Large artificial coral reef aquarium decorations

Saltwater A Little Piece of The Ocean.

2011.01.30 08:39 johnvan86 Saltwater A Little Piece of The Ocean.


2023.05.28 05:00 Kazevenikov Cryptid Chronicle - Chapter 30

A special thanks to u/bluefishcake for the wonderful original story and sandbox to play in.
A special thanks to my editors LordHenry7898, RandomTinkerer, Swimming_Good_8507, CatsInTrenchcoats, and KLiCKonthat.
And a big thanks to the authors and their stories that inspired me to tell my own in this universe. RandomTinkerer (City Slickers and Hayseeds), Punnynfunny (Denied Operations), CompassWithHat (Top Lasgun), CarCU131 (The Cook), and Rhion-618 (Just One Drop)
Hy’shq’e Ay Si’am (Thank you noble friends)
Chapter 30: A Promise Kept
Kalai stepped off the shuttle to the Vaida’s headquarters and into a running tackle-hug from Sitry. “Oh Kalai, I could kill you right now! You got to see the Great Barrier Reef in person, you bitch!” Sitry’s cheerful voice was muffled from where she was still buried in her chest. Kalai staggered backwards a pace or two, happy to be back from her whirlwind adventure around Earth with her father.
Naranjo and Papa Rhaxiid were there on the platform to welcome her back too, but their welcomes were more sedate.
“Not to mention you got out of work for half our damn trip. Ugh, it’s so not fair!” Naranjo huffed as Kalai gave him a sisterly hug.
Papa Rhaxiid reached up and chucked her chin before turning to lead the way back inside from the forested platform. “Welcome back, sweet-sprout, we’ve missed you. Come on, we’ll get you settled again and off to work. There’s quite a bit you need to catch up on if you want your credits.”
The chuckles from the twins behind her were full of sibling malice, but she knew how to shut the pair of them up. “Papa Rhaxiid? I’ve got the paper on Biodiversity in the Reef you asked for, along with the dissection report and stomach content analysis of the tuna we caught. I want to put the finishing touches on it and do a final proofread first before I send them to you.” The man turned and gave her a warm smile as they entered the building.
“Good, why don’t you go take your things back up and say hello to Andy? I’ll give you an hour and a half to get freshened up, then I want you to report to Aquarium 12 with Dr. Sor’ansa. You can put your snorkeling practice to work there.” Papa Rhaxiid walked the three of them to the residential elevator. “I’m heading back to my office. Andy’s been requested by Maetro Pae’ella to work the kitchens for something called ‘Bison burgers'. Apparently it’s a type of indigenous bovine that the eastern Bands raise. That and something from Europe called ‘French Fries’.”
Kalai couldn’t help but get excited as she and her siblings piled into the elevator back to their little shared apartment. Sure the food she’d had all over the place was good, but so far nothing had been able to compare to Andy and his Salishian cooking.
“Nerd, I can’t believe you cheated and did work on your vacation." Naranjo broke the silence of the elevator after a little bit and stuck his tongue out at her.
Spit to windward, you vain little weed. Don’t hate me because I’m awesome.” Kalai’s riposte caused Naranjo to fold his arms and huff. Sitry simply ambushed her with an ear flick.
The elevator door opened to their floor before Kalai couldn’t bear the silence from Sitry any longer. “So, did you bag him yet, you lucky bitch?”
“No she hasn’t!” Naranjo’s singsong mockery of his sister interrupted Sitry’s response. “Papa hasn’t let Sitry even NEAR Andy without one of them around!”
“Rub it in, you snitch, besides, he did kiss me first,” Sitry preened happily as she playfully shoved Kalai’s shoulder.
Kalai pretended to stumble and almost caught Sitry’s foot, but she was just a hair too slow. “Yeah, and then you gave him a black eye, you clod.”
“Will you let it go? It was an accident!”
“It’s not even the only one he got either." Naranjo’s interjection stopped her right in front of their door.
“Wait, what? Who hurt him this time?” Kalai let her bag thunk to the floor as she turned to look accusingly between Sitry and Narny.
Sitry folded her arms and her ears twitched back as she shot a dark look at their door. “He ‘fell down’ yesterday while out at one of the Hatcheries we gave to the Hwatcoms. Mrs. Toloui nearly had a fit! She said she could smell another human on him and that he was covered in blood!”
Narny nodded primly as Kalai tried to process what they were telling her. “WHAT? Did she call out the militia? Track down whoever hurt him?”
“No, and he refused treatment and insisted that no one did it to him! When papa tried to talk to him, Andy said some stupid human macho shit about pain healing and birds liking scars. I don’t know, sometimes humans… they’re frickin’ insane!”
The door shot open and there stood Andy. His left eye was an angry puffy yellow and blue mess, and there were three points on his lips where a dark cinnabar line marked a crack. Kalai and her siblings stood in wide eyed shock at his sudden appearance and the only sound was the music emanating from the common room behind him.
Andy looked up and down at the three without saying a word. He cocked an eyebrow and snagged Kalai’s bag before any of them could react and cleared the doorway for them.
Kalai sputtered at the impropriety but Naranjo and Sitry just shrugged and walked in after Andy. “Femboys, am I right?” Narny whispered to Kalai as he passed. Kalai followed behind and was greeted by the white fluff-ball, Puck, who hopped up and down, whining for attention. She bent down and started scratching his ears and back. While Puck rubbed up against her hands, Andy settled back down at the table where his omnipad was hooked up to a keypad. Her heart started to sink a bit and Kalai shot Sitry a jealous look before the music came to a sudden halt and Andy interrupted the beginnings of her pity party.
“Ok, Kem’ira, I got the pics now and I’m telling you to declare yourself to the farmers first! I guarantee if you tell them you’re with the new DNR and you’re there to kill all the Scotch Broom in their pasture lands, they’ll stop trying to shoot you for trespassing!”
Kalai’s mood jumped up a bit. It’s not that he doesn’t care to see me, he’s in a meeting!
“No, no I’m not coming out to talk this over with them, I’ve got my own work to do! Either you start talking to folks like I showed you how, or ask the militia to give you one of their armored catsuits to wear under your uniform… Uh-huh, good luck." Andy hung up on the call and leaned back as Puck scampered over and hopped up in his lap.
Andy rubbed his temples before shaking his head. He seemed to relax a bit and Puck slid off to follow Sitry to the kitchen. Andy looked over and gave Kalai a happy smile that made her flush. “Welcome back! So how was the land down under? That tuna was fan-frickin’-tastic, if you aren’t sick of seafood I’ll do something fancy with it tomorrow to celebrate your coming back. Can’t tonight though, I got volun-told to be head chef tonight and I… Oh damnit! I’m late! Come to dinner, burgers and fries Indian style tonight. Gotta run!” With that, Andy went dashing out the door with Puck barking and scrambling along after him.
Kalai felt her heart sink back down again, as he left. “Andy I-” She started but he was gone.
“Yeah, it’s been like that for the whole week. The only time we get to hang out is dinner.” Sitry commiserated as she took Kalai’s bag into their room. “On the other hand, we might get to catch up during the family meal tonight.”
The dinner was delicious, though a bit weird. It tasted alright, but there was a certain aftertaste on the sandwich that just didn’t sit right with Kalai. She just couldn’t put her finger on it. The french fries more than made up for it though, and Mama Sakalbi had to hold a science trivia contest to see who got the last little handful.
Kalai and Narny were already silently plotting with each other for their revenge against their sister who had won and refused to share the last few matchsticks when Andy finally joined their table. He was sweaty and he smelled of woodsmoke and french fries. Kalai jumped up and offered him a seat next to her with a nervous smile. He took it gratefully and seemed to sag a bit as he gulped down a glass of water.
“Andy, I think you may be finding your calling as a culinary ambassador,” Mama Aftasia beamed. “A toast to the chef!”
Andy gave a shy smile and looked down as Kalai and the rest of the family gave a hearty ‘Here, here!”
“It’s a simple enough recipe; it’s just using bison instead of cow, that’s all, and I don’t know anyone who’d turn down hand cut fresh fries. It’s kind of hard to screw up.”
“Young man, you are speaking to a woman who found a way to take cold water and dried wumpa flakes and wind up with a Class-4 fire. Cooking has always seemed like ‘blight mysticism’ to me, and these foods? These flavors? Nothing short of a Greenwood miracle in my opinion." Mama Aftasia continued her praise of Andy, which only caused him to shrink even lower in his seat.
“To be honest, I like your salmon better,” Kalai said, and the whole table went silent. Kalai held her ground though, and was rewarded with a tired but genuine laugh from Andy that brought him back out of his shell.
“You know, I do too. My Clan were fisherpeople, not buffalo chasers.” Andy gave Kalai a cheeky grin, which she returned happily, her heart glowing. Mama Aftasia and Mama Sakalbi both blinked in bemusement at Andy’s statement while Sitry just giggled.
“Speaking of which, Andy, I received a call from Elder Alex Hwatcom.” Papa Rhaxiid’s change of subject instantly perked Andy up, and he stared silently, waiting. “He extended an invitation to our family to attend his family gathering this Friday-”
“Alex said that? He used those words?” Andy shook his head in shock as he interrupted Papa Rhaxiid. The table went quiet and everyone held their breath as they looked between the two men.
Papa Rhaxiid adopted as good an impression of the human Elder as he could. “I’d like to extend an invitation for you and your family to be guests at our family gathering this saturday up at the White… something… lodge-”
“The White Ram Lodge?” Andy sat forward, interjecting again as the color drained from his face.
“Yes, that’s the one! I asked if we could bring anything since the last time they hosted us they put on that wonderful spread. He said if we could bring a few salmon for the family, that would be wonderful.”
Andy leaned back and took another sip of ice water before holding the glass to his blackened eye. “Alex Hwatcom… just invited you… to a gathering… and he told you to ‘bring a few salmon’? Do you realize what a huge honor this is?”
Rhaxiid looked from his wives to his children with mild concern. “Um, I thought it was only dinner, but your reaction tells me there’s more significance to this than I originally thought. I was thinking about our stocks of adult Sockeye, but then I remembered in his story how important King Salmon are. Of course, I’d like to defer to you for the choice since you know these animals and the cultural expectations with this invitation better than we do.”
Andy was silent for a moment before he put the glass down. “I’d recommend a ‘hard no’ to all your clone stock!” Now it was the Vaidas’ turn to be shocked, as each of Kalai’s Erbian family’s jaws dropped in synch. Before anyone could say anything, Andy continued, “You need to bring wild-caught. Farm-raised salmon wouldn’t… well we can tell, and you can taste the difference between them. We need to go fishing!” Kalai leaned towards Andy slightly as he lowered his head and started mumbling to himself. She was just able to make out what he was saying to himself as Mama Sakalbi and Mama Aftasia began whispering to each other. “...need to get the Gillnetter out of storage, check what’s running and select the mesh. I’m gonna need a deckhand too.
Kalai reached a hand out but stopped short of touching him. “Andy?”
He popped up and spoke for the whole table to hear. “I need a shuttle to the mainland and a waiver against the fishing ban. I’ve got to get my boat and the drum ready for sea ” Rhaxiid and Aftasia sputtered in confusion, but Mama Sakalbi had a shadow fall over her, and her ears pulled back.
“Do you mean to say you want to go out on the water? Risk the ecological balance for… dinner?”
Andy looked Sakalbi dead in the eye and gave her a firm nod. “Why don’t you come out and see how we did this before you got here. Think of it as a chance to see the way we’ve fished for the last hundred or so years, and then I can explain the way we used to fish before that.”
The offer snapped Rhaxiid out of his confusion and he brightened. “A learning experience? Wonderful, we’ll make a day of it!” His hands shot out to grab both his wives’ and Kalai could feel the vibrations in the floor from where he was excitedly tapping his feet.
“If you don’t mind hard, smelly work. Uncle Willy always called it ‘the worst desk in the prettiest office.' It’ll be a bit cramped, but I’ve got room on the boat for a few guests and observers; four I think would be ok. She’s a working boat, not a pleasure cruiser,” Andy explained. That sent the whole lot of them excitedly talking among themselves.
Kalai was about to lean in to talk to Mama Aftasia, but Andy caught her attention first. “I don’t suppose you’d want to go back out on the water, given you just got back from pleasure-boating-”
Kalai’s heart nearly jumped out of her chest. “I wouldn’t miss it for my own colony planet!”
Kalai stood on the pier, bundled in her thermal sailor’s coat. It was still dark and the wind blew from the north in a cold little morning breeze. Kalai took a deep breath and reveled in the smell of the fresh sea air. The soft chattering of Mama Sakalbi’s teeth broke the silence. “It’s a bit chillier than it said it was going to be.”
“The water always does that. It’s never as warm as the lubbers say it’ll be,” Papa spoke as he handed her back her thermos of hot chocolate.
Papa stood next to Kalai and nudged her with his elbow. Even in the dark, Kalai could see him smile up at her and jerk his head at the shivering Erbian. He was also wearing a thermal sailor’s coat, and his hands were stuffed in his pockets to keep them warm, just like Kalai’s. “Landswoman,” he whispered to her and the two of them shared a knowing smile. It was strange, but welcome when she'd told Papa about her upcoming day fishing with Andy, and he’d politely requested to join them. Papa Rhaxiid had graciously given his spot up to accommodate her birth father. Narny was all for it until Andy had explained what they were going to do, but then surrendered his challenge to the fourth guest space, not wanting to go anywhere NEAR anything that could see him come face to face with a Lion’s Mane Jelly. Sitry had done a happy little dance when she found out, but only yesterday had come down with Thistle Fever, and was bundled off to bed by her parents. It left Kalai, Mama Sakalbi, and Papa to accompany Andy on his fishing trip.
The water brushed against the shore behind them quietly. In the gloom, Kalai could just barely make out the outline of the nearest island mountain, but only because the stars had disappeared behind it. It was almost four in the morning, but Kalai had managed a catnap on the shuttle to the empty little lot that had been the boat launch. Aside from the water, the world was silent. Even the breeze made almost no noise and a sense of peace surrounded them. Everything was so calm, Kalai felt like she didn’t have a care in the world.
In the distance, a low rumbling sound of a motor rose from being almost imperceptible to a rolling drum of thunder. From around the point, two green floating lights sped through the darkness, and a spotlight turned on. The beam of light moved jerkily until it came to rest on the pier where they were standing and Kalai started waving her arms. Sakalbi’s omnipad rang, and Andy’s voice shouted over the speaker and the background noise for them to shine a light on the edge of the pier to help him park the boat.
Kalai and Papa moved closer and turned their omnipad flashlights on and waved them as the boat swung gracefully around and glided in alongside them. Kalai caught the rope that flew over the railing of the boat and she heard more than saw Andy moving around on the deck as she tied off on one of the mooring cleats. Several lights clicked on and the deck was bathed in light enough for Kalai to get a clear view of the boat they’d be spending the day on.
Andy hadn’t lied. Kalai saw that this little vessel was a working boat with no frills at all. When he’d told her they’d be going fishing, she’d envisioned something like the charter boat papa had taken her on out of Nantucket. Sporty, fast with a nod to comfort and function. This was not that at all. A giant wheel as wide as Kalai’s outstretched arms that looked like a sideways spool of thread was secured to the deck amidships and dominated the deckspace. Wrapped around it was a fluorescent green tangle with a line of oblong white and yellow corks and rope. There was a covered hatchway sitting behind the drum in front of the raised step to the enclosed cabin. Two large windows let the light out to two children’s bunks, a little table with a booth seat and a raised captain’s chair in front of the helm and engine controls. Andy shut down the engine and that peaceful stillness returned.
“Oway there!” Kalai called, “ship oway! Request permission to come aboard.” Kalai gave the traditional greeting of a Shil’vati sailor.
“Permission granted! Anyone need a stepstool?” Andy finally stepped into the light and Kalai got a look at him. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and the same bright orange coveralls she’d seen the fishmongers wearing on their date.
“I wouldn’t mind a hand, Mr. Shelokset.” Papa He’osforos braced a foot on the railing of the boat and Andy pulled him up.
“Just call me Andy, Doc, and welcome aboard. Jackie should be along any minute now with the day’s groceries, and the cabin’s out of the cold. You can get yourself set wherever you find comfortable.” Papa nodded and disappeared around the other side of the wheel moving towards the bow.
Kalai helped Mama Sakalbi into the boat next, and she quickly ducked into the cabin that took up the entire stern section save for a little ledge that ran along the outside. Andy gripped Kalai’s hand and she smiled as he pulled her deftly aboard. The boat rocked a little on its mooring, and Kalai almost fell into Andy, who wordlessly put his arms around her waist to catch her as she lost her balance. She flailed for a moment before she steadied herself against him.
“Gotcha,” Andy smiled, and Kalai could see him flush almost as much as she could feel herself doing as their noses almost touched. Those big dark brown eyes surrounded by white orbs drew her in and she felt she could lose herself in them. Kalai started as Andy danced her around him and moved her towards the cabin door.
“It might be a little cramped for you in there, but the Mary Jean wasn’t built for pleasure boating, she’s a working girl. Sit tight, I gotta check a few things in the back.” Andy patted the railing affectionately before he hopped up and scooted along the outside of the cabin towards the stern. Kalai couldn’t help the little longing groan that came out as he left her there on the little tiny quarterdeck. Her heart was hammering in her chest as half formed fantasies danced at the edges of her mind.
“I saw that, little minnow.” Papa’s voice was soft, but his tone and the sudden broken silence nearly gave her a heart attack.
Kalai could only stammer as her father stared at her with a cocked eyebrow. A thump from the cabin window behind saw an amused Mama Sakalbi daintily sipping at her thermos with her ears twitched forward in interest, staring out at her. “Papa I… he-”
Papa moved carefully around the covered hatchway to stand next to her, leaning back against the cabin window and heaved a sigh. “I must say I’m surprised. This lovely man’s got good clean lines and is very well cared for. It speaks well of his Skipper.”
It took a full minute for Kalai’s brain to process that he was talking about the boat and not Andy. “And the way Andy brought him in smooth in near complete darkness? It gives me confidence in his abilities.”
Kalai breathed a silent sigh of relief and exasperation. Although she was happy to be spending more time with her father, bringing him on what she’d hoped would be a sailing date wasn’t exactly what she’d had in mind for ‘family time’. He wants me to find a nice young man and spend time with him on a boat, but the first chance I get Papa decides to clam-jam me.
From up on shore, the sound and lights of a large human vehicle screeching to a halt heralded the last of their party to arrive. Kalai heard the clomping footsteps coming down the pier and moved to the railing to lend a hand.
“Ahoy Mary Jean! Raggedy Andy, you there?” Kalai stared with wide eyed surprise to see a human female, loaded down with plastic bags and sporting two human weapons on her shoulder. The two of them locked eyes, and while Kalai didn’t understand everything the girl shouted in surprise, she had caught and understood the phrase, “What the fuck?”
“Easy now, they’re my guests, and the one inside is the boss!” Andy appeared on the pier instantly before either Kalai or the woman could react further.
“Ya didn’t tell me we were having pur-” The woman glared at Kalai and her father. She had switched to Vatikre thankfully, but her tone was hostile as she dropped everything but her weapons. “I mean, hwun’eetums, aboard. A gal could get the wrong idea pretty quick in the dark when there’s no warning.”
“Knock it off Jackie. Let’s get the grub aboard and shove off.” Andy picked up some of the bags and took the guns as Kalai offered a helping hand over the railing. “Oh, Kalai, this is Jackie. Jackie? Kalai. That’s her dad over there, Doc He’osforos. He saw and treated Kay Tee a few years back.” Andy jerked his head towards the direction of Kalai’s father as she held out a hand to the human girl. On a quick inspection, she appeared to be about the same age as her and Andy. She had a round face and was about as dark complected as Andy was. She was shorter, only a few inches taller than Papa, but when Jackie grabbed Kalai’s hand to hop up onto the rail, she could feel the strength and the compact muscle hidden by the baggy sweatshirt and pants.
“Wait a minute, did you say Mini-Me over there saw Kay Tee? You’re fuckin’ with me!” Jackie stumbled a bit as she hopped down onto the deck with a loud thunk and advanced on Papa who shrank away at her advance. “You saw li’l Kay Tee? Where the fuck is he? Is he alright? Is he still fighting the good fight?”
“Last I saw, yes, he was ‘fighting the good fight.’” Papa looked over at Andy with a slightly worried expression. Andy smacked the girl in the back of the head, causing her to flinch and she opened the door to the cabin for Andy to go inside.
Jackie rubbed the back of her head and laughed. “Well that’s a little bit of alright, innit? Maybe today’s gonna be a good day after all!”
“Jackie, get suited up and get on the bow. I need a good pair of eyes on the roller horns,” Kalai heard Andy shout from the cabin, followed by a whole lot of thumping and banging from cabinets being opened and closed.
“You got it, ol’ man. We going to your place or mine?” Jackie sidestepped in and opened a tiny little closet and pulled out a set of rain gear that was identical to what Andy was wearing. Kalai collected herself and stood in the doorway next to her father as they both leaned in.
“Mine; Chuck said the Yaw’much are running from the South. We’ll do a set nor’west of Lummi in the Rosario and see if we can get some Fraser Kings,” Andy replied as he turned the engine back on and the vessel roared to life.
“Chuck? Isn’t that one of your cousins? I didn’t know he could keep track of the movements of Salmon, may I ask how he does it?” Mama Sakalbi perked up as she pulled a set of earplugs out of a pocket and inserted them.
Andy prevaricated a bit, looking from Jackie back to Sakalbi then to Kalai and Papa. “I’d rather not answer that-”
“Breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law! Breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law!”
Jackie began singing a human song, and Andy threw her the dirtiest of looks as she finished getting into the orange coveralls. Mama Sakalbi sputtered as Andy shrugged apologetically.
“Make a hole!” Jackie called, and she and Andy came back out as Kalai and Papa made room for them. Andy hopped back onto the dock to cast off while Papa ducked into the cabin.
“Can I help?” Kalai offered as Andy shoved the vessel off and leapt the gap over the black water below.
“You want to be useful? Come forward! I could use an extra set of eyes!” Jackie called back, and Kalai felt a slap on her shoulder from the boisterous human woman.
Andy stood at the helm, watching Jackie and Kalai as he leaned to get a better view of them past the Net drum. The bow was lifting up again, and the gentle little swells became like speed bumps, jostling them up and down in a predictable bouncing rhythm.
“Are you sure you couldn’t slow down, Andy? It’s a bit rough, don’t you think?” Sakalbi was hanging on to the table and her thermos with a worried expression on her face.
“I could, but we’ll miss the morning set. We want to bomb out the buoy right when the tide changes. If we’re lucky, then we’ll get around seventy or eighty by slack tide this afternoon and call it a day.”
“How do you know where to fish?” Dr. He’osforos was making a good show of standing and maintaining his balance with his hand on the booth.
“Well, there’s two ways you know. The first is you fish the spots your family’s fished since time began. Every family has about two or three different secret spots that we know there’s fish in, and we’re pretty defensive about their locations. The second is by smell. Right now it’s the tail end of the King season, and you can smell them in the water.” Andy turned and saw the incredulity etched on the faces of the two aliens.
“No, I’m serious! King Salmon slime is really pungent, and you can smell them when they’re close to the surface. We get to the fishing spot and take a deep whiff. If we smell them, we’ll set the nets.” Andy laughed at the disbelief on their faces as the GPS on his omnipad beeped and he turned to sail around the last buoy and head for the fishing ground.
“I’ve never noticed that in any of the Kings we’ve raised-”
Andy suppressed a laugh as they caught a larger swell as they left the lee of Lummi Island. Andy reveled in the feeling of weightlessness as the deck rose up and fell out from underneath their feet, leaving everyone suspended for a moment in midair before falling back down. A massive spray of water rose and washed over the deck, drenching Kalai and Jackie, who were still forward. “Cloned and farmed Kings don’t have that same smell. Wild ones smell and taste different, I’m telling you!” Andy pulled back slightly on the throttle as they climbed the next swell. “Brace!” he called as they climbed and fell once again.
There was a look of fear on Sakalbi’s face as she gripped the table for dear life, but to Andy’s surprise, the Doctor looked completely unfazed, and was handling the rise and fall of the deck like an old salt. “You look like you’ve done this before, Doc.”
“I’ve done a stint or two at sea before,” he spoke, in the same tone Andy would have used when trying not to sound too confident, and Andy smiled.
“Kalai keeps talking about loving the sea and sailing. Did you teach her to sail?”
“Yes, me and her mothers. When they were home, we would take the family yacht out in the Vaascon Straits and sail around the Occidiens. Kalai practically spent all her early childhood on a sailboat.”
“And almost every waking moment on one in Junior Academy. I swear you couldn’t dig her out with a trowel when she wanted to go sailing,” Sakalbi managed to add in a word as the boat slowed, and the dramatic rise and fall of the deck slowed with it.
“What about you, Mr. Shelokset, did your father teach you to sail too?”
“I was too young before he passed. My Great Uncle Willy taught me after I came home, and Grandma took me out to the family fishing sites when she wasn’t busy with the Council. For the first two or three years after they let us come home, fishing was the only way to feed our families, but the Militia and the Cambrians would try and sink our boats or arrest us whenever we tried to go out.”
“And that’s why you’re so good at maneuvering your vessel in the dark with no instruments?” Mrs. Vaida had folded her arms, and her voice twinged with that imperious tone she’d had when they’d first met.
Andy huffed a dry laugh. “I did what I had to for me and my people and to survive, Ma’am. I don’t like breaking the law or dodging lasers and gunfire, but there’s a lot of poor families that need to eat.”
The GPS beeped, and Andy gave Mrs. Vaida a slightly defiant look to counter her furrowed brow. “We’re here,” he said as he threw the engine in neutral and opened the cabin door.
Andy walked out and took a deep breath, but all he could smell was the net and the exhaust from the engine. “HEY JACKIE! WE SMELL MONEY?” Andy yelled out as he took stock of the sky. The first signs of sunrise were chasing all but the morning stars away and a light fog was rolling in from the north.
“FUCK YEAH I CAN SMELL ‘EM, ANDY! LET’S BOMB OUT AND GET BREAKFAST GOING!” Jackie looked slightly manic as she smiled brightly. Kalai, on the other hand, looked wet and miserable as she shivered, arms wrapped around herself. Andy gave his cousin a disgusted look as he pieced together what had happened. Every deckhand learned when to duck behind the raised bow and the roller horns that guided the nets so as not to get a faceful of spray when cutting through a swell. It was also a classic hazing trick for Senior Deckhands to let Junior Deckhands learn this the hard way.
Andy moved forward to stand in front of the two of them. Kalai was trying to squeeze her coat dry, but Andy knew it wouldn’t do much good until the sun came out. Jackie at least had the sense to look a little remorseful. “Kalai, why don’t you go sit in the cabin and get out of that wet coat. It’s cold enough out here even for us-”
“No way, Andy. Junior deckhand Kally here wants to impress you and get her dainty soft hands dirty! She’s been bragging about being a sailorwoman and wants to learn to fish ‘your way!” Jackie gave Kalai’s shoulder a wet slap as the poor alien woman went blue. Out of cold or embarrassment, Andy couldn’t tell.
All Andy could do was shake his head and huff. “Ok then! Secure the buoy and sling on my mark. I’ll get us in position!” Andy couldn’t help but chuckle as he heard Jackie start ordering Kalai about. Andy went back into the cabin and looked in the closet/bathroom to see if there was anything hanging up that he could give Kalai. There was only the one rain slicker and a few of Andy’s old sweaters from when he was a lot smaller. Well, looks like I’ll just be cold today. He quickly stripped out of his sweatshirt and grabbed the slicker before throwing a switch on the main control. Dr. He’osforos and Mrs. Vaida threw him quizzical looks as he went back outside wearing less than when he came in. He was down to a sleeveless shirt and his coveralls, and the morning breeze cut right through him and he braced his jaw to keep it from chattering.
“We’re ready to go- Andy, why are you practically naked from the waist up?” Kalai was staring wide eyed at him as he approached her and Jackie was on the bow. Jackie had everything ready; the buoy line was strung through the horns and ready to toss out. A giant orange and blue beach ball sized float hung at the end of the line to mark the end and make it easier to pick up later.
“Trade me your coat for these. If Jackie’s putting you to work, you’ll need these to keep warm.”
“I’m alright, I can-”
“I’m the Skipper of this boat, and I’m ordering you to take off that wet coat and put these on; and Jackie?” Andy gave his cousin a long and piercing look. “Give her the elbow gloves, not the halfsies.”
The scoff and the muttered Salishian profanities meant he’d read the next prank she’d had in mind right. She was planning on giving her the cloth gloves with only the palms and fingers coated in rubber. While perfectly fine for fishing, Andy knew they tended to get soaked through very quickly and did nothing to keep jellyfish stingers and fish slime off your hands. Kalai sputtered for a moment before she complied gratefully and she accepted the dry clothes and rain slicker.
Andy saw Jackie give him a strange look before looking back at Kalai, but he paid it no mind. He walked back to the controls on the drum and switched off the hydraulics, placing the mechanism in neutral. “SLING IT!” Andy called as he took the small jerry rigged steering wheel and threw the boat in reverse. Kalai jumped as the line started unspooling the net into the water at a rapid pace.
Andy set an ‘S’ bend in the quarter mile long net, zigzagging backwards until they came to the end of the line. Andy stopped the boat as Jackie tied off the other large buoy and tossed it over the side, unstringing the cork-line from the roller horns in the process. He pulled hard over and put a bit of distance from the net before shutting the engine down. The line of white and yellow corks marking the net bobbed lazily with the swells as silence settled over the water again. The waves rocked the boat gently as Andy found his sea legs again.
“Alright, I’ll get breakfast going. Jackie, Kalai? Post the watch for seals,” Andy called as he walked back into the cabin to fire up the tiny little gas stove.
Sakalbi, having found the confidence to stand at last, poked her head out of the cabin and stood on by the hatch to the fish hold. “Seals? Why would you need to watch for seals?”
Andy grit his teeth and looked over from where he was cracking open and scrambling eggs. “They’re the spawn of Satan and we hate their guts!” Andy bit out. Jackie came back and pulled the two shotguns and a pair of binoculars from the closet. Andy reached over to a side cabinet and pulled out a box of shells for them. Both his boss and the Doctor’s eyes got wide.
“Seals are the enemy of our blood. Were it not for the invasion, our unending war against these vermin would continue to this day!” Jackie growled as she loaded one for herself and rested the other on Andy’s seat at the helm.
The look of growing horror on Sakalbi’s face towards their facetious declarations caused Andy to chuckle a bit, before launching into an explanation. “We’re not fans of the species because they’ll wait until a fish gets caught in the net and then they’ll steal it, costing us a fish AND ripping a big hole in our nets that we then have to take time to repair. We use the shotguns and buckshot to give them a nice welt and convince them not to hang around, because they’ll wait up on the surface and watch the buoys, just like us. A single seal can and will take between five and ten fish. The worst is when they start getting full, they’ll just bite out the bellies of a salmon in the net. We can’t really do anything with that fish once it’s ‘seal-bit’. So yes, as fishermen, we hate them.”
“Learned opportunism in apex predators as a response to human activity… I think I’ll go see this behavior for myself!” Sakalbi practically rushed out the door towards the bow where Jackie was sitting on the roller horns explaining to Kalai how to spot the bastards, leaving Andy alone in the cabin with the Doctor while he cooked breakfast for them all.
Dr. He’osforos sat down heavily in the booth and pulled out his omnipad. “I’ve had a word with my friend in the Interior. She’s pulled the warrant for your brother, and I’ve withdrawn the charges I filed.”
Andy froze and turned around slowly. The only sound was the sizzle and pop of the eggs and chorizo that he’d added to them in the skillet. “You mean… it’s done? He can come home?” A wave of light headed euphoria swept over Andy and he swayed with the gentle rocking of the boat. “I will pay you back, Doc-”
The doctor held up his hand and stopped Andy. “We’ll call it even, but there’s something… I was able to get my hands on this,” Andy watched as the doctor swiped something towards his omnipad and it dinged. “What is it if I may-”
“Are you really asking an Indian to tell you a story? Because it’s going to be a long one if you are.” “I’m Sevastutavan, young man; we invented long stories.”
Andy froze and stared at the screen of his omnipad. The Vatikre was heavily accented, and Andy had a bit of trouble with the unfamiliar accent, but centered in the frame in a hospital room, sitting in a wheelchair, was a Salishian boy. Andy blinked in surprise as he stared at the screen. “Is that-”
“I am Ikw’is’hi’ehlah, and this bearer is… of the Orca Clan Sheloksets. I drove our Haida enemies onto the rocks and took many heads when they attacked our winter village on Orcas Island. I signed the Treaty with the Great White Father and I fought against the slavers of the south-”
Andy wanted to grab the omnipad but the smell of overcooking eggs brought his attention back to breakfast and Andy stirred and scrapped the food quickly, trying to save it.
“I asked her for any materials she could give me on your brother. Pictures, recordings, anything. This is what she gave me. It's the last known recording of your brother during an interrogation conducted by a Navy Commissar prior to his escape. It seems he made friends with a Pod of Deaths Head Commandos. Quite a bit of the recording has been redacted, but… there are portions of it where he talks about his family and his history. I thought you might like to have it.”
Andy hurriedly pulled out paper plates and a slice of bread for everyone and scooped a heaping portion of the chorizo eggs onto them. He handed the doctor his before leaning out the cabin door. “Slop’s on, come and get it!”
Andy sat down after moving the shotgun out of the way and started the video over again as the three women came back to grab their plates and lost himself watching his brother start telling his story.
“What’s that?” Andy heard Kalai ask over his shoulder, and he paused the video.
“That’s my brother! That’s Kay Tee!”
“Holy shit, what?” Jackie nearly shoved Kalai into Andy as she jammed her bread slice down her gullet and crowded in to see the screen.
Andy started the video over a second time and they watched in silence. “God, that brings back memories. Back when mom was still alive and before we broke up the warband. I can’t believe that slippery little punk ghosted a pod of Commandos for two fucking years! Holy shit, that’s badass!”
Before Andy could say anything, Sakalbi started coughing and brought the binoculars up. “Uh, Andy? Jackie? What do we do about sharks?”
Jackie looked at Andy in confusion. “Sharks? There’s nothing but Dogs around here.”
“Well those are shark fins and they’re charging the net!” Sakalbi pointed and Andy looked up to see dorsal fins charging the center of the net.
Andy looked at Jackie and spoke the same words in tandem, “Oh shit!”

