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Before the 90 Days of Our Lives, Episode 8
2020.04.14 19:19 EricaShmericaOFFBefore the 90 Days of Our Lives, Episode 8
Before the 90 Days of Our Lives, Episode 8 Prince Joffrey & Varya: With the fun Russian music playing, we open on Nipple tats in all of their glory, as Prince Joffrey is standing topless with all of the confusing confidence in the world. Varya's mother is sad to see them go off for a few days to take a sidetrip. Seeing all the sights and buildings surrounding Varyas home town reminded Joffrey that he needed to tell her about his time in prison. He admitted that he used to sell drugs years back and spent some time on Love after Lockup. Varya tells him a sad story about a cousin who passed due to a drug overdose and how she never would have picked him from the mail order catalogue if she knew he was a former drug dealer. Prince Joffrey tries hard to reassure her that he's a changed man, but she feels like she needs to process this news alone. Znippletatz. Darcy & Tom: Tom is putzing around the city feeling bad he called Darcey fat on t.v. and now everyone hates him. He called his sister to discuss the event and conveniently left out the nasty comments he made. Sister Emma tells Tom that Darcey isn't right for him, while Tom confesses he would like to see her again to smooth everything over. Really?! Then we see Darcey, crying in her hotel room (ok, at least she held out for one episode) talking about how her agent 007 turned out to be Jesse 2.0. She feels hurt, used, and duped but is still searching for love....in all the wrong place. Searching for love, with brand new faces..... BGL & Assman: The dust has settled from their big fight last week and BGL & Assman have decided to move forward with meeting his family. What trip to meet a potential mother in law would be complete without a stop at the goat market?! Assman and BGL head over to "Goats R Us" to bring Usman's mother a little something special. (I would've maybe brought dessert, not the main course). The goat market was extremely muddy and I'm sure BGL was regretting her choice of footwear, being that she was wearing her Puma slip on sandals (that shower bucket will be working overtime later!). The friendly goat salesman showed the happy couple a fine selection of merchandise to choose from. Babygirl tried to be a thoughtful daughter-in-law-to-be and wanted to make sure she chose a goat with enough meat, deciding on one that resembled a black & white cookie, who she named Barney. The goatsman had priced Barney at $115 USD, which made BGL question if she was getting the tourist price. Assman assured her this was a solid deal, as he couldn't wait to get out of the mud, and they loaded Barney into the back of a beat up station wagon as they headed back to the hotel. Another awesome feature at the Sokoto Motor Murder Motel is they have goat parking, which is super convenient. I read a few of their yelp reviews, and my favorite was: "Overall a great place to stay. Poop bucket bucket really did it's job, box spring was very comfortable, continental breakfast of spaghetti and fish was what dreams are made of, and plenty of super convenient goat parking. Two thumbs up for Sokoto Motor Murder Lodge". They hitched Barney in the yard and checked the sign to make sure it wasn't alternate side Wednesday or standing zone only, before heading inside to get ready. In preparation to go to the Sojamom ball BGL's fairy godmother brought her a beautiful blue gown to wear with a matching hair scarf. (She asked if it came in mullet length, but no such luck). Sojaboy explained to his Babygirl that she should go baby-faced and not wear any makeup, as this would not impress his mother. She's more of a goat-girl than a cover girl. Assman helped tie up BGLs hair into a wrap, which truthfully looked really good on her. They loaded Barney into the car and set out for the big meet. Assman expressed his fears about this meeting, as he had previously told his mother about BGL, and she had stopped speaking to him for three months. They roll up to Sojamom's place and are greeted awkwardly by a few of his family members. They all gathered together on a mat and Usman introduced his Babylove. His mother thanked Lisa for the goat, but mentioned that Angela brought her mother in law a microwave......in her bra. Then the family played a game of "telephone", where they asked questions that were translated with a fun twist. Sister Sojaboy asked how America was, which ended up being translated to "what do you do for work?". Lisa answered that she is a hospice worker, which was then translated to "She is a doctor in the United States ". Then Assman cut the small talk, by telling his family the purpose of Lisa's visit; "This white lady wants to marry me and take me to America". Sojamom was not feeling it, nor was his sister. They both gave a Simon Cowell-esque "It's a no from me", and left. Sojaboy took that as their cue to leave (hopefully BGL didn't throw away the receipt for Barney). She yelled at Assman as they got back into the car "You had 2 years to practice this!". I'll say a prayer for you, Dr. Babygirl Lisa. Stephanie & Erika not Shmerika: The girls are still trying to get over their fight from the restaurant as they're starting the long car ride to Port Augusta with nothing but time to talk. Erika tried bringing up some of the control issues and things that were bothering her, but Steph wasn't feeling it. They arrived at their hotel, still feeling awkward since there has been so much tension between them. They get dressed and head out to have drinks with Erika's friend Clair, who's hair is exceptionally voluminous on one side only. They discussed their activities thus far since Stephanie's arrival, and Clair seemed to be picking up that there was trouble in brightly colored paradise. Clair let the fact that Erika and a few of her friends have hooked up with each other slip, so throw another problem on the barbie, mate! After their hangout, Erika and Steph sat down and tried discussing their problems, and the fact that Stephanie seems miserable. Erika wants a more hands on experience with her long distance lady, while Stephanie says she needs more time. Erika reveals she is feeling alone, unwanted, and confused.......probably how koalas feel, when no one is petting them. Just go pet them. It's so much better than fighting with each other. (Sidenote: I'm giving Erika the style award, as I loved her earrings and fruit cocktail dress. She's a lot of fun). Big Egg & Rosemary's Baby: We open this week post family dinner and Ed is getting ready for his slumber party with Rose at her place. Ed seemed to be struggling a bit with adapting to Rose's every day life; the lack of air conditioning, leaky roof, soggy roll out floor mattress, and the moldy Care Bear collection on the wall were all a bit much for him. Rose's father announced he would be staying over to keep an eye on Ed, which wasn't hard to do since his orange polo shirt stood out even with the intermittent power outages (why was he sleeping in his polo shirt? Especially one that was soaked in sweat all day!). He braved a soggy mattress with 1000 thread count hello kitty sheets, a mosquito bite, and being super swampy all in the name of love. The next morning Princess Egg claims to have barely gotten any sleep, as the monsoon outside flooded Rose's bedroom and he was basically Robin Williams in Jumanji. Ed calls a truce and confesses he wants to go to a hotel, but would like to clear it up with Pa first out of respect. Rose suggests it's bath time variety hour at the water barrel- fun for the whole family! We see Big Ed and Pa pouring cold water over themselves as they share a bar of soap. Rose kicks it up a notch by screaming to an anonymous source to turn the water on as she squirts them both down with the hose like a zookeeper. Ed's hair looked crazy and his face was so shiny, so fresh and so clean clean. While most kids get a rubber duckie in the bathtub, at Rose's house you get a real live chicken and a sickly rat. What the hell was up with that rat?!??! (or "mouse??" If asking Rose). I think Ed was most horrified stumbling upon Fivel's cousin with AIDS hanging out by the flip flops. That poor rat was having a rough time... and yet he seemed to fear nothing.... Now that everyone, including Ratatouille, is squeaky clean, they decide to take a trip out to Pa's pig farm via public jeep. Ed tries desperately to make small talk with Rose's father "Soo, do you like the Philippines? Do you like wet rats? Is this the jungle? Are there fun and games? Do you like pigs?" But gets short answers and long stares. They arrived at the piggy farm and were immediately greeted by 3 cute. happy little dogs. Rose and her father wanted to see Big Egg and bacon together on the farm, so they suited up his sneakers with plastic baggies and escorted him into the sty. Egg was slipping and sliding in the muck, scared that he might fall in. Again, the footwear choices were off. Rose was wearing flip flops, and is going to need to be sterilized before getting another sensual foot massage. Ed was rocking the sneakers, and only Pa had the appropriate boots for the occasion. After Ed flung some feed at the pigs, he asked Rose's Pa if he could take Rose on vacation for a few days. Big Egg seemed horrified at Rose's father's modest living conditions (a stall made from pallets), though Rose explained that he enjoys living there and it's his true passion. Big Egg looked a bit fried and desperately needed to go back in the refrigerator. David & his laptop: After an erotic journey from Milan to Minsk, we saw David change his flat tire on the war torn Ukrainian roadside that Anya had warned about. Yet LanaQuest2020 continued onward (possibly via Unicycle, if need be). He wandered the streets of Lana's home town aimlessly searching for anyone that might be texting sexy emojis and stumbled upon a candy shop Lana had mentioned in one of her emails. David stopped in to see if she was there, using his trusty translator app (which ironically emits a sexy woman's voice) to ask the clerk if she knew of Lana. (I think David misunderstood Lana talking about the candy store, she just said she liked "sugar-daddies"). If they ever make a sequel of the movie "Her", no need to contact Joaquin Phoenix, it can just be a biopic of David. After striking out staring at strangers all day, David went back to the hotel with his girlfriend, Dell Inspiron, to obsessively check for a Lana-gram. Low and behold, Lana sent a touching and poignant memo: "Wanna meet for a visa and selphie?" David was hopeful once again, and responded by asking Lana when she would be online again, ya know....instead of asking where/when they will meet or sending her an ultimatum at the same time. He seemed so relieved to be back in the game. Still, I'm hoping there is a twist to this that will really knock off my toupee. Avery & Ashtray: After complimenting her "thongs", Ashtray took Avery to a fun crocodile boatride down the river. The Australian crocodiles are super dangerous and sneaky, which Ashole tells Avery not to worry, he would "protect her" (pretty sure the only croc he could protect her from is the sandal, not even a thong). Later at the hotel, Avery asks him again about meeting his ex wife and son, which is met with vague answers. He admits on camera that he's nervous about them meeting, as his ex wife is very honest (oh and probably isn't up on the plan of taking her son to the other side of the planet). Looks like next week is going to be more interesting, as the preview clip shows Ashole mentioning he is single. Oops.... still no koalas. Missing this week was Yolanda, who was busy emailing Wendy Williams to see if she was related to Williams Williams.
Months overdue! I mentioned my own troubles lately in an earlier post but now it seems like all any of us can do these days is just survive. So to that end hopefully I can provide some quarantine reading for you all over the next few weeks! My Stories Material Differences Wiki Chapter 1 Chapter 45 Jaeger’s laughter along with that of his son’s was relatively short lived, even if it was fueled by a near hysterical need to escape the horror that surrounded them. Jaeger simply couldn’t ignore the pain in his chest from the movement as his voice cracked and his laughter turned to gasps as he clutched his side. “Fuck.” He mostly whispered as he watched Tex, the last of the advanced bots slip through the buckled security door to follow Bertha into battle. “We need to get you to a medical unit.” Max said then looked over at his dad as he slowly rose up, not looking great himself. “We need to get you to the command center.” Jaeger countered. “Get you focused on the battle and organize the bots better.” “Tanya is in the command center. Can’t she do that?” Max asked with a frown as he reached down to offer Jaeger a hand to help him up. “Besides your wounds are more important.” “My wounds are fine… it’s just…” Jaeger wheezed even as Max helped him up, his ribs groaning hard as his lungs twitched and protested any and all involvement they had in the breathing process. “Any bleeding I have is internal… that’s where the blood is supposed to be anyway.” “I don’t think that’s how that works.” Max’s expression grew more concerned even as Jaeger carefully held himself up to his full height. “What would you know?” Jaeger grumbled a moment. “The medical units are down here in the tunnels. Where we just saw Marque’s forces are also. We get you to command…” He had to gasp a moment as talking for so long was taxing. “Nngghh you finish the battle. Then we come back down here.” Max looked over at Jaeger for a while, neither of them speaking while gunfire and explosions echoed out of the hallways that Bertha had led the procession of advanced combat bots. Max’s expression almost hurt Jaeger more than his fractured or broken ribs in that moment because he realized what the expression was. For perhaps the first time Max had to come to grips with the knowledge that his father wasn’t invincible. Jaeger had always known Max would be stronger, faster, and smarter than him in time, and told him as much. Yet, now might just be how Max finally put those terms into a more actualized and obvious example. Jaeger’s emotional pain at that expression shifted then as he realized something else. So he smiled and reached out to set a hand on Max’s shoulder. “I’m very proud of you Max. I always have been…” He gasped a moment, his wounds preventing him from making the speech as cleanly as he wanted. “And always will be. This is not how I- nngghh…” Jaeger shifted a little as his other hand gripped his side. “Wanted you to first experience… all this… but you’ve handled yourself very well.” “Thanks.” Max replied as a hopeful smile crept across his face, and reached up to give Jaeger’s hand on his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “You’re also lacking the decades of combat experience I have. So help me up and we’ll go upstairs and I’ll heal later.” Jaeger did his best to breathe regularly and try and sit up a little straighter to maintain at least some tiny level of parental authority over his son in this uncertain and painful moment. “That’s an order.” Max’s smile faded then but he nodded. “Alright.” Slowly standing up he gripped Jaeger’s arm more carefully to help him up. Jaeger felt every bit as old as he really was in that moment, needing his son’s help to rise up to his feet. Even if the reason he needed this help was because he was wounded didn’t exactly help considering all the old man grunts he made just trying to get to his feet. When he was standing upright his breathing felt a bit easier, but he saw the worried way Max kept looking at him. “Don’t look at me like that.” He grumbled and gestured at the door as he began to carefully walk forward while Max stayed at his side. “I could probably fireman carry you if that’s better.” Max offered, knowing full well he could. “Fireman carry me with broken ribs? I’ll pass.” Jaeger took a few steps to get the sense of just how much pain he was in and try to gauge if it was mostly the fact that every breath hurt, or if there was more to it. After a few steps he settled into a more regular, if slow pace and swallowed and groans or notions of pain as best he could. “I’ll be fine.” He assured Max once more as they headed back upstairs towards the command center. By the time they were heading back through the lobby the smell had already started to settle in, the smell of death. Though as he thought about it he looked over at Max. “Aren’t you wounded too?” “This?” Max looked down at the gash in his side which had already closed up. “My gash? My gash is already tightening up. Not like it took a pounding.” Jaeger gave his son a look then as Max blinked. “What?” “Nothing… Just don’t repeat that exact phrase to Brandy-Lynn.” Jaeger advised as Max frowned in confusion. “What?” Jaeger just waved it off as they headed upstairs into the main room where Tanya was sitting at the console. “Glad you’re both still alive. Max, let's get you hooked in.” Tanya was all business as she rose up and already had the cables in hand to connect Max to the system directly. He let out a sigh for a moment but didn’t argue and instead dropped into the seat as she quickly set him up. After a little he was seeing the battle displayed across a dozen different camera feeds on the screen before him. Though he couldn’t really tell who was winning at the moment. Bertha down in the underground seemed to be holding her own, though the muzzle flare of her autocannon made it a bit hard to see at times. “Do you have an asset map up yet?” Jaeger asked Tanya as he looked for some form of coherent analysis to the battle as it progressed. “Do I look like I do?” Tanya snapped back. “Shit I don’t know, I never handled any of that. I just remember whenever watching General Odinson-” “I don’t have a command staff here to track trackers with tracker tracking trackers.” Tanya grumpily replied. “Those fancy maps were the result of dozens of analysts trying to make sense of hundreds or thousands of data points in real time. I’m all you’ve got.” “Shit, sorry.” Jaeger started but she waved it off. “I am too. I’m just tense trying to figure it out myself. Figs and Brandy-Lynn are set up around the compound, but Marque’s forces have been dropping all over and we don’t have LARD in the air. When the turrets came online they immediately fired upon their air assets, which is why they just started dropping wherever they could. So maybe they’re a lot of small scattered units, or they’re regrouping where I can’t find them, or there’s another whole assault wave moving in we can’t see. I just don’t know.” Even as she mentioned that a muffled explosion shook the room and they both looked at Max. “One of theirs.” Was all he said. Jaeger looked around and grabbed a chair, sitting in it rather heavily with a groan as he clutched his side. “What happened to you?” Tanya asked then, finally realizing he was wounded. “Zipped with 7.62 less than lethal.” He informed her, and before he could proceed she was grabbing his shirt, pulling it up so she could see. He wanted to protest but that seemed like it was more effort than it was worth as she revealed his stomach and chest were covered in bruises. “You probably have internal bleeding.” She echoed Max’s concerns from earlier. “Like I told Max, that’s where the blood is supposed to be.” He tried to laugh, but only managed to let out a rasping cough. “You fucking know that’s not true.” Tanya growled, and