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The Uncle Tal Stories: Chapter Eleven
Inspired by: [WP] You're a time traveller originating from the year 2023, and from your travels you seem to continuously recognize one man, and that man seems to recognize you. You find out that man is actually immortal, and you now have someone to talk to in any time period.
Chapter Eleven: How It All Began
[Chapter One] [Chapter Ten] [Chapter Twelve] For my first jump outside my home decade, I chose a small town in the Midwest in the nineteen thirties. I made sure to engage the paradox dissipators, the chronon storage banks and the mental deflection field that ensured random strangers would remain incurious of my origins. The era was familiar to me, and I fitted the phenotype and gender least likely to draw unwelcome attention. When the jump-fog dissipated (to this day, I'm still not entirely sure what generated that) I found that I'd hit my target dead on; an alleyway between the blacksmith and livery stable. An aged dog looked up at me, voiced a half-hearted bark, then completed its mission of urinating against a wooden post. It then wandered off, which meant either that my deflection field also worked against canines or that it just couldn't give a damn. Avoiding the small puddle of dog piss, I ventured out into the street. The era wasn't quite two centuries gone by, and it had been easy enough to acquire period clothing. I looked normal and spoke the language fluently, having grown up with it. There was very little that was likely to happen to me in broad daylight. And nothing did. I meandered up the sidewalk, walking as if I knew where I was going. Outwardly I looked casual, but inside I was ecstatic at my success. The jump had been perfect, down to the date that I read from the front page of a newspaper posted on the front wall of a general store. This was the perfect time-jump, where I didn't cause any problems that might redline my paradox dissipators, and where nobody knew I didn't belong. "Wondered when I'd see you again." I have to admit, I was startled. I jumped, then turned to see an elderly man. He was shorter but broader than me, and the little hair he had left was greying. He was also wearing the uniform of a town constable, and an expression of suspicion. Which was a problem, because he was a total stranger to me. "I beg your pardon, but I think you might be mistaken." My phrasing was less important than my tone, and I surreptitiously checked my contact-lens HUD for the status of the deflection field. It was still operational, which meant he should be bidding me a vague hello then going on his way. “Nope.” He stepped closer to me, his expression hardening. “For the record, I’m not fond of time travellers. So, git.” The bottom dropped out of my world. I stared at him, but he didn’t seem to be making a move for the pistol holstered at his hip. Somehow I knew that he wasn’t guessing, which made for a second mystery. I’d been careful to show no anachronous items; no obvious electronics, no newspapers from the year two thousand sticking out of my pocket. He had no reason to accuse me of being what I truly was, and yet that was exactly what he’d just done. My go-home button was disguised as the winding knob of a pocket watch—and yes, the irony had not escaped me—so I stepped back away from him and pressed it with my thumb. The jump-field enfolded me, pulling me out of the era. The last thing I saw before the jump-fog formed was his expression; neither surprised nor shocked, but instead satisfied. I spent the next month trying to work out where I’d gone wrong, where I knew that man from. It was highly doubtful that he was an acquaintance from my home era; in the nineteen thirties, he’d looked in his fifties or sixties, which would make him over two hundred and fifty years old in my time. Neither was he a known time traveller; those people trained and registered for the use of chronal transport devices were (with very few exceptions) recorded on a searchable database. This was intended to keep awkward incidents to a minimum. And nobody even remotely similar to that man was on the database. After the month had passed, I decided to write it off as a retrochronal recognition event (or, as we in the trade called it, 'déjà who?'). The man I’d met was old, which meant that he might have encountered me at an earlier point in his personal timeline and a later point in mine. I couldn’t dwell on the likelihood, though. There were stories about travellers who had attempted to close the perceived loop and had bad things happen to them. I decided to let whatever happened, happen; in the meantime, I had decided my next jump was going to be to a place and time far removed from a small town in the nineteen thirties, or even the North American continent. My next destination was Europe; specifically Italy, in a time when the Renaissance was growing in strength and the conflict of the past few decades was dying down. Posing as a traveller with an appreciation for the arts, I jumped myself to Milan and spent another month locating my target. It wasn’t hard; at this point in his life, everyone knew the name Leonardo da Vinci. His workshop was airy and well-lit, with carefully-polished bronze mirrors angled to bring more illumination in where the skylights would fail. The half-completed paintings were exquisite and I could have stayed a year, but that was far too long. For an hour I lingered, speaking with the artist of painting and sculpture and a dozen other subjects while my audio and video recorders, cunningly concealed about my clothing, captured the conversation and the surroundings in high fidelity. I would have stayed longer, until evening, but when da Vinci excused himself to go and relieve himself, one of the servants approached me. Broad-shouldered and brutish, I had paid little attention to him as he had spent most of the time washing brushes and sweeping the other room. But now he pushed back his hood and I knew him. Barely a day of difference lay between this man of the fifteenth century, and the town constable from the early twentieth century. “I know what you’re doing,” he hissed in a local patois more pure than my own, rather than the lazy twang of the town I had seen him last. Then he switched to English. “Fuck off … time traveller.” In my shock, I did not register pressing the go-home button. The first I knew of it was when the jump-fog obscured my vision. Back home, I went through the time traveller index once more. He did not appear in it. Which had to be impossible, as he had been speaking a dialect of English which would not appear for another few centuries. And yet, far from recognizing me as one of his own, he seemed to bear a dislike for time travellers. The mystery seemed impenetrable. I did not travel for another two years, local time. Then, deciding that enough was enough, I renewed my license and checked my equipment over. Whatever was going on had to be a fluke of some sort. It seemed that I was right; for my next half-dozen jumps, I did not see the short, broad-shouldered man anywhere. And then one day, I spotted him in the middle of a Viking raid. He saw me, but before he could approach, I jumped out. Time and again, throughout history, I found myself watching for short, broad-shouldered men who looked too old and too knowledgeable for their time. And sometimes I found them. Or him. I didn’t know which it was. And then came the fateful day. I had determined to find out what was going on with this mysterious stranger. Why he knew me, and disliked me. No matter how far back I went, if I encountered him, he knew my face. So I went farther back again, and again, and again. The safety interlocks prevented me from pushing back too far and too fast, so I disabled them. They were merely a precaution, like airbags in a car. Sometimes, airbags can save your life. Once in a very long while, time travellers will encounter a rough patch in the timestream, usually due to too many travellers homing in on a particular era. This one was in the Middle East, around about two or three millennia from my home time. I wasn’t even paying attention to the historical (or religious) significance anymore; I just wanted to see if I could spot him. And I did; he was training a young man to use a sling. Then, he turned and spotted me. Anger in his eyes, he started toward me, so I proceeded to jump out … just as someone else jumped in. Our temporal fields meshed, then rejected each other. He was shot forward in time, though his safety interlocks no doubt saved him after he went a few centuries. Mine … didn’t. Exacerbated by the rough patch, I was hurtled into the far past. My paradox dissipators overloaded and shut down, and my chronon storage banks had to take over. I could feel them heating up as they went far beyond capacity. I popped back into standard three-dimensional space in a terrain I did not recognise. Nor should I have; the world was a very different place, eighty thousand years ago. A number of fur-clad figures, dark and brutish, were easing up behind a walking pile of hair that I belatedly identified as a mammoth. My arrival caused all of them to look around in some surprise, then my chronon banks auto-ejected … just before they exploded. The blast enveloped both myself and the nearest of the humanoid figures. I was knocked unconscious, as was he. When I came to, it was to the realization that my time-travel apparatus was dead and gone, and that there was a strange energy singing in my veins. The mammoth and the rest of the hunters had fled; there was just me and the one who had been caught in the blast. As I climbed painfully to my feet, he did the same. “I’m sorry,” I said, unsure as to why I was bothering. It wasn’t as though he would understand me. “That wasn’t supposed to happen. You see, I’m a time traveller.” Then he turned to face me fully, nostrils flared, sniffing the air. And that was when I recognized him. ***** So that was how I first met the impossible man. The explosion of the chronon storage units had imbued us with a measure of immortality, and so we lived forward from that time. I taught him English and math and engineering, and he taught me how to survive an Ice Age. We were never friends, but though he could have killed me in a dozen different ways, he chose not to. It was an uneasy truce that sometimes led to us joining forces and at other times parting ways with him swearing never to see me again. I wanted him to keep his head down. Although now I see that the deflection field has somehow imbued him with the ability to sidestep all but the most stringent of official scrutiny, at the time I didn’t want him sending history off its rails. And that worked, until it didn’t. Yet he hasn’t bent history out of true. His actions seem to be keeping it in line … or perhaps, he’s always been a part of history. Which means that I was always intended to embed him in it. Still and all, he’s never forgiven me, and I don’t think he ever will. He’s still around somewhere, spending his days in a nursing home that he owns the deeds to, maintaining trust funds for the families of people he’s met over the course of his long, long life. To me, he’s the eternal man, the last Neandertal. But they just call him ‘Uncle Tal'. [Chapter One] [Chapter Ten] [Chapter Twelve]
As is customary at the Hungaroring, traffic was an issue for the drivers, with almost all of them trying to run their hot laps in the same 20-minute window. Lando Norris, who received treatment for bruising in his chest and back during the week, held up Lewis Hamilton on a fast lap, but he was hardly along, as many others had issues with letting drivers on a fast laps through. As of this writing, no penalties were assessed, but grid drops are always a danger for the Hungarian GP. Mercedes continued to look impressive through FP3. Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton trading fastest laps, with Bottas topping the leaderboard at the conclusion of last practice, with Hamilton less than 0.1 behind. The car looks very fast and very stable, especially in Sector 3 — the W11 looks to be on rails this weekend. The same cannot be said for the Red Bulls. The team even broke the overnight curfew to work on the car, as they search for answers. Max Verstappen and Alex Albon fought the car almost everywhere, highlighted by yet another spin for Max, identical to his earlier spins in Austria and winter testing. The car appears to be very hard to handle coming out of slow corners, as the drivers repeatedly lose the rear as they roll back into the throttle. The Dutchman has been noticeably unhappy this weekend, complaining about understeer even after his roll bars and ride height were changed. Racing Point are looking poised to continue their strong start, even if their drivers ran the second-fewest laps for a team. Perez showed blistering pace on low fuel with a time of 1:15:598 midway through the session to finish as third best. Lance Stroll faced a few issues with controlling the back end of the car through the twisty turns of the Hungaroring, but still managed P5, behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. For the Ferrari outfit, they had a surprisingly stable hour of practice, with the two drivers finding their form and groove around a circuit with lower power demands. Vettel looked to use the high downforce setup to his advantage at the high-speed turns especially. Overall, Leclerc looked to get the car on the grip, especially with a late tailwind heading into the main straight. The car looks decently paced as the Ferrari power unit’s lack of power hurts performance less, especially with the new aero package for this week. Over at Williams, George Russell had a great practice, highlighted by a 1:16:847 lap on a low fuel qualifying simulation ending up P14. His pace on low fuel has been the talk of the town ever since his amazing run to qualify into Q2 at the Styrian GP, and he looks set to display that pace today. Smooth operations were going on at McLaren as Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris look stable through Friday and Saturday practice. Lando Norris finished P7 and Carlos Sainz, P11. The rest of the teams had fairly uneventful sessions, apart from Pierre Gasly reporting loss of power in his AlphaTauri.
The biggest winners today look to be the Ferraris. The car has shown some decent pace and stability in the cold conditions in FP3 and Vettel showed his trademark resilience in the wet yesterday. If the engineers and tacticians can give them the right strategies, Leclerc and Vettel could bounce back from a terrible visit to Austria. The biggest losers going into qualifying have to be Red Bull. After a disappointing first race, a better Styrian GP result, and their usual great pace in Hungary, it was expected that they would challenge Mercedes here. Ultimately, the team broke curfew, changed Verstappen’s roll bars, but both drivers still reported vibrations, understeer, in addition to their oversteer issue coming out of slow corners, and seem to be off the pace of the Mercedes-powered cars at the front. Taking a wild stab, George Russell will make it out of Q1 two weekends in a row, even if it is dry. His Williams looked good in the wet and has been looking solid in practice.
The competition was thick and fast in the high-speed track in the hills of Styria, but as we move to the valley near Budapest to tackle a twisty, technical racetrack, we can finally see a true test on how the 2020 cars machines manage double-digit turns (we all know you are compensating with your turn numbers, Austria).
Q1 - Go out at the right time
Everyone was thinking timing as Q1 approached, this section’s title being the most valuable tip for the first part of Qualifying. With a preposterous 90% chance of rain, teams bolted out of the pitlane to set at least one lap good enough for Q2 before an eventual rain ruined their day. Verstappen set one of the first timed laps, but did little to dispel the fear of Red Bull underperforming on low-speed circuits, which have traditionally been part of their strength. Max’s time was duly crushed by Hamilton, the Mercedes quickly re-establishing dominance over the field. Once enough laps were completed, Haas looked weak again, with their drivers being pushed into the bottom 5 right away. That dreaded “90% chance of rain” forecast seemed to come true as Gasly reported a few drops here and there, while the FOM cameras caught Vettel wiping his visor. There were scary rumours of the track starting to evolve towards a wet session, not dissimilar to last week’s Styrian showers during qualifying as well. This was going to be worrisome for some, most notably for Alexander Albon, whose complaints about Red Bull’s stability was broadcast for the world to hear. Other people looking in danger were the Alfa Romeos, both Haas cars, and Williams, with Russell’s Q2 hopes seemingly in danger. With a few minutes left to go, with rain most definitely imminent, Russell went out to attempt one last fast lap, before the track evolved into a river. And by golly, did the track did evolve. With the rain not falling, the track evolved into a permanently active Mario Kart booster panel. Russell’s “last gasp attempt” was good for third quickest. Yep, Williams was briefly third. It was a stunning lap, unquestionably, but all teams quickly realized the track was not going to be soaked, but rather it was going to be speedy. Everyone took to the track in the final minutes to take advantage of the newfound fast conditions. Times tumbled so much that even Sebastian Vettel was on the bubble at one point. Sure, the Ferraris were struggling overall (though not as much as Austria), but this just showed how fast track conditions were evolving. Things looked a bit iffy for Vettel, but he was able to maintain the pace in S3 and finished fourth. The losers of the track evolution game, though, seemed to be the usual suspects this year, with Haas and Alfa Romeo seeing all their cars out, with Daniil Kvyat being a rather ignominious inclusion to the Q1 dropouts in the AlphaTauri. Yes, that means what you are thinking, dear reader: BOTH Williams made into Q2 for the first time since the 2018 Italian GP. The renaissance seems to be real, for the delight of their fans (and for anyone that loves F1’s history). The winners, though, were not Mercedes. Hamilton and Bottas did go out in those final few minutes but took it very easy once they realized they were safe. The fastest in Q1, though, were their last year doppelgängers at Racing Point, with Perez carrying the hype of his fans (and nation) begging for his stay in F1 to the top of the time sheets.