To be posted 6/4/23
submitted by Kazevenikov to Sexyspacebabes [link] [comments]

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2023.05.27 18:59 micktalian The Gardens of Deathworlders: A Blooming Love (Part 17)

Part 17 An Interesting Future (Part 1) (Part 16)

"Lieutenant Tensebwse and his former commanding officer are approaching your office for their scheduled meeting, ma'am." An automated voice called out to Admiral Atxika from her office desk where she sat with her feet up while reading a report on her data tablet. "ETA, three minutes."

"Excellent! Thank you, Hammer." Atxika slowly set down her tablet, delicately removed her feet from her desk, and took a deep breath.

With a subtle press of a button on the underside of her desk, a small section of wall behind her desk suddenly shifted and showed a mirror-like reflection. After rising from her chair with the poise and determination of an ardent professional, she quickly inspected herself in the mirror to ensure her appearance was still up to her standards. Though the slightly less constricting compression-undershirt she had chosen for this occasion allowed the chest buttons of her well-decorated jacket to bulge a bit more than she preferred, it made the field of ribbons and medals above her heart on the right side of her chest stand out a bit more. After a quick turn to check that her backside was wrinkle-free and tight in all the right places, she shot herself the human-like smile she had been practicing. Despite the fact that her large, pearly-white tusks she saw in he reflection had brought her so much confidence with men in the past, she was suddenly feeling a tad self conscious about them.

"Good enough." She thought to herself as she reached over to her desk, pressed the button to turn off the mirror, and began the short walk to her office door.

