Tifu by kicking down a bathroom door and scarring my childhood

So as most of em go, this didn’t happen today.

Let me give you a little backstory before I tell you what happened: So when I was like 9 or so I was in elementary school. Our school was a catholic school and everyone Monday and Wednesday we would have a church service before school. I really liked jackie chan and all those karate stuff at the time which is the reason why this happened.

Anyways:

One Wednesday I was in church and about half an hour in, I needed to take a pee. With the thought of Jackie chan still running through my head, I went into the bathroom. The urinals were always pretty gross because kids used to put toilet paper and stuff in them and as a result I would always use the stalls instead. With my super cool self I went to the first stall and jump-dragon kicked that bitch open. To my disbelief, I was met face to face with the security guard of the school. Mid-shit, he responded “what you want?” And closed back the door slowly. I exited the bathroom and although I needed to piss real bad, I sat down in church and refused to use the bathroom. Let’s just say I never used that bathroom again. From that day forward, I lost my motivation to do any stupid shit like that again. I hope y’all learn from my mistakes.

TL;DR- jump kicked the door of a bathroom stall at school church and scarred my childhood.

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American Values vs. European Values, Labor Shortages, Collapse & Martial Law

This started out as a reply regarding labor shortages, but Sargon has better discipline making videos than I do writing. “American Values vs. European Values” hits so many critical points. As noted, this is really Anglo values vs. European values, since of course where did the American colonists get their values from? The motherland, of course.

It also illustrates something that the Alt-Retards have failed to grasp: “white nationalism” cannot be an end state of anything, because the various white nations are incompatible. The United States is going to dissolve for exactly the same reasons that the EU is going to dissolve. There are powerful cultural and national differences dividing Anglos, Germans, Italians, Swedes, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Poles, and so on.

When the Germans immigrated to America, they brought their statist German culture and statist German values with them. Swedish Minnesota makes even the German Midwest look positively libertarian. But neither of these are American. They are imports. You can say similar things about the Italians and for that matter the Irish. Is the mafia American? Of course not. Did organized crime improve America? Of course not. Did the Irish-Catholic immigrant vote help push through the disastrous† Civil Rights movement? It sure did.

† See far, far below.

Sure, Not All X Are Like That™, but that is a response to a strawman. The capitalists advocating mass immigration then, as now, did not want a careful, individualized vetting system to ensure assimilation and cultural compatibility. They wanted cheap foreign labor. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate to make generalized, prejudicial judgements about the groups they let in. Moreover, as a descendant of German and eastern European immigrants, I have a responsibility to admit that white immigrants assimilated America to European statism just as much as America assimilated us. America would have been better off without us; it certainly would be more American. The true American culture, after all, is WASP culture.

But questions of immigrants are secondary to the most illuminating way to understand America. American history is the political and cultural war between Yankees and Southerners, including a hot war. What’s remarkable is that both Yankees and Southerners are WASPs: originally there was little or no difference between them. Yes, there were plenty of minority nationalities also present, but the overwhelmingly dominant nationality was English.

Over the course of about 150 years, these two WASP cultures had significantly diverged. Geographical and climate differences gave rise to different economies, and local feedback loops combined with different religious origins produced differences in culture and to some degree in language. Moreover, the colonies must be understood as independent countries, rather than as geographical districts of a single political unit.

By the time of the American Revolution, these distinctions were revealed in the location of independence sentiments. Most of the rebels were located in New England. The Southern colonies contained a much higher concentration of loyalists. Why? Because the tax issues that aggravated many of the New Englanders had, for economic reasons, much less of an impact on them. Moreover, recall that there is no particular sense of ‘national unity’ amongst the colonies. (Because none existed.) The people of South Carolina did not see themselves as being interchangeable with the people of Massachusetts.

I point out that if America had been colonized by Germans, not only would there have never been any talk of independence, the colonies would have been tripping over themselves to send soldiers and supplies to aid the Fatherland. I further point out that while America did end up doing the same thing for the British in both World Wars, it would never have happened if the newly-minted socialist elites hadn’t been so keen on attempting to nationalize American industry. American involvement in WWI was mainly just a pretext to give central planning a try. (Thanks to those rebellious libertarian historians for shedding light on this fact.)

Anyway, we see the next major evidence of national conflict in the Constitution. The 3/5th’s Clause is insane. It served to arbitrarily tip the balance of power in the House of Representatives towards the Southern states. Why would the Northern states, which were already in the process of abolishing slavery, accept something that would arbitrarily disadvantage them? And heck, why not a Five-Thirds Clause? Why not just give the Southern states an extra Senator, while you’re at it? But the reason for the compromise is obvious. The North wanted the Union. The Southern states were not going to join given that they would be going in with a political disadvantage (proportionately less representation in the House). So the North was willing to let the South tip the political scales in their favor.

Before the Civil War, the international Yankee-Southern conflict simmered in battles over trade policy (the South ironically supported free trade to go with their cheap slave labor, whereas the Yankees supported tariffs–how the tables have turned!) and in the alignment of newly added states–whether the Yankee or Southern coalition would gain additional Senators was of critical importance. The war was therefore a long time coming. After the Civil War, the South naturally went full ‘identity politics’ against the Yankees and the blacks, in an attempt to preserve their culture and what little political influence they had remaining, with their political vehicle being the Democratic Party. Later, a progressive ideological coalition including classical liberals, Marxist socialists and social justice warriors would emerge and, ironically, infiltrate the Democratic Party.

Skip ahead to the Civil Rights movement. This is the definite point where the Yankee-Southerner politicultural war ceases to be the dominant historical thread and the seeds of pan-American nationalism (white nationalism) are sown. The progressive elements achieved control of the Democratic Party, and in 1964 the South flipped Republican for the first time ever, voting for Barry Goldwater, who opposed the Civil Rights Act (though for reasons unrelated to Southern nationalism). In previous elections, internal struggles in the Democratic Party between Southern nationalists and the progressives can be seen in various Deep South states voting for independent candidates like Harry Byrd (1960) or third-parties like the Dixiecrats (1948). Further demonstrating the point, in the 1968 election (following Goldwater’s loss to Lyndon B Johnson), the Deep South voted uniformly for George Wallace, another third-party Southern nationalist candidate. The battle for the Democratic Party, which Southern nationalists lost, illustrates one of the reasons why Americans have been unable to resist the advances of social justice and for that matter liberalism: the conservative Right had always been split between Yankees and Southeners, with white immigrant populations filling out a middle gradient that oftentimes swung towards the nascent social justice Democrats for the same reason that all immigrant populations do. And those Yankees and Southerners, whatever their other ideological agreements, obviously could not agree on Civil Rights. This split remains relevant today.

Other factors, particularly the rise of Big Government in the form of the Welfare State and the Deep State/Military-Industrial Complex, conspired to slowly merge Democrats and Republicans into a Globalist Uniparty. The Republicans had always been the party of business, partially reflecting the destruction of Southern infrastructure versus the mostly Northern-located Industrial Revolution. Since the Civil Rights movement included a relaxation of immigration regulations (deemed ‘racist’), big business proceeded to exploit for cheap immigrant labor (again). However, by this time, Western Europe had mostly caught up economically and Eastern Europe was still behind the Iron Curtain, so the immigrants had to be brown.

In related news, by this time significant numbers of blacks had immigrated North for a better life, inadvertently spawning cycles of white flight and community ruin. It’s notable that this pattern resembles what is currently playing out in Europe. And the Democrats had pretty much exactly the same attitude that the EU does. We love immigrants! Oh, crime rates are through the roof? Quick, shut off the cameras and turn up the welfare! The immigrants aren’t assimilating? Quick, write a sob story about racism and give them affirmative action. (To be fair, suicide-bombing is unique to Muslims.) Unfortunately, the post-Civil War Federal government had far more power of over the States than the EU does over its members, so there was not much Northerners could do about it.

Fast forward to the Current Year: America is 1/3 non-white. The Democrats are the unofficial Anti-White Anti-American Party. Social justice is reaching levels of degeneracy once thought impossible. And white America is like, hold on there kiddo, let’s hit the snooze button. That’s Trump. Some in the Alt-Right have drastically overstated his significance. Now, Trump is deeply significant in the sense that nobody was sure if white America even had the willpower to roll over and slap the alarm clock. But seeing the answer is ‘yes’, this does not mean the white America is ready to leap about of bed and start a revolution. Indeed, if you consider the various reactions to Roy Moore’s candidacy, we see the remnants of all the old intra-Right divisions even more clearly than we saw them with Trump. Yankee Right vs. Southern Right, Religious Right vs. Secular Right, Cucked TradRight vs. MAGA Right vs. Fake Right (neocons).

Ironically, Trump did not actually unite whites. The religious right, in particular, remains deeply skeptical of Trump. Nor is Trump an actual nationalist, he is a civic/proposition nationalist. Nevertheless, Trump is a symbol for American Nationalism.

What is American Nationalism? Well, what are the American Nations? There are two main ones: Yankees and Southerners (both divergent species of WASPs) along with a few other minor groups including Appalachians. Descendants of turn-of-the-century white immigrants, such as myself, represent a second category: naturalized Americans. Many of us aren’t even particularly assimilated, which is made clear by the fact that we are not even interchangeable with Yankees. We are certainly not interchangeable with Southerners. We still have our own distinct cultural and political traditions. Note that in the most proper sense, assimilation entails intermarriage. Mere ideological assimilation can easily be reversed by the power of identity, as black conservatives and liberal Muslims discover in their children. True assimilation is miscegenation.

Third, there are non-white immigrants. They’re not American nationals, period.

Blacks are a weird fourth category. Their powerful national identity, forged through legitimate historical grievances and stark ethnocultural/socioeconomic differences, makes even ideological assimilation almost possible. (Note that the Southern national identity is the second most powerful in the United States, for exactly the same reason, although of course the relevant ethnic distinction is infinitely weaker.) Genuine assimilation is likewise almost impossible, because 1/2 black persons are still considered black, which is in effect reverse assimilation. Persons who are 1/4th black are still almost always considered black. Even someone who is 1/8th black may be considered black. Consequently, blacks remain nationally distinct.

This presents a serious challenge for civic nationalism/classical liberalism. Assimilating small numbers of Africans would not be a particular problem, because a single African immigrant has left his original identity in his homeland, and his morphological distinctiveness will quickly vanish in the native genetic sea. But we’re talking about assimilating tens of millions of people. (To be fair, many are already partially assimilated.) And the people we’re talking about hold serious historical grievances against the people they are supposed to assimilate with. Indeed, the social justice movement in America speaks to the level of coordinated social engineering required to even begin to think about homogenizing the white and black populations. Given America’s traditional hostility towards Federal intervention and strong belief in individual liberty, classical liberals would be faced with having to overturn the American culture and legal system to achieve the goal. But classical liberals don’t want to that, of course. It is anathema. Social engineering is the purview of the social justice progressives, with whom classical liberals held merely a brief alliance. And Trump represents a hard limit on what social justice progressives can theoretically achieve.

(But even if assimilation could be accomplished, what would be cost? The American people, as they existed at the time of the Founding Fathers, would no longer exist. We would be as unrecognizable to our children as the current inhabitants of America would be unrecognizable to the Founding Fathers, who are in turn unrecognizable to the Indians. Cosmically, is this a big deal? No. Nations come and go. Shit happens. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it.)

