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If You See a Downed Aircraft in the Everglades, Avoid It

2020.10.27 14:37 IEscapedFromALab If You See a Downed Aircraft in the Everglades, Avoid It

About three years ago, a buddy named Will and I went kayaking and slough slogging (think a combination of hiking and swimming) in the Loxahatchee remnant of the Everglades. I had just gotten engaged to my girlfriend of seven years and he was celebrating three years of avoiding painkillers and sticking to weed that started after our third amigo, Cory Walton, passed away from an overdose. Will had been partially responsible, having fled instead of calling the police to avoid trouble and had never forgiven himself. I had difficulty with it from time to time, so I tried to consider not hating him for it a burden to work on and he agreed to work on his painkiller habit.
So we had brought some shrooms and weed with us to really enjoy the wilderness. Our friendship went back more than fifteen years, all the way to our High School group of hooligans so I couldn't just give up on him. My name is Jason Grover and this is the story of what me and my friend found in the swamp.
We paddled out with our old kayaks from the Arthur R. Marshall park in West Palm Beach, Florida. We planned so that we could camp a few miles in, grill up some fish and enjoy mother nature. We decided to go much deeper in than we normally did, but our adventures had become a ritual since Will started getting clean and we had a variety of gps devices so that we didn't go missing like so many others. After four or five hours we noticed it was getting dark and Will suggested we find a good spot to camp.
"Hey man, check out this tunnel" Will suggested, pointing at a waterway that went below a thick canopy of trees that formed a tunnel like structure.
There were plenty of invasive species, like Australian pine, climbing fern and brazilian pepper in the areas we had passed, but we most have gotten pretty deep because I hadn't seen a single invasive species for nearly an hour. There was a skinny woman dressed in all white standing on a patch of land covered in tall grass, but she wasn't facing us and walked into the grass when we came near.
"Hey, lady! Is there good solid ground here?" Will tried to ask, but she didn't respond or return. He shrugged and we decided to go through the verdant tunnel ahead of us.
Most of the canopies were formed by mangrove and cypress working together to horde what passed for solid land in the natural state of Florida and this one was particularly thick. This one was so thick that it blocked out the sun almost entirely for about four hundred feet, creating a dark tunnel of tropical colors with only occasional holes for the dark orange and purple sunset to cast light through. There were tons of strange purple bromeliads, beautiful flowers that formed nest like structures to grow from the crevices of trees and branches so that they would not need soil.
"Wow, what the fuck do you think brought it down?" Will asked. I looked at him in incomprehension until he pointed at a spot in the canopy above us.
In addition to the vines and flowers, letters could be seen through a rare area that wasn't covered in foliage. The canopy had been formed by a downed aircraft, and a big one by the looks of it. The Everglades used to enjoy a similar reputation to the Bermuda Triangle and it wasn't uncommon at all to find old military service planes here and there throughout the wetlands. This particular wreck looked ancient, so it didn't surprise me that we had never heard of it.
"Welp, a pity we don't have any choice in exploring the fuck out of this, it's going to eat into our time." Will quipped happily.
"Yeah, we pretty much have to." I said, after I had recovered from my shock.
"Yeah, I'd say so." He said with a triumphant laugh. "AbandonedPlaces is going to absolutely shit its pants."
I nodded in awe as we realized that what appeared to be a cockpit lay some distance ahead of us. A severed wing had propped itself up against a particularly hearty pond cypress tree that seemed to partially wrap itself around the metal, as if embracing it.
We set up camp, putting up our mosquito net over a natural lean-to created by the wing of the downed aircraft and setting up every insect repellent known to man. On closer inspection, the formerly robust looking tree that had seen some better days. The words "La Cigu" were spraypainted near the cockpit of the plane, but the vines obscured anything else. I would have camped elsewhere but Will wanted to get a mosquito net up quickly and thought it looked cool.
It was the winter which made the mosquitos less of a problem, but not enough of a difference, the swamp could exsanguinate a cow in thirty minutes without enough Deet. I couldn't blame him for wanting to get it ready. Once the sun was down we decided to make a fire and warm up our dinner consisting of some fish we had caught, muscadine grapes, purslane, spiderwort, swamp cabbage, betony, young cattail stalks and ringless honey mushrooms, which we added together with some lettuce and ground provisions to make a gigantic weird salad which was quite delicious. In addition, Will decided to rush ahead with some magic mushrooms, although not even close to a full dose. Just enough to make the scenery a little weird, I assumed.
After some time we noticed some soft blue lights and the sounds of people talking and laughing in the distance and figured we must not have been too far from civilization after all.
"Cool, maybe our neighbors might like to party." Will suggested. There was a wild peel of a woman's laughter that encouraged us to believe that this was at least possible.
After enjoying our salads Will decided that he wanted to explore a bit. Despite it being late, I couldn't blame him.
He headed straight for the cockpit of the downed craft. It had broken off from the fuselage and was laying face down in the water, which didn't exactly bode well for the pilots. One of the wings had been thrown several hundred feet ahead. Despite not being able to get the door into the cockpit open, he was able to find something interesting.
"Dude...how did we not hear about this?" He asked, in amazement.
"It probably went down years ago, the Everglades are full of these wrecks." We had even passed an ancient Cessna that nature hadn't taken nearly as much of a liking to.
"No, it doesn't look like that's the case." he said, pointing to a laminated piece of paper that had survived the crash intact. At the top of the page was the date, only three months prior to us finding it. A list of passengers showed nineteen passengers were originally on the list.
"What the fuck?" I asked, in audible amazement. I set up a floodlight on the interior of what was once the craft and immediately saw that despite mother nature's ferocity, there were many signs that it had once recently maintained life. Several first aid kits were still in the craft, only two of them open and only one missing its contents, some rations that had been untouched and still in their packaging. Near the wing we had not camped under there were signs of a campsite.
After unpacking and preparing our camp, we decided to hit out before the sun went down to see as much as possible of the mysterious wreck.
There was only a single sign of death, a skeleton that we hadn't noticed in one of the darker areas of the fuselage that we had kayaked through. Its arms and legs held it to the wall of the fuselage by vines, allowing the partially shattered torso to sag slightly as if it had been crucified. It looked like it had been picked clean and now had a beautiful bromeliad growing from one of its eye sockets, making it look like it had one dark purple and green eye that still watched us with an amused expression. There was a hole in the ribcage and most of the bones around it wrenched forward slightly, if it weren't for the downed aircraft I would have suspected a gunshot.
"Holy shit dude" Will said with an incredible sense of awe as he snapped photo after photo. "We have to check out that campsite!" He was clearly thrilled. Despite the creepiness, he seemed ecstatic, I hoped the trip went well for him.
Will took as many pictures as possible, especially of the beautiful skeleton, before we got back in our kayaks and maneuvered to the campsite on the opposite side of the fuselage, amidst a group of small, grassy islands. It seemed strangely far away from a lot of decent, even partially covered places to sleep, being out in the open on a small, easily submerged island generally the worst spot to camp in the Everglades.
Well set up a floodlight so that we could see the area better. It had been a while since a fire had been started there, but there was another corpse, this one not nearly as picked clean. It was wearing a bright yellow sundress and still had some desiccated flesh sticking to the bones. Most of the skeleton was curled into a fetal position, but one of its arms was several feet from it and one of the legs had been shattered. A few feet away from the scene was a now extremely rusty revolver. I guessed and looked around the skeleton and sure enough, deep in the sand there was a bullet where someone must have shot this woman in the leg for some reason.
"What do you think happened?" Will asked, and at first it seemed like a stupid question, until I thought about it. There were plenty of rations left in the plane, plenty of ways to avoid exposure, she seemed to have a radio. There was no reason for whatever happened here to happen. I grabbed the rusty gun, just in case something attacked them.
"It looks like someone shot her in the leg? Where is everyone else from the crash? Why the fuck wasn't this in the news?" I asked aimlessly, as Will was more wrapped up in his trip. We checked around the area of land, but I didn't see anything. I was about to suggest leaving, but Will began taking pictures of the wing, specifically the motor on the wing.
"Alright, there might be an award or something for this!" Will said with delight. I turned the corner and found what had let him in a good mood: the propeller on the rig was filled to the brim, and I mean all the way, with the dead corpses of birds. Most of them were just skeletons and feathers, and the mass of twisted birds looked like a horrible Halloween prop.
"Yeah, we should contact authorities right away, just so we look alright."
Will was a good guy, but he tended be extremely focused on his on search for personal luxuries, often to the point of causing problems for himself. You had to remind him from time to time. He was about to respond when suddenly we heard a loud shriek coming from our campsite.
"Aww man, I hope this doesn't turn into a bad trip." Will said.
I didn't want to make things worse by telling him that we clearly had picked the wrong spot to camp. As we swung our kayaks to head back out to our camp, we heard chittering, bizarre laughter. Someone ran through the tall grasses and said something along the lines of "I wish we had picked some up the last time we were at the store." in a high pitched, slightly nasal woman's voice as if in a normal conversation.
"Hey! Hey! Hello!" I shouted. Will looked confused. "Where did that come from?" He asked.
Suddenly another voice rang out. "It was just a telemarketer, get some rest." whoever it had a New York accent and was somewhere behind us, but when we looked there were only some water grasses.
I flashed my light in the direction it came from but saw only shadows moving. I started paddling away from whoever was speaking and towards the camp. Will looked terrified as we headed through the plane again, especially at the skull, which seemed to regard us with the same hostile amusement it had when we first met it and was now considerably less cool.
"Alright, maybe we oughtta just get the fuck out of here. Someone here wants to fuck with us. I'm sorry man, I hope this doesn't fuck up your trip." I said with as much firmness in my voice as I could muster.
"Yeah, yeah, it's cool, it's cool." Will said, very obviously to himself as much as to me. He was shaking pretty badly and seemed to have some difficulty following me. I had to keep him from tipping over repeatedly.
When we got to our lean-to camp, it was obvious someone had been through our stuff, but none of it was destroyed. Instead, all of our belongings had been laid out neatly outside of our tent in overlapping circles, like an insane Venn diagram. Much of the vegetation and scrap in the surrounding area had been cleared away. I could now see that the spraypaint on the side of the aircraft said "La Ciguapa" in a desperate hand. Strange symbols now covered the cockpit as well.
"La Ciguapa" I said aloud. I remembered a friend of mine telling me it was a mythical demon from the Dominican Republic, but he had described it kind of like a mermaid.
"Dude, what the fuck?" Will said, rushing to our tent to check for further damage. His flashlight lit up hundreds of bizarre symbols that had been painted on the interior of the mosquito net.
"I understand that the schedule is tight, but this meeting is a priority." Came a stern woman's voice from the far distance.
"Dude, do you think those are the people who survived the crash?" Will asked, not even bothering to speak to whoever it was.
For once he had the right idea and I hope he stuck to it. I just shook my head. I was shocked that anyone could survive a crash like that, but something was now clearly wrong with those fucking people. I would get them help later once the authorities came by. I hoped that Will wouldn't suggest going to speak with them.
"Well, where did the bodies go then?" He asked, quietly. There was a chance that the tail had broken off, sucking people out, but it was hard to tell. And why had that skeleton been shot in the chest? Will sounded like he was breathing hard enough to hyperventilate, so I had to calm him down before he panicked further and then call the authorities, as if it was going to be easy to help us out there.
"Dude, where did the bodies go, why did we not hear about a missing plane, what the fuck happened here?" He was freaking out, and it was raising the chances of both of us dying. He took out his cellphone and tried to make a phone call, but stared at his phone oddly after a moment.
"I can't get any reception to open a browser and when I try to make an emergency call I heard was some woman singing in Spanish!" He almost cried in despair.
"Let me get in contact with the authorities, it's cool dude. Just chill out a second. Just chill."
I took out my own phone and tried to use every emergency system I had in place for this situation. My phone essentially told me to fuck off, even for emergency calls. I found our radio equipment, surprisingly undamaged, among the bizarre circles. Will smoked a joint the size of his forearm, which was a relief to see considering his own situation.
When I finally got a line of communication up, all I heard was a woman's voice, singing a strange sounding song in a language I didn't recognize. I speak Spanish fluently, and whatever I was listening to had nothing to do with the language. It didn't even sound like a Romance language. Every channel that should have been useful seemed to play it endlessly. I tried not to mention anything, but Will probably noticed the look of frustration, and began toking more rapidly for it.
"Hey, dude, maybe we should ask those people for help. There are some more, over there." He pointed in the distance ahead of us and I noticed lights blossoming some ways away. A cold chill went up my spine and I remembered the nonsense phrases that were uttered in response to us asking for help. And the gun near the woman.
"They didn't seem very helpful, I'm going to set up a PLB first." A personal locator beacon, or PLB, was something you wanted if you were going into the wild, whose only job was to send out a powerful S.O.S. that was difficult for search and rescue teams to miss. Then I fired up our satellite messenger, which should have allowed me to have access to Facebook and Twitter. Except this time nothing loaded correctly. I turned the thing off, the on again and it came out worse. Every single thing I read was in some weird language, bizarre syllables spelled out on otherwise blank webpages. I couldn't even use it to send an S.O.S., so I kept the PLB in my pocket.
"Get anyone?" Will asked, with obvious fear in his voice. Getting him to calm down was difficult enough when he wasn't on shrooms.
"The S.O.S. beacon is working, just give it some time dude, it's cool. We may end up camping out here while we wait." I hoped he would listen to what I said for once, because if he lost his shit we could have ended up in trouble out there. Death was not something I wanted to think about, but it was absolutely a possibility, especially with Will not being helpful. I was happy he was smoking weed just to keep him out of the way. He must have loved it too, because nearly an hour went by before I heard from him again.
"Dude...look." He said, barely above a whisper. At the very far edge of the clearing, more than 600 feet away from us the woman we had seen much earlier was standing quietly. Just like before, she was standing with her back to us, moving around as if she was working on something that we couldn't see. Her white blouse and khaki shorts hung from her body and she was utterly emaciated. Both of her hands and her legs were jet black with what looked like incredible bruising. A long river of black hair flowed to the ground. She was muttering strange phrases mixed with the strange song I had heard on my phone. I quietly tried to turn off my lights and warn Will, but it was too late.
"Hey, lady, do you need any help?" Will asked, shining his flashlight on her before I could motion for him to shut the actual fuck up.
A long, horrifying shriek emerged from the woman and she began to run at us at an incredible speed while still backwards. Without thinking twice, I took the gun out of my pocket, hit the safety and pulled the trigger in its general direction, but if I hit it didn't seem to do anything. Instead, I couldn't hear anything and the fucking thing flew out of my hand. Will took a moment, staring in shock, but eventually followed my cue of running to the kayaks. Before I did, I noticed that the woman's feet and knees seemed to move in a way that implied they were facing us.
"Shit, shit, shit, shit!" I couldn't hear the words coming out of my mouth, the ringing in my ears covered everything up. Will was shouting something to me that I couldn't make out as he pushed his kayak out with him laying on top of it instead of in it. I struggled to use my paddle to push myself as far away from the land as possible, and almost landed in the water in the process, but managed to keep my ship right. When I looked back, I noticed small, pale hands sticking out of the water in front of where Will was moving his kayak and knew they were going to be able to catch the small craft.
I slowed down and reversed just slightly, allowing him to slide onto the top of my kayak right as two pale bodies shot from the water, hair covering their faces and grabbed the kayak. It was amazing mine didn't simply go under.
Will was screaming something and I paddled as hard as I could as Will cut loose any extra weight that he could find, including the only supplies we had that weren't on the island. We managed to make it to the aircraft and when I looked back, the woman was still standing there as well as two others, a man and a younger looking girl. All had their backs facing the kayak they were tearing apart, matted hair covering their faces.
I paddled us through the aircraft and saw that the strange flower growing from the skeleton was now glowing with a powerful blue light, just like the ones we had seen in the distance. Will and I stared in awe and horror as we realized what had become of the survivors. I wondered if perhaps the flower was the real culprit. It wasn't unheard of for some parasites to force their prey to perform labor, perhaps this was a similar mechanism.
We paddled for at least half an hour, only to find ourselves returning to the aircraft again. This time, a man stood just off to the side, not facing away from us, wearing absurdly bagging clothes. We kept quiet and left, but kept coming back, again, and again. Another one eventually appeared on the edge of the aircraft, a child by the looks of it, who stood up as we neared. We left quietly every time.
Without our GPS units our chances of finding a way out were seemingly non-existent, and with Will laying on top of my craft if one of those things chased us again we would probably be joining them or getting eaten or who knows what. Will began to sob uncontrollably as we realized we had gone in a circle for the fourth or fifth time. I was fucking exhausted and there were more of those things, those people, every time we came near.
"Will. We have to go back." I could see shock and horror cross his face.
"No, no man, don't. Let's just keep trying." I could barely hear his words over the ringing in my ears.
"If we don't get our GPS map, we're never going to be able to figure out how to leave. Something is fucking with us, it's keeping us here. We need that thing." I said, knowing that sternness had crept into my voice. I could see his lips forming the word "No" over and over again and it pissed me off. "Do you want to die out here, Will? Because they'll be happy to help. Let's just do this, and get it done with." He seemed to quiet down after that. I paddled in silence for another fifteen minutes before we reached the edge of the aircraft again.
"Ok, we're going to do this as quickly as possible." I told him, and he simply nodded in terror.
We didn't see any more of them around the exterior of the aircraft. I paddled through the green tunnel until we came to the edge of the clearing where our belongings had been left. Will's kayak was ripped to shreds on the edge of the water. No one creepy backwards people, though. We landed as quietly as possible, and Will slid off of the kayak, allowing me to get free. Our stuff was in circles again, but this time different circles. I looked through the one closest to us and found some batteries, but nothing else useful.
Will poked around, but didn't seem very focused, instead he was watching the woods around us as he half ambled over to the wing where we had built our camp under. Hopefully he was looking for supplies and not weed. I went back to searching and eventually found a radio and GPS system. I put in the batteries and it kicked to life, albeit in a strange language. The map was still visible. I also grabbed the gun, which although it had fallen, hadn't gone far. Thank God La Ciguapa didn't care for them.
From every direction, that song was now flowing to us, slowly and steadily getting closer. I stared in horror as first one, then two, then at least half a dozen emaciated bodies came from the woods. Each had blackened arms and legs, turned all the way around. There were two that were very close to the kayak and the gun didn't have many bullets left.
Before I could think about it, I shot the tree that was holding up the airplane wing. The wing came down with a sickening crack and a tremor, landing on top of Will. He screamed a long, impossible scream and even from the distance on of our floodlights illuminated dark pink foam that had started to flow from his mouth. I backed away from my friend as he flailed pitifully against the structure which had surely crushed his ribcage.
"I got better! Please help me! I got better!" Will screamed and gurgled.
The backwards people came rushing to him, and at first it looked like they were going to help, but then the screaming intensified. As they ran to him I could see their faces, frozen in fearful grimaces, their eyes no longer seeing, their limbs blackened and turned around. They flocked to Will and seemed to be tearing the flesh off of his bones in strips, and I ran to the now undefended kayak.
"I'm sorry!" I screamed as I fled, but the only response was the singing growing louder.
I managed to get out of there, and got home the next morning. By then, Park Rangers were out in the exterior area, but didn't seem to be searching for anyone. They drew their weapons at me when they saw me, but lowered them after a tense moment or two of me begging for my life. They sunk my kayak and told me not to mention any of what happened to anyone. I mentioned Will but they just shrugged and said "He's gone now." They had me fill out paperwork saying that he drowned on accident and that there wasn't going to be an investigation and told me to never come back.
I plan on keeping that promise, and you should probably avoid the Everglades too.
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2020.10.27 13:14 niall_mcnulty Travelling to China and the 14-Day Mandatory Hotel Quarantine. My Story and Advice.

I take it you have exhausted all of your efforts on Google trying to find any information that will be helpful for your upcoming trip to China? You are now praying this article will shine some light on your situation? How do I know this? I was in the same boat as you only a month ago. Hopefully, I can answer a tonne of your questions and relieve some of that pre-travel anxiety by sharing my nightmare of a story.
This will be a semi-informative, semi-experienced based article on the entire process of travelling to China and what to expect from your mandatory 14-day quarantine. I will detail every step, starting from the eureka moment to eagerly walking out of your quarantine hotel in China. I personally found the pre-flight steps the most overwhelming of the entire experience. Once you touch down in China, everything is very organised and efficient. Although other travellers have had differing experiences, which I will touch upon later. I wonder how your own experiences will unfold? For now, sit back, take notes and/or revel in my disaster story.
Travel restrictions
Before you can even think about flying to China, you need to check if nationals from your country are allowed entry. For the better part of the year, China has had its borders closed to almost everyone, except a select few who were crucial to big industry. This widespread lockdown went as far as including Chinese nationals stuck abroad. China wasn’t messing about in a bid to keep a lid on the spread of Covid.
In mid-August, to my surprise and delight, an announcement went out over Wechat (Chinese messaging app) that China was re-opening its borders to a select group of European countries, adding them to an already small list of Asian countries that could travel to China under certain conditions. My country was on that list. I was ecstatic. My wife was still in China when restrictions were put in place. We hadn’t seen each other in months. I was finally going to see her and I couldn’t wait.
My advice for any would-be travellers is to check the Chinese embassy website for your respective countries. It wouldn’t hurt to check any .gov websites for your country too which might have some useful information on travel restrictions. There will be sufficient information on those sites to inform you of your ability to fly to China. NOTE: Regularly check these websites as updates and/or new restrictions can be put in place in the blink of an eye. For those only going to China for a short stint (which is unlikely but possible), it might also be useful to be aware of any quarantine rules that are in place for your return trip.
Chinese Visas
I mentioned above that there were conditions for those wishing to travel to China. Well, those conditions are focused solely on your visa or ability to get one. If you’re planning to visit the Great Wall or the Avatar inspired mountains in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, don’t bother. China is not open for tourism. You can only travel to China if you fit the following criteria.
  1. You held a valid “Foreigner’s Residence Permit” before lockdown (expired after 28 March 2020) for work, private matters or family reunion purposes and are returning for the same intention.
  2. You are invited by the provisional government for economic, trade, scientific, technological, culture or sport purposes and have the relevant documentation.
  3. You are invited for work, private matter or family reunion purposes in China and have obtained a “Notification Letter of Foreigners Work Permit”, “Invitation Letter (PU/TE)” or “Verification Confirmation of Invitation”.
  4. Humanitarian reasons, including visiting family and looking after sick or elderly family members.
  5. Crew members
Luckily my spouse visa was still valid. Barely. So I booked an appointment with the China Visa Application Service Center (global website) in London. China tends to out-source visa applications for large cities to this specific company. This offloads some of the workload. Makes sense, but adds extra cost to us. Frown. This may not be the case for your country, you might just need to visit the local Chinese embassy. Once again, check those websites. Whilst booking my appointment online, they required me to fill out an extensive online application. It was exhausting. Comparable to applying for citizenship. After reluctantly typing out my family history blah, blah, blah, I was finally allowed to choose a timeslot to visit the centre. Depending on how busy your embassy or local China Visa Application Service Center is, this could be anywhere from a couple of days wait, up to a couple of weeks. So plan accordingly. Luckily for me, two days later I hopped onto the District Line Tube, and off I went into London. I’m not familiar with other countries, but because of lockdown and restrictions, the visa centre in London was only open Tuesdays and Thursdays and was limited to morning hours. The whole process went by quite smoothly. I picked up my passport with a new visa the following week. NOTE: I had to put a 99GBP deposit down while they verified my existing visa. Once verified they reimbursed the money. Which was a massive relief, as the costs for going to China just kept piling on. For those applying for a new visa, you will be charged as per usual. I strongly recommend double-checking, triple-checking that you fall within their guidelines, otherwise you will lose that cash. Once again, this was my experience in London and it may vary globally. Always revert to the Chinese embassy website and/or .gov websites in your country for up to date information. Heck, even call them up if you find the guidelines vague or contradictory (which I did on numerous occasions).
Booking flights
This is where my nightmare truly set in. For starters, flights to China are exorbitantly expensive. Tickets were going for USD2000–5000. Yeah, exactly… WTH! To my surprise though, I found an incredibly affordable flight. This was in the realms of what I could afford. Only USD600 (one-way). A glimmer of hope at last. This was with an airline I had never heard of, and I travel regularly. I noticed it was partnered with a global and recognised alliance group, so my inklings of doubt quickly subsided, despite worry from family and friends. There was a 23-hour layover, which explained the price. In the grand scheme of things, 23-hours sitting in a dingy airport lounge, or a terminal hotel (which had shocking reviews), was nothing compared to seeing my wife again. Bring it on! I do, however, recommend flying direct if it is within your means. My 23-hour layover caused a lot of anxiety and trouble in terms of timing, specifically with the Covid-swab test. There is another key reason I recommend booking direct which I will touch upon later.
Covid-Swab Test
This is where things started becoming problematic. Travelling to China requires a mandatory Covid-swab test (not to be mistaken for the antibody test). To make things more delicate, you need to have your test administered 72 hours before your flight to China. Emphasis on your flight to China. If you have a multiple leg ticket, it only counts from the flight which is departing to China.
With my 23-hour layover, this left me with less than 48 hours to receive my results before embarking on my journey. Not ideal. To make matters worse, the only options for Covid-swab tests (with specific documentation for flying) in the UK are through private health clinics. And boy do they know their supply and demand. Prices are extortionary. Most clinics will offer a 48-72 hour window for returning your results, albeit denying liability if you miss your flight as a result of late test results. This made things troublesome. Few offered 24-hour results, those that did happily doubled their prices. Those costs just kept piling on.
I’m sure costs and timing may vary from country to country, but it still leaves a tight window. Plan accordingly. Make sure you leave yourself with enough time to hand in your health declaration form to the embassy and receive your signed form before your flight.
As for the test itself, boy oh boy. For someone who has a sensitive gag reflex to put it lightly, this test was not my cup of tea. For starters, the clinic I used insisted I administer the test myself. Secondly, it was via nose, and wait for it… throat too. I’m sure for most of you this won't be the case. Testing will be done via nasal passage or by throat and administered by a medical expert. I gagged for the entirety of the test and sneezed about 20 times. I probably scared the bejesus out of the patients waiting in line. Fun times.
One last important piece of advice regarding the swab test: Ask your medical practitioners to date it and put your passport number on your test results. This is crucial in obtaining a signed health declaration form.
Health Declaration Form
This is a must for getting on the plane. A printed out version to be specific. The only problem… it requires you emailing your Covid-swab test results to an embassy issued email address and then waiting for the reply. How long will it take? Will they reply in time? Will I make my flight? Those were the exact questions whizzing around my brain. I emailed the embassy enquiring about said questions and all I got were vague responses, or departments offloading the burden onto another department. Not helpful at all. I decided to take matters into my own hands, partially. I was still racing against the clock. The embassy website gives a list of email addresses you can email your Health Declaration Form and Covid-swab test to. The website suggests writing a specific subject header in your email to speed up the process. I decided to go gung ho. Email each address twice. Once following protocol. The second adding URGENT in the forefront of the subject title. And voila, success. Funnily enough, I received 4 different Health Declaration Forms in a matter of 20 minutes. This tactic may or may not work for you, but I suggest trying it. Fingers crossed my young padawans. Next stop, Heathrow Terminal 5. It’s the final countdown!
Airport Departure
Advice from a weary traveller: Constantly check for changes in your flight status, and updates on flight paths being cancelled. Read on for why this is critical.
Oh it was meant to be a joyous occasion. I was finally on my way back to my significant other. Documents in hand. How I was wrong. Again. My cab was pulling into Heathrow Terminal 5 and immediately I sensed something was off. There wasn’t a car or person in sight. It quickly became apparent the terminal was closed. I asked the cab driver to politely stay put as I investigated. All flights from terminal 5 had been re-allocated to different terminals. Great! I wish my airline had informed me of this. I know some of the blame falls on me too, I should have been more vigilant keeping up with my flight status etc, but I still feel this is something they should have made their customers aware of. As I hopped back into the cab, I see a couple arriving in their taxi. I quickly told them to keep their cab, “The terminal is closed! Don’t let your cab leave, you will be stranded!”. I’m not going to lie, I felt like a superhero saving that couple from disaster. For those who don’t frequent Heathrow often, the terminals are miles apart. It would definitely put a damper on your day. Although, I'm sure it wasn't that dramatic.
Eventually, I arrived at Terminal 2. The diversion had subsequently left me short on time. Naturally, there was a monstrosity of a queue to get into the terminal. Single file lane for every passenger entering the building, with one officer checking everyone's boarding pass. Typical England. Eventually, I made it to the check-in desk. Hallelujah. Pleasantries aside, the check-in assistant got to it. Seconds went by, seconds turned to minutes. “What's happening now”, I sighed under my breath. The airline couldn’t seem to find me in their system. I also noticed the flight number and departure time were slightly different from my booking info. Alas, they found me in their system. There’s just one teeny-weeny problem. The second leg of my ticket had been cancelled. It had been for 7 days already. All flights from that specific destination to China had been cancelled for the foreseeable future. I started to get agitated. Why had the airline not informed me of this? Why was I only finding out about this now? Why was there nothing on the airline website mentioning this? For my troubles, I received a standard-issue apology, no explanation and a voucher. No refund. Back home I went dejected and heartbroken.
If you happen to run into a similar situation, depending on local regulations, you may be legally entitled to a refund. Subsequently, I have taken the airline to small claims court via an online agency that handles such matters.
I mentioned earlier in the article to fly direct. This is why. It saves you having to worry about cancellations across multiple leg journeys. I’m just thankful I wasn’t sitting in that poorly rated terminal hotel in the middle of nowhere when the flight path to China was cancelled. Count your blessings.
Thanks to my lovely family, we can fast forward 24 hours, and I was off to China again, direct to Shanghai this time around and minus a small fortune. Before I carry on, I think it is important to note a few things regarding check-in: First, they ask you to scan and fill out a medical questionnaire using Wechat. You will need to show this on arrival. If you don’t have Wechat (Which the Australian next to me didn’t), they do have workarounds, albeit slow. So don’t fret. Secondly and of even greater importance, is if you have a second leg within China, you need to make sure it is for two weeks time. My ticket was for London — Shanghai — Beijing. The Beijing leg was on the same day as the Shanghai arrival. You will not be able to make same-day connections, let alone 2 or 3-day connections. The port of arrival is where you will quarantine. The airline unbeknownst to this factor, still graciously changed my Beijing flight to the appropriate date. Last but not least, prepare for the unexpected, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I fear a lot of people missed those local connecting flights for fear of asking.
In-flight
The flight itself wasn’t as uncomfortable as I was expecting. Despite a lack of hot food and wearing a mask for the entirety of the flight, it was just like any other flight. Staff weren’t wearing hazmat suits, there were no temperature checks, no strict enforcement of protocols. This will vary by country and airline. I had friends flying on Air China and it was exactly what you would expect. Limited food, hazmat wearing flight attendants, temperature checks, the whole shebang. If you are risk-averse and don’t want to roll the dice on your health, maybe flying on a Chinese airline will be your best bet.Note: Don’t forget to bring some snacks, water, hand sanitizewipes and several masks. After a few hours, the masks get really damp, which is not pleasant, but more importantly, time impedes the effectiveness of the masks. Medical experts recommend changing them every three hours.
Airport Arrivals
After 10 agonisingly long months, I finally touched down in China. I was so close, yet so far. I still had to endure two weeks of isolation. What would my hotel room be like? How much was it going to cost? Would the food be edible? How long would the process in the airport take? These are all questions, that cannot be answered. They will differ from person to person. It really is a roll of the dice. I can draw upon my own experiences and those of friends to give you a rough idea of what to expect. The highs and lows. Best to worst-case scenarios.
Let's start off with the airport experience. After disembarking the plane, I was fed through a one-way system. I wanted to bypass long queues so I power walked past anyone I had my sights on. This method proved extremely helpful in the long run. I highly recommend you adopt this advice. You really don’t want to be queuing behind hundreds of people.
The first pit stop, is your Covid-swab test. Staff are fast and efficient. They didn’t waste any time sticking two swabs up my nose. Each nostril for around 10 seconds. It was brain tinglingly brutal. The next pit stop brings me back to the questionnaire I had to fill out at Heathrow via Wechat. Airport staff scanned the QR code I received upon completion of the questionnaire. This downloaded my answers/information into their system. I also had to hand over my Health Declaration Form and Covid-swab test report. Next stop, immigration. The end was nigh. Or was it? After immigration, I collected my bags and joined a queue for the buses that would hurry me off to an unknown location. This queue, moved at snail pace. I was comparatively at the front, yet it still took over an hour. This is why I recommend power walking past anyone or anything. Skipping 50 people will save you an hour. Have your documents on hand, walk fast and you may save yourself significant time. After a significant wait, I finally boarded my bus. To where? No idea. I just hoped and prayed.
Hotel Experience
The anticipation was killing me. Would I score lucky in the hotel lottery? Would I be able to have a nice hot shower after such a long journey? The bus started pulling into a side road and…Cha-ching! It was the Holiday Inn. That's a win in my books. From arriving at the hotel, I was swiftly sent up to my room with my luggage, a toiletry bag, a few A4 papers with Chinese writing and a single pot of pot noodles. The most important of those being the A4 papers.
This contains all of the answers to your questions. If you can read Chinese. If not, I highly recommend you have a friend or colleague on hand to walk you through the form. It will differ from hotel to hotel as they each have their own policies. My hotel, for example, forbid ordering any food that didn’t come pre-wrapped. So McDonalds was off the menu. It also banned the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. If you don’t think you can last the two weeks, I recommend pre-packing some in your suitcase, otherwise use the opportunity to detox.
It also goes into detail about how to pay for your hotel stay, the food they provide for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also your covid test which you will take a few days before your departure. All payments have to be done via Wechat, Alipay and Chinese bank transfer. Alipay accepts foreign cards, although I haven’t personally tested it myself. If you don’t want to risk it, you could ask a friend to cover the payments and pay them back. They are all done via QR codes except for the covid test, which I had to pay via bank transfer. Either way, you have time in isolation to sort out a payment method which suits you. Time is not scarce in isolation!
As for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food I ate daily was actually pretty good. I was surprised. I had heard horror stories about the food being served in some hotels. This once again, comes back to the luck of the draw. You can opt-out having the food, but once you opt-out, it's done for good. You cannot pick and choose which days.
As for the cost of the hotel and food, it will say on your A4 sheet. The costs can vary dramatically from location to hotel. I had a friend stay at a horrible hotel, and he paid the same as me. Whereas I had some friends stay at a lovely hotel and paid 25% of what I paid. Generally, you won't pay more than 500RMB per night (excluding food). If you are lucky, or unlucky in the sense your hotel is a dump, you can be paying as low as 150RMB a night. Based off multiple accounts, the food seems to be a constant 100RMB a night. The food also comes ridiculously early. Breakfast at 730am (which isn’t so bad), but lunch and dinner come at 1130am and 430pm respectively. Some hotels do allow ordering from outside restaurants, so you can opt-out of the 100RMB a day and eat at your own expense and time.
As for my hotel room, it was clean, spacious and even had a bathtub. Once again, this may not be your experience. But this gave me the space to exercise daily, which I did to keep my mind busy. Time will be your enemy. So I recommend having a plan of action by the time you arrive. Set up a daily routine and stick to it. I read a lot, worked on some programming and exercised religiously. Without the routine, I think time would have stood still. You are alone, by yourself, with only your thoughts, for two weeks. It’s solitary confinement with a bathtub. Figure out what works for you, and you will be fine. Your only connection to the outside world will be your hazmat wearing food delivery man, knocking on your door to leave your food outside, or the nurse coming to collect your twice-daily temperature checks (self-administered).
Conclusion
I wrote this article to highlight some of the pains I went through in getting to China and ultimately back to my wife. But specifically to highlight how you can avoid those pains and make your trip less stressful.
To condense it all done to a tee, I highly recommend being vigilant in regards to your timing, your flight status, making sure you have the appropriate documentation, and dealing with isolation by being productive and letting go of the small details in life. Your bed may be uncomfortable, or the food sucks, but the time will pass, and you will move on with your life. It’s just a small blip in an otherwise fruitful life. Enjoy your travels and enjoy China. Most importantly, stay safe!
https://medium.com/swlh/china-quarantine-68dd15d41559
submitted by niall_mcnulty to travel [link] [comments]


2020.10.27 13:12 niall_mcnulty Travelling to China and the 14-Day Mandatory Hotel Quarantine. My Story and Advice