Q2 - Stay Stable
The second qualifying stint started with the stewards noting an alleged incident between Sainz and Antonio Giovinazzi would be investigated after the session, the former being accused of blocking the Alfa Romeo driver (as of posting, no decision has been made, but both drivers were summoned to the Stewardsno further action on Sainz), as Russell was the first one out, seemingly eager to build on his incredible Q1 pace on an empty track. From there on out, it was a straight-forward session for most teams, the exception being the Red Bull family. Over at Mercedes, it was indeed a straight-forward affair. Both drivers took the track on Medium tires and both proceeded to obliterate last year’s lap record. It was a mighty display by the German team and it is hard to imagine that the team will not do the same tomorrow. McLaren and Racing Point also had quiet session, comfortably putting their cars in Q3, setting up an interesting battle with the Ferraris, who got through to Q3 for the first time this season. For the Red Bull teams, it was good news, followed by terrible ones. While Gasly took his AlphaTauri into the top ten, the man who replaced him at Red Bull, languished in 14th, 2 tenths away. Albon could only improve to P13 (at one point asking the team to not release him into traffic again, the Thai driver clearly unhappy with his day), knocked out in Q2 and likely putting a wrench into Red Bull’s plans for the race. His teammate was reporting understeer but did manage to join the Mercedes drivers as the only ones to get into the 14s. That momentum would quickly vanish later, so it appears that whatever is troubling their car is not an easy fix. All was not well over at the sister team either. Even if Gasly would ultimately reach Q3 (making his teammate’s Q1 exit even more ignoble), the French driver came into the pits reporting he was scared his engine would break, which ended his running for the day, while likely creating even more tension for the team going into the race. Williams still impressed, with Russell ending the session P12, beating Albon, Ricciardo, and his teammate, which hopefully will serve as part of Claire Williams’ early birthday present.
Q3 - Mercedes 1-2-3-4
We headed into the final rung of qualifying with McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, and Racing Point all with both cars in Q3, and Red Bull and AlphaTauri with one each, with Gasly not taking to the track due to his PU issues. The fight for first was clearly going to be a Mercedes internal battle, as the Black Arrows were head and shoulders above the rest. Ultimately, both drivers went into the 13s (the only ones to do so), with Hamilton prevailing with 1:13.447, which is now the lap record around the Hungaroring, with Bottas managing a 13.530. Again stamping their authority over the field, Hamilton has now matched Michael Schumacher’s record of seven poles in Hungary and reaching 90 pole positions for his career. With the team almost a second ahead of everyone else, the question looks to be who will win the WDC this season, Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas. As the Mercedes pair blitzed the track to go into the 73-second lap territory, Perez had his first attempt deleted for track limit liberties at Turn 4, while Stroll impressed with a 1:14.671 lap. Verstappen was heard asking dejectedly if that was it for them. Ultimately, the Red Bull could only muster P7, so it seems the answer was “Yes” to his question. With 5 minutes to go, the predicted rain threatened again, so teams scrambled to get out before a possible downpour. The Ferraris could not match Stroll’s pace, Vettel going 4th fastest, with his teammate 5th, but once Perez had a valid lap in, both were knocked back into P5 and 6 (from where they will start tomorrow). It is another impressive result by Racing Point, but even more so for Stroll. The oft- maligned driver has now beaten his teammate twice in a row, with his best qualifying result since Italy 2017 with Williams. The Renault protest still looms, but for now, it is clear that Racing Point will be a tough nut to crack for the other mid-field teams. McLaren was another team that could not contend with Racing Point this weekend. Although they have shown strong form so far this season, the same pace does not appear possible at the Hungaroring, with Norris and Sainz only managing 8th and 9th best above the stationary AlphaTauri of Gasly.
Looking back at our pre-qualifying predictions
Winner: Ferrari Ferrari certainly looked better today, but still far off Mercedes, who are the big winners yet again. Ferrari does look better than Red Bull this weekend, so there is progress, but Racing Point has gone even further, so there is still a lot of work to be done at the Scuderia. Loser: Red Bull Oh dear, oh dear, Red Bull. The prediction turned out to be correct. Albon out in Q2, Verstappen only managing P7. Both drivers were very annoyed at the team and the car. Their plan to be the main challenger to Mercedes seems all but impossible here, as they can barely contend with Racing Point and Ferrari. With Red Bull going backwards on a track they usually excel, Gasly facing engine issues, and Kvyat and Albon not anywhere near their usual or expected pace, heads must be scratching inside the Honda and Red Bull family. With a shortened season, it looks like they challenge to Mercedes is quickly fading. Wild Stab: George Russell to Q2 OH MY GOD!!!!!!! They actually pulled it off. Not only with George Russell but also Nicholas Latifi making it out of Q1. What an excellent performance for Williams. The race will be tough, obviously, but hopefully the team can (with or without the help of a spot of rain) score points on merit here.
[The Uncle Tal Stories] - Chapter Eleven (How It All Began)
Inspired by: [WP] You're a time traveller originating from the year 2023, and from your travels you seem to continuously recognize one man, and that man seems to recognize you. You find out that man is actually immortal, and you now have someone to talk to in any time period. [Chapter 1] [Chapter 10] [Chapter 12] For my first jump outside my home decade, I chose a small town in the Midwest in the nineteen thirties. I made sure to engage the paradox dissipators, the chronon storage banks and the mental deflection field that ensured random strangers would remain incurious of my origins. The era was familiar to me, and I fitted the phenotype and gender least likely to draw unwelcome attention. When the jump-fog dissipated (to this day, I'm still not entirely sure what generated that) I found that I'd hit my target dead on; an alleyway between the blacksmith and livery stable. An aged dog looked up at me, voiced a half-hearted bark, then completed its mission of urinating against a wooden post. It then wandered off, which meant either that my deflection field also worked against canines or that it just couldn't give a damn. Avoiding the small puddle of dog piss, I ventured out into the street. The era wasn't quite two centuries gone by, and it had been easy enough to acquire period clothing. I looked normal and spoke the language fluently, having grown up with it. There was very little that was likely to happen to me in broad daylight. And nothing did. I meandered up the sidewalk, walking as if I knew where I was going. Outwardly I looked casual, but inside I was ecstatic at my success. The jump had been perfect, down to the date that I read from the front page of a newspaper posted on the front wall of a general store. This was the perfect time-jump, where I didn't cause any problems that might redline my paradox dissipators, and where nobody knew I didn't belong. "Wondered when I'd see you again." I have to admit, I was startled. I jumped, then turned to see an elderly man. He was shorter but broader than me, and the little hair he had left was greying. He was also wearing the uniform of a town constable, and an expression of suspicion. Which was a problem, because he was a total stranger to me. "I beg your pardon, but I think you might be mistaken." My phrasing was less important than my tone, and I surreptitiously checked my contact-lens HUD for the status of the deflection field. It was still operational, which meant he should be bidding me a vague hello then going on his way. “Nope.” He stepped closer to me, his expression hardening. “For the record, I’m not fond of time travellers. So, git.” The bottom dropped out of my world. I stared at him, but he didn’t seem to be making a move for the pistol holstered at his hip. Somehow I knew that he wasn’t guessing, which made for a second mystery. I’d been careful to show no anachronous items; no obvious electronics, no newspapers from the year two thousand sticking out of my pocket. He had no reason to accuse me of being what I truly was, and yet that was exactly what he’d just done. My go-home button was disguised as the winding knob of a pocket watch—and yes, the irony had not escaped me—so I stepped back away from him and pressed it with my thumb. The jump-field enfolded me, pulling me out of the era. The last thing I saw before the jump-fog formed was his expression; neither surprised nor shocked, but instead satisfied. I spent the next month trying to work out where I’d gone wrong, where I knew that man from. It was highly doubtful that he was an acquaintance from my home era; in the nineteen thirties, he’d looked in his fifties or sixties, which would make him over two hundred and fifty years old in my time. Neither was he a known time traveller; those people trained and registered for the use of chronal transport devices were (with very few exceptions) recorded on a searchable database. This was intended to keep awkward incidents to a minimum. And nobody even remotely similar to that man was on the database. After the month had passed, I decided to write it off as a retrochronal recognition event (or, as we in the trade called it, 'déjà who?'). The man I’d met was old, which meant that he might have encountered me at an earlier point in his personal timeline and a later point in mine. I couldn’t dwell on the likelihood, though. There were stories about travellers who had attempted to close the perceived loop and had bad things happen to them. I decided to let whatever happened, happen; in the meantime, I had decided my next jump was going to be to a place and time far removed from a small town in the nineteen thirties, or even the North American continent. My next destination was Europe; specifically Italy, in a time when the Renaissance was growing in strength and the conflict of the past few decades was dying down. Posing as a traveller with an appreciation for the arts, I jumped myself to Milan and spent another month locating my target. It wasn’t hard; at this point in his life, everyone knew the name Leonardo da Vinci. His workshop was airy and well-lit, with carefully-polished bronze mirrors angled to bring more illumination in where the skylights would fail. The half-completed paintings were exquisite and I could have stayed a year, but that was far too long. For an hour I lingered, speaking with the artist of painting and sculpture and a dozen other subjects while my audio and video recorders, cunningly concealed about my clothing, captured the conversation and the surroundings in high fidelity. I would have stayed longer, until evening, but when da Vinci excused himself to go and relieve himself, one of the servants approached me. Broad-shouldered and brutish, I had paid little attention to him as he had spent most of the time washing brushes and sweeping the other room. But now he pushed back his hood and I knew him. Barely a day of difference lay between this man of the fifteenth century, and the town constable from the early twentieth century. “I know what you’re doing,” he hissed in a local patois more pure than my own, rather than the lazy twang of the town I had seen him last. Then he switched to English. “Fuck off … time traveller.” In my shock, I did not register pressing the go-home button. The first I knew of it was when the jump-fog obscured my vision. Back home, I went through the time traveller index once more. He did not appear in it. Which had to be impossible, as he had been speaking a dialect of English which would not appear for another few centuries. And yet, far from recognizing me as one of his own, he seemed to bear a dislike for time travellers. The mystery seemed impenetrable. I did not travel for another two years, local time. Then, deciding that enough was enough, I renewed my license and checked my equipment over. Whatever was going on had to be a fluke of some sort. It seemed that I was right; for my next half-dozen jumps, I did not see the short, broad-shouldered man anywhere. And then one day, I spotted him in the middle of a Viking raid. He saw me, but before he could approach, I jumped out. Time and again, throughout history, I found myself watching for short, broad-shouldered men who looked too old and too knowledgeable for their time. And sometimes I found them. Or him. I didn’t know which it was. And then came the fateful day. I had determined to find out what was going on with this mysterious stranger. Why he knew me, and disliked me. No matter how far back I went, if I encountered him, he knew my face. So I went farther back again, and again, and again. The safety interlocks prevented me from pushing back too far and too fast, so I disabled them. They were merely a precaution, like airbags in a car. Sometimes, airbags can save your life. Once in a very long while, time travellers will encounter a rough patch in the timestream, usually due to too many travellers homing in on a particular era. This one was in the Middle East, around about two or three millennia from my home time. I wasn’t even paying attention to the historical (or religious) significance anymore; I just wanted to see if I could spot him. And I did; he was training a young man to use a sling. Then, he turned and spotted me. Anger in his eyes, he started toward me, so I proceeded to jump out … just as someone else jumped in. Our temporal fields meshed, then rejected each other. He was shot forward in time, though his safety interlocks no doubt saved him after he went a few centuries. Mine … didn’t. Exacerbated by the rough patch, I was hurtled into the far past. My paradox dissipators overloaded and shut down, and my chronon storage banks had to take over. I could feel them heating up as they went far beyond capacity. I popped back into standard three-dimensional space in a terrain I did not recognise. Nor should I have; the world was a very different place, eighty thousand years ago. A number of fur-clad figures, dark and brutish, were easing up behind a walking pile of hair that I belatedly identified as a mammoth. My arrival caused all of them to look around in some surprise, then my chronon banks auto-ejected … just before they exploded. The blast enveloped both myself and the nearest of the humanoid figures. I was knocked unconscious, as was he. When I came to, it was to the realization that my time-travel apparatus was dead and gone, and that there was a strange energy singing in my veins. The mammoth and the rest of the hunters had fled; there was just me and the one who had been caught in the blast. As I climbed painfully to my feet, he did the same. “I’m sorry,” I said, unsure as to why I was bothering. It wasn’t as though he would understand me. “That wasn’t supposed to happen. You see, I’m a time traveller.” Then he turned to face me fully, nostrils flared, sniffing the air. And that was when I recognized him. ***** So that was how I first met the impossible man. The explosion of the chronon storage units had imbued us with a measure of immortality, and so we lived forward from that time. I taught him English and math and engineering, and he taught me how to survive an Ice Age. We were never friends, but though he could have killed me in a dozen different ways, he chose not to. It was an uneasy truce that sometimes led to us joining forces and at other times parting ways with him swearing never to see me again. I wanted him to keep his head down. Although now I see that the deflection field has somehow imbued him with the ability to sidestep all but the most stringent of official scrutiny, at the time I didn’t want him sending history off its rails. And that worked, until it didn’t. Yet he hasn’t bent history out of true. His actions seem to be keeping it in line … or perhaps, he’s always been a part of history. Which means that I was always intended to embed him in it. Still and all, he’s never forgiven me, and I don’t think he ever will. He’s still around somewhere, spending his days in a nursing home that he owns the deeds to, maintaining trust funds for the families of people he’s met over the course of his long, long life. To me, he’s the eternal man, the last Neandertal. But they just call him ‘Uncle Tal'. [Chapter 1] [Chapter 10] [Chapter 12]
Long-time lurker here. I realized this morning that I needed to put together my current understanding of collapse (and the maps/data I've collected) in order to have a baseline for new discoveries. And since things are moving faster than expected, these discoveries are all too frequent. Please note, a lot of these maps were saved down without realizing that they didn't adequately explain the legend or display the source. I have tried to source things with maps where indicated, but a lot of this stuff is conventional at this stage, so please take this more as a mile-high overview than a data dump. If this helps anyone else, I'm glad. Please correct me where I've misrepresented something! Near Timeline
2020 - World is currently locked into 1.5 to 1.8-degree Celsius warming over baseline in mid-1700s. Arctic, Siberia, etc. are already experiencing 20-30 degree fluctuations above baseline in winter (northern climate is more susceptible to warming). Map: March 2020 Fluctuations vs. 1890-1910 Baseline
2020, 2021 - Northern India to continue suffering severe water shortages. Himalayan glacier melt will exacerbate this in future, denying water downstream to millions.
