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Apparently it’s okay to constantly cancel plans last minute for more fun activities, such as parties or going to the casino or going out drinking, as long as it’s with your family.
My S/O and I have been together for a year. The whole time we’ve had problems on and off. I won’t get into detail about all the other stuff, but the main theme being he apologizes and then repeats the behavior. Which makes me feel shitty. The recent problem that’s been occurring is him ditching me because something more fun pops up. To preface, we live together. And he has a massive family. Tons of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Lots of cousins around his age that are more like really really good friends than cousins. We’ve both been working 40+ hours a week. He works M-F and I work retail so my schedule is everywhere. And I’m working extra hours because of the holiday season. I’m normally not scheduled this much. This new issue popped up three weekends ago and has progressively gotten worse to the point where I’m not sure we’re gonna make it. Weekend 1: Hours were starting to pick up and it’s not my first rodeo working retail so I knew it would be my last full weekend off. I made plans to spend the weekend together because I wanted quality time with him and I knew we’d be barely seeing each other with our crazy and full schedules. Saturday started off great. Until about 5pm when he saw his cousin (A) was having a party. Now, A is a stereotypical party guy and a huge pusher. He doesn’t take no for an answer when it comes to drinking. When I’m there, I’m able to stand my ground with a firm no but my S/O is a people pleaser and wants to look cool to A so all it takes is one offer and he says yes. This has caused issues in the past and the last time we went over, another cousin (B) was there. B was physically and verbally sexually harassing me the whole time and everyone was just laughing at it while I was having a panic attack because it triggered my ptsd. S/O was drunk and also didn’t want to ruin the vibe so he didn’t do anything. Because of this, and because I just wanted to spend time with my S/O, I didn’t want to go to the party. S/O realllly wanted to go to this party even though he had committed to spending the weekend together. He promised not to get too fucked up because when he drinks too much, he spends the next day in a bad mood and sleeping all day. He had promised not to do that if he goes. And to come home “early” (as in 11:30 pm not 6am) so he can go to bed early and have a nice Sunday with me. I can see there’s no winning because I had already said I didn’t like the idea because he promised to spend the weekend with me but he kept pushing anyway so I just said whatever as long as we get Sunday together. Well I’m DD and I text him at 11 saying he should get ready to go because we agreed on 11:30 pickup and he replies with “uhhhhhh” and doesn’t text back for about an hour. At this point I’m over it and it’s past my bed time so I let him know I’m on my way. When I get there I text him that I’m there and he tells me to leave and that he’s having fun. I remind him of the agreement and he ignores me. 30 minutes later I text A’s wife and ask her to get my S/O because I’m not waiting in my car while being ignored any longer. He comes out, obviously fucked up, and starts throwing a bitch fit about how I’m controlling and a mood killer and a mother and he’s a grown ass man who should be able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants blah blah blah. I tell him I’m not doing this when he’s drunk and he says I’m being passive aggressive for not talking to him etc etc. I just go to my own room and ignore him. I heard him on the phone with his cousin, bitching about me. He’s already made half of his family hate me when he first bitched about me not helping with the moving process. I had a tumor and a spinal fracture so I couldn’t help carry things. But that’s a whole other story. Anyway. He ends up sleeping until like 5pm Sunday and we get into an argument and then he apologizes profusely and feels really bad. It seemed to me like he understood it. Apparently not though because it happened again less than a week later. Weekend 2: Thursday was our anniversary. S/O said he didn’t want to go out on a work night, which was fair, so we planned a low key at home celebration where I made him his favorite food and we had an at home date and then planned to go out on Friday night. Well Thursday morning he gets invited to go out drinking with work friends after work. He texted me to tell me that he’s going. I tell him that hurts my feelings because we had plans to go get groceries so I could make dinner and for us to have a date at home. And it hurts my feelings because he didn’t want to go out with me on a work night but he’ll go out with them. After a bit of arguing, I tell him that I can’t force him to do anything so it’s up to him what he does and unless he’s coming home with a positive attitude and happy to see me and celebrate our anniversary, he should go out with his friends. He ends up coming home with flowers. I believe him that he understands it and I believe his apology but he does it again. He told me his cousin (C) was coming over Saturday night and I told him I’m upset because that’s supposed to be our day together bc of our anniversary but there’s no winning and I say fine because I gotta get up early to work Sunday anyway and we can still have the day together. Well C ends up coming at noon. I find out 15 minutes before he arrives. I’m upset because now we don’t even get the day together to do our plans and he says we can do it next weekend instead. That works for me because it’s thanksgiving weekend and we don’t get to spend thanksgiving together but at least we get Friday night/Saturday since I’m off at 3 Friday and I don’t work Saturday. And this leads us to this weekend. Weekend 3: On Thursday I get home around 5. I have to be up at 3am for work so I’m getting ready for bed early. While I’m getting ready for bed, he tells me he’s leaving Friday to spend the weekend at C’s place because more cousins are there. Now, he has brought up leaving earlier in the week and I told him he should go Wednesday after work or Thursday and come back Friday. But I don’t want him leaving Friday and being away all weekend because that’s supposed to be our time together. The conversation didn’t come up again until Thursday. When he dropped that he was going. I was upset and he asked if I was ok. I said obviously not. He said sorry but he has to leave because he was invited to A and A’s parents post thanksgiving party. So he just left. I wake up at 11pm and he’s still not home so I text him to see when he’ll be back. He had promised to watch the dogs during my 11 hour shift or I would’ve taken them to my grandmas on thanksgiving. He says he’s leaving soon. I fall back asleep. When I wake up at 3, I’m freaking out because he’s not home and his last location was on the highway. I call and text a bunch but I don’t hear from him. I go to work freaking out because a) idk if something bad happened and b) the dogs can’t be locked up all day. I finally hear from him at 9ish. He had lied about where he was and who he was with. He went back to A’s house after the thing at his aunt/uncle’s and got super fucked up there. After weekend 1, he knew I didn’t want him going to A’s house because he makes bad, irresponsible, impulsive decisions. So he lied about it and ended up breaking his promise to be home for the dogs. And leaving me to freak out about whether or not he was okay in the process. On my break I tell him I’m disappointed for lying and breaking his promise and he can’t even imagine how that felt for me and the stress it caused. He says he’s sorry. A couple hours later he says he’s leaving. I’m like ????? bc I won’t be home for 4 hours and he’s already been away for so long and the dogs had already been locked up for hours because he didn’t come home that night. I told him he better be home when I get home or I’m going to be even more pissed. I can’t have a full conversation with him because I’m still at work. I get a text back saying he already committed to going to his cousins and they have early plans he needs to be there for so he’s leaving. I was livid. And hurt. I could barely make it through the end of my shift and I was crying too hard to drive so I was sitting in the parking lot for like a half hour. He broke his promises to me, I was worried sick about him for half my shift, then he broke his promises to me again. And he left for C’s place without even talking to me about it because I had just found out he was going the night before. So now we’re here. I told him I’m done being treated like this and this is the last straw. I told him I don’t deserve this. And that I deserve to be a priority, not an option. And that he’s trying to live the single life while reaping the benefits of a serious relationship. He’s mad at me because he “doesn’t understand how spending time with his family is selfish” and “every time he leaves me I have a problem with it and he’s tired of it” etc etc. He keeps ignoring what I’m saying and finding bits and pieces of it to argue and coming up with factually incorrect arguments. Such as “I never want to go out and do anything” which isn’t true, I only didn’t want to go out that first weekend. And “well that’s living married life and we’re not married”. Apparently as soon as you get married the whole relationship changes? Yeah no. So now I’m stuck with him making me the bad guy. And I’m willing to bet he’s bitching to his family about it making more of them hate me for being “controlling and abusive” because I’m “upset that he’s spending time with his family”. I haven’t texted him back because I told him I’m not going in circles anymore and I’m not arguing bs points anymore and then he texted me another bs thing. Also he only texts back when he’s not busy with his friends/cousins. Idk what to do. I’m over it. He says he doesn’t get it. I doubt that but whatever. He always gets defensive when he’s in the wrong because he doesn’t want to take responsibility. I know he knows what he did and he’s just trying to find ways to justify his behavior. I just wish he gave enough of a shit about me to make an effort for once. TLDR: S/O makes plans with me but apparently to him they’re “soft plans” in case something better comes along because as soon as something more fun is happening, he drops me and goes to those plans. His friend group is 99% his cousins. I tell him he’s selfish for constantly ditching me and breaking promises/commitments to me for things he’d rather be doing. That he can’t have me on standby for when he has nothing better to do. That I should be a priority, not an option. He gaslights and makes me the bad guy because how is spending time with family selfish?
Party island of Boracay reopens minus drinking, smoking & raw sewage - Philippines tourism hotspot limits visitor numbers & clears out casinos & beach vendors. It was closed in April due to raw sewage flowing from hotels & restaurants straight into the sea.
Party island of Boracay reopens minus drinking, smoking & raw sewage - Philippines tourism hotspot limits visitor numbers & clears out casinos & beach vendors. It was closed in April due to raw sewage flowing from hotels & restaurants straight into the sea.
Party island of Boracay reopens minus drinking, smoking and raw sewage - Philippines tourism hotspot limits visitor numbers and clears out casinos and beach vendors. It was closed in April due to raw sewage flowing from hotels and restaurants straight into the sea.
This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 76%. (I'm a bot)
The Philippines has reopened its famous holiday island of Boracay - spruced up and newly regulated after it was closed to mend decades of harm caused by unchecked tourism. Michael A Martillano, the president of the island's diving association, who is taking part in the marine assessment of Boracay this week, told the Guardian the water quality, corals and marine life had "Really improved" in the past six months. "Boracay has been known as one of the best destinations for a laidback island where you could party any time you want, often on the beach, but now that won't happen in the same way," said Martillano. The new rules say 19,200 tourists will be allowed on the island at any one time, with the government aiming to enforce that by controlling the number of available hotel rooms. Tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat says she hopes the new Boracay will be the start of a "Culture of sustainable tourism" in the Philippines, adding other tourist destinations will be next. The Boracay Foundation, the main business industry group on the island, has not commented on the restrictions but welcomed the return of tourists.