I take it you have exhausted all of your efforts on Google trying to find any information that will be helpful for your upcoming trip to China? You are now praying this article will shine some light on your situation? How do I know this? I was in the same boat as you only a month ago. Hopefully, I can answer a tonne of your questions and relieve some of that pre-travel anxiety by sharing my nightmare of a story.
This will be a semi-informative, semi-experienced based article on the entire process of travelling to China and what to expect from your mandatory 14-day quarantine. I will detail every step, starting from the eureka moment to eagerly walking out of your quarantine hotel in China. I personally found the pre-flight steps the most overwhelming of the entire experience. Once you touch down in China, everything is very organised and efficient. Although other travellers have had differing experiences, which I will touch upon later. I wonder how your own experiences will unfold? For now, sit back, take notes and/or revel in my disaster story.
Travel restrictions
Before you can even think about flying to China, you need to check if nationals from your country are allowed entry. For the better part of the year, China has had its borders closed to almost everyone, except a select few who were crucial to big industry. This widespread lockdown went as far as including Chinese nationals stuck abroad. China wasn’t messing about in a bid to keep a lid on the spread of Covid.
In mid-August, to my surprise and delight, an announcement went out over Wechat (Chinese messaging app) that China was re-opening its borders to a select group of European countries, adding them to an already small list of Asian countries that could travel to China under certain conditions. My country was on that list. I was ecstatic. My wife was still in China when restrictions were put in place. We hadn’t seen each other in months. I was finally going to see her and I couldn’t wait.
My advice for any would-be travellers is to check the Chinese embassy website for your respective countries. It wouldn’t hurt to check any .gov websites for your country too which might have some useful information on travel restrictions. There will be sufficient information on those sites to inform you of your ability to fly to China. NOTE: Regularly check these websites as updates and/or new restrictions can be put in place in the blink of an eye. For those only going to China for a short stint (which is unlikely but possible), it might also be useful to be aware of any quarantine rules that are in place for your return trip.
Chinese Visas
I mentioned above that there were conditions for those wishing to travel to China. Well, those conditions are focused solely on your visa or ability to get one. If you’re planning to visit the Great Wall or the Avatar inspired mountains in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, don’t bother. China is not open for tourism. You can only travel to China if you fit the following criteria.
  1. You held a valid “Foreigner’s Residence Permit” before lockdown (expired after 28 March 2020) for work, private matters or family reunion purposes and are returning for the same intention.
  2. You are invited by the provisional government for economic, trade, scientific, technological, culture or sport purposes and have the relevant documentation.
  3. You are invited for work, private matter or family reunion purposes in China and have obtained a “Notification Letter of Foreigners Work Permit”, “Invitation Letter (PU/TE)” or “Verification Confirmation of Invitation”.
  4. Humanitarian reasons, including visiting family and looking after sick or elderly family members.
  5. Crew members
Luckily my spouse visa was still valid. Barely. So I booked an appointment with the China Visa Application Service Center (global website) in London. China tends to out-source visa applications for large cities to this specific company. This offloads some of the workload. Makes sense, but adds extra cost to us. Frown. This may not be the case for your country, you might just need to visit the local Chinese embassy. Once again, check those websites. Whilst booking my appointment online, they required me to fill out an extensive online application. It was exhausting. Comparable to applying for citizenship. After reluctantly typing out my family history blah, blah, blah, I was finally allowed to choose a timeslot to visit the centre. Depending on how busy your embassy or local China Visa Application Service Center is, this could be anywhere from a couple of days wait, up to a couple of weeks. So plan accordingly. Luckily for me, two days later I hopped onto the District Line Tube, and off I went into London. I’m not familiar with other countries, but because of lockdown and restrictions, the visa centre in London was only open Tuesdays and Thursdays and was limited to morning hours. The whole process went by quite smoothly. I picked up my passport with a new visa the following week. NOTE: I had to put a 99GBP deposit down while they verified my existing visa. Once verified they reimbursed the money. Which was a massive relief, as the costs for going to China just kept piling on. For those applying for a new visa, you will be charged as per usual. I strongly recommend double-checking, triple-checking that you fall within their guidelines, otherwise you will lose that cash. Once again, this was my experience in London and it may vary globally. Always revert to the Chinese embassy website and/or .gov websites in your country for up to date information. Heck, even call them up if you find the guidelines vague or contradictory (which I did on numerous occasions).
Booking flights
This is where my nightmare truly set in. For starters, flights to China are exorbitantly expensive. Tickets were going for USD2000–5000. Yeah, exactly… WTH! To my surprise though, I found an incredibly affordable flight. This was in the realms of what I could afford. Only USD600 (one-way). A glimmer of hope at last. This was with an airline I had never heard of, and I travel regularly. I noticed it was partnered with a global and recognised alliance group, so my inklings of doubt quickly subsided, despite worry from family and friends. There was a 23-hour layover, which explained the price. In the grand scheme of things, 23-hours sitting in a dingy airport lounge, or a terminal hotel (which had shocking reviews), was nothing compared to seeing my wife again. Bring it on! I do, however, recommend flying direct if it is within your means. My 23-hour layover caused a lot of anxiety and trouble in terms of timing, specifically with the Covid-swab test. There is another key reason I recommend booking direct which I will touch upon later.
Covid-Swab Test
This is where things started becoming problematic. Travelling to China requires a mandatory Covid-swab test (not to be mistaken for the antibody test). To make things more delicate, you need to have your test administered 72 hours before your flight to China. Emphasis on your flight to China. If you have a multiple leg ticket, it only counts from the flight which is departing to China.
With my 23-hour layover, this left me with less than 48 hours to receive my results before embarking on my journey. Not ideal. To make matters worse, the only options for Covid-swab tests (with specific documentation for flying) in the UK are through private health clinics. And boy do they know their supply and demand. Prices are extortionary. Most clinics will offer a 48-72 hour window for returning your results, albeit denying liability if you miss your flight as a result of late test results. This made things troublesome. Few offered 24-hour results, those that did happily doubled their prices. Those costs just kept piling on.
I’m sure costs and timing may vary from country to country, but it still leaves a tight window. Plan accordingly. Make sure you leave yourself with enough time to hand in your health declaration form to the embassy and receive your signed form before your flight.
As for the test itself, boy oh boy. For someone who has a sensitive gag reflex to put it lightly, this test was not my cup of tea. For starters, the clinic I used insisted I administer the test myself. Secondly, it was via nose, and wait for it… throat too. I’m sure for most of you this won't be the case. Testing will be done via nasal passage or by throat and administered by a medical expert. I gagged for the entirety of the test and sneezed about 20 times. I probably scared the bejesus out of the patients waiting in line. Fun times.
One last important piece of advice regarding the swab test: Ask your medical practitioners to date it and put your passport number on your test results. This is crucial in obtaining a signed health declaration form.
Health Declaration Form
This is a must for getting on the plane. A printed out version to be specific. The only problem… it requires you emailing your Covid-swab test results to an embassy issued email address and then waiting for the reply. How long will it take? Will they reply in time? Will I make my flight? Those were the exact questions whizzing around my brain. I emailed the embassy enquiring about said questions and all I got were vague responses, or departments offloading the burden onto another department. Not helpful at all. I decided to take matters into my own hands, partially. I was still racing against the clock. The embassy website gives a list of email addresses you can email your Health Declaration Form and Covid-swab test to. The website suggests writing a specific subject header in your email to speed up the process. I decided to go gung ho. Email each address twice. Once following protocol. The second adding URGENT in the forefront of the subject title. And voila, success. Funnily enough, I received 4 different Health Declaration Forms in a matter of 20 minutes. This tactic may or may not work for you, but I suggest trying it. Fingers crossed my young padawans. Next stop, Heathrow Terminal 5. It’s the final countdown!
Airport Departure
Advice from a weary traveller: Constantly check for changes in your flight status, and updates on flight paths being cancelled. Read on for why this is critical.
Oh it was meant to be a joyous occasion. I was finally on my way back to my significant other. Documents in hand. How I was wrong. Again. My cab was pulling into Heathrow Terminal 5 and immediately I sensed something was off. There wasn’t a car or person in sight. It quickly became apparent the terminal was closed. I asked the cab driver to politely stay put as I investigated. All flights from terminal 5 had been re-allocated to different terminals. Great! I wish my airline had informed me of this. I know some of the blame falls on me too, I should have been more vigilant keeping up with my flight status etc, but I still feel this is something they should have made their customers aware of. As I hopped back into the cab, I see a couple arriving in their taxi. I quickly told them to keep their cab, “The terminal is closed! Don’t let your cab leave, you will be stranded!”. I’m not going to lie, I felt like a superhero saving that couple from disaster. For those who don’t frequent Heathrow often, the terminals are miles apart. It would definitely put a damper on your day. Although, I'm sure it wasn't that dramatic.
Eventually, I arrived at Terminal 2. The diversion had subsequently left me short on time. Naturally, there was a monstrosity of a queue to get into the terminal. Single file lane for every passenger entering the building, with one officer checking everyone's boarding pass. Typical England. Eventually, I made it to the check-in desk. Hallelujah. Pleasantries aside, the check-in assistant got to it. Seconds went by, seconds turned to minutes. “What's happening now”, I sighed under my breath. The airline couldn’t seem to find me in their system. I also noticed the flight number and departure time were slightly different from my booking info. Alas, they found me in their system. There’s just one teeny-weeny problem. The second leg of my ticket had been cancelled. It had been for 7 days already. All flights from that specific destination to China had been cancelled for the foreseeable future. I started to get agitated. Why had the airline not informed me of this? Why was I only finding out about this now? Why was there nothing on the airline website mentioning this? For my troubles, I received a standard-issue apology, no explanation and a voucher. No refund. Back home I went dejected and heartbroken.
If you happen to run into a similar situation, depending on local regulations, you may be legally entitled to a refund. Subsequently, I have taken the airline to small claims court via an online agency that handles such matters.
I mentioned earlier in the article to fly direct. This is why. It saves you having to worry about cancellations across multiple leg journeys. I’m just thankful I wasn’t sitting in that poorly rated terminal hotel in the middle of nowhere when the flight path to China was cancelled. Count your blessings.
Thanks to my lovely family, we can fast forward 24 hours, and I was off to China again, direct to Shanghai this time around and minus a small fortune. Before I carry on, I think it is important to note a few things regarding check-in: First, they ask you to scan and fill out a medical questionnaire using Wechat. You will need to show this on arrival. If you don’t have Wechat (Which the Australian next to me didn’t), they do have workarounds, albeit slow. So don’t fret. Secondly and of even greater importance, is if you have a second leg within China, you need to make sure it is for two weeks time. My ticket was for London — Shanghai — Beijing. The Beijing leg was on the same day as the Shanghai arrival. You will not be able to make same-day connections, let alone 2 or 3-day connections. The port of arrival is where you will quarantine. The airline unbeknownst to this factor, still graciously changed my Beijing flight to the appropriate date. Last but not least, prepare for the unexpected, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I fear a lot of people missed those local connecting flights for fear of asking.
In-flight
The flight itself wasn’t as uncomfortable as I was expecting. Despite a lack of hot food and wearing a mask for the entirety of the flight, it was just like any other flight. Staff weren’t wearing hazmat suits, there were no temperature checks, no strict enforcement of protocols. This will vary by country and airline. I had friends flying on Air China and it was exactly what you would expect. Limited food, hazmat wearing flight attendants, temperature checks, the whole shebang. If you are risk-averse and don’t want to roll the dice on your health, maybe flying on a Chinese airline will be your best bet.Note: Don’t forget to bring some snacks, water, hand sanitizewipes and several masks. After a few hours, the masks get really damp, which is not pleasant, but more importantly, time impedes the effectiveness of the masks. Medical experts recommend changing them every three hours.
Airport Arrivals
After 10 agonisingly long months, I finally touched down in China. I was so close, yet so far. I still had to endure two weeks of isolation. What would my hotel room be like? How much was it going to cost? Would the food be edible? How long would the process in the airport take? These are all questions, that cannot be answered. They will differ from person to person. It really is a roll of the dice. I can draw upon my own experiences and those of friends to give you a rough idea of what to expect. The highs and lows. Best to worst-case scenarios.
Let's start off with the airport experience. After disembarking the plane, I was fed through a one-way system. I wanted to bypass long queues so I power walked past anyone I had my sights on. This method proved extremely helpful in the long run. I highly recommend you adopt this advice. You really don’t want to be queuing behind hundreds of people.
The first pit stop, is your Covid-swab test. Staff are fast and efficient. They didn’t waste any time sticking two swabs up my nose. Each nostril for around 10 seconds. It was brain tinglingly brutal. The next pit stop brings me back to the questionnaire I had to fill out at Heathrow via Wechat. Airport staff scanned the QR code I received upon completion of the questionnaire. This downloaded my answers/information into their system. I also had to hand over my Health Declaration Form and Covid-swab test report. Next stop, immigration. The end was nigh. Or was it? After immigration, I collected my bags and joined a queue for the buses that would hurry me off to an unknown location. This queue, moved at snail pace. I was comparatively at the front, yet it still took over an hour. This is why I recommend power walking past anyone or anything. Skipping 50 people will save you an hour. Have your documents on hand, walk fast and you may save yourself significant time. After a significant wait, I finally boarded my bus. To where? No idea. I just hoped and prayed.
Hotel Experience
The anticipation was killing me. Would I score lucky in the hotel lottery? Would I be able to have a nice hot shower after such a long journey? The bus started pulling into a side road and…Cha-ching! It was the Holiday Inn. That's a win in my books. From arriving at the hotel, I was swiftly sent up to my room with my luggage, a toiletry bag, a few A4 papers with Chinese writing and a single pot of pot noodles. The most important of those being the A4 papers.
This contains all of the answers to your questions. If you can read Chinese. If not, I highly recommend you have a friend or colleague on hand to walk you through the form. It will differ from hotel to hotel as they each have their own policies. My hotel, for example, forbid ordering any food that didn’t come pre-wrapped. So McDonalds was off the menu. It also banned the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. If you don’t think you can last the two weeks, I recommend pre-packing some in your suitcase, otherwise use the opportunity to detox.
It also goes into detail about how to pay for your hotel stay, the food they provide for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also your covid test which you will take a few days before your departure. All payments have to be done via Wechat, Alipay and Chinese bank transfer. Alipay accepts foreign cards, although I haven’t personally tested it myself. If you don’t want to risk it, you could ask a friend to cover the payments and pay them back. They are all done via QR codes except for the covid test, which I had to pay via bank transfer. Either way, you have time in isolation to sort out a payment method which suits you. Time is not scarce in isolation!
As for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food I ate daily was actually pretty good. I was surprised. I had heard horror stories about the food being served in some hotels. This once again, comes back to the luck of the draw. You can opt-out having the food, but once you opt-out, it's done for good. You cannot pick and choose which days.
As for the cost of the hotel and food, it will say on your A4 sheet. The costs can vary dramatically from location to hotel. I had a friend stay at a horrible hotel, and he paid the same as me. Whereas I had some friends stay at a lovely hotel and paid 25% of what I paid. Generally, you won't pay more than 500RMB per night (excluding food). If you are lucky, or unlucky in the sense your hotel is a dump, you can be paying as low as 150RMB a night. Based off multiple accounts, the food seems to be a constant 100RMB a night. The food also comes ridiculously early. Breakfast at 730am (which isn’t so bad), but lunch and dinner come at 1130am and 430pm respectively. Some hotels do allow ordering from outside restaurants, so you can opt-out of the 100RMB a day and eat at your own expense and time.
As for my hotel room, it was clean, spacious and even had a bathtub. Once again, this may not be your experience. But this gave me the space to exercise daily, which I did to keep my mind busy. Time will be your enemy. So I recommend having a plan of action by the time you arrive. Set up a daily routine and stick to it. I read a lot, worked on some programming and exercised religiously. Without the routine, I think time would have stood still. You are alone, by yourself, with only your thoughts, for two weeks. It’s solitary confinement with a bathtub. Figure out what works for you, and you will be fine. Your only connection to the outside world will be your hazmat wearing food delivery man, knocking on your door to leave your food outside, or the nurse coming to collect your twice-daily temperature checks (self-administered).
Conclusion
I wrote this article to highlight some of the pains I went through in getting to China and ultimately back to my wife. But specifically to highlight how you can avoid those pains and make your trip less stressful.
To condense it all done to a tee, I highly recommend being vigilant in regards to your timing, your flight status, making sure you have the appropriate documentation, and dealing with isolation by being productive and letting go of the small details in life. Your bed may be uncomfortable, or the food sucks, but the time will pass, and you will move on with your life. It’s just a small blip in an otherwise fruitful life. Enjoy your travels and enjoy China. Most importantly, stay safe!
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2020.10.27 13:09 niall_mcnulty Travelling to China and the 14-Day Mandatory Hotel Quarantine: My Story and Advice

I take it you have exhausted all of your efforts on Google trying to find any information that will be helpful for your upcoming trip to China? You are now praying this article will shine some light on your situation? How do I know this? I was in the same boat as you only a month ago. Hopefully, I can answer a tonne of your questions and relieve some of that pre-travel anxiety by sharing my nightmare of a story.
This will be a semi-informative, semi-experienced based article on the entire process of travelling to China and what to expect from your mandatory 14-day quarantine. I will detail every step, starting from the eureka moment to eagerly walking out of your quarantine hotel in China. I personally found the pre-flight steps the most overwhelming of the entire experience. Once you touch down in China, everything is very organised and efficient. Although other travellers have had differing experiences, which I will touch upon later. I wonder how your own experiences will unfold? For now, sit back, take notes and/or revel in my disaster story.

Travel restrictions

Before you can even think about flying to China, you need to check if nationals from your country are allowed entry. For the better part of the year, China has had its borders closed to almost everyone, except a select few who were crucial to big industry. This widespread lockdown went as far as including Chinese nationals stuck abroad. China wasn’t messing about in a bid to keep a lid on the spread of Covid.
In mid-August, to my surprise and delight, an announcement went out over Wechat (Chinese messaging app) that China was re-opening its borders to a select group of European countries, adding them to an already small list of Asian countries that could travel to China under certain conditions. My country was on that list. I was ecstatic. My wife was still in China when restrictions were put in place. We hadn’t seen each other in months. I was finally going to see her and I couldn’t wait.
My advice for any would-be travellers is to check the Chinese embassy website for your respective countries. It wouldn’t hurt to check any .gov websites for your country too which might have some useful information on travel restrictions. There will be sufficient information on those sites to inform you of your ability to fly to China. NOTE: Regularly check these websites as updates and/or new restrictions can be put in place in the blink of an eye. For those only going to China for a short stint (which is unlikely but possible), it might also be useful to be aware of any quarantine rules that are in place for your return trip.

Chinese Visas

I mentioned above that there were conditions for those wishing to travel to China. Well, those conditions are focused solely on your visa or ability to get one. If you’re planning to visit the Great Wall or the Avatar inspired mountains in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, don’t bother. China is not open for tourism. You can only travel to China if you fit the following criteria.
  1. You held a valid “Foreigner’s Residence Permit” before lockdown (expired after 28 March 2020) for work, private matters or family reunion purposes and are returning for the same intention.
  2. You are invited by the provisional government for economic, trade, scientific, technological, culture or sport purposes and have the relevant documentation.
  3. You are invited for work, private matter or family reunion purposes in China and have obtained a “Notification Letter of Foreigners Work Permit”, “Invitation Letter (PU/TE)” or “Verification Confirmation of Invitation”.
  4. Humanitarian reasons, including visiting family and looking after sick or elderly family members.
  5. Crew members
Luckily my spouse visa was still valid. Barely. So I booked an appointment with the China Visa Application Service Center (global website) in London. China tends to out-source visa applications for large cities to this specific company. This offloads some of the workload. Makes sense, but adds extra cost to us. Frown. This may not be the case for your country, you might just need to visit the local Chinese embassy. Once again, check those websites. Whilst booking my appointment online, they required me to fill out an extensive online application. It was exhausting. Comparable to applying for citizenship. After reluctantly typing out my family history blah, blah, blah, I was finally allowed to choose a timeslot to visit the centre. Depending on how busy your embassy or local China Visa Application Service Center is, this could be anywhere from a couple of days wait, up to a couple of weeks. So plan accordingly. Luckily for me, two days later I hopped onto the District Line Tube, and off I went into London. I’m not familiar with other countries, but because of lockdown and restrictions, the visa centre in London was only open Tuesdays and Thursdays and was limited to morning hours. The whole process went by quite smoothly. I picked up my passport with a new visa the following week. NOTE: I had to put a 99GBP deposit down while they verified my existing visa. Once verified they reimbursed the money. Which was a massive relief, as the costs for going to China just kept piling on. For those applying for a new visa, you will be charged as per usual. I strongly recommend double-checking, triple-checking that you fall within their guidelines, otherwise you will lose that cash. Once again, this was my experience in London and it may vary globally. Always revert to the Chinese embassy website and/or .gov websites in your country for up to date information. Heck, even call them up if you find the guidelines vague or contradictory (which I did on numerous occasions).

Booking flights

This is where my nightmare truly set in. For starters, flights to China are exorbitantly expensive. Tickets were going for USD2000–5000. Yeah, exactly… WTH! To my surprise though, I found an incredibly affordable flight. This was in the realms of what I could afford. Only USD600 (one-way). A glimmer of hope at last. This was with an airline I had never heard of, and I travel regularly. I noticed it was partnered with a global and recognised alliance group, so my inklings of doubt quickly subsided, despite worry from family and friends. There was a 23-hour layover, which explained the price. In the grand scheme of things, 23-hours sitting in a dingy airport lounge, or a terminal hotel (which had shocking reviews), was nothing compared to seeing my wife again. Bring it on! I do, however, recommend flying direct if it is within your means. My 23-hour layover caused a lot of anxiety and trouble in terms of timing, specifically with the Covid-swab test. There is another key reason I recommend booking direct which I will touch upon later.

Covid-Swab Test

This is where things started becoming problematic. Travelling to China requires a mandatory Covid-swab test (not to be mistaken for the antibody test). To make things more delicate, you need to have your test administered 72 hours before your flight to China. Emphasis on your flight to China. If you have a multiple leg ticket, it only counts from the flight which is departing to China.
With my 23-hour layover, this left me with less than 48 hours to receive my results before embarking on my journey. Not ideal. To make matters worse, the only options for Covid-swab tests (with specific documentation for flying) in the UK are through private health clinics. And boy do they know their supply and demand. Prices are extortionary. Most clinics will offer a 48-72 hour window for returning your results, albeit denying liability if you miss your flight as a result of late test results. This made things troublesome. Few offered 24-hour results, those that did happily doubled their prices. Those costs just kept piling on.
I’m sure costs and timing may vary from country to country, but it still leaves a tight window. Plan accordingly. Make sure you leave yourself with enough time to hand in your health declaration form to the embassy and receive your signed form before your flight.
As for the test itself, boy oh boy. For someone who has a sensitive gag reflex to put it lightly, this test was not my cup of tea. For starters, the clinic I used insisted I administer the test myself. Secondly, it was via nose, and wait for it… throat too. I’m sure for most of you this won't be the case. Testing will be done via nasal passage or by throat and administered by a medical expert. I gagged for the entirety of the test and sneezed about 20 times. I probably scared the bejesus out of the patients waiting in line. Fun times.
One last important piece of advice regarding the swab test: Ask your medical practitioners to date it and put your passport number on your test results. This is crucial in obtaining a signed health declaration form.

Health Declaration Form

This is a must for getting on the plane. A printed out version to be specific. The only problem… it requires you emailing your Covid-swab test results to an embassy issued email address and then waiting for the reply. How long will it take? Will they reply in time? Will I make my flight? Those were the exact questions whizzing around my brain. I emailed the embassy enquiring about said questions and all I got were vague responses, or departments offloading the burden onto another department. Not helpful at all. I decided to take matters into my own hands, partially. I was still racing against the clock. The embassy website gives a list of email addresses you can email your Health Declaration Form and Covid-swab test to. The website suggests writing a specific subject header in your email to speed up the process. I decided to go gung ho. Email each address twice. Once following protocol. The second adding URGENT in the forefront of the subject title. And voila, success. Funnily enough, I received 4 different Health Declaration Forms in a matter of 20 minutes. This tactic may or may not work for you, but I suggest trying it. Fingers crossed my young padawans. Next stop, Heathrow Terminal 5. It’s the final countdown!

Airport Departure

Advice from a weary traveller: Constantly check for changes in your flight status, and updates on flight paths being cancelled. Read on for why this is critical.
Oh it was meant to be a joyous occasion. I was finally on my way back to my significant other. Documents in hand. How I was wrong. Again. My cab was pulling into Heathrow Terminal 5 and immediately I sensed something was off. There wasn’t a car or person in sight. It quickly became apparent the terminal was closed. I asked the cab driver to politely stay put as I investigated. All flights from terminal 5 had been re-allocated to different terminals. Great! I wish my airline had informed me of this. I know some of the blame falls on me too, I should have been more vigilant keeping up with my flight status etc, but I still feel this is something they should have made their customers aware of. As I hopped back into the cab, I see a couple arriving in their taxi. I quickly told them to keep their cab, “The terminal is closed! Don’t let your cab leave, you will be stranded!”. I’m not going to lie, I felt like a superhero saving that couple from disaster. For those who don’t frequent Heathrow often, the terminals are miles apart. It would definitely put a damper on your day. Although, I'm sure it wasn't that dramatic.
Eventually, I arrived at Terminal 2. The diversion had subsequently left me short on time. Naturally, there was a monstrosity of a queue to get into the terminal. Single file lane for every passenger entering the building, with one officer checking everyone's boarding pass. Typical England. Eventually, I made it to the check-in desk. Hallelujah. Pleasantries aside, the check-in assistant got to it. Seconds went by, seconds turned to minutes. “What's happening now”, I sighed under my breath. The airline couldn’t seem to find me in their system. I also noticed the flight number and departure time were slightly different from my booking info. Alas, they found me in their system. There’s just one teeny-weeny problem. The second leg of my ticket had been cancelled. It had been for 7 days already. All flights from that specific destination to China had been cancelled for the foreseeable future. I started to get agitated. Why had the airline not informed me of this? Why was I only finding out about this now? Why was there nothing on the airline website mentioning this? For my troubles, I received a standard-issue apology, no explanation and a voucher. No refund. Back home I went dejected and heartbroken.
If you happen to run into a similar situation, depending on local regulations, you may be legally entitled to a refund. Subsequently, I have taken the airline to small claims court via an online agency that handles such matters.
I mentioned earlier in the article to fly direct. This is why. It saves you having to worry about cancellations across multiple leg journeys. I’m just thankful I wasn’t sitting in that poorly rated terminal hotel in the middle of nowhere when the flight path to China was cancelled. Count your blessings.
Thanks to my lovely family, we can fast forward 24 hours, and I was off to China again, direct to Shanghai this time around and minus a small fortune. Before I carry on, I think it is important to note a few things regarding check-in: First, they ask you to scan and fill out a medical questionnaire using Wechat. You will need to show this on arrival. If you don’t have Wechat (Which the Australian next to me didn’t), they do have workarounds, albeit slow. So don’t fret. Secondly and of even greater importance, is if you have a second leg within China, you need to make sure it is for two weeks time. My ticket was for London — Shanghai — Beijing. The Beijing leg was on the same day as the Shanghai arrival. You will not be able to make same-day connections, let alone 2 or 3-day connections. The port of arrival is where you will quarantine. The airline unbeknownst to this factor, still graciously changed my Beijing flight to the appropriate date. Last but not least, prepare for the unexpected, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I fear a lot of people missed those local connecting flights for fear of asking.

In-flight

The flight itself wasn’t as uncomfortable as I was expecting. Despite a lack of hot food and wearing a mask for the entirety of the flight, it was just like any other flight. Staff weren’t wearing hazmat suits, there were no temperature checks, no strict enforcement of protocols. This will vary by country and airline. I had friends flying on Air China and it was exactly what you would expect. Limited food, hazmat wearing flight attendants, temperature checks, the whole shebang. If you are risk-averse and don’t want to roll the dice on your health, maybe flying on a Chinese airline will be your best bet.Note: Don’t forget to bring some snacks, water, hand sanitizewipes and several masks. After a few hours, the masks get really damp, which is not pleasant, but more importantly, time impedes the effectiveness of the masks. Medical experts recommend changing them every three hours.

Airport Arrivals

After 10 agonisingly long months, I finally touched down in China. I was so close, yet so far. I still had to endure two weeks of isolation. What would my hotel room be like? How much was it going to cost? Would the food be edible? How long would the process in the airport take? These are all questions, that cannot be answered. They will differ from person to person. It really is a roll of the dice. I can draw upon my own experiences and those of friends to give you a rough idea of what to expect. The highs and lows. Best to worst-case scenarios.
Let's start off with the airport experience. After disembarking the plane, I was fed through a one-way system. I wanted to bypass long queues so I power walked past anyone I had my sights on. This method proved extremely helpful in the long run. I highly recommend you adopt this advice. You really don’t want to be queuing behind hundreds of people.
The first pit stop, is your Covid-swab test. Staff are fast and efficient. They didn’t waste any time sticking two swabs up my nose. Each nostril for around 10 seconds. It was brain tinglingly brutal. The next pit stop brings me back to the questionnaire I had to fill out at Heathrow via Wechat. Airport staff scanned the QR code I received upon completion of the questionnaire. This downloaded my answers/information into their system. I also had to hand over my Health Declaration Form and Covid-swab test report. Next stop, immigration. The end was nigh. Or was it? After immigration, I collected my bags and joined a queue for the buses that would hurry me off to an unknown location. This queue, moved at snail pace. I was comparatively at the front, yet it still took over an hour. This is why I recommend power walking past anyone or anything. Skipping 50 people will save you an hour. Have your documents on hand, walk fast and you may save yourself significant time. After a significant wait, I finally boarded my bus. To where? No idea. I just hoped and prayed.

Hotel Experience

The anticipation was killing me. Would I score lucky in the hotel lottery? Would I be able to have a nice hot shower after such a long journey? The bus started pulling into a side road and…Cha-ching! It was the Holiday Inn. That's a win in my books. From arriving at the hotel, I was swiftly sent up to my room with my luggage, a toiletry bag, a few A4 papers with Chinese writing and a single pot of pot noodles. The most important of those being the A4 papers.
This contains all of the answers to your questions. If you can read Chinese. If not, I highly recommend you have a friend or colleague on hand to walk you through the form. It will differ from hotel to hotel as they each have their own policies. My hotel, for example, forbid ordering any food that didn’t come pre-wrapped. So McDonalds was off the menu. It also banned the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. If you don’t think you can last the two weeks, I recommend pre-packing some in your suitcase, otherwise use the opportunity to detox.
It also goes into detail about how to pay for your hotel stay, the food they provide for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also your covid test which you will take a few days before your departure. All payments have to be done via Wechat, Alipay and Chinese bank transfer. Alipay accepts foreign cards, although I haven’t personally tested it myself. If you don’t want to risk it, you could ask a friend to cover the payments and pay them back. They are all done via QR codes except for the covid test, which I had to pay via bank transfer. Either way, you have time in isolation to sort out a payment method which suits you. Time is not scarce in isolation!
As for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food I ate daily was actually pretty good. I was surprised. I had heard horror stories about the food being served in some hotels. This once again, comes back to the luck of the draw. You can opt-out having the food, but once you opt-out, it's done for good. You cannot pick and choose which days.
As for the cost of the hotel and food, it will say on your A4 sheet. The costs can vary dramatically from location to hotel. I had a friend stay at a horrible hotel, and he paid the same as me. Whereas I had some friends stay at a lovely hotel and paid 25% of what I paid. Generally, you won't pay more than 500RMB per night (excluding food). If you are lucky, or unlucky in the sense your hotel is a dump, you can be paying as low as 150RMB a night. Based off multiple accounts, the food seems to be a constant 100RMB a night. The food also comes ridiculously early. Breakfast at 730am (which isn’t so bad), but lunch and dinner come at 1130am and 430pm respectively. Some hotels do allow ordering from outside restaurants, so you can opt-out of the 100RMB a day and eat at your own expense and time.
As for my hotel room, it was clean, spacious and even had a bathtub. Once again, this may not be your experience. But this gave me the space to exercise daily, which I did to keep my mind busy. Time will be your enemy. So I recommend having a plan of action by the time you arrive. Set up a daily routine and stick to it. I read a lot, worked on some programming and exercised religiously. Without the routine, I think time would have stood still. You are alone, by yourself, with only your thoughts, for two weeks. It’s solitary confinement with a bathtub. Figure out what works for you, and you will be fine. Your only connection to the outside world will be your hazmat wearing food delivery man, knocking on your door to leave your food outside, or the nurse coming to collect your twice-daily temperature checks (self-administered).

Conclusion

I wrote this article to highlight some of the pains I went through in getting to China and ultimately back to my wife. But specifically to highlight how you can avoid those pains and make your trip less stressful.
To condense it all done to a tee, I highly recommend being vigilant in regards to your timing, your flight status, making sure you have the appropriate documentation, and dealing with isolation by being productive and letting go of the small details in life. Your bed may be uncomfortable, or the food sucks, but the time will pass, and you will move on with your life. It’s just a small blip in an otherwise fruitful life. Enjoy your travels and enjoy China. Most importantly, stay safe!
submitted by niall_mcnulty to China [link] [comments]


2020.10.27 08:16 MetricTonOfSauce That time my Players blew up a city district, ate the consequences... and absolutely loved it

So, first off, let me say that this is technically an on-going campaign, so if any details are particularly vague, it's for the sake of keeping key details a secret from my players in case they read this (hey guys if you're reading this).
Now, this particular campaign is set in an eldritch world that mostly takes place on a single island, with most of the campaign so far having been in the main city located on said island and hopping through the different city districts, with light pocket-dimension fun here and there. There have been a few good situations, a few that aren't so stellar, and a few in the middle (it's my first real campaign, so I can't say I'm the best, but hey, I never went around sexually assaulting my players like the guys in RPGHorrorStories, so that counts for something, right?) but mostly my players have been having fun and so have I.
To introduce my players, there's A, who plays a gnome homebrew Tinkerer, J, a human weeaboo Fighter, R, a goblin wererat who multi-classed Blood Hunter and Rogue, and C, who plays a Goliath Paladin.
To start the session, my players picked up in the middle of an abandoned Opera House, where weird flesh creatures and automatons roam and the allure of technology created by an ancient psychopathic inventor keeps them moving forward into the dark depths. Growing on the walls of said Opera House was this highly flammable flesh-mold that they had already used to burn up one of the flesh monsters (for a clearer picture, I based them on Lickers from Resident Evil), and R had picked up even more to save for a later date. They had made a full loop around the bottom floor of the Opera House, but part of the floor was missing, preventing them from making a complete circuit back to the front of the building. Through the hole, they could see this green, very noxious gas that I had established resided in another district of the city, yet was also produced by certain undead. They had already learned that this gas was flammable and, in fact, highly explosive, with the ability to cause SEVERE damage to nearby structures and creatures. The basement (I say basement, but really it was just part of the city sewers) of the Opera House was filled with this gas, and what looked to be toxic goo besides, along with who knows what else. Luckily, across the gap, and easily accessed from the other side, was a ladder up, and they had already passed a door in the hallway they came through that would have let them access another part of the building, so they had options.
So, what did they do?
It was clear to them that one of the paths they could take was the basement, and I had probably, as the oh-so-devious DM, hidden some good stuff down there (I had). However, that stupid gas was in the way, and there was NO WAY that they were going to go down into that stuff and suffer whatever ill-effects that it would have caused (to be fair, I wouldn't have either). J, having low Charisma but rolling well, managed to convince the party that going into the basement was a bad idea, as the last time he had dealt with the gas things hadn't gone well (read: lots of things blew up, including him). C however, having a very high Charisma score and a connection to R's character, persuaded R specifically that they couldn't go up the stairs across the gap (not that they shouldn't, but that they COULDN'T) because... well, I'm not sure what the reasoning was beyond arguing with J's character (they had some in-game beef). The problem then was that R's character, who is rather dumb due to being a child still (one of those dumb-socially-but-somewhat-mad-genius sort of characters), was then CONVINCED that neither up nor down was even remotely possible as a solution. Well, they were in a hallway, so there was no left or right, and they had probably forgotten about the previously-mentioned door behind them, so clearly, only one solution remained.
They needed to remove the up and down as options.
R managed to persuade A (I swear, some of the best rolls in the entire campaign happened in this session) that he should use one of his fire-starters to blow up the gas in the basement, as it would then be removed from their path and they would be able to proceed. C and J worked together to break through the outer wall of the Opera House, and they prepared to blow up the entire basement full of basically gaseous dynamite.
Now, dear readers, I was a bit flummoxed, and I felt that sort of frustrated churning of the gut that DMs get when things aren't going as they had planned. I warned them a few times that blowing up the basement was a VERY bad idea, and asked them repeatedly if they were sure. The Opera House was the WHOLE. PLANNED. SESSION. I had worked for two weeks on it, making it the best possible mini-dungeon I could, and all that work, all that pride was about to get blown up. I considered not letting them do it. I considered making attempts to use the fire-starter fail, or forcing them into not blowing up the gas. I considered so many options, but... a single revelation crossed my mind that made me pause. A stunningly glorious, deviously malicious, and absolutely brilliant thought crossed my mind.
They wanted this.
I would give it to them.
And... I would make it into the absolute most insane, most fun encounter I could.
A threw the fire starter, and it landed in the hole on a patch of dry land above the toxic goo, waiting for the very moment the attached timer went off to send the entire place up in a furious inferno. Then, the party started BOOKING it, running South as fast as they could to escape whatever consequences their actions held.
Oh... you poor fools... did you really think I was going to let you get off so easily?
The explosion was magnificent and effective, sending the entire Opera House into the sky and creating a torrential rainstorm of rubble that rained down on the still-fleeing party. Roll a Dexterity save. Most of them do well, take some damage and keep running. But, A, poor, poor A... rolls a natural 1. The damage dealt to him brings him down to a tasty 0 hit points (he was already somewhat damaged from before) and his leg breaks as a boulder falls upon him. Movement speed brought to 10. Very not cash-money.
J picks him up, carrying him on his shoulders so that he doesn't have to worry about the movement penalty, and C heals him up a bit so he isn't dying. R breaks into the manor house at the very end of the street in order to avoid the meteor shower outside, and almost falls into a pit of water and sewage. Oh dear, looks like the floor has given out right in front of the door, and now this large gap exists between you and the rest of the building. R has good Acrobatics, but is also observant, and so takes the safer path by running a short distance to an open window, where the floor was more intact (the floor was basically just missing in a large hole in front of the door, and much of the rest of the first floor was still quite intact). C however, is not quite as observant, and, riding his conjured steed, bursts in through the front door and fails the Dexterity save to not go careening into the hole. Splash! Cue one very soggy duo of paladin and steed. J was a bit more careful, and decided to simply stop at the front door, as the shower of rocks had mostly subsided at that point.
I wasn't done with them though. Ohhhhhhh no. Not by a long shot. They had ruined my plans, so they were going to pay for it damn it!
You see, part of the story for this world is that this city resides above a VERY large cave that houses an ancient, underground civilization. Furthermore there isn't a lot of good, solid ground between the surface and the cave to separate them in some places.
Oh. Oh yes. This is going to be fun.
I tell R, who has the highest perception, that he detects a slight rumbling in the ground. Like an earthquake. And it's getting stronger. J detects it next. Both of them look back towards the Opera House. Hm, there's a distinct lack of ground now around where the Opera House was, for sure, but... oh... oh dear. The ground seems to still be disappearing.
Cue me playing "Collapse" from Resident Evil 2, and a Grinch smile forming on my face as I tell them to roll initiative.
Oh yes. This is going to be FUN.
R starts to freak out, because the ground falling into a massive void is a bad thing, but starts trying to help C out of the pit. C has more problems than just being soggy though, as he sees a large, scaled back coming towards him and his steed through the water. R quickly ties a rope to the banister of the main stairs on the opposite side of the pit and throws it down to C. C starts to climb, just as his steed whinnies in terror as gigantic jaws clamp down on it and pull it beneath the water. J is busy climbing into the building and trying to situate himself, so it comes down to R to try and come up with a plan. R tries to go up the stairs, but the commotion has brought the attention of a writhing mass of tentacles that slithers down from the upper floors, searching for prey. Well, up isn't an option.
R quickly descends, and C gets up onto the first floor at this point. The terror in the sewer has swallowed its first meal whole, and now wants seconds, so C can see it as it swims closer to their side of the pit. R looks towards the side room of the manor for a way out, and sees it filled with the same fleshy moss that adorned the Opera House. Tendrils of twisted meat growing from the floor reach out with clawed hands as he approaches. Nope. R quickly decides this isn't an option either, but turns around just in time to see C just barely avoid the hungry jaws of the giant sewer crocodile as it lunges for him. However, while C passed the save, the mass of tentacles did not. The crocodile drags the eldritch horror into the waters below, satisfied for the moment.
Up just became an option.
R quickly calls the party into action, and all of them dash up the stairs. They reach the second-floor landing and see that a second eldritch horror has met them: this time a hideous human-centipede lady that blocks one of their paths to the third-flooattic. Alright, maybe there's still time to go for the creepy flesh-plant-hands? They turn, and see that the constantly-growing hole in the city district has reached the front of the manor house. Well, no choice now. Up it is.
They rush the other way, down the second-floor balcony opposite the one that centipede lady is on and towards the stairs up to the third floor. Centipede lady lets loose a howl that forces the party to make an Intelligence save or suffer Psychic damage. Most everyone succeeds, but R has a custom flaw that forces him to try and maintain control of his wererat form whenever he takes Psychic damage. He rolls to maintain control. Oops. Too low.
R, in a pretty good moment of roleplaying, tells the party to continue on without him as he begins to transform against his will, digging his claws into the banister of the balcony and straining his every muscle trying to resist but failing. At this moment, I take control of his character temporarily. The others reluctantly continue as they run up to the third floor, watching as R turns, fully transformed and mad with feral rage, towards the centipede lady and they lunge for each other.
On the third floor, they can feel the manor house starting to slowly tip forward as it begins to fall into the cavern below, and as they rush forwards towards a hole in the roof created by the previous rubble hail, the floor suddenly bursts up! R, still feral, is latched on like a leech to the centipede lady as she thrashes trying to get him off. At this point, it's R's turn again, and he rolls to regain control. Excellent roll, and he's back in the driver seat. Only, now he's on a huge insectoid horror... and the building starts to tip even more.
The players rush past the still-furious eldritch centipede lady, and start climbing out through the hole in the ceiling into the glorious daylight. However, a swarm of rabid Aarakocra are in an absolute frenzy outside, and, upon spotting them, start to fly towards our heroes. R, in his mad ingenuity, decided to grapple the centipede lady, and succeeds. He proceeds to drag her towards the hole and tells everyone to grab on. They all do, making their own reduced-DC grapple checks, and then they jump, using the centipede lady as a living-bungie cord as the building goes at basically a 45 degree angle. Unfortunately for them, the centipede lady snags on the roof, and they're still on the building. They all let go, and after a mad dash and one clutch Dexterity save from C, safely make it onto land firm enough that it won't collapse just as the manor house disappears into the darkness below.
Now, I'll need to preface this next part a bit. In this setting, there are many things that are very bad for your health if you come across them, but there is one thing in particular. I partially based the setting off of Bloodborne, and it features quite a few similarities that I've adapted for my own world and purposes. One of the larger things I adapted were the Hunters of Bloodborne, who, if you don't know, act as, well, hunters for people infected by a plague of lycanthropy. In my campaign, they act as an antagonistic faction for the players, and one of the leaders of the hunters is Ignace.
Ignace is a pretty big meme in and of himself to my players, as there was already one pretty great story before this that I'll probably write later involving his introduction. The short version is that he's a frost-giant sized Blood Hunter of the Mutagen subclass with a massive wrecking-ball flail and a harpoon for weapons, and when he shows up, it's time to get the fuck out of town. They had actually come across him earlier as they were attempting to get into the Opera House, so he was in the district already when this all happened.
So, they're surveying the absolute destruction that they have wrought upon the entire HALF of this city district when, suddenly, they see a pair of blood-red wings rising up from the pit and towards the sky (bless up Mutagen Blood Hunter). They wonder for a moment what this is, and then realize that it's Ignace using his (already established) blood wings to fly up from the pit. They revel for a moment at having subjecting him to the chaos they caused before they realize that he's starting to come closer, having seen the Aarakocra swarming the party. Oh shit. So, R, being a street urchin native to this city, asks where the closest sewer is, as he believes they'll be safe there. Oh, just about 250 feet down the road.
They start to run again, all the while fighting off the Aarakocra that are dive-bombing them. As they run, they see a possessed city knight in front of them, which is a high-level enemy in and of itself, that they had fought prior in order to gain access to this part of the city. Luckily, while it's hard to fight, they don't have to fight it - just run past it. As they run, they hear the sound of Ignace's blood wings as he gets closer, ever closer, and they all swarm past the knight as he tries to attack them, but luckily the opportunity attack doesn't land.
They can see the manhole cover at this point, only about 50 feet away. Easily dashed to, and the Aarakocra are busy as the knight has now turned its attention to them. Victory - and safety - so close! Then, they hear a thud as something massive lands behind them, and a deep, menacing, nigh-demonic voice growls: "That HURT... You'll PAY for that."
Oh shit.
The players rush forwards, practically tripping over each other to get inside the sewer, and R sees them all in before taking a moment to do some in-character mocking of Ignace before diving in as well. The party rushes through the slick and grimy sewer tunnel as the entrance collapses behind them as Ignace demolishes it with the wrecking-ball. They run further and further in, until all sounds of danger fade into distant echoes...
\sigh** Safe at last... and session over.

