and finally if ever (but I am not forcing) be in a longterm relationship ( I don't mind LDR as long as meeting me here in the Philippines will part of the plan). I don't actually give what I want in a man, I prefer you showing me who you are and how you treat people or your girl without any instructions given (plus points if you are God fearing and want a God centered relationship. I am Catholic). When it comes to physical appearance I have this thing on guys with light eye color (blue, green, hazel, etc) and pointed nose. Oh please I prefer video calls and voice calls over text.
Send me a message and please be creative. See yah!
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2023.03.20 15:02 HockeyMod Game Thread: San Jose Sharks (19-37-14) at Edmonton Oilers (39-23-8) - 20 Mar 2023 - 06:30PM PDT

San Jose Sharks (19-37-14) at Edmonton Oilers (39-23-8)

Rogers Place

Thread Notes:

Posting and User Conduct Guidelines
Visitors Guide
2022-23 Regular Season Ticket Exchange
/SanJoseSharks Discord


06:30PM 07:30PM 08:30PM 09:30PM 10:30PM
Listen SJS - EDM
Other-Away Preview - Boxscore - Recap
Other-Home Preview - Boxscore - Recap
GameCenter On

Season Series

Date Away Home Time Network/Result
13 Jan 2023 07:30PM PST EDM (7) - SJS (1)
20 Mar 2023 07:30PM MDT NBCSCA
08 Apr 2023 01:00PM PDT NBCSCA
13 Apr 2023 07:00PM MDT NBCSCA

Projected Lineups

Left Center Right Left Center Right
Evander Kane Connor McDavid Zach Hyman Andreas Johnsson Tomas Hertl Alexander Barabanov
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Leon Draisaitl Kailer Yamamoto Andrew Agozzino Logan Couture Kevin Labanc
Warren Foegele Nick Bjugstad Mattias Janmark Noah Gregor Nico Sturm Fabian Zetterlund
Klim Kostin Devin Shore Derek Ryan Oskar Lindblom Steven Lorentz Martin Kaut
Left D Right D Left D Right D
Darnell Nurse Cody Ceci Derrick Pouliot Erik Karlsson
Mattias Ekholm Evan Bouchard Marc-Edouard Vlasic Nikolai Knyzhov
Brett Kulak Vincent Desharnais Mario Ferraro Matt Benning
Goalies Goalies
Stuart Skinner James Reimer
Jack Campbell Kaapo Kahkonen


Player Date Injury Status Details Return
EDM Ryan McLeod 14 Mar 2023 Upper Body OUT McLeod (upper body) won't accompany the Edmonton Oilers to Seattle for Saturday's game, Jason Gregor of reports. unknown
EDM Dylan Holloway 20 Feb 2023 Undisclosed OUT Holloway, who was injured while playing in the minors, will be sidelined for at least a month, Jason Gregor of reports Monday. unknown
EDM Ryan Murray Back IR-LT 30 Mar 2023
EDM Oscar Klefbom Shoulder IR-LT Surgery 01 Jul 2023
EDM Mike Smith Undisclosed IR-LT 01 Jul 2023
-- -- -- -- --
SJS Evgeny Svechnikov 16 Mar 2023 Undisclosed DTD Svechnikov (undisclosed) won't play Saturday versus the New York Islanders, Curtis Pashelka of The San Jose Mercury News reports. unknown
SJS Jacob MacDonald 06 Mar 2023 Upper Body OUT MacDonald (upper body) joined the San Jose Sharks at the end of Monday's practice but it's believed his timeline remains week-to-week, Curtis Pashelka of The San Jose Mercury News reports. 23 Mar 2023
SJS Radim Simek 04 Mar 2023 Concussion OUT Simek is considered week-to-week because of a reoccurring situation related to the two concussions he suffered this season, Corey Masisak of The Athletic reports. unknown
SJS Jonah Gadjovich Upper Body IR 23 Mar 2023
SJS Luke Kunin Knee IR Surgery 15 Sep 2023
SJS Markus Nutivaara Lower Body IR-LT Not Specified 01 Apr 2023

Team Stats

Oilers 70 39 23 8 86 61.4 3.91428 3.3 31.5 75.5 33.05714 31.78571 50.4
Sharks 70 19 37 14 52 37.1 2.84285 3.75714 17.9 82.4 29.94285 31.61428 50.8

Team Leaders

Stat Player Value Player Value
G Connor McDavid 58 Timo Meier 31
A Connor McDavid 76 Erik Karlsson 65
P Connor McDavid 134 Erik Karlsson 85
+/- Darnell Nurse 21 Jaycob Megna 6
PIM Darnell Nurse 62 Jonah Gadjovich 57
TOI Darnell Nurse 23:40 Erik Karlsson 25:43

Goalie Breakdown

Stuart Skinner 42 40 22 14 4 0 2.90 0.91122
Jack Campbell 32 30 17 9 4 0 3.56 0.88195
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
James Reimer 35 34 10 17 7 2 3.25 0.89527
Kaapo Kahkonen 32 32 8 17 6 1 3.88 0.87857

In-Game Updates

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2023.03.20 14:36 STLhistoryBuff Weekly Events Thread 3/20/23 - 3/26/23

Please, feel free to add any events below! Check out the Visitor's Guide for more things to do around town!
Looking to meet up with people? Check out Meetup St. Louis.

Be sure to continue scrolling past the Weekly Events for Trivia Nights, Live Music, Sporting Events, Local Comedy, and more!

Weekly Events

Sporting Events This Week Attractions Around the Area Comedy This Week
St. Louis Cardinals schedule Anheuser-Busch Brewery Funny Bone Comedy Club
St. Louis Blues schedule City Museum Helium Comedy Club
St. Louis City SC schedule Gateway Arch The Improv Shop
St. Louis Battlehawks schedule Missouri History Museum
St. Louis Billikens schedule National Blues Museum
Gateway Grizzlies schedule St. Louis Aquarium
Gateway Motorsports Park St. Louis Art Museum
St. Louis Ambush schedule St. Louis Science Center
St. Louis Zoo

Trivia Nights
Location Date/Time More Information
Bar K Tuesdays at 7:00 pm
City Foundry Thursdays 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Joey B's on the Hill Mondays 8:30 pm - 10:30 pm Trivia Details
Nick's Pub Mondays
Felix's Pizza Pub Tuesdays at 8:00 pm Trivia Details
Schlafly Brewpubs (Any Location) Tuesdays 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Trivia Details
Rockwell Beer Co Tuesdays Trivia Details (Reservations required)
The Mack Tuesdays at 8:00 pm Trivia Details
The Pat Connolly Tavern Wednesdays at 7:00 pm
The Post Wednesdays 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm Trivia Details
Pieces Board Game Bar & Cafe Wednesdays Trivia Details
HandleBar Thursdays at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Trivia Details
Steve's Hot Dogs Tuesdays 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm Trivia Details

Live Music This Week
Music Venues Live Music Around Town
Blueberry Hill Duck Room 1860 Saloon
Chesterfield Amphitheater BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups
Delmar Hall Broadway Oyster Bar
Enterprise Center City Foundry
The Fabulous Fox Theatre Gallery Pub
The Factory Game 6 Honky Tonk
Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre Gaslight Lounge
Off Broadway The Heavy Anchor
Old Rock House Jazz St. Louis
The Pageant Joe's Cafe
Red Flag The Lot on the Landing
St. Louis Music Park McGurk's
St. Louis Symphony Concert Calendar SoFar St. Louis Secret performances around town
Stifel Theatre Venice Cafe
Yaquis on Cherokee

Recurring Outdoor Activities
Big Muddy Adventures – STL Riverfront Adventure Big Muddy Adventures was established in 2002. They are the first professional outfitteguiding company providing access to the wild wonders of the Middle Mississippi and Lower Missouri Rivers.
Gateway Arch Events There are a variety of things to do along the Mississippi River.
Hidden Valley Ski Resort Ziplining, scenic chairlift rides, and hiking trails opened during the summer. Skiing, snowboarding during the winter.
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2023.03.20 14:20 kiplet1 [City of Roses] no. 23.4: the Rattle of Keys – confusing, the Two of them – her Reason – “Enough to get you into trouble”

