China becomes EU's top trading partner in first 7 months ...
Zachary Harder passed away unexpectedly on September 18, 2020, while biking on an autumn day in Maine. He lived every day to its fullest, doing what he loved, and thus he died doing what he loved ... Partner / Senior AI Engineer Blackwood Seven. sep. 2019 – nu 1 år 1 måned. Copenhagen, Capital Region, Denmark. AI Developer Blackwood Seven. feb. 2017 – sep. 2019 2 år 8 måneder. Dataanalytiker DSB. jan. 2015 – jan. 2017 2 år 1 måned. DTU Fotonik. 4 år 1 måned. Postdoc DTU Fotonik. And the right Partner will help you combine the rules of accounting with the flexibility and power of technology. So, the decisions you make regarding your ERP software are critical. And one of the most important decisions is your choice of an ERP Partner. Here is our list of seven qualities of a great Dynamics GP Partner. We are the trusted partner for some of the world’s leading enterprises and businesses, ... Seven Shells will help you.. Application re-engineering . Re Imagine your core legacy systems with technological innovation.. About us We are one of the largest Technology expert in Europe and Asia ... Seven Marine is committed to providing world-class outboard power with its 557 and 627 outboard engines. Unmatched horsepower, unique geometries and patented technology. Boat Partners Archive - Seven Marine - Seven Marine Seven becomes the official merchandising partner for Chennai Super kings Seven, the sportswear brand from Rhiti Group, has announced a multi-year partnership with Chennai Super Kings.The brand is ... xx-small x-small small medium large x-large xx-large. 5 = < <= > >= ><!= A* *A * RS_Login . xx-small x-small small medium large x-large xx-large World class achievements delivered with focused solutions! Seven combines the agility, drive, and personal touch of a small practice with the experience, capability, and global reach of the largest consultancies In the first seven months of 2020, China became the top trading partner of the European Union (EU), a position previously held by the United States, said Eurostat on Wednesday. EU's imports from China increased by 4.9 percent in the January-July period, compared to the same period last year, whereas its imports from the U.S. dropped by 11.7 ... Partner Seven Stone Capital. Jun 2020 – Present 4 months. New Jersey, United States. Seven Stone Capital is a leading commercial real estate finance company. The Seven Stone client-centric ...
The #1 Global Seven Knights Community!
2015.10.20 13:32 Ak120691The #1 Global Seven Knights Community!
Official Sub-Reddit for the Mobile game Seven Knights! Global and Asia server players unite and discuss strategies, give advice and communicate with one another! Korea server is welcome too!
Godless is an American television drama series created by Scott Frank that is slated to debut on Netflix. The seven-episode limited series began production in Santa Fe in September 2016 and was released on Netflix globally on November 22, 2017.
2010.03.10 10:53 brina-sabrinaChilling Adventures of Sabrina
As her 16th birthday nears, Sabrina must choose between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends. Based on the Archie comic. Starring Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Michelle Gomez, and Miranda Otto. #CAOS
Peace came to the Free Cities as unexpectedly as war had appeared on the horizon: Within a matter of days from one another, peace had been signed with the Tamilakam and the Taliban collapsed in Afghanistan. Suddenly, people who had known nothing but war for three years and who were mentally preparing for war to rage for several more years, were delivered the news that peace had come. Maybe because of this fact, the realization that war was over came slowly and reconstruction was delayed even further for a variety of reasons: Almost seven thousand men, women and children had died in the War At Sea; almost four thousand died during the Defense of Multan; Tens of thousands were left without their primary bread winners, without their promising sons or daughters, without valuable business partners; Thousands of others suffered in more indirect ways, the disruptions to the economy worsening or outright destroying their economic prospects. The leadership of the Free Cities was slow to respond to the new developments as well, with rumors spreading far and wide that much of the upper echelons of the Āyarna Mūkkō either were preparing to flee the Saurashtra or were directing operations in exile. Yet when the response by Dhan Rajesh and his collaborators came, it came in force and in many shapes, being outlined over several days through public appearances and radio broadcasts: For one, payments ofhaftawere reduced to their pre-war levels, reducing the burden on all citizens. And at the same time, the citizens of the territories attacked by the Taliban would have this payment rescinded for the remainder of the year. For another, industrial and agricultural subsidies would be maintained for the foreseeable future, leaving time for these facets of the economy to recover in the face of a reduced workforce and lower domestic expending. Together with this, it was announced that the Āyarna Mūkkō itself would be paying the remaining debts of all debt slaves in all territories of the Free Cities and, more controversially, that debt slavery would be outlawed for a period of three years. The organization, nonetheless, took great pains in explaining that this did not mean that debt itself was outlawed, however, but simply that unpaid labor (either personal or that of one’s child or ward) cannot be used as collateral for this debt. Moreover, large construction projects meant to “reinvigorate the economy of old provinces and provide parity to new provinces” were announced. Finally, it was announced that an aid fund of ₹500000 rupees will be created to aid in the payment of life pensions to the direct beneficiaries of every man, woman or child who lost their life in the defense of the Free Cities. And another ₹100000 will be set aside for recovery efforts regarding the dead lost at sea, as mandated by the Treaty of Madurai.
2020.09.27 00:13 sotobikROCD mixed with HOCD an bisexuality
Hey there, I am not really new to the concept of OCD in general and ROCD in particular, but I think I might've a quite crazy mixture going on there. I am 28, male, bisexual, married to a woman I've been with for five years. Our marriage is quite harmonious and we are both happy. The only thing is my ROCD that's bothering especially me, but she's very supportive and understanding to me. I've had problems with OCD for six or seven years: first I was very convinced and in fear of becoming schizophrenic and I went through the circle of OCD, endless googling and testing myself whether I might've gotten crazy or not. This was 2014. I've then developed a major depression but could cope with it pretty much on my own (no drugs etc.). Since 2015 I've been seeing a therapist to this day. Other OCD related topics: getting a heart attack (googling, taking my pulse, rumination whether these or those symptoms are related to some impending heart attack) and falling out of love with my wife, fearing she might be the wrong person for me, I might've chosen wrong, I might not be loving her anymore. I went through and overcame these *OCD periods by forcing myself to welcome the uncertainty and simply accepting the foggy future for myself end everybody in this world. But. I recently got a new coworker I find really nice and cute. The job interview (I'm his boss) went for two hours as we really connected about how we feel about politics, the world and such. Since then he's meandered through the back of my mind. Last week he came out to me as gay (and I came out to him as bisexual right after it) and this changed everything. He told me about his suffering at home as his father is pretty homophobic and I liked him opening up to me. Literally every day since then I've been kind of under tension, running on adrenaline. I am having intrusive thoughts about him. I am feeling myself kind of pulled towards him. I really like being with him, talking to him. I even wait impatiently for him to write back when messaging or the like. But: I don't think of him as a sexual partner, I cannot imagine him being my partner for life or for once for that matter. I just feel an overwhelming amount of sympathy and affection for him. Maybe like a child or brother or best friend? When trying to think of him as a sexual being, I feel kind of awkward, blocked. It feels not right to think about him like this. (But I do actually think about other men sexually! Just not him.) Nonetheless, this is irritating me tremendously! "Am I really bisexual? Or am I in denial of my true homosexuality? Do I still love my wife? Have I fallen out of love with her? Have I fallen in love with him?" Yet at the same time I know: I love my wife, I crave being with her sexually, I enjoy being married to her as a woman, being with her as a woman etc. I am not asking for reassurence I think, as I know, that it's only myself that is able to give that to me. But is there anyone experiencing the same thing? How do you overcome all of this? This is driving me crazy and I'm in fear of it damaging my relationship to my wife. Thank you for reading, I am looking forward to reading your experiences. -Sotobik. tl;dr: M28, bi, straight married, got a gay coworker I fancy pretty much although loving my wife wholeheartedly; asking for experiences and tips how to overcome
2020.09.26 23:23 AngryaboutVideogamesFrozen Homes Pt 35: A Spiky Boi
Saturday Release! [First][Prev] [Next] [Wiki] Thanks for taking the time to read the story, Hope you enjoy it. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Commander Soto slammed himself into the wall, dodging a few beams of that ugly laser fire the enemy combatants used. With their weapons unlocked and the idea of prisoners abandoned, the way towards the bridge had been much more manageable. Not to mention the Aasteran soldiers seemed eerily excited to be killing these alien slavers. Watching from his cover as Ranarus charged an enemy encampment with nothing but his shield and grav sword. His eyes widened in amusement as the soldier jumped over a metal barricade and proceeded to tear apart the enemy. Going so far as to skewer two of the aliens with his tail, as he slashed into another three with his sword. "Guess that explains the tail spikes they have." Soto walked down the corridor, lazily holding his shield in front of him as he stalked towards the encampment, contemplating whether to kill the remaining slaver or capture it. Thankfully, his decision was made for him as an Aasteran soldier furiously charged forward, bellowing a primal war cry. Aggressively stomping his right foot and thrusting his tail through the alien, Soto just nodded and looked to his side. "You guys really love doing that." He commented to the nearest Aasteran, who just shrugged and moved on. Ranarus walked up beside Commander Soto and waved it off. "We have a lot of pent up rage against these things." "Hey, I get it. You guys can finally avenge your ancestors, right?" Soto replied, looking at his tac map. "More like my people, these things caused us much suffering. To see them use whatever these diamonds are as some living battery. It tells me more about this civilisation than I would like to know." Looking at the stolen cart carefully filled with the silicon bodies. Ranarus's anger once again boiled. "We can't even tell if they're still alive, they're so weak." "BRACE!" Ranarus leaned against the wall as the ship violently shook, looking at his team report to ensure that none of his party was injured as he gathered his footing. " What was that?" Commander Soto looked over to the cart then back to Ranarus. "Team six took out the weapons storage in the fighter hangar. Well, what they consider a fighter. We have civilian ships with more armour and shielding on them." Motioning for the group to reform, Commander Soto began following his tac map towards the assumed bridge located middle of the ship. Taking point with his shield and grav mace, Soto began following his map points, making sure to keep his team behind him before being pushed aside by Ranarus and his team as they stalked forward ahead of the Terrans. Looking back at his team, Soto decided to take a back seat to the action, figuring he would leave most of the killing to his new allies. They seemed to be pretty good at it and almost needed to get some vengeance out of their system even if he would eventually get in trouble for it. "Hey, there's some atmosphere on the other side of this door!" A marine shouted. Quickly moving over to his scanner tech, Soto looked at the readout and waved at Ranarus, who happened to be busy pulling one of his men off a mutilated body. "Hey, uh, I'm pretty sure what you're going to say. But, did your people have anything with a bio scan similar to this on your planet?" Ranarus looked at the scan in confusion. "Nope, I've never seen blood like that before. I don't even know what kind of metal that blood contains." Soto scrunched his face and waved the entire boarding group over. "Ok, we got some bio signs in this room, oxygen breathers, not these vacuum fucks. Scanners indicate that they're hurt, we think. The plan, we set up a shield to keep the air in, blow open the door, rush in and subdue the bio signs if they're aggressive. It's looking like we won't beat team two to the bridge anyway, so let's bag us some captives." Watching as the team's engineer set up the shield, Soto opened a com so he could listen to the other boarding groups, many of who were venting their anger out on these odd aliens with weapons typically not used inside ships. Thankfully, most of the ship was already under Union control with only the bridge and a few hold outs left, most of which were being utterly decimated by mobile lance batteries. "Shields up!" Reported his team's engineer. Watching as the charges were set, Soto and Ranarus moved up to take point. "Ready pal?" Commander Soto asked, already knowing the response. Ranarus looked at the rest of his team before back to the commander. "I was born to kill my people's enemies, not capture them. I will follow your lead." Soto chuckled at the unexpected answer. "We'll have to work on that." As the charge countdown hit zero and the door blew open, Soto hefted his shield and charged into the room, looking for his target. "Nothing's here." Ranarus rushed in and looked towards the location of the bio signs. "No, they're here." Picking up some fallen debris, Ranarus chucked it at a gathering of three spiky masses. Commander Soto watched as the spiky ball rippled, making off cooing noises before quickly silencing itself. "Is it a porcupine?" Slowly reaching out to touch a quill, his suit began to scream warnings as the point pierced through his armour and into his under mesh. Surprised, he pulled his hand back in shock as the nanites plugged the hole. Soto stared in amazement at the spiky ball as his suit finished up it's complaining. " Holy shit, No way we're cuffing this guy." "You'd be dead if it's quill were coated in poison, you realise." Looking at the tac com updates, Ranarus deflated as the ship was considered subdued and under Union control. "So, what is it, some pet?" Waving his teams medic up, Soto looked back at Ranarus and shrugged, "dunno, the doc will figure it out, for now, let's make sure our diamond friends get plenty of light... Feels like I'm talking about a plant." Watching as the medic waved his hands around and worked his healing magic, Soto was beginning to think he had more bad news heading his way as the doctor started frantically cursing and attempting to get around the quills of the creature. "What's wrong, doc?" "It's a fucking sentient. It's malnourished and dehydrated though... I think... Its blood is filled with some weird metal that's interfering with my scans. The quills, I think they're quills, something is off about them; they're pumped full of the metal too. Overall thoughts, though... I think those fucks were using this guys blood for something, they're all missing a lot, or just.. don't need a lot compared to both Terran and Aasteran." Soto palmed his face and let out a low groan. "What kind of sector of the galaxy is this. We spend two thousand years looking for life only to run into cold snakes and fucking cosmic boogeymen slavers, four-armed balls living in vacuum, enslaving everything they come across? I don't think the people back home are going to like any of this. No offence Ranarus, your people are great, but this is bullshit." Ranarus shook his head and looked at the spiky alien. "None taken, no one asked for any of this." "Got it! I can give them some aesthetics until we can get them to a secure med bay. Uh, with your permission, commander. I'm sure they'll make it, but its better safe than sorry with the state they're in." Commander Soto nodded and looked down at the trio of porcupines. "Do it if you're sure it won't hurt them. I want to make sure they're alive for questioning." Soto held his breath as he watched the medic pour the medical nanites between the tightly packed quills. Shifting his visual spectrum to get a better look as the quills quivered, as if fighting to stay rigid before completely separating and softening into fine hair. "It's a fucking spiky boy!" Soto shouted. Ranarus looked at the Terrans curiously as they started making all sorts of soft noises at the alien." What's a spiky boy?" "It's not a dog! It's a wolf." Replied the medic. "What kind of wolf is red, its a big ass fox, dumb-ass!" Shouted a marine from the crowd. "They got red dogs on the Kuacog colony idiot!" Came another. "You guys do know it's sentient, right? Like a thinking being." Argued the tech. Regaining himself, commander Soto looked to the medic. "Sedate the other two. I want to make sure these guys get the help they need." Ranarus look on in confusion as the marines quickly quieted, looking at the trio of aliens. "Something wrong here I should know about? Finishing up relaying his information to the rest of the boarding teams, commander Soto looked over to Ranarus. "It's good that most of the aliens are dead. But if you find one alive, kill it before a Terran sees it." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Srettia screamed in horror as Michael skilfully flew through the hull of a wrecked enemy cruiser, a successful gambit at losing the fighter wing that managed to get behind him. " I COULD HAVE DESTROYED THEM YOU, IDIOT!" Rolling the ship out of the wreckage and manoeuvring to rejoining his bomber wing, Michael grinned and looked over to his terrified passenger. "True, but I felt like having some fun." "Well, our guest enjoyed itself." "At least someone's on my side." Michael complained as his bomber wing worked their way towards their target. Srettia turned to look at the being as it chimed a jaunty tune at her, its arms splayed as if it was on some sort of ride. "We need to name this thing." "It has its name; we just need to figure out how to communicate. Incoming forty seven mark three, four interceptors are heading towards the bombers." Srettia turned back to her weapons controls and began to rain anti mater upon the poor ships, chuckling as they broke apart from just the vicinity of the lance fire. "I can get used to this." "We are approaching our target. I am marking it on the display. Torpedos ready, waiting for wing commander's mark." Michael frowned as the visual came up, and he saw the swarm of fighters around the massive carrier. "That's a big guy." "You scared partner?" Srettia fired off a few shots and laughed. "He's scared. Big bad Terran ace pilot afraid of paper fighters." "Har, har. Have a good laugh." Pulling a hard turn to avoid a particularly nasty volley, Michael just shook it off and voiced his thoughts. "I'm more worried about why they are bent on protecting that ship. What's in it?" "Unknown. Fleet command needs it destroyed so Chrarada can take her fleet to secure a captured command ship." Srettia grinned at the thought of Chrarada screaming as her ship charged its target. "Well, lets clear the way for our beautiful leader, shall we?" "I did not know you thought her beautiful." "Well, duh. Her horns are always perfectly polished, and her scales are as glossy as a newborn." Srettia angrily fired some shots into a passing frigate as the squadron pierced the defensive screen and sighed. " It's unfair." "We're coming up on the target, get ready." Rolling under a cruiser with the squad, Michael snuck a look at Srettia and frowned." How about I pick up some moisturiser and polish for you when we get back to Leda. You can take the evening off to relax and let me pamper you for the night." Srettia fought to keep her tail still, at the thought. "We shall do that." "Target in range thirteen seconds, Torpedos ready." Michael looked at the being who began chiming an oddly deep tune and looked back at the ship. "I don't like this." "Firing Torpedos." Michael watched as the bomber squadron unleashed tens of high yield anti-matter torpedos at the massive carrier, observing as they crashed into the hull, ripping it apart and sending pieces splintering through the surrounding vessels, completely breaking the enemy formation. "Invest in better fighters, you idiots." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Charge forward! Breakthrough their lines and destroy all who get in our way!" Changing her fleet formation from a three-pointed claw into an arrowhead, Chrarada bought her ship to the front of the tip as her fleet advanced into the hole created by the Terran bomber squadron. "I'll need to request a fleet of those bombers.." Attempting to keep the emotion off her face as her ship unleashed a vicious broadside into the enemy formation while it crashed through the debris of the massive ship. Chrarada noted that the enemy command ship changed from contested to secure and smirked. " Our males have completed their task, increase speed to secure the target ship, we can't let the enemies destroy it!" Watching as more of the hard light aliens extracted themselves from the debris of the battlefield, Chrarada scoffed in frustration. "What kind of enemy are we fighting." "Ma'am, the enemy fleet is breaking off, looks like a pretty ugly retreat." Chrarada slammed her fist against her console in anger. "FIGHT ME, COWARDS!" Looking around at her bridge crew who had similar thoughts, Chrarada took a deep breath to compose herself and fought off the urge to chase after the retreating enemies. "Take up position around the captured ship, destroy what you can in the meanti-." "Detecting massive energy surge from enemy wreckage!" "Bring it up on visual." Chrarada watched closely as the carrier wreckage seemed to sparkle for a few moments, lights shimmering in multiple locations before merging into a massive hard light alien, twice no three times the size of her ship. "Ah, I can see why they're running." Just as the alien finally finished forming into an odd funnel shape, Chrarada felt a cold chill run down her spine and opened a com to her fleet. " ALL POWER TO SHIELDS, NOW! EVERY OUNCE YOU CAN SPARE!" Just as she finished relaying her commands, Chrarada watched in horror as the alien unleashed a massive beam of energy. One that rushed past her fleet and split into tens of smaller offshoots, shearing ships in half while destroying others. Shaking off her stress, Chrarada opened another com to her fleet in panic. "Stay out of its way. We secure the enemy ship with a tractor and get out of this area, NOW!" Upon finally reaching her target, Chrarada shuddered as the energy readings on the large alien once again began to spike. " Get a tractor on the ship and leave the area immediately. We don't have time!" Holding her breath as her fleet activated their tractors and began pulling the enemy ship from the battlefield, Chrarada watched curiously as another beam of light emerged from the alien, shaking her ship as it passed by to its intended targets. "Relay to the fleet command that our mission is complete." Exhaling in relief, Chrarada authorised docking of the boarding teams into her fleet, tapping her tail angrily as the enemy fleet fled the system. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ranarus walked off the boarding ship with his Terran teammates into the familiar sight of an Aasteran hangar bay as emergency personal flooded into the ships. Taking off his helmet Ranarus laughed as the Terrans threw down their own and rubbed their faces and hair. "Smells like home." Soto walked up beside Ranarus and clapped him on the shoulder. "Good job, friend. It looks like some ladies are looking your way." Soto pointed to a section of the hangar where medical personal and armour specialists were waiting. "Any of them catch your eye? Bet you can finally have the luxury of being the one to claim." Ranarus laughed and pointed at a Cyan female who pushed aside the other females and stalked towards Commander Soto. "Maybe, But I heard you're familiar with that one." Soto palmed his face as the female approached. "Yeah, She claimed me after a demonstration. She beat the crap out of a green one that tried to challenge her for it or something." Ranarus watched as the Female captain got up in Soto's face and began marking him with her tongue. "Well, have fun, commander. I hear the fangs are painless." Soto looked at Ranarus in shock then at the very long tongue rolling around his body. "Ahh fuck it." Ejecting himself out of his armour, Soto effortlessly picked up the cyan female. Walking off happily towards the hangar exit as she clung onto him, ignoring his whooping and cheering team. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
2020.09.26 21:59 MorwenRaevenEmergency moving fund for myself and my partner, who is a recent recent amputee. My job was downsized and we need to get home to Vermont.
Legitimate life or death emergency. My partner recently had her left leg amputated just below the knee. She still has stitches. We were living in employee housing and they just "downsized" my job a month before my seven year anniversary with the company. They gave us until October 15 to be out, and the only family we have is in Vermont. We have no savings and didn't see this coming at all. PLEASE HELP!!!! We're so scared and desperate!! moving fund for amputee
2020.09.26 21:53 MorwenRaevenEmergency moving fund for recent amputee
Legitimate life or death emergency. My partner recently had her left leg amputated just below the knee. She still has stitches. We were living in employee housing and they just "downsized" my job a month before my seven year anniversary with the company. They gave us until October 15 to be out, and the only family we have is in Vermont. We have no savings and didn't see this coming at all. PLEASE HELP!!!! We're so scared and desperate!! Help us please!!
2020.09.26 21:46 CrystalBloodWolfThe Last of Us Part II - A sample out of my rewrite for feedback!
Chapter 24 - Aquarium Tour Date: 17th of May 2038 Location: Aquarium, Pier 59, Seattle Ellie had sat down at one of the couches that had been laid out in the reception area of the aquarium. She's had some time to take in her environment now and she quite enjoeyed the serene atmosphere this place gave off. With the ocean so close, the paintings on the walls gave her a sense of warmth and safety, like a long buried memory rising up to greet her and give her a hug, after what seemed like an eternity. She had taken her guitar with her, pulling softly at the strings to fill the void that had settled over this place. It was a calming melody, allowing her to lose herself for just a moment in this moment of peace and clarity. After a little while, she heard small taps against the floor, eratic breathing and a tail swinging in the air, coming closer to her. She opened the eyes she had closed to focus on the music, and looked up on the object that had pulled her out of her trance. And there it stood, innocently enough, the german shepard that belonged to none other than Owen's pregnant girlfriend, just starring back at her. Ellie: Hi there, little fellow. She had cought that her name was Allice. Ellie had to admit that it was quite a beautiful dog, looking fascinated with the stranger that had entered her home. The dog had sat down, slightly tilting her head to take in her apearance. Ellie picked up the guitar from her lap and put it to the side, leaning forward, slowly outstretching her hand towards the shepard's head. She made sure not to startle her and slowly began to pet her. Ellie: Oh, you like that, don'tcha? Yeah...you do... It was clear Allice loved every bit of attention Ellie was giving her at that moment. She leaned into it, tongue sticking out of her mouth and a satisfied expression on her face. Ellie: You're such a good girl, I bet you are. Ellie had now abandoned her position on the couch and crouched down infront of the shepard to treat it in a better manner. Now with both hands roaming over the dog's head and upper body, giving everything a good scratch and petting. The dog seemed to love it, and Ellie couldn't shake off that grin on her face that had started to build throughout this process. She hadn't even noticed that Joel had come back inside and already stood a couple metres away from her. Joel: Looks like you already made a new friend. She looked over her shoulder at him, a bit surprised of his sudden apearance, but that smile never left her face. Ellie: She's such a beautiful dog, isn't she? Joel: Yeah, she's cute. And trained to kill. Ellie: Come on, Joel! She's a sweetheart. Arren't you my little girl? Yes, you are! Joel crossed his arms and stepped closer towards them, sizing the dog up and down a little bit. Joel: Hmm...guess she's alright. Ellie: You heard that, Allice? Sounds like ol' papa Joel is a little jealous over there. Joel just shook his head, a small chuckle escaping him. Joel: If you wanna put it like that. Just be careful, you never know what they've done with their attack dogs. Ellie: I'll be fine, Joel. You see anything out there we have to worry about? Joel: No. Area looks clear, as far as I could tell. Turns out the boy isn't as full of it as I had assumed. Ellie: He's a good guy. You shouldn't be too hard on him. Joel: Funny coming from someone who kept bossin' him around on our way here. Ellie: Well, that's how I made sure he'd be trustworthy. Believe it or not, I'm actually getting better at judging people. Joel didn't miss the look that had passed over her face. Her expression was somber, he could tell bad memories were giving her trouble. He looked off to the side and let out a breath, now giving the space he was in some attetntion. Joel: I'd guess it'll be awhile before those three'll get back. What d'ya say, kiddo? Wanna give this place a little explorin'? She snapped back into reality and put her head down in though. Ellie: Why not? I mean it's not everyday that we have an aquarium all to ourselves. Joel: That we ain't. Let's get goin't then. A small smile had come back on her face and she turned back to face Allice, who had still been looking back and forth between Joel and her. Ellie: How about you be our guide, girl. Huh, you wanna show Joel and me your home? She stood up from her kneeling position and gave Allice a couple more strokes before she had stood up. With a couple of barks, the shepard had stood up as well and lead them towards a door, out of the reception. Ellie: You see that? I think she really understands me. Joel: Or she's just hungry, looking for her food bowl. Ellie: Stop being such a downer. She's a smart girl, I can tell. They started following her out of the room into a connector corridor leading to the first set of exhibition windows, that were sadly empty. Joel: Oh really? And how exactly you'd reckon that? Ellie: Just a feeling. And she hasn't attacked any of us yet, so that has to count for something. Joel: Seems so. Then let's see where she leads us. Allice had continued to walk forward and only came to a stop infront of a sign above another set of doors. They all looked up at it. Ellie: "The Ocean Experience", Well that's...vague. Joel: These things are always like that. Tryin' to catch your interest, so that you'd invest your time in it. Ellie: Hard to believe that people back then had problems to decide what to do. Back in Boston, we had to constantly come up with things to do, when we weren't busy with school or getting ourselves in trouble, of course. Joel: How come you've never told me anything about the life you had before we met? Ellie: Dunno, never found the right moment, I guess. It's not like you're one that's big on sharing what's in the past. Joel: Fair point. All right, how 'bout this? We take turns. I'll tell you somethin' from my past, and then you'll tell me somethin' about yours? After a moment of consideration, she nodded her head in agreement. Ellie: Sounds good. You wanna start, or should I? Joel: Just ask me somethin' you wanna know. We'll go on from there. He shoved open both of the doors and allowed them entry, Allice quickly heading infront of him, down the small set of stairs infront of them. The room was filled with the same kind of windows as the corridors before had. All the windows had a small picture and the name of the sea creature they showcased, on a little billboard infront of each respective one, but the tanks were still left empty. Ellie: Such a shame. There arren't even any traces left of them. Joel: The bacteria in the water probably took care of that. Ellie: Looks like your genius is showing again, old man. Joel: I have my moments. They went down the steps and inspected the billboards. All kinds of different fish, crabs and other sea organisms were depicted, in different shapes, sizes and colours. They took their time to inspect it, even if it wasn't much. Ellie: So let's see...Ah, I've got one! Back in Boston, you and Tess. Was there ever anything going on between you two, or were you just friends. Joel: You really ain't pullin' any punches on this one, huh? Um...well, we were partners. We'd been doin' work for quite a while together, so I'd be lyin' if I said that there was nothin' that'd crossed my mind. Ellie: Uh huh. I mean, I could tell that there was something between you two. Just couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was. Joel: Trust me, kiddo. Neither could we. Allice had stopped infront of one of the windows, the bilboard reading "Sea horses" Ellie: Watcha looking at, girl? No cute little sea horses here, I'm afraid. Joel: We already got land horses waitin' for us outside, so she can look at those if she wants. Ellie: You heard that, Allice? I think he's warming up to you. She had bend forward to give her a couple more caress her behind her ears. Joel just let a "tss" and entered the next room, with a similar display that had been setup, but the windows inside there were fewer, but larger. Ellie and Allice had followed him inside there shortly after. Ellie: I think it's your turn now. Joel: Sure...um...you always mentioned growing up in that military boarding school. Was it really that bad? She needed a moment to collect her thoughts on this topic before she was able to answer. Ellie: Looking back at it, sure it wasn't the best place to be, but also not