I took a look at my players, who were all somewhat out of breath and shaking from adrenaline (so was I), and they all ended up pretty thrilled with how well the session had gone after their blatant destruction of the Opera House. R, a fellow DM, told me that he actually felt pretty bad about the whole thing since he knew that I had probably worked pretty hard on that section, but was actually amazed by how well I had improvised things. I felt pretty good about it, and still do, although I will admit, at the time I was still pretty salty. Even so, I think ultimately I'm glad that it all went down, since that was pretty much one of the most fun sessions we've had, and it kinda proved to me that I can handle stuff like that pretty well by just going with the flow and letting the players eat the cakes they make.
Afterwards, the plans I had for the future shuffled a bit, since entities within the city were rather unhappy that someone was just going around blowing stuff up, and things are a bit wonky at the moment since I have to compensate for some plot they missed-out on. Still, makes me chuckle when I think of the time when my players blew up an entire city district and had a blast with it.
Although, now R has gone on to threaten that, if things go sideways, he'll go to the other city district full of the explosive gas and blow up the entire city in order to make the villains do what he wants. My fault I guess for putting a nuke in the center of the campaign that just anyone can go press. Oh well.
Hope you enjoyed! End post.
submitted by MetricTonOfSauce to dndstories [link] [comments]


2020.10.27 08:11 Lexibean02 This has been really hard to write but i just wanted to tell my story

Writing this out is difficult even after the years, but growing up i have always been a tiny person, 5 2" and 110 pounds plus the only girl and youngest child in a family of 3 brothers and my father, who are all amazing and i love them all, but iv always felt invincible until 3 years ago, i started to get really into running and the outdoors and since we live by a massive forest i would love jogging through it most mornings or afternoons, I had a little plan in my head that i would explore the entire forest one day and always try to jog down new paths each day.
My dad always hated that i would go out alone but i would always snap back at him that he never stopped my brothers from doing whatever they wanted or leaving at any time and il be honest i was probably pretty difficult for him to deal with at times since he was never to sure how to raise a daughter but has and is still doing his best which is why i love him so much
back in 2017, 4 days after my 16th birthday i ended up getting into a big fight with my father about something i don't even remember now but that caused me to put on my running shoes, grab my phone and storm out of the house early in the morning to my safe haven, idk the time but i remember that it was still dark out when i left, i didn't have a destination in mind i just wanted to run and let off steam, i choose to go down one of the more popular trails that day and just as the sun was starting to come up took a break to lean against a tree and have a drink where i then noticed someone else about 100 metres away but at the time i just assumed it was someone going for a morning hike, and since i wasn't interested in any kinda human interaction i put my headphones back in and continued running, occasionally looking back to now see that the person has gotten closer which unnerved me a little bit but since i'm not the fastest jogger i didn't think much of it until as he got closer i saw he was staring right at me, at that point i became terrified and started sprinting, which he then called out to me
"Hey girl! stop for a second will you?"
not knowing what to do i panicked and speed dialed my dad who i could tell was still angry by the tone of his voice but quickly could tell something was wrong since at that point i could barely even breath and was sobbing hysterically, one of the dumbest things i did was try to run off the trail into the woods to try and lose him as i frantically tried explaining to my dad what was going on i remember saying
Me: "I'm out on the trail and some man is running after me, please dad i need help, please come pick me up"
Dad: "okay baby where exactly are you il come get you right now, is he still near you"
Me: "he is still behind me! please"
at that point i ended up stepping in some kind of hole and twisted my ankle bad and had to grab onto a tree to keep myself up, quickly after i felt him roughly grab the back of my sports bra and throw me to the ground
warning this does get violent so please stop reading if you are bothered by that
he threw me to the ground and i started screaming as loud as he could, which is what may have saved my life, he got ontop of me and punched me in the face and to this day i still remember every word he said to me
Monster: "Scream all you want you fucking slut, nobody is in the woods to hear you" he then mockingly started copying my screams
I remember begging him to please just let me go, i told him i wouldn't tell anyone what happened and that nobody has to know, in between tears i told him how i just want to go home to see my father, my brothers and my cats, i begged him as much as i could but the sick fucker just seemed to find that more amusing, he said to me
"Your right nobody will know what i am going to do to you, nobody will ever find you and your family will just think of you as some dumb runaway slut"
and as the realization hit me my body became cold and numb, i remember feeling him cut my clothes off with a knife then pressing the tip of it against my chest as he assaulted me, i never stopped screaming for help the whole time. The whole encounter felt like it lasted hours but probably only lasted 10 minutes
After i couldn't scream anymore i remember just sobbing as he had his way with me mumbling to myself and apologizing to my family for leaving them and begging god for a miracle until i heard him swear and stab me in my right shoulder, at the time i didn't feel any pain i just remember thinking "this is it im going to die" then he got up and started running into the woods, leaving his knife in me and a second later i see another man sprint past me, fast enough that he was kicking up dirt and chasing the fucking monster, then another man came up beside me and said the most beautiful words iv heard to this day
"its okay, your safe now, your safe, everything will be alright im a medic" and i just broke down in tears,
I don't remember much after that i know i got air lifted to the hospital and there were actually 3 guys who came to me after hearing me screaming, they were all off duty marines who went out for a hike that morning and one of them happened to be a field medic, the man who attacked me was also hospitalized after the other marine chased him down, and one thing i didn't know at the time is i never hung up with my father, he was on the trail sprinting down it trying to find me and i'm glad he didn't because i know if he did it would be my father going to jail for murder instead of the monster who deserves a fate worse than death, when he saw me in the hospital was the first time iv ever seen my father cry, i remember seeing him hugging me as hard as he could until it sated to hurt even through the pain meds, then he hugged the trio of soldiers who saved me and fell to the ground weeping, even to this they soldiers are really close to my family and considered part of it, today i am actually dating the son of one of them and have been for almost a year now and all of them really helped me deal with what happened to me, the scars will never heal fully but they have become manageable, even to this day i have a panic attack if anyone besides my boyfriend or family hugs me or as bad as it may sound i recoil when any male touches me, which has caused some of my male friends to distance themselves more unfortunately
If there is anything you want to ask then ask it but please be respectful, i may have left things out or poorly explained stuff i am not a professional writer so i know it might not be perfect and this has been very emotional for me to write, i just wanted to finally tell my story somewhere. You might be wondering why i didn't call 911 instead of my dad but in the moment i just panicked and called the one person who always made me feel safe, and he still does to this day, i will add that i have been really scared to post anything like this since iv never actually told anyone the full story
submitted by Lexibean02 to rape [link] [comments]


2020.10.27 04:53 dev_yo3 Story Time: Comandante Rey de Reyes.

Story Time: Comandante Rey de Reyes.
Subject: Juan Reyes Mejia Gonzalez "Comandante Rey de Reyes" Rey de Reyes literally translates to "King of Kings". Here is a photograph of him.
Born November 18, 1975, Rey de Reyes at this point known as R1, was a commander in Los Rojos of the Gulf Cartel. In mid-2011, he was a candidate for being the plaza boss of the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, but he was instead sent to command Miguel Aleman, Camargo, and Ciudad Mier, which were all war zones, where the fight against Los Zetas was raging. The position of Reynosa plaza boss was instead given to Samuel Flores Borrego "Metro 3" by the Gulf Cartel leader El Coss who favoured the Los Metros faction over Los Rojos. This triggered a war between Los Rojos, who allied themselves with Chapo Guzman and the Sinaloa Cartel, and Los Metros, loyal to El Coss, leader of the Gulf Cartel.
Rey de Reyes, still known as R1 joined forces with Rafael Cardenas, the nephew of Osiel Cardenas, to kill Samuel Flores Borrego of Los Metros, who had been given the plaza boss position. On September 2, 2011, two bodies were found, shot multiple times, in an abandoned Ford F-150 truck on the Matamoros-Reynosa highway. One of these bodies was presumed to be Flores Borrego, and DNA testing confirmed that Flores Borrego, Reynosa plaza boss, had been killed. This was the doing of Rey de Reyes or R1. This triggered an all out war between Los Rojos and Los Metros. However both sides still continued fighting Los Zetas, Los Rojos with the help of Chapo Guzman.
A few months later, a video emerged. It was filmed on April 2, 2012. It started off with the message "Comandante Diablo, Comandante Rey de Reyes, and El Chapo are planting terror in Ciudad Victoria. Watch out Zetas assholes, we are coming for you." The video showed sicarios arriving at a prison in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, and shooting dead two police officers. The video then cut to two Zetas being interrogated by sicarios in a wooded area. They are then both shot and dumped on a roadside. The video ends with another message saying "For all those Zetas assholes that are getting involved in Ciudad Victoria, the only person in command is Comandante Diablo under the orders of Comandante Rey de Reyes". However, this is just the start of Rey de Reyes, now operating under the name Rey de Reyes and his second in command Diablo.
A few days later, late at night in Ciudad Victoria, authorities discover 10 decapitated and dismembered bodies, along with a banner that says something like "These are only the first 10 of yours to fall, if you don’t stop messing in Ciudad Victoria, you and all your dogs will be dead soon. To Z-40 and his rats. Atte. Comandante Diablo under the command of Comandante Rey de Reyes". At this point, Rey de Reyes was barely fighting Los Metros anymore, and was receiving orders directly from Chapo Guzman, sitting in the mountains of Sinaloa.
On May 14, 2012 a video is uploaded to YouTube by an account called "anim trent", titled "Comandante Diablo and Rey de Reyes have fun with Los Zetas". The video starts with a sicario beheading a teen while he is still alive and then carving a "Z" on his stomach to show he was a Zeta. It then cuts to two older men, Zeta sicarios. One is shot in the head and then his arms and legs are chopped off. The other is beheaded and his head is held up to the camera, right before the video cuts to the end.
After this video is released, the identity of the mysterious Rey de Reyes is leaked as Juan Reyes, R1, the Los Rojos boss by Los Zetas. He was previously even speculated to be a pseudonym of Chapo Guzman. Diablo’s identity is also leaked as Hugo Alberto Banderas Padilla.
Two months later, a grisly torture video emerges. 3 women and a man, kneeling, are interrogated by uniformed sicarios bearing the Zetas emblem. A typical video, right? Except when they are asked their name they state "Banderas Padilla". Their mouths are sealed with duct tape. The Zeta in command turns towards the camera, laughs and says, "Look, here’s your shit family, Comandante Diablo". The Zetas then take a wood 2x4, and beat Comandante Diablo’s mother, sister, wife, and brother to death with it. After they are beaten into a literal bloody pulp with the 2x4, the Zeta commander says "To the dirty motherfuckers of Sinaloa and the Gulf, they don’t have balls. Atte. the ones who gave the Gulf their power, Los Zetas".
On July 25, 2012, another video emerges, it slowly starts with someone singing a creepy tune, the kind used in horror movies, sounds very much, a lot like Habanera by Maria Callas. Apparently the translation of the part he sings is:
"Nothing helps... neither threat nor prayer. One man talks well, the other's mum; it's the other one that I prefer. He's silent but I like his looks”
The man is Comandante Diablo, Rey de Reyes’ second in command, whose family was beaten to death by Los Zetas. He turns towards a Zeta, who he has captive, and he tells him to apologize for what he did. The Zeta says "I’m sorry Comandante Diablo and El Senor Comandante Rey de Reyes, forgive me for being part of the filth" Diablo then leaves the room, playing the creepy song that sounds like Habanera on a speaker (I watched the video, the song is very very creepy).
As the song plays, Diablo’s sicarios take a knife and cut out the Zeta’s tongue, then they proceed to stab him and cut him all over, and take out what looks like to be internal organs, and finish by beheading him. Comandante Diablo returns then says "You already fucked my family up but no problem we all know what kind of work we are into. You will cry blood and we'll see who's more of a badass fucking assholes and all the dirty motherfuckers "Zetas" are gonna get fucked up along with all their families like you already did to me so now it’s my turn".
By now, Los Metros has all but defeated Los Rojos, as Rey de Reyes was only fighting Los Zetas, and was working de facto for the Sinaloa Cartel. Because of Los Metros being the only dominant Gulf Cartel faction, Chapo Guzman had made peace with them, and their leader, El Coss, supporting their fight against Los Zetas, giving them weaponry and money, while Rey de Reyes and Diablo also fought the Zetas, effectively also ending the Rojos vs Metros conflict with a Metros victory. However, there were certain elements within the Gulf who blamed Chapo for everything that had gone wrong, all the way since Osiel Cardenas’s capture to the Gulf-Zetas split. These men have killed Comandante Guerra, a Gulf Cartel commander who let Sinaloa drugs pass through his territory without any fees.
To try and fix the situation, it is decided a meeting would take place in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, where Chapo Guzman and Mayo Zambada would be present, representing the Sinaloa Cartel, and El Coss’s lieutenant Mario Ramirez known as "El Pelon" along with another Gulf Cartel high rank, Miguel Villareal "El Gringo". Unknown to Chapo or Rey de Reyes, was the fact that El Pelon is one of those men who have killed Comandante Guerra and are secretly plotting against Chapo. However El Gringo is not a plotter. The date for this meeting is set as August 8, 2012. The day before the meeting, a squad is sent to Matamoros by Chapo Guzman to prepare for the meeting.
By 7 pm, August 7, 2012, the squad, led by Comandante Rey de Reyes reaches Matamoros from Ciudad Victoria to prepare, and set up the meeting spot. As they are driving towards the safehouse, around 8 pm, a series of blockades is setup around the city. Unbeknownst to Chapo or Rey de Reyes, it is El Pelon who has ordered these blockades, because he is one of those men in the Gulf, who are secretly against El Coss and Chapo. The squad runs into one of these blockades, where they are identified and receive heavy fire. They speed away in their trucks, thinking it is Los Zetas who have attacked them, trying to disrupt their peace meeting with the Gulf Cartel. However, they are informed by an anonymous voice on their radio frequency that certain elements within the Gulf Cartel have betrayed them (I want you to guess in the comments who the anonymous voice was). Back in Sinaloa, Mayo informs Chapo Guzman about the situation, and he decides to send backup, however somehow, the backup never made it to Rey de Reyes and his squad.
The squad is chased by sicarios working for El Pelon, who shoot at their trucks, which makes the lead vehicle with Rey de Reyes, and his lieutenant, a commander called El Azul, break down. The squad gets out and returns fire to the Pelon’s sicarios with machine guns and grenade launchers. Miraculously, no one in the squad is killed, however some are wounded, and El Azul is shot multiple times. Rey de Reyes drags him to safety inside one of the other trucks, and the squad hastily speeds back, heading south. They are chased for about 50 kilometers out of Matamoros, after which they lose El Pelon’s sicarios. They reach Ciudad Victoria, where Rey de Reyes radioes his old friend Comandante Diablo for help. Comandante Diablo arrives along with many sicarios, and they take the squad away to safety.
Because of this the Sinaloa Cartel ends their alliance with El Pelon, however they keep their alliance with El Coss, and El Gringo, who was also supposed to be at the meeting, as he sincerely informs Chapo he was not the one who betrayed the squad, but El Pelon. Comandante Rey de Reyes severes the last of his ties with the Gulf and he and Diablo brand themselves as Sinaloa Cartel from then onwards, directly receiving orders from Chapo Guzman.
Just over a month later, El Pelon gives up El Coss to the Marines, who is captured September 12, 2012 without firing a single bullet. El Pelon now becomes the leader of the Gulf Cartel. El Gringo, however, incredibly angry because of Pelon’s betrayal of the squad and El Coss, breaks away from the Gulf and starts working with Comandante Rey de Reyes.
Heavy fighting continued between Comandante Rey de Reyes, and El Gringo on one side vs El Pelon and his men on the other. Both sides also simultaneously fought Los Zetas heavily. It was during this time period that Heriberto Lazcano (Z-3) was killed by Mexican Marines. The fighting continued for around 6 months, until, one night, on March 10, 2013, El Gringo’s convoy was ambushed by forces loyal to El Pelon, in Reynosa, Tamaulipas. A three hour gun battle took place, with no Mexican forces arriving until well after the fighting. Two civilians were killed according to the Mexican government, and more than 50 sicarios combined from both sides were killed. El Gringo was one of the men killed that night.
Soon after his death, the Sinaloa Cartel kidnapped several of Pelon’s sicarios, tortured, beheaded and dismembered them, and then dropped their limbs and heads outside a Gulf Cartel safehouse along with a message. The message read:
"Only as a traitor could you be somebody, Mario Pelon. You betrayed those who fed you just to gain power. However, the Metros decided to trust you, and you ordered an attack from behind on my other associates in Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas. I'm referring to the man who had my total trust and was the chief of security for El Coss, El Comandante Guerra. You knew that by getting him out of the way you could weaken El Coss's organization, and like a good, treacherous dog, you hit him from behind. Then you set up my principal associate, El Coss, with the Navy in Tampico. Finally, you also betrayed El Gringo; you knew he was in your way to becoming the only leader. And I'm not forgetting what you did to my people when I sent El Azul, El Rey de Reyes and El Comandante Diablo to Matamoros to fix those problems you were having. Again, you attacked from behind, you attacked them when they entered Matamoros. You told me it was Los Zetas; El Azul almost didn't make it, had it not been for El Rey de Reyes. You have failed the Sinaloa federation. That's why, starting right now, the Sinaloa Cartel will cease having any connection with the Gulf Cartel. La Frontera Chica will be my next target. You and all that bunch of Metros who are only good at betrayal, repent all you can because soon I will be in those places, Miguel Aleman, Reynosa, Rio Bravo and Matamoros are too much for you, more than you can handle. Only a capo can control them. You're just a dog who came from the ministerial police.
Atte. El Chapo Guzman"
Chapo sent heavy reinforcements to Comandante Rey de Reyes in Tamaulipas, who fought El Pelon in a prolonged fight for control of Tamaulipas. Eventually on August 17, 2013, just over a year after when he had betrayed Rey de Reyes on that night in Matamoros, El Pelon was captured in a joint operation by the Mexican Army and Marines. Chapo’s reinforcements returned to Sinaloa after this.
Six months later, on February 22, 2014, headlines broke out around the world. The most wanted man on Earth, El Chapo Guzman had been captured by Marines in Mazatlan, Sinaloa. After his capture, Rey de Reyes did not have the backing of Sinaloa anymore, as he had no deal with Mayo or Los Chapitos, and he could not have predicted Chapo would escape by Christmas the next year, so Rey de Reyes ditched the name Comandante Rey de Reyes and started being known again as El R1, leader of Los Rojos. He and his remaining men, along with remaining cells of Los Rojos, together were once again called Los Rojos. In November 2014, two narco-banners appeared in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, a few days apart.
Both narco-banners announced the alliance of Los Rojos with a Comandante Kelin of a Zetas faction called Los Zetas Unidos. Comandante Kelin was Rogelio Rolando Gonzalez Pizana. Z-2. Supreme Leader of Los Zetas after Z-1 and before Z-3. He had just been released from prison after serving 10 years. However this arrangement didn’t last very long. One week after the second banner was placed, Z-2 was killed by Los Metros along with family in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
Comandante Rey de Reyes is still alive and free. He will turn 45 years old in three weeks. The DEA offers $5 million for information leading to his capture. Here is his latest photograph.
submitted by dev_yo3 to NarcoFootage [link] [comments]


2020.10.26 20:21 Astrosanri9910 My parents (50M,48F) won’t let me (19M) drive my own car anywhere

I can’t even drive my own car to work. He has to drop me off. Do you know how embarrassing it is to go on a date with a girl and your parents are driving you there?
Ever since I got a speeding ticket a year ago it’s been like this. I saved for so long when I was 17 to buy this car and I’ve barely but 6K miles on it since I’ve gotten it. I’m always the friend that has to get a ride because I’m not allowed to drive my own car.
I pay for half of my insurance, and they use that as leverage against me to keep it like this. I cannot afford to pay all my insurance, and so I’m stuck like this.
Someone please help, my parents basically control everything like this and it’s wearing down on my mental health
Tl;dr my parents wont let me drive my own car even though I’m 19
submitted by Astrosanri9910 to relationships [link] [comments]


2020.10.26 19:38 Chicken_Greyjoy Ronas Greyjoy, Lord Reaper of the Iron Islands (AC Included)

Character Name: Ronas Greyjoy
Starting Title(s): Lord Reaper of the Iron Islands, Lord of Pyke
Age: 29
Physical Description: Standing at 6'3" Ronas is built like any self-respecting Ironborn, the hard life has shaped him as a master stonemason would shape his magnum opus. Light brown hair to copper hair tops the man's head and face, with fringes being taken by hints of grey.
Starting Location: Pyke, Iron Islands
Attribute: Bellicose
Skill Points: 20
Skills: Naval Warfare (MAR), Navigation (MAR), Leadership (CHA), Privateering (STE)
Mastery: Admiral (MAR)
CHA MAR COM INT STE STA EDU MAG
4 10 0 0 6 0 0 0
Username: Chicken_Greyjoy
Discord Username: Chicken
Other Characters: Cregan Snow, Serena Reed
Auxiliary Character Name: Dalton Greyjoy
Starting Title(s): Scion of House Greyjoy
Age: 59
Physical Description: The uncle of Ronas, Dalton Greyjoy has seen many moons and it shows upon his face. His weathered face sports a long scar going vertically down his left eye, giving it a milky look. His once fully light brown hair has begun to lose the battle against the grey, with his bear being more grey than color at this point. He still stands tall and walks proud, having been gifted a strong physique since his youth.
Starting Location: Pyke
Attribute: Bellicose
Skill Points: 14
Skills: Marshalling (MAR), Skirmishing (MAR), Raiding (STE),
CHA MAR COM INT STE STA EDU
0 10 0 0 4 0 0
History
Early Life, 354 - 367 AC
Ronas Greyjoy was the eldest child and first son of the Lord Reaper Warin Greyjoy and his wife Erena Stark. He would be followed by three siblings, two sisters, and a single brother. Born on the first moon of 354, Ronas came into the world during the apex of a great storm that battered Pyke and it's surrounding islands for weeks on end, many of the Drowned men claimed that the storm god was attempting to end the newborn's life as he feared what he might become should he reach adulthood. Within the first weeks of his infancy, his father would take him on his flagship around the Iron Islands to show the babe that had filled the Storm God with such fear.
Over the course of his childhood, he was, like any other Ironborn, taught the ways of a seafarer. He would show a great aptitude for navigating the waters around Pyke and sailing small vessels along the coasts. As he grew older his father would let Ronas join him on foreign visits or when he had to meet with his lords, during these voyages Ronas would prove that it was not just boats he could handle, but large ships as well, being able to shout the proper commands at a moments notice, surprising many with the speed he was able to master such advanced calls and jobs on the ship. Ronas would familiarize himself with everyone on board and would remember details about them, popularizing him with the crews immediately. When not on the sea he would remain by his father's side as he administered the Iron Islands, learning through first-hand experience how to rule his people. He would help settle disputes between two houses, approve or deny merchants into Lordsport, authorize voyages, anything and everything that came before him.
The Second Foraging, 368 - 369 AC
Although his childhood had been quiet, the seasons began changing once more, the second winter of his lifetime was nearing its start, the white raven having been sent directly from Oldtown. He heard the whispers throughout Pyke, men and women talking of the horrors to come when they wouldn't have enough grain to feed themselves, and now that relations between Lannister and Ironborn were nonexistent thanks to the raids done during last winter, many knew it would be a longer and harder winter than any other. Ronas, in the company of his father and several other lords of the Islands, traveled to Casterly Rock to reopen negotiations between the two kingdoms. His father hoped to get the grain his people so desperately needed, whereas the Lannisters demanded repayment for the Ironborns previous winters' raids. After days of failing to come to an agreement, however, the Lord Lannister once more raised the price of grain to a before unheard of level, causing the Ironborn to sail back to Pyke in a fury. Once back on their Islands, Ronas' father raised a fleet, without any Greyjoy ships or men to keep plausible deniability, and sent them to the Westerlands to retrieve the grain they needed by force. Since no Greyjoys were permitted, Ronas could not go, but he made sure to keep up to date on everything going on, reading every letter from the frontlines. Ronas would see the futility of their war effort as the days went on though, he began to see that the Ironborn were no longer the conquerors of days long gone. Once he had received word of Lord Kenning being defeated by their Westerman cousin-branch he knew the Ironborn would not last long on Fair Isle, although they had the superiority in naval strength, any further attempt at pitched battles would surely end the same way. As the conflict dragged to a stalemate, the Crown finally intervened and gave into the demands of both sides, and more importantly, the Ironborn were sent back with grain from the Reach to feed themselves through the winter. Although they could now see their people fed through this winter, Ronas would remember this for the years to come, the Ironborn were no longer built for occupying the mainland, they should stick to raiding and hit and run tactics.
Life of a Raider, War of the Last Dragon, 370 - 382 AC
Seven years of relative peace would fall over the Isles, Ronas would enter adulthood and become the captain of his own ship. He would gather a small fleet and, like the Ironborn of old, sail to Essos with his uncle and some other lords and raid the likes of Lys and the borders of Volantis, striking so far east that he would hit Slaver's Bay, and so far south to hit the tip of the southern continent. He would spend several years, mastering the sail and sword during this time. When finally they returned in 378, the incoming war was set to begin, within the year Dorne, Southlands, and the Reach would fall to the might of the Dragon Queen, Daena Targaryen. Ronas was immediately ready to call the banners and sail against the Golden Fleet, but his father would not intervene, the war was not the Ironborn's business and he would not send men to die in any way if it aided the Westerlands. So Ronas watched in anger as Westeros struggled against the invaders, that was until the letters came. Daena Targaryen sent word that she would give the Ironborn everything they seized in the Westerlands if they invaded, she asked not for them to fight for her, but for themselves. It would be a request that Ronas' father and many Ironlords would find irresistible, the West had snubbed them for near two decades, allowing them to starve every winter, a massive fleet of a hundred ships was formed and sent to Casterly Rock, and when it arrived it dealt untold destruction to the unlucky citizens inhabiting it. Ronas did not have the power to stop this for it had his father's backing, but he did notice that not all Houses bent to their bloodlust, and that was something he could use in the future.
That would be the only role the Ironborn would play in the War of the Last Dragon though, there would be no time for aspirations of conquest, as in the year 381 the last dragon would fall from the sky and its rider would be felled by the men of the stormlands. With their armies depleted from fighting the Golden Company, no retaliation came from the mainland for the raids, but Ronas knew that would not always be the case, he set to preparing the fleet for any defensive measures in the coming moons. Things would once more change in 382 when his father took ill and died at Pyke, it took the entire Island by surprise, but Ronas immediately stepped into action and called a moot, gaining the lord's support and being named Lord Reaper of the Islands.
Recent Events
Ronas spent the past year shoring up his power base within the Isles, making sure the lords knew who his father's successor was. He traveled to the Celebrations in King's Landing to celebrate a century since Robert I reign, afterward sailing back to his home. Now back home he contemplates his next moves carefully, his Islands are being visited by the Golden Company and just recently he received a letter from the Hand of the Queen himself. He has sat idle for too long, it is time for the Kraken to once more rise from the depths.
Timeline:
354 AC: Ronas is born
358 - 359 AC: The first Foraging occurs
368 AC: Ronas travels with his father to Casterly Rock to negotiate the sale of grain, which ends in absolute failure
368 - 369 AC: The Ironborn commit the second Foraging in retaliation to the grain prices
370 - 377 AC: Ronas travels with his uncle Dalton throughout Essos, mastering blade and sail and becoming an expert captain
379 AC: The Ironborn raid Casterly Rock and Lannisport while they are distracted by the invasion of the Golden Company
382 AC: Warin Greyjoy, Ronas' father dies, Ronas becomes Lord Reaper.
383 AC: Present Day
Family & Household:
Tree
Household:
Theon Greyjoy (cousin) - Captain of the Guard
Dalton Greyjoy (Uncle) - Castellan of Pyke
Cadwyl Farwynd - Steward of Pyke
Luthor - Maester of Pyke
Wex Irontooth - Master-at-Arms
Harren Greyjoy - Drowned Man
AC's Bio
History
Dalton Greyjoy was the second son of Asha Greyjoy and Haygon Sunderly, he is the younger brother to the previous Lord Reaper of the Iron Islands, Warin Greyjoy in the year 324 AC.
In Dalton's youth, he stood out as the more warlike child, whereas his elder brother would wish for communication before action, the complete opposite was Dalton's bread and butter. By his 6th year, he already accompanied men on voyages out of the Iron Islands, he quickly grew acclaimed for being one of the best climbers in any crew, being able to reach the top of the mast to tie it down even in the worst storms and never lose his grip. He would earn his captaincy faster than most as well, gaining his own ship before he came of age and his first voyage saw him go as far east as Lys. He would raid the paradise island and take many prisoners, then sell them to Volantis for a hefty profit.
Throughout the next two decades, he would marry Yara Blacktyde, she was a comely lass and would provide him a son, Theon, and a daughter Kiara. He would also continue his raids in Essos, with the ironborn no longer allowed to touch mainland Westeros, that would all change in 358, at the end of the War of the White and Gold the Ironborn saw the Westerlands coastline bare of any men but overflowing with bountiful plunder. Against the judgment of Dalton's elder brother and current Lord Reaper Warin, Dalton would lead many Ironborn to raid the rich Lannisters, although he would do it under an anonymous identity so that the Greyjoy name would not be related directly to these raids. During one of the final raids, Dalton would have the left side of his face sliced by a stalwart Lannister soldier, causing him to go blind in his left eye and leaving a scar running from the top of his head down past his left cheek. On his return to the Iron Islands, his brother could not bring himself to punish his family, and so when demands from the Lannister reached Warin that the heads of every Lord that participated, he refused to do anything but behead a few men who stepped forward who admitted to taking part. This would destroy trade between the West and the Iron Islands, causing far-spreading famine and death across his homeland, something Dalton would not soon forget.
In the next decade when winter once more came to Westeros, Dalton knew of the impending famines and demanded that his brother allow more raiding, finally, his brother relented, and once more Dalton secretly led men to Fair Isle, this time to not just raid, but also conquer like the Ironborn of old. He would lead a flank in the battle of the Kennings, but no matter how savagely he and his men slew their enemies they kept getting pushed back until finally they were routed back to Fair Isle. When the conflict became a stalemate the Crown finally stepped in, giving the Ironborn the food they needed to survive, but actually repaying the Lannisters too, this caused a deep hatred toward the Crown, which he thought to be weak-willed and useless.
Dalton would take his nephew on one of the longest raiding seasons, going as far east as Slaver's Bay and as far south as the tip of Sothoryos. They would finally return home in 378 exactly one moon before the Dragon Queen invaded the Seven Kingdoms in an attempt to reclaim the throne her family had created. When Dalton had learned of the letters Daena Targaryen had sent offering the Ironborn all the lands they could seize in the Westerlands, he became the loudest supporter of it, participating in the sacking of Lannisport and Casterly Rock and reveling in the number of riches they had been able to bring back to the Isles.
When, in the next year, his elder brother died and Ronas took up claim to the title Lord Reaper, Dalton supported his nephew. He saw Ronas as the better leader, he would follow his nephew to new heights the Ironborn hadn't seen in centuries if Ronas played his cards right.
submitted by Chicken_Greyjoy to awoiafrp [link] [comments]


2020.10.26 18:43 AmericanNewt8 Boned: Problems (but not too many) in the US Air [and Space] Force!

No. You don't frighten me, Mollari. If you try to go up against our forces, you'll lose.
Yes, your ships are very impressive in the air, or in space--but at this moment, they are on the ground.
Right--they're on the ground. But they can sense an approaching ship from miles away. So what are you going to do, Mollari, blow up the island?
Actually--now that you mention it--[pulls detonator from pocket]
No!
[presses detonator]
Babylon 5, explaining the vulnerability of aircraft to ground attack in typical hammy fashion
Hello, and welcome to another episode of "AmericanNewt8 explains the global military situation at present in a convenient, possibly easy-to-read guide". Maybe I should make a YouTube channel or something. All the cool kids [and a lot of idiots who know nothing about military equipment] are doing it. Anyway, today we have the US Air [and, for the moment, Space Force--they haven't fully separated yet], and, surprisingly for once, a somewhat more positive message. I'm sorry this one took so long; I've been busy for the past month or so, but I figured I should get this one out I already had 80% done before talking about Turkey and the war in the Caucuses, which are likely to be shorter, more current, and arrive sometime in the next week if all goes as planned.

Current Effortposts In My Series:
  1. What you [might] need to know about South Korea's ludicrous arms buildup
  2. We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches.... uh, what do we do after that again?: The Perilous Defensive Position of Taiwan
  3. "You've hit another cargo ship? The Problems with the US Navy: Not all of them begin with "Seven" and end with "th Fleet"."
  4. Will China's PLAN survive contact with the enemy?
  5. Biden's New START and modern nuclear war
  6. Boned: Problems (but not too many) in the US Air [and Space!] Force
  7. Erdogan Sallies Forth [inserted largely on account of the recent breakout of a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan]
  8. Begun, the Drone Wars Have: Why You Should Pay Attention To This "Tiny" War
  9. First And Last Stand Of The Tin Can Navies [ASEAN + Australia and the smaller adversaries China may contend with]
  10. --Unnamed-- effortpost on Japanese military matters, mostly about how weird the JSDF status is
  11. --Unnamed--effortpost on Indian military matters, and why they can't focus on China or buy anything that works
  12. --Unnamed--effortpost on the rest of the PLA, mostly the air force though
  13. --Unnamed--effortpost on the rest of the US Armed Forces, mostly talking about how the marines are changing and the Army's new love affair with INF-busting weapons
  14. Conclusion?

1. Our Pride And Joy

America's Navy may be its key instrument of power projection abroad and in some ways the most important service branch, but the one that is by far the greatest beneficiary of American skill, the apex of our capabilities, is without a doubt the US Space Force. From Day 1 the US has had a commanding lead in the field. Mind you, that's not saying that nobody's ever challenged or exceeded the US in limited areas for limited periods of time--the early 1950s were about the last time that happened though [aside for commercial launch vehicles from around 1980-2010]. In the modern era, it is very rare that buying something other than an American-made aircraft or rocket makes any sort of economic or strategic sense [political is of course a different matter entirely]. The US Air Force has generally benefited from high, consistent levels of investment and has had relatively light burdens placed on it operationally [though in recent years post 9/11 this has changed to an extent], and it has developed into one of the best-trained and most doctrinally sophisticated forces in the world. More on that later. Anyway, the Air Force is probably the best-loved branch politically [Marines might be more respected but they get budgetary scraps], at least of the military as a whole, and it ends up with more funding, smarter people, and a much better QOL as a result. In fact Air Force personnel are usually treated to quite a bit of envy and ribbing about how much better their conditions are than their Army, Marine, or Navy counterparts.