reached into her vest. Before Jaeger could ask what she was doing she pulled out a combat stim and pressed it to his shoulder. “Ah!” He gasped as the needle sank in deep, but even as she pulled it away his blood began to feel comfortably warm. “Aahh…” He sank back in his seat as the pain started to fade. “That’s the good shit…” Tanya was about to pull away when he reached out to grab her arm. “Tanya. I’m sorry.” Looking up at her he felt about as confused as she looked and tried to remember why he meant to tell her that. “For what?” She asked. “Getting shot?” “No…” Jaeger frowned a moment and tried to think before he remembered. “For tricking you. Back when…” He let go of her and sighed as a hand moved up to rub his forehead as the thoughts suddenly got a bit more jumbled. “Whenever… I tricked you to implant Leona’s memories in my… implant. Or… adjusting it… or whatever.” Tanya just stared down at him and he squirmed a little. Maybe trying to apologize for that in the middle of a battle wasn’t a great idea. But with the drugs seeping into his system he wasn’t sure what ideas were all that good anyway. “You don’t remember do you?” The question had him feeling even more confused. “Whatever I did… No. But… I’m sorry.” He tried again but Tanya just shook her head. “You didn’t trick me. You convinced me. When everyone first told you we weren’t bringing Leona back it was because you wanted to set up a suicidal mission to Edenshard. As everyone dispersed and tried to figure out what the hell to do with their lives you came to me with another idea.” As she told him this Jaeger squirmed a bit more in the seat trying to remember what she was talking about. But… it didn’t sound familiar at all. “I did?” He asked somewhat lamely, unable to think of any better words. “You did. You needed someone to operate on you and adjust your implant. You told me if I didn’t do it you’d find some other way. So I downloaded Lia Trey’s mind into my own so I could manage the operation and went for it. But I fucked up. Which is why you don’t remember.” Jaeger’s mind blanked as Tanya told him that. Tanya’s depression since the war. Her hanging around a lot. Her getting beyond regular drunk, while as a synth… All that time he blamed her for her shitty attitude… Guilt, confusion, and drug induced mental clouds swirled together as he tried to process it all. “What happened?” He finally asked, not sure of what else to say. “I don’t know.” She shrugged. “I mean it seemed like it went fine. I understood how to do the operation, but… I must have messed up somewhere. Your memories of the event never really recovered, and… I’m fairly sure I gave you a prion disease.” “That can’t be right.” Jaeger shook his head. “Prion diseases aren’t from… surgeries.” “Not normal ones sure. But I was rooting around in your brain, dealing with prototype tech that neither of us fully understood. I thought Lia’s memories were all I needed but I must have missed something. When you woke up… you got weird before you got better. I don’t know how it all happened.” Tanya let out a heavy sigh as Jaeger continued to try and process what she had told him. “Lia Trey…” He muttered thinking back on the various Absolute Dynamics scientists that they had associated with the program. “The lesbian?” That made Tanya frown for a moment. “Is that how you remember her? Kind of… narrow focus isn’t it?” “No… er… I dunno…” Jaeger muttered as he rubbed his head which had begun to hurt about as much as his heavily bruised torso. “I had a point… Wait… The Hive Bishop! The one you said you think you slept with when you got drunk! If Lia was a lesbian and you don’t remember… could her memories have surfaced in your blackout states?” When he asked that Tanya leaned back a moment and blinked as she processed the possibility. “I don’t… think so… Can that happen with implanted memories?” “Do I look like I fucking know?” Jaeger countered which made Tanya sigh and shrug. “Look… this whole time… You getting drunk… messing with your head… have you been trying to experiment on yourself to fuck up your memory like you think you fucked up mine?” Tanya was quiet for a second, though the muffled sounds of battle raged outside. Jaeger even heard a distinct retort of Tabori’s rifle somewhere nearby. He must be on the roof. “Yes.” Tanya finally replied with a nod. “I figured… if I could give myself something similar and fix it, then I could help you. But…” “That’s not even close to how it works. I’m a baseline, you’re a synth, and… you don’t have control groups or shit… Why didn’t you tell me? All those years dealing with you getting drunk around the base and me getting impatient and finally kicking you out…” Jaeger felt a weight start to settle on his chest as he thought about how he’d treated her. “No, wait… I think we’re about to get into a feedback loop.” Tanya warned him which made him give her a confused look. “What do you mean?” He glanced around a moment as if expecting to see some kind of test being run that he needed to worry about. “I think you’re suddenly feeling guilty about convincing me to do the operation in the first place, which I feel guilty for fucking up, which then will make you feel guilty about again because I was trying to fix it after the fact which you didn’t know, but I feel guilty for keeping all this from you and fuck. FUCK!” She hissed out, showing some genuine anger for once. “If we keep at it we’ll both descend into a blackhole of guilt and self pity that we’ll never escape. Having been lost down that particular shitty feeling for a decade, I know it’s not helpful. So just let me take the fucking blame and… call it even.” “I can’t…” Jaeger reached out to grab Tanya’s hand, holding it tight a moment as he looked up at her, trying to think of just what to say. What he could possibly say in light of recent events. Another explosion from outside rocked the building. “Shit… now might not be the best time for this. But… let's just say we both tried to do a good thing and just… fucked up. That’s allowed… right? That’s life.” Tanya looked ready to speak when Max cut in. “Fig’s is hit.” “What?” Jaeger looked over in surprise. “Aaahhhh shit.” Came Fig’s voice that Max was bouncing through the room’s speakers. “My arm is off. Fuuuuuck.” “I’ll move up units to-” Max started. “No.” Jaeger quickly interrupted. “You can’t shift entire units of bots to cover Figs.” “But he’s hurt.” Max’s head shifted a little as he sat in the chair as if trying to look at his dad despite seeing the world through the multitude of cameras hooked into his system for now. “And this is a battle. You can’t shift everything for one man. Even Figs. I’ll-” He started to get up, only to have Tanya firmly shove him back into his chair. “I’ll get him.” Tanya announced and turned towards the door. “Figs, I’m on my way. How bad is it?” “Just my arm and side. And no one is close enough for me to beat them to death with my arm! Missed opportunity… Hey Brandy-Lynn do you wanna-” Fig’s was just the same, combat wound or not. “No, I’m not gonna use your arm to fist people. Even I have standards. Kinda. Mostly I’m busy. Feel free to fist yourself though. Tabori I need-” Jaeger heard Tabori’s rifle from somewhere above them. “Thank you.” “Max, give me a waypoint beacon. I’m heading out.” Tanya said as she moved to the door, grabbing her rifle as she prepared to join the fray. “Hey what happened in Soltown, did you guys get the synth flesh?” He remembered what he’d told Tanya to do before everything else took his focus. “See for yourself.” Tanya nodded past him and Jaeger looked around in confusion to see the door to the panic room had opened and Raven was standing there. Except it wasn’t the Raven he had last seen. No bare metal, no robotic parts. Just a frightened looking girl who appeared entirely human, and every bit in need of a hug as anyone her age trapped in a battle would be. Jaeger’s mind went blank as he saw her. Any idea of what to say, or how exactly to process what he was seeing failed him. Instead he just opened his arms and as she rushed forward to hug him he gasped as the pressed made his ribs twinge. But that wasn’t enough to keep him from wrapping his arms around her tight, face pressed in against her hair… Hair! A hand moved up gingerly to stroke her hair, now having replaced the longstanding color quills she used to have. Her slim arms were wrapped around him tight, squeezing as he hugged back. “Dad…” “Hey hey… It’ll be just fine…” He assured her, doing his best to breathe quietly and easily despite the feeling from his ribs. “Let’s get a better look at you.” He finally tried to pull her back a little as she eased up and he brushed hair from her face as he looked into her eyes. They were filled with worry and concern, especially as she noticed how he was gingerly moving. Much like Tanya earlier her hands immediately moved to tug his shirt up. “You’ve been shot!” She gasped out. “No… well yeah… but… less than lethal bullets… I’m fine.” He tried to assuage her fears then. “I’ll be fine. How do you feel. I can’t believe I missed this!” He ran another hand through her hair as she tried to wriggle out of his grip. “It was going to be a surprise when you got back…” She smiled a moment before it quickly faded. “I’ve been in the panic room with Rex since Tanya told me to get in.” Raven looked back towards the other room and then quickly started looking around. Jaeger tried to look around to see what she was looking for before spotting Rex standing in front of the door, his ears poised, body slightly tense, like a coil wound up before it was released. “Dad is Rex a synth?” “What?” Jaeger looked back at Raven then and shook his head. “No… why would you think that?” “I’ve known him my whole life… I can’t remember him ever being smaller… and he’s so smart! Is he a synth? Where did you even get him?” Jaeger opened his mouth to assure you that Rex was just a dog, even if a very good one. But that last question caught him off guard. Where had he gotten him? Just a minute after Tanya’s revelation that his memory issues might have been around longer than he could… remember. He let go of Raven to rub his head once more as it seemed to throb from nothing. “End of the war… things were hectic… But he’s not a synth. Ham’s puma is the only synth animal… Ham!” He pulled back then, not wanting to let Raven go but he turned around in the chair to look at the screens, speaking into his watch then. “Ham, why aren’t you in the air?” “I’ve been sitting in this fucking vetall waiting for the all clear but I’m stuck until someone tells me if the hangar door is clear!” Ham angrily hissed back. “Bout as clear as deer ass in tick country.” Came Tabori’s accented reply. “The fuck does that even mean?!” Ham clearly wasn’t having fun. “It means they’ve got a squad sitting just above you. Keep those doors locked.” Brandy-Lynn replied much more clearly. “I’ve been trying to dislodge them but they’re being very stubborn.” “Are we forgetting someone?” Jaeger asked aloud as he slowly looked around the command center and then at the various camera feeds trying to see where everyone was. He hated not having the nice holo maps that they used to have during operations with Absolute Dynamics. But as pointed out to him they didn’t have the personnel to make that happen anymore. “Tami!” Ham burst out. “She’s in her ops center! Shit! Where’s my PDW?” “Stay where you are Ham, you’re more valuable in the air and the moment we can clear the hangar doors you need to be on hand to provide CAS.” Jaeger countered and slowly stood up, already feeling better as the drugs did their work. However even as he took a step forward the door to the command center locked up. “Max.” “You told me not to divert assets to support Figs after he was injured. Why would I let you risk yourself for some stranger? Even if you make it an argument about asset worth you’ve got decades of experience against what? Some minor tech support… person? Why would I let you make that trade?” Jaeger looked over at his son, unable to meet his eyes with the visor covering them. “Because it’s not a trade. It has to be done. It’s the job of people like us to protect people like her. You don’t even need me to tell you that. You know it deep down.” Jaeger waited a moment and then the door unlocked. “Go get your armor first. Bertha and the bots are containing the threat underground but I’m having trouble tracking all hostiles in the tunnels. And you’re injured. So get your armor. Please.” Max’s voice was a bit soft at the end. Jaeger had forced so much stress and responsibility upon his son in the past few days… He knew it wasn’t fair but… life really wasn’t. “I will.” He promised and reached out to give Max’s shoulder a quick squeeze, hoping he felt it despite being hooked up to the system. Then he turned and pulled Raven close for another hug. Her fingers digging into his sides as she buried her face into his chest. He just slowly stroked a hand over her head gently, still marveling a little at her having hair. That had been one of her biggest dreams for years, so she could go out without her Scorched disguise. But it hardly seemed important now. Finally he pulled back and turned to the door. “Take Rex. For protection.” She offered as he stepped past the dog who was still intently watching the door. “No, he’s better here. I’ll be back. Promise.” Jaeger certainly hoped it was a promise at any rate as Raven gulped nervously and nodded. “You’re doing a great job.” Jaeger said to Rex specifically who glanced at him a moment and the back at the door. He was in work mode. Best not to pet him. He just wanted the word… still tense and waiting for some reason to do what he’d been trained to do. As much as he was a family dog who played around with the kids while they grew up Rex was bred to fight after all. Plus he was getting up there in years… this might be his last chance. Then again, the same could be said for Jaeger. He opened the door and slipped out before making sure it sealed and locked behind him. Only then did he head back downstairs, ignoring the shotguns still in the weapon’s rack in the security checkpoint. They’d done nothing to the hostile Revenant earlier, and considering his ribs he’d rather not fire them without assistance. A quick glance at the cameras and it looked like the lobby was clear of any new enemies. Just the bodies of the dead from earlier. Just like earlier he quickly slipped through the door and waited for it to seal shut behind him as he made for the stairs down into the belly of the compound. But when he was halfway across the lobby he stopped, the scene outside catching his attention. Pyro was just cresting a dune out past the old parking lot, sending torrents of purple fire down at a target Jaeger couldn’t see. A figure rolled over the closer side of the dunes then, bathed in fire as he tried desperately throwing away his gun, his helmet, his armor, tearing at it as he screamed, rolling in the sand, doing anything he possibly could to extinguish a flame that would burn him away. Layer by layer. From the skin, through the muscle and flesh, to the bone itself. Jaeger just stood there, watching the man scream and struggle. Did he have family? Kids? What world had Marque promised him? His kids? What had this man’s life been before this battle? More bots bounding up past Pyro as the advanced bot moved on to the next target. The smaller ones quickly advancing one by one to finish off the “survivors” with a quick bullet to the head. Max wasn’t conserving ammo like Jaeger had told Bertha. It was the only mercy they could be afforded. Even as the particular Draugr Jaeger watched raised a hand at the bot standing over him Jaeger saw the flash and the bot turned to run off, leaving the dead man to burn in the sand. His own personal funeral pyre. Jaeger urged his feet to move then. Knowing he didn’t have time for any sort of reflection in the middle of the battle. Gunfire, explosions, and screams continued to rage outside and though Jaeger had been a personal observer to that one man’s death the galaxy hadn’t stopped spinning. He still had people to save of his own. From the stairwell he quickly reached the small tram station and jumped inside to activate it to take him to the hangar where his armor was waiting. “We are sorry but due to base lockdown we are-” Jaeger looked around as an automated voice began to speak. “Oh for fuck’s sake…” He grumbled as the system tried to deny him access before he quickly typed in the override codes. As the tram quickly started to move he realized he might have miscalculated as he saw a firefight that the tram was leading him straight into. Some Draugr were entering the tram tunnel from an access hallway as they took fire from behind, no doubt Bertha and company. One stopped right in the middle of the tracks, catching sight of Jaeger in the tram a split second before impact. Jaeger reflexively raised a hand as the tram hit and the Draugr just… disappeared. He had honestly expected some kind of lurch, or slowdown, or bump or… something but a few thousand kilos of tram didn’t seem to mind a couple extra kilos of flesh on the track. “Now arriving.” The automated voice helpfully informed him as it slowed to a stop before the hangar section. Jaeger stepped out and looked at the front of the tram a moment. There were… bits of cloth and some… smears… When he looked up the track he saw a few splotches here and there. “Forgot to look both ways before crossing…” Jaeger muttered and then headed into the hangar. The Gekco was just where it had been before and he beelined for it as he glanced over at the vantahawk. Its engines were humming as he figured Ham was itching to fly the moment the doors could be safely opened. The moment he’d jumped into the Gecko he saw his gear had partially been laid out and Spike was tugging his helmet to the top. He’d forgotten about him once they’d landed. “Hey bud. Thanks for the assist.” He said even as he quickly began to gear up in near record time. Spike chirped back happily as Jaeger realized the drugs must really be working considering how energetic he felt, and the lack of wheezing while breathing was nice. Spike propped up the chestpiece to make it easier for him to lean back into it on the floor of the Gecko as everything began to snap into place. Finally he grabbed his helmet and pulled it on as his world turned to black and he felt the weight of his armor pulling him down, making him strain a little against the padding inside. But then it powered up and he felt weightless as the servos all began to spin up and his sensors quickly came online. Looking around as the world aligned itself he heard the automated voice immediately speak up. “Internal bleeding detected. Lacerations detected. Multiple bone fractures detected. Administering emergency medical care.” “W-” He didn’t even get half the word out before he felt needles stabbing him in several places. “Fffffuuuuuaaaaahhhhh-” The pain quickly subsided as even more potent drugs began to enter his already medicated system. Blinking heavily a few times he stood up and felt Spike already climbing his shoulder as he stumbled a moment and grabbed his gun. “You okay over there Sarge?” Ham asked looking at him from the cockpit of the Vantahawk no doubt. Jaeger just looked towards the vetall and gave a thumbs up. “I feel… pretty fucking great.” He answered to his own surprise. “Oh you’re drugged up to the gills aren’t you?” Ham asked. “Yes. Yes I am.” He nodded at that and looked around a moment. “Spike, waypoints location friendly asset Tami.” The bot on his shoulder chirped and his HUD lit