Early 2020s - Jet stream continues to weaken in northern hemisphere as Hadley cells deteriorate. Extreme weather systems (drought or storms) tend to stick around longer and cause greater damage. "One in 100 year" storms, heat waves, etc. become routine. Map: Rossby Wave 5 & 7 Sticking Points: Five, Seven
Early 2020s - Forest fires in the north, and in drought-susceptible areas (California and others) accelerate. Forest burn-off introduces more carbon into the atmosphere and denies the world of one more heat sink. Map: Forest Fire Potential in the US
Early 2020s - Economic automation continues. Efforts to re-shore manufacturing to the US/out of China doesn't revive jobs, as companies revive manufacturing with as much robotic automation as possible. Increasing poovanishing middle class cause social instability. The trades, and other historically "safe" (if not physically demanding and stigmatized) jobs, including historically safe white-collar jobs like tax preparation or accounting, are subject to torrential increases in applicants and jobseekers, allowing downward pressure on wages and squeezing of productivity. Automation of logistics pushes a million or more drivers out of the job market.
Early 2020s - State and federal governments across the world are burdened with near-bankruptcy by economic damage of COVID-19. States discontinue programs and do whatever else to avoid bankruptcy from paying out unemployment insurance to millions. Welfare state is significantly threatened.
2025 - Blue ocean event likely under aggressive positive feedback loops. Melt of Arctic ice cap will allow sunlight to very rapidly warm arctic. This will further destroy conventional weather patterns and possibly kickstart the northern hemisphere returning to a single cell, equitable climate system. Jet stream completely shatters. Global warming increases rapidly.
Late 2020s - Agriculture more and more impacted by extreme weather events and increasing temperatures, leading to instability all over the the third world and food insecurity in the first world.
Late 2020s - With or without blue ocean event, warming will continue to aggressively thaw permafrost in Siberia and northern Canada, leading to clathrate methane release that drastically increases warming. This is already happening on the Arctic sea bed.
Late 2020s - Dangerous heat days/days above 100 degrees Fahrenheit continue rising on average across the northern hemisphere, lowering agricultural productivity or outright killing crops before abating. The jet stream's dissolution likewise allows for very early anomalous blooms and very late freezes (observed in Germany this year), as well as sustained rain/floods during planting season (as observed in the midwest US in 2019), making conventional agriculture significantly harder and denying certain growing seasons entirely. Map: Increase in Dangerous Heat Days - Another Example
Late 2020s - Economic impact of the preceding (plus the bullet points in the next section) result in many more millions descending back into poverty. Political debate is stymied between calls for UBI concomitant with the lowest funds available for such things/the welfare state ever.
2030 - Blue ocean event over 50% likely. Warming to continue accelerating as arctic ice cap is lost. Weak re-freezes in winter are expected to eventually give way to year-round blue ocean. Wet bulb events begin occurring with some regularity in tropical climates, but those affected are too poor to relocate. Map - Wet Bulb Occurrences 2019 (conditions already happening near equator in some places!)
Far Timeline/Downstream Effects, as well as harder-to-predict milestones:
2020s-On - Scramble for remaining resources continues ("Turbocapitalism") as poverty and desperation erode environmental protections. The current decimation of the Amazon rain forest is a good example of this—there is no incentive for the poor workers actually doing the logging not to do it, even though it's catastrophic for the world. Environmental regulations will continue to be relaxed, including those around restricting mining and other forms of resource extraction. Consistent encroachment on wild lands raises chance of new viral strains to be introduced to humans, similar to COVID-19. Note, this also allows for more pollution/carbon emissions in sensitive areas (Arctic opens up for drilling, Northwest Passage is used more and more for shipping, etc.), exacerbating local environmental damage.
2020s-On - Sea level rise steadily occurs. By 2030-2040, coastal cities will be in full damage control, with some areas worse than others. New Orleans/Miami will probably be substantially abandoned in 2030s. This is not because of apocalyptic "Waterworld" type rise—all it takes is for sufficient rise to disrupt sewage systems and cause regular flooding with storms.
2020s-On - Oceans continue acidifying, causing downstream shocks through the food chain.
2020s-On - "Billion-dollar disasters" rise in number and frequency, taxing governments even further. Certain areas become uninsurable in the US—places near the Gulf of Mexico or the coasts of the Carolinas (hurricanes); others are battered to hell by extreme weather ("bomb cyclones" and severe arctic storms in the northeastern US). Meaningful economic recovery is less and less feasible each time. Chart: Billion-dollar Disasters
2030s-2040s - Expected instability across third world along points of: 1) as seen in Arab Spring/Syria, food insecurity/failed harvests or monsoons are super-effective catalysts of unrest; 2) third world areas are going to be worst-hit by climate change as they are concentrated around the tropics and rely most on seasonal rain cycles without deep industrial agriculture infrastructure; 3) governments in these areas are usually the least effectual or stable. Resources wars over water and other essentials are forecasted.
2030s-2040s - Populations who still live in tropical or sub-tropical climates stress energy demand even further by greater reliance on air conditioning. This is already being seen in California, where the possibility of people staying at home during summer 2020 due to COVID-19 has most of the electrical utilities in the state worried that the grid will suffer failures from the uptick in daytime energy demand. Imagine this year-round by millions of people clinging on the areas worst-hit by warming! Map: Change in Energy Requirements, US
2030s-2040s - Further instability arises from capital cities and critical population centers becoming more and more inundated by sea-level rise. Shanghai and most of the Chinese coast, Jakarta (Indonesia's already relocated its capital because of this), New York City, Mumbai, Boston, London—the task of government becomes incredibly harder. Site: Sea Level Rise Interactive Map
2050s-2060s - Nitrogen fertilizer-based monoculture runs out of fertilizer supply, based on some estimates ("peak phosphorous"). The Ogallala aquifer in the US continues steadily depleting, making irrigation harder and harder. The dry-wet median continues migrating east in the US, requiring more and more resources to effect successful agriculture in the plains. Droughts become more commonplace, and heat waves more sustained. Map: Projected Precipitation Change by Season 2071-2099 - Map: - Wet/Dry Median Change - Map: NASA Drought Projections
2030s-2060s - Peak resources for several rare earth metals and conventional metals at current rates of consumption ("peak minerals", including copper)
2070s-2080s - 5 degrees Celsius warming surpassed, and all the bad juju that comes with it under RCP 8.5 (which is looking more and more conservative, these days).
"Hopium" Problems with conventional solutions for clean power generation or mitigation:
Tight oil - If the price of oil were profitable to continue extracting tight oil, existing "fields" would last about 10 years. Note that there are no anticipated future major discoveries of conventional oil fields. Discoveries have been on the decline since peaking in the 1960s.
Renewable energy - Michael Moore's catching a lot of flack for his latest movie, but he's right—renewables are 1) extremely fossil-fuel intensive to produce, as they require advanced manufacturing processes and severe mining of rare earth metals; 2) not sustainable, because rare earth metals are not an inexhaustible resource and plant degrades—Solar panels slowly lose efficiency over time before going kaput in 20-30 years, while windmills need a lot of maintenance; 3) they do not currently scale enough to work on long time horizons for humanity's demand. Geothermal—need to do more research on this, but hard to imagine it scaling.
Lithium-ion batteries and capacitors - If all cars were converted to run off lithium batteries, stocks would be exhausted in a bit over 40 years. Imagine if the study had encompassed home or major industrial use as well, on the scale that Tesla envisions with its home battery system.
Nuclear fusion - Perpetually 15 years off, for the last 60 years. Does not appear to be operable.
Vertical farming - Cannot be meaningfully scaled up to provide levels of food required for civilization, and requires electrical consumption/other non-renewable inputs.
Carbon capture - Hopeless fantasy.
Aerosol pumped into atmosphere to reduce warming - Works until you turn it off; could be unforeseen side effects with sulfates, and machines necessary to accomplish it consume electricity and are responsible for their own emissions, adding to the overall burden that will someday come due.
Nuclear winter to reduce warming - Drastically impacts agricultural production; would take cohesive, functional central government to avoid mass famine. But it would "work". Was demonstrated to work by Krakatoa eruption and other major volcanic events which reduced global temperatures a couple degrees.
To date, nuclear power generation is the best option. However, stocks of conventional nuclear fuel would only last 10-15 years if the world went completely nuclear. Russia and China continue to experiment with breeder reactors and thorium salt reactors. Breeder reactors would unlock usage of several more years' worth of fuel, at least. Thorium salt hasn't been successfully placed into operation, yet, to my knowledge. There is also exploration into seawater capture of uranium, as the ocean contains enough uranium to make nuclear power indefinitely sustainable (whether this is possible, or not, who knows). Intersecting Chart This chart's always helped me kind of understand exactly why positive feedback loops are making everything happen faster than expected: Link
Bitcoin, future colonne vertébrale d’une révolution monétaire – Le protocole RGB, une renaissance ?
L’histoire des fameux jetons cryptographiques est une vraie montagne russe depuis que leur concept a été énoncé pour la première fois, quelque années seulement après l’invention du Bitcoin. Aujourd’hui, nous allons rapidement explorer ensemble le passé de la folie de l’émission de tokens sur Bitcoin, puis nous intéresser à son futur possible. C’est parti !
La genèse de jetons cryptographiques, les “Colored Coins”
Dès 2012, nombreux ont été les curieux à vouloir exploiter les propriétés de la blockchain du Bitcoin au-delà du simple pouvoir du transfert de la pièce native du protocole. Grâce à la structure des UTXO’s (Unspent Transaction Outputs) du Bitcoin, il est possible de distinguer des pièces individuelles en les marquants avec de l’information additionnelle. https://preview.redd.it/zryam6n2wzp51.png?width=600&format=png&auto=webp&s=ae081f769e903d86ab5777c6f5196360a3572b70 Exemple d’émission de pièces colorées (Colored coins) sur Bitcoin Le procédé en question se nomme “Colored Coins”, simplement car les données supplémentaires qui sont rajoutées dans une transaction pour marquer un UTXO Bitcoin particulier suivent le standard RGB (“Red, Green, Blue”). Ce standard est utilisé pour définir une couleur en chiffre. Ce concept se heurta cependant à de nombreux problèmes de scalabilité et de programmabilité rapidement, bien qu’il fût prometteur au niveau de son ingéniosité permettant de se reposer sur une base protocolaire déjà établie et aussi sécuritaire qu’est celle du Bitcoin. S’en suivit la création de nombreuses plateformes, telle que l’Ethereum, explicitement conçues pour une création facile de jetons cryptographiques.
Les fonctionnalités recherchées des jetons cryptographiques
De nombreuses raisons expliquent l’excitation et l’empressement des développeurs et investisseurs confondus au sujet des jetons cryptographiques. La possibilité de procéder à des levées de fonds en cryptomonnaies ad-hoc, d’émettre des jetons adossés à des monnaies fiduciaires (stablecoins) ou encore des jetons non-fongibles représentants des biens purement numériques ne cesse de pousser notre imagination. De nombreuses raisons expliquent l’excitation et l’empressement des développeurs et investisseurs confondus au sujet des jetons cryptographiques. La possibilité de procéder à des levées de fonds en cryptomonnaies ad-hoc, d’émettre des jetons adossés à des monnaies fiduciaires (stablecoins) ou encore des jetons non-fongibles représentants des biens purement numériques ne cesse de pousser notre imagination.
RGB, un retour aux sources
Bien qu’une majorité des efforts déployés pour la création d’une plateforme parfaite servant à l’émission de jetons se concentrent sur des réseaux hors Bitcoin, certains n’ont pas oublié l’ambition de réaliser celle-ci sur la première et principale crypto-monnaie. Le protocole RGB est une de ces initiatives et un projet lancé et maintenu par des vétérans de l’industrie. Initialement conceptualisé par Giacomo Zucco et Peter Todd, RGB a avancé à grand pas une fois que la maintenance du projet a été entreprise par le Dr. Maxim Orlovsky et Pandora Core AG à la mi-2019. https://preview.redd.it/6dod5ad4wzp51.png?width=324&format=png&auto=webp&s=6777c9838b79e3f75cf6f7233135f371ad2c939e Le projet est maintenu selon une liste de standards publiée par l’association BP/LNP, qui rassemble un ensemble de propositions et de librairies de développement pour tous les projets ne touchant pas directement la première et deuxième couche du Bitcoin. RGB est supporté également sous forme de financement par des firmes telles que Tether, Bitfinex et Bitrefill.