Organized public events, social gatherings and religious services, rites and ceremonies
No indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household
Limit for outdoor organized public events and social gatherings, physical distancing can be maintained:
10 people outdoors
Limit for weddings, funerals and other religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained:
10 people indoors
10 people outdoors
Virtual and drive-in gatherings, events services, rites or ceremonies permitted
Restaurants, bars and food or drink establishments
Indoor and outdoor service prohibited
Take out, drive through and delivery permitted, including sale of alcohol
Sports and recreational fitness facilities
Closed for indoor and outdoor except for high performance and professional athletes
Community centres and multi-purpose facilities (for example, YMCA) allowed to be open for permitted activities such as child care services
Meeting and event spaces
Closed with limited exceptions for:
day camps for children
recreational and skill building programs under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014
alcohol or substance abuse counselling
mental health support services
Retail permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only (in-person retail shopping not permitted)
Exceptions where in-person shopping is permitted:
supermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores
other retailers selling groceries
beer and wine and liquor stores
pharmacies and safety supply stores
50% capacity limits in retail outlets permitted to open for in-person shopping
Motor vehicle sales permitted to be open for in-person shopping by appointment only and other safety restrictions
Garden centres, plant nurseries permitted for curbside pick-up or delivery; indoor by appointment only
Outdoor markets permitted
Malls open, with:
retail outlets in malls permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only (in-person retail shopping not permitted)
full access to businesses and organizations permitted to be open (for example, pharmacy, dentist)
food court open for take-away only
Requirement to maintain 2 metres while standing in line and flow management
Personal care services
Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
Closed, except for:
rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event
Performing arts facilities
Closed to spectators
Rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event permitted
Performers and employees must maintain 2 metre physical distance except for purposes of the performance
Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
Drive-in performances permitted
Amusement parks, water parks
Bathhouses and sex clubs
Boarding kennels and stables
Permitted to open for animal’s owner to visit the animal, assist in the care or feeding of the animal or, as applicable, ride the animal
Campsites must be made available only for trailers and recreational vehicles that are used by individuals who are in need of housing, or are permitted to be there by the terms of a full season contract
Only campsites with electricity, water service and facilities for sewage disposal may be provided for use
All recreational facilities in the campground and all other shared facilities in the campground, other than washrooms and showers, must be closed
Short-term campground rentals that were reserved on or before November 22, 2020 are permitted; no new reservations after November 22, 2020 permitted, except for individuals who are in need of housing
Permitted by curb-side pick-up
In-person driving instruction not permitted
Domestic and cleaning and maintenance services permitted, including:
housekeepers, cooks, maids and butlers
personal affairs management
nanny services and babysitters
other domestic personnel
indoor or outdoor painting
Outdoor cleaning and maintenance services permitted
Training only, no races
Permitted to operate except for any pools, fitness centres, meeting rooms and other recreational facilities that may be part of the operations of these businesses
Open for curbside, delivery and pick-up
Patrons permitted to enter libraries for contactless drop-off and pick-up, and to access computers, photocopiers, or similar services
May open for permitted services (for example, child care services, AA meetings)
Marinas, boating clubs, golf courses and driving ranges
Marinas and boating clubs permitted to operate for fuel supply, watercraft repair and servicing, watercraft docking and watercraft launching services for essential purposes
Clubhouses, restaurants, pools, meeting rooms, fitness centres or other recreational facilities on the premises closed to the public, with limited exceptions
Golf courses and driving ranges:
Indoor shooting ranges closed
Film and television production, including all supporting activities such as hair, makeup and wardrobe, are permitted to open if they meet the following conditions:
No studio audiences may be permitted to be on the film or television set
The set must be configured and operated in such a way as to enable persons on the set to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from other persons, except where necessary for the filming of the film or television production
Persons who provide hair or makeup services must wear appropriate personal protective equipment
Film and television post-production, visual effects and animation studios are permitted
Book and periodical production, publishing and distribution businesses are permitted
Interactive digital media businesses, including computer system software or application developers and publishers, and video game developers and publishers are permitted
Museums and other cultural amenities (for example, art galleries, science centres)
Only permitted to open if they operate as a restaurant, bar, or other food and drink establishment (take-out, drive-through and delivery service only)
In-person personal services not permitted, including:
party and wedding planners
personal organizer services
personal physical fitness or sports trainers
Photography studios and services
Real estate agencies
Permitted to operate; open houses permitted by appointment only
Existing bookings as of November 22, 2020 honoured regardless of when the rental occurs
No new bookings after November 22, 2020 permitted, except for individuals who are in need of housing
This does not apply to hotels, motels, lodges, resorts and other shared rental accommodation, including student residences
Only permitted to open if they operate as a restaurant, bar, or other food and drink establishment (take-out, drive-through and delivery service only)
Tour and guide services
Services that are permitted include:
Veterinary services and other businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters and research facilities
Businesses that provide services for the training and provision of service animals
Businesses that provide pet services, including pet grooming services, pet sitting services, pet walking services and pet training services
[Let's Build] Attractions in a demon pleasure palace that aren't sexual
My players are going to be visiting the palace of a demon lord of pleasure who's more CN than CE. I want to show that despite his title, he represents all forms of pleasure and good feelings, not just sex. Also space in his realm doesn't work the same way as it does in the mortal plane. He essentially has an infinite amount of space to work with and can customize it as he pleases, so there are no size constraints.
A casino to feel the thrill of gambling.
A dining hall with an endless buffet that visitors are allowed to eat as much as they wish.
An idyllic beach with perfectly white sand to relax or play on.
An arena where gladiators brawl it out against each other. The point of it isn't to kill each other as much as make the battles look stunning to the audience.
A hotel with the most comfortable beds possible. Here anyone with enough money can enjoy a good rest after all the excitement.
A beautiful and well tended garden filled with aromatic flowers and sweet fruits.
A vineyard where exquisitely-aged wine can be produced just by pressing the grapes. (u/_SovietMudkip_)
An opulent concert hall where the best musicians of the realms perform (u/_SovietMudkip_)
A small, cozy looking wooden library, with a cushioned bay window where rain gently scatters against the glass and a cup of some hot liquid gently rising with steam. (u/QuietOracle)
An owl-bear hugging zoo. Go to sleep in the embrace of their soft down. (u/QuietOracle)
The room of sensory experiences. The room itself is fairly plain, with the main feature being long tables running the length of the room. On closer inspection there are fist-sized carved holes, each one holding a small round crystal... (u/QuietOracle)
A room with dozens of sacks filled with beans, lentils and grains where visitors can put their hands in and let the contents run through their fingers. (u/_WhiteCubeCat_)
A hag (or any other long nailed creature) giving visitors a scalp massage. (u/_WhiteCubeCat_)
A museum of little-known or long-forgotten art pieces, sculptures, and history. (u/MoonlightMancer)
A festival full of colors, music, and drinks. Everyone seems to love you, and you can’t stop laughing. (u/MoonlightMancer)
A hallway of endless doors. In each room is someone you know, complimenting you endlessly, sharing every positive, even begrudgingly jealous thought they ever had about you. (u/MoonlightMancer)
A hot spring/spa, with fluffy towels, those showers that are like rain with perfect water pressure, mud baths, and refreshing food and drink. (u/lionesslindsey)
A room full of people that constantly give you validation and laugh at all your jokes. (u/CountryJeff)
Never-ending line of gold chalices, crystal vases, silver artwork, and other valuables. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
People who are “better” than you are marched in a stripped of their superior qualities. Beautiful people are disfigured and turned ugly. Wealthy powerful people are ruined and made to beg you for pennies. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
Mass groups of people enter the room and tell you how they admire you and how wonderful you are. They stroke your ego and inflate your pride. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
Servants do everything for you. Feed you, give you drinks, wash you, wipe your arse, etc. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
You are given a wickedly barbed leather whip. A slave creature is bound to a post and you can whip this creature to inflict your wrath upon them as much as you desire. If the poor soul dies, another is brought in to replace them. (u/PutridMeatPuppet)
'Knight for a day'. The full experience; lance, shiny outfit, a squire, a trusty stead, a dragon and a princess/prince to rescue. (u/mr_earthman)
A magical version of a movie theatre, allowing you to watch all manner of stories, true and legendary. (u/Clickclacktheblueguy)
A moderately large pool where small battleships with tiny animated crewmen can be deployed in teams to shell and board each other for the audience's amusement. Honored guests can put their strategic abilities to a test against other players by directly giving orders to their ships, and in certain hours guests may even swim in the pool to live out the power fantasy of being a sea monster. (u/VIixIXine)
A colorizer-device that transforms any clothes/armoweapons/other gear to any desired hue you wish (as long as it doesn’t affect the workings of the gear) (u/PaigeOrion)
A grand screen, showing a nearly infinite number of (screen)plays from all space and time, including the show with the disgraced human paladin delivering a green baby gnome back to his home land through incredible odds. (u/PaigeOrion)
A tiara that allows you to experience the sensory experience of a black cat as long as you wear it and close your eyes. (u/PaigeOrion)
A plethora of small, multicolored blocks that will magically interlock with one another to render almost any architectural structure imaginable. (But don’t step on them barefoot!) (u/PaigeOrion)
A band of musicians who are the perfect musical backup for any performances. Alone, they are more low key, but no less skilled, playing haunting melodies of unknown origin. (u/PaigeOrion)
A massive walk-in closet where you can try in any clothes in any fashion you like. (u/Tezla44)
A "schadenfreude" theatre, with shows that rely on slapstick and cringe comedy. (u/Martinus_XIV)
A room designed to give you closure. When you enter this room, someone you loved and lost is there, sitting in a couch. The room feels vaguely familiar, but you can't place why. If Detect Magic is used, the room is full of magic (divination, transmutation, illusion) but the person seems like a normal person. You can chat with them for as long as you like. They behave just as you remember them, with the good and the bad. (u/ohsurenerd)
A theatre performing the most magnificent tragedies. When you watch the performance, you find yourself completely enraptured: you cheer when things go right, scream when something terrifying happens, and moan and weep at the inevitable horrible ending. When you leave, it feels like removing a backpack full of lead that you'd been carrying for so long you'd forgotten it was there. (u/ohsurenerd)
A room where there's a button, there's someone outside and it explains that if you enter there's a 50/50 chance of you dying or not, the room won't actually kill you and it's there just to make you feel the pleasure of near death experience. (u/SupremeGodDictator)
A massage parlor with the universes best staff pampering your every need as you receive the most relaxing massage of your life whether it be scalp, back, foot, full body, etc. Has the worlds fluffiest towels and robes to luxuriate in while you wait or if you simply want to sit in a comfy chair and enjoy your ache free muscles. (u/Blue_Mando)
An arena where you and your opponents heal near instantly, and you can fight endlessly (u/ellen-the-educator)
A reenactment of your greatest failures in life, but this time they turn into your greatest achievements. (u/CountryJeff)
A room with the world's finest works of art.... and a myriad of implements you can use to destroy them. (u/redrosebeetle)
A torture chamber with mages on hand to create illusions of the people you wish to torture. Or increasingly realistic versions of them, depending on the level of magic you wish to implement. (u/redrosebeetle)
A room full of gold and jewels you can roll around in, ala Scrooge McDuck. But woe betide anyone who tries to take a souvenir.... (u/redrosebeetle)
As you're walking through the gardens, a person comes up to you. They introduce themselves as an adventurer who's also here on a quest. They seem to be the same class as you, and they're incredibly attractive-- almost exactly your type. You immediately click and end up spending the day together, talking about everything and anything. You tell them things you've never told anyone else before. They understand everything you tell them, almost innately, but they're still impressed by your feats and your stories. The two of you find an empty bedroom and close the door behind you. It's perfect in its imperfections. In the morning they're gone. No matter where you look, you can't find them. (u/ohsurenerd)
A room lined with shelves and shelves of bottles and vials containing a crimson liquid flowing slowly (like a syrup), all with small labels on them. As you inspect the labels, you realize they've all got names on them: famous adventurers, kings and queens, great sages. If you drink one, you experience a selection of their memories as they experienced them: battles won, discoveries made, historical alliances and friendships being forged or broken... (u/ohsurenerd)
A room that turns anyone that enters it into a child. It is full of every toy imaginable (u/arual_x)
A tour of a chocolate factory. Kobolds work there, and the owner, who gives the tour, is a Metallic Dragon in Humanoid form. (u/arual_x)
A fortune teller who has a Deck of Many Things with only the good cards. If you in any way offend them, they will sleight of hand vs perception check slip you a bad card instead. (u/arual_x)
An island theme park of reanimated dinosaurs. The owner is a level 20 Necromancer called Hamm Johnand. (u/arual_x)
A Virtual Reality style game that allows you to battle horrible monsters over and over again without risk of injury physical. But still allows you to gain XP... (u/arual_x)
A perfect expanse of thick snowy ground. There is constantly a snowball fight going on. (u/arual_x)
A giant room full of mattresses where everyone immediately gets a wonderful massage. (u/Revanclaw-and-memes)
A room full of gold and exquisite things, from beautiful furniture to magic weapons (u/Revanclaw-and-memes)
A seemingly endless room where adventurers can drink a potion to grow wings and flit about to their hearts' delight (u/iriedashur)
An ordinary classroom containing the adventurer's childhood friends, enemies, and their most hated teacher. Upon entering the room, the adventurer discovers that they are invisible, and free to pull pranks as they wish (u/iriedashur)
A brightly colored room piled high with wrapped gifts, large and small, for the adventurers to open endlessly (u/iriedashur)
A purple and black dragon named Ace who cooks you garlic bread and cake. (u/sanorace)
A magic pair of goggles/glasses that simulate any “What if” question you pose to them. (u/lewiscann)
A magical weather room where you can ask for any weather for your pleasure (I love listening to rain) (u/lewiscann)
A room full of lounges with a floating slow burning piece of wood that warms the whole area, the piece of wood is so large you can see the flame spread through this piece of wood forever (u/lewiscann)
A room where you can bite your fingernails and they grow back instantly ( so you can bite them some more )(u/razenastie)
A room with incredibly weakened versions of powerful monsters. (u/Your_InsideMan)
A heist simulator where you always get away with the big diamond, chest, etc (thrill of theft) (u/reallyenjoyscarbs)
A sauna room with a central pillar. Inside the pillar is a chamber containing a magic stone which can detect the exact temperature preferences of those inside, and making each person feel said preference. (u/TgagHammerstrike)
An oval-shaped room with countless glass lotion bottles, with each smelling better than the last. If you look for a specific scent (no matter how rare), you'll certainly find it with the help of a goblin near the back of the room. (u/TgagHammerstrike)
A room that consists of A bunch of mortals so utterly jaded from years of plesure seeking that they need the hardest of drugs and the wildest of sensations to feel anything,with lesser demons feeding on their pursuit of euphoria. Think the emperors children from warhammer 40k. (u/TgagHammerstrike)
A buffet of the lids of yogurt/pudding cups to lick. (u/Hunter37594)
An olfactory room that reads your memories and replicates smells that remind you of your most joyous moments. (u/lecorbusianus)
A wildlife reserve for Druids to find new and exotic wild shapes. (u/lecorbusianus)
A room with musical instruments that you're able to master immediately. (u/lecorbusianus)
A room with a creature in a dark robe sitting at a table covered in maps and dice. He helps you play a strange game where you and your party make up characters that go on adventures while the robed creature acts as all of the other characters and determines new events. (u/Clickclacktheblueguy)
Hey guys if you don't want Sisolak to shut us down then stop throwing house parties! This isn't rocket science!