Looking over at the many hunting trophies and art pieces she had been collecting throughout the years as she walked, she thought back to her childhood fantasy of seeing the stars on a fully-integrated, multi-species crew. On her walls were the beasts from dozens of star systems and the beauties from dozens more, and yet it still didn't feel like it was enough. Though she had spent over a decade building up her crew to the point where she saw several different alien faces each day, those were the rare individual volunteers who were either Deathworlders themselves or had grown up around Deathworlders. There was a particular lack of diversity in her crew compared to what she had imagined after learning about all the different Ascended species in the galaxy, and that bothered her.

Approaching the door, the Admiral couldn't help but feel excited about the prospect of working towards a relationship with another species greater than the simple business contracts she had grown so bored of. Becoming friends, true friends, with people who already seemed to already have many friends felt like a surefire way to have her fantasy come to life. And the fact that it was an order from her Matriarch made it even better. Seeing the two men approaching on the small security feed next to her door, their long braids and colorfully detailed clothing giving them a roughly matching appearance, she took a deep breath and practiced her smile one more time before reaching to open the door. Even though this meeting was purely meant as a report on the progress of her honor guard in regards to their new mechs, Atxika was hoping she would have the opportunity to set the groundwork for a more interesting future.

"Ah, War Chief Msko-Pkwenech, Lieutenant Tensebwse, come in and make yourselves comfortable." Admiral Atxika graciously greeted the two men after opening the door to her office with a smile that slightly covered her tusks and motioned for the men to enter. "Or, do you prefer a shortened name as well?"

"Msko is easier to say for most people say." Despite having to look up to address the woman, the War Chief’s smile and polite nod were that of one military commander showing respect to another. "But you can feel free to call me whatever comes most natural to you, Fleet Admiral."

"I must admit, I think the title 'War Chief' has a certain ring to it." Atxika's tone while making the compliment was professional, but it was obvious she was trying her best to charm the man while gesturing for the group to move towards her desk. "It is an honor and pleasure to meet a military leader of your capacity under such peaceful and cooperative conditions, War Chief."

"The honor and pleasure are mine." Though Msko wasn't quite laying it on as thick as Atxika, his neon green eyes did have a particular sparkle in them as he began slowly and deliberately following the Admiral towards her desk with Tens close behind. "Believe it or not, the Glorious Defense of Genio'Turak by the Stalwart of Destruction is known to all Nishnabe war planners."

"Oh?" Atxika blurted out while stopping dead in her tracks for just a split second before continuing towards her desk. As she stopped and started again, Tens could have sworn he saw her bioluminescent freckles light up just slightly. "I didn't realize I was that well known."

"Wait, hold on, that was you?" Tens sounded genuinely shocked and froze in place a couple paces behind the War Chief. "You were the Qui’ztar sub-Admiral who destroyed a Class 5 Devourer Mass with a ragtag anti-piracy fleet? I heard you barely had enough ships to patrol the hyperlanes, and you still took out a full Class 5 Mass!"

"Well, I wouldn't call my Matriarch's 4th Fleet 'ragtag' but…" Atxika shot Tens a nasty side eye as she walked around her desk toward her chair. "We certainly didn't have The Hammer, nor much in the way of logistical support. However, how do you know about that? I wasn't aware you were involved in strategic or logistical planning."

"Involved?" Msko half-laughed while he placed a hand on the backrest of his chair and made a nodding motion for Tens to sit in the chair next to him. "This nerd already had resource expenditure tables, battle flow diagrams, and force organizations charts developed before we even had the first batch of combat-ready systems operational." As he sat down and shot a sarcastic look over at Tens, he continued with an almost mocking tone. "Do you wanna tell her why, Tens? Or should I?"

"The original idea for the mechs came after I won a real-time strategy sim game tournament that I spent way too much time prepping for." Tens rolled his eyes slightly while closing the distance to where his current and former commanding officers were now seated. "Super long story short, some people accused me of cheating because I gamed the force customization options and put together a light-assault mechanized force that didn't technically exist, and was basically unstoppable. People were saying the game is supposed to be realistic and there was no way the drop-mechs I made could exist in real life. My team and I wanted to prove them wrong and defend our title. And now, here we are."

"What game, if I may ask?" Axtika couldn't help but giggle slightly at what she had just heard. Though she knew the young man who had just sat down in front of her was an incredibly deadly warrior, the thought of him being an avid gamer made him more relatable.

"There Is Only War, Version 12." Tens answered with a cheeky grin.

"They're up to Version 12 now?" The look on the Qui’ztar's face was that of a person realizing their age. "Back in my youth, we were still on Version 10. That's the version I still play when I really want to unwind after a long deployment."

"Eee! Nice!" Tens's grin had grown ear to ear as he suddenly had a whole new level of respect for Admiral. "V10 was great but V11 honestly sucked. It was the first implementation of first-person command mechanics and the devs quickly moved on to V12 with a much more streamlined system about 8 years ago."

"I never really understood the appeal of sim games, just never really been my thing." Msko commented with a more respectful tone now that he knew Atxika was a gamer as well. "They just don't really feel real, even when they're really trying to, if you know what I mean."

"That's one of things I liked about OW V10, it wasn’t really trying to be 'real' so to speak. It can be played on either a simulator or a holo-table." The Admiral motioned towards the large table at the center of a seating area by the office entrance. "The basic format of the system is surprisingly helpful for developing strategic and logistical plans. Even if you aren't engaging in the game play, the customized strategic scenarios and logistics trains features provide a surprisingly useful tool in my line of work."

"See, Msko! I told you sim games aren't a total waste of time." There was an overly confident smirk on the young warrior's face as he looked over at his former commander before turning back to his current commander. "I kept tryin' to tell him OW is great for developing strike plans but he never list-."

"To be entirely fair," Msko interjected, "I wasn't aware that it was something actual military planners utilized."

"It's more of a useful practice or training tool, not a complete tactical or strategic solution. Nothing beats the real world, as they say." Atxika admitted with a light chuckle. "But we can discuss the uses of games as training aids later. At the moment, War Chief, I am far more curious about your impression of my honor guard."

"They're professional, motivated, dedicated, and willing to learn." The War Chief had a very serious, though pleasant tone that perfectly complemented the Admiral’s best. "I couldn't ask for more from my own warriors."

"That isn't really what I meant." Atxika's pleasant tone and expression didn't shift but Tens could tell she was getting to business. "I know they are mentally capable, otherwise they would not be in my honor guard. My concerns are regarding their physical capabilities. And, if I'm being completely honest, their physical safety, as well."

"Ah, yes, I think I understand what you mean." Msko suddenly had hints of apprehension on his face. "The acceleration forces in BD-series mechs can be fairly extreme, especially if you don't have any mods."

"Mods?" The Admiral had suddenly become a bit hesitant. Though the term 'mods' in this context translated as some kind of body-modification, the fact he hadn't specified what kind concerned her. "Do you mean cybernetic or…"

"Cybernetic and genetic." The War Chief winced slightly and his neon green eyes sparkling while answering the question. Though neither were illegal in the GCC, both were highly regulated due to their health complications and potentially lethal uses. And, more importantly, he knew Atxika was well aware of that. "Both are a bit more common on Shkegpewen, and among my people, than with most other species. We have particular neurological, genetic, and physical plasticities that allow us to go further with self modification than most others. For example, when I was 16, I chose my eye color from a list of compatible phenotypes, went to the gene-clinic, and about a month of slight irritation later, my eyes went from almost black to this neon green color."

"I got gene-therapy to make my bones denser and heal my spine after I broke my back when I was a kid." Tens added with a nonchalant tone that contrasted greatly against Atxika's growing shock. "Then, when I was 16, I got a full reaction time enhancement as a birthday present from my goko. That one was both genetic and cybernetic."

"As a children?!?" The Admiral’s eyes had grown wide with utter disbelief at what she was hearing. Though many species did have similar forms of self-modification, she wasn't unfamiliar with any where modification was this common.

"In our culture, we consider 16 year olds to be transitioning to adulthood. Not yet full adults, but well on their way." Msko quickly clarified and then added some more personal context. "By that age, I had already earned my first paycheck, got my first hunting kill, and was beginning my training for the militia."

"My apologies, I meant no offense." The Admiral quickly corrected herself while wishing she had brought along a diplomatic officer. "I often forget that our two species' age develop and age differently. Also, body modification is far less common among my people. Let's call it a… cultural difference."

"To each their own." Tens replied with an accepting shrug, though his tone sounded almost disappointed. "I'm sure your honor guards will be able to train their muscle memory so they won't have to rely on conscious reaction time."

"Is that how you've been able to so thoroughly beat those poor women in all of your sparring matches thus far?" The Admiral leaned back in her chair and shot Tens a stoic look that the young man had learned meant sarcasm, but appeared somewhat earnest.

"Are you bullying women, Tens?" Msko began glaring at the young warrior like he was going to have to lay down the law. "Do I have to call your goko?"

"What?!? No!" Tens whined and flinched like he was about to be hit by a much stronger person while putting up his hands as if to submit. "I'm training them! I swear! Sometimes I feel like they're holding back because they forget I'm not a dainty Qui’ztar man. And I just gotta remind them sometimes."

"He's just doing his job." Atxika caved and admitted as her smile came back. "The males of your species do bear a striking resemblance to males of mine own, if slightly shorter. So, I can understand the need to remind the ladies there are some strength differences from time to time. And, more importantly, if my honor guard found out the Lieutenant here had been holding back on them, they would be furious."

"So, you're showing them respect?" The War Chief was still staring daggers into the young warrior as he asked the obvious question.

"I swear to the spirits of our Ancestors!" Tens showed he was serious about this in both his tone and expression as he slowly lowered his hands. "I need to know that they'll all make it home safe and in one piece by the end of this deployment. They need to be ready to dive into hell and I can't get them ready if I'm treating them like first-year initiates."

"Look at you, thinkin' like a Brave!" The smile returned to Msko's face as he gave Tens a proud nudge on the shoulder then turned back to the Admiral. "With him training your warriors, they'll be fine. The muscle memory will come with practice, they just need the endurance to keep going."

"And that is one of my concerns." Atxika plainly admitted without dropping her pleasant demeanor. "Our species have different physiological adaptations when it comes to hunting. Where my species built traps and used stealth ambush tactics, I am told that your species are…"

The Admiral paused to try to recall the strange and unfamiliar term when a new voice entered the conversation through a speaker built into her desk. All eyes snapped towards the source of the sound and noticed a small yellow light appear as Tylon interrupted in a direct and somewhat excited tone.

"Persistence predators, ma'am, I believe that is the classification you are thinking of. Their species are currently the only Ascended beings who bear that classification." The AI-Captain chimed in to finish the Admiral's sentence and give context before starting his report. "And I apologize for the intrusion, but there is an urgent development from one of our scouts."

"Go ahead, Hammer." The Admiral replied with a now quite serious tone.

"We have detected a small, unauthorized settlement at the target location, as well as a single Arnehilian Disk-ship in orbit, ma'am." Tylon explained with a flat calmness in his voice before the War Chief interjected.

"Our last recon recon flyby was less than 6 months ago and we didn't detect anything, let alone fucking Grays!" Msko blurted out, his hatred of the silver-skin slavers deeply written across his face. "I'm gonna savor shattering that stupid saucer!"

"It seems their ship is in a near-dormant state and the settlement is using low-power and difficult-to-detect technology." Tylon continued his report while seemingly ignoring the interruption. "Further information is being gathered as we speak, but this doesn't seem to be a standard Arnehilian Dynastic group."

"They must be using some kind of shielding to mask their operations." The War Chief commented, his sheer disgust at the slavers was palpable. "Those fucks are always up to something."

"I don't think so." Tens shyly added before the AI continued with a slightly annoyed tone. "I've never seen Grays with stealth tech."

"The reconnaissance drones have only detected the presence of a few hundred Arnehelian biosignatures, as well as some non-native flora." Though he had been interrupted twice so far, Tylon was continuing in stride and left no more room for interruption. "There are no signs of either biological or artificial slaves, mineral extraction operations, atmospheric modification, utilization of weapons systems, decrease in local flora or fauna, or anything which would indicate hostile intent or the capacity of self-defense. Preliminary assessments are that the settlement is unauthorized, though otherwise not in violation of any galactic laws. I believe it may be a sustenance farming operation."

"Thank you, Hammer. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention so promptly." Atxika acknowledged the report with a respectful nod as the yellow light faded from her desk and she redirected her attention towards the two men sitting in front of her. Though the older one looked like he was seething with rage, the younger one looked to be lost in contemplation. "Well, that certainly complicates things a bit. I hate evicting people if they're just trying to survive."

"Evict!?!? Ha! We're gonna fucking slaughter those silver-skinned slavers!" The War Chief clearly wanted blood and Atxika was starting to realize the translation of his name, Red Fist, may be more accurate than she realized.

"Hold on." Tens interjected while rubbing his chin and remembering an interesting story he had heard in a port a few years back. "Could it be Greens instead of Grays?"

"What the fuck are Greens?" Msko shot back with a surprising amount of uncontrolled anger.

"If I may interrupt again, ma'am?" The yellow light on Atxika's desk had come back.

"Of course," Atxika quickly confirmed in an attempt to calm the situation, "I feel your expertise may be of particularly useful here, Tylon."

"Wait, Tylon?" Msko's eyes grew wide and he seemed to instantly snap out of his rage. "As in The Tylon? Tylon The Golden Dragon of Righteous Justice?" The look on the man's face was as if he was meeting one of his heroes.

"Yes." The AI answered as he manifested a small hologram representation of his chosen reptilian form.

"In that case, I apologize for interrupting you and doubting your assessment." Msko bowed his head slightly towards the holographic, golden-scaled, winged serpent. "Please, I would love to learn something new from such an experienced warrior."

"The Arnehilian species, before their Ascension to the Galactic stage, were split along two major political body; the Royal Dynasties, who claimed sovereign authority over all life and people, and the Free People, who were in the process of developing a decentralized, democratic form of governance as a rebellion against the Dynasties. The Dynasties flew a red and gray flag and the Free People's flew a black and green flag, thus the Grays and Greens. Prior to leaving their home system, but after developing their initial space-flight capacities, there was a large-scale conflict utilizing atomic weapons which was believed to have caused the complete destruction of the Greens, leaving only the Grays. However, there have been several reports of surviving Greens who are acting as nomadic sustenance farmers in order to avoid discovery and enslavement by the Grays."

The Admiral’s office fell silent after that explanation, but it wasn't clear to Atxika why. Msko dropped his head slightly and began rubbing the bridge of his nose as he slowly processed what the AI had just told him. Tens, on the other hand, was still completely lost in thought and looked like he was going to rub his chin down to the bone. As Atxika looked down towards Tylon and the small hologram looked up towards her, neither were sure how to proceed. However, before either could say anything to break the silence, Tens seemed to come to a conclusion in his mind, looked over towards Msko, and nudged the War Chief on the shoulder.

"We give everyone a chance, right?" The tone of the young warrior's question implied there really was no other choice in his mind.

"Fuck…" Msko shook his head for a moment before looking over at the young warrior. "You're right, we give everyone a chance. Even if we know we'll regret it later."
submitted by micktalian to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 17:13 Tjmoores The 3 People of 3 Lands

Welcome to my heavily delayed RP :)

Part 1: The Marvuč of Dzoagšroþ

Tseidz sat at the end of the mat, looking over the elderly gentleman lying motionless upon it, snoring loudly. In his younger years his grandfather had been the Marvuč of the village, but not anymore. He could barely see the stars in the night sky, nevermind keep track of their cycles. Tseidz fondly recalled the days when every clear night, he and his grandfather would walk out of the town away from the light of the fire to gaze upon the stars. His grandfather would point out his favourites, and Tseidz remembered all of their names - Pyuš' bzreits, the "fast star", which would disappear early in the night, had always been Tseidz' favourite, however the Tfobs bzreits, the "otter's star", had a special place in his heart for all the times his grandfather would point it out and say "When I was young, my father would point that star out to me and say 'cheep'". While Tseidz' great-grandfather had supposedly been rather skilled at mimicing otter sounds, those skills were some of the few his grandfather hadn't inherited.
One celestial tradition Tseidz took a specific interest in was the Myots dot', or Winter Festival. Every year, Tsiedz and his grandfather would track the moon, watching as it got smaller and larger, narrowed and widened, twelve or thirteen times, until Tseidz' grandfather announced that the time had come. When the nights were short, and the moon was at its widest, families would invite friends from their town, neighbouring towns and the entire world to enjoy the finest št'yaið kwiin, "salty fish". While Tseidz never understood the idea of trading sacks full of their corn and baskets of duck eggs for a handful of funny tasting salt just to preserve fish with it as they would with normal salt, it was undeniably a great time of year. Indeed just a couple of festivals back, Tseidz' had met his wife as they travelled to a neighbouring town to enjoy their hospitality on the second night.
As the man on the mat awoke, Tseidz announced to him: "I think it's time". As he looked at the moon through the doorway, a smile appeared on the old man's lips. He had taught his protégé well.

Part 2: The Terrace-keepers of Nyæŋšroþ

The terraces which tower above the Northwestern coast of Nyæŋšpuj are undeniably a sight to behold. While the maritime merchants who visited the town every so often claimed the terraces of Dzoagvrin were higher and greener, Kweuþ did not believe that for a second. He had spent years on the job learning the perfect slope, width and interval of the fields, and had become something of a celebrity on the island. Farmers would clamour for him and his co-workers to come and restructure their fields, so they could reap the harvest for years to come. The best soils and therefore the best quality terraces were of course found together, and the towns at the foot of these fields had grown very large indeed. Many people in these towns, especially those who plied their trade maintaining the terraces and the intricate arrays of ditches designed to carry the water which once would have killed the crops away in heavy rains knew Kweuþ personally, as he often hired local apprentices to help with his constructions. For Kweuþ, there was clearly no town as grand as D'yeubšruuþs. This is where he had trained under his mentor Dvznaud, whom Kweuþ maintained was the true master of terrace design.