Le fonctionnement de RGB
Le protocole RGB se définie comme une troisième couche du Bitcoin, car elle utilise non seulement la première couche, mais peut également utiliser le Lightning Network pour son fonctionnement. En tant que plateforme de contrats intelligents, le protocole RGB se distingue fortement de tous les projets antérieurs basés sur le Bitcoin et des plateformes hors Bitcoin. Le protocole RGB se vante de pouvoir régler les problèmes suivants : · L’inévitable goulot au niveau de la scalabilité d’une structure de donnée Blockchain qui rend difficile l’utilisation de jetons numériques à grande échelle. · La confidentialité en défaut de la plupart des plateformes blockchains puisque l’ensemble des transactions et bien numériques conçus par-dessus celles-ci sont sujets à de l’analyse et surveillance. · L’inefficience des contrats intelligents actuels, souvent dûe à des langages de programmation non-audités et à des problèmes de gouvernance des plateformes. Pour ce faire, la création de jetons sur le protocole RGB se déroule selon une méthode particulière. Premièrement, l’ensemble de la logique de contrat intelligent et de la création de jetons se fait hors de la première couche au travers de schémas inhérents au langage Simplicity. Ce langage permet la création de contrats complexes sécuritaires. Il faut voir cette étape comme la création des règles que les jetons devront suivre par la suite. Tout récemment, la compagnie Blockstream a fait mention de ces avancements et a lancé le code source de Simplicity, qui sera bientôt disponible sur la plateforme Liquid, qui est une sidechain du Bitcoin. Pour illustrer l’unicité d’un jeton digital particulier ainsi que sa possession, le protocole RGB fait usage de sceau cryptographique à usage unique (Single Use Seal), représentant l’état d’un contrat intelligent, qui est ensuite inséré dans un UTXO Bitcoin particulier. Les UTXO’s sont les monnaies distinctes sur le réseau Bitcoin et sont uniques, donc en liant un jeton ou un ensemble de jetons à un UTXO, on le rend clairement unique. Par contre, tous traitements de l’état d’un contrat intelligent ou changement de possession d’un jeton se fait au niveau local par le détenteur des jetons ou du contrat intelligent en question. Le détenteur peut procéder à des changements de l’état du contrat intelligent au travers d’un état de transition et en dépensant l’UTXO contenant le sceau à usage unique. Lorsque le prochain utilisateur reçoit les jetons, il doit valider le DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph) où sont marquées toutes les données de changement d’état du contrat et de changement de possession du jeton, en regardant s’il correspond bien aux règles définis par le contrat intelligent en Simplicity, aussi appelé Schéma. https://preview.redd.it/bcvv9mn6wzp51.png?width=292&format=png&auto=webp&s=236984631d6d0880f5aba577a75579227a888b47 Un exemple de graphe orienté acyclique, ou DAG (Wikipédia). Il n’existe donc pas de blockchain dans RGB, seulement des nœuds qui permettent aux usagers de valider que les règles locales du jeton ou du contrat intelligent ont été respectées. Chaque transaction est alors un nœud (sommet) du graphe. L’avantage, par rapport à la structure en arbre des blockchains, est qu’il est beaucoup plus rapide de parcourir et de traiter les données. Le problème des plus courts chemins – trouver le chemin le plus court entre deux sommets – est ainsi résolu de façon linéaire. Il existe évidemment les concepts de clés privées et de Script (le langage du réseau Bitcoin) pour prouver l’authenticité de la possession des actifs cryptographiques en question. Finalement, RGB peut se jumeler au réseau Lightning grâce au protocole Spectrum de Pandora Core AG, afin de permettre une coordination par multiples parties sur le changement d’état et de possession sur des jetons ou des contrats intelligents RGB. Cela permettra aux usagers de créer des plateformes d’échanges décentralisées (DEX) par-dessus Lightning avec des jetons RGB !
L’internet ne s’est pas construit en une année, il a fallu plusieurs décennies pour compléter les plusieurs couches qui font maintenant partie du protocole TCP/IP. Certains sont prêt à faire le pari que le modèle de l’internet par couche se reproduira également sur le Bitcoin. L’équipe du protocole RBG sont déjà en train de construire la troisième couche alors que le Lightning Network, n’est pas encore finie.La plateforme de choix pour la création de bien numérique n’est pas encore garantie. Dans bien des cas, il y a plusieurs questions scientifiques auxquelles il faudra encore répondre. Mais en observant ce renouveau à retourner sur Bitcoin pour la création de bien numériques, c’est à se questionner si la réponse ne se trouvait pas droit devant nos yeux… depuis le tout début ! Source : https://journalducoin.com/analyses-dossiers/bitcoin-future-colonne-vertebrale-revolution-monetaire-protocole-rgb-renaissance/?fbclid=IwAR2Dba4mEYMlKZCAD4LckaiSwAuJOlKyb8U4dA8xShrJeXzijB-x3HuG2Vg
Hi All! Here is a list of stuff I have that I do not want! DM for what you would like:). Mixed of free items and items I’d like to trade or require payment in the form of mush diys, bells, NMTs, or pink gum ball machines! Free Items •Modern Office Chair-Blue •Wheelchair-Blue •Vintage TV Tray-Green •Ironwood Kitchenette-Natural •Plain Upright Locker-Silver •Plain Upright Locker-White •Plain Upright Locker-Red •Alto Saxophone-Gold •Upright Vacuum-Silver •Fan-Black •Utility Sink •Standing Toilet •Fireplace-Light Brown •Cat Tower-Light beige •Mrs. Flamingo-Dark Pink •Mrs Flamingo-Light Pink •Mountain Bike-Green •Electric Kick Scooter-Green •Analog Kitchen Scale-Red •Loom-Red •Plain Low Screen-Dark Brown •Handy Water Cooler-Red •Sewing Project-Yellow •Stovetop Espresso Maker-Red •Portable Record Player-Yellow •Metronome-Blue •Electronics Kit •Silver HHA Trophy •Floor sign With Car Emblem-Yellow •Wall mounted Tool Board-Blue •Pot Rack-Yellow •Camo Tee-Green •Athletic Jacket-Blue •After School Jacket-Blue with Purple •Cafe Uniform-Green •Flashy Cardigan-has pink, red, mint, and black colors on the one cardigan. •Guayabera Shirt-Red •Kids Smock-Tulip •Hip-Wrap Shirt-Green •Mountain Parka-Blue •Nylon Jacket-Red •Track Jacket-Orange •Striped Tank-Orange •Simple Parka-Green •Simple Dora Tee-Yellow •Career Skirt-Light Blue •Colorful Skirt-Blue •Long Plaid Skirt-Green •Long Sailor Skirt-Purple •Football Pants-Green •Worn-Out Jeans-Whitish Gray •Worn-Out Jeans-Black •Cheerleading Uniform-Red •Chic Tuxedo Dress-Red •Coveralls with Arm Covers-Purple •Jumper Worksuit- Red x2 •Sleeveless Shirtdress-Blue •Ribbon-Blue •Visual Punk Wig •Hand Knit Socks-Green •Vinyl Round Tors Pumps-Brown Items Requiring a Payment or Trade •DAL Umbrella •Knight’s Helmet •DAL Cap •Cavalier Hat •Faux-Fur Hat-Yellow •Renaissance Dress-Light Blue •Rattan Wardrobe-Dark Brown •Rattan Armchair x3-Dark Brown •Elephant Slide-Red •Espresso Maker-Yellow •Pants Press-Gray and mahogany color •Automatic Washer-Black •Cotton Candy Stall-Black •Popcorn Machine-Black •Popcorn Machine-Red
A new whitepaper analysing the performance and scalability of the Streamr pub/sub messaging Network is now available. Take a look at some of the fascinating key results in this introductory blog
Streamr Network: Performance and Scalability Whitepaper
https://preview.redd.it/bstqyn43x4j51.png?width=2600&format=png&auto=webp&s=81683ca6303ab84ab898c096345464111d674ee5 The Corea milestone of the Streamr Network went live in late 2019. Since then a few people in the team have been working on an academic whitepaper to describe its design principles, position it with respect to prior art, and prove certain properties it has. The paper is now ready, and it has been submitted to the IEEE Access journal for peer review. It is also now published on the new Papers section on the project website. In this blog, I’ll introduce the paper and explain its key results. All the figures presented in this post are from the paper. The reasons for doing this research and writing this paper were simple: many prospective users of the Network, especially more serious ones such as enterprises, ask questions like ‘how does it scale?’, ‘why does it scale?’, ‘what is the latency in the network?’, and ‘how much bandwidth is consumed?’. While some answers could be provided before, the Network in its currently deployed form is still small-scale and can’t really show a track record of scalability for example, so there was clearly a need to produce some in-depth material about the structure of the Network and its performance at large, global scale. The paper answers these questions. Another reason is that decentralized peer-to-peer networks have experienced a new renaissance due to the rise in blockchain networks. Peer-to-peer pub/sub networks were a hot research topic in the early 2000s, but not many real-world implementations were ever created. Today, most blockchain networks use methods from that era under the hood to disseminate block headers, transactions, and other events important for them to function. Other megatrends like IoT and social media are also creating demand for new kinds of scalable message transport layers.
The latency vs. bandwidth tradeoff
The current Streamr Network uses regular random graphs as stream topologies. ‘Regular’ here means that nodes connect to a fixed number of other nodes that publish or subscribe to the same stream, and ‘random’ means that those nodes are selected randomly. Random connections can of course mean that absurd routes get formed occasionally, for example a data point might travel from Germany to France via the US. But random graphs have been studied extensively in the academic literature, and their properties are not nearly as bad as the above example sounds — such graphs are actually quite good! Data always takes multiple routes in the network, and only the fastest route counts. The less-than-optimal routes are there for redundancy, and redundancy is good, because it improves security and churn tolerance. There is an important parameter called node degree, which is the fixed number of nodes to which each node in a topology connects. A higher node degree means more duplication and thus more bandwidth consumption for each node, but it also means that fast routes are more likely to form. It’s a tradeoff; better latency can be traded for worse bandwidth consumption. In the following section, we’ll go deeper into analyzing this relationship.
Network diameter scales logarithmically
One useful metric to estimate the behavior of latency is the network diameter, which is the number of hops on the shortest path between the most distant pair of nodes in the network (i.e. the “longest shortest path”. The below plot shows how the network diameter behaves depending on node degree and number of nodes. Network diameter We can see that the network diameter increases logarithmically (very slowly), and a higher node degree ‘flattens the curve’. This is a property of random regular graphs, and this is very good — growing from 10,000 nodes to 100,000 nodes only increases the diameter by a few hops! To analyse the effect of the node degree further, we can plot the maximum network diameter using various node degrees: Network diameter in network of 100 000 nodes We can see that there are diminishing returns for increasing the node degree. On the other hand, the penalty (number of duplicates, i.e. bandwidth consumption), increases linearly with node degree: Number of duplicates received by the non-publisher nodes In the Streamr Network, each stream forms its own separate overlay network and can even have a custom node degree. This allows the owner of the stream to configure their preferred latency/bandwidth balance (imagine such a slider control in the Streamr Core UI). However, finding a good default value is important. From this analysis, we can conclude that:
The logarithmic behavior of network diameter leads us to hope that latency might behave logarithmically too, but since the number of hops is not the same as latency (in milliseconds), the scalability needs to be confirmed in the real world (see next section).
A node degree of 4 yields good latency/bandwidth balance, and we have selected this as the default value in the Streamr Network. This value is also used in all the real-world experiments described in the next section.
It’s worth noting that in such a network, the bandwidth requirement for publishers is determined by the node degree and not the number of subscribers. With a node degree 4 and a million subscribers, the publisher only uploads 4 copies of a data point, and the million subscribing nodes share the work of distributing the message among themselves. In contrast, a centralized data broker would need to push out a million copies.
Latency scales logarithmically
To see if actual latency scales logarithmically in real-world conditions, we ran large numbers of nodes in 16 different Amazon AWS data centers around the world. We ran experiments with network sizes between 32 to 2048 nodes. Each node published messages to the network, and we measured how long it took for the other nodes to get the message. The experiment was repeated 10 times for each network size. The below image displays one of the key results of the paper. It shows a CDF (cumulative distribution function) of the measured latencies across all experiments. The y-axis runs from 0 to 1, i.e. 0% to 100%. CDF of message propagation delay From this graph we can easily read things like: in a 32 nodes network (blue line), 50% of message deliveries happened within 150 ms globally, and all messages were delivered in around 250 ms. In the largest network of 2048 nodes (pink line), 99% of deliveries happened within 362 ms globally. To put these results in context, PubNub, a centralized message brokering service, promises to deliver messages within 250 ms — and that’s a centralized service! Decentralization comes with unquestionable benefits (no vendor lock-in, no trust required, network effects, etc.), but if such protocols are inferior in terms of performance or cost, they won’t get adopted. It’s pretty safe to say that the Streamr Network is on par with centralized services even when it comes to latency, which is usually the Achilles’ heel of P2P networks (think of how slow blockchains are!). And the Network will only get better with time. Then we tackled the big question: does the latency behave logarithmically? Mean message propagation delay in Amazon experiments Above, the thick line is the average latency for each network size. From the graph, we can see that the latency grows logarithmically as the network size increases, which means excellent scalability. The shaded area shows the difference between the best and worst average latencies in each repeat. Here we can see the element of chance at play; due to the randomness in which nodes become neighbours, some topologies are faster than others. Given enough repeats, some near-optimal topologies can be found. The difference between average topologies and the best topologies gives us a glimpse of how much room for optimisation there is, i.e. with a smarter-than-random topology construction, how much improvement is possible (while still staying in the realm of regular graphs)? Out of the observed topologies, the difference between the average and the best observed topology is between 5–13%, so not that much. Other subclasses of graphs, such as irregular graphs, trees, and so on, can of course unlock more room for improvement, but they are different beasts and come with their own disadvantages too. It’s also worth asking: how much worse is the measured latency compared to the fastest possible latency, i.e. that of a direct connection? While having direct connections between a publisher and subscribers is definitely not scalable, secure, or often even feasible due to firewalls, NATs and such, it’s still worth asking what the latency penalty of peer-to-peer is. Relative delay penalty in Amazon experiments As you can see, this plot has the same shape as the previous one, but the y-axis is different. Here, we are showing the relative delay penalty (RDP). It’s the latency in the peer-to-peer network (shown in the previous plot), divided by the latency of a direct connection measured with the ping tool. So a direct connection equals an RDP value of 1, and the measured RDP in the peer-to-peer network is roughly between 2 and 3 in the observed topologies. It increases logarithmically with network size, just like absolute latency. Again, given that latency is the Achilles’ heel of decentralized systems, that’s not bad at all. It shows that such a network delivers acceptable performance for the vast majority of use cases, only excluding the most latency-sensitive ones, such as online gaming or arbitrage trading. For most other use cases, it doesn’t matter whether it takes 25 or 75 milliseconds to deliver a data point.