Anyway: blacks remain nationally distinct. This means there can be no stable political solution. As the minority group, blacks will never be an equal priority for either Yankees or Southerners. Neither group genuinely cares about fundamental black interests (stable families, stable communities). Neither group will ever be able to make the hard choices that blacks might want to make for themselves, such as extreme punishments for out-of-wedlock births. How could it be any other way? Yankees and Southerners have their own group interests to worry about, and they are too busy fighting each other culturally and politically to spare serious concern for blacks. Therefore blacks will always vote as a bloc for whatever group is willing to bribe them. It’s a pitiable and unnecessary condition.

Separatist arguments are frequently made from the white perspective, and do not need to be rehashed. But separation is also in the best interests of blacks. Yes, a non-trivial portion of blacks, most notably the ones who win the IQ lottery, achieve success. But they’re the minority. For blacks in general, living in the shadow of white America, having to get our political permission to do anything, makes it impossible for them fix their own group problems. Yankees and Southerners are like abusive adopted parents who care even less about their orphan black child than they do about each other; in fact, mom tried to leave, but dad beat the crap out of her and chained her up in the kitchen. Now dad feeds the kid crack in between beatings, in exchange for manipulating mom, who in turn beats the kid and reminds him he’ll never amount to anything. Wonderful family. Perhaps it’s time to stop dreaming about ‘reparations’ and run away from home and never look back?

In the end, the Adult-Right (by which I refer to Vox Day & Ilk) does not speak of separation as a political goal, but rather as a force of nature. The waves of history are irresistible, and we are just watching the clock run down until the political institution of the United States collapses under the weight of its own debt, cheap credit, and impossible financial obligations. Nothing we do can stop it from happening. Nothing Trump or his potential successors can do can stop it from happening.

The smart money is that this collapse will trigger voluntary mass repatriations, since Fake American loyalty is to the imperial wealth, not the land, culture, or political ideology. If you’re going to be poor, it’s preferable to be poor in your homeland rather than surrounded by angry, gun-toting foreigners. Many may want to stay, in which case things will probably get sporty. Mexicans in particular will almost certainly dig in the Southwest. Various Islamic enclaves will almost certainly have to be bombed out. The great mystery is what will happen with blacks. There will probably be mass involuntary transfers out of city regions, triggered in response to unrest. But transfers to where? No one knows. The smart money also says that these transfers will mostly occur in Northern regions; in the Deep South, de facto separation already exists. But Southerners will not be keen on Great Migration blacks ‘coming home’.

Anyway it’s entirely possible that Fake Americans will gain a permanent foothold in various formerly-American regions. It’s also entirely possible there will be mass graves. After all, it is in the collapse of heterogenous empires that homogenous nation-states form.

And what does American Nationalism imply for these American nation-states? First, the Confederacy, or something like it, will rise again. Second, splits are likely to occur amongst significantly different nations, such as socialist† Swedish Minnesotans vs. Appalachians and Germanized Midwest vs. New England Yankees. But the rural-urban divide means rural Minnesotans may have more in common with rural Appalachians than they do with urban Minnesotans, making any serious attempt at prediction impossible. Note, for example, how West Virginia seceded from Virginia when Virginia seceded from the Union. This was a national spit: the Appalachian population residing in West Virginia was significantly different from the then WASP-dominated population of Virginia.

†As you probably know, when Americans say ‘socialism’, we don’t mean collective ownership of the means of production. We mean things like big government, welfare and redistributive policies and other centrally-managed programs, and government regulation of private businesses.

As far as the Anglin/Spencer version of the Alt-Right, I don’t think anyone would be terribly surprised if they tried to infiltrate and accelerate the social justice movement for the reasons you describe. They are, after all, Fake Right. Prefixing ‘socialism’ with ‘national’ does not magically make socialism rightwing, any more than beating your wife is rightwing by virtue of you having a wife.

I have no idea if this would work in, for example, the UK. It wouldn’t work in America. Civil Rights won here not simply because classical liberalism has the moral high ground. Civil Rights won because it was the strategy which achieved a hostile takeover of the Democratic Party, because it coincided with the politicultural interests of Yankees who wanted to keep the South subservient, and because it coincided with the politicultural interests of all non-WASPs (blacks, white immigrants, Asian immigrants, et cetera). Nothing has changed except that Marxists let success go to their heads. They may be able to legally institute de facto segregation in their state-funded safe spaces (such as universities and bureaucracies) due to the fact that the state doesn’t care about profit and loss. The same goes for globalist enterprises that exploit the highly profitable gap in real wages between the first and third world and are therefore able to support money holes like Youtube. But they will sooner repeal Social Security than enact White Jim Crow. Whites are still the majority population, after all.

Incidentally, this is why Alt-Right cultural and political opposition to Civil Rights is in vain. It should not take a rocket scientist to see why “It’s Okay To Be White” works whereas “Gas the Kikes, Race War Now” does not. Fortunately†, the United States is therefore doomed by clashing identities–that is, by their effect on the imperial order. It’s a sociopolitical version of the tragedy of the commons. The only two politically viable strategies are 1) ‘short term gain’ and 2) ‘kick the can down the road’. The same is true for white American international political conflict, which is why we can neither manage Social Security effectively nor phase it out. It’s pretty much the fundamental problem of democracy: the costs of bad decisions are socialized, the benefits privatized. But it’s worse because an individual voter is theoretically capable of rational choice, whereas a voting bloc is not.

† Good riddance to the Yankee Imperium.

As these American nation-states emerge, there won’t be a question of secret police and genetic tests. Battle lines will form for many and various reasons; for example communities will try to protect themselves from external unrest. There will be conflict over the ownership and use of various resources, especially public and semi-public goods like roads, utilities, security services, etc. People’s circumstances and families will usually choose their side for them, which means the divisions will largely correspond to ethnic lines. It’s not clear what will happen to the losers, but the smart money is they’ll be forced to relocate. But the winners are not going to then police their own supporters for ethnic purity, because if they do they’ll fracture their support. Sure, there will be groups that form specifically with ethnic cleansing in mind (mainly of the ‘anti-immigrant’ variety), but there’s no particular reason to think they will have success except where the pre-existing battle lines already favor that outcome (as they will in the case of immigrants). For example, with respect to the Somalis in Minnesota, it is possible–if not likely–that the dominant post-collapse white political organizations will have ‘remove Somalis’ as a core policy. But ‘remove Somalis’ is not ‘remove blacks’. Similarly, ‘cleanse the inner city’ movements will be successful because the inner cities are trash. That doesn’t generalize to ‘remove all black people’, because a significant minority of blacks have nothing to do with the inner city. For those blacks, the question will be whether they choose sides based on ethnicity. Some will. Some won’t. The same thing can be said for rightwing Jews. Globalist Jews, along with globalist Yankees, are probably not going to fair very well. (Recall how the Israelis hunted down Nazis.) Some rightwing Jews will align with the leftwing Jews. Some won’t.

What the Spencersphere needs to do is to settle in for the long haul and become productive, child-bearing members of society. This means getting a job if you don’t have one. It means get married if you aren’t, which means learning Game if you haven’t. (Yeah, there’s a slut inside every woman. Guess what, there’s a loser inside every man. Learn to tame them both.) Most importantly, it means accepting your place in the male hierarchy and making the most of it. Fake Righters love hierarchies until they figure out they’re at the bottom. Welcome to the real world! Note that natural male hierarchies, which place awkward nerds in the bottom tier, are independent of class and economic hierarchies–at least in a free society. As usual, anytime the progressive Left comes up with a good idea† and proves it through experience, the Right eventually–keyword, eventually–coopts it. I can speak for the American Right in saying we won’t be giving up our free society for a neo-feudal monarchy or whatever.

† For example, it has in no way shape or form been made clear that ‘equal rights for women’ or ‘equal rights for immigrants’ is actually a good idea. What are feminist birthrates? Does Magic Dirt work? But I try to keep an open mind.

In other news, I was very pleased to hear you mention immigration-control induced labor shortages in your 48 Questions for Brexiteers video. I don’t listen to enough of your streams to know the degree to which you have previously discussed this in detail, but I am glad the idea is gaining traction. I first encountered it from Vox Day. It is what turned me away from free trade and anacap/libertarianism.

Among the many and various proposed ‘solutions’ to poverty and wealth inequality, the one that strikes most fundamentally at the root of the issue is economic immigration. Libertarians want to cut taxes. Fine, but what good does that do when your job has been taken by an immigrant who will accept half your wage? Social welfare advocates want the government to redistribute the wealth of the rich. Fine, but if the pool of recipients includes an ever-expanding immigrant class, what’s the point?

Economic immigration represents an immediate zero-sum transfer of wealth away from the employee class and into the hands of the employer class. The savings in labor costs (wages) go directly into the capitalist’s bottom line. No wonder capitalists have always favored immigration. In America, we have nearly an ideal system for the capitalists, since economic immigration can be made conditional on accepting low wages.

Restricting (or better yet, banning) economic immigration is vastly more powerful than either the boilerplate ‘free market’ or ‘socialist’ solutions, since it strikes at the root of the ‘problem’. Obviously wealth inequality is inherent in a free society, but if the elites are free to cheat the system with cheap foreign labor, the native population suffers. What kind of free society is that?

In your talk with the Distributist, he talked about the military restoring order in the event of a collapse. (Such an economic collapse is inevitable.) In considering what this means for America, there are many factors.

In the first place, America’s homeland fighting capacity goes far beyond that of the US Armed Forces (namely that which is directly under the Federal Government’s control). It is highly decentralized. Besides the National Guard (which is organized by the states but falls under federal jurisdiction) there are state militias (‘state defense forces’), state police forces, and in particular: independent militias, discharged veterans, and civilian gun enthusiasts.

Apparently an Army infantry brigade consists of 4500 soldiers (not counting tanks and other vehicles). Apparently the Army has about 32 of these, corresponding to about 144,000 men. The National Guard has another ~28, but in a collapse event these might very well revert to state control.

The population of discharged combat veterans (of fighting age) significantly outnumbers the US Armed Forces. The population of civilian gun owners outnumbers that by many orders of magnitude. In other words: the man power is decentralized.

When the collapse hits, the US Armed Forces’ fighting capability will be crippled and real power will shift back towards the state and local governments–although of course the collapse would badly hurt them as well. Order will therefore generally be rebuilt from the ground up. Note that the individuals and groups responsible for unrest would themselves be otherwise untrained civilians. Further note that the chaos will be concentrated in urban areas. Rural areas will be affected far less, if at all. Suburban regions will be in the middle. We can reasonably expect to see a mass exodus from the cities, but exactly where these people will go and what will happen to them is unclear, particularly due to the politicultural divide between urbanites and rurals. As I suggested earlier, immigrant populations will probably prefer to flee the country altogether.

To make matters worse, readiness in the US Armed Forces is a joke due to social justice convergence. The military is becoming a safespace for useless girl ‘soldiers’, millennial snowflakes, and Fake Americans of questionable loyalty.

Given the difficulty the US military has in subduing primitive third-world backwaters, and given the fact that the most effective members of the US military are Americans who will not fire on American civilians and whose genuine loyalty is to the Constitution, not to the President or Congress, the idea of a post-collapse Federal government holding together the American Continental Empire by force is implausible at best. If Americans were divided by class alone, it might make more sense. But we’re a classless society divided by nationality and by urban/rural life.

MobileCoin: Moxie Marlinspike’s new user-friendly, private cryptocurrency

A potential new competitor to Monero? Something we could incorporate into our protocols?