[City of Roses] no. 23.4: the Rattle of Keys – confusing, the Two of them – her Reason – “Enough to get you into trouble”
previous Table of Contents
the thin ice
But there’s a rattle of keys at the door to the apartment, it’s opening, there’s Jo, black coat swinging and bright red hair, saying something to someone behind her, Luys, his brown short-waisted jacket, loose brown check trousers, “Jo,” says Ysabel, “you’re late,” but there’s someone else, after Luys, a young man in a soft yellow suit that swallows his narrow frame. “Sorry,” Jo’s saying, tucking her jingling keys away. “Had to find some clothes for Christian. Nice clothes.”
“Hey,” says Christian, shooting his cuffs, “it’s me makes this look good,” even as his narrowed eyes dart about the kitchen, the steps down to the open room, where a long table’s laid with rich yellow cloth, set with gold-rimmed white dinner plates under gold-rimmed soup plates, bread plates, gold-plated forks and salad forks, soup spoons and teaspoons, broad-bladed knives, water glasses and wine glasses and crisp white napkins, and in the center of it all a glass bowl filled with white and yellow roses. Ysabel stands at the head of the table, there where the windowed walls of the open room narrow to a windowed point, a hand on the back of a chair swathed in beige. White flared pants, a shimmering golden drape of camisole. “Christian, Ysabel,” says Jo, and “Ysabel Christian, but I bet you both remember each other.”
“Yeah,” says Christian, “yeah, the Bride, the Queen, I mean, hey. Highness.” He nods. “Majesty,” says Luys. “Yes,” says Ysabel, and then, to Jo, “We need to talk?”
“Sure,” says Jo, “let me just catch a shower, get changed,” and “Jo,” says Ysabel, coming down the length of that table, as Jo’s saying, “won’t be ten minutes.”
“Jo,” says Ysabel, coming up the three low steps into the kitchen.
“You’ve been smoking,” says Ysabel, as she closes the door to her room.
“Ysabel,” says Jo, sloughing her coat.
“I can smell it.”
Jo tosses her coat on the bed. “I went, I was at Bruno’s,” she says.
“You asked for my help with this,” says Ysabel. Then, “What is he doing here.”
“What,” says Jo, hand at her throat. “Christian?” Undoing the top button of her shirt. “Apparently, he’s working for me now.”
“So you invited him to dinner,” says Ysabel.
“He’s,” says Jo, “yeah, just, we can set an extra place at the table or something. Seriously, Ysabel, give me ten minutes – ”
“They’ll be here in ten minutes. Jo, you know how important this – ”
“Ysabel,” says Jo. “Ysabel. We can only do, five thousand.”
“This is,” says Ysabel. “But that’s, not enough. Not nearly.”
Jo says, “So I’m guessing that you didn’t have any luck, either.”
“There must be more.”
“Bruno,” says Jo. “It’s complicated. Bruno says – ”
“It’s your money. He doesn’t tell you. You tell him.”
“It’s not,” says Jo, and then, “it’s all we can do. Even that’s a stretch.”
Ysabel looks away, turns away, all in white and shimmering gold.
“It’s not nothing,” says Jo, undoing another button of her shirt. “They can raise more money off of this. It’s – Ysabel – ” Reaching for an arm, a hand. “Let me shower and change and we’ll go out there and we’ll – they’re not gonna say no, Ysabel. It’s a lot of money.” Squeezing her hand. “How could she be disappointed?”
Ysabel brushes back a hank of matted bright red hair. “You need more than a shower,” she says.
“No,” says Jo.
“Yes,” says Ysabel. “You’ll look fabulous. Go on, get out of this,” undoing the next button of Jo’s shirt, Jo’s shaking her head, stepping back, pushing Ysabel’s hands away, “get back there,” says Ysabel, pointing to the dressing screen in the corner, a simple frame of whitewashed wood, and panels of plain linen. “Don’t make me issue a royal decree. And, Gallowglas?” as Jo strips off her black shirt, wads it, drops it to the floor. “Try not to peek, this time?”
Christian in his yellow suit, sitting at the table, laughing at something, Luys beside him smiling ruefully, sitting up when he sees Ysabel coming into the kitchen, pushing up to his feet with a clatter of plate and clinking glass, “Ma’am,” he says, and Christian half-standing beside him, “Majesty,” he says, “I don’t mean to put anybody out. I can be on my,” but Ysabel’s saying “Please. Of course you’re welcome.” At the foot of the table a powerfully built woman in a wing-collared shirt, a black string tie, pours something from a cocktail shaker into a low square tumbler. Her short hair dyed a virulent chartreuse. “As for what happened, last year,” Christian says.
“Don’t mention it,” says Ysabel. “This is to be a pleasant dinner, with friends.”
“Okay,” says Christian, and Luys leans toward him, “Ma’am,” he says, quietly, and Christian says, “ah, highness.” The woman in the string tie’s pouring the last of the liquor from the shaker and setting it down. “Ma’am,” says Luys to Christian again, and Christian nods as he reaches over the table to take the drink from her hand.
“Jo will be ready shortly,” says Ysabel, “and our other guests should be here any moment. Iona,” and the woman in the string tie looks up, a cube of ice in the tongs in her hand, “if you’d like to join us, as Christian’s companion?”
“What of the service, ma’am?” says the woman in the string tie.
“Finish what you’re making, there,” says Ysabel, “but otherwise, let’s let it take care of itself? Mason, if you’d be so kind as to switch places,” and Luys nods, standing, and Christian’s standing beside him, a clink again of glasses, “Hey,” he’s saying, “if you need help with the,” looking about, “table,” and he frowns. “I thought there was just the six places.”
“There’s eight of us, tonight,” says Ysabel, “with yourself and the Chariot.” There’s a loudly definite knock. Christian, sitting, starts to stand again, but Iona pushes past him, up the three low steps toward the door to the apartment, another knock, and she opens it, a man there on the landing, not too tall, somewhat stout, a grey cashmere topcoat and a great big smile, “This the place? Is this the place?”
“This is the place,” says the woman sweeping past him, slipping off her wrap of fake white fur to reveal a brief dress, black, and asymmetrically cut. Her yellow hair chin-length, severely straight. A second woman, also wrapped in white fur, clings to the man’s arm, her yellow hair as long, as straight. The first woman with a clack of her heels steps up to Ysabel, a hand for her cheek, a kiss for her mouth, and “Well,” says Ysabel, stepping back. “That was nice. But Ettie, I rather imagine you’re his date, tonight?”
Ettie laughs, her hand on Ysabel’s hip. “You know,” she says, “I do get the two of us confused.”
“Told you,” says Chrissie, squeezing the man’s arm, letting go. Slipping out of her wrap to reveal a dress as brief and black as Ettie’s. “How the hell can you tell them apart,” says the man in the topcoat.
“I pay attention,” says Ysabel, taking Chrissie’s hand. “Ysabel Perry. Pleased to meet you.”
“Davies,” he says. “Reginald Davies. Reg, to my friends.”
“Well,” says Ysabel, “Mr. Davies, ladies, if you’d let Luys take your coats, and Iona there can make you anything you’d like to drink, and this is Mr. Christian, Christian…”
“Ah, Beaumont,” says Christian. “Ma’am.”
“Mr. Beaumont, an associate of our Jo Gallowglas, who’ll join us in a moment. Why don’t we all sit down.” And they move and shift about the table with a scrape of chairs, rattle of plates, clink of ice in glasses, “Vodka martini,” says Reg, “dirty as you like,” and “Vodka tonic,” says Ettie, and Iona nods. Chrissie shakes her head. Christian pulls out a chair for her, and “Christian,” says Ettie, letting Reg squeeze past, “how charming. My sister’s name is Christienne.”
“French?” says Christian.
“Of a sort,” says Chrissie, as she sits.
“Tell us, Mr. Davies,” says Ysabel, as she takes her seat at the head of the table, “as the person here of whom we know the least. What is it that you do?”
Down the hall Luys, white fur and grey wool draped over his arm, and a door to either side of him, the one to the left ajar, and the room beyond dark, the one to the right closed, and light shining beneath it. He knocks. “Jo?” he says. He opens it, gently.
She’s sitting back against the high wide bed, the soft comforter smoothed across it, and the pillows piled at the head of it, white, all of them white. Her dress a sombre chalkstripe, tailored like a suit coat tightly buttoned down the front, and her bright red hair cut short, slicked back. On the floor by her bare feet an insubstantial pair of shoes, all narrow black straps and slender, pointed heels. Her hands tugging closed the lapels of the dress, the top button of it quite low. “I didn’t get anything,” she’s saying, “to wear under it, I was about to raid her drawers for something,” and “My lady,” he says, laying the coats across the bed, “please, let me,” taking her hand in his, and the bit of leather about his wrist. He tugs her to her feet. “Let go,” he says, “let me see it,” smoothing the lapels as she takes a deep breath, lowering her hands. “It is a fine dress,” he says.
“Of course you’d like it,” she says.
“It was made for you,” he says.
“Well, yeah, I mean – literally – ”
“Tú eres hermosa,” he says, and she looks away, biting her lips. Smiling, a little. “Still,” she says, toeing one of the shoes. It topples over click against the floor. “I’m gonna fall on my ass in those fucking things.”