Latency is predictable
It’s useful for a messaging system to have consistent and predictable latency. Imagine for example a smart traffic system, where cars can alert each other about dangers on the road. It would be pretty bad if, even minutes after publishing it, some cars still haven’t received the warning. However, such delays easily occur in peer-to-peer networks. Everyone in the crypto space has seen first-hand how plenty of Bitcoin or Ethereum nodes lag even minutes behind the latest chain state. So we wanted to see whether it would be possible to estimate the latencies in the peer-to-peer network if the topology and the latencies between connected pairs of nodes are known. We applied Dijkstra’s algorithm to compute estimates for average latencies from the input topology data, and compared the estimates to the actual measured average latencies: Mean message propagation delay in Amazon experiments We can see that, at least in these experiments, the estimates seemed to provide a lower bound for the actual values, and the average estimation error was 3.5%. The measured value is higher than the estimated one because the estimation only considers network delays, while in reality there is also a little bit of a processing delay at each node.
The research has shown that the Streamr Network can be expected to deliver messages in roughly 150–350 milliseconds worldwide, even at a large scale with thousands of nodes subscribing to a stream. This is on par with centralized message brokers today, showing that the decentralized and peer-to-peer approach is a viable alternative for all but the most latency-sensitive applications. It’s thrilling to think that by accepting a latency only 2–3 times longer than the latency of an unscalable and insecure direct connecion, applications can interconnect over an open fabric with global scalability, no single point of failure, no vendor lock-in, and no need to trust anyone — all that becomes available out of the box. In the real-time data space, there are plenty of other aspects to explore, which we didn’t cover in this paper. For example, we did not measure throughput characteristics of network topologies. Different streams are independent, so clearly there’s scalability in the number of streams, and heavy streams can be partitioned, allowing each stream to scale too. Throughput is mainly limited, therefore, by the hardware and network connection used by the network nodes involved in a topology. Measuring the maximum throughput would basically be measuring the hardware as well as the performance of our implemented code. While interesting, this is not a high priority research target at this point in time. And thanks to the redundancy in the network, individual slow nodes do not slow down the whole topology; the data will arrive via faster nodes instead. Also out of scope for this paper is analysing the costs of running such a network, including the OPEX for publishers and node operators. This is a topic of ongoing research, which we’re currently doing as part of designing the token incentive mechanisms of the Streamr Network, due to be implemented in a later milestone. I hope that this blog has provided some insight into the fascinating results the team uncovered during this research. For a more in-depth look at the context of this work, and more detail about the research, we invite you to read the full paper. If you have an interest in network performance and scalability from a developer or enterprise perspective, we will be hosting a talk about this research in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for more details on the Streamr social media channels. In the meantime, feedback and comments are welcome. Please add a comment to this Reddit thread or email [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]). Originally published by. Henri atblog.streamr.networkon August 24, 2020.
Hello, all. This is my first post on here so I figured I'd post the first half of a chapter. Any of you who are interested in thrillers feel free to critique as you see fit or just read it for fun. Either way, I appreciate anyone taking the time to check it out. Here's some info to alleviate any confusion since this is a chapter in the middle of my manuscript. Characters mentioned: Benny, "Handsome" Jeff and Tommy Tricks of The Trade Part 1 Eleven-o-five p.m. "Six minutes to go." I caressed the rich brown suede on the arm of my recliner trying to relax. It didn't help. Nothing did. Nothing would. My hands kept fidgeting with my cell phone, constantly checking the time while I sat here waiting. Wondering how I got myself pulled into this. What a predicament. It was a total mess, and stinking, Tommy was having me clean it up for him. If I had to place the blame somewhere it would have to be the recliner I was sitting in, the comfortable thing that it is. I remembered when, Tommy, offered to buy it for me. Just like my Challenger, I told him not to, but he insisted and bought it anyway. He said money wasn't an issue, I was a great friend. The one he trusted the most. Not anymore. I supposed because of everything he's done for me over the years in, his eyes, I owed him. I just didn't expect him to question my loyalty. Test my loyalty. I placed the phone down on the end table next to me, and my hands began shaking when I stopped fiddling with it. They shook thinking about what I'd soon be going to do. But I remembered what, Tommy mentioned to me once. Not, Tommy the best friend. Tommy the hitman. And it only made things worse. He told me if the time came where I had to off someone, the most important thing to figure out was what could go wrong. Be thorough. Think of all possibilities, often until the job was done. I did. I thought about how I would do it, how I would kill, Handsome. The past week I went over every trivial detail, every course of action I needed to take. Like a play by play of the night, and I figured out what could go wrong. Everything. I wasn't kidding myself, the chances of getting away with it without all hell breaking loose were slim. I didn't want to do it. I wasn't a killer like him, but tonight I'd become one. I leaned back in the recliner staring blankly at the dent in the opposite wall. Waiting. Anticipating. With my clammy hands squeezing each arm of the chair like a tension ball as the time drew near. I pressed the home button on my phone and checked the time. Eleven-eleven. "Get ready, Benny." I swiped the gun off the end table, checked its red dot then held it flat on the arm of the chair. "Any minute now. Any minute." Seconds past and my cell phone vibrated moving slightly on the glass top end table. I sighed then grabbed it and pushed the bottom button turning on the home screen. There was a message notification from a number comprised of all zeros. I knew who it was. Avalanche Initiated, the ciphertext read. A phrase that would accurately describe my life if I goofed this up. That phrase also told me, Tommy's flight was approximately an hour from landing. My window of opportunity was short, so I got going. I kicked the recliner down, stood up, shoved the gun in between my pants, and hustled out of my apartment. I got in my car, poked the push-to-start, and the engine revved. I tucked the bottom of my shirt over the gun then put the shifter in the drive. My foot mashed the gas pedal, and the Challenger's adorable purring, elevated to a loud roar and I took off. The base of my neck was tight, full of tension. I flexed my neck around bending my head side to side trying to loosen up. I couldn't. Not even a little. My first hit, I'd be taking out a boss. A Don. Tommy demanded a hefty fee but he has never done anything like this before, and I was doing it for free. I stuffed my hand in my pocket looking for my cell phone. It wasn't there. I patted myself down but couldn't find it so I checked the floor around me. It was missing. My vision tunneled. "Your mother. How could you forget your phone, " I yelled? I gassed the peddle as I approached route ninety-five junction. The Challenger accelerated up the on-ramp and onto the highway, speeding. Fast. From where I was, Handsome's place was a twenty-minute drive. Twenty minutes, I wanted to do it in ten. It was late and traffic was light, but there were still people on the road, and they were slowing me down. I veered switching lanes cutting off the cars that were, and I started putting distance in my rear windshield. I drove past exit seven-teen feeling antsy because he was next and that meant I'd be there soon. I looked ahead and saw the high beams reflecting off of a specially designed sign. A rich man's sign. Welcome to the historic East Renaissance, the exit read. I got closer to the sign and the headlights bounced off the reflective laminate and into my eyes. I squinted pulling off the looping exit and arrived on the outskirts of the upper east side. Exactly sixteen minutes on the dot. I kept going and after three minutes of side streets, I pulled onto, Blackstone Boulevard. Handsome's boulevard. The challenger cruised rumbling its way down Blackstone and suddenly the homes grew larger. But none of them was Handsome's place. His was bigger. I continued driving for another mile then eased off the gas and coasted until the homes went from big to enormous. I was close. I saw a row of dogwood trees on the opposing side of the boulevard, bordering a memorial park beyond that. They blossomed an abundance of striking white flowers, reflecting all visible wavelengths of the street lights that shined over them. Some of the branches were snapped at the trunk causing them to droop low creating a natural canopy, and the park behind them was dark. Perfect spot. The trees were probably damaged from the wind storm the same night, Tommy's girl was seen at the Pearl consorting with the likes of, Handsome. I drove until there was a break in the center median that separated the boulevard, and made a u-turn. My body leaned into the passenger seat while I made the sharp turn to the opposite side. I drove onto the sidewalk pulling the Challenger around to the dark side and positioned it close to the white trees. Close enough so the damaged branches scraped the side of my car like chalk on a blackboard, and nestled it under the last three. They drooped the lowest. The area was lively during the day but nighttime there was no reason for anyone to be around here; you’d have to go looking for my car to spot it. I was just shy of two blocks from, Handsome's estate. Most of the residence on this side of town were in bed by seven o'clock. Eight tops. I couldn't imagine what the property owners around here did to make so much money, and I didn't care either. All I knew was I didn't want to be seen by them. Not at this hour. Not with an illegal firearm hidden in my pants. I was one swollen prostate and bathroom trip away from facing ten years in a federal penitentiary. I tried not to think about it, the more I did the heavier the burden became. Before I exited my vehicle, I gloved up. I poked my fingers inside a pair of purple latex gloves. I stretched them tightly, squeezing the gloves onto my hands until the latex was firmly around my fingers. The latex snapped against my writs then I put my Yankees cap on to help disguise my face. Wearing a Yankees cap in New England could just as easily get me hurt in certain parts of the city. It was my only cap though, so I put it on and lowered the rim to my brow. I left my car, locked it, and kept my eyes rolling for anyone close by as I started down the boulevard. I walked in the opposite direction of his home until I was back at the median break. I jogged passed the first lane, then passed the second lane, and onto the walkway. I was on the main drag jogging beside a wrought-iron fence on top of a grey brick wall. The brick stack itself was nearly ten inches higher than me, and I was six-one. It extended far separating the entire length of the property line, and the boulevard's public walkway. The wall was connected to an elegant black and gold-colored ornamental entrance gate. The driveway behind it was long, its path leading the way up to not a house, but a mansion. You couldn't buy these properties, they were inherited. Passed down. For generations. The area was old money. Old bloodlines. Nowadays, Blackstone Boulevard and it's bloated elitist mansions became a historical landmark that I couldn't care less about. I jogged past the gateway and saw, Handsome's property, it was the next one over. But it was still about the distance of half a block away. And I wasn't planning on breaking in through the front of his property. I was planning on breaking in through the front of his neighbors. But I was getting closer so I decided this is where I'll go over. I raised my arms and sprung upwards catching the wall's ledge, then pulled myself close enough to grab onto the iron posts. I swung my leg upwards catching the side of my shoe on the wall's ledge, then my knee, and I was able to stand. The wrought-iron fence had a fancy structural pattern along its vertical bars creating rounded ledges that protruded out just enough to place my shoes on. I climbed on the narrow space squeezing the cold iron between my fingers, then looked for my next step. The tips of my shoes teetered inches on the iron pattern, but I held on tightly and climbed onto another one. The top of the fence resembled arrow-like shapes forming peaks and valleys. Pointy peaks. I wouldn't be able to rest my body on it, I'd have to make a single motion to get on the other side. I climbed higher and found no more footing to stand on, so I hovered near the spiked top trying not to get impaled. I tilted forward hanging my head on the other side and could see the ground. And the twelve-foot drop too. I pushed off the narrow ledge arching my legs up and over the spikes. I cleared the top easily but I didn't think it through well enough. The plan sucked. I tried hanging on but my body weight pulled me down and the spiked posts jabbed into my wrists. I bit down but a squeal burst out of my mouth. The sudden pain opened my hands before I could find my footing on the slick iron and I fell off. My legs kicked rapidly attempting to stay upright before I hit the ground. I landed on the soles of my feet and studder-stepped backwards several feet before dropping on my ass. The sharp pain subsided fading to a dull pulse, and I sat on the thick grass for a moment relieved I was fine. But I couldn't sit long so I got going and stood up. I moved forward crouching low and stayed close to the brick wall. My arm scraped against its rough surface as they pumped. The wall's hight cast a moonlit shadow on its interior side, the grass below, and on me too. My dark clothing blended in well. I ran faster. The mansion looked vacant, I wasn't nervous passing by the side of it. I made it to the backyard and could see the end of the property. No brick wall. No spiked iron. No climbing. I loved it. There was just an acres worth of trees, with gold and scarlet foliage lining the edge of the yard. Large oaks. The trees extended further back beyond the yard, sort of like a nature reserve. I hustled through the thicket rounding the wall's endpoint, and into, Handsome's backyard. I could see the back of his mansion, and the entire thing was dark. Every window. It looked vacant too but I knew he was inside. There was a single oak tree in the center of his yard. Massive. Bigger than the ones I jogged through. It must've been sixty, maybe seventy feet high, and branches reaching well over one hundred. The branches covered a vast portion of his yard, but they weren't long enough to hide me the entire distance. I decided on using the oak anyway and it's rangy branches to cloak me from the motion detectors, instead of working the perimeter like