I am BEYOND pissed with the people that are saying "Oh WoW SiSoLak iF thE MasKs aNd ReStRiCtiOns WoRk tHeN WhY ArE We KeEpIng ThE ReStRiCtiOns ThE SaMe?" I'll tell you why, Tyler. Because even though restaurants and business owners are staffing significantly less people, serving only 25% of the patrons they're used to serving, and even though we are all mandated to wear masks in stores, malls, bars, restaurants, public areas, grocery stores, gyms, etc. it doesn't stop the following people from spreading this virus and making our cases (AND OVERALL SITUATION IN NEVADA MUCH WORSE!) -Betty's gender reveal with 25+ guests at her house with no masks -Ashley's dream wedding that she had to reschedule 3x and settled on a "smaller" reception of 50 people with no masks -Jason is bored and wants to invite friends over for drinks. Those friends bring friends, and before you know if you have a rager with 30 people and no one is wearing masks or keeping their distance -Timmy's Christmas party with only 10 people. Nothing to worry about right? Except 2 of those 10 people were on the Strip recently where tourists DGAF about social distancing, masks, or anything but themselves You see, until people can either socialize RESPONSIBLY (with masks on, distanced, proper ventilation, etc) or temporarily stop socializing, this spread will continue and who gets blamed!? Innocent business owners who are losing their livelihoods DAILY. If you can't throw responsible small gatherings then don't do it! If your friends make fun of you because you come over wearing a mask then SCREW THEM! I don't care where you stand politically on this, but the facts are the facts: it's easier to spread the virus when you don't have a mask on! Why is this so difficult for people to understand?! Nobody can enforce what you do behind closed doors, but don't be surprised if our medical and economic situation worsens. Casinos will continue to under-staff, businesses will continue to close, lay-offs will continue, and it's an ongoing domino effect all because people can't sit still AND/OR socialize responsibly.
Stokes's Bristol Nightclub incident in detail (From: The Comeback Summer by Geoff Lemon)
IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a place where misadventure could begin, you can’t go past Mbargo. The nightclub’s streetfront is painted a purple so bright you’ll see it in your dreams. Strings of giant sequins shimmer in the breeze. Its phonically inventive name is spelt in silver letters that climb its three-storey terrace facade. Inside are strips of burning neon, a few booths, floorboards so marinated in drink that they have an ingredients list. Bristol is a student city on England’s south coast crowded with music and nightlife and street art. This is Banksy’s home town, and the tourism board suggests in rather strong terms that ‘you would be a fool not to see his amazing work firsthand’. The same organisation describes Mbargo as ‘intimate’, which is fair for a place where you can catch an STI standing up. Students cram into its modest dimensions while people with names like DJ Klaud battle for billing with £1.50 drink deals over seven sloppy nights a week. To get a sense of the story about to come, consider that it’s the kind of place open until two o’clock on a Monday morning, and that at two o’clock on a Monday morning, Ben Stokes still thought it had closed too early. The Ashes of 2017–18 had disciplinary bookends. It was after that series that Australia’s two leaders went off the rails in South Africa. It was a few weeks before that Ashes tour that England’s biggest star windmilled his way into his own disaster. In the early hours of 25 September 2017, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were barred from re-entering Mbargo after a night out on the piss. A Sunday thrashing of an abject West Indies in an ignored series at the fag-end of the season apparently required ample celebration. After arguing with the bouncer and hanging about at the door for a while, they wandered off to find a casino in the hope of more drinking. They’d barely made it around the corner before getting in the middle of a conflict between four locals. As is said on the internet, it escalated quickly. The 26 September reporting was bloodless. Withholding names, police stated that a man ‘was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm’ while another went to hospital with facial injuries. England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss separately confirmed that Stokes was the arrestee, adding that he had been released without charge and that Hales had gamely offered to ‘help police with their enquiries’. Administrators had a good chance of hiding behind that investigation, and the next day Stokes was named in the upcoming Ashes squad as expected. But that night the video emerged. Bristol student Max Wilson had shot it on his phone, then offered it to The Sun. What he thought was playing hardball was actually lowball: his opening price of £3000 was snapped up by a tabloid that would have paid ten times that. The Sun went on to make a mint by syndicating the rights worldwide. From a window above the fray, the vision showed six men on the street below performing the muddled choreography of a melee. One was right at the centre of it. One was waving a bottle, one dipped in and out, one tried to calm it. Two others floated around the edges. The central figure was unmistakable: red hair burning even in the streetlight as he launched into a series of blows against two of the men, falling to grapple with them on the ground, then following both across the street, swinging punches the whole way. Hales trailed behind, repeatedly and impotently shouting ‘Stokes! Stop! Stokes! Enough!’ The ECB could fudge issues that existed only in thickets of legalese, but not those captured in moving colour. Stokes was stood down from the next West Indies match, then suspended indefinitely. It emerged that he had broken his hand during the fight, something he’d done twice before while punching objects in dressing rooms. The response in Australia was fierce: Stokes was a thug, a lowlife, a selection that would disgrace England. It was not entirely coincidental that a ban for England’s best player would be handy for the Aussie team, but there was also a cultural split. In England, plenty of people still minimise pub fights as lads letting off steam. In Australia, heavy media coverage as a succession of young men were killed had inverted that tolerance. The discourse now saw any punch as potentially deadly and accordingly reckless. This was more poignant in a cricket context given that David Hookes, the dashing Test batsman and state coach, was killed in 2004 by a pub bouncer’s fist. The PR situation was bad for Stokes as details emerged of the injuries to the men he’d hit, and that one was a young war veteran and father. Stokes wasn’t officially removed from the Ashes squad through October but stayed behind when his teammates left, hoping for police to dismiss the matter in time for a late dash to Australia. His annual contract was renewed on the due date in case that came to pass. Then 29 October brought a twist in the tale. ‘Ben Stokes praised by gay couple after defending them from homophobic thugs,’ ran the headline. Kai Barry and Billy O’Connell had emerged. Not entirely out of nowhere: while Stokes had made no public comment, this story in his defence had initially been leaked to TV host Piers Morgan after the fight, as soon as the video appeared. Police body-camera footage played in court would later show that Stokes had given the same story to the arresting officer on the night. But no-one knew the identities of the fifth and sixth men in the video, and police appeals had turned up nothing. It was The Sun again with the breakthrough. Kai and Billy were perfect for a readership not keen on nuance. ‘We couldn’t believe it when we found out they were famous cricketers. I just thought Ben and Alex were quite hot, fit guys,’ said Kai, who was memorably described as a ‘former House of Fraser sales assistant’. The paper had the pair do a full photo shoot: layering the fake tan, showing off chest waxes, mixing Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton into a range of outfits. Their best shot had them standing back to back, heads turned to the camera, in a mirror-image Zoolander moment. Suddenly The Sun was the England team’s best friend. ‘Their claims could lead to the all-rounder being cleared over the punch-up and freed to play in the First Test in Australia next month,’ it gushed, then gave a tasting platter of quotes: ‘We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.’ ‘If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.’ ‘We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.’ Would it be known forever as Kai and Billy’s Ashes? No. While the Bristol boys provided spin for Stokes’ reputation they didn’t influence the police. With charges still pending there was little choice – not given Strauss had previously sacked Kevin Pietersen for being annoying. Stokes remained suspended through the Ashes and a one-day series in Australia, and lost the vice-captaincy. It was January 2018 before the Crown Prosecution Service laid a charge. That charge surprisingly came in as affray, a crime that can carry prison time but is classified as ‘a breach of the peace as a result of disorderly conduct’. The men he had punched, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, faced the same count, charged as equal participants in a fight rather than Stokes being charged with assaulting them. Alex Hales was not charged, despite being seen in the video to aim several kicks when Ryan Ali was lying on the ground. Given the underwhelming standing of the offence, Stokes was cleared by the ECB to tour New Zealand, and kept playing until his trial in August 2018, which he missed a Test to attend. None of the three defendants would be convicted. The reasoning behind the charges was never released and was attributed vaguely to ‘CPS lawyers’. The service gave the case to Alison Morgan, a prosecutor of a class known as Treasury Counsel who usually handle serious criminal matters. Morgan had a scheduling clash and never ended up court for the case, but in 2018 and 2019 she would go on to win damages and admissions of libel from The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph variously for incorrectly reporting that she had been responsible for the inadequate and inconsistent charging decisions. Morgan’s successor on the case was Nicholas Corsellis QC, who on the first day of trial was permitted by the CPS to request two assault charges be added against Stokes. ‘Upon further review,’ claimed a CPS statement, ‘we considered that additional assault charges would also be appropriate.’ This was patent nonsense from the service that eight months earlier had chosen the lesser charge. Any lawyer knows that no judge will allow new charges once a trial has begun, because the defence hasn’t had time to prepare. But such a request could deflect criticism of the prosecution service by technically making the judge the one who disallows the charge. Working through the story from the trial and the tape is complicated. You had a Ryan and a Ryan, a Hale and a Hales, a Billy and a Barry and a Ben. You had several versions of events as to who knew whom, who was drinking with whom, who had insulted whom and who had merely engaged in ‘banter’, a word that in modern Britain has to do an unconscionable amount of lifting. The reporting had constantly mixed up the Ryans as to who had which injury, who was in hospital, who had played which part in the fight, and whose mum had which stern words to say about it. Let’s agree that from now Ryan Ali is Ryan One, the firefighter who ended up with a fractured eye socket and a cracked tooth. Ryan Two can be Ryan Hale, the soldier who scored concussion and facial lacerations. Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell are best known per The Sun as Kai and Billy. In scorecard parlance we’ll leave the cricketers as Stokes and Hales. Amid the confusion, Stokes and his lawyers built his case in a straightforward way. The UK legal definition of affray is ‘if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety’. That means it doesn’t account for violence that harms a target, but violence that might frighten a theoretical bystander. The wiggle room for Stokes was with ‘unlawful’, because the charge excuses violence in defending oneself or others. This interpretation hinged on the beginning of the video, where Ryan One waves a beer bottle about and takes a swing at Kai. The version from Stokes was that he was minding his own business walking down the street when he heard homophobic abuse. He intervened verbally and was threatened verbally by Ryan One – something that Ryan One denied but that couldn’t be proved or disproved. In fear for his safety Stokes had to nullify that threat by bashing Ryan One before it went the other way. He registered Ryan Two in his peripheral vision as another possible threat, and again had only one recourse. Stokes also had to convince the jury to disregard testimony from Mbargo’s bouncer that he had been looking for a fight. A solid lump of a man, Andrew Cunningham had not enjoyed his patron’s attempts to get back into the club after the bouncer declined an offer of a bribe. ‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a cunt and I replied, “Thank you very much.” He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were shit and to look at my job.’ Cunningham described these words as coming in ‘a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone’, and said that Stokes still seemed angry as he walked away. These were details the doorman had nothing to gain by inventing, but each of them Stokes denied. By his own accounting he had drunk a beer at the game and three pints at his hotel, then ‘potentially had some Jägerbombs’ along with half a dozen vodkas at the club. He insisted that after all of this he was not drunk. If I may take a moment here to call upon the wisdom of experience – a person who cannot definitively say whether they have had any Jägerbombs has definitely had some Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is an experience that does not pass one by. Further to that, a person who says they have ‘potentially’ done something has definitely done that thing and doesn’t want to admit it. A person who has had between 15 and 24 standard drinks in one evening is shitfaced. A person who tries to bribe a bouncer £300 – three hundred quid! – to get into Mbargo – Mbargo! – is beyond shitfaced. If Stokes admitted that he was drunk then the prosecution could say he was out of control. He claimed clear recall of assessing a threat, feeling fear and deciding to protect himself with force. He confidently denied details from the bouncer’s testimony, like using the word ‘cunt’ or mentioning gold teeth. Yet on other details he claimed a ‘significant memory blackout’. He didn’t remember the punch that saw Ryan One taken away by ambulance. He didn’t remember what the Ryans had said to Kai and Billy, only that those words were homophobic. With no head injury, as one of the few people who hadn’t been hit, he had supposedly suffered this memory loss despite being sober. The version from Kai and Billy was compatible but vague: they had been walking along, they ‘heard … shouts’ of abuse from an unspecified source, then Stokes ‘stepped in’ and thus they avoided possible harm. They claimed to have been bought a drink by Stokes at Mbargo, although CCTV showed them meeting outside. The overall implication from both accounts was that the cricketers had been pals with Kai and Billy, while the Ryans as per The Sun’s headline were a roving band of thugs. The reality though is that the Ryans were the ones hanging out with Kai and Billy at Mbargo. Police discussed CCTV from inside the club in questioning and at trial. On that footage the four Bristolians bought drinks for one another, danced together, and Kai was noted to have variously touched Ryan Two’s crotch and