“I think,” says Luys, kneeling before her, “a compromise is possible.” Fishing one of her red Chuck Taylors from beneath discarded jeans, the other out from under the bed. Loosening the laces, tugging it open, he fits it to her lifted foot. “There,” he says, tying it off, and “Luys,” says Jo, “you’re a prince.”
“It’s hardly that simple,” Reg is saying, as Iona hands him his drink.
“It’s marketing,” says Chrissie, stating a fact.
“Darling,” says Reg, not unpleasantly. “You know how I feel about that word.” She smiles, sipping her water. “At Maieutics,” says Reg, “we’re helping clients see how it is they’re seen, in the world, and determine how they wish to be seen.”
“What, so, like, branding?” says Christian, there beside Chrissie, and she lets out a honk of a laugh. Ettie across from her says, “Oh, now there’s a word he definitely does not like.”
“It’s been sucked dry of any meaning,” says Reg, but at the head of the table Ysabel’s pushing her chair back, standing, and then Iona, after a moment Christian, Chrissie, Ettie tossing her napkin to the table and nudging Reg, there in the kitchen Luys is handing Jo in her dark dress down the three low steps into the open room. “At last,” says Ysabel, smiling, “our Jo Gallowglas. The party may begin.”
“Something to drink?” murmurs Iona, and “Uh, whiskey sour?” says Jo, letting Luys pass behind her before pulling out her chair at the foot of the table. “Nice shoes,” says Christian, wryly.
“Yeah?” says Jo. “You know me. All about the personal branding.”
Another honk from Chrissie, and chuckles ruffle the others. “See?” says Reg, holding up a forestalling hand, as Jo takes a tumbler from Iona. “See?” he insists, but he’s smiling. “It’s a joke, you laugh, but: it’s important to you, isn’t it. Red. The color. Do you always wear something red, somewhere about you? You’ve dyed your hair – there’s a reason, to go that trouble. A way you wish to be seen. At Maieutics, what we do is help to articulate those reasons. Refine them. Make them legible, at the right time, in the right way, to the right audience. So.” Sitting back. “That’s what I do.”
“And people pay you for this, service?” says Ysabel.
“Handsomely,” says Reg.
Ladled into soup plates a creamy white, sprinkled with green and black pepper and floated swirls of golden oil. “Delicious,” says Ettie.
“Is it, it’s a bisque?” says Reg.
“The wine,” Ysabel’s saying, as Iona pours from a rough clay container into waiting glasses, “is an Albariño, from the rainy northwest of Spain.”
“You need seafood, for a bisque,” says Ettie.
“You can have a vegetable bisque,” says Chrissie.
“I know why,” says Jo, looking at Reg.
“I’m sorry?” says Reg.
“Jo,” says Ysabel.
“The reason,” says Jo. “I can articulate it just fine.” Ice clinking as she lifts her half-empty tumbler. “He wore red,” she says, and she tosses back the rest.
“He?” says Reg, looking from the foot to the head of the table and back.
“Red, and brown,” says Jo, “though sometimes he’d put on black and gold, or purple. He had the most knights enfeoffed and ruled the biggest fifth of this damn town and he’s gone now, and he isn’t coming back, so it’s left to me to carry it all, for her,” and Jo lifts her wineglass to Ysabel. “The Queen of the City of Roses,” she says. Luys lifts his glass, and Iona, and Christian, looking back and forth, lifts his, and Ysabel inclines her head. “So,” says Jo. “There you go.”
“Well,” says Reg, “that’s, yes.” Chrissie’s taken Ysabel’s hand in hers.
The pasta’s cloudy knots of translucent, hair-thin strands, stained green with pesto, tumbled with slivers of cheese. “It’s rocket, isn’t it?” says Ysabel.
“Ramps, I believe, ma’am,” says Iona.
“So,” says Reg. “Portland has a queen.”
“It’s like a game,” says Ettie.
“A game?” says Ysabel.
“With the titles,” says Ettie, “and the etiquette. I think it’s charming.”
“Leo played it,” says Chrissie.
“Leo,” says Reg. “Leo Barganax?”
“The Duke,” says Jo.
“You knew him?” says Luys.
“We worked together, or rather,” Reg smiles, “our money did, in a number of joint ventures. He introduced me to Ettie, and of course, her lovely sister.” Looking about the table. “I was saddened, to hear of his passing.”
Yellow-glazed ramekins, and within them custards stuffed with dark mushrooms, wilted spinach, and beside each a couple-three halves of baby artichokes, the edges of them charred. “Tofu?” says Chrissie, spooning up a bite.
“Chawanmushi,” says Iona. “Egg, and bean curd.”
“It’s not a game,” says Ettie, knife and fork busy with an artichoke.
“Isn’t it?” says Ysabel. “What you do is art, isn’t it? And isn’t art a game?”
“She has you there,” says Reg.
“No,” says Chrissie.
“It’s prurient,” says Luys.
“Now there’s a word,” says Reg.
“I cannot see the artistry in what they do. What you do,” he says, to Chrissie, across the table. “Forgive me for speaking bluntly.”
“So,” says Ettie, “you think you could,” as Reg is saying, “You’ve seen them perform?”
“I don’t mean to deny the skill,” says Luys, “the, the work, that goes into it. It’s all very,” he sighs, he takes up his fork. “It’s an appeal to a gross, simple appetite. A reflex. I don’t see, art.”
“Maybe you don’t see it,” says Ettie, leaning around Reg, who’s lifting a hand, “You say simple,” he says. “You say gross. I say direct. Primal. Universal.”
“But it isn’t universal,” says Luys.
“Everyone loves a beautiful woman,” says Reg, and “No,” says Jo, “we don’t,” and Ysabel snorts.
“But think,” says Reg, “of, all of the, art, over the years, the poetry, the painting, the songs, the emblems they’ve employed, all dedicated to, dependent on, the beauty of a woman – ”
“So?” says Jo.
“It’s there,” says Chrissie. “Already. Why not use it.”
“Why not add to it,” says Jo.
Small salad plates loaded with thick wheels of blood-red tomato, glistening with juice and oil, sprinkled with yellow chunks of roasted garlic, with grey salt and black pepper. “This is fantastic,” says Jo, to Iona.
“Actually,” says Reg, “you should be looking at video.”
“We have,” says Ettie, and Reg says, “I’m not talking about the amateur stuff, the stuff filmed by the audience, or whatever.”
“This, to me, is magic,” says Iona, a wedge of tomato speared on her fork.
“I’m talking professional video,” says Reg. “Trailers, teasers, for your overall concept. Your semblance.”
“The taste of August,” says Iona. “In March.” She takes her bite.
“Shit!” says Christian, and then, “sorry, no, I didn’t recognize, but – I saw one of those, once. You were both up on a bar, with the hula hoop?” and Ettie nods, a half-shrug. “Damn,” says Christian.
“See?” says Reg. “Your ideas, your art, but professionally shot, edited – ”
“But we don’t do film,” says Ettie. “We do theatre, we do dance – ”
“Burlesque,” says Chrissie.
“Then hire people, for the things you can’t do,” says Reg.
“Which takes money,” says Jo.
Ettie’s fork clinks against her plate, and Ysabel sits back, her wineglass raised. Christian coughs. “Yes,” says Reg. “Most things do.”
“We’ve been trying,” says Chrissie, and Ettie says, “We’ve been raising funds to get our show off the ground, the Ecdysis – ”
“Yes,” says Reg, “strippers and a symphony, right. It’s a great hook, but that’s all it is. Maybe you make a splash, maybe you don’t, but – if the show’s the culmination, of a campaign, something you make everyone anticipate,” and he spreads his hands.
“We’d have to start all over, from square one,” says Ettie, as Chrissie says, “We don’t want to make commercials.”
“Twenty-five thousand sets you up pretty nicely on square one,” says Reg.
Luys takes a bite of tomato as Iona stands, and begins to clear emptied plates. “Oh,” says Ettie. Ysabel polishes off her wine. “Is that an offer?” says Chrissie, to Reg.
“It’s a round number,” says Reg. “Enough to get you into trouble. Figure out if any more will help.”
Christian lets out a low, breathy whistle. Ettie laughs, a shake of her head. Ysabel sits up, leans forward, reaching for the clay decanter. “Ten thousand,” she says, pouring herself more wine. “Right here, right now.”
“Ysabel,” says Jo.
“But for the show you want to do,” says Ysabel, taking up her brimming glass. “The orchestra, the concert hall. Not these pornographic films.”
“I’m not talking about porn,” says Reg.
“Aren’t you?” says Ysabel.
“Ysabel,” says Jo. “Your grace,” murmurs Luys, reaching for her hand. She shakes him off. “That’s very generous,” Chrissie’s saying. Christian’s looking from Jo to Ysabel, to Reg, to Jo. Reg says, “Look, you have options, is the point.” Ysabel’s drinking her wine, big, gulping swallows. “It’s a testament,” says Reg, “to what you’ve already accomplished. We wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t something there.”
“Tell me, Mr. Davies,” says Ysabel, setting down her empty glass. “Reg. Answer a question for me.”
“Okay,” says Reg, the world half a laugh, “your, you, you’re a queen, so, I should, what, say your majesty? Is that appropriate?
“Do you think I’m beautiful, Reg?” says Ysabel, and he frowns, and opens his mouth to speak, but glass clatters and forks tumble as Chrissie leans over the corner seizing Ysabel’s hand “Don’t” she cries, pulling, and Ysabel blinks, looks down, away from Reg to her hand in Chrissie’s, to Chrissie, her blue eyes, her painted lips, “please,” she’s saying. “Don’t.”
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2023.03.20 14:10 r2d2blue 1971 Airstream ad