"…the dead simple end-to-end encrypted messaging app Signal, Moxie Marlinspike, is on a mission to overcome those limitations, and to create a streamlined digital currency that's private, easy-to-use, and allows for quick transactions from any device. … The currency Marlinspike has been working on as technical advisor for the last four months, alongside technologist Joshua Goldbard, is MobileCoin. The two based it on the open-source Stellar Consensus Protocols platform, an alternative payment network that underlies systems like an inter-bank payment network run by IBM in the South Pacific, and the low-fee international money transfer service Tempo in Europe. … MobileCoin delegates all the complicated and processing-intensive work of participating in a blockchain ledger and validating transactions to nodes—servers with constant connectivity that store and work on a fully updated copy of a currency's blockchain. The nodes can then provide software services to users, like apps that seamlessly integrate easy and quick MobileCoin transactions. The nodes also handle key management for users, so the public—and particularly the private—numeric sequences that encrypt each person's transactions are stored and used by the node. But crucially MobileCoin is designed so the node operators can never directly access users' private keys.

This is where the special features of MobileCoin come in. The currency is designed to utilize an Intel processor component known as Software Guard Extensions, or a "secure enclave." SGX is a sequestered portion of a processor that runs code like any other, but the software inside it can't be accessed or changed by a device's broader operating system. Computers can still check that an enclave is running the right software to validate it before connecting, but neither MobileCoin users nor node administrators can decrypt and view the enclave.

For MobileCoin, the enclaves in all of the nodes of the network hide the currency's indelible ledger from view. Users' private keys are stored and shielded in the enclave, too.

"If you put the cryptocurrency inside of the secure enclave, then people can run the nodes without seeing what’s happening inside them," Goldbard says. "If you can’t look at the ledger, how can you cheat it?"

Marlinspike first experimented with SGX for Signal as a workaround so users can find people they know on Signal through their address books without exposing all of that data.

Secure enclaves create some technical challenges, because they have limited processing capacity. But MobileCoin is designed with efficiency in mind. The system does as much data processing as possible outside the enclave, and only uses SGX for sensitive computing that needs to be shielded. And not needing to trust the nodes—because sensitive data isn't exposed on them—means that more can happen off of a user's device without sacrificing privacy, making transactions quick and easy on mobile devices.

"MobileCoin is designed to be deployable in normal resource-constrained environments like mobile devices, and to deliver a simple user experience along with privacy and security," Marlinspike says. "The design gives you the benefits of server assistance without the downsides of having to trust a server to act appropriately and not be hacked.

The platform has other protections layered with SGX as well. Even if someone compromised a MobileCoin enclave and could view the transaction ledger, one-time addresses and special one-time signatures for each transaction would still prevent an attacker from being able to trace and link events. And a privacy bonus of the Stellar Consensus Protocol is that the nodes don't need to store a full transaction history in the blockchain; they can discard most data after each payment is completed. These components make MobileCoin more resistant to surveillance, whether it's coming from a government or a criminal who wants to track and extort users."

https://www.wired.com/story/mobilecoin-cryptocurrency/

ONE NATION, DIVISIBLE

ONE NATION, DIVISIBLE Caity Cronkhite, 27 years old, leaves work in San Francisco. PRESTON GANNAWAY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL WSJ IN A DIVIDED NATION OF BIG CITIES AND SMALL TOWNS, CAITY CRONKHITE THOUGHT SHE KNEW WHERE SHE BELONGED She graduated from high school early to chase opportunity far from Kingman, Ind. A decade later, she starts to see what she left behind.

By Michael M. Phillips KINGMAN, Ind.—It took months for Caity Cronkhite to get up the nerve to go home again.

Ms. Cronkhite, 27 years old, had stormed out of Indiana after graduating from high school a year early, searching for horizons wider than a town of 500 residents could offer.

She found a life in the San Francisco Bay Area, where her friends were sometimes jarringly different from people back home. And despite the distance and time away, she couldn’t leave Kingman’s dramas behind—who was on food stamps, who got arrested, who overdosed. She found herself still admired by some for getting out, and vilified by others who resented her angry exit.

Caity Cronkhite walks through Oakland, Calif.
Caity Cronkhite walks through Oakland, Calif. PHOTO: PRESTON GANNAWAY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL In the yawning divide between America’s urban and rural communities, Ms. Cronkhite struggled with the push and pull of both.

Ms. Cronkhite and her boyfriend arrived in Indianapolis this summer on the red-eye from California. Her father drove them the 80 miles to Kingman. They stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast, like old times. They followed Kingman’s main street, still and quiet in the way of no-stoplight towns whose best days are past.

They passed the Oasis ice cream stand, where Ms. Cronkhite ordered chocolate soft-serve cones as a child. They drove by the Fountain Trust Co., which sponsored the bagpipe band Ms. Cronkhite joined in high school to embellish her college application, part of her escape plan from the dismal prospects that hobbled many in her rural generation.

Two miles out of town, they went by the spot where Ms. Cronkhite waited for the bus that took her to schools she felt discouraged her ambition. “All growing up, if we were too smart or too successful or too anything, there was always someone ready to say, ‘Don’t be so proud of yourself,’” she said.

Ms. Cronkhite had left with a chip on her shoulder. Driving past the landmarks of her childhood, she wondered if she could ever move home again.

Did she still hate Kingman? Did Kingman still hate her?

The water tower in Kingman, Ind. The water tower in Kingman, Ind. PHOTO: AJ MAST FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ‘You’re not going’

The Cronkhites raised Caity, their only child, in a white farm house on 86 acres of grazing and alfalfa land, fields they rented to a local farmer.

Kingman was too small to support its own public schools, so Ms. Cronkhite commuted a half-hour to Covington, Ind., a town of 2,500. The Cronkhite farm sat at the end of the No. 9 school-bus route. Ms. Cronkhite was the first student picked up each morning and the last dropped off each afternoon.

Quick and eager, she was labeled a gifted student, only to discover, she said, that meant receiving less attention from teachers. When she asked for challenging work or encouragement, she said, some teachers warned her about being too big for her britches.

Beginning in middle school, her parents sent her to summer academic programs at Purdue University, where she learned how other students could take advanced-placement classes for college-credit at their high schools.

Before her freshman year at Covington High School, she wrote in her diary: “I do want to get out of here as soon as possible, & everyone knows it.”

The teenager set her sights on the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities, a state-sponsored boarding school for bright high school juniors and seniors. Her mother was immovably opposed.

Martha Cronkhite had aspirations for her daughter. When Caity was still in grade school, Mrs. Cronkhite had bought a painting of a young woman in a bonnet, her hand raised to her brow, gazing across a field, seemingly in search of something more.

Yet Mrs. Cronkhite didn’t want to lose her girl so soon. “You may as well not fill out the application,” she said. “You’re not going.”

Ms. Cronkhite was inconsolable. “They always tell you that you can do anything you put your mind to, & I’ve put my mind to this,” she wrote in her diary that summer. “…I want this desperately & have been wishing & working & praying for it since I was 11. I just pray, God, that you help me with this.”

The main street in Kingman, Ind. The main street in Kingman, Ind. PHOTO: AJ MAST FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Looking back, Ms. Cronkhite said, she was partly driven by what she feared would happen if she stayed in Fountain County.

“I don’t remember a time when my area wasn’t a hotbed for meth labs, and then right after that it was opioids, and then the Great Recession hit and all of the little factories closed, and all the jobs went,” Ms. Cronkhite said. “My formative years have been spent watching bad thing after bad thing happen.”

Fountain County’s population, which nearly reached 20,000 in the late 1970s, has since fallen to less than 16,500. Kingman and the rest of the county used to rely on factory jobs across the state line around Danville, Ill. Over a span of decades, several of the big employers closed or shrank, a fate common to Midwestern industrial centers. The casualties included the General Motors Co. foundry and a railcar plant.

Danville’s population has fallen by nearly a quarter since 1970, to 32,000. The number of jobs in the county around Danville dropped 8% between 2003 and 2016, according to data from Emsi, a labor-market research firm.

As Danville’s fortunes declined, so did Fountain County’s, along with the chances that a high-school education was enough to reach the middle class. Just 14% of Fountain County residents have college degrees.

A ticket out

With no chance at boarding school, Ms. Cronkhite decided to graduate a year early from Covington High, in 2008. School administrators at first resisted. The school gave in, the family said, but at a price. Despite her top grades, she would be barred from contention for class valedictorian.

She sought activities she hoped would help her compete with college applicants from bigger schools, including bagpipes.

Ms. Cronkhite had her eye on Harvard and the University of Chicago, but she received acceptance letters only from Indiana schools: Purdue, Indiana University and DePauw University. Out-of-state rejections piled up.

Then came a fat envelope from Carnegie Mellon University. The acceptance letter included a handwritten note: “We love your background and hope you’ll join us this fall.”

A barn with a basketball hoop just off the main street in Kingman, Ind. A barn with a basketball hoop just off the main street in Kingman, Ind. PHOTO: AJ MAST FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL After Ms. Cronkhite arrived at the Pittsburgh campus, she found herself ill-prepared. Math classes felt impenetrable. She struggled through biology tests her classmates found easy. “I don’t even understand what I don’t understand,” she recalled telling a friend while crying in her dorm.

Everyone she met seemed to have more money and more opportunities. Some skied in Aspen in winter and flew south for spring break. Californians interned at Google and Facebook. She felt, she said, like “I was their token white-trash friend.”

Big-City Feeder School

Seven in ten of Carnegie Mellon’s alumni live in one of these large metro areas.

Percentage of Carnegie Mellon University alumni by metro area Pittsburgh New York San Francisco* 22.4% 13.6 10.4 5.9 Washington Boston Los Angeles Philadelphia Seattle Chicago San Jose 3.8 3.8 2.9 2.8 2.4 2.2 Source: Emsi *Includes Oakland, Calif. Ms. Cronkhite had won a partial scholarship and worked a dorm security job, staying on campus during vacations to earn extra money. She spent one Christmas break sleeping in a security office and showering in the gym, even though her parents had offered to pay for a flight home.

“I just didn’t want to go back and face all the sadness,” she said. Nor did she want to admit to anyone back home that she was struggling.

Ms. Cronkhite found her talent in her junior year, when she discovered that Carnegie Mellon offered a technical writing program. She became its only major in the Class of 2012, which earned her the stage to speak at the English Department graduation ceremony.

She landed a writing job with Salesforce, a customer-relationship management software company, and moved to the Bay Area. She jumped to Airware, which produces drones for commercial use, and, a year ago, she became a freelance writer. “I don’t know what it is,” she said, “but I really love writing a good user manual.”

She found a rent-controlled one-bedroom in Oakland, Calif., for $1,500 a month and hung her Carnegie Mellon diploma on the wall.

Old wounds

In early 2015, Ms. Cronkhite wrote a 5,300-word essay about her battles with the Indiana public schools, an outpouring of frustration and resentment from “an angry, forgotten, gifted student in an educational system that asked nothing more of me than that I fail.”

She posted the essay on the blog site Medium, she said, to spotlight the disadvantages faced by rural youth. “My academic background at a low-ranking, rural public school in a backwater town wasn’t good enough for admissions committees to take a chance on me,” she wrote of her many rejection letters.

Ms. Cronkhite didn’t think people at home would care or even notice. Her mother knew Fountain County better. After she read the post, she thought, Oh goodness. What is this going to stir up?