Part 3: The Fishermen of Twaiptšroþ

The water was shallow and calm as Dznæg set out in her small boat, barely bigger than a kayak. As she dodged between the roots and branches, she was careful not to disturb the young sharks swimming beneath her. With more people or a larger boat she could maybe pull one in, which would surely make her name known among the village, but as it was even a small shark could throw her boat off balance and she would be in the water; at the mercy of the crocodiles.
Getting beyond the reef was not easy - the mangroves formed something of a maze, however eventually she made it. She grounded her boat on some high coral and dived in, gripping her spear tightly. She swam down to the bottom and began peeking in all the nooks and crannies of the reef, searching for the best fish to take home to her family. Once caught, the fish were placed in her boat and covered to prevent the pesky birds from pecking at them - she had learnt that fish could not be left alone by the coast long ago. Occasionally she'd meet another human, this was of course the best reef she knew to fish at, and they'd acknowledge each other and move on.
Once Dznæg had caught her fill and the tide was starting to rise, she decided to head for home. Back through the roots, branches and sharks she went, being careful to not disturb anything which may be lying in the shadows. The crocodiles looked on, waiting for the time to strike...
submitted by Tjmoores to DawnPowers [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 16:33 DeneralGegenerate Can you put a smaller aquarium inside of a larger aquarium?

Apologies if this is a really stupid question / idea but for a bit of background, I've kept a turtle for a while but had to upgrade him to a stock tank from an aquarium for size reasons, where I live it's not feasible to get a glass / acrylic tank that would be large enough to give him space to roam. My roommate has a 75-gallon aquarium and I love seeing it when I walk by, I love my turtle, but I miss being able to see him swim at eye level instead of leaning down to see him in a stock tank. In addition to this, I like the idea of a mixed species tank which is similarly not feasible because the turtle will eat any fish, shrimp, or even other turtle he is exposed to.
My roommate has been talking about wanting to get into saltwater tanks which has also got me thinking about the prospect, and I am torn because on one hand I would like a community set up with peaceful fish, and on the other hand I would absolutely love a mantis shrimp and my local fish shop has one in stock that has been sitting there for months. The thing is that like many very interesting marine animals the mantis shrimp is very aggressive and would likely slaughter anything he was put in with. At the same time, I feel like keeping him alone would lead to a somewhat non-interesting tank to look at all day, especially since mantis shrimps, like eels, fall into the 'I sit in a hole and poke my head out every now and then' strategy.
An idea occured to me, however. What if I got a larger than needed tank for a small community, say a 75-90-125 acrylic ish, and then got a 30-40-60ish tank and slotted it inside, then put an easily removable 'grate' (perhaps made of egg crate or something similar?) over top. That would make access for cleaning and feeding easy but prevent shrimp from escaping and prevent docile fish from swimming into it. I could use rock or similar decor to disguise the interior tank if it was too obvious. It would also mean the tank would share the same water system and I wouldn't need double the everything to run it. I have seen zoos enact this but they use much larger systems and likely have mechanisms in place that I have no idea of. I've never seen any on youtube doing something like this.
The main issue I could think of would be keeping the glass on the interior tank free of algae but is there any legs to this idea or is this just a terrible idea. If it is a terrible idea, is there any other way to possibly keep predatory fish in the same 'system' as potential prey fish without having direct access to each other?
submitted by DeneralGegenerate to Aquariums [link] [comments]

2023.05.27 12:44 Civil-Chipmunk9240 Inside Secrets: How Designers Transform Homes

Ever wonder how interior designers work their magic? How they take a space you see as drab and uninspiring and transform it into a room you can’t stop posting on Instagram? Their secrets aren’t really secrets at all. With some clever tricks of the trade and a well-trained eye, designers know how to make the most of what you already have while also knowing when to bring in reinforcements.
You may think redoing your living room or revamping your bedroom is out of your budget or skill set. But by following some of the same principles designers rely on, you can make big changes on a small budget and turn your place into a space you’re excited to come home to. The transformations start with what’s already there—the bones of the room. Then, it’s all about adding touches that reflect your unique style.
Ready to take a peek inside a designer’s toolkit? In this series, we’ll explore how subtle shifts in layout, lighting, color, and accents can add up to a room makeover that looks and feels custom. You’ll never see your home the same way again. With CLT Toolbox simplifies mass timber design by providing the missing education and resources that engineers need to confidently navigate the design process.

Selecting a Style: Mid-Century Modern, Industrial, or Eclectic?

So you want to give your place a stylish makeover but aren’t sure where to start. The design pros have a secret for you: choose a style that fits your lifestyle. Are you drawn to the clean lines of mid-century modern? The rustic charm of industrial? Or do you prefer an eclectic mix of styles for maximum coziness?
Mid-century modern is all about simplicity. Think retro shapes, natural wood accents, and pops of color. This minimalist yet playful style is perfect if you want a clutter-free space. Industrial, on the other hand, celebrates rugged, utilitarian materials like brick, metal, and concrete. Exposed pipes and ductwork give it an unfinished vibe. Eclectic design means combining styles you love for a curated, collected-over-time look. Mix modern art, antique rugs, retro chairs, and ethnic textiles.
Once you land on a style, look for key pieces to tie it all together. For mid-century modern, a sleek sideboard or teak dining set would do nicely. With industrial, opt for a metal-and-wood console or factory-style lighting. In an eclectic space, a statement piece like an ornate mirror or tufted sofa helps give cohesion.
The bottom line? Choose what makes you happy and comfortable. After all, a home should reflect your unique style and spirit. Express yourself - that’s what will make your place truly stunning!

Choosing a Color Palette: Warm Tones vs. Cool Tones

When it comes to color, the choices can seem endless. As an interior designer, one of the first decisions I have to make is whether to go with a warm or cool color palette.
Warm tones like reds, oranges, and yellows create a cozy vibe and make a space feel more intimate. They're perfect for living rooms, dens, and bedrooms. Cool tones of blue, green, and purple have a calming effect and work well in bathrooms, home offices, or bedrooms.
If you like both warm and cool tones, don't worry - you can combine them in a harmonious way. The key is to choose a dominant color palette and use the other tones as accents. For example, in a living room with warm reds and browns, add throw pillows or artwork in shades of blue. Or for a cool-toned bathroom, include natural wood accents, woven baskets, or terracotta planters for a touch of warmth.
When selecting your main color palette, also consider the amount of natural light in the space. Warm tones will make a dark room feel cozy while cool tones can make it seem cold. In a bright space, warm tones will intensify the warmth whereas cool tones will create a sense of balance.
The options for transforming a space with color are endless. Work with a designer to create a custom palette that reflects your unique style and makes your home feel like a retreat. The results will be stunning!

Accentuate With Texture: Rugs, Pillows, and Throws


Area rugs are a great way to add warmth and texture to a space. Choose natural fiber rugs like wool, cotton or jute which provide an organic, cozy feel. For high-traffic areas, look for durable and low-pile rugs. In living rooms, a large rug can anchor the seating area and define the space. For small spaces, a rug that extends under all the furniture helps make the room feel more open.


Throw pillows, toss pillows and accent pillows are simple additions that make a big impact. Look for pillows in a variety of shapes, sizes, and fabrics like velvet, linen, or leather. Don’t be afraid to mix and match colors, patterns, and textures. Pile on the pillows on sofas, chairs, and beds for a lush, inviting look. For a quick refresh, update the pillows in a room each season.


Lightweight throws, blankets, and quilts draped over the arm of a sofa or chair add warmth and visual interest. Choose throws that complement your decorating scheme and keep a basket nearby for storage when not in use. For extra coziness, place a throw over the foot of the bed or keep one on hand in the living room for curling up on the couch.
Using a combination of rugs, pillows, and throws is an easy way to make a house feel like a home. Paying attention to texture, color, and material will help create a space that is stylish yet comfortable and inviting. By changing up or rearranging these key accent pieces with the seasons, you can give any room an instant refresh.

Create an Illusion of Space: Mirrors, Lighting, and Minimalism

Use Mirrors to Create an Open Feel

Designers often use mirrors to make spaces appear more open and airy. Place mirrors across from windows to reflect natural light and give the illusion of more windows. Strategically position mirrors in small rooms, like hallways and entryways, to create a sense of expanded space.

Maximize Natural Light

Let in as much natural light as possible by opening blinds and curtains during the day. Install dimmers on overhead fixtures so you can control the amount of artificial light. Place task lighting, like desk lamps and recessed lights, in areas that need extra illumination.

Keep It Minimal

A minimalist style with clean lines and a neutral color palette makes rooms feel more open. Get rid of clutter and unnecessary furniture that crowds the space. Choose multi-purpose pieces that serve more than one function. For example, an ottoman can double as a coffee table, extra seating or storage. Keeping a room minimal and clutter-free creates an illusion of more square footage.

Paint with Light Colors

Light colors make walls and ceilings appear farther away, creating an illusion of more space. Soft whites and pale grays are ideal for small rooms. You can also paint one wall a darker accent color to add visual depth and make the light walls seem even farther away.
Using these design tricks together—mirrors, lots of natural light, a minimalist style, and light paint colors—can make any room appear significantly more spacious. The results may be an illusion, but the open, airy feel they create is very real.


So there you have it, a peek behind the curtain at how interior designers work their magic. Armed with an arsenal of tricks, tools, and talent, they're able to completely transform spaces into stylish and functional havens. While the results may seem effortless, the process is far from it. But by focusing on things like lighting, color, space, and focal points, designers are able to craft rooms that reflect your unique style and needs. The next time you walk into a space that just feels right, know that it was likely the result of a designer's careful craft and creativity. Though their work is often unseen, interior designers have a knack for creating spaces you never want to leave.
submitted by Civil-Chipmunk9240 to DigitalPeoples [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 21:47 BurnieTheBird AITJ Karen and brat injure my animals

( TL;DR - Karen and injure my exotic fish ) Last year my brother was turning 12 and he decided he wanted to have a birthday party themed with Reptiles. A school rule he has for birthday parties is he has to invite his whole class (certain class he wants) rejecting this I actually forgot what would happen. So the brat of this story is the bully that my little brother despises, on the day of the party he was rude, as always, he’s snobby, quick to respond, rude, ruins things for no reason. (And while I’m here explain my fish, so I’m a fish lover and I have tons of reef tanks with beautiful fish, they are all in a certain room except my newest one in the living room I probably spent 400-800 usd in, it’s heavily coral and planted with many shrimps, crabs, and fish.) So we sing happy birthday and cut the cake and I go check on my tank in the living room for some stuff and I see this kid ripping the coral out of it and breaking it on the ground, and then he tries to grab my picasso storm clownfish and I grab him by his scruff of his shirt and drag him down, “screaming misses (insert name) your son is destorying my aquarium!”And I see shrimp on the floor of the room and I pick them up quickly, setting them in the aquarium. She comes and says what he do sweet angel and my dad walks in and says “WHAT HAPPENS” and I respond he was tearing out stuff out of the aquarium. He says “get you and your fckng son out of here and she says “no I’m staying here and angel go do more of that” and at that point 300-400$ is gone. My dad is quick to call the police on them and they come and I tell the story I told y’all, they toke them out for questioning and we haven’t saw them since until in court, making them pay for animal endangerment and destruction.
submitted by BurnieTheBird to amithejerkpodcast [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 19:51 Aggravating-Bus-7369 Personal drivers near Hurghada International Airport (HRG)

Are you traveling to Hurghada, Egypt? If so, you may be wondering about the best way to get around. Fortunately, Kiwitaxi is here to help.
Kiwitaxi is an international transfer booking company that can provide you with a personal driver near Hurghada International Airport (HRG). With over 90 countries and 600 airports served, Kiwitaxi offers a range of vehicles to suit your needs. Choose from 8 different classes, ranging from small family cars to minibuses that can accommodate up to 19 passengers.
If you are traveling with children, you can also order a child seat. This ensures that your little ones are safe and secure during the journey.
Once you have booked your personal driver, you can begin exploring the best tourist places in Hurghada. Located on the Red Sea coast, Hurghada is known for its beautiful beaches and coral reefs. Some popular attractions that you may want to visit include:
  1. Giftun Island: A beautiful island with white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. It's perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.
  2. El Gouna: A luxury resort town that offers a range of activities, including golfing, diving, and sailing.
  3. Hurghada Grand Aquarium: A must-visit attraction for families with kids. It has a variety of marine species and a 3D cinema.
Best of all, booking your personal driver through Kiwitaxi ensures that you get the best service at the cheapest prices. To book your transfer, simply visit the Kiwitaxi website via this link:
submitted by Aggravating-Bus-7369 to TaxiPersonalDrivers [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 18:42 CoolandAverageGuy squidward

"You may have hoodwinked everyone else in this backwater town, but you can't fool me! I listen to public radio."
A octopus that works at the fast food restaurant Krusty Krab (where he can be found sleeping and slacking off) and lives next to idiot starfish Patrick and the dork frycook sponge Spongebob.
Squidward is incredibly cynical and pessimistic due to his crappy life. Things pretty much always go horribly wrong for him, even when he did nothing wrong. He sees himself as smarter and more highbrow then anyone else in Bikini Bottom.
His dream job is being a artist and a clarinet player, however his clarinet skills leave something to be desired, and nobody ever buys any of his art.
For all of his hatred of Spongebob, his number one nemesis is Squilliam, a fellow octopus he met in high school that went on to become much more successful then him post-graduation.
(NOTE: Spongebob is only 4 inches tall. He is this big compared to a average human. Destroying a Bikini Bottom building is not as impressive as destroying a normal human IRL building)
(Hover over a feat to see what episode the feat is from. Most feats are from Spongebob Squarepants , feats that are from spinoffs have the name of the spinoff before the name of the episode of said spinoff. Feats done by Squidward as a child from Kamp Koral will be marked with a [Kamp].)
Sandy Cheeks
The Flying Dutchman
Mermaid Man
Squidward's House


submitted by CoolandAverageGuy to whowouldntwin [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 18:37 CTH2004 I'm looking for a Java seed that has a Coral Reef near a coastline, that has a large, exposed Lush Cave and Dripstone Cavern. Preferably with a Village nearby

submitted by CTH2004 to Minecraft [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 18:37 CTH2004 I'm looking for a Java seed that has a Coral Reef near a coastline, that has a large, exposed Lush Cave and Dripstone Cavern. Preferably with a Village nearby

So, basically, what I want, is a Java seed that has a large coral reef (preferably in a cove or somesuch), and on the coast is a jungle-esque area, with a large, exposed Lush Cavern that has Stalagmites from a Dripstone Cave merged into it.
If possible, also with a village nearby
anything like that?

P.S. Please include co-ordinates to the reef.
Thanks in advance!
submitted by CTH2004 to minecraftseeds [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 09:57 vishwakarmainter 10 Steps to Achieving Luxurious Home Design in 2023

10 Steps to Achieving Luxurious Home Design in 2023
You are looking to create a new luxury interior design or want to renovate your existing space, there are several steps you can take to create a stunning and sophisticated space that will impress your guests and elevate your living experience. So here we will explore 10 Steps to help you Achieving Luxurious Home Design in 2023. Vishwakarma Interiors is the Best Architect & One of the Top Interior Designer in Delhi.
Achieving a luxurious home design involves careful planning, attention to detail, and the right selection of elements. Here are five steps to help you achieve a luxurious home design:
Define Your Style and Theme: Start by defining the style and theme you want to achieve in your home. Luxurious designs can range from classic and traditional to modern and contemporary. Consider the overall ambiance you want to create and gather inspiration from interior design magazines, websites, and social media platforms.
Focus on Quality Materials: Luxurious homes are known for their high-quality materials. Invest in premium materials such as marble, granite, hardwood, and high-end fabrics. Select furniture, fixtures, and accessories that showcase superior craftsmanship and attention to detail. Pay attention to the texture, finishes, and colors of each element to create a cohesive and luxurious look.
Pay Attention to Lighting: Lighting plays a crucial role in creating a luxurious atmosphere. Incorporate a combination of natural and artificial lighting sources. Maximize natural light by using large windows, skylights, and glass doors. Install elegant light fixtures that enhance the aesthetics of each room. Consider using dimmers to create different moods and layering lighting to highlight specific areas or architectural features.
Incorporate Statement Pieces: Luxurious home design often includes statement pieces that catch the eye and become focal points in a room. This could be a grand chandelier in the entryway, a unique piece of artwork, a luxurious rug, or a designer furniture item. Select these pieces carefully, ensuring they fit the overall design concept and add a touch of elegance and sophistication.
Create a Sense of Space and Comfort: A luxurious home should offer both a sense of space and comfort. Avoid clutter and opt for a minimalist approach that allows each element to shine. Arrange furniture in a way that promotes flow and creates conversation areas. Incorporate comfortable seating, plush textiles, and soft textures to enhance the feeling of relaxation and luxury.
Set a Budget: Determine your budget for the project to help guide your decisions and prioritize your investments in key areas.
Research and Gather Inspiration: Explore interior design magazines, websites, and social media platforms to gather inspiration and ideas for your luxurious home design. Save images, create mood boards, and identify key elements you'd like to incorporate.
Plan the Layout: Create a well-thought-out floor plan that maximizes space, flow, and functionality. Consider the arrangement of furniture, the allocation of rooms, and the utilization of open spaces.
Choose High-Quality Materials: Invest in high-quality materials such as natural stone, hardwood, premium fabrics, and luxurious finishes. Opt for durability, exquisite craftsmanship, and timeless appeal.
Curate Elegant Furnishings: Select furniture pieces that exude luxury and comfort. Look for unique designs, high-quality upholstery, and attention to detail. Consider incorporating custom-made furniture for a personalized touch.
Add Texture and Layers: Incorporate various textures and layers to create depth and visual interest. Use luxurious fabrics, plush rugs, decorative pillows, and curtains to enhance the overall aesthetic.
Refine the Details: Pay attention to the finer details that elevate the luxurious feel of your home. Consider elegant accessories, refined hardware, decorative moldings, and tasteful finishes. Take the time to ensure each element is meticulously curated and aligned with your vision.
Remember, achieving a luxurious home design is a personal journey, and it's essential to infuse your own style and personality into the space. Take your time, consider every detail, and create a home that reflects your taste and preferences while exuding an air of luxury and refinement.
Read Full Article....
submitted by vishwakarmainter to u/vishwakarmainter [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 06:30 Wallartaccents_2 How to Bring the Natural Wonders Home with Canvas Wall Art?

How to Bring the Natural Wonders Home with Canvas Wall Art?

