Deidre partner

A first time playthroughers thoughts on Avalon

2020.08.30 02:58 kennymc2005 A first time playthroughers thoughts on Avalon

I started Avalon this 18 days ago, yet honestly it probably took me like four or five days. I went on a week long camping trip, waited for my questing partner to catch up, then waited for her internet to go back on, all in those 18 days. But I crafted a tapestry to the bazaar, that’s all that matters.
Avalon itself was the best Arc 2 world so far, granted I completely despise Celestia and Zafaria. Avalon was just so fun though, and it’s not just because of the Monty Python references (though they did help). Honestly, the hardest part of Avalon was the Morganthe fight, just because i (a death) was running it with a death and you can’t prism without being earthquaked and taking a supernova to the face (or is it powernova, I forget). More on that later.
High Road: I really like how you just show up and get thrown into battle. Thank goodness for mass death prism tc, that was a life saver until I got to The Wild.
Caer Lyon: I get kinda confused at what this place is. Is this the grand city of Avalon? Is this a city? What is this? Anyways much shorter than I expected it to be. I was on the wild in no time, just a little sad I didn’t get invited to the wedding 😢
The Wild: pretty sure this is the longest part of Avalon, but still pretty short. The Fire Elf arc was pretty fun, and helping out Deidre Madden free the fairy spies was cool, though I don’t understand how a master spy gets captured.
The Wyrd: I was so hyped for this area to get the Deer Knight crafting recipe, thinking you needed Grandmaster Artisan... no it’s legendary. And after so many says of reagent farming I just decided not too, though I could probably finish it up in one day... and I know I need to get to the Arcanum crafting quest to get Dragoon Gear, kinda annoying. Overall though, a pretty good area. Liked the Sir Mallory redemption, liked the fights and the overall feel of Wyrd.
Dun Dura: The hiding place of Good Queen Gwendolyn. Also pretty short. The Catalan fight was harder then it needed to be, granted he storm lord crit us and we almost died.
Outer Yard: Fun little area, loved the pomegranate thing, it was funny and a nice nod to Monty Python. Wish they let you know about Practice Arena because, well, I got pulled into there.
Lake Shore: I still can’t get over the friars accent. The deep Scottish (or is it Irish?) was hilarious listening to it. Black Annie was relatively easy, as were the mob fights.
The Catacombs/ Crystal Caves: Catacombs wasn’t too exciting (but there were like 5 battles) but Crystal Caves is one of the coolest areas in Avalon. The statues too were really cool, really giving us backstory into how King Artoirious fell.
Ghost Avalon: best dungeon in the game so far, Better than Olympus, better than Big Ben, better than Malistare. This was such a fun dungeon. The Morganthe fight wasn’t too difficult, I just bladed my friend and death dispel spammed Morganthe. The XP wasn’t too bad either.
Keep of Gamelon: fun final dungeon, wish the Sword of Kings was Better. Regardless, fighting the Pendragon was easy and the next too dragons were too (blade stack crow am I right?). Also liked the XP.
Overall, Avalon was a fun world, and might be my favorite of the game so far. You never stayed in an area for moons and every place was different, it wasn’t an eyesore like Celestia or the same two biomes constantly like Zafaria. It was really fun, maybe even funner than Wysteria (loved that world).
Pretty hyped for Azteca. Best battle music in the game. Sharpen and potent are going to be so nice to have. Hopefully Azteca isn’t too long of a world, because I really want to try and finish the game by the end of the year.
A few questions to end: Is there a place to download the Wizard101 music? What in Tartarus should I farm for? And if you wanna friend me let me know im on every night for a good three four hours at least.
Thanks for reading! Hoping to do a thoughts on Aquila as a whole by next weekend and Azteca not to long after that!
submitted by kennymc2005 to Wizard101 [link] [comments]


2020.07.09 12:02 15__Square Tabloids discussing circumcision trauma - We want to help support you.

This article, in the Sun today, links to 15 Square, as a resource for men and their partners to seek support.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/dear-deidre/12067737/sex-too-painful-husband-circumcised/
We know just how much stories in the media can impact on people dealing with this trauma.
It just goes to show that even in the tabloids, people are coming forward with stories of how circumcision is impacting peoples lives, while we all work to put a stop to the barbaric practice of default circumcisions, we must acknowledge that there are so many men and boys who live with this trauma every day - we want you all to know that we are here for you in solidarity and if you need our support we will do our best to help you.
The number of stories that tell the same issues over and over, loss of sensation, loss of sexuality, and the amount of grief that one must suffer through, is disgraceful, we know that right now nothing we can do or say will restore what you have lost but to every single person who deals with this day in and day out:
You are strong
You are loved
You are wanted
You are NOT alone.
We are attempting to respond to the piece in the media that deal with circumcision so that people who may not have thought anyone else has any issues with their own circumcision can see that nothing could be further from the truth!
https://15square.org.uk/2020/07/09/psychological-damage/
submitted by 15__Square to CircumcisionGrief [link] [comments]


2020.01.28 19:18 QueenCityNerve Eco-Focused Public Art Exhibit to Hit Uptown This Spring

Eco-Focused Public Art Exhibit to Hit Uptown This Spring
TL;DR: https://qcnerve.com/eco-focused-public-art-exhibit-to-hit-uptown-this-spring/

Thirty-five globes currently sit at Camp North End trying to stay a decent temperature. (Photo by Jayme Johnson)
A brand new public art exhibit will hit Uptown Charlotte this spring, with 35 individually painted globes popping up on North Tryon Street between 11th and Trade streets in late March and remaining through early October. Cool Globes: Cool Ideas for a Hotter Planet is a nonprofit organization that curates a traveling public art exhibit created to raise awareness of solutions to climate change. Since 2007, the exhibition has traveled around the United States and the world reaching millions of viewers across the actual globe.
There are currently 35 globes being housed at Camp North End in north Charlotte, awaiting their chance to be placed amid the foot traffic of Uptown. While 30 of the globes have already been painted, five remain blank white canvases awaiting the markings of a local artist. The Camp North End site is being used as a staging facility for the globes to be spruced up before going on the streets, says Megan Scarsella, executive director of Cool Globes, and there are requests for proposals out for Charlotte artists to get involved. Each globe comes with a $2,000 stipend to be used by the selected artist.
“It is really fun getting to know the local artist community in the cities that we are involved in,” she says.
The deadline for artists to submit a proposal to Cool Globes for the globe project is February 10.
Cool Globes was founded in 2006 by Wendy Abrams as a way to acknowledge her commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, which facilitates commitments to action from members in an applied philanthropic model and aids in many post-disaster efforts globally. Abrams aimed to address the issue of climate change through an interesting and public medium, which is where the scale and size of the globes themselves come in to play. Scarsella calls it, “public art with a purpose.”
Scarsella says the exhibit is a way to educate the public on opportunities to contribute that they might not have been aware of prior to coming to the exhibit.
“Some of the solutions are simple, like turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth or take shorter showers,” she says. “Others are more abstract and are open to self-interpretation in terms of, maybe, needing to do some reflection.”
Deidre and Clay Grubb of Charlotte-based Grubb Properties were behind efforts to bring the globes to the Queen City, according to Scarsella. “That’s what tends to happen; sometimes it’s a local company or an independent person that sees the globes elsewhere and wants to bring them to their city,” she says.
Other partners on the project include Clean Air Carolinas, Arts and Science Council, Sustain Charlotte, Arts+, McColl Center for Arts + Innovation, Bank of America, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and Charlotte Center City Partners.
Cool Globes is also working with Center City Partners to commission a new mural that relates to climate change as a whole. The art will be done by a local artist, though the location and stipend amount for the project have not yet been set, as organizers continue to find the perfect space for the message.
“Everything we do we aim to be positive and hopeful in the subject matter,” Scarsella tells us.
The Cool Globes exhibit also works as an opportunity for local artists’ work to be featured on a world stage — figuratively and literally — once the exhibit leaves Charlotte and moves elsewhere, as the globes are never stripped of their artwork.
The company started with 120 globes when it opened its first exhibit in Chicago in 2007. Since then they have auctioned many off, while gifting a “legacy globe” to each participating city has become part of a local presenting sponsor package. The proceeds go to environmentally friendly youth organizations such as the Chicago Public Schools Eco Club following the first year.
Scarsella says the youth play an important part in the application of solutions to climate change, as we’ve all seen the “OK Boomer” expression pop up on signs at climate strikes across the country and young people have taken leadership in pressuring federal and local governments on implementing more sustainable practices in the areas that they live.
There are plans for programming around the exhibit to include field trips, summer camp activities, scavenger hunts and more to ensure a greater impact from the exhibit while it’s here.
Cool Globes is looking for artistic innovation from high school students as well. In 2009, Cool Globes began using posters to promote the exhibit around the cities that they take over. That year in Los Angeles, street artist and Obey Clothing founder Shephard Fairey donated his time in creating the posters. His artwork moved around from city to city before the team began to work exclusively with local artists. They are now in search of a high school student to design and develop the artwork for posters to be mass distributed throughout Charlotte.
Scarsella says there is even a possibility to enlarge the images and use them as bus shelter ads in Uptown.
“In meeting with the local committee in Charlotte we thought that it would be a really great opportunity for local high school students,” she says. “We always tend to have youth involved with the exhibit but never has it been so intentional and it’s really exciting to get to involve them.”
Though the globes will be installed in late March, a public unveiling event is planned for April 3, where environmental attorney and anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is scheduled to speak.
submitted by QueenCityNerve to Charlotte [link] [comments]


2020.01.11 05:28 Narakia Kallag's Companions Chapter 1

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The sun rises on Kallag, first hitting the tallest point of the keep before the light spreads over the red rooftops of the city so that it's warmth can greet the already bustling life in the streets. The crisp morning air is filled with the smell of fresh breads, the sound of window shutters being opening, and the general feeling of home and community.
Greeting the morning, the doors and windows have been opened at the Shining Peak Inn to help air out from the festivities of the night before and clear the dust and mud from the floor. From the front facing windows, patrons have a clear view of the mountain peak being graced by the morning light, which is where the Inn gets it's name from.
Inside the rustic building, a number of travelers to Kallag begin their day...
A bearded, stocky, but well built large man sits at one of tables eating. His legs closed to take up as little room as possible. Scars and a strange tattoo runs across the length of his massive arms, his hair tied back in a top knot. He remains silent as he watches some of the people enter.
Another patron, Karkass, stumbles downstairs dragging his axe behind him. He is trying to fight the urge to vomit (again) after another long night of debauchery. He yells up towards his room at the orc woman he pleasured earlier...
"And keep tha chaynge... you'll be needin' it after last night..."
...to the barkeep...louder than is called for...
"Ay'll be needin' a bit o' the hair of the worg, if ya catch my drift."
...as he vurps a little into his mouth...
The seasoned woman behind the counter rolls her eyes and shakes her head, ignoring the goblin's request. A younger man with similar features sighs, leaning his broom against the wall to move about the bar for a moment. He walks slowly to the table and practically drops a metal plate of bread and meat down, as well as a tankard of alcohol and a tankard of water.
"We'll be adding some damages to your tab ... but waiving the room fee as per our agreement for the ... entertainment you provided last night."
"I'll not be payin' fer damages! It weren't my fault... the other guy started it... not my fault he's ugly and can't take a joke!!! As fer my services... I kin play agin tonight, if ya loike!"
The man appears to grimace slightly and raises a hand to scratch his messy reddish-brown hair. "Uh, no, we appreciate the offer but keep a policy to rotate performers..."
The large man with scars and tattoos groans a bit, but continues chomping down.
During breakfast, a young couple enters and seeks a table. The man serving Karkass watches them sit and gives the goblin a stern look.
"The evenin' is fine, but please keep it quiet while the sun is up? I'll take care of the damage fees."
The young couple finds a table. It is easy to overhear them gossiping about how quaint the town is and not at all what they expected. They look like they are above common class, or at least like they are trying to look like they are.
The large man gives them a nod.
The woman smiles but otherwise keeps to herself. Her partner leans over slightly towards him instead. "Hullo sir, do you live in Kallag?"
Mid-chew, he looks up in surprise. “Mm- oh! No ma’am I don’t. Just passing through.”
"Ah," He leans back, looking a little disappointed, and pats the woman's hand upon the table. "We'll ask around for some locals."
“Why do you need locals? If you don’t mind askin’.”
The woman peers over at the man again with an uplifting smile. "We're here to meet the Kallighy family. Surely even as a traveler you have heard of their adventures?"
“Ehhh... can’t say I do Miss.”
"Really?" She gasps, leaning over the table for a moment. Her partner clears his throat, and she glances up at him, pulling back slightly. "Pardon my outburst, I just can't fathom someone not hearing the tale! It was only a few months ago you see...that a group of adventurers including the estranged son of Kallighy House came out of some mystical tower with over a dozen missing students. Stranger still, some of the students had been missing for years and hadn't aged a day!"
“Oh. Well, you sure it’s not a fairy tale?”
The woman blushes slightly, but holds her ground. "Well, yes, some things I've heard are pretty far fetched, but I believe the story has some credit."
“Hm.” He takes another bite. “When is the wedding being held?”
"So you do know a thing or two about it?" She gives him a suspicious look then blushes furiously as the goblin's shouts to her for her previous outburst.
"Oi! Calm yer tits, woman. We're all just waking up."
The large man furrows his brow. “Mister, I don’t mean to make demands, but could you be a bit more respectful to the people in this establishment?”
The woman's partner stands quickly in his place and looks over to the goblin. "Pardon? Mind how you speak to my wife!"
"No offense, but I'll mind whatever I want, and right now, my mind is pounding." The goblin quickly attempts to change the subject. "Now what's this I hear about a weddin'?"
The large man’s composer changes, he shifts in his seat and drops his fork. He looks back to the woman. “No Miss, unfortunately can’t say I know too much about it.”
Still glaring hard at the goblin, the man relents as his wife tugs him back down into his seat. Purposefully ignoring the rude patron, he turns instead to the man his wife had been talking to.
"There's to be a wedding here tomorrow for Tym Kallighy, the previously mentioned estranged son. And hear me, his intended bride is something of an oddity...she is a noblewoman who went missing over 100 years ago! I'm not entirely sure I believe the tales myself but...I figured there was no harm in attending a noble wedding and finding out the truth."
He fakes a smile, seeing there won’t be a fight breaking out he grabs his fork. “No I don’t think there is Sir. You don’t need an invite, do you?”
The husband shakes his head with a casual smile. "It's said to be public!"
“Well that’s nice.”
The eavesdropping goblin scoffs. "A noble weddin' and I'm just now hearing about it? I bet Garrett paid someone off to keep that knowledge from me."
The large man finishes his meal and stays quiet on the matter, eyeing the goblin.
“Well... it was nice to meet you folks. Might just show up at that wedding.” He stands.
The gentleman nods and stands with him, holding out a delicate hand. "You as well sir. My apologies, I never asked your name?"
He meets his hand. “Uh- Minin.”
"Cavan Roberts," he says as he gives a light handshake. "And my wife, "Laura." She does not stand, but gives a polite nod.
“‘Course. Nice to meet the both of you.”
Steadily, the streets outside the inn fill with life as the main strip's marketplace opens for the day. A few carts are brought out into the open square which the inn faces and merchants begin their daily task of trading goods.
Before long, the usual commotion stirs as people spot Sir Tym and Lady Ophelia beginning their habitual walk through town, this time with a few guests in toe.
Walking with her arm linked with Tym's is Lady Ophelia. She wears a slim, pale blue dress with a long dark blue coat that closes in the front. Her dark brown hair is tightly braided on the left side and winding behind her head, causing all her hair to gather and flow freely on the right side. A chestnut brown fox-like creature rests on Tym's shoulder between them as they walk.
Tym walks nonchalantly holding Ophelia's arm. He smiles and even nods at commoners as his group passes by them. He wears fine clothes in a somewhat relaxed manner. his white silk shirt and well fit black trousers, paired with flat low burgundy leather shoes, impress much more by their quality than by his effort in making them look distinguished.
At some point in the entourage's movement down the main street that comes directly out from the Keep's big gates, Tym suddenly stops in front of a house. Even though most houses are decorated with a particular type of red flowering vines, there lies one house whose walls are completely covered by these red flowers, so the wall itself end up totally hidden.
"Mrs. Goodinton! Would you happen to be there in this lovely morning?" Tym says somewhat loudly, as he claps by the door.
Tym immediately hears some cheerful comments inside that are muffled by the door. A moment later, the door opens and an elderly shrinking woman beams up at Tym in the sunlight. "Well, good morn' dear!"
"Oh, there you are!" Tym smiles at her, and turns to his entourage, addressing Ophelia. "That last night, would you remember my dear, that I told you how Kallag gets covered by these beautiful red flowers when spring comes?"
Ophelia, who had been admiring the vines, smiles to Tym. "I do, they're wonderful!"
Tym smiles, pointing to the old lady by the door with his open hand. "I guess I just made one unforgivable mistake: I forgot to tell you that Mrs. Goodinton's house is always the one where the flowers are the most beautiful!"
"I can see that! Janessa would be delighted to meet you, Mrs. Goodinton," Ophelia bows her head to the woman, who pulls a scrunched smile of a proud old mother.
"Oh, you flatter me! Not a flower here is as pretty as you, my dear," Mrs. Goodinton blushes and brushes off the compliments, but is absolutely beaming at her unexpected guests.
"If you allow me, my good old friend, I believe these two beauties should go together." Tym goes towards the flowers, making the move to pick one of them, but still waiting for her approval.
With a slight look of surprise, Mrs. Goodinton nods to Tym.
Tym picks the flower and turns around, placing it on Ophelia's hair, making it stay within the braids of her hair. Ophelia looks pleased, unable to contain her grin.
Tym turns around and picks a second one, handing it to Gemma with a smile. "Well, we should not let Ophelia be lonely with her flower, I suppose..."
"Oh! Thank you...Sir Tym." Gemma smiles softly, accepting the flower and holding it in front of her, turning to smile with pride at Havund too.
Tym turns back to Mrs. Goodinton. "Thank you for making this town even more beautiful every year, my lovely lady!"
Tym clumsily picks a coin from his pocket, unsuccessfully trying to do it smoothly. As he holds the coin to shake the old lady's hand, it falls from his hands on the floor.
"Ahh, I am sorry!" He picks the coin from the floor. "May this be just one of many blessings from Tymora to you this spring..."
"Oh dear, that is not necesary," Mrs. Goodinton replies, holding her hand up to decline the coin. "The ladies are welcome to take a flower whenever they wish."
"Well, let us say this is not for you then..." Tym says, holding her hand and placing the coin in it. "It is for those flowers, so they wish to come back next year!" He smiles, and closes her hand around it. "I hope you give us the honor of your presence tomorrow. Have a good day, madam!"
"Of course I shall," The woman takes the coin and gives a small curtsy as they begin to move away.
Tym smiles at her, and continues walking down the street, holding Ophelia's arm once more. The group continues down the path, greeting those who stop at the side of the path to let them path, and they approach the market square.
Wrynn tapped alongside with his staff, still in his scale-mail armor, he didn't really have anything finer than it around. And his son Havund lingered closer to Gemma, his tan olive skin looking much more healthy than the emaciated husk he'd been a mere few months ago when he'd met this group.
Clearly unrelated, Gemma is a middle-aged woman with serious eyes and a kind smile. She dresses very simply in a commoner's dress and wears her hair pulled back in a half pony tail.
Tym turns to Wrynn, as they enter the market square. "Oh wise man, in case you still did not get to see them, I am sure you will appreciate all the good products from this region, and from the forest across the river."
"Heh, It's not like I ever really needed that much to begin with, though... I do hope to see what sorts of wines your home has to offer... It's been quite a while"
"Ah, of course! We have a very small production here, in the neighboring hills. But I believe most of what will be served tomorrow comes from down the valley! I am certain you will be pleased!"
"Mmh don't be afraid to cut me off if I've had a bit much" Wrynn nods, taking in the sights. "Sure are a lot of people watching, Kinda understand why Fritz is so jumpy... Do you get this sort of attention often?"
"I am sure good Havund here will ensure you get enough wine..."
Tym looks around. "Ah, we enjoy being with our people." He smiles to Ophelia. "They are good and industrious men and women, do not worry too much about their curiosity."
"Yes, the locals have been friendly and respectful," Ophelia smiles, and steps a bit closer to Wrynn to speak quietly. "Some other visitors, tend only to gawk..."
A woman cloaked hood pulled over her head catlike eyes watching the procession from a distance. The couple that was having breakfast exited the inn, having seen the crowd grow quieter and clearly watching something. Though they do not approach the nobles, they stand near the door and watch them with expressions of envy. Minin nearly bumps into them exiting. Cavan wraps his arm around his wife and pulls her to the side so the couple awkwardly moves away from the door, their eyes still on the nobles and entourage.
A young woman suddenly approaches the pair, offering a curtsy from a respectable distance before daring to get closer.
Tym smiles at her. "May this morning arrive with good fortune for you, charming lady!"
The young woman nods and smiles at his greeting. "Good day to you! My mother is ill and isn't able to make the journey, but I was hoping to get your blessings upon this charm to return to her." The woman holds up a wooden carved charm, recognizable as a symbol of Tymora and bows her head to both Tym and Ophelia.
"Oh I am sad to hear about her. What would happen to be your name?"
"Oh, it's Caitlin, sir, of Orlbar." Still holding the charm out, she grabs the edge of her dress to give a second, half curtsy with her introduction.
"Ah, I wish I could have the time to travel down to Orlbar to help her..." Tym extends his hand, for her to give him the charm.
She hands it over with a smile. "Oh, it's a bit far, I wouldn't expect that..."
"And well, please tell me what would the name of your beloved mother be?"
"It's Deidre, sir."
"And what is the misfortune affecting her?"
Her smile fades as she thinks on her mother. "She's...inflicted with the Sun's curse. I'd heard about what you did," She glances briefly to Ophelia. "And I...I've read a lot about Tymora. I hoped...with your blessing...my mother could possibly recover."
"Oh I did nothing. I was just the vessel who carried some of our Lady Luck's good fortune. And I am certain that She will see your efforts, and bring her blessings on Deidre as well." Saying that, Tym opens his right hand holding the charm, and places her own hand on top of it, holding it with his left hand. He proceeds to do a short prayer. As he finishes, a light blue glow emanates from the charm, and goes into her.
Ophelia steps up next to Tym as he speaks with the girl, and lays her hand on top of the girl's, sandwiching it between them. Reaching up to touch her necklace, she whispers a soft spell as well.
The girl seems a bit tearful for a moment, but looks up to the two with appreciation.
"Will you give us the pleasure of your presence tomorrow?"
"I would love to," Her sad expression betrays her words. "More than anything. But I need to get home to my mother..."
"Oh, I am sorry to hear that. I would be pleased to have you with us, but I understand your urgent matters... May Tymora open your ways, lighten your paths, and heal your beloved mother." Tym gives the charm back to her
"Blessings to your mother," Ophelia says softly to the girl, stepping closer to Tym to rest a hand on his upper arm sympathetically at hearing the girl's plight.
Bowing deeply, the girl holds the charm close and quickly scurries away, heading toward the main gate.
Tym looks sadly to Ophelia. "I wish we could do more for her..."
"I know, love," Ophelia says softly to Tym. "Perhaps after the wedding, we could pay a visit to Orlbar?"
"Have you ever heard of this "Sun's Curse?" Because I've not, And I've had plenty of time to study."
"Indeed I have never heard of it. But it must be something serious, I assume, for her to come all the way here for this hope..."
Tym squeezes Ophelia's arm gently. "Maybe we could. I suppose there we could both help her mother, and find out what this disease is about..."
"If it is affecting nearby people, I would like to help...even if it's not our own people yet," Ophelia agrees, nodding to Tym, then looks to Wrynn."Both you and Gemma would make a wonderful team providing remedies to the masses, as well."
"I do what I can. Given the supplies I could easily brew several batches of antitoxins or healing potions. Though, That's a more Noble-funding type of situation."
Tym discretely wipes his eyes with a handkerchief, looking down for a bit thinking about what could be done.
Several of the commoners were watching the display with interest, but feeling much like they are staring, they now disperse and return to their business. Minin begins to follow behind the crowd to get a look at the apparent one hundred year old woman. Watching the noble couple that is causing such a stir, Minin can tell they care for the common folk. The noblewoman the couple had been gossiping about seems shockingly normal. Neither display any attitude to shed light on the fairy tale.
Ophelia rubs Tym's arm gently and calls to her fox familiar who has been sniffing around the court yard, trying not to call attention to his brief emotional state. "Valerian? What did you find?"
The familiar's ears perk up, and it unfurls the wings that were tucked close to it's body, flying up to land in her arms. The fox takes a moment to sniff at the flower in her hair, then just nestles in against her chest.
Minin gently taps whatever commoner is next to him. “Uh, excuse me. Are flying foxes... indigenous to the area?”
The woman who'd been watching the nobles glances to Minin and laughs lightly. "Not at all, but she's a special one. Seen another around sometimes too, a cat though."
“Hm. Thank you.” Minin continues gawking at the group. Wrynn seems focused on this strange burly fella, sizing him up.
Ophelia smiles down at the fox in her arms, who seems quite content. Tym pets the familiar a bit, and raises his head with a smile. "Well, this is still a time for us to celebrate, so maybe we could think more about it later... Would you say, darling?"
Ophelia nods, her features softening as she tries to push her worries away. She turns back to the fox, cradling it in one arm to poke it's nose gently with the other. Tym chuckles at her way to play with the flying fox.
Minin continues to watch the girl for any hint of being over a hundred. Her makeup couldn’t be that good... By Minin's best guess, Ophelia couldn't be over 30. With the way she wears her hair, he can clearly see her rounded ears, which meant no Elven heritage.
“Well, it’s a fairy tale then.” Minin begins to head back to the inn.
"You really think so?" Laura, the commoner woman Minin had met in the inn, suddenly says as he turns past her. She is looking at Minin with some doubt on her face.
“She can’t be over thirty ma’am. I’m sorry to say.” Minin says, looking over his shoulder at the girl.
"The Magisters are a noble household though and they gave her a title," Laura says defensively. "They wouldn't have just done that unless they could trace her lineage..."
“Oh, I don’t have any doubt. Just never seen any human over forty look like her, respectfully.”
Laura just shakes her head dismissively at Minin and looks back to the courtyard.
Within a minute passing, Wrynn would be able tell just by watching that the burly man would be about as hard to hit as he was, and was just as experienced.
"Is there anything we should worry about, my wise friend?" Tym asks Wrynn.
"Burly fellow with the tattoos. Experienced, Not as hardy as he looks, but strong... If we need another strong-arm sometime... could be useful. And... he was watching Ophelia... though a lot of people are I supposed.."
Ophelia hears none of this, as she is too busy snuggling her fox familiar.
Tym takes a good look at Minin. "Oh, I do not recall having ever seen this person around our good town. I wonder if he is here for the wedding... Because with his size he might have all your share of our good wine!"
"... Not if I get into it first."
"Fair enough, fair enough..." Tym laughs. "You will be closer to the wine, in any case, I am sure..."
Tym turns to Ophelia. "Honey, have you ever seen that big strong man over there? I wonder if he was the guard of some of our guests, because I do not believe he is from this area..."
"Huh?" Ophelia asks, not looking away from the fox.
Tym let's her be with her magical pet, and approaches the foreigner with a wide smile. "Excuse, my big friend..."
Tym extends his hand. Minin looks at the man for a moment, gazing at him silently but meets his hand. Tym holds his hand in a somewhat frustratingly weak handshake.
"I do not believe I ever saw you in this town. Be welcome! Would you mind if I ask which roads did you travel to bring you here?" Tym tilts his head just a bit. "I am curious to know from how far people are coming to celebrate our love with us!"
“Oh, I don’t know you, Sir. Least, not until a few minutes ago I didn’t. I guess I still don’t. Ehm, you’re pretty popular huh? Got... flying foxes and everything.”
Tym chuckles a bit, glancing back to Ophelia. "Oh, no, the fox is her pretty pet, not mine at all! I just enjoy being around our industrious people during lovely mornings..." Tym gently touches his shoulder. "But you said you do not know us. So you just arrived in Kallag when we are having this time breaking celebration by luck?"
“I guess I am.” He looks around at the crowd. “Just thought it was a popular town. So, why’d you come to me Sir? If you don’t mind me asking.”
"Oh, do not worry. I believe I just have a feel for lucky people around me..." Tym gives him a smile.
“Don’t think I’m lucky...” He mutters.
Having noticed Tym had stepped away from her, Ophelia ruffles Valerian's belly to rouse him, and sets him on the ground. She walks over to the door of the inn, smiling at the commoner couple who stare at her, and stands with Tym. Wrynn meanwhile kneels down to give Valerian a few pets as well.
"Well hello," She says to Minin.
"Good Tymora just placed this big newcomer in our town for the wedding by total chance, my dear! Would you believe it?"
“I don’t know a Tymora, Sir.”
Tym's eyes go wide, but he tries to hold his smile.
"Well you will if you're around us at all," Ophelia chuckles. "She seems to bless us with luck wherever Tym walks. Pardon, I'm Ophelia."
“Nice to meet you Miss Ophelia. What’s this about me being lucky?”
Tym points at her with his open hand. "You see how lucky I was, thanks to Tymora, who placed this incredible woman in my path..."
"Stop," Ophelia laughs at Tym. "You'll embarrass the man." She looks back to Minin with a patient smile. "Tymora does much more than bring people love, she is the Lady of Luck. Surely, you've had some good fortune at some point in your life?"
Wrynn would stop petting the fox and approach the group. "Gods. Tymora's a god...ess? I think." Valerian follows Wrynn, prancing along on the ground as if he doesn't have wings.
"That is my very point... He arrived by chance in this little town, for the most important event of the year! That is being lucky."
Minin looks at the sudden attraction of the ‘famed heroes’ now gathering with him, and furrows his brow. “Are you trying to sell me something? I’m not interested.”
Tym laughs loudly.
"Boy, I don't have anything to sell unless you like funding healing potions." Wrynn shook his head. "What brings you here, if not for their wedding?"
Tym nods at Wrynn's question. Ophelia looks to Minin with some concern.
“I’m not here for the weddin’ sir, was just stopping in town to lay my head down. To be honest, never really cared about... rich families and weddings.”
"Good then you'll like these two, not afraid of getting their hands dirty" Wrynn shrugged. "Wish I could tell you more about the area, but ah... only just arrived."
Tym smiles at the man genuinely, looking deep in his eyes. With a slight unreadable worry, Ophelia draws her hand up to wrap around Tym's arm. He holds her hand on his shoulder.
Minin stares back, glancing back and forth between the two.
"Well, my new friend, whether you believe it or not, I am confident our good Lady Luck brought you here for your good fortune. This is going to be a great celebration, and I hope you can join us among the special guests. If Tymora went all the way to bring you to this corner of the world right now, I will ensure you are mostly welcome!"
Ophelia tightens her grip on Tym's arm. "We're not trying to manipulate or recruit you," Ophelia says with a seriousness to her tone. Her eyes show a certain level of recognition.
Wrynn sighs. "Tym, you put too much trust in happenstance, ever think he might just want a quiet night at the tavern?"
“Well- I’m glad to be welcome.” Minin looks at Ophelia, certainly bewildered by the encounter. “That’s okay, I’m not easily manipulated anyway miss.”
"Good," She responds softly, her face still looking a bit troubled but with a very slight smile. "Well, if you change your mind...the wedding tomorrow will be held in the gardens and is open to the public. We would be happy to host you there."
“Of course. I would be happy to attend. Erm, sorry if I... offended. Not very knowledgeable around these parts. Or any, really.”
"I will save a place in one of our special guests tables for you, as you bring us the signs of good fortune!" Tym thinks for a moment. "But I suppose I would need to know your name..."
“That would be Minin, sir.”
Tym nods at him. "Minin from..."
“Minin from... nowhere really. Been all over.”
Tym looks a bit confused. Ophelia listens to them curiously.
"Minin from everywhere... If you will be so kind to present yourself as such, our servants will be happy to have you seated tomorrow!"
"Until then, we will let you have your rest. It was lovely to meet you Minin," Ophelia bows her head to Minin, and tugs Tym's arm gently to indicate she'd like to walk with him.
Minin does a small bow. “Very nice to meet all of you.”
Tym nods to him, and follows Ophelia's tug.
---