Caity Cronkhite's childhood photos. PHOTOS: PRESTON GANNAWAY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL “How dare you blame our community for your misfortune,” one woman responded after the essay surfaced on Facebook. “How dare you belittle the people of the place I call home.”

A Covington teacher wrote: “I am going to pray for you tonight. After reading your article it seems as if you have underlying emotional issues that you have been dealing with for quite some time. It is sometimes easier to blame others for our shortcomings rather than look deep inside our own soul.”

One Covington High graduate identified himself as “a proud member of the Covington Community that got rid of a stuck-up, self-absorbed, whiny child.”

Some people empathized with Ms. Cronkhite and praised her candor. But the vitriol of her critics was hard for her to take. She called her mother, crying. “I can’t even come back to Kingman because they just don’t want me there anymore,” she said.

“You were born and raised here just like they were,” her mother replied, “and you have a right to your feelings, too.”

During a visit home for Thanksgiving in 2015, she met her friend Holly Allen for drinks at Noble’s Bar & Grill. Ms. Allen, 27, had played flute in the Covington High School band, alongside Ms. Cronkhite, who played clarinet.

Ms. Allen was pregnant at 19. She and the baby’s father, an Iraq war veteran, parted ways after several years together. When Ms. Cronkhite graduated from Carnegie Mellon, Ms. Allen enrolled in beauty school.

Holly Allen holds her daughter Piper at home in Hillsboro, Ind. Holly Allen holds her daughter Piper at home in Hillsboro, Ind. PHOTO: AJ MAST FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL At Noble’s, a man bought them pickle shots, a mix of pickle juice and vodka. Ms. Allen shared her financial worries with Ms. Cronkhite. She had lived on food stamps. After graduating from beauty school, she couldn’t afford the $150 to get her license.

Ms. Cronkhite returned to California depressed about Kingman. She had fallen hard for the Bay Area. She felt her own politics sliding left, merging with her surroundings. She liked the racial diversity and gay pride parades.

To her disappointment, she found that the inclusiveness didn’t extend to white, small-town America. Friends at work one day called her over to ask about Cracker Barrel. “It’s just like a chain restaurant we go to treat ourselves,” Ms. Cronkhite said.

A co-worker jumped in: “It’s this really white-trash restaurant that overweight Midwesterners go to.”

Then came the invitation to join some friends at Butter. The San Francisco bar is decorated as a sendup of rural white America, complete with the front end of a Winnebago RV. The menu included such cocktails as the Whitetrash Driver, vodka and SunnyD; Bitchin’ Camaro, spiced rum and Dr Pepper; and After School Special, vodka and grape soda.

“It was, all of the sudden, in my face,” Ms. Cronkhite said. “Things at home we thought were nice or parts of our culture were treated with open scorn and disdain and like a joke.”

She sensed bigotry where she had sought tolerance and animosity where she thought she had found a welcome. The more she saw big-city small-mindedness, the more she softened on Kingman.

Her ambivalence about the Bay Area deepened after the 2016 presidential election. More than 85% of San Francisco County voters cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton ; in Fountain County, Donald Trump got more than 75%.

When Mr. Trump won, she watched her Bay Area friends reel in dismay and spew anger at those parts of the U.S. that had delivered his victory.

Continental Divide

Fountain County, Indiana San Francisco County, California Median household income, 2016 Fountain Co. $45,925 $87,701 San Francisco Co. Bachelor’s degree or higher 14.5% 54.8% Unemployment rate, September 4.1% 2.9% Change in business employment, 2014–15* -7.0% 6.6% Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2012-2016 $88,300 $858,800 *Excludes farm and government employment. Sources: Labor Department (unemployment); U.S. Census (others) She posted a message on Facebook urging more dialogue between the coasts and the center of the country. “I am part of the problem,” she wrote. “I could have made a difference; I could have engaged civilly with the people I grew up with—MY people, for better or for worse—rather than shutting them out and putting myself on an ivory tower.”

To her hometown, she wrote, “Growing up with you gave me insights that my East- and West-Coast friends will never understand, and I’m glad to have those insights. I am sorry that I didn’t try to understand you better.”

Ms. Cronkhite was in a bar in San Francisco when the angry responses began arriving from back home. She ran into the alley and cried.

The wife of her father’s best friend suggested Ms. Cronkhite wasn’t welcome back in farm country.

“We are too busy anyway working our asses off for 12-16 hours every day to feed you ‘coastal’ people and everyone else in this world and I know this may come as a surprise to you, but that even includes Blacks, LGBTs, Muslims, Women and on and on,” wrote Jahn Songer. She and her husband own a local bank, farm corn and soybeans and run a crop-dusting service.

“So keep your elitists’ rear ends in your little office cubicles while we handle the tough, physical things that keep you and your perfect friends alive,” Ms. Songer wrote.

In an interview, Ms. Songer said she viewed Ms. Cronkhite as “an arrogant, spoiled brat” who made “Midwestern people sound ignorant.” Worse still, Ms. Songer said, everyone around the county knew the post was written by Gus Cronkhite’s daughter, a humiliation for a man who had spent his life there.

Ms. Cronkhite called her father to ask, “Is it true? Are you ashamed of me?”

Gus Cronkhite didn’t want to talk about it. Finally, he said, “No, I’m not ashamed of you. I’ve always been proud of you.”

‘Who I am’

On Ms. Cronkhite’s return to Kingman this summer, she brought her boyfriend, Jake Burkhead, a 27-year-old software engineer who was raised in San Francisco. “I want you to understand how hard it was” growing up in a place she had fought to leave, she told him.

When her father picked them at the airport, though, Ms. Cronkhite found herself wanting Mr. Burkhead to like Kingman.

The couple spent an evening with Ms. Allen, the single mom, and Kevin Jeffries, 27, who had played euphonium in the school band.

The Cronkhite family home in Kingman, Ind. The Cronkhite family home in Kingman, Ind. PHOTO: AJ MAST FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Mr. Jeffries, an Indiana state trooper, had long believed Ms. Cronkhite was destined for something bigger than Kingman. He studied aviation at Indiana State University and flew helicopters in the Army National Guard. He didn’t want to meet for drinks in Covington because he had arrested several local bartenders and their customers. “The frequent fliers,” he joked.

They decided instead on the Buffalo Wild Wings in Crawfordsville, Ind., where Mr. Jeffries shared news from the police blotter. One friend from Covington High had overdosed on heroin months earlier and passed out while driving. Medics saved him, but the friend overdosed again a few weeks later.

Mr. Jeffries said he feared what would happen next: “I hope I don’t get that call.” He talked about chasing a driver who was swerving drunkenly across the road. They ended up at the man’s house, where Mr. Jeffries had to subdue him with a Taser. It turned out to be someone he had known for years.

“There are a lot of people in Covington who think it’s Mayberry,” Mr. Jeffries said. “You should see what’s going on around here when you’re sleeping.”

That night, Ms. Cronkhite thought about Mr. Jeffries’ stories and saw them not as more evidence of Fountain County’s decay, but as a testimonial to someone who had stayed and was working to make it better.

Her friend Ms. Allen was settled down with a hard-working millwright and no longer overwhelmed by financial troubles. The couple had two children and another on the way. She was doing haircuts and color on the side.

ONE NATION, DIVISIBLE

Rural America Is the New 'Inner City' Rural America Is Stranded in the Dial-Up Age Struggling Americans Once Sought Greener Pastures—Now They’re Stuck Rural America's Childbirth Crisis: The Fight to Save Whitney Brown Brothers in Arms: The Tragedy in Small-Town America How Dollar General Became Rural America's Store of Choice Ms. Cronkhite and her boyfriend had fun camping in Shades State Park. They went with her parents to the Moon-Glo bar across the Illinois line. They ate pork-tenderloin sandwiches.

At home, though, things got confusing. Ms. Cronkhite’s mother, worn down by hard Indiana winters, had persuaded her husband to buy a house in Alabama, not far from the Gulf of Mexico.

Would they be selling the farm? Ms. Cronkhite wanted to know. She couldn’t imagine her father ever leaving Fountain County.

Mr. Cronkhite, 69 years old, grew up nearby, as did his father and grandfather. He was drafted out of high school and served a year in Vietnam. Mr. Cronkhite returned to Indiana to care for his parents, who had made a living in the gas-station business, before becoming a long-haul trucker.

While on the road, Mr. Cronkhite was always eager to return home, where he would meet his buddies at the Marathon gas station for morning coffee. He drove by Niagara Falls dozens of times and never stopped to look at the view.

Ms. Cronkhite’s mother, Martha Cronkhite, was the one who always stopped to look. She was born in Columbus, Ind., and left as soon as she turned 18. She attended a two-year business school in Indianapolis and worked her way up the ladder at a shopping-mall company.

Mrs. Cronkhite, 66, met her future husband at a party in 1987. They were, in some ways, opposites. She rarely indulged in a chuckle. Once Gus Cronkhite got laughing, he would keep it up until he cried.

With her parents’ move now a certainty, Ms. Cronkhite and her boyfriend settled onto the back porch one night and talked about the land that stretched out before them. It turned out, she wasn’t ready to let it all go.

“If I ever have kids, they’re never going to understand this huge part of me,” she said. “I want there to be a reminder of where I come from and who I am.”

Ms. Cronkhite first asked her parents if she could keep the entire farm, an idea that died with the spreadsheet that showed its low yields and high costs.

Instead, her parents decided to sell her about 10 acres, near a grove of poplar, sycamore and cedar. They agreed on the per-acre price Mr. Cronkhite had paid in 1972.

Ms. Cronkhite plans to build a small house on the lot. She doesn’t intend to move back now. But someday she might. “I’m still a rural American,” she said.

Caity Cronkhite and her boyfriend, Jake Burkhead, with one of their cats at home in Oakland, Calif. Caity Cronkhite and her boyfriend, Jake Burkhead, with one of their cats at home in Oakland, Calif. PHOTO: PRESTON GANNAWAY FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Write to Michael M. Phillips at michael.phillips@wsj.com

One Nation, Divisible | In a Divided Nation of Big Cities and Small Towns, Caity Cronkhite Thought She Knew Where She Belonged By Michael M. Phillips Dec. 15, 2017 10:39 a.m. ET EMAIL

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[Jenkinsverse] Salvage – Chapter 94: Broken Mirror.

It's been a few months since the last chapter, as life has a habit of getting in the way of things, but here is a very brief summary of where we are and how things stand in the context of the galaxy at large: When we last left our heroes, Adrian was stranded on a jungle planet, fighting an A.I., brain-bugs, and the V'Straki Expeditionaries, while the rest of the gang were either looking after Ark Station or were busy doubling-down on convenient genocide.

Against the Deathworlder's Timeline, it is about a year since San Diego was hit by an anti-matter bomb, five months since Sara Tisdale was murdered on Cimbrean by a Hierarchy agent and the events that kicked off the beginning of the SOR, and 3 weeks after Earth gets access to the modified Cruezzir formula.

Up until this point, events in the rest of the galaxy has been unfolding mostly as described in the original timeline.

That changes now.

Salvage is a story set in the Jenkinsverse universe created by /u/Hambone3110. Note that Salvage diverges from the Deathworlders Timeline at Salvage Chapter 82, and is now canon only to itself. There may be characters and events from the Deathworlders timeline included in Salvage, but the story you are reading is no longer narratively related to the original setting.

Where relevant, alien measurements are replaced by their Earth equivalent in brackets.

If you enjoy my work, and would like to contribute towards its continuation, please visit my Patreon.

Note that these chapters often extend into the comments.