up with a guide on where the tech was. Moving across the hangar he gave a wave to Ham in the vetall and entered one of the side access halls. Before he got further four trooper bots formed up around him, flanking him on all sides. “Max-” “Don’t even try to argue. I can spare four. There’s two hostile teams in the area. Try and avoid them.” Max replied as Jaeger sighed a moment. Looking around at the humanoid bots he saw they were all facing out, likely synced to his suit so they would move with him. He gave a few steps forward and back as they indeed moved in unison. He wasn’t used to having bots pull guard duty but he’d make due. “Spike local echoes.” A ghostly echo of bot locations spread out from him through the tunnels. Tami was just three halls away. But… he heard firing to his left… He shouldn’t. He’d promised… The heat of the drugs in his system were starting to get to him. If he didn’t do something that burnt off some of the energy he’d go mad. One detour… Turning left he began to run towards the sounds and saw another group of bots that were taking cover at a junction just ahead. “Spike, slave local units.” The bots at the junction jerked a moment and looked his way as he approached. Stopping near the edge motioned again at the ceiling as Spike leapt up from his shoulder to grab hold of the pipes on the ceiling and carefully creep around the corner to give Jaeger a camera view. A team of Draugr had set up a defensive position in an old vetall maintenance workshop. Plenty of metal to stack up into barricades. They were waiting for another rush it seemed. Jaeger settled down waiting for his cloak to fully assimilate to the area and then gestured at two of the trooper bots signally them down the hall full sprint. As the bots immediately rounded the corner at a sprint they began to take fire, though while they did that Jaeger leaned the corner and while the Draugr peeked from cover he picked them off. The muted kick of the rifle in his hands felt comforting and familiar. The explosive Revenant ammo he used easily piercing their helmets and turning the majority of their upper skulls to a fine pink mist. Even as the bots collapsed in the withering hail of fire and he leaned back he counted four kills. Spike’s sensors quickly picked up on a live local comms feed which he tapped into. “-Ane and Garcia! The fuck was that?!” “Shit! Next time light up the whole fucking hall!” Hhmmm… He pulled a pair of grenades from his pouch, handing them to a trooper bot next to him. Then on Spike’s camera feed he selected two points and a delay. The bot quickly activated both grenades, waited, and then rounded the corner as it threw them. Of course it was also brought down in a withering hail of fire but a moment later he watched Spike’s feed as the two grenades went off, having been missed in the commotion. Even as screams echoed down the hall he waited a moment. “Fucking frags! Where the fuck did those come from?!” Looked like only one was dead and three were on the ground, writhing around. Their armor was good enough to limit fragmentation penetration. He saw a Draugr start to grab one of the downed men to try and administer some form of first aid no doubt. “Leave him! Back to firing position!” A voice yelled, he could even hear if muffled down the hall not just over Spike’s hacked feed. “He’s hit! I gotta stop the bleeding!” The other panicked soldier replied, no doubt trying to save his buddy. Excellent they were losing defensive posture. One of the soldiers rose up to try and drag the “medic” back. That was when Jaeger quickly leaned out and took his shot, hitting the more disciplined Draugr in the head leaving the medic alone. “Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Fall back!” There was some scattered fire as a few tried to cover the others but soon they were attempting to grab the wounded and drag them out of there. Not a proper bounding withdrawal at all. Excellent. With most of the Dragur trying to run for the back of the room and their backs facing Jaeger and the bots they made for easy targets as he gestured to the troopers around him to sweep and clear. Moving along at the back of the pack, slightly taller than the bots in his armor it was easy for them to pick off the Draugr while they tried to run. The medic seemed to be the last one standing, though Jaeger wasn’t sure why the bots hadn’t shot him first. After all he was a nice slow target while dragging his buddy’s body towards the back door. Right, they tended to avoid targeting medics. Jaeger lined up the shot and dropped the man with a clean hit to the back of the head. As the trooper bots spread through the room they stepped over each body, giving them a final double tap to the head while they advanced. At least Max had enough sense to leave that program in. “Dad what are you doing?” Speaking of his son. He waved at Spike to drop back down on his shoulder and keyed his comms. “Helping out. Now you only have one hostile team in the area.” He looked around the workshop at the dead Draugr strewn around him. Damn he felt good. What had he been worried about before? “Gimme the location of the other team and you won’t have any.” “Damnit dad! I don’t need to worry about you right now! And I didn’t give you four bots just to throw them away!” Max huffed. “I only used three, and I didn’t throw them away. Three trooper bots for…” He glanced around. “A Draugr platoon. Damn good deal.” “Well something else is in the area. I’m losing more troopers so don’t you dare do anything stupid. Get Tami. Get back here.” He wasn’t used to his son issuing him orders and was about to snap back at him when he realized what was going on. He was high on combat drugs. Shit. “Alright. I just wanted to ensure the hangar area was safe while Ham tried to get off the ground. I’ll get Tami now.” Even as he turned three more bots fell in around him to replace the three he’d used. The rest of the small group of bots rushed off down another hall and he headed towards Tami’s location. “Fuck! Spike please remind me when I’m high. I don’t need to be such an asshole to my kids.” The bot gave a quick chirp to affirm he’d add it to his task list. Followed by another chirp to ask what qualified for the parameters in question. “Never mind.” Jaeger shook his head and sighed as he and the four trooper bots moved along the corridors to Tami’s tech room. The door looked intact as he gave it a knock. “Tami? It’s Jaeger. Open up.” He didn’t hear anything for a moment and was about to kick in the door when he finally heard her. “How do I know it’s you?” “Because I didn’t kick down the door, and I knew your name. Seriously? Open up. It’s not a good enough door to stop a bot let alone a Revenant.” He heard a click and the door opened slowly as he saw the tech nervously open it just a crack to look at him. “What’s going on out there? I lost connection during some kind of reset.” She opened the door open a little wider as he saw she had a Ruger Mk7 pistol in hand. Not a bad little pistol decent choice. “We’re getting invaded, I need to get you-” “YOU SHITBIRD!” Looking up the hall he saw the form of that assassin bot from earlier. Or… not the same one since Bertha had killed that one. “DO YOU HAVE ANY-” “Lock the door, gimme a minute.” Jaeger told Tami, ignoring the rest of the assassin’s tirade. He didn’t have time for this. Waving at the troopers they quickly lined up and opened fire on the assassin bot down the hall. There was some angry screeching as he cut her rant short but he really didn’t care. Having witnessed the bot take a full volley of Bertha’s autocannon rounds without breaking he just kept the troopers firing and signaled Spike who jumped down and scurried forward. Just as the troopers ran out of ammo and began to reload he opened fire to make up for it. Explosive rounds peppering the figure of the teen girl as synth flesh peeled off her metal casing underneath. It wasn’t the full synth job like his kids but obviously something far more military minded. Whatever they’d built her out of it was extremely durable it seemed as he emptied an entire mag and she just stood in the hall hands crossed before her torso for protection. It left most of her arms and face bare metal. It likely would have been an intimidating sight to anyone who wasn’t used to seeing things like this. Was Jaeger really that numb right now? “IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT?! YOU’VE SHOT YOUR LOAD OLD MAN! I AM THE NEW PINNACLE OF COMBAT! YOUR RIFLE IS PATHETIC! NO AMMO YOU HOLD CAN PENETRATE MY SHELL!” “Yeah, I was just fucking up your sensors.” He calmly replied as he reloaded. “Wh-” The assassin didn’t get any further than that as Spike dropped onto her back and used his door breach to explode the assassin’s processing unit out of its chest. The frame flopped to the ground dead immediately after. “Stupid fucking… who programmed those fucking things? All the tech in the world doesn’t improve a shitty fucking attitude.” He commented to… no one he supposed. Fuck being high made him chatty. “Good job Spike! Nice kill!” He gave the bot a thumbs up as the bot returned a happy chirp and began to use its welder to further disassemble the assassin bot just in case. Not waiting Jaeger knocked on the door once more. “Tami you’re clear.” “What was that thing?” She asked as she opened the door and slowly stepped, out looking down the hall at the body on the ground. “Some sort of prototype assassin bot in a teen girl body or some shit. Lotsa bullshit. One of those projects that some sweaty nerds who get too deep into robotics for their own good think sounds cool but really is lame. If you want a real badass bot you should see Bertha. These bots will escort you to the command center. I’m going to go find more Draugr to kill.” Just as he said that Spike chirped at him. “What does he mean… elevated sewage port?” Tami asked with a confused look as Jaeger let out a heavy sigh. Fucking combat drugs! His fingers still felt hot and itchy. Like the only way to cool off was to find more people to kill… If he could suppress pain he could suppress this! Why did that voice in the back of his head always show up doing things like this? Just a few minutes ago he’d been all weepy and shit over… FUCK! “Never mind. I’ll escort you back personally.” Waving her out of the room he took lead and keyed his comms again. “Max how’s the battle going.” “We’re… winning I think. We’re not losing. There was… some concern about reinforcements but… Uh… Dad, what do you know about a crab bot with a weather vane?” Jaeger stopped as Max asked him that and felt Tami bump into the back of him. “No fucking way…” Chapter 47
2019.12.10 02:36 notsherripapiniWhat Happened to Theo Hayez?
The Disappearance of Theo Hayez Byron Bay is one of the ultimate tourist destinations in Australia, with almost 2 million visitors descending upon this tiny town every year. Halfway up the east coast in the Australian state of New South Wales, Byron beckons travellers from all parts of the world. A nine-hour drive from Sydney and two hours from Brisbane, the town is accessible while still feeling oddly remote. With dozens of beautiful beaches, great surf, and spiritual activities, it is easy to get sucked into Byron’s laid-back vibe and lose touch with the outside world. With more backpackers than actual residents residing in Byron for much of the year, Byron Bay’s culture is very unique. Paradoxically, it is both diverse and inclusive whilst also being unfriendly and intolerant to those who do not fit a certain mold. Many Australians would describe the town as being ‘pretentious’. Theo Hayez, a Belgian national, had spent almost a year traveling around Australia. He had reportedly been apprehensive about the trip initially, wondering whether it was worth delaying his engineering studies for. However, he ultimately decided he wanted to go visit various friends and family around Australia and by all accounts, thoroughly enjoyed his trip. He spent a large portion of his time with his cousin, Lisa Hayez. Lisa later provided good insight into what Theo’s version of backpacking looked like. While many young travellers get caught up in drugs and partying, Theo was responsible. He wanted to form and continue genuine connections with people, particularly those close to him, and enjoy experiences without drugs and heavy drinking. He liked organisation and everything he did was according to plan. He spoke with his mom every couple days. Theo arrived in Byron Bay on Wednesday May 29th of 2019. His plan was to spend a few days in the town, before taking a Greyhound bus on Monday June 3rd back to Sydney/Melbourne and then heading home to Belgium. This was the last leg of his Australian trip and he was very much looking forward to starting his next chapter of life: university then building a career. Theo checked into the Wake Up! Hostel in Belongil. Wake Up is one of the nicer hostels in town, located slightly out of the main centre. Byron Bay is very small, with the entire town being accessible by foot if you are fit. Only a twenty minute walk from the main street, Wake Up also lets backpackers use their bikes and get free rides on their regular shuttle buses. Theo stayed in a single person room, and quickly made friends with some of the other backpackers there. May 31st was a cold night in the middle of Australian winter. In fact, it was the coldest night on record for May and June in Byron. Theo and a new friend caught a shuttle bus into town in the early evening. They went to the Northern Hotel’s bottle shop, where CCTV shows them purchasing rose wine at 7:45PM and acting perfectly normal. They caught the shuttle bus back to the backpackers and shared the wine with some other backpackers in the common area outside. Later on in the evening, Theo and some other backpackers caught another shuttle bus into town. A quick walk from the shuttle parking lot brought them to Cheeky Monkey’s – a well known backpacker’s bar. Cheeky Monkey’s has a bad reputation around town. In the early 2000’s, it was ranked as one of the most violent bars in Australia and every Byron local you meet seems to have a strong opinion about Cheeky Monkey’s. More recently, it was purchased by a reputable company that runs multiples bars and pubs across Australia and it is slowly losing its reputation of being ‘that bar where my friend’s drink got spiked’ or ‘that bar where my mate got bashed by the security guards’. It is on one of the two main roads, although it is slightly out from the main town centre. Walking around there at night has an eerie feel to it due to poor lighting and lack of foot traffic. While Byron is bustling during the summer and school holidays, Friday May 31st was a pretty quiet night in town. Cheeky Monkeys reported being about quarter capacity. After buying two drinks at the bar, Theo was escorted out by security staff at 11PM. He was polite, but wobbly on his feet, they said. There is debate about how intoxicated Theo was, with multiple witnesses claiming he wasn’t drunk. By all accounts, he hadn’t had that much to drink, and he wasn’t aggressive or causing any issues. CCTV footage captures his departure from the bar, and documents the last known time Theo Hayez was seen alive. Up to this point, there was nothing particularly notable about Theo Hayez or his two days in Byron. What happened next would be unbelievable IF we didn’t have evidence that it did, in fact, happen. Until recently, it was assumed that Theo tried to walk back to the backpackers hostel and something happened en route. There was some blurry CCTV footage of a nearby petrol station that seemed to support this, and it just… made sense. You can see from the map in the attached link, that the hostel was an easy walk from town. Byron isn’t big, and if you follow the bright lights and signs, Wake Up is actually remarkably easy to get to. However, after obtaining Theo’s Google records, it was determined that Theo didn’t go back to the hostel that night. Theo left the bar at 11PM. CCTV footage shows him walking off into the darkness of Kingsley street, one of the roads perpendicular to Jonson. From there, we know that he messaged several of his friends. It is almost certain that it was him sending the messages, given that they were written in French and were typical of his style. We know that he watched part of a Youtube video. We know that he sent a Whatsapp message to his stepsister about 1AM. We know that he used Google Maps multiple times to search for the route back to his backpacker hostel. We also know that he walked in the opposite direction from the hostel: from Kingsley to Tennyson Street, to the Youth Activity Centre. We also know that he then walked VERY quickly all the way to the Milne Track. It is a lot easier to understand this by looking at the simple map presented in the attached link. Cheeky Monkeys bar is the middle of the map. It’s only by seeing this that one can grasp just how odd this route is. The hostel is at the top left corner of the map (20 minute walk). Byron Bay lighthouse is at the top right corner of the map (about an hour’s walk on a good day). Theo walked a couple minutes to the right, then a few minutes up to a large outdoor activity centre (think: a big open field), then hurried towards the bottom right before walking through the Milne Track to Tallow Beach. The total walking time from the bar to the Milne track would be less than 20 minutes at a normal pace. The streets he walked down were dark. Very dark. They are in town, but there is nothing out there. Even on busy summer nights, they are far removed from the hustle and bustle of Byron proper, despite being only minutes away. And the Milne Track? Tourists don’t go to the Milne Track. It’s not one of those ‘hidden gems’ that get tossed around. It goes from Milne Street through bushland out to Tallows Beach. And Theo didn’t follow the Milne Track properly… instead of following it as it curves south, he took a turn off into bushland and curved north. The bush is thick out there, one would have to battle through a LOT of branches. He seemingly made a straight shot through, too, which would be virtually impossible without knowing the area. We also know that Theo made it out of the bushland and onto the beach. Google data suggests he never stopped walking quickly, as he exited the bushland and made his way toward Cozy Corner – he was now moving toward the top right of the map. This was all happening while he was still messaging people. The message to his stepsister was sent a bit before 1AM with him being active on Whatsapp at 1AM, then going offline. His phone connected to the Cape Byron cell tower (close to Cozy Corner) at 1:42PM the following day. It didn’t connect after that. Theo didn’t return to the hostel. He didn’t board the Greyhound bus. He didn’t catch his flight back to Belgium. Theo’s mother began to worry when she didn’t hear from him for a couple of days. While it was out of character, she was understanding that sometimes he wasn’t able to get mobile coverage. Three days later, the alarm was sounded and Theo was reported missing. The search began promptly after that, but unfortunately the trail was already growing cold. Further information:
Wake Up! Hostel didn’t report Theo missing until 3 days after he was meant to check out. His room was apparently left unbothered. There has been much criticism of their handling of this, but it tends to be quite distracting from the case. People go missing all the time in Byron for a few days… they end up at a party, on an adventure or on the wrong substance. They always turn back up, though.