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this, I will be posting a new chapter weekly so follow along in this group's adventures.
Jump to Chapter 2!
submitted by Narakia to dndstories [link] [comments]


2019.07.09 05:08 RandyFMcDonald On the aftermath of the Church and Wellesley serial killer: a personal reflection

Back in May, the Adrian Humphreys National Post article "Andrew Kinsman was fascinated by serial killers before he became Bruce McArthur’s 8th victim" caught my attention. Kinsman, the last victim of Church/Wellesley serial killer Bruce McArthur, apparently was himself very interested in serial killers, particularly gay ones like Dennis Nilsen.
Police interviewed a manager with Toronto People With AIDS Foundation on Oct. 11, 2017, according to one summary of the police investigation after Kinsman was reported missing.
Police were told that over the Christmas holidays, she and Kinsman were filling holiday bags to give clients when Kinsman told her he had a relationship with a man who, like him, was “very into the psychology of serial killers and how they functioned.”
“They really enjoyed talking about it,” she told police.
Kinsman did not reveal the man’s name but said they got together for “hook ups” every month or so. Kinsman is known to have had sexual encounters with McArthur before his murder.
Kinsman also liked reading books on serial killers, police were told, but his interest went further than that, according to a search of computer equipment police found in Kinsman’s apartment.
In a hard drive partition labelled “pictures/murder” were various drawings and writing related to Dennis Andrew Nilsen, a convicted serial killer in England.
The similarities between McArthur and Nilsen are striking.
Both were seemingly respectable men who preyed on vulnerable gay men, befriending potential victims and luring them to their homes; both men strangled their victims and both dressed and undressed their victims’ dead body before cutting them up.
(The police documents say police found several photographs of McArthur’s dead victims dressed and posed in the same fur coat, sometimes also with a fur hat and an unlit cigar dangling from their lips.)
Deidre Olsen, writing at podcast site Canadaland several days later, was right to note the sensationalism of the article, focusing as it does on Kinsman's specific interests in serial killers without noting Kinsman's other activities and relationships. (I do personally think myself that some of the things Kinsman was into, as described in the National Post article, are decidedly offputting.) It frankly puts me in mind of the people here at UnresolvedMysteries who say that, if they were to go missing, their histories posting on this forum would trigger all sorts of likely unwarranted suspicions.
And here I am, a queeer man who lives in Toronto and who posts in unresolvedmysteries. What do I do?
This particular string of killings is one that has affected me personally. The LGBTQ population of the Greater Toronto Area is substantial but not that substantial, likely in the low hundreds of thousands. My province of birth is Prince Edward Island, a province with roughly that size of population (123 thousand when I was born in 1980, 150 thousand now), and it is a province that famously has a tight-knit population, each individual separated from any other by only a couple of removes. I've always said that the LGBTQ population of Toronto reminds me of PEI in that way, in its relatively small and tight-knit population, and this whole thing has proved me right in a ghastly manner. I go to the Black Eagle, the bar that is mentioned as a location commonly related to the victims, on a regular basis. More, I had one work colleague who was an old university friend of Kinsman, and two other friends who were acquaintances of another. In the few days before McArthur's social media profile was erased, I found out that I was actually only separated from him on Facebook by one remove twice, by two different common friends. Admittedly, these two people are hypercentral in the LGBTQ communities of Toronto, well-known and even famous, but still, my closeness to the victims and their killer is unnerving.
(I was also able to find McArthur's profile on one dating/sex app before it got deleted. No, I had never exchanged any messages with him and did not recognize it; we had never even briefly connected online. I wouldn't have been likely to seek him out or sustain a conversation with him in any case, since his profile would have turned me off even if I was available. The sort of person whose profile is all about what they want from their partners and not about what they would offer them is a turn-off for me. Still, that I could find it ...)
I've also found myself affected by the politics of this. u/JustinLing, in his AMA here at unresolvedmysteries and in an interview at Queerty among other places, has made the convincing argument that the Toronto Police Service was not actively negligent in investigating this so much as it plausibly failed to make connections in the way that any bureaucracy might. Still, I'm also angry with the police: When Chief Saunders this past February claimed the police did not get information from the community, I was among the many to call this out as simple wrong. I remember reading news articles, in Daily Xtra and elsewhere, on the disappearances going years back, seeing the signs. People knew, and cared, It frankly still feels as if the Toronto Police Service has continued in its long history of homophobia, something touched upon by cultural critic Anthony Oliveira in his excellent 2018 article "Death In The Village".
The police have been busily peddling a vague warning to stay away from hook-up apps for months, to the exclusion of all other information and amid strenuous denial there was any evidence of a serial killer. Their denials, to David, amount to complicity: “Andrew disappeared in June. There’s a young man on that list who disappeared in August. If he is one of the victims, that is on the police.” He remembers the case of Jane Doe, who successfully sued the Toronto Police for their part in her attack by a serial rapist.
Instead, for David, the horror is that Andrew knew his killer: “The thing that pains me most is that he might have cared for this person, and been betrayed by this person in such a cruel way.”
I ask him about Tess Richey; about the queer voices in Black Lives Matter, whose press conference for the unveiling of the mural behind Hair of the Dog I once watched police perfunctorily scuttle after BLM had questioned the force’s cosmetic image renovation; about Project Marie, and about the subsequent police uproar about being excluded from Pride. Was this laxity of their mission to serve and protect meant to be punitive?
“All of this has laid bare the fact that we are alone,” David says. “We have no superheroes. We are alone. It is the queer community that has done the most work. It is the queer community that has developed strategies.
“And now it is the queer community who mourns.”
I do know myself that I have shifted from tolerating Black Lives Matter's protests during Pride, as a sort of a necessary sacrifice for building a coalition, towards actively supporting BLM, as people who have the same sorts of complaints of police that McArthur made me realize I should have, too. I feel vulnerable and unprotected, and I know for a fact that I am not alone in this. There are serious issues that need to be settled: There continue to be, for instance, a whole slew of unsolved killings of gay men from the 1970s and 1980s, something the police never bothered to solve at the time and may never be able to solve now.
This whole affair is creepy in ways I do not know how to digest. Other people here have posted about their relationships with crimes, their close encounters with criminals and with victims and with locations of import. How do you deal with this? How should one deal with this? What does one do after the mysteries have been solved and the responsible people punished? How do you keep it from happening again? How do you make things become normal again? I'd love to know.
submitted by RandyFMcDonald to UnresolvedMysteries [link] [comments]


2018.11.14 14:49 eventbot What's happening around town (Wed, Nov 14th - Tue, Nov 20th)

Oklahoma City's event list.

Ongoing

  • BEYOND (Factory Obscura - Oklahoma City) Thru Fri, Dec 21st Join the creatives behind the Oklahoma City art collective Factory Obscura for a fully-immersive, experiential art…
  • Devon Ice Rink (Oklahoma City) Thru Sun, Jan 27th The Devon Ice Rink returns for another magical season in the Myriad Botanical Gardens this November through the end of…
  • Downtown in December (Downtown - Oklahoma City) Thru Sun, Jan 27th Downtown in December presented by Devon, is a series of holiday events and attractions in the heart of Oklahoma City.…

Wednesday, Nov 14th

  • 🎨 American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters (Western Heritage Museum - Oklahoma City) Thru Sat, Nov 17th Start Time: 10:00am September 1 – May 12, 2019 American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art, than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who shaped it. Explore early artists such as the Kiowa Six, Tonita…
  • American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show (Oklahoma State Fair Park - Oklahoma City) Thru Sat, Nov 17th
  • 😂 Ben Creed (Loony Bin Comedy Club - Oklahoma City) Thru Sat, Nov 17th
  • Bi-Weekly Meetup (51st st. Speakeasy - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 5:00pm
  • David Sedaris (Rose State College Hudiburg Chevrolet Center - Midwest City) NPR humorist David Sedaris is bringing his brand of funny to Midwest City's Hudiburg Chevrolet Center. In celebration of…
  • 🎓 DUG Midcontinent (Cox Convention Center - Oklahoma City) Day 1 of 2 Producers are doubling down on their core assets in the historic Midcontinent's resource-rich plays. Many consider the region second only to the prolific Permian Basin when it comes to play economics and profitability. Market recoveries rarely come without turbulence. Producers remain focused on operating efficiently and cutting costs to safely…
  • Dungeons & Dragons (Edmond Unplugged - Edmond) Start Time: 7:00pm A City on the Edge with Ashley King No Cost Beginners and experienced players welcome Pre-made characters will be available No outside food and drink, food and drink available within the store
  • Friends of the Plaza Pub Crawl (Plaza District - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 6:00pm Enjoy an evening with the annual Friends of the Plaza pub crawl! We'll be visiting 4 of your favorite local hot spots.
  • The Lil Smokies (The Jones Assembly - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 8:00pm
  • Live Music- Miss Brown to You (Oklahoma City) Start Time: 7:00pm
  • Love Never Dies (Civic Center Music Hall - Oklahoma City) 1 day left "Love Never Dies" is the spellbinding sequel to "Phantom of the Opera." Watch as the phantom returns…
  • Mac DeMarco (solo): [email protected] Metro Music Series (University of Central Oklahoma - Edmond) Start Time: 7:00pm
  • Monte Montgomery - Wednesday (The Blue Door - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 8:00pm
  • 🏆 Pluck The Turkey (Remington Park - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 6:00pm Wednesday Game Night in the Remington Park Casino gets you in the spirit for Thanksgiving as you get the chance to "Pluck The Turkey" for Big Cash and...
  • State of the Economy (Western Heritage Museum - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 11:00am Signature Event Sponsors State of the Economy Date: 11/14/2018 Time: 11:00 am - 1:30 pm Location: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum 1700 NE 63rd St. Oklahoma City, OK 73111 Map to Event Add to My Calendar Hear directly from an expert panel of local economists on regional economy trends. Check back for more details! Registration begins at…
  • 🏆 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New York Knicks (Chesapeake Energy Arena - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 7:00pm Experience the thrill of fast-paced pro basketball as the Oklahoma City Thunder takes on the New York Knicks. Wear your blue…
  • UCO Opera: Speed Dating Tonight (University of Central Oklahoma - Edmond) Thru Fri, Nov 16th Start Time: 7:30pm
  • 🏆 Wednesday Game Night (Remington Park - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 6:00pm Play the games you love for jackpots and then play more games you love for Extra Cash & Prizes on Game Night at Remington Park, every Wednesday! Starting at 6pm on Wednesday nights at Remington Park, just make sure to use your Club Remington Card as you play in the casino. Doing so may get you selected via hot seat drawings to make Free Spins,…
  • 🎨 Western Movie Matinee on Wide Open Wednesday (Western Heritage Museum - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 1:00pm Dub and Mozelle Richardson Theater
    Join us for these curated selections made possible with support from an anonymous donor and Oklahoma City University’s Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature. Popcorn provided. Museum admission free to all on Wide Open Wednesdays courtesy of the Oklahoma Ford Dealers.
    Each week we have a…

Thursday, Nov 15th

  • Alzheimer Support Group Meeting (Willowood at Mustang Assisted Living Center - Mustang) Start Time: 6:00pm Willowood at Mustang provides a monthly support group meeting every third Thursday from 6:00 pm-7:00 pm where we get together and support each other. We discuss the challenges and struggles each of us experience and try to come up with ways to encourage and assist those who are in need. The class is lead by Carolyn Spears who is certified to…
  • 🎨 American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters (Western Heritage Museum - Oklahoma City) Thru Sat, Nov 17th Start Time: 10:00am September 1 – May 12, 2019 American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art, than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who shaped it. Explore early artists such as the Kiowa Six, Tonita…
  • American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show (Oklahoma State Fair Park - Oklahoma City) Thru Sat, Nov 17th
  • 😂 Ben Creed (Loony Bin Comedy Club - Oklahoma City) Thru Sat, Nov 17th
  • 🏆 Oklahoma City Blue vs. Sioux Falls Skyforce (Cox Convention Center - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 7:00pm
  • 🎓 DUG Midcontinent (Cox Convention Center - Oklahoma City) Day 2 of 2 Producers are doubling down on their core assets in the historic Midcontinent's resource-rich plays. Many consider the region second only to the prolific Permian Basin when it comes to play economics and profitability. Market recoveries rarely come without turbulence. Producers remain focused on operating efficiently and cutting costs to safely…
  • Fall Fling with the Phil (The Sooner Theatre - Norman) Start Time: 6:00pm “Fall Fling with the Phil” takes place at 6 p.m. Nov. 15 in the studio of Sooner Theatre. Enjoy an evening out listening to your favorite romantic songs with dinner catered by Norman's own Benvenuti's. Musicians from the Norman Philharmonic will be joined by special guests from the Norman community and the Sooner Theatre. They will present…
  • Fit For An Autopsy (Diamond Ballroom - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 7:00pm
  • Killer Queen featuring Patrick Myers (Tower Theatre Studio - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 8:00pm
  • Kitt Wakeley with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic & Choir (Chevy Bricktown Events Center - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 7:00pm This event will feature Kitt Wakeley performing his most recent album, "Midnight in Macedonia" with the OKC Philharmonic and Choir, along with several talented rock musicians.
  • Love Never Dies (Civic Center Music Hall - Oklahoma City) Last Day "Love Never Dies" is the spellbinding sequel to "Phantom of the Opera." Watch as the phantom returns…
  • Monte Montgomery - Thursday (The Blue Door - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 8:00pm
  • Myriad Kitchen: Soups and Salsas (Myriad Botanical Gardens - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 7:00pm Thursday, November 15, 7-8:30pm Member $5; Nonmember $10 Trader Joe’s staff REGISTER HERE In this demonstration class, Trader Joe’s staff will prepare delectable dishes designed to support individuals in making more informed food decisions. Enjoy an assortment of take home selections, such as kitchen recipes, cooking tips, and bonus…
  • Saints Sessions (Saints - Oklahoma City) Head to the Plaza District each Thursday for an evening of Saints Sessions programming. Visit Saints Pub in Oklahoma City on…
  • 🎓 Moore Toastmasters (1st United Methodist Church - Moore) Start Time: 7:00pm Do you cringe at the thought of being in front of a room communicating? Maybe you have no idea how to construct your thoughts for your next business meeting?
    Come and join toastmasters and learn the art of public speaking and leadership. It is a safe and great learning environment for you to start or refine your public speaking skills. There…
  • Traitors (Diamond Ballroom - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 5:30pm
  • UCO Opera: Speed Dating Tonight (University of Central Oklahoma - Edmond) 1 day left Start Time: 7:30pm
  • Unearth (Diamond Ballroom - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 6:00pm
  • 🎭 University Sing 2018 (Reynolds Performing Arts Center - Norman) Day 1 of 2
  • Walk the Lights (Joe B. Barnes Regional Park - Midwest City) Work off those extra Thanksgiving pounds at the Walk the Lights spectacular in Midwest City. Grab a flashlight, lace up your…
  • 🏆 WCRA Semi-Finals Rodeo (Lazy E Arena - Guthrie) Thru Sun, Nov 18th Start Time: 8:00am The WCRA Semi-Finals Rodeo Jackpots & Preliminary Competition. Two full days, November 15th & 16th at the Lazy E in Guthrie, OK. More than one thousand Rodeo Athletes, World Champions and Rising Stars, go head-to-head, for their share of half a million dollars in prize money. Come watch the biggest gathering of rodeo superstars in one place, at…
  • 🎨 Woodcarving Show (Edmond Senior Center - Edmond) Start Time: 10:00am Our wood carving group has planned another great exhibition. Stop by and meet the carvers and let them visit with you about woodcarving. They are a great group of people and you can join the class anytime! Hot apple cider will be served!! http://edmondok.com/calendar.aspx?EID=7370