Canvas Wall Art - There is something magical about the natural world that captivates us all. The beauty of the natural world, from majestic mountains to stunning waterfalls and serene forests, has inspired artists for centuries. Today, we can bring this beauty into our homes with natural wonders canvas wall art.

This article will explore the benefits of natural wonders wall art and how it can transform your living space into a window to the natural world.

The Power of Nature in Art
Everest Mountain In Sunset Poster And Prints Canvas Wall Art Painting Landscape Picture Decoration For Living Room Cuadros
Nature has always been a popular subject for art. From ancient cave paintings to modern-day photography, artists have found inspiration in the natural world. This is because nature has a unique power to evoke emotion and connect the viewer and the subject.
Natural wonders wall art allows us to bring this power into our homes. By displaying images of nature, we can create a sense of calm and tranquility, which is especially important in our fast-paced modern world. Studies have shown that exposure to nature can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve overall well-being.
By bringing the natural world into our homes, we can create a peaceful environment that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.

Benefits of Canvas Prints
Canvas prints are popular for natural wonders wall art because they offer many benefits over traditional framed prints. Canvas prints are durable, lightweight, and easy to hang. They also have a unique texture that adds depth and dimension to the image, creating a more immersive viewing experience.
Canvas prints are also highly customizable. You can choose from a wide range of sizes and shapes to fit any space in your home.

Choosing the Right Natural Wonders Canvas Wall Art
Abstract Canvas Beach Sea Painting Wall Art Pictures Nordic Posters And Prints Wall Pictures For Living Room Decor no frame
Choosing the right image for your natural wonders wall art is key to creating the desired effect in your living space. When selecting an image, consider the mood you want to create. Do you want to evoke a sense of calm and tranquility, or do you want to create a more vibrant and energetic atmosphere?
Another important factor to consider is the color scheme of the image. Look for images that complement the existing colors in your home. If you have a neutral color palette, consider a canvas print with bold colors to create a focal point in the room. If your home has a lot of colors, look for images incorporating similar tones to create a cohesive look.

Placing Your Canvas Print
Ocean Sea Beach Bridge Canvas Poster Nordic Nature Seascape Wall Art Print Painting Scandinavian Living Room Decoration Picture
Once you have chosen the perfect image for your natural wonders wall art, it's time to decide where to place it in your home. Consider the size of the image and the room's layout when selecting a location. A large canvas print can be a stunning focal point above a couch or bed, while a smaller print can add interest to a gallery wall.
It's also important to consider lighting when placing your canvas print. Natural light can bring out the colors in the image, while artificial light can create a cozy atmosphere. Experiment with different lighting options to find the perfect balance for your space.
#art #draw #decor #artwork #wallpainting #watercolor #wallart #drawings #acrylic #sketching #ideas #giveaways #give #world #trend #trending #Chandelier #nowplaying #color #house #coffee #agwallpainting #decor #wallpaint
submitted by Wallartaccents_2 to u/Wallartaccents_2 [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 03:11 fuckintrippin413 I thought that this community would enjoy this. My great grandfather’s collection.

I thought that this community would enjoy this. My great grandfather’s collection. submitted by fuckintrippin413 to Arrowheads [link] [comments]

2023.05.26 02:50 Rysethelace Need a lil party idea feed back.

FTM to a soon to be 3yr old., we don't have a large house or yard to host a birthday bash... preschool Toddler parties are a bit intimidating (especially when parties are hosted in huge homes ($5.5M, 7000sqft) its not your average house on the block or in our comfy neighborhood) our lifestyle doesn't align with theirs and worse of all i'm not a social person what so ever so talking to other parents are not my thing but I'll try my best for our LO. my husband and I literally feel out of place and out of their league and I don't know if its even worth hosting a party and inviting her classmates... what would you do in this situation?

my party idea:
We live 20mins from the Beach and Im thinking of hosting it there. I want to make it as low key as possible like BYO beach stuff but I can provide sand toys some shelter from the sun & sand, of course we'll cover food, drinks, hubs and I are requesting no gift, we don't want to over decorate as we prefer zero waste and its better for the beach. I think it would just be great to have a day at the beach with her lil preschool friends (9kids?) and parents.
Is this idea ok? as for safety I plan to stick near a lifeguard tower and set camp far enough from the water. the idea is the families could just explore if they want to... there's tidepools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring, paid or street parking available. Would this be something you would attend or skip all together?
submitted by Rysethelace to toddlers [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 22:24 titokuya Sharing my experience playing with underglaze on small spinning pots...

Sharing my experience playing with underglaze on small spinning pots...
(Is Glazing Techniques the best flair?)
I started playing around with underglaze a couple of days ago. I bought a few colors of Amaco Velvet a month ago and finally opened them up.
I was feeling apprehensive about trying to intentionally paint something with a brush. Then I had the idea of just playing with banding on the wheel. It took the pressure of failure off for me and allowed me to just have fun and experiment. Thought I'd share...
Pic 2. Radiant red, flame orange, intense yellow I wanted to get an ombré effect, going from red in the center radiating out through orange then yellow at the rim.
I have a plastic syringe I bought with the intention of using for slip trailing so I used that to place underglaze as the piece spun on the wheel -- red in the center, orange mid way up the wall, then yellow at the top.
For some reason I had expected the layers to react like watercolors and mix where they touched for easy blending. No. I spun the wheel to get them to blend or run. They did run a bit. Finally I went to the sink and did a flinging motion to move the layers. It was a nice effect. I should've taken a picture.
I brought it back to the wheel, took a small (size 0 I think) brush to see if I could blend the layers and ending up with banding. I like it. I'm giving it to my neighbor as a gift cuz she recently surprise gifted me with a stone with a mandala painted on it.
Pic 3. Electric blue, turquoise blue I used the syringe to glob underglaze as the piece slowly spun. I think I used a pin tool to drag through the underglaze as the wheel spun. It may have been a small brush. I was on a reversible wheel at the studio so I flipped the switch and dragged on the other side. I should have done this more. I think it would be really cool.
I saw the blank patches and was inspired to grab a sculpting tool (a curved crescent concave shape) and scrape through the underglaze. For science.
Pic 4. Lilac, coral, jet black, electric blue I like this piece the best. It's also the biggest (but not big) so more surface area to play with.
I started off applying the lilac and coral underglazes randomly as the wheel spun. Then I mixed the two in a small container then applied some of that. Then I added bits of black and blue to the mix to get a darker hue. I used a number 2 round brush to paint banding of the dark color on both the top and the bottom, then dripped some on with the syringe.
In an effort to get the colors to move I started blowing forcefully on the piece in spots as it spun. Realizing kind of how futile this was, I pulled the plunger out of the syringe and blew through the body. That moved some color...
Once it was dry, the large spots of single solid color looked boring so I grabbed my Kemper fine wire stylus and started scratching. At first I just made lines next to where there were lines dividing colors. But then I got into the scratching and just started doing it randomly based on the color coverage and drip patterns. I discovered that I really enjoy that little detail work (in addition to what I already enjoy about pottery).
At one point I scratched too lightly. It was on a spot where there was a layer of lilac on top of coral. My weak scratch had just taken the layer of lilac, leaving the coral exposed instead of clay body. I'd only ever thought of sgraffito as going through to clay body, so happy accident!
I also learned that using the flatter curved part of the tool was a good way to gently scrape away a layer of underglaze to expose the layer beneath.
Pic 5. Flame orange, intense yellow, coral, white Drop-in time was almost up so this piece is just banding with brushes. I painted the inside with yellow then banded the outside with orange by itself, then a mix of all the listed colors.
I glazed these pieces yesterday. I hope I did a good application job. I also used colored glazes that looked translucent on test tiles so I hope that pans out...
Tldr: I decorated some pots with underglaze on the wheel!
submitted by titokuya to Pottery [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 21:22 JDizzleFoShizzle93 Thalassopobia

The wreck was first discovered by some cage divers off the coast of New Zealand. A massive ship, so huge they could see the tallest parts from hundreds of meters above where it rested on the seafloor. The structure was so huge that first they thought it was a building that had somehow sank beneath the waves.
I was a member of an advanced diving team for the Australian government. We were sent to survey the wreckage and determine a possible origin. I thought this was quite odd as they usually would use an ROV for this type of work. The ship was missing the bow, leaving only a massive torn hole. It had a massive paddle wheel coming out of the stern. The whole of the remaining ship was around 90 meters in length. Once we had gotten close to the vessel, we decided to split off into two groups. Two of us would go around to the stern, while the remaining two would go to the hole that would give us direct access to the inside.
I ended up going with Adrian to explore the interior. As we approached I began to feel an acute sense of dread. The hole in the hull was a gaping maw that almost seemed to be calling out to us. Despite my apprehension, we had a job to do. Adrian led the way as we descended into the wreck.
A few meters inside the hole there was a massive rotting wall stretching from top to bottom. Adrian approached a hole in the wall and managed to squeeze through. I followed to find Adrian suspended unmoving in the water. After I tried and failed to get any sort of reaction out of him, I noticed his light shining at the floor, which was covered in a maroon organic substance that was unlike anything I had seen before. I apprehensively raised my own light so it could illuminate the entire space.
The organic substance suffocated the entire space, which seemed to take up about half of the entire interior of the vessel. At first I couldn’t make out what the oddly shaped structures that lined the walls of the room were. As I kept looking, the horrible realization came to me. Their outstretched hands and faces frozen in wails of agony had the same appearance as the rest of the room, but these weren’t part of the construction of the ship. These were people, frozen trying to futilely claw their way out of their eternal tomb.
The next thing I knew, I was being dragged upwards towards the surface. I was told later that the rest of our team found me and Adrian catatonic and had to drag us out of the wreckage. They didn’t get a good look at the room, so me and Adrian were the only ones who saw the bodies. After we were brought back up to the boat we were immediately told to leave over our radio. We all gave our reports about what we found, including the ghastly sight inside the boat, but never heard anything about a return expedition or any new information. We went home like nothing happened.
That was when the dreams started.
I felt the sudden cold cut through me like a knife. All I could see was a fuzzy blue haze. I instinctively paddled upwards and after a few seconds I had breached the surface. A vast ocean stretched out endlessly in every direction around me. Panic set in as I bobbed up and down with the waves. I was stuck treading water with miles of empty ocean below me and no land in sight.
I eventually awoke and ended up brushing it off as nightmares from my experience in the wreck. The next night, it returned, except it was ever so slightly different. This would become the pattern. At first it appeared to be the same vast ocean as the night before. After taking a moment to get my bearings, I felt something beneath the surface. I experienced a brief flash of uneasy panic before calming down and examining the surface of the water.
Dozens of massive earthen spires stretched out from the depths to just below the surface. I couldn’t see any origin, the structures only vanished into the murky blue. They stretched out under the waves as far as the eye could see. The dream lasted about as long as the previous one, and I still didn’t pay it much mind.
The third dream came the next night. Again I was immersed in the waves of the vast ocean, but there was no sign of the mountains from my previous experience. It was only when I allowed myself to sink beneath the waves did I discover the new feature of this dream. Opening my eyes underwater produced little adverse effect, so I could observe my surroundings uninhibited. About 10 or so meters below me the seabed laid home to a massive reef unlike anything I had ever seen.
The coral came in every shape and color I could imagine and many I could not. Perfect convex spirals that ascended towards the sunlight until they reached their apex, twisting horns weaving inward and outward through each other, bushes dotted with small red growths on the ends of their skeletal branches. It was like I had been transported to an alien world completely divorced from anything I could witness on earth.
I swam around the rock and coral exploring the unusual reef for a while before coming across a large area that was covered in many deep holes that seemingly went deeper into the earth. I cautiously approached a strange growth that stood out among the perforated seabed. It seemed to be coming out of one of the holes and descending into another nearby. I reached out to touch its organic surface, and as soon as I made contact the thing began to slither deeper into the hole.
I awoke in a cold sweat. Later that day Adrian ended up contacting me. He was convinced that something was being hidden from us and told me he was going to investigate the circumstances of the wreck himself. He’s stronger than me, I guess. I told him to keep me updated. After our conversation, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Adrian was neglecting to tell me something. It didn’t help that I could keep my mind off of the reef and the creature in my dream.
Sure enough, another dream came the next night. I was back in the ocean, with no sign of the reef. I repeatedly dove beneath the waves looking for anything new, but as far as I could see it was the same as the first dream. Finally, I took a deep breath and exhaled bubbles of air into the water as I descended as far as I could into the blue.
There was a deafening sound. A sound like a great iceberg collapsing into the waves under a great frozen cliff. I panicked and spun around helplessly. There was nothing but the eternal blue surrounding me. But the longer I looked, I began to realize that was not the case. There was something there, a kilometer away from where I was suspended in fear. A massive serpentine body was just beyond my view, snaking around its gargantuan coils. The beast let out another deafening bellow and I began to move in the opposite direction.
The leviathan was there too, writhing in the murky blue. Everywhere I turned the obscured visage of the monster awaited me. I was surrounded by an inconceivably massive beast with only the sound of its horrible calls and nowhere to run. I cried out, wasting all that was left of my limited oxygen.
I wasn’t in the ocean, I was safe in my bed. None of it was real. The aquatic hell was a figment of my own twisted mind. The horrors of the vast ocean followed me into my waking hours. My thoughts were filled with alien coral and massive leviathans. As I stared into my morning coffee, I felt like I could almost see a wriggling serpent in the black liquid.
Despite my desperate hopes, with the night came a new dream. This one, a true nightmare.
Blackness. Complete and utter blackness with the burden of kilometers of water upon my back. I felt something brush against my leg, then again against my shoulder. Soon I was surrounded by tentacles and fins rubbing against me, their owners completely obscured in the inky darkness. The sounds that filled my ears penetrated to the deepest parts of my soul whilst still being completely incomprehensible.
I was being suffocated by the whispering beings in the depths. A torture that only lasted a few minutes felt like an eternity. By the end of the experience I had run out of air and I could feel the creatures clawing at my gasping mouth as I drowned. At this point the voices were howling in my ears.
The next thing I knew I was upright in my bed coughing my lungs out. I took a moment to get my bearings, I froze in shock staring at my sheets that were now soaked with seawater.
Adrian had been having dreams too. My suspicions that caused me to call him right out of bed were correct. Something was happening to us. Adrian told me that he was going to take his boat out to the wreck during the day. I desperately pleaded with him not to go near that thing again, but his conviction wouldn’t budge. Adrian assured me that he would contact me with his findings the morning after.
The entire day I felt like I was going insane. I was seeing things in reflections out of the corner of my eye and hearing soft whispers everywhere I went. It all came to a head when I tried to relax by taking a bath. As soon as I had eased back and closed my eyes I experienced the most horrific sensation. Something brushed by my leg in the water. I leapt out of the tub and stared into the water void of any semblance of life. I knew the feeling was genuine. There was something in there with me, I knew it.
I tried to stay awake for as long as I could into the night, but despite my terrible apprehension I succumbed. When I came to, I was staring up at a black sky dotted with dozens of bright stars. I immediately realized that this time I wasn’t submerged in the waves. I was laying atop a meager slab of an all too familiar organic substance floating on the surface of the water. While a massive moon shone over the surface of the ocean, its pale light wasn’t enough to breach the surface and illuminate the depths.
Soon the voices came. The voices from the depths, beckoning me from just beneath the surface. I wouldn’t dare follow their wishes, so the only thing I could do in the situation was endure. I sat there, bobbing up and down with the flow of the waves whose sounds became drowned out by the wailing voices for hours. Their cries only grew louder.
After what I would guess was about forty hours of this unceasing torture, I couldn’t take it anymore. I gazed into the abyss, wondering what horrors awaited me there. The voices howled. They knew what was happening. They knew they were finally getting to me. This was my fate. I prepared myself to slide off of my miniscule sanctuary and into my watery grave. It was better than enduring any more of this torment.
Right about as I was about to make the plunge, I was back in my bed. Part of me cursed the fact that I wasn’t able to end this whole thing right then and there, but I was glad I would be able to learn of Adrian's findings. I waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing but the twisting visage of impossible aquatic monsters in every reflection. Every attempt I made to contact Adrian failed. Apparently he was nowhere to be found.
At the time I am writing this, I have been awake for 72 hours. I can’t take it anymore. The voices are now just as vivid in my waking hours as they are in my dreams. They keep calling to me. I can’t take it anymore. The bath I have drawn is almost full. This will serve as a record of everything I have gone through over this hellish week. I have accepted my inevitable fate. It’s time for me to face what’s waiting for me. It’s time for me to face the abyss.
This letter was discovered in the apartment of Sarah Walker, currently missing. It was found on the counter of the flooded bathroom, flooding seemingly originated from an overflowing bathtub. There are no present leads on the whereabouts of Sarah Walker.
submitted by JDizzleFoShizzle93 to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 15:30 Useful_Antelope4070 Livingston Parish Louisiana Tourism

Livingston Parish Louisiana Tourism

Bass Pro Shops Denham Springs, Louisiana
Welcome to Livingston Parish, Louisiana - a hidden gem in the heart of Southern United States. With its picturesque landscapes, charming communities and rich cultural heritage, this parish is an ideal destination for anyone seeking an authentic Louisiana experience. Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast looking to explore nature or a foodie eager to indulge in mouth-watering Cajun cuisine, Livingston Parish has something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your camera and get ready for a memorable adventure! Here are some of the best things to do and places to see during your visit.

What is Livingston Parish?

Located in southeastern Louisiana, Livingston Parish is a vibrant and diverse community comprising several towns and villages. It covers an area of 700 square miles along the Amite River and encompasses vast natural areas, historic landmarks, family-friendly attractions, and much more.
One of the most popular places to visit in Livingston Parish is Bass Pro Shops - a large outdoor retailer with over 100,000 square feet of retail space featuring fishing gear, hunting equipment, camping supplies, clothing, home decor items and more. Visitors can enjoy interactive exhibits such as archery ranges or aquariums while shopping for their favorite outdoor gear.
Another must-visit attraction in Livingston Parish is Tickfaw State Park - a sprawling wilderness area covering over 1 mile that offers numerous hiking trails through swamps teeming with wildlife. The park also features water playgrounds that are perfect for families looking to cool off during hot summer days.
Livingston Parish also has a rich cultural heritage reflected in its many historical sites such as Denham Springs Antique Village or Old City Hall Arts Center showcasing art from local artists. In short, there's plenty to explore here!

What are the best things to do in Livingston Parish?

Livingston Parish is a hidden gem in Louisiana, offering visitors a range of exciting activities and attractions to explore. Whether you're interested in outdoor adventures or cultural experiences, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
One of the top things to do in Livingston Parish is visiting Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. This massive store offers everything you need for fishing, hunting, camping, and more. You can even catch a fish from inside the store at their indoor pond!
If you're looking for an outdoor adventure, Tickfaw State Park is the perfect place to visit. The park features hiking trails through beautiful cypress swamps and bottomland hardwood forests. You can also go kayaking on the river or take a guided swamp tour.
For those interested in history and culture, check out the Denham Springs Antique District. Here you'll find antique shops filled with unique treasures from all over Louisiana.
Don't miss out on exploring local cuisine while visiting Livingston Parish. There are plenty of restaurants that offer delicious Cajun dishes made with fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients.
Livingston Parish has something for everyone to enjoy during their stay!

Where to stay in Livingston Parish

There are plenty of options for where to stay in Livingston Parish that can suit any traveler's needs and budget. For those looking for a more luxurious experience, there are hotels like the Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express. Both offer comfortable rooms with modern amenities such as free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, and fitness centers.
If you're on a tighter budget or prefer a more homely feel, there are several bed and breakfasts scattered throughout the parish. These quaint establishments provide cozy accommodations along with personalized service from hosts who know all about the best things to do in Livingston Parish.
For outdoor enthusiasts or families looking for a unique experience, camping at one of Tickfaw State Park's many campsites is an excellent option. Wake up surrounded by nature and enjoy activities like hiking trails or kayaking down the river.
If you want to be close to everything while still having some privacy, renting an Airbnb could be perfect. With options ranging from treehouses to spacious homes near attractions like Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, choosing an Airbnb allows visitors access to all Livingston Parish has to offer while enjoying their own space.


Livingston Parish is a beautiful destination that offers visitors the perfect blend of outdoor adventure, rich history, and unique culture. From exploring Bass Pro Shops to hiking in Tickfaw State Park, there's no shortage of activities to keep you entertained.
Whether you're looking for a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, Livingston Parish has something for everyone. With plenty of lodging options and delicious restaurants serving up traditional Cajun cuisine, your trip is sure to be unforgettable.
So if you're planning your next trip and want to experience all that Louisiana has to offer, be sure to add Livingston Parish Tourism to your list. You won't regret it!
submitted by Useful_Antelope4070 to LivingstonParishLouis [link] [comments]

2023.05.25 11:18 RiseOfBacon How to get Tier 3 rewards in Deep Dive

Morning Guardians,
Still seems to be some confusion with this and it's actually a really straight forward mechanic. After seeing more issues with it, mainly from those in matchmaking I thought a quick guide would help get us all that top tier 3 gear.
Go Deep or go home
This Cave is Not a Natural Formation
There are also 2 secret plants to find here which you can add to your aquarium at the H.E.L.M.
Twilight Plant and Twilight Flora are found in the Cave as you dive towards the first encounter area. As you descend, the first area has a large glowing plant which when facing it, go to the right and behind it to find the Twlight Plant.
Continue following this path down to find the Twilight Flora which is found behind you when you reach the door to enter the first encounter.
The Last Word
It's a solid farm outside of the Kalli farm in Last Wish for gear and keys, hopefully this helps more Fireteams get the best out the activity. I've struggled so far in matchmaking with it but I'm sure that will get better in time.
Back to hunting Exotic fish!
submitted by RiseOfBacon to DestinyTheGame [link] [comments]

2023.05.24 23:22 FarmWhich4275 For The Fallen

"Captain! Unidentified warp signature, sector 7-1!" The communications officer yelled out, breaking the calm of the station.
"All crews to stations! All hands on deck!" Captain Tarrin yelled out, standing proud on the deck.
Within minutes, every man and woman on board was at full alert, out of their quarters and away from the comfort of their Cassarin Crystal displays and at the cold steel and polymer that was their assigned station.
"Warp signature is growing... detecting capital class ship. Approximate size at eleven hundred meters."
"Eleven hundred!? That's a dreadnought! Shields to maximum power!" Tarrin commanded. He was now definitely concerned. Border disputes were common especially with the Sarrantis nearby, so this may very well be a raid. "Sarrantis bastards might be hitting us with a surprise attack! Call for reinforcements!"
"Warp signature is getting stronger. Bubble collapse in three... two... one... target sighted."
The beast that appeared from that wormhole was not a Sarrantis warship... It was.... nothing like had ever been seen before. A massive beast the size of a small city, over a kilometer long bristling with massive cannons. The armor plating was a dark grey in color, mixed with red and gold trimming and detailing. At its front sat a massive terrifying effigy of some kind of creatures skull.
The broadsides were covered in a strange emblem or marking. The emblem was a flag in black, gold and red, with a seven pointed star at the center of a large gear wheel. A black background, the gear wheel being of stitched gold and the star being of a very menacing scarlet red. We could very clearly make out that every inch of the ships hull was covered in thousands of letters and symbols, clearly denoting a language.
The closer it got, the less it scared us, and the more it awed us. Every single part, piece and component of this ship was handcrafted to a legendary quality. Thousands of small statues covered its surface, every armor plate covered in either a sort of holy seal or written text etched into the armor in gold or red. It approached the station where i stood on the bridge alongside the Captain.
It was at this point our communications failed. The radio chatter cut into dead silence, replaced by one of the most hauntingly beautiful voices I, or anyone has ever heard. It was a language none of us could even begin to comprehend, but the voice that spoke it sent us into a delerium. Every radio, every screen, every communications array across the entire system now played this song.
The sounds of multiple voices began to join the cacophony, a dozen voices singing in perfect unison with two speaking words, the others simply humming or maintaining a chord to carry the song. It was a song that filled all who heard it with an intense feeling of sadness, loss and mourning. One that few of us had ever felt before. The ship slipped effortlessly through the maw of space, closing the gap and finally coming to a rest near the station. Its underbelly opened up, and out came another ship. A very badly damaged ship.
The massive ornate beast moved away from the station, then pulled a turn that would have easily sheared any ship we had clean in half. It sat there in silent vigil as if waiting for the music to end. That haunting, beautiful sound continued for seven minutes. On the plants surface, thousands of men, women, children, even the normally stoic Admiralty were in tears. Soldiers in formation prepared for invasion were standing at attention at their posts, involuntarily giving a salute.
Then the song changed, an increase in tempo and a change in tone suddenly had all who heard it filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Officers wiped the tears of sadness from their faces and replaced them with a sense of pride and tears of joy. Crying younglings in the streets now had smiles on their faces. An overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment smashed into the populace like a tide of water and ice.
The warships we asked for arrived but did nothing, coming close to the ship, scanning it or just looking at it, awestruck. As if a god had suddenly struck a chord in our souls and commanded us to shut up and listen. The song finally ended. Just as abruptly as it arrived, the ship sped off, then vanished into the darkness through a warp portal. All communications returned to full functionality. I moved closer to the viewing screen, wiping the tears from my face as I tried to regain my composure. It was then I noticed what it had left behind.
"By the Gods!!! Is that the Poliakko!?" I exclaimed, finally noticing the badly damaged ship near the station.
"What!?" Captain Tarrin and several others got up from their stations and rushed to the viewing port.
Indeed, it was. The Poliakko. One of our exploration ships carrying the best and brightest of our species, lost to the empty void of space decades prior. Our first real exploration ship, a shattered hulk of scrap and twisted metal, covered in seals and mysterious emblems. The ship itself seemed unable to function, such was the damage, so it appeared to have been secured by some kind of metal beam casing that probably stopped it disintegrating.
We went into a frantic panic and swarmed the derelict. i rushed in, just behind a boarding team wearing pressure suits. We entered the ships main cargo bay. The sight that greeted us broke us and sent us into despair.
Coffins. Two hundred and forty seven coffins, perfectly laid out in the cargo bay, bathed in a soft blue light from a series of ornate light posts that created artificial flames like candles. Each coffin had a viewing port on it, in which you could perfectly see the face of its occupant. Some members looked around and tried to open the devices, believing its occupants were still alive.
I looked around and my eye caught the glint of silver in one of the boxes. I rushed towards it. The glint of silver belonged to an all too familiar necklace. I collapsed on the floor, reaching out for one last hug as I saw the face of my lost granddaughter. I began to sob uncontrollably and others rushed towards me to see if I was okay.
I was not.
Needless to say It was a matter of severe shock as to what we encountered. It took us a few months to sort through and collate the data we acquired. Mostly because we were busy burying the dead.
The coffins were made of a polycarbonate substance similar in structure to an artificial wood substrate. Various toxic but otherwise inert fluids were used in the bodies to prevent or at least slow decomposition. The bodies were preserved and positioned in such a manner that it seemed as though the occupants were 'asleep' instead of dead. We confirmed that it was somewhat jarring to find them in this state, but also... calming.
Once proper funeral services were conducted, questions began to fly. It was an insult to the dead to try get a sample of the fluid used for preservation, so scientists began to attempt to create their own using the minimal data we did have. Some families attempted to 'volunteer' their relatives to the cause, we rejected every attempt and swore an oath to never let this act be wasted. We laid our greatest heroes to rest a month after the First Encounter and got back to work.
What was that ship? Scans collected from every ship that could scan it or any crew that could operate despite the circumstances showed us a few things. It was made of an extremely advanced alloy we couldnt dare replicate, showing highly advanced design that could completely ignore laser fire. Shield strength readings were ten times what our flagship could output.
It was producing energy readings that were absurd by any standards, a few of the gas giants in our home system couldn't produce that much energy. Weapons systems from what little we could gather would outclass every ship in the fleet a hundred times over. Kinetic bombardment cannons, ballistic munitions cannons, beam weapons, point defense laser arrays and we could, from photographs, determine the outline of launch bays for thousands of missiles and rockets.
What was the language? The tech was on the outside beyond absurd. So... how did they gain access to our entire communications network? No trace of any signal was ever found. No means of entry was ever located. We have no idea how they seized our entire communications system, then used it to sing. What language was it? It wasn't much to work with but our translation algorithms and software designated the language as 'Latin' and began to translate the song.
In the meantime we started combing through the flight logs of the exploration ship. A simple accident involving a meteorite collision on exiting warp too close to an asteroid field. Twenty four crew members were left to die o starvation or exposure, while the rest died on impact or within a few minutes due to suffocation. I broke down in tears several times during the investigation on seeing recordings of my granddaughter with the crew.
Finally after a fair amount of time and several unfortunate breakdowns, the algorithm finished its translation.
"It is better to celebrate a life well lived and the impact it has had on those around it,
than it is to mourn a life that has been lost.
So long as you are remembered,
so long as your footsteps are still where your path has lead you, death is meaningless.
Only those forgotten are truly dead.
So long as you are remembered, so long as you were loved, you are immortal.
So long as your impact is maintained,
So long as the shadow of the tree you planted still remains, You are Immortal.
So long as you are loved, you had a greater impact on the universe than the death of a thousand suns.
In memory of the fallen.
To those who came before and gave all they had to those who are now. We salute you.
In memory of the fallen.
To those who bled in wars long past. We salute you.
Together to the future.
We shall not let your sacrifice, however small be wasted.
Together to the void.
We shall carry on in your footsteps and let your thunderous voices be heard.
Together to Eternity.
Raise a glass to those before and share your bread with those who are now.
Together to victory.
Together to the Void, us against eternity. We shall not falter.
Rest in peace. For your work is done.
Rest in peace, for it is our turn now.
Rest in peace, for your greatness now shines through us.
We are those you fought for, those you died for, those you lived for.
We are the future. WE SHALL NOT FALTER.
Together to the future! Together to the Void! Together, for all eternity!
These simple words broke the Empire. Literally broke us. In front of a delegation of our best warriors, one of our generals collapsed into tears. Our Emperor confined himself to the temple for a week, refusing any food as a penance. Holy sites such as temples and graveyards suddenly became flooded with tens of thousands of people. Apologies and confessions of sins and crimes flooded the network, with former crime bosses and criminal gangs walking into police stations and locking themselves in prisons.
Our entire society changed. All because of this one ship. This... gesture. An act of kindness for the families of these lost and a mark of respect for the dead. Who? Why?
As much as recent revelations changed us, we were still at war with an enemy two star systems away. We quickly got back into focus. Some weeks after this however... that all came to an abrupt conclusion.
I was up in the defense station, overseeing trade deals with some old allies when a mass alert rang out. It was a Saranai fleet. Hundreds of warships suddenly appeared at our borders. Then hundreds more. Then more than that. then... far too many. Even if we called up our entire reserve, not only would they not get here in time, there's no way in oblivion we would survive.
We wouldn't go down without a fight. Damn them to oblivion, we would take as many of them with us as we could! Well... that's what we thought at least. Until that bastard flagship of theirs warped in behind them. The planetkiller. The one that destroyed Kessarn Prime at the start of the war. Thankfully it wasn't too heavily populated but... it was no less of a loss.
The fleet assembled before us was too much. Whatever fight we had, it would wipe us out. They hailed us and the Emperor himself Juhad Val'Hem was on board the flagship. "I demand your presence on board my flagship. Bring your emperor to me now."
"To discuss terms of surrender I'm guessing?" I said flippantly, trying to stall for time.
A laser beam shot out of the flagships support fleet. "That was a warning shot. I shall NOT ask again." He commanded.
I relayed the message to my own Emperor Affahid The Seventh. Within the hour he and I were on board a shuttle on the way to their emissary barge. The Emperor Juhad was sitting on his grandiose throne in front of us, an expression of rage on his face as we approached. Juhad, the red skinned, and Affahid, the blue skinned. We are a species of roughly similar features with those of blue skin being slightly shorter but stronger, while our red skinned foes have greater intellect but larger stature.
"Affahid... we meet again."
The two men regarded each other as we stood in the halls, the meeting broadcast for all to witness. A moment of tense and absolute silence, so much so the sneeze of a rodent could be heard twelve systems away.
Emperor Juhad's expression changed as he broke the silence, dropping to his knees, prostrating himself before my Emperor and began to cry copious tears. "PLEASE FORGIVE US!!!!" He cried as his tears stained the ground.
Affahid was now stood silent, his jaw agape at the sight of a generations old enemy suddenly dropping to the floor in tears. A warrior king, reduced to a blubbering mess in front of his empires subjects. Affahid and I looked at each other in confusion for a moment, before Juhad finally stpped his blubbering long enough to eek out a coherent statement.
"How many brother? How many!? How many lives have been wasted with this conflict? How many of our sons and daughters have we sent to their deaths!? It was all for nothing! NOTHING!!! IT WAS ALL A LIE!!" He yelled in between sobs.
Juhad pressed a button and holographic screens appeared, laying bare evidence that nearly made me pass out. The first image laying out the displayed and carefully preserved remains. Among them - pictures of crew members carefully preserved in the same pristine coffins.
The crew members all had a mixture of Blue and Red skin. And among them, a young mother holding a child - with PURPLE skin.
"Liars and traitors! Murderers and criminals all of them! When we thought the ships lost we were told it was your doing! They fabricated everything and sent us into a mad pointless war against our own kin! They have been smote from this universe with as much malice as I could muster! I come here to pay for my recklessness and sanity! My own daughter was among those ships!"
Juhad sat on his knees with his head bowed and presented his arms up as if he was ready for arrest. "FORGIVE ME!!!"
Affhaid stood stunned for a moment then reached down and grabbed one of Juhads hands, pulling him to his feet and embracing him, both men in tears. "You are forgiven... Brother."
Some months passed, and our mutual war had been all but forgotten. Reparations from both sides were forgotten simply out of the need to bring peace. A new chapter in our history began. But through all this, one question remained. Why?
Juhads own fleets were met with the same kind of ship we encountered on that fateful day. The same markings, scripts and even the same haunting music. Only the one they encountered was much, MUCH larger. It was on the anniversary of our first year as an alliance, we got our answer.
A communication tech from one of our security cruisers barged into the Grand Hall causing a commotion and evaded the guards to approach Emperor Juhad and Affhaid. She was extremely agitated, but he had a curious smile on his face.
"What is the meaning of this!?" Juhad yelled, his temperance unchanged from his previous rule.
"I found it! I got a signal back!" She yelled excitedly.
"Found what?"
"The Temperance launched a gathering of signal probes toward the ship that retrieved the Poliakko. One of them managed to attach itself somehow to the armor plating and we got a signal back twenty minutes ago!" She squealed excitedly.
She quickly gathered her portable equipment and brought up a galaxy map, highlighting a particular point in a far flung segment of the galaxy. The marker designated the systems name as 'Sol'.
The signal was a bit garbled but eventually the technician, still keeping us on the edge of our seats, in my ase literally, as she tried to recover something. "Ah! I got it! The probe took a few pictures." She said excitedly.
A button was pressed and the image that greeted us shattered our fragile hearts. There were THOUSANDS of those ships, each one in a varying state of destruction, disuse or decay. Each one bearing a plaque, on which were written hundreds of names. On each ship, a metal plate was welded wherever it could. Each plate had the phrase:
'Death is not that which must be feared. It is a companion that we must take in our stride. Gone but never forgotten, lest more be lost. NEVER FORGET.'
It was a graveyard. A massive, massive star system sized graveyard. Our hearts sank as the probe performed a bioscan and found only silence. A closer look at the nearest ship revealed it to be almost entirely automated despite the damage it sustained. Our military commanders were now seriously worried and wondered what could have caused any damage at all to these ships as they murmured amongst themselves.
We cycled through some of the pictures the probe took as more of them arrived through the data stream. Photos of larger swathes of the system showed countless derelict starships anchored in place around the entire star system by artificial gravity hooks. Derelicts of innumerable manufacture and quantity, not made by the locals but by countless other races. Thousands upon thousands of ships, ranging in size from fighters to multi-mile long titans.
Megastructures of any conceivable kind surrounded every planetary body. Refineries, Military installations, matryoshka brains, massive megastations and what looked to be a stellar ignition unit lying shattered and broken around one of the gas giants. This entire star system appears to be a massive graveyard, but it looked far from dead. However, one thing that puzzled us was... where is everybody? All we could make out were automated drones and machines. No people. At least... none that were alive.
We cycled through more astonishing pictures, until I finally pointed and yelled "THERE!!! Right there! See it?"
Everyone looked carefully at my fingertip and spotted the clear sight of a bipedal creature in a thick mechsuit, welding a memorial plate to a ships hull. "By the ancients... I do!" Juhad said.
"What is it? Two arms, a head, two legs. Even in that mechsuit I can tell that much. Do you have anything that shows it up close?" Affhaid asked the technician.
"No my Lord uh, that's the last photo I have. We are still getting more. The next one will get here in a bout two minutes. Then its another eight for the data to collate and process. We are working as fast as we can." She replied, trying to keep calm.
"In the meantime... Captain Tarrin? Ready our ship and plot a course to that system. I have an idea." I said out loud and excused myself from the table.
"Wait! The last photo is ready. I have it here... now."
The final photograph loaded. We were startled out of our seats as the strange creature was now in front of the optical lens, staring straight into it. Its mouth was curved upwards in what was clearly a smile. Its eyes were a haunting beautiful brown, but even with a cursory glance one could feel a heavy, saddened burden emanating from his expression.
"THAT... is what's there? Why..." Juhad spoke.
"Why does it look like us... only... without the pointy ears and the... pink skin?" Affhaid replied, finishing the statement.
The journey took us six months. Sol was a hundred and forty seven jumps from home, but we were set for the long haul as Juhad gave us one of his Heavy Battleships, retrofitting it for an extended journey instead of me struggling with my old diplomatic Frigate. I had with me on the bridge General Hakim and Admiral Gohan, along with Captains Tarrin and Soren, alongside me was my fellow Diplomat, Master Ragan.
We were moments away from entering the system around the planetoid designated 'Pluto' and the atmosphere was palpable. "I dont like this. I dont like it one bit." General Hakim spoke above the din as he stood at the viewing port.
"Neither do I. What the hell are you doing with that?" Admiral Gohan asked and gestured to the bouquet of flowers I was holding.
"Dont worry. I have a plan. Just let me do all the talking. The probe secured some datafiles and other things from the Poliakko. I know what I'm doing." I smiled at them, though I will admit it did nothing to calm the atmosphere.
"Exiting hyperlane in... Three... two... One... Entry!" The ships pilot yelled out, grabbing everyones attention.
The ship popped into existence just beyond the systems perimeter. Within moments of our appearance, we had ten dreadnoughts appear and aim their cannons at us. The voice of a machine hijacked our communications and a holographic image of a machine-like eyeball appeared in front of us on the bridge. It tracked us. Clearly, very advanced tech if they could project their holograms through our shields straight into our hulls.
I spoke in response. "We are here to pay respects to the dead. One of our ships is recorded to be here. We wish to speak to the one in charge here to recover that ship and bring it home." I made sure to hold the flowers up so it could clearly see.
A series of bright holographic arrows appeared and our Pilot took the initiative, moving us through the pathway. We looked around and took in the sights. Some of these ships were massive. We ran a basic scan while we could, one such ship was over twenty miles long and nearly four miles in height and width. Most of the megastructures and giant stations were intact and appeared fully funcional, though a bioscan done still produced no lifesigns. Only machines. Millions upon millions of machines.
A few minutes later, the Admiral pointed towards our destination: Retributions Kiss, a ship Juhad lost a few decades ago. A ship full of heroes. "I knew It! I knew I saw that ship on the feed!" I exclaimed as we got closer.
((For the sake of the read, the song I was listening to as i wrote this is Beautiful Oblivion by Scott Buckley. It seemed to fit perfectly))
Our comms suddenly cut, and were replaced with music. Beautiful, somber, sad music. We docked with the ship with a thud. The Retributions Kiss had its entire aft section destroyed, several holes punctured through most of the rear superstructure and a starboard thruster pod looked like it had been on fire. A somber mood overcame us all as I headed to the airlock.
On entering I was immediately greeted by the sight of more of those precious coffins, each one ornately decorated with its occupant appearing sound asleep. I approached fully aware I was no longer alone as the crew followed and placed the flowers I was carrying on one of the coffins. Everyone else followed suit, and soon the entire crew save a few needed volunteers had come out with their own bunch of flowers.
We each stood with our heads bowed as we silently uttered a prayer for our fallen brethren. It was only now we noticed the figure standing in the room, its hands in front of it with its head low. We continued for a minute or so more, placing more flowers and allowing Scholars to take notes of names for the dead. I motioned to the being at the opposite end of the room if we culd pick them up and take them home. It simply nodded in agreement and I called for us to quietly carry the coffins on board the Battleship.
I stood by and waited as each body was carried away. The music finally ended. I looked to my left, now noticing the creature standing next to me. It was a clear two feet shorter than I was. I could now clearly see more of its features, obscured as they were by the robe he wore. Definitely a male, five fingers instead of our four. A small tuft of hair atop its head with more on its face, grown long and grey, instead of completely bald like us. Rounded, short ears instead of jagged edges like us.
"A simple lesson to learn, but one that has no lesser impact. Never forget, lest we lose more. Never forget, lest they be gone forever."
I waited a moment to respond, allowing my translation unit to work. "You are... the Gravekeeper, the machines told us about?"
"Aye, that I be. The name is Grimm. Or at least, I think it is. Its been a while since I needed to care. About a thousand four hundred years to be exact." He said looking up at me.
"Can you... explain that?" I asked, trying my best to be polite.
"Look son, I know why you are here as much as I do, so lets not sugarcoat it. Ive done this for far too long now so I will cut to the chase. You are here only because you saw one of your own ships, but lets face mit. You came here to do more than just recover bodies." He looked up at me with a certain degree of side-eye.
"Well..." I sighed in defeat.
"Highly advanced tech, massive warships, uncountable technologies. You cant say you had an ulterior motive for being here, but at least I can appreciate the sincerity of your funeral service. At least you respect the dead. Now tell me, why are you really here?"
"To thank you... for bringing my granddaughter back home. To thank you for bringing that ship back. To thank you for giving me a chance to say goodbye." I smiled down at him, a tear forming in my eye.
"You are welcome. Its my job. And whats the other thing?"
"To ask some questions. To see if we can negotiate a proper trade. To see if we could be friends." I said, holding my hand out.
He looked at me and sighed. "Aye. Friends it is." He shook my hand.

"So lad, I'll spare you the trouble of asking and I'll just answer. My species abandoned the galaxy some fourteen hundred years ago because we were beset by enemies on all sides. Constant war with no friends, this pace became more a memorial than a home system because of how many losses we were taking. Eventually, we were left with few choices and simply just... buggered off. I was one of very few volunteers to stay behind when everyone left. We found no friends here and simply just decided it wasn't worth sticking around, so we packed up and left." He explained as he lead me to the edge of the room, overlooking a view of Earth.
"That's... that is very depressing. I cannot imagine what it would be like to abandon ones home."
"I'm not completely alone of course, every now and then I get pilgrims coming from the other galaxy and they visit Earth. We built all this you know. Probably have a lot more. Come to think of it, how long before you go home?" He looked up at me with a peculiar smirk.
"Ah... hmmm... Well we have to refuel the ship and hold some vigils but we should be returning home in a few days. Why?"
"If you stick around for a week or so, you'll be able to catch a Pilgrimage. I'm not the only human in the universe, but I am the only human here. If you are willing to be patient, you'll be able to conduct a proper First Contact with the Federation." He said, his smile and expression now seeing to calm down.
"Oh! Uhh... Actually I... I would love that! I will go tell the commanders. I will arrange it all. Thank you, again."
"No problem. Anything for a Friend."
submitted by FarmWhich4275 to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.05.24 20:32 Express_Ad_6664 A Morphing Universe Chapter 6 (The Nature of Predators/Animorphs Crossover)

Dear Readers,
I wish to apologise for the noticeable drop in quality in my most recent chaptepost. I have been somewhat short on time recently, and was feeling the sting of keeping you, my beloved fans, waiting. Admittedly, I should have given Chapter 6 a bit more work, some rewording, a better proof read, and not attempted to post it after being awake for about 18 hours straight!
Please consider this version to be canon, and the other to be a belated April Fools joke!
Arxur Farming World 57, 8th September 2136
The proximity alarms shrieked as the invaders entered the system. Running from his chambers as fast as he could, Chief Hunter Isif stumbled onto the bridge. Around him, the crew hurried to ready the ship for battle, their body-language unusually apprehensive. They were scared. This was it, the moment of truth. The unimaginable. The unthinkable. A system of the Arxur Dominion was being invaded. And even with the reinforcements from Shaza and three other Chief Hunters, Isif was not convinced that they could withstand what was coming. Nearly a thousand ships were arrayed around the system’s sole habitable planet, but given what they could be facing, Isif had no way of knowing if it would be enough.
It had all started about a month ago. A routine raid on one of the systems inhabited by the prey species known as ‘Venlil’. A half-squadron of bombers, dispatched to weaken defences, sow terror, and maybe grab a few cattle from the orbital stations. One of a thousand such attacks he had ordered over the years, presenting the image of a loyal and ruthless Arxur. A perfectly routine move to appease Betterment. Until it wasn’t. According to their last transmissions, they had been torn from hyperspace almost a lightyear away from their target, with strange ships waiting for them. No further messages had been received, and the entire unit was believed dead. If they had reported an overwhelming prey fleet, Isif could have dismissed it as bad luck and dispatched a larger fleet to ‘prevent the leaf-lickers from getting inflated egos’, as Betterment would have put it. But unidentified ships, ones clearly not belonging to any known prey… that was concerning.
So, Isif had held his forces back, and waited for further intelligence. Then spy ships had intercepted chatter and hyperspace trails that showed Gojid forces disappearing, sudden redeployments, and trails from civilian ships heading deeper into prey space. It was almost like the typical reaction to one of the Arxur’s larger raids, but Isif knew that no Chief Hunter had dispatched forces into Gojid territory, never mind a fleet large enough to rile the prey up this much. When it became clear that some sort of major catastrophe had struck the homeworld of this particularly belligerent prey, Isif knew he had to find out exactly what was going on. So, he had ordered a fleet of several hundred ships, including cattle-ships and bombers, to be mustered and despatched into the heart of Gojid space.
Officially, the fleet was sent to raid this ‘Cradle’ following intelligence reports indicating weakened defences. Unofficially, Isif had sent them to find out if the prey were fighting amongst themselves, or if, as the rumour mill had it, another species of meat-eating sapients had graced the galactic stage. Isif had hoped that that was the case. Another predator species would provide a genuine challenge to Betterment, something to truly demand their attention, if the newcomers competed with the Dominion for resources and cattle. And if they managed to form peaceful relations, and inter-species relationships and agreements were to form, the Dissident movement could potentially gain friends…
The result had been a massacre. Of the two hundred and thirty ships dispatched, barely eleven returned. Those that did sported holes bored straight through them, some with entire sections of the outer hull seemingly abraded away like flayed meat, leaving whole decks and compartments open to the void of space. Many of the crews had been shaking like Venlil pups, babbling incessantly. From what could be discerned, the fleet had arrived in the Cradle system and found the planet surrounded by an attacking fleet. This fleet was comprised of multiple styles of ship, but all were aimed at the planet. It had been assumed by the crew that this was indeed a new predator species, and the commanding Hunter had begun to open communications, when the alien fleet hailed them. A frail, four-eyed, blue prey beast lacking even the most rudimentary mouth had introduced themselves as a ‘War Prince’ of the ‘ISU’ and declared the Cradle theirs by ‘right of conquest’. Naturally, the Hunter had ordered his ships to open fire and drive the interfering prey from the system. Instead, their fire had sputtered impotently against the prey fleets’ shields, and then beams of unnameable energies had annihilated the Arxur forces. The few survivors had turned and fled.
Which was why Isif was now standing on the bridge of his flagship, waiting for the inevitable attack. In the last two days, three other farming worlds had gone silent, their last transmissions mentioning ships appearing out of nowhere and laying waste to the defenders. It was believed that the planets had been glassed, either by this new prey or by the Federation. So, here he was, trying to halt the advance at the next farming world in the enemy’s path with as many ships as he could spare from other garrisons. Isif cursed Shaza under his breath. If the egg-addled defective had sent more ships, they might have had a chance of surviving this, but the other Chief Hunter had argued that she needed to protect her own territory, ‘in case Isif’s entire sector falls’. Bitch. Could no one else see that if this threat gained a foothold in Arxur space, they would lose more than a single sector? Every farming world between here and Wriss was at stake!
The enemy ships came into view. Fewer than Isif had expected, maybe one hundred and fifty. Four different styles were represented, each more different than the last. The first three were of roughly even numbers. One was comprised of cruiser-sized vessels shaped like ornate, almost gaudy buildings with several double and single-edged blades running along and through them, surrounding one with a more aircraft-like core, at least three times the size of the others. Isif could see flattened pyramid-like bumps lining the ‘blades’ at regular intervals. Weapons, perhaps? But there was nothing for the missile or plasma to come out of. The level of decoration was bizarre, silver hulls with bronze and gold patterns. How could glorified pleasure craft have devastated three Arxur fleets? There was something about the patterns, they looked almost like animals, and not meek herd beasts either.
The next style of ship was far more intimidating. Pitch black like obsidian, or the void itself, a shoal of predatory forward-raked crescents, led by an arrow-shaped vessel with two curved blade-wings that was at least two-thirds the size of Isif’s flagship. Yet again, there were no visible weapons. Maybe this was a different new-starfaring-species to that one that had destroyed the farming worlds? Unlikely. But if these were the ships of the ‘ISU’, it cast doubts on the initial report: those were not the ships of some meek prey species. The third group looked almost aquatic, forward pointing fish-like ovoids with two to four wings jutting from the rear third section. Several shallow, evenly spaced turrets lined the cerulean hull, showing that these sleek craft were most definitely warships. Not that there was any doubt, seeing as they had entered Arxur space and destroyed several defence fleets. Given their ‘elegant’ design, Isif could easily believe that they, at least, were prey vessels. Still, the exact shape of the ships reminded him of some streamlined aquatic predator, something no prey species would have allowed.
These three groups were arranged around the fourth type of ship, and it was this one that drew Isif’s gaze. Numbering at least twice as many as the other types, the majority were gunmetal-grey flattened arrowheads with wide sweeping wings, like massive atmospheric craft. The central hull had a hexagonal cross-section, with what looked like a large gun protruding from the tip of the ‘nose’, the closest to a conventional warship Isif could see amongst the attacking fleet. Four larger vessels spread throughout the fleet, however, were the strangest thus far. They had no engines, seeming to move without any visible propulsion. The core was comprised of two flattened four-sided pyramids fused together at the base, with elongated hoops protruding from the corners. What possible reason could there be for those? Were they engines, weapon batteries, decoration? Isif stopped staring, calmed his breathing, and focused on what mattered, devising a plan. And to do that, he needed to understand his enemy.
Multiple style of ship suggested that this was not a single species, so they must be with the Federation. Yet the only new species to appear recently, the blue prey ‘ISU’, were seemingly arrayed against the Federation. And these ships looked too different from Federation designs to belong to prey. In fact, some looked almost like what his people would build, if they cared more about form than function. Particularly the black vessel that looked like an axe. Which suggested something Isif had previously only dreamed of: a predatory counterpart to the Federation. Such a union of species would have a multitude of cultures, unless all predators had their own ‘Betterments’, and people like him truly were aberrant. And if fellow predators could offer something other than Betterments’ lies, something other than life as an animal…
So, who could these apparent predators be? And why were they attacking the Arxur? Isif was desperately trying to formulate a plan. He had expected a larger fleet, a swarm of unknown enemies, not an insignificant handful of vessels. It was possible that the invaders had simply left forces to hold the systems they had captured, but then why continue to attack with such reduced numbers? He needed to understand, was there some secret weapon concealed within those ships…? A junior officer spoke up.
“Incoming hail, Chief Hunter. It seems to be coming from the largest of the ‘pyramid’ ships.”
Isif paused. Prey never talked. If they opened communications with the Arxur, it was only to beg for mercy. These must be fellow predators, but then why attack his sector? Why not continue to focus their efforts on the Federation, assuming that the blue creatures were indeed just misidentified predators? He made a decision. If these were fellow predators, then it was possible that an agreement could be made. Maybe they had some non-sapient cattle they could trade, reducing dependency on the Federation prey. Ideas could also flow into the Dominion, providing an alternative to Betterments’ insane rhetoric. That would allow the dissidents to gain influence, paving the road for reform.
“Accept the hail. Maybe we can convince them to back down…”
The link opened. Isif felt his spirits lift at the sight. The creature staring at him from the screen had purple-grey fur with black blotches evenly spaced across its face. Two forward-facing eyes, yellow-green with slitted pupils, looked into his above a short muzzle that ended in a small black nose. A pair of pointed ears stuck out from the upper half of the head, twitching sporadically. The lower jaw had two protrusions like folds seeming to extend down from either side for about a claw’s length, with what looked like a ridge of bone running down from the upper lip. The eyes narrowed, seeming to signal the same thoughts that now rushed through Isif’s head. There are other predators! At last, potential allies against the mindless horde of the Federation! These people must have been assaulted by the prey, and attacked Arxur system believing that they too were belligerent xenophobes. Indeed, as the furry sapient opened its mouth to speak, revealing a pair of dagger-like incisors on both jaws and two curved blade-teeth that were sheathed in the protrusions, Isif could see the future unfolding before his eyes. With these allies, he would be able to overthrow Betterment and force the Federation to leave his people alone…
Then Isif noticed the creature’s eyes. They did not look at him with excitement or the joy of meeting another sapient race. They held nothing but simmering rage. And in the background, Isif saw not only members of this species, but several others. Some of whom were most definitely prey. Before he could react, the creature spoke.
“Attention, Arxur Fleet. I am Praetor Tollene of the Nimthyl Command, commanding this fleet of the Inter-Species Union. We are here to liberate the unfortunate souls imprisoned here, and return them to civilised space. In accordance with the dictates of the 2034 Convention Against Slavery and Genocide, I am authorised to employ military force to ensure the rescue of captured civilians, up to and including orbital bombardment. You have twenty minutes to withdraw or be destroyed.”
Isif was stunned. Inter-Species Union. That confirmed his suspicions, but several members of the crew were clearly prey-beasts, and conventional wisdom showed that prey attempted to exterminate predators unless the predators dominated them. These prey were certainly not cattle, perhaps slaves or indentured workers? No, even if Isif had prey amongst his crew, he would never have allowed them to serve on the bridge. Then it hit him.
Liberate. Unfortunate souls. Return to civilised space.
This was not a mistake. This new faction of predators and their subject races had come to take the cattle! But Isif could not imagine why. Surely a space-faring species should have cattle of their own already, even non-sapient food if the Federation hadn’t gotten to them. There had to be a way of convincing them to stand down and negotiate. Isif cleared his throat.
“I am Chief Hunter Isif of the Arxur Dominion, commander of this sector. I greet you in the name of cooperation and …”
The opposing commander, this ‘Praetor Tollene’, interrupted him.
“Be silent, beast. I did not come here to trade words with a mindless savage. Your forces have nineteen minutes to withdraw from this system, or we will annihilate you. Any members of your degenerate species who remain on the planet will be seized and tried for Crimes Against Sapience.”
Isif stiffened. This commander was insane! His forces were vastly outnumbered, their weapons couldn’t possibly be that much better than the Arxur forces. But what did he want? He’d referred to Isif as a ‘savage’, had accused the farm-worlds’ population of ‘Crimes Against Sapience’. And referring to the Arxur as ‘degenerate’… what had he meant by that? Perhaps this new faction was not after the cattle at all. If Isif could just keep him talking, maybe they could find some common ground. Of course, he had to frame it in a way acceptable to Betterment.
“Praetor, you have not even explained why your forces are here. If it is territory that you desire, I assure you that there are better targets directly behind you. If it is cattle, or food that you need, I am afraid that my government will not allow you to take what is ours. I am certain, however, that if some sort of trade could be arranged, perhaps in exchange for technology, then they would prove amenable. Though a military alliance would likely be best, as it would allow us to capture enough cattle to feed both of our respective…”
The furred creature interrupted him again.
“Enough! I will not allow a walking affront to sapience to impugn the honour of the Nimthyl, and the entire Union, by suggesting that we are the same. Your species have done nothing but terrorise this sector of the galaxy since you received space-flight. You destroy planets, you maliciously target civilians and use chemical weapons indiscriminately, in blatant disregard of all Laws of Warfare. But that is not the worst part. You abduct fellow sapients and eat them. You torture and abuse them, you use them as cattle. If I had my way, your entire vile species would be wiped from the universe.”
Isif was rapidly coming to understand that these ‘Nimthyl’ were not like his people. As he had hoped, other sapient predators found the practice of taking cattle repugnant. Perhaps the Federation had not succeeded in destroying their non-sapient livestock, that would certainly remove the need to raid prey worlds. They certainly could not support their population through hunting. But that still didn’t explain why they were attacking the Arxur. He needed to steer the conversation in that direction, without saying anything that would get him purged.
“Praetor, I do not understand what you mean. The prey that make up the so-called Federation are just that: prey. They are mindless beasts who ape civilisation and technology, nothing more. As true sapients, beings higher on the food chain than those cowardly animals, we have the right to take them for our sustenance. And if you have met the Federation, then you know what they think of predators. Those warmongering lunatics are a threat to all true sapients, and any measures required to keep them from overrunning the galaxy are justified! You must know what they did, when they came to our world…”
The praetor growled at Isif.
“What they did, Arxur, was give you advanced technology that allowed you to leave your homeworld and bring an end to the horrific war you were embroiled in. With your planet united, you could have joined the Federation and become key members of a thriving galactic community, as we did eighty-seven years ago. You could have helped the Federation to overcome their innate fear of predators, ushered in an age of ecological understanding, and helped to bring an end to their destructive practices. But instead, you embarked on the kind of expansionist warfare that all civilised species abandon before achieving space flight. And as for your deriding of fellow sapients as nothing more than cattle…”
His stomach clenched. The Nimthyl had no idea what the Federation had done to his people, the destruction of their food supply and all but handing Betterment the keys to the kingdom. He had to explain, make them see, and hopefully gather more information on exactly what these people wanted. All without tipping off Betterment.
“Do you seriously think that those leaf-lickers came to us with benevolence? Their actions resulted in the death of entire swathes of our population, the destruction of our society! If the Prophet and the philosophy of Betterment had not intervened, we would have gone extinct! The Federation despise all predators! They are using you, trying to turn you to their own vile needs. And what, exactly, is this ‘Inter-Species Union’?”
The praetor snarled at him.
“The ISU is a collection of species, both carnivore and herbivore, working together to maintain peace in this galaxy. And we know what the Federation are, Arxur. We have witnessed the ecological devastation their deviant ideology causes on Venlil Prime, whose people are so terrified of predators that they almost killed our First Contact team, though the blame mostly lies with you. One of their primitive races, the Gojid, plotted to exterminate one of our member species, the Humans. At this moment, a fleet of our warships is disciplining them for their transgression. We have dispatched ambassadors to explain to the Federation why it is best to consider the matter settled.”
Now that, that was surprising. Suddenly it all fell into place. These predators with access to non-sapient cattle, had met fiercer, more-reasonable-than-average prey, and decided to work together, for mutual benefit. Now, if only he could convince them to focus their fury on the Federation…
“Then you understand that they are nothing but mindless beasts. It is the natural order for those species with higher reasoning, free of the degenerate impulses that are empathy and compassion, to dominate the lesser species. Simply because the prey you have encountered are not as weak as…”
The look in the praetors’ eyes stopped Isif mid-sentence. What had he said to elicit such a reaction?
“Enough! The Federation’s diet has nothing to do with their qualification for sapience, and I find it disturbing that your people consider empathy and compassion to be weaknesses, even amongst yourselves. War Prince Dalar of the Andalites leads the assault upon the Gojid and he is one of the finest officers in the galaxy. In the ISU, there is no distinction between ‘predator’ and ‘prey’. All sapients have the right to be free from fear and violence. My forces are here to free your enslaved ‘cattle’ from their unlawful imprisonment, and return them to their own people. Hopefully, that will convince the Federation that not all carnivores are murderous deviants. Your twenty minutes are up.”
With that, the link terminated. Isif had only a moment to realise what that meant, before alarms began shrieking like frightened Dossur. As one, the ‘ISU’ fleet advanced. The void-black ships struck first, lances of searing red light spearing from barbed arrow-heads dotted like thorns along their hulls. As Isif watched, one of his crusiers was sliced in half lengthways by a beam from the ‘axe-ship’, the two halves rocketing away from each other on jets of vaporising metal before exploding. Smaller ships caught by the beam simply flared like miniature suns and vanished.
From that display of firepower, it was clear that the attacking fleet carried weaponry far more powerful, proportionately, than Isif’s forces. Though what those weapons were, Isif could not say. The closest thing he could think of were defence lasers, and they were far too big to be mounted on ships that small. And besides, his ships’ sensor suite had reacted… strangely, when the weapons had first fired. Gritting his teeth, Isif gave the order.
“All ships, attack! Drive the invaders and their prey lackeys from our system! And send all sensor data to my ship! We must understand what freakish technology these prey-loving weaklings employ. For the Glory of The Prophet!”
All around him, the assembled Arxur ships fought desperately to hold the line, raining enough plasma upon the enemy to glass a continent. To Isif’s horror, it was not enough. One of the streamlined ‘fish’ ships lost its’ shields, hull quickly developing a handful of glowing holes. Any one of those should have crippled the vessel, instead of only breaching a single compartment. Its fellows immediately reacted, turning their turrets against the cruiser squadron responsible. Isif saw beams of purple light, a mix of focused bosons and gamma rays if the sensors he had pointed in that direction were correct, strike each of the ships and gut them like Venlil pups. A veritable swarm of missiles streaked from the largest of the enemy vessels and annihilated a bomber that had been moving into attack range.
Looking at the big picture, Isif could see that each of the constituent fleets had their own unique style of fighting, and weaponry that was starkly different from their ‘allies’. The bladed ‘pleasure craft’ unleashed beams of golden energy from their flattened pyramids, destroying or coring any ship that got too close. Which, to Isif, seemed to be one third again the effective range of most of his fleets’ primary weapons. They moved in a loose formation, seeming to guard the central ship. The vast, fighter-like bulk moved with a grace Isif would not have believed, if he was not seeing it for himself. When its weapons fired, not even debris was left. Isif saw the largest of its ‘pyramids’ fire a spread of burning rays, reducing seven of his bombers to glowing golden motes.
The black crescents seemed to slide through space, like nocturnal predators stalking some herd of prey beasts. When they struck, each ship would target a different part of an Arxur cruiser, carving into the hull with the burning red light before darting away to the next target, leaving another member of their contingent to finish it off. The ‘axe-ship’, accompanied by an alternating escort of ‘crescents’, dove into Isif’s fleet, turning its full firepower upon any bomber it encountered. Isif paused.
All of them are focusing on the bombers.
Now that was interesting. Bombers were not ships of the line, they focused on orbital emplacements and planetary targets. Their guns lacked the power of cruisers and true attack-ships, so why focus on them specifically? His attention was suddenly drawn to the vessels of the ‘Nimthyl’, particularly the bizarre ships without identifiable engines. They were driving deeper and deeper into the Arxur formation, weapons firing without ceasing as Isif lost a cruiser every few seconds. What was most shocking was what the Nimthyl guns were ripping his fleet apart with. Thus far, the attackers had used particle beams of some description, though Isif could not understand the different colours being produced. Purely theoretical until now, but comprehensible, like lasers fifty times as powerful as they should be. But not the Nimthyl weapons. The turrets lining the flanks and ‘hoops’ of the two classes of ship were emitting focused beams of gravity. Artificial gravitic fields focused on the Arxur hulls, ripping and tearing away like invisible drills, sending hyper-dense compacted shrapnel flying across the engagement zone. The nose-guns of the ‘fighter’ ships spat beams of pure blackness that caused entire sections of their target to just boil away, when they weren’t firing miniature black holes that left trails of spaghettified metal in their wake. The guns on the central ‘pyramid’ hulls spat out lightning bolts of what the sensors insisted was anti-matter, utterly obliterating their targets.
He cursed the unfathomable technology of the ISU. Every other species used lasers and plasma, kinetic munitions and explosive missiles. But these… anomalies, insisted on using weapons that broke the very laws of physics, weapons beyond the ability of any other, sensible species to construct. By the Prophet, the only part of their arsenal that was in any way relatable were the damnable anti-matter bolts… He stopped. Anti-matter. Bombers. Targeting with extreme prejudice.
They were hitting the bombers particularly hard because the anti-matter bombs could hurt them. Thus far, only concentrated fire from multiple cruisers had succeeded in breaking their shields, but a reasonably strong anti-matter bomb should also do the trick. He opened up a fleet-wide broadcast.
“Chief Hunter Isif to all bombers! Target the largest enemy ships you can reach. Use your anti-matter munitions to take down their shields, then open up with all weapons!”
His captains immediately moved to comply. Isif turned to the tactical overview, grimacing as the losses mounted. At least a third of the Arxur forces had been destroyed, almost eclipsing the reinforcements he’d received from the other Chief Hunters. At least ten more bombers were lost as he watched the screen. And then the first round of anti-matter missiles struck the ‘axe-ship’. Even as half were vapourised by point-defence beams, nine of the heaviest munitions the Arxur Dominion could produce hit home. The shields lit in in a blaze of light, and then broke. Another three bombs, trailing behind the first volley, blew off the port-side wing and shattered the engines, and a continuous stream of plasma from a good twenty cruisers and about six heavier vessels ripped a gaping wound in the flank. Three of the blade-buildings rushed to provide aid, and the bombers struck again. This time, two of the enemy lost their shields, one detonating in a coruscating burst of light. Isif grinned. Across the tactical display, the ISU found their defences less impregnable than they had thought. It would seem that the tides were indeed turning.
A message came through from one of the bomber crews. As he listened, Isif realised his mistake. While the ISU were indeed finally losing ships, his own losses were still higher than theirs. It seemed as if every time an enemy vessel was destroyed or crippled, it took twenty of his own vessels with it. If he’d drawn more ships from other garrison fleets, if his peers had been a bit more… selfless, he would have been able to maintain this rate of casualties. But as it stood, he would run out of vessels before the enemy did. And according to the captain of the bomber…
“Chief Hunter, our anti-matter munitions are depleted. We’ve got a handful of crude hydrogen bombs, but nothing with the same yield. Most other crews aren’t much better off. And with the enemy pressing us…”
More alarms sounded. Isif looked at the display in horror as another fleet appeared in the system, between his forces and the planet. More black crescents and axes, with a few massive vessels like black arthropods. Ships like massive trees and fungi, and even more of the gold and silver buildings. Nestled amongst them were ships baring the clear signs of Venlil construction. Beams of incomprehensible energies and missiles that generated singularities blasted out, striking his diminishing fleet from an unexpected direction. Isif took one look at the screen, and made a decision he had never imagined making.
“All forces, retreat. We must preserve what forces we can and take word of this to the rest of the Dominion.”
A few hours later, Isif stood before a hologram of Prophet Descendant Giznel. The situation was even more dire now than it had been when Isif first gave the order to retreat. Another six of his cattle worlds had been lost to the ISU, the forces Isif had left to guard them wiped out much as his personal fleet had almost been. A few stragglers had managed to escape the battles, but nothing of any meaningful power or in sufficient numbers. His master looked at him dispassionately.
“Ten cattle worlds lost, Isif. This is not welcome news.”
Isif looked down.
“My deepest regrets for failing the Dominion, Cruel One. We were unprepared for the enemy’s weapons and tactics, but…”
The Prophet-Descendant held up a clawed hand.
“Shaza would be laughing, and calling for your head, Isif, if she had not suffered similar losses. It would seem that some prey-beasts called the ‘Andalites’ simply swooped in and obliterated her entire front-line defences”
Isif had not known this. It was good to hear that Shaza had indeed been humbled, but the fact that the ISU had been able to strike both his territory and hers made the size of their forces clear. The Prophet Descendant continued.
“Your report shows that we are facing an unnatural alliance of predators and prey, armed with technologies beyond anything we can bring to bear. And if the videos you received from the cattle-tenders you left behind are true, their combat power is equally formidable on the ground. Even if they are weaklings, tainted by the deviancies of empathy and compassion, they have been able to hurt us as not even the Federation could. What is your assessment of what our next steps should be? You have, after all, actually spoken with them.”
Isif considered his next words. The ground forces abandoned on Farming World 57 had sent transmissions showing what the ISU were doing. It proved the vehemence of what the Praetor had said, when it came to the ISU’s thoughts on sentient cattle. Shuttles and fighters had descended from the invading fleet and headed straight for the farms. Any defences were destroyed by smaller weapons to those used by their combat vessels, and then troops had been deposited. The fish-ships had proven to belong to blue-grey prey creatures covered in spines, muscular brutes who battered the guards into submission, if they didn’t simply blow them apart with purple energy weapons. The Nimthyl, it transpired, were not as tall as the Arxur, barely coming up to their shoulder. But when they bit down, it was invariably fatal for the Arxur. Every one of the six or seven species assaulting the farms wielded handheld beam weapons that reduced the guards to piles of ash in an instant. There were also reports of major settlements being bombarded from orbit until the local leaders signalled their surrender. In all, Isif estimated it had taken half a local day for the Farming World to fall.
But it was what happened afterwards that made what the Dominion was facing perfectly clear. Shortly after the first of the farms had been taken, the last remaining pockets of resistance had intercepted an enemy transmission.
“Captain, we’ve secured the prison camp where they’re keeping the Fed civies. Fuck, they really are eating them, there’s bodies everywhere. The prisoners are just trembling, won’t come out of their cages. Some just start screaming when they look at us. And the guards… Fucking psychos are grinning at us, asking us if we want a taste. Some of the bodies are kids, by the looks of it. Oh god. What do you want us to do? The way some of the men are looking at them…”
The reply had come back.
“The High Tribunal has authorised use of the Auschwitz Protocol, and Praetor Tollene concurs. Do what you will, sergeant.”
Isif had soon found what that meant. Arxur soldiers and displaced civilians had caught most of it on camera. Farm workers had been tied up and tossed into cattle pens, along with several knifes and blunt instruments. What had followed needed no explanation. Guards had been lined up against nearby walls, wrestled into position by either the blue-grey spiny prey or a green species with blades along their limbs. The guards had then been shot with beams of fiery energy, burning holes straight through them. Some had simply burst into flames, screaming in agony.
There were other images, other scenes of Arxur being slaughtered. But all remaining forces had reported the same thing. Groups of Venlil, and even some other Federation species, escorting the cattle to waiting shuttles, which then left. Clearly, what the Praetor had said about returning the cattle to their own people was true.
Isif looked straight at Giznel. He knew that the next words he spoke could well be considered treason. But right now, he didn’t care. They were facing an enemy that did not care about predator-prey relations, that had stronger weapons and ships, and who would punish anything they saw as wrongdoing with an almost hypocritical cruelty. And who, if his hunch was correct, outnumbered them by a not insignificant margin.
All that Betterment, and people like Giznel and Shaza, wanted was to continue dragging the Arxur down the path of ruin. Everything that his people could have been had been lost, their culture, their civilisation, their morals, their very empathy. All discarded by the Prophet and his lackeys in their efforts to produce their perfect warrior. And now, their fellow predators saw them as nothing but beasts.
Things needed to change.
“What I believe, Your Savageness, is that we may have to reconsider how we do things.”

Another cliffhanger! Next time, we'll get another multi-POV chapter, as we see what life is like on the occupied Cradle. Will the Gojid throw of the shackles of predator oppression? What dark secrets will the Federation observers find? What exactly is the Howler Protocol? Tune in next time!
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2023.05.24 05:53 ruseriousrightnow [IWantOut] 31F Software Engineer/Scuba Diver USA -> Anywhere

Here are my top criteria for a place to live:
Secondary criteria:
Places I'm considering:
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