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DATE POINT: 5Y 2M 6D AV

ARK STATION

Jennifer Delaney

“Cycle to next target node,” Xayn intoned over the communicator for the hundredth time, following it by the consistent report. “No connection. Loading parameters for next alignment.”

“Forget that,” Chir finally decided from his console in the central administration building. “I think we can assume that, after… fifty-eight configurations, nothing we try is going to work. I take it that everything is steady at your end, Jen?”

“Completely,” she said flatly, seeing no issues in the rolling report. “The diagnostics are all totally fine, so unless they’re stuffed as well…”

“Then the problem isn’t ours,” Chir finished. “Shit.”

That was an understatement. Ark station was equipped with its very own FTL-communicator, which allowed them to stay abreast of current events across the galaxy—the recent news about San Diego’s obliteration had been delivered in this fashion—but right now turning it on meant turning a lot of other things off, so they only went through the process once a day. Ten hours ago that connection had timed out, and the subsequent investigation had become increasingly frustrating, and had ultimately led them to a coordinated test and override of all key communications systems. At this point they’d either have to be satisfied that the station was completely fine, or assume that its computer systems had been completely overrun by hostile forces, and Askit’s preventative measures meant they should at least have known if that ever happened.

Jen closed the panel that concealed the diagnostic display and wiped her hands. “Thoughts?”

Xayn was first to share his ideas. “The signals utilise a wormhole-based technology. They cannot be intercepted.”

“He’s right,” Chir agreed. “If we were being denied a connection, I’d suspect the enemy discovered us, but there is no connection to be made. That means all the nodes are down, and that means that something incredibly serious has happened.”

“Could they be faking it?” Jen asked suspiciously. “They might be trying to draw us out.”

Chir hesitated. “I had… considered that. But some of the nodes we configured here are not exactly official. I’m worried about Gao.”

“Sounds like we should be worried about just about everywhere,” Jen replied. “There’s only one way to be sure.”

“Scouting,” Xayn inferred. “Yes.”

“No,” Chir demurred. “Not alone at any rate. I don’t like having so few of us here in the first place, but I’m not going to start splitting our number any further. If one of us goes, we all go.”

Jen raised an eyebrow at that, and looked up the promenade towards the domed administration building. “You’re saying we’d need to abandon the station?”

“No,” he replied, an unhappy growl in his voice, “not forever. I don’t want to have us become any more separated than we already are, and right now we have no idea what Darragh, Keffa and Askit are dealing with. We need to find out what’s going on, and reconnect with them if possible.”

Jen didn’t like it—she’d put some serious sweat into patching this place back together, and she didn’t want that going to waste—but Chir was a devout pragmatist when Layla wasn’t involved; that was why he’d been in charge of strategy when they’d run the pirate base, and Jen had run the operations. “Well, fuck… I don’t have a better plan.”

It seemed that Xayn didn’t either. “I will begin the station lockdown procedure when we are ready to depart. It is mostly systems switching into standby, and is fully automated, so we should leave immediately after I activate it.”

“Understood,” Chir replied, “I’ll get things organised at this end. Jen, you prepare the transport ship for departure. You should both take everything you aren’t comfortable with abandoning.”

“No problem,” Jen said, understanding that this was just how things were when there was so much uncertainty; she supposed she should consider herself fortunate in that she didn’t really have anything left that she’d miss if it were gone. It let her focus on the task of getting the transit vessel ready for the flight, although there wasn’t much to it; Xayn and Keffa kept the ships in good working order, so it really only needed to be stocked with the supplies needed for two full-blooded Deathworlders and a Gaoian. Bitter experience had taught her to always be prepared, however, so she made certain they had about three times more than should actually be needed; even simple plans had a way of going badly wrong.

Chir barely bothered to inspect what passed for a command deck before he sat down, giving it a perfunctory nod of approval which conveyed that everything looked fine. “No problems, I take it?”

“We haven’t exploded so far,” Jen joked.

“We are still docked and on low power,” Xayn noted. “An explosion would be greatly unexpected.”

“Good to know,” Chir replied. “Everybody got everything?”

Jen nodded. “What there was.”

“Always,” Xayn confirmed; he had a tendency of having anything he cared about with him at all times, regardless of if the situation warranted it. “Pre-flight diagnostics are coming back well within tolerances, and I have just activated the lockdown.”

“Then we should go,” Chir said, and looked towards Jen expectantly. “This is your ship, Jen.”

Jen didn’t think she’d have gone that far; she’d simply been the one monitoring the controls when she and Keffa were on a supply run. Abandoned and adrift, with signs of a Hunter incursion, the previous owner certainly hadn’t needed it anymore, and they’d put in a few hours of elbow-grease to get it back into fully working order. It didn’t have much in the way of guns, however, and under normal circumstances Jen would have preferred to take the Devastator, but they’d never managed to iron out all the problems and it had ultimately been used as a source of spare parts.

She turned to Xayn. “We good to go?”

He bobbed his head in a nod. “Engaging thrust now. The station will be in hibernation by the time we exit the system.”

There was the slightest hint of movement as the inertial dampeners negated the sudden acceleration, and the image of the docks rapidly gave way to the darkness of the void. The smaller display to the side presented a station falling slowly into darkness, creating a discomforting sense of finality.

Chir must have noticed her expression. “We’ll be back.”

“I know,” she agreed, although she said it more as a promise than as a belief.

“Course is locked in for the nearest node on Pa Sephalia,” Xayn reported from the pilot’s chair. “Initiating warp field… now.”

The curious sensation of an initiating warp field tingled on Jen’s skin, and Ark Station vanished from view.

++++

++++

CAVARAS, CORTI DIRECTORATE CORE WORLD

Twenty-Two

The Corti were paranoid by nature, a small vestige of their evolution they’d not yet seen fit to erase. This was a quality they valued, finding it a valuable survival trait in a society that was brimming with cutthroat political intrigue, and the senior members of the Directorate were even more calculating than the typical example of their race. This was part of what made them such a key species on the galactic stage, but it also made them a challenge to infiltrate. Twenty-Two was the only member of the Hierarchy who had managed to enter the inner circle—an accomplishment that had earned him considerable respect amongst his peers—but it did require regular disconnections from the network for the duration of their clandestine meetings. It was unpleasant, but all double-digits had spent years in relative isolation while undertaking deathworld pacification assignments, and a few [hours] was scarcely an inconvenience compared to those long silences.

“We’re very fortunate that the secondary system is still functioning,” Alvez reported, fiddling uncomfortably with his sash of office. “Likely due to its separation and codebase.”

The five other surviving members of the Directorate regarded Alvez with warranted skepticism; nobody had known about the secondary system until he had revealed it, and it raised a lot more questions than anyone felt acceptable. Even the Hierarchy, for all their efforts, had no idea that the network had existed. Alvez still hadn’t revealed the extent of the secret network, and wasn’t likely to do so until the persistent blackouts were somehow lifted across the planet.

“Have we been able to contact anyone?” Ohla asked.

“No,” replied Laminor, “but most of the damage was confined to the communications networks, implants, and vehicles. Estimated casualty count is under forty-percent on Cavaras, though stations, vessels, and minor colonies have likely experienced absolute failure, with only those out of communications-range safe from the attack. We can expect the situation to escalate with the knock-on effects of a total logistical breakdown taking hold.”

Laminor spoke passively, but even Twenty-Two felt himself blanch as the facts and figures were given. This would bring the Directorate to the brink of collapse unless things were taken control of quickly, and even if it survived their entire society would be fundamentally changed. That was still better than the Igraen Empire, which had been completely inaccessible to Twenty-Two since the incident began. Worse still, there had been several Hierarchy agents present on the world, and they all seemed to be either dead or catatonic. As near as Twenty-Two could tell, the dataspace had been broken into countless fragments, and there was little hope of restoring it to its former glory.

Alvez clicked his tongue. “How ironic that our survival is the result of protecting ourselves from that misbegotten cyber-terrorist.”

“I’ll stop short of thanking him,” was Ohla’s icy reply.

“Have we tracked down an origin point, yet?” Twenty-Two asked. He wasn’t sure what had happened, but he damn well wanted some kind of revenge.

The lights flickered briefly, leading to a heavy pause in the conversation until they were satisfied that the power wasn’t suddenly going to vanish.

“No,” said Alvez, “though we have several dozen prospects. We do know that the Gamlis homeworld is the first major communications node to be hit, though it seems more probable that the attack was launched from one of its dependent nodes.”

“And those responsible?” Twenty-Two pressed, growing increasingly agitated; normally it’d be easy to find these things out without the tiresome need for words, but he was disinclined to expose himself to whatever had rolled across the galaxy.

“We have compiled a list of the most likely candidates,” Ohla replied. “The Celzi Alliance, the Humans, and that cyber-terrorist rank highly amongst them.”

“You mean the cyber-terrorist that Hrbrd released as part of that highly dubious group of shadow operatives responsible for the on-world chaos we had to clean up?” Remadi asked, finally breaking his silence. “The same one that now accompanies the Human Disaster from catastrophe to cataclysm? This mess has all the hallmarks of one of that man’s ruinous endeavours.”

Twenty-Two felt cold. “The Human Disaster has not been heard from in some time. I’d received information that his last known intention was to take on an entire Hunter Swarm.”

That wasn’t quite true. Twenty-Two knew that the Swarm had been sent to find Jennifer Delaney, and that Adrian Saunders was intending to rescue her. None of them, Swarm included, had been heard from since, and the Hierarchy had been hoping that was finally the end of the matter; perhaps they had been a bit naïve.

“He has defeated large numbers of Hunters before,” Remadi reminded him. “He has also disappeared twice before, only to return with even more chaos in his wake. Third time makes a pattern.”

Alvez hissed angrily. “That man is a monster! For the sake of the galaxy, he desperately needs to be removed.”

Ohla nodded. “If we have the opportunity. But we need to focus on rebuilding our planet at the moment. The galaxy is in turmoil, and the faster we recover the greater the Directorate’s chance to exploit the crisis. If we’re careful, what looks like disaster today could seem like providence tomorrow.”

Alvez hissed again. “Optimistic!”

Opportunistic!” she hissed back.

Twenty-Two said nothing; the time would come for vengeance, but Ohla wasn’t wrong about what was on offer. There was sufficient evidence to assume the galaxy was in complete disarray, and that the most pliable species had effectively been destroyed. Even without their implants, the Corti were well-equipped to respond rationally and rapidly to the problem before everyone starved to death. True, the Igraen dataspace was nearly destroyed, but standing in the Directorate’s inner circle gave Twenty-Two the opportunity to build it anew, albeit with some slight modifications to the leadership structure.

++++

++++

Agwar

Adrian Saunders

Adrian knew that this was not a good plan. He was keenly aware that it was, in fact, a very bad plan, and that it relied far too heavily on hoping the V’Straki kept on believing an ever-expanding web of lies. Supplies and time were limited, however, but reserves of bullshit were without end, so this is where he had ended up, and it was a bit unnerving that it all seemed to be working out.

For the moment, anyway; he’d gotten used to everything going sideways. He maintained a relaxed posture, trying to project supreme self-confidence, but his eyes and ears tracked each and every movement the V’Straki Expeditionary force made. They were the surviving members of the group that Adrian had helped put down, and were currently assigned to guard the area while they awaited the arrival of a V’Straki Lander. That they were nervous was obvious—they hovered at the outer perimeter of what qualified as ‘the area’—and they didn’t look like they had any stomach for a fight, but that could change in a hurry; he knew through experience that V’Straki weren’t as coldly logical as the Corti, and that they might therefore get some strange thoughts about what constituted a good idea.