I did his neighbor's. The wind picked up gusting passed me and blew up my track jacket. My teeth chattered together, and my abdominal muscles constricted from the chilly air funneling up my back. I moved with the wind nudging me along and jogged towards the oak. I covered the distance quickly then slowed my pace and hopped onto a bulging piece of the oak's trunk that was sunken into the ground. My breathing got heavier and the crisp air caused my chest to cramp up. Pain around my ribs made it difficult to stand straight. I rested against the trunk for a moment, then drew another breath before I got moving again. My back snugged close to the rough bark, sidestepping my way around the massive trunk. I got to the opposite side facing the back of, Handsome's mansion. There was a guest house in the distance to the right, resembling a smaller version of the main house. The windows were dark. No activity. No movement. No cause for concern. I saw a door directly ahead of me, it was probably used by the help who tended to, Handsome's place assuming it led to the kitchen. The door appeared to be ten to fifteen yards away. The oak's branches stretched far but it didn't cover the entire distance of the yard, and I was sure the security system would detect any motion from that point on. I continued, not worried about being spotted. Not yet. I kept moving and saw an inground pool to my far left, and a one-level bungalow styled pool house beyond it. The pool house had a broad front porch with two white columns on either side, resembling the main house too. I stopped short when I came to a cobblestone path. The path began at the foot of the door then split into three different directions. One path connected to the pool house. Another section serpentined through the zen garden's dry landscape of raked sand and pruned bushes. The last path stretched back to the guesthouse, and the oak tree's branches stopped where I stood. I'd have to get down on all fours and crawl to avoid the motion detection system. I crouched to my knees getting low as I could, and bear crawled next to the path's bushes the rest of the way. Pebbles and twigs stuck underneath my palms as they pressed against the coarse stone. My hands shook right away, bear crawling was a workout. I was winded. I inhaled deeply and whistled out the air trying to maintain steady breathing. My arms were trembling, they struggled bearing the weight of my upper body. Sweat dripped from the roots of my hair down my forehead and off the tip of my nose. I continued moving forward, only concerned with alerting the motion detector and being spotted. The night air was crisp but the wind chill had it bordering on bitter. A minute ago I was freezing my balls off, but my heart rate spiked heating my body temperature up. Sweat was secreting through the pores of my armpits, lower back, and chest making me feel clammy. Sticky. Gross. But I kept moving forward getting closer to the door, then stood up when I was in range. I jogged a few feet until the backyard door was right in front of me. Opened. Just a crack. Not a big deal, it was possible someone didn't shut the door fully. But the scuff marks around the deadbolt and warped door frame was a big deal. It had forced entry written all over it, I had to be careful. I stuffed my hand into my jeans, the nineteen-eleven slipped down to my crotch from being in the prone position. I stepped in gently nudging the door open while taking a swift glance over my shoulder to ensure no one was lurking behind me. The nineteen-eleven led the way to a dark vestibule type room with an arched entrance leading to the kitchen. My eyes squinted in the darkness, unable to see well but I crept to the arched entrance and stopped under it. I left the door opened lighting a section of the vestibule, but it got darker moving forward. The kitchen was large, I could vaguely see a few feet in front of me. I pulled the LED from my track jacket's pocket and clicked it on. A beam of light shined on the floor, there was marble for days. The floor was a white and bluish-gray color with an ornate marble inlay throughout the room. I felt like I was walking on a work of art. I shined the light face level, peeking around impressed with the cabinets' fine craftsmanship. I pointed the light at the ceiling, the beam splintered glistening off the chandelier. Handsome's kitchen was bigger than my entire apartment, it was a shame. I wasn't sure where to go so I headed towards an opening that had two matching white marble columns holding up a dividing wall. I move past the columns and stopped because I was facing a new problem. Two directions. One choice. In front of me, there was a wide-open hallway and I had no clue where it went. Even with the LED, I was only able to see the molding around the entrance. To the right of me was an identical hallway, just as dark. It was a coin toss. I didn't have time to go the wrong way, but I had to choose. I went right because you are always supposed to go right when you hit a fork in the road. I enter blindly unsure where the end would lead to. I shined the LED on the walls and came to an open doorway. The light peered inside, brightening the room and glowing off a toilet's polished porcelain. I continued on shining a path to see where I was walking but the LED was pathetically weak. It wasn't a high powered flashlight, I picked it up for five-bucks at the grocery store. Its lens dispersed the light widely, illuminating about a six-foot radius but that was all. I stuck the LED on the side of my hip blocking the light, then lifted the nineteen-eleven a foot away from my face. I saw nothing. Not even through the red dot, everything was pitch black. Silent too. Eerily so. All I heard was a phantom humming sound in the open air. I found it strange. Eleven something at night and he was already in bed, I doubted that. But I pressed on anyway until I came to the end of the hallway. It emptied out into a great room, and I saw a dormant rectangular fireplace I could've stepped in straight ahead. It was easier to see in the vast space of the great room. I looked to my left checking the area for any doors but found none. The left wall resembled the shape of a half-hexagon, with three windows reaching to the top of the cathedral ceiling set into it. There were two black leather couches below the windows arranged nicely against the angular wall. I moved right, passing by two shallow crow leather armchairs, with an extravagant onyx and jade marble top drinking table in between. There was a bottle of, Martell and two snifters on each side with the remnants of its contents. I recognized the cognac right away. Tommy had the same one in his liquor cabinet that he never opened, I always admired its uniquely shaped bottle. I kept going and saw the room's focal point, even in the darkness I couldn't miss it. A stunning marble imperial staircase, and above it was a broad balcony overlooking the great room. It was cinematic, like something I've only seen out of the movies. I eased my way onto the first step. No creeks. Of course not. I clicked the safety to red and tiptoed up the rounded staircase holding the nineteen-eleven with both hands fully equipped. Prepared. For, Handsome, or anything else that jumps out at me. My pace quickened climbing fast to the foot of the riser. I walked onto the balcony and hurried through a wide archway that led me to the top level foyer. I moved in further and my vision became clearer. Slightly. I was able to make out silhouettes of shapes but that's all I could see without using the flashlight. I shined the LED to my left side revealing two arched entrances extending inwards about two body lengths away, and a door at the end of them. Both doors were closed. I swiveled my wrist to the parallel wall and saw matching arched entrances, those doors were closed too. In front of me was a larger arched entrance extending significantly further back than the others. I assumed it was the master bedroom. Handsome's room. The door was opened, and a soft glow of light gleamed out brightening the entrance's exterior. My arms locked stretching outward as I crept forward pointing the nineteen-eleven at the opened doorway. It wasn't silent anymore, I heard a faint ongoing sound coming from the room. I couldn't quite make out what it was, but the closer I got to the master bedroom, the clearer it became. It sounded like people. Voices. Whispering. Sort of like two individuals having a private conversation, and trying to be discreet about it. My eyelids peeled back. I didn't blink. I didn't look away. I stepped forward placing my shoes down gently, the voices got louder as I moved in. I snuck closer unaware of anything except for what was on the other side of the door. My foot stepped down on a viscous patch of fluid, it was sticky like the consistency of maple syrup. I shined the led at the floor seeing what it was I stepped in. It looked like spilled cough syrup, the good kind. The dark red prescribed kind. I shined the LED a couple of feet in front of me checking to see if there was more of it. There was. Something else was there also. Two piercing blue eyes arrayed with lanky eyelash extensions looked up at me. The sight of them caught me off-guard. I leaped back bobbling the gun around but I couldn't get ahold of it. The nineteen-eleven slipped from my hands and clunked on the marble floor. "What the hell was that?" I bent over feeling around my shoes until my fingers brushed over the barrel. I snatched it and aimed the gun at the doorway. No one came out. No one heard the gun fall. I exhaled lowering the nineteen-eleven to my side then flashed the LED at the floor. A young woman's slender body rested at my feet. Lifeless. Naked. Laying prostrate with her head turned to the side and mouth half-opened. I squatted down allowing myself a better peek at the woman. Her face looked familiar. I've seen her before but I wasn't sure where. I shined the light around and got closer, her blonde hair was saturated from the pool of blood she was laying in. Her arms were down to her side and legs were straight out, it looked like she tried to run. I pointed the led towards her back revealing her cause of death. Entry wounds. She was shot in the back. Twice. I didn't know what happened but I definitely knew she tried getting away. One bullet went into her left shoulder blade, passed through her heart and out of her chest. The other bullet past through the midsection of her back. The Poor girl didn't have a chance. I moved the light back to her face and then it hit me. "That was the blonde sitting with, Handsome, the night of his bachelor party." I stepped over her body, carefully so as to not slip on her blood. Before I entered, Handsome's room I reminded myself. Don't lock up, squeeze the trigger. Shoot. Don't hesitate, not even for a second. Blast him and go. I told myself if I had to pretend I was a gunslinger in a spaghetti western than do it, just make sure I fired the gun. My index finger curled around the nineteen-eleven's trigger. "This is it, Benny." My chest expanded and lungs filled with a deep breath of the mansion's climate-controlled air. "Here we go. Three... Two... One... Let's do this." I charged forward leaping through the doorway. I swiveled my head around the room, and then I spotted him. Handsome was sprawled out on his bed, I had the upper hand. I raised the gun leveling the red dot with my eye then aimed it at his head. My finger squeezed the trigger but not all the way. I hesitated, only for a second. Then only two seconds. Then three. Four. Five seconds past and my finger wouldn't budge. I completely locked up and eased off the trigger. I froze. I stood at the foot of his bed pointing the gun at him like a deer in the headlights. Seeing, Handsome resting helplessly I couldn’t shoot him. Not like that. He was already dead.
Jean Grey was at one point, a seemingly average girl living an average life with her loving family. However, things took a turn to the unexpected, as when Jean was ten years old she was playing with her best friend, Annie Richardson when Annie was hit by a car. The emotion that Jean felt as she held her dying friend awakened her own latent telepathic powers and she experienced Annie's own emotions as she died, leaving Jean traumatized and unable to properly control her newfound telepathic powers. Seeking help, a psychiatrist recommended to her parents that they consult a colleague of his, Professor Charles Xavier, who was secretly a mutant with telepathic abilities of his own. Prof. Xavier explained to Jean, but not to her parents, that she was a mutant and he trained her in secret for several years, along with creating psychic barriers in her mind preventing her from using telepathic powers until she had matured more. Eventually, she was recruited to join the X-Men with the code-name Marvel Girl. Backstory
“That’s all, folks!” Mr. Jones called out from the announcers’ table, “by a four run lead, Gold Knights win! Seemed real dicey there, but everyone really pulled it together in the end!” “Yes! Our pride is untarnished against the most devious of tactics!!” Anastasia concurred, “everyone, shake hands! Say ‘good game,’ or as you youths do, ‘GG No RE!’ Heh, even I know slang!” “Looked more painful than goin’ to the donut shop and seeing the knight ruined it again…” Churchyard muttered, his mind not quite on the game as his eye drew towards the audience. “Least nobody else was hurt..! Yeah! This was a nice day..!” Most of the crowd cheered, the losing team was dejected, a local man in a handlebar moustache cackled about parking lots, but a small number of the audience, and the star players, only had their eyes on the sideshow which had broken out… Well, its aftermath. Jillian and Chad were among the few, the reporter focusing her attention on the way the small Japanese woman who posed like some sort of hero after a display like that, standing victoriously, if drunker than before. Eheh… That was a hard enemy! If this is who Los Fortuna is making me deal with, I’ll need to step up my game more after all! If only I could remember who called me here, though… Hope they’re safe. I’ll just have to investigate more on my own! Next to the reporting duo sat the forgettable Violet Lange. “I… That’s who I asked for help?” The girl muttered, looking away. “Wait…” Jill turned her attention to Violet, raising her voice. “You invited her here?! That guy was just being a bit annoying, a stooge for Cairo, he didn’t deserve for her to immediately try to-” “I know, okay? I… I know. Look, Jill, this… There’s a world you can’t comprehend right under your nose. I know you couldn’t see how he fought back, but… There’s danger here. It’s getting worse, and options are-” Violet stopped herself. Chad looked solemn; Jill calmed herself. “You’re out of your depth, huh? Well…” Her look became determined. “I’ll be out of my depth too! Even if I have no idea what lies ahead, and near everyone in this damn crowd thinks nothing of cheering after a sight like that, of hosting games like this when people are being murdered, these last few weeks have been like a sign to me… I live here, I have a platform, and I’m involved in this whether I like it or not, right? So in this world of limited choices… Why not choose to try?” As Chad grunted in agreement, Violet smiled sadly, glancing again at the now Fortnite Dancing sushi chef. “You’re sounding a lot like a friend of mine… Just. Be careful, yeah?”
Authorities are searching for Your Reality host Jillian Heart (23) and her cameraman, Chad Kroeger (24). Reported missing June XX, they were last witnessed driving away from the Aurelio Gold Knights’ final baseball game of the season the previous day. This is the latest in a string of disappearances in the Woods at Aurelio area.