Ryan One’s buttock. Ryan One told police that all of this was taken lightheartedly and wasn’t a problem. Indeed, when the Ryans called it a night the other two left with them. This much is clear from footage out the front of Mbargo, which shows Kai and Billy exit the club and start talking with a subdued Hales and a demonstrative Stokes, who are stuck outside. The vision was played in court to determine whether Stokes was antagonistic towards Kai and Billy, as he appears to impersonate them and to throw a lit cigarette their way. More interesting is that after a few minutes the Ryans emerge, and all six actors in the fight video briefly form a prequel in the one frame. Ryan Two pats Billy on the chest in friendly fashion with his right hand before clapping him on the back with his left. He moves past and does the same to Kai before leaving the shot. Ryan One stops to speak to Kai. They lean in for a moment, talking, then Kai turns and they walk out of frame together. Billy hangs around for a few seconds at the door and then looks after them and races to catch up. Stokes and Hales remain outside the club to remonstrate further with the bouncers. Whatever discord develops around the corner is between four men who left amicably together minutes earlier. There’s no way to know what caused that friction. If Ryan One did use homophobic slurs, he might have been drunkenly obnoxious for no reason. He might have had an insecure macho response to some extra flirtation. He might have thought unkindness was funny – ‘banter’ once again. Or he might have said something that was misunderstood, as both Ryans insisted in court that they had not used nor had the impulse to use any abusive language. What clearly didn’t happen was an attack by bigots on random passers-by. This kind of crime is regular enough that an audience understands the horror of it, and this is what was evoked by the public accounts of Stokes, Billy and Kai. All we know is that there was some verbal dispute among the Bristol locals, and that Stokes came along behind them and put himself in the middle of it. Ryan One responded to the interference aggressively and away they went. There are plenty of reasons to look sideways at the idea that Stokes was a saviour. Foremost, neither Kai nor Billy was called upon as witnesses in court. You’d think it would be ideal to have Stokes’ story backed up by those who benefited from his selflessness. But his defence team had developed the impression that the pair had shown a changeable recall of events amid a hard-partying lifestyle, and would be dismantled by the prosecution on the stand. That raises the question of whether The Sun coached their quotes for the 2017 interview. Despite missing court, Kai and Billy clearly enjoyed the attention. In 2018 after the trial they did a follow-up spread in the same paper about how poor Ben had been mistreated. They got a television spot on Good Morning Britain and glowed about his heroism. In 2019 The Sun wheeled them out once more to say that Stokes should get a knighthood. In 2017 they had ‘never watched cricket’ but by 2019 were supposedly volunteering sentences like, ‘He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.’ Whether they were paid for these appearances is not known, but the chance to be famous for a day can be lure enough. If you find this cynical, consider that on the night in question, the Bristol boys were so deeply moved and thankful for Ben’s intervention that they left him to be arrested and never attempted to find out who he was. Seconds after the video ended, an off-duty policeman reached the scene. You might think that someone grateful to a saviour would speak on his behalf. Instead, said Kai, ‘it all got a bit scary so we walked off. It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.’ They didn’t give their hero a thought for over a month while police issued multiple appeals for witnesses. As for Stokes, he told his arresting officer that ‘his friends’ had been attacked. After three minutes of chat outside a nightclub, these friends were so dear to him that he has never contacted them again: not after the newspaper piece, not after the verdict. He didn’t want to see how they were or thank them for their support. He didn’t mention them by name in his solicitor’s statement after the trial. The Stokes defence rested on Ryan One’s bottle, which he had carried out of Mbargo to finish a beer, not to use in a Sharks versus Jets amateur production. But once he turned it over to hold it by the neck it became a weapon. Intent and interpretation can change the material nature of things. Part of Stokes’ justification in court was that the bottle implied that the two Ryans might have ‘other weapons’ hidden away. You can understand how a jury could decide that created doubt. Not being convicted, though, doesn’t give the contents of the video a big green tick. It does not, as his lawyer claimed, vindicate Stokes. Looking in detail, Ryan One is belligerent but his movements telegraph a bluff. Hales is the person he’s gesturing at, but they’re several metres apart when Ryan One cocks his arm ostentatiously, showing off the bottle rather than bracing to swing. He skips forward but Hales skips back and Ryan One doesn’t follow. Kai stretches out an arm to impede Ryan One, who has a drunken stumble, nearly eats pavement, then staggers towards Kai and hits him in the back. That hand is still holding the bottle, but his strike is a side-arm cuff on a soft part of the body. It’s all pretty tame. This is where Stokes gets involved. Having moved across to protect Hales, he now takes three large steps to run around Kai and booms his first punch at Ryan One. They fall to the ground and the bottle clinks away. Stokes gets to his feet to punch down at the fallen man, while Hales arrives to kick him ineffectively then runs off across the street for some unknown reason. Ice-cream van? Stokes is soon back in the grapple having his shirt pulled up to show off his Durham tan. Ryan Two steps in for the first time to pull Stokes away, prompting a couple more random punches at this new target, then Stokes trips backwards over Ryan One and sprawls in the street. Hales chooses this moment to return and aim some solid kicks at the head of the man on the ground. Nothing so far is a triumph of moral philosophy or the pugilistic arts. But if it all stopped here, perhaps you could say it was somewhere approaching fair. Ryan One has behaved like a turnip and it’s not an entirely unjust world that would give him a whack across the chops. The antagonists have disentangled, Stokes has some distance, it’s time to dust off and go home. Ryan Two steps forward for this purpose with his palm raised in conciliatory style and says, ‘Settle down, stop.’ So Stokes punches him. It’s roughly his fifth punch overall, and he really winds up into this one. He misses so hard that he stumbles away into the shadows of the shop awnings along the road. Hales starts shouting for him to stop. Ryan Two backs into the street, still holding his palm up. Stokes closes on him from about five metres away, six large steps, to where Ryan Two is standing on his own. Stokes pushes him a couple of times, as Ryan Two keeps trying to placate him and saying ‘Stop.’ Stokes throws his sixth punch, largely missing as his target ducks. Ryan Two keeps pulling away and reversing, into the middle of the street now. Stokes follows him, grabbing his sleeve to drag him back. By this point Ryan One has found his feet and walked around behind his friend. Both of them are in the same line of sight for Stokes, and both are backing away. Stokes aims his seventh and his eighth punches, which Ryan Two tries to deflect, as Hales walks up behind Stokes to grab him. Stokes yanks away from his friend and switches to Ryan One instead, taking seven paces to grab him before throwing his ninth punch of the night. He grabs again; Ryan One blocks that arm and pushes himself back away from Stokes. Ryan Two again intercedes, putting himself between the two with his palms up and his arm extended. Stokes throws his tenth punch, a right-hander at the face of Ryan Two, then shoves him backwards. Ryan Two backs away once more, four paces. Stokes follows, steadies, lines up, then launches his strongest punch yet, his eleventh, a proper right hook from a solid base, one that cracks across the man’s head and gives him concussion. Ryan Two ends up flat on his back in the middle of the street, his hands still outstretched for a moment in useless protest until they twitch and drop to the blacktop. Stokes isn’t done. He once more shoves away the restraining Hales and follows Ryan One, who keeps backing away saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ Five more paces from Stokes before another blow at the man’s head. Kai and Billy are now standing over the poleaxed Ryan Two. The video ends, but seconds later Stokes will punch Ryan One hard enough to knock him out too, before off-duty cop Andrew Spure arrives on the scene to bring down the curtain. When the body-camera footage kicks in some minutes later, Stokes is in handcuffs but Ryan One is still laid out in the street. Ryan Two has regained consciousness, folded his shirt under his friend’s head and is asking police for an ambulance. ‘At this point, I felt vulnerable and frightened. I was concerned for myself and others.’ This was how Stokes described that sequence to the court. An elite athlete with years of gym work and training to snap a bat through the line of a ball with astounding power and precision, swinging fists as hard as he can at men with none of those advantages. Punching so hard that he breaks his hand, and repeatedly shoving away a friend so he can punch some more. Frightened and threatened by two targets shouting ‘Get back!’ and ‘Stop!’ The off-duty officer testified that Stokes ‘seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to’ Ryan One, who was ‘trying to back away or get away from the situation’. The student who filmed the video can be heard on the tape at one stage exclaiming ‘Fuck!’ and testified that it was because ‘I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up’. That tallied with the prosecutor’s depiction of ‘a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place’. The defendant stuck to his strategy. ‘No, my sole focus was to protect myself.’ All up, in the 33 seconds of footage after he falls over, Stokes takes 35 steps forward to keep hitting two men who keep trying to get away. Not once is he hit back. After the verdict, Stokes’ solicitor positioned him as the victim. It had been ‘an eleven-month ordeal for Ben … The jury’s decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night … He was minding his own business … It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present …’ The statement was impossibly self-righteous and self-absorbed. If there was anyone to feel sorry for it was Ryan Hale, the second of our two Ryans. He’s the one who emerged from the club with a friendly arm around the shoulder for Kai and Billy. He’s the one who interposed himself to end the fight, then kept putting himself back in the firing line, trying to calm an intimidating stranger while dodging blows. For his show of restraint he got laid out regardless, concussed in the street, then was issued a criminal charge equal to that of the man who hit him, and described in national media as a violent bigot in an untested story to support that man’s defence. Lawyers for Ryan Two made a more convincing post-trial statement, noting that Kai and Billy, ‘neither of whom were relied upon by the prosecution or the defence team for Mr Stokes, have taken the opportunity to speak with various media outlets about the alleged homophobic abuse that they received in the early hours of September 25. Mr Hale has passionately denied this allegation throughout the course of this case,’ it continued. ‘It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains. Both Mr Hale and Mr Ali were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes, and although Mr Stokes has been acquitted of an affray, Mr Hale struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault.’Good question. Avon and Somerset police were the investigating force, and they were frustrated by the decision. Ryan Two was filmed clearly not hurting anyone, but police were instructed by the CPS to proceed with a charge. Hales (the cricketer) was filmed fighting but ‘a decision was made at a senior level of the CPS’ not to proceed. Police expected Stokes to be charged with assault but the CPS declined. It doesn’t take a wild cynic to think that placing the same lukewarm charge on three men for vastly divergent behaviour might ensure that none would be convicted, even as the trial would maintain the pretence that a defendant of influential standing had not been given a free pass. A couple of years down the line, the original interview with Kai and Billy has disappeared. All traces have been scrubbed from The Sun website, its social media history, and even from the Wayback Machine internet archive. Given its headline of ‘homophobic thugs’ and text that names Ryan Two but not Ryan One, the libel liability isn’t hard to spot. Later interviews with Kai and Billy take the passive voice – they ‘suffered homophobic slurs outside a Bristol nightclub’. The article that was once claimed to exonerate brave Ben Stokes now links only to a missing content page, with a picture of a dropped ice-cream cone and the phrase ‘legal removal’ inserted into the web URL. In terms of consequences, Stokes missed one tour. When he resumed his career in January 2018, the Australians hadn’t yet ruined theirs. Their year-long bans looked much more stringent. But the Stokes case dragged on in other ways. With no criminal liability, the Australians confessed promptly enough for the sporting world to give them the full length of the lash. Their situation was ugly but there was closure. Stokes got stuck in legal stasis, unable to be fully backed or condemned. Instead his issue was always present, a browser full of open tabs that the ECB swore they would read any day now. Through 2018 Stokes was back but he wasn’t back, in the sunglasses and finger-guns sense. In his return one-day series he nearly cost England a match with 39 from 73 balls in Wellington. His first Test hit was a duck as England got rolled in Auckland for 58. At Trent Bridge while Stokes was injured, England posted a world record 481 against Australia. With Stokes three weeks later at the same ground they made 268. He crawled to 50 from 103, the second-slowest any Englishman had reached that milestone in 20 years. That span covered Alastair Cook’s whole career. It was apologetic batting, acting out responsibility via the scorecard. Stokes was creeping back into the team like he’d been kicked out in a blazing row and was hoping to tip-toe to the sofa. It was December 2018 before the ECB disciplinary committee ruled on him and Hales. In a ‘remarkable coincidence’, wrote Simon Heffer in The Telegraph, ‘the punishment both players faced in terms of bans from playing at international level was covered by the amount of games they had already missed when dropped by England’s selectors, in the furore that followed the incident’. The verdict compounded the omissions around the case by not addressing the violence at its heart. Nor did Stokes, apologising only ‘to my team-mates, coaches and support staff’, and then ‘to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute’. The implicit next step was to rebuild that reputation. It might have been easier had his court defence not meant that he wasn’t game to admit any fault at all. It might have been easier if he or his advisers had been willing to change tack once the trial was done. Imagine a world where Stokes had stood outside court and apologised for overreacting, for the injuries he’d caused, and for the time and energy he had sucked out of other people’s lives. That would have been a show of responsibility beyond a scorecard. When the time came around to assess forgiveness, it might have meant forgiveness was deserved.