Friday, Nov 16th

  • 🎓 Edmond Ambucs Friday Luncheon (University of Central Oklahoma - Edmond) Start Time: 12:00pm The Edmond Chapter Ambucs “creating mobility & independence for people with disabilities” hosts a weekly luncheon every Friday. Please join us at 12PM Noon, UCO Nigh Center, Cherokee Room. We also meet the 2nd Tues. night monthly, 5:30PM, Rock & Brews, 2737 W. Memorial Rd. for $5 burgers & FREE appetizers. More info., call (405)820-9667.
  • 🎨 American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters (Western Heritage Museum - Oklahoma City) 1 day left Start Time: 10:00am September 1 – May 12, 2019 American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art, than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who shaped it. Explore early artists such as the Kiowa Six, Tonita…
  • American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show (Oklahoma State Fair Park - Oklahoma City) 1 day left
  • 😂 Ben Creed (Loony Bin Comedy Club - Oklahoma City) 1 day left
  • Buddy South & The Saints & Shane Smith & The Saints (Tower Theatre Studio - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 8:00pm
  • 🎨 Filmography: "Somebody Up There Likes Me" (21C Museum Hotel - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 8:00pm Art goes to the movies with 21c Oklahoma City’s Filmography, a free monthly film series at 21c Oklahoma City in partnership with deadCenter Film and the OKC Film Society. Filmography takes place on the third Friday of each month.
    Join us in November for a screening of "Somebody Up There Likes Me," a comedy about a man watching his life fly…
  • The French Connexion (Church on Fire - Norman) Start Time: 7:00pm Enjoy an exciting evening of fine French music featuring works by Franck, Faure, and Gaubert. Hear Robert Fasol and the Cantate Singers along with Trio Lyrique, cellist Rob Bradshaw, flutist Alyssa Andriotis, and pianist Cynthia Cortright. This concert is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.
  • Midwest City Holiday Lights Spectacular (Joe B. Barnes Regional Park - Midwest City) Thru Tue, Dec 25th Celebrate the magic of the season as over one million lights transform Joe B. Barnes Regional Park into a twinkling winter…
  • Home for the Holidays (Crossings Community Church - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 6:00pm Ladies, grab your friends and come to Home for the Holidays, the annual event hosted by Crossings Women to kick off the Christmas season in style!
    You’ll begin the evening by enjoying delicious desserts and encouragement about the true meaning of Christmas with a message from Crossings Women’s Pastor, Deidre Franklin. Then, attend your…
  • Invicta Fighting Championships 32 (Firelake Arena - Shawnee) Start Time: 7:00pm VIP tables are 8 person tables and must be bought together.
  • Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker (Rose State College Hudiburg Chevrolet Center - Midwest City) Start Time: 7:00pm Come see what the knock-out performance of Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker this November. Held at Rose State…
  • MyChildren MyBride in Concert (89th Street Collective - Oklahoma City) MyChildren MyBride has perfected their signature metalcore sound since their inception in 2004. Over the years, MyChildren…
  • 🎓 Oklahoma Heritage Concert (Western Heritage Museum - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 10:30am 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Students can celebrate Oklahoma’s 111th birthday and watch history come to life at the National Cowboy Museum with stage performances by Rodeo Opry, using an interactive program to teach Oklahoma history, music, and culture. This educational music experience takes participants through trials and triumphs, including…
  • 😂 Open Mic Night (Don Quixote Club - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 7:30pm Every Friday is open mic comedy at Don Quixote's! Come see Oklahoma City's up and coming talent. If you're a comedian, sign up begins at 7:30. Show at 8. Stick around for the best karaoke in the city.
  • Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink (Mitch Park - Edmond) Thru Sun, Jan 6th Enjoy holiday ice skating in Mitch Park at the Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink. Glide around the 117ft. x 56ft. under clear,…
  • Paul Dyer And Heartland CD Release (The Blue Door - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 8:00pm
  • The Santa Market (Downtown Edmond Community Center - Edmond) Day 1 of 2 The Santa Market in Edmond offers an array of handmade arts and crafts plus your favorite home party vendors, so make…
  • Shane Smith & The Saints (Tower Theatre Studio - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 9:00pm
  • Shocker Boys (Oklahoma City Limits - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 9:30pm
  • Smoking Popes With Amuse (Blue Note - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 8:00pm
  • 🎨 Start With Art Presented by Oklahoma City Community Foundation (Oklahoma Contemporary - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 7:30am Jumpstart your day with caffeine and art at Campbell Art Park! Oklahoma City Community Foundation presents Start with Art: Whiteout. The Coffee Slingers...
  • Surreptitious: The After Work Social Mixer (Avenue 101 - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 5:00pm $10 Fishbowls $3 Hennessy Black $1 Beers $10 Hookah ($5 the 1st Hour) 3 Wine ::NO COVER::
  • 🏆 TOP RANK BOXING/ESPN (Chesapeake Energy Arena - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 6:00pm
  • UCO Opera: Speed Dating Tonight (University of Central Oklahoma - Edmond) Last Day Start Time: 7:30pm
  • UCO Voice Day (University of Central Oklahoma - Edmond) Start Time: 8:00am
  • 🎭 University Sing 2018 (Reynolds Performing Arts Center - Norman) Day 2 of 2
  • 🏆 WCRA Semi-Finals Rodeo (Lazy E Arena - Guthrie) Thru Sun, Nov 18th Start Time: 8:00am The WCRA Semi-Finals Rodeo Jackpots & Preliminary Competition. Two full days, November 15th & 16th at the Lazy E in Guthrie, OK. More than one thousand Rodeo Athletes, World Champions and Rising Stars, go head-to-head, for their share of half a million dollars in prize money. Come watch the biggest gathering of rodeo superstars in one place, at…

Saturday, Nov 17th

  • 🎨 American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters (Western Heritage Museum - Oklahoma City) Last Day Start Time: 10:00am September 1 – May 12, 2019 American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art, than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who shaped it. Explore early artists such as the Kiowa Six, Tonita…
  • American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show (Oklahoma State Fair Park - Oklahoma City) Last Day
  • Austin (United Methodist Church of the Servant - Oklahoma City) Start Time: 10:00am
  • 😂 Ben Creed (Loony Bin Comedy Club - Oklahoma City) Last Day
  • Chad Prather (Grand Casino Hotel & Resort - Shawnee) A longtime communicator and comedian, Chad Prather will share his unique way with words with the gathered Shawnee crowd.…
  • 🏃 Chill Your Cheeks 5K (Yukon City Park, Freedom Trail Park & Chisholm Trail Park - Yukon) A 5k run that winds through the streets of Yukon and ends amid the light displays at Yukon's Christmas in the Park. The Jingle Walk will start at the North Pavilion in Chisholm Trail Park. New this year will be the Kringle Karnival starting at 6:30pm Karnival will be featuring live music, reindeer petting zoo, pictures with Santa, inflatables,…
  • Christmas in the Park (Yukon City Park, Freedom Trail Park & Chisholm Trail Park - Yukon) Thru Mon, Dec 31st Yukon's Christmas in the Park offers a beautiful lighted drive through three interconnecting parks. Yukon's Chisholm…
  • Downtown Edmond Historic Tours (Downtown - Edmond) Join experts with the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust to learn something new with a downtown tour of historic Edmond.…
  • Chickasha Festival of Light (Shannon Springs Park - Chickasha) Thru Mon, Dec 31st The Chickasha Festival of Light has been recognized as one of the top ten holiday light shows in the nation…
  • Midwest City Holiday Lights Spectacular (Joe B. Barnes Regional Park - Midwest City) Thru Tue, Dec 25th Celebrate the magic of the season as over one million lights transform Joe B. Barnes Regional Park into a twinkling winter…
  • Cashion Holiday Parade (Cashion) The Cashion Holiday Parade has been a Main Street tradition for over 20 years. It has grown to its present size and includes…
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  • OKC Gun Show (Oklahoma State Fair Park - Oklahoma City) Day 1 of 2 For a high quality gun show with great prices and selection, visit the OKC Gun Show in Oklahoma City. Held at Oklahoma State…
  • OU Sooners vs Kansas Jayhawks (Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium - Norman) Get ready for some edge-of-your-seat action as the Oklahoma Sooners take on the Kansas Jayhawks at Norman's Gaylord…
  • Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink (Mitch Park - Edmond) Thru Sun, Jan 6th Enjoy holiday ice skating in Mitch Park at the Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink. Glide around the 117ft. x 56ft. under clear,…
  • Luther Pecan Festival (Luther) Gather up your crew and embrace fall with a visit to the Luther Pecan Festival. At this family-friendly festival take in a…
  • The Santa Market (Downtown Edmond Community Center - Edmond) Day 2 of 2 The Santa Market in Edmond offers an array of handmade arts and crafts plus your favorite home party vendors, so make…
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Sunday, Nov 18th

  • 🏃 CAC Soonerthon 5K (Oklahoma Memorial Union, Meecham Auditorium - Norman) Soonerthon 5K and 1 mile "Fun Run" is an event benefitting the University of Oklahoma's student philanthropy: Soonerthon. Soonerthon is an event hosted by the Campus Activities Council and the students of OU to raise funds for the Children's Hospital Foundation through the Children's Miracle Network Hospital system.
  • Christmas in the Park (Yukon City Park, Freedom Trail Park & Chisholm Trail Park - Yukon) Thru Mon, Dec 31st Yukon's Christmas in the Park offers a beautiful lighted drive through three interconnecting parks. Yukon's Chisholm…
  • Chickasha Festival of Light (Shannon Springs Park - Chickasha) Thru Mon, Dec 31st The Chickasha Festival of Light has been recognized as one of the top ten holiday light shows in the nation…
  • Midwest City Holiday Lights Spectacular (Joe B. Barnes Regional Park - Midwest City) Thru Tue, Dec 25th Celebrate the magic of the season as over one million lights transform Joe B. Barnes Regional Park into a twinkling winter…
  • OKC Gun Show (Oklahoma State Fair Park - Oklahoma City) Day 2 of 2 For a high quality gun show with great prices and selection, visit the OKC Gun Show in Oklahoma City. Held at Oklahoma State…
  • OU Sooners vs Wofford Terriers (The Lloyd Noble Center - Norman) Experience the action and excitement in Norman as the Oklahoma Sooners take on the Wofford Terriers. Since the…
  • Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink (Mitch Park - Edmond) Thru Sun, Jan 6th Enjoy holiday ice skating in Mitch Park at the Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink. Glide around the 117ft. x 56ft. under clear,…
  • 🏆 WCRA Semi-Finals Rodeo (Lazy E Arena - Guthrie) Last Day Start Time: 8:00am The WCRA Semi-Finals Rodeo Jackpots & Preliminary Competition. Two full days, November 15th & 16th at the Lazy E in Guthrie, OK. More than one thousand Rodeo Athletes, World Champions and Rising Stars, go head-to-head, for their share of half a million dollars in prize money. Come watch the biggest gathering of rodeo superstars in one place, at…
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Monday, Nov 19th

  • Christmas in the Park (Yukon City Park, Freedom Trail Park & Chisholm Trail Park - Yukon) Thru Mon, Dec 31st Yukon's Christmas in the Park offers a beautiful lighted drive through three interconnecting parks. Yukon's Chisholm…
  • Chickasha Festival of Light (Shannon Springs Park - Chickasha) Thru Mon, Dec 31st The Chickasha Festival of Light has been recognized as one of the top ten holiday light shows in the nation…
  • Midwest City Holiday Lights Spectacular (Joe B. Barnes Regional Park - Midwest City) Thru Tue, Dec 25th Celebrate the magic of the season as over one million lights transform Joe B. Barnes Regional Park into a twinkling winter…
  • Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink (Mitch Park - Edmond) Thru Sun, Jan 6th Enjoy holiday ice skating in Mitch Park at the Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink. Glide around the 117ft. x 56ft. under clear,…
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Tuesday, Nov 20th

  • Christmas in the Park (Yukon City Park, Freedom Trail Park & Chisholm Trail Park - Yukon) Thru Mon, Dec 31st Yukon's Christmas in the Park offers a beautiful lighted drive through three interconnecting parks. Yukon's Chisholm…
  • Chickasha Festival of Light (Shannon Springs Park - Chickasha) Thru Mon, Dec 31st The Chickasha Festival of Light has been recognized as one of the top ten holiday light shows in the nation…
  • Food Truck Tuesdays (Jackson - Blanchard) Every week, treat your taste buds to new flavors. During Food Truck Tuesdays, a different food truck will park in Blanchard…
  • Midwest City Holiday Lights Spectacular (Joe B. Barnes Regional Park - Midwest City) Thru Tue, Dec 25th Celebrate the magic of the season as over one million lights transform Joe B. Barnes Regional Park into a twinkling winter…
  • Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink (Mitch Park - Edmond) Thru Sun, Jan 6th Enjoy holiday ice skating in Mitch Park at the Edmond Outdoor Ice Rink. Glide around the 117ft. x 56ft. under clear,…
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See Also

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2018.09.12 14:36 noiseformind 20 years of RONIN (1998) - an appreciation piece

Today marks the 20th anniversary of John Frankenheimer’s Ronin. It premièred on September 12th, at the 1998 Venice Film Festival. Later that year it was released in my country and for some strange reason stuck as an awkward but mesmerizing story.
What’s more interesting to me is that there’s an apparent clash between the film’s aesthetics, its themes, its music and its cast.
The abundance of cell phones makes me think about The Matrix, a movie premièred half a year later with a whole new visual code hailing the beginning of a digital revolution. But Ronin is shamelessly real: its effects mechanical, not digital. There are mishaps when the camera cuts from stunts to actors, there are continuity lapses in the midst of the most quick-paced car chases, sewn together rather than perfectly aligned by digital transitions. And… has time passed… I learned to love its imperfections and to consider them a time stamp, a patina to be added to the amazing acting going around.
It opens with Sam going down the stairs the link the Rue de Drevet into the Rue des Trois Frères, where The Blue Sky was located. Its logo is visible when Sam comes down the stairs but everytime a character gets to the door of the café there’s a cut to the more suitable and French set where the whole scene occurs. The change in lighting is huge from the exterior to the set and due to make-up even DeNiro face looks different, steelier on the exterior shots and more relaxed on the ones happening on set. Same thing happens with Deirdre’s face, almost natural when she gets out of the van and over-produced inside the café.
20 years on the lot is empty, the building demolished, no place to visit and remember Ronin’s beginning.
Something that comes out immediately is the music score. Its Elia Cmíral first international effort and it sounds really different from everything I’ve seen. There are several scenes that, although action ones, have nothing more scoring them that the mechanical sounds, making them more engaging to the spectator, making sure that everything is really happening, notably to me Sam’s hand-brake manœuvrer: after all this years it somehow rings more real in my ears than all the Fast and Furious fandango, probably because it’s a sound that one can actually ear in a real world vehicle.
But back to the beginning. Sam cases the place, sees Deirdre and Vincent arriving and goes around the back, caching a gun in some beer cases next to the back door. This scheming will happen through the whole plot: Sam’s always seems to overdo it, not because he’s paranoid but, will learn really fast, he’s a seasoned agent.
Apparently (this word is practically the film’s main theme) Sam, Vincent and Larry are there answering to an unknown job proposition, low-level hired guns ready to take a mysterious job no questions asked. When Deirdre asks Sam why he’s getting to the van not knowing where it’s taking him he uses the usual spook deflection: “you know the reason”.
After being introduced to the other two members of the team - Eastern European-accented Gregor and British thug Spence- they rest for the night in an improvised barrack, the whole feel of the place seems to irradiate harsh times and a string budget that mysterious job is running on: the cheap sandwiches, the coffee drank from canisters not cups, Vincent mumbling about “seven fat years and seven lean years”.
Spence the thug proves to be an immediate dissonant voice asking “you eva’ killed anybody?” when they barely know each other names and doing what looks like a simple mistake, asking Sam if they haven’t met before. They go to sleep clothed, like homeless in a shelter.
The next morning the day starts with kindness: Vincent offering Sam some smokes, something that will be a common theme along the entire film: frequently the good guys will share cigarettes, a reminder of their military camaraderie. More than etiquette: its reminiscent of their army social code.
Then the mission is stated: they need to steal a case from some unsavoury gents for the princely sum of 5k a week each with a minimum of 4 weeks work. The really low figure for such a dangerous job seem to show the dire streets these assets have fallen into.
Right there Sam shines as a savvy player: he gets into more of the heist details than any of his associates, even going beyond Deirdre current intel, right there showing the limitations of their employers.
From a directorial point of view what still strikes me the most during this first half hour or so is Sam’s mood: his face is happy, not serious, he keeps cracking jokes, and he carries a light demeanor around towards other players.
Larry-"What's a Grasshoper?" Sam-"Lets see... its two part gin, two part Brandy, one part Crème de menthe..."- Sam's cracking a joke about interrogation methods.
He cares about Vincent going to the tunnel.
Sam gives tactical advice to Vincent before the gun exchange.
He doesn't want Larry to light that cigarette because he might get shot. He’s honest when asked why he took the job (“My friend I need the money.”). But through that he’s accessing the others to see if these men are worthy of going to a gun fight with him, if they’ll watch his back: Gregor might look like a tech guy but he rapidly proves himself a field man when Sam ‘accidentally’ drops a coffee mug, retrieving it with lightning-bolt-fast reflexes.
Spence says he’s an SAS operative but he throws up after a quick gunfight and later fails to understand how to plan the most basic of ambushes and furthermore, Sam is able to 'ambush' him with a coffee cup, disarming and almost strangling him while unarmed.
(“what color is the boat house in Hereford?” is one of the best lines in the movie and a MacGuffin on its own since when asked about it later Sam will retort: “How the fuck should I know?”).
After the first half an hour Sam goes from just another ragged ex-CIA agent to the group’s leader, in charge of organizing the heist itself after proving himself the one with the vaster operational expertise. He goes from a 20k payout to a 200k one (half upfront, helg upon the job’s completion), showing that he’s not the mutt he appeared to be.
This is a very universal theme and for me makes Ronin a really attracting story of redemption (until the very end, when it’s not anymore) of someone that however skilled at something has lost its track.
The gang sets itself off to Nice, planning on prying the case from its owners.
Sam takes Deidre on two scouting missions, where he keeps showing extreme operational trickery, with even a kiss on the lips being a scheme to distract passing cops. Deidre will retort to that kiss with a truly passionate one, setting later sub-plots and even the hope of a sequel.
The ambush is set, a very elaborate one at that, and it’s a very bumpy and almost amusing ride. To see Vincent walking in front of several people and being the only one that’s not killed begs believe and the single camera point of view relates to 70’s and 80’s craft, not to 90’s. The cars move fast and furious around Nice and the final face-off is a very tense and violent moment.
(at this point I have to bring the cat issue. At 50:23, while the case carrier drags himself through the ground, a cat can be seen rushing around like crazy. It’s one of the most amusing moments of the film and I always wonder if it was reminiscent of the previous esplanade scene that the cars ram into or some random Nicean feline that decided to go through the street while the scene was filmed. It looks like a Persian or a Chartreux, furthering the mystery.)
Gregor exchanges the original case for one rigged with explosives set to kill its own partners-in-crime. The explosion wounds Larry, after some more quick-thinking by Sam makes him ditch it under a car, but all others escape un-scattered back to their base.
From here the plot begins to change. Now they’re in uncharted territory. Resourceful as always, Sam gets in touch with a colleague from those ‘seven fat years’ and suddenly he has a pin-point on Gregor’s phone. Somehow the film’s vintage feel makes this perfectly plausible plot twist look unrealistic.
Gregor now has to be un-masked like the villain he is: he shoots at a child just to prove a point and then shoots a man in the head just to prove another point to an unwilling Russian bidder, Mikhi.
The film’s first guns deal somehow resonates through the case failed auctions: when money is involved humans can’t be trusted. The case will be vied by many and they’ll all end up dying while holding it.
Arles isn’t properly set and culminates an operational truism: flimsy preparation and little awareness can make rags of the best asset. It’s like the Coliseum is a labyrinth where people get lost and found at the worst of times. It also brings closer the idea of “small world” in the espionage community. Just about to meet his end, Vincent is recognized by its antagonist from a past job.
-Where do I know you from?
-Vienna
-Of course. Sorry to have to do this.
While havoc reigns even a seasoned guy like Sam gets a bullet in him, via a ricochet.
If Nice was a masterpiece crafted in advance that went south by a rogue agent then Arles is just a wreck waiting to happen since everyone is acting in the dark.
Seamus comes into play as a mystical character. Somehow he manages to get to Larry, then Gregor randomly chooses the escape route that will lead to the car Seamus was waiting on next to Larry’s corpse. This seems most unlikely since there are more than 20 streets around Arles Coliseum and serves only to show us sometimes how a mission’s success sometimes relies almost entirely on chance.
Vincent and Sam are left to their own devices, Sam bleeding to death. Vincent is somehow able to reach-out to an old acquaintance from the hey-day, someone that survived the turmoil with enough cash to retire himself from the spook game. Jean-Pierre immediately suspects Sam isn't just another merc, and by this time neither do the audience since after all 100k are on his bank account already, much more than the meagre 20k envisioned upon accepting the job.
Another high-concept moment of the film develops. Sam literally gives Vincent a tutorial on how to remove a bullet from somebody’s flesh. The moment when Vincent, as nervous has we are, fails to grasp it properly with the pliers is just nerve-racking, with the noise of metal on metal truly grotesque. In the end Sam culminates his GI Joe routine with: “If you don’t mind, I’m gonna pass-out.
Healing from his wounds, Sam and Jean-Pierre have a very cerebral exchange on the subject of loyalty.
Jean-Pierre fears Sam and isn't too keen on disguising it. Most of this fear comes from the chance he’s a merc and listens only to the call of a paycheck. After all by this time the mission was a complete failure and Sam apparently still aims to retrieve the case and profit from it, with Vincent in tandem alongside him.
Enter the 47 Ronin. An example of loyalty to a long gone master comprised of samurai fighters that chose death instead of serving another master.
Jean-Pierre even goes so far to say the Ronin “chose honor”. “They chose wrong”, Sam retorts, further demonstrating his ruthlessness.
From here the film goes deeper into “spy film” territory. People “in the know” give information that we have no idea how they came up with it. Somehow Jean-Pierre knows where Seamus and Deidre are holding Gregor. Somehow they sit in a coffee where little girls have cases like the one’s their chasing.
Somehow also by hapstance there’s a poster of the Ice Circus in front of the shop where they vie for information about “The Russians”, like there isn’t a huge community of Russians in Paris from the Cold War days. These are the poorest 10 minutes of the movie and apparently serve only as cheap segways to justify one of the most action-packed car chases in the history of cinema. They also demonstrate Sam’s soft spot for “the girl” Deidre, not being able to shoot her when that could solve his troubles apprehending the case.
In the end the case is nothing but an excuse for Sam to hunt down Seamus. He lets Deirdre go, deeper acknowledging how he feels about her.
The film ends where it started, that now-demolished café in the Rue des Trois Frères. Sam and Vincent are saying their goodbyes and wishing all the best to each other. Sam still hopes Deirdre might show up and for a brief moment a girl enters but it isn’t her.
The end is perfectly in line with the transformational ethos of the warrior code, both un-masked as honorable soldiers , still on the side of the "good guys"
Vincent starts going up the stairs Sam began the film descending. Like Sam was a full-blown operational that descended to the cruel world of state-less mercs, Vincent is now a state agent going into the higher echelons of spookesdom.
I'm still waiting for that sequel!!! Anyone else feeling the same itch?
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2018.04.24 20:30 AutoNewspaperAdmin [Entertainment] - Former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn marries same-sex partner in Alabama wedding USA Today

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2018.04.24 20:30 AutoNewspaperAdmin [National] - Former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn marries partner in Alabama USA Today

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2018.04.24 20:27 AutoNewsAdmin [National] - Former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn marries partner in Alabama

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2018.04.24 20:14 AutoNewsAdmin [Entertainment] - Former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn marries same-sex partner in Alabama wedding

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2018.04.24 15:15 AutoNewspaperAdmin [National] - Former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn marries same-sex partner in Alabama wedding USA Today

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2018.04.24 15:02 AutoNewsAdmin [National] - Former Miss America Deidre Downs Gunn marries same-sex partner in Alabama wedding

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2017.11.27 14:18 CupOSunshine [OC] Humanity's Place - Part 13 - Familiar Distance

Here's the latest, fresh off the e-printers!
As always, for those who are new (or just want a refresher):
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
Chapter 13
Familiar Distance
When she finally met Captain Abbott in person, Deidre understood what had seemed so odd about his face - it had character. In an era of sculpted skin, genetic tampering, and age-defying nanotech, everyone was gorgeous. Sure, there were countless variations of beauty, but blemishes and wrinkles were a thing of the past. Makeup had gone digital, nose jobs came in a pill, and eyebrows plucked themselves.
That was why Lerou Abbott was so unusual. He didn’t seem to care about his ruddy cheeks, or the lines around his eyes, or even the zit on his neck (Deidre had an almost crippling urge to pop it). His face was carefully groomed, but the faint splotches of razor burn meant he still shaved with a manual blade, leading Deidre to wonder where he’d even managed to find one.
“It does me great pleasure to make your acquaintance, Major Givens,” he said crisply, locking his body in a perfect salute.
Karen actually blushed as she returned the gesture. “At ease, Captain. It’s nice to meet you, too.”
“And you must be Candidate Veronice,” he said, turning to Deidre. His eyes were a shining blue, bordered by the only unnatural thing about him - two sets of curved bar codes stenciled into the sclera that made his irises seem like sparkling parenthetical asides. He inclined his head and bent his back in a respectful half-bow. “I have heard much in regard to your preternatural abilities, and hope I am not being too forward when I say I have greatly anticipated seeing them in the field.”
Now the recipient of that personable gaze and outdated verbage, Deidre couldn’t help feeling a little color rise in her cheeks, too. “Thank you, Captain Abbott.”
The man smiled and straightened up. Nath, who’d been waiting beside the gestalt, cleared his throat, seeming mildly annoyed at something. Maybe he was still thinking about Karen’s puns. “I trust you all have the particulars of your mission preloaded. We leave tomorrow, so I’d suggest taking this time to get to know one another.”
“Good idea,” Karen said. Deidre got the feeling she wanted to get to know the Captain a bit differently than Nath intended. To her surprise, she found herself suppressing a minor flare of jealousy at the thought.
“Thank you, Major,” Nath said. “Unfortunately, I need to finish arranging the particulars of the mission and make sure our requisitions have gone through, so I must be off. I’ll speak with you all again shortly - take care.”
With that, the Specialist turned on his heel and left. It was a rather abrupt departure, Deidre thought, and he seemed a little sad as he went. Perhaps he regretted not being able to socialize with the rest of them. Being a mindgyre was probably a rather lonely job.
“So what’s your talent, Captain?” Karen asked with a brilliant smile.
Lerou seemed confused by the question. “I beg your pardon, Major Givens,” he said with an apologetic expression. “I had assumed Specialist Nath would ensure that information be provided to you.”
“‘Course he did. MindCom files aplenty, but I prefer to get the measure of a person face-to-face,” she said with a dismissive wave.
At this, Captain Abbott smiled. “I must confess, I too find these devices” - he tapped his temple - “unnatural and cumbersome. People have always been more wrapped up in their heads than is polite. Now we must have our post and discussions and books in there as well? How very impersonal.” He chuckled, and shook himself. “But I digress. You are my superior, and I have answered your query with a diatribe. To be clear, then: I am a telekine.”
And a very skilled one at that, Deidre knew. She had read the man’s file thoroughly - there was no chance Karen hadn't, as well - and understood he was one of the genius few who could use their gift to fly. His mastery of the field had probably been lifted wholesale from some prime genetic stock; the man might’ve seemed quaint with his dialect and notions, but he could tear down skyscrapers with his mind.
“Delightful,” Karen said, giving no notion it was old news to her. “Well, you probably already know I’m an empath, and Deidre here is… everything.”
“Indeed,” he said, nodding.
“Good! Then I suggest we take Nath’s suggestion to heart and get to know one another. Care for a bite to eat?” she said, gesturing toward the lifts.
“It would be my great privilege, Major Givens,” he said.
“Please, call me Karen,” she said, leading the way.
Deidre had never seen the empath so smitten with someone. Likes him better than that Timur guy, I bet.
What came next was a mesmerizing lunch.
The level of blatant flirtation from Karen was rivaled only by Lerou’s unflappable demeanor. Deidre could do little else but watch, spellbound. The jealousy was gone (she had decided the Captain was far too old for her, at least mentally) leaving only a detached sense of fascination with the proceedings. The Major seemed dead-set on either convincing the gestalt to ram his tongue down her throat, or embarrassing him deeply. The fact that neither occurred was a testament to his impeccable manners and endless supply of polite phrases.
Around the point where Karen was making a series of thinly veiled innuendos about all the things the Captain could ‘get moving’ with his telekinesis, Deidre actually burst out laughing.
The two turned to her with bemused looks. “Yes, Candidate?” Karen asked, still grinning.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “This is the most amazing conversation I’ve ever seen.”
“Then I am pleased to be a part of it,” Lerou said after a pause, “Though I must admit to some confusion as to why you would choose to describe it so.”
“Well, it’s- I mean, you both know what’s- you just-” She was surprised how hard it was to find the right words. “It’s like you’re both having a whole lot of fun at the other’s expense, and neither of you cares.”
“You mean his ultra-urbane facade?” Karen said.
“You mean her wanton jests?” Lerou said at the same time.
They both looked at each other, then shrugged, chuckling. “You know how obsessed I am with getting people to be themselves. I can sense exactly how he’s felt about me since we met,” Karen said, “and the chance to take a Victorian-era gentleman to a slightly more… unrefined level is something I can’t miss.”
“I assumed as much,” the Captain said. “As for myself, I choose to respect the parts of my soul that demand manners and morals from a man of my standing. I am well used to the outlandish behavior that is commonplace in this day and age, and quite enjoy opportunities such as these to thumb my nose at it, so to speak.”
“Just listen to that,” Karen said with a wistful sigh. “I heart you, pal.”
He raised his glass to her and winked.
“Welllll,” Deidre drawled, “I’m gonna get goin’, maybe study the H’tari some more. You kids have fun.”
Captain Abbott stood as she got out of her chair and favored her with another of his half-bows. “It was a privilege to meet you, Candidate Veronice.”
Karen gave her a look that said, Isn’t he awesome? Deidre rolled her eyes at that and returned the gestalt’s bow. “The pleasure was all mine, Captain Abbott.”
She moved away, and the man returned to his seat. Looking back as she headed out of the mess hall, Deidre saw the two were already engaged in conversation again.
Y’know, in a kind of meta-romantic sort of way… they’re oddly adorable, she thought. To her dismay, the notion proved to be a sobering one; it got her thinking about her own love life (or lack thereof) and whether it could ever truly change. Becoming the savior of humanity didn’t leave a lot of room for relationships. Friends she could make - just look at Karen - but what about a partner?
And if the day ever came that she found someone… could she trust them? Or herself? What would a broken heart mean for a girl who was supposed to conquer the galaxy? Imagine how the power to carpetbomb your ex’s homeworld might change the relationship dynamic.
Deidre sighed, watching Karen and Lerou chatting away. “This sucks,” she said softly.
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
“Candidate,” Valerie said, dead eyes flicking open.
“You okay, Lieutenant?” Deidre asked. She took a tentative step closer.
The telepath was in the medical bay, installed in a back room that was barely more than a closet. Her head hung at eye level, attached to the wall behind her by countless tubes and wires. The room throbbed like a heart and fluids gurgled through the pipes that trailed out of her ragged neck. Deidre had wanted to stop by and check on her since she’d returned to the Principle, and only now, hours from their departure, had she managed to find the time.
The woman’s mouth compressed to a thin line, then pulled to the side as she raised one eyebrow. The look was one of utter incredulity.
Deidre grimaced. “All things considered, I mean,” she said.
“I am not dead,” Valerie said crisply. Her voice was even-toned as ever, but issued from somewhere above them. Though her mouth moved to match the words, the effect was ruined by the offset audio. It was like watching a bizarre marionette act, and served to make the woman even more off-putting than before. “But while I recognize things could be worse, I do wish I had a functioning body. They say it will be another month before we are scheduled to dock at a port with facilities capable of constructing a new one.”
“I heard that, yeah. Karen and I are heading out in a few hours - I’m really sorry we can’t stay to keep you company. Can I get you anything before we go?”
“No, but your sentiment is appreciated. I am still wired into the ship’s network, so I will not be bored. Lack of mobility is my primary concern.”
Part of Deidre wanted to get out of the cramped room, but after months of working with the Lieutenant, she felt there was something she had to ask. “Um, cool. So listen, I’ve been, uh, wondering…”
“Do tell.”
“It’s only… why can’t we just clone you a body?” Deidre asked, feeling terribly nosy for doing so. “I mean, you get into some dangerous stuff, but it’s nothing like what most simulackers go through. You don’t even seem to like the shells. Plus I know the Principle has onboard cloning tanks, so even if you don’t want one forever, just having one made until-”
“You are aware my files are sealed, yes?” Valerie said suddenly.
Classified, off-limits, and way above Deidre’s clearance. She’d checked. “Mhm,” she squeaked. “I was just… curious.”
Valerie sighed. Or rather, her mouth hung open, her eyes darted downward, and a sad exhalation sounded above them. It was depressing for all the wrong reasons. “I suppose there is no harm in satisfying that impulse. My body was stolen, Candidate. Years ago. Deltrat Hive, Blauxmeris IX. Someone broke into my suite, sedated me, surgically removed my brain, and made off with the rest.”
Despite Deidre’s herculean - and successful - effort to stifle a smile at the notion of brain thievery, she was facing an accomplished telepath. Sensing her amusement, Valerie frowned. “I fully recognize the preposterous nature of my predicament. I rather think that was the point of the act. They found what was left of me floating in a portable stasis tank. And yes, of course they tried to clone a new body. The problem was that my attacker also left a rather clever virus behind.”
“What? How would that keep you from getting a clone made?”
“It wouldn’t. Clones are simple. The problem is that if they try to transfer my brain into one, the virus will activate and rewrite my personality.” Valerie’s face adopted a pained expression. “It’s part of the core operating system of my MindCom, with backups stored in dormant nanite swarms. There’s no way around it, either - it is, as I said, clever. Consciousness shunts won’t work, so it has to be a physical operation, but it knows my DNA and it’s designed to activate when it sees the right markers for a clone. They were expecting me to be cloned. The only body I can ever return to is my own.”
Deidre stared, her skin crawling. “Your personality? It’d make you completely different? And how did you find out about all this, anyway? It seems like the first thing they’d do is try to install you into a clone.”
Valerie’s eyes turned down again. “They almost did. There was some question as to whether or not it was truly me in the stasis jar, however, so they performed additional tests. The virus is extremely well-hidden, but its backups were detected as extraneous nano chaff. Usually not a concern, but they were cautious and decided to dig deeper. Thank the Gods for that. Nobody is certain what I’d become if it activated, but… it wouldn’t be me in here anymore, and by then, I'd have already passed the identity scans.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Deidre said, offended on the woman’s behalf. “I’m sorry, but why in all the stars would they go about it like that? This seems insanely complicated. Couldn’t they just… I dunno… kill you, clone you, and put a new brain in the body?”
A smile pulled at Valerie’s lips. “Our MindComs, Candidate, are precisely why they cannot. Each has a unique signature which cannot be duplicated. Fail the check, and the masquerade is over. Don’t think the possibility of a doppelganger insurrection hasn’t crossed the minds of the higher-ups - they’ve read enough fiction.”
“I gotcha,” Deidre said. “So if all went according to plan, you’d pass the initial tests, get a new body, and bam! - instant sleeper agent.”
“Precisely. There are less roundabout ways of doing such a thing, of course, but most would be ineffective on a mentalist such as myself,” Valerie said.
“Like mindgyres.”
“Or their equivalent, yes. Regardless, their scheme has failed. I am under constant supervision for personality shifts and remain confined to these frames until my original body can be found.” She gave another unnatural sigh. “I pray I do find it, if only to make all the pain I have felt - and caused - worthwhile. The things I have done in my search…” She trailed off, though whether it was because she was hurt by the memories or ashamed of them, Deidre couldn’t tell.
“I hope you find it too, Valerie,” Deidre said, thinking about the enormity of the Lieutenant’s task. Worlds beyond counting.
The woman closed her eyes and said nothing. The silence stretched, and Deidre began to think their conversation was over. She started to move for the door, but as she reached up to thumb the exit panel, Valerie’s voice echoed from above. “You cannot understand what this is like.” Deidre turned around to see the Lieutenant’s eyes fixed on her, sorrow etched in every line of her artificial face. “I want to be human again so badly, Deidre. I didn’t used to be so cold. I- I used to smile without having to think about it. I can’t even remember what that feels like now.” Her eyes crinkled, and her mouth hung open in dismay.
“I can help you,” Deidre said. “Karen too. We’ll get it b-”
“And sometimes…” Valerie whispered, eyes widening in horror, “…sometimes I wonder if I’m still in that jar, and all of this is just a program. Gods above, I’m so scared, Deidre. Scared that one day I’ll wake up, and the bastard who did this will be there, and before he lets me rot in darkness forever, he’ll tell me how I was tricked, how I betrayed everyone, and- and-”
She broke off, making little electronic choking sounds. It took a moment for Deidre to realize she was crying; that the twisted expression on her face and those strange noises were the results of her android shell trying to make sense of formless thoughts and emotions. This was Valerie at her most human and vulnerable, but because of how her mind interfaced with the machinery around it, she’d become more alien than ever.
Deidre reached forward, uncertain what to do or how to comfort the woman. There was no body to hold, no tears to wipe away. Valerie looked up at her as she approached, face still strained, unreadable. “Please, Deidre, just go,” she said miserably. “I don’t want you to see me like this. Go on your mission, learn, improve… and maybe yes, one day you’ll help me find it. I can still hope.”
“Valerie, I can’t just-”
Go, Deidre,” she said, her eyes narrowing. “You can’t make everything better. Not now.”
Deidre’s eyebrows knitted, but she stepped away and nodded. “Okay, Lieutenant. I hope I see you soon.” She took another step toward the exit. “Bye.”
Valerie gave her a wan smile, but said nothing. The door slid open at Deidre’s touch and she left, squinting at the transition from the Lieutenant’s darkened room to the harsh lights of the medical bay. The door began to close behind her, and she resisted the urge to look back to catch a last glimpse of her onetime tutor. She had a mission, after all.
Shaking her head sadly, Deidre went back to her quarters to prepare.
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
The Specialist’s ship was beautiful - a sleek little number bristling with weapon pods, stealth circuitry, and glittering armor mesh. In-system, Deidre doubted they’d find few opponents their size that could match them in speed and firepower. Without the processing capabilities of something larger like the Crimson Principle, their superluminal travel calculations would take longer, of course, but that was to be expected.
“Welcome aboard,” Nath said, smiling as she came up the ramp behind Karen and Lerou. The pair had boarded side-by-side, bantering pleasantly. Deidre didn’t need to be telepathic to know what that meant. Their positivity seemed to be catching; Nath looked a great deal happier than before, Deidre noticed.
“Thanks, Specialist,” she said, looking around as she entered. The ship was cramped, but well-appointed, with stylish furnishings throughout. Exactly what she’d imagined someone as important as a mindgyre would use for travel.
“Make yourselves comfortable, please,” Nath said as the door sealed behind them. “I’ve got the ship on autopilot, and we’ll be taking off as soon as we get clearance from the bridge.”
Plush tan chairs filled the main room. A glassy table was set been them, extending from the wall and leaving plenty of leg room. Deidre plopped down into one across from Karen and Lerou (of course they would choose two together) and found it deliriously comfortable. After a moment in the cockpit, Nath joined them, sitting next to Deidre.
“Just got our launch confirmation.” He gestured at the table between them, and a hologram of the Principle’s docking bay appeared with their ship’s departure tunnel outlined in red.
“And after that? How long before the jump?” Karen asked.
Nath sighed. “The H’tari homeworld is practically on the other side of the empire and we’re neck-deep in sleerjin space, so once we clear the hangar, Sorrowsong will take about fifteen hours to complete her calculations.”
Karen winced. “Ouch, really? Long time to sit around.”
“Yes, well, you’re talking about several thousand light years and not a whole lot of processing power to put toward the probabilities involved. Still, this is about as fast as you could hope for in a ship this size.”
Karen shrugged, then laughed abruptly. “Perspective, huh? Our first big trip in space was to the moon, and it took over three days to get us there. Here I am complaining about fifteen hours to go a bit further.” She glanced at Lerou. “Must really blow your mind, huh?”
“I must confess, I can hear the numbers and see the schematics, but I will never understand the process,” he said.
“I could try to explain it to you, if you like,” Nath said.
Lerou waved a hand. “And in the end, the best you will manage is a bit of technobabble, an accessible analogy, and no truly descriptive details. I am aware the device attempts to alter the laws of nature and make the impossible - such as a starship visiting distant suns - all but inevitable, but understanding the intricacies of it has always been a rather fruitless endeavor for me. Please, do not trouble yourself about it, my good man. It works with or without my blessing, so best to leave it be.”
“Fair enough, Captain,” Nath said, chuckling. “Fair enough.”
“Now that brings up a very good question about gestalts,” Karen said, settling back in her chair. “How much of your mindset is stuck in the past? Do you look at all this and think it’s… what? Witchcraft?”
Lerou laughed. His eyes sparkled like all the joy in the universe made its home there, and Deidre realized in that moment that Lerou Abbott, however he’d come to be, was a truly happy person. As someone who’d thought that of herself until just recently, she felt envious. “I’m supposed to be a fish out of water, Major Givens,” he said amiably. “Individuals like me are meant to provide perspective… to approach the maddening variety of conflicts in which you find yourselves embroiled with fresh ideas and tactics. As such, I know enough of your technology and capabilities to offer relevant suggestions, yet remain steeped in the traditions and expectations of the early 19th century.”
“So… witchcraft?” Karen asked, a mischievous smile tugging at her lips.
Another laugh. “Magic is all around us, Major. Explain to me how your ‘MindCom’ bridges the gap between its electronic realm and the psyche. Or how a memory - let alone a living, breathing person - may be manufactured. Oh! Or perhaps you know the precise mechanism that allows Specialist Nath there to concentrate for the barest moment and control the actions of another being worlds away!”
“Hah, fine, so I don’t have a doctorate in a zillion fields,” Karen said dismissively. “Just because I’m ignorant of how a thing works doesn’t mean the answer lies somewhere between mysticism and superstition.”
“So cynical. You are too quick to dismiss the miracles that surround you, Major. If you will excuse my forwardness, I believe a healthy dose of humility keeps oneself grounded. But this is all a very roundabout way of answering your question. To be clear, no, I do not believe this era of ours is powered by sorcery, nor do I have any desire to transform myself into a ‘modern man’. Staying tied to the past does more than keep me tactically creative - it also keeps me sensible.”
“And for those modern types who worry about becoming, um, detached?” Deidre said, feeling an odd sense of worry. “What do you recommend for them?”
“For them, I-” Lerou paused, and looked at Deidre for a moment. “My apologies, Candidate,” he said at last, his ruddy cheeks reddening further. “I sit here and espouse the benefits of an antiquated mindset, yet I had the good fortune to be born with one already in place. I will not presume to tell you how to think - not when I have had such a difficult choice made for me. It would be the height of impropriety.”
“It’s okay, no worries,” Deidre said quickly. “Just… something I’ve had on my mind lately. A lot.”
“Well, we’re stuck in this can for the next fifteen hours with nothing to do but wax philosophical or, y’know, study up on the perilous mission into mind-controlled ratman territory,” Karen said. “S’good a time as any to talk about it.”
“Ahem, well,” Nath said, speaking up. “For what it’s worth, I do have the latest intel on the H’tari to go over, plus some last minute scenarios I’d like to run.”
“And just like that, the moment passes,” Karen said with a wink at Deidre. She spun her chair to face Nath. “Okay, boss-man. Hit us.”
Nath smiled. “Of course, Major.” He looked at the glassy table, and the countdown timer changed to a model of a planetary system. “Archikz, the center of their empire. We should be undetectable on entry, with enough momentum to get us near the fourth planet; their homeworld. From there…”
He continued to go into great detail on various observation and assault scenarios, and while Deidre paid enough attention to offer feedback and advice, she was distracted by an unsettling annoyance at the points Lerou had made. Of course, he had the twin advantages of being engineered with everything he needed and not having her soon-to-be-colossal responsibilities, but knowing that didn’t help her feel any less resentment at his confidence.
Deidre sighed. He didn’t have the answers. Karen had given her a foundation, but… all that empathic training couldn’t fully prepare her, either. In fact, it was likely no-one ever could. After all, who had ever been put in her position? No matter who she asked, nobody would have the right approach, the right philosophy. It wasn’t a question of training or experience, not when it came to how she was supposed to view the universe - it was all one big unknown.
Then I’ll find it, she thought with a sudden burst of conviction. I’ll find a way to make it work, to make this galaxy a paradise and hold onto my humanity… and I’ll fight tooth and nail to keep it that way.
It was a refreshing promise. The concept felt good; the desire to do something - not just for mankind, but also herself - gave her a renewed sense of purpose and made her feel elated for the first time since the sleerjin attacked. Her mind kept whirling with possibilities and new ideas until the countdown finished, space and time folded around them like origami, and the Sorrowsong twisted itself out of existence.
They were on their way, and already there.
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
The trappings of reality crept in from every direction, existence piecing itself together like water flowing backwards through a sieve. “Ah,” Nath said, shaking himself. “That’s better.”
The hologram expanded, rippling outward to coat the walls around them with a replica of local space. The table display refined itself into a map of the system, showing their current position and that of all known interstellar objects, natural or otherwise. Nath leaned in and tapped it immediately. The view twirled under his attention and the ships and satellites he selected in his search were highlighted on the larger hologram that surrounded them. Deidre loved it. She didn’t care if immersive holograms were old news; it was like living inside of a special effect.
Enthralled as she was, it would have been impossible to miss the gargantuan quantity of vessels in the system. There were tens of thousands of ships, most in orbit around Archikz IV along with Sorrowsong. It was mindboggling.
Karen whistled. “There’s enough here to start a war with just about anyone.”
“Gods above,” Nath said softly, eyes glued to the display. “You’d better hope we get to their leader.”
Karen snapped her head up to look at him. “We’re not getting out of here otherwise, are we?”
Nath shook his head slowly, still manipulating the tactical hologram. “Not with that fleet. Sorrowsong’s whisper circuits will keep us hidden for now, but the second we fire up the calculators for a jump, we’re a beacon to any ships in range.” He tilted his head at the display. “That many damn ships, we either drift at minimal thrust for a long time to reach safe distance, or capture the critter in charge.”
Deidre smiled. “Doesn’t get much more straightforward than that. How long ‘til planetfall?”
Nath glanced up at her. “I like that enthusiasm, Candidate,” he murmured. “Give me a moment…” His fingers darted over the display, adjusting flight paths and calculating the trajectories of the massive fleet around them. “About a day, give or take,” he said at last.
Karen blew out a breath and got up from her chair. “I’m snackin’ and nappin’ until then. Anyone want a drink?” she said, moving toward the ship’s small galley.
A chorus of noncommittal grunts answered her. She shrugged and left the room. “So what’s with all the ships?” Deidre asked after a moment. “There weren’t supposed to be this many, right?”
Nath shook his head, looking concerned. “No. Not at all. I thought the H’tari were a minor player. If we knew they had a fleet like this, a lot more warning bells would be going off.”
“They built the whole thing in secret?”
“Impossible. Look at it all,” Nath said, waving a hand at the numbers spilling out of the display. “You can’t hide this - at least, not from someone who’s looking for it. We just… weren’t.”
“And therein lies the true horror of this new battlefield,” Lerou said, his eyes never leaving the display. “The scale is colossal - vast beyond all comprehension. There might well be a dozen apocalyptic threats looming over us at this very moment, and we would never know where to look for them.”
“Try a thousand,” Nath murmured. He looked up at Deidre’s horrified expression and laughed softly, holding a hand to his mouth. “Geez, I’m sorry - that’s not classified info or something. I don’t actually know how many are out there. But Lerou’s right about the scale problem. Best estimates put us up against some 10,000 competing interstellar empires and quadrillions of aliens. I could convert hordes every day and not accomplish a damn thing.”
“If it’s so hard to even understand the size… how do we make any headway?” Deidre asked.
“One step at a time, Candidate,” Lerou said. “Our leaders have a plan, and by expanding our holdings just a bit further each day, they will grow to encompass everything we desire. Patience and perspective will see us victorious, mark my words.”
“As for the immediate future,” Nath said, pointing at the many ships of the H’tari fleet, “Figuring out where these ships came from isn’t getting us any closer to our goal. To that end, I believe we can maneuver to the planet’s surface easily enough, and from there it’s going to be a lot of hiding and running until we reach the puppetmaster.”
“I’m okay with that,” Deidre said. “But how will we know who our target really is?”
“I’ll know,” Nath said. “Mindgyre thing. Trust me.”
“All right. So when do we go?”
“Now, actually,” he replied, getting up. “I’ll punch in the coordinates and Sorrowsong will begin her descent. Just… slowly. We don’t want to arouse any suspicions, so we’re gonna play it safe.” He smiled again. “Take it from someone who’s been on a lot of these missions - nobody wants to be on that team. You know the one; filled with poor schmucks who end up in front of the alien emperor, surrounded by guards and soaring architecture, all so he can pronounce judgement on them before throngs of his screaming followers.”
“Gladiatorial combat is, I assume, optional?” Lerou said, chuckling.
Nath laughed as well. “That sounds like too much fun. What idiot captures you, holds you in the palm of their hand, and then provides the opportunity to fight your way out? I know how those stories end, and I’m betting the alien emperors do too.”
With that, he slipped around the corner, headed towards the cockpit.
“And you, Lerou?” Deidre said, turning to the refined Captain. “How many of these missions have you been on?”
“Actually very few, Candidate,” he said. “I am more of a tactical advisor and, if need be, an artillery piece. Clandestine operations are something of a rarity for me.”
“Oh. Then why are you, um…?”
He laughed. “Here? I cannot answer with any certainty, but if I had to guess, I would say it has everything to do with Specialist Nath’s desire to embark as quickly as possible. I assume I was one of the few nearby assets that met his dual needs of ability and availability.”
“I gotcha,” Deidre said. A few minutes passed in silence before she leaned back and kicked up her legs. “So… I guess now we wait. That’s something they never really prepare you for, y’know? The waiting.”
Lerou smiled. “It is, I think, something that gets easier with age.”
Deidre sighed and returned to watching the hologram of the system around them. After she got bored with that, she called up the year’s top-rated drama series on her MindCom and started the first episode. It was good enough to keep her attention through an additional four episodes before she decided to do something else and began flipping through the games she’d downloaded. Karen had returned from her nap by the time Deidre had selected one and started playing (it was an adventure about a girl lost in famous fictional worlds). The empath glanced over at her, then began pestering Lerou. Nath eventually returned to let them know they were on course, and he was confident the auto-pilot would bring them safely down to the planet. He moved on to the kitchen after that.
Deidre knew there were better things to be doing. There were skills she could be practicing, a mission to focus on… oh, and a galactic empire to plan. Of all the places to goof around and kill time, a cloaked shuttle descending on a hostile alien world was, if not the worst choice, certainly a strange one.
Yet Deidre did not waver. Sometimes, no matter who you were or what was going on in your life, it didn’t feel right to do anything but nothing. For Deidre, this was one of those times.
Far below, the home planet of the H’tari drew closer.
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
“Would you call this ‘soaring,’ Nath?” Deidre said, looking around. “I’m not sure if this really counts as soaring.”
“Shut up, Candidate,” the mindgyre said glumly, his usual smile nowhere to be found.
Deidre didn’t blame him. Recent events had not exactly gone as planned.
Moments after they’d landed and disembarked, a small craft - little more than an escape pod - had crashed into the rocky scree nearby. As its engines cooled, a single H’tari had emerged. Acting as a spokesman, it informed them they would be brought to the central palace to meet the ruler of their empire. It went on to say that the first response to any resistance would be an orbital strike from the fleet above.
Now they were moving through the headquarters of H’tari high command, guards and robotic security systems pacing them on all sides. The embarrassment was plain on Nath’s face. Lerou remained stoic and straight-backed, walking as if he were a visiting dignitary deserving of the highest respect. Karen simply looked bored.
For some reason, Deidre didn’t feel concerned. She wasn’t sure what it was, but the H’tari didn’t seem particularly threatening. The sense of menace she’d felt at all times from the sleerjin simply wasn’t there. It was strange, but she was more amused by Nath’s dismay than anything else; the poor Specialist had finally had the misfortune of ending up on ‘that’ team.
They moved through twisting, adobe-colored tunnels of metal and rock, bypassing security checkpoints and great carved hallways before they finally stopped in front of a series of thick stone steps leading up to a raised platform. There was an enormous rune-inscribed doorway set into the wall behind the dais and flanked by elite guards. As they stopped in front of it, the doorway split vertically and slid open, spilling bright yellow light into the room. There was a slow scraping noise, and an ancient H’tari, his features wrinkled and drawn tight around the dull gray implants in his flesh, emerged from the opening. He seemed in no hurry, taking a leisurely walk toward them on clicking artificial feet. When the creature reached the midpoint of the platform, the ground behind him rose upward in pieces, emerging like a field of metal weeds. The struts and pieces of stone ratcheted around and began snapping together. Each locked into place perfectly, and after a few seconds, they had formed an elaborate clockwork throne.
The H’tari stepped back and sat down with a sigh. “Zhrikka chait hek-shnaaf,” he said, settling back in the chair. The briefest pause, then Deidre’s MindCom broadcast the translation to her: “Welcome to my home, human-things.”
The four of them looked at each other, then Nath stepped forward. “There’s no need for these games. You’re not in charge. You can’t hide that from me.”
The H’tari snuffled, halfway between an electronic cough and a sneeze. “You make me laugh, human-thing. Games? You, a threat to the empire, come seeking our klana,” - Deidre’s MindCom filled her vision with several translations; goddess, queen, heartmother - “and you have the audacity to think our desire to protect her is a game?
Nath frowned. “I apologize. I understand the sit-”
The H’tari leaned forward and shot out a long, spidery finger at them. “Understand this, human-thing. You will speak to me, or you will die here and now.”
“And you are?” Nath said immediately.
“Draith, Klanavoice and greatest of my people.”
Nath tipped his head. “A pleasure, Draith. I am-”
“Specialist Kaamil Nath, of the Colonial Empire’s Elite Forces,” the H’tari finished for him. “Yes, yes, very interesting. Now tell me - why have you come to our world with these…” - he waggled his fingers at Deidre and her companions - “…weapons?
Nath frowned, eyes darting to Deidre. “They are merely my associates. They are here to provide support, nothing more.”
Draith paused, long nails clicking on the throne. Then he gave an exaggerated eye-roll, the metal disc over his left eye swiveling with a whine. “I believe that is the physical expression for sarcasm among your people, yes?” he said when he was done. “You are the only human-thing here that is not a genetic aberration. Each of the creatures beside you has been crafted for its destructive prowess.”
Karen snickered. “I’m not that bad.”
Don’t,” Nath said in a harsh whisper. He turned back to Draith and nodded. “They’re capable of great harm, yes, but I’m honestly not intending to do anything more than talk.”
“Then do it already. Why are you here?”
“To speak with your… ‘klana.’ We have business with her.”
“Disappointing,” Draith said, shaking his head. “You want more of yourself, more ‘mindgyres’ - she knows this. You will not take her with-”
“I don’t want her,” Nath said, stepping forward. “Listen to me instead of assuming I’m a villain. Listen to me instead of assuming my mission is actually what I told my commanders it was.”
Lerou’s head jerked to look at him. “Sir-?”
“MemClear, Captain Abbott,” Nath said, glancing over his shoulder. “Transmitting authorization codes now.”
“I don’t knorrrrrr-” Lerou slurred, then slumped down onto the floor.
“I’m here for something very different. You have to know that’s why I brought her,” Nath said in the silence that followed Lerou’s fall.
Draith fidgeted. “We did wonder. We assumed insurance, or perhaps a bargaining chip.”
“In a way, yes. I needed to ensure safe passage.”
“In that, you were successful.” Draith pulled his lips back, revealing a set of gleaming metal fangs. Deidre believed he was trying to approximate a smile. “Tell us what you want.”
“I can’t, not without seeing your klana. I’m sorry - I know she’s probably watching, and I know it’s a suspicious request, but unless I can be certain she’s really alive, I can’t say why we’ve come.”
“Stubborn creature. There are rules here, risks you bring that cannot be-” He paused, then sighed. “But there is the girl. Very well. She will see you - see her.”
“What? It’s okay? Just like that?” Nath looked very confused.
Draith dipped his head and got out of the chair with a small groan. “Indeed. Whatever it is you desire, she believes a mother should have the chance to meet her child.”
With that, he turned and began his slow, scraping walk back out of the room.
Deidre’s jaw dropped and she turned to glance at Nath before stepping forward. “Wha- wait! Wait! My mother’s here? I have a mother?”
Draith turned back. “Heh. Not you, child. Her.” He extended a long finger to point at Karen.
The empath’s eyes popped. She looked around quickly, seeming unable to believe the H’tari could have meant her.
“Holy crap,” she breathed at last.
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
Now continued here!
submitted by CupOSunshine to HFY [link] [comments]


2017.09.18 14:28 CupOSunshine [OC] Humanity's Place - Part 6

Welcome! For those who are new (or just want a refresher):
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
Chapter 6
High and Low
Sleep didn’t come easily. Deidre tossed and turned in bed as she tried to configure her MindCom to help her archive telepathic readings. She gave up eventually, assuming that whatever enhancements Valerie had made, they somehow got around the problem of having to use a computer program that didn’t understand how to activate mental abilities.
The MindCom was an emerald-generation thought colony; a linked network of microscopic robotic processors laced throughout the human brain. Nearly every member of the Colonial Armed Forces had one installed (citizens had similar, consumer-oriented versions). They could provide a variety of services, from simple messaging and data storage to more involved functions like tactical analysis, body regulation, and social matchmaking. The system could locate and eradicate harmful diseases and poisons, calculate the likely outcomes of given scenarios, and save a running backup of the user’s mental state and memories.
That last benefit would create a thought profile that could technically be used to ‘resurrect’ a dead user, though the true result would actually be a clone with implanted memories. It was what the Colonial Empire planned on doing to Deidre: Use her genetic profile to reproduce all her mental gifts, implant her fully-trained, stable mind into the resulting copy, and presto, one new Deidre.
Repeat as needed.
The only limitation of the MindCom system was that, while it could activate various bodily systems, it couldn’t quite grasp mentalics. That meant no automated shielding in the event of an ambush, no preset offensive attacks, nothing. The MindCom could warn of an oncoming assault, but it couldn’t actually activate the user’s abilities to help deal with it.
Deidre wasn’t about to complain, of course. All its benefits certainly overshadowed such minor shortcomings. Still, she would have liked to do more with Valerie’s assignment. She wasn’t sure why, but she had a desire to impress the android woman. Perhaps it was the fact that she was neither unapproachable like Valkentoff nor instantly accepting like Karen. She was simply difficult to reach. A challenge.
“Then again, I might just like showing off,” she murmured, rubbing her eyes. “Egotist.”
Sighing, she decided natural rest wasn’t going to happen any time soon, queued up a standard sleep cycle, and let her dreams take her.
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
An obnoxious buzzing woke Deidre nearly an hour before her alarm. A half-second later, the door monitor chimed, lighting up the room with a sharp, fluorescent white glow.
Deidre grunted, briefly entertained the thought of setting whomever was responsible on fire, and rolled out of bed.
Sleepily, she padded to the door in her official CEF pajamas and triggered the callbox. The screen flashed, displaying a video feed from just outside the apartment. In the hallway, six imposing men – mostly human, but some alien – in dark suits stood waiting. Every last one had the sort of towering builds and flawless physiques that screamed genetic modification. Strips of metal traced the edges of their temples and necks, likely for feeding data to cybernetic combat suites, and their suits bulged with hidden ordnance. Their cookie-cutter appearances extended to their faces, all of which seemed locked in the required mien for unfriendly enforcers everywhere: grim, flat, and overly-serious.
“Sorry, guys. I didn’t order a pizza,” Deidre said, rubbing the sleep out of one eye.
“Your presence is requested by Crown Prince Verasicht,” Interchangeable Goon #1 said, his voice a rolling baritone. “You will accompany us to his offices at Eidolon Tower.”
“Is this a date?” she asked, disliking nearly everything about the situation and resolving to spread that emotion around. “Does he know I’m underage?”
“You have ten minutes to prepare yourself,” Goon #1 said, annoyingly unphased. “Your companions will attend you.” On the monitor, Deidre noticed a few of his friends having similar conversations with two of the doors down the hall.
“And if I decide I want to sleep in and maybe melt your carbon copy asses instead?”
He didn’t even hesitate. “We have been instructed to inform you that noncompliance will result in travel restrictions and an embargo on all CAF transits to, from, and within this port. Hostilities will be considered a declaration of war by the Colonial Empire and-”
“Fine, I get it. Hang on,” Deidre said, disgusted.
She took her sweet time getting ready, emerging a half hour later in her official CEF uniform. The goons seemed unamused, which, while not exactly surprising, still felt like a minor victory. Valerie, immaculate as ever, nodded to her from two doors down the hall. If the simulacker had rushed her usual routine, there was no sign of it. Even her clothes seemed unnaturally pristine.
“Where’s Karen?” Deidre asked, noting the empath’s absence.
“Apparently more dedicated than you at making her displeasure known,” the Lieutenant responded, her eyes snapping to the woman’s door.
Deidre smirked at that, and was more than happy to wait the extra ten minutes her friend ended up taking. When she did make an appearance, Karen ignored the waiting creeps and pushed through them to Deidre. “Morning!” she said, bright and unconcerned. “Wanna nab some breakfast? I hear the pancakes at Eidolon Tower aren’t bad.”
“Sounds great!” Deidre said, feeling a genuine smile appear.
Karen nodded to one of the men. “All right. Get us there. And hurry it up – I’m tired of waiting.”
It was hard to spot, but the little flicker of loathing on the man’s impassive face nearly made their unwanted wakeup call worth it.
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
The room was, just barely, more extravagant and pompous than its owner.
They were in a cathedral-like vault, a soaring atrium of carefully-tended utopia trees, stained glass, and marble columns. A path wound through the garden temple, the trail marked with strips of gems and precious metals, terminating at the steps of an enormous onyx platform.
Upon it, a desk larger than a grav skimmer sprawled before an ornate office chair that was clearly intended to seem more like a throne. Behind the galaxy’s most ostentatious workspace, vast windows looked out on the clear skies above Port Moratlis. A doorway in one corner of the façade led to a private shuttle platform; a single, breathtakingly sleek craft was moored at its end.
The morning sun, cutting through the industrial haze in the upper atmosphere, cast the whole affair in vibrant shades of gold.
They were above even the executive floors of House Verasicht’s control tower. With the edifice’s monumental underbelly hidden by the clouds and the airy, ecclesiastic design of their surroundings, one could almost forget they stood atop a sea of human misery and enterprise.
Almost.
Their host, the Crown Prince himself, spread his arms and grinned as they approached his desk, his almost-throne chair rolling back with the movement. “My friends! Welcome! Always a pleasure to treat with representatives of the illustrious Colonial Elite Forces,” he said, his voice crisp and high, yet just a touch too snide.
He was a simsahr; one of humanity’s trading partners in the galaxy. Tall with pebbly, reptilian flesh, all simsahr had been forcibly evolved and molded into their current bipedal form by an unknown race thousands of years ago. Originally an odd combination of insect and lizard, the event had shaped the simsahr into an anthropomorphic species with a reverence for technology. Since that time, their development had followed a very similar arc to mankind’s.
At first glance, they seemed surprisingly close to humans - eyes, nose, mouth, hands with five fingers, and so on - but the differences quickly became apparent. They were hairless, their mouths were filled with serrated teeth, and their skin changed colors depending on their environment and mood. Their eyes were compound (a remnant of their insectile heritage) and all of their joints were hypermobile, letting them bend in often-disconcerting ways.
Crown Prince Verasicht’s skin was currently a smug shade of rusty amber. He wore a tightly-tailored business suit with an actual stars-be-damned cape, the whole affair threaded with platinum and accented by a fist-sized gem pinned to his left breast and carved into his house’s symbol. It caught the light whenever he moved, throwing a riot of colors across his absurd desk.
Deidre had the suspicion that, were it not for modern medical technology and nanite maintenance, this was the sort of creature who would be very, very fat.
“I am Dahltak Verasicht, Crown Prince of the Verasicht Trade Union and Controllers Guild and head of all our spaceflight operations in Port Moratlis,” he said in a gleeful, self-important tone.
“May I inquire as to the nature of your summons?” Valerie said the instant he stopped speaking. Deidre suspected she’d hurried to prevent Karen from saying anything… accurate.
“Of course, Lieutenant Sona,” he replied, radiating arrogance. “You are here because you are going to forge a partnership between the Colonial Empire and House Verasicht.”
“We… are?”
“Correct. You will provide military information, escorts, convoys, and ground-level support for all House Verasicht operations. You will assign operatives to guard high-level members of our house” – he quirked his compound eyes at that, clearly indicating he would be one of the protected elites – “and inform our house economists of any potential profits or shortfalls that may result from your military operations.”
Valerie blinked, utter shock registering even through her android features. Karen seemed similarly flabbergasted for a moment, then broke into gales of laughter.
“Ahaha! Sure! How about we just start shooting your competition out of the skies, too?” she cackled, holding a hand to her face. “That’s rich. That’s too good. Thanks.”
“I do not jest,” Dahltak said, leaning over his desk. A touch of crimson accented his skin. “You will provide these services to House Verasicht, or your Empire will fall.”
Karen’s mirth vanished. “Excuse me?” she said in a very different tone.
Dahltak kicked back, smile returning. “You have a secret,” he said, steepling his fingers. “A particularly unique one, at that.”
For the first time since she’d entered Eidolon Tower, a stirring of fear began to brew in Deidre’s gut.
“Your race is unique. This, some of us had already suspected; how else could you have come so far so fast? Many believed you had friends – perhaps the Ourians had chosen to experiment again, perhaps a great power was playing a very long game – but no, that seems not to be the case. Your uniqueness… is innate.
To punctuate that, he raised a pebbled finger of swirling saffron and tapped it to the side of his head.
Oh no.
Grin a mile wide, he rose and began to pace behind his desk. “You did a fine job of hiding it, make no mistake, but there are certain conditions in our good port of which you were sadly unaware.”
“We will confirm nothing,” Valerie snapped.
“Your confirmation is unnecessary,” he replied, turning to stare out the vast window. “Your race has access to all known mentalic fields. The data we have collected is proof enough, but the youngling with you, ahh…”
He turned to stare at Deidre, every facet of his geometric eyes seeming to shine with greed. “…she is my final request. Enter her in my employ.”
“Fat chance,” Karen spat.
He shrugged. “Agree to my terms and your secret remains with House Verasicht. Deny me and it will find its way to the stars... as well as the true nature of this ‘Candidate Veronice.’ I assure you, between the two, you will never know safety. Your race is a fine curiosity, but the girl? She is pure, macro-scale potential. Do you even realize what she could do, properly shepherded? Do your middling intellects even grasp-”
“You get nothing,” Deidre said, hot rage crushing the fear, blasting up from somewhere dark and daunting. “Not our help and never me. You forget all of this, destroy the data and tell us how you got it, or your entire house dies.”
Valerie turned to stare at her, dead face unreadable, but the telepath said nothing. A moment later, a whisper of pride and caution from Karen provided the empath’s opinion.
Dahltak scoffed. “A threat? How new.”
He inclined his head, and a moment later, dozens of his black-suited, cyber-enhanced, gene-amped minions emerged from the woodwork. Hidden panels slid open, foliage rustled to the side, and the room seemed to come alive with movement before settling into a very tense silence.
Fifty-six threats identified, text chattered across her peripheral vision as her MindCom analyzed the room. Primary armaments: Gauss lancer variants, incendiary and concussive triggers, neural destabilizers, memory whips-
“Toothless,” Dahltak said, heaving a dramatic sigh. “You, like your race, are undeniably brash, yet ultimately feeble.”
“You think these men make you safe?” Karen said, arcing an eyebrow. “You haven’t a clue what we’re capable of, you hollow sack of-”
“Empath,” Dahltak said, pointing at her. His finger shifted to Valerie. “Bimental. Telepathy and premonition.” He leered as he looked to Deidre. “And, of course, the grab-bag.”
Karen’s jaw dropped. Then she composed herself. “It doesn’t matter what you know. We can still-”
“Oh, spare me,” he said, pulling a small remote from one pocket on his regal suit. It seemed out of place with the rest of his possessions, clearly sturdy and well-made, but far more industrial and workmanlike than his other trappings of wealth.
He tapped it idly, then gave Karen a pointed stare.
The Major frowned, opened her mouth to speak. “Wh- agh!” she began, unable to make it through the first syllable before she bit it off in a strangled, keening wail. Clutching the sides of her head, she collapsed to the floor, thrashing.
Valerie stared at her peer in shock, then turned toward the Prince, her posture predatory, violent.
Dahltak pointedly looked away and flicked a piece of lint off of one of his cuffs, ignoring the woman completely. A heartbeat later, the simulacker’s frame seized in place and she toppled backward, onto the tiled path. She didn’t make a sound, but Deidre vaguely sensed the same paralyzing agony from her mind as Karen’s.
“Didn’t even have to touch it that time, did I?” the Crown Prince said, shooting a sly glance at Deidre. “Care to draw a conclusion regarding your chances?”
“You’re dead,” she spat, turning to the simsahr.
“Slow learner, I see,” he said, shrugging as he gave his remote a tap. “Ah, well. Humans.”
Something ghosted through Deidre’s brain in that moment, an odd, out-of-body shiver that felt vaguely like déjà vu. It wasn’t exactly fun, but it was mercifully brief. A moment later, the sensation faded. She blinked, looking around, and realized that other than that mildly uncomfortable mental chill, she seemed no worse for wear.
Dahltak frowned, tapped his device again. And again.
“This stupid-” he began.
Before he could finish the sentence, Deidre slammed into his mind, wriggling past its few barriers to dive into the dynamic, bewildering complexity of his conscious thoughts. A riot of noise and color blew past, and then the gorgeous latticework of his personality stretched before her, a curved infinity of the self. Surrounded by the humming machinery of his psyche, she paused to admire its brilliant, analytical nature. Here was the seat of his being, the iridescent hive of light and life that made Dahltak... Dahltak.
Deidre smiled and took a moment to flip through those memories, to dig her psychic fingers in and get a solid grasp of everything he knew. Then she pulled back, fracked and compressed the entirety of his history and intelligence into a glowing pearl of enlightenment, a personalized facsimile of the man, and pocketed it.
That done, she gathered every drop of rage in herself, every piece of ruination she could envision, and vomited it into his brain.
Twisted memories, psychic poison buoyed on slick waves of hatred, crashed into that glorious network of thoughts, eating away at them like acid. Kernels of knowledge popped, the delicate filaments of his self-esteem blackened and curled, and his towering supports of hope and happiness toppled. Disaster and chaos spread, the terrifying experiences she’d forged taking on new lives of their own, multiplying and mutilating, until all that remained was a pitiful ruin of cognitive decay.
It was over in moments.
Deidre pulled away, out of the wasteland she’d made of his mind, and opened herself back up to the world around her. The Crown Prince was slumped over his desk, his skin gray, eyes half-lidded. A thin line of drool inched from his slack mouth.
There was nothing left inside - she’d destroyed everything he’d ever been.
Guns, grenades, batons, and worse leapt into fifty-six pairs of hands, a roomful of high-powered assassins drawing a bead on the teenage girl who’d just lobotomized their master.
Deidre caught the first wave of gauss rounds in a web of kinetic force, halting them in a deafening barrage of shockwaves that sent plants thrashing and stained glass tinkling down. She wasn’t worried about the firearms, but there were neural chaff emitters, mentalic scramblers, and psi-shields spread throughout the pack, all of which could be her death.
With twenty-three flicks of kinesis spread across four heartbeats, she deftly activated every explosive device her MindCom could find, overriding their safeties and shoving their interior primers toward ignition before wrapping herself and her friends in a hardened shell.
Bodies launched in all directions, pristinely-tended trees flew to splinters, and a monsoon of glass rained down as the room was torn apart by a chain reaction of fireballs, hammering bursts of force, and ricocheting fists of ballistic shrapnel.
Thirty-four threats, her MindCom updated, and Deidre blinked, surprised. House Verasicht clearly spared little when it came to the modification of their underlings – she’d expected far fewer to survive.
Seeming intent on reinforcing that point, six men launched themselves toward her through the haze of smoke and drifting leaves, overcharged muscles rippling with unnatural strength. Five caromed off her barrier, but the sixth was able to react with a seismic stick at full charge, sending a miniaturized earthquake reverberating through her field.
Momentarily dazed by the distortion, Deidre staggered back, unable to keep her shield from flickering. It was barely a second of inattention, but it was enough for the man to dart forward, wrap a meaty fist around her neck, and close her windpipe.
A rocket engine’s white-hot flare of pyrokinesis blew his skin to ash and threw the smoke-wreathed remnants into the far wall with a puff of greasy soot. Coughing, Deidre spun and whipped the overpowering flame through a searing arc, converting four more suited speed demons into heaps of ruptured cinders.
Then a man tackled her from behind, the high-pitched whine of something deadly thrumming to life in his hands. Out of ideas for escape and unsure if she could shield herself in time, she instead concentrated a lifetime’s worth of misfortune into that unseen device, unbalancing the scales and forcing her own miracle.
Her attacker didn’t even have a chance to scream as the weapon backfired, sending several million volts cascading through his priceless nervous system and cutting shadows through the dust-filled vastness of the room like an electric sun.
Understanding she’d bought herself a handful of seconds at most, Deidre refused to waste them. She snagged both of her friends with nets of kinesis, drew a new bubble around herself, and yanked all three of them back with all the elegance of a pint-sized planet cracker.
The sonic boom and pressure wave were enough to blow the lights out and tear the entire face off the building. Howling winds poured in as Deidre, Karen, and Valerie shot out in rigid arc. All she saw was a brief flash of tumbling bodies and twirling metal before they were darting over the polished shuttle dock outside.
Desperate to keep them from being swallowed by the open air and rain-slashed clouds, Deidre directed another pulse from above and smashed them back onto the platform.
“Oof!” she grunted, wind blasting out of her lungs. She and her torpid friends bounced once, then rolled to a stop.
Blood ran into her left eye, blurring her vision, and she groaned and held a hand to her head. “Okay, that... that one needs practice,” she gasped.
She lifted her head, squinted with her good eye. Suited shapes still moved in the crumbling chaos of the atrium they’d left behind, but none seemed to realize their foes had found an exit. Smiling weakly, Deidre staggered to her feet and swayed toward the Crown Prince’s shuttle, dragging Karen and Valerie behind her with stuttering twitches of kinesis.
The shimmering metal of the craft drew near, shining a cheerful gold before the dawning sun. Suddenly exhausted, Deidre leaned against it, allowed herself a few seconds of hyperventilation, and then turned her thoughts inward, diving into the pearl of knowledge that was all that remained of Dahltak Verasicht’s mind.
She fed his personal access code and passphrases into the shuttle with a burst from her MindCom, getting it right on the second try, then pulled herself and her friends inside. That done, she sealed the door and began prepping the ship for takeoff. She had no idea how to fly the damn thing, but its former owner certainly did.
With the help of his stolen memories, the engines hummed to life, the security clearance locks detached, and the four separate booby traps laced throughout the cockpit disarmed themselves with friendly beeps.
Deidre grabbed at the controls, letting Dahltak’s training take over, and used his practiced touch to spin the wasplike shuttle up and around. She took a moment to level and turn the craft, maneuvering until it faced the smoking ruin of Eidolon Tower’s upper atrium. She glared at it for a moment, then flicked on the shuttle’s extensive – and patently unnecessary – weapons systems.
She spun up the ship’s plasma array first, wary of further attacks, then took her time to lock something a little more powerful onto the comatose heat signature still slumped behind his grandiose desk. Twenty seconds and three vaporized goons later, the ACTIVE indicator on the shuttle’s HUD pinged green.
Deidre prepared to send the launch command, then hesitated.
Carefully, she rifled through a block of the simsahr’s memories, hunting until she found the extra cherry this particular bout of catharsis demanded: Its price tag.
“Wow,” she said, whistling at the number of zeroes. “That actually helps.”
Twin missiles streaked out on lines of crackling fire, cutting through the cloud of debris and devouring House Verasicht’s heir and the upper floors of his grandest creation in a sprawling torrent of flame. Deidre watched with glee as the fireball expanded, then yelped and yanked on the controls as she realized it was going to be far bigger than she’d expected.
After riding out a brief but scary shockwave, she returned the gorgeous ship to a much higher position, surveying the sputtering carnage with a grim smile.
“Told ya,” she said, watching the plume of smoke that was Dahltak’s legacy billow into the bright dawn sky.
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
There was nothing left of the top thirty floors of Eidolon Tower but twisted debris and pools of hardened metal. Of the levels below, the intense heat had warped the superstructure and laid waste to the contents of the nearest rooms. Karen, covered in a blanket and shivering despite it, watched the cleanup crews through reddened eyes. She was sitting on a smooth mound of slag, arms wrapped around her knees.
“You sure you’re okay?” Deidre asked, edging closer.
Karen’s eyes darted to her. “I’m alive, and getting tired of the question.”
“Sorry, sorry,” Deidre said, holding up her hands and stepping away.
She turned to watch the medical and repair crews work. Officially, as the highest-ranking – aka: only – CEF representatives in the area, the three of them were in charge of the relief efforts. In practice, they were there to babysit the Crimson Principle’s tech teams as they went over the ruins with a fine-tooth comb, ensuring no trace of Crown Prince Dahltak’s discovery remained.
Deidre had been a little worried she might be in trouble for, well, murdering a high-ranking merchant and/or feeding his family’s building a few rockets, but the whole affair had disappeared thanks to two aces: the Colonial Empire’s propaganda and internal security divisions, and her faultless recall of the Crown Prince’s memories (including planets worth of dirty secrets and leverage). Between them, they’d managed to classify the whole event as an unfortunate industrial accident and even get House Verasicht to publicly thank the Empire on the speed of its response.
Then again, for what Dahltak had tried to do, it barely seemed acceptable.
“We have confirmation on the nature of the simsahr’s technological advantage,” Valerie said, walking up. Though her frame and voice gave no sign of it, Deidre could tell by the ragged edge to the woman’s thoughts that she was nearly as frazzled as Karen.
“What was it?” she asked.
“A very specific virus,” Valerie said, stopping beside them. “Likely created by a third party, outside the merchant House.”
Karen looked up at the woman. “A virus? Are you serious? Do you think I’m ever going to be able to sleep again? Did you see the recordings?”
Deidre shuddered and turned away. Valerie simply nodded. “Yes. Our ‘nightmares,’ while inventively horrific, were merely a visualization intended to trap our minds, forged by a programmer for maximum impact.”
“How is that even possible?” Karen said softly. “The things it said… and did. I mean, you- you felt it, right? How could that have come out of a computer program?”
“I sent samples of the virus to the software engineers on the Crimson Principle,” Valerie said, squatting beside Karen. “Their analysis found it to be an extremely advanced piece of evolutionary code. Probably assembled in mindspace through AI interpreters. Designed to attach to a victim’s MindCom and, among other things, use it to kill the owner.”
“At least it didn’t get that far,” Deidre said.
“Only because its wielder chose not to let it,” Valerie replied. “As it stands, the ‘distraction’ subroutine was more than enough. It is apparently intended to turn a victim’s very thoughts and memories against them, to construct a monster out of the darkest pieces of their personality, then unleash it.”
“Gee.” Karen rolled her eyes. “It’s like poetry. Glad to know that- that thing was tailor-made for me. Flattering.”
“We were fortunate, all things considered,” Valerie said, turning to look at Deidre.
“Yeah,” Karen said, following the Lieutenants’s gaze. “Why didn’t she get taken down for a little psychic keelhauling with us?”
Valerie sighed, a precise exhalation. She looked at Karen, then up at Deidre. “As far as the Principle’s engineers can tell… it malfunctioned.”
“Lucky break,” Karen said.
Worry creased the Lieutenant’s flawless features. “Merely a silver lining in a very dark storm.”
“I beg to differ!” Deidre snapped.
“Listen,” Valerie said, her measured voice becoming quieter. The delivery didn’t change – it was more like someone had turned down the volume on a speaker. “Unless Tech is mistaken, every single sentient organism in Port Moratlis with a MindCom system is infected with this virus. That includes every CAF officer who has passed through here since its creation, all of our government officials, and, of course, the three of us.”
What?” Karen said loudly. She grimaced and her eyes flicked to the emergency crews that labored nearby. If they’d noticed her outburst, they gave no sign. Deidre squatted down to join her and Valerie. When the Major spoke again, her voice was little more than a whisper. “How is that even possible? It’s supposed to be hack-proof.”
“Someone’s found a weakness,” Valerie hissed. “A backdoor. A software patch is already nearing completion, but the fact that it happened once is cause enough for alarm.”
“I’ll say. Everyone has the damn things,” Karen said.
“Hence the concern.”
“So someone made it to kill people?” Deidre said. “Way to supervillain, I guess.”
“No,” Valerie said. “That is only a very small part of the program – its primary goal is information-gathering, with a particular focus on, of course, mentalics.”
“Is that even possible?” Deidre asked. “I thought the system couldn’t interface with those portions of our brains.”
“Interface, no – examine, yes. Once it subverts a host’s MindCom, the virus begins extending a web of data-spiders throughout the infected network. According to the analysis, it incorporates several elements similar to a Delphic scanner to facilitate this.”
“Creepy,” Deidre murmured.
“Eventually, it understands its host enough to be able to swiftly kill or disable them, as well as make the distinction between a mentalic brain and a normal one. Enough time, and it can even determine the precise mentalic classification of an infected adept.”
“How long does that take?”
“Usually weeks. However, if the subject utilizes their powers post-infection, that can be dramatically reduced.”
She stopped and looked pointedly at Deidre.
“What?”
“You were flagged almost immediately,” she said, her tone reproachful. “You used kinesis as a makeshift umbrella, empathy to redirect hostile thoughts, telepathy at my behest, and several attempts at premonition in the evening hours. Dahltak had an alert set for unusual results, and when your profile appeared with those abilities listed, he immediately understood humanity’s secret.”
“Oh. I- I didn’t think...” Deidre trailed off, floored by her carelessness.
“And the virus?” Karen prompted after a moment. Deidre had the feeling she was trying to lighten her guilt with a subject change. “What’s the actual intent behind it? Espionage, assassination, or a really bitchin’ dev portfolio?”
“Unclear. It requires a remote command before it will perform anything beyond analysis. The distraction and termination protocols can’t even be sent wide-band to, say, everyone who’s infected – they need targeted, manual approval on a case-by-case basis.”
“And Mr. Verasicht had his personal system set to trigger the hurty part on anyone who tried to use mentalics against him,” Deidre said, confirming with a quick glance at the dead man’s memories.
Valerie nodded. “I attempted to shut down his mind and was immediately rendered insensate by the reactive protocol.”
“So what happened to me?”
“As I said, it malfunctioned. The best guess from the Principle’s tech lab is that your diverse array of mentalic profiles introduced a bug into the system. Whomever designed it clearly spent the bulk of their effort on the initial intrusion and data collection portions – the potential use case of disabling a polymental of your scope was never tested or even considered.”
“Saved by lazy code,” Karen said, snorting. “There’s an achievement.”
“As a result, the attack divided and dispersed itself to a crippling degree, registering as ambient chaff which your MindCom duly filtered.” Valerie paused, and when she spoke again, it wasn’t verbal – her cultured tones echoed in Deidre’s head like neural music. Can you confirm that it was not built by House Verasicht?
Deidre had already taken a peek at the answer earlier, but now she made sure to thoroughly ransack the Crown Prince’s memories, just in case she’d missed something. He bought it, she cast to both Valerie and Karen. Dead drop, several layers of intermediaries. Even he didn’t know who. But the kill/disable commands were extra – he paid a fortune for them. Whomever made the virus apparently doesn’t sell those to just anyone.
Worry slithered in alongside Valerie’s reply. Then we are on borrowed time. Admiral Kreslim’s advisors believe this means our secret is in the hands of an unknown third party and disastrously close to revelation. They’ve informed me we have less than 24 hours before they step in. Fail to find the source in that time, and they’ll begin taking drastic measures.
How drastic?
There’s a phased plan for this. Consult your archives for ‘Flawless Intent.’
Deidre took a moment to find the classified file and skim its contents. A blockade. Troops. A city-wide quarantine. More ships. A planetary lockdown. An armada. And then… Deidre sighed internally. Valerie seemed to pick up on it.
Yes. They’ll glass Port Moratlis to protect their secret.
Of course they will. Deidre had the unexpected need to stifle a laugh. I guess I’d be stupid to be surprised.
Subtlety is not their way.
We’ll find the idiot. Besides, I need to ‘thank’ them for my nightmare, Karen thought to them with a burst of conviction. But where do we begin? We’ve got no leads and little time.
Laughter wafted through their minds from Valerie like a joyful breeze. Don’t you see, Major? Our cases are connected. I can feel them entwining even now. Either we will subvert the virus for our own ends and use it to find our serial killer, or… he has already employed its services to hunt his victims. Mentalists are not easy to recognize, after all. How else could he find such success in so short a time?
Karen’s shock and delight cascaded into Deidre’s thoughts.
Indeed, Valerie replied. Two birds, one stone. Let us be off. The teams here are more than capable of completing their task.
Brilliant! Deidre broadcast, grinning at the elegance of it. Where are we headed?
“This is a city of murder,” Valerie said, her natural voice surprising Deidre after the intense mental conversation. “Murder and commerce. Between the two lies our answer: Someone in this megapolis knows how to find mentalists, and they’re selling the technology to the highest bidders. Let us discover who.”
“Okay, but how?
She stood and beckoned. “We cheat.”
_ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _ - _
Part 7 is now available here!
submitted by CupOSunshine to HFY [link] [comments]


2017.08.22 02:59 Prince_Kropotkin Collection of ridiculous Trump Administration events