The Byron Bay community banded together and organised search efforts. They were active in sharing flyers and information about the missing backpacker. When Theo’s family came to town, they organised free accommodation and food for them. Everyone in Byron has kept close tabs on this story.
Most of the search effort centred around the wrong areas, as far as anyone can tell – Belongil and the Lighthouse. By the time it was realised where his path actually brought him, the trail was very cold
Theo’s grey PUMA cap was reportedly found in the bushland near Tallows Beach. The family is confident it is his, although DNA results have yet to be released.
Online sleuths are combing through Instagram and Facebook data, hoping to find any clues about beach gatherings that night. It is highly likely that if Theo did meet new friends that night, they’d be long gone from Byron with no idea that he disappeared. This story reaching the attention of former Byron travellers might be the key to solving this mystery.
A podcast called “The Lighthouse” was recently released by The Australian. It is excellent and covers far more ground than I have.
Articles for reference: MAP: https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/new-phone-data-reveals-search-for-missing-belgian-backpacker-theo-hayez-was-in-the-wrong-place-as-hed-walked-away-from-his-hostel-not-towards-it-after-leaving-baar-BBWsK9G https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/www.mamamia.com.au/theo-hayez-news/amp/ So what happened to Theo? Personal theory: Theo HAD to be with someone that night. I have personally walked his path. I have spent much of the past two years in Byron Bay, and was in town the night Theo disappeared. I walked down Jonson Street at 11pm past Cheeky Monkeys. There was nothing out of the ordinary in town that night, besides it being so cold! I am quite involved in the local community and there aren’t any credible rumours that I can pass on: it’s just as much a mystery to locals as it is to outsiders. The person he was with must have known the area pretty well to take the Milne track AND the deviation from the Milne track toward Cozy Corner. If you walked the path, you would understand- the offshoot simply isn’t something you would just stumble upon. But it’s not abnormal that he would be with someone. Byron is a social town. It’s totally normal to meet up with new people, adventure a bit. It would actually be weirder if he went that path by himself. My theory more or less ends there. I don’t believe he would have gone swimming - it was incredibly cold that night. I don’t believe anyone slipped him anything at the bar or that Cheeky Monkey’s has anything to do with his disappearance. I do not believe for a second he willingly disappeared. Part of me thinks something sinister happened and people are too scared to come forward. If they’re backpackers, they are likely out of the country already. The other part of me thinks he got lost in the dense bush land and succumbed to the elements. It’s just odd that he hasn’t been found yet if that’s the case: it’s not that big of an area he would be in, and search efforts are ongoing.
2019.11.30 07:30 diyobd2What is difference Xhorse Condor XC-MINI Plus VS Xhorse Dolphin
Condor XC-MINI Plus and Condor Dolphin XP-005 Key Cutting Tool,both of them are new arrival machine. Condor XC-MINI Plus and Condor Dolphin accessories are compatible,like probe,cutter,clamp,power adapter.etc Condor DolphinVSCondor XC-MINI Plus ItemCondor Dolphin XP-005Condor XC-MINICondor XC-MINI PlusPic📷📷📷ScreenNo touch screen,only display battery,bluetooth status.Fixed touch screen.Screen with adjustable angle, easier to adjust proper viewing angleSpindleMechanical shaft +60W DC motor (with a foreign model)” “Electric spindle brushless 300W, built-in angular contact bearingElectric spindle brushless 300,built-in angular contact bearingElectric spindle brushless 300,built-in angular contact bearingTransmission mechanism“T-shaped screw + anti-backlash nutBall screw3-Axis precision ball screw,more accurate and stable than T Screw transmissionguideRoller guideCross-trackCross-trackshellBase aluminum alloy die-casting, the upper body is made of plastic shell and the body is made of integrated aluminum alloy die-casting.Plastic outer casing body is formed by body alloying die casting.All aluminus main body,plastic shell, larger space than condor mini.FixtureStandard fixture(M1,M2) (M3 M4 Optional Clamp)Standard fixture(M1,M2) (M3 M4 Optional Clamp)Standard fixture(M1,M2) (M3 M4 Optional Clamp)ManipulationNo touch screen, no built-in database, operate on Phone APPQuick start, with touch screen, built-in databaseQuick start, with touch screen, built-in databaseOffline operationnot supportstand bysupportDedicated appSupport dedicated mobile phone APPINSTACODE Software APPINSTACODE Software APPBuilt-in batterybuilt-in lithium battery one-time full chargeOptional Accessory:Power Supply Adapter with Built-in BatteryOptional Accessory:Power Supply Adapter with Built-in Batteryprotecting mask Comprehensive protectionComprehensive protectionVVDI MB bindingYes. After bind,VVDI MB is one token free everyday.Yes. After bind,VVDI MB is one token free everyday.Yes. After bind,VVDI MB is one token free everyday.Cutting speed1X SPEED2X SPEED2X SPEEDUpdateDatabase update in APPOnline UpdateOnline Update, support offline file update.weight18Kg21Kg22.9KgWarranty1 year3 years3 years How to Choose Condor XC-MINI Plus and Condor Dolphin Key Cutting? Condor Dolphin XP-005 is operated on mobile application online, and it is much smaller, lighter and cheaper. Condor XC-Mini Plus can operate offline,which is more powerful and faster than Condor Dolphin XP-005 key cutting machine. Their accessory is same,firmware both support update online via xhorse update kit software.Choose the suitable one depend on your budget. Both of them are in best quality. Here is some details introduction: Condor XC-MINI Plus advantages: 1.The screen is adjustable, there are three specifications, it is more user-friendly, can be adjusted to the appropriate height, to prevent the problem of reflection in the sun. But condor mini is fixed. 📷 2.Condor mini plus dust cover is larger, the bottom tray is larger, and safer to use with. 📷 3.Condor XC-MINI Plus added organ cloth to prevent key debris from entering the machine and avoid short circuit after power on. 📷 4.There is an opening at the bottom of the device, and there is also a receiving tray for receiving debris, which increases the protection mechanism and prolongs the service life of the device.
The Condor XC-MINI Plus PCB is with new design.
The gap between the movable part of the Condor MINI Plus and the machine is smaller than that of the old condor mini machine, which can help prevent debris from flying into the inside of the device.
2019.03.07 14:27 StardustFromReinmuth[EVENT] National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2019
[M] Credit to Kaijia for doing most of the heavy (albeit somewhat unfactual) lifting while he was my 2ic
Policy and Joint Forces
“Proudly into the future” To Ensure a Non-Gender Biased armed forces Institute a non gendered fitness test and allow women the ability to serve in the infantry if they pass the same tests as men currently do. Encourage women to take commanding and combat roles within the Armed Forces To Ensure the continuous work with our closest allies and work with the Foreign Office to achieve specific defence treaties France is our closest European ally, with a friendship stretching over a hundred years. Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as such reaffirms its commitment towards defence cooperation with the French Republic Japan is one of our most important Asia-Pacific partners, with whom we are guaranteed to continue to cooperate in defence matters. To Ensure Laws and Treaties are respected and help our allies enforce them International Law of the Sea Patrol Investment in cyber capabilities and development of satellite communications and space-based surveillance capabilities. Official return to East of the Suez Continuous Commitment to the UN Peacekeeping program Commitment to the continuous peaceful solution in Cyprus Continue good work with other NATO partners on global issues Encourage the expansion of NATO and work with NATO to incorporate nations such as Sweden as a full member. Reaffirm our commitment to Yemen and our position as a peacekeeping hegemony in the area To Ensure the complete destruction of ISIL and other similar groups in Syria and the Middle East To work with the Foreign Office to be more proactive in the United Nations Security Council, protecting British Interest Internationally and to ensure the protection of international laws and treaties around the Globe Work with our partners in the UNSC to block unhuman motions or those against British Military Interest Work with with our ambassadors in the UNSC to support motions that support Human rights and British Military Interest The British Military will adepot a Pro-Statue Quo stance regarding UNSC reforms The whole defence procurement apparatus to be put into special measures almost akin to a war-footing. All defence projects to have senior managers (Civil Servants and those in uniform) made to stay in post for minimum of 5 years – well rewarded for success or heavily penalised for failure in meeting key performance parameters and deadlines. Ban all defence lobbying interests from Parliament and MoD. Further Studies and evaluation to the threat identified by the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review and update the Nation Defense Policy accordingly To tackle the increasing threat posed by terrorism, extremism and instability by expanding our global presence, and a stronger emphasis on counter-extremist and terrorism, working with our partners in the British Intelligence services and British Counter terrorism unit to tackle threats both locally and internationally To tackle the resurgence of state-based threats; and intensifying wider state competition by reaffirming our commitment to international peace based organization such as UN and NATO. We must also strengthen British Capabilities internationally to protect our interest, and those of our friends and allies. To tackle the impact of technology, especially cyber threats, we must invest more into cyber security and cyber defense on a national level. The armed forces must adapt to the more advanced technology, and to further work with our intelligence services to protect our national interest online. To tackle the erosion of the rules-based international order, making it harder to build consensus and tackle global threats, we must work with the Foreign Office to continue our current relationships with nations around the globe, and establish more meaningful connections with nations that align with our military and national interest around the world. We must also continue our commitment to international treaties and organizations such as NATO and NTP. Planned investment in Special Forces equipment will double and advanced communications equipment and weapons will be bought. Commitment for the continuation of Trident and it’s delivery program. Commitment to the UK nuclear program Affirming commitment into the Successor program. Research and inquiry into the Anti-ICBM and Anti-Missile Capabilities of Britain and investigate the needs of such systems. Commitment to the continuous peaceful and cooperation with the Irish Republic under the Good Friday Agreement to work towards a peaceful and cooperative relationship in Ireland regardless of the terms of Brexit
Identifying Threats; British Armed Forces in the 21st Century.
“Guiding the Armed Forces in a complex world”
Direct, Imminent, and Powerful Threats
Amongst the threats that the UK faces in its security and defence, is Russia. The large-scale up-arming, combined with its new assertiveness and illegal annexing of Crimea and invasion of Donbass, are evidence enough that the UK must conceive once again of serious conflict in the medium-term future. In order to face Russia, the NATO alliance is most vital, but has fallen upon harder times, with current US administrative cooling. We must continue in engagements with NATO, and ensure that the European portions achieve greater security and defence independence from the US.Our separation from the EU is also likely to make coordinating with EU NATO members somewhat more difficult, as the EU begins to plan for more integrated defence and security policy without the UK. This hasn't happened yet, but whatever overtures the EU makes about integrating its defence policy independently of NATO, remains another "chocks away" point of pressure for the United Kingdom. It is at this point impossible to say for sure, and thus the UK must plan for gradually increasing its sovereign independent capability for meeting its national security needs. Direct and Imminent Threats The other very serious imminent threat to the security of the UK is Islamist terrorism, which, over the past 20 years, has been the main focus for overseas deployments of UK forces, and the main preoccupation for national security forces. This must continue, as the serious threat from extremist terrorism, against civilians, is a major driver against the material safety of the citizens of the UK. This must be the first priority for this review, regardless of non-lethal threats which are dealt with towards the end of the review. Not limited to Muslim extremists, the chagrin in Northern Ireland may well present dangerous security risks amongst certain communities, and any extreme group are capable of unleashing a threat in the UK. Powerful Threats In terms of distant, yet powerful, threats, China's rise and aggressive policy towards friends and allies of the UK must be acted upon. The UK must be able to project force into the Pacific region more powerfully, and more frequently, in support of our alliances, and the British overseas Territories and forces deployed in Singapore and Brunei. Being able to defend increased interests in the Pacific Region will serve the UK well, and help to shape the future, even as certain states undermine international law and propriety.
Overseas Bases and Expeditionary Warfare.
“ Pax Britannica once again” Maintaining the Assessment United Kingdom need for Power Projection Our assessment remains the mostly the same as in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review. However we need an increase in Global Presence to counter the growing powers in certain regions and to keep British Interest Globally safe and secured. Work with our allies to contain and maintain peace threats in Eastern Europe and Asia-Pacific Establishing a permanent naval presence in key areas. British Defence Staffs headquarters will be established in the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa A permanent military presence should be returned to Asia. Encouragement of overseas forces (Royal Bermuda regiment, Falkland Island Defense forces, Royal Gibraltar regiment, and Royal Montserrat Defense forces) to merge with regular army organization and training. Reorganization of British Overseas Squadrons and Assets to fit National Interest and British Foreign policy Overseas Bases upgrade and redeployment RAF Ascension Island is a key installation for the UK, it’s purpose as a staging post and Logistics Base for the Royal Navy. Upgrades to its naval facilities must be done to support future voyages of Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Carriers. The SIGHT facility on the Island should also be upgraded to current standards.Wideawake Airfield should be upgraded for future operations. A small garrison might be necessary but remains up for debate. HMS Jufair is a key installation for the Armed Forces Global Power Projection. The possibility of a SIGINT station being built there should be investigated. A helipad and other aviation facilities should be constructed and serve as a basing point for all future air operations in the Middle East. A small naval intelligence or commando unit garrison could also be a possibility we can consider. . British Forces Cyprus shall receive funding to update its accommodations and upgrade its naval facilities to potentially accommodate QE Carriers. RAF Akrotiri will receive a equipement upgrade, and the SIGINT post will also receive hard and software upgrades. It currently is home to two resident infantry battalions and supporting British Army units. British Forces South Atlantic Island is the garrison unit at the Falklands. RAF Flight 1435 and 1312 will be reinforced with 2 additional Typhoon fighters and seval bell helicopters. Royal Navy presence in the region will be reinforced with one River II class Patrol Ships. (Currently 1 Type 45/26/31 class frigate). Accommodation upgrades for the 1,000 British Army personals stationed on the Island. British Forces Germany in Bielefeld will end in 2019-2020 according to schedule, with 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade moving back to Britain. British Forces Gibraltar will receive major reinforcements and upgrades. The previous Gibraltar Squadron is not sufficient enough to defend British Naval Interests in the Mediterranean. The New Squadron will be reinforced with 1 type 26/31 frigate and 2 Mine countermeasure vessels. The squadron will be rename Royal Navy- Mediterranean squadron. The port of GIbraltar will be upgraded to accommodate the new Mediterranean squadron and the possible deployment of QE Carriers to the area. British Gurkhas Nepal will continue to receive more funding for training exercises and the recruitment process for Brigade of Gurkhas. UK Logistic Support base in Omen is a key installation for the Armed Forces Global Power Projection. UK Component Command-Middle East should be relocated to the base and help oversee the command of British Operations in the Middle East. A permanent naval presence should be established in Bahrain, 1 type 45 frigate and 1 type 26/31 frigate, and at least 2 mine countermeasure vessels (Royal Navy- Middle East Squadron) should be stationed at the base at all time, in addition to the current rotating British mission in the Persian Gulf. A helipad and other aviation facilities should be constructed and serve as a basing point for all future air operations in the Middle East. A small naval intelligence or commando unit garrison could also be a possibility we can consider. RAF Al Udeid is the outpost that houses the 83rd Expeditionary Air group. New engineers and parts should be sent to the base, and accommodation should be upgraded. Royal Navy repair and logistics support facility-Singapore is the Royal Navy’s naval base and repair station in Asia. It is time for the UK to have a permanent naval presence in Asia Again, 1 type 45 frigate and 1 type 26 frigate should be stationed in Singapore . An airbase in singapore will also help the capabilities of the Royal Air force and British Power Projection in the Area. Should the Singaporean government agrees, we shall also re-establish HMS Sembawang/HMNB Singapore as a joint Singapore-British naval base, one step further towards ensuring regional security.