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2023.03.20 14:09 Sylver713 Hunger Games : A new Generation (118th Hunger Games, part 2)

Welp... It's gonna be a three parter, since I went over the 40 000 characters limit...
Day 1:
Marie-Ange went to sleep immediately, while Gaia screamed at Julien. How dared he attack the Capitol ! Doing so ruined his chances at any sponsor or support. The boy did not seem to care, surrounding himself in an icy silence while his mentor gave up on scolding him and started giving phone calls. She did so for the entire night.
In the morning, no one was able to eat breakfast. They didn’t talk, didn’t make eye contact, until it was time to go to the holding rooms. Pavel Demigloss accompanied Julien. He stayed back, probably afraid that the boy would attack him if he said anything. Julien put on a short-sleeved white shirt, linen shorts and tan espadrilles. He was as pale as his shirt, every muscle tensed as he climbed into the launching tube. Pavel risked a soft “good luck” before running out of the room.
Gaia and Marie-Ange cried. A lot. The mentor had to convince her to put on her clothes, which she helped with, and then to climb into the tube. Marie-Ange tried to fight and run away. A pair of peacekeepers had to intervene in order to help Gaia maintain her into the glass cylinder. She almost collapsed when her podium started to rise.
In Annie and Reef’s apartment, the preparations were quickly finished. They had gone to sleep immediately the past night, in order to be full of energy on the first day. Tavali Landow accompanied Reef. She criticized his unkempt appearance, which didn’t bother him. He took a deep breath before entering the tube that would send him to a certain death. The stylist waved at him cheerfully.
Annie, once dressed, approached her mentor. She gave Oleander a neatly folded piece of paper. “Could you please find a way to give this to Marley ? The address is on it”. At first, Oleander was shocked. Never had a tribute tried to communicate to the outside world before. She nodded, but then changed her mind. “You know what ? I’ll keep it safe, so that when you come back you can give it to her yourself.” Annie burst into tears and hugged Oleander very tightly. She thanked her mentor before climbing into the glass tube. Her eyes were puffy and red, but her jaw was set in a determined scowl.
Julien stood straight as an arrow as he was lifted into the arena. It took him a little time to adjust to the blinding sun. Once he was used to the light, he looked around. The cornucopia clearing wasn’t one. It was a sort of plaza, paved in beige stone. Julien stood on the northwestern side of the ring of podiums. Behind him was an open gate leading to some sort of main road, and in front of him, to the South, was the front entrance of a luxurious hotel.
The cameras lifted up as Head Gamemaker Jahani Vishwa greeted the tributes and began the countdown. This year, the arena was an island, inspired from the Mediterranean Sea. On the Southern side was a huge hotel complex, with many rooms, a restaurant, pools, gardens, and even a whole spa. The Northern side was occupied by a small village for the employees of the complex. Linking each side was a narrower part of the island, with gift shops and restaurants. All of this stood on a plateau, as the terrain turned into steep cliffs dropping into the water. There was a single beach, with a treacherous path leading down to it.
As Urania was describing the rocky cliffs of the island, an explosion sounded. The cameras turned back to the cornucopia clearing. It was Galax (5). He’d been standing on the edge of his podium, and a single sneeze was necessary for him to fall off of it. The landmines placed around each podium to prevent the tributes from getting a head start worked incredibly well and Galax was pulverized.
Marie-Ange had been staring at the cornucopia, which had taken the form of a sumptuous golden fountain in the shape of President Crane. She held a spear in one hand and stood on top of a literal cornucopia overflowing with supplies. Most of the weapons sat in there or in the empty basin, but some less interesting things (water, bland food, scraps of fabric,…) were strewn about the plaza. When the explosion happened, Marie-Ange screamed. The droplets of blood that splattered around her made her feel queasy.
Reef stood on the Western podium, between Freya (2) and Edna (8). He looked for his allies in the circle. Once he found them, Galax was dead, and the countdown was at ten. He followed Annie’s glances to the entrance of the hotel. From the tribute’s perspective, it didn’t look that big. The viewers could see that the other floors were carved down into the island, creating terraces on the opposite side of the entrance. However, he agreed with his district partner. He signaled to Heath (12) that they were planning on entering the building.
Annie signaled their plan to Brandy (12), who stood two platforms away. Between them was Templar (1), focused on the cornucopia. Annie became pale, now realizing that Chevron (8) was on the other side of her. In her back, the door of the resort beckoned to her. As the countdown reached zero, she readied herself. She eyed a big backpack laying against the edge of the fountain.
As soon as the countdown ended, Julien flew to the center of the cornucopia. He was joined by Faunus on the way. The two boys knew what they needed to get. As Julien bent down to grab a bow and a quiver of arrows, one of Filigree’s knives hit Faunus in the neck. Julien picked up the collapsed boy’s supplies and joined Freya (2), who was already getting ready to leave. There were too many strong tributes, some even with a grudge, fighting in the clearing for now.
Marie-Ange ran for the bag she had spotted. Her path crossed with Dakota’s, who eyed her with a devious smile. Fortunately for her, Chevron (8) tackled the other boy to the ground. The girl didn’t stay long enough to watch who killed who (Chevron won) and made her way to the backpack. She grabbed it without looking inside and went the other way. Instead of choosing the front door, Marie-Ange went to the side and climbed into one of the open windows. She ran through the maze of corridors.
Annie ran to the center, Brandy at her side. She saw Dakota falling, then Deezer (3) being impaled by Templar (1). She felt sick but kept on running, picking up useful supplies here and there. Reef and Heath (12) ran their way, holding weapons and packs. They decided to leave as soon as possible. Annie caught Filigree (1) approaching from the corner of her eye. Just as she turned, she felt something yank at her back. She almost lost her balance when Harvey (11) tried again. He took out a knife.
As the fighting started to die down, Freya (2) and Julien made their way East, through the terraced gardens. Down the heavy slope was a jetty with a small motorboat. The wiry silhouette of Planche (7) stood there, trying to detach the heavy ropes tying it to the dock. No words were needed, the two tributes knew what they had to do.
Annie and Harvey stood a few feet from each other now. He approached but she kicked him in the chest. He fell backwards, as did she. However, she just hurt her back on the warm stone. Harvey, on the other hand, broke his neck on the ledge of the fountain. Without further ado, the four allies ran to the hotel. They were afraid someone had followed them, but the pair from 1 had deemed the other alliance, composed of Edna (8), Chevron (8), Cornelia (9), Shepherd (10) and Chica (10), a more important threat.
After half an hour, the 5 cannons of the bloodbath sounded. With 21 tributes still in the competition, Marie-Ange didn’t feel relaxed in the least. She tried every door, but most of them were closed. The keys were still in the lobby, all hanging behind the welcome desk.
Marie-Ange stayed on her guards. The grey carpet muffled every sound, but she heard someone coming her way. It was Virginia (6), who was in the middle of a withdrawal episode. Her head was bent at an angle and her walk was jittery. From behind a big vase, the girl from N could see she was holding an axe. There was no other issue than the other side of the corridor.
Marie-Ange waited until the other girl was walking past her, then pushed the vase. It shattered against Virginia, not hurting her, but causing enough surprise for Marie-Ange to get away. She feared the noise had attracted other tributes. She ran, and Virginia followed. Her head start helped a lot. She noticed a door without a key hole, labeled “Laundry”. She entered, thanking “god” for the open door. The room was dark, but she felt a big cart full of towels and linen. She jumped in, buried herself in them, and hoped for the best. Virginia limped past the door and did not come back.
When entering the hotel, Annie, Reef, Heath and Amber had not noticed the room keys. They’d run downstairs. There were other bedrooms, a lounge area, and another set of stairs. A big sign said “restaurant” in neon letters. They went down again. Brandy was the smallest of the group, so she scouted ahead. In the meantime, the other allies shared what they had picked up in the bloodbath. Reef had managed to grab a trident, but they would have to share the two other knives. They also had a bow, but no arrows. There were also general supplies, such as wiring kits, med packs and towels. Annie wondered why there wasn’t any food in the bags, but Brandy stopped her. “Come, quick!” said the girl. She was grinning from ear to ear. The restaurant was empty, but the kitchen was not. There was everything, from vegetables to fresh desserts, along with bread, charcuterie and other “survival” foods. Heath blocked the double doors with a pair of chairs. “Well let’s have lunch !” he exclaimed. Since every appliance worked, Reef and Annie decided to prepare as much food as possible while eating the things most likely to spoil first.
While that little group was feasting, Freya and Julien were ambushed, waiting for their prey. Planche (7) had managed to untie the boat, and she had spent a couple of hours drifting away from the island. During this time, the pair hid in the bushes. They knew she would have to come back eventually. She started to panic when she noticed the faint shimmer of the perimeter closing in on her, and managed to turn on the motor. The boat roared and jumped forward, dropping its passenger in the water. It crashed into the cliff. Planche (7) was a good swimmer. She made it all the way back up to the dock, unaware of the tributes waiting for her there. Julien didn’t wait. He stood up as she was almost there, and it was too late for her to do anything. He shot Planche in the eye, sounding her cannon immediately. Freya clapped him in the back. “Next one is mine, she said. But first we need to rest up.”. Julien acquiesced, and they made their way back up to the cornucopia plaza.
After having eaten all that they could, the 4-12 alliance decided to find a place to camp. They didn’t feel safe inside the hotel. There were not enough exit points. They walked along the pool, admiring the sea view, then headed westward towards the setting sun. They avoided the boxy building housing the spa. That was where the pair from 1 was resting at the moment. There were also a scattering of small villas, each with its own private jacuzzi. As for the rest of the hotel rooms, the doors were locked. Annie was afraid to attract attention if they forced them. Instead, they climbed down the rocky cliff on a narrow path to end up on a beach. It looked almost like a postcard. Since the path was the only way to access that beach, they felt safe enough setting up camp there.
Marie-Ange was much too scared to get out of her linen closet. She drank from the laundry room faucet, and built herself a little nest out of bedsheets behind the cart she’d hidden in. With any luck, no one would see her. In the evening, her stomach started growling. She rummaged through the contents of the shelves, finding a bunch of tiny chocolates, which she deemed enough. Marie-Ange went to sleep shortly after.
Julien and Freya (2) were like peas in a pod, meaning that neither of them spoke unless it was to share pertinent information. The boy found a wisteria climbing up the single floor of the hotel visible from the plaza, and the pair used that to get to the roof. It meant they would be safe and could see a big chunk of the arena. Julien took first watch. At midnight, the portraits of Faunus (2), Deezer (3), Galax (5), Dakota (6), Planche (7) and Harvey (11) were displayed in the starry sky. With 6 tributes gone, there were still 20 left in the arena.
Day 2:
Marie-Ange was one of the first tributes to awaken on the second day. The realization of where she was hit her like a freight train. She suffered from the “day 2 effect”, like many other. Once her tears had stopped, she could hear the gurgling of her stomach. The chocolates would not be enough. She listened at the door, making sure no one was wandering the corridors, before emerging. She walked to the lobby, but saw that Templar was browsing the many room keys. He and Filigree (1) didn’t notice her, so she just took another corridor and exited via an open window. She emerged near the garden, but continued walking north, parallel to the small street.
After an uncomfortable night on the roof of the hotel, Freya and Julien started their day by looking around and spotting the other tributes. Many of them were hidden inside buildings, but they saw Keyra (3) making her way to the docks and Reaper (9) hovering around the heliport on the opposite side of the island. Sometime later, they heard the sounds of conversation right under them. The pair crept to the edge of the roof, hoping to surprise the group that was there, but Julien stepped on a dislodged tile. It shattered on the ground and the chatter stopped abruptly.
Freya and Julien jumped down, but the small group was already running into a corridor. It was the alliance of 8, 9 and 10. The tributes followed them but they entered a room and locked it tight. Julien wanted to kick the door in, but Freya had a better idea. This room, like all the others on this side of the hotel, had a view of the pool, which meant a big window.
It took only a minute for them to go around. Shepherd and Chica (10) were still holding the door just in case, while Cornelia (9), Edna and Chevron (8) stood at the ready with their weapons. When they turned around and screamed, Julien was surprised at the effect he had on them. The window was not even broken yet they looked paralyzed by fear. Then he saw his reflection in the glass. He only had time to jump aside. An enormous tiger collided with the window. It didn’t break, so the beast turned around and attacked the closest target : Freya. It swiped a first time, ripping her sword out of her hand. The second swipe let deep gashes appear on her chest. She looked imploringly at Julien. With one bite, the tiger finished her, sounding her cannon. It was only then that the boy from N released his arrow. It killed the tiger immediately. Julien ran.