2. Aging Equipment [again!]

Guess what? The same problem that seems to afflict most of the US military [and, for that matter, most European, Latin American, and non-East Asian militaries] is aging equipment from the Cold War finally wearing out. In the Air Force, this takes a number of different forms. Often, it's a case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", but even then airframes do wear out eventually and need replacement and a lot of them are getting to that point.
Logistics, Support, That Kind of Thing
One of the least glamorous parts of the Air Force, logistical and support capabilities are rapidly aging. The primary airframe the Air Force uses for these is the.. wait for it... Dash 80, as the C-135 whose commercial variant is better known as the Boeing 707. It was a very impressive aircraft, but it was designed in the 1950s. Even though we've reengined the C-135 with more modern engines, and done some serious overhauls, they're getting pretty long in the tooth. Most notably we have the 398 KC-135 Stratotankers which make up the bulk of the US midair refueling fleet, which are joined by 31 E-3 Sentry AWACs, a number of specialized RC-135 derivatives doing everything from SIGINT to hunting for nuclear weapons and 17 E-8 Joint STARS. While these were produced up until the early 1990s, the airframes are aging and they need replacements, and the sheer quantity of aircraft is likely to cause trouble. There are also other aircraft that have to be replaced in the mid-term [by the early 2040s] like the C-5 Galaxy and the KC-10 Extender, but these are somewhat less of an immediate concern. There are some C-130 Hercules replacements also needed but those are largely being done with newer versions of the same aircraft.
Bombers
The B-1 Lancer is first on the chopping block, due to high maintenance costs and time [it generally takes 120 hours of maintenance for an hour of flight time]. That represents 60 bombers, on paper anyway, and a good chunk of the USAF's supersonic strike capability. However, cutting it should free up resources for new hardware, and in fact new USAF budget proposals suggest rapidly retiring the B-1. The B-2 Spirit is also on the chopping block due to high price and high maintenance demands, but it can't really be replaced until the B-21 Raider shows up. There is also a need to find a replacement for the B-52, but nobody is really sure what that looks like and it's much less urgent--the B-52 will soldier on for the indefinite future and may well hit a full century in operational service. Even if one runs into the "airplane of Thesus" the fact that you could well have fourth or fifth generation B-52 pilots flying on 90-year-old aircraft is, to be honest, kind of neat.
Fighters
The F-15 and F-16 originally took flight in the 1970s and are still seeing interest today, though the modern F-15 and F-16 are very different beasts from their originals. However, the overall fleet is starting to age--primarily the F-15C fleet operated by the US Air National Guard which does air policing in the US. This is why the Guard is actually first in line for new F-15EX aircraft and has even received brand new F-35s [that, and the fact that the Air National Guard is actually pretty integrated with the Air Force]. F-16s are also starting to wear out; the USAF still operates over a thousand of the type. They are set to primarily be replaced with the F-35, though, with around 1500 aircraft on order. They will also replace the A-10 [along with drones, I suppose], and I'll take a moment to say that the A-10 is heavily overrated, there's a reason the USAF wants to dump it, and it's notorious for friendly fire incidents. Its job would be better done by drones or even aircraft like the Super Tucano.
Trainers
These are, guess what, also wearing out. The USAF currently operates over 500 T-38 Talon trainers, but it already has a replacement lined up for this aircraft which was first flown in 1959. It just adds to the list of things that need replacing.
ICBMs
Also should mention these, I suppose. The US is currently operating the Minuteman-III) as its sole ground-based nuclear deterrent/ICBM, and these 1970s-era missiles have survived their replacement, the LGM-118 Peacekeeper. They have to be replaced as well, and the USAF actually recently awarded a contract to do so to Northrop Grumman [though there are issues with that mentioned below].
Maintenance
One side-effect of all this is that the Air Force has increasingly high demands for maintenance which are simply not met, which combined with a shortage of maintainers [partially due to good outside pay but mostly because anecdotal reports suggest life as an Air Force maintainer is terrible] means that the Air Force has a poor readiness rate, especially because a lot of airframes aren't in good condition to begin with, having been worn out by decades of use.

3. Procurement Woes... fixed?

So, the Air Force has had a pretty troubled history with procurement in recent years. By far the most infamous one is the F-35. Well, yes, the F-35 was a procurement disaster. Another Redditor has done a great service by writing up the account Ash Carter [Secretary of Defense under Obama] gave of the program. It's long [full version here] and probably doesn't give a full account as it is Carter's memoir--but I'll just pick out one of the most significant parts of it:
At one point of the meeting, after we'd made it abundantly clear that the grossly inflated price for the JSF jets was unacceptable, CEO Bob Stevens casually said to me, "Well, if you tell me how much money you have, I'll tell you how many planes you can buy."
I was taken aback. Rather than negotiating a fair price with us, Stevens was behaving as if his company were entitled to all the money the taxpayers could afford. And although he obviously had a per-plane price in mind, he didn't care to divulge it openly, nor would he agree to a fixed-price contract holding him to it. I found this cavalier attitude offensive. With deeper disrepute, the JSF program would go down the political drain, and we wouldn't be able to buy any of these needed aircraft.
With all this in mind, I let his question hang in the air unanswered for a moment. Then I replied, "How about none?" With that, I walked out of the room. "None" was a reasonable prediction in the political climate surrounding this out-of-control program.
However, the F-35 was a pretty uniquely messed up procurement program due to suffering from what I'd broadly call "jointness", where interservice procurement made things less efficient.

The Air Force on its own has had some pretty impressive procurement messups though. Look no further than the KC-46 Pegasus, a tanker designed to replace the KC-135 [as mentioned above loads of these are getting retired in the next couple years]. The first sign of trouble probably should have been when the first program to replace the tankers with the KC-767 [now the KC-46] was cancelled on account of a bribery scandal involving the CFO of Boeing offering the procurement official an executive position. The second sign probably should have been the whole bit where, unlike its competitor, the A330 MRTT, the KC-767 didn't actually exist. And when the A330 won the contract bid, Boeing of course protested and, ultimately, got the contract evaluated again, with [at least per Northrop Grumman's claims, who was running a joint bid with Airbus] requirements rigged for the KC-767, and, finally, almost a decade after the program started, Boeing won the bid.

Except there was the small problem that Boeing hadn't built the plane yet, which turned into a large one. Ultimately the program was marred by years of delays and major technical problems. It only recently finally began delivering aircraft to the Air Force, years late and over-budget [though the USAF did manage to claw quite a bit of it back from Boeing].

However, there are some positive signs that future procurement will be better. Besides the F-35 being saved, there's the example of the T-X program, which is to replace the elderly T-38 Talon trainer. It invited foreign competition to the field, featured vigorous competition, and resulted in an actually effective aircraft--developed by both Boeing [of course] but also Saab--yes, the Swedes have a significant hand in the trainer jet likely to equip much of the world.

In particular, something very interesting the US Air Force is doing is diving heavily into computer design and open systems architecture. What this means, in short, is that they'll design new planes with a heavy emphasis on doing detailed computer design and simulation, only finally building an aircraft to demonstrate it works IRL--which of course cuts costs substantially--and they'll try to build common hardware and software that will work in any number of aircraft. The overall idea is to make aircraft inexpensive, easy to design, and modular. The Air Force even has a buzzword for this already, the "Digital Century Series", referring to the last time the Air Force very rapidly built a whole bunch of aircraft on a relatively common hardware platform. Whether this will bear fruit remains yet to be seen.

4. Fighting the Peer Conflict

The USAF, for the past thirty years, has not faced a peer competitor. Arguably it didn't even face one before that--the Soviet Air Force was no match for what the USAF could field, as was demonstrated quite well in a number of conflicts. The good news is that the USAF has had a long time to build up a lead, and is still far ahead of China or Russia, further ahead than the Army or Navy is by a long shot--Americans like their planes and electronics. For an illustrative example, China'sJ-20 stealth fighter has been produced in a quantity of... 50; while the USAF has almost 200 F-22s and is ordering over a thousand F-35s. The Su-57 barely even flies and is nowhere near peer to what the United States can field despite whatever scary articles you might have read. The bad news is that only recently has the USAF actually begun preparing to fight a peer conflict, which will tax it in different ways.

The main vulnerabilities the Air Force has in a peer conflict are more logistical and operational than regarding the quality of its aircraft or pilots, which are moreless unmatched. The first problem is that readiness isn't fantastic thanks to the War on Terror burning through all the ancient Cold War aircraft that the USAF has operated, and yes, aircraft do wear out. In fact, large numbers of F-15Cs operated by the US Air National Guard have been grounded due to age and fatigue. The shortage of maintainers also plays a role here. There's also the problem that the US Air Force is still quite vulnerable on the ground in any peer conflict; especially to precision strikes with ballistic and cruise missiles--the US Air Force has downsized considerably and now only has a handful of bases for both political and budgetary reasons, but that means that, when facing, for instance, China, the USAF must rely heavily on just six airfields--Osan, Kunsan, Misawa, Yokota, Kadena and Andersen [maybe bring that to 9 by adding USMC and Navy installations, which field fewer and less capable aircraft].

Thus, the primary challenge that the USAF faces is a quiet one--ensuring that it can operate from dispersed locations, at high opstempo, and repair its facilities rapidly. This is really also the biggest question mark in terms of the USAF's performance, but there's some reason to be optimistic here--the USAF is aware of the threat and is actually working to solve it. However, ultimately only changes in the political environment [the addition of bases in the Philippines or Palau, or the development of readied airfields in Japan] will fix the basing problem. Better ballistic missile defense will probably also help here. Russia or China will probably have poor luck against the USAF in the air; seeking primarily to deny the USAF free reign and thus the ability to support ground offensives, but they could cause significant damage by hitting ground facilities, and everyone knows it.

There's also the question of surface-to-air missiles; which have driven quite a bit of concern the past few years as China and Russia field increasingly capable systems like the S-400 and HQ-9. It is feared that the sophistication of these weapons could create "A2/AD bubbles" where the USAF and USN are unable to operate. While the access bubble does still look quite real for the Navy, recent developments have seriously called the efficacy of surface-to-air missiles into question--particularly the fact that the Israelis and Turks seem to be able to almost ignore them, or at least their shorter-range counterparts. The destruction of Armenian S-300 launchers by Azerbaijan with Turkish drones is certainly an ominous signal for anyone thinking advanced air defenses would keep them safe. How good the full-scale systems are against conventional targets is still unknown, but my guess is much less effective than the marketing--and keep in mind that despite years of concerns, SAMs have only been successful from about 1960-1980, and even then relatively minor adjustments in strategy seemed to significantly mitigate damage--so it's unclear how concerned we should actually be about such technology.

There are also questions about whether or not the USAF is operating the right mix of aircraft for the job, and these are valid ones. The USAF is buying new F-15EX, which has literally been described as not survivable after 2028 [though there is a case for the plane as a carrier of standoff weapons or a homeland defense fighter], and still operates the A-10 [an aircraft now mostly known for a number of notorious blue-on-blue (friendly fire) incidents] which, if used in a modern environment where the USAF didn't have total air supremacy, would simply not be able to survive. Yes, there's a reason the USAF wants to scrap the A-10, and no, the GAU-8 is cool but it doesn't even kill columns of modern main battle tanks. Unless you're primarily planning on fighting North Korea, the A-10 is close to useless(ly dangerous). The B-1 has also been highlighted as obsolete, largely due to high maintenance costs. However, the USAF is working hard to scrap these aircraft as fast as politically feasible.

5. New Technologies

The Air Force has always had a certain inclination towards adopting the newest, shiniest technologies, and at the moment there are a number of interesting concepts that it is exploring. I'll talk about two of the most significant ones [especially combined] here.

First, the Air Force is seeking to create future aircraft entirely virtually--using highly detailed computer models to design numerous types of specialist aircraft, and only building prototypes to test the results that simulations produce. Their latest trainer, the "eT-7", uses this methodology--the "e" is supposed to designate that it was designed this way. There's also a move towards using common avionics and software for a variety of different aircraft. Figures high up at the Pentagon have discussed a "Digital Century Series", modeled after a chain of fighters rapidly developed in the 1950s for a number of different roles, from the F-102 interceptor to the F-105 fighter-bomber. This could potentially create numerous new aircraft rapidly; a shift back towards the times before the 1990s where a single fighter project took the entire attention and budget of the Air Force. Nobody is really sure how this will pan out but it looks quite promising. In particular, the fact that the USAF was able to take its new prototype fighter jet into the skies a year after it was originally envisioned is stunning--and suggests that this potential return to the old days of the 1940s and 1950s when new aircraft showed up every year is not just a pipe dream.

Second, the Air Force is investing in UCAVs [Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles], most notably in the Skyborg concept. The goal is to develop a low-cost drone that can both deliver additional weapons to target while being accompanied by a manned fighter--a sort of drone wingman, which is cheap enough to be expendable [thus serving a secondary purpose, soaking up enemy air to air missiles]. Numerous companies have been awarded contracts to develop UCAVs and this program is looking quite promising, so expect to hear more of it in the future.

6. Drones

Drones are a rather interesting topic and one that I'll most likely get into more detail in on my next two posts specifically regarding Turkey. The US was one of the pioneers of UAVs, with the other big player in the field being Israel--in fact the US has bought Israeli drones from time to time, though of course China and Russia have also established a presence, without even mentioning Turkey. The US has a number of drones for different purposes--largely for reconnaissance of different types and precision-strike capability. It has the RQ-4 Global Hawk, for reconnaissance, the MQ-9A Reaper, for strike missions, and the RQ-170, which.... well, probably something involving reconnaissance, it's half-CIA so who knows. However, the US may not have kept up on the ongoing drone revolution, which is actually something I can't really blame them for since the 'revolution' only started in January. Yes. Last January.

This 'revolution' began on January 5, 2020, to be exact, and was led by an unlikely candidate: Turkey. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and this was certainly the case for the Turkish drone program. After the US refused to sell Turkey drones on account of the fact that they might be used against Kurds [use of Turkish drones suggests they definitely are used against Kurds], Turkey decided to make their own drone program with blackjack and hookers--or, well, just drones. Their DIY effort didn't really garner much attention until sent to Libya,but investment in their program skyrocketed, largely for two reasons. First, Turkey has been largely barred from major hardware acquisitions from the US and, to an increasing extent, Europe. Second, Erdogan deeply distrusts the Turkish Air Force and has dramatically cut pilot numbers through his multiple purges of the service. Third, Turkey is competing out of its class, against Russia, the UAE, and other major regional powers.

Once it arrived in Libya, it suddenly became clear that the Turkish drone program was much more important than previously thought. In many ways it bore the primary responsibility for turning the war around from what looked to be almost certain defeat for the UN-recognized GNA into a state where whether or not Haftar could survive was in question. In particular, it came as a great shock to most how easily Turkey defeated the very systems that were designed to shoot down UAVs--the Russian Pantsir in particular, which has been destroyed in great quantities with few Turkish casualties to show for it--and with the sticker price for a Turkish drone less than half of the Pantsir systems they kill, it could well revolutionize warfare. Experiences in Syria, and now in Armenia, where Turkish drones have destroyed hundreds of main battle tanks and casually destroyed SAM systems from some distance above, continue to bring into question just how vast the drone revolution is going to be. I'll cover this in more explicit detail in my next two posts.

However, the USAF is watching and learning--its main difficulty with drones is more political than anything. Drones are often considered less important than manned aircraft by a leadership that largely flew manned aircraft [particularly fighters at that], and it is the bottom tier of officer recruits that fly drones [though, interestingly, some drones are actually flown by enlisted pilots] and even then there's usually a shortage of RPA pilots--that's why a few are flown by enlisted in the first place. Whether or not they'll take these lessons to heart, only time will tell, but the history of the Air Force leaves me relatively optimistic on the matter--more than many other services, it's willing to embrace change.

7. Nukes

The US Air Force runs two legs of the nuclear triad--the air and ground portions. The first is dominated by, believe it or not, gravity bombs--mostly the B61. This weapon has been sitting around in the United States [and Europe under nuclear sharing, in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and Turkey] for a while now, the first variants being made in 1968, and has recently been updated to the latest B61-12 variant, which offers high precision [as precise as JDAMs, not that it's likely to matter in most situations where nukes are being dropped] and flexibility--the bomb can be deployed from low altitudes at high speeds, and from within the internal weapons bay of the F-22 and F-35 [not to mention the B-2 and future B-21], so it's not as dumb as it might sound. Air-launched weapons also have useful features like the ability to recall them once launched, which isn't an option for missiles, along with fitting into doctrine for a tactical nuclear war. While I could go on about the lack of air-launched nuclear cruise missiles [which hopefully will be fixed by the end of the Intermediate Forces Treaty] it's not a big deal.

The main concern here [and perhaps a suggestion that procurement is still messed up] is the ground-based deterrent, which currently consists of a few hundred Minuteman III missiles buried in the northern central United States. These missiles, like much of the Air Force, date to the 1970s and have outlasted their supposed replacement--the MX Peacekeeper. These missiles are finally approaching end of life and are to be replaced by a new ICBM system. This process is... problematic. First off, it was a sole-source bid because Northrop Grumman acquired Orbital ATK Systems, the primary American producer of solid-fuelled rockets and missiles, and this resulted in Boeing pulling out of the competition. Second, the cost seems rather high, at least in my view, with lifetime cost estimates of as much as $90 billion, with development alone amounting to $13 billion at sticker price. It positions the cost of rebuilding the ground-based deterrent as comparable to the US Navy's program to replace the Ohio-class submarines with the Columbias. The ground-based deterrent has also lost substantial importance as sea-launched and air-launched weapons have become much more accurate and capable of fulfilling the ground-based counterforce mission [which arguably died with Peacekeeper], and it remains the most vulnerable portion of the triad. What good it does is largely as another independent nuclear deterrent and one that soaks up enemy warheads in the event of nuclear war that could be directed towards other targets. A disastrous procurement here could cause problems for the Air Force you will see in the future. My suggestion would be either to continue modernizing the Minuteman IIIs or aim to replace them with the cheapest option possible--something like, for instance, a land-based Trident missile [as if the Air Force would ever allow such a thing to be built]. All the ground-based deterrent needs to do is be there, be a credible threat, and soak up enemy fire. That's it.

8. Space Force

The Space Force is now its own service branch, but as it really hasn't emerged yet I'll cover it here. In fact, just recently, the Space Force enlisted its first trainees. This is somewhat less in my area of expertise; but at the moment things look fairly promising. While the Space Force sounds silly it's almost certainly the part of the military you interact with the most in your daily life on account of running the GPS network. They also operate a variety of communications satellites and the system for monitoring ballistic missile launches, among other pieces of hardware. Expect to hear more about these guys in the future, as space becomes a potential battlefield--we've seen the deployment of a space-based anti-satellite weapon by the Russians just recently, and numerous powers now field anti-satellite missiles along with jamming equipment that can blind reconnaissance satellites, so space is becoming much more militarily important. I don't have much more to say about these guys at the moment, though, other than noting that they're already talking about being even "less physical" than the Air Force--translation: Less mandatory exercise--and they're teaching classes about space law, which is neat I guess. The main downside of the Space Force is that it's going to be very small, around 20-30,000 people, which is half what even the Coast Guard fields, and that could lead to problems with maintaining personnel and inefficiencies with redundant missions, procurement, and the like.

9. Conclusion

The USAF has problems; particularly with aging equipment and manpower, but it seems to realize that most of them exist and is moving to address them. Political constraints mean that the USAF is stuck supporting a variety of obsolete platforms and investing its large budget poorly in new ICBMs and poorly managed tankers, and procurement continues to be a struggle for the USAF, though nowhere near as bad as with the US Navy. Drones have the potential to revolutionize warfare and the USAF is working to develop capabilities in that area, albeit maybe not as fast as some other players in the field, and digital design promises more aircraft designed and produced faster--much, much faster. The USAF faces logistical challenges in a peer conflict, but nothing insurmountable--though the work there is likely to be painful and sidelined because it's less interesting than buying shiny new toys. The Space Force seems to be going along well though they could face some problems in the medium term from losing access to the USAF's resources--political, financial, and of personnel--until/unless they develop into a larger, more influential service. On the whole, though, the outlook for the USAF, at least, looks quite bright--a hope spot, along with the Army and Marines, that the serious problems of the Navy will not cripple the entire military capability of the United States.

10. Citations

Uh, I mostly embedded them in the post, and I don't want to go back and hunt for what I used after a month, but here are some good longer-form ones:
RAND, Chinese Attacks on Air Bases in Asia on the ballistic missile threat
Ryan Snyder, The Future of the ICBM Force: Should the Least Valuable Leg of the Triad Be Replaced?

RAND, Creating a Separate Space Force mostly focusing on administrative difficulties and personnel issues

RAND, Drone-Era Warfare Shows the Operatoinal Limits of Air Defense Systems on drones and the conflicts in Libya and Syria [yes, it's all RAND, no Brookings Institute or such this time round]. It also explains why air defense systems are perhaps much more vulnerable than commonly thought, which I didn't really get into here.

Washington Post, Air Force seeks a radical shift in how jets, missiles, and satellites are designed with more detail on the shift to more computerized design the US Air Force wants to make

CSIS, The Air Force Digital Century Series: Beyond the Buzzwords taking apart the "Digital Century Series" push
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2020.10.26 17:00 LordCongra [Runes & Brews] - Book 1: Trouble Brewing, Chapter 18

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Theo froze. He’d always hoped that just maybe his adventuring spirit would reveal itself at a critical moment such as this. He’d react to the oncoming monster and prove to the world that, once and for all, he had the potential to be an adventurer.
That, Theo now realized, turned out to be a bold-faced lie. As the snake struck toward him, time seemed to slow. His body refused to respond - no matter how much he pleaded with it.
A sudden force jarred him out of the way from the side. It took his mind what felt like forever to catch up. Pain exploded in his chest followed by a series of sickening snaps inside him. His body rolled across the grassy expanse outside of Romuen, stopping on something distinctly solid.
“Theo!” Pina’s voice called out to him.
“That probably broke some ribs! Don’t let him drink a potion, Pina!” Telsa shouted, her voice tight.
Theo heard a loud slam followed by Adam grunting. He groaned, turning his head as much as he could bear toward the noise. Adam stood between Theo and a massive serpent. The snake stood taller than most buildings he’d seen in Romuen, hissing and attempting to shift around the warrior before it.
Adam brought up his battleaxe, blocking another blindingly fast strike by the snake. A shockwave traveled out, shaking Theo’s body. He groaned, pain lancing through him from even that slight movement.
Trying to take a breath, coughs wracked Theo’s body. They had a concerning wetness to them. Pina fussed over him, trying to drag him further away from the snake. A scream tried to escape his body, but no air carried it. His chest heaved for air, but he couldn’t take a breath.
Pina noticed Theo’s struggles, her eyes widening. “Guys! I think Theo can’t breathe!”
Through the pain, Theo heard several curses, none of which appeared to be able to leave the fight. At that moment, his eyes widened as he realized his life was in the hands of Pina. Is this where I die?
“Theo! Just um, try to breathe? In and out? Wait! I have an idea!” Pina said, fumbling through the pockets of her borrowed vest. She pulled out the wand Theo had supplied her with.
Theo’s eyes widened further, connecting the dots to Pina’s idea of help.
“Okay, Theo. Sit still. I’m not gonna put a lot of mana into it. I’m just gonna blow air into your mouth with the wand,” Pina said, holding up an assuaging hand and kneeling down next to him.
Realizing there weren’t many other options, Theo shut his eyes and nodded his assent. The wand tip passed his lips. Pina murmured something under her breath.
Wind galed into Theo’s lungs, bringing him to heights of pain he’d never realized were possible. With one final look in the eyes of his floral savior, his eyes rolled back in his head and the world went black.
Adam reacted. There was no time for anything else, he simply needed to act. Mana coursed through his body, heightening his speed to beat the snake’s. His shoulder connected with Theo, shoving him out of the way.
Internally wincing, Adam shoved down the guilt building up inside of him as he turned from his boyfriend’s tumbling form. His battleaxe met the strike, his legs straining under the force. He shoved back, the muscles on his arms bulging under his mana.
The world around Adam slowed down. Thanks, Nils, he thought, sending mental appreciation to the Phrenic mage. With the extra time to think, he shifted his grip, calculating how he wanted his counterstrike to land.
Adam never could get comfortable with the difference in the speed of the world and how his body moved through it under Nils’ spell. It felt like dragging his body through molasses. Regardless, he pushed one foot into the ground behind him, channeling all of his weight into this next strike.
The axe connected - just barely. It glanced off of the snake’s scales, only managing to open a thin red line on its body. Despite the enhanced perception from Nils, this snake moved fast. It reared up once again, leaning around him.
Why is this damn thing so focused on Theo? Adam asked himself, shifting his stance to a defensive posture. His arms creaked under the force of the blow, the runes on his skin barely keeping him together.
Adam grunted, his planted foot plowing into the ground. Shit. I’m stuck.
Telsa bought him precious moments, sweeping in with one of her Rending Slashes. The snake recoiled away, blood spraying the both of them. He wrenched his foot out of the ground, frowning as his boot didn’t come with it.
“Good hit, Telsa. What is this thing?” Adam asked, a long-forgotten lesson on monsters tickling at the back of his mind.
“It’s a Garden Snake! Theo’s basically a beacon of mana for it right now with those leaks!” Nils shouted from his position behind the two of them.
Adam rolled to the side, managing to dodge a panicked tail whip from the snake. He scanned its form briefly, noting familiar magical plants growing out of it. A grouping of vindiya roots sank slowly into the snake’s body, the gash Telsa made closing up inch by inch.
“Guys! I think Theo can’t breathe!” Adam heard Pina shout across the field.
He cursed. Theo’s definitely dead if I let this fucker near him. Let’s just hope- Adam’s eyes widened. Oh gods, Theo’s life is in Pina’s hands.
“Nils, gonna need another,” Adam called out, readying himself as the snake stood tall once more.
Alacrity!” the mind mage cried out, mana pulsing from him.
The world slowed once again, a small headache making itself known in Adam’s mind. He watched as another plant - that waxy one with the weird name Theo had told him about earlier - dipped into the snake’s body.
It opened its maw, small sparks of lightning arcing around the inside.
Adam began to move as he watched the brilliant force gather in the serpent’s mouth. It charged far faster than he felt comfortable with for the factor Nils had slowed his perception down by. He shifted low to the ground, dropping his weapon as the violent arcs traveled at him in the blink of an eye.
An explosion erupted from his axe as the lightning arced to it. Adam shook his head, trying to clear the spots from his vision. Telsa yelled something, but his ears rang too loudly to process it.
The smell of lightning reached Adam’s nose, he looked up to see the snake charging up once more. No time, shit. He pulled a slender object out from a belt pouch. Come on, Theo, I know your work is strong enough for this.
Bolt Orb!” The runes on the wand in Adam’s hand lit up, pulling Primordial mana from the crystal set in its handle. A set of three electrical orbs shot out from the tip of the wand, colliding with the streaks of lightning firing from the snake’s mouth.
The resulting clash blinded Adam with its brilliance. He flew backward, skidding across the ground on his back.
Hissing, the snake reared back, writhing from the flash.
Adam blinked, trying to clear his vision. He caught a flash of motion around the indistinct form of the snake and a glint of bent light.
Warped Size! Rending Slash!” Telsa called out, slicing through the snake’s hide.
“Adam!” Nils shouted, heaving the battleaxe toward him.
Catching it more on instinct than any level of ability to see, Adam staggered to his feet. “Regeneration.” Healing mana flowed through him, soothing his body. His vision slowly cleared and his ears went silent as Telsa bought him time.
“It’s still after Theo! Adam, get over here!” Telsa shouted, rolling to the side as the snake’s massive tail slammed down in the spot she occupied moments before.
Titanic Strength! Power Throw!” Runes lit up across Adam’s arms, filling them with strength. He breathed out, lining up his throw as his body moved reflexively. The axe spun through the air, sinking into the hide just below the snake’s head.
It hissed and shook, trying to dislodge the axe. Several plants adorning the snake’s head sunk into its body. Its scales pointed outward, gleaming edges apparent. Wind began to spiral around it as it snapped forward at Telsa, fangs dripping with venom.
Adam appeared at her side, his legs screaming their protest at the exertion. He grabbed the fangs as the world slowed once more around him. The small headache he had before reared its head with a vengeance.
Too late to react, the snake’s body coiled around Adam, the sharpened scales digging into his skin. Blood dripped from his arms as he tightened his grip on the fangs. Alright, fucker, your turn to feel it.
Titanic Strength.” Adam pulled, ripping the fangs out of the snake’s mouth. He winced as some of the venom dripped onto his open wounds. Shit, shit, shit.
Writhing in pain, the snake only tightened around Adam further, its scales piercing deeper into his body. He pushed more and more mana into his Regeneration spell, fighting off the damage as well as the venom.
Searing pain coursed through Adam’s body, nauseating him.
“Adam!” Pina called out from across the field.
He spared a glance at her, noticing a smooth stone object in her hand. One he recognized from this morning. Red runes lit up across its surface.
Vortex Sprint!” Pina shouted, spinning on her heel as winds boosted her speed. She hurled the stone, sending it careening toward the snake. “Pina Throw!”
And a throw it wasn’t. It landed several yards shy of the mark. Fire erupted outward from the stone, burning shrapnel following in its wake.
Several pieces of burning stone seared into Adam’s skin. He cursed Pina, but noticed the snake’s coiling slacken. Looking up, a piece of stone had pierced its eye! Taking advantage of the situation, Adam forced mana into another Titanic Strength, the spell belting out of his lungs.
Something tore inside of him, but he forced the snake’s body apart just enough to leap out of its grasp.
“I don’t know what these do, but Pina Throw!” Several metal spheres flew through the air, landing in front of the snake.
Adam recognized them immediately. Violently rattling, the spheres emitted an ear-splitting whine, paralyzing the snake. He tried to move to capitalize on the opening, but his muscles spasmed, refusing to respond.
Telsa, however, flipped through the air, her daggers gleaming in the sunlight. “Warped Size! Rending Slash!” The world seemed to dip toward her daggers, refining into a single point. Waves of Fundamental mana flowed out from Telsa as her daggers extended beyond a length Adam had ever seen before. A ripping, tearing sound echoed across the field as her weapons slid through the snake’s neck, beheading it.
Telsa landed, her daggers falling apart in her hands.
Adam fell to the ground, his vision tunneling inward.
“Adam!” he heard Telsa scream. The world faded away as the venom ravaged him.
Theo awoke to a surprising lack of pain, but in its place, movement in his chest. Were his ribs moving on their own?
Forcing an eye open, a fulvitre sat at his side. As Theo fully took in his situation, he noticed that the fulvitre’s fingers were thin to the point that he could barely make them out and inside of him.
He tried to move, but a pair of solid, dark, glassy hands held down his shoulders.
“Do not move, young human. Galeen is performing delicate work, you see? Their magic keeps you from pain, but only if you do not move,” the chiming voice of a fulvitre said from behind him.
Theo nodded almost imperceptibly. “W-” he gurgled, finding he couldn’t talk.
“The magic numbing your pain is also preventing your ability to speak, please try to remain still, young one,” the voice tutted from behind him.
Theo squirmed internally, trying his best to keep himself from moving. But whatever this treatment was, it felt so invasive. Fulvitre fingers, thin as could be, moved inside of him.
The fulvitre behind him made a surprised chime. “Where are my manners? I hold you down and do not introduce myself. I am Faastran, young one. I am told your name is Theo. You are lucky to know Pina, her work kept you alive. I have never seen that girl run as fast as she did returning with you to Romuen. As for this treatment, Galeen is moving your ribs back into place piece by piece. I hope you understand why you must remain still.”
Nodding slightly again, Theo tried to calm down. He attempted to think of this as just… enchanting, but instead of runes, it was fulvitre fingers poking around in his body- Okay, it felt horrifying. There was no arguing that, but at least whatever magic Galeen was working kept the pain at bay.
“Healing potion, Faastran?” the other fulvitre asked, speaking for the first time. Their voice sounded closer to a flute than Faastran’s chiming voice.
The glassy hands on Theo’s shoulders left. He could feel the stare Faastran gave him, reminding him to not move.
Theo saw Faastran for the first time as they walked in front of him to Galeen. Their glass body contained not a single speck of clear glass. Obsidian, he realized with no small amount of shock. He admired the fiery reds and oranges that had been melded into the fulvitre’s body, using them as a distraction from the… procedure he was undergoing currently.
Faastran inserted the healing potion onto a small hole in Galeen’s arm. The contents poured in, flowing down their thin fingers.
Feeling himself turn green, Theo wanted to look away, but he had a sort of curiosity about the process at this point.
The shifting inside him mostly stopped, aside from Galeen moving their fingers around. Small pokes inside of him followed by a disturbing click indicated his bones fusing back together.
“I had to repair the membrane inside you first, young Theo, so that you could breathe. This process will be over soon. Recovery after this will take time. I do not recommend the use of potions past this point, as this process is taxing on your body,” the fulvitre said, their head swiveling to him.
Theo couldn’t help but stare. Water motifs swirled across the fulvitre’s head and body in tones of blue and white. He nodded slowly, allowing the healer to continue their work.
The minutes crawled by as Theo watched, his eyes growing heavier and heavier. Finally, Galeen pulled their fingers out of his chest.
“It is done. You must allow your body to heal normally past this point, it is imperative. You may perish from exhaustion otherwise,” Galeen said, putting small drips of healing potion on the entrance holes in Theo’s chest to seal them up.
“Th-ank… yo-ou…” Theo managed to say before his head slumped into the pillow cradling his head.
The world came back to Theo in sharp, painful clarity. His chest hurt. He took a breath, wincing in pain. That wince turned into a coughing fit, which hurt even more.
“Theo? You’re awake!” Pina squealed, stepping over to him. She went in for a hug before stopping herself. “Right. Super fragile right now or whatever. Air hug!” Wrapping her arms in the air around Theo, she smiled at him.
Lips quirking up, Theo gave Pina the best smile he could manage. It wasn’t much. “I um, thank you, Pina. You saved my life.”
Pina waved a hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about it. Just doing what friends do. Oh, Galeen wants you to make them something like the wand you gave me. They said it can be considered payment for their services. You’re lucky you know me, they normally charge more, but my dad is friends with them!”
Theo looked around, realizing he was back in his room. “I- yes, I can make them a wand for sure. Actually, I’d been wanting to improve the design. ...I’m getting carried away. How did I get back to my room? I remember… being in some house, and there were fulvitre. The one you mentioned, Galeen, they had their- their fingers inside of me.”
Taking a seat next to Theo on the bed, Pina made what Theo thought was her attempt at a reassuring face. “Oh, yeah. Fulvitre healers can do weird stuff, what with the whole body shape changing thing. I had to have a splinter taken out of my foot by them once. They did the same weird finger thing.”
“Yes, and there was the other fulvitre there too… Faa…” The name escaped Theo, his memory of the event hazy at best.
“Faastran. They’re from Vulbanos,” Pina said, giving Theo the answer to the comment he hadn’t made yet.
“That explains the obsidian body. I’ve never met an obsidian fulvitre before. Oh, and Pina?” Theo asked, internally cursing himself for asking already.
She turned to him, eyes bright. “Yeah?”
He gulped, questioning if he even wanted to ask. “How- how long have I been… asleep?”
“Um… two days or so? I tried to run your shop after the weekend, but I had to work most of those hours, but Nils said he could try. We didn’t know most of the prices of your stuff though so we couldn’t sell much,” Pina said, frowning.
“That’s- that’s very kind of you both to try, Pina. I appreciate it. I certainly hope there’s no legality issues as neither of you are hired by me,” Theo said, a small seed of worry planting itself in his already-painful chest. “Pina?”
“Yeah?”
Theo grunted, trying to push himself up with his elbows. “Could you- could you help me sit up? It… hurts to move.”
Her eyes widened. “Right. Totally. Sorry! Didn’t even think about it. Yeah, let’s get you something to eat too before I tell you about-” She froze, slapping a hand over her mouth.
Theo’s heart skipped a beat, the seed of worry in his chest spreading its roots. “Tell me about what, Pina?”
Her eyes darted around the room. “Um, about the uh, the one thing with the um…”
“Pina, please. What’s this about?” Theo pleaded, pushing himself up on his own with a pained yelp.
Pina met his eyes, worry showing brightly within them. “It’s- it’s about Adam.”
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2020.10.26 12:40 cPharoah hell or glory: the endless mile 48 hour race

Race Information

Goals

Goal Description Completed?
A don't quit early, do the full 48 Yes
B 100 miles Yes
C 110 miles Yes
D 116.3 miles (top 10 leaderboard) No
E podium No

Splits

Hour Mileage
1 6.5 miles
2 6.2 miles
3 5.9 miles
4 5.4 miles
5 4.9 miles
6 4.5 miles
7 4.1 miles
8 3.5 miles
9 3.7 miles
10 3.5 miles
11 3.5 miles
12 3.1 miles
13 2.1 miles
14 1.1 miles
15 3.1 miles
16 3.5 miles
17 4.3 miles
18 0 miles
19 2.8 miles
20 1.4 miles
21 2.8 miles
22 2.8 miles
23 3.2 miles
24 3 miles
25 3.2 miles
26 2 miles
27 2.8 miles
28 1.4 miles
29 2.4 miles
30 2.4 miles
31 1.6 miles
32 2.6 miles
33 2.4 miles
34 0 miles
35 0 miles
36 0 miles
37 0 miles
38 0 miles
39 0 miles
40 0 miles
41 0 miles
42 0 miles
43 0 miles
44 0 miles
45 0 miles
46 1.4 miles
47 3.8 miles
48 5.7 miles

Training

Ok, so, first of all: I did not train for this. I’ve been running all summer, but that’s not the same as training for a multiday ultra. If you’re interested in the raw numbers, check out my strava training log and see for yourself (https://www.strava.com/athletes/15875698/training/log). I’ll also provide a short summary of just how much I fucked myself going into this. In my defense, I didn’t plan to do this race, and only signed up about 3-4 weeks out from race day because I was bored. Please do not repeat my mistakes.
Okay, let’s rewind to, say, June. I’m in Pennsylvania living at my parent’s house for a month while I try to put my life back together. I’m doing the GVRAT (Laz’s virtual race, ~635 miles in 3 months). I’m just trying to maintain a base at around 40-50 mpw. June passed fairly uneventfully running-wise, with weekly mileage of 55 mi, 41 mi, 55 mi, 55 mi and a few walks/hikes sprinkled in. I was doing 1 workout per week (just kinda whatever I felt like that morning, fartleks or tempos usually). Long runs were around 13-14 miles with some quality sections here and there.
In early July, I drove back to Colorado, moved out of my old apartment that I had shared with my ex, and moved into a new place on my own. My running stayed about the same as before, but my daily walking skyrocketed. My monthly running mileage was 51 mi, 34 mi (moving week), 55 mi, 53 mi, 55 mi. When you add in walks (which I think count when you’re doing a race that will be a LOT of walking), my weekly mileage in July went 51 mi, 34 mi, 80 mi, 80 mi, 81 mi. As you can see, I was adding about an extra ~25 mi per week from walking every day after work. I had a lot more free time and while I kinda wanted to use that time to do doubles every day and bump my mileage up a lot, I knew that it maybe wasn’t the smartest option, so I settled for walking. My long runs were still around 13-15 mi (and no back-to-back long runs, let me be clear. The run the day after my long run was around 6 miles). I was still doing a weekly workout of whatever felt fun that day.
August was both a “big” month (when you count walking) and a shit month (if you look at just running). Running mileage was 47 mi, 44 mi, 40 mi, 31 mi. With walks, it was 72 mi, 74 mi, 58 mi, 68 mi. Long runs dropped a bit, to about 10-12 miles, still with zero back-to-backs. I was beginning to feel the effects of covid-seclusion-brain as well as dealing with the emotional fallout of the past few months. On the plus side, I started going to a weekly track workout with my boss and some coworkers, which helped make me feel human at least once a week.
September continued in the same vein as August, but with less walking. So, not much running AND not much walking. Truly, great training for a multiday ultra in October. But again, I wasn’t planning on running any races for the rest of 2020 so I wasn’t too bothered. Weekly mileage for September went 35 mi, 47 mi, 47 mi, 56 mi. With walks added in, it was 49 mi, 51 mi, 61 mi, 62 mi. Long runs were around 13-14 mi, and for two memorable weeks it was only 8-9 mi. Sometime in the last week of September I decided to say “fuck it” and sign up for a 48 hour race. I knew I wasn’t prepared AT ALL, but I really missed the pain cave of an ultra. This particular race also has a lot of personal meaning to me. My first ultra was a 12 hour at this race, back in 2017. For years now I’ve talked about wanting to go back and try the 24 hour or the 48 hour, and for the first time in years, I could actually do whatever race I wanted to do.
October (or at least October 1-15th) was my taper. If you can call it a taper when you’ve basically been tapering for an entire month beforehand. Weekly mileage went from 56 mi to 46 mi to 37 mi. The taper was honestly fun as hell. I felt so fit, but in more of a 5k-half marathon way. I knew I didn’t have the endurance for this dumb race, but I felt fitter than I’ve ever felt before in my life, and I was hoping that it would help at least a tiny bit.