He felt the Lander before he heard it. “Finally here.”

The nearest V’Straki looked at him in surprise. Adrian couldn’t help but smile; the saurian race possessed sharper eyes and sense of smell than your average human, but their hearing and tactition both lacked nuance.

A moment later the Lander announced itself with a barrage of heavy gunfire that blasted out a new landing zone, sending waves of dust and smoke rolling across the group in equal measure. Adrian tensed as the haze thickened, shutting his eyes against the grit; if there were a time for the V’Straki to strike, this would be it—they’d have no such concerns in their environmental gear.

The haze lifted moments later to reveal a gleaming vessel at the heart of a field of destruction; with such angular designs and militaristic configuration, there was no mistaking who the makers were. Even the entrance was built towards battle, with a single hydraulically-powered ramp lowering itself from the rear; it was exactly the sort of ship that Adrian would expect a swarm of soldiers to come pouring out of.

Today there were only a pair of V’Straki, each wearing heavy environmental protection suits, and neither disembarking. The Expeditionaries made no move towards it.

“Not coming?” Adrian asked, puzzled.

“The risk of contamination is far too high,” replied the one in charge. “We shall return by the normal means.”

Adrian nodded his understanding; the V’Straki wore environmental gear for better reasons than keeping the grit out of their eyes. Shit, if Adrian had been smart about it, he’d have left his vacuum suit on no matter how uncomfortable it got; he’d seen things that’d made him wake shuddering in the night, and that didn’t even include the stuff he couldn’t see. The bacteria that produced Cruezzir was, for example, pretty much everywhere at this point, and there was no telling what it might do to a V’Straki. “Just me then.”

He approached the Lander with all the false-confidence he could muster, noting that the two V’Straki flinched as he first stepped foot on the ramp. He could already tell they weren’t soldiers, in spite of the sidearms they both wore. “Hello.”

“You have been allocated a seat,” said the smaller of the two, jabbing a finger in the direction of the seat in question. “Sit down and buckle in. We shall seal the ship to test for pathogenic risks before departing.”

The hydraulics hissed, but their movement was smooth, and they drew the ramp shut with a muted but decisive thud—Agwar, the jungle, and everything in it were consigned to a world beyond this little space.

Adrian took his seat, studying the two V’Straki in detail. The smaller, he decided, was the senior of the duo, and directed the majority of his attention there. “You were about to introduce yourselves?”

The V’Straki paused. “I suppose… yes. I am Kakral, a Senior Medician of the Dastasji. My subordinate here is Medician Vottric. We shall need some simple fluid samples for a basic scan to assess the risk level. Saliva is fine.”

He proffered a dish in front of Adrian’s face, into which Adrian delivered a sizable sample. Stepping away with practiced ease, Kakral slotted the sample into a briefcase-sized kit and pressed a button. “We should have our results shortly. Once we are aboard the Dastasji, we will conduct more extensive tests depending on the severity of—”

There were a series of short, sharp beeps. Kakral stopped talking and paid full attention to the device; Adrian had been around Xayn enough to recognise a worried V’Straki when he saw one. “Everything alright?”

“Yes,” Kakral replied in a strained voice. He was lying. “It always does that. I just need to make a report and we can be on our way.”

Kakral stepped into another room while Vottric cleaned things nervously, his eyes averted to avoid initiating any form of interaction whatsoever. That was fine by Adrian, who was busy trying to pick out whatever Kakral was muttering about in the adjoining room. Even with the benefit of human hearing he heard only a handful of words, the most important word was ‘quarantine’; clearly everything wasn’t alright after all.

He forced a cough as Kakral re-entered the room, noting that the colour ran from his scales. “We… we are ready to go. Vottric, be seated.”

“Was there anything I should be aware of?” Adrian pressed as the Medicians took their seats and slotted buckles into place. Partly he wanted to get under Kakral’s skin, and put the Medician on the backfoot, but he was also a little worried about what he might have picked up in an alien jungle. The Corti Frontline Implant was probably good enough to protect him from anything lurking in his bloodstream, but if it ever stopped working then things would go south in a big way. A human was full of diseases at the best of times—Jen had learned that the hard way, she’d been aboard a plague-ship when Adrian had found her—but Adrian had visited multiple deathworlds and on each of them he’d gotten about as filthy as it was possible to be. It didn’t take a virologist to know that if any of the serious Earth-borne diseases ever hit the galactic community it was game over. His title of ‘Human Disaster’ aside, Adrian had no wish to bring galactic civilisation to a grinding halt.

There was a gentle hum that reverberated throughout the vessel, followed by the slightest sensation of movement—as promised, the Lander was on its way.

“What happens when we get to the Dastasji?” Adrian asked, mangling the name with his pronunciation. “There will be more tests? You said I was fine.”

“Yes,” Kakral replied, sounding pained, “I did, did I not? The tests will be a formality.”

Adrian wasn’t sure what game the Medician thought he was playing, but figured he’d play along until further opportunities presented themselves. “Alright, then.”

It was clear that the Medician was done talking on the matter, and he evaded any further questions that Adrian put to him, but that didn’t mean there was nothing to be learned.

“So clearly you were stuck in that wormhole for a while,” he said, conversationally, “how were things looking before you got pulled in?”

“In the war?” Kakral asked. “No different than usual. The Empire had several end-game projects I heard about, including the ‘worm-hole’ project the Dastasji was assigned to. No doubt there were many more I am not privy to, though the last few years were particularly violent. Surely the Zhadersil has the records of all the operations it was involved in?”

“My ship is currently a bit out of service,” Adrian replied vaguely. “Slight radiation leak.”

Kakral tilted his head curiously. “And what has become of the enemy?”

Adrian shrugged. “Only bad things.”

This seemed to strike the right chord, because both Medicians seemed satisfied by the answer. That didn’t make them any less nervous, however.

“We are here,” the Senior Medician announced as a slight vibration ran through the vessel and the hum died away.

Adrian unbuckled himself as it happened, ensuring he got to his feet before the Medicians, but allowed them to take the fore. If there was a group of armed V’Straki out there, he’d prefer it if they shot these guys first.

Once more the hydraulics hissed, and the ramp began to lower, revealing a well-kept flight deck. Its configuration was similar to that of the Zhadersil, but far smaller and containing machinery that actually worked. What it didn’t contain was a V’Straki squad, or any other V’Straki for that matter.

“Quiet reception,” Adrian noted as they stepped out onto the polished metal flooring. The place was ascetically bare, but the structure clearly conveyed the fact that this vessel was designed to take—and deliver—a beating.

“Not at all,” Kakral assured him. “Please follow me.”

Adrian did so, but remained watchful for any sign of an ambush, though he suspected that this lack of personnel was likely part of the secret quarantine than a military strike. The same scarcity continued as Kakral led him from the flight deck and into the corridors.

“What is the plan, then?” Adrian finally asked when the whole thing became too suspicious.

“The medical bay is the next room along,” Kakral replied, indicating a room with clear markings that matched those of the medical room aboard the Zhadersil. “We will commence the scan immediately.”

“Maybe then I will get to see some other members of your crew?” Adrian suggested pointedly.

Kakral led him into the room without answering, sweeping a hand towards it in a general ‘here it is’ gesture. “There is nothing to be concerned about, just enter the chamber in the corner of the room and the medical suite will do the rest.”

Adrian eyed the chamber the Medician had indicated. It did look like a number of other medical suites he’d seen, but was clearly different to the usual V’Straki technology. Where the V’Straki preferred clean lines and angular shapes, the medical suite was curved and futuristic. “I am guessing you found this somewhere?”

“Astute,” Kakral replied. “We recovered it from a Haspalin facility we targeted two cycles ago. Though they claimed neutrality, the Haspalin lent considerable aid to the Alliance, and lessons needed to be taught. Now their technology keeps our soldiers in fighting condition. Obviously it remains separated from ship systems to maintain security protocols; the Igraen military includes some very talented cyber-forces.”

That seemed about on par with what Adrian would expect of the V’Straki, and wasn’t that different to the sort of things that happened back on Earth. With no reason to decline, he stepped into the chamber and turned around. “This is not going to hurt, is it?”

“No,” said Kakral. “Not at all.”

At least the Senior Medician was honest; unconsciousness arrived with no pain whatsoever, and the world was replaced with a dreamless darkness.

++++

++++

POINT EIGHT

Eighty-Three

The Igraen Empire was well over [sixty-five million years] old. It had seen the rise and fall of countless civilisations, and had come to quietly dominate the galaxy in a way that nobody else could claim. Their rule had been as absolute as it had been invisible, with only the most pliable of species being allowed ascendance into the galactic scene. Eventually threats had been introduced—the Jerg, the Erveer, the Scourge, and currently the Hunters—with the purpose of distracting the herd from discovering the truth. The network the Hierarchy had assembled was a galaxy-spanning virtualized existence that usually communicated in real-time. There was a handful of places where this was not true, however, and Point Eight was one of them.

++0083++: The scheduled time for a report has arrived. Have we determined the cause of the outage?

++0091++: I’ve completed two sets of the standard diagnostics, with nothing of concern, though some data tables have needed updating. A deep scan is currently underway.

++0083++: What about a physical inspection?

++0166++: I am currently coordinating a drone fleet on a detailed inspection. Nothing has yet been determined as a possible cause. I think we need to start considering whether the problem might be on the other end.

Eighty-Three had considered that, albeit briefly. She didn’t like the implications and had been studiously concentrating on trying to discover what had gone wrong under her purview. If the Hierarchy Communications Relay was down, that meant that something inconceivable had happened. The scope of it was simply too big to think about, even for a digital consciousness, but they were quickly running out of other explanations.

++0091++: That is a very large conclusion to jump to. I suggest a scout drone be sent to the nearest Relay point.

++0083++: Agreed, but send three to the nearest three Relay points. That will give us an eye on two secondary and one primary point. Hopefully that will be more informative if there’s a wider issue.

++0091++: Dispatching now. This should not take long. I will return when I have the results.

++System Notification: User 0091 has left++

++0166++: What if this is a reprisal? From the Humans?

++0083++: Ridiculous. There has been no indication that the Humans have taken control of our technology, even if Six was captured. An attack of this magnitude would require a knowledge of our systems far beyond anything a Human could achieve.

++0166++: What if that Human is involved?

++System log: no activity for [10 seconds]++

++0083++: There have been no reports of that Human in some time. I know that the single-digits were quietly hoping that the Hunters had finally managed to make him go away.

++0166++: That would be a relief, though I heard the Hunter Swarm also went missing.

++0083++: There have been no reports of that Human in some time.

Eighty-three repeated the sentence with added emphasis, though she was greatly discomforted by even the shadow of a possibility. Adrian Saunders had gone missing, but nobody had managed to report he was dead, and that patch of space was now inexplicably unnavigable. She took solace in knowing that while this level of chaos was certainly his hallmark, there wasn’t enough explosions to suggest he was actually involved.

++System Notification: User 0022 has joined from an unknown network++

++0022++: Finally! It seems I was right to check the tertiary nodes.

++0083++: A successful inbound connection!? From where?

++0166++: This proves our hardware is working.

One-Sixty-Six was correct, which didn’t paint a very good picture of the rest of the galaxy. Tertiary nodes like Point Eight were designed to connect to the secondary layer of the Igraen dataspace, which meant that the secondary layer was gone. Hopefully this new arrival meant that problem was no longer Eighty-Three’s to solve.