[December 15, 2020] – New Content in Grand Theft Auto Online
The Cayo Perico Heist has been added to GTA Online. In this update, players are contacted by Miguel Madrazo who will task them with infiltrating one of the most secure private islands in the entire world, evading or neutralizing the heavily armed security forces stationed there, and escaping with valuable evidence along with as much art, gold and drug money as they can carry. Players must scope, prep, and execute the Heist either solo or with up to three other players and will have the opportunity to access several new weapons and vehicles along the way.
The Cayo Perico Island has been added to GTA Online. The Island consists of several different key locations that players can explore while scoping for the Heist, including a beach party where new DJ collective Keinemusik performs an exclusive set. Upon completing the Heist as leader, players can return to the Cayo Perico beach party at their convenience and invite others along for the journey.
The Kosatka has been added to GTA Online. The Kosatka is a new driveable Submarine property that acts as a base of operations for planning The Cayo Perico Heist. The Kosatka can be customized with Guided Missiles, a Sonar Station, and a Weapon Workshop. The Kosatka also comes with a Moon Pool where players can store the new Sparrow, Kraken Avisa and Pegassi Toreador vehicles.
The Music Locker has been added to GTA Online. The Music Locker is a new Nightclub located underground below The Diamond Casino & Resort, which acts as a social hub and is where players can first meet Miguel Madrazo to learn about The Cayo Perico Heist. The Music Locker is also the venue that showcases new DJs added with this update.
One new DJ has been added to GTA Online. Players can see this new DJ perform at The Music Locker:
A new feature to toggle strobe lights in The Music Locker has been added. In the Style section of the Interaction Menu, the strobe light toggle can be found, listed as “Music Locker Strobes” and can be toggled on or off.
New DJ Request Missions have been added to GTA Online for owners of the Casino Penthouse who have completed The Cayo Perico Heist. Players will earn special rewards for completing these requests.
Two new Radio Stations have been added:
K.U.L.T 99.1 FM
Still Slipping Los Santos
Two existing Radio Stations have been updated with all-new mixes and tracks:
New Hidden Cache collectibles have been added to GTA Online. Players can find up to 10 Hidden Caches on the ocean floor around San Andreas each day. Players who own the Kosatka Sonar Station can blip the Caches on their radar. Players are rewarded with GTA$ and RP for finding these Hidden Caches.
Nine new vehicles have been added to GTA Online:
Kurtz 31 Patrol Boat
One new weapon, the Military Rifle, has been added to GTA Online and can be purchased from Ammu-Nation stores.
Additional new weapons have been added to GTA Online and can be unlocked on Cayo Perico.
Over 180+ items of clothing have been added for both Male and Female characters in GTA Online.
Over 30+ Tattoos have been added to GTA Online.
Nine new Face Paints have been added to GTA Online.
Six new celebration emotes have been added to GTA Online, which can be used while dancing:
Several new Awards related to The Cayo Perico Heist have been added to GTA Online, including the opportunity for players to earn up to 1.4 million in bonus GTA$ for various Heist challenges.
Five new styles of Blackjack tables and four new styles of Three Card Poker tables are available for purchase for players who own a Casino Penthouse and the Private Dealer. They can be purchase from the Casino Shop using Chips and equipped using the Interaction Menu.
GTA Online Fixes
Game Stability and Performance
Fixed several issues that caused game crashes, freezes and other stability problems
Fixed a stability issue that caused high memory usage for PC players, which could have led to pausing/stuttering on low specification hardware
Fixed an issue that may have caused players to get stuck on a black screen during transitions between GTA Online content
Matchmaking & Networking
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on the sky camera after attempting to use the ‘Quick Job’ option to enter a Casino Heist lobby
Fixed an issue that resulted in players remaining in the same session after using the 'Find New Session’ option
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on a loading screen when accepting a Job invite while inside the Arcade
Fixed an issue that may have caused network errors during the race portion of the GTA Online Tutorial
Fixed position sync issues with the Rune Zhaba vehicle when some players in a GTA Online session are running at a high framerate
Fixed an issue that resulted in the news van getting stuck on a sign stopping Mission progression during the Casino Work Mission – Fake News
Fixed an issue that caused the Casino Heist Prep Mission – Duggan Shipments to end unexpectedly after launching
Fixed an issue that caused the Police Van from the Casino Heist Random Encounter – Patrick McReary to appear during an Open Wheel Race
Fixed an issue that resulted in the Mission starting with 3 seconds on the timer in the Casino Heist Random Encounter – Patrick McReary
Fixed multiple instances of incorrect button prompts that were present in several Arcade Games on the Japanese version of the game
Fixed overlapping text that was present in the Arcade Game – QUB3D
Fixed an issue that resulted in players with restricted accounts being able to see the custom initials of players on the high score screen of Arcade Games
Fixed an issue that caused the Movie Props Hidden Collectibles to be missing from their intended location
Fixed an issue that caused Lester’s car to not be drivable in the Heist Mission: Fleeca Job – Scope Out
Fixed an issue that caused players to be stuck with no functionality in the Heist Mission: Fleeca Job – Scope Out
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck after trying to launch the Heist Mission: Fleeca Job – Scope Out
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to use the skip trip functionality in the in the Heist Mission: Prison Break – Plane
Fixed incorrect objective text that was present in the Heist Mission: Prison Break – Station
Fixed an issue that caused players to fall through the map during the Casino Heist – Finale
Fixed an issue that caused players to be taken into a Casino Heist Mission after not choosing an option on the Next Job Voting Screen, despite having made no Casino Heist progress
Fixed visual issues that were present after quitting spectator mode during the Adversary Mode – Every Bullet Counts
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to re-equip rebreathers during the A Superyacht Life Mission – Salvage
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to use their weapon wheel during the A Superyacht Life Mission – Salvage
Fixed an issue that resulted in players losing camera functionality in the Gerald’s Last Play Mission – Make Ends Meat
Fixed a button conflict that was present in the Arena War – Game Masters
Fixed an issue that resulted in players falling under the map after modding a vehicle in the Arena Workshop Property
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to deliver Cargo during the Business Battle – Assassination
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on the objective ‘Hack the Security Panel' in the Business Battle – Factory Raid
Fixed an issue that caused the Mission to instantly fail after launching a Sell Mission
Awards and Daily Objectives
Fixed an issue that caused the Daily Challenge – 'Participate in the Featured Series' to not register correctly
Fixed issues that resulted in players’ Arcade set up progress getting reset
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck after drinking at the Arcade bar
Fixed camera issues that were present when entering the Arcade
Fixed an issue that resulted in players losing movement functionality after storing the Enus Paragon R (Armored) in their Office Garage
Fixed helicopter spawning issues on the Yacht
Fixed visual issues that were present with the Office Garage cutscene
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to exit their Arcade after accepting an invite
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on a loading screen after driving into the Arena Garage
Fixed an issue that prevented several variations of vehicle cinematic cameras from appearing for all vehicles
Fixed an issue that caused the Bravado Gauntlet Classic’s trade price to be displayed incorrectly on the Benny's Original Motorworks site
Fixed an issue that prevented Cargobob helicopters from being able to pick up the Vapid Peyote Custom using the hook
Fixed several miscellaneous model and texture issues for the following vehicles:
Invetero Coquette D10
Bravado Gauntlet Classic Custom
Albany Manana Custom
Vapid Peyote Custom
Bravado Youga Classic 4x4
Fixed clipping issues that were present with several of the ‘Open Shirts’ and ‘Open Party Shirts’
Fixed several miscellaneous clipping and texture issues for the following clothing items:
Animal masks (and other larger mask options)
Tucked Short Shirt variants
Untucked Short Shirt variants
Yacht Captain outfit
Reduced the frequency that the player will receive call, text and email notifications regarding content from previous GTA Online content updates
Fixed an issue that resulted in vehicles not arriving after being requested from Ms. Baker
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to interact with certain activities in the Casino
Fixed an issue that caused the Avenger’s entrance trigger to not be visible to players
Fixed an issue that resulted in spectators being unable to swap filters
Fixed an issue where PlayStation 4 players without a PS Plus subscription would not be directed to the correct menu when attempting to access GTA Online
Fixed an issue that caused some weapon magazines and attachments to be missing during cutscenes
I was asked to make a post about some stories within the Casino grounds so I thought I'd share. I have many so I'll do my best to pick the better ones. Some back information: I've been a Casino Dealer for 11 years, I've been a supervisor for five years, and I've been a Surveillance Operator for one year. I've worked at three properties, none of which are connected or owned by the same company. I've worked on : Government/Private/Native American owned casinos.
From Hero to Zero.