Pre-race

So I packed and re-packed for this race approximately 26 times. I wasn’t sure if I’d want to change clothes, or socks, or shoes, or whatever. So I brought everything I could think of. I even brought a beanie and gloves, on the off chance that it got chilly for a bit overnight (note: this is what the experts call foreshadowing).
I was crashing with a friend before and after the race, which made things easier (and cheaper). Now, this next part may be gross for any men reading but I am a firm believer that A. get over it, it’s normal and B. it is important to know if you want to get the full picture of my race. So, because I am an incredibly lucky person, I managed to start my period on race morning. While this is good hormonally (women tend to get a bit of a performance boost from the drop in hormone levels), it added a nice extra layer of complexity to my next 48 hours. Yay! pre-race 'fit in my sweet artc singlet
Anyway, after that lovely realization, I drove over to the race start and started prepping my stuff. A friend of mine was coming down from Georgia that day to hang out and camp and then run the 24 hour the next day. I knew I could use his tent and setup once he got there, so I just kinda dumped my stuff on the ground and vaguely organized it so that I could see everything easily. Visual proof of the poorly organized aid pile I put on my windbreaker (it was drizzling and mid-50 degrees F at the start) and waited around until 8:55 am. With 5 minutes to go before race start, I meandered over to the start line to hear the race instructions and size up my competition (LOL). I knew from stalking ultrasignup that there were a few women with a lot of multiday/48 hour experience, including one woman twice my age who had just done ~140+ miles at a 48 hour in February. I was absolutely expecting her to kick my ass. I’m fairly used to getting my butt handed to me by people twice my age or older in ultras. It gives me warm fuzzies, and a hope that when I’m their age I can be that person. I also saw Ed Ettinghausen (a legend in multiday racing… you may know him as the guy who always dresses up like a jester) and Ray Krolewicz (another legend in ultrarunning, at least in my opinion). Ray had been at this race back in 2017 when I ran it for the first time. I wasn’t sure if he remembered chatting with me briefly while I was running the 12 hour. But I remembered. He called me out in the first hour, asking why I was running so fast when I was doing the 12 hour and telling me to slow down before I destroyed my legs. And after the race, he told me I needed to keep doing ultras because I had some talent (which obviously stuck with me, if I remember it three years later). I crossed my fingers that we’d get some “walk and talk” time later in the race, because I distinctly remembered him being hilarious and great at getting me out of a shitty mood and I figured I’d definitely need that at some point.

Race

How does one distill 48 hours into text? Let’s find out. I left myself voice memo’s at various points of the race, because I knew it would all begin to blend together in my head afterwards. Some of them are funny and some of them are a bit sad. But that’s life, I guess. The concept of running 100 miles in 24 hours has sometimes been referred to as “life in a day”. I’d say 48 hours follows that idea, but more like two lives in two days. There are peaks and valleys. You’ll feel like you may never be happy again, or you’re done running for the rest of the race. But it never always gets worse, and sometimes it even gets better and suddenly you’re running sub-10 minute pace at hour 46 and you don’t really know what’s happening but you’re definitely not going to question it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Hours 1-6: (9 am - 3 pm)
So, at 9 am sharp, the gun goes off and we all start to shuffle across the line. No one is going very fast, which makes a lot of sense when you remember that we have to keep going for two days straight. One girl gaps everyone by quite a bit by about half a mile in, and my dumb competitive side starts to kick in. I had conveniently forgotten that there were relay teams in the race, and it never even crossed my mind that she might be a relay runner who only had to run for a few hours. This was mistake #1 (of many!). While trying to make sure I kept this girl in sight, I completely abandoned my tentative plan to run no faster than 10 min/mile in the first few hours, and blazed through the first ~4ish hours at sub-10 pace, including pauses at the aid stations and my personal aid pile. At this point, I was already starting to feel my lack of long runs in training. Huge shocker, I know. It was a little terrifying to think that I still had 44 hours to go. So I just tried to stop thinking about it, and focus on the hour I was currently in. At one point, I texted a friend to ask what % of critical power I should aim for during a 48 hour race, partially as a joke. He told me no matter what, don’t go over 80%. Oops. I had definitely been routinely going over 80%, and only barely averaging below it for lap power. I was beginning to slightly regret not actually making any sort of pacing plan before the race started.
Hours 5 & 6 were where I really started making more of an effort to walk. The course has 4 “hills” (which have maybe a combined elevation gain of ~25 ft), and I used them as my walk cues. Some people do a very structured walk/run (25 minute run/5 minute walk, 4 minute run/1 minute walk, etc), but I prefer to just do everything by feel. Doing it based on course landmarks seemed easier to keep track of, instead of having to constantly look at my watch and do math, or having to program intervals into the watch ahead of time. I averaged about 13 min/mile for these hours, and about 11 min/mile for the first six hours altogether.
Hours 6-12: (3 pm - 9 pm)
This 6 hour block progressed much like hours 5 & 6. At around the 9 hour mark, I began recording periodic voice memos to myself as a way to try to remember how I felt at different points of the race. I knew it would all start to blend together in my mind, so I wanted to have a concrete record of how I felt, especially the bad sections. I have a tendency to forget all the shitty parts of the race afterwards, which I think is a survival mechanism in my dumb brain that lets me keep doing these races. In my first voice memo, recorded at about 9.5 hours in, I talked about how I was doing a lot of walking because my legs felt dead and my adductor longus was screaming bloody murder at me. A woman who had been consistently about one lap behind me the entire race was putting forth a concentrated effort to catch up and pass me. She was doing a lot more running than I was at that point, and basically had her own personal pacer (a guy who was also doing the 48 hour who spent the entire race running right ahead of her or beside her and giving her encouragement). In the voice memo, I make it very clear that I do not care at all if she catches me or passes me, because there are 38 hours left in the race at this point and there’s still so much that can happen or go wrong for either of us. The real race probably hasn’t even started yet! At around 8:30 pm, I chatted on the phone with my mom and dad briefly, catching them up on how I was feeling and how the race was going. It was beginning to get a little chilly now that the sun was down. These six hours passed at a 17 min/mile pace, which tells you that I wasn’t kidding when I said I was doing a lot of walking at this point.
Hours 12-18: (9 pm - 3 am)
This is about when things begin to get a little blurry. I remember starting to get cold and putting on all the layers I had (a sweatshirt, sweatpants, beanie, gloves, and buff). At around 9 pm, I recorded another voice memo, where I said that I had been exclusively walking for awhile and had taken a quick nap earlier. I remember this nap, because it was another huge mistake. I had planned to just nap on the ground, with an inflatable pillow and small microfiber towel I had brought with me. This was dumb. Turns out, lying on the cold dirt while feeling very cold will just make you feel even more cold. After lying on the ground, shaking uncontrollably from the cold and getting zero sleep, I eventually got up and kept walking. Hour 12.5 face I tried to warm myself up with a cup of hot chicken soup but that only helped while I was drinking it. Once my tiny cup ran out, I started getting cold again.
At 16.5 hours, I recorded another voice memo to myself. I explained that in the hours between 9 pm and 1 am, I had gone through a huge rough patch of being very cold and having a hard time moving forward at any sort of respectable walking pace. I finally had a burst of inspiration and went to my rental car, turned it on, blasted the heat for 15 minutes to warm up, and started moving again, feeling much better than before. After I warmed up, I ran into Ray K. If you’ve done any fixed time race, especially on the east coast, and you dont know who Ray is, you might live under a rock. As he loved telling me, he’s been doing ultras “since before you were born”. According to ultrasignup, his ultrarunning history predates my birth by about 25 years. I walked with him for probably about an hour or two, and it honestly saved my entire night. For one, his walking speed is a lot faster than mine, so he helped get my butt moving faster than I would have if I was on my own. More importantly, he is one of the chattiest people I’ve ever met, and he kept me entertained the entire time by telling me stories about Yiannis Kouros and Bruce Fordyce, about how he kind of snuck into Western States one time, and about his adventures doing Vol State and Heart of the South in the same summer.
After getting to around the 16 hou100k mark and parting ways with Ray for a bit, I decided to try to jog at least 30 seconds or so each lap to try to break up the monotony. After that first spurt of jogging, I realized that my legs felt great running. Suddenly, I was spending most of the lap running. I even started throwing in some surges of faster running to loosen my legs up. I shed a lot of my warm layers because the extra exertion was making me start to sweat. I made it about an hour or so at about 12 min/mile pace (including my stops at the aid station… I was beginning to get the nickname of “Hot Chocolate Girl” because I kept getting cups of hot chocolate to keep myself warm). After this sudden burst of energy dropped off, I decided to take another ~30 minute nap in my warm car. These six hours passed at an average pace of 25 min/mile, which includes my periodic ~30 minute naps where I was blissfully moving at a 0 mph pace.
Hours 18-24: (3 am - 9 am) After getting up from my latest nap, things began to get a little pathetic. There’s a handful of voice memos recorded that are just muffled crying noises intermixed with exclamations of “I’m just so cold” and “I feel like I’ll never be warm again”. I honestly don’t remember many details from about 3 am until 6ish. It all blends together into an overwhelming feeling of cold and misery. At around 6 am, I recorded yet another crying voice memo about how the sun was finally coming up and how happy it makes me (which sounds slightly odd, as I’m audibly crying while saying that).
Luckily for my morale, once the sun started to rise, two things happened: I remembered that hot food exists, and my friends and family started to wake up. I started grabbing bacon every few laps, and had a religious experience with the best fried egg I’ve ever eaten in my entire life (and which I ate with my hands, to try to avoid carrying a paper plate and fork with me for an entire lap). The hot food (and calories!) helped bring me back from the deep pit I was in. Turns out, trying to subsist on hot chocolate and the occasional handful of skittles isn’t enough calories and can lead to grumpiness.
At around 7:30, my lovely friend Katie called me and we talked on the phone for an hour while she did her morning run and caught me up on things I was missing in the group chat and I gave her all the ridiculous details of my disaster of a dating life. It was an amazing pick-me-up and helped get my morning off to a good start. Day two, here we come!
At the end of the first 24 hours, I had somewhere between 82 and 84 miles, depending on how much you trust my GPS (I don’t have access to the detailed lap splits yet, so the actual mileage is still unknown). I didn’t realize it at the time, because my watch had reset & saved my first activity somewhere around hour 17 while I was in my car warming up and charging my watch. Thanks garmin! I was convinced I was around ~80 miles, which was a disappointment. I had reached 82 miles in my last 24 hour (which took place during a mild blizzard and I had been similarly undertrained for), and I had kinda been hoping to at least match that mileage during this race, as stupid and ill-advised as that sounds. These 6 hours passed at an average pace of 23 min/mile, which is honestly surprising because I could have sworn I was moving as slowly or slower than the 6 hours preceding.
Hours 24-30: (9 am - 3 pm, 2nd day)
At 9 am, the 24 hour, 12 hour, and 6 hour races started. At first, I thought maybe the addition of more runners beyond the ~40 or so 48 hour runners would be energizing. Instead, it just kind of annoyed me. Getting passed by so many people and almost getting shoved off the path by the wave of runners made me even grumpier. I was also feeling quite jealous that other people could physically run while I was stuck in a painful shuffle. On the plus side, a few friends had started their races, so I got to see some new friendly faces out there while they were lapping me.
Beyond the addition of the new runners, these hours are mostly a blur of pain and more misery, just less cold than the nighttime hours. At around 26.5 hours, I recorded another voice memo to myself. I was stuck moving at a slow shuffling walk because my legs hurt so bad I couldn’t muster up any gumption to try to move faster. I also made a plea to my future self to PLEASE pack warm clothes next time, no matter what the weather forecast said. It’s easy to get stuck in the running mindset of “oh well 50 degrees is warm, that’s shorts and tshirt weather”. Which is true when you’re running, but less so when you’re walking slowly in the dark. I was able to talk to my sister at around noon, and my parents at around 1:30. Those conversations weren’t quite as helpful as my earlier chat with Katie. I’ve noticed that sometimes when I talk to my family or extremely close friends during a race, it can actually fuck up my headspace even more because I feel like I can dump all my shitty feelings into our conversation and cry and complain so much that it just ends up making me even grumpier. I was yet again moving at a blistering 26 min/mile pace thanks to my dead legs and a few quick car naps here and there. I had noticed that taking a quick 15-30 minute nap had the tendency to cut some of my grumpiness and bad mood, at least temporarily.
Hours 30-36: (3 pm - 9 pm, 2nd day)
At around hour 30, I recorded my last voice memo, again complaining about not being able to move well and being reduced to a painful shuffle. I desperately wanted to be able to move faster because I had promised myself that once I hit 100 miles I could take a longer break. I had figured out that at my current pace, I’d reach 100 miles at around sunset and I really wanted to not have to be out in the cold again if I could help it. I knew it would go poorly for me. I was having some big issues with thermoregulation already, and the falling temperatures would likely make it worse. I have a distinct memory of walking along the path, shivering and cold with goosebumps on my arms, while in full direct sunlight and 70 degree temperatures. If I was cold in those conditions, nighttime was going to be hell.
Mile 95 face, very thrilled to be alive At around mile 95, my friend Kelly started walking with me to keep me company. She had originally signed up for the 6 hour race, but switched up to the 12 hour mid-race. I felt bad that she was walking with me (because I was moving so slowly) while she was technically racing and could probably be moving a lot faster if she was on her own. Walking with her for the 5 miles to reach 100 was so so helpful. At first I was kind of resistant, because I tend to like to be on my own when I’m feeling shitty, but about halfway through I realized just how nice and distracting it was to have someone to talk to. I think I finally get why people like having a pacer during races. I know, I’m a genius. After I finally hit 100 miles (in my donut compression socks, Hoka slides, and Javelina sweatshirt… really looking like an athlete), Ray told me I had to do at least one more mile before taking my long break. He told me that just in case I never got out on the course again, I’d at least be ahead of all the people who quit after reaching 100 miles.
Mile 100 (with Ray)!
Right after getting my buckle
With Kelly
So, Kelly and I did one more painful lap and then parted ways. I headed to my car to finally change my clothes a bit (tracksmith shorts to BOA poop emoji shorts) and just chill for a moment. I got in the car at about 7:30 pm and stayed there for the rest of this 6 hour block.
Hours 36-42: (9 pm - 3 am, 2nd day)
I spent pretty much the entire 6 hours in my car, huddled up and hiding from the cold. I was semi-traumatized from the night before, when I felt like I would never be warm again. I was just so terrified about it hitting me even harder the second night, after feeling cold and getting goosebumps while walking in direct sunlight in 70 degree F weather. I settled into a routine of starting the car, blasting the heat for 5 minutes to get the entire car nice and warm, stretching out on the reclined front drivers seat, trying to sleep for 45 minutes, waking up, and restarting the cycle again. It was miserable. I bargained with myself, berated myself for being such a wimp, and alternated back and forth between deciding to quit with 101 miles or deciding to get back out on the course once the sun came up and gutting out a few more hours.
Hours 42-48: (3 am - 9 am, 2nd day)
At around 6:30 am, with the sun peeking over the trees, I told myself to buck the fuck up and opened my car door. I started shuffling around the course again after grabbing some more bacon and eggs and reassuring the aid station cook that I was indeed still in the race after he hadn’t seen me all night long. I had 2.5 hours to go, and I started trying to do mental math to figure out how many more miles I could get. I figured I was moving at just over 2 mph, so 110 miles was likely out of reach. I had pretty much entirely given up on running anymore, to the point that I was walking around sockless in my Hoka recovery slides. Pro tip: don't run in slides During that first hour, I noticed my walking speed was getting faster and my legs were starting to feel… not normal, but way better than they had yesterday afternoon. I began to throw in little 30 second bursts of slow jogging. Those bursts started getting longer and longer, and suddenly I was almost fully running around the course in my slides. After a lap or two like that, I made a brief pit stop to change back into running shoes and set off again. Somehow grinning like a psychopath again
I jogged a lap with the aid station cook after he chased me down while drinking a beer, and we traded stories for a bit until we got back to the start finish area. As I noticed the clock turning over to the final hour, I resolved to push myself and give whatever I had left. During my first ultra, one of the volunteers told me that it’s important to always save something for the last hour. While that may have been more practical for a shorter fixed time race, I took it to heart and was determined to use whatever I had saved. I ran almost every single step of that last hour, averaging ~10:30 min/mile. I didn’t know what was happening. My legs felt so great. I was the only 48 hour runner who was actually running, and I was passing people left and right. Once we were down to about 15 minutes left, I grabbed my blue flag that I’d use to mark my last partial lap. I switched my watch face to just show the current time, because I knew I wanted to really empty the tank in the last few minutes. With about 5 minutes to go, I started to really push. My last mile ended up being at 8:40 pace, and with about a minute to go I started sprinting and was flying by the 48 hour shufflers at 6:00 min/mile pace. As I was dying in these last seconds, the airhorn blew and I skidded to a stop and stuck my flag in the dirt. I knew I had managed to hit at least 110 miles, and maybe 111 depending on the distance of that last partial lap.

Post-race

After the race officially finished and I checked my preliminary mileage (somehow they had me at 111 laps!), I chatted with Ray again while the RD’s congratulated the podium (I just missed out, placing 4th F and 9th overall). I told him how I was already planning my next 48 hour, and that I had a list of things to change for next time. He told me that I had a gift and a lot of potential to do well in the sport based on how he saw me running during the first night and at the end, and how I came back out to keep going after my long break on the second night. I honest to god almost started crying while I was standing there talking to him. He didn’t remember, but he said something extremely similar to me the last time we were at a race together. To have someone who I respect so much and who has such a long history and a lot of experience in the sport, tell me that I have potential and can do well… it meant so much. It’s easy to brush that stuff off when it comes from my friends or family, especially when they don’t really know anything about ultrarunning, but hearing it come from someone like Ray is different.
After recovering from that moment, I shuffled back to my car and drove an hour to my friends apartment, where I proceeded to crash on the couch for several hours, wake up briefly to eat an entire pizza and watch The Addams Family (because I learned he’d NEVER SEEN IT), eat a giant bowl of pasta, and then fall asleep for the night. I napped on and off all morning on Monday before heading home. While I had definitely been shuffling around like a grandma with a fresh hip replacement on Sunday, by Monday morning I felt surprisingly good. I didn’t have any blisters, my toenails all seemed to be in decent shape, and while my legs felt a little sore, they didn’t feel anywhere near as dead as I was expecting. I even did a test jog to and from my car while getting my bag to pack up and it felt….. kinda good? Upon arriving home, I was able to walk up the three flights of stairs to my apartment with zero issues. I went back to work on Tuesday like normal. I also started running again on Tuesday, just a short 20 minute shakeout on a flat loop near my apartment. I’ve had a few people tell me i’m being an idiot for running again so soon, and plenty of other people who are just shocked that I’d even want to run this soon. All I know is that my legs feel amazing, I don’t feel very fatigued, and my body just wants to run. So I want to listen to it. I don’t have any blisters, my gait is completely normal, and I don’t have any lasting muscle fatigue (that I can tell). I’m restricting myself to nothing longer than an hour for this first week back at least. I might throw in some hill strides and a short tempo next week if I’m still feeling great.
My running “superpower” has always been twofold: not getting injured (which Ray tells me isn’t JUST because I’m young, thank you) and recovering fast. I eat a lot of food and sleep a lot, especially after a race. My BMI is nowhere near the “underweight” range (and yes, I know it’s a flawed measurement) and I’ve never lost my period or had a bone stress injury. I may not be the fastest, but I like to think I can outlast my competition, both in training (by not having to take time off for injury) and in a race setting. I’ve historically had no issues doing the occasional Super Week where I double my weekly mileage (or more). After my first ultra, I remember feeling pretty creaky and hobbling out some 10-12 minute miles in the following days (I was run streaking at the time). With each subsequent “big effort”, I’ve found my recovery is faster and I feel normal again a lot quicker. I know there is likely still some residual stuff my body is dealing with even though I feel great, so I’m trying really hard to not do too much too soon. It’s hard!!
As far as the future goes, I’m signed up for two 2021 races so far: a 24 hour in April (that was a deferral roll-over from 2020), and Western States in June (which was also a 2020 roll-over). I’m also going to be rolling over my 2020 Quad Rock 50 miler registration, which will be in May. Right now, my tentative plan is to do some 10k-focused training until the end of January, at which point I’ll start lengthening my long runs again in prep for Western training. I still haven’t decided if I want to try hiring a coach again. Western is really important to me, and I want to make sure I give it the best I possibly can, but I just don’t know if I’m really a “coachable athlete”. As much as I want to see if I can get to 100 miles in the 24 hour, I realize it probably wouldn’t be the smartest choice if I’m going to really try to nail Western States two months later. So I’ll probably use that as a tuneup (maybe 50k-50mi) along with Quad Rock. I’d really like to get a faster Boston qualifier under my belt (I think I could go at least sub-3:25,and Ray thinks I could probably run about 3:20 if I actually did my long runs), but I don’t think I’ll have time for a full training cycle + race next year with Western in the middle.
With regards to future multiday races… I already know I want to give the 48 hour another shot to see if I can fix my mistakes and start getting into some real mileage. With how great my legs felt at the end and in the middle of the night randomly, I think I’d definitely like to try some even longer multiday races and stage races. I know everyone says to save the multiday stuff until you’re “older”, but I feel so drawn to it in the same way I feel drawn to races like Hardrock and Western States. I just want to see what I can do at something very stupid and hard, and I especially want to see what I can do now that I know a bit more of what to expect. There’s no glory in multiday races, which honestly is part of the appeal. Almost no one knows what a “good” result is for a 48 hr, a 72 hr, a 144 hr race. No one cares. It’s wonderful knowing that no one cares or knows if you did well or can measure you in any way. I also love the sense of camaraderie in these races, especially the small looped courses. You’re able to interact with everyone if you want to, while in a normal race setting you might not be able to (because they’re either way ahead or way behind you). I’ve gotten shit before for not being a “real” ultrarunner because I don’t only run trail races, and been told that these short loop timed races aren’t the same or they’re somehow “lesser”, which I think is bullshit. I personally believe this type of race could absolutely break a good trail ultrarunner, and they shouldn’t be underestimated or dismissed just because they’re “road races” or because they don’t traverse grand mountain ranges. I love mountain running, but I also love being able to absolutely shut out the outside stimuli that can distract you from the pain and just be present in the moment without having to worry about tripping on a root or making a wrong turn or getting lost or being eaten by a bear.
Made with a new race report generator created by herumph.
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2020.10.26 12:29 cPharoah hell or glory: the endless mile 48 hour race

Race Information

Goals

Goal Description Completed?
A don't quit early, do the full 48 Yes
B 100 miles Yes
C 110 miles Yes
D 116.3 miles (top 10 leaderboard) No
E podium No

Splits

Hour Mileage
1 6.5 miles
2 6.2 miles
3 5.9 miles
4 5.4 miles
5 4.9 miles
6 4.5 miles
7 4.1 miles
8 3.5 miles
9 3.7 miles
10 3.5 miles
11 3.5 miles
12 3.1 miles
13 2.1 miles
14 1.1 miles
15 3.1 miles
16 3.5 miles
17 4.3 miles
18 0 miles
19 2.8 miles
20 1.4 miles
21 2.8 miles
22 2.8 miles
23 3.2 miles
24 3 miles
25 3.2 miles
26 2 miles
27 2.8 miles
28 1.4 miles
29 2.4 miles
30 2.4 miles
31 1.6 miles
32 2.6 miles
33 2.4 miles
34 0 miles
35 0 miles
36 0 miles
37 0 miles
38 0 miles
39 0 miles
40 0 miles
41 0 miles
42 0 miles
43 0 miles
44 0 miles
45 0 miles
46 1.4 miles
47 3.8 miles
48 5.7 miles

Training

Ok, so, first of all: I did not train for this. I’ve been running all summer, but that’s not the same as training for a multiday ultra. If you’re interested in the raw numbers, check out my strava training log and see for yourself (https://www.strava.com/athletes/15875698/training/log). I’ll also provide a short summary of just how much I fucked myself going into this. In my defense, I didn’t plan to do this race, and only signed up about 3-4 weeks out from race day because I was bored. Please do not repeat my mistakes.
Okay, let’s rewind to, say, June. I’m in Pennsylvania living at my parent’s house for a month while I try to put my life back together. I’m doing the GVRAT (Laz’s virtual race, ~635 miles in 3 months). I’m just trying to maintain a base at around 40-50 mpw. June passed fairly uneventfully running-wise, with weekly mileage of 55 mi, 41 mi, 55 mi, 55 mi and a few walks/hikes sprinkled in. I was doing 1 workout per week (just kinda whatever I felt like that morning, fartleks or tempos usually). Long runs were around 13-14 miles with some quality sections here and there.
In early July, I drove back to Colorado, moved out of my old apartment that I had shared with my ex, and moved into a new place on my own. My running stayed about the same as before, but my daily walking skyrocketed. My monthly running mileage was 51 mi, 34 mi (moving week), 55 mi, 53 mi, 55 mi. When you add in walks (which I think count when you’re doing a race that will be a LOT of walking), my weekly mileage in July went 51 mi, 34 mi, 80 mi, 80 mi, 81 mi. As you can see, I was adding about an extra ~25 mi per week from walking every day after work. I had a lot more free time and while I kinda wanted to use that time to do doubles every day and bump my mileage up a lot, I knew that it maybe wasn’t the smartest option, so I settled for walking. My long runs were still around 13-15 mi (and no back-to-back long runs, let me be clear. The run the day after my long run was around 6 miles). I was still doing a weekly workout of whatever felt fun that day.
August was both a “big” month (when you count walking) and a shit month (if you look at just running). Running mileage was 47 mi, 44 mi, 40 mi, 31 mi. With walks, it was 72 mi, 74 mi, 58 mi, 68 mi. Long runs dropped a bit, to about 10-12 miles, still with zero back-to-backs. I was beginning to feel the effects of covid-seclusion-brain as well as dealing with the emotional fallout of the past few months. On the plus side, I started going to a weekly track workout with my boss and some coworkers, which helped make me feel human at least once a week.
September continued in the same vein as August, but with less walking. So, not much running AND not much walking. Truly, great training for a multiday ultra in October. But again, I wasn’t planning on running any races for the rest of 2020 so I wasn’t too bothered. Weekly mileage for September went 35 mi, 47 mi, 47 mi, 56 mi. With walks added in, it was 49 mi, 51 mi, 61 mi, 62 mi. Long runs were around 13-14 mi, and for two memorable weeks it was only 8-9 mi. Sometime in the last week of September I decided to say “fuck it” and sign up for a 48 hour race. I knew I wasn’t prepared AT ALL, but I really missed the pain cave of an ultra. This particular race also has a lot of personal meaning to me. My first ultra was a 12 hour at this race, back in 2017. For years now I’ve talked about wanting to go back and try the 24 hour or the 48 hour, and for the first time in years, I could actually do whatever race I wanted to do.
October (or at least October 1-15th) was my taper. If you can call it a taper when you’ve basically been tapering for an entire month beforehand. Weekly mileage went from 56 mi to 46 mi to 37 mi. The taper was honestly fun as hell. I felt so fit, but in more of a 5k-half marathon way. I knew I didn’t have the endurance for this dumb race, but I felt fitter than I’ve ever felt before in my life, and I was hoping that it would help at least a tiny bit.

Pre-race

So I packed and re-packed for this race approximately 26 times. I wasn’t sure if I’d want to change clothes, or socks, or shoes, or whatever. So I brought everything I could think of. I even brought a beanie and gloves, on the off chance that it got chilly for a bit overnight (note: this is what the experts call foreshadowing).
I was crashing with a friend before and after the race, which made things easier (and cheaper). Now, this next part may be gross for any men reading but I am a firm believer that A. get over it, it’s normal and B. it is important to know if you want to get the full picture of my race. So, because I am an incredibly lucky person, I managed to start my period on race morning. While this is good hormonally (women tend to get a bit of a performance boost from the drop in hormone levels), it added a nice extra layer of complexity to my next 48 hours. Yay! pre-race 'fit in my sweet artc singlet
Anyway, after that lovely realization, I drove over to the race start and started prepping my stuff. A friend of mine was coming down from Georgia that day to hang out and camp and then run the 24 hour the next day. I knew I could use his tent and setup once he got there, so I just kinda dumped my stuff on the ground and vaguely organized it so that I could see everything easily. Visual proof of the poorly organized aid pile I put on my windbreaker (it was drizzling and mid-50 degrees F at the start) and waited around until 8:55 am. With 5 minutes to go before race start, I meandered over to the start line to hear the race instructions and size up my competition (LOL). I knew from stalking ultrasignup that there were a few women with a lot of multiday/48 hour experience, including one woman twice my age who had just done ~140+ miles at a 48 hour in February. I was absolutely expecting her to kick my ass. I’m fairly used to getting my butt handed to me by people twice my age or older in ultras. It gives me warm fuzzies, and a hope that when I’m their age I can be that person. I also saw Ed Ettinghausen (a legend in multiday racing… you may know him as the guy who always dresses up like a jester) and Ray Krolewicz (another legend in ultrarunning, at least in my opinion). Ray had been at this race back in 2017 when I ran it for the first time. I wasn’t sure if he remembered chatting with me briefly while I was running the 12 hour. But I remembered. He called me out in the first hour, asking why I was running so fast when I was doing the 12 hour and telling me to slow down before I destroyed my legs. And after the race, he told me I needed to keep doing ultras because I had some talent (which obviously stuck with me, if I remember it three years later). I crossed my fingers that we’d get some “walk and talk” time later in the race, because I distinctly remembered him being hilarious and great at getting me out of a shitty mood and I figured I’d definitely need that at some point.

Race

How does one distill 48 hours into text? Let’s find out. I left myself voice memo’s at various points of the race, because I knew it would all begin to blend together in my head afterwards. Some of them are funny and some of them are a bit sad. But that’s life, I guess. The concept of running 100 miles in 24 hours has sometimes been referred to as “life in a day”. I’d say 48 hours follows that idea, but more like two lives in two days. There are peaks and valleys. You’ll feel like you may never be happy again, or you’re done running for the rest of the race. But it never always gets worse, and sometimes it even gets better and suddenly you’re running sub-10 minute pace at hour 46 and you don’t really know what’s happening but you’re definitely not going to question it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Hours 1-6: (9 am - 3 pm)
So, at 9 am sharp, the gun goes off and we all start to shuffle across the line. No one is going very fast, which makes a lot of sense when you remember that we have to keep going for two days straight. One girl gaps everyone by quite a bit by about half a mile in, and my dumb competitive side starts to kick in. I had conveniently forgotten that there were relay teams in the race, and it never even crossed my mind that she might be a relay runner who only had to run for a few hours. This was mistake #1 (of many!). While trying to make sure I kept this girl in sight, I completely abandoned my tentative plan to run no faster than 10 min/mile in the first few hours, and blazed through the first ~4ish hours at sub-10 pace, including pauses at the aid stations and my personal aid pile. At this point, I was already starting to feel my lack of long runs in training. Huge shocker, I know. It was a little terrifying to think that I still had 44 hours to go. So I just tried to stop thinking about it, and focus on the hour I was currently in. At one point, I texted a friend to ask what % of critical power I should aim for during a 48 hour race, partially as a joke. He told me no matter what, don’t go over 80%. Oops. I had definitely been routinely going over 80%, and only barely averaging below it for lap power. I was beginning to slightly regret not actually making any sort of pacing plan before the race started.
Hours 5 & 6 were where I really started making more of an effort to walk. The course has 4 “hills” (which have maybe a combined elevation gain of ~25 ft), and I used them as my walk cues. Some people do a very structured walk/run (25 minute run/5 minute walk, 4 minute run/1 minute walk, etc), but I prefer to just do everything by feel. Doing it based on course landmarks seemed easier to keep track of, instead of having to constantly look at my watch and do math, or having to program intervals into the watch ahead of time. I averaged about 13 min/mile for these hours, and about 11 min/mile for the first six hours altogether.
Hours 6-12: (3 pm - 9 pm)
This 6 hour block progressed much like hours 5 & 6. At around the 9 hour mark, I began recording periodic voice memos to myself as a way to try to remember how I felt at different points of the race. I knew it would all start to blend together in my mind, so I wanted to have a concrete record of how I felt, especially the bad sections. I have a tendency to forget all the shitty parts of the race afterwards, which I think is a survival mechanism in my dumb brain that lets me keep doing these races. In my first voice memo, recorded at about 9.5 hours in, I talked about how I was doing a lot of walking because my legs felt dead and my adductor longus was screaming bloody murder at me. A woman who had been consistently about one lap behind me the entire race was putting forth a concentrated effort to catch up and pass me. She was doing a lot more running than I was at that point, and basically had her own personal pacer (a guy who was also doing the 48 hour who spent the entire race running right ahead of her or beside her and giving her encouragement). In the voice memo, I make it very clear that I do not care at all if she catches me or passes me, because there are 38 hours left in the race at this point and there’s still so much that can happen or go wrong for either of us. The real race probably hasn’t even started yet! At around 8:30 pm, I chatted on the phone with my mom and dad briefly, catching them up on how I was feeling and how the race was going. It was beginning to get a little chilly now that the sun was down. These six hours passed at a 17 min/mile pace, which tells you that I wasn’t kidding when I said I was doing a lot of walking at this point.
Hours 12-18: (9 pm - 3 am)
This is about when things begin to get a little blurry. I remember starting to get cold and putting on all the layers I had (a sweatshirt, sweatpants, beanie, gloves, and buff). At around 9 pm, I recorded another voice memo, where I said that I had been exclusively walking for awhile and had taken a quick nap earlier. I remember this nap, because it was another huge mistake. I had planned to just nap on the ground, with an inflatable pillow and small microfiber towel I had brought with me. This was dumb. Turns out, lying on the cold dirt while feeling very cold will just make you feel even more cold. After lying on the ground, shaking uncontrollably from the cold and getting zero sleep, I eventually got up and kept walking. Hour 12.5 face I tried to warm myself up with a cup of hot chicken soup but that only helped while I was drinking it. Once my tiny cup ran out, I started getting cold again.
At 16.5 hours, I recorded another voice memo to myself. I explained that in the hours between 9 pm and 1 am, I had gone through a huge rough patch of being very cold and having a hard time moving forward at any sort of respectable walking pace. I finally had a burst of inspiration and went to my rental car, turned it on, blasted the heat for 15 minutes to warm up, and started moving again, feeling much better than before. After I warmed up, I ran into Ray K. If you’ve done any fixed time race, especially on the east coast, and you dont know who Ray is, you might live under a rock. As he loved telling me, he’s been doing ultras “since before you were born”. According to ultrasignup, his ultrarunning history predates my birth by about 25 years. I walked with him for probably about an hour or two, and it honestly saved my entire night. For one, his walking speed is a lot faster than mine, so he helped get my butt moving faster than I would have if I was on my own. More importantly, he is one of the chattiest people I’ve ever met, and he kept me entertained the entire time by telling me stories about Yiannis Kouros and Bruce Fordyce, about how he kind of snuck into Western States one time, and about his adventures doing Vol State and Heart of the South in the same summer.
After getting to around the 16 hou100k mark and parting ways with Ray for a bit, I decided to try to jog at least 30 seconds or so each lap to try to break up the monotony. After that first spurt of jogging, I realized that my legs felt great running. Suddenly, I was spending most of the lap running. I even started throwing in some surges of faster running to loosen my legs up. I shed a lot of my warm layers because the extra exertion was making me start to sweat. I made it about an hour or so at about 12 min/mile pace (including my stops at the aid station… I was beginning to get the nickname of “Hot Chocolate Girl” because I kept getting cups of hot chocolate to keep myself warm). After this sudden burst of energy dropped off, I decided to take another ~30 minute nap in my warm car. These six hours passed at an average pace of 25 min/mile, which includes my periodic ~30 minute naps where I was blissfully moving at a 0 mph pace.
Hours 18-24: (3 am - 9 am) After getting up from my latest nap, things began to get a little pathetic. There’s a handful of voice memos recorded that are just muffled crying noises intermixed with exclamations of “I’m just so cold” and “I feel like I’ll never be warm again”. I honestly don’t remember many details from about 3 am until 6ish. It all blends together into an overwhelming feeling of cold and misery. At around 6 am, I recorded yet another crying voice memo about how the sun was finally coming up and how happy it makes me (which sounds slightly odd, as I’m audibly crying while saying that).
Luckily for my morale, once the sun started to rise, two things happened: I remembered that hot food exists, and my friends and family started to wake up. I started grabbing bacon every few laps, and had a religious experience with the best fried egg I’ve ever eaten in my entire life (and which I ate with my hands, to try to avoid carrying a paper plate and fork with me for an entire lap). The hot food (and calories!) helped bring me back from the deep pit I was in. Turns out, trying to subsist on hot chocolate and the occasional handful of skittles isn’t enough calories and can lead to grumpiness.
At around 7:30, my lovely friend Katie called me and we talked on the phone for an hour while she did her morning run and caught me up on things I was missing in the group chat and I gave her all the ridiculous details of my disaster of a dating life. It was an amazing pick-me-up and helped get my morning off to a good start. Day two, here we come!
At the end of the first 24 hours, I had somewhere between 82 and 84 miles, depending on how much you trust my GPS (I don’t have access to the detailed lap splits yet, so the actual mileage is still unknown). I didn’t realize it at the time, because my watch had reset & saved my first activity somewhere around hour 17 while I was in my car warming up and charging my watch. Thanks garmin! I was convinced I was around ~80 miles, which was a disappointment. I had reached 82 miles in my last 24 hour (which took place during a mild blizzard and I had been similarly undertrained for), and I had kinda been hoping to at least match that mileage during this race, as stupid and ill-advised as that sounds. These 6 hours passed at an average pace of 23 min/mile, which is honestly surprising because I could have sworn I was moving as slowly or slower than the 6 hours preceding.
Hours 24-30: (9 am - 3 pm, 2nd day)
At 9 am, the 24 hour, 12 hour, and 6 hour races started. At first, I thought maybe the addition of more runners beyond the ~40 or so 48 hour runners would be energizing. Instead, it just kind of annoyed me. Getting passed by so many people and almost getting shoved off the path by the wave of runners made me even grumpier. I was also feeling quite jealous that other people could physically run while I was stuck in a painful shuffle. On the plus side, a few friends had started their races, so I got to see some new friendly faces out there while they were lapping me.
Beyond the addition of the new runners, these hours are mostly a blur of pain and more misery, just less cold than the nighttime hours. At around 26.5 hours, I recorded another voice memo to myself. I was stuck moving at a slow shuffling walk because my legs hurt so bad I couldn’t muster up any gumption to try to move faster. I also made a plea to my future self to PLEASE pack warm clothes next time, no matter what the weather forecast said. It’s easy to get stuck in the running mindset of “oh well 50 degrees is warm, that’s shorts and tshirt weather”. Which is true when you’re running, but less so when you’re walking slowly in the dark. I was able to talk to my sister at around noon, and my parents at around 1:30. Those conversations weren’t quite as helpful as my earlier chat with Katie. I’ve noticed that sometimes when I talk to my family or extremely close friends during a race, it can actually fuck up my headspace even more because I feel like I can dump all my shitty feelings into our conversation and cry and complain so much that it just ends up making me even grumpier. I was yet again moving at a blistering 26 min/mile pace thanks to my dead legs and a few quick car naps here and there. I had noticed that taking a quick 15-30 minute nap had the tendency to cut some of my grumpiness and bad mood, at least temporarily.
Hours 30-36: (3 pm - 9 pm, 2nd day)
At around hour 30, I recorded my last voice memo, again complaining about not being able to move well and being reduced to a painful shuffle. I desperately wanted to be able to move faster because I had promised myself that once I hit 100 miles I could take a longer break. I had figured out that at my current pace, I’d reach 100 miles at around sunset and I really wanted to not have to be out in the cold again if I could help it. I knew it would go poorly for me. I was having some big issues with thermoregulation already, and the falling temperatures would likely make it worse. I have a distinct memory of walking along the path, shivering and cold with goosebumps on my arms, while in full direct sunlight and 70 degree temperatures. If I was cold in those conditions, nighttime was going to be hell.
Mile 95 face, very thrilled to be alive At around mile 95, my friend Kelly started walking with me to keep me company. She had originally signed up for the 6 hour race, but switched up to the 12 hour mid-race. I felt bad that she was walking with me (because I was moving so slowly) while she was technically racing and could probably be moving a lot faster if she was on her own. Walking with her for the 5 miles to reach 100 was so so helpful. At first I was kind of resistant, because I tend to like to be on my own when I’m feeling shitty, but about halfway through I realized just how nice and distracting it was to have someone to talk to. I think I finally get why people like having a pacer during races. I know, I’m a genius. After I finally hit 100 miles (in my donut compression socks, Hoka slides, and Javelina sweatshirt… really looking like an athlete), Ray told me I had to do at least one more mile before taking my long break. He told me that just in case I never got out on the course again, I’d at least be ahead of all the people who quit after reaching 100 miles.
Mile 100 (with Ray)!
Right after getting my buckle
With Kelly
So, Kelly and I did one more painful lap and then parted ways. I headed to my car to finally change my clothes a bit (tracksmith shorts to BOA poop emoji shorts) and just chill for a moment. I got in the car at about 7:30 pm and stayed there for the rest of this 6 hour block.
Hours 36-42: (9 pm - 3 am, 2nd day)
I spent pretty much the entire 6 hours in my car, huddled up and hiding from the cold. I was semi-traumatized from the night before, when I felt like I would never be warm again. I was just so terrified about it hitting me even harder the second night, after feeling cold and getting goosebumps while walking in direct sunlight in 70 degree F weather. I settled into a routine of starting the car, blasting the heat for 5 minutes to get the entire car nice and warm, stretching out on the reclined front drivers seat, trying to sleep for 45 minutes, waking up, and restarting the cycle again. It was miserable. I bargained with myself, berated myself for being such a wimp, and alternated back and forth between deciding to quit with 101 miles or deciding to get back out on the course once the sun came up and gutting out a few more hours.
Hours 42-48: (3 am - 9 am, 2nd day)
At around 6:30 am, with the sun peeking over the trees, I told myself to buck the fuck up and opened my car door. I started shuffling around the course again after grabbing some more bacon and eggs and reassuring the aid station cook that I was indeed still in the race after he hadn’t seen me all night long. I had 2.5 hours to go, and I started trying to do mental math to figure out how many more miles I could get. I figured I was moving at just over 2 mph, so 110 miles was likely out of reach. I had pretty much entirely given up on running anymore, to the point that I was walking around sockless in my Hoka recovery slides. Pro tip: don't run in slides During that first hour, I noticed my walking speed was getting faster and my legs were starting to feel… not normal, but way better than they had yesterday afternoon. I began to throw in little 30 second bursts of slow jogging. Those bursts started getting longer and longer, and suddenly I was almost fully running around the course in my slides. After a lap or two like that, I made a brief pit stop to change back into running shoes and set off again. Somehow grinning like a psychopath again
I jogged a lap with the aid station cook after he chased me down while drinking a beer, and we traded stories for a bit until we got back to the start finish area. As I noticed the clock turning over to the final hour, I resolved to push myself and give whatever I had left. During my first ultra, one of the volunteers told me that it’s important to always save something for the last hour. While that may have been more practical for a shorter fixed time race, I took it to heart and was determined to use whatever I had saved. I ran almost every single step of that last hour, averaging ~10:30 min/mile. I didn’t know what was happening. My legs felt so great. I was the only 48 hour runner who was actually running, and I was passing people left and right. Once we were down to about 15 minutes left, I grabbed my blue flag that I’d use to mark my last partial lap. I switched my watch face to just show the current time, because I knew I wanted to really empty the tank in the last few minutes. With about 5 minutes to go, I started to really push. My last mile ended up being at 8:40 pace, and with about a minute to go I started sprinting and was flying by the 48 hour shufflers at 6:00 min/mile pace. As I was dying in these last seconds, the airhorn blew and I skidded to a stop and stuck my flag in the dirt. I knew I had managed to hit at least 110 miles, and maybe 111 depending on the distance of that last partial lap.