the worst. I mean, I had trouble getting along with the teachers there and the other kids, plus getting up at the crack of dawn for military drills was a pain in the ass, but other than that, there wasn't much to complain about. I had food to eat and a bed to sleep in. And Riley was there. Joel: The friend of yours that was there when you got bitt? Ellie: Yeah, that's her. She was probably the only thing that kept me sane. Joel: Oh...you and her, uhm...were you...? Ellie: Together? Like in a relationship? Nah, never had the chance. At least I got to show her how I felt before she died. Joel: I'm sorry, Ellie. Ellie: Don't be. Getting to spend that day with her in that mall...that was one of the happiest moments in my life. I have to be thankful for that. Even if remembering it hurts. They start to inspect the different windows again, until Joel came across one he recognized. Joel: Huh, dolphins. Sarah loved those. Ellie: Really? Why? Joel: They looked cute and pulled off tricks during shows. Why'd you sound so shocked? Ellie: Because they are brutal! Joel: C'mon Ellie... Ellie: I'm serious, Joel. They might look cute, but on the inside, they're truly diabolic creaturse. Joel: How the hell'd you figure that? Ellie: Because I read up on it. In Jackson during our time...apart, I spend a lot of my time in the library, reading all sorts of books. Just trying to keep me busy, you know. And I came across this magazine about sea-life and there were some not-so-nice facts about these fuckers. Joel: Oh really? Like what? Ellie: Like the fact, that the males gangrape the females once breeding season comes around. Joel: What? You sure, it was a science magazine you were readin', and not some fantasy stuff. Ellie: Do I look like an idiot to you? Joel: You want my honest answer? Ellie: Oh, just shut it, old man. Joel: (chuckles) All right, all right. So go on. How exactly do dolphins "gangrape" their females? Ellie: Well, according to the mag, groups of males would team up together into so called "Super-Alliances", which tended to be as large as 14 males. Together they would then set out to aggressively "herd" fertile females. Joel: Aggressive as in...? Ellie: Um you know, the usual. Chasing'em down, hitting them with their tail, biting, or even slamming into them. Joel: Sweet Jesus. Never would've thought them capable of that. Ellie: Looks can fool, Joel. Especially when they're hidden in the dephs of the ocean. They stepped away from the billboard and kept inspecting the other exhibitions. Ellie: Anyway, I think it's my turn again. Since I was a little harsh the first time around, I'm gonna go a little easy on you. What was your job before the outbreak hit? Joel: I was just a simple carpenter, working from contract to contract. Ellie: And what would you do? Joel: Y'know, I had to take measurements and calculate the size and amount of the material we'd need, according to the blueprints I was given. Ellie: That sounds...like a lot of math. Joel: I'd also have to cut, shape and smooth out the material, we'd be workin' with. It was a fine job, not the easiest, but a fine one none the lsee. Ellie: Were you happy with it? Joel: It wasn't my dream job by any means, but it was enough to get by. Ellie: You were living together with Sarah back then, right? Joel: That's right. Ellie: Okay. Allice barked and turned towards them, gesturing she wanted to move through the still closed door infront of them. Joel: Looks like our guide wants to continue our tour. Ellie: Then let's not keep her waiting. Ellie went over to the door Allice was motioning towards, and opened it for her, letting the dog pass through. She gestured for Joel to go through as well. Joel: How very thoughtful of you. Thanks. Ellie: What was it you said? Age before beauty? Joel: Would you drop it already? My bones are enough of a reminder. They ain't in need of your help. Ellie: All right, fine. No more remarks concerning your age. Joel: Good. Thank you. Ellie: At least for today. Joel: (Sigh). This door had lead them to a new area, being anounced by another sign that had been hung up along the ceiling, with the title being written in shining colours to catch the eye. Joel: "The Stunning Hunters of the Sea". Wonder what that entails. Ellie: I hope they actually have some sharks in here. That would be fucking awesome compared to the boring fish-pictures we've seen 'till now. The corridor was formed in a spiral, slowly leading them up to the second floor, but the floor remained as a smooth surface, not turning into a set of stairs like most would expect. The exhibitions were inbedded into a giant pillar structure on their left, that the walkway was build around. Like before, they sadly remained empty. Joel: Is there any chance you read up on some fun facts about sharks, too? Ellie: Actually, I have. You wanna hear some? Joel: Hit me with it. Ellie: Okay, let me think...Did you know there are over 500 different species of sharks? Joel: That many? Whoa. Ellie: Yeah, they can also vary dramatically in size and also live in most ocean habitats. Joel: What's the biggest and smallest shark? Ellie: If I remember correctly, the smallest shark is the dwarf lantern shark, which is about as big as a human hand. Joel: Wow. That's...really samll. Ellie: Yep. And the biggest one was...uhm..oh yeah!. The whale shark! It could grow up to almost 40 feet. Joel: Jesus! I wouldn't wanna come across that fella. Ellie: They've also been around for quite a long time. Scientists estimated that they have existed for over 400 million years, even predating the dinosaurs! Joel: Oh boy. That's definetely somethin' I didn't know. Ellie: Looks like you're finally not the oldest thing around anymore. Joel: Didn't we just agree to stop commenting on that? Ellie: Sorry, couldn't hold back on that opportunity. When they reached the top, they found themselves on a balcony overlooking the reception area they had been in before. Allice had already run off to the end of the walkway, scratching against a set of double doors leading into another small area of the Aquarium. On their way over, Joel decided to speak up again, as their eyes roamed over the hung up skeletons of whales and other giant remnants of sea life. Joel: I think the ball's in my court again to throw you a question. Ellie: All right. Shoot. Joel: When I spoke to Marlene in the hospital, I got the notion that she and your mother were close friends. Has she told you anythin' about her, or your parents in general? Ellie's steps gradually slowed down before coming to a complete halt. She rubbed over one of her arms, turning her head away from Joel, who had stopped to advance towards the doors as well ,at that point, and turned his whole body over to face Ellie. Ellie: Um...not really, no. To be frank...she hasn't told me anything about them. Her voice was low and her tone soft. Joel took careful steps towards her and put his hand on her shoulder. She turned her head towards him, a somber expression on her face. Joel gave her a weak smile, giving her shoulder a light squeeze. Joel: If I go too far, just say the word and we can stop discussin' it. I don't mean to reopen old wounds. She cleared her throat and recovered from the sudden wave of sadness that had come over her, slowly nodding her head, after reaverting her gaze to the side. She reafirmed eye contact a moment after. Ellie: It's okay. Just been a while since I even thought about her. She's never been a real part of my life. But I can still feel her missing from it. Isn't that crazy? Joel: It's more normal than I'd like it to be. When Sarah kept askin' questions about her mother, while she was young...I struggled to find the right answers. Marlene probably didn't speak about her because it must've been just as painful for her. Ellie: Yeah. Maybe. A set of barks pulled them out of their moment, their heads snapping to the door still waiting agaist the same double doors she's been scatching against for some time now. Joel: Looks like someone's gettin impatient. He gave her shoulder one last squeeze, before retracting his hand and motioning with his head towards Allice. He continued his walk over, Ellie falling in line behind him a split second later. Joel: We better not keep her waitin' for much longer. The two of them came up beside her and looked at the entrance sign to the next area. It read "Stingray Bay Café". Joel opened the doors for them, Allice once again rushing through. Inside, they found a small counter area to their right, where the drinks probably had been served and sold. The room was still filled with a couple tables and a set of chairs, but they'd all been pushed off to the side and neatly stacked up. They figured it had probably been Owen, who had cleaned up this place. The light was coming in from the giant windows at the end of the room infront of them. The siting areas had been split into two parts, the bigger one being right infront of them, with a lot of now free space to walk around in, and a smaller one, that was reachable through a small set of stairs to their left. It was on an elevated platfort, enough for about two tables or so. Allice had gone off towards the right side of the room, past the counter, where a set of T-shirts, with all kinds of different ocean motives on them, and other souvenirs had been hung up on. Joel and Ellie inspected the room on their own leasure, him stepping further inside of it first, his eyes scanning his surroundings. Ellie followed suit and turned her whole body, taking everything in it had to offer. She found that some plushies of various sea creatures had been hung up on the ceiling, dangling around on the thick ropes that had been bound around them, keeping them in a tight hold. Joel: (Whistle) Not bad. This place surely isn't too shabby. Ellie: You can say that again. Joel took the steps to his left and walked onto the elevated platform, walking up towards one of the giant windows. The view was breathtaking, giving them an outlook of the ocean, together with the other piers in the distance, the great Seattle Wheel being one of the elements that made it fantastic. Joel leant against the wall beside of it and remained in that position, letting the vista leave it's mark on him. Ellie joined his side a moment after, letting her eyes linger on the smoothly moving waves, crashing into the shore closely infront of them. Ellie: And? Is this everything you hoped for? Their gazes met, both now wearing warm smiles as they shared this moment of tranquility together. Joel: Well, I think the jury's still out on that. But you certainly can't deny that view though. Ellie: Hm, yeah. They remained like this for the next minute or so, simply bathing in the silence as the world kept breathing around them. It was only until they heard a high pitched squeezing sound from behind them, that they were able to pull their eyes off of the sprawling vista. They turned around to see that Allice had returned to them, but she had a chew toy in her mouth, that squeeked when pressure was applied onto it. It was in the form of a purple squid. She put it down infront of them and begged with her eyes for someone of them to throw it. Ellie couldn't rsist that invitation and quickly stepped up to pick it off the ground. Ellie: You wanna play fetch, girl? All right. Here we...go! On her last word, she threw the toy out, onto the other side of the room. Allice quickly chased after it, running towards it with high speed, jumping over the small railing, onto the lower floor before them. Ellie: Oh man! Look at her go! Joel: Damn. She really seems to like that toy. When she reached it, Allice picked the squid up into her mouth and hurriedly brough it back over to Ellie, putting it right back infront of her. The woman in question proceeded to pick it up again and threw it over to the other side of the room this time. Allice practically flew off towards it once again. Ellie: You're so fast. At it girl! She once again retrieved the toy and made her way back, but this time, she put the squid infront of Joel. He turned towards hie head over to Ellie giving her an amused look, before bending down to pick it up. Joel: Woho. My turn now, it seems. Ellie: Give it a good throw. She seems to love it, when you throw them far. Joel: Here goes nothin'. Fetch! He swung his arm wide and threw the toy across the room, Allice running after it again. This whole process was repeated a number of times more, with both Ellie and Joel having to keep throwing the toy around the café over and over again. But like all things, they started to grow tired of it after a while, even though the german shepard looked like she could still go on for days, just bringing the toy back to her momentary handlers. Joel: I don't know 'bout you, but I've had my fair share of this. How 'bout we finish up our tour. Figure there's not much left to this place anyway. Ellie: Yeah, I was starting to get bored of this too. She left the purple toy down at the ground and proceeded to walk towards the exit on the other side of the room, past the mentioned souvenirs, where Joel had already positioned himsels moments before. Ellie: Come on, girl. We can play some more later, all right? After a second, Allice came strutting over to them, leaving the toy on the ground behind her. They opened the next set of double doors, Joel taking the lead as they stepped over onto the next balcony, the other two stepping in line behind him. The balcony lead them to a set of stairs back down into a a round side room. It looked like a playing area for kids, with paintings of different animals littered across the walls, playground structures like a small tower and slide half hazardly still set up on both sides of the room. What appeared to be a little out of place though, were paper targets that had been set up all across the room, sitting on a couple of the structures, others hanging onto thin rope from the ceiling. It only made sense to them, when they noticed two light pink toy bows, sitting off on the side of the room, leaning against a wall. Above them was a small whiteboard, with the names "Mel" and "Owen" spelled on them, the numbers "9" and "11" standing beside them respectively. Joel: Looks like he set up this course. Probably as a little game for them. Ellie: Seems so. He turend over to her, a playful grin stretched across his face. Joel: What d'ya say, kiddo? You up for a little challenge? Ellie: I don't know. I mean, this is their little love cave. We probably shouldn't intrude more than we already have. He went ahead to put both bows up, giving them a closer look. They looked to be in good condition, and he turned back to Ellie, same smirk still plastered on his lips. Joel: That is very considerate of you. Even though I can tell it's just an excuse you're usin' to avoid havin' to face me. Ellie: What? Pff, I'd shoot you to the moon and back if I wanted too. I'm just trying to be a respectful guest. Joel: Oh don't worry, I don't blame ya for it. I mean, if I were you, I'd be shakin' in my boots too. Ellie crossed her arms, looking incrediously around the room, seeing that Allice was just wandering around and starring at some of the paintings that were littering the walls around them. After a moment of consideration, she uncrossed her arms, and walked over to Joel. Ellie: All right, old mna. If you want an ass beating, I'll give it to ya. But how about we raise the stakes by a little. Winner gets to ask the last question to the loser. You in? He stretched out one of bows over to her, she took it into her hands, seeing that a whole bunch of plastic arrows were attached to the lower base of it, same with Joel's identical one. Joel: You're on, kiddo. Far as I can tell, there are 15 targets set up. Means first one to eight wins. Ellie: You better not hold back, Joel. I'm a pretty good shot with this thing. Joel: Please. I've been doin' this longer, than you've been alive. Ellie: Oh yeah? Okay, get ready to be destroyed by the bow-master! They got into position beside each other. Allice had noticed instinctively noticed what they were doing, and got beside Ellie, sitting down beside her, her tail wiggling from side to side on the floor. She shot the dog a smile while she tried to focus on the upcoming competition. She knew Joel was experienced, like he had mentioned, but she had always been a great shot with bows. She hoped that would help her to edge him out. Joel: All right. I'd say we start on three. You got that, Ellie? Ellie: Do your worst, old man. Joel: (Chuckles) Fine. On three then. One. Two. Three! Their competition was kicked off, Joel imediately sending out an arrow with his call. It hit one of the targets, toppling it over. Joel: Ha! Got one. Ellie: Hey! You're playing dirty, Joel! Joel: Just try to keep up, kiddo. Ellie shot out her first arrow, it found it's mark as well. She didn't celebrate it though, quickly changing over to the next one and smashing it down to. Ellie: How do you like that? Got two in a row. Joel: Now don't get cocky. We're far from done. They both tried to focus, shooting down more targets as they went on, keeping it close between them. After a while, it was clear that it would be coming down to the last target, which had been placed furthest away, at the top of a plastic tower, at the other end of the room. When both of them had seven taken down, it was Joel who shot out his arrow first, it fell short and hit the lower end of the tower. Joel: Shit! Ellie put all the focus she could muster in that moment into her next shot, pulling back the arrow and putting just the right amount of strain onto it with the string. Releasing it simultaniously with the breath she was holding, it bolted out and flew across the air. With a