At my first Casino, I was one of the first group of people who were trained to deal Roulette . After 4 weeks of working 6PM-3AM then doing roulette training from 3AM-8AM (Not paid) , I actually really enjoyed the game and after about six months I became extremely quick at the number game and the pace of the action was steady with very low margin of errors. Young man walks in, cashes in for $500. He buys in for $2 chips and just loads the board. After a few spins and pretty decent hits, he then changes his chips from $2 to 5$ then to $10 and racks his winnings up to $10,000. It was then, five spins in a row, he loaded the board with some pretty gross bets, and every spin I would hit the ONE number with either NO CHIPS on it, or maybe 1 chip , He lost all $10,000 in a matter of minutes. He leaves , and I go on break. After my break I was going back to the same table and wouldn't you know it, the same young man walks in and cashes in another $500. He tells me he just sold his car outside and this is all that he had left. So we do the same deal, buys in for $2 chips, then slowly starts betting $5 chips, $10, $25...and he makes $10,000 AGAIN. Within the next 25 minutes it was straight agony. Every spin, same thing, he would bet $2500 in chips, and win only $250, $400, and after about a half hour he lost it all . Never saw the guy again. 2) Man down At this property, we are 24 hours for table games. It's currently 5AM , and I'm dealing some $25 Blackjack to this guy. He's probably early thirties , heavy guy. He's sober as can be, but right away I can tell he's been losing. We know how much you've bought in for, how much your down, or up, and I could see he was down $2000+. After about twenty minutes of pure losing, his temper starts to flare.At this point I now have two other guests at my table. Drinking coffee, not saying a word, just losing their money. After losing hand, after hand, this guy looks me straight in the eye, seized up, starts shaking, he can't move. He tries to punch towards me and smashes his stack of chips all over the place and falls backwards to the floor. I call for security, we cannot touch him due to liability . I can't move from my table because, well, liability / casino cash property, all I can do is try to talk to him. As I'm doing so, these other two woman who are sitting at my table just look at me and one says "OK, dealer, cmon lets go " as she taps the table telling me to start dealing and forget about the guy having a stroke on the floor. As security takes him to the ambulance out front, I had to stay behind for a couple minutes and give a statement. I go on break. I come back, and 45 minutes later, he comes right back in with a oxygen tank and keeps gambling for the remainder of the morning. 3) You get a dildo, and YOU get a dildo! On a late summer Saturday night, we had a large event for these massive muscle guys/strongman competition type thing. After their show, I'm at the roulette table , and five of these boys come over to play. They were absolutely hilarious. They were feeling pretty good, cashed in somewhat large amounts and I could tell this was going to be a fun time. After about a hour of dealing to these guys, it's almost midnight, everybody is pretty hammered , I spin the ball, and all five of these guys take out these god damn (what I can only tell was) two feet purple dildos from inside their pants, and wiping them around in the air. The ladies were just loving it, one of the dildos landed in the roulette wheel and we had to shut the table down to re-calibrate the wheel to make sure nothing had been changed. I just remember that night was so much damn fun, I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I would never forget it. 4) Full Moon On this day, I was actually training dealers / supervising them on small games like Three Card poker. We opened the table at 10AM, and this older man came and sat down . He played all day. The jackpot was $21,000 and that was pretty high for this table. He played, and played and played. He's one of the players where you know he's wearing a diaper because he's been drinking coffee/pop all day and hasn't moved in eight hours. As the day went on, this man never moved from his chair. Getting closer to midnight, he was aggravated and said "I need to go have a smoke, I'm getting killed in here". He left, and the very next hand, the lady beside him was dealt the jackpot . He didn't say much, but you could just tell he just hated life at that very moment because had he not gotten up, it would of been his hand. The man calmly took his cane , his hat, jacket, coffee, and left. The next morning I found out when he did leave he drove his car straight through his bank and was arrested. 5) Slick Robber I actually give props to people who can actually pull this off. This story may confuse you so I'll try and explain things as best as possible. A lot of casinos have machines as soon as you walk through the front doors. A man walks up to one of these machines and sticks in HIS $100 bill. He doesn't gamble it, instead he hits the cash out button and gets a $100 TITO ticket where he then takes the ticket to the ATM machine to get his $100. Now remember, his Original $100 is in the slot machine. He then takes the $100 from the ATM and goes back to the same machine, and repeats this process over a hundred times. Essentially he's taking money from the ATM, and loading up the Slot Machine . Now he knows he can't do it too much because if the slot machine gets full of money, the machine will shut down and the slow attendant will have to take all the cash out. So he deposits over $10,000 , then has a small crowbar, he cracks the machine open and makes a run out the front door. To my knowledge he was never caught . But damn, that was pretty smart . EDIT: 6) Mental Health is a thing. 10PM man walks in to play some high limit BlackJack. This guy knows the game and played well. Dressed nice, drank juice/tea , a little bit of a attitude, cashed in over $10,000. When this man was half way down his buy in, he said something a long the lines of "If I don't win here tonight, I'm going to go set myself on fire." I wasn't sure if he was serious because when people are down, they tend to say a lot of nonsense. I actually left early that night, and from a third party was told he did exactly that in the parking lot. The next day it was clear something terrible had gone wrong in the parking lot . EDIT: 7) Nothing good happens after midnight After a busy Saturday night, I was dealing a mix of games, and during this story I was in the middle of Blackjack. I had one young kid (probably 19) sitting in the middle, one older male probably in his later 40's sitting beside him on his right, and I had a really nice couple in their 20's sitting together at the other side. This young kid wasn't playing just sort of watching, and ever time the old man won he would give this young guy some of his winnings. The older man, was a wine drinker, and he had black between all of his teeth, I'll never forget. He's a little drunk but nothing terrible. As the night goes on, the older man goes and uses the washroom, at which point the couple asked the young guy "Oh was that your dad?" and the young guy says "Hah, no I wish!". The couple and I just looked at each other. This old guy, was in complete control over this kid. Absolutely disgusting. The night ends, and I find out the couple called a few of their friends, and they all waited outside by this old mans truck and beat the living hell out of him. 40 years old, sleeping with a 19 year old, completely brain washed . Very weird. 8) That one co-worker where you just wish they would quit. One of our co-workers, nice guy but had a very big ego and we as employees just sorta left him alone. One day he had enough of the atmosphere and quit. Now usually when you quit, you cannot come back until you paperwork is finalized. How ever, HR was in that day, and he was given the paperwork the very next day. He came in, cashed in $1000, and made $50,000 in about a hour at the Baccarat table. My manager, was extremely annoyed, because now this guy is just mocking the casino and having the time of his life (Thanks for the big tip by the way :) ) and so he decides to call it quits. He wants to ban himself and he wants $50,000 in cash. The casino says Nope, we are going to give you a cheque. Now here's the thing, most business people will take the cheque, how ever you CANT CASH the cheque until the following monday because it's on that day where the funds are available. The casino on the other hand will cash their own check in anytime , because they want you to play. So this guy pretty much said go to hell I want my cash, and he called the police. Police show up, and management promptly gave him the cash.I though it was absolutely hilarious . 9) No good deed goes un punished I was dealing Three Card Poker, and the jackpot was around $17,000. This old man (a regular) was sitting there all day grinding it out. Super nice guy, always a pleasure to deal to. Well, after hours of playing, he stands up and says "Hey john!, can you come here for a minute?" so his buddy John comes over. He says to John "I need to go take a piss real quick, can you play my card until I get back?" John agrees . John takes the chips and I stop him and explain he can't play his friends chips, he needs to cash in and play his own. And he does. Welp, second hand out and bam, doesn't he win it. The old man comes back and is so happy, he can't believe it. John, took his $17,000, didn't say a word to his "buddy" and walked away. I never felt so much hatred in all my life. Didn't give him a dollar, not a thank you, nothing. The old man sits back down again, the progressive resets to $2500, and he sat there grinding away again. 10) The Top Knot I had this player , young guy, who was born into a fortune. One of his relatives passed away and left him a pretty big sizable amount of money, so he played poker every single day for the rest of his days. I will add, he IS a good player. I did not enjoy his company just because of the "Know-it-All" attitude, but he was good. We'll call him John. John is 5'10, and well build, with muscle. John also decided today was the day to show off his Top Knot. (google top knot if you're not sure what I mean) So he sits down, and he's absolutely KILLING the table. Every hand, after hand, after hand. And because he's in such a good mood, he's playing any two cards, calling any $500 bet, and he's just dominating. This one guy at the table decided he had enough. He got up, without saying a word and left. A moment later, he comes back in, walks behind John, and takes a pair of scissors , and cuts off his Top Knot. I for one couldn't believe it, dying laughing inside, and it just turned into one big brawl. That was a good day. 11) That one bad seed One of my best friends who I haven't seen in YEARS ended up being part of the crew. Was kind of nice to catch up. We never really got along as we grew up because he has a very high picture of himself . He wanted that 10/10 woman. A mansion, and a new Corvette. So every month or so we would all go up to the other casino to play. I myself would bring no more than $500, but I couldn't understand how this guy (we'll call him Kyle) was spending THOUSANDS of dollars at the tables. So this wen on for a few months. Well, one day, as we're closing the casino, he and I are in the High Limit room and we're getting ready to close the tables. We are told to take the chips out, count them, put them back, sign this piece of paper and that's it. Well as the supervisor was locking the tray, the piece of paper fell to the floor, so she asked Kyle to grab the piece of paper. As he bends over, a great big $500 chip falls right out of his sock. Kyle was fired immediately , but it all made sense. They offered Kyle a deal where if he replaced all the stolen chips they would not make it public. Not sure how that turned out. 12) If I ever decide to write a book, this will be the last chapter: <3 After working at my first Casino for five years, I met a Indian woman who was visiting from another part of the country. During this time I was explaining a game to her, which honestly I don't think she even cared. She explained she was visiting and sight seeing , and that was that.Well, two years later I ended up moving to the other side of the country and transferred casinos, and low and behold she worked there as a Dealer. We got married , and it's been 5 years. 13) The Tip One of our tables that we've had for a couple years had a progressive jackpot that had reached $100,000. The dealer at the table was sitting pretty lonely. Nobody really played the game because people knew it was extremely difficult to win the jackpot. My memory is a tad foggy, but you somehow needed to flop the royal flush. This young guy sits down and says to the dealer, we'll call him John. "John, if you pay me that jackpot, I will tip you $10,000" Well John started dealing, and about a half hour into his shift, he F*cking did it. He dealt him the royal. And you know something?This young lad, kept his word, and he made sure there was a audience, and he tipped exactly $10,000. That was a moment right there. That pay cheque was real nice. I think we all got about $500 more than usual. The moment that jackpot was awarded they got rid of the table because the money it was making was not near what the casino wanted. I'm sure there have been bigger tips at other casinos, but that was something special . 14) The Lawsuit Now this story I'm going to have to beat around the bush a bit due to the nature of what happened. I can't won't answer any questions that you may have on this topic other than what I have to say because it had a lot of publicity . The waitresses at this casino had to wear very thin sexy clothes. Not borderline legal, but it was noticed. One day they called all the waitresses to come in and explained they were changing their outfit to something even more sexier. Now these new dresses were very very borderline legal . The staff said No way. We're not wearing that.So , friday night comes, and the staff work their whole shift, then at the end of their shift were called into a meeting and were all fired. Welp, one of those ladies father was a pretty big time lawyer. Brough the casino to court and won. They won big. Good for them. We had no waitresses for a couple days haha. Thanks for reading along, I have many more I can add as the day goes on, those were just some off the top of my head. Feel free to ask any questions of the Casino industry. I don't really have many stories about the surveillance department because that's the one area where I can't really say a whole lot due to its privacy and contracts I was and still am under.