Post-race

After the race officially finished and I checked my preliminary mileage (somehow they had me at 111 laps!), I chatted with Ray again while the RD’s congratulated the podium (I just missed out, placing 4th F and 9th overall). I told him how I was already planning my next 48 hour, and that I had a list of things to change for next time. He told me that I had a gift and a lot of potential to do well in the sport based on how he saw me running during the first night and at the end, and how I came back out to keep going after my long break on the second night. I honest to god almost started crying while I was standing there talking to him. He didn’t remember, but he said something extremely similar to me the last time we were at a race together. To have someone who I respect so much and who has such a long history and a lot of experience in the sport, tell me that I have potential and can do well… it meant so much. It’s easy to brush that stuff off when it comes from my friends or family, especially when they don’t really know anything about ultrarunning, but hearing it come from someone like Ray is different.
After recovering from that moment, I shuffled back to my car and drove an hour to my friends apartment, where I proceeded to crash on the couch for several hours, wake up briefly to eat an entire pizza and watch The Addams Family (because I learned he’d NEVER SEEN IT), eat a giant bowl of pasta, and then fall asleep for the night. I napped on and off all morning on Monday before heading home. While I had definitely been shuffling around like a grandma with a fresh hip replacement on Sunday, by Monday morning I felt surprisingly good. I didn’t have any blisters, my toenails all seemed to be in decent shape, and while my legs felt a little sore, they didn’t feel anywhere near as dead as I was expecting. I even did a test jog to and from my car while getting my bag to pack up and it felt….. kinda good? Upon arriving home, I was able to walk up the three flights of stairs to my apartment with zero issues. I went back to work on Tuesday like normal. I also started running again on Tuesday, just a short 20 minute shakeout on a flat loop near my apartment. I’ve had a few people tell me i’m being an idiot for running again so soon, and plenty of other people who are just shocked that I’d even want to run this soon. All I know is that my legs feel amazing, I don’t feel very fatigued, and my body just wants to run. So I want to listen to it. I don’t have any blisters, my gait is completely normal, and I don’t have any lasting muscle fatigue (that I can tell). I’m restricting myself to nothing longer than an hour for this first week back at least. I might throw in some hill strides and a short tempo next week if I’m still feeling great.
My running “superpower” has always been twofold: not getting injured (which Ray tells me isn’t JUST because I’m young, thank you) and recovering fast. I eat a lot of food and sleep a lot, especially after a race. My BMI is nowhere near the “underweight” range (and yes, I know it’s a flawed measurement) and I’ve never lost my period or had a bone stress injury. I may not be the fastest, but I like to think I can outlast my competition, both in training (by not having to take time off for injury) and in a race setting. I’ve historically had no issues doing the occasional Super Week where I double my weekly mileage (or more). After my first ultra, I remember feeling pretty creaky and hobbling out some 10-12 minute miles in the following days (I was run streaking at the time). With each subsequent “big effort”, I’ve found my recovery is faster and I feel normal again a lot quicker. I know there is likely still some residual stuff my body is dealing with even though I feel great, so I’m trying really hard to not do too much too soon. It’s hard!!
As far as the future goes, I’m signed up for two 2021 races so far: a 24 hour in April (that was a deferral roll-over from 2020), and Western States in June (which was also a 2020 roll-over). I’m also going to be rolling over my 2020 Quad Rock 50 miler registration, which will be in May. Right now, my tentative plan is to do some 10k-focused training until the end of January, at which point I’ll start lengthening my long runs again in prep for Western training. I still haven’t decided if I want to try hiring a coach again. Western is really important to me, and I want to make sure I give it the best I possibly can, but I just don’t know if I’m really a “coachable athlete”. As much as I want to see if I can get to 100 miles in the 24 hour, I realize it probably wouldn’t be the smartest choice if I’m going to really try to nail Western States two months later. So I’ll probably use that as a tuneup (maybe 50k-50mi) along with Quad Rock. I’d really like to get a faster Boston qualifier under my belt (I think I could go at least sub-3:25,and Ray thinks I could probably run about 3:20 if I actually did my long runs), but I don’t think I’ll have time for a full training cycle + race next year with Western in the middle.
With regards to future multiday races… I already know I want to give the 48 hour another shot to see if I can fix my mistakes and start getting into some real mileage. With how great my legs felt at the end and in the middle of the night randomly, I think I’d definitely like to try some even longer multiday races and stage races. I know everyone says to save the multiday stuff until you’re “older”, but I feel so drawn to it in the same way I feel drawn to races like Hardrock and Western States. I just want to see what I can do at something very stupid and hard, and I especially want to see what I can do now that I know a bit more of what to expect. There’s no glory in multiday races, which honestly is part of the appeal. Almost no one knows what a “good” result is for a 48 hr, a 72 hr, a 144 hr race. No one cares. It’s wonderful knowing that no one cares or knows if you did well or can measure you in any way. I also love the sense of camaraderie in these races, especially the small looped courses. You’re able to interact with everyone if you want to, while in a normal race setting you might not be able to (because they’re either way ahead or way behind you). I’ve gotten shit before for not being a “real” ultrarunner because I don’t only run trail races, and been told that these short loop timed races aren’t the same or they’re somehow “lesser”, which I think is bullshit. I personally believe this type of race could absolutely break a good trail ultrarunner, and they shouldn’t be underestimated or dismissed just because they’re “road races” or because they don’t traverse grand mountain ranges. I love mountain running, but I also love being able to absolutely shut out the outside stimuli that can distract you from the pain and just be present in the moment without having to worry about tripping on a root or making a wrong turn or getting lost or being eaten by a bear.
Made with a new race report generator created by herumph.
submitted by cPharoah to artc [link] [comments]


2020.10.26 10:57 tjaylea There are 5 inmates on death row in a secret prison and I've been tasked with eating their sins. Envy eats nothing, but its own heart.

LUST
GREED
To say it’s been a rough 48 hours would be a gross understatement. And I do mean gross.
My body did not react to the food very well and as I stared down at the now empty bowl, my world grew hazy and my body became limp as toxic shock overcame me.
For a while, I simply floated in the stygian void between worlds. I saw very little save for flashes of bioluminescent colours, beautiful patterns that raced past my eyes and bore into my skull, pushing the endorphins out to my aching limbs. I could hear voices off in the distance, but I was so high above it all that it mattered very little.
As I concentrated, shapes would convalesce and form out of the dredges of darkness. Bountiful planets, beauteous stars and stellar galaxies that appeared far closer than they actually were, each individual strand of its great cosmic arms winking at me in morse code. A greeting? No, a warning.
“S. O. S.”
Something else formed on the fringe of my peripheral vision; a vacuous black hole with an event horizon that spanned the stretch of my view. It was a bright orange hue with a thick, pungent red that pulsated as the hole grew larger, devouring anything that came near it with great expediency.
Then, out of its murky depths, a long arm punctured the blackness. Colossal and pulling itself free as a body began to emerge.
The same spectre that’s plagued me since before I got onto the plane here. It unhinged its jaws and began biting down on a nearby planet, ripping it to pieces with razor teeth and staining its teeth as if the planet were a ripe fruit.
Stretching out its gnarled fingers once more, it clenched a fist around the planet, holding up five fingers with the free hand, the other firmly shut on the crumbled planet as it cackled in such a wicked way that it snapped me from my sleep.
"FIVE."
-
The first thing I felt when I awoke was a pounding sensation in my head. Mainly because as I snapped awake and stood up, my skull collided with The Wardens in a sickening thud.
“ACH! Mein got woman, I was just inspecting you to ensure there was no lasting damage!” He stumbled back, clutching his forehead as I did my own. Nestor rushed in and looked ready for a fight before seeing the state we were in.
“Nelle! You good? You’ve been out for a day and a half… we were getting worried. Warden here said he’d have to pull the plug if you didn’t get up soon.”
The Warden shifted uncomfortably before looking over at me, his lips curling into a half smile as he shrugged playfully.
“What matters now mein freulein is that you’re awake and ready for your next sin. Emarosa was a unique challenge, but one I was confident you could overcome… even if the food was regrettable.” He shivered as our minds were cast back to the plate of meat. Cartwright Family Meat.
“Not your fault. Nobody knows what the food will be until it happens. But no more games from this point on, okay? I want to know what I’m dealing with when I walk in there. Especially after this latest scare.” I stood up and walked towards him, a finger outstretched in an accusatory manner, trying my best to be intimidating against a tall man whose name literally translated to corpse mountain. “Am I clear?”
For a split second, I thought he would do something drastic; maybe strike me where I stood or spit in my face. The expression on his face was nothing short of utter incredulity that someone spoke to him this way. But, in an instant, it snapped to the wild eccentricity he’d shown throughout and he nodded exuberantly.
“Ja, Ja. I think you proved you can handle it. Very well, our next inmate is Prisoner #2122 Ethan Elliot Blaznik III, a 22-year-old programmer who committed a series of kidnappings and torture killings on young men and women in the Washington area. His sin is his own to tell you but I should caution you; this man will use his information against you and try to get a rise out of you. Why? I cannot say. But he has made… comments about you in his request. I suspect he has reasons for you being here beyond the request.”
The Warden went for the door, informing us we had 4 hours to prep and we’d be collected at the appropriate time.
Glancing around the room for anything non-meat related, my eyes stumbled over the open compendium. It sat on a photo of Buck and his entire family. He was younger, his famous beard little more than a stubble on his chiselled jaw as a man barely in his 20s, sporting a more conservative explorers outfit than the one he proudly wears now. Around his sides are two elder brothers; Darius and Johnny, his sister Tara, cousins Porter, Solomon and Brandon. His father Nathaniel stood proudly by him, huge hands resting gently on his shoulders and his wife, Bucks mother Saoirse lovingly nestled in his chest, beaming down at her boy. In front of them all on this proud occasion was the hunting trophy that Buck had claimed as a rite of passage; he’d successfully taken down a wayward Lycanthrope with nothing but his wit and a bowie knife.
Buck hated killing anything without cause, but this was one creature he couldn’t ignore even then. It’d been devouring children who ventured too far from the safety of the village and venturing into forest territory where this intelligent killer would wait. They say when Buck sliced its stomach open, two children spilled out. Neither alive, sadly. It was even here that Buck got his nickname, holding onto the beast as it thrashed around and tried desperately to free itself from his grip, bucking him around as he drove the knife into its ears and eyes repeatedly. Simon would forever cease to be his first name henceforth. “Buck Nasty McGraw” was born on that day.
I smiled, the photo bringing such warmth and comfort after a physically exhausting few days, tracing my hands over it and remembering the good times when we’d first met.
“Hard to believe it was 10 years ago already, ain’t it?” Buck called, passing me a hot drink and sitting next to me as I observed the photo with wistful eyes. “I met you on the very first job I took as a licensed crypto-hunter and cataloguer. You were still in training then with your grandparents, must’ve been a few days shy of 16 when you assisted me in taking down that illusive forest god. You talked to him for what felt like hours to get his sin while I tried to subdue him.”
“And then he reared back, bleated and ran headfirst into a tree, knocking you both out cold. Yes, I remember.” I chuckled, his eyes rolling at the mere mention of his failure as he too began laughing.
“How was I to know he was more goat than god? Still, that was the day I was given one of the most important life lessons I’d carry into our working relationship all these years later.”
I looked to the note left at the bottom of the photo, the one that Buck coveted like it was the most valuable piece of treasure he’d ever owned or would own.
“Son,
Today, you are my equal. Tomorrow, you will surpass that.
The compendium is now your responsibility and your job to fill.
But promise me, son, you won’t forget the family and will embody our most important trait;
Make as many connections along the way as you can. For our time is fleeting and all cycles must one day repeat.
With all the love in the world,
Dad.”
“What lesson might that be, Buck?” I asked, smiling as he took my hands in his and those hazel eyes shone with pride and admiration.
“That Nelle Lockwood is stronger than I could ever hope to be, and if she can talk a forest god into stupidity, she can beat any sinner or monstrosity this world has to throw at her. And I will support her every goddamn step of the way. I did it when we hit the coma city, I did it when we dealt with the dreamwalker and I will do it until my dying breath.”
I felt weak. Partially from the sentiment and from the lack of actual food over a day and a half. I nodded affirmatively, and he patted my hands before fixing me something to eat after hearing my stomach groan in protest.
“We’re also here, y’know, if you need anything fucking up. That’s our whole modus operandi.”
“RIP AND TEAR. RIP AND TEAR.” Edgar chimed in, mocking Nestors “stop it!” as he tried to silence him, bringing an even bigger smile to my face.
In spite of where I was and how I felt, I was truly blessed.
Even if the image of that fucking creature in my dreams still loomed on the edges of my vision, even now.
-
When the announcement rang out for us to go towards the visitation area, there was a sense of concern amongst us all that these were going to reach a critical mass point that we would be completely and utterly unable to bounce back from. I know in my case, the pervasive question that lingered in my mind was simple;
How many of these sins could I take before they began to consume every good part of me?
I kept close to the others and tried to keep my mind focused on the job at hand, not the mounting list of concerns I had about this facility, the inhabitants or my own competency. As we passed the gate, I heard soft music coming from the interview room.
“Is that… normal?” I asked the guard. He didn’t look at me once, keeping his gaze firmly on the door handle as he scanned his ID card and waited for the green light.
“For most? No. But for the death row inmates, yes. Some you’ve seen already don’t care for furnishing these little spaces, but Blaznik and the others do. If the music is ever too loud, just get Holden to come out and we’ll instruct him to turn it down. Oh, and uhh… try to keep calm in there. He has a habit of riling people up.”
The machine beeped, and the door swung open to let loose the hard EDM blasting from the inmate’s side. Strobe lighting beamed across the room and a young man, short in stature and muscular on the top half of their frame, the bottom half remarkably skinny and without definition. He was throwing his entire weight behind his arms as he danced around the room, smashing anything in his wake and frequently hitting the same spot on the wall with extreme ferocity; knuckles bashing into concrete as he screeched at the top of his lungs. Something meshed in with the wall, blood and skin on his knuckles as he pulled away, breathing heavily as the song came to an end.
It was a photo of someone; the image faded and crumpled, but the smile of a charming young woman in her late teens/early 20s still shining through.
“You’re Ethan, right? I’m nel-”
Before I could finish, he held up a bloodied knuckle and extended his index finger towards me, wagging it as we took our seats.
“No. That is not how this works, my dear. You will address me by my FULL title and only then will I respond.” He breathed in, hunching his shoulders and flexing. “Bitches really think they’re so entitled, don’t they?”
I felt anger surge through me; I didn’t take to insults or a lack of respect at the best of times, but I knew better than to let advice given to me just moments ago fly out the window. I pulled up my chair and closed my eyes for a moment before responding.
“My apologies. Mr Ethan Elliot Blaznik III, my name is Miss Nelle Lockwood, my associates are-”
Again, he wagged his finger as he pulled a beanbag, undamaged from the tantrum moments ago and sank into it, legs spread out and attempting to keep his bulge within his sweatpants visible at all times as he spoke again, arrogance oozing from him.
“Don’t care. They’re just other dudes, I’m not interested.”
I pinched my nose. This was going to be a long, long session.
“Mr. Blaznik, what was your intent with calling me here? I assume you have more to say than just hurling insults? I was made to understand you had a sin to confess?”
He shifted and scratched his crotch as he spat on the floor.
“Mm, maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. You know, you’d be a LOT hotter if you dropped the pretense that you’re intelligent or in any way authoritative. Women are far more desirable when they’re just silent and/or agreeable.”
Instead of responding, I decided to simply write down some notes onto my ledger, making the occasional glance up before passing them over to Buck & Nestor to observe.
“Why are you ignoring me?” He leaned forward and let his jaw go slack, hands hanging over his thighs. I continued to pass nonsensical notes with comments like “Smile and chuckle while glancing up at him briefly.”
It only took him 3 minutes to fly into a rage. Picking up a piece of furniture from his make-shift room and hurling it at the plexiglass with a thunderous boom.
“You think you’re better than me, you fucking skank?! Why? Because you’re pretty? Because you’re smart? Bitch, I have an IQ of 186, I lift weights for this sculpted body and I can HAVE anyone, DO anything. I don’t need you! Get the fuck out of my sight! NOW!” he boomed, spit flying from his mouth as he finished, face beetroot red and huffing in place.
“Sounds good. We can go out, live our lives, and do great things. Plus, it seems your sin isn’t worth eating anyway… the inmates across the way have FAR more delectable sins.” I walked to the door and held on the handle. It was easy to ascertain this poor boy’s sin.
His face may have been red from anger, but his sin was green with envy.
And I intend to play him like a fiddle.
“W-wait. My sin IS worthy. Just… just listen and I’ll tell you. I’m sorry, Madame… I’m so sorry.” He trembled, getting down to his knees and clasping his hands together as if he were a pitiful anime character. “Please forgive my transgressions. You’re a queen. I should’ve controlled myself better!”
It was pathetic, but not entirely surprising for a manipulator. I took my hand off the door and sat back down, Edgar cawing as Holden apologised for waking him up just to move.
“SADBOY. SADBOY.” He chirped, Holden throwing him a piece of meat to placate him. I saw Ethan’s eyebrow twitch, but he didn’t break his stance until I was fully seated.
“Your file says you’re a remarkable programmer. A former member of the white hats, efficient at taking down any rival who opposed you and with a 4.0 GPA in school and a scholarship to whatever university you want. You came from privilege and were intent on pursuing a promising career… the hell happened to you?” Buck let the paper fall flat in disbelief as he stroked his beard. Ethan looked him up and down and put his hand to his patchy bearded face, anger rushing over him until I interjected.
“Ethan, honey, keep your focus on me. Buck is my friend and just like Nestor over there, he’s here to help. Can you do that?” I was never an expert at charming people, but I put on my sweetest tone and most sincere smile which seemed to work. He relaxed and let out a side grin.
“Of course. Mr. Simon McGraw of the fabled McGraw clan of cryptozoologists isn’t the least bit threatening anyway, even if his beard is better than mine. I’ll get my own eventually, bigger and better than yours. And I bet I know way more about monsters than he does, seen enough of ‘em in my time…” He grumbled, fumbling with his hands. “So many fucking animals on the internet that make ME look tame by proxy.”
“What have you seen, Ethan? What turned you into the person you are today?” I asked gently, a plate to hand and a mind open to adverse reactions.
“Let’s start with social media. It’s a toxic, vacuous black hole from which nothing can escape. You see something, you take a photo and post it. Showing it off to all your adoring fans. Shit, they can never even afford or hope to have for themselves. From money to bitche- er, women, and everything in between. It’s posturing, and it’s sick.” He snorted and averted his eyes from mine. “So many friends getting married, having kids, successful jobs… shit I could never dream of. It wasn’t fair. It ISN’T fair. But that’s not the worst of it…”
“Go on, we’re listening.” I tapped my fingers rhythmically on the table, hoping this wasn’t going to turn my stomach.
“Y’see you can get all sorts of shit on the dark web. Anything, really. I made some good friends there, though they were my brothers in arms. Thought they understood what I was going through. The group I was closest to was The Terrapin System, a group of like-minded young men dedicated to routing out problematic individuals. Proud “Thot Patrollers”. We were so good at what we did.”
“Sorry, thot patrollers? Not sure I understand…” I interjected, sure it was a derogatory slur of some kind.
“Say you date a girl and she’s had multiple partners. Maybe a dozen or so. Think of it like a shoe, okay? Why would I, a clear alpha, want to buy a shoe that’s been used and stretched as opposed to a fresh shoe never worn before? That is what the thot patrol is all about. Finding these disgusting women and shaming them. But we didn’t stop there, we’d harass them, stalk them, ensure they never got to feel safe until they publicly apologised and renounced their evil ways.” He stopped and a wide grin ran across his face, eyes alight with passion. “It was such a beautiful time. Until the incident…”
He got up and walked towards a whiteboard obscured in the background, tracing his fingers across it before wheeling it over to us.
It was full of photos, some appropriate model shots and others far less pleasant. Side glances of someone as they walked to their home, unassuming shots of someone sleeping, showering or eating. My skin crawled and my breath shortened, I knew this kind of horrific behaviour all too well, this level of obsession that would send any sane woman running to a police station if she knew...
Every photo, all the same young woman.
“I met SirenSarah2213 on a stream one night while I was bored. She was… different to the others. Her stream was barely populated, and she was going on some tangent about female purity, being unfair to men and being nicer to everyone.... But man, she looked sexy as hell in a cosplay outfit. I just felt this instant connection and reached out to her, donating to her stream so she’d notice me. Whenever she’d say my name and ask me something, I felt validated.” He looked at us, his head tilted to the side with a vacant look in his eyes. “Do you know what it’s like for someone to look at you and SEE you, Miss Lockwood? I mean, since your mother, of course…”
I felt a sharp stabbing sensation rush through my stomach, but I didn’t want to stop his flow, so I simply nodded and motioned for him to continue.
“I ended up spending nearly 3,000 dollars on her. By the time the final donation went out, she was doing 1 on 1 streams with me and giving me “life advice”. Saying that my methods with the Terrapins weren’t strong enough. That they weren’t who they said they were. She pushed me to dig into them and when I finally did… she was right. Most of them had families, friends, partners and even kids… they had fucking KIDS. How could they understand our methods if they were with loving partners?!”
He bellowed, tears in his eyes.
“I found their secret chat where they mocked me, called me a kissless virgin and the king of the incels. Hundreds of memes about me with my body photoshopped onto unflattering edits or doge memes directly ripping into my personal views and experiences. It was… damaging. When I told Siren about it, she soothed me to sleep and promised to show me how to get revenge. That I would be the purest knight this world had ever seen, with her by my side. She even said that we could be together when my job was completed. Can you believe that? I was so lucky, but at the same time, I KNEW it was right. I am an alpha male and nothing would change that.”
There was a pause as he looked closely over at Nestor, half cradling Edgar as he ate quietly and his body language still tensed up in case of a fight. Ethans smile faded, and he walked over to the far side of the glass, sizing Nestor up.
“Hey Holden, you Jewish?” He asked, disgust in his voice. Holden’s eyes flashed, but he kept his cool.
“What if I am?” He asked, his hand still softly petting Edgar. Ethan shook his head.
“Pity. Waste of good muscle.” He spat again and walked back over to Nelle.
“It’s all bullshit anyway, Mr. Blaznik. At least in my line of work, everyone ends up in the same place. No matter what god, goddess or demon you pray to. It ain’t worth shit when you’re in front of Lady Death.”
Ethan exploded at this, the double standards beginning to shine through.
“MY religion is pure. It’s the truest path through God and Jesus. And I heard about your “Line of work”, total fucking fake news, you think I’d buy for a second you work for LADY Death? Fuck off, if Death is a woman, she’s the biggest thot going. Stupid cunt.”
He was beginning to fly into a rage again and not wishing to breach both his racist views and the depths of their religious ideologies; I stepped in to keep him focused.
“Ethan, your sin. What did Siren tell you to do next?” I was sensing a pattern in these encounters. Ethan took a breath and sank back into his beanbag.
“She began appearing in my dreams. Which was weird, but she gave me remarkable instructions and tools to take them down one by one… Addresses for their homes, names of their loved ones, methods to… enact my revenge.”
“And it’s at this point you began your “crusade” against injustice, correct?” Buck asked, Ethan refused to look at him as he nodded in my direction.
“I began with a test run on the newest member. He was easy to locate since he never deviated from his pattern. He’d never seen me in person, so when I posed as a mormon looking to give him some info on the book of Joseph Smith, he never batted an eyelid with him being one himself. The guy even invited me into his home, big mistake. The second his door locked, I smashed his brains in with a claw hammer. It was then that Siren spoke to me again.”
He looked wistfully up at the ceiling, pausing before continuing. Was he ashamed? Or was he revelling in the moment?
“She said: They took everything from you. Now take something you wanted from them… So, I looked at this fallen piece of meat… Darrel I think his name was. I looked at him and asked myself what I wanted most. Well, Darrel had a beautiful home despite his new status to the group, so I took that. Easy enough to move in and assume his bills. The guy was a shut-in and nobody questioned it when I took over.”
A thick green mist was now covering the surrounding floor, it almost looked noxious, but Ethan paid it no mind.
“How did she talk to you?” I asked, his attention lapsing and almost looking offended I’d stopped him mid flow.
“What? Why does that matter? She was there when I needed her, as she always was.” He retorted, bile in his words.
“It matters to me, I can’t eat your sin if I don’t know everything. You wouldn’t want to lie to me, would you? I’m not as clever as I look…” I felt disgust at my own deprecation, but this was part of the job, so I stuck with it. His expression softened, and he carried on.
“Fine, fine. I can’t excuse a lady being honest. Siren wasn’t a normal girl, she was radiant, alluring and always there when I needed her. I mean that literally. After I’d donated to her enough, the 1 to 1 sessions began, and she manifested in front of me. I could never touch her, but I could always see her as clear as I see you. She was instrumental in my growth and as we proceeded, she only got clearer to me. After a couple more targets, I’d taken their car and bank accounts, but the last one was where things got… complicated.”
He paused again, and I exchanged a look with Buck; I didn’t like where this was going. The haze was beginning to form the shape of a woman, a bowl
“See, Siren told me not to listen to anything they said, to keep my mind focused on what they had that I didn’t. That this would be one of the final steps to ascension. She gave me something to drink and for a moment, our fingers brushed… I felt electricity run through us. So, I did as I was told, drank from the bowl and ignored everything until I reached the master bedroom. I felt… different. My vision was tunnelled and a green haze fell over my eyes as my fists acted on their own. My clawhammer was tossed aside as I strangled the person in front of me, seeing visions of the life they led that I was denied. The laughter of all my colleagues in the group, happy couples and the entire fucking world at my expense. All of them just filling up my skull until it threatened to burst like the stupid cunts in front of me as my grip grew tighter… and tighter… until…”
He stopped, motioning the bursting of a balloon and contents spilling out.
“No more. I felt as if I’d constricted them into submission. Became the true alpha now that the leader of the pack. But no, instead I was looking down at a total stranger… a woman, in fact.”
“You were looking down at the woman you’d been thirsting for all this time, weren’t you, Blaznik?” Buck sighed, venom in his words. “Saoirse Maisey Lovewood, 19-year-old streamer and model. You’d been paying to get her attention and one night you flew into a rampage when she banned you from the server, got her info and that of your contemporaries when they tried to stop you.”
He held up a photo as the mist began forming, the two matching up perfectly. A beautiful woman with flowing red hair, the photo showing a cosplay of Poison Ivy from the Batman comics. The woman now formed in the room with him clad in an emerald green dress that hung at the shoulder, clutching a large bowl with a bubbling liquid.
“No… that’s not… I don’t…”
“Saoirse, Indiviosa…” Buck said, getting up to slam the photo against the wall and make him look as her counterpart walked towards him. “Saoirse, abounding in envy. You never had a Siren calling to you Blaznik, never had a larger-than-life plan fit for an alpha mastermind. Your jealousy simply overwhelmed you, created a narrative where you were in control and had it all. Well, you’re going to live out your sin whether you want to or not. You will spend your final moments knowing you can never have what you want.”
I looked at my own plate and saw two dishes form. One was a side of Mexican bean rice with green peppers, the other was a Glamorgan sausage and Yorkshire pudding… the way my mum made it. The *exact* way she made it, even smelling as such. I felt an overwhelming rush of emotions and nostalgic memories, desperately fighting to come to the surface with the first bite.
But I couldn’t reach for it. Even if I wanted to.
Eyes fixated on the unfolding carnage in front of me, my body acted on its own and began shovelling the rice into my mouth as the sausage and Yorkshire faded from view, lovingly being consumed by something unseen. I watched with anger and misery as the meal I wanted was once again fading from my grasp.
After a few moments of staring, Ethan turned to see the visage of his Siren in front of him. Her expression that of pure satisfaction as she used her free hand to point down at the floor in a domineering fashion. He whimpered and obliged, head pressed against the ground as he shook.
“I only wanted what was mine. Isn’t that fair? Isn’t that a man’s right to claim what is rightfully his? I don’t understand… is this ascension? Or punishment? I don’t… I don’t…”
He rose his head up to look at the visage of Saoirse as she tipped the contents of the bowl over him and into his mouth, partially widened in a scream that would never be uttered.
The green liquid ate at his skin with remarkable speed, flesh bubbling and popping as it splattered across the plexiglass, his rapidly decaying torso shuddering and eyes melting into the sockets as he gurgled until slumping over.
But I was less focused on his pain and more-so on my own. This sin did not physically encumber me, make me sick or wear me out. No, instead it bore into my soul and found a small place to nest next to the memories of my mother that I kept with me every day.
It managed to shake my professionalism and my confidence, something nobody had done before.
With more of these fucking monsters to go, I was unsure I was up for the task and began to doubt my abilities.
As if on cue, the same spectral night terror that has plagued me since my arrival shone in the viscera of the plexiglass, standing right behind me with a malformed digit up to its cracked lips in a hush motion. In its other hand it held the totem I’d been given by Nestor as a safekeeping method from god knows what. I watched as this thing crushed it to dust, holding up a number as a shock wave ran through my body, fear buckling my knees and something in the prison stirred at my presence, something I would come to fear more than any other creature in existence;
"FOUR."
-
Inmate #2122: Ethan Elliot Blaznik III
Sin: Envy
Food: Mexican Bean Rice & The one dish I will always want, but will never have again.
-
NEXT SIN: SLOTH.
submitted by tjaylea to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.10.26 09:59 Catzaddycade My fiance cheated on me, got pregnant, then I left her when she miscarried

This is a long soap opera of a story, so strap in:
I was engaged to a woman for a year after we'd been dating for six years. She would often talk on snapchat to her ex (only snap though, since it deletes right after). It didn't sit right with me but she'd give me the typical bullshit, "he's just a friend" or my personal favorite "We dated in high school, we were just kids, that hardly counts ". The thing about this ex though is that he lives 600 miles away so, call me naive, I decided he wasn't a threat to me. Now my girl was in art school at the time and me, being the supportive partner I was, told her not to worry about getting a job while she was focused on school. I, on the other hand had three jobs, two of which were manual labor in desert heat ass jobs. I paid for absolutely everything, and at the time, I was happy to do it. When I say I paid for everything, know that this included HER phone bill and HER car insurance. I can count on one hand the number of times I've gone out of town without her in the seven years of us being a couple, it didn't happen often, but my now brother in law's bachelor party was coming up. We leave for this trip on a Friday, that Monday I come down with a cold. This is pre covid, so bil says if I'm not dying in a hospital bed somewhere, I better be at his house at 11 am sharp on Friday. Fast forward now to Thursday, one day before the bachelor weekend starts, I get devastating news. A close family friend who I grew up calling uncle passed away following a stroke. That one really fucked me up, but alas, I tough it out and keep packing for my trip. side comment For a while I beat myself up for not listening to the universe's signs not to go. It wasn't until my buddy gave me some perspective that I changed my mind. He says it was actually the universe testing my girl, giving her chances to make the right decision, needless to say, she failed, but I'll get to that. My lady is hyping me up saying "I'm so sorry about uncle Ronny but try not to think about it, blow off some steam, you deserve it!" She even had the audacity to say "Don't even worry about calling, this weekend is all about the boys!" I leave that morning. Fiancé waits for the "we're on the road" text, then hits the road herself. I didn't know it then but she had been planning a trip to visit her ex for weeks. He sent her gas money and off she went. The whole weekend that I was trying to ignore my (pretty bad) cold and drown the sadness of losing a loved one with liquor she's off in another state having a fuck-a-thon with her "friend". Sunday rolls around, she beats me home by about 3 hours, I get home, we talk, everything seems pretty normal. A month later we find out that she's pregnant. She is sobbing for hours, staying in bed for days... For some women, I'm sure this reaction would be expected but not her. She had begged me so many times to get her pregnant. She had always loved kids and (I'll give her this) she was always great with them. The only reason we hadn't tried for a kid is because I wasn't ready. Obviously I'm suspicious at this point so after prodding her for a few days, she confesses to everything. I had never been more shattered in my life, and that's coming from someone who has gone through a lot of trauma over the years. I'm so in shock that I don't know whether to scream at her or cry. I grabbed my keys and left without saying a word. I'm speeding with no particular destination in mind, angry tears are starting to flow. I'm trying to talk myself out of getting on the interstate and driving like a bat out of hell to commit murder, then a thought occurred to me. This could very well still be my child. I didn't have a father in my life growing up so I'll be damned if my kid doesn't have one. I come home, I sit down with my lady and tell her how this is going to go down. I told her the wedding is off at least until after the baby comes, (if it's even mine) but that I would stay with her throughout her pregnancy. I'll take her to every appointment, buy everything the baby needs etc. not for her but for the baby, because it's not his/her fault that she sucks as a person. I also told her she better believe that when the baby comes, I'm getting a paternity test and if it's not mine, I'm leaving. She agreed. Fast forward another two months now, I get a call at work. It's my fiancé, sobbing to the point I can barely understand her. Turns out she's having a miscarriage and she was being rushed to the hospital. After I got off the phone with her, I turned my phone off, told my boss it was nothing to worry about and I finished my shift. After I got home, I packed up all her shit and drove it to her mom's house and left it on the porch. When I got back home I broke down sobbing, but I never turned on my phone and I never went to the hospital. I didn't know it at the time but she almost died. She was hemorrhaging and required a blood transfusion to save her life. It's been six months since this happened. Her parents and sister think I'm the most heartless and evil being for "abandoning" my fiancé on what was almost her death bed, they still talk shit about me on social media from what I'm told. Her friends have harassed me, texted me death threats and have tried to get me fired from my jobs. I do feel guilty about what I did. I've never been that cold, I don't even know who I am anymore but I guess I just snapped. Something in me broke when she did what she did to me. Am I the jerk for leaving her when I did?
submitted by Catzaddycade to AmITheJerk [link] [comments]


2020.10.26 03:11 severakj Kaiser Lane, VOL 1, Chapter 5 (Azur Lane x Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg

[Chapter One]( https://www.reddit.com/AzureLane/comments/hidhf5/kaiser_lane_volume_one_the_gathering_stormchapte)
[Previous Chapter](https://www.reddit.com/AzureLane/comments/j6vpw7/kaiser_lane_vol_1_chapter_4_azur_lane_x/)
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Links to alternate sites:

[Fanfiction](https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13630036/1/Kaiser-Lane-Volume-One-The-Gathering-Storm)

[Ao3](https://archiveofourown.org/works/24989680/chapters/60504472)