satisfying sound, the plastic tip collided with the paper target, knocking it off the tower and securing victory Ellie. A victorious smile graced her features while she held up one of her arms in celebration. Ellie: And that's that! Bow-fucking-master! Joel: (Exasperated sigh) Oh well... She bend down to one knee, put the bow down and grabbed a hold of Allice, softly scratching across her back neck. Ellie: Did you see that, girl? Papa Joel just got his ass handed to him! She reacted with a bark, tongue sticking out as she enjoyed the attention that was given to her by Ellie. Joel: All right all right, you did it. You beat me. Couldn't have you cryin' over a crushin' defeat, now could I? She turend her attention back over to Joel, looking at him with a playful smile, joy clearly visible in her eyes. Ellie: Uh uh, don't give me that front. I saw the sweat running down your brow during that last shot. Looks like we got a sore loser on our hands here, Allice. Joel: (chuckles) Guess you caught me there. Good job, kiddo. Ellie: (laughs) Thanks, Joel. She stood up, both still holding eye contact, Joel with his arms crossed, a sense of pride filling him. He only noticed then, how long it had been since the last time he had seen her just having fun and enjoy life for what it was. Joel: A deal's a deal. You won, you get to ask me what'cha want. Ellie: Okay, uh...let me think. Hmm... She thougthfully rubbed her chin as she tried to come up with a good question she had always wondered about. After another moment of thought, she snapped her fingers together and posed her question. Ellie: Ah! I got one. You ready? Joel: Shoot. Ellie: Esther. Is she just a fling, or do you actually like her. Joel: That's a loaded gun and a half. Ellie: Joel... Joel: Uh, well, I...She's certainly an attractive lady and has a good sense of humor. Plus she seems to show genuine interest when we get to talk. So yeah, to get 'round to it, I do very much like her. Ellie: Oh. Wow. Joel: What? He tilted his head to the side, slightly narrowing his eyes while running a hand through his beard. Ellie: Nothin'. It's just...I guess I never saw you get close to anyone else in that sense. The thought of you finding comfort in someone else so far along your life...it kinda gives me hope. Joel: You thought I was to remain a lonely old man 'till I eventually kick the bucket? Ellie: No, no, no! That's not what I meant. Joel: I know, kiddo. I'm just pulling your leg. But thanks for the kind words. He gave her a genuine smile, which she promply returned. They stood there for another moment in that comfortable silence between them. Only Allice's steps filled the room, as she headed for the door, leading them back to the main area. Joel: We should head back. They should be back by now. Ellie: Guess you're right. Joel: Okay. C'mon. Together, the three of them walked through the next set of doors and entered the main area again, but there was still no sight of the others. Ellie was trying to hold down the worry that had started coming up. They'd said it would take them a couple hours, but it had been at least four by now since they were gone. Before she could voice her concerns to Joel, the front door jolted open, with Owen and Mel rushing in. Mel: That's her fault, not yours. She made her choice. He stopped in his tracks and turned around towards her, a number of blueprints clutched in his hand, deep concern inbedded in his features. Owen: It was me that convinced her she should come back. If anyone is at fault here, it's me. I need to get her out of there Mel. She'd do the same for me. A look of disbelief formed on Mel's face as she put her hands on her hips stretching out her neck towards her lover. Mel: Yeah, right. The woman who left us for her stupid, selfish revenge quest would just do everything in her power to save you. Next thing you tell me is, that she rescues a group of scars who are stuck in a burning building. Owen: Listen Mel, I-- Before he could go on, the other two had aproached them, concern all over Ellie's face while Joel triede to keep his expression neutral. Ellie: What's going on with you two? Where's Abby? Owen focused his eyes on her's, his features still displaying discomfort, his eyes tense. Owen: We, uh, had some trouble while we were at base. Joel: What kind of trouble? Owen: You know, the kind you'd expect. Isaac wasn't particularly thrilled with how Abby just got up and vanished. So, he...um.. Ellie took a couple steps closer to him, her expression serious and fierce, wanting a straight answer out of Owen. Ellie: Owen,. What has he done to her? Before Owen could answer her, Mel did it for him, crossing her arms while she spoke apathetically. Mel: He locked her up. She's supposed to rot away in there for the coming two days. Owen: Mel! Ellie: What the fuck? And you just let that happen? Why didn't you say anything to protect her from him? Her gaze shifted from one to the other, starring them both down to get some answers, the fire starting to build in her eyes. Owen: Hey, I tried, okay? But Isaac's not really known for his understanding and kindsness. Plus he seems to be extra on edge from the way he was acting. Ellie: And what are we supposed to do now? Just wait it out and let her rot away in there? Or worse?! Joel had stepped up behind her and tried wrapping one of his arms around her. Joel: Ellie, calm down. She turned her head towards him, the deep worry clear in her green eyes as she stared into his. Ellie: Joel! What if they hurt her while she's in there! We gotta get her out! Joel: We'll figure it out. I promise. Owen: And I got the tools we'll need to do it. He waved around the pieces of paper he still held in his hand, a satisfied smile on his face and mischief visible in his eyes. The same couldn't be said about Mel though, who still looked quite upset with the prospect of what her boyfriend was proposing. Mel: Owen, no! You don't get to risk your life for a stupid mistake she made! Owen: She needs me, Mel. Mel: You got a family that needs you! And I swear to god, I'm not bringing this kid up alone, you hear me? She stood infront of him, the worry and concern buried under her anger now shining through her eyes as he stared back into them. Owen: I hear you. But I made her dad a promise. I broke it once. I'm not doing it again. The resolve in his gaze was enough for Mel to notice that there was point in further argueing with him. His mind was made up. Her posture slumped, as she let her head hang low, closing her eyes. After a second, she snapped her head towards the other two in the room, starring both of them donw. Joel decided to step forward, taking careful steps towards Mel. Joel: We'll keep him safe and bring him back in one piece. You can trust us. Her stare was still harsh, hiding the pain that residing beneath. Her gaze shifted between him and Ellie, but resting inside of his eyes at tje emd. Mel: If you let anything happen to him...god forbid what I'll do to you. With that she turned away from them and dtomped off towards the nearby kitchen space. Mel: Allice! Come here! I need at least one that has my back... The dog followed her without hesitation, only shortly turning around and sparring a fleeted look for the three, before heading after her master. Owen let out a deep sigh after Mel had slammed the door shut behind Allice. A nerrvous hand ran through her hair. Owen: Please excuse her. The pregnancy has really taken a toll on her mood. And, um...It's been a while since she and Abby really got along. Joel: It's all right. This ain't the first time I was under the scrutiny of a concerned wife. Owen: We're not married. Joel: She sure acts like it. Ellie raised her voice to while crossing her arms, fixing her intense gaze onto Owen. Ellie: So what's the plan? He pointed his papers towards the desk in the middle of the room, motioning for them to move there and speak through what he had in mind.
2020.09.26 21:18 shylock92008PABLO ESCOBAR'S son says his father "Worked for the CIA selling cocaine"; (The CIA) “were practically his partners,” which allowed Escobar to defy the law, and gave him nearly the same power as a government.; Escobar smuggled 15 Tonnes a day into the USA, Making $420 Million per week.
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2020.09.26 17:09 CaspianX2Full list of upcoming games on the Nintendo Switch (US) (Updated 9/26/2020)
Console exclusives (games that are also on PC and/or mobile, but not on other consoles) in Italics. Nintendo exclusives (games that are only on Nintendo platforms) in bold. For those looking at this list and not sure what's likely to be noteworthy, I have compiled a page with noteworthy releases on Switch for September 2020. Please give them a look if you want to see what games are likely to be some of September's highlights! As for the full list of upcoming games, here you go:
2020.09.26 17:01 ClowmeowDealing with a single credit card that's snowballed.
So, a bit new to Reddit, but it's been helpful so far. So I've got 1, Wellsfargo credit card. I got it when I was prepping to move out, at the behest of my mother to build credit. It was pretty fine at first, I was taught not to treat it like money you don't have, and I've rarely if ever spent it on extravagant things. I still live pretty frugally, try to by food on sale (Split Chicken breast for 99 cents a pound is my favorite sort of deal, doesn't take much butchering either) But it's still caught up with me. I moved out of state with a partner five years back, in a little on bedroom for around 800 a month, working a retail job for Staples. I was planning to for to school, but I never felt very stable in giving it a try, not to mention I wanted a psychology degree, and that takes quite some time (I'm now in a Veterinary Technician Program, and actively in school) And the biggest harm I felt the credit card did, was blinding me to seeing that things "Wee not working." I mean, I thought if I worked well enough at my job, and lived frugally, I would just be "Okay." But the hours weren't there (Staples only highers part-time for none managers, and keeps it under 30 hours a week or so.) I just sort of figured I had to keep plugging away at it, for a promotion, or better circumstance, and it started building up. Before moving back to SC the nicest thing I had bought in Florida was a clearance floor model laptop for around 300, after using my partners for a couple of months. In hindsight, I should have talked to my partner about the living arrangement, or at least plugged through school and got prereqs done. I'm low enough income that grants should have paid for most of it. Or at least dropped Staples, since the pay and hours simply weren't liveable. But it was my first job, I held it down for seven years, it was only COVID that finally made them screw me over and I left (I now work at my moms Scrub Store, while going to school) So, I'm now in SC, living in a Trailer (Cheaper and nice then my last apartment, so no complaints other than dealing with sinking floors we need to repair) getting that paid off, it's 233 a month, paying for electric and internet with roomies. I've really tried to lower my costs even further, with an end goal of a better job, and getting it ALL dealt with. But It's still a balance of 14,000 on my Wells Fargo Credit Card, and I work as much as I can while still being able to go to classes, it's about 25 hours a week. We've already made some discussion about using my 529 plan money into paying for my bills, which it is allowed to do, thus they wouldn't be overwhelming me as much, and the money I'm working for can be used to really deal with this card more actively. But the interest is still decently high, and the minimum payment has raised, and we've been talking about debt consolidation, talking to the bank directly, and trying to negotiate a better rate. I mean I would LIKE to preserve my credit, I've never had a late bill or missed a payment at least, but it's still a lot, and I want to chip away and deal with it as effectively as possible. Any financial advice is appreciated, I feel like I've tightened my belt opperately, but I'm still no saint, I've grabbed a game on sale here and there. But I'm mainly looking for the best way to deal with this card, with the best balance of a low-interest rate and preserving my credit, I'm aware one will take away from the other. Honestly, even backrucpy is an option, the trailer, my car, not in my name. But that's of course the nuclear option. TL:DR I've got 14,000 sitting on one Wells Fargo credit Card, and I went to tackle that debt the most effective way I'm able. I'm a College Student for the next 3 or so years, and I manage about 25 hours at 9.5 per a week.
Whaddup Reduction community! This community and the discussions that happen within it have been so helpful and so nice during my recovery. This will be my 4th post and I’m just approaching one month post op. I learned that reading as many stories as possible was so helpful before and after the operation. I thought by sharing my story I can help someone else out there that was sharing the same anxieties or concerns or pains as I once was. So let me share, from start to finish, as detailed but concise as possible. The Lead up: I was always tiny. My whole life I heard how skinny I was. I was just a child, of course I was skinny. Entering college I was an A/B cup, size 0 in jeans, small/extra small in t shirts. I stopped growing in height when I was 17. I stopped at 5’4”. I was around 100 lbs then. In college, I started packing on the pounds. Smoking weed and late night cravings for Vanilla Coke, Milkshakes and fried chicken sandwiches didn’t help. The weight mostly went to my legs, hips and face. I didn’t realize it was affecting my boobs at all. I didn’t pay attention. Over the years I fluctuated between 120-135lbs. It wasn’t unusual. By the time I graduated college, I was 150s. Again, I didn’t realize that my boobs were growing with me. At this time (though not properly measured), I thought I was a C/small D. After college I began working retail where I shed a few pounds, but realized that my boobs were sagging, my areola was getting bigger, and I couldn’t walk briskly without them bouncing up and down. When I finally got a job as a teacher, I packed the pounds back on, and a lot of it went straight to my boobs. Over the next 2 years, I was considered “overweight” according to BMI as I was now 160, and my tits were measured at a DDD/F. My back was beginning to hurt, and my posture was seriously declining. I developed a bulge in my thoracic spine, and started having serious periformis and sciatic nerve pain. I’m only 24 at this point. I couldn’t wear t shirts anymore, and every time I did, creepy men and judgmental women stared at me. I mourned the loss of my adolescent body. I tried dieting, exercise, etc. it wasn’t helping my breasts look better. No type of bra made my body look the way it was meant to. I had enough one day when I wore an outfit that I loved in my C cup breasts, but no longer looked right in my F cup breasts. For the record, I identify as a woman but I prefer not to present super feminine. I will never wear a dress or high heels, and only wear men’s t shirts and button ups. As you can imagine, very large breasts gave me some serious gender presenting dysphoria. I didn’t want to ever even have sex anymore. It was beginning to affect my confidence in my long term relationship. I talked to my partner. She knew I was in emotional anguish over my disproportionate breasts. She supported my decision to get them smaller. The Consult: I went to see my gynecologist who referred me to an in-network plastic surgeon who she regarded as “actually the best there is.” After researching him, I found out that he was, indeed, the best. I called his office and set up an appointment. He has a couple of offices, and luckily for me I lived in between all of them and was happy to travel to any. I met this man and immediately I knew I was in the right place. He was thorough, asked me the right questions to ensure I got approved through my insurance, and told me exactly what to expect. I was in awe. He took a look at my breasts and said “yep this is going to change your life.” I asked him to give me his medical opinion about them, any observations or annotations. He said “well, your areola is way too big for you, but we’ll fix that. You’re sagging drastically and this isn’t good for your spine or balance. I believe proceeding with surgery is right for you.” Honestly, I trusted him. I didn’t feel like he was selling it to me. I felt like he was being honest and well intentioned. I usually have a good first instinct about people. His office manager began the process of contacting my insurance company (EMPIRE BCBS) for me. I didn’t need any type of previous medical records at all to get covered. About 3 days later, both the office manager and the insurance company sent me the letter saying I was approved. I called insurance company to find out exactly what that meant (any hidden costs?). It was 100% covered. Not even a copay. I was in disbelief of how extremely fortunate I was in this entire situation. The office manager originally set the date for 4 months away, but a few days later she asked me if I wanted to do September 1st instead (which was 2 weeks away at that point). I jumped on it. The surgery prep: Long story short: I didn’t have a PCP because I’m a young 20s kid that just didn’t have time or energy to have “a doctor” that I just go to for check ups, so I had to find one quickly to give me medical clearance. I won’t get into details because it’s not important to the story but I found a quack near where I live and he made