It’s intense all over Los Fortuna. Disappearances, the boss match below, and at the art school, an antiquist and guerrilla chef are brawling in a sculpting room. Still time to vote there when this drops! Scenario: Los Fortuna Port offices, Waterfront District, 8:32 PM Vitus Calamai sat in his personal office and let out a sigh. He was used to having a packed schedule - he spent most of his time at his job as both the manager and harbourmaster of the Los Fortuna port, only taking short breaks for special occasions, such as recently assisting with the organization of the yearly Pride Month celebrations around Los Fortuna, but things had gotten even tougher recently. A new set of stand users had recently gotten drawn in to Los Fortuna, and dealing with their various actions was quite tough already, but he also had to deal with another thing entirely - the Ocean Soul. The beast’s presence had been a constant in the district for an incredibly long time, but it seemed as if its attacks had recently become more frequent. A month and a few weeks ago, a fishing boat had been sunk by it dangerously close to the coast, and there had been three additional attacks on other vessels since then, the latest being just a week ago. People were dying at an alarming rate, and Vitus felt like he could do nothing but watch from afar, helplessly keeping track of the counts as they rose. They couldn’t fight the Ocean Soul on its own terms, and they couldn’t fight it on their own terms either. Chasing and finding it was hard enough, as it knew how to pick its battles, but even if they did find it, there was nothing they could even do. Its ability was capable of quickly shredding any boat that came across it to pieces. Vitus sighed again and slumped back in his chair, reclining backwards as much as possible. Staring at the ceiling, he caught a glimpse of a bottle of a special wine blend, “Rainbow Hill Estate”, situated on a shelf behind him, a display piece of sorts. Maybe drinking some could help right now. He pondered the thought before tossing it aside - he needed to go back home and sleep, and worrying about this didn’t do him any favors. Groggily getting up from the chair, Vitus made his way towards the door. Before he could even make it halfway across the office, his door slammed open as a young, dark skinned woman staggered in, tired from having run the whole way here. Vitus knew her - Alice Drive. She was a protégé of his, so to speak, having had a personal history with the Ocean Soul just like him. Leaning on the doorway and regaining her bearings, she tried to stammer something out, but she couldn’t even form a cohesive sentence. Still, Vitus already knew what she wanted to say. It was clear from her demeanor. ”... who is it this time?” Vitus braced himself for her answer. Barely managing to form a coherent sentence through her heavy breathing, Alice just barely managed to speak. “It’s… it’s a big one, Vitus. You… You remember the big cargo ship that came by from the UK a few weeks ago? CS Black Root, I think it was called… We got a report that it’s gone missing, and… you know what that means.” Vitus didn’t say anything. What could he even say? These innocent people had died, but nothing could be done about it. This was the state of things in the city. He couldn’t change it, as much as he had tried over the years. “...Goddammit.” But… with the rise in the Ocean Soul’s attacks, he knew he had to act. If there had ever been a sign from fate telling him that he had to do something more than the usual, this was it. Attacking the Ocean Soul was careless and would lead to more losses, but… “Alice, can you help me look for something? Some old document detailing an idea I once had, might even be from over ten years ago. It was far too costly to run back then, but with the Ocean Soul’s now frequent appearances, I think it might just work for us now.“ This might’ve been an awful idea, leading to insufficient results and wasting away his funds, but Vitus had to do something. Standing by and letting the Ocean Soul wreak havoc was not an option anymore. As he explained the details of the plan to Alice and the two started working, Vitus knew that he wasn’t going to get home anytime soon. A harbor in the Waterfront District, a few days later, 11:23 AM “Alright, see that, over there? That’s your sailboat. Bring it back by eight PM, and make sure not to go further than a mile away from shore. Council’s orders, you know.” The bored-looking teenager tossed the boat’s keys to Ananas Bayley, better known as Agnes, who deftly caught them, mischief on his face. “No further than a mile..? Alright, I can do that~” Agnes replied, making it very apparent that he was not at all going to do that. The teen looked back at him blankly. “Alright, sure. Have fun with the boat.” “Will do~” Agnes skipped over to the docks, bouncing onto the boat with glee and enthusiasm as he cracked open a can of Pork Soda and gulped it all down in one go. On his back was a surprisingly large backpack containing… something. He was here for a specific reason - that sea monster, the “Ocean Soul”, seemed to have been attacking ships more and more recently. More importantly, Agnes knew of a certain someone on the Bifrost forums, an asshole with an anchor icon, who seemed incredibly opposed to the idea of anyone seeking out the creature. Of course, Agnes was a villain, and surely no villain could pass up a prime opportunity to piss off some rando! Going all this way just for that would be a waste of time, but Agnes had reasons; he had recently signed a contract with that e-celeb Cairo Satori, filming for their new show, some sort of reality show about stand users, and he knew that finding and possibly even fighting the Ocean Soul would make great material for it. Supposedly, he simply needed to go about his day to day life, and the cameras would find their way to him when the time came for him to fight. Blue was filming that day, and like hell he was beating him to air. That being said, for a villain like Agnes, simply showing up in a fight or two wasn’t enough. No, he needed to build character, show himself off to the viewers, emphasize his villainy! Because of that, he had made a personal request to Cairo, for the camera to follow him around and keep track of his villainous actions! “CAMERA!” he yelled out, hoping that whatever stand or thing that was controlling it would reorient itself so that he was in frame. “Take a good look at this!~” With a swoop of his hand, Agnes and his stand, Pork Soda, emptied the contents of the backpack onto the boat, revealing… “CAR BATTERIES!”. Used, new, and of various dangerous voltages, Agnes seemed to have brought pretty much all kinds of batteries to the trip. “I sat down and thought to myself - how could I really make people despise me, you know? What sort of despicable act could I perform to make people really hate me? And then I realized - I could just cause irreversible damage to the environment by tossing these used car batteries into the ocean!~ Of course, if the Ocean Soul shows up, I’ll just have Porky here toss’em right at it to get rid of it!~” Agnes broke out into a fit of laughter befitting of a villain. “... I’m not sure I’ll be able to convince you otherwise, but that seems like somewhat of a reckless plan to me.” a voice from behind Agnes spoke up. Recoiling and looking behind him, Agnes saw… An old man? A better look at him revealed him to be wearing some sort of tacky button-up shirt with a sun pattern and shorts. In his right hand, he was holding a fishing rod, and in his left hand… well, he didn’t seem to have one, with it cutting off at the elbow. He seemed vaguely familiar to Agnes. Before Agnes could reply with one of his usual, classic retorts, the man continued. “Still drinking that “Pork Soda” of yours? Has it been selling well at that restaurant you’re working at? I’m sure it’s gotten some success, but I don’t know if people would be willing to give up on that Dog Cream of theirs to buy some of it. They seem to be very obsessed with it, and it’s very ethically sourced, from what I heard. Maybe if you made a Dog Cream flavor of soda people would be interested in buying it, eh?” Agnes looked at the man in confusion. “Who… W- Wait! You’re that man! You started speaking to me from out of nowhere one day and insulted my Pork Soda! I’ll have you know that it-” “Calm down, friend.” Before Agnes could continue, the man cut him off. “I’m here to tell you something, something that you might already know or soon realize. You’re going to try and go out to sea, and when you do, you may die. Do not go alone to the island furthest away from the city, south of it. A fate worse than death awaits for anybody foolhardy enough to alone brave something that hundreds have already died to. Fate isn’t so kind as to let you get away with encountering the Ocean Soul so easily. Strange, the deaths before, no matter how tragic, are a statistic. Would one more on top of that be a story, or would it simply add on to that statistic?” “W- what?! Why should I listen to- Fffuck you! And fuck fate as well! I’ll do what I want! You know what - I won’t listen to you, I’ll go there! I’ll go to that island in the south and I’ll kill the shit out of that monster with these car batteries!” Admittedly, Agnes was somewhat shocked, taken aback, and pissed off by the man’s sudden appearance, but he was more determined than ever - he was going to find the Ocean Soul and kill it to piss off all of these people who said he couldn’t, and, with luck, he’d piss off even more people in the process. “Very well. I know that you’ve made up your mind, go on then. I won’t stop you.” The main calmly said, before getting up and picking up his supplies, stepping onto the dock and walking away before disappearing in the distance. Outside of JORMUNGANDR headquarters, Business District, 1:30 PM Prince Cosmo made his way through the easternmost street of the Business District, situated just by the sea. Near him were the JORMUNGANDR headquarters, the organizational center for the large shipping and fishing company under ODIN’s control. Following a conversation with a mysterious woman working for ODIN, SKADE were directed in multiple different avenues and directions for ways in which they could help better the city of Los Fortuna. Were they to do these things, they could form a closer repertoire with the rest of ODIN, something which would certainly help them get closer to the truth about what the company was truly doing. For that reason, they had made contact with a man named Vitus Calamai, whose work in the Waterfront District, among other things, involved minimizing the damage caused by a certain “Ocean Soul”, some sort of monster which had been terrorizing the seas of the city for the past thirty or so years. Following a recent rise in its attacks, he’d been working on pulling off some sort of plan to better dissuade ships from coming into contact with it, and he asked for the assistance of someone from SKADE to go for a “test run” of it, of sorts. In Vitus’s words, there was a “pattern” of sorts to the Ocean Soul’s movements - nothing precise, but analysis from experts and “leeches” - Vitus’s personal nickname for the fishermen who caught a type of fish left behind by the Ocean Soul’s ability known as “Niters”, would allow the beast’s movements and general location to be predicted to a certain extent. The plan was as such: Members from SKADE, alongside people sent from Vitus’s end, would need to go on a helicopter and follow the “pattern”, warning any ships that got near the Ocean Soul to steer away before they came under any significant danger. A group had already been sent out at the beginning of the day, containing Cosmo’s own teammate, Raymond, and now he was here to swap places with him for the latter half of the day. Frankly, to Cosmo, it seemed quite boring. Spending all day in a cramped helicopter, staring out at the sea, its supposed beauty nothing more than a reminder of the cages that constantly constrained him. To his stand, however… Sayonara Kodoku followed Cosmo as he sauntered through the street, excitedly checking out Cosmo’s surroundings as his voice box brimmed to life with the excited voice of the imposing bear, asking Cosmo to check out this and that thing. Cosmo got Sayo to light a cigarette and hand it over to him when the Stand spotted Vitus Calamai sitting on a bench in front of a fenced-off segment of the waterfront, no doubt the helipad, practically shoving it into Cosmo’s mouth as it ran over towards the stocky man. The stand hounded Vitus, Cosmo barely keeping up with Sayo as he let out a deluge of different questions which Vitus barely managed to keep up with. “Sayo, stop.” Cosmo ordered, the stand sulking as it walked back over to the dog. Vitus turned to face Cosmo, keeping a straight face at the sight of the sad-faced, smoking, shirt wearing Mastiff. “Thank you for taking time out of your day to assist us, Mister Cosmo.” Vitus said. With a curt nod of his head, Cosmo’s voice box let out a monotone voice. “It is nothing. I am excited about the opportunities this cooperation will afford us.” Despite his words, Cosmo’s body language certainly didn’t seem to indicate any excitement, as the dog’s head dropped even further than usual at the prospect of the tiresome day ahead of him. Vitus didn’t pay it any mind, however, and turned to face Sayo, bringing his hand in to shake the large bear’s hand, having caught on to its sentience. “And what’s your name?” “Sayo,” the stand replied from the voice box, returning the handshake. “Good to know. Now, Cosmo and Sayo, despite the dire circumstances, I’m beary excited to be working with people of your caliber, so let’s get right to it.” Vitus let out a chuckle at his attempt to lighten the mood before starting to move. Cosmo didn’t laugh, but silently followed, his expression dropping even further. “I’ll take you to the helicopter so you can see who you’ll be working with.” Vitus said, passing a keycard through a reader and opening a gate, revealing a modestly sized area with two helicopter pads in it. One was currently empty, while the other seemed occupied. A man was leaning back on the helicopter’s body, his features mostly obscured by his red biker helmet and suit, though Cosmo could tell that he was well within his forties. At the sight of Cosmo, the man let out an excited gasp, before restraining himself and approaching Cosmo with his hand out for a polite handshake. “Prince Cosmo, I assume? Nice to meet you.” Cosmo returned the handshake, his voice box letting out a “likewise.” as Sayo turned to look at the new person and began inspecting him. “Heh- is that your stand?” the man chuckled as Sayo leaned down to look at him before bombarding him with questions - “Who are you?”, “You work with Vitus? Does that mean you have a stand?”, “Can I see it?”. In response to the flood of questions, the man let out a slight laugh, taking a step back and bringing out his Stand, which appeared to be a small, pink toy pistol with a flame pattern on it. He began playing around with it, tossing and spinning it around before grabbing it and striking a pose. Sayo seemed impressed. Cosmo was not. “Name’s Webb. James Webb. I don’t work for Vitus, moreso ODIN at large, but he’s a friend and I think he’s doing something important here, so I’m helping him out. As for my stand,” he flourishes the pink pistol once more, “My Yummi 1 can shoot out powerful ‘thrusters’ that latch onto whatever they hit. I won’t show it off here because I don’t want to make a mess, but I’d say it’s pretty neat. Could certainly fuck someone up in a fight were things to come down to that, heh.” Upon hearing that he wasn’t going to use it, Sayo seemed somewhat disheartened, but before the stand could try convincing Webb to relent and use it, a voice could be heard from the gate, one that was quite recognizable to Cosmo. “I have some information that might be useful to you all.” Cosmo turned, spotting the somewhat familiar form of a one armed old man wearing a sun patterned button-up. He had come across him before, soon after he had ended up in Los Fortuna, and though he hadn’t seen him yet, the old man’s friendly voice was easily recognizable. Something about it felt calming. “Oh, it’s you!”, Sayo immediately said. Vitus looked over at Cosmo and Sayo, confused. “You recognize him?” “He spoke to me once, soon after I entered Los Fortuna. Other than that, I know nothing about him.” Cosmo replied. Vitus shot the man a glare and spoke in a somewhat tense tone. “Who are you, and how did you get past the gate?” He didn’t seem to have much patience for him. In response, the man raised his arms, as if to indicate he held no ill will. “Calm down, calm down… I know what you’re thinking, Vitus Calamai, and I can assure you that it’s incorrect. I’m not working with Peres, far from it.” “If you’re not with her, then who are you with, and why do you expect us to believe you, huh?” Webb interjected, as annoyed as Vitus by the man’s sudden appearance. “You could say that I’m a ‘third party’ in these conflicts. I come and go where fate’s whims take me, and for now, it’s shown me to you. More importantly, I know of a man who will come in contact with the Ocean Soul soon, near the island furthest South from this city. You should know, the ‘pattern’ indicates that the Ocean Soul will be in that area soon, doesn’t it? Without your assistance, he will surely die.” Vitus’s brows furrowed, a mixture of worry and doubt showing on his face. Everyone could tell that something was odd about this man. Prince was the next to speak up. “What evidence do