White House press secretary Sean Spicer flatly denied Friday that the White House apologized to the British government after citing an uncorroborated Fox News report to allege that a UK intelligence agency spied on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.
Earlier in the day, however, a senior administration official told CNN that Spicer and national security adviser H.R. McMaster offered what amounted to an apology to the British government for Spicer's comments on Thursday, when he cited a Fox News report that said British intelligence helped wiretap Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
"I don't think we regret anything," Spicer told reporters at a gaggle Friday afternoon. Asked by CNN's Jim Acosta if there was an apology by the administration to the British government over the matter, Spicer replied, "No, we were just passing on news reports."
At Treasury, career staffers have clashed with Camilo Sandoval, the senior White House adviser who once served as director of data operations for Trump's campaign, over control of various projects, and Sandoval is now working from the department’s basement...
...And a Transportation Department source said its White House chaperone, a former Pennsylvania lobbyist named Anthony Pugliese, is expected to be transferred soon.
The source said Pugliese got off to a rough start when he ordered the blocking of all outgoing mail in the early days of the administration, supposedly to prevent last-minute Obama administration decisions from going out the door, then neglected to lift the order. The result was a giant stack of mail full of obscure bureaucratic missives that nobody knew what to do with, the source said.
After Spicer spent several minutes hidden in the bushes behind these sets, Janet Montesi, an executive assistant in the press office, emerged and told reporters that Spicer would answer some questions, as long as he was not filmed doing so. Spicer then emerged.
“Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off,” he ordered. “We’ll take care of this…. Can you just turn that light off?”
Spicer got his wish and was soon standing in near darkness between two tall hedges, with more than a dozen reporters closely gathered around him. For 10 minutes, he responded to a flurry of questions, vacillating between light-hearted asides and clear frustration with getting the same questions over and over again.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a question by Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, on why there was no mention of the actions toward LGBT + people in Chechnya in a statement about the President’s meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov...
...Before the White House aide added: “Ah–uh, look, I mean a lot of times there are parts of the conversation that aren’t specifically included in a readout. Umm, but, I’m not aware, I have not had that conversation. So I do not know, I was not part of that meeting. So I cannot speak to every detail and I would have to refer you to the readout on the specifics of what I know was discussed.”
But asked whether President Trump has been briefed at all about the purge, Huckabee Sanders continued: “That is something I would have to get back to you on. I am not one hundred present sure.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reversed course Thursday, saying it won't file a lawsuit challenging President Trump's executive order on religious political exemptions.
“Today’s executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome," ACLU director Anthony Romero said in a statement...
The ACLU director went on to criticize Trump's assertion that he wants to do away with the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits religious institutions from supporting or opposing political parties and candidates.
“President Trump’s prior assertion that he wished to ‘totally destroy’ the Johnson Amendment with this order has proven to be a textbook case of ‘fake news,’" Romero said.
President Donald Trump weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. When he finally pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon, he didn’t call James Comey. He sent his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter in a manila folder to FBI headquarters.
He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.
To a reporter from Reuters this week, though, Trump had a slightly different assessment of the presidency.
"I love my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life," Trump said. "I thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of a ... I'm a details-oriented person. I think you'd say that, but I do miss my old life. I like to work so that's not a problem but this is actually more work."
It wasn't the first time that Trump copped to the job being trickier than he anticipated. In November, NBC News reported that Trump had told former House speaker Newt Gingrich that "This is really a bigger job than I thought." (Gingrich's response? "...good. He should think that.") Then there are individual issues. "Nobody knew health care could be so complicated," he said at one point. At another, he revealed that it took a conversation with the president of China to realize that the situation on the Korean peninsula was "not so easy."
But the NSC is not walled off from the internal power politics of the Trump White House, and staffers reading the tea leaves see they still need to curry favor with people like Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, if they’re to have their voices heard and survive in what one source described as the White House’s “Game of Thrones for morons.”...
In addition to these cutthroat internal politics, McMaster is “often saddled with impossible tasks,” the intelligence official said.
For example, when Trump or White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says something that infuriates foreign allies, McMaster is left trying to patch things up.
One example of this is the dust-up over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense system, which Lake reported in his Monday column. Trump stunned officials in South Korea when he told Reuters last month that the South Koreans should pay for the system, ignoring an agreement signed between the two countries that commits the United States to shouldering the cost of deployment after South Korea provides the site and infrastructure. To ease tensions, McMaster quickly told his South Korean counterpart that nothing had changed and that Washington would still pay.
Before deplaning Air Force One in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday Trump apparently informed his team team that there would be a harsh punishment for anyone caught bowing in the Muslim-majority kingdom.
Last words from @POTUS before deplaning Air Force One: "I catch one American bowing here and you're on the next Saudia flight home"...
Hours later, however, Trump appeared to bow and curtsy to Salman after he was presented a gold medal, the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud, the nation’s highest honor.
On the future USS Ford-class carriers:
You know the catapult is quite important. So I said what is this? Sir, this is our digital catapult system. He said well, we’re going to this because we wanted to keep up with modern [technology]. I said you don’t use steam anymore for catapult? No sir. I said, "Ah, how is it working?" "Sir, not good. Not good. Doesn’t have the power. You know the steam is just brutal. You see that sucker going and steam’s going all over the place, there’s planes thrown in the air."
It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out. And I said–and now they want to buy more aircraft carriers. I said what system are you going to be–"Sir, we’re staying with digital." I said no you’re not. You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good.
Another great moment for America courtesy of President Donald Trump, who is in Jerusalem meeting with Israeli leaders—who, I guess, he does not consider Middle Eastern because they are not Arabs:
Trump, in remarks before meeting with Rivlin, says "we just got back from the Middle East."
We try to keep it clean and professional around here, but, honestly? What a dumbass.
In a phone call from the White House late last month, U.S. President Donald Trump heaped praise on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, one of the world’s most murderous heads of state, for doing what Trump called an “unbelievable job” in his war on drugs. Trump offered an unqualified endorsement of Duterte’s bloody extermination campaign against suspected drug dealers and users, which has included open calls for extrajudicial murders and promises of pardons and immunity for the killers.
“You are a good man,” Trump told Duterte, according to an official transcript of the April 29 call produced by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and obtained by The Intercept. “Keep up the good work,” Trump told Duterte. “You are doing an amazing job.”
Trump began the call by telling Duterte, “You don’t sleep much, you’re just like me,” before quickly pivoting to the strongman’s drug war.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte at the beginning of their call, according to the document. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
A story about President Trump’s bodyguard Keith Schiller... was accompanied by a photograph of the two of them walking on White House grounds. The bodyguard was holding a stack of papers, and, according to the caller, on the outside of those papers was a yellow sticky note that said “Jim, Mad Dog, Mattis” and had a phone number.
This of course sounds impossible. Way more care than that is taken around the president, right? The Secret Service is good at secrecy, generally. So I thanked the guy for the call and dubiously pulled up the photo in question. With the monitor turned 90 degrees and the photo blown up, indeed, I could make out a number and what might be “Jim, Mad Dog, Mattis,” if you have better eyesight than mine even when I squint.
I called. I got the voice mail. It was him.
Yes, of course, the president’s bodyguard — the guy famous for punching someone outside of Trump Tower, the guy who according to the story has the president’s complete trust — is employing the yellow sticky note system of information security.
The stress was taking its toll. Late Monday, reporters could hear senior aides shouting from behind closed doors as they discussed how to respond after Washington Post reporters informed them of an article they were writing that first reported the news about the president’s divulging of intelligence...
Some of Mr. Trump’s senior advisers fear leaving him alone in meetings with foreign leaders out of concern he might speak out of turn...
In private, three administration officials conceded that they could not publicly articulate their most compelling — and honest — defense of the president for divulging classified intelligence to the Russians: that Mr. Trump, a hasty and indifferent reader of his briefing materials, simply did not possess the interest or the knowledge of the granular details of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods of intelligence gathering that would harm American allies.
Conversations with some officials who have briefed Trump and others who are aware of how he absorbs information portray a president with a short attention span.
He likes single-page memos and visual aids like maps, charts, graphs and photos.
National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump's name in "as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he's mentioned," according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials.
While addressing the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on the Capitol steps Monday, President Trump paid tribute to the six-year-old son of a fallen police officer the same way a sports mascot might ring in the 7th inning stretch. After Trump described attacks on police officers as a “wound inflicted on the whole country,” he called out to Micah Glasser, the son of fallen Phoenix police officer Brian Glasser, who was killed in the line of duty in 2016.
“And just to show you how much I love our police, I said, ‘I’m going to need a hat because it’s so windy today,'” Trump said before pulling a “45” hat out from under the podium. “When I got out here I said, ‘There’s no way I’m going to put on the hat.’ So we’ll leave off the hat.”
Trump then made a grand gesture of tossing the hat like a frisbee over to the little boy while saying “that’s for our beautiful Micah.” The president must have left his T-shirt cannon at the White House.
President Donald Trump's aides grew so alarmed by the barrage of inflammatory tweets coming from Trump that they organized an "intervention," one official said to The Wall Street Journal.
Hosted several weeks ago, the discussion was reportedly meant to encourage Trump to exercise more restraint on the social media platform, which has gotten Trump into trouble in the past — more recently when he openly accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his campaign.
Trump got a chilly reception at the NATO summit in Belgium after attacking fellow members. But he was caught pledging a battle with German automakers as part of his anger with “back dues” he feels the country owes to NATO. As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted Thursday, “Trump seems to think it’s like a country club.”
In a discussion about the country’s trade surplus, Trump said. “The Germans are evil, very evil.”
“Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US, and we’ll stop that,” sources told Der Spiegel.
...Macron was quoted in a French journal talking about his white-knuckled handshake with Trump at their first meeting in Brussels, where the newly elected French president gripped Trump’s hand tightly and would not let go for six long seconds in a show of alpha-male fortitude.
“My handshake was not innocent,” Macron said. He likened Trump to a pair of authoritarian strongmen — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — and said that he was purposefully forceful because he believed his encounter with Trump was “a moment of truth.”
Hearing smack-talk from the Frenchman 31 years his junior irritated and bewildered Trump, aides said.
A few days later, Trump got his revenge. He proclaimed from the Rose Garden, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
The Washington Post recently detailed the manner in which Trump regularly insults and demeans those who work for him.
In response to the Post’s article, Hope Hicks – the White House Director of Strategic Communications – released a ridiculous statement that quickly became the subject of widespread ridicule:
“President Trump has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people, whether he is speaking to a room of three or an arena of 30,000. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor … and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.”
The best way to keep Mr. Trump off Twitter, advisers said, is to keep him busy. During his foreign trip, he was occupied 12 to 15 hours a day, seldom left alone to fulminate over the Russian investigation and given less unstructured time to watch television — although he did tune in to CNN International and fumed privately that it was even more hostile to him than the domestic network.
While President Trump berates Qatar for sponsoring terrorism at the highest levels, he is simultaneously authorizing the country to purchase over $21 billion of U.S. weapons.
One portion of that deal -- $12 billion for 36 F-15QA fighter jets -- was inked on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., when Qatar's Defense Minister met with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis...
"The nation of Qatar has unfortunately been a funder of terrorism, and at a very high level," Mr. Trump said on Friday at the White House. He added "the time has come to call on Qatar to end its funding."
History suggests that presidents who have governed successfully have been both revered and feared. But Republican fixtures in Washington are beginning to conclude that Trump may be neither, despite his mix of bravado, threats and efforts to schmooze with GOP lawmakers...
In private conversations on Capitol Hill, Trump is often not taken seriously. Some Republican lawmakers consider some of his promises — such as making Mexico pay for a new border wall — fantastical. They are exhausted and at times exasperated by his hopscotching from one subject to the next, chronicled in his pithy and provocative tweets. They are quick to point out how little command he demonstrates of policy. And they have come to regard some of his threats as empty, concluding that crossing the president poses little danger...
One senior Republican close to both the White House and many senators called Trump and his political operation “a paper tiger,” noting how many GOP lawmakers feel free “to go their own way.”
COLONEL ALDRIN: Infinity and beyond. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: This is infinity here. It could be infinity. We don’t really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something -- but it could be infinity, right?
Okay. (Applause.)
DEMONSTRATING ONCE AGAIN that official business will not deter him from his mission to make America creepy again, Donald Trump interrupted a phone call to Ireland’s new leader on Tuesday to ask a “beautiful” Irish reporter where she was from, summon her over to his desk, and praise her “nice smile.”...
Many viewers of the clip, however, found it deeply uncomfortable to watch, with some describing it as a textbook example of workplace harassment.
When President Donald Trump decided on Saturday to skip part of a discussion about what the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies could do to help Africans improve their lives at home — rather than risk them by migrating to Europe — there was no shortage of cabinet members who could have taken his seat...
The American delegation to the Group of 20 conference in Hamburg, Germany includes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is fourth in line for the presidency, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
That Trump chose, instead, to seat his daughter, Ivanka, alongside the other 19 heads of state, was perhaps the most stunning illustration to date that he sees a complete lack of experience in affairs of state as no barrier at all to treating her as his de facto vice president.
TRUMP: Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather? [garbled]
[crosstalk/unintelligible]
TRUMP: Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army.
[crosstalk]
But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. [crosstalk] It’s pretty amazing.
So, we’re having a good time. The economy is doing great...
He [President Emmanuel Macron of France] called me and said, “I’d love to have you there and honor you in France,” having to do with Bastille Day. Plus, it’s the 100th year of the First World War. That’s big. And I said yes. I mean, I have a great relationship with him. He’s a great guy.
HABERMAN: He was very deferential to you. Very.
TRUMP: He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand.
HABERMAN: I’ve noticed.
TRUMP: People don’t realize he loves holding my hand. And that’s good, as far as that goes.
The Times article noted that Trump's aides used TV appearances to get their messages across to him because they found that more effective than communicating face-to-face.
The day after the article's publication... Trump reportedly called a meeting with his top staff at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club...
When everybody was assembled, Trump reportedly shouted at Manafort, "How can anybody allow an article that says your campaign is all f----- up?"
"You think you've gotta go on TV to talk to me? You treat me like a baby!" Trump added, according to Green's account of the meeting quoted in the Daily Mail.
"Am I like a baby to you? I sit there like a little baby and watch TV and you talk to me? Am I a f------ baby, Paul?" Trump reportedly continued.
The room then "fell silent," the book says, according to the Daily Mail.
President Trump told reporters on Air Force One on Wednesday that his proposed border wall would have to be “transparent” to prevent Americans from being struck and killed by 60-pound sacks of drugs tossed over from the Mexican side.
“One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it,” Trump said. He continued:
In other words, if you can't see through that wall -- so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what's on the other side of the wall.
And I'll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don't see them -- they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It's over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.
According to Joshua Green’s upcoming book, “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency,” everyone was sort of leaving Trump alone that night, even as it became clear he was going to win. Christie however, took it upon himself to sidle up next to Trump and explain, “Hey, Donald. The President talked to me earlier. If you win, he’s going to call my phone, and I’ll pass it over to you.”
This supposedly angered Trump for two reasons; first of all, Christie invaded his personal space. Secondly, Trump — a germaphobe — didn’t want to be touching somebody else’s phone.
“Hey Chris, you know my fucking phone number,” Trump fired back. “Just give it to the President. I don’t want your fucking phone.”
Less than a month into his new job, White House press secretary Sean Spicer needed to keep his food and drink cold. He wanted a mini-fridge.
He dispatched a top aide to a nearby executive office building where junior research employees are crammed into a room, surviving on Lean Cuisine frozen lunches. Mr. Spicer wants your icebox, the aide said, according to people familiar with the incident. They refused to give it up.
So Mr. Spicer waited until sundown—after his young staffers had left—to take matters into his own hands. He was spotted by a fellow White House official lugging the icebox down the White House driveway after 8 p.m...
...The Spicer character, played by Melissa McCarthy, became a recurring bit on the late-night comedy show.
The SNL character was used against him inside the White House and among Mr. Trump’s advisers, including Anthony Scaramucci, who was named communications director on Friday. The incoming communications director referred to Mr. Spicer as “Melissa McCarthy” to people within the White House, according to administration officials.
When Air Force One touched down Friday afternoon at Andrew's Air Force base, Priebus, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and social media director Dan Scavino all loaded into a Suburban. But moments later, Miller and Scavino hopped out of the vehicle, and as word trickled out about the chief of staff's ouster, reporters inched close to snap photos of Priebus, who sat alone on the rain-soaked tarmac. Priebus' vehicle then pulled out of the presidential motorcade, which proceeded along to the White House without him...
Trump's demeaning of Priebus came through in other ways, too. At one point, during a meeting in the Oval Office, a fly began buzzing overhead, distracting the president. As the fly continued to circle, Trump summoned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the insect, according to someone familiar with the incident. (The West Wing has a regular fly problem.)
On Monday, while Anthony was in West Virginia with President Trump for the Boy Scouts Jamboree, Deidre gave birth to the couple’s baby boy James. As of Friday evening, a full four days after delivery, her 53-year-old husband had yet to meet his newborn son, though an associate close to Anthony said he visited the child late that night. He visited his Manhasset, L.I., homestead Saturday.
“When James was born, he sent her a text saying, ‘Congratulations, I’ll pray for our child,’” said a source close to the situation.
submitted by Prince_Kropotkin to InconvenientFacts [link] [comments]


2017.03.01 02:20 CeliaEquus 'The Reluctant Treasure Hunter' Chapter One (Text)

[The mods gave me permission to post my fan fic on here. Thank you, mods! If you, the readers, wish me to continue posting each chapter here, let me know. I posted chapter 13 on AO3 last night, and I don't want to flood the posts on here with my fan fic chapters. So let me know in the comments if you want me to continue posting on here, or if you're happy to follow on AO3. Also, if anyone knows how to do extra spaces between sections, that would really help. Is HTML coding required?]
Dear Hannah,
I know you’ll be back from the shops in an hour, but I’ll be gone by then. I’m headed for Salem, Massachusetts. Deirdre Shannon – of all people – has called me for help. The last time she needed my help was for her grades; but now a friend of hers is in danger.
Apparently there was a fire in Hathorne House, an old building dating back to the Salem Witch Trials. Deidre’s friend Mei Parris has been accused not only of arson – sound familiar? – but witchcraft.
You know me. When someone says there’s something supernatural going on, I can’t help proving them wrong. I’m sure this won’t take long, and it’ll give me a chance to catch up with Ned. I’m glad we stayed friends after the break-up, and in his last message he said he had news for me. If he calls, tell him I’ll call him after the case is over.
Love,
Nancy.
Deirdre pursed her lips, trying to block out the taunts of her friends as she looked up sources for their latest assignment. Arson. It was striking a little too close to home. She remembered Nancy being framed by Brenda Carlton, sure, but that wasn’t what hurt so much.
Mei wasn’t in prison, which was a start. But she didn’t have an alibi, and the only witness – the boy who’d been trapped in the house – was pointing the finger straight at her. It was stupid, and Deirdre told that to everyone who’d listen, and even some who wouldn’t.
But because she’d been studying up on arson – for the assignment her professor had set – and because she knew Mei, Deirdre was now a suspect. So she’d done the only thing she could think of: she called Nancy Drew.
It made perfect sense! Sure, Ned was sceptical, but Deirdre was desperate. Of all the people she knew, Nancy had the most experience with solving mysteries, especially debunking crimes supposedly committed by ghosts and creepy monsters. That was the kind of person Deirdre needed right now.
And sure, if she got to rub it in Nancy’s face that Ned was now dating Deirdre, that was just an added bonus.
But now… now her college friends – some friends they were – were making fun of her for needing to call in an amateur. Never mind that Nancy was the best amateur detective available, they thought it was crazy that Deirdre wasn’t trying to solve the mystery herself. Weren’t they all studying criminology?
Deirdre browsed through the old texts she’d exchanged with Nancy back when she started this stupid assignment. Nancy had told Deirdre everything she’d learnt about arson while trying to free herself from jail…
Hang on. Nancy had freed herself from jail even though she was under arrest and the only real suspect the police had. Why couldn’t Deirdre do the same? She could be just as good as Nancy Drew. And if she proved that, maybe her parents would shut up about her for five damn minutes. Maybe they could finally be proud of Deirdre, and not keep comparing her to the teen wonder.
Deirdre was dialling the number before she could think it through. There were four rings before Nancy picked up.
“Deirdre? Is there a problem? Has something worse happened?”
“Hi, Nancy, how are you? I’m fine, thanks.”
Nancy sighed. Rude.
“Hello, Deirdre. From your tone, I assume this isn’t an emergency?”
“You assume correctly,” Deirdre said. “I’ve thought it over, and I’d… prefer to tackle this myself. I’d still like… you know… maybe a hint sometimes. But no one will ever take me seriously if I just keep getting help from other people.”
“Of course,” Nancy said warmly. Ugh. Sincerity. “I’m happy to help in any way I can. Listen, it took me a couple of hours to drive this far. If you need me in that time, maybe send a message instead. Or if it’s an emergency, call Ned. He’s closer to Salem than I am.” There was a loud honk in the background. “Don’t worry, he wasn’t honking at me. I’m pulled over at the side. A car just randomly slowed down. No, it’s going again.”
“Great,” Deirdre said, already bored. “Is that all?”
“It’s slowed down again. Some kind of van… oh. You mean the call. It’s still light enough for me to head back to River Heights, so that’s what I’ll do. But if you change your mind, I’m only a call away. You have my home phone number, right?”
“Yes. But tell me more about the van, I’m super interested.”
“It’s blue, there’s faded writing on the side… that was sarcasm, wasn’t it?”
“Goodbye, Nancy. Thanks for… understanding. I guess.”
“Anytime, Deirdre. I owe you for your help with that case in Colorado.”
Technically it was quid pro quo at the time, but having Nancy Drew feeling indebted to Deirdre was a bit of a power kick. She hung up, set her phone back down, and returned to her assignment. She could do this.
She could.
Nancy placed her phone down beside her bag again. She’d learnt her lesson after being run off the road in Ireland. Fiona Malloy hadn’t meant to do it, and there was no real harm done. And this road was far from empty.
She turned on her left indicator, and checked to see whether there were any vehicles coming. The van she’d mentioned to Deirdre had pulled in up ahead, and two men emerged from it. They waved their arms at her, and ran towards her car. Nancy checked the locks, and her hand hovered above her phone. Just because it was a busy road didn’t mean that the street lights were powerful, and it was already dusk. One man slowed to a jog, and stopped beside her door. He looked distressed, and gestured frantically for her to lower her window.
Reluctantly, Nancy cranked the window down. She’d turned off the engine before answering her phone, and was regretting that now.
“Can I help you?” she asked through the three-inch crack between the window and the top of the door.
“Please,” the man said. “We are… how you say… foreigners? We need help. A problem with our car.” He gestured to the van, as if Nancy could miss it. “You have a number for help, yes? A…” He made another gesture, like a game of tug-of-war. “To pull?”
“A tow truck?”
“Yes, miss.”
“Not for this area. I’m only passing through. Uh, I’m on my way elsewhere.”
“You know a number, yes?”
“I’m not from here. I was just headed home. But if you want, I can give you the number for directory inquiries? They can give you a number for a towing service.”
The man cupped a hand around his ear, and leaned closer.
“A number, yes?” he said, nodding. Nancy peered at him suspiciously.
“I’m afraid I can’t help you,” she said, loudly and clearly.
There was a loud knock against the passenger side window, and her head swivelled that way. Another man was looking in that side, and Nancy squinted, trying to work out why he was familiar to her. His eyes were dark and hard, and the scruff around his jaw-line was thick. And his hair looked bare, like something else should’ve been on… no, in it. Like leaves…
“Thanos!” she gasped.
“And guess who?” the first man said. Nancy looked back, and a fake, bushy moustache was removed. The sharp cheekbones… the wicked gleam in his eyes… the straight, dark hair peeking out beneath his hat…
Nancy opened her mouth to guess, and instead choked on something he sprayed directly into the car. She coughed, and her mind began to feel fuzzy.
“Sit down if you don’t want to wake up with a concussion.”
But I’m already sitting, Zoe, Nancy thought. She registered a clicking sound, the door swinging open, the pressure of her seatbelt disappearing, and arms grasping her. She tried to reach for her phone, tried to grab hold of the steering wheel, but the weakness which had overtaken her brain spread quickly through her limbs. She blinked blearily up at the man hauling her from the front seat.
“Darcy?” she said. “Didn’t you drown?”
“It’s Dwayne, you imbecile—”
Nancy decided that was the best moment to lose consciousness.
Hannah was clearing up after dinner, listening to Carson rambling on about a case he was handling. After clearing Alexei Markovic’s name, he’d worked with the man going through old cases – in between worrying about Nancy – to see if the police had missed anything in cases Alexei might’ve been able to solve. Right now Carson was trying to get a man out of jail who’d been wrongly convicted of grand theft. The case had taken place one of the times Kate had been summoned to Scotland by Cathedral, and Carson and Nancy had gone with her. It might not have changed anything, but Carson still felt guilty any time an innocent person went to jail. Any miscarriage of justice, for that matter. As a lawyer, he wished the law could do better.
“I’ll get the phone,” he said, noticing the soap dripping from Hannah’s hands. He strode into the living room and picked up the receiver. “Drew residence, Carson Drew speaking.”
“Carson? It’s Chief McGinnis. We just got a call at the station. Your phone’s turned off?”
“House rules,” Carson said. “When work is over, the phone goes off. Nancy’s just gone on to a new case, but she can’t have gotten into trouble this quickly, not even… Why are you calling?”
The chief cleared his throat, and worry swelled up inside Carson. Hannah was drying her hands, worried eyes on him.
“Since there’s a River Heights sticker on her car, they called us when they couldn’t get you on your cell,” McGinnis said.
“Oh God. What’s happened to her?”
“It wasn’t an accident. As far as they know, she’s not hurt.”
“What do you mean, ‘as far as they know’?” Carson demanded.
“Nancy’s car was found by the side of the road. Most of the traffic is pretty fast along there, just coming off the highway. She wasn’t in the car, Carson. There were fresh scratches on the driver’s side car lock, but no signs of a struggle. A bitter smell in the air, so it’s possible she was gassed, since the window was open. Her purse, her phone, everything seemed to be there. It’s just Nancy who’s missing.”
“They were after her,” Carson said, dazed, and he sank onto the sofa. Hannah sat in the armchair opposite him, her hands clasped together.
“Do you have any idea who might have done this?” McGinnis asked.
Carson laughed bitterly.
“Don’t you know how many enemies she’s made?” he said. “It could be anyone she’s put behind bars, or friends or relatives of anyone she’s put behind bars.”
“Her last call was to Deirdre Shannon. We’ll be calling her next. Can you tell us why she wasn’t in River Heights?”
“H-Hannah, can you get the note from Nancy?” Carson requested. Hannah picked it up from the mantel over the fireplace, and handed it over. “She said she was going to Salem. A case. A young woman has been framed for arson, a friend of Deirdre Shannon. Nancy was going to help…” He swallowed. “Why was she at the side of the road?”
“It’s around the time the phone call to Shannon ended. Let’s hope she can enlighten us. I’ll call you back after we’ve talked to her.”
“Thanks,” Carson said, and hung up.
“What happened?” Hannah asked, her voice trembling.
“Nancy’s been kidnapped.”
Deirdre pressed the end call button, and stared at her unfinished assignment, numb with the shock. A lump grew in her throat, and she rushed to the fridge in her dorm room to grab a bottle of water. She downed a quarter of it quickly, and wiped her mouth dry after she recapped the bottle. Something sat in her stomach like lead, but she didn’t want to analyse it. She… she needed to call someone. Who?
The first person who leapt to her mind was the most obvious choice, and he’d definitely want to know that Nancy was missing. But should Deirdre be the one to tell him? And what if he realised that he’d never really let go of his feelings for Nancy if he knew that she was in danger right now? Usually Ned didn’t know about the danger Nancy was in until the case was over. This was different.
And… what if he blamed Deirdre?
But she had to think of Ned’s feelings. That was the kind of things girlfriends were supposed to do, and he was sweet enough to deserve it. So she dialled his number, knowing it by heart, and tried to work out how she was going to break the news.
“Deirdre, hi,” he said. “Aren’t you supposed to be working on an assignment?”
“Ned…”
“What is it?”
She hiccuped, and covered her mouth. It passed quickly, but it was enough for Ned to sound more frantic when he asked what was wrong.
“I just… I just had a call from home,” she said. “River Heights.”
“Has something happened to one of your parents?” Ned asked.
“N-no. I’d asked Nancy to help Mei. Remember I told you about—?”
“Yes, I remember. Has something worse happened?”
Deirdre remembered that Nancy had asked that exact same question.
“No,” she said. “I mean, not to Mei. Not yet. It’s Nancy. She… she’d pulled over because I called her, and before she could t-turn around, she was abducted. Straight from her car.”
“Nancy’s gone?”
“She was targeted. Her stuff wasn’t taken, her car was left alone. They just wanted her, Ned. And it could be anyone she’s annoyed over the years. God knows there are a lot of them.”
“Oh my God. Are you okay? Why did they call you?” he said.
“Because I was the last call to her phone. Ned, she would’ve still been driving if I hadn’t called her!” Deirdre bit her bottom lip, and the hand holding her cell phone began to shake uncontrollably.
“Hey, wait,” Ned said. There was a strain in his voice. “If whoever kidnapped her tried to run her off the road instead, she could’ve ended up injured. Was she hurt?”
“No signs of a struggle, but they’ll be taking her car in for testing.” Deirdre rubbed her eyes. “Ned, they questioned me for an hour. Wanted every detail of our phone call. I didn’t think to record it. I didn’t even know I’d have to record it! They’re gonna try to get something from her phone, but I don’t… I can’t… this just feels like it’s my fault.”
“It’s not, Deirdre. If someone was determined to do this, they would’ve found another way to do it. If anything else, you may’ve made it a lot less painful for Nancy in the long run.”
“How can you be so calm? You used to date her! For years!”
“Because I know Nancy,” he said calmly. “It’s okay, Deirdre. She gets herself into these kinds of situations, and gets herself out of them. Until we have a clearer idea of who might’ve taken her, I’m not gonna get myself worked up. Especially if there’s a chance she’d not injured. Nancy’s resourceful. Unless the kidnappers are even more resourceful than her, she’ll get out in no time. I think the longest time she’s been held captive was probably about an hour or two.”
“Ned, it’s been three hours already,” she said.
“Deirdre, you have to keep a cool head. Why did you call Nancy?”
“T-to call her off this case. I want to solve it myself.”
“Then Mei will need you to be thinking clearly. Okay?”
Deirdre realised this was part of the reason Nancy and Ned were together for a long time. He kept his cool in a crisis, just what every crime-solver needed in a partner.
“Thanks,” she said softly. “I’ll call you in the morning, okay?”
“Okay. And don’t worry. I’m sure by tomorrow morning we’ll have news that Nancy’s fine, and has cracked a case none of us even knew about.”
submitted by CeliaEquus to nancydrew [link] [comments]


2016.02.24 05:57 UpCHuckedGaming [Post-Watch, QoTD, BBHW, & Discussion] Super Sleuth Bros. #15 - The Daughter of Time

[Post-Watch, QoTD, BBHW, & Discussion] Super Sleuth Bros. #15 - The Daughter of Time
To watch the episode, click here!
Hi, I’m Gerald. And hi, I’m Albert.
Welcome back guys to another Super Sleuth Bros Post-Watch, UpChucked Edition!
Previously on SSB in the case of “The Red Lipstick Murder”, Albert and Gerald proved Jacob Henry innocent, but apparently tha’s a bad thing according to the homicide leader man. So the bros and our new-found dective friend, that we sort of love and sort of hate, head off to Mendez’s appartment with Alex driving. Suprisingly, Alex didn’t kill anyone driving this time, which is an improvement. Also, congrats to the SAW Completionist episode being the most popular so far on the TOVG channel in 2016!
The duo head up to apartment #16 on the fourth floor. After a long stair climb and feeling the burn (not to be confused with the 2016 Democrat running for president), Phelps straight up kickes the door in without knocking, very rude if you ask me. The appartment seems to be empty, so the bros take a look around. A crutial piece of evidence found there is a size 8 shoe, the same sized shoe found in the tracks at the crime scene. Mr. Mendez isn’t looking too good on the Bros’ list, so they keep searching. They find a gun that “seems irrelevant” according to Phelps, but Albert and Gerald think otherwise.
After that, they find a key, some eggs (shoutout to Big Bad Bosses track “Eggman”, sung by Alex ironically), a container, and… a bloody socket wrench ontop of a blood-stained box of clothing, presumably from Celine Henry and lipstick that is the same color and brand at the crime scene. Case seemed closed, and it turns out Mendez was home.
CHASE SCENE! After parkouring across the rooftops of LA, the chase leads to the streets and now its a car chase. Albert runs into a wall, possibly killing someone, but who cares? We have to get the suspect! The Bros pull up next to the fleeing car and our partner shoots the hell out of the car, and disabling the murderer. To add insult to injury, Alex straight up rams the car that was swerving off the road and flips it and the engine catchs on fire. They run out of the car and arrest Mendez for the murder of Celine Henry. Case closed.
Mendez was thrown in jail and we get a nice little cutscene with the commisioner, congratulating Phelps on his first homicide case. But he gets stiffarmed by not recieving some booze to drink, making Phelps sad and concerning. Overall, the #PerfectDicks solved another case flawlessly, and the person that they killed? Weren’t charged for it!
Trivia: This case is highly influenced by the murder of Gene French, who was found dead, naked, and stomped in the morning of 1947.
10 minutes in. We got 40 more to go.
Some main plot starts off at the Blue Room. Phelps is sitting alone, listening to the singer…. and that’s it? Apparently so. Onto the next case!
“The Golden Butterfly”
In this case, we see the opening cutscene of a woman being brutally killed after dropping her keys in the night by a man with a tire socket wrench.
Jumpcut to Phelps sitting at his desk. The phone rings at our partner’s desk, he talks for a while (grumbling about taking Phelps along), and hangs up. The case is that the woman was killed and left in plain sight, which Albert and Gerald finds awfully suspicious.
The #PerfectDicks drive to the crime scene, and immediately, Albert runs into a lamppost, surprising. Rusty and Phelps have a little bonding, and went into the tunnel, under the crime scene. Albert runs off of a cliff and eats shit, surprising again. They finally get to the crime scene, after destroying the car. Finally, the Bros get to detectiving.
They climb the hill up to the dead body, with some nice Patrick and Chris censors. In the purse at the scene, we find out the victim to be Deidre Moller. Next, we see some small men’s footprints, another important part of the last case. Finally, they go check the body, and the woman was stomped and died by strangulation. Now Phelps goes and straddles over the body, and goes straight for the wrists, just like the last Post-Watch I did. But this time, it actually severed a purpose, as it seems that she was tied up. Then he goes to the other wrist, and the ring finger looks destroyed, with the ring on it being forcibly removed. Finally, they head towards the neck, where there are rope marks. After a little Alex rant on Rusty, the detectives head over to the Moller residence, where the husband of the murdered wife should be.
(Come back here later) The guys head over to the Moller residence to find that Hugo, the husband, was not home, but only the daughter. So Phelps takes a look around. They find a grocery list, a glass, a lemon… and size 8 work boots. Again with size 8’s! They also find an empty ring watch and jewelry box, showing that the items were on her person at the time of the murder. Now, time to interrogate the little girl that has no idea that her mom is dead.
Michelle Muller, the girl, shoots straight and asks where her mom is. Phelps tells her nicely that her mom is dead. The daughter starts to cry, and Phelps asks her a few questions. First, they go for when Michelle last saw her mom. She says that it was last night, because she went to a dance and was supposed to be picked up, but she never came. Doubt. She called several times with no avail, until finally her father came. Next, the missing jewelry. She just said that they were just rings and a watch, she doesn’t pay attention to that kind of stuff. Truth. Michelle goes on further to explain the wedding ring and the watch, both very expensive. FInally, how are her parent’s marriage. She says of course it’s fine. Doubt. The dad hit the mom once, but she said that she would leave if he ever did it again, so he bought her a brooch, which was a Golden Butterfly (CASE NAME). 3/3 answers correct.
Then the dad, Hugo Muller shows up. He sends Michelle to her room, and proceeds to protest against the detectives. Phelps drops the “Your wife is dead” bomb to shut him up. He seemed very confused, and sits down for some interrogation. First, they ask about the small footprints at the crime scene. They ask what size shoe he wears, and he says nines. Lie. But there was a goof. Alex picked the shoe size evidence, not the size 8 work boot evidence. Honest mistake, so they quit out of the game. Alex goes on an entire rage storm about clicking the wrong let’s play. Honestly very funny. We go back to the game, outside the Muller household. To follow exactly follow the Bros, go to the paragraph beginning at (Come back here later).
Now, now that #PerfectDicks are back in buisness, they call out Hugo with his size 8 work boots, correctly this time. Next, they ask about his alibi, in which he responds that he was at home all night. Lie. Phelps says that Michelle called home several times. He cracks and says that he was driving around to calm his nerves. After that, the missing persons report. He says that she was supposed to pick up Michelle at the dance, but never came home. Doubt. Phelps asks if she would go out to nightclubs or anything. Hugo gets super defensive and stands up. He says that they argued about who would pick Michelle up. Finally, the history of violence. He straight up denies the claim. Lie. They pull the Golden Butterfly brooch and he gets pissed. 4/4 answers correct.
Phelps lets him off the hook, but Rusty is angry for not taking him in. They bicker for a little into a neighbor across the street waves them over. She says that they had a huge fight last night, and she never came home. But the lady did see Hugo put something into the incinerator in the morning after the murder. Surprise, there is Hugo at the incinerator.
CHASE SCENE! Phelps runs after Hugo, who gets stopped at a locked door. The guys go back to the incinerator, and they check it out. He was burning bloody, size 8 shoes. That’s a match! They bring him downtown, with Michelle home with no one. They are going to send a person from Juvenile Hall down to help. Lastly, Phelps uses the phone to get an address to Belmont High School. And with that, the episode ends.
Next time, they will head over to the high school!
BBHW: Watch Hot Fuzz, a movie.
QOTD: What is your favorite Greg Grunberg role?
AOTD: That time he was in Austin Powers. Don't you remember? He was the second T.
Sorry this took so long, but a fifty minute episode is a lot! Anyways, thanks for waiting patiently!
#LaterMan
Friendly reminder:

THE BEARD BROS HAVE #PERFECTDICKS

EDIT: Just did an Extra Credit assignment for the last episode, check it out here!
submitted by UpCHuckedGaming to TheCompletionist [link] [comments]


2015.02.03 07:02 ruchenn A few women who write and sing

So…
I posted a comment to kabukistar’s Ladies of /AL, what makes you a "bad lesbian"?. It included links to the Wikipedia articles concerning eight ‘woman-loving-women Anglophone songwriters’ (I was riffing on kabukistar’s noting that they ‘don’t like the music of Tegan and Sara that much’).
Almost simultaneously, my partner made it clear they are more than ready for the household soundtrack to move on. I tend to overdose on whatever I’m currently pre-occupied with so the house has, of late, been resounding with late-Beethoven (especially the late string quartets as performed by the Kodaly Quartet) and 1950s and 1960s bebop, hard-bop and free jazz.
In deference to my partner’s desire for ‘something simpler, and preferably with people singing’, I’ll be switching the household soundtrack to female songwriters.
And, to mix it up a little, I decided to be a bit more specific than that. This was going to be as woman-centric a soundtrack as I could come up with. Building on the short, off-the-top-of-my-head list I’d thrown together above, it would consist only of women-who-love-women. (If nothing else, this would stop me putting our complete Thea Gilmore collection on high rotation.)
Taking a look through our iTunes library, however, I realised I’d not done much adding to this side of our music collection of late.
Which got me to thinking. Which got me to doing. Which resulted in this post.
It’s an incomplete list of songwriters that might be of interest to folks if they are interested in women who love women. There are many more women who’s work I don’t know, however. And I (and my partner) would like to. So, please, add to the list.
If you want to add to the list using the same table structure I’ve used, the following template should work (with words and URLs replaced as necessary):
Songwriter Official site -------------------------- [songwriter name](wikipedia url) [official site domain name](official site url)
Songwriter Official site
Margie Adam margieadam.com
Patricia Barber patriciabarber.com
Courtney Barnett courtneybarnett.com.au
Lou Bennett blackarmband.com.au1
Sarah Bettens sarahbettens.com
Bitch, aka Capital B bitchmusic.com
Monique Brumby moniquebrumby.com
Brandi Carlile brandicarlile.com
Tracy Chapman tracychapman.com2
Jen Cloher jencloher.com
Beccy Cole beccycole.com
(Jennifer) Corday corday.net
Catie Curtis catiecurtis.com
Ellis (Delaney) ellis-music.com
Alix Dobkin ladyslipper.org
Melissa Etheridge melissaetheridge.com
Maxine ‘Max’ Feldman spiralgoddess.com3
Melissa Ferrick melissaferrick.com/
Ferron ferrononline.com
Debbie Friedman debbiefriedman.com
Tret Fure tretfure.com
Mary Gauthier marygauthier.com
Horse (Sheena McDonald) randan.org
Janis Ian janisian.com
רונה קינן (Rona Kenan) ronakenan.com
Kaki King kakiking.com
Ladyhawke ladyhawkemusic.com
k d lang kdlang.com4
Patty Larkin pattylarkin.com
Deidre McCalla deidremccalla.com
Erin McKeown erinmckeown.com
Holly Miranda hollymiranda.com
Laura Nyro lauranyro.com
O’Hooley & Tidow ohooleyandtidow.com
Gretchen Phillips gretchen-phillips.com
LInda Perry lindaperry.com
Chris Pureka chrispureka.com
יהודית רביץ (Yehudit Ravitz) (no official site)
Katie Reider katiereider.com
Maia Sharp maiasharp.com
Tegan and Sara teganandsara.com4
Uh Huh Her uhhuhher.com
Cheryl Wheeler cherylwheeler.com
  1. A related site but not Bennett’s official site per se. She does not, so far as I can find, have an official site.
  2. Requires Flash and auto-plays music when it loads.
  3. Feldman has no official site: this is a reminiscence of Feldman by Abby Willowroot. Willowroot met Feldman in 1964 and they remained friends until Feldman’s death in 2007.
  4. I’m a fan of Randall Munroe’s approach in this regard: someone reading this list could well be ‘one of today’s lucky 10,000’ who discovers for themselves someone that, supposedly, ‘everyone knows’.
As per my self-imposed restrictions regarding the household soundtrack above, this list is deliberately restricted to songwriters. No composers and no performers who don’t also routinely write. This is not because I’m not a fan of any composers or performers (ask me about Deborah Cheetham or Robyn Archer if you want me to drone on and on about a composer or a performer, for example). Rather, it’s because some semi-arbitrary restrictions were necessary or I’d have gone on forever.
For the same reason — and in partial deference to this subreddit’s name — I’ve left off women who are GSM-identified but are (or mostly were) in opposite-sex relationships. Hence my not listing Sia or Ani DeFranco, excepting to note that I’d not listed them.
I’m not engaging in ‘bi-erasure’ here (which would be foolish on my part, since I’m nowhere near a Kinsey 6 myself). Rather, I’m deliberately listing women who’s work gives voice to experiences and concerns that are routinely overlooked or even suppressed at least partly by dint of their clear emotional and romantic preference for other women.
I’ve also (mostly) stuck with songwriters working primarily solo. Which leaves off bands such as Antigone Rising, Blame Sally, Indigo Girls, and The Magnetic Fields, again, excepting to note that I’d not listed them above.
Also, and before I congratulate myself on how hip and cool and into the right artists saying the right things I am, I’ll note that this list is almost entirely Anglophone and mostly consists of white Americans.
There are some Australians (including an Aboriginal Australian), a few Canadians, a couple of Israelis, an English duo, and a fair sampling of Jewish Americans (who some will lump in with Whites, of course; speaking as a member of the tribe, I’ll politely smile and silently disagree with you on that front). As a reflection of actual human diversity goes, it’s not that great, however.
I hope, nonetheless, the list contains a few fun discoveries for at least someone. And, again, if there’s anyone we’re missing (and there must be), please add away.
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2014.12.07 19:31 manytribes How often are women killed by men with no prior signs of violence?

People have made much of the fact that when a woman is murdered, it's most likely by an intimate partner. Fair enough.
But are there any statistics on men who kill their partners without ANY previous signs of violence, either towards that woman or towards anyone else? I used to work as a rape victim advocate and the cases I'm familiar with were always preceded by weeks, sometimes months or years, of domestic abuse and restraining orders. I can't think of an example of someone who was killed or even seriously injured by a male who'd previously raised no red flags. Even SK rejected the "angry jilted lover" hypothesis in ep. 2, and she's been very careful about coming to definitive conclusions. Deidre also thought the lack of prior flags was unusual/notable.
Adnan might have been clingy here and there, but he never hurt Hae or any other female and his law-breaking was confined to weed smoking and petty theft. Typical teenager stuff. This profile, of someone who just up and murders someone one afternoon, with no prior or subsequent history of violence... I don't see it.
This doesn't remove the possibility that he killed her accidentally somehow. But premeditation was a major part of his sentence. If we're going to say "it's usually a boyfriend" and think that means anything, I'd like to see stats on this particular profile, of someone whose sole act of violence in 30+ years was one premeditated murder at age 17.
submitted by manytribes to serialpodcast [link] [comments]


2014.12.03 01:20 Don_Bardo Witness / the Whiteness (with apologies to StrongBad).

In Just Kids, her memoir of her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith recounts a conversation with Sam Wagstaff, Mapplethorpe's ultimate patron and romantic partner. Looking at one of Mapplethorpe's photographs of a white lily against a black background, Wagstaff asks Smith "what's the blackest thing you've ever seen?" Smith tries to come up with an answer, but Wagstaff interrupts her by pointing to the background of Mapplethorpe's photograph. "That's a black you could get lost in," he tells her.
I recount this story because what Wagstaff said about that photograph's blackness, one could also say about This American Life's whiteness. It's a white you could get lost in. A Norman Rockwell painting of Mitt Romney playing hackey-sack with Minnie Pearl could not come close to the whiteness of TAL and its audience. And so help me if some of that whiteness hasn't maybe spilled over into the podcast you and I know and love.
I'm not interested in the ethical problematics of Serial w/t race; other people have tackled that subject, and honestly, I think the stuff is mostly overblown. (Example: Koenig is surprised that HML's diary is "such a teenage girl's diary," not because Hae was Korean, but because she was a murder victim, duh.) I'm only interested in the racial stuff to whatever extent it may have affected the reportage and, therefore, listeners' perception of the case. I'm writing about this now because some things have struck me while revisiting earlier episodes, and our "hot stove week" seems to me to be the best time to bring them up.
One] Sarah Koenig suggests that Christina Gutierrez's mien when questionning Jay may have alienated the mostly black jury. But look, I mean, we've all heard plenty of C-Gut by now ("with ANY GIRL, of ANY NAME, from ANY LOCATION"). Her braying condescension transcends race! It comes from a lawyer's frustration at cross-examining a witness who, to her chagrin, has turned out to be bright, poised, sincere, and sympathetic. This wasn't a case of black jurors automatically sympathizing with the black guy: any juror could have noticed that C-Gut's manner itself spoke not to any confidence, on her part, in the strength of her case.
One] Sarah, Rabia, and Deirdre have each suggested that detectives' suspicion of Adnan was racially motivated, that their investigation may have been an example of (in Deidre's words) "racial profiling." OK, look. If cops have three suspects, two of whom are African-American males with arrest records, and they arrest the third guy, it is NOT racial profiling. It is, like, the OPPOSITE of that. It is, like, "gniliforp laicar."
One] I would suggest that Sarah has a slight but discernible racial hang-up, at least when it comes to Jay. This doesn't come through when she is critical of his testimony or dubious about his character; rather, it comes through when she says nice things about him. You know, things like "I totally saw the appeal of him, as, like, a person," or "he probably [came] off [to the jury] as a nice young man," or (my favorite) "he played lacrosse, for C-----'s sakes."
One] Like most of us (or such is my impression), I've been all over the place regarding theories of what happened and of who was responsible for what. But I've come to find Jay increasingly credible, despite the changes in his story. This isn't entirely satisfactory to me. We've heard phrases like "believeable enough" and "good enough for the truth": Sarah Koenig speaks or quotes these phrases with heavy irony, and I understand why. But though Jay obviously prevaricated, in a self-serving (if seemingly uncalculated) way, I find him to have been a believable witness, as presented in the podcast and as represented in the police transcripts. And indeed, "believable enough" seems to have been the detectives' appraisal, and the jury's, and the judge's. The "not believable enough" crowd consists of Rabia (brilliant though she is, her descriptions of Jay are cringe-worthy), Sarah, and some large portion of Sarah's audience. It isn't a conclusion I've come to easily or quickly, but I believe that the doubting of Jay is partly due to racial bias; if the state's witness had been white had been not black, there's no doubt, and no story. A confused, pot-smoking teenager gets in over his head; questioned by the cops, he changes his story to protect himself; he lets the cops influence his testimony because he's scared of going to prison; but in the final balance, he bravely testifies against the friend who committed a horrible crime. If the teenager is a white kid, nobody finds this hard to believe.
tl/dr: oh yeah, Adnan did that s***
submitted by Don_Bardo to serialpodcast [link] [comments]


2014.11.15 18:01 sammiwammy Too much emphasis on motive

I am troubled by the prosecution's emphasis on motive, particularly in a case like this where factual evidence is very thin and largely reliant on one person's testimony. Proof of motive is not required in a criminal prosecution and courts are not supposed to be concerned with the "why" a defendant committed a particular crime, they are supposed to be focused on the "whether of" a defendant may have committed a crime. This trial seemed to focus too much on the why rather than the whether. As others have pointed out, it's very human and natural for a jury to want to understand "why" someone committed a horrible crime, and the prosecution here seized on this and was able to cobble together a narrative (as described in Episode 2) that gave one plausible (albeit very idiosyncratic and speculative) motivation for why Adnan could have possibly committed the accused crime. But let's remember, having a plausible motive should not move the needle in the direction of Adnan's guilt. What is supposed to matter and move the needle is the actual evidence offered by the prosecution that tends to prove that Adnan willfully and with premeditation took the life of the victim. Saying that Adnan was motivated to kill because his pride was wounded and heart broken does nothing to show these elements. It's just a prosecutor's palliative offered to the jury to answer the existential question: why would someone do this horrible thing? Answering these existential questions may make the jury feel a little relieved, but it does nothing to advance a reasoned analysis of the case. In that sense, motive is a red herring that I think should be mostly ignored by the jury, but I will speculate that they may have afforded it more weight than they should have. Because the "wounded pride" theory is one that is possible among many (even if not probable) and since the jury was offered no other alternative theories that fit (and I will say the defense team seemed to have failed to conjure up one), the jury found it easy to go with the one offered.
I am also troubled by the inferences of guilt resulting from the white spaces in this case: there were really only four suspects as far as we know (Jay, Adnan, Mr. S and Don), and since the latter two were rather quickly dismissed, it left the trial being focused on Jay and Adnan, and the prosecution seized on the fact that it could posit a "motive" for Adnan easily while it was more difficult to posit one for Jay. I don't disagree that crime statistics will probably bear out that most extreme violence against women is from a current or former intimate partner, so in the macro sense, I think that absolutely justifies Adnan being placed under scrutiny, but I don't think it should allow the jury to think it's more likely that Adnan did it just because the one other known remaining suspect who was investigated didn't have a clear motive. As Deidre said, you have to keep all the balls in the air as a murder is being investigated and when you seize upon something like the macro statistical likelihood that the killer was an intimate partner at the expense of investigating and considering alternative theories, you're going to get a lot of false convictions for the 30% of cases where the killer wasn't an intimate partner.
Too often the prosecution uses motive as the universal solvent to tie together a weak case, as I believe was the case here. It is really a crutch that allowed them to cobble together the few pieces of evidence they had by pointing to a what seemed like a gaping inference -- "Who else could have done it?" It's interesting to me that Jay's initial exclamation when SK and her colleague visited his house was "who else could have done it?" -- I think this provides an easy pillar to hide behind and is a really insidious way to shift the prosecution's burden to the defendant: the defendant shouldn't have to answer "who else could have done it", rather, the prosecution should have to prove who HAS done it. But I sense a lot of people may have been satisfied with falling back on "who else could have done it" which to me is an unacceptable way of thinking about the case-- it's tempting to think this way but ultimately it is not consistent with how our criminal laws are supposed to work.
The whole point of the burden of proof resting with the prosecution is that they have to show facts -- yes facts, not theories or motivations -- that the defendant committed each element of the crime.
This case seems awfully short on these types of facts. The rigor and substance just isn't there. Sadly, prosecutors know that they can often still get a conviction even in the absence of sufficient supporting facts and data by playing to the jury's natural desire to "make sense" of the whole picture and I think this was exploited to the full here.
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