me so anxious. Whatever. I got the clearance. I had a pre-op appointment at my surgeons office where the nurses explained to me exactly what I needed to do before surgery (stop smoking—weed and otherwise—, don’t drink, stop taking vitamins and NSAIDs, no green tea), what types of bras I should get for the post op appointment, and what type of pain and discomfort I should expect. They wrote me a script there for hydrocodone and an anti biotic so I didn’t have to worry about it after surgery. Both drugs combined cost me .60 cents. Incredible. Doctor explained to me what the anchor incision method was and drew a (very detailed and impressive) picture of what will happen to my boobies. Then I had presurgical testing done a day later and that was also fine. I had to get a covid test two days before surgery. Also fine and no biggie. I started to get anxious. I had never had a surgery of any kind ever in my whole life. Never been under. I’ve broken many bones and wasn’t afraid of pains but I was afraid of the hospital, being alone (because of COVID restrictions), and the anesthesia. Even though it was outpatient and I wouldn’t have been alone all night, being alone before and after was a scary thought. The Surgery: Surgery was scheduled for 12:30 September 1st. My loving partner drove me to the hospital. I got to the empty hospital early and waited, signed a bunch of papers, got prepped for surgery, whatever. I, unfortunately, had my period on its worst day during this surgery. The hospital gave me a terrible wingless pad and surgical underwear. This kinda grossed me out since I was going to be catheterized, but I’m sure the nurses have seen worse things. I was very nervous. I met with the anesthesiologist who asked me how I was doing. I told him I was anxious. He said he’d give me some Valium (which didn’t happen until I was literally on the operation table lol). I met with my surgeon and he drew me up with the surgical marker. He made great conversation with me and assured me I was in good hands. I trusted him. Ok. Now is the time. It’s like 2pm now. They walked me into the operating room. They got me on the table. There were so many people in there. Nurses, nurse anesthetist, my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, nurses assistants, and probably students/interns. They stuck the IV in my left hand. The nurse told me to think of a happy place, so I thought about a rock that my partner and I laid in the Iao Valley in Maui. Before I knew it, I was waking up in the post-op bed in the hospital. A very handsome nurse asked me how I was doing. I fumbled my words but managed to say “thirsty.” I didn’t know it at the time, but it was 6:30pm I drank some water and passed out again. I woke up, fell back asleep, woke up, fell back asleep. I did this a bunch of times. I felt so messed up from the drugs. I think they moved me to a different bed. I remember getting on a wheelchair and nodding off. I honestly can’t remember. I was wearing the post-surgical Velcro bra stuffed with gauze like the nurses at the PS office told me I would. The bra was already leaked through by blood and puss but I was told I was not allowed to touch it, take it off, or change the gauze for a week until my post op appointment. I was really hungry. At this point I hadn’t eaten or drank much in 24 hours. A nurse gave me jello and graham crackers. I immediately threw up both things. A nurse walked me to the bathroom. I was hunched over because my boobs were so sore and they felt so heavy and swollen, but I couldn’t feel much except that I knew they were smaller. I couldn’t pee because of how the catheter makes you feel when it’s inside you and then when it comes out. It makes your bladder feel funny. However, I remember being hit with an awful smell: period blood, urine, and hospital smell (sorry just trying to be thorough). I forgot I had my period, and I was bleeding through because the pad was all messed up. Finally the nurses called my partner and said she can come pick me up, I was being discharged. While on her way, I started throwing up again. They told me to wait a while before getting in the car with my partner. It wasn’t until 10:30pm that I left the hospital. The ride home was interesting. I was loopy as fuck and was directing my partner (who usually doesn’t drive much) home from the hospital because I didn’t like the way the GPS wanted her to go. She humored me and went the way I was suggesting. I felt like I was drunk. It was funny. She said I sounded really whiny and pathetic and had never heard my voice sound that way in our 7 years together. The Recovery: The night of: We got home and set up my bed with multiple pillows propped up. On my bedside table we had: water, probiotics, anti biotics, the hydrocodone, Tylenol (in case I rejected the hydro). She got a garbage bin lined with a plastic bag for me in case I threw up (which I did a couple of times). I took one of the hydros and went to sleep for a bit. Throughout the night I woke up and then nodded back into sleep. I was not used to sleeping propped up and my neck was bothering me, as well as my lower back, even with a thick pillow under my legs. Day one: Taking the narcotics really messed me up. My vision was funky, my thought processes were weird, I was hungry but nauseous simultaneously, and couldn’t produce a bowel movement. I still had a hard time peeing and still smelled funky down there. I already hated the bra stuffed with gauze. It was uncomfortable and itchy. My breasts just felt so heavy. I was hunched over like a caveman. I couldn’t straighten out, it felt weird to do so. Still can’t pee. Drinking lots of water. Watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills because I can’t mentally focus on a story line that requires thought. Partner made me low sodium soup. Threw it up promptly. Slept OK that night because I was tired. Day two: Swollen, heavy, zonked out. Basically repeated day one, but started to pee more, and eat little things. Threw up only once. Day three: Swelling went down a bit and I got more feeling. I took some of the unnecessary gauze out that had no blood on it because my chest was hot and sweaty. I couldn’t sleep on this night. I watched the sun come up. I tried washing my hair this day, but it was a struggle and not worth the fight. No one but my partner was seeing me anyway. I did stink though. God bless her for putting up with that. She basically gave me a sponge bath. It was not romantic but somehow very intimate lol Day four: Still no bowel movement, but starting to eat more. I stopped taking the narcotic because i honestly was not liking how it felt. I was nauseous all the time and starting to worry that I was too weak. I didn’t sleep on this night either, and broke down crying from discomfort. Again, I was not in pain, but the bra stuffed with gauze was getting to me. There was gauze at the bottom where my under boob incisions were that got hardened and were irritating my incisions—and me. I called the office and they told me to leave it alone. Also, I developed a strange numbness in my arm and hand. Why?? Day five: I’m mad. I still haven’t shit. My stomach hurts and I’ve taken the laxatives and nothing is helping. The numbess in my arm was present all night and I couldn’t sleep... again. I told my partner to take me to the ER. I didn’t want to have a blood clot. I went to the ER at the same hospital I had the surgery at. I had both a resident and an attending check me out and they really took their time with me. It was refreshing. They said basically they don’t know what it is, but it’s probably a phlebitis (inflammation of the vein) from the IV and tenderness because the blood pressure cuff was too tight on my arm for a 4 hour surgery. The phlebitis could go away on its own. If it was a blood clot, it would be a thrombophlebitis, which has virtually no risk of being a clot that would travel to my heart, and also could go away on its own. It could be helped with blood thinners, but my PS ordered me to stay away from blood thinners until one month after surgery. They sent me home, told me to ice it, and try to relax. The numbness faded in and out a couple of times. Throughout the day. I slept pretty OK on this night. Day six: The next day the numbness was gone, but the veins where it hurt were still hardened and sore to the touch. I finally had a BM. I weighed myself. I lost 10 entire pounds, in 6 days. I also developed multiple swollen lymph nodes in my armpits. Every day they got bigger and more painful. I only had one more day to wear this horrible surgical bra with gauze. It was killing me. A lot of my nausea stemmed from feeling confined up there and the constipation. I finally ate a real meal. I just wanted to shower. Day seven: Post op appointment day: I get to the office with my bras that they told me to get (They recommended BALI brand or Genie Bra—told me to get multiple sizes). A nurse took my bra off and took all the gauze out, as well as the surgical tape. Holy shit. The feeling was glorious. I saw my titties for the first time. They were yellow and the black stitches around my areola creeped me out, but my god it was perfect anyway. I saw all the incisions of the anchor. They went around to just about 5 inches under my armpit. I was so relieved. She put me in one of my new bras, and the shape was astounding. Dr. came in to check me out and make sure I didn’t have any infections or anything. I looked good. He gave me the OK to finally shower facing away from the shower head and not to wash the incisions. and, if I could get someone to drive me, I could go to work (I teach so at this point, school just started. I took the first two days off where we didn’t meet with students). I went home, had a glorious shower, and showed my boobs to my partner. She was so impressed and fascinated. She did admit though, that seeing the stitches and the yellow bruising made her stomach woozy but I absolutely do not blame her because I had exactly the same reaction. I still wasn’t sleeping great. I started to lower my pillows because I realized I wasn’t getting optimal blood flow to my head when I was sleeping upright. I’m also just not used to wearing a bra in bed. Day nine: I return to work! But... as I was putting a shoe on, I felt a “pop” in my left under boob incision. I immediately panicked. For the rest of the day I felt a strange sensation, like a tension or pulling (I posted about this elsewhere. “Strange Sensation”). We’re teaching and planning on computers in the school so I wasn’t doing anything strenuous to my body. Day ten: No more popping sensation but the pulling feeling is still there. Still not sleeping great. Honestly can’t concentrate. Every subsequent day after that blends together. Showering is hard but manageable, can’t reach above my head, walking slowly to avoid jiggling the ladies. I feel better and better every day, and swelling is reduced every day. On day 16 I got my black areola stitches removed. I’m 3 weeks post op now and my left breast still feels kinda funny. My doctor said it’s normal because of tension from the internal stitches and gravity pulling my boobies down. The vein in my head from the phlebitis actually still does hurt to the touch and is still “chord like” as they describe it. It won’t kill me but it is slightly annoying. The armpit lymph nodes are also almost gone. I can feel them under the skin but they’re not swollen or painful. I wear a bra basically all the time, but my boobs are so sensitive that I do take it off for a couple of hours every night. I started sleeping on my right side. My left side is more uncomfortable. Walking is easier now and I’m driving pretty comfortably. I’m happy with how they’re healing, and I can’t wait to be completely healed. My coworkers and friends keep telling me how great I look. I can finally wear t shirts again. Fitted t shirts!! I feel more comfortable with my gender presentation. My partner is still in love with my body (no doubt she wouldn’t be). I went from an F to a B/small C. I may post before and after pics one day soon. I hope this story helps someone who is considering this surgery. I spent hours on this forum just reading other people’s stories to feel better. This is a great community. Thank you everyone! Enjoy this novel!
2020.09.26 16:31 JohnFromSteam[Netflix's Dragon's Dogma] Critique from a fan [first half without spoilers]
Hey everyone! Hope everyone is doing well and has a great day today :) I made this critique on the Dragon's Dogma subreddit but also decided to submit here too. I would love to hear some feedback from everyone! Also I had a difficult time figuring how to do spoilers right for the later half of the post due to this subreddit's policy, so that is why the title/flair is spoilers, but only the later half of it is. I'm sure a good bit of you have heard of the anime adaptation of Dragon's Dogma and might wonder if you should or should not watch it. I understand the reasoning, especially if you hear from other fans of the game. I have played since around release of the game on PS3, multiple playthroughs throughout the years, and played quite a bit of Dragon's Dogma Online even (bring her back ; __ ;). I'm going to critique the anime and give my views of it. Mostly because I love video games and stories. I'll give a light version with no spoilers and a deeper dive with spoilers, so this is gonna be a long post. TL;DR: It's worth a watch if you have finished the game or if you are never going to play the game with 3-4ish hours on hand. It's a 6.5/10 anime at best and while it is different from the game in some parts, it is better to see it from what it could be and as a standalone adaptation. Dragon's Dogma [show] is a netflix anime adaptation of the video game, Dragon's Dogma. Anyone who has played the game can notice the emphasis on adaptation, as the anime might have a lot of similarities to the video game, it definitely is it's own adaptation of the game. The story takes place in the Dragon's Dogma world and keeps it's mythical creatures (and some new ones) alongside iconic attacks/spells/actions that made the game shine it's Shadow of the Colossus/Monster Hunter parents. However, these alongside certain characters that resemble in-game characters, are more of a side appreciation rather than the emphasis. Note the resemblance rather than actual characters from the game into the anime. A massive difference between the series and the game is the more mature-oriented story. The series changes the light M rating from the game to a more darker themed, nudity/sex and gore filled anime version. The darker theme is negotiable to even be dark, as it seems to be intentionally put for almost every episode. The reasoning behind this probably aligns with how they wanted to reimagine the story. While there are a few key important similarities between the stories, the anime wants to deviate and emphasize key points of humanity that the game did not do. There are 7 episodes with a rushed sense of the word "story" (and quotes for obvious reasonings, these aren't literal and moreso meant for ideas/theroies/metaphors). I did not feel that the anime gave a lot of foundation for the characters unless they decide to make more seasons. 7 episodes is not enough to build characters going through a tremendous amount of the story/battles. There simply was not enough time to put in character building/story building. This ends up feeling like a rushed series, especially once you notice that time isn't necessarily accounted for each episode, wondering how long and what route is even being taken. If we could ask the directors what they were given as leeway, maybe then there can be excuses for the shortcomings of an already established story when regarding the game. Nevertheless, visually, while CG, it is very well done. There were some points where it dragged a little longer than it should've for some scenes, in my opinion, but it still had good shot direction. English is the original audio version for this anime and that is what I listened to it on, though perhaps part of me thinks it might have been better still for the Japanese dub. But that might just be a normal anime preference considering the original Japanese anime directors have a clearer insight and get voice actors to portray the story as they intended it to be. This is why I was unsure of which to listen to. Even with the English original audio, it felt off at times and did not have enough emotion. Which is a little funny considering the anime wants to point out seriousness and emotion. Overall, the story has ups and downs, and while it was short and intentionally being emotional, it did feel a bit forced. Emotions and feelings are supposed to be of a consequence of something naturally, while lots of parts of the story did not feel like natural storytelling. However, while it is short, it is something worth to watch if you have played the game or never will play the game. It's 3-4ish hours and a 6.5/10 at best from my point of view. It is by far not the best anime, but also not the worst. This adaptation has a darker theme and an interesting take on one of the main points of the story, which some who have played the game will realize. I enjoyed it, teared up a few times, and overall enjoyed watching it and wishing there was more. There is a lot of foundation of what can be and what they can do, but unless this gets a tremendous amount of support, I think their vision of a darker themed Dragon's Dogma won't be alive. It can be done right, but it has to be more built than what we got as the final product. Now for a dissection of the issues with the story. Spoilers included of both the anime and the game!