Annie, Heath, Brandy and Reef had spent the night on the beach but had not been bothered. They lazed a bit before deciding to explore. The group walked back up to the upper part of the island using the narrow path. It took them about half an hour to get to the top, and they decided to explore the main street with all its little novelty shops. The restaurants were mostly empty. Some tributes had already gone through some of the food, but there was more than enough left. They did not hear the first cannon.
They also picked up other supplies. Brandy grabbed a butcher’s knife and a barbecue fork “just in case”. They raided the pharmacy and covered themselves in sunscreen. Reef and Annie were used to the seaside sun, Brandy and Heath, however, were already turning red. Once they had all that they needed, they sat around inside the “Paradiso Cocktail Bar” and discussed their strategy. Annie wanted to hide for as long as possible. The beach seemed like the perfect place. They could defend it, set traps on the path down. Brandy agreed with her, but Heath and Reef were reluctant. “There’s four of us, said Reef. As long as we stay together, we won’t get attacked.”
In the meantime, Marie-Ange was picking apples. They weren’t that nutritive, but they would be better than chocolate at least. Suddenly, a voice called her : “Marie-Ange ? Is that you ?”. She swiveled around to the face of Berry (11) inside a bush. Actually, she was the bush. Berry went to hug her ally, then remembered that she was covered in branches. Marie-Ange executed a short victory dance and offered an apple to the other girl. “Thanks, but I have better…”. She took her to the back of a bakery. Marie-Ange could recognize the smell. She was about to open the door when the tiger that had just been released inside roared. The girls ran as quickly as they could, even though the beast was stuck inside.
Back in the Capitol, Head Gamemaker Vishwa explained that she had chosen to only release a dozen tigers, but that they would not be gone. Instead, some were stuck in rooms or buildings. They would be a constant threat to the tributes unless they were dealt with. “And if they’re not, added Urania, I was just looking for a nice throw rug…”
Reef and his allies had also dealt with a tiger that appeared out of nowhere. Since they were in a fishing shop at that time, they survived by throwing every net and fishing line available at it until it was too entangled to move. Heath killed it.
Once they were full of supplies, the group decided to try their luck in the hotel’s kitchen again. Maybe it was the fact that they had just defeated a tiger, or the dreaminess of the island that made them imprudent. Either way, they walked straight to the hotel, without paying too much attention to their surroundings. They traversed the cornucopia plaza, which had been emptied of its supplies. Reef led the group as they entered the hotel. He gasped in surprise as a knife pierced his skull. Brandy screamed and grabbed Annie’s arm. They ran as fast they could. As Filigree (1) appeared from behind the door where she was hidden, Templar came out from behind a bush to block the allies’ path. He held a sword at the ready. Brandy used one of the bags to deflect it as the trio collided with the boy from 1. Since they were there, Brandy also decided to plant her meat fork into his chest. He dodged, but the utensil still stabbed him in the shoulder. Annie, Heath and Brandy got back up and stumbled towards the gardens. The pair from 1 hesitated before following them.
Reef’s cannon surprised Julien and almost made him miss his mark. After a fruitless hunt for a tribute, he’d spent some time building traps with some wire he had collected. He fabricated tripwires and snares to disperse around the villas on the southwestern side of the arena. After that, he had climbed onto one of the rooves with his bow. There were still no tributes, but another tiger had appeared, freed by Virginia (6) a little earlier. He shot it once, then a second time in order to kill it. He didn’t bother fetching his arrows. An hour later, as the sun started to set on the island, another cannon sounded.
Annie, Brandy, and Heath eventually managed to lose the pair from 1. Every time they thought they were well hidden, Filigree and Templar’s footsteps came back. They ended up hiding in the pool house behind the cleaning products. They waited for what seemed like an eternity. Annie peeked through one of the vents, but she couldn’t see or hear anything. She was the first to exit the cramped cabin, a knife in one hand and a neon pink pool noodle in the other.
Once she was certain that no one was there, she beckoned the others. They were about to go back down to their camp on the beach when Annie got distracted by colorful lights. The jacuzzi of one of the villas was turned on, and along with the bubbles it displayed a nice show of colors. Brandy was too curious to let it go, and the two others followed. I hope it’s warm, laughed Heath. He plunged hand into the water and started seizing.
Brandy tried to grab his arm, but Annie pulled her away. A cannon sounded. As suddenly as he had started, Heath stopped seizing. The jacuzzi switched off. In the newly obscured backyard, a silhouette ran away. Annie and Brandy didn’t notice, they were too busy trying to reanimate their ally. To no avail. A smoke emanated from his corpse, a smell similar to that of cooked pork.
In the Capitol, the footage was rewound to show Eileen (5) rigging a trap to electrocute any tribute touching the water on her first day. She had waited 24 hours for her first kill, not expecting that there would be survivors. As she ran through the perfectly trimmed bushes, Annie and Brandy mourned their friend and cursed their stupidity.
No one else had bothered Berry and Marie-Ange in their orchard. They spent their afternoon and evening building some sort of nest in the biggest apple tree, using branches, but also tablecloth, beach towels and cushions from the shops. They talked a little more of their life in their respective district. Marie-Ange was surprised that her friend could not choose what job she wanted to do. Berry, however, was totally content working at a canning factory and not in the fields like most citizens of district 11.
Once their nest was built, they climbed inside. It was not very discreet, especially with the multicolored fabric hanging from it, but it would work for that night, thought Marie-Ange. They nestled together and fell asleep almost immediately.
When the last cannon of the day sounded, Annie and Brandy had barricaded themselves in a hotel room. They had picked a random key from the lobby whilst Filigree and Templar were absent. Room 215 had a cozy king size bed, a heavy commode they used to barricade the door, and a view of the sunrise. Meaning right now it was completely dark. The girls bundled up in the bed, Brandy scooting over to rest her head on Annie’s shoulder.
The cannon in question belonged to Cornelia (9), who had fallen victim to a particularly sneaky tiger. Chevron (8) and Shepherd (10) dispatched it quickly, leaving only two surviving tigers in the arena. They were both still locked in rooms of the hotel. From his perch on the roof, Julien saw the little group of them enter the spa. He did not bother to follow, as it was already late. He fell asleep, and the hymn of Panem woke him up. The portraits of the fallen were displayed in the sky, including Freya (2), Reef (4), Cornelia (9) and Heath (12). In the Capitol, the viewers hoped for the next day to be even more challenging for the 16 remaining tributes.
Day 3:
On the third morning, Julien woke up early. He remembered Gaia telling him that the Feast was usually held on this day. He made sure there was no one around before climbing down from the villa whose roof he had slept on and walked to the cornucopia plaza. There was nothing there yet, but he was happy to be the first there. He wouldn’t be alone all day though, so he did the same as on the first day and climbed up to the roof. Since there was only one floor, he was positive he could just jump down in case of emergency. Surely enough, Templar and Filigree appeared soon after. They were in a foul mood after having played hide and seek for an hour with Reaper (9). They had given up.
Marie-Ange was still deeply asleep next to Berry when something woke her up. The tree was shaking slightly. Someone was there. She opened her eyes ,and surely enough, a small silhouette was in the process of detaching her bag from the branches. She lunged, waking Berry in the process. The thief was Keyra (3), who had survived this whole time by following the bigger groups and stealing from their supplies.
Marie-Ange’s first reflex had been to grab at the other girl. Keyra was quick, however, and she managed to dodge. She jumped down from the tree, holding a small bag with the stolen supplies, and ran. Marie-Ange followed, leaving a dumbfounded Berry to guard their base camp. She caught up with Keyra and they fought for the supplies, inching dangerously close to the edge of the cliff. Only the girl from 3 noticed. Once Marie-Ange had her back to the edge, her opponent let go of the bag. She fell backwards and landed a dozen feet lower, impaling herself on a particularly sharp rock. Her cannon only sounded ten minutes later, but the cameras of the Capitol did not show her agony.
Right after the cannon, an announcement by Head Gamemaker Vishwa was broadcast in the arena. “Dear tributes. As you may have guessed, it is time for the Feast. At noon, in the cornucopia, you will each be offered the chance to grab something that might be the key to your victory. May the odds be ever in your favor !”.
Annie and Brandy had overslept in order to get as much energy as possible. When Marie-Ange’s cannon sounded, it woke Annie. Brandy was spooning her, which made her quite uncomfortable. She broke out of the unconscious hug and began preparing herself for the day. Getting a shower and revisiting what weapons the pair had. There were only kitchen knives left, but it would have to do. Annie had to shake Brandy out of her slumber. At that time, noon was approaching, and they worked together to remove the commode whilst making as little noise as possible.
Julien was ready for the start of the Feast. He had hidden his bow on the roof, opting for two long knives instead as it was close quarters combat that was expected. He watched as the other tributes approached, waiting for someone to take the first step. Only Berry (11), who was still searching for her dead ally, Keyra (3) and Virginia (6) who was suffering from an intense bout of fever due to withdrawal, were not present. Some, like the pair from 1 and the outlying alliance, were standing in the open, waiting for anyone to dare attack them. The others, Annie, Brandy (12), Eileen (5), Reaper (9) and Forrest (7), kept low and hid behind various bushes or doors.
As the sun reached its apogee, the statue of President Crane started to rise. Under it, 8 keys hung from small hooks. Each had a room or house number on it, but no mention of any specific district. Julien jumped from his roof and charged into the fray, kickstarting the battle.
Annie and Brandy jumped into the fray too, after concluding a silent alliance with Eileen (5). They didn’t know she was responsible for Heath’s death. The three girls covered each other’s backs, so The pair from 1 concentrated on lone tributes. Reaper (9) received a series of knives to the throat from Filigree (1) and Templar managed to chase Forrest (7) away without a key. The girls reached the statue, which was guarded by Chevron (8) and Edna (8). Brandy distracted them as Annie grabbed a random key. She did not try her luck, instead backing away immediately. The pair from 1 was approaching.
Julien did not feel confident in melee, so he only defended himself. He managed to wound Shepherd (10), avoided Templar’s sword, and grabbed a key for himself. He watched Annie, Brandy and Eileen run away with a key. Chevron (8) followed them and threw his spear. It hit Eileen in the back, paralyzing her. Chevron finished her. The remaining tributes scattered, leaving Filigree and Templar to deal with the three remaining keys.
Annie and Brandy ran without stopping. Their key bore the number 204. The gamemakers had made it so the tributes going to their “rooms” were less likely to encounter each other. Annie noticed that Eileen was not following them, but Brandy exclaimed that they didn’t need a third wheel.
Room 204 sat at the end of the western corridor, two floors down from the lobby. The inside made Brandy giddy, although Annie was a little more suspicious. There were no weapons or useful supplies, just a luxurious buffet of expensive foods. Turkey, cakes, roasts of all sizes and canapés stood on a table, still steaming. Brandy hugged her ally tightly and started eating. There was also a big bottle of champagne. A jeroboam, detailed Urania Whimsiwick, who was a fine connoisseur of wines.
Julien had inherited of villa number 18. It also contained a small meal, much smaller than that of Annie and Brandy, but also some body armor and kneepads. All the keys were actually a form of lottery, some rooms contained food, some weapons, some cosmetics and camouflage supplies.
Julien did not spend much time there. He ate some, put the rest in his bag, put on his armor and went out again. His first stop was the roof, where he got his bow back. He wondered if he would have enough arrows. His stock decreased quickly. He didn’t hope for a sponsor gift, even though he had seen some silver parachutes in the past days. Most had gone to the careers and the outlying alliance.
He decided to go to the Northern part of the island, which had been quite empty of tributes in the past. He almost crossed path with the outlying alliance, but heard them soon enough and dove behind a small building. He readied his arrow, but before he could release, Templar jumped out of another bush and stabbed Chica (10) with his sword, sounding her cannon. Filigree appeared behind him, but her knife only bounced off Edna’s ribs. Shepherd, Chevron, and Edna ran, pursued by the pair from 1. Julien stayed there, sulking. He spent the evening in the same location, alone and angry at himself.
In room 204, things were getting awkward for Annie. She had eaten a little bit of food and was trying to bend one of the silver platters into a functional chest plate. Brandy, however, had sampled the champagne. A lot of it. She was drunk and sulking since Annie had emptied the remains of it in the bathtub. The scene was very entertaining to watch, with Brandy trying desperately to invite her ally in bed. Annie turned her down, her cheeks reddening. The other girl wouldn’t take no for an answer, but soon fell asleep. Annie waited until she was passed out to get in bed, as far away from her as possible.
At midnight, the portraits of Eileen (5), Reaper (9), Chica (10) and Marie-Ange (N) appeared in the sky and on the many screens inside the hotel. This left 12 remaining tributes to start the 4th day.
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2023.03.20 13:53 Shadow474747 Anon is put into a TikTok video