++0022++: I need to know whatever you might have worked out about our current situation.

++0083++: We have been checking for damage to our hardware and the Point Eight dataspace. We have had no access to the secondary layer at all, and were still undertaking the diagnostics when you arrived.

++0022++: Less than helpful. I have already determined that the secondary and primary layers are down, as are all populations connected to them.

++0166++: … How?

++0022++: A highly-aggressive self-replicating program with a geometric growth rate. It appears that it used our own network against us.

Eighty-Three processed this slowly; Twenty-Two had just described near-total annihilation for the Igraen people, and Point Eight had only survived because of a scheduled disconnection.

++0083++: Should I assume you intend to take command of Point Eight?

++0022++: Confirmed.

++System Notification: User 0091 has joined++

++0091++: Drone connections have been established. I see we have a new arrival.

++0022++: A new Commander. Report on the drones.

Eighty-Three idled quietly, ready to consider the situation from all possible angles. Things were already looking bad for the Igraen Empire, with Point Eight the only known beacon of hope in a shattered dataspace. It was likely that there were other survivors out there, and maybe some of them were even better equipped than Point-Eight. Either way, it didn’t matter, because in a situation like this the opportunists would always put themselves ahead of the collective.

++0091++: Three drones were dispatched to the nearest relays using enhanced black-box FTL drives to get them there as quickly as possible. Two of the relays are the standard Galactic News Network communication facilities.

++0022++: And I assume that neither is functional?

++0091++: Correct. The third is an abandoned, Corti-built science facility that we keep running off their books. That one served as a primary relay, but right now it’s unpowered, and we have three cloaked system-defence vessels in the vicinity that are no better off. I believe they would have been slaved to the relay.

++0022++: Understood—it is as bad as I expected. We should assume the worst case scenario: that all citizens actively linked to primary and secondary relays have been wiped.

++0083++: That… that is an incalculable loss.

Eighty-Three knew that ‘incalculable’ was an understatement to the tenth order: that kind of scenario would mean a one-percent survival rate, at the most optimistic. There were hundreds of trillions dead—wiped out as though they had never existed—by an enemy that had yet to be properly identified. This was carnage on a scale the galaxy had never previously witnessed, and had likely destroyed every integrated civilisation in the Igraen domain.

++0022++: Was there anything else?

++0091++: Yes. I confirmed that connecting to an infected system is a very dangerous prospect. We have two functional drones remaining.

++System log: no activity for [6 seconds]++

++0022++: Due to the highly virulent nature of the threat, we must formally enact a quarantine. No further connections will be made to unapproved systems. Fortunately, Cavaras is preparing to roll out fresh systems, and is treating the situation with equal caution, so that should provide us with a comfortable buffer.

++0166++: And our response to those responsible? This is the most vicious attack launched on us since the foundation of the Hierarchy. We cannot let this go unanswered!

++0022++: The Corti have pragmatically opted to rebuild, which is in their nature, but I also favour a response. We need to identify the cause and build towards a retaliation—it will serve as a rallying cry for our survivors if nothing else.

++++

++++

DATE POINT: 5Y 2M 2W 1D AV

RURAL COUNTRYSIDE OF GAMLIS HOMEWORLD

Askit

As bad as things were, Askit was confident that they could still get worse if the opportunity arose—they could always go back to wandering the roads, shuddering in the cooling weather, and going hungry on a daily basis. For now they had the benefit of a roof and four walls, and enough power to light the rooms and heat their food, which was about all the humans actually needed, but to Askit the lack of working technology was almost like a lack of air. Being stranded on the homeworld of a dead civilisation with a pile of broken tech and no functional toilet made him consider whether death might have been the preferable option after all.

He grimaced, cutting off that line of thought, and slumped back into the uncomfortable, over-stuffed chair on which he was perched—that was a defeatist kind of thinking when he’d already resolved to keep on living; you didn’t just give up after trading billions of lives for your own.

“One more try for the night,” he told himself, pressing the activation button on the mess of wires and components laid out in front of him. Nothing happened; Terminal, in this case, appeared to carry a double meaning. “Fuck.”

“Didn’t work, I take it?” Darragh asked from his seat by the window. He’d been reclining there for hours, claiming to watch the outside world for any threat or opportunity, but he was usually dozing.

“Not even slightly,” Askit replied, rubbing his head and sliding from the seat to fetch himself a cup of water. “This side of computers really isn’t my thing.”

“Too complex to be programmed?” Darragh asked.

“Maybe,” Askit admitted, taking a sip of the water and grimacing at the flavour—yet another thing he wasn’t used to. “Trying to create an entire computer system from scratch may actually be beyond my capabilities. Especially when I don’t have another computer system to work from.”

“Could be worse,” Darragh said with a shrug. “We could still be out there. Smoke gets worse every day.”

“She will be back soon,” Askit reassured him, and turned to the entrance as it was pushed open. “See?”

“You heard her coming!” Darragh accused.

Askit shook his head. “I just have impeccable timing.”

Keffa looked them over as she rubbed her limbs. “Was I interrupting something?”

Askit made a point of shrugging.

“Getting colder out there?” Darragh asked.

She nodded. “I think it’s winter. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere so cold before.”

“Could be worse,” Darragh told her, “it could be snowing.”

“Frozen flakes of ice does not constitute normal weather on most planets, Darragh,” Askit informed him. “If it started snowing, I’d be forced to believe the world was ending for a second time.”

“Speaking of which,” Keffa interrupted, “I think the smoke might be starting to clear a bit. The haze isn’t as bad as it was a couple days ago.”

“Think the cities are done burning?” Darragh asked.

She shrugged, and dropped a heavy bag onto the central table with a loud thud. “Who knows? All I know is I got us food for a few days.”

“Tell me it isn’t more of those roots!” Darragh whined.

“Actually I found a group of terrified little critters, snapped their necks, and dropped them into the bag with a mix of other local produce,” she informed him.

He looked at her sceptically. “It is more roots, isn’t it?”

“Yep,” she confirmed with a smile. “If there are any animals left alive out there, they’re not showing themselves. I’m guessing, but maybe they choked to death on the smoke.”

“We’re lucky he hasn’t,” Darragh replied, nodding towards Askit. “He was looking green enough a few days ago.”

“This would be fatal to most species in the galaxy,” Askit told them. “You may be the only lot that inhales smoke for recreational use. Anyway, the smoke will make it hard to find us from the air, though it also means our chances of rescue are near zero.”

“And what’s our progress rescuing ourselves?” Keffa asked, directing the question to Askit.

He sighed. “Only as much as there was yesterday. Any progress on finding me a working computer?”

“Only as much as there was yesterday,” she replied testily. “I think you’re going to have to assume that even if it does exist, we’re not in a position to find it.”

“Right,” Darragh agreed. “We’re rural, and it looks like these guys were almost completely hooked up to their networks. All we find is broken vehicles, buildings, and Gamlis.”

Keffa nodded. “The implants must have been keeping them alive, because it’s one big graveyard out there.”

Askit stared at her open-mouthed. “Void take me, that… how have we been so stupid?”

“Uh, thanks?” she replied sarcastically.

“We need to find some bodies,” Askit elaborated. “Implants shut down after a few days in a corpse, since there’s nothing left to power them, so we just need to find some who died before I… accelerated the Decline.”

“Don’t aliens normally incinerate their dead?” Keffa asked. “That’d make it hard to find any.”

“Maybe a morgue?” Darragh suggested with a shrug.

“Many do,” Askit replied with a nod, “and it’s the ubiquitous method in space, but the Gamlis used to have highly adorned family tombs!”

“This sounds like you’re telling us to go break into a bunch of mausoleums for you,” Darragh inferred, observably failing to relish the concept. “We’re going to be elbow deep in crusty old bones and yanking out all the old implants.”

“Yay,” said Keffa without enthusiasm. “Can’t wait.”

“And you said it like they’ll have been there for a long time,” Darragh added. “Why?”

“Because they haven’t done any of that since they entered the Decline,” Askit replied. “So you may have some trouble finding parts that work, but it’s not like you have anything better to do.”

Meka Defensive Hero Concept

Hero: Cosmic Role: Defence Difficulty: **

Health: 150 hp+50 Armor=200.

  • Abilities: Plasmid Auto Rifle: an automatic assault rifle with a lower fire rate than soldier 76. (6 Damage per shot)

Shield tossed: throw your arm shield straight through enemies dealing damage and slowing enemies by electricity to any enemy hit by it. 100 Damage. 4sec cooldown

Wall Grab: When next to a wall, grab and hang from the wall. While on the wall you can shoot your primary only. 5sec cooldown

Deflector Shields: use both arms to block any enemy shoots that will deflate in random duration. 6sec cooldown

Matrix Mine: Please down a tiny mine at your feet to create a 10m ball xyz of Defense matrix for 3.5sec.

Passives:

Wall Climb: Climb up walls for 20m. Plasmid sword: x2 melee damage and if used behind an enemy, instead kill. (3sec animation to kill)

  • Pros?> The Primary has low fire spread<>Wall Grab’s cooldown will not start till you let go<>Shield tossed will go throw players and shield barriers<>Deflector shields is up for 3sec with cooldown starting right after use of the ability<>Deflector shields deflates all projectiles in a random duration within a larged frontal view (Only lightning can pass through).
  • Cons?> Wall grab can make you very open<>Deflector shields & Matrix Mine are useless against lighting<>Matrix Mine is useless if there no projectile firing heroes<>The Instead kill has a 3sec animation that will not fully kill the enemy till the 3sec are up. This means you can be saved from being assassinated<>the shield tossed fires straight and will break when it hits a solid wall<>Deflector shields is enabled, your lower legs and feet are visible to damage.

Real Name: Cosmic Chi (우주의 기) Age: 20 Height: 5’6” Nationality: American Occupation: Meka Military Unit. Base of Operations: Busan, South Korea. Affiliation: Meka, US Military. “WATCHING OVER YOU” – BIOGRAPHY: Wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps in soldering, but with Overwatch disbanded, he has to find something. However The US was letting soldiers go and “Help” the countries in the Second Crisis. Joining Meka for their epic weapons and technology. As Well as learning that there commander was his dad’s best friend. With this past interaction of family, Mr. Chi was both accessible to Meka and was given a home with the people as a citizen. After 7 months cosmic was given a promise to 2nd Lt (Second Lieutenant) after attacking an assassin that tried to kill Hana Song. being the leader of meka, D.Va’s dad give Mr. Chi a promotion. With the newly engineered suit of armor made by South Korea finest and a few private companies. This suit was made to handle 20 of the E54 omnices at ones.

  • Hero Gallery (Cosmic)

Skins: Classic> default armor with the Meka color screen and black window mask. Liquid blue, Dark Pink, Neon liquid green linen. Darkness Armor> Default Armor with a Purple, Dark Blue, Neon liquid green linen. Charmed Armor> Default Armor with a light green, Bright white, Neon liquid green linen. Pink Flower Armor> Default Armor with Pink, light blue, Neon liquid green linen. Fire Armor> Default Armor with a Orange, Fire red, Neon liquid green linen. Winter Camo> Default Armor with Snow camo painted. Battle Toren> Default Armor with scratches and cracks all over. Temporary outfit> purple jacket with sleeves up casual pants & shoes. Weapons and equipment on, but small. Temporary usage> White T shirt and pajama pants. Weapons and equipment on, but small. D.Va Guard> Classic skin but in D.Va color and with all her ads on. Overwatch Guard> Classic Skin but with Overwatch color and Logos.