you have for that? Currently, we have no reason to believe you.” “You have nothing to lose from doing so. If you leave now and head towards that island, you will arrive in time to stop the man from coming in contact with the Ocean Soul. Were you not going to do that anyways? I’m simply telling you to hurry up - I know none of you would want yourselves to be responsible for the death of that man. After all, not everyone is as lucky as Vitus once was, to be saved from death at the hands of the Ocean Soul by fate at the last possible moment.” And with that, the man turned and left, somehow managing to maneuver over the closed gate with only his one arm, before going to the right and disappearing behind a pillar. Vitus seemed somewhat shaken from the man’s last words, while Webb and Prince were mostly confused. However, all three knew one thing for sure - they couldn’t let themselves remain idle while there was the possibility of that person dying at the hands of the Ocean Soul. The middle of the sea, south of the Waterfront District, 3:46 PM While Cosmo, Vitus, and Webb were all quite concerned about his fate, Agnes himself was quite chipper, if his near constant, villainous speeches to whatever cameras were following him was any indication. Every once in a while he’d mellow out for a few minutes, before chugging down yet another can of Pork Soda and renewing his fervent, villainous ranting. He had long since gone a mile past the shore, but that didn’t matter much to him. “.... AND THAT IS WHY ‘ANCHOR’ FROM THE BIFROST FORUMS IS A LITTLE GODDAMN BITCH!” finishing his latest (and no doubt greatest) rant, Agnes stopped for a breath. He needed another drink. He peered into his Pork Soda reserve, realizing that he had only six cans left from the twenty he had packed for the trip. Damn it. Well, whatever - Agnes swiftly grabbed another and chugged it down, the extra soap he had added to it as an experiment previously making its already distinct taste that much... better? Worse? He wasn’t sure, but it certainly was interesting. He took another glance over at his surroundings - he was quite close to the “forbidden” island that the old man had warned him about, no doubt only a mile or two away from it, and yet he hadn’t spotted any sign of the Ocean Soul! Just as he began pondering the uselessness of his quest, Agnes spotted something - the bloated corpse of a fish that had clearly seen better days, floating on top of the water, island behind it. Was this one of the “Niters” he’d heard Markus talking about in one of the scant few moments where he paid attention to any of his teammates past thinking how he could piss them off? Possibly, and he certainly was curious about how it would taste were he to put some in his soda. Agnes sailed in the fish’s direction and was about to send Porky out to retrieve it when he heard a loud voice coming from above and behind him, amplified by a speaker of some kind. “BY SAILING IN THIS AREA, YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR OWN WELL-BEING AT RISK! PLEASE TURN AROUND AND RETURN TO THE CITY!” Now, who could that have been? Agnes looked at the source, spotting a helicopter about a hundred meters above him. Whoever was in it seemed to want him to go away, but he certainly hadn’t gone this far to just turn back and leave! Faking a confused expression, he raised his hand to his ear, acting as if he couldn’t hear the man in the helicopter. “Hmm? What’s that? I couldn’t hear you~” he said, not even expecting the message to reach the people in the helicopter as he continued sailing. In response, the helicopter dropped down further, before the man repeated himself: “TURN AROUND IMMEDIATELY IF YOU VALUE YOUR OWN SAFETY! IT ISN’T EVEN LEGAL FOR A RENTAL TO BE SO FAR OFFSHORE IN THE FIRST PLACE, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE!?” Following him, another voice spoke up through the speaker, monotone and synthetic-seeming despite coming out at an incredibly loud volume: “YOU HAVE NOTHING TO GAIN BY BEING IN THE PROXIMITY OF THIS ISLAND. YOU ARE ONLY ENDANGERING YOURSELF BY STAYING HERE.” Agnes ignored the voices and continued sailing, as the helicopter got down even further, now dangerously low, barely a dozen meters above the surface of the water. As Agnes heard the speakers from the helicopter crackling to life, whoever was inside it ready to chastise him again, he spotted something odd coming up from the water - a blue, scaled head adorned with horns, belonging to a creature that clearly wasn’t human. Could this have been..? “ARE YOU DEAF, KID?! LET ME REPEAT - THIS AREA IS DANGEROUS FOR EVEN THE LARGEST OF CRUISE SHIPS, LET ALONE SOMEONE ON A SMALL BOAT LIKE YOURS-” Before the man in the helicopter could finish speaking, the creature that was emerging from the water… spat something out? A pink liquid shot from its mouth and hit the helicopter’s tail, coating it thoroughly with a loud splatting noise. “WH- WHAT THE- OH GOD IT’S HERE SHIT SHIT GET AWAY GET-” The helicopter’s rotors sped up as it tried to fly away, but it was too late - the area touching the liquid began… disappearing. Something had begun carving mounds into it, eating up the connecting segment between the helicopter and its tail until it disconnected entirely, the remainder of the tail falling off into the water with a splash. The helicopter quickly spun around and spiraled out of control, struggling to keep itself balanced without its tail rotor. So that was the Ocean Soul. Looking in the water only a few meters away from him, Agnes saw more pink liquid, diffusing towards his boat. Was this the Ocean Soul’s ability? Were it to reach the boat, it would sink quicker than a bag of rocks! In a matter of mere seconds, Agnes found himself almost entirely unprepared, the very real possibility of death, or perhaps something worse than it, looming over him. He shuddered. He had to do something! He could send Porky out to row, or place a lid on the boat to boost it, or - “PORKY, TOSS THE BATTERIES!” Agnes summoned his stand as it rushed over to the pile of car batteries, crushing them in its hands and tossing them all towards where the Ocean Soul emerged. With any luck, the electricity would- “IT’S BEHIND YOU. GET DOWN.” The speakers on the helicopter crackled to life, the monotone voice barking out at an immense volume, giving Agnes a command that he knew he had to follow. He immediately ducked down noticing the shadow of something fly above him, looking up to see another glob of saliva that had been inches away from hitting his head. He didn’t want to think about what that would have done to his face had it actually hit him. “HEY KID! HOLD ON TIGHT IF YOU WANT TO LIVE!” Agnes staggered backwards and looked towards the helicopter, which was now well on its way towards the perilous depths, and saw three figures jumping out of it - A man wearing a red biker suit, a large bearlike stand, and… a dog? “I- I CAN GET MYSELF OUT ALONE, BUT ALRIGHT, I’LL DO THAT!” Agnes screamed as he leaped towards the sailboat’s mast, and grasped as tightly as possible as the man in the biker suit pulled something out of thin air and aimed it at the boat’s stern. The man pressed the trigger just as the bearlike stand enveloped the dog, forming a transparent purple ball around him and the man, and shooting out something as well - two tethers, clinging tightly onto the boat’s stern and connecting between it and the ball. Then, whatever the man shot out hit the stern, leaving something that looked like a rocket engine on it. The engine quickly hummed to life with an incredibly loud noise, flames shooting out from it as it accelerated and thrusted the boat towards the island at an immense speed, the tethers and Agnes alike barely hanging on in face of the immense power. “HOOLY SHHI-” Still, they were moving at an insane pace, at a rate far faster than what the Ocean Soul could reasonably keep up with! They just needed to keep up with it for a few more seconds and they would make it out aliv- CRASH! The thrusters, while quick and powerful, certainly weren’t accurate, and Agnes, Cosmo, and Webb soon found their only source of transportation quickly destroyed after smashing into a tall rock formation, Agnes getting flung violently onto a nearby small island while the ball Cosmo and Webb were in got flung further away, getting stuck between two rocks further away. Agnes struggled to get up, looking at his surroundings - he was on a small island, spotting another small one a couple dozen meters away from him, the larger, “forbidden” island a few hundred meters behind it. Between the two small islands were a collection of rocks of different shapes and sizes, with Cosmo and Webb having gotten stuck between some of them, now getting out of the ball and attempting to regain their bearings. Webb turned to look at Agnes, shouting out to him before he and Cosmo turned to run towards the other island. “Hey, kid! Get over here ASAP! We can get in the ball again and escape to the big island! The Ocean Soul won’t be able to attack us if we’re so far out on land, and we can get another chopper to pick us up from there!” Agnes started sprinting, hopping between the rocks as he made his way closer to the pair, who had already gotten to the other island and had barricaded themselves inside of another ball. He had to be quick - the Ocean Soul was hot on their tails, and fighting it now, while it could give good material for Cairo, wouldn’t be very fun to watch were it to end with his death. He had already gotten enough for their show, set up enough “drama” and intrigue, acted like a villain, given the camera a glimpse of the legendary Ocean Soul and its ability... What mattered now was for him to not get brutalized by that fucking monster. Yeah… He was making a stylish, tactical retreat to save himself from a needless conflict! Still, this whole situation… He needed another Pork Soda. “Alright, I’m here!” Agnes said, hopping onto the island and running towards the ball containing Webb and Cosmo, which had begun dissipating. From there, they just needed to make a new one, with all of them in it, and they could blast off to safety and it would all end well, with everyone hating him for being an asshole that endangered them all, like a villain would. Webb, falling onto his feet, shot Agnes an annoyed glare and began talking. “Finally… Goddammit, kid, your stunt just about killed us! I hope that you learn from it and stop being so f-” SPLAT! Before Webb could finish his sentence, something hit him - a glob of the pink liquid, spat in his face by the Ocean Soul. Agnes hurriedly turned around to look at the source, spotting two more flying towards him and Cosmo, quickly swatted away by Pork Soda. He spotted a few ripples in the water where the Ocean Soul once was, indicating that it swam away already. With a thud, Webb’s corpse fell down onto the ground, and both Agnes and Cosmo looked at it. The liquid had quickly eaten through his helmet, and had soon moved on to his face, carving a hole right through it, and not leaving much else to be looked at. Agnes could barely bring himself to look at the lifeless corpse strewn on the ground, at the man who had gotten killed so quickly by the Ocean Soul. Still, it wasn’t the Ocean Soul’s fault… It was his. Fuck. Fuuuck. What was he thinking!! That man had died! Because of him! A man that had tried to save him! Should this have made him feel happy?! He… That was what villains did, right? Or, what they were supposed to! They killed people! And this was… this was an evil act, one that would make everyone hate him, just like he wanted, but… “Fuuuuuuucckkking hell...” He felt like vomiting. Agnes breathed heavily, falling down onto the ground and sitting down, back leaning on a tree, one of the few covering the island. He looked over at Prince Cosmo, the dog shooting him a dead serious glare. While he was sitting down, the two were practically at eye level. “What are you doing? The Ocean Soul is coming back. It killed Webb for a reason - he was our means of escape. It waited until our guard was down, when Sayo stopped, and attacked Webb then. It will no doubt attack us soon as well. Are you going to do nothing and let it kill us both as well? Your recklessness has already led to a needless death. Will you let it lead to more?” The monotone voice Cosmo’s voice box let out didn’t convey it particularly well, but Agnes could tell that the dog spoke with a seething anger towards him, evidenced by his stand’s demeanor. Another glob of the pink liquid was spat out towards Agnes’s head, this time swatted away by Sayonara Kodoku. “So?” Cosmo spoke again. Agnes raised his arm, balled his hand up into a fist, and drove it into his head with as much force as possible, the loud knocking noise reverberating through the area. He had to knock some sense into himself. Rattled from the impact, Agnes slowly got up, swaying as he placed both legs down and raised himself up, still breathing heavily. “Yeah… yeah, I’ll… Like I’m gonna let a fish kill me...” He felt like shit, his head hurt, he still hadn’t fully grasped everything that had happened in the past ten minutes, and forcing his body to move was taking pretty much all of his energy, but Agnes was determined not to let this be the end of him. He was tired and angry, and couldn’t back down now without getting killed and he had to do something about it and... Well, if he wasn’t ready to fight, he’d just have to fake it. A faint laughter could be heard as Agnes raised himself upwards and stood up on his legs. “Yeah, no… no matter how I think of it, I just can’t see it happening. Letting myself die here, when I haven’t reaped the benefits of my villainy yet? Nah, that’s entirely out of the question.” Agnes wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince. Were his words nothing more than meaningless bluster? Probably, but he couldn’t think of anything else to say to get himself up and moving. Cosmo then spoke up. “I don’t trust you, nor do I want to have anything to do with your foolishness, but we need to work together to defeat the Ocean Soul. We need to be careful when approaching it, one wrong move and we’ll end up dead.” Cosmo couldn’t bring himself to hide his hatred for Agnes; he was an utter moron, someone so reckless and incompetent, so undignified, that Cosmo could never see the two of them working effectively together, yet he knew better than anyone that it was absolutely necessary in this situation. Working alone, the chances of them getting away alive were borderline infinitesimal, but if they were together then maybe they stood a chance. “Yeah, sure, you’re right. Hey…” Agnes turned to talk to something else, invisible. “Hey, camera, Cairo, whoever is watching, if you even are... Make sure to keep a close fucking eye on me, and catch my best angles, because I’m gonna give you the best show you’ve ever seen, heh… This fish is going the fuck down. So, before we start, what is it that those showrunners always say? Hm… Oh yeah, I remember now:” “Open the game!~” Location:A collection of rocks and small islands far south of Los Fortuna. The area is 80 by 80 meters and each tile is 4 by 4 meters. Players start on a small island, while the Ocean Soul starts approximately 45 meters away from them. The green shapes on the map represent such islands, with sandy beaches near their edges and grass in their center, while the blue represents the water, which is roughly around 5 meters deep, though it’s more shallow the closer it is to the islands. The green circles are palm trees on the islands’ beaches. The small, light gray formations in the water are small rocks flat enough for the players to comfortably walk on and jump between. The darker gray areas are taller, sturdier rocks reaching heights of up to six meters. The orange shape stuck in the rock is the sailboat, after it had been smashed against the rocks. It still has just about anything a boat would realistically have on it, albeit jostled around a bit by the crash and spilled on the deck, managing to not fall off. Having been tossed into the sea, the car batteries Agnes gathered aren’t there, though the backpack and many empty Pork Soda cans are there. Goal: RETIRE your opponents! Agnes and Cosmo are teammates for this match, while the Ocean Soul will fight them both. Additional Information: The players have a baseline understanding of Calamus Root. The Ocean Soul is aware of Cosmo's stand, but not of Agnes'. The Ocean Soul’s coral starts out empty. Boss Information: Included in this document (pastebin version here)
"This is a trap… a trap that has existed since far back in the history of poaching." In this dangerous situation, a hasty approach without considering your surroundings will get you nowhere! Make sure to utilize the environment and objects from it as much as possible during the fight!
"That ultimate anger in my heart..! I was able to express it… Give me a round of applause, all you idiots of the world." There’s no escaping this without a fight, but one thing’s for sure; live or die, you’re going to put on a damn good show. Whoever watches this will notice you and your villainy! You and that sad-looking dog, be as stylish as possible while fighting the Ocean Soul for your future audience!
"I've got a bad feeling about this… maybe it was the one who was hunting for us." Like a true hunter, you're not going to let your prey get used to your tactics - use as many different and varied techniques as possible to hunt these people down during the fight, utilizing every aspect of your Calamus Root to its fullest while doing so!
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