A big gripe I have with the series is the story off the bat. Ethan losing his romantic partner and his adopted kid is a big blow, but it is far different from that of what it should have been. The game does this beautifully, as while it kills your "friends" at the beginning (except plot armor Quina), the connections are the ones you have along the way and while the story for the game is not the best (Capcom doesn't have the best storytellers), it has a phenomenal choice at the end. To give up your life for the one you love the most (the person you have the most affection with, gave gifts/did quests for etc.) or risk that beloved's life and fight the dragon. Ethan built no romantic connection or really any connection aside from Hannah and the thought of his wife. Still, he didn't even build enough relation with Hannah to see some sort of bond between them. I do understand that the whole point is to emphasize the loss of humanity through each novel sin that is pointed out in each episode, but it felt forced. I would have loved to see a span of 3-4 seasons of building these characters up, seeing iconic locations with iconic creatures sparsed out, and have these "sins" portray as a background element that chips away at the protagonist. This would have a lot of connection building from the viewer to the character. Imagining a stronger building of these characters, friends, bonds, even skill (with more losses than the anime gives, both in battle and in loved ones). I feel that would be a much stronger point to emphasize the idea of emotion, humanity, loss, and an overall mature theme. Also, a thought to expand on the rage/berserk mechanic that Ethan was using. Perhaps as a deeper link to losing his humanity and a proper explanation through someone like the dragonforged if they built the world out. I would have loved to see more explanation for that mechanic, cause it just came out of nowhere. To expand upon the theme, it is a phenomenal choice to make it mature. Not many medieval fantasies have such a theme. The only one I can remember that is remotely similar is the Witcher, but even though it is mature, it doesn't have as enough deep emotional maturity as the Dragon's Dogma show wants and [partially] has. I do enjoy the idea of this new theme, mostly because it can expand upon a key position that the story wants to make: the idea of humanity. Looking back on the game, the Arisen losing his heart is not much of an issue, they still do whatever they want and they make their own choices. The series, at least from my interpretation, wants to show not only the chipping of the character's "humanity", but also the Arisen truly becoming "heartless". Ethan's actions at the beginning shows this in a poetic sense. He is still amplified from his good life that he had with Olivia and her last message of being just and good. This shows even more when Hannah, who is a pawn with no obvious emotions, starts to develop a sense of "humanity". But as she develops more into a human, the opposite goes for Ethan. He gains the doubts and "heartless" words of a younger Hannah as he witnesses the corruption, or sins from the people he helps. His humanity weakens and he turns into nothing more than a person filled with vengeance, which was the catalyst for continuing the curse. Perhaps it really is the case of losing his heart that makes Ethan become as heartless as he truly, physically is. It gives a lot more impact to the curse of the Arisen rather than just a choice of one's beloved, as it was in the game. I think it fits really well with the show but it doesn't have a lot of foundation to justify his actions. Yes, people aren't the best, but it was just a few bad interactions that made him far too heartless than what he should really be. He didn't even build any bonds with anyone (aside from his wife at the beginning) and others hurting it to warrant his disdain for humanity. I could see this story being pulled off only if there was more time spent on building relationships and the sins being background plots that either some friends pull through either deceit or backstabbing, relationships ended or friends killed or murdered, and all of this ultimately chipping the just and honorable man. It has to be throughout a spacious amount of time however. His downfall was far too fast for what the story has given us. And while it was only 7 episodes, it would have been a better design idea to build the characters and the world. If need be, leave it on a cliffhanger. Perhaps on an act, like on parts of the game? This would be a better adaptation, personally, than just the forced seven deadly sins that were produced. Not only that, but I feel that the sins, aside from maybe the Sloth and the Gluttony, were just very off. Mostly due to the endings of some. A good example is Greed, where Balthazar gets super twisted, which didn't even show visually aside from a little expression change when he picked up the coin-eye of the Lich. He changed way too fast and while I see the link was the coin, there was no visual pickup, and when they died, I didn't even care that much. The reasoning was the lack of character building. I didn't get to see a vast character for them or really, any of the characters. The only one who had the most charactehumanity, funnily enough was Hannah. Overall I enjoyed the series, but I really wanted it to be more. More building of the world and characters, more bonds being made between characters. Giving a big scale and progression of Ethan starting from barely being able to fight goblins, losing battles, winning some, and progressing as a character. From just a peasant hunter to an Arisen not only in title, but skill as well. Characters he trusted and formed friendships with use parts of the sins that they wanted to portray and infighting occurs. Loss is needed for mature stories, otherwise it will just be the unstoppable hero. Perhaps forming a bond with Hannah through seasons, the dragon makes her the sacrifice, ends her life, he goes out for revenge in the end, and that is what ends him. That would be far more worthy to be considered an adaptation for the game I thoroughly enjoyed. Though I hope that the ill-response most have given about the anime doesn't dissuade the directors of (hopefully) Dragon's Dogma 2. Seeing a darker theme emphasizing character building, story, humanity, "heart", would be a good boon for Capcom considering story is really pivotal. I hope you enjoyed my take on the series and while it is just my review/criticism, I am going to leave it at that. I enjoyed it and I would love to see what y'all had to think of it too! Also let's just hope Dragon's Dogma 2 comes out for the love of god x_x
2020.09.26 15:01 JohnFromSteamA fan's critique of the anime [With/Without Spoilers]
Hey everyone! Hope everyone is doing well and has a great day today :) I'm sure a good bit of you have heard of the anime adaptation of Dragon's Dogma and might wonder if you should or should not watch it. I understand the reasoning, especially if you hear from other fans of the game. I have played since around release of the game on PS3, multiple playthroughs throughout the years, and played quite a bit of Dragon's Dogma Online even (bring her back ; __ ;). I'm going to critique the anime and give my views of it. Mostly because I love video games and stories. I'll give a light version with no spoilers and a deeper dive with spoilers, so this is gonna be a long post. TL;DR: It's worth a watch if you have finished the game or if you are never going to play the game with 3-4ish hours on hand. It's a 6.5/10 anime at best and while it is different from the game in some parts, it is better to see it from what it could be and as a standalone adaptation. Dragon's Dogma [show] is a netflix anime adaptation of the video game, Dragon's Dogma. Anyone who has played the game can notice the emphasis on adaptation, as the anime might have a lot of similarities to the video game, it definitely is it's own adaptation of the game. The story takes place in the Dragon's Dogma world and keeps it's mythical creatures (and some new ones) alongside iconic attacks/spells/actions that made the game shine it's Shadow of the Colossus/Monster Hunter parents. However, these alongside certain characters that resemble in-game characters, are more of a side appreciation rather than the emphasis. Note the resemblance rather than actual characters from the game into the anime. A massive difference between the series and the game is the more mature-oriented story. The series changes the light M rating from the game to a more darker themed, nudity/sex and gore filled anime version. The darker theme is negotiable to even be dark, as it seems to be intentionally put for almost every episode. The reasoning behind this probably aligns with how they wanted to reimagine the story. While there are a few key important similarities between the stories, the anime wants to deviate and emphasize key points of humanity that the game did not do. There are 7 episodes with a rushed sense of the word "story" (and quotes for obvious reasonings, these aren't literal and moreso meant for ideas/theroies/metaphors). I did not feel that the anime gave a lot of foundation for the characters unless they decide to make more seasons. 7 episodes is not enough to build characters going through a tremendous amount of the story/battles. There simply was not enough time to put in character building/story building. This ends up feeling like a rushed series, especially once you notice that time isn't necessarily accounted for each episode, wondering how long and what route is even being taken. If we could ask the directors what they were given as leeway, maybe then there can be excuses for the shortcomings of an already established story when regarding the game. Nevertheless, visually, while CG, it is very well done. There were some points where it dragged a little longer than it should've for some scenes, in my opinion, but it still had good shot direction. English is the original audio version for this anime and that is what I listened to it on, though perhaps part of me thinks it might have been better still for the Japanese dub. But that might just be a normal anime preference considering the original Japanese anime directors have a clearer insight and get voice actors to portray the story as they intended it to be. This is why I was unsure of which to listen to. Even with the English original audio, it felt off at times and did not have enough emotion. Which is a little funny considering the anime wants to point out seriousness and emotion. Overall, the story has ups and downs, and while it was short and intentionally being emotional, it did feel a bit forced. Emotions and feelings are supposed to be of a consequence of something naturally, while lots of parts of the story did not feel like natural storytelling. However, while it is short, it is something worth to watch if you have played the game or never will play the game. It's 3-4ish hours and a 6.5/10 at best from my point of view. It is by far not the best anime, but also not the worst. This adaptation has a darker theme and an interesting take on one of the main points of the story, which some who have played the game will realize. I enjoyed it, teared up a few times, and overall enjoyed watching it and wishing there was more. There is a lot of foundation of what can be and what they can do, but unless this gets a tremendous amount of support, I think their vision of a darker themed Dragon's Dogma won't be alive. It can be done right, but it has to be more built than what we got as the final product. Now for a dissection of the issues with the story. Spoilers included of both the anime and the game! Click on the section below to see it. A big gripe I have with the series is the story off the bat. Ethan losing his romantic partner and his adopted kid is a big blow, but it is far different from that of what it should have been. The game does this beautifully, as while it kills your "friends" at the beginning (except plot armor Quina), the connections are the ones you have along the way and while the story for the game is not the best (Capcom doesn't have the best storytellers), it has a phenomenal choice at the end. To give up your life for the one you love the most (the person you have the most affection with, gave gifts/did quests for etc.) or risk that beloved's life and fight the dragon. Ethan built no romantic connection or really any connection aside from Hannah and the thought of his wife. Still, he didn't even build enough relation with Hannah to see some sort of bond between them. I do understand that the whole point is to emphasize the loss of humanity through each novel sin that is pointed out in each episode, but it felt forced. I would have loved to see a span of 3-4 seasons of building these characters up, seeing iconic locations with iconic creatures sparsed out, and have these "sins" portray as a background element that chips away at the protagonist. This would have a lot of connection building from the viewer to the character. Imagining a stronger building of these characters, friends, bonds, even skill (with more losses than the anime gives, both in battle and in loved ones). I feel that would be a much stronger point to emphasize the idea of emotion, humanity, loss, and an overall mature theme. Also, a thought to expand on the rage/berserk mechanic that Ethan was using. Perhaps as a deeper link to losing his humanity and a proper explanation through someone like the dragonforged if they built the world out. I would have loved to see more explanation for that mechanic, cause it just came out of nowhere. To expand upon the theme, it is a phenomenal choice to make it mature. Not many medieval fantasies have such a theme. The only one I can remember that is remotely similar is the Witcher, but even though it is mature, it doesn't have as enough deep emotional maturity as the Dragon's Dogma show wants and [partially] has. I do enjoy the idea of this new theme, mostly because it can expand upon a key position that the story wants to make: the idea of humanity. Looking back on the game, the Arisen losing his heart is not much of an issue, they still do whatever they want and they make their own choices. The series, at least from my interpretation, wants to show not only the chipping of the character's "humanity", but also the Arisen truly becoming "heartless". Ethan's actions at the beginning shows this in a poetic sense. He is still amplified from his good life that he had with Olivia and her last message of being just and good. This shows even more when Hannah, who is a pawn with no obvious emotions, starts to develop a sense of "humanity". But as she develops more into a human, the opposite goes for Ethan. He gains the doubts and "heartless" words of a younger Hannah as he witnesses the corruption, or sins from the people he helps. His humanity weakens and he turns into nothing more than a person filled with vengeance, which was the catalyst for continuing the curse. Perhaps it really is the case of losing his heart that makes Ethan become as heartless as he truly, physically is. It gives a lot more impact to the curse of the Arisen rather than just a choice of one's beloved, as it was in the game. I think it fits really well with the show but it doesn't have a lot of foundation to justify his actions. Yes, people aren't the best, but it was just a few bad interactions that made him far too heartless than what he should really be. He didn't even build any bonds with anyone (aside from his wife at the beginning) and others hurting it to warrant his disdain for humanity. I could see this story being pulled off only if there was more time spent on building relationships and the sins being background plots that either some friends pull through either deceit or backstabbing, relationships ended or friends killed or murdered, and all of this ultimately chipping the just and honorable man. It has to be throughout a spacious amount of time however. His downfall was far too fast for what the story has given us. And while it was only 7 episodes, it would have been a better design idea to build the characters and the world. If need be, leave it on a cliffhanger. Perhaps on an act, like on parts of the game? This would be a better adaptation, personally, than just the forced seven deadly sins that were produced. Not only that, but I feel that the sins, aside from maybe the Sloth and the Gluttony, were just very off. Mostly due to the endings of some. A good example is Greed, where Balthazar gets super twisted, which didn't even show visually aside from a little expression change when he picked up the coin-eye of the Lich. He changed way too fast and while I see the link was the coin, there was no visual pickup, and when they died, I didn't even care that much. The reasoning was the lack of character building. I didn't get to see a vast character for them or really, any of the characters. The only one who had the most charactehumanity, funnily enough was Hannah. Overall I enjoyed the series, but I really wanted it to be more. More building of the world and characters, more bonds being made between characters. Giving a big scale and progression of Ethan starting from barely being able to fight goblins, losing battles, winning some, and progressing as a character. From just a peasant hunter to an Arisen not only in title, but skill as well. Characters he trusted and formed friendships with use parts of the sins that they wanted to portray and infighting occurs. Loss is needed for mature stories, otherwise it will just be the unstoppable hero. Perhaps forming a bond with Hannah through seasons, the dragon makes her the sacrifice, ends her life, he goes out for revenge in the end, and that is what ends him. That would be far more worthy to be considered an adaptation for the game I thoroughly enjoyed. Though I hope that the ill-response most have given about the anime doesn't dissuade the directors of (hopefully) Dragon's Dogma 2. Seeing a darker theme emphasizing character building, story, humanity, "heart", would be a good boon for Capcom considering story is really pivotal. I hope you enjoyed my take on the series and while it is just my review/criticism, I am going to leave it at that. I enjoyed it and I would love to see what y'all had to think of it too! Also let's just hope Dragon's Dogma 2 comes out for the love of god x_x
2020.09.26 14:48 Zealousideal-Way-715I am 'new' to wlw relationships and worry that I am ignoring red flags in my girlfriend that I wouldn't in a guy.. please help
Hi, first time reddit user here! Sorry if this gets a bit long. I (22f) have been dating my girlfriend (23f) for a little over two years now. She's my first same sex partner (I'm bi) and I love her dearly - she's funny, sweet, interesting and we align in many many ways. Her family however, is not so great - they, especially her mother, are very homophobic and I have not been able to go to her house in over one and a half years. They also fight about her being gay a lot. Therefore we can only see each other at my place, which I share with two flatmates (we are both students). They are cool with it and all, but my girlfriend is used to basically having a house for herself and she has never lived with roommates or anything, so she's not too fond of the situation. That's why we have discussed me getting a flat more or less alone and her moving in halfway, while paying part of the rent. At the same time she thinks renting is a waste of money and we should just wait until her parents give her the house and move back to their home country. Basically she wants us to either live in her families home in a couple of years (which I am not too keen on, living somewhere such horrible people called their home) or wait until we make enough money to buy a house together, maybe rent in between. Either way our current situation would stay the same for at least another 2-4 years, until we both have proper jobs. I am working on my bachelor's degree and so is she, but in my field of work (microbiology) I will at least need a master's - even though I already work part-time in my field (for now even 4 days a week mo-th). She works on Saturdays in a merch shop which has also led to a bit of conflict, since we now only have the Sundays where we can see each other. Now to my actual point: I moved a 7h train ride away from home after graduating at 18 so that I could study and be independent (I receive student aid and all that) and I always considered independence an important characteristic in my partners as well. My girlfriend already lives in this city, so moving away to study doesn't make sense for her and she wouldn't want to give up her comfort at home to rent a tiny student's apartment for the little bit of aid she would get (her parents make a decent amount but wouldn't support her when moving out - oh they also have a flat, but have been saying she can have it one day for the past seven years). She has also expressed no interest in ever living alone. It feels to me like she still lives the life of a teenager and I don't know if that's what I want - if she were a guy I would immediately see red upon the wish of moving from home right into the arms of a girlfriend. Is it wrong that I consider breaking up with her over this, even though she is great? I just don't know if i can keep investing into this relationship emotionally when the future she wants is in some ways so not what I want...