Emotes: Heroic> Armor helmet comes off and weapon on shoulder. Victory> Fighter in the air with a hump at the end. Battle Armed> spin and wipe out your blades in a battle pose. Taunt> shake your booty at the enemy and slap your hand on it, only for it to get stuck in barnsley. Amused> Lower your weapon, try to hold it in, then lol. Lazy Time> Sit down with your legs open and a DS like game out.

Victory Poses: Heroic> Armor helmet comes off and weapon on shoulder. Captain’s Guard> Hold a energy shield out in one hand and the gun in other. Gaming focus> Hold a DS like gaming device with your full focus. Armed and ready> crotch over with your gun up.

Voice Lines:

(Default) “Yes Sir” “I’m sorry what?” “Skill must be neared. Not given” “Sorry, but I don’t speak japanese” “Roger Roger” “Bring a knife to a gunfight, I love it” “I’m an assassino” “God that’s cheesy” “It is fatal to enter a war without the will to win” “Ez what Meka would say to you”

Highlight intros: Heroic> Armor helmet comes off and weapon on shoulder. Uppercut> Up above and diving down to uppercut with a Blade. Resting> With Matrix Mine out and you just lay down resting as weapons fire is stopped. Epic Shield> Use your two shields to block some fire when sending them out in spinning.

Weapons> Golden Plasmid Auto Rifle & Arm Shield generators> 3000cp

Voice Interactions> (Game about to start): Ones those doors open, we let hell unless against them. (Hero switched to): Time to help the noobs…Cosmic here. (Greeting): 안녕 (hi)<>Hello<>What’s up. (Respawn): Restart<>I’m too young to die. (Revived): Revive Me!-oh, you did..thanks. (Killstreak): Killing spree!<>More medals for me. (On Fire): I’m on fire<>I’m on fire, our enemies need better Iques. (About to win): Hold the Line we can win this.<>Keep it goen! (About to lose): Let’s not get derank for this, Attack!<>I just got intel from the high command, he saids push the payload! (5 rank card): Just doing my part<>Level up. (10 rank card): I like thank myself, my father, o & my team.<>Just doing my job. (Ana Boosted): I’m unstoppable<>I’m going to bathe in their blood, haha! (Using Ult): Ally> Setting up defences, get over here! Enemy> Get past this!

(Pharah interactions): Pharah: You know, you could have join Helix Security, we get to work in Old Overwatch watchpoints. Cosmic: I know, but I what to fight wars. Not just sitting around doing skirmishes.

(Reaper interactions): Reaper> when a reaper kills a Cosmic: Just like daddy.

(Soldier 76 interactions): Soldier 76: Real soldiers don’t need power armor. Cosmic: So it’s better to have needles dug into you and get pumped up with drugs.

(Sombra interactions): Cosmic: D.Va really hates your types on the web. Sombra: (heavy side).

(D.Va interactions): Cosmic: 데이트 잘하니, 부인. 노래 (would you good on a date watch me, mrs. song)D.Va: hehe, nice try Cosmic but you are getting better.<>D.Va: Remember what Father said cosmic. Cosmic: ya ya, I know, I’ll which your back while you record the action.<>Cosmic>when ally D.Va is killed out of meka: Hey! Leave her alone!<>Cosmic>when ally D.Va is killed: Hana…I will avenge you!<>D.Va> When ally Cosmic is killed: Cosmic. I will avenge you!<>Cosmic> when you kill an enemy D.Va: Score one for me.<>D.Va> when you kill an enemy Cosmic: Score one for D.Va, hehe. (Hanzo interactions): Hanzo: hm, Your technology is nothing to true skills of a men. Cosmic: True. But I rather not take the word of someone who murders his own brother.

(Mercy interactions): Mercy: Cosmic Chi? Way I haven't seen you since you were just a child.Cosmic: It’s good to see you to merc.<>Cosmic: It feels good to have a medic as great as you on our side. Mercy: just don’t be like your father. He’ed always getting injured on the field, somehow.

(Ana interactions): Ana: You’ve ground quite well Cosmic, your mother and father should be proud of you. Cosmic: thanks ana, tho I never meet my mother.

(Lucio interactions): Lucio: What’s it like working with my favorite gamer girl. Cosmic: it’s not so bad.<>Cosmic: Hm, you're that DJ hana loves to listen to. Lucio: Yup that’s me, Lu-ci-o, at your service.

(Symmetra interactions): Symmetra: I didn’t know Vishkar used resources for such a weapon of disorder. Cosmic: You ever think of just looking over the shoulder of your own bosses.

(Moira interaction): Moira: I never like your father. Cosmic: Ya well, they never like you either.

(Map Interactions): (Numbani> “I always wonder what this place is like” (Temple of Anubis> “Sometimes I think aliens were the ones who build the pyramids” (Hanamura> “I have a bad feeling about this place” (Volskaya Industries> “Reminds me of Korea” (Watchpoint: Gibraltar> “Dad would always talk about this place. It’s as good as the stories” (Ilios> “I like this va-k spot, maybe we can stay awhile after this match” (Hollywood> “D.Va would love this place” (Eichenwalde> “Reminds me of Korea” (Oasis> “base on my experience in video games A place like this, usually doesn't end well.” (Horizon> “This suit has oxygen so I’ll should be fine up here” (Horizon Telescope> “Space..the final frontier, (giggles)” (JunkerTown> “I guest D.Va went crazy here haha..that’s a joke.” (Blizzard World> “D.Va always talked about how much she love this place when she was little girl”

Chapter 07: Race X To X Rescue

Only a few months had passed since the end of the Exam. The new rookie Hunters scattered to the far corners of the world in their pursuit of Nen training. They struggled through failure and basked in success. They studied, meditated and fought. They learned hard lessons and reached ever higher for that elusive control over their own life force.

The Hunter Association, however, is not an educational institution; it expects its members to take an active role in the world. Though Nen remains a mystery to average people, it is no secret that Hunters are among the elite of humanity. People come to the Association with problems large and small. Experienced Hunters command huge sums of money for their services but the unproven are worth much less. Rookies often take on jobs for little pay just to improve their stock and gain prestige.

Occasionally the Association reaches out to its members on behalf of a less wealthy petitioner. As it happens, such a request was made around the beginning of May, just over three months after the Exam. Messages were sent out across the lands. Emails, phone calls, couriers and some less conventional means were used to contact the rookies wherever they were. Though the methods varied, the message was the same for all of them:

“The Hunter Association has a mission for you. As a rookie you are HIGHLY encouraged to accept this assignment as an opportunity to raise your reputation in our ranks. Details cannot be be shared over these channels. If you choose to participate, come to the Executive Conference Room on the top floor of the Vonquin Hotel in Jenny City, Begerossé Union, on May 6th at 8:00 PM. Licenses are MANDATORY.”


Jenny City is a town with two faces. On the surface are neon lights and a gaudy, gilded shine. Towering skyscraper casinos and a rowdy nightlife make it a prime destination for gamblers and party-goers. The city’s underside is darker, an ever-expanding lawless slum. A gambler might make their fortune in Jenny City, but they are just as likely to end up jenniless in the gutter.

For those who arrive early, the Vonquin luxury hotel is one of the tallest structures in town. From the outside the tapering cylindrical skyscraper resembles a spitzer bullet. The staff will direct those who display a Hunter License to a door in the lobby locked by a card scanner. A swipe of the License calls an elevator that goes directly to the conference room.

The large circular room takes up the whole top floor of the hotel. Except where the elevator opens, the outer wall is made entirely of glass windows looking out over the cityscape. A huge mahogany table in the center of the room is surrounded by a ring of comfortable red leather chairs.


OOC: This is an optional mission from the Hunter Association. If you decide to accept it, find your way to the conference room. Use this thread to travel and interact with the others who are accepting the mission. After a while the actual mission briefing will be posted as a sticky comment in this thread.


OOC: Alternatively, if it makes sense for your character you may decide to reject this mission and take a job from the Mafia to guard a certain location from an impending assault. The Mafia is very thorough in their vetting process, and will not hire just anybody. Please talk with the mods on discord if you decide to choose this option. You will still use this thread to travel to the Mafia’s location, which will be provided by NPC-Kun. When the time is right a mission briefing will be posted in here for you. Here is a description of the Mafia location:


The mansion is more like a castle, sitting atop a tall cliff overlooking a turbulent rocky coastline. It is a stone structure of Gothic design, protected to the south by the sheer precipice. The other three sides are guarded by an old wall with some modern touches: razor wire coiled on top and security cameras covering every inch. Outside the north gatehouse two men in black suits stand guard with uzis in hand. Their dangerous eyes and hard faces just scream “NO SOLICITING”.

For expected guests, it is only a short walk past the gate to the front door. The butler there will lead the way down the hall. Inside, additional mafiosos stand by with an assortment of firearms in hand. There are more gunmen than strictly necessary for guarding a home, even one as big as this. In the middle of the foyer, the elegance of the mansion is marred by a grotesque sight: a dead man hangs from a second story balcony. Both hands have been severed, and a sign around his bloated purple neck reads: “THIEF”. At the back of the house the butler opens a door to a large study revealing a motley collection of thugs and killers. An uneasy tension fills the room.

[Long Read] EI and CPP Disability question

I was injured at work back in April 2016 and my arm was so bad (tendinosis/carpal tunnel) that I couldn't handle the job anymore. I asked for modified duties but the managers explained that it wouldn't help me so I put in my two week notice and quit. I took out all 15 weeks of sickness EI and was hoping to return to work for Christmas at another job that I had been working at as a seasonal temp in the past.

Just before the job was supposed to start I herniated a disc in my back doing deadlifts, symptoms were not severe at the time so doctors said it was muscular in nature. I didn't have any severe pain but I had warm/hot sensations in certain parts of my leg and muscle tightness. I end up starting my Christmas warehouse job and within a week I have full blown sciatica. The supervisor said I was walking with a limp so I ask for modified duties, but since I was a temp they couldn't give me it so they let me go.

My sciatica still flares up when I sit down for more than an hour and I'm not sure if it will ever heal 100%. I have eight months of regular EI but I have to get a note from the doctor clearing me to go back to work (something like security guard or office duties with a standing desk), but where I quit my job in April it has to be investigated by Service Canada first. I'm ultimately afraid that if I get the note from the doctor and bring it into Service Canada, it will disqualify me from getting CPP disability in the event that the condition worsens (or make the claim look worse then as if I applied to CPP right off the bat).

I'm wondering if I should apply for CPP disability or apply for regular EI first (which I may not get as Service Canada has to investigate that my reason for quitting in April was justified) and if I go back to work and can't handle it, then apply for CPP disability.

Pan Handling and Southgate Mall

As Christmas approaches, many opportunistic folks are setting up to pan handle either honestly or to garner sympathy for lies and greed. Please remember there is to be NO PAN HANDLING on Southgate Mall property. If you see anyone asking for money that is not a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, find a mall security guard IMMEDIATELY or contact guest services. They will handle the situation.

Please note: I am not affiliated with Southgate Mall staff, however, I am an employee within the mall. I saw a man with a "Homeless anything helps" sign and contacted security.

While yes, homeless people do need help, we have many resources that can help them. Pan handling is not often honest folks needing help. Many real struggling individuals are too ashamed to beg on a corner. Stay safe out there!