Future of the Royal Navy
“Britannia shall rule the waves once more.” Structural changes to the Royal Navy Surface Fleet:
Re-Establishment of distict Commander-in-Chief posts Fleet Commander and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff to be replaced by Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet Command (CINCHOFCOM) and Commander-in-Chief, Far East Fleet Command (CINCFEFCOM) to reflect the official (as British assets have never truly left East of the Suez) return of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces to East of the Suez. The CINCHOFCOM would assume much of the previous duties of the Fleet Commander and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, while the CINCFEFCOM would assume responsibility for personnel, deployment and operations east of the Suez. Reorganization of the Royal Navy surface ships into permanent formations of ships, known as Designated Deployable Command, (DESDECOM). Each have nominally 3-4 ships and could have additional ships attached. 1st DESDECOM (Red Squadron): 2nd DESDECOM (White Squadron): 3rd DESDECOM (Blue Squadron): 4th DESDECOM (Black Squadron): 5th DESDECOM (Green Squadron): 6th DESDECOM (Yellow Squadron):
Address the manpower issue within the Royal Navy:
Funding for an emergency recruitment drive. Above inflation pay rises, at least for ratings. A complete new bonus structure with golden handcuff deals that incentivise experienced people to remain serving, with large retention bonuses paid at 3 yearly intervals. Further improve accommodation and family support where needed. Consider any other radical option that will help recruit and retain personnel. Target minimum strength of RN to be at least 50,000 plus reservists.
Life extension for the Type 23 and refit for the Type 45:
All 13 Type 23s fitted with towed array sonar, Sea Ceptor and all 13 to have life-extension refits. Purchase of Norwegian Naval Strike Missile canister-launched anti-ship missile to replace Harpoon on all Type 45 and Type 23s. Type 45 propulsion rectification programme to begin immediately. (Starting with HMS Dauntless). Structural change to the bow of the ship at the same time to accomodate an additional 24 Mk41 VLS cells to be conducted at the same time. Purchase Tomahawks, LRASM and ASROC for Type 45 / Type 26.
Additional purchases of key equipment like Phalanx, Torpedo defence system, decoys, etc. End the practice of sharing major equipment between ships. Every ship allocated their own complete set of kit with back-up spares held ashore. The Completion of the Queen Elizabeth the Second Carrier Program
HMS Queen Elizabeth to finish sea testing and enter service on time. For HMS Prince of Wales to finish sea testing. To accelerate the preparation for the carrier to achieve full operational capability by at latest 2022. With the Prince of Wales’s approval, we also consider the possibility of renaming the ship the HMS Ark Royal, to continue the line of the traditional Royal Navy flagship, as well as to partly remedy the loss of the HMS Ark Royal (Invincible-class). For one carrier to be constantly deployed at all times For upgrades to take place across all major ports and naval bases to accommodate the carriers. Maiden Voyage around the world to show off British Naval Power and test the ship under stressed conditions
Investigate the possibility of theater missiles defense via Royal Navy Vessels.
Procurement of Aster 30 Block1NT for the Type 45 to fulfil this mission.
Continue Procurement to maintain the Royal Navy’s Capabilities:
Retain all 4 Batch 1 River class OPVs to be dedicated to UK territorial waters patrols and recruit additional reservists to man them Procurement of at least 4 Ocean tankesupplies ship to maintain a global operational range (4 ships from the Tide Class) Procurement of a further 4 (up to 6) River II Class Patrol Boats to protect British Maritime Interest around the globe Procurement of three new large MARS Solid Support Ships to support the Royal Navy’s operational capabilities around the group. Upgrade the 12 Merlin helicopters currently in storage to Mk2 standard. Order another 12 Wildcat helicopters and fit all 36 of them with dipping sonar and Tactical Data Link. Expand missile, torpedo and ammunition stocks. Increase level of general stores, spares and replacement parts and re-establish an in-depth and resilient logistical support system for the navy.
Continued Commitment to British at seas deterrents:
Maintain the Vanguard Class Until at least 2028. Maintain the current constant at sea deterrent schedule. Replacement for the Vanguard Class to enter service by 2028. Commit to maintaining a peaceful presence at sea and a non-aggressive stance on nuclear weapons usage, while maintaining a policy of deliberate ambiguity on first strike capabilities In accordance to National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, procure a commercial replacement for the aging Type 23 frigate Scotstoun “Frigate Factory” is to be constructed for a cost of 300 Million Pounds to facilitate a delivery of one ship per year starting from 2022 with the HMS Glasgow. The order of at least 8 Type 31 frigate to maintain British capabilities at sea and as a new general purpose frigate. We must maintain at least 16 escorts at sea at all time To completely transfer of new frigates before 2028 To retire all current Type 23 by 2030. At least 6 Type 23s (up to 8) are to be put into reserves.
Commission a competition for a capable multirole Sloop-of-war (1,500-2,000 tons) to protect British Interest Internationally:
The light vessel is intended to fill the gap between the River Batch II OPV and the Type 31, and to replace the current Mine Countermeasures fleet of the Royal Navy. Cost must be below 100 Million Pounds per ship Must have mission modules for a variety of missions between special forces deployment to mine countermeasure. Procure a number (to be determined, at least 16) ships to protect British interest and maritime trade and to replace existing assets. Adding them to respective squadrons for its deployment cycle.
Protect Amphibious Capability:
Investigate HMS Ocean Replacement Maintain LPDs HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion in active service Investigate a replacement for HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion
Maintain the Royal Navy’s capabilities in Submarine and Anti-Submarine Warfare.
Commitment to the replacement program for Trafalgar class attack submarines, and it’s Astute-class submarine replacements. A deployment schedule for Astute class submarines for power projection and maritime protection. Submarine wargames with Submarine warfare experts such as Sweden to improve operational capabilities
Creation of a British Arctic and Antarctic Strategy.
To protect british interest in the region, we must commit to a long term strategy in both strategic regions Work with Foreign Office to come up with a Military response and strategy To procure new icebreakers to fit said strategies. To secure our interest in our Antarctic Territories and protect our interests there.
The Commitment to upgrade and modernize HMNB Devonport, Portsmouth, and Clyde
Upgrade HMNB Devonport to accommodate the QE Class Carriers Upgrade all three ports to accommodate the newer RN Ships and their crew. Upgrading and ensuring good living standards with entertainment for those living or basing in these bases. Modernize HMNS Portsmouth's dry docks to accommodate most of the large and upcoming surface ships of the Royal Navy. Upgrading HMNS Clyde with additional storage for weapons and Trident.
Research into Scapa Flow as a possible future base for the Royal Navy nuclear deterrent to relieve stress on the Clyde, both operationally and politically, and to prepare the base for the future increase in the number of boats of the Royal Navy Submarine Service. Continuous procurement and exercises to maintain the capabilities of the Fleet Air Arm.
The simplification of fleet helicopters to only the AW101 Merlin and the AW159 Lynx Wildcat. Procurement of more helicopter to suit the new ships entering service Investigation of EV-22 as Early Warning Aircrafts for carriers Procurement of a helicopteplane capable of aerial refueling capable from launching for carriers
Future of the Royal Air Force
“Looking to the future, and flying forward to meet it” Reaffirm UK’s Commitment to the F-35 and any subsequent Programs
Deployment of newly received F-35s to appropriate squadrons Incorporate F-35s to the UK Rapid Response Squadron Phase out two squadrons of Tornado Fighters to make way for F-35s, and the last squadron will be disbanded when all F-35s are received. Confirm our order of 138 F-35 Fighters and maintain an option to purchase more Reaffirm UK’s Commitment to the use of Typhoon fighters and maintain it’s fleet until at least 2040. Formation and Procurement of two additional squadrons of Typhoon Fighters to boost British Air-Defense and Air capabilities Maintain its fleet in active service until 2040 (2030) Invest further in Typhoon air-to-ground capabilities and in a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar Completing integration of the Storm Shadow and Brimstone missiles with the Typhoon Completion and testing of Project Centurion on certain squadrons.
To commit Britain into actively researching and developing a next generation fighter that will replace the Typhoon in 2040.
Aim for parcial production by 2038, and full production by 2040. Reaffirm UK’s Commitment to a new generation of Airborne Early Warning Aircrafts Finalize the procurement details of the E-7 Aircrafts Finish Negotiation with Boeing on details pertaining the purchase Upgrade our current E-3 Fleet and to extend service until 2025. Prepare the E-3 Fleet for retirement in 2025 To commit Britain to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles procurement and improve the Royal Air Force’s capability in UAV and UAV defense capabilities Further purchase of BAE MANTIS and or other next-generation medium-altitude, long-endurance to replace the aging MQ-9 Reaper fleet Double the personal and number of UAVs available by 2030 Retirement of MQ-9 by 2023 Investigation and studies into the Future Air Combat Systems Work with BAE to finalize details for BAE Taranis Purchase of two Qinetiq Zephyr for testing and scientific data and espionage purposes.
To maintain the Royal Air Force capability of Strategic and tactical airlifting and the capability of global operation via air to air refueling
The deployment of the 22 Airbus A400M Atlas Transports The continued service of all C-130J Hercules until 2030 Procurement of further A400M Atlas to improve British airlift power and rely less on NATO and to accommodate with the new doctrine of Quick Response Brigades Maintain the current fleet of C-17 Globemaster III fleet until 2030 or 2035 The deployment and fitting of 13 Voyager Air-to-Air refuelling aircrafts
To maintain and improve the Royal Air Force capabilities of battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities
Maintain the fleet Sentinel R1 until 2025 Shadow R1 will remain in service until at least 2030 and two more aircraft will be procured. Sentry AEW1 and Rivet Joint R1 will remain in service until 2035 Investigate procurement replacements for Sentinel R1 Aircrafts To fill the gap left in the Royal Air Force Capabilities by the cancelation of Nimrod MRA4 Aircrafts. Decide the replacement for a medium-long range maritime patrol aircraft Investigate the possible procurement of 8-10 Poseidon P-8 aircrafts to fit the gap left by the cancelation Study the need of the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy to determine which aircraft better suits the needs of both branches of the armed forces
Maintain and improve the Royal Air Forces capabilities in Helicopter
Maintain and improve the Royal Air Forces capabilities in Helicopter Additional procurement of 22 chinook twin engine helicopter for tactical transport purposes Upgrading the existing PUMA HC1 fleet to HC2 which will prolong their service until 2027 Investigating a replacement once the PUMA retires Improve the Royal Air force capabilities in Space, both communication and warfare tactics. Publish an official strategy when dealing with Space and a plan to go along New generation of communication probes New generation of Early Warning satellites and probes.
Future of the British Army
“Best of the best, ready for today and tomorrow” In accordance with Army 2020 Refine study, the complete reorganization of the British Army Creation of two new "Strike brigades", to be formed by the re-rolling of an Armoured Infantry brigade and an Infantry brigade. These will be formed by 2025, comprising 5,000 personnel each, equipped with Ajax vehicles.
The UK's deployable warfighting division will, by 2025, comprise two armoured infantry brigades and a strike brigade Creation of a Specialised Infantry Group, to be formed by re-rolling 4-5 infantry battalions Two innovative brigades will be established, comprising a mix of regulars and specialist capabilities from the reserves, that are able to contribute to strategic communications, tackle hybrid warfare and deliver better battlefield intelligence. Commitment to forming 2 AJAX Strike Brigades and 2 Mechanized Infantry Vehicle Battalion Finalize the members of the first AJAX Strikes Brigade Procurement of further AJAX Vehicles to support the creation of a second AJAX Strikes Brigade.
Commitment to forming a total of 5 specialized Infantry battalions
Further training and equipment handling exercise for the following units for specialization purposes: The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, 4th Battalion, The Rifles, 2nd Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment , 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles.
Commitment to the formation of a Quick reaction force able to respond to global threats and is available for fast deployment and crisis management
This will consist of the 16th Air Assault Brigade and the 3rd (UK) Armour Division. 16th Air Assault Brigade and one of the 4 brigades of the 3rd(UK) Armour Division will be on high alert, ready to deploy to anywhere in the globe with in 72 hours, with the rest of the Division ready to deploy within 4 weeks
Commitment to the formation of a Adaptable force able to respond specific regional issues and is trained and adapted to specific regional threats
This will consist of the 1st (UK) Infantry Division and it’s 7 Infantry Brigade Each Brigade will train and prepare for conflict in a specific region and tackle specific training and preparation exercises. Four of the Royal Armoured Corps' Regiments will merge into two regiments 9th/12th Royal Lancers and Queen's Royal Lancers will merge to become The Royal Lancers 1st Royal Tank Regiment and 2nd Royal Tank Regiment will merge to form the Royal Tank Regiment.
Commitment to maintaining the combat capabilities of the Royal Army by not cutting personals or reservists.
The size of the Army will not fall below 92,000 regulars and 35,000 reservists. Further efforts will be made into keeping the Royal Army in shape and the commitment of continuous procurement to safeguard the ability of the British Army Procurement of 600 Ajax IFV Apache attack helicopters will be "upgraded". Four squadrons will exist in 2025. Challenger 2 tanks will be upgraded by the Army's Life Extension Project (LEP), which will extend the tank's out-of-service date Investigate a replacement for Challenger 2 tanks
2018.10.16 16:08 peter_j_[EVENT] Strategic Defence and Security Review: United Kingdom, January 2020
Strategic Defence and Security Review 2020
This review, following the 2015 and 2010, aims to provide a cohesive and comprehensive analysis of the suitability of UK Forces to meet the threats it faces in the 2020s. The landscape has greatly changed, our security status is different, and a long trend of gradual cuts to the armed forces must be halted, if we are to credibly remain a globalpower.TM
Direct, Imminent, and Powerful Threats
Amongst the threats that the UK faces in its security and defence, is Russia. The large-scale up-arming, combined with its new assertiveness and illegal annexing of Crimea and proxy invasion of Donbass, are evidence enough that the UK must conceive once again of serious conflict in the medium-term future. In order to face Russia, the NATO alliance is most vital, but has fallen upon harder times, with current US administrative cooling. We must continue in engagements with NATO, and ensure that the European portions achieve greater security and defence independence from the US, as we cannot afford to have the US's historic high levels of subsidising of European Defence power withdrawn, or even reduced, without replacement. Our separation from the EU is also likely to make co-ordinating with EU NATO members somewhat more difficult, as the EU begins to plan for more integrated defence and security policy without the UK. This hasn't happened yet, but whatever overtures the EU makes about integrating its defence policy independently of NATO, remains another "chocks away" point of pressure for the United Kingdom. It is at this point impossible to say for sure, and thus the UK must plan for gradually increasing its sovereign independent capability for meeting its national security needs. It is against this backdrop that the rest of the Review depends.
Direct and Imminent Threats
The other very serious imminent threat to the security of the UK is Islamist terrorism, which, as a constant over the past 20 years, has been the main focus for overseas deployments of UK forces, and the main preoccupation for national security forces. This must continue, as the serious threat from extremist terrorism, against civilians, is a major driver against the material safety of the citizens of the UK. This must be the first priority for this review, regardless of non-lethal threats which are dealt with towards the end of the review. Not limited to Muslim extremists, the chagrin in Northern Ireland may well present dangerous security risks amongst certain communities, and any extreme group are capable of unleashing a threat in the UK.
In terms of distant, yet powerful, threats, China's rise and aggressive policy towards friends and allies of the UK must be acted upon. The UK must be able to project force into the Pacific region more powerfully, and more frequently, in support of our alliances - the Five Powers, CPTPP, and the British overseas Territories and forces deployed in Singapore, Brunei, and Pitcairn. Being able to defend increased interests in the Pacific Region will serve the UK well, and help to shape the future, even as certain states undermine international law and propriety.
Facing the Threats: Suggestions for the improvement of UK Forces to meet the threats and ensure Security and Defence of our Nation, Allies, and Interests
The systemic reduction of the British Army's manpower must halt at once, and be rolled back to level in keeping with the historical standard for the past 40 years, namely an endstrength of 105,000 (down from 120,000 in 1990, and up from 82,000 in 2020. These additions to the Forces must not all be at the entry level, we must accommodate the current glut of officers, the rapid reduction in forces has meant that several historic promotions have had to be suspended or delayed, or even cancelled, simply out of a lack of forces to command. The target for additions is ten years from now. In order to make these expansions work, we should make the following changes:
Command structure for Division-level and above. Around 20,000 personnel should be placed into the HQ and Forces structure at the Division, Corps, and Field Army level. The Aim should be to have one Field Army Command, two Infantry Corps, with two Divisions each, with the focus for integration with the Corps of Cavalry, Artillery, Engineers, Signals, Army Air Corps, Royal Army Chaplains Department, Royal Logistic Corps, Royal Army Medical Corps, Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Adjutant General's Corps, Royal Army Veterinary Corps, Small Arms School Corps, Royal Army Dental Corps, Royal Army Physical Training Corps, General Service Corps, Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps, Intelligence Corps, Corps of Army Music. Around 5,000 Additional Personnel
Changes to Command Structure. British Army command structure uses the nomenclature of Division only to mean deployable headquarters, but infantry, cavalry, artillery, and support troops should be organised more throroughly into brigades. We will leave it to the army to draw up a plan gathering the proposed force changes into a cohesive and efficient structure over the next months, with changes taking place over years.