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AN ACT to decriminalize victimless crime as it pertains to moral law, and affirm the rights of LGBT persons in the Commonwealth
WHEREAS, prisons have become overcrowded in our state and elsewhere. WHEREAS, too many deeds have become chargeable as life-ending felonies, even if such deeds did not directly harm any persons. WHEREAS, it is the perspective of the Assembly that the Commonwealth should not harshly punish moral crimes committed among consenting adults. WHEREAS, significant portions of the Commonwealth's legislation on marriage assume heterosexuality and cisgendered partners, even though others of alternative disposition may lawfully marry in the Commonwealth. Therefore, THE PEOPLE OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF CHESAPEAKE, REPRESENTED IN ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
Section I: Short Title
(a) This Act may be entitled the "Decriminalize Consentual Sex Act."
If any married person,[ being married, shall,] during the life of [the husband or wife] such person's spouse, [marry] marries another person in [this] the Commonwealth, or, if the marriage with such other person [take place out] takes place outside of the Commonwealth[, shall thereafter cohabit with such other person] and the persons cohabitate in [this] the Commonwealth, [he or she shall be] that person is guilty of a [Class 4 felony] Class 3 misdemeanor. If the spouse of such married person is not aware of or otherwise does not consent to such attempt at a secondary marriage, then that person is instead guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Venue for a violation of this section may be in the county or city where the subsequent marriage occurred or where the parties to the subsequent marriage cohabited.
Sections 18.2-362 and 18.2-363 shall not extend to a person whose [husband or wife] spouse shall have been continuously absent from such person for [seven] five years next before marriage of such person to another, and shall not have been known by such person to be living within that time; nor to a person who can show that the second marriage was contracted in good faith under a reasonable belief that the former consort was dead; nor to a person who shall, at the time of the subsequent marriage, have been divorced from the bond of the former marriage; nor to a person whose former marriage was void.
The word "obscene" where it appears in this article shall mean that which, considered as a whole, has as its dominant theme or purpose an explicit depiction or portrayal of [appeal to the prurient interest in] sex or sexual activity which is criminal or otherwise unlawful within the Commonwealth,[, that is, a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, excretory functions or products thereof or sadomasochistic abuse, and which goes substantially beyond customary limits of candor in description or representation of such matters] and which, taken as a whole, does not have serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
A. Any person who commits [adultery or fornication] engages in sexual intercourse with any person whom [he or she] that person is forbidden by law to marry [shall be] is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor except as provided by subsection B. Any person who is guilty of such misdemeanor, as described above, may still be charged for rape done in the same action, as defined in §18.2-61 of this Code. B. Any person who [commits adultery or fornication with his daughter or granddaughter, or with her son or grandson, or her father or his mother, shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony. However, if a parent or grandparent commits adultery or fornication] engages in sexual intercourse with [his or her child or grandchild] a lineal descendant, and such [child or grandchild] lineal descendant is at least thirteen years of age but less than eighteen years of age at the time of the offense, [such parent or grandparent shall be] is guilty of a Class 3 felony. C. For the purposes of this section, parent includes step-parent, grandparent includes step-grandparent, child includes a step-child, and grandchild includes a step-grandchild.
A. Any person who shall falsely utter and speak, or falsely write and publish, with malicious intent,[of and concerning any female of chaste character, any words derogatory of such female's character for virtue and chastity, or imputing to such female person acts not virtuous and chaste, or who shall falsely utter and speak, or falsely write and publish, of and concerning another person,]any words which from their usual construction and common acceptation are construed as insults and tend to violence and breach of the peace [or who shall use grossly insulting language to any female of good character or reputation, shall be] is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. B. Language of a violent or insulting nature directed towards those in public, elected office are exempt from the provisions of the above Subsection (A), provided such threats do not posit an immediate danger towards such elected officials, and that such language is not falsely and maliciously defaming of such official's character. C. The defendant shall be entitled to prove upon trial in mitigation of the punishment, the provocation which induced the libelous or slanderous words, or any other fact or circumstance tending to disprove malice, or lessen the criminality of the offense.
Section VII: Enactment
(a) If any provision of this bill shall be found unconstitutional, unenforceable, or otherwise stricken, the remainder of the bill shall remain in full force and effect. (b) This act shall come into force immediately. Authored by Aikex (D-CH-01) 1 amendment was proposed and adopted. The changes are highlighted in bold. Any votes cast 48 hours after the posting of this thread may be considered invalid at the discretion of the clerk.
2020.09.26 04:46 SimilarRequiredI am so Broody! Pls send help
It's been a rough few months, I had the worst birth seven months ago, which took 3 surgeries and 6 months to fully recover from. My partner has been undergoing chemotherapy for a rare and aggressive type of cancer (diagnosed when our son was 3 months old)... And yet despite the timing and situation being awful I'm so Broody!!! A baby is 100% not on the cards but man if I could then I would.
2020.09.26 02:27 ironbars1329 [M4F] Seattle/Kirkland - 2020 sucks but I'm hoping you can help with that
It's frightfully difficult to be funny in a post like this with nothing to bounce off of. If you could just pretend I said something funny here and laugh for me, I'd really appreciate it. Yeah, last year wasn't a good year for me either but this year is definitely worse. I've been in a relationship for six years (almost seven?) and that's ending now and I didn't even really know anything about dating before that, so that's how you know I still don't know anything now. I promise not to axe-murder you. That's probably a promise people make. And no one would ever lie to you on the internet. I like books and movies and shows. I get invested in stories when I like them and I like talking about them and introducing other people to them. I like science. I'm a naturally curious guy and I like learning stuff. I'm a software engineer. I started a new job this week and mostly what I've done so far is print things out, sign them, scan them, and email them back. Good times. I like politics. I'm a Democrat. I like reading the news and I think having an awareness about what's going on in the world is important and I like to debate stuff. It helps me to define what my own beliefs really are. I'm turning 30 in November and I'm not ready to be in my 30s. I don't have a checklist exactly about what I want to see in a partner, or in a friend, so I won't go into that. I can't tell you if I'm even looking for a partner, or a friend, or something casual. I don't really know yet. I do think you should shoot me a message. I only bite under consensual circumstances. I'm funny, I promise.
2020.09.25 23:51 China_HawkCOVID-19 Community Update
9/25/2020 Good afternoon, For the first time since the COVID-19 response started earlier this year, Lane County has increased the local alert level to high. This means there are increased cases and spread in our community, local healthcare facilities are stressed but still have some room, and most importantly, we must all take measures to limit contact and modify everyday activities to reduce exposure. The number of COVID-19 cases in Lane County has grown at an alarming rate since early September. According to Lane County Public Health, we are on an upward trajectory that could have exponential growth over the coming weeks. “This should serve as a reality check and wakeup call for people in Eugene and throughout Lane County,” Mayor Lucy Vinis said. “If we don’t recommit to drastic measures now – things like limiting our interactions with others, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, staying home when we’re sick and washing our hands – this virus could devastate our community. Our neighbors, friends and family could get sick, need to go to the hospital and in some cases – even die.” According to Lane County Public Health, social gatherings have been the biggest driver of increased cases, especially among people ages 17-28. There have been seven recent outbreaks among this age group. Some of the people at those outbreaks contacted a large number of people after contracting the virus. It is important to understand that young people can and do get the virus, and can then spread it to even more vulnerable populations without knowing it. “This is a community-driven virus and we all need to look at our own actions and behaviors, regardless of age,” Incident Commander of Eugene's response Chris Heppel said. “We don’t live in vacuums, we’re all connected in some way. We need to evaluate when and how we’re having those social interactions. If they’re not necessary at this point, it’s probably best to hold off.” Lane County Public Health is expecting this uptick to last for at least three to four weeks, longer if people don’t modify their behaviors. We urge you to please think about your actions over the coming weeks and make sure you’re practicing the four Ws:
Wear a face covering – indoors and outside when you can’t maintain 6 feet of space, it’s a statewide requirement
Watch your distance – stay 6-feet apart from those outside your household and limit your gathering size
Wash your hands – often with soap and water for 20 seconds throughout the day
Wait it out – stay home if you are sick
As flu shots become available this season, please utilize this public health tool. Preventing flu cases helps COVID-19 efforts in our community by decreasing the strain on our healthcare resources.
Answer the Call – Contact Tracing is Important to Stop the Spread
If you get a call or voicemail from a Public Health contact tracer, please answer or return the call. Contact tracing is critical to our community’s ability to continue limiting the spread of COVID-19. People who participate in contact tracing are actively helping to keep their community safe by helping public health officials track the virus. For more information from Lane County Public Health on contact tracing please visit their contact tracing webpage. The State of Oregon’s contact tracing web page also offers useful information and resources.
See a list of Community Resources for physical and mental health, food, housing, businesses, employees, schools and children, as well as information in Spanish. Also learn how you can help. Our partners have a significant amount of information available online. Please visit these resources for the most up to date information:
2020.09.25 23:09 LovetheangelshadowSplinterbark: For My Entertainment CH 11
Chapter 11: Devils, Tigers, and Secrets
Shelly was having her knee wrapped up that evening by her mother. She had lost control of her skates and had collided into the barrier wall of the rink resulting in a slight sprain in her leg. Thomas was seated uncomfortably in the Holmes’ living room as he watched. Shelly had actually caught on to the basics pretty quickly, but then decided to push herself by going faster despite Thomas trying to tell her to ease up. It did not help a couple of his buddies from the roller derby club kind of riled her up by going circles past her. With her already in a self-depreciating mood thanks to Reed, it was easy to make her try to catch up. Not being able to handle faster speeds, she crashed hard. As president of the club, he was going to have a few choice words with them next meeting. Frix grumbled and clutched his knee yelling about how much in agony he was in even though Shelly was the only one who could see and hear him. If she did not want to seem like a lunatic, she would have right then and there chastised him reminding the imp that he encouraged her to speed faster and try and beat them. He had even started calling her a few choice words when she had started to lag behind. Vivian had completed her first aid and offered Thomas a snack since it was getting late. She could even drive him and his bike home with the second company truck since it was getting dark or call his parents. “No, I’m good, Mrs. Holmes. Mom is probably on her way to work right now anyway.” “And your father?” Thomas paused and swallowed hard. This was the first time Shelly had really seen him even look crestfallen even if it was just for a flash. She did not appear to be the only one who caught his glint of discomfort at the question. “Oh. Would you at least care for something to eat before you go? Sam is cooking tonight.” “No I…I really need to get home. I got to have dinner ready for mom when she gets home. I appreciate it though. Maybe some other time.” When Thomas and his vehicle had disappeared around the bend, Shelly asked her mother an offbeat question. “Hey mom, do you know a Mrs. Altamiri?” She mentioned that the woman asked if she was the daughter of someone named Vivian. Shelly said nothing about the less than pleased attitude the woman had when she confirmed it. “Lenora Altamiri…I haven’t had personal connections with that name in almost fifteen years.” “So you know her?” “Used to be friends. Truth be told though I haven’t talked to her since her second son was born. We…had an unpleasant disagreement. Oh right, you’re classmates with her younger son right? What was his name again? Rodger. Ramses?” “It’s Reed, mom.” Shelly giggled. At the dinner table Arthur was scrolling through his phone despite Vivian telling him several times to put it away. “They just filed a missing person’s report on Nathanial Ronder. Hey, isn’t the guy a producer at the station, hon?” “He shouldn’t have even had that position after the fire incident. I’m amazed Madame Tink has been able to keep face after that”, Vivian grumbled. “I wished she lost her face that day”, Arthur snarled. Shelly asked Sam what they were talking about and Sam just shrugged. It sounded like it was something that happened long before he came to Cadric City. Arthur stood up from the table and went into the living room. When he came back, he had his old red leather-bound photo album with him. Shelly had seen the book before. Her father had a way of keeping newspaper clippings of local crimes/mysteries that interested him from a bizarre larceny spree to monster sightings in Cadric Park. She had only seen the book once or twice to memory because Vivian forbade him to do it. He opened to a page where a singular article had been pressed inside the clear sleeves. The headline read “Ronder Bailey Circus Fire Spectacular a Blaze of Death”. The largest picture was the charred interior of the Cadric Arena’s second stage. The photos underneath were less than pleasant and he turned the book away from his daughter before she got a good look. Vivian complained at this but then said there was no use dodging the question his daughter was itching to ask. “There was a fire at the last show of the Ronder Circus because one of the final acts went horribly wrong. I was there when it happened. Protestors led by Madame Tink had barged in and distracted one of the performers. The blaze nearly consumed the whole building. By the time they got the fire under control, both sections of the arena’s interiors were practically burned out.” Sam folded his arms and nodded. “I’ve seen this kind of thing happen before. These kinds of events are like throwing a stone into a still pond. The ripples have consequences.” “Consequences by eye. Madame Tink barely got a slap on the wrist. Sure Ronder went under the radar for a while…hey didn’t you have a pal who investigated the fire say that the reason the fire was as bad as it was because of safety violations?” Arthur inquired. “You mean Julian Wyrmglade? Yea I think so. But I don’t believe it ever got published publically before he retired. His notes might still be in the vault though. He used to keep copies of his notes down there.” Shelly began tapping on her chin. She was now remembering that she had this conversation with her parents before. Though this was the first time of her ever hearing the name Julian. Maybe Thomas or Mr. Blackbird knew? It still did not help unless she knew the captives could be held. Once dinner was done, Shelly excused herself to bed early under the excuse of being tired after the midterms. There was something she had to look in to later that night. The fastest way to get through to the Cadric City News building was the well-lit Feronia trail in Cadric Park. After hoping onto the light rail station near her house, Splinterbark hoped off at the Garden Station and peddled her bike hard through the well-worn trail. She was starting to be thankful for that six month public transportation pass the Valdus Academy had her mother pay. Frix still grumbled that they should have a proper vehicle for transport around this city. Well it was not like she could fly like Silver and Jinn or have a super jump like Hunter. She texted Blackbird if he knew anything about a Julian Wyrmglade or where the station would keep their archives. She didn’t expect to get a response-but with three people now kidnapped by Prism Beak and that freaky clown character- she had little time to dawdle. Useless was she? She was going to show that blonde brute just how useless she was. Wait that did not come out right in her head. Frix agreed with her. She did not need the Silver Guardian. Just the two of them could be the perfect team. Splinterbark paused for a breather just outside the stone archway that marked the entrance to the Feronia Gardens. The low stonework fence had been heavily marked off with police tape though she did not see an officer in sight. A tug of curiosity pulled her steering close to the signpost and she walked inside. The doors of the atrium were still half open and much of the mess left behind from the party was still around. Splinterbark pulled a flashlight