[Spacebattles](https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/kaiser-lane-azur-lane-x-kaiserreich-legacy-of-the-weltkrieg.863147/)
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A vicious war cry. The echoing boom of large-caliber guns. The shrill whistle of shells in the air. Scharnhorst’s ears rang with the familiar sounds of battle, the Yorck-class Fast Battleship’s body instinctively twisting to best protect itself from the incoming fire. Plumes of seawater burst skywards on every side as her opponent’s volley of twelve 45-cm shells plunged into the harbor around her. The waterspouts threw spray in all directions, soaking the Weltkrieg veteran to her bones.
Absent was the usual hellish flame of high explosives going off, as well as the deadly storm of shrapnel and metal fragments. The yellow clouds of dye that marked the impact of each shell, too, served as a reminder that this was not a fight to the death, but rather a ‘friendly’ training exercise. Not that that fact was going cause Scharnhorst to hold back that much: the Fast Battleship had been taught long ago that the sea did not forgive half-measures. Training was no exception to that rule. If you slacked off in a spar, you might slack off in a battle, and if you slacked off in a battle you wound up sunk. Her old instructor Von der Tann had, quite literally, beaten that lesson into her head, and Royal Navy had damn well made sure that it had stuck. Now it was the Weltkrieg veteran’s turn to try and pass on what she had learned from a lifetime in the Hochseeflotte.
Heavy emphasis on the word ‘try’.
Almost casually, Scharnhorst dodged sideways as her trainee Deutschland’s next salvo screamed in, an annoyed scowl decorating the Fast Battleship’s features. The younger shipgirl’s gun control was almost laughable, the shots she had fired having less been ‘aimed’ at the lavender-haired woman and more ‘fired in her vague direction’. The dozen shells that composed the volley fell in four loose and easily-avoided clusters (one from each of the other girl’s turrets) rather than as a singular overwhelming blow, the pinpoint precision that would have been a given among the veterans of Jutland or Skagerrak almost entirely absent.
Well, at least she’s using all her main guns at once. Only took her what, four years? Bitter sarcasm tinged the voice in Scharnhorst’s head as she took up her own firing stance, her eight 38-cm guns swinging into position. Completing her targeting calculations with near-trivial ease, the Weltkrieg veteran sent a real salvo back at her trainee: eight guns roaring as one, shells in a tight cluster, aim precise. For the sake of trying to teach the younger girl something, the Fast Battleship had made sure to telegraph her incoming attack as blatantly as possible, giving her opponent the chance to read her body language and try evading the volley instead of just relying on her armor.
No such luck. Deutschland, as per her norm, simply stood there and took the shots, apparently deciding that things like ‘dodging incoming fire’ were for lesser beings than the (not entirely fraudulently) self-proclaimed strongest ship in Ironblood. For a brief moment, the Super Dreadnought disappeared in a cloud of training dye and seaspray; a second later, a coughing noise sounded out from where Deutschland had been standing, the cloud clearing to reveal the Super Dreadnought’s face and torso had been painted lime green, the Flagship-to-be spluttering as she tried to spit the rancid-tasting training dye out of her mouth.
Another second later and a furious howl escaped from the black-haired girl’s lips, followed shortly by another flurry of 45-cm shells. Once again, to call it a volley would have been to stretch the definition of the word: it was clear to anyone with a trained eye that while the younger shipgirl may have been firing all her big guns together, she was still aiming each turret independently. Rather than in a true broadside, the shots were still plunging down as quartets of separate barrages, each one with only a bare fraction of the power that the shipgirl that had fired them should have been able to achieve.
Scharnhorst didn’t quite roll her eyes as she again easily evaded the worst of the incoming fire. That even with sloppy gun control and sloppier aim Deutschland’s shots made her teeth rattle, that even with training shells her student’s raw power was apparent, only served to disappoint and frustrate the Fast Battleship further. This was the girl that was the new pride of Ironblood? This was the girl that was meant to be the Hochseeflotte’s future flagship, the heir-apparent to Kaiserin Friedrich der Grosse herself?
In theory, yes. On paper, Deutschland was the greatest warship ever built, the ultimate symbol of the new order that the Kaiser’s Empire had brought to the world, a living testament to Teutonic might. Among all the shipgirls in the world, only her own sister Graf Spee could match her raw power: a hull close to 300 meters in length; enough engine power to give her a top speed of 27 knots; a dozen 45-cm guns and enough secondary firepower to arm a light cruiser flotilla; plate armor 410mm thick all along her hull, forged from only the strongest steel. Truly, Deutschland was born to rule the waves and lead the Kaiserliche Marine.
And here she was losing a training match to a two-decade old Fast Battleship that wasn’t much more than half her displacement and had maybe 3/5ths of her firepower.
Such things made one worry about for the future of the Kaiser’s Empire. It was a worry that only deepened when one remembered that a Wisdom Cube was shaped by the ideals and wills of the nation that built used it, and that an Ironblood shipgirl’s personality was therefore reflective of the mindset of the whole of the German people. Deutschland’s issues were emblematic of the problems that had developed in the entire nation’s post-war psyche: in the years since the Weltkrieg had ended, Ironblood’s eisen had become softened, and its blut had started running cold.
The younger generations of the German people knew only the fruits of the labor of their forebears, not the blood, sweat toil and tears of the labor itself. The children that had grown up with the Kaiser’s Empire on top of the world had come to have an attitude built around three things: ingrained feelings of complacency, arrogance and decadence; a pig-headed belief that that just being German made you the best; and the dangerous assumption that the Empire’s place in the sun had been owed, and not earned. Gone was the unshakable discipline and unbreakable will that had won the Weltkrieg, replaced with…well, nothing of value, really.
It was Ironblood’s own fault, of course. Omnipresent state propaganda, so key in holding the nation together through the war’s long, dark and grinding final years, had ultimately proved a double-edged sword. Not that it hadn’t been a necessary evil: The Empire had come closer, far closer, to collapse (both on the home front and the frontlines) than even its own citizens knew. If the public had had any idea of how bad things had actually been, the whole of Ironblood would have almost certainly collapsed.
To be bluntly truthful, the Kaiser’s Empire hadn’t actually won the war: they’d merely convinced their enemies that they had lost. Half of a victory is accomplished by arms: the rest is done by convincing the foe that they’ve been beaten, regardless of whether or not they actually are. Or to put it another way: you can win at poker with a pair of twos if everyone else at the table thinks that you’re holding a full house.
No better analogy could describe Ironblood’s victory in the Weltkrieg. The war had not been won with guns or shells, but with cracked codes and counterintelligence, with government proclamations that had not been allowed to be questioned and very tight controls on what the public had been allowed to know. The shining example of this policy of deception’s success was the tale of the Kaiserliche Marine’s victory in the naval war: in one of the greatest intelligence coups in history, the Ironblood propaganda machine had managed to bluff the entire British Empire (and the Kaiser’s) into believing that the Hochseeflotte had scored a ‘Trafalgar-esque’ victory over Royal Navy at the Battle of the Skagerrak, when nothing could have been further from the truth.
Far from a smashing success, Skagerrak had been for Ironblood the very definition of a pyrrhic victory, and even merely achieving that had taken a near-miraculous series of lucky flukes. Almost everything had gone right for the Hochseeflotte (they had all-but annihilated the Royal Battlecruisers; they had savagely mauled Britain’s Dreadnoughts; they had decimated their light ships; they had even cut down Queen Elizabeth herself), and still Ironblood had come within a hair’s breadth of defeat.
Royal Navy had matched their foes blow for blow, loss for loss, sinking for sinking. Skagerrak had not been (as was told to the German people and the world) a glorious rout of an outsmarted and outmatched enemy, but the Kaiserliche Marine’s most desperate and darkest hour. The Hochseeflotte had thrown everything and anything that it had had at Royal Navy. Experimental seaplane tenders, practically every U-Boat in Ironblood, and even the brand-new Yorck-class Battlecruiser sisters, who hadn’t even had their shakedown cruises before being thrown into the fire: all of them had been sent forth in an all-or-nothing operation that had relied on a battleplan that many had considered so insane that it looped back around to genius.
The ‘victory’ the Kaiserliche Marine won that day was bought with the sacrifices of dozens, hundreds of Ironblood shipgirls. Their Light Ships were decimated earning it: sent on death-or-glory torpedo attacks against the Dreadnoughts of Royal Navy (essentially being sent to die to buy breathing room for the Hochseeflotte’s Capital Ships), nearly a third of the entire Fleet’s combat-capable Destroyers had either been sunk or were badly damaged-losses further amplified by the destruction or crippling of around one-fifth of all Ironblood cruisers and a full half of their U-Boats.
Among the Capital Ships, the news had been similarly grim. Of the four Bayern-class girls that could go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Queen Elizabeth- and Revenge-classes, two had fallen in the course of the battle, and the other pair would require months in drydock before they were ready to fight again. The rest of Ironblood’s Dreadnoughts had fared little better, with even the Kaiserin herself receiving wounds that could not quickly be repaired.
It was the Battlecruisers that came closest to achieving what the government’s proclamations of victory declared that they had done (having decisively defeated their Royal counterparts in the battle’s early phases) but in the grinding night action that had ultimately decided the engagement’s victor they, too, had been made to pay the butcher’s bill. The old First Scouting Group, the proud veterans of Jutland, had been hammered so badly drawing fire away from their more modern comrades that none of them would see combat again for the duration of the war.
That Seydlitz and her direct command had even managed to survive the battle could largely be attributed to the spectacular performances of their Mackensen- and Yorck-class protégés in the Second Scouting Group, who had thrived in the hellfire of their baptism by flame. It had been mainly been their guns that had responsible for the obliteration of the Royal Battlecruisers, and it was their arrival into the chaos of the night action that had sealed Queen Elizabeth’s fate. They would be the ones to be declared the heroines of the hour, and if anyone doubted those honors then Second Scouting Group possessed more than enough battle scars to prove that they rightfully had earned them.
But that Ironblood’s Battlecruisers (half their number crippled and the rest badly maimed) had been by far the Hochseeflotte’s most intact formations by the time that the Fleet had returned to the safety of the Jade Estuary was telling. The Kaiserliche Marine may have struck the Royal Navy a blow the likes of which it had not felt in centuries, but they had effectively crippled themselves in doing it. There was no doubt in Wilhelmshaven: after Skagerrak, the Hochseeflotte could not afford to launch another assault against the Royal Knights. One more battle of such magnitude would have meant the utter destruction of Ironblood.
But Royal Navy hadn’t known that. Royal Navy had known nothing about the losses their foes had suffered: as the final phases of the battle had been fought in near pitch darkness, the Royal Knights had not been able to see that they were bloodying their foes just as badly as they themselves had been bloodied. In the confusion and chaos of the night battle, Queen Elizabeth and her command had had no idea of what the tactical situation was outside of what they could see with their own eyes, and what they could see was sorely limited.
And in the black of night, Ironblood had given Royal Navy a rather compelling reason to believe that it was they, not the Kaiserliche Marine, that were the ones to suffer the greater losses. When the First and Second Scouting Groups had limped into the confusing and brutal fray of the night action, they had done so by essentially pincering the Royal Knights between themselves and the Kaiserin’s Battle Line. Unable to clearly see the enemy’s reinforcements, the Queen was left to assume the worst: that Ironblood’s Battlecruisers were fully intact and that her own Battlecruisers had been completely wiped out.
This, in turn, lead Elizabeth to believe that the arriving Ironblood reinforcements (which had caught the Royal Navy main body almost completely by surprise) were far combat capable than they had actually been. The Royal Knights, thinking themselves to now be surrounded by a superior force (and inexperienced in night combat), had panicked. Fearing a disaster, they had tried to retreat, and had then, at the absolute worst possible moment, Royal Navy been confronted by an actual disaster: in the chaos of their attempt to disengage, their Queen had fallen.
Staggering away from the battlefield, Elizabeth’s successors would be left stunned by the shock of her loss, the Flagship’s sinking amplifying the psychological impact of Royal Navy’s casualties tenfold. The shocks to their pride and self-confidence were massive: Not since the Siren Wars had a Royal Navy Flagship been lost in battle. And not only had the sinking of Queen Elizabeth been devastating to the Grand Fleet’s morale (indeed, Elizabeth’s fall would inflict upon her successor Warspite and most of her Court a kind of mental paralysis which the Grand Old Lady would never fully shake), it had thrown Royal Navy’s chain of command into chaos, crippling their ability to deal with the ensuing crisis. And as they scrambled to rearrange its hierarchy and regain its bearings, the Hochseeflotte had struck again.
The decisive blow of Skagerrak would not be made by a naval cannon, but by the printing presses of the Ironblood state media. Knowing from intercepted and decoded messages that their enemy believed themselves crushingly defeated, the Kaiser’s Empire could not and did not allow the truth of Skagerrak to escape. The propaganda techniques that had shifted Jutland from a stalemate to a smashing victory in the public consciousness had been perfected in the years since that earlier battle, and now they were put to good use: the whole world was told of a story of complete and utter annihilation of the enemy, and were informed that the Ironblood Fleet could easily steam out and do it all over again at a moment’s notice.
That the shipgirls had no crews that could have allowed the truth to leak out made the lie all the easier. Dutiful to the last, the girls of the Hochseeflotte had done all that they could to help foster the illusion, and soon carefully doctored photographs of them were circulating throughout Ironblood, showing the German people images of decisive triumph and flawless victory. The censors did the job of hiding the girls’ injuries and disguising the fleet’s losses almost perfectly: if you looked through the newspapers of the continent, one would never have known how badly the Kaiserliche Marine had been bled.
Royal Navy (which even accounting for its losses at Skagerrak would have still have held notable advantages in numbers and firepower over Ironblood, and in all likeliness would have been able to destroy them on a whim if it came to another surface engagement) took the bait. The newly-crowned Queen Warspite, already plagued by self-doubt, grief and regret, had been in no mood to go combing through her enemy’s declarations of triumph looking for discrepancies or trying to challenge Ironblood to a rematch, and nor had her advisors.
Convinced by the loss of their Flagship that they had been dealt a crippling defeat (an illusion reinforced by a the Hochseeflotte’s continued hit-and-run raids on the British coast, which seemed to imply that the Kaiserliche Marine still had enough strength left to go picking a fight), the Grand Fleet would spend the rest of the war hemmed up in port, terrified of losing more sisters-in-arms than they already had. And by the time that Ironblood’s façade began to crack the truth started to leak out, it was too late to make a difference.
Similar stories had played out on land. The Kaiser’s government had had to convince starving people scavenging for turnips and horse-feed that the citizens in enemy lands had it worse and were on the verge of breaking, and had managed to loot enough food from its conquests to sustain the illusion. The army had fended off Azur Lane’s almost feral counterattacks to try and stop the push on Paris by making them think that they had enough reserves to launch attacks along the flanks of the main thrust, tying down entire enemy divisions guarding against attacks that would never come.
By lying long enough and loud enough, Ironblood had been able to create an entirely new truth and convince the world of it. The Kaiser’s Empire held together long enough for mutinies in the Iris Army to rip the Orthodoxy apart. The British Expeditionary Force, in perfect position to relieve their beleaguered ally by launching an assault that would have cut the German lines to pieces, had called the attack off, believing it to be a suicide mission into impregnable defenses (defenses that had been held by undermanned ‘ghost divisions’ that in practical terms existed only on paper). And so it was that in the end, Ironblood won the war: a victory built on the greatest set of lies ever told.
Because their new world order was built on the foundation of such lies, the Kaiser’s Empire could never stop lying if they wanted to maintain their oh-so-fragile hold on world hegemony. The end of the façade of unchallengeable power would have meant the end of Ironblood itself, the German people too exhausted and bled too dry to even consider withstanding a renewed enemy assault. The slightest lowering of their guard might have invited such a challenge, and so Ironblood’s great bluff had continued: They showed their enemies and allies alike nothing but strength and power, never backing down from a challenge, launching interventions the world over as displays of might and praying that no one would ever catch a glimpse behind the curtain.
By sheer luck or divine intervention, the illusion had held. The rivals of the Kaiser’s Empire had each had their own reasons for failing to see through the veil: Northern Parliament was embroiled deep in its Civil War; The Iris Orthodoxy, Sardegna Empire and Royal Navy had all been struggling to rebuild themselves, and had soon found the fires of Revolution sweeping across their lands; Eagle Union and the Sakura Empire, both isolated in their own continents far from Europa, had had little reason to challenge Ironblood’s claims of incomparable strength. But that the deception was allowed to persist only let the lies take deeper and deeper root among the German people, and even those that remembered the truth eventually began to convince themselves otherwise.
The lies that Ironblood had told the world started to become the lies that they told themselves. Public opinion, mirroring what the state press had told them in the war years and beyond, became convinced that that the British were weak and decadent, that the French were spineless cowards, the Russians were a backwards people a century out of date, that none of them were legitimate threats to the new order. The guard was relaxed. Vigilance was not maintained. The lies were taught to children in the schools, who grew up believing that state’s official explanations of how the war was won, never knowing that the ‘inevitable victory’ had had more to do with sheer luck, clever lies and the shortcomings of Azur Lane than any of Ironblood’s own military accomplishments.
And those that didn’t remember the war, didn’t remember the truth about it, had no alternative but to learn the lies by heart. Who was going to tell them otherwise? With the old enemies gathering their strength once more, who would dare admit weakness? Rather than being told of the full extent of the nation’s sacrifices and suffering, a whole generation was instead raised believing their parent’s propaganda: that the war had been a smashing and glorious victory, thinking that Ironblood’s ascendency had come at the hand of destiny, and that in both the present and the future that would be enough. That if there ever was another war, the Kaiser’s Empire was fated to win it.
Given that a shipgirl’s Wisdom Cubes (and thus their personality) was shaped by the wills and beliefs of their nation, how else could a girl like Deutschland (who had been built specifically just to one-up the other Great Powers) have turned out but entitled and arrogant to the extreme? The black-haired girl seemed totally convinced that their own strength was all that they would ever need, that fate itself would bend to meet her whims, that she had been born perfect and had no need for improvement. The Super Dreadnought was the physical incarnation of post-war Ironblood’s air of self-assured supremacy and untouchability: Brash cockiness, flashy demeanor, raw power that very few (if any) could possibly hope to match…and almost nothing of mental or spiritual substance to back any of it up.
Such things were not appreciated by those that had been through the hellfire of Jutland and Skagerrak, that knew full well that Ironblood should have by all rights lost the war and that the fruits of their victory were privileges, not rights. The unearned pride and unbacked arrogance of their intended successors (well-designed and well-built, but untested and unready) was, to put it mildly, deeply frowned upon by the veterans of the Weltkrieg.
Fortunately, the shipgirls of Ironblood were in a position to do something about it. Those that had since the war remained in the Kaiser’s service had taken up the duty of trying to beat such complacent attitudes out of the thick skulls of their trainees and to take lessons they’d learned during the war and beat them in. It was a difficult process, and the success of their attempts varied heavily from girl to girl, but it damn well wasn’t for lack of effort on the part of the instructors.
With a veteran’s skill, Scharnhorst dodged yet another of Deutschland’s attempts at a salvo. That wasn’t to say that she was entirely unscathed: given the raw firepower of her guns, even simple near misses from the Super Dreadnought’s didn’t feel all that different from, say, a direct hit from a destroyer (or maybe even a light cruiser). If the Kaiserin’s heir-apparent ever managed to get her head out of her ass, there would be few in the world that would have a hope of standing against her. Until that happened, though…
Well, it was Scharnhorst’s job to try and make it happen, and there was nothing like a solid beating to knock someone’s pride down a few notches. With that in mind, the Fast Battleship decided to it was time to become a bit more assertive in her teaching. Evading more fire from Deutschland, the Weltkrieg veteran gunned her engines and broke straight towards her opponent, taking hold her rigging’s spear as she did so.
Under Ironblood doctrine, Deutschland’s response to this charge was meant to be as follows: given the superior caliber of her guns to all but a small handful of potential opponents, the Flagship-to-be was supposed to always try and maintain distance between herself and any enemies, thereby taking advantage of her longer effective firing range to devastate any attacker, optimally long before they could even get close enough to hit back.
The heir-apparent of the Kaiserin, though, tended to ignore any advice that didn’t come out of her own head. With another hail of gunfire (this one accompanied by a storm of cursing and an assortment of age-related insults), Deutschland drew her massive zweihander sword from the scabbard on her back and began a charge of her own, her rigging groaning as the black-haired girl’s redlined her propulsion system.
With sounds like railroad cars being thrown across the sky, Deutschland’s latest barrage streaked impeccably towards Scharnhorst…and proceeded to mostly pass harmlessly over the lavender-haired woman’s head, the Flagship-to-be not having bothered with things like ‘properly leading her target.’ The Weltkrieg veteran easily used her spear to turn aside the handful of threatening shots (mainly blindly sprayed shells from the Super Dreadnought’s secondary guns), the storm of shells having barely slowing the Fast Battleship as she closed into melee range.
“Come and get it, you old hag!”
Here came Deutschland, charging in like a raging bull, not even bothering with her guns anymore. She was waving her zweihander around above her head like it was meat cleaver, her face red and a vein in her forehead throbbing. You would have had to have been blind to miss the Super Dreadnought’s body language screaming ‘overhead strike with sword’ with all of her being, and unfortunately for the black-haired girl, Scharnhorst was anything but.
Oh, I’ll show you ‘old hag.’
An instant before the two shipgirls would have collided, the Weltkrieg veteran sidestepped right, a move which, judging by the look of total surprise on Deutschland’s face, caught the Super Dreadnought completely off guard. The Flagship-to-be stumbled, overbalancing as her sword swing came up against empty air. Her opponent didn’t hesitate to press her advantage, Scharnhorst needing only the blink of an eye to slam the butt of her spear into the black-haired girl’s rigging and shoulder blades, using the younger shipgirl’s massive weight and momentum against her.
Deutschland was sent sprawling forwards, her sword toppling out of her hands as she tried to catch her balance. Before she could recover, though, the guns of her lavender-haired opponent had swiveled into firing position. In an instant, eight guns had sounded as one and the Super Dreadnought was engulfed in cloud of green dye. Another instant later, and the heir-apparent of Ironblood felt herself being slammed face-first into the water by the impact of the training shells.
Shaking her head to clear it, Deutschland tried to get back up, propping herself onto her hands and knees. Just as she did so, though, the Super Dreadnought felt a sharp kick be driven into her right side, flipping her over onto her back. Not even a second passed before the black-haired girl felt the same foot stomp down on the center of her chest, pinning her to the water’s surface. Blinking water and training dye out of her eyes, Deutschland was greeted by the sight of an angrily scowling Scharnhorst, the elder shipgirl’s spear tip hovering near the younger’s throat, her guns just waiting for the smallest movement form Deutschland’s own to fire.
“You lose.”
For a long moment, Deutschland looked like she was ready to try and defy that statement, a look of impotent fury crossing the Super Dreadnought’s face, her rigging twitching slightly. Before the black-haired girl could say anything, though, Scharnhorst reiterated her statement.
“Concede”, the Fast Battleship snarled, moving her spear incrementally closer to Deutschland’s throat, Scharnhorst’s turrets waggling a bit to drive the point home. With a snarl of her own, the Super Dreadnought slowly raised her hands, admitting defeat.
With a curt nod, the Weltkrieg veteran accepted her trainee’s concession, pulling her spear away from the younger girl’s neck and sheathing it, her guns turning away from the Super Dreadnought in the same moment. Then the lavender-haired woman growled, reaching down and grasping the Flagship-to-be by her hair, giving the younger shipgirl the assessment of her performance in the training exercise as she did so.
“Pathetic! Absolutely pathetic!” Scharnhorst declared, roughly hauling Deutschland to her feet by the scalp, ignoring the Super Dreadnoughts protests and small exclamations of pain.
“Absolutely! Pathetic!” The Weltkrieg veteran repeated, still grasping the heir-apparent by the hair to ensure that the younger girl was looking her in the eyes. “How many times do I have to teach you THE SAME DAMN LESSONS!” the Fast Battleship continued, her voice raising as she spoke.
You can’t shoot worth shit! You never dodge!” The lavender-haired woman listed, her face flushing red as she clutched the younger shipgirl by the head, daring the Super Dreadnought to respond. “You never use your head! You just throw raw power at everything!”
Deutschland was unmoved by her instructor’s tirade, her face fixed as one of angry defiance. With a frustrated cry, Scharnhorst released her trainee, shoving the Super Dreadnought away from her. The black-haired girl stumbled slightly as she was let go, but stayed on her feet, her expression still one of prideful rage. For a long moment, the Fast Battleship simply stood panting, trying to catch her breath, clear her head and bottle her rage back up. She’d been screaming at the heir-apparent for four years: the lavender-haired woman knew full well that just adding more volume wouldn’t get through to the younger girl. She tried (tried) for a calmer approach.
“All. The strength. In the world. Is useless. If you have no discipline to guide it.” the Weltkrieg veteran spoke slowly, her gaze stony, making sure that the Super Dreadnought was actually listening to her. The black-haired girl clearly wanted to launch into a tirade of her own, but the Super Dreadnought stayed quiet: even she knew better than to interrupt her instructor in the middle of a dressing down.
“Those guns mean nothing if you can’t shoot hit your target,” Scharnhorst spoke on, her voice terse, jamming her index finger into the Flagship-to-be’s chest. “Your armor is tinfoil if you don’t know its limitations. That sword,” the Fast Battleship said, pointing out Deutschland’s zweihander, “is a good as a butter knife if wielded incorrectly. And you need to pull your goddamn head out of your fucking ass and understand that.”
The look on the Super Dreadnought’s face only tightened in response, the defiance in her features as strong as ever. Scharnhorst’s own expression twisted into an even deeper scowl as she mulled over her options. Kicking the black-haired girl’s ass (again) was one of them, but the Weltkrieg veteran was well aware had been sent to train the Flagship-to-be, not to break her: push too hard or too far and she’d have the Kaiserin to answer to. And honestly, the Fast Battleship had simply put up with enough of Deutschland’s schisse for the day, if not the week (or maybe even the month). Time to let her be someone else’s problem for a little while.
“Report to Von der Tann at 0400 tomorrow morning for remedial gun training. She’ll be expecting you. And don’t even try skipping out, or I’ll make the beating I just gave you look like a playground scuffle. Understood?”
Deutschland nodded stiffly. That wasn’t the answer the Scharnhorst had been looking for. “I’m sorry, I didn’t fucking hear you. I said, is that understood, Deutschland!?
Ja, Frau Scharnhorst!” The Super Dreadnought gave the Weltkrieg veteran the most painfully overexaggerated parade ground salute that the latter had ever seen, its over-rigid nature clearly out of spite for her instructor. It was also a technically correct salute, so as much as Scharnhorst wanted to slap the black-haired girl upside the head for it, the Fast Battleship let her little act of defiance slide and returned the salute with a frustrated grimace.
“Good. Now get the fuck out of my sight.”
Deutschland didn’t have to be told twice: the Super Dreadnought turned on her heel and skated away across the harbor’s surface, trying to wipe away the green training dye off of herself and mumbling yet more curses as she did so. Scharnhorst watched her go, her face still set in a deep scowl. There went the future of Ironblood. With a resigned groan, the Weltkrieg veteran shook her head, another frustrated curse of her own slipping past her lips.
“Goddamn fool.”
“Happy to see you too, schwester.”
Scharnhorst turned to towards the voice behind her, instinctively readying her rigging. The Fast Battleship’s guard dropped immediately, though, when they laid eyes on the speaker: the shipgirl behind her shared her uniform, her rigging, her hair, her eyes and actually most of her other physical characteristics. The main things setting the two apart was the newcomer’s glasses and the splatters of pink training dye covering swaths of her uniform and rigging.
“Very nice Von Der Tann impression, by the way.” Gneisenau continued, casting her gaze out into the harbor. The youngest of the Yorck sisters jutted her chin after the recently departed Deutschland. “Don’t you think that she hates your guts enough already?”
Scharnhorst snorted. “I’m here to train her, not be her friend. Beating her down’s only way I can get anything to stick inside her skull, and when I’m screaming is the only time she listens to me. Gott im Himmel, nothing else works.” The Fast Battleship turned fully towards her sister. “If she hates me, she hates me, same way we hated the 1st Scouting Group right up until we realized that all they were trying to do was keep us alive.”
Gneisenau quirked an eyebrow at her sister. “I remember it taking Royal Navy to make us realize that. I thought we were trying to make sure that these girls didn’t have to learn on the job like we did.”
Scharnhorst let out a bitter laugh. “With the way that things are going, there might not be a choice.”
The elder sister’s eyes had turned back towards the horizon. The lavender-haired woman wasn’t watching Deutschland anymore, though: her gaze was going past the Super Dreadnought, past the harbor entrance and the protected waters of the Jade Estuary, past the cold waters of the North Sea. The sky was clear, the wind was warm and the sea was calm, but the old veteran of Skagerrak knew full well when a storm was brewing.
Fell winds were blowing in, carrying whispered warnings of the typhoon being formed. They blew in from the west, from the Trade Congress and Vichya Commune, inheritors of most of the strength of Royal Navy and the Iris Orthodoxy, all of their vengeful fury and almost none of their old moral restraints. They blew in from the east, where Northern Parliament remained an unknowable enigma. They blew in from the colonies, overstretched and exposed, where the cracks in Ironblood’s façade of invincibility were already starting to show. They blew in from the lands of weakening allies, from the realms of increasingly bold enemies, from Eagle Union, Iberia and Latin America and beyond, all so ready to burst into flames…
“Have you ever actually tried just talking to her?” Gneisenau said, breaking her sister from her musings. “Maybe she just needs to feel like she has someone who will listen to her. It worked wonders with Spee.”
The elder sister let out another short laugh at that. “Yeah, because Spee’s the good egg. Speaking of which…” Scharnhorst looked her fellow Weltkrieg veteran up and down, a look of slight bemusement coming across her features at the sight of all the training dye caking her sister’s features. “You didn’t go easy on her, did you? It looks like you were the one I sent to remedial with Tante Von.
The youngest Yorck sister smiled at that. “No. It’s just that Spee didn’t go easy on me. She’s getting the hang of things. Still has hurdles to clear, of course, but I think I’ve got her on the right track.”
“Well, at least one of them’s got their head on straight,” Scharnhorst replied. “That’s better than nothing.” The older Fast Battleship stretched, cricking her necks a few times and cracking her knuckles above her head before trying to wring the water out of her hair. “I,” she declared “need a damn drink. You coming with?”
“To Tante Seydi’s?” Gneisenau questioned. The third of the Yorck-class looked down, gesturing at her uniform and presenting the various splotches of pink training dye marking her clothing for her sister to see. “We both know she’d kill me if I stepped in looking like this. I have to go get cleaned up before I go anywhere.”
Scharnhorst grinned. “Well then, more for me. Do you want me to get anything for you?”
“Just the usuals,” her sister responded. “I’m going to head up to the Kriegerdenkmal once I’m presentable. Meet me there?”
Ja, ja. I’ll see you there, schwester,” the elder Fast Battleship responded, nodding. Her sister smiled and returned the nod before skating off across the waters. As she had with Deutschland, Scharnhorst watched her go, though this time no angry scowl was decorating her features.
And then the Weltkrieg veteran turned and headed for the docks, and for that most beloved of German pastimes: a nice drink after a day’s work.
submitted by severakj to AzureLane [link] [comments]


2020.10.26 00:42 twatsonwatson I Was Born In 1998 But I'm 375 Years Old (Part 1)

Please forgive the possible lack of detail. I am very old, so these memories are ancient as well. I am posting this to NoSleep because I need advice. I currently sit in a rinky-dink hotel in some half dead town in the deep south of Florida. People don't ask for ID here, but it won't be long before they find me. The year is now 2020 again (I know, a tad confusing) but I need to explain my story first, then you'll understand.
***
I worked a lot when I was younger. 12 hour days, 5 days a week may not sound too terribly horrific, but to me, in the job I worked, it was a nightmare. I worked night shift for a little over a year. Recently, however, I was moved to days with a promotion and a pay raise, but exponentially more work, as these things tend to be. I relished it, though, as I was able to spend more time with my wife, Sasha, and my 1 year old son, Henry. Things were great up until about a month after I received my promotion.
I came home one night feeling more exhausted than usual. I told my wife that I was going to be going to sleep a little earlier that night, as I felt a little sick as well, and if I didn't feel better in the morning I would call out of work and head to the doctor. She was, of course, frustrated and saddened, but she understood. With me working so much, I honestly felt guilty any time I would have to bail out on the family time because I don't get much of it, and when I do, it is usually only a few hours at a time each night.
Apart from me being unusually exhausted and sick, that night had been as normal as any other. I came home, took my shower, ate my dinner, and went to sleep, planning on getting 10 hours of rest to help with whatever I was afflicted with. So, as I laid down, I called out a "goodnight, I love you and Buddy" to which I was met with silence. I assumed she just didn't hear me, and I was too tired to get up and tell her in person, so I proceeded to shut my eyes and get some sleep. I didn't even put my phone in its usual spot on the charger. I just fell straight asleep with it in my pocket. That night, in a small town in Florida on October 23rd of 2020, I had the worst sleep of my life. I now wish I would have relished that night like I do any other. I haven't seen either of them in over 350 years.
***
I awoke to blistering heat and violent lights, each ray of orange and red breaking through my windows as if it were a midnight intruder hellbent on taking my life. In a daze and still somewhat of a half-sleep, I jumped from my bed and looked to wake my wife. She wasn't there, nor was Henry who usually slept with us at night. "What the hell?" were my first thoughts.
"Honey?!" I cried out. No response.
The heat rose, and the lights grew ever more vibrant. They obviously weren't in the bedroom with me, so I ran to inspect the rest of the house. Fearing that we had a fire on our hands, I wasted no time in trying to find her and my son. There was no one in the house, even the 2 cats and the dog we had were nowhere to be seen. "Maybe she already fled?" The thought occurred to me. It was a hurtful one, yes, but as long as my family was safe I didn't care. Reaching down, I felt my cell phone still in my pocket as I desperately tried to call 9-1-1 as I fled my house. The first thing that came was the dial tone, the next was the scalding heat as a burst through the door only to find all of my neighbors houses ablaze with crimson lights. "What the hell?" I thought to myself. "What was going on?"
I ran into the street looking for my car that was nowhere to be seen, when I noticed something odd. The streets felt...abnormal. They were bumpy, and they seemed to be smaller than the streets that circled my house. Calling my wife's name as I ran through the streets, I saw neighbors desperately attempting to douse the flames, to no avail. Many were crying, some were screaming, and then there were those who just laying on the ground, burned and moaning. I tried calling 9-1-1 again, and again, dial tone, so I tried calling my wife-dial tone- then my best friend Steven- dial tone again. It was only then that I noticed the bars that told me my signal strength on my phone were completely missing. No, not empty. It was just a blank portion of the screen.
I finally managed to reach the edge of my town, when I took time to carefully inspect my phone thoroughly. Confusingly, the battery life was at 100%, but more shockingly, the date on my phone read "September 2nd, 1666." Being a lover of history, there was something very familiar about that date. Something sinister. "Come on you piece of shit" I muttered at my phone trying repeatedly to call my wife, to which I kept being met with dial tones. Frustrated, I almost threw my phone to the ground when I noticed the symbol I get for new text messages was visible at the top of my phone. "Finally, an answer" I thought. I pulled up my texting app, and saw a strange message. The sender was blank, no number and no name, and the message simply read "Call 0000." So, running out of options, I called that number.
"Who the hell is this." asked the raspy voice, annoyingly. The sound of the voice offered no identification as to who it might belong to. It didn't sound female, and neither did it sound male.
"What do you mean 'Who the hell is this?' I was told to call you! What the hell is going on, where is my wife and child, who are you?!" I practically screamed into the phone as I watched from a distance, the flames engulf my hometown. Only now, in the dark night sky set illuminated by the blazing light, my hometown didn't look so familiar.
"Listen here you little-" the voice paused for a moment, seemingly remembering something. "Oh...it's that time again then, is it?" It continued more calmly. It sounded almost apologetic. "We don't have time for this. Listen to my instructions and listen VERY well, lest you wish to be tortured for the rest of your life." It stated as if it had repeated this same message many times over, like a tired out customer service representative just ready to get the day over with.
"Hmmm, Dereck is it? Wife is Sasha, child by the name of Henry. Listen, Dereck. You need to run. They are coming for you, and you don't want them to find you. Run into those woods in front of you, don't stop, don't make any turns, just run straight. They know just about where you are, the Great Fire Of London marks your location. Now go. I will call you, so keep your phone handy and NEVER lose it." It instructed forcefully. I tried to respond, but whoever, or whatever, was on the other end already hung up.
The Great Fire Of London? I live in Florida. "What in the shit is happening?" I checked the date again. So that's why it seemed familiar. I bolted. I don't know who or what I was talking to, but if there were people after me then I don't want to stick around to find out. I ran and ran and ran, until I was physically and mentally incapable of running anymore. By the time I collapsed, the sun had risen almost directly overhead. I tried pulling my phone out, but not having the energy, I just lay on the grassy floor until my eyes forced themselves shut and restless sleep overtook me.
***
I awoke to my phone blaring a loud ring as the sun was already set over the horizon. I quickly, in my twilight daze, swiped to answer.
"Please, just tell me what's going on" I begged the mysterious voice "I just want my family, please."
"Listen to everything I have to say, and you might see your family again. On October 23rd, 2020, you laid down to sleep. You woke in a different time, in a different place. You are now in London, September 2nd, 1666. This is the time and place that everyone who goes through this wakes up in. This happens to someone, somewhere, once every 100 years. You are here because you are chosen. I am your Guide, and you can call me as such. I am here to make sure you live through to your own time again, and then possibly you can see your family once more." Guide sputtered on without hesitation. "The group that is after you is known as 'The Omnipresent.' They want what you have, they want your life. You cannot die in this time, but you can feel pain and everything else humans can feel. The Omnipresent have successfully captured everyone else they have hunted, so they are very powerful. They torture you to draw out your energy then they absorb it themselves. They were once human, but I wouldn't call them that anymore. They can easily tear a man's limbs clean from his body. They call themselves Angels, and they call people like you Demons. Quite backwards if you ask me. They will come for you every night. They can sense you. You will need to constantly be on the run. No resting, lest you wish to be captured. Right now, however, you need to go again. They are near. You may call me whenever you need Guidance, but go now, before they find you." And with that, it hung up again.
I went to run again, but a brief sound stopped me in my tracks. Horror filled my body. A trepidation the likes of which I've never felt before surged throughout every fiber of my being. The noise I heard was a faint growl. But just as quickly as it came, It stopped. Then I heard a familiar voice.
"Honey?" I heard Sasha weakly call out. Along with her voice came the faint cries of Henry.
Overjoyed with the sounds of my family, I leaped from my spot on the ground and ran in the direction I heard their voice. "I'm here!" I cried as I broke through the brush and into the clearing. Only, there wasn't anyone there. As I broke through, I was met with a horrific being straight from anyone's worst nightmare. It turned to look at me, its mouth opened wide with hundreds of razor-like teeth embedded into its gums. Its arms were disproportioned to the rest of its body, its head was massive, and its legs were short and stumpy. Tentacles of what looked like congealed blood sprouted from its back as it let loose a horrifying screech. It then leapt at me, its weight feeling like that of a semi-truck carrying a blue whale. It tore at me, ripping flesh from my bones. The pain was unimaginable, blood sprayed the grass and the smell of death emanating from the creature was enough to make me vomit on myself. I could hear my skin being ripped open and the creature chewing. I was near unconsciousness when the figure suddenly lifted its head and sniffed the air. At that moment, I decided to attempt to make a break for it. I underestimated the amount of blood I lost, though, because when I stood to run I immediately fell over. I turned to look behind me, but the creature was gone, and there was not a single sign of it or what it had done to me anywhere, besides what was left of my body.
My arms were torn to shreds. Skin ripped from the muscle, muscle ripped from the bone. I could barely lift them. My phone was ringing again, and with all the strength I could muster, I pulled it from my pocket and answered.
"Please get me out of here." I begged, hardly more than a whimper at this point.
"I can't do that. I don't even have the power to do that." replied the raspy voice. " Just so you know, that wasn't even an Omnipresent. An Omnipresent would have consumed a little of you, but ultimately, you wouldn't have escaped. You would be captured by now if it was."
"Then what the hell was it?" just talking hurt.
"That was an actual demon. Being far more powerful than real demons, they use them to hunt and stalk."
"Why did it stop?" I feebly asked
"Because they made it stop. It was going to consume you whole. Some Demons get out of line, and the Omnipresent have to extinguish them right there. If it had consumed you whole, it would have gained power unattainable by the Omnipresent, making it an extremely difficult foe to control for them, so they eliminated the threat as soon as they got wind of what it was up to. Not only would it have gained more power, but you would have been eliminated. Not killed, as you cannot die here. But you would've been consumed and then shit out like some bad food. You would have been alive, but you would not be able to do anything. The Omnipresent want to capture you and consume you slowly while letting you regenerate so that they can get as much out of you as possible until your time comes."
"Wait...regenerate?" I was confused, and nearing unconsciousness again as I asked.
"Yes, you will regenerate, but you will be weak for a while. When you wake up, your wounds will be gone, but you will be very weak and slow. You shouldn't have let this happen. I know it sounded like your family, but you should've just ran. This is 1666, not 2020. Your family will never be here."
I heard him continue to talk, as if explaining more to me, but my eyes were not cooperating and my head was pounding, and sleep came against all of my protests.
***
When I awoke, my first realization was that Guide was not lying. My arms looked as if they had not been touched, but my head was throbbing, arms were heavy, knees were weak. I could barely muster the strength to stand. Somehow, I managed to get up, and somehow, I had a feeling of where I needed to go. Maybe it was something Guide said that my subconscious picked up on and stored for me when I was asleep, but whatever it was, I left the woods and bounded north.
While walking, I couldn't escape the noises that would come occasionally. Faint growls, low whispers, loud moans. Trees and bushes would shuffle in the corner of my vision, and anxiety and panic made their homes in my head. Oftentimes, I would hear footsteps, and those would make me speed my walk up to an unbearable pace. I couldn't run. Not now, not with how weak I was. I walked for hours. Time seeming to last an eternity here, and yet I was supposed to live through almost 350 years of this before I saw my family? All while avoiding capture, consumption, and torture? The mere thought alone was torture enough. But I needed to be with my family.
Hours passed and I finally arrived at what I assumed was where I was supposed to be at. I rundown, abandoned looking village with a half broken sign that read "The Forsaken." I pressed forward into the village. Some homes were destroyed. Others were rundown, and a few were in livable conditions. I popped my head into one of the nicer ones, where I was met with a grisly sight. Corpses littered the floor. All decomposed enough to see bone. Flies and rats made their homes in the skeletal remains and scattered deeper into the home when I came near. I retrieved my phone and called Guide again.
"Where am I, Guide?" I asked desperate for an answer.
"This is the village that the first Chosen made their home. They were ordinary people, like you. Whisked away to a time unfamiliar to them, separated from their families. Except, with these people, the Omnipresent gave them the false hope of being able to live. They told them that if they just cooperated, lived here together and submitted themselves to being tortured until their time came, they would be able to live a normal life afterwards. That was before the Omnipresent realized that even after their time came, they could consume them one last time, whole, and gain more. Once they found that out, they massacred the village. Consumed the flesh of all of them, and left the bones to the rats." He explained this harrowing story so calmly, it made me angry.
"Why are you so calm? People are dying, being tortured, and frankly, you don't give a flying-" I was cut off by a screech. It was a screech so loud, so potent, that my ears began to bleed, and the glass began to shake on the window frames.
The screech subsided, leaving me with an unbearable headache. I peeked through the window to see wherein came the noise, and what I saw left me with both ecstatic joy and resounding dread.
"Sasha?..."
submitted by twatsonwatson to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.10.25 22:35 JFritz2308 A Royal Bethrothal