Increase in Frontline Infantry. 28 Current Infantry Battalions should be increased to 32 Infantry Battalions, through a mixture of mobilising reserve battalions, and raising new soldiers to serve across the Infantry. This will be a mix of Light, Mechanised, and Armoured Infantry. Around 4,000 Additional Personnel
Increase in Frontline Cavalry. The Armour and Cavalry Corps should be expanded from three Tank Battalions to four, fitted with Challenger 2 MBT, upgraded to the proposed Black Night standard, or a better proposal if one can be found. Additional Challenger 2s should be made available to the Yeomanry Reserve, and a small battalion to the Marines, a total of around 224. The rest of the Cavalry should be expanded from 9 Cavalry Battalions to 12. Of these, eight Battalions should be equipped with the Ajax Scout SV, while four should be kept as Light Reconnaissance. Around 4000 Personnel
Increase in Frontline Artillery. The symmetry of 12 frontline battalion sized Regiments to support 12 similar cavalry formations, is beneficial, and allows them to be paired up with battalions or groups of battalions, of infantry, in a coordinated way. Changes in the way artillery is operated and produced, also contributes to changes necessary. Whilst there is no need to retire or change our AS90 Self propelled howitzer, advances in towed howitzers, especially the BAE M777, offer us a chance to address afresh the discrepancy between our light and heavy batteries, by providing a large calibre, highly mobile, middle option. Any new batteries added by the Royal Artillery should operate this weapon. Additions: Around 2,000 personnel
Changes to support troops. Royal Engineers, Signals, Logistics, and other Corps are too removed from the operational deployment of formation infantry and other force. They must be more closely integrated so that they can be globally useful, and not merely administrative. The "Rule of 12" should apply to these too; with 12 frontline formations being raised, and additional higher level assets gathered into the command structure to support. Around 5000 Personnel
The total force increases should have around 5-10 years of bedding in, with eventual endstrength of 105,000 being reached by no later than 2030.
Long range equipment must utilise the excellent CAMM missile option, M777 howitzer, platoon level UAVs, and increases to Army Air Corps helicopter numbers, to enforce wider reach for army units, at home and abroad, as their priority. Any new procurements in long range fires, air manoeuvre, and support, should be along these lines. This report recommends:
A heavier air mobility helicopter in larger numbers to replace the Puma, and be put under Army Air Corps Command and operation, instead of Air Force.
M777 howitzers to fit out 6-8 Regiments of Royal Artillery
CAMM launcher vehicles on various platforms, to support and defend Battalion-level operations against Air Attack
A new UAV to be operated at the platoon level, for reconnaissance and targetting
The strategic partnership we have with MBDA to assure us of access to cutting edge missile technology, and BAE's development of Dragonfire and railgun technology, give us no shortage of options, but the actual procurement of sufficient armaments is vital to ensure that our defence threat is credible, and that we are not caught short by fluctuations in necessity.
Our recent infantry battle equipment changes have made today's infantry better protected than ever. The same cannot yet be said for our vehicles. The Land Rovers in utility and MWMMK roles have proved catastrophically equipped to deal with modern combat, and must be replaced. An indigenous 4x4 vehicle, preferably from amongst our already operational fleet, must be procured in numbers that see protected mobility as the norm for all frontline soldiers. We must also, this year, assure the military, and the public, a certainty regarding the Infantry Mobility Vehicle, which will be the Boxer 8x8, or an alternative that offers a degree of protection, armament, and price, which offer more. The Challenger 2 LEP is already mentioned, and should be begun within 18 months.
The Royal Navy's immense pressures are increased, with the return to British Sovereignty of our EEZ and fishing waters. The recent changes to Patrol and Squadron organisation, have substantially met that threat. Increasing, in pressure still, however, are the number of surface escorts, the capability of the fleet to meet the necessary threats, and the increasing need for us to be able to protect ourselves and our overseas territories against newer threats. This report recommends the increasing of DESFRIGRON constituent ships to no fewer than four surface frigates and destroyers. The additions should come from the Type 31e class, as they offer far more hull per £, and also because the material strength of the Type 45 and Type 26, is already well met by the planning and execution of the projects, though this can be revisited within 4 years. Around 1000 personnel
The commencement of the building of the second Dreadnought class boat is to be applauded, and the next one should be begun in two years time, giving commissioning dates of 2030, 2032, 2034, and, finally, 2036. Each Vanguard class boat they replace, should be brought offline that same year. The Astute class are almost all completed, with the final two due in 2022 and 2024. This report recommends a fresh study into the capability of seven SSNs to meet the security and defence needs of the UK, as extensive deployment overseas of the Deterrent, Carriers, and Amphibious operations, stretches their ability to meet it effectively. As the boats must be built at BAE Barrow in current polity, regardless no new construction could begin before the first Dreadnought is commissioned in 2030.
The securing of two proper Carrier Strike Groups has given us a capability lost for decades, namely, CEPP. the arrangement of their cycling between HWAR, HWLR, Carrier Operations, and Long Layup, is efficient, and allows us to realistically expect to use CEPP at any given moment, effectively. This paper proposes the addition of one final squadron of F35b to come under Naval command, to ensure that surge force, and battle replacements, are a threat we can realistically face.
Long without proper attention, the two Albion Class LPDs will partner with the new Operation Class LSDs, and should be joined by a third Albion Class dock, in keeping with the National Shipbuilding Strategy, as soon as practical. Currently BAE Scotstoun is the only yard capable of providing this piece of the puzzle. The Royal MArines use force in thirds, with one third on leave and light training, one third in higher readiness, and one third on deployment, more or less all the time. With the pressure on the rest of our surface fleet, even the new ships will not give the Marines true capability to defeat a serious threat in support of our Overseas territories, credibly, without seriously adding to the burden of the rest of the fleet, which it cannot currently supply. A "Light Carrier" or Amphibious Assault Ship Class, should be created, built to house a small detachment of F35s, as well as helicopters, in something like an LPH or LHD configuration. If we are serious about being able to enact Amphibious Assault in a credible way, the Amphibious Ready Group should have an LHD, Albion Class LPD, and Operation Class LSD, available to them, and be able to put reinforced battalions complete with vehicles, ashore in hostile circumstances, with the assigned DESFRIGRON in support. These new ships need not be anything like as large or sophisticated as the Queen Elizabeth Class, so, like HMS Ocean before them, they should be built to commercial standards, and primarily used as helicopter carriers, without cutting edge sensor suites, or automation. An open competition is recommended, to ensure the MoD is able to buy credible surface vessels from UK builders. Around 2000 personnel
The UK has become a world leader in advanced fighter technology, with the commencement of advanced discussions regarding the F3, a contractor and supervisory role in the TAI FX, and intimate production role in the F35, as well as the driving force behind the BAE Tempest, which is reaching the close of its initial development design phase in the next two years. By then, the UK must have a serious proposal to bring this 6th Gen fighter to production in the future. Acquisition of the 5.5 gen F3, our full complement of F35s, and the gradual easing of reliance on the Typhoon fleet, should be planned for, long in advance. The Typhoon should be retired at once, and its squadrons converted to F35 operationality. Around 1000 personnel
UAV / UCAV
Current UK focus is on the three projects of the BAE Taranis, Qinetiq Zephyr, and BAE Protector. In addition to smaller drones, and the Storm Shadows and Reapers already in operation, these projects will represent the primary forcus of the Air Force's unmanned vehicle procurement for the next ten years, barring any sudden change in the technological landscape.
Using RAF Akrotiki, Bahrain, Ascension, and Brunei, UK Air Forces should plan to be able to operate sufficient Air-to-Air refuelling, maritime patrol, surveillance, AEWAC, and supply roles, from any base, to anywhere in the world. Without logistical support, the UK's claim to be a credible threat in any ocean, is impossible to achieve. Confirmation of the purchase of the Boeing Wedgetail should follow quickly, and the planned increase in P8 Poseidon aircraft should include half being handed over to the Navy, for their own operational control. A review should be undertaken to assess the operational strength of the UK's air transport fleet.
With the UK's participation in Galileo and the EU's other space projects still not assured, it is of paramount importance that the UK respond positively to recent overtures by Japan, Australia, and Canada, regarding the future of space operations. The realistic exploration of a satellite constellation of our own, as wel as participatory roles in the ISS and future collaborations with the ESA and NASA, are of vital importance, as is the civilian exploration of space, and business interests.
GCHQ is still facing around 10 threats per week which constitute a serious and credible threat to the operation of our online networks. We must face the fact that Russia uses Electronic Warfare in this way to impart propaganda, sabotage, and surveillance, in illegal, and aggressive, ways. Other nations such as China, Iran, and North Korea, have all been caught doing this very thing as well. A serious effort to improve our defensive capabilities, and assure civilian populations within those countries of access to neutral and accurate news media, is of paramount importance.
Last week on LU The show opened with Jeremiah Crane vs. Taya. Taya provoked Jeremiah, with Crane inflicting punishment on Taya early. With Crane having the early advantage, Taya took back a measure of control, before Sexy Star came out to distract her. Off of the distraction, Crane hit several bits of offense before hitting Cranial Contusion for the victory. After the match, Sexy hit Taya with the brass knuckles from her match against PJ Black. In the gym, Fenix is shown training, before Aerostar comes to talk to him. Fenix talks about how Aerostar is a time traveler, and how Drago's betrayal must hurt him. In the ring, Catrina escorts Mil Muertes to the ring, while Paul London approaches the ring. The match began with London continually goofing off, before Mil decided he had enough and brawled with him. The two brawled back and forth, and while fighting outside Saltador and Mala Suerte came out to distract the ref and Mil, before Mil caught Mala Suerte with a punch. Paul hit a pair of Shooting Star Presses, but it wasn't enough, and Mil picked up the victory with The Flatliner. Afterwards, Catrina gave London the Lick of Death. At a bar, Texano is approached by Brenda, when she says that he is boring, saying that he needs a women's touch, while Famous B is overlooking it all. Next week, Cage will fight Pindar, PJ Black will fight Prince Puma, and Dante Fox will fight Son of Havoc. In the ring, Marty "The Moth" Martinez is accompanied by Marioposa, while holding a lunch box and eating a sandwich, before he tries to forcibly feed it to Melissa Santos, prompting her to introduce Fenix. The two brawl back and forth, with Marty trying to rip off Fenix's mask, and Mariposa attacking him while the ref is distracted. The two fight back and forth, with Marty getting increasingly frustrated as the match goes on, and part of Fenix's mask tearing due to continued attacks. While outside, Mariposa attempts to hit Fenix with the lunchbox, before Melissa tries to stop her, leading to Fenix getting the win off of a backslide pinning combination. Afterwards, Marty hit Fenix with the lunchbox, before grabbing a fork and continually stabbing Fenix's forehead, while Mariposa restrains Melissa. Round 2 of the cueto cup continues!
Prince Puma vs. PJ Black
Dante Fox vs. Son of Havoc
New to Lucha Underground? Lucha Underground is a promotion out of southern California that features independent wrestlers from the US and luchadores from the Mexican promotion AAA. The show is an hour long, and features a cross between American and Mexican styles showcased in a small arena with a hyped crowd. Featuring intergender matches, violence and attitude, Lucha Underground provides something pretty unique for wrestling fans to enjoy. With commentary from Matt Striker and Vampiro, you don't have to worry about some certain other commentators ruining your night, either. A number of very recognizable faces compete on LU. Come watch with us, and see what the fuss is about! You can catch up with season one by checking out El Rey's YouTube channel. If you want to watch, please check your television provider for the El Rey network. You can also check El Rey's website to find out if the network is available in your area. Just press "Watch Now" in the top right corner and enter your zip code. If you don't get El Rey, please tell your television provider that you want the network. You can find a list of television provider's contact information on El Rey's website. Give them a call, send them an email - just make sure they know you want the El Rey network. If you still don't get El Rey, try Sling TV - here - if it's available to you. It's a little pricey, but you get a lot of networks and one of them is El Rey. There is a free seven day trial of Sling available! Fubo.tv - here - also provides a legal way to watch El Rey live with a subscription, and costs 9.99 USD per month, or 95 USD for a year. Lucha Underground also airs on TLN in Canada, Sundays at 10PM ET. In Japan, the show airs on Samurai TV. There are other international broadcasts, so check your local listings. Typically, international broadcasters started from episode one and thus aren't current. Lucha Underground episodes are available on iTunes shortly after they air in SD and HD. El Rey, and Lucha Underground, recently became available through AT&T Uverse as well! Lucha Underground Season 1 is also available on Netflix. Miscellaneous New to /SquaredCircle? Check out the wiki for more information about the community. Be sure to check out the El Rey YouTube channel for teasers, highlights and featured matches from Lucha Underground. You can also like Lucha Underground on Facebook and follow @LuchaElRey on Twitter. Following Dario Cueto's tweets can be a fun time, too. The Lucha Underground store is online! You can buy shirts or hats here. US only, right now. More shirts are available at ProWrestlingTees, and PWT ships internationally! Subreddit You should subscribe to /LuchaUnderground if you want to stay up to date on LU! The subreddit has 3,900+ subscribers now! Hopefully, with the regulars' (and newbies') help, we can all make the sub an even more lively place and keep it growing!
[This article has been translated into Galactic Standard by the Axanda Corporation] [Terms have been edited to preserve intent and promote ease of understanding] [Axanda: Bringing the Galaxy Together] Assassination in the Capitol! By Jaxus Ferlus Ayilus
The galaxy is in uproar after lawyer Yossi Antanase was assassinated just outside the Grand Court! A currently unidentified Oualan wearing the uniform of the Capitol Police had managed to smuggle a lethal weapon past the security scanners and shot Antanase shortly after he had emerged from the courtroom with Grand Prosecutor Tryk Ynt. Antanase was the lawyer representing the controversial human organization known as the Black Room, who were declared guilty of genocide and crimes against sentience earlier that day. Before shooting Antanase, the assassin was reported as yelling “This is for Terra Nova!” The assassin was quickly killed by the security assigned to Antanase and Ynt, but not before he had managed to fatally wound the human.
Officials from Earth have raised many concerns regarding the situation, namely the slow reaction time of Antanase’s guard, the killer’s motive, and the logistics of bringing an unregistered lethal weapon into the Grand Court.
‘Ynt and Antanase both had AI guards, yet these guards were unable to protect Antanase from the shooter.’ says a security expert who preferred not to be named. ‘It is suspicious that this was able to occur, considering the whole reason for choosing AI guards was because they were faster than biological attackers.’
‘There is no doubt that this was a politically motivated killing.’ The expert continued, ‘Perhaps the AI allowed the killer to take the shot as some sort of punishment for Antanase’s involvement with the Black Room? Whatever the case, there was a major lapse in security. Somehow not one of the thirteen security sweeps between the court entrance and the tunnel exit caught this lethal weapon.’
Others suggest there are far simpler explanations to the mystery.
‘The killer was wearing a Capitol Police uniform. All the guards, biological and AI, were wearing the uniform, and it is not unknown for there to be confusion in these situations.’ Says Professor Wyl of the University Wystelwal. ‘The situation was chaotic before the shooting began. Camera flashes, shouting, shoving, the uniform, all could contribute to the slow reaction time of the AI. After all, they are sentient beings, not programs.’
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‘Well?’ Alia asked as she leaned against the entrance to their temporary safehouse in the skyrise. ‘How does Dumah know you?’
Alex looked up from the unconscious guards in the hallway. Behind her Magnus was moving between them, checking for a pulse and occasionally glancing their way.
‘Same as Francis. I worked for them.’ Alex said. ‘So do the smart thing and tear up that business card. If you give them an inch they will take a lightyear.’
Alia looked down at the business card Dumah had left for her. It was a perfect black circle with a simple dark grey eye on one side. On the other side of the circle the symbol was repeated, but there was a slash through the pupil and four small circles were located at compass points around the eye. A thirteen digit number was written down right below the eye. Before he had left, Dumah said that if Alia had ever wanted to work for the Black Room all she had to do was call that number.
‘Lots of people worked for the Black Room,’ Alia said as she slipped the card into her pocket, right next to the pendant she had been given her at the funeral. ‘Most of them didn’t know they were doing it. What made you different that an agent was on a first name basis with you?’
‘Francis told me a bit about his time with them,’ Magnus said as he crouched over an unconscious Fen’yan. ‘He had been transferred to a new unit and was doing some top secret shit. Didn’t even know he wasn’t working for the government until he heard some rumours and decided to snoop through comm channels. He said it took him another three months to work out what the Black Room actually was and then another three years just to make a foolproof escape plan. Then he spent the next few years hiding in a desert until you picked him up for our little business. So how’d you get out, Alex?’
‘It isn’t important.’ Alex said, pulling out her pistol and peeking through the stairwell window. ‘Stairwell is still clear. No reports from downstairs, Dumah must have found an alternate exit. Let the backup team deal with the wounded.’
‘It is important. Whatever you know about the Black Room we need to know, now.’ Alia said. ‘There’ve been too many secrets.’
‘Agreed.’ Magnus said. ‘I signed up because you promised me a good fight and good pay but the Black Room is not a good fight and I haven’t seen a decent payday since Europa. Since then, it has all been about you and Francis trying to screw the Black Room. So start talking or I’m walking.’
‘Then walk.’ Alex said as she walked past Alia and returned to the apartment. ‘Like you said, this is about what I want, and that is the entire Black Room dead at my feet. If you don’t feel like hunting down the people responsible for more atrocities and massacres than you can even think of, then by all means, enjoy your retirement.’
‘So, then you’ll just go and take on the entire organization by yourself?’ Alia asked. ‘The same organization where a single one of their agents almost killed you even when you had the element of surprise? The same organization that knows you hate them to the point you’ll twist the truth of Terra Nova just to spite them? I wish you luck tracking down every last one of their agents. I’m sure they’ll be real happy to come out of hiding.’
‘That’s the plan.’ Alex said. In the distance storm clouds rumbled and gathered.
‘Quick question, do you know how to spell hypocrisy?’ Magnus asked as he shut the door to the apartment behind him. ‘Because I seem to recall that just a little while ago you were telling me I have been taking unnecessary risks. At the moment, you are taking an unnecessary risk because you sure as shit can’t do this alone.’
‘Fine. You want to really know?’ Alex said, sitting down on the couch with a thud. ‘I was a good colonel, and the Black Room needed manpower. They chose me to command a few of their squads of Grave Hounds, Shaped Men, and other humans they conscripted into their service. Dumah was my handler, giving me the missions I needed to complete and the people I needed to complete them. Francis was in one of those squads. We met briefly, and we recognized each other from our time in the Aurelius-Charlemagne cohort.
‘Like Francis I didn’t understand who I was working for at first. Dumah always introduced himself as a government rep, so I thought that it was simply a secret task force assembled by the politicians to do unsavory work. When Francis found out about what was really going on, he told me and I confronted Dumah. Up until then the missions he had me leading had been escalating. What had been precision strikes on military targets became civilian assassinations, bombing buildings, and even releasing a bioweapon in a bunker. Dumah confirmed our suspicions.
‘He didn’t even try to lie once I asked him. He just stood there, smiling. Confident that I was in too deep to do anything about it. He was mostly right. I left, slammed the door on my way out, and came home to find that the Black Room did not like me leaving.’
For a moment, Alia could have sworn that Alex had been about to cry, if it was even possible after having her eyes replaced by augments. ‘Why didn’t they just kill you? Why let you go?’
‘I was a highly decorated colonel for Aurelius-Charlemagne.’ Alex said, pointing at a series of silver stars stamped onto the chest piece of her armor. ‘While running the Black Room’s errands I was still leading my cohort. I couldn’t give up my command, because that would raise suspicions, and they couldn’t kill me because I was too important. So they struck back at people who weren’t as important as I was. Does that answer your question?’
‘Alright.’ Magnus shrugged. ‘Good enough for me.’
‘Who’d they go after?’ Alia asked, leaning on the counter. Even after living and working with Alex for several months the Colonel had been incredibly tight lipped about her past life.
‘That is personal.’ Alex said.
A knock cut them off as one of the security guards from the lower levels opened the door.
‘Sorry to interrupt, but someone wants to see you.’ The Hodwan said.
Behind the guard was the large imposing figure of the Grand Prosecutor Ynt. Resplendent in a matte grey suit with golden bracers on each of his four arms, the Demantis looked suitably grand. Alia had not seen many of his kind before, the Demantis preferring to stick to the core worlds of the galaxy. Beyond the four arms and green skin, the Ynt’s head looked somewhat human with two eyes, a thin beard, and sharp teeth sticking out between his lips. His angled features made it look like someone had dragged the middle of his face downwards while pulling the edges upwards.
‘Greetings.’ The green skinned alien said, shoving his way past the guard and into the apartment. It felt a great deal more cramped to Alia when a good chunk of the room near the entrance was being taken up by a giant. ‘It seems I have come at a bad time.’
‘You did.’ Alex said. Alia cast a sideways glance at Magnus, who took the hint and began lowering the one way blinds in the windows. No one should know where they were meeting someone like Ynt. The grey clouds outside had gotten larger and darker, hanging low over the entire city like a thick blanket.
Ynt ignored her protest. ‘Due to concerns for your safety, it has been decided that you will all be placed into protective custody. We already have posted guards to look after Ms. Yusuf and Mr. Hallant.’
‘I thought we were already under protective custody.’ Alia said, thumbing at the entrance of the apartment.
‘Just for the record,’ Magnus said, ‘all those guards out there were taken down by one Black Room agent. Just eff-why-eye.’
The Grand Prosecutor’s face twitched slightly. ‘Yes, well, we will be moving you to a proper safehouse with a larger security complement until this whole business is over. We’ll let you go your own way once all the Black Room agents have been detained.’
‘No.’ Alex said. ‘Not going to happen.’
‘Excuse me? This is for your own safety!’
‘Three reasons.’ Alex said, holding up a trio of platinum fingers. ‘One: those guards were useless against a single agent. From my own experience, I know that particular agent does not specialize in combat. If your guards can’t even stop a single, unarmed engineer they might as well just shoot themselves right now and spare the Black Room the trouble when they send an actual killer. Two: that same agent just gave us confirmation that the Black Room does not want us dead or otherwise harmed at the moment. Again drawing from my past experience, he is very direct. If he wanted us dead we would be smeared across the walls right now.
‘And finally, I would rather not spend the rest of my not inconsiderable lifespan cooped up in a shitty bunker while you lot try to hunt down people who have made a career out of not being found. I will just save you some time right now and say it’s not as simple as looking up the Black Room in the building directory and producing a search warrant.’
‘Heh. You obviously have a much higher opinion of the Black Room than we do, Colonel.’ Ynt said dismissively. ‘That being said, we have some of the finest intelligence officers and soldiers from a dozen species in tasked to this case. These men and women have held the entire galaxy under a microscope, and now they just need to comb through a single solar system.
‘If there is anywhere in the Sol system that the Black Room can hide, our task force shall find them. I have talked with a dozen experts and they all agree the best course of action is to protect you until this task is completed, regardless of what that Black Room agent said. Also, we have already received a credible tip as to the location of one of their bases. We have already sent a team of Special Forces. So much for being impossible to find.’
The end of the sentence was punctuated with a crash of thunder as the storm arrived, the first drops of rain pattering against the windows.
‘We will be sending a team to escort you to the safe house within two days. Pack your things.’ Ynt spun to leave, his lower set of arms flourishing behind him. The Hodwan looked at them sheepishly before closing the door behind the leaving prosecutor.
‘It shouldn’t take more than an hour to clear this place out.’ Alia said.
‘I can have Echo ready to fly in two hours.’ Magnus said. ‘What’s your call Alex?’
‘No way in hell we are sticking around, but wait until tomorrow.’ Alex replied. ‘We need a plan to disappear. The Echo is known to be ours, we need new identification transponders. We’ll need money. Lots. Suggestions?’
‘There is a Lamp World, Monaria, a few weeks from here.’ Alia said. ‘Very little government presence. I know that the Zo hunts there pay well. It is likely there is also a black market there where we could buy those transponders.’
‘I vote for hunting Zo.’ Magnus said. ‘Nice and easy, no thinking required.’
‘Agreed.’ Alex said. ‘Then it is settled. We will leave early morning tomorrow.’
‘Jaxus? Are you there?’ Leanus called out for her friend she had thought dead on Europa. The door to his office was open only a crack, with faint light trickling out the thin slot. No one should have been the Galactic Interest offices this late, but Jaxus always did like to work late. She could hear faint muffled speech from inside, though she could not make out who it was over the sound of the rain pounding on the windows.
As soon as the words left her mouth, the voice stopped speaking. There was the squeak of wet shoes on the tiles, and the door opened to show a tall, skeletal human wearing a wet plaid shirt. His wet hair was plastered against his forehead and his satchel was wrapped in plastic bags to protect it from the storm.
‘Someone wants to speak with you Jaxus. Another Poruthian.’ the thin man said, looking over her shoulder.
Leanus leaned to look past the human, and she could see Jaxus sitting at his desk, head propped up on one hand, the lone lamp casting his face in contrasting light and shadows. She half-waved at him, and he smiled back at her.
‘We’ll finish this up later,’ he said to the human, voice hoarse and drained.
The man nodded and grabbed a glossy black and silver jacket off a chair, slinging it over his shoulder.
‘Have a good night.’ He said as he walked past Leanus, his wet shoes squeaking on the floor. She watched him slink down the corridor, the occasional flash of light illuminating the dark hallway.
‘Who was that?’ Leanus asked Jaxus as she sat down in the only other chair in the cramped office. The chair was a bit damp.
‘Just a friend. No one important.’ Jaxus whispered. He pulled a bottle of Quinta’s Quench from his desk and offered a glass to Leanus.
Leanus shook her head. ‘You don’t sound too good.’
‘Under the weather. Along with the rest of this city.’ The reporter mumbled as he refilled the mostly empty glass sitting on his desk. ‘How’ve you been?’
‘I thought you were dead. I thought you were caught in the Planath Dome riots.’
Jaxus shrugged. ‘Nah. Shit looked nasty though.’
‘Someone tried to kill me!’ Leanus said. ‘And then they found an assassin your hotel room! Do you know how long I thought you dead?’
‘Someone sent an assassin after me?’ Jaxus asked. ‘Huh.’
‘Not a single word from you! Do you know how I found out my best friend was alive?’ Leanus said. ‘I saw him come up onto the stand to defend the goddam Black Room! The same Black Room that tried to kill us both!’
‘What do you want me to do LeLe?’ No one had called Leanus that in many years. She had almost forgotten that old nickname. ‘The only reason I did not actually die is because one of those Black Room agents found me. If he hadn’t arrived I would have still been there when your assassin came for me, or I would have been caught in the riots. So yeah, I am a bit grateful that my brain is still in my head.’
‘You never said a word.’ Leanus mumbled. ‘I tried to reach out to you. Every channel I could, every contact I knew, and not a peep from you. I lied for you. Oh Gods, I lied to everyone for nothing.’
‘Sorry.’ Jaxus finished off his glass in a single swig before pouring himself another. ‘It was for my own safety. That rogue agent, Adriel, he was still after me. They stuck me in some vault ‘till it all calmed down.’
‘I did it for nothing…’ Leanus said, looking at the tired Poruthian sitting across from her. ‘Oh Gods, all those humans are going to be sent back to Earth because of me…’
‘What are you talking about Leanus?’ Jaxus asked.
‘The story in court, the one I published,’ Leanus said, ‘it was all a lie. The Black Room didn’t destroy that species. Adriel was never there. It was the Torchlight One crew, it was only them. I thought you were dead and I lied to the entire galaxy because of it!’
‘And?’ Jaxus said as he pounded back another shot of Quench. ‘Does it really matter? Everyone lies. Do you think the Black Room said a single truthful thing that entire trial? Hell if I know what they were thinking going along with what you guys said, but they did.’
Thunder cracked and lighting arced across the sky. In the distance, the glowing outline of the Council building could be seen cutting through the cloudy sky like a knife driven into the heart of the planet. The lamp on Jaxus’s desk flickered slightly and in the brief moment of darkness Leanus could make out the small pinpricks of light outside the windows.
‘It doesn’t matter that other people lied!’ Leanus yelled as she knocked the bottle away from Jaxus’s hand. Alcohol spilled onto the tiles of the floor, staining them a dark purple. ‘I lied, Jaxus! If anyone ever finds out about it my career is over! It goes against everything we have ever stood for, I’ve ever stood for! The truth, Jaxus! That was why we became journalists in the first place!’
‘Yeah.’ Jaxus stared blankly at the bottle as it dripped onto the floor. He didn’t bother to right it. ‘Truth. It was a nice dream, when we were younger. When we were writing tourism pieces and generic interviews with sports stars. But shit, look where we are now. The Black Room, the maybe real TSIG, hell, even those Grave Hounds you were hanging with. Do you think they give a damn about the truth?
‘All those humans have an angle and truth doesn’t figure into it. You lied for me, but who convinced you to do it? The mercenaries? I didn’t meet them personally, but I spent time on Earth. I know their kind. Tell me, if you stood up for your morals do you think any one of those Hounds would have had any issue with just dumping your body out the airlock and use your death to spin their own story? Would any one of them have said, no, our own desires should take a backseat to truth and justice? I don’t mean Alia, I mean the humans.’
‘Yes.’ Leanus answered.
‘Who?’ Jaxus shot back. ‘Who would have argued against it?’
‘Well, there’s your answer. The one “moral” Grave Hound is in a grave.’ Jaxus mimed air quotes around the word. ‘That’s what humanity is, Leanus. Screw the truth, they want what they want and nothing’s going to stop them from taking it.’
‘You’re an expert on them now, are you?’ Leanus said, even though she knew Jaxus was right. She could still feel the cold grip of Remus’s hand around her throat. ‘You think that because you spent a few days on Earth you are suddenly an expert on their species?’
‘Not on the species. Just those people you were hanging out with.’ Jaxus said. ‘Do you know what they told me when they kept me stuck in that safe house? That Colonel Remus and your oh so noble Francis had worked for the Black Room. They were important too. Then for whatever reason they went and screwed them all over and now those two dragged the entire galaxy into some twisted quest for revenge.’
‘And you believed what they told you?’ Leanus said, her voice just asking Jaxus to say yes. ‘Suddenly this secret organization known for misdirection is going to speak honestly?’
Another shrug from Jaxus. ‘I looked into it myself. Found very little, beyond weird gaps in Remus and Francis’s service records about a few years back. Either they were taking a whole lot of vacation time, or they were doing things off the grid.’
‘That doesn’t prove anything.’ Leanus said.
‘Doesn’t disprove anything either.’ Jaxus said. ‘Face it Leanus, you pulled on the wrong thread here. These humans don’t care about you, or me, or anyone else. We’re just tools to them. You did what Remus wanted when you lied to the judge and jury, now that the Black Room is a criminal organization known the galaxy over Remus has no more need for you.
‘I told the truth so far as I knew it and it was not enough to stop the court from convicting the Black Room. Now they are done with me and we can only watch as the Council takes control of Earth. We’re not useful to them anymore, so they let us go live in the word we helped them create. Welcome to the rest of your life Leanus.’
‘This isn’t like you Jaxus.’ Leanus said as she stood up and walked out of the room. ‘I thought you were different.’
‘I am.’ Jaxus said, his quiet voice all but lost to the storm outside. ‘I am…’
Leanus ignored him as she walked back into the elevator. A slight judder was the only indication that the antigravity arrays activated and began lowering the elevator back to the lobby floor. The city looked dead through the rain soaked window. None of the bustle and light that was expected of a metropolis this size could be seen. A beep signalled that the elevator arrived at the main lobby. Galactic Interest was located on the top half of one of the skyrises of the capitol, the only direct exit being one of the overpasses or a personal shuttle.
The human from upstairs was waiting by the doors to the empty landing pad, a small pool of water gathering around his feet. The windows looked like waterfalls.
‘Hello again.’ The human said without looking away from landing pad.
‘Hello.’ Leanus nodded and walked over to the computer terminal by the door to call a taxi-shuttle.
‘Service is slow tonight.’ the man said. ‘You’ll be waiting a while.’
‘I’ve already called a cab, you can ride with me if you don’t want to wait. It’ll probably be a half hour before the next one arrives anyway.’
‘No thanks.’ Leanus said. ‘I can wait.’
‘Suit yourself. Name’s Damian by the way.’
‘Nice to meet you Leanus.’
The rain continued to pound on the windows as the two waited in silence in the dead lobby. In the distance, when lightning flashed at just the right angle, Leanus could almost make out the courthouse where she betrayed everything she stood for. There was a roar of thunder and for a brief moment the power flickered.
The power came back online in less than two seconds as arrays of backup generators kicked in throughout the building. Even through the thick walls, Amina could almost hear the constant hammering of rain and the crack of thunderbolts. The pedestal reactivated, filling the small anechoic chamber with a soft glow. The light materializing into the monolithic form of a monstrous person
‘Power is back.’ Amina said. ‘Are you Lord Otric, sir?’
‘I am.’ TSIG’s devil made manifest grumbled. ‘You must be my new agent in the field.’
‘Yes sir.’ Amina said. To speak directly to the young king was a great honour. ‘Thank you for this position, sir.’
The hologram nodded ever so slightly. Even as a digital recreation, the Supreme Commander of LIEREN was imposing. His matte black armor was covered in ornate markings and decorations. A helmet formed into an ivory skull with a golden halo-like crest covered Otric’s face, the eye sockets completely black, while a thick bevor shrouded the neck and lower half of his head.
A sleek torso of black platinum was made to look like the flayed chest of a human, with each individual muscle fibre picked out in painstaking detail. The pattern continued down his arms and legs, winding metal sinews tracing out anatomy that the wearer no longer had. A half tabard embroidered with a twisting golden dragon hung around his waist and a cape of black scales hung from Otric’s shoulders. A pair of thin banners listing his accomplishments in golden thread hung from a pair of circular besagews next to his thick pauldrons.
Wicked talon-like fingers curled around the shaft of a gargantuan warhammer sitting on its head before him. On each wrist were a pair of arm mounted automatic heavy rifles, capable of punching through tank armor. Amina could only imagine what Otric was like in person.
‘You had a report for me?’ Otric asked.
‘My bug in the reporter’s office, it picked something up.’ Amina said. Over the past several days she had been bugging everywhere she could reach. The offices of both reporters, the entrances to the apartments containing the temporary safehouses for the mercenaries and the Torchlight crew, the Grand Prosecutor’s house, you name it. If the location was even tangentially related to the trial of the Black Room, Amina had ears listening for any morsel of information.
‘That is to be expected.’ Otric said, head bowed as he idly examined the inside of his bevor.
‘It is sir.’ Amina replied. ‘It seems Dr. Yong’s hypothesis was correct. The Black Room was not responsible for the Terra Nova incident.’
The reaction was instant as Otric’s head snapped up with the speed of a whip. ‘Are you certain?’
‘I am, sir.’ Amina connected a small data drive to the projector’s base. The hologram’s resolution decreased momentarily as the quantum entangled particles relayed the message across thousands of lightyears back to wherever Otric was currently. Due to their massive cost, TSIG possessed precious few of these FTL communication devices. The only reason Amina had access to this is because there were already numerous TSIG agents already on Mónn Consela for the trial.
‘It seems that it was the Torchlight One crew was responsible and Leanus Marlus lied about the events to implicate the Black Room.’ Amina said. ‘The mercenaries seem to know as well.’
‘I have received the data now.’ Otric confirmed. ‘Do we have any reason to believe that Marlus, the Torchlight crew or the mercenaries might reveal the truth? It might be enough for the Black Room to escape their punishment.’
‘Possible for the former, unlikely for the others. The crew is getting a surprisingly light sentence.’ Amina replied. ‘Marlus seems to feel guilty about the events. If the mercenaries know, they either do not care or want to hurt the Black Room as well.’
‘I can confirm your hypothesis regarding the mercenaries.’ Otric said, razor sharp talons stroking the neck of his armor. ‘I want the truth buried. Do as you see fit.’
‘Absolutely sir.’ Amina bowed before the black giant.
‘That’s excellent. I have heard good things about you. Do not disappoint the people who got you this opportunity.’ Otric vanished in a haze of static as the connection was terminated.
Splinters rained on the floor as Alexandria shoved the heavy wooden door open, gun raised and sweeping the small atrium of the mansion. A pair of familiar dirty boots sat on the mat next to the door. Impossible, Alexandria thought. There was no way he could be here, none! He had died in Mexico, buried under a million tons of rock as the tunnel district collapsed.
‘Hello?’ Alexandria called out, peeking around each of the corners. ‘Anyone home?’
There was no answer, not a single sound, which left two possible outcomes. At that moment, Alexandria was willing to do anything if it meant it was not what first one. The Black Room was not forgiving, there were no depths to which they would not stoop. There were few depths to which they had not forced Alexandria to stoop to.
‘Dumah!’ she yelled out to the empty house. ‘Come out you asshole!’
Still nothing. The hallway was familiar yet unfamiliar. The painting were new, and the flooring had been redone since Alexandria had last come here. The walls were the same comforting shade of dark blue, like the colour of the deep Europa oceans. The living room was just ahead, just past the new glass cabinet holding a small silver medal from the mayor of Europa City, Andres Plyne.
Alexandria spun around the corner and nearly shot the marble statue sitting in the corner. The copy of Venus de Milo was another recent addition, it seemed. Just like the rest of the house the living room was dead, not a single pillow or folded blanket out of place. Not a soul. Which just left the greenhouse. Alexandria could see it through the living room windows, the opaque glass structure looking like a bonfire as its artificial sun lamps lit up the Europan nights. Behind the greenhouse the great glass wall of Doyle Dome separated the entire neighbourhood from trillions of tons pressure from the ocean.
The patio door was unlocked, and there were scuff marks on the lawn. Someone, no Dumah, had been hear recently. Dumah, the monstrous freak, had survived death and was here! Here! He would not survive a second time, even if Alexandria had to personally chop up his corpse flush the remains out the airlock. She stepped out onto the patio with a speed that would make a glacier seem rapid, scanning the entire area for any sign of the Black Room’s disciples. They were here somewhere. There was a slight drip as sprinklers embedded into the distant ceiling of the dome began the regularly schedule rain cycle.
There was a drumming in Alexandria’s ears, a constant rhythmic beat that screamed for her attention. Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump. Only after shooting hasty and suspicious glances at anywhere where a person might hide did she realize the truth. It had been so long since she had actually heard her own heartbeat. After decades of hearing the rattle of gunfire, the boom of artillery, and the hammer blows of machine fists slamming into armor plates, it was an utterly alien sound. Alexandria grabbed her gun in both hands to stop it from shaking. It was an Azana Armorbreaker. It should be more than enough to put Dumah down for good.
She reached for the doorknob ever so slowly, dreading that her fears would be confirmed. The greenhouse was unlocked, just like the living room. Any sound from inside was drowned out by the sound of the fans and fountains. Alexandria gently pushed the door open, just sticking her head and pistol around the edge of the entrance. It was just like she remembered it as she stepped inside, the plump couches sitting in a small clearing, surrounded by vegetation from a hundred biomes and the long thin pool that ran the length of the building. And sitting on the couch-
‘Alex! Come give your mother a hug!’ Joan Remus said, rushing to her daughter. ‘It’s been so long since I last saw you! Come over here!’
The feeling of relief hit Alexandria like a tidal wave as she quickly slipped the pistol behind her back. ‘It is excellent to see you mom. You’re looking good.’
Despite being almost 120 years old, Joan Remus did not appear a day over 50, moved like she was 40, and was as strong as a 30 year old, as the crushing bear hug proved. Generations of genetic tinkering meant that almost every Europan citizen, indeed almost every off-Earth colonist, would live a very long life.
‘Come on over, have a seat!’ Joan said, dragging Alexandria deeper inside the sweltering building, ‘You look so good yourself! My little military hero has come home again! You’ll have to tell me everything, I’ve heard so many good things! The twins will be so excited to see you, they haven’t seen their aunt in years!’
‘The twins are here?’ Alexandria asked, ignoring the question about her service record. Even if she wasn’t one of the leaders of Europa’s most famous Grave Hound cohorts her parents would have been able to find out what she had been up to.
‘Oh yes!’ Joan said, ‘Your sister left them here for a bit. She’s just visiting your dad at his house right now and didn’t want to deal with those little hurricanes. You know how kids are, don’t you? Don’t want them interrupting your business meetings, haha.’
‘Yeah, I know how kids are.’ Alexandria lied. ‘Where are they?’
‘Right, that reminds me.’ Joan smiled as she sat down on the couch. ‘They’re just showing our guest around. A Mr. Dumah, he said he’s a friend of yours?’
A quarter of a second was all it took for Alexandria to wrench her arm out of her mother’s grip and draw her gun. ‘Stay behind me.’ She hissed, dragging her crosshairs across the vines and leaves surrounding them.
‘Put that gun away Alex!’ Joan scolded, ‘What is going on here?’
‘Dumah is very dangerous, we need to leave now.’ Alex said. Every flower looked like a potential target, every planter a place Dumah could hide. ‘Don’t argue with me now. This is for your own safety.’
‘You’re dangerous, Al-ex-an-dri-a.’ The soft Martian voice was like a spike being driven into her ear. ‘An’ you don’t see me swingin’ around a gun all willy-nilly, do ya?’
There he was. The smiling face, the thick arms, long grey haired combed back, with a neat beard. Completely unharmed. Completely alive. And riding on Dumah’s shoulders like he was their friendly uncle were her niece and nephew.
‘Put the kids down Dumah.’ Alexandria hissed.
‘Oh geez, Al-ex-an-dri-a.’ Dumah said, his face a mask of false fear. ‘I don’t feel very safe here. Can you just be nice an’ friendly and put that gun down? If I’m scared I get agitated an’ I might do something reckless, ya know?’
‘What’s wrong aunty?’ Otho asked, the ten year old holding onto Dumah’s head for support.
‘Don’t worry Otho,’ Joan said, waving her hand at Alexandria to put down the gun. ‘Can you and Cleo get off Mr. Dumah’s shoulders? The grown-ups need to have a talk.’
Alexandria did not lower her gun. ‘You heard grandma. Go play hide and seek inside. Don’t come out until I tell you.’
‘Okay aunty,’ Otho said. ‘Mr. Dumey can you let us down now?’
‘Sure thing kiddo. The crane is lowerin’! Vrooooooooooom!’ Dumah slowly kneeled as he mimicked the sound of a large engine. ‘You an’ Cleo be good now, ya hear? Listen to ya aunty!’
‘Okay Mr. Dumey!’ Cleo’s smile was missing a few teeth as she and her brother ran out the door screaming and laughing into the house while fake rain began to pour.
‘It’s Dumah! Like puma!’ He called out to the kids with a chuckle. ‘That’s funny. Might have to use it more often, remind myself of the good times.’
‘Can someone please tell me what is going on?’ Joan asked, trying to push Alexandria’s gun down. Alexandria just held her back with a single hand.
‘Al-ex-an-dri-a an’ I have a little work dispute, you know?’ Dumah said, swaying like a snake. ‘She is a bit upset with me.’
‘An understatement.’ Alexandria said.
Dumah shrugged. ‘Sure, if you say so. Anyhow, the dinner was lovely Mama Remus. Can ya’ leave the two of us for a tad so we can go and talk this out a bit? Don’t worry ‘bout a thing.’
Joan looked between the two killers, her smile stuck on her face by makeup than choice.
‘You should go mom.’ Alexandria said. Whatever Dumah wanted, he had waited until she had arrived which meant that he didn’t intend to kill her family immediately. If that was the case, then Joan and the twins could get a precious few seconds of head start. Unless her hands suddenly stopped shaking it was unlikely that she was walking out of here alive. ‘Start the car. If I’m not there in 10 minutes, get dad and Helen and run. What are you waiting for? Go!’
‘Please be safe Alex.’ Joan said, backing her way towards the door. ‘I don’t want to lose you like Caleb.’
Alexandria could see her break into a run as soon as she left the greenhouse. The porch door was shut with a slam and in that instant Dumah was upon her. He covered the distance faster than Alexandria could blink, but not faster than she could pull the trigger. There was a roar of the pistol lost to the pounding of the rain and the splash of blood that wasn’t her own.
‘Ow.’ Dumah said, his bleeding hand locked over the barrel of the gun that was pointing at his head. ‘There was no need for that.’
‘You died. I saw you die.’ Alexandria snarled at him. She tried to pull the trigger but Dumah’s finger was stuck behind it, jamming the mechanism.
‘Yup. I saw me die too.’ Dumah smiled as he punched her in the gut. The gun was ripped from her hand as Alexandria went flying back into one of the planters. ‘Surprisingly, dyin’ wasn’t that painful. It happened too quick. Guess it was to be expected an’ all. What with being blown up by a few hundred tons of high explosives.’
‘Whatever you want, revenge, torture, I don’t know, just take it out on me.’ Alexandria said as she tried to pull herself up as the stabbing pain of a broken rib made itself known and stopped her. ‘Just please, leave my family out of this.’
Dumah expertly dismantled the gun, popping the magazine, ejecting the last bullet in the chamber, and removing the slide in a flash. ‘Don’t worry ‘bout a thing I told Mama Remus. Ya’ know me. I keep my word.’ Continued
2010.10.30 02:42 ElCunadoIn college, broke, how to make extra cash?
Reddit I have come to you with a very important question. Probably one of the question that many college kids are constantly asking themselves. What I'm wondering is, while waiting for a paycheck (that won't come until the middle of November) what does the rest of reddit do to make some extra cash? I recently made a bad financial decision. In the second week of October, I lent $500 to a friend who told me that he was getting paid on the first of November, but needed some cash right away. He is not a drug addict, alcoholic or a gambler. I've known him for three years, he has always been a friend to me. He needed rent money for October or he was going to be kicked out. I happened to be ahead in my money situation and told him I would help. FYI- In May 2009, we found ourselves in the same situation only the roles were switched. I told him I needed money and he offered to help. But I paid him back on the day we agreed I would pay him back, so I thought he would do the same. A man should honor his debts. He even brought up the fact that he lent me money in the past; I felt cornered. Back to the present, he just told me last night that he cannot pay me back until Thanksgiving. He clearly lied to me. Remind me never to mix money and friends again, because now all I feel is awful and used. However this doesn't change the fact that I have found myself without rent money that is due on November 4th. Some facts... 1. I want to make it very very clear this is not a charity case - I like to make my own money. 2. I have a job that I work 17 hours a week. (We are only allowed to work 20 hours maximum a week as a student. Due to classes, studying, bullshit, I really can't make up those last 3 hours). I absolutely cannot get another job, and believe me I have tried to fit it into my schedule. I'm afraid my grades would suffer more. 3. I have about $130 in the bank right now, but need that to buy some groceries for the next few weeks and for gas to get to campus/parking on campus. 4. I cannot ask my landlord for an extension on rent, because all that means is $10 for every day it is late. 5. Borrowing from friends and family are out of the question. Everyone's broke. 6. No taking out loans or cash advances, already have a credit card as well as a private loan I pay to every month. Here's how I've been proactive... (it has been a busy day so far!) 1. I sold as many clothes as the consignment shop would take. $15 2. I sold DVDs: The Last King of Scotland, The Crow, and season two of The Office [British]). They wouldn't take anymore. $10 3. I sold my pumas that I had for two years and hardly wore. $15 4. I donated plasma. (which will be happening again on Monday) $25 5. I did an psychology experiment for compensation today at my university. They made me talk about my feelings. $25 6. I have my birthday money that came in the mail today from my brother. $20 I was glad to have made $110 in one day, but this still is nowhere near the $390 I need to make within the next week. I'll be going down to the book store later to sell back textbooks that I've been hanging on to for references in papers. It's a horrible system of selling back text books. You buy them unused for $80, try to sell them back and only get $15, then they are being sold used for $60 on the shelf next semester. Insanity. So reddit, any legitimate ideas or advice on how to make some extra cash? EDIT: Thanks guys! Most of you had some really good ideas. Sell Krispy Kremes at a business, enter the games to become a gladiator, stand in an intersection with a sign that says 'I bet you can't hit me with a quarter,' pose nude, odd job website (which is amazing), craigslist, chacha.com, prosper.com, selling books online, selling kidneys, escort service, lobster fishing. All great stuff guys! Thanks!
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