from her belt and scanned around. Her light fell to a pile of burnt ash and confetti. She remembered this was where the clown had disappeared with Madame Tink. She knelt down and saw that the ash had stuck to a clear set of footprints. The ground around them was still sticky too. Frix hovered low to the ground and commented the dirt smelled both smoky and sweet at the same time. The dust around was a fine powder that reminded her of old brick walls she used to help her father repair. The pair then heard something clatter towards the back of the main auditorium. Alone in the dark the echoes seemed to increase in volume and Splinterbark thought she felt it against her chest. Frix muttered that they should leave while they still could. For once, her impish partner actually made a good idea. She did not have time to investigate every mysterious noise-not when she had a deadline to reach. After all, they were really only in this spot for a breather. She had to get to the news building and find those notes. She had barely turned her foot towards the door when something burst out from the back doors of the main gallery. It was large and was sliding on all fours in her direction. Something else was following the massive thing that had just glided past her. This smaller shape’s armor gleamed in the moonlight and she could see two shimmering violet eyes behind a visor. “Heya pixie!” Hunter chirped as he bounded past her to keep up with the dark creature he was chasing. The thing was trying to make it out the door until a crimson haze surrounded them and slammed them shut. The thing skidded to a halt and snarled at its pursuers. Splinterbark tried to squint to see just what it was Hunter and Jinn were fighting. In the excitement, she had dropped her flashlight and it rolled across the room. Her plan was to grab the light and maybe she could make it out the back. Frix whined that they could stay and fight this thing. “Hunter doesn’t want us to interfere with his monster stuff again, remember. And once more, we don’t have time!” Splinterbark finally had her hand on the flashlight and held it low until she could find one of the two doors that led to the employee areas. Behind her she could hear Hunter teasing the roaring beast and the sound of the flooring scratching under its numerous claws. She knew she should have run, but inquisitiveness wanted to see what they were fighting. A quick peek wouldn’t hurt. Splinterbark gingerly turned her flashlight over towards the main wooden doors. At first all she saw as something black with dark purple stripes that seem to melt and shift over its oozy black fur. Hunter, as before, was actively jumping about and antagonizing the thing as much as he could get away with before even trying to strike back himself. Jinn was just trying to keep him from getting killed as each taunt the beast gotten ever closer to the bouncing beetle. Hunter managed to slide skid around the monster as it had nearly pinned him to the wall and jerked hard on its long serpentine tail. This cased the thing to turn its head almost completely around and the face shone right into the beam of Splinterbark’s flashlight. The face was that of a tiger. Half of its face had been slashed thanks to Hunter and vicious onyx fluid was steadily dripping from the open wound on its cheek. Somehow light irritated the beast even more so than the terrible puns of the devil and it completely ignored Hunter as it bounded full force towards Splinterbark. At first the pink pixie had her bat in hand ready to smack it down but as it was almost upon her, she froze. The image of the other tiger from earlier began to burn in her mind. The memory of its hot breath on her face and watching it screech in agony as bullets riddled its body took precedent of any instinct of survival. Her whole body went numb with terror and she fell to her knees with her head covered in her hands. She let out a scream and there were a series of sudden explosions surrounding them. The main wooden doors and the two service doors burst into shards. Hunter yanked Jinn to the ground and covered her in his cape as the shards seemed to hover for a brief moment in the air before streaking across the theatre and stabbing the beast in the legs and sides. The thing just missed her as it landed just to her side and then broke though one of the glass panels to escape out into the park. Frix blinked at just what his partner had done. Had he miscalculated the extent of what magic he had left? He tried to praise Splinterbark, and yet she did not respond. She was just sitting there on her knees and her arms crossed tightly against her chest. Splinterbark was staring straight forward at the ground and muttering incoherent ramblings about tigers and trying to escape. Hunter stormed over to where she was slumped as he was picking shards out of his cape. “Hey, Pixie! I thought I made it clear for you to stay out of my way! Pixie? Splinterbark?” Splinterbark had not moved-not even the slightest hint of acknowledgement he was even there. It was as if she was stuck in place of that memory and she couldn’t break out of it. Hunter shook her by the shoulder, but not even that got a reaction. He inhaled deeply through his nose and then began to undo one of the straps on the battle gauntlet of his right hand. He was about to place his bare hand on her shoulder when Jinn gripped it and held it back. “Hunter…you promised.” “Would you rather we leave her like this?” Jinn was a bit astounded by this remark. There was no sneering, no arrogant jest, or smugness in his voice. There was genuine concern in those words-something she did not think he had been capable of especially with knowing just what he was about to do. She let go of his wrist and took a step back much to Hunter’s own bewilderment. Hunter gripped Splinterbark’s shoulder and began to inhale and exhale slowly. A dark colored smog began to outline Splinterbark’s body. It swirled and churned, becoming thicker and thicker until she was practically cocooned in it denser than a London fog. As quickly as it built up it began to creep up Hunter’s arm and became absorbed into his skin. When the smoke finally cleared from both their bodies he exhaled with satisfaction; like taking a long drink from a cool slush drink on a hot July afternoon. There was a slight smile on his face and Jinn gripped her staff tightly as she watched. Splinterbark’s once ridged body relaxed and she almost fell on her face if Hunter hadn’t caught her. Once he had gently laid her down he cupped his bare hand over his mouth as he began to make terrible gurgling noises in his throat. He hacked up several times until he vomited a black pellet onto the palm of his hand. Small bits of ooze were dripping from the corners of his mouth as he filled his lungs again with air. He started at the pellet like he had other intentions with it before thrusting his palm towards Jinn and holding it out for her to take it from him. Jinn uneasily took the pellet and shoved it in her bag to dispose of it later. “You chose not to devour her terror”, she stated as a matter of fact even if she still did not fully believe it. Hunter casually shrugged and that smug attitude plastered itself right back in his expression. “Got no reason to. And you want me to be a good little bug, don’t ya witchy-poo?” Frix had been watching silently and intently this whole time. This boy…he was a… “Where did the tiger go? Why do I suddenly feel drained?” Splinterbark uneasily stood up though she still wobbled in her stance. “Well you did blow up like three doors. Since when could you do telepathy?” Hunter interjected quickly. Splinterbark rubbed the back of her head. “Telepathy? What are you talking about? I remember the tiger coming at me and the sound of a crash, but nothing after that. The tiger! What happened to the monster?” Jinn tched and pointed at the big hole in the glass pane. “Where do you think? Thanks to you, we have extra work tonight!” Splinterbark tried to cover her shocked expression but it was futile. She cupped her head in her hands and quaked. “Oh no…oh no oh no oh no. I messed up! I screwed up again! Silver was right! I shouldn’t be doing this!” She was shaking as she called herself stupid, idiot, among other names. “Splinter!” both Frix and Hunter shouted which made her stop. Hunter had his hands on his hips as he loomed over her. “What did that blonde feather duster say to you?!” Jinn tugged on Hunter’s horns. “Hunter, we do not have time for this. We have a big cat loose in Cadric Park, in case you forgot.” “But…” “Let’s go, Hunter! We’re losing nighttime thanks to her!” Splinterbark mumbled that he should go after the beast before it caused more damage. Hunter seemed reluctant to do so, but he followed his partner though the now very open front door. Splinterbark shuffled towards her bike. She really did feel lethargic even though the night was still relatively young. She could hear the big clock from downtown chime the ninth hour in the distance. Frix reminded her that they still had a mission. How could they prove themselves if they gave up now? Splinterbark hesitated to follow his suggestion but they might as well. They were almost there anyway. Two blocks later Splinterbark and Frix were at the corner of the news studio. Frix asked her if they were going to sneak in the same way as before. She was about to confirm when Frix noted that he thought he saw a car looking much like the one he had seen her mother drive. Splinterbark confirmed with the license plate. Her mother was pulling into the parking garage underground. But why would her mother be here? Vivian rarely ever worked the night shift or responded to late night emergency stints. Her mother was not a night person. Splinterbark hurried across the street and stayed within the shadow that her mother’s pickup truck cast on the wall. Finally she saw her mother digging for her pass key for the employee door. Vivian then paused and said, “I know you’re there, Splinterbark. Pink is not exactly a stealth color.” Splinterbark stepped out sheepishly with her hook at the ready just in case her mother decided to call security or something. Vivian sighed as she pulled out her employee card. “Researching”, she asked finally. Despite still feeling a bit faint and her knee still stinging as heck, Splinterbark forced herself to stand up tall and declare that she felt there was pattern to the attacks by Prism Beak and his unnamed partner. “So, you’re not the only one. But what brings you here?” “Not everything is on the internet?” Splinterbark remarked with a joking shrug. Vivian rolled her eyes and motioned for her to follow and follow close. The two headed directly to the elevator to head down to the archives. The two were silent as the elevator descended deeper underneath the building. Splinterbark was just hoping that her mother did not recognize her at close quarters. Granted her helmet covered her entire head including her hair and her outfit was a bit padded as to not appear as demure; it still did not ease the awkwardness she was feeling right now. If her mother showed any recognition-she did a very good job as hiding it. At last after two agonizing minutes they reached their floor. The archives was housed in a cement block just barely illuminated by yellow prosperous lighting. Rows and rows of track cabinets lined the walls with a few tables and chairs in the center. The furniture looked like it might as well have been from the city’s founding how old and slightly cracked they looked. “What we’re looking for is going to be from 2006 between the months of June and August under the name of Wyrmglade. A lot of Julian’s research notes got scattered down here after he retired. Ready?” An hour had passed as the two Holmes’ looked row upon now, shoving the track shelves aside as they perused through months and years trying to find the one thing they needed. As they searched, Vivian attempted awkward small talk with the girl, but there was little she could get Splinterbark to talk about. She was starting to wonder how this was the same girl who fought against Metilla Gorilla on her own until help arrived just a few weeks ago. Then again with her employers practically painting them with the same brush as the bad guys, she couldn’t blame her. “Hey! I think I found it”, Splinterbark declared, perhaps a little too loudly. Vivian had to shush her and stared at the entry door. Thankfully almost no one really came down here in the last decade. The file Splinterbark had located was a thick folder bound with rubber bands with a stamp not too unlike the insignia she had seen at Valdus Academy. Underneath printed neatly was “Ronder Bailey Circus-Fire Incident: July 2006-Julian Wyrmglade”. They placed it on the table and the rubber bands practically dissolved in their hands as they slipped them off. Inside was a series of paper notes yellowed with age along with photographs, newspaper clippings, and plastic bags labeled “Interviews” marked in sharpie. **** They were not the only ones looking at similar information. Bruce Phyrus was sitting alone in his office with a police folder in front of him. The archives staff made it very clear in a fifteen minute monologue how irritating it had been to find something so specific. Bruce managed to placate them with the sizeable box of donuts he had promised as payment. Sierra had gone home an hour before as she could barely keep awake without slumping face first on her keyboard and snoring loudly. She had been up a good portion of last night investigating the crime scene at Feronia Gardens and even backtracked to LeBatte Industries. Her efforts were not very successful unfortunately only managing to dig up what the already knew. She hadn’t exactly been on her usual track since catching Splinterbark last night. Bruce told her she better take a good long rest first before doing anything crazy. He brought up the Tyrannosaurus Ivanka incident and she groaned that it was “only one time”. Both laughed afterwards as she left the office. Some of the records were photocopies from notes with the signature Julian Wyrmglade. He recalled working with the reporter several times in the past before he retired from Cadric News moved to Oracle City for reasons never known. It took some doing to get all the records in order. Julian never did have a logical organization system. There had been a massive fire on opening night for the Ronder Bailey Circus. Officially the report stated that it had been a stunt gone wrong. The circus company had been proved to have had inadequate fire safety precautions. 40 audience members had died in the fire while most of the circus troupe had been killed as the bulk of the fire had taken place in the second stage area. Eyewitness reports stated that someone had shouted at the peak of the stunt and several described a woman matching Madame Tink’s description. According to Julian’s notes, the show had a safety inspection before the show and had been approved by Fredrick Bringer. Julian had noted that Fredrick had an influx of income for a while suspecting bribery from the Ronder Company. Madame Tink had also been investigated by the police but neither she nor Ronder had been brought to trial for some reason. The rest of the notes was mostly speculation and what evidence had been collected was not enough for sufficient cause. **** Splinterbark pulled out some of the photos of people running out of the burning building. She recognized three of the faces in one of the snapshots. It was her mother, father, and Mrs. Altamiri. In Mrs. Altamiri’s arms was a blonde kid with burns on his back. He looked a lot like Reed, but she knew it wasn’t as this child was at least seven or eight years of age. Reed had only just turned sixteen before the beginning of the school year. She had asked Thomas on a whim one day. Perusing the rest of the images, both Vivian and Splinterbark saw Ronder far outside the building just standing there-like he was just watching. Further notes showed that the Ronder circus had been faltering for some time now dealing with the changing times and a few unpleasant rumors about Ronder himself. “Hmm I think I get why the clown guy would kidnap these people. But what would he intend to do with them? There hasn’t been any ransom and so far no dead bodies”, Splinterbark mused. She thought how Silver had not been able to locate them for three days. “Maybe in the Underground? There is still a lot of places down there not exactly charted”, Vivian offered. It was a possibility Splinterbark thought, but it could take months or even years to find them. And something did not feel right. She thought about the fine dust mixed with soot that had been stuck to her uniform. Suddenly Vivian’s phone buzzed a gong sound and a news flash appeared on her screen. She had her phone set to Cadric City’s News App that alerted her to breaking news. When she pressed the home screen a video started playing. The video was live as everyone looking at a phone, computer, or television screen tuned to the news was now looking at a red curtain with an off-screen stereo playing a brass band march. A few minutes passed before a masked clown popped up in front of the screen and twirled his cane. “Greetings, Cadric City! We interrupt your daily complaining to bring you this special news bulletin! A once in a lifetime performance. A conclusion to a story certain people would like to see buried.” The clown pulled back the curtain with Fredrick Bringer, Madame Tink, and Nathanial Ronder tied to theatre seats and bound and gagged. The clown then turned the camera back to them. “What have these people done to await such judgement? Tune in one hour, ladies and gents. Grab the popcorn because the show is really going to get fired up.” Then the curtain fell back again and a timer appeared in front counting down the minutes. Bruce had just finished watching in the break room when he heard someone talking to the chief. They were attempting to trace the signal of the broadcast right now, but it could take time. Somehow the signal was all over the place making it hard to pinpoint. Bruce dialed Sierra’s number, but did not get a response. She might have been still asleep for all he knew. Or she forgot to charge her phone again. He grabbed his keys and headed out the door. Something in the video’s background gave him an idea where he might find the clown. Splinterbark scrubbed the video several times since someone managed to upload it online. She was starting to out the pieces together and told Vivian she had to hurry. Vivian offered to call the police but then thought against it. Knowing Foxwell, the police could very well go after the super girl and not the kidnapper. Splinterbark hurried onto her bike and sped to the outer edges of downtown. Frix questioned aloud if she was going to call Reed. Splinterbark had her finger over Reed’s contact and the shoved her phone back into her pouch. They could do this without that foul tempered angel.
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