The Pretty Idiot's Guide to Human Space: Rugen (part 1)
The salvo of coilgun shells smashes into the complex of bunkers on the opposite riverbank, sending a spray of charred dirt, sandbags, and timber flying into the air. A sloped bastion caves in, burying the rifle pits at its base. One leg of a watchtower is blasted away and the whole thing sways drunkenly before twisting and collapsing across the trenches, the flagpole on its roof somehow landing upright and leaving the enemy's blue-and-gold standard waving in the debris-laden breeze. The Human artillerymen beside me let out a cheer and jump up and down, slapping each other's outstretched hands. The army of Humans watching from beyond the battery all jump around and cheer, too, their yells loud even compared to a half-dozen high explosive shells. And... so do the Human gunners on the hillside across the river, and the army behind them. They all cheer and applaud. Even though they are, in fact, the enemy whose defenses are getting blasted into pieces the size of a poet's paycheck by the aforementioned coilguns. So... I cheer my lovely green head off right along with them, because things are exploding and stuff is burning and apparently the Humans on this planet just generally approve of that sort of thing. My name is Solontha reValthinna, and I'm the Felra who goes to the places nobody else wants to and learns about them the hard way so you can learn about them the easy way. That's my angle as an author, and that's why I'm the Pretty Idiot. ---- "Solontha, darling, I've got just the destination for your next Pretty Idiot's Guide!" My business agent only sounds that chirpy when she's found some new way to try to get me killed. I'd like to think it's because the more trouble I get into, the better the resulting books turn out. That, or she still hasn't forgiven me for that topless dance I did at the Publishers' Guild dinner party she took me to. In my defense, they provided the liquor. I just happened to drink a lot of it. Also in my defense, my topless dancing is godlike. "Not back to the Tarq Imperium, I hope? They said they'd shoot me if they ever caught me inside their borders again." My agent clucked at me. "They said no such thing. They just heavily implied it. And that was only because you wrote that they were a bunch of pointlessly brutal totalitarian fuckwads." I snorted. "That's right. And it was the 'fuckwad' part that they objected to." "Nobody likes being called a fuckwad, Solontha. Fuckwads least of all. But, no, I'm thinking we send you to write about a Human planet this time." Humans? Interesting... The few I've known, I've mostly liked. Well, I don't hate them, anyway. And they look kind of like us Felra, at least a little bit. If you took a Felra and eliminated everything behind her forelegs -- and kept her from dying from lack of some important organs, obviously -- you would have something that still doesn't look particularly like a Human. So, dye her green skin an earthier color, replace her beautiful tresses of feathery-branching tvan with coarser, single-stranded hair, remove one pair of breasts, and take a digit from each hand. She still doesn't look quite Human. Make her face a bit rounder and flatter, thicken her bone structure, and Congratulations! You've surgically converted a Felra into something that could possibly maybe pass for a Human in really poor lighting. Also, you're a sick fuck for doing such a thing. Point being, Humans are sufficiently similar enough to us that they can be cute, in a goofy bipedal sort of way. And immersing yourself in an alien culture can be more rewarding if you can also immerse yourself in some attractive alien nookie along the way. Any aspiring travel writers who are reading this can consider that a pro-tip from the Pretty Idiot. "So, any particular Human world? Somewhere with casinos, maybe? Or some place run by the Church of Giving Money, Liquor, and Carnal Pleasure to Sexy Alien Visitors?" That last bit caught my agent off-guard. "Is that an actual religion?" "If it was, do you think I'd still be working?" "Of course you would. You love travel, trouble, and remunerated smart-assery too much to just quit." Ah, I'm such a lucky Felra. Most agents charge extra for that kind of quality banter. "The place I've got in mind for you is Rugen, a frontier-level colony world well off the outer fringe of the Arm." "The tail-tip of nowhere, in other words. And what's the attraction for a Pretty Idiot to play tourist there? Societal collapse? Rampaging Felra-eating predators? Pandemic-level clown outbreak?" "How about the longest-running ongoing war in the Known Galaxy? Two hundred eighty-seven common years and no end in sight." Yow. I'm passingly familiar with war, having wandered through five or six of varying size and awfulness while sightseeing -- and writing about said sightseeing -- and three centuries is a lot of war, especially confined to one planet. I could only imagine how that could twist and scar a world and its people. The devastation. The tragedy of wasted lives and resources. The sheer dysfunctionality of societies raised for generation after generation on bitter vengeance and the never-ending march towards victory and a peace they can no longer even properly conceptualize. A world of bloodlust, paranoia, and the threat of sudden brutal death staining every moment of every day. Why, the possibilities for misery were endless. It sounded perfect for a vacation getaway. ---- I took regular commercial liners as far as Thielbarra, but had to buy passage from there to Rugen on an independent freighter that was slightly more reputable than a spaceport prostitute, just not as hygienic. There were only three other passengers headed to my destination, including a Kreevin botanical researcher who ignored everybody and a not-very-sober Zharg who worked for one of the big interstellar communications providers and who must have fucked up his job just badly enough to get sent to an isolated hole-in-the-void posting, but not quite badly enough to be fired. I ended up sharing a cabin with the only other quadruped, an adorably optimistic Iraitrian missionary who was going to Rugen to set up a temple to the Harmonious Gods and try to get a congregation going. Being the cynical agnostic wretch that I am, I just had to ask how much demand she thought there would be for a doctrine of cooperative religious pacifism in the middle of a war zone. "You offer food to the starving, not to those with bellies already full," she told me. "Our beliefs are meant to be applied in the world, not just agreed with in the temple." And did she expect to end the war all by herself? "I hope to make a difference to someone. Whether it's by teaching the Way, by being an example, or just by offering a person who needs it a roof, a meal, and a sympathetic ear. If even one person considers their life to be better for having known me, my mission will be worthwhile." Damn. I had been entertaining myself with the idea of flirting mercilessly with her for the whole trip, but all that earnestness. All that simple, undeniable goodness. Even my cynicism and libido combined couldn't look that in the face. So I flirted with the ship's captain, instead. Not that there was any real challenge in it, as despite Felra not being four-armed lizard people, Jixavan males are completely enamored of our tails, which are both more voluptuous and generally more exposed than those of their own females. Pro-tip from the Pretty Idiot: if you're a Felra and need to manipulate a Jixavan guy, buy one of those tail-stockings their women wear. Even the biggest ones will be too tight and short for you, so cut a bunch of slashes in it and pull it as far up your tail as it will go. Then wear a skirt short enough to expose the top hem of the tail-stocking and enjoy your newfound powers of persuasion. I ended up getting twenty percent off my fare and three marriage proposals. Captain Akothin had made a few runs to Rugen before, so I was able to ask him some questions about the place. If you've never read one of my Pretty Idiot's Guides before, part of my schtick, if you will, is lack of prior research regarding the places I go. My self-imposed limitation is that I can only obtain information by seeing for myself or asking someone with firsthand experience. No encyclopedias or hyperweb research. That media stuff is, at best, quarter-truths and agenda-driven grazershit, anyway. By going into a place without 'knowledge' of it, I go with fewer preconceptions. That's the 'Idiot' part of the title. The 'Pretty' part is because I am. And if you have to face life as an idiot, it really does help to be a pretty one. The good captain had never actually made planetfall on Rugen, always conducting business from orbit. Sensible. Boring, but sensible. I therefore confined my inquiries to spacers' matters. Like, were we going to have any issues with pirates or paramilitaries on our way in-system? "No pirates. Not enough shipping in or out for those guys to make a living raiding it and too far from any active lanes to make a useful base. Pirates operating across star systems have to really watch their fuel expenditures." Captain Akothin then proceeded to give a suspiciously well-considered dissertation on how to turn a profit in space piracy, which I will not share here but have filed away for future reference should too many of my books bomb on the market. And as for paramilitary ships affiliated with the warring factions? "I've never seen any." What about orbital defenses? Would there be minefields to be tensely navigated? Would we be subject to stop-and-search by military patrol craft? "Rugen's a frontier-level system." The captain looked at me like I was a moron, albeit a moron with an incredibly sexy and distracting tail. "There ain't even a transshipment station, just a few cheapo weather and comm satellites. I just put the ship in a parking orbit and they send shuttles up. But it's not like the shipments are ever so big you'd need an orbital dock anyway, and shuttles are fine for passengers. Of course, that also means no orbital repair yard and no fuel depot, but that's not much worry since Rugen is just a long detour off our Thielbarra-to-Rialto route and I always do a refuel and refit at Thielbarra for safety's sake and, um, will you marry me?" ---- The shuttle ride down was as uneventful as such things generally are and afforded a chance to take in the view of Rugen from medium-high orbit. It was not a particularly exciting planet seen from 18,000 miles above its equator -- under the sparse clouds, some smallish seas, broad smears of iron-red in the right places to be deserts, accented by patches and streamers of an odd green that was almost an indecisive blue, and some blink-and-you'd-miss-them polar caps. But the thing is, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference how many planets you've seen out the porthole, or how much of an undifferentiated dirtball the one below you is. There is no such thing as 'ordinary' when it comes to the sight of a whole damn world suspended in space right in front of you. It's a moment of magic, every single time, and anybody who says otherwise is lying, or is a soulless shithead. Or, since those aren't mutually exclusive, they could be both, like a corporate journalist or a Rybathi. I used the flight time to mentally review what firsthand knowledge of Humans I possessed. Pro-tip-slash-caveat: members of a species often behave very differently in their own polities than they do in foreign or more cosmopolitan settings. Expatriates or visitors to your world are typically trying to get along in your society and tend to adjust their behavior accordingly. Their behavior when they are in the majority and they get to decide what's normal may be radically different. That said, there were a few truths I felt comfortable in ascribing to Humans in general based on experience. For starters, sexual dimorphism. Humans born biologically male or female remain that sex, unless medically altered. Females are usually smaller and are the ones with slightly inadequate breasts. Males tend to be bigger, stronger, and coarser-looking and, like most mammaloid males, have completely inadequate breasts. This dimorphism leads to the most basic social structures being built around male-female pairings and their offspring -- family -- rather than the looser pack-based structure of Felra. These family structures appear to have a relationship similar to, though vastly more complicated than, the Felra mother-daughter bond. Basically, if you wrong a Human, you may face retribution not just from her, but from her entire bloodline. Except sometimes you won't, because, like I said, complicated. Second, though many Galactics tend to use the terms 'Human' and 'Terran' as synonyms, Humans emphatically do not. Among Humans, the word 'Terran' refers specifically to an inhabitant of the Terran Commonwealth, the oldest, largest, and apparently most detested Human stellar nation. Humans who are not Commonwealth natives tend to have negative reactions to being called 'Terrans'. In this context, the term 'negative reactions' seems to cover a range from 'cold and profane verbal correction' to 'assault with a power-nailer'. Maybe this trip would offer a chance to find out why that might be? I'd also been told that actual Terrans react poorly to being called 'Human', though I've never met any Commonwealth Terrans and can't say for sure if that's true. Third, Humans tend to be territorial, and therefore possessive. They have a strong impulse to guard things they have laid claim to. Don't try to make use of anything a Human regards as their own without asking permission first, even if you intend to give it right back. This impulse extends quite strongly to their romantic or sexual partners as well and attempting to bed, or even flirt with, a Human who has been claimed by another will tend to be met with hostility. You could try asking for permission, I guess, but that just seems to lead to socially awkward hostility. And if you don't know why socially awkward hostility is worse than the regular kind, then obviously you've never been in a fistfight with a drunken Dahu who was sporting a clingy wet kilt and a massive erection. next **** More Known Galaxy stories
This chapter was a labour of love, heists are hard. Big thanks to u/eruwenn for helping tidy up this bag of snakes. First / Prev / Next
“Ranjaz K’Lua, you thieving scumbag!” the Kah’Ree in the purple suit exclaimed loudly as he spotted them across the busy room. “As I live and skral, I never thought you would have the Jolos show your face here again!” Two J’Rami in suits detached themselves from the lobby wall, walking towards the Kittran and his friends. “Alfor, my old friend!” Ranjaz smiled broadly. “No need for the welcoming party, I’ve got your credits” —he gestured to Cygna— “and a sweetener, for all the trouble I caused last time.” Alfor paused, lecherous eyes assessing the Fae’Dan. “You know I have a thing for purple.” He chuckled at his own joke and waved the guards back to their posts. “How about we have a drink, and discuss your forgiveness.” He pointed to Thor and Eruwenn. “Brought your own security, or are these Gal. Fed. goons? Everyone knows about your probation.” The Kittran gave a broad grin. “I got a Tulseria-damned pardon, a new ship and a very lucrative opportunity.” The Kah’Ree smiled. “How’d a thieving cat like you get a pardon?” He gave Ranjaz an appraising look up and down. “Oh? Now, let me guess, you need something from me and my brother?” Ranjaz fired his finger guns. “You were always the smart one Alfor, that’s why you run the casino floor.” The Kittran stepped in close. “The item, do you still have it?” Alfor tilted his head back and away from Ranjaz. “Your little guarantee?” He looked back down at Ranjaz. “We have it somewhere safe. Had some unusual people come by after you got caught. Asked a lot of questions. Made a lot of threats.” His face contorted in anger. “We got audited thanks to you.” The Kittran smiled. “If only they knew you better, they could have simply paid you for the information.” “We give nothing for free.” The Kah’Ree gave a sinister smile. “House rule.” Ranjaz walked forward to put his his arm on Alfor’s back. “Let’s go see your brother. Have a few drinks, maybe gamble a little, and discuss our future riches.”