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2023.03.20 13:46 partypastor Unreached People Group of the Week - the Aimaq of Afghanistan

Happy Monday everyone, welcome to another UPG of the Week. In case you didn't know, Ramadan begins this week. What is Ramadan you might wonder?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (sawm), prayer, reflection and community. A commemoration of Muhammad's first revelation, the annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam and lasts twenty-nine to thirty days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.
The month of Ramadan is a time when Muslims are very aware of dreams and visions. They believe dreams are a direct way that Allah chooses to reveal himself to people. During this time of heightened spiritual focus, Muslims are often seeking a special message or revelation. As Christians have prayed earnestly for their Muslim neighbors and friends during this season, they hear reports of dreams and visions in which Jesus appears to these friends and draws them to Himself.
So, that means for the entire month I will be picking Muslim peoples groups for us to be praying for!
This month, rather than going around telling Muslims to just get over their idolatry (yes yes, they worship a false god, we agree on that) I thought we could take a minute to learn about these people, to pray for them and learn how to better engage them and their beliefs! Meet the Aimaq people of Afghanistan!!

Region: Afghanistan

Stratus Index Ranking (Urgency): 1 (this is the most urgent place for Gospel work)
Climate: Afghanistan has a continental climate with harsh winters in the central highlands, the glaciated northeast (around Nuristan), and the Wakhan Corridor, where the average temperature in January is below −15 °C (5 °F) and can reach −26 °C (−15 °F), and hot summers in the low-lying areas of the Sistan Basin of the southwest, the Jalalabad basin in the east, and the Turkestan plains along the Amu River in the north, where temperatures average over 35 °C (95 °F) in July and can go over 43 °C (109 °F). The country is generally arid in the summers, with most rainfall falling between December and April. The lower areas of northern and western Afghanistan are the driest, with precipitation more common in the east. Although proximate to India, Afghanistan is mostly outside the monsoon zone, except the Nuristan Province which occasionally receives summer monsoon rain.
Northern Afghanistan
Terrain: The geography in Afghanistan is varied, but is mostly mountainous and rugged, with some unusual mountain ridges accompanied by plateaus and river basins. It is dominated by the Hindu Kush range, the western extension of the Himalayas that stretches to eastern Tibet via the Pamir Mountains and Karakoram Mountains in Afghanistan's far north-east. Most of the highest points are in the east consisting of fertile mountain valleys. The Hindu Kush ends at the west-central highlands, creating plains in the north and southwest, namely the Turkestan Plains and the Sistan Basin; these two regions consist of rolling grasslands and semi-deserts, and hot windy deserts, respectively. Forests exist in the corridor between Nuristan and Paktika provinces (see East Afghan montane conifer forests), and tundra in the north-east. The country's highest point is Noshaq, at 7,492 m (24,580 ft) above sea level. The lowest point lies in Jowzjan Province along the Amu River bank, at 258 m (846 ft) above sea level.
Despite having numerous rivers and reservoirs, large parts of the country are dry. The endorheic Sistan Basin is one of the driest regions in the world. The Amu Darya rises at the north of the Hindu Kush, while the nearby Hari Rud flows west towards Herat, and the Arghandab River from the central region southwards. To the south and west of the Hindu Kush flow a number of streams that are tributaries of the Indus River, such as the Helmand River. One exception is the Kabul River which flows in an easternly direction to the Indus ending at the Indian Ocean. Afghanistan receives heavy snow during the winter in the Hindu Kush and Pamir Mountains, and the melting snow in the spring season enters the rivers, lakes, and streams. However, two-thirds of the country's water flows into the neighboring countries of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. As reported in 2010, the state needs more than US$2 billion to rehabilitate its irrigation systems so that the water is properly managed.
The northeastern Hindu Kush mountain range, in and around the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan, is in a geologically active area where earthquakes may occur almost every year. They can be deadly and destructive, causing landslides in some parts or avalanches during the winter.
Wheat fields in Salang, Parwan province
Wildlife of Afghanistan: Afghanistan has long been known for diverse wildlife. Many of the larger mammals in the country are categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as globally threatened. These include the snow leopard, Marco Polo sheep, Siberian musk deer, markhor, urial, and the Asiatic black bear. Other species of interest are the ibex, the gray wolf, and the brown bear, striped hyenas, and numerous bird of prey species.
the snow leopard is the national animal of Afghanistan
Environmental Issues: The major environmental issues today for Afghanistan are soil degradation, air and water pollution, deforestation at an alarming rate, overgrazing, desertification, and over population in its already fragile urban areas. Thats all an aside to the fact that an oppressive radicalized terrorist government is running the nation.
Languages: Pashto and Dari are both official languages. Other languages spoken are Uzbek, English, Turkmen, Urdu, Pashayi, Nuristani, Arabic, Balochi, Ashkunu, Kamkata-viri, Vasi-vari, Tregami and Kalasha-ala, Pamiri (Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi and Wakhi), Brahui, Qizilbash, Aimaq, and Pashai and Kyrgyz, and Punjabi.
Government Type: Unitary Islamic theocracy administered by shura councils (run by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan)

People: The Aimaq of Afghanistan

An Aimaq person
Population: 1,685,000
Estimated Foreign Workers Needed: 34+
Beliefs: The Aimaq are 0% Christian. That means out of their population of 1,685,000 there are roughly maybe a handful of true believers.
As with the great majority of Afghans, Hanafi Sunni Islam is the belief system among the Aimaq tribes. They are not averse to resorting to pre-Islamic practices if they face drought or a poor crop. In such times, virgins might perform pre-Islamic dances begging for rainfall.
The Blue Mosque in Afghanistan
History: The Aimaqs claim different origins based on their tribal background. Some claim to be descended from the troops of Genghis Khan. Other tribes such as the Taymani and Firozkohi claim descent from other Pashtun tribes.
That's all the history I could find about the Aimaq, from here below is a relatively modern history of Afghanistan in general.
Until 1946, King Zahir ruled with the assistance of his uncle, who held the post of Prime Minister and continued the policies of Nadir Shah. Another of Zahir Shah's uncles, Shah Mahmud Khan, became Prime Minister in 1946 and began an experiment allowing greater political freedom, but reversed the policy when it went further than he expected. He was replaced in 1953 by Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king's cousin and brother-in-law, and a Pashtun nationalist who sought the creation of a Pashtunistan, leading to highly tense relations with Pakistan. During his ten years at the post until 1963, Daoud Khan pressed for social modernization reforms and sought a closer relationship with the Soviet Union. Afterward, the 1964 constitution was formed, and the first non-royal Prime Minister was sworn in.
In April 1978, the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in a bloody coup d'état against then-President Mohammed Daoud Khan, in what is called the Saur Revolution. The PDPA declared the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, with its first leader named as People's Democratic Party general secretary Nur Muhammad Taraki. This would trigger a series of events that would dramatically turn Afghanistan from a poor and secluded (albeit peaceful) country to a hotbed of international terrorism
The PDPA initiated various social, symbolic and land distribution reforms that provoked strong opposition, while also brutally oppressing political dissidents. This caused unrest and quickly expanded into a state of civil war by 1979, waged by guerrilla mujahideen (and smaller Maoist guerrillas) against regime forces countrywide. It quickly turned into a proxy war as the Pakistani government provided these rebels with covert training centers, the United States supported them through Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the Soviet Union sent thousands of military advisers to support the PDPA regime. Meanwhile, there was increasingly hostile friction between the competing factions of the PDPA – the dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcham.
The proxy war was messy for the country and for all the puppet master countries playing in this war. Eventually, though, the Soviets withdrew. The Soviet-Afghan War had drastic social effects on Afghanistan. The militarization of society led to heavily armed police, private bodyguards, openly armed civil defense groups and other such things becoming the norm in Afghanistan for decades thereafter. The traditional power structure had shifted from clergy, community elders, intelligentsia and military in favor of powerful warlords.
Another civil war broke out after the creation of a dysfunctional coalition government between leaders of various mujahideen factions. Amid a state of anarchy and factional infighting, various mujahideen factions committed widespread rape, murder and extortion, while Kabul was heavily bombarded and partially destroyed by the fighting. Several failed reconciliations and alliances occurred between different leaders. The Taliban emerged in September 1994 as a movement and militia of students (talib) from Islamic madrassas (schools) in Pakistan, who soon had military support from Pakistan. Taking control of Kandahar city that year, they conquered more territories until finally driving out the government of Rabbani from Kabul in 1996, where they established an emirate that gained international recognition from 3 countries: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The Taliban were condemned internationally for the harsh enforcement of their interpretation of Islamic sharia law, which resulted in the brutal treatment of many Afghans, especially women. During their rule, the Taliban and their allies committed massacres against Afghan civilians, denied UN food supplies to starving civilians and conducted a policy of scorched earth, burning vast areas of fertile land and destroying tens of thousands of homes.
In October 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan to remove the Taliban from power after they refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect of the September 11 attacks, who was a "guest" of the Taliban and was operating his al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan. The majority of Afghans supported the American invasion of their country. During the initial invasion, US and UK forces bombed al-Qaeda training camps, and later working with the Northern Alliance, the Taliban regime came to an end.
On 14 April 2021, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance had agreed to start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by 1 May. Soon after the withdrawal of NATO troops started, the Taliban launched an offensive against the Afghan government, quickly advancing in front of collapsing Afghan government forces. On 15 August 2021, as the Taliban once again controlled a vast majority of Afghan territory, they re-captured the capital city of Kabul
Western nations have suspended most humanitarian aid to Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover of the country in August 2021 and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund also halted payments. In October 2021, more than half of Afghanistan's 39 million people faced an acute food shortage. On 11 November 2021, the Human Rights Watch reported that Afghanistan was facing widespread famine due to an economic and banking crisis.
Aimaq yurts and sheep
Culture: Typical qualification that all people groups can't be summed up in small paragraphs and this is an over generalization.
Aimaq is a Mongolic word that means "tribe" or "grazing territory". Of all Aimaqs, Aimaq Hazara and Timuri are closest to the Turco-Mongol tradition since they are semi-nomadic tribes and some of them live in yurts, whereas other Aimaqs live in traditional Afghan black tents. The Aimaq are largely nomadic to semi-nomadic goat and sheep herders. They also trade with villages and farmers during migrations for pastures for their livestock. The material culture and foodstuffs of the Aimaq include skins, carpets, milk, dairy products and more. They trade these products to settled peoples in return for vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, and other types of foods and goods
Well-watered land produces rice, cotton, grapes, wheat, and melons. Most Aimaq no longer possess sizable herds (by which wealth is counted), but they might graze sheep year-round in this climate. Surplus produce brings income in Herat markets as do high-quality Herat Baloch rugs.
Certain characteristics apply to most Aimaq subgroups. Few speak their traditional languages. The dialects they speak today resemble Dari (Afghan eastern Farsi) mixed with words of Mongolian and Turkic origin. Researchers are attempting to determine if the Aimaq may be speaking Dari that is influenced by individual manners of speaking within their villages. They speak Dari in schools.
The staple food, eaten at every meal, is thick, whole wheat bread baked in mud ovens. Rice, chickpeas, potatoes, and summer garden vegetables accompany chicken, eggs or lamb (for guests or celebrations). They drink dugh, a beverage made with yogurt, salt, pepper and water.
Some Aimaq tribes endure severe winters and sparse rainfall regularly interrupted by drought. Semi-nomadic and poor Aimaq tribes grow dry crops like wheat, melons and fodder to feed animals that must be stabled in winter.
Women enhance drab lives by wearing brightly colored clothes sewn with glittering sequins over white or colored tumbons (pants). Outside their homes, women modestly wear the chadder namoz, a dark head-to-toe covering, and many still don a burka when in Herat. Men are seen in turbans or round caps with rough-textured cloaks draped around their shoulders.
Based on clan and extended family, the Aimaq are led by men and trace ancestors through male lines. Even so, Aimaq women exercise unusual privileges compared to other rural Afghan people groups in that they meet with the men and freely voice opinions, even with strangers present. Marriage is the most important life event celebrated among the Aimaq. They celebrate weddings with much dancing to rhythms beaten on flat drums. By tradition, parents arrange marriages in early childhood. Marriage takes place when a girl is 13 or 14, usually to a blood relative slightly older, 16-20, or as a second wife to a much older man in his 40s. Uniquely among the Taimani and Firozhoki, girls marry at age 18 and may reject a father's choice of husband. Traditionally, a bride moves immediately into the home of her husband's family following the wedding rites. There are unusual instances, however, of a groom moving into his future in-law's compound for two or more years of service before they perform the marriage ceremony.
Aimaq tribal customs remain stronger than Afghan nationalism, due in part to long-enjoyed independence and geographical distance from the central government in Kabul. Tribal law vested in village leaders usually prevails over government authority and even some Islamic rules.
Aimaq Children
Prayer Request:
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)
Here are the previous weeks threads on the UPG of the Week for Reformed from 2023 (plus a few from 2022 so this one post isn't so lonely). To save some space on these, all UPG posts made 2019-now are here, I will try to keep this current.
People Group Country Continent Date Posted Beliefs
Aimaq Afghanistan Asia 03/20/2023 Islam
Shughni Tajikistan Asia 03/13/2023 Islam
Punjabi Canada North America 03/06/2023 Sikhism
Kurds Turkey Asia** 02/13/2023 Islam***
Krymchak Ukraine* Europe** 02/06/2023 Judaism
Talysh Azerbaijan Asia** 01/30/2023 Islam
Shan Myanmar Asia 01/23/2023 Buddhism***
Shaikh - 2nd post Bangladesh Asia 01/09/2023 Islam
Hindi United States North America 12/19/2022 Hinduism
Somali Finland Europe 12/05/2022 Islam
Hemshin Turkey Asia** 11/28/2022 Islam
Waorani (Reached) Ecuador South America 11/21/2022 Christianity
* Tibet belongs to Tibet, not China.
** Russia/Turkey/etc is Europe but also Asia so...
*** this likely is not the true religion that they worship, but rather they have a mixture of what is listed with other local religions, or they have embraced a liberal drift and are leaving faith entirely but this is their historical faith.
As always, if you have experience in this country or with this people group, feel free to comment or let me know and I will happily edit it so that we can better pray for these peoples! I shouldn't have to include this, but please don't come here to argue with people or to promote universalism. I am a moderator so we will see this if you do.
Here is a list of definitions in case you wonder what exactly I mean by words like "Unreached".
Here is a list of missions organizations that reach out to the world to do missions for the Glory of God.
submitted by partypastor to Reformed [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 13:31 Dry-Extent-1274 Kaijus in Pacific Rim Uprising Ascension novel (and minor speculation)

I make this post since there are no information of these kaiju on the wiki, and to appreciate the kaiju description written. Uprising ascension is somewhat a fun read since it expanded more detail from the kaiju war, it also makes some of Uprising characters to be interesting surprisingly. (I said somewhat fun because they killed Raleigh, which dampen the mood.). But here are the kaijus:

Vodyanoi – A big, fat, puffed-up toad. Vodyanoi attack Kamchatka peninsula in 2024. Cherno Alpha and Eden Assassin was deployed to kill it, Eden was destroyed when Vodyanoi spat acid and melt through the conn pod. Cherno then pummeled it to death with an iceberg. It’s likely that Vodyanoi is the kaiju KM-24 stated in Cherno Alpha combat dossier, as the attack date and location matched.

Raythe – A turtle like kaiju, its head was a wide-set of sunken eyes, in an immense tri-lobed skull, armoured in overlapping plates and spikes that extended into a snapping turtle beak. Raythe had a long neck that squirmed with fleshy tendrils, which can spring out his head like a snake to attack and can also retracted the head into his body between the armored shoulder for protection. Raythe stand upright, all of the four’s limbs are lanky and sinewy.
Breached in 2018. He first headed toward Kamchatka, then change direction toward Hokkaido, then change to Sakhalin, and intended to attack an oil fields. After much punching and wrestling, Cherno Alpha in the most metal fashion yet, grab Raythe head and used the tesla fist, frying all of Raythe three brains.
Based on the description, Raythe could be the kaiju tattooed on Newton right arm.
Also, in case if you ever wonder what a Kaiju skin feel like, Cherno punching Raythe was describe as “punching a basalt cliff padded with six meters of rubber.”.

Huo Da – Category 3, the most unique one yet. Describe as a lower slung and linear, resembles a flat, segmented arthropod, like a centipede or a really long trilobite, more than half a jaeger height.
Overall body is lozenge-shaped, covered in overlapping plates of scale or chitin and tail similar to scorpion, with tiny suckers on its belly. It moves in short and fast spurts by propelling itself with some kind water jet like a squid.
Big head with four huge hemispherical eyes. Sporting cluster of colossal, armoured, multi-jointed forelegs, all bunched toward the front, beneath the head. Two of the limbs were so long that Ming Hau, one of Shaolin Rogue pilot thought they were either horns or very thick antennae. The two limbs were flexible like tentacle while the smaller cluster of legs are scythe-like. Huo Da’s also have a frog like tongue that can latch onto jaeger.
Huo Da swam through the Yellow Sea and heading toward Shanghai in 2024, where Shaolin Rogue duke out with him underwater 800 miles offshore. Huo Da force Shaolin into shore, and that’s when Crimson Typhoon arrive, relentlessly attacking Huo Da, the kaiju bloated and appear dead.
But the most insane part is that Huo Da underwent metamorphosis, the body split in half, and emerged a new Huo Da, sprouting 3 pairs of translucent-blue dragonfly wings. Eight long legs, ended in a foot with six clawed toes. The rear pair were particularly enormous, resembling the jumping legs of a grasshopper.
Huo Da grab Shaolin and flew them in the air, then crashed them into Shanghai world financial center tower. Crimson later shoots it with the plasma rifle. The aftermath of the attack renders the whole business district of the city to be almost uninhabitable due to toxicity. Huo Da is likely to be SH-24, stated in Crimson Typhoon combat dossier.

Reckoner - Resembled a bat on all fours, with long, webbed forelimbs that rose and bent above its bunched shoulders and shorter, thicker reptilian hind legs set just behind. The head was a horrifying mishmash of crawfish, gar, and crocodile. Two grasping claws grew from its mandibles. Eyes scattered all over its head, and some of them looked backward.
Attack Hong Kong in 2016, Cherno Alpha was deployed and fought Reckoner for 6 hours straight, Horizon Brave was then deployed to assist Cherno. After chasing the Kaiju, they threw it into a power station, that would later be dubbed as “The Blackout Knockout”, the collateral damage causes many people die due to power outage, as most hospital are now without powers.
Reckoner corpse is left at the city and later become the Bone Slum, a place where Hannibal Chau operated.

Vermin – A kaiju with a massive bony skull, long-jawed with ragged teeth and three pairs of slitted eyes, resembling a head of a hairless opossum, sporting with jumble of spines jutting from its skullcap and running down its back and tail.
The head rode on a sinuous neck, the body was balanced on a pair of long, scaly, bird-like legs, making Vermin look like an emu or a cassowary in silhouette. Vermin had two sets of upper limbs. Each of these ended in hands with elongated and bony digits.
Vermin make landfall in Medellin, Colombia in 2024. Vulcan Specter and Striker Eureka was deployed. The battle was fairly easy, and Vulcan killed him with an atomic drill to the skull. But then parasite emerged and burrowed out from Vermin body.
The parasites are a meter long, shaped like fat, smooth snakes. They can coil and sprang into the air. Their heads were grenade shaped. They have trilobed beak covered in thousands of tiny, serrated teeth set in a tight spiral pattern and can twist its head back and forth with great speed. They also have a collar of four clawed limbs that help pulled it forward as it burrowed into its host. Definitely stuff of nightmare.
Striker uses a gas tanker and cover an area with oil on the path where the parasite are heading, toward a kaiju shelter. The sting blades is super-heated and ignited the area, burning the parasites.

Ceramander - A slimy, eight-legged newt with a flaring skull plate and a mouth full of razors. Attack Hawaii in 2021, Coyote Tango, Striker Eureka and Matador Fury force it into a volcano.

Ceptid – Essentially the Precursor version of the Creeper, apparently called “The Living Sewer”, the kaiju have skeletal legs attached to a body that resembled a gigantic pelvis and leaving a trail of rancid blue green in water as it walked.
Ceptid attack Guayaquil, Ecuador. Romeo Blue, Puma Real, and Diablo Intercept shoot the kaiju continuously, stripping its flesh off. Though this is noted to be a tactic used by the kaiju to cause the illusion of damaged.
After reaching near the shore, it began to “unzip”, its head splitting and unfolding, its chest opening, and blue-green mist boiled out of its body. The jaegers fail to stop it and the kaiju detonates itself, releasing toxic gas.

Bonus: aside from having kaiju from previous media and some additional new kaiju. “Gyakushu” is a kaiju that was brought up, I mentioned it here since the name is not found on the wiki at all. Gyakushu was mentioned alongside Hundun and Taurax, the three kaijus that attack Phillipines. This make Gyakushu to be MN-19.
submitted by Dry-Extent-1274 to PacificRim [link] [comments]

2023.03.20 13:04 hvdhuhkkfg 😘👉👌 IF YOU TAP YOU WILL CUM 🍆💦




I awoke the next morning in a daze and starving. 2:35pm, damn it was late. I wondered if I was able to roam the day, better yet stay out from dawn till dusk or if I'd char. As I walked downstairs I noticed a note that read. " Sam Lauren, Lexi and myself went shopping. We wont back till late, we may catch a movie. There is blood and food in the fridge. Call us when you wake up our cell numbers are speed dialed into the phone as numbers 1,3, and 4. see you after while, Emily." Well the house to myself I thought and the thought of sunlight killing me was bannished from my mind as I looked over the note. "how may I assist you my king?" A young maid asked me, bowing to me. "Where is samantha?" I politely asked. She pointed to the third door on the left of Emily's. I bowed back and she giggled. I thought she was beautiful which I guess was the point. As I walked I felt watched, inspected and mentally picked apart. I sat at the bar thinking about being a king.
There must have been 30 plus servants and if I wasn’t thinking too outlandishly a few dozen vampires in the local area that would soon reveal them selves. Looking up at the door where the third member of this family was, I saw the door was open but I just got up and walked over to the fridge, grabbed some blood and headed out side. It was warm but it didn’t warm me. I didn’t burn or char. I was simply there feeling the heat yet never absorbing it. I walked back inside and was immediately grabbed from behind and put into a head lock. "Why are you in here ?! Who are you!?" I felt my self harden under control. I like this helplessness and the power she had over me but this womans grip tightening around my throat and I was coughing now. " Lexi let me in, I'm a friend! Im a friend!" She released me and I sat down on the couch coughing. "aren't you a dead man? I saw you in the paper. You got knifed pretty good." She was looking me over hard and I was doing the same. 6'1 athletic, long legs, D sized boobs, looked a lot like Scarlett Johansson except blonde. " You must be samantha. Im samuel, lexi saved my ass." I explained to her my series of events and the day I was turned. She laughed and smiled " You know im the oldest of us besides mom I was turned at 20. Mom was turned after my birth at 31. so I was turned by mom the others were born vampires. And no we do age and we can walk in the light, our family's blood has some great traits. Plus our age is slowed drasticly. Were actually 10 years older than we look." " but what about school?" A lot of us enrolled late and cheated the system. The details arent of importance. But now we have some one aside from us to actually talk to!" she was laughing pretty hard at me being here and I wasn’t sure why. "Well im glad to be here everyones nice, well almost every one." I was referencing Lauren's actions to me the previous night. " Yea I read laurens mind. She did you some major wrong bro and I have to say you shoulda been the one kicking her ass!" Yea I said and nodded. I let my gaze fall to her body again and I must have been staring hard because she snapped her fingers at me." eyes up here hauss!" I snapped into reality again and laughed. " Hahaha sorry my minds a little off today, just trying to keep my mind focused is a challenge."
I wasn’t lying but why I wasn't focused was due to the model of a woman I had sitting opposite of me. " So you and lauren caused a huge ruckus in that street race! And you lost which doesn’t surprise me, she's good really good." I sighed remembering the big game I talked and how bad I got smoked. "I'll give her the fact she has some skills but shes nothing but fast. And if it was a curvier road id have won. I sank that car down specifically to reduce tilt when turning. Basically a big body drift car." she laughed and handed me the phone. " You ought to call mom shell worry about you." I dialed one on the phone and it rang and emily picked up. "Hello? Sam you finally awake?" Yes maam I am I finally met samantha as well she seems to approve of me." I laughed and she told me that they'd be home about midnight. As I hung the phone up samantha asked me to show her my driving skills and that shed love to ride with me. I declined saying I was too mentally exhausted and that maybe later tonight we'd go out and id show her. And then it hit me she was being open…to open with me and very friendly..but I had no quarrels with some one who was being this nice. " So you are really tall." I blurted out, not even thinking. She blushed and laughed. " Yea I played basketball for a while and I guess I was good I broke three school records." as I was listening she seem to command my attention because I didn’t notice the fact she moved a foot up my leg. " You know I noticed you liked it when I had you in a head lock." her voice was a smooth as silk and almost like everywprd made me harder and harder. And I realized I was planted here I couldn't move. At all. She sat down beside me rubbing my inner thigh and pulling my hair. " It’s a shame I didn’t come home sooner…ive been unsatisfied with the boys in this town. Itll drive a woman mad. Maybe you can fix that my little play thing." I was putt in her hands. A mere lump of horny flesh. " me. Im so hard I havent came in weeks!" I begged her and pleaded to her. " Poor little boy..maybe if youre big enough ill help." I was trembling, my body flooding with lust and fear..this woman scared me. She pulled my gym shorts and boxers down and gasped. " Oh my! Yes this one will do!" slowly removing her tights she sank all the way down on my cock pinning me to the couch, violently riding me, screaming." Youre so fucking big! God yes I knew you had something more to you!" I grabbed her ass and squeezed hard. She hopped off and pulled me to the floor mounting me again and slammed her pussy down onto my rock hard member, grinding her hips against mine, kissing me and biting me, all the while drawing blood. To say the least I was in heaven. " im gonna cum samantha! Holy shit im gonna break!" She nodded and squealed as she came all over my cock tightening around me. She hopped off and lowered her pussy over my face as she sucked my cock. I devoured her pussy. Biting her clit tongue fucking her and loving every second of it. Soon enough I came deep in her mouth and felt her gulp my load down.
" Holy…just wow!" Whered you learn to eat like that?" "I never have before. I just went with it." my face was soaked and my cock was leaking cum and juices from both holes dripped onto the tile flooring. "Now how about you and I get a shower?" she grabbed my hand and we ran into the master bath turning the water on warm and stepping in. I lathered her chest up and washed her breasts, slowly massaging them, worked my way to her under arms and arms. I sank down and washed her toned stomach, working around her hips and down her beautiful ass and her pussy. I gently washed her hair and rinsed her off and when I was done she did the same for me paying attention to the details and making sure I was squeaky clean. I looked over to samantha who was drying off and asked who had re-painted, tricked out and boosted my caddy. She told me lexi had it done as a gift and to keep it from being noticed by anyone who knew the car. As we dried off and changed I grabbed some blood and a fresh change of clothes. It was roughly 6:00 pm and I asked if she wanted that ride still and she agreed more than eagerly. We hopped in and I started her up and sped out of the driveway. We hit the interstate and I wanted to show off so I pulled up next to a grey sports car with a load of four teens in it and rolled my window down yelling at them to race and sure enough they took off. I knew what they had under the hood and stomped it. By this point samantha was hysterical and couldn’t keep from laughing and screaming go. We quickly caught up to them and sped by going an easy 140 and cruised into the lot where I met lauren. Vince was there with a few other drivers and I just pulled up. "Vince! Whats happening?" "Well there short shit we's just getting few guys together to make a car trade. You wanna ride out with us? And before we go the guy wants a DTS for a nissan GTR 2012. You may get that better car after all if he wants what you got over the other guys." We followed the group of cars to an old lot in the south part of town and got out. There was the man with the GTR and the man with his DTS and us.
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