Early Autumn, 2CE
Prince Reiv walked quickly through the city of Urodel, the speed of his steps mirroring that of his thoughts. While it had been coming for some time now, today’s meeting had made it official; the young prince was to be married before summer, and King by the next. He still wasn’t sure what his reaction was to the decision, unable to tell if the feelings in his stomach were reluctance or excitement.
The meeting in question had been shorter than he had expected, given how long the preceding process had been. In the past weeks all of the thirteen Marquises had sent letters or representatives to discuss potential unions or endorse the proposals of others. There had also been communications from some of the more prominent Second Marquises, the most notable of which was Second Marquis Donero.
The eastern lord had come personally to visit the court. Officially she was there to speak on behalf of her Marquis, however it had been clear even to Reiv that the Second Marquis had wished to arrange a match between him and her niece, always choosing to emphasise the wisdom of a union to the region and not the Umeros specifically. The Duneros were a strong military power in the kingdom, rivalling and even surpassing many of the Marquis families, and had always chafed at the control of their liege. That was only more true now, with the current Marquis Umero a child with barely two year on land, and Second Marquis Dunero as their strongest vassal having taken on a number of their powers.
The advisors had spent more than one meeting discussing the Second Marquis’s implied proposal, but despite all the talk there had been little interest in actually accepting. While there was precedent for royal unions with lesser families, they were rare and usually only when there were no strong prospects amongst the Marquises. Prince Reiv knew this because he had asked about those precedents in the past months.
He tried to convince himself he wasn’t disappointed by that. He’d always known he would be expected to marry a member of the Marquis families, had been told as much by his attendants, grandmother, and even father in his more coherent moments. Second Marquis Anada was a minor lord in the Dumerin lands, controlling a small stretch of the southern coast. Even if the family was of higher status, a union between Reiv and his son Anad would almost certainly have been out of the question; while a second or third child needed only to strengthen the bond between families, an heir’s union, especially the royal heir’s, needed to produce children.
Reiv’s emotions settled somewhat, the turbulent uncertainty forming into a detached resignation. His steps also slowed, as up ahead the young prince’s guards cleared the path for him. Recent months had seen the sickness come in full force to Urodel, resulting in many labourers and servants barred from their lord’s property and unable to return to what had been their homes. Their sickly forms now crowded the streets, but they thankfully knew better or were just too weak to come close to the prince.
There had been no Marquises or lords at the earlier meeting, the final decision was that of the king, with his advisors there to give counsel. Since his father did little in the way of decision making anymore, Reiv had been under the impression that the final choice between those most popular amongst his advisors would be largely up to him.
He had been planning to espouse the benefits of a union with Marquis Nesim’s daughter. The Nesims had the strongest ties to the Dumerins out of all the Marquises, with nearly a quarter of queens in the kingdom’s history coming from their family. King Urav’s mother had been a Nesim, and Reiv had gone on a number of informal dates with the current Marquis’s daughter over the years.
However, it seemed Reiv had been very much mistaken. The meeting itself had been short, suspiciously so. There had been almost no discussion on the matter, with the advisors presenting a rare unified front and informing Prince Reiv that he was to marry the daughter of Marquis Lesav. The real discussion had then been on what was to follow, the specifics of how his father was to abdicate in the year following the union.
As he had left the meeting, still trying to determine what exactly his feelings were, his grandmother was waiting outside. Marquis Venav had met his eyes and, without any words being exchanged, Reiv just knew that he didn’t have to tell her the outcome. She’d known since before he’d even set foot in the meeting. The Lesav’s controlled the lands surrounding the middle stretch of the main river, and had historically very close ties to the neighbouring Venav’s at the river’s mouth. Prince Reiv had not stayed to speak with her, instead excusing himself from the court to attend the afternoon’s show in the city.
After finally arriving at Urodel’s theatre, the young prince began to make his way to his reserved seating, when he stopped. There, sitting in the same place he always did, was Anad. Reiv hesitated, his uncertainty of emotion once again returning, until Anad sensed his arrival and turned. Reiv could taste in the air the older youth’s excitement to see him, and he found he was suddenly sure of himself.
The young prince changed course and moved to go sit with Anad. His marriage was still some months away.
submitted by JFritz2308 to createthisworld [link] [comments]


2020.10.25 17:16 Aimless_Haha-724 My partner came out to me as possibly Ace, but says she isnt sure and im not sure what i should do?

Fyi: Ive come back after typing everything out and this boi is long to look at but its only about a 3-5 minute read? Thank you so much to anyone who has a read and drops a suggestion, im keeping it a little vague deliberately as i dont want my partner to think im upset or having doubts, i just want to know the best way to help her figure herself out
Hi there, im (23M....is that how i do it?)....really new to this Reddit thing....in fact this is literally my first post anywhere?
Im not even sure if i should be posting here but i know my partner uses this thread so wanted to give it a shot....apologies for length i type alot😅
Ive been dating my girlfriend for just over a year now and about 4 months into the relationship, she admitted to me that she'd never had sex with anyone, and the only remotely sexual experience she'd had was negative and didnt go very far.....she described it as 'feeling peer pressured' and 'being anxious and uncomfortable' the whole time it was happening.
I like to think im an accepting person, and have been in some bad relationships myself, and she was worried it would make me stop caring about her and not want to be with her, but i understood her hesitation to tell me completely, due to my experiences in the past and knowing how difficult that could be to talk about with someone, we've had no relationship problems so far and we love each other very much, she's my whole world.
She's always struggled with self esteem and seeing herself in a positive light, as have i, and we've been working on it together and she's come really really far and im so proud of her.
We didnt kiss at all for the first few months of our relationship, she was barely comfortable holding hands and wouldnt accept any compliments i gave her just saying 'no' or 'not true' sometimes....but she's slowly grown in confidence and i couldnt be more proud of her and happy she is more comfortable in herself and trying to figure herself out, we're going completely at her pace and im just happy to be with her through it all.
A couple of months ago, she said she wanted to talk to me about something serious after i came back from a weekend away, it had been our first time apart throughout lockdown and....i wont lie i was worried something was really really wrong but...she just wanted to talk. We actually ended up almost not talking, i could tell she was nervous and we sat down to watch some stuff on the sofa and i asked her what it was she wanted to talk about....we had a conversation about how we were both developing with each other and figuring things out....and she told me she thought she might be Asexual.
I knew she struggled with intimacy but on more of an anxiety level, as i said we've gradually become more comfortable around each other over time, and she'd been worried to talk to me about it. She said she wasnt certain and i suggested it could be something to do with anxiety within relationships, and possibly because her only experience had been vastly negative. We spoke for a while and ended on the same point as earlier in the relationship: we love each other and i just want her to be happy and comfortable whatever that takes.
She happened to have counselling later that week, and when she came back she said she'd gone from around 40/50% to more 80-100%, but said she still liked affection and hugs and kissing and intimacy up to that sort of level (im a very affectionate person and she constantly assures me she's okay with it), and i again reiterated i love her and just want her to be happy and safe, we go at her speed and if she wants to stop we stop there, and ive always been comfortable with whatever she wants.
Fast forward to now and.....im not sure what to feel/do..... Im still totally comfortable with her being Asexual, this isnt some sudden catastrophic realisation (i myself identify as Bisexual but suspect i may be Demisexual...that is where you need a deep emotional connection with a person first right? Ive never rushed into sexual relations until im totally comfortable with a person), but....she is sending mixed messages and im worried she doesnt trust im okay with her decision...
When she told me initially, she said 'i might be Demisexual, which means it is just a comfort/anxiety thing and i still like affection and cuddling and kissing', and we've touched on it again a couple of times since and she always says she 'doesnt know' or ' isnt certain', and always says that she's 'indecisive about everything', she's not been able to say she definitely is or isnt one thing or another which i understand....im worried she doesnt trust that im accepting of her being Asexual and mentally she feels she has to leave both doors open to make sure im happy but....i dont think ive made any signals that im not?
Ive always said i just want her to be happy and comfortable in herself, and i love her no matter what, and i mean that with all my heart, my opinion of her hasnt changed at all, i feel nothing but happiness when im with her and i convey it 24/7, i make sure she doesnt feel smothered or overwhelmed, i make sure she is comfortable if i do something differently or new (sleeping position, hand placement, that sort of thing) to make sure she is still comfortable and feels safe....
I think my question is.....is there anyway i can do more to help her? Or to show im comfortable either way? She says that she is still uncertain, and is perfectly comfortable talking about the idea of sex in passing, but during a serious conversation her language changes and becomes more.... protective? Using terms like 'touched up' and 'felt all over', making me think it could be influenced by her past experience....
I need to be clear, i have no intention of pushing her in any direction or towards an influenced decision, i just want to help her figure herself out and be comfortable with who she is, any and all help/suggestion is massively appreciated!
(Also apologies if ive breached any etiquette or done anything wrong, as i said i literally just made this account as i was finding alot of people pointed in this direction for advice/help)
submitted by Aimless_Haha-724 to asexuality [link] [comments]


2020.10.25 11:26 RebornInLife Prophecies of Fatima

Prophecies of Fatima

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Our Lady of Fatima is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary based on the famed Marian apparitions reported in 1917 by three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria, in Fatima, Portugal. The three children were Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto.
Beginning May 13, 1917 the children reported apparitions of an Angel, and starting in May of 1917, apparitions of the Virgin Mary. The children reported a prophecy that prayer would lead to an end of World War I, and a prophecy that a miracle would occur on October 13th of that year. Many pilgrims began visiting the area in response to the prophecies. The events of October 13th became known as the Miracle of the Sun seen over an area of over 600 square miles.
On May 13, 1946, Pope Pius XII granted a canonical coronation to the venerated image enshrined at the Chapel of the Apparitions of Fatima via his apostolic legate, Cardinal Benedetto Aloisi Masella. On 11 November 1954, the same Pontiff later raised the Sanctuary of F‡tima to the status of Minor Basilica by his Papal brief Luce Superna. The reported apparitions at Fatima were officially declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church, which commemorates the event on the same date.
The published memoirs of Lucia Santos in the 1930s revealed two secrets that she claimed came from the Virgin while the third secret was to be revealed by the Catholic Church in 1960. The controversial events at Fatima gained fame due partly to elements of the secrets, prophecy and eschatological revelations allegedly related to the Second World War and possibly more global wars in the future, particularly the Virgin's alleged request for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco took their flock of sheep to a natural hollow in the ground known as the Cova da Iria to graze, just outside the town of Fatima in Portugal. While the sheep were grazing the children began to play. Suddenly there was a flash of lightening. The children looked up, bewildered into the sky. The day was quiet pleasant and there was no sign of a storm. They started to gather the sheep thinking a storm was brewing in the distance when there was a second flash that caused total concern. A few metres away stood a Lady of dazzling light. Their eyes were unable to comprehend the lady's brilliance and beauty .
The scent of roses permeated the air.
"Where are you from?" Lucy managed to ask.
"I am from Heaven".
"What do you want of us?" asked Lucia.
"I came to ask you to come here on the 13th day for six months at the same time, and then I will return here a seventh time."
After several other messages Mary asked finally for them to recite the Rosary daily before she rose in a cloud of light and glided away into the eastern sky. Lucia warned her cousins to say nothing of what they had seen out of fear of disbelief, but Jacinta was too excited. Predictably Jacinta told her parents about the Apparition and there was a general reaction of disbelief. Lucia`s mother was convinced that her child was lying and punished her continually when she refused to deny her story.
But the visions of Mary -- and her series of prophecies remained apparent to the three children. At first, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta had great difficulty trying to share what they had seen, because the government of Portugal was heavily opposed to religion at that time. Francisco and Jacinta died in an influenza pandemic within three years of the 1917 "dance of the sun."

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Lucia went on to become a nun. She told the church the details of Fatima prophecies, the first parts of which have common public knowledge for many years. A short time later another vision appeared.
Witness reports:
"I looked at the sun and saw it spinning like a disc, rolling on itself. I saw people changing color. They were stained with the colors of the rainbow. The sun seemed to fall down from the sky. The people said that the world was going to end. They were afraid and screaming," said Antonio de Oliveiro, Farmer.
"Suddenly the rain stopped and a great splendor appeared and the children cried: 'Look at the sun!' I saw the sun coming down, feeling that it was falling to the ground. At that moment, I collapsed." Maria Candida da Silva. "I looked and saw that the people were in various colors - yellow, white, blue. At the same time, I beheld the sun spinning at great speed and very near me. I at once thought: I am going to die".

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"Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bareheaded, pale with fright, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws - the sun 'danced' according to the typical expression of the people. Standing at the step of the Torres Novas bus was an old man, whose appearance in face and figure reminded one of Paul Deroulede. With his face turned towards the sun he recited the Creed in a loud voice.
"Afterwards, I saw him going up to those around him who still had their hats on, and vehemently imploring them to uncover their heads before such an extraordinary demonstration of the existence of God. Identical scenes were repeated elsewhere, and in one place, a woman cried out in a gasp of surprise: 'How dreadful that there are some men who do not even bare their heads before such a stupendous miracle!' People then began to ask each other what they had seen. The great majority admitted to having seen the trembling and the dancing of the sun. Others affirmed that they saw the face of the Blessed Virgin, while others swore that the sun whirled on itself to the earth as if to burn it with its rays. Some said they saw it change colors successively."
""It was almost three o'clock in the afternoon. The sky was swept clear of clouds and the sun followed its course in its usual splendor, so that no one ventured to gaze at it directly. What about the little shepherds? Lucia, who had spoken to Our Lady, was announcing with expressive gestures, as she was carried along shoulder-high by a man and passed from group to group, that the war would end and that the soldiers would return. But news like that, however, did nothing to increase the jubilation of those who heard it. The heavenly sign was sufficient for them: it was everything.
"Intense curiosity prevailed to see the two little girls in their wreaths of roses, and to kiss the hands of these 'little saints', one of whom, Jacinta, seemed nearer to fainting than dancing. They had so longed to see the sign from Heaven: they had seen and were satisfied and radiated burning faith.
"The crowd dispersed rapidly, without any difficulty, without any sign of disorder, without any need for policemen to regulate them. Those who were the first to arrive were also the first to depart, running out on the roadway, traveling on foot with their footwear in a bundle on their heads or strung from their staffs. They went, with hearts overflowing with joy, to bring the good news to their hamlets that had not been wholly depopulated for the time being.
"And what of the priests? Some turned up at the place, mingling more among the curious spectators rather than among the pilgrims avid for heavenly signs and favors. Perhaps neither one nor the other succeeded in concealing their happiness, which so often transpired in triumphant guise ... It only remains for those competent to do justice to the bewildering dance of the sun which, on this day in Fatima, caused Hosannas to resound from the hearts of all the faithful present, and naturally made a great impression, as people worthy of belief assured me, on the freethinkers and others without any religious conviction who had come to this now famous spot located on the poor pastureland high up on the serra. Avelino de Almeida."
"The sun started to roll from one place to another and changed to blue, yellow - all colors. Then we see the sun coming towards the children. Everyone was crying out. Some started to confess their sins because there was no priest around there ... My mother grabbed me to her and started to cry, saying 'It is the end of the world!' And then we see the sun come right into the trees."
- Dominic Reis, in an American TV interview, 1960.
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The Three Secrets of Fatima consist of a series of visions and prophecies allegedly given by an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to three young Portuguese shepherds, Lœcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, on May 13, 1917. The three children claimed to have been visited by a Marian apparition six times between May and October 1917. The apparition is now popularly known as Our Lady of F‡tima. According to the most popular interpretation, the three secrets involve Hell, World Wars I and II, and the shooting of Pope John Paul II.
On July 13, 1917, around noon, the lady is said to have entrusted the children with three secrets. Two of the secrets were revealed in 1941 in a document written by Lœcia, at the request of JosŽ da Silva, Bishop of Leiria, to assist with the publication of a new edition of a book on Jacinta.
When asked by the Bishop of Leiria in 1943 to reveal the third secret, Lœcia struggled for a short period, being "not yet convinced that God had clearly authorized her to act." However, in October 1943 the bishop of Leiria ordered her to put it in writing. Lucia then wrote the secret down and sealed it in an envelope not to be opened until 1960, when "it will appear clearer." The text of the third secret was officially released by Pope John Paul II in 2000, although some claim that it was not the entire secret revealed by Lucia, despite assertions from the Vatican to the contrary.

The First Secret

The first secret was a vision of Hell:
Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.

The Second Secret

The second secret is a statement that World War I would end and goes on to predict another war, World War II during the reign of a Pope Pius XI, should men continue offending God and should Russia not convert. The second half requests that Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart:
You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.
To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.
This secret's controversy is second only to the supposed final secret of F‡tima, as it seemingly predicts both the all-encompassing World War II, the radical Anti-theistic ideology of the Soviet Union; the proxy wars and limited direct confrontations that would be initiated between the Western Democracies and the Soviet Bloc.
Some have complained that the second prophecy was not disclosed until August 1941, after World War II had already begun. However, the provenance of the document is easily traced to 1935, when it was first written down, though Sister Lucia avowed that the three children first received it in June 1917. Pope Pius XII allegedly consecrated Russia on 7 July 1952.

The Third Secret

The third part of the secret was allegedly written down "by order of His Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and the Most Holy Mother ". . . on 3 January 1944.
In 1943, Lœcia fell ill with influenza and pleurisy, which had killed her cousins. For several months, she was sure she was going to die. Bishop Silva, visiting her on 15 September 1943 while she was bed-ridden, first suggested that she write the third secret down to ensure that it would be recorded in the event of her death. Lucia was hesitant to do so, however. She was under strict obedience according to her Carmelite vows, but when she received the secret, she had heard Mary say not to reveal it. For a time, she was in a quandary as to whose orders took precedence. Finally, in mid-October, Bishop Silva sent her a letter containing a direct order to record the secret, and Lucia obeyed.
In June 1944, the sealed envelope containing the third secret was delivered to Silva, where it stayed until 1957, when it was finally delivered to Rome.
It was announced by Cardinal Sodano on May 13, 2000, 83 years after the first apparition of the Lady to the children in the Cova da Iria, that the Third Secret would finally be released. In his announcement, Cardinal Sodano implied that the secret was about the persecution of Christians in the 20th century that culminated in the failed assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981.
The text of the Third Secret was published on 26 June 2000:
The third part of the secret revealed at the Cova da Iria-F‡tima, on 13 May 1917. I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.
After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: 'Penance, Penance, Penance!'.
And we saw in an immense light that is God: 'something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White 'we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.
Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
Along with the text of the secret, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger published a theological commentary, in which he states that:"A careful reading of the text of the so-called third 'secret' of Fatima ... will probably prove disappointing or surprising after all the speculation it has stirred. No great mystery is revealed; nor is the future unveiled."
After explaining the differences between public and private revelations, he cautions people not to see in the message a determined future event: "The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction. Therefore we must totally discount fatalistic explanations of the ÒsecretÓ, such as, for example, the claim that the would-be assassin of May 13, 1981 was merely an instrument of the divine plan guided by Providence and could not therefore have acted freely, or other similar ideas in circulation. Rather, the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them."
He then moves on to talk about the symbolic nature of the images, noting that: "The concluding part of the 'secret' uses images which Lucia may have seen in devotional books and which draw their inspiration from long-standing intuitions of faith."
As for the meaning of the message: "What remains was already evident when we began our reflections on the text of the 'secret': the exhortation to prayer as the path of 'salvation for souls' and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion."
The Vatican withheld the Third Secret until June 262000, despite Lœcia's declaration that it should be released to the public after 1960. Some sources, including Canon Barthas and Cardinal Ottaviani, said that Lœcia insisted to them it must be released by 1960, saying that, "by that time, it will be more clearly understood", and, "because the Blessed Virgin wishes it so."
When 1960 arrived, rather than releasing the Third Secret, the Vatican published an official press release stating that it was "most probable the Secret would remain, forever, under absolute seal." After this announcement, immense speculation over the content of the secret materialized. According to the New York Times, speculation over the content of the secret ranged from "worldwide nuclear annihilation to deep rifts in the Roman Catholic Church that lead to rival papacies."
The release of the text sparked immediate criticism, even outrage, from the Catholic Church in Portugal. Clergy as well as laypeople had been outraged that the text had been read in Rome and not at the Fatima shrine in Portugal where the reported events took place. Portuguese Catholics responded to the release of the text with disbelief, saying that if the words did not concern some kind of terrible catastrophe such as war, holocaust or apocalypse, there had been no reason for the Vatican to keep them secret.
The London Times for June 29, 2000, reported that "The revelation on Monday that there were no doomsday predictions has provoked angry reactions from the Portuguese church over the decision to keep the prophecy secret for half a century." Portuguese newspapers reported that many people felt "dismayed, cheated, and betrayed" by the news.
Some sources claim that the four-page, handwritten text of the Third Secret released by the Vatican in the year 2000 is not the real secret, or at least not the full secret. In particular, it is alleged that Cardinals Bertone, Ratzinger and Sodano engaged in a systematic deception to cover up the existence of a one-page document containing the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which some believe contains information about the Apocalypse and a great apostasy. These sources contend that the Third Secret is actually composed of two texts, where one of these texts is the published four-page vision, and the other is a single-page letter allegedly containing the words of the Virgin Mary which has been concealed.

![img](ltcl9uglw7v51 " Opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, ")
the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself. Sister Lucia at Fatima 1917
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2020.10.25 08:07 exp0sitiondump Between Summer and Winter

It has three and a half years since we went to high school together. That is longer than the time we spent together in high school and seven times longer than the half-year you and I were best friends. I’m not sure best friends is the best way to describe what we were. I’ve told people about you and I and what happened to my friends in university and whenever I tell that story I really want to call you my ex because it makes the story so much more coherent in my head when I title you that, but it isn’t true. To be an ex we would have had to been dating and I am crystal clear that was never us. I am a little reticent to say I was ever your best friend because we only really spent that time between the summer and winter of my senior year as such, and that friendship ended poorly.
The title you rightfully think I should use is a friend. But you definitely aren’t my friend. For starters, through high school and college, I have had dozens of friends and while each of them has their highs and lows and I have complicated feelings about most of them there was always an unspoken mutual understanding between us that once we passed our next milestone in life we would never speak to each other again. Life is complicated and there already isn’t much time and it makes sense that maintaining connections over a long distance is taxing and inconvenient and people will only do that for the vast minority of their friends. But it always makes me extremely sad to never get to speak to someone again. It’s a part of life, people grow apart, but it is one of those sad facts of life like entropy and greed.
The only person I actively hoped would leave and never speak to me again was you. At the end of high school, I was a mix of angry, guilty, and hopeful. I was angry that you lied about having feelings for me but I was guilty about how disproportionately bad I had been treating you for doing that to me and all the while I was still stupidly hopeful that someday you and I could go back to the way things were that first half of senior year, that you did like me the way I liked you. That mix of stuff just kind of amounted to me lashing out at you, making up with you after a few weeks in the hopes we could reverse time, and then lashing out at you again because that wasn’t possible.
One of the best parts of leaving for college was knowing that awful part of my high school life was over. It was honestly kind of cathartic when the kids at the library texted me about how much you suddenly hated me now that I was gone. I don’t know what you said about me after I left, but it left such an impression that the library kids from separate cliques told me about how surprised they were by how much you hated me. Definitely not the first time I heard that, but during the first quarter of my freshman year I thought that your reaction was appropriate and a definite nail in the coffin for us.
It’s kind of a part of the grieving process to deal with the fact that someone is gone or something is over and move on. I still don’t think I can I say I was ever happier than I was when I was with you. I miss the midnight texts where we’d just quote Bojack Horseman at each other, I miss throwing paper airplanes off the balcony in the black box, I miss writing that radio play with you, I miss having philosophy club meetings where I’d steal the entire bag of Doritos for the group meeting and when the librarian told me to share them I’d pass the whole bag to you only for the librarian to tell you to share them and then you’d pass the whole bag of Doritos right back to me. I miss reading your old i-pod touch self-insert stories together on the bleachers in the gym and you talking me through Undertale for the first time. I miss teaching you how to play Binding of Isaac and telling you about my pantomime ideas for drama and adapting and performing that Bojack episode for our drama final. I miss getting morning texts from you before I got to school and then find you waiting for me at the same table in the cafeteria every day so we could keep talking about the morning text until the first bell rang. Dad reminded me recently of the one time you met him and freaked him out because you and I almost finished each other’s sentences. One time when you were getting ready to hang out with me, your parents told me that they noticed you were talking like me and that it was really apparent the more they got to know me. I miss carrying around an extra sweatshirt and a chocolate bar because you kept saying you were cold and hungry during the day and it made me feel good to have an immediate fix for when you said that.
I loved you, dude. I’ve never felt the way I did about you about anyone else, and no girl I’ve known nor any friend since you has ever come close to making things like they were. Then again, I think it was that closeness that caused our schism. There was a point, and I don’t know where that point was, where I couldn’t describe what you and I had as anything but a relationship and to hear you say otherwise made me feel like I was delusional. I mean both of our parents, all the staff at the library, and most of our peers at school who saw us for even an instant just assumed we were already dating, for fuck’s sake you wore my sweatshirt most days to school. I thought that if you didn’t have feelings for me then something about me must have embarrassed you, or I disappointed you somehow, or you were going to leave me for some reason. When things were good I was worried you would never talk to me again after I graduated high school, like most friends of mine tend to do at major milestones in their lives. I asked you out once in the fall and once in the winter and neither time did you say yes or no. I hated your non-answers way more than I would have hated to be rejected, they kept me from accepting the fact that you and I weren’t going to work out.
I wanted space back then. I wanted you to leave me alone back then four years ago. One of the things I feel guilty about is that I could have kept treating you the same and we probably could have kept going on the same way after you turned me down. I effectively ghosted you out of ego. I don’t know what I should have done, I think I would have been really self-conscious if I kept on being just your friend I would have been jealous when you found someone else and bitter that there was something you just didn’t like about me. On the other hand, when I first said I needed space I’ll admit I was borderline depressed for more than two weeks. I was determined to limit my interaction with you. I hoped that after enough time I wouldn’t feel like what we had was special and that would work because if you didn’t have feelings for me most of the magnitude of our relationship up until then must have been in my head and some time spent stepping back would help me see that and move on. I went a little far even here, kicking you out of DnD was just petty. It was hard to reckon a lot of the ways I tried to split from you because our lives were really interconnected at that point. I had to tell myself during that time that you didn’t care about me, I needed to repeat that what we had was just something I built up in my head and I wasn’t owed jack shit.
I don’t know what you were feeling. I might never know. I never wanted you to hear me say that I thought you didn’t care about me and our friend at the time who told you what I said is a piece of shit for betraying my confidence. It would be a lie though to say I didn’t want you to change your mind about liking me. It might have been the worst possible course of action for you to tell me that you liked me that night at the library. I’ll never forget it, you were crying. I’d never seen you cry before. I really didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, I wanted the time I spent distancing myself from you to be my own. It was another mix of emotions when you said you liked me that night. You must have cared about me and felt something about me, you were clearly distraught. But I was worried at the time you said it that I had pressured you into saying what you said. But I also badly wanted to go back to the good times you and I had.
After you told me you liked me really were kind of magical in that we went almost right back to the way things were, except I knew we had mutual feelings.
Then that same friend of ours told me you went on a date with someone from your summer camp two weeks after you said you liked me.
I was angry. I am angry. I didn’t know what it all meant. I don’t know what you were doing or why you did it. I will never know that. I do know that you two weren’t that serious and that one date during the time we made up didn’t go anywhere, but that kind of makes it worse. You threw away whatever it was you were crying for and whatever part of me you actually liked for someone you only saw during the summer who barely spoke to you and didn’t even like you. Whatever.
I was cruel to you after you did that to me. Too cruel. I scheduled clubs at the library that drew traffic from your clubs, I took your friends from you, I went to prom with the girl you were best friends with before me so prom would be that much more awkward for you. I don’t want to make another laundry list of bad things. I’m ashamed of what I did. I was outlandishly petty and mean. I shouldn’t have done what I did.
Stupidly, I still wanted us to work out. Even after you flat out lied to me in one of my most vulnerable moments and after I tried to the maximum extent of my abilities to hurt you for hurting me I wanted there to be some magical reconciliation where everything just worked. Barring that, college was the perfect excuse to never talk to you again. I was a bit relieved you hated me after I left. It meant I knew exactly where I stood with you.
But we still talk now. I don’t know why I can’t bring myself to block your phone number when I’ve blocked you everywhere else and have no intention of unblocking you on any of those platforms. I don’t understand what happened that caused you to start talking to me again, but roughly every other month like clockwork you send me some innocuous text about a videogame or a Bojack reference and it reminds me that I loved you. A part of it is that unlike every other friend I’ve ever had you are the only one that sticks around, which would be great if you and I didn’t have a big pile of toxic history. I’m a little upset that after I left the nest and went into the big wide world of college to meet thousands of new people only my old high school crush stands out as a lifelong friend, which is probably one of the big reasons why I haven’t blocked your number.
I’ve tried everything I can to move past you in college. I’ve tried dating, but it turns out I suck at it and I’ve never even got a second date. I tried burying myself in coursework but that only makes me depressed. I tried making new platonic friends but weirdly they leave at about the same speed as dates.
I guess I’m writing to ask you two questions.
  1. Why did you go back to talking to me? If you hated me after senior year and I didn’t speak to you after I left, why did you go back to talking to me? I know you have other friends who weren’t dicks to you. Why reach out to me?
  2. Did you mean what you said when you said you liked me back in the library? The sad truth is that I may never lose my feelings for you. I don’t know whether your date after you confessed your feelings to me was some miscommunication that I took too far, because if it was I might never forgive myself.
Maybe you’ll disappear one day. I’ve yet to meet a friend who doesn’t disappear and if you do choose to vanish you have a better reason to do so than most people I know. But I am not strong enough to let you go just yet, even if I should.
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2020.10.25 04:10 ezlezl Tap Water SEO site: 13 mo

Howdy reddit, I've been writing posts about a content site I've been working on.
Last month I got a lot of good feedback that helped out a lot. This month I have some interesting updates and I've written a ton.
The singular purpose of the site is to answer the question:

"Can you drink the tap water in ?"

For any given place. I came up with the idea when I was traveling and while I was in an Airbnb in Thailand, I typed Can you drink the tap water in Bangkok? into Google.

Goal

The goal of this site is to be the #1 or #2 search result for the above query for every city in the world.

Month Summary

  1. Fixed a bunch of the issues that were reported to me by other redditors when I posted last month. These were absolutely valid. We had just released a new UI for the site and a bunch of stuff was terribly broken. Not all fixed yet, but moving there.
  2. Entrusted strategic ownership to Mike, who has been working with me since May.

Traffic Stats To Date

Month Visitors
Aug 2019 0
Sep 2019 35 (+30)
Oct 2019 261 (+230)
Nov 2019 709 (+440)
Dec 2019 2,043 (+1.3k)
Jan 2020 4,766 (+2.7k)
Feb 2020 6,994 (+2.3k)
Mar 2020 9,741 (+2.7k)
Apr 2020 6,886 (-2.9k)
May 2020 10,971 (+4.1k)
Jun 2020 15,423 (+4.3k)
Jul 2020 26,316 (+10.9k)
Aug 2020 39,925 (+13.6k)
Sep 2020 48,373 (+8.4k) (new)

Slow Progress

One thing I've found frustrating over the last 4-5 months is how it feels like we're moving really slow.
My "day job" is building startups, and I am more accustomed to moving really fast and updating features, pushing fixes immediately. Instead here, sometimes we'll have an obvious bug, but it could take weeks to fix.
I sometimes get impatient with tasks that don't get completed, especially if they seem relatively easy, but I came to the realization this month that it's a bit unfair to treat the project in this way.
So as an example, last month, a bunch of people reported that our city autosuggest is total nonsense and doesn't suggest good cities. That is (I think) still an issue. I think what's happening here is that it's just listing other cities by the date they were entered into the database, which is generally not the way humans sort cities. Even a quick fix like "sort by population descending population size" would dramatically improve the user experience, but we haven't implemented it.
As another example, the time from redesign being completed to deployed was over 2 months. This was due to a miscommunication. Mike (project manager) had communicated with Filip (our freelance developer) that we wanted the new design implemented. Filip quoted "40 hours".
What he did NOT communicate was that this was (A) engineering hours, not calendar hours (B) he was currently busy so would not be able to look at it yet (C) it would take over 2 months to get 40 hours of work into it.
Of course, this is not Filip's fault or Mike's fault.
I think I had just been unfairly comparing progress on this thing, which is a priority for nobody, to progress on my day job, where many people are focusing their full time efforts on it.
This mindset shift has helped me feel a bit more patient about the work progress on the site and accept that some of the "to do" list items may persist for months at a time.

Fast Progress

While actions feel slow in the moment, I had another realization a few days ago, which is that despite FEELING slow when I want something done but it takes weeks or months, I'm super happy with our overall progress.
It was just the beginning of this year that my goal was to get to 100 visitors per day. If you look at the above table, in December of last year we averaged 60 visitors/day and we broke the 100 visitor threshold in January.
Now we're regularly touching that volume every day.
So while the actions seem slow, it's rewarding to see that the results march forward, even though we aren't touching it every day.

Tasks completed in the last month

A bunch of new design bug fixes. The new design was pushed right before last month's post. There were a lot of problems with it, which redditors kindly pointed out. A bunch of these have been improved, but we still have more to fix.
Fix a scroll problem with our map.
Start looking for a new developer to add to improve our velocity (still continuing to work with Filip, but just want to have someone else that can work on it to increase our speed).

Next Steps

I'm effectively carrying my task list forward from the previous time, since none of them got executed.

Reviving an old split test -- oops I killed that too soon.

Just 2 months ago, I announced the "handwritten vs programmatic" split test inconclusive. I had previously just handwritten a bucket of articles and compared the performance over 10 weeks and found that our handwritten articles did not perform significantly better as a group. (More in this post where I talked about what we did and shut it down)
Well, I called it too soon.
I had asked my VA (Drew) to keep tracking this, but on a monthly cadence. When reviewing it this month, I found that the handwritten bucket of cities has definitely outperformed the programmatic ones.
As you can see, in this traffic chart of both buckets (aggregate traffic for entire bucket), you can see I ended the experiment pretty much exactly when the traffic started to diverge.
https://i.imgur.com/WqENXTg.png
Further, if you look at each city individually, it's clear that the handwritten bucket didn't perform better because of just one outlier driving the entire bucket performance.
https://i.imgur.com/KBN0xQb.png
6 out of 14 cities in the handwritten portfolio had statistically significant gains over a 5 month period.
0 out of 14 cities in the programmatically generated (control) portfolio had statistically significant gains in the same period.
Sooooo.... Good news and bad news.
Good news: We know EXACTLY how to increase traffic for the site.
Bad news: It involves hand writing 30,000 articles.
I'm not really intending to do that though, but will move towards experimenting with:
  1. being clever about targeting which cities are actually worth hand writing (high search volume, low competition)
  2. using AI content generation to supplement for search
  3. pull in more data sources across the board to improve the quality of all pages
But it does inform strategy because it makes it clear that we CAN use hand written content as a tool in the toolbox for competing for high value pages.

New Domain

One thing we've been talking about is changing the domain name. The original domain name is kind of crappy, long to type, and doesn't feel like a brand. We want to switch it and intend to do so soon, but are just dreading (A) potentially screwing up the domain switch and (B) it sounds like even if you DO a domain switch perfectly, you'll still lose SEO at first (and hopefully get it back).
Since we've just barely crossed the 50k traffic threshold, we're JUST eligible for some forms of ad monetization, so it's tempting to run the ads first, then switch later. If we switch it over now, we'll likely fall below the threshold and won't be able to monetize immediately.
--
Whelp! I wrote a lot, I think! If you made it this far, congrats! I know that's a huge wall of text! :)
See y'all next month!
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