Ripley stood in the shadows of the staff shuttle bay, watching as the numerous employees of assorted races came and went. Loud laughter caught her attention, and a very strangely dressed Niham broke away from a small group and walked towards her. Ripley tried to maintain her low profile as the scantily clad female strutted towards her in long black boots with pointed heels that clacked loudly with every step. Deliberately avoiding eye contact the Awakened tried to will herself into the wall but it was too late and a voice called out to her. “Hey Darling! You must be the one I’m looking for.” Ripley shook her head. The Kittran had said the contact was an Ashi pirate captain, a master gambler and expert in procuring the unusual. “I don’t-” “Listen cutie,” she interrupted, “you’re the one lurking in dark corners drawing attention to yourself. I’ve got your security card. You tell that fluffy little stud he owes me. And more than a bottle of Fae’Dan wine and a good time, if you know what I mean.” She held up the card between her fingers, just a little out of Ripley’s reach. The Awakened considered the phrase ‘fluffy little stud’ and decided that, despite her hopes, this was probably her contact. “You’re Captain Whiplash?” The Ashi laughed genuinely, the jiggling of tightly squeezed breasts bursting at shiny black restraints making Ripley nervous. “Oh, Darling! Only my little pets call me that! You may call me Sho’Na.” Ripley was momentarily confused. “So, you aren’t a pirate captain?” “I’m anything they pay me to be.” She smiled at the silver-haired woman's naivety. “You really are new to this.” Ripley, caught off guard, simply nodded, then replied, “I’m a quick learner.” “Good for you, Darling.” Sho’Na handed over the card. “Just make sure you get paid up front, and don’t use your real name with clients. Ruins the mystique.” Ripley was unsure of what was being said. Turning the card over in her hands she saw that the holo-image on the front was of a male Arkellian. “This isn’t me?” “Honey, I was given half a cycle to get you a level three security card. Just be glad it’s a biped.” Sho’Na looked Ripley up and down. “Our mutual acquaintance told me you were some sort of master of disguise who could even trick Selva Blaster.” Ripley paused, then smiled. Her appearance had become such an integral part of her identity she had forgotten that it was entirely optional. “It won’t be a problem.” She looked at the card again. “Unless the owner comes looking for it.” Sho’Na gave another bosom-trembling laugh that threatened to spill out at any moment. “Oh, don’t worry, he’s tied up at the moment.” The Awakened considered the risk. “Hmmm, but for how long?” The few strips of shiny black material that comprised Sho’Na’s revealing outfit strained under her amusement. “Don’t you worry, Darling. He paid for the whole night.”
Eruwenn had reassessed her opinion of Ranjaz many times since meeting him. The criminal. The loyal friend. The lazy trouble-maker. All were true, but now she was seeing something new. He sat opposite Toran, the brother of Alfor, in a game of dalcho she wished she could have taken part in, but was equally glad she did not. At first she had thought the Kittran was outmatched, a few reckless mistakes costing him dearly as the Kah’Ree deftly selected his tiles. Toran was clearly a seasoned gambler, using a blend of the Remee Le’Bow Gambit and the Kowals’Kee Analysis she hadn’t seen before. It seemed to be dismantling Ranjaz’s tiles before he could even prepare his cards. A few fortunate dice rolls and he had taken a strong lead from the outset. The Kittran appeared desperate, playing any tile available to try and slow the defeat. It had all been a ruse, she saw it; Ranjaz had saved his best tiles and carefully thrown hands to manipulate the cards. In just a few rounds he would be able to dominate the board and raise the stakes, recouping his losses and changing the course of the game entirely. She had encountered few players who could manipulate the game so deftly, using memory and layers of strategy to corner their opponent. It was magnificent. Eruwenn couldn’t tear her eyes from the board as she stood beside Thor. The Awakened had shown no interest in the game, studiously watching the opposite door as Toran’s staff came in and out. When a waiter entered and began preparing drinks at the small private bar in the executive gambling room, Thor coughed. It was a strange thing for an Awakened to do, and Eruwenn finally looked up from the table. “Are you ok?” Thor nodded. By the time he had looked towards her, she had returned her attention completely to the game. “You don’t seem concerned about your friend?” he asked. The Anatidae watched as Ranjaz used a blind double feint, and the sheer audacity of such a move made her swallow hard. She didn’t look back to Thor, but mumbled a response. “I’m very confident in her abilities.” The waiter was methodically placing drinks by each of the players, but when they stood behind Ranjaz the Kittran surged to his feet, shouting, “Hey! No cheating Toran! Getting your waiter to look over my shoulder? That’s a dirty move I’d expect from your brother!” Thor had reacted faster than Eruwenn, pinning the arms of the Arkellian waiter in a vice-like bear hug. Toran slowly stood. He was big, heavily muscled, and the veins on his neck bulged as his anger rose. “Don’t accuse me in my own place.” He cracked his knuckles and glowered down at Ranjaz. “I run a straight game.” Fearlessly the Kittran walked right up to the Kah’Ree and stared up into his face from waist height. “Don’t try and intimidate me, you son of a Vogel.” Ranjaz puffed out his chest and began pushing the burly casino owner. “Nobody cheats me!” The blow caught Ranjaz across the cheek and sent him sprawling across the room. Eruwenn winced at the impact, but maintained her composure. Toran laughed. “Watch your tongue or I’ll add it to my collection.” He walked round the table and kicked Ranjaz in the stomach, glaring at Thor and Eruwenn, daring them to act. “Know your place trash. You’re at this table because you put credits up front. You are a dishonest thief, begging for scraps, and cosying up to me any my brother to get your little trinket back.” He returned to his seat. “Why would I need to cheat against the likes of you?” Ranjaz stood, brushing himself off. “Fine, fine.” He waved a hand and Thor dropped the Arkellian. Ranjaz tapped him on the chest. “My mistake.” He sat down and picked up his cards once more. “You’re right Toran, you run a clean game. I’m just a sore loser.” He shuffled the order of the tiles that were still face down on the table. “To show my sincerity, how about we double the buy for the rest of the game?” Toran snorted. “Double?” He looked at the Kittran, scrutinising his opponent. The game was already over; he had control of the board and his tiles occupied the three prime positions. Was the thief trying to buy his favour, he wondered? How much was the trinket he wanted truly worth? He decided it was worth testing. “Triple, and I’ll forget you dared touch me.” The Kittran swallowed hard, his ears flat to his head. Toran momentarily worried he’d pushed for too much but a decision seemed to be reached. “Fine. Triple.” The look of defeat was delicious to the Kah’Ree.
Cygna had done her part and lured Alfor to a private room away from his security. She had danced, skipped and side-stepped his groping hands so far, maintaining a playfulness that ensured he complied. This sort of thing was not new to her; she had spent time undercover in the past. Fortunately, there had been little call for it since she had joined forces with Eruwenn. Alfor’s eyes scanned her body once more. “The Kittran has very good taste.” He licked his lips, a small amount of drool escaping and running down his chin. He wiped it on his sleeve. “Now, I brought you somewhere quiet. How about you show me how sweet you can be?” The Fae’Dan smiled coyly and continued her dancing just out of reach, glancing to the doorway where Alfor’s two guards stood watching her. “With an audience?” She raised her eyebrows expectantly. With a sly grin he waved the guards out of the room. “Now come here and let me satisfy you like only a Kah’Ree can.” His eyes wandered over her body once more. Cygna smiled, her own eyes moving from the Kah’Ree’s hands to his shoulders, then up towards his neck. An interesting fact about the Kah’Ree was the thick blood vessels on the side of their neck. They often bulged when a Kah’Ree was angry or excited, like Alfor’s were as he leered at her. She danced closer. Another interesting fact was that their brains were not as efficient as those of other species, hence the requirement for additional blood flow; more oxygen per limited thought. He leaned forward, his eyes locked to her swaying hips. Cygna turned slowly, and his head tilted to appreciate her assets. The third, lesser known, fact about the Kah’Ree was that an interruption to the blood flow while they were in this excited state caused them to lose consciousness rapidly as their brain burned through the available oxygen. “My eyes are up here.” She smiled as he looked up at her with his head still tilted. He sneered. “Who ca-” The Fae’Dan struck the side of his neck with the edge of her hand, targeting the throbbing blood vessel with a powerful blow. The interruption to his brain's oxygen supply worked perfectly and he fell face forward onto the ground at her feet. She let out a sigh of relief and looked down at his unconscious body. “Thank you, that was particularly satisfying.” She walked over to the door and peeked out, finding the guards standing either side. “He said to order us some drinks.” One of the guards nodded and immediately put his hand to his lapel communicator. Back inside the room, Cygna used her foot to roll Alfor to his back and began searching his pockets. She came up empty. Her eyes caught a glimmer from his collar and she found a heavy gold chain, at the end of which was his security key. She removed it just as a knock came at the door. A deep voice from the other side called out. “Your drinks, boss.” The Fae’Dan quickly messed up her hair. Using the back of her hand she smeared her lipstick sideways, and then pulled the strap of her dress down off her shoulder. She opened the door and, to her surprise, was faced with an Arkellian waiter. The bodyguards noted her dishevelled appearance and shared a smirk, and she said, “Oh, I wasn’t expec-” The waiter pushed the trolley into the room. “Don’t keep the boss waiting, lady.” Before Cygna could reply they were inside and the door closed. “Relax, it’s me.” Ripley’s voice sounded bizarre coming from the male Arkellian form, and Cygna’s eyes went wide in shock. Her sharp mind quickly adjusted to this new information. Of course the Awakened could change their physical appearance; she had just never seen it. They all seemed quite attached to their chosen human forms. “Neat trick.” She held out Alfor’s key. “Did you get the other one?” Ripley nodded. “The Kittran played his part well. I didn’t see him take it, and didn’t feel it when he placed it in my pocket. Now that was a neat trick.” The Fae’Dan smiled. “I think I’ll pass on that dalcho game.” The Arkellian Ripley smiled. “Probably wise.” Turning, she slipped the key into her pocket and headed back out of the door.
Ripley entered the elevator to the owner's private offices on the top floor. Thanks to the distractions downstairs, the two large desks in the centre of the room were empty. She walked straight past them to the large leokas painting on the wall and swung it forward. Behind it was a Fae’Dan safe; she took out the two keys and a small homemade device the Kittran had given her. Attaching the device to the bio-lock and standing before the safe, she elongated her arms to reach both key positions at once. There was more than one reason she was the one chosen for this task. The device beeped twice and small lights above each lock lit up. She simultaneously turned both keys, and there was a satisfying clunk. She raised an eyebrow. The device had worked. The heavy safe door swung open and she began her search. Ranjaz had been very specific: while there was one item she had to get, she was to grab as much as possible to obscure their true target. Quickly grabbing as much as she could she retrieved the keys and ran back across the room towards the elevator.
Cygna hauled Alfor back onto the seat, putting him in a more natural position and messing up his hair. She looked away as she began unbuttoning his clothes, pulling his trousers around his ankles and opening his shirt up to bare his chest. From a secret pocket inside her dress she pulled out a lace thong, setting it on his head like a bandana. She also had a small box which she opened, inside of which was a replica mouth with lipstick that matched her own. Cygna carefully applied kiss marks all over his exposed skin before popping the fake lips back into the secret pocket. She took the Fae’Dan wine and partially filled two glasses, making sure to take a long drink from one and leave more lipstick marks. The rest of the wine was poured into the ice bucket. She heard the sound of voices outside the door. The guards were arguing with someone, refusing them entry, but when the name Toran was mentioned it was Ripley who entered, still in uniform but now looking much like her usual self. She smirked at the Kah’Ree in his derobed state. “I can see you had fun.” The Fae’Dan chuckled. “That’s the idea.” She looked at the Awakened in her true form. “You look… better.” Ripley cocked her head. “It would be strange if the waiter came back to deliver a message.” She tossed the necklace key to Cygna, who replaced it on Alfor’s neck. Reclining on the sofa and picking up her glass, Cygna took another long drink. “Get the other one back to Ranjaz quickly. This one won’t be napping much longer.” The Awakened gave an almost Ranjaz-like grin. “You could always hit him again.” Before the Fae’Dan could reply she had ducked back out of the door. She caught the eye of one of the bodyguards and gave a head tilt back towards the room. “The boss is really enjoying himself!” As the suited pair chuckled, the larger of the two got a message in his ear piece. “Hey, silver hair.” He grunted. “Boss has an important guest. Meet them in the foyer and bring them to the dalcho room.” Ripley was relieved – she needed a reason to get into that room. “On my way.”
Toran was seething as he watched as the Kittran flipped his final tile. Why would he have waited so long to play the Wings of Tulseria tile? His stomach sank, and he couldn’t hold back his anger any longer. “Damn you!” Ranjaz gave a full-fanged grin. “Looks like my luck turned at just the right moment.” “Luck!” Toran’s tile snapped between his fingers. Why had he let the damned cat goad him into constantly increasing their bet? The cycle had started with him owing the brothers a million credits plus interest, and now the infuritating Kittran had won nearly forty times that. “Nobody is that lucky.” “Woah!” Ranjaz held up his hands. “I would never cheat, well... certainly not a second time. After you caught me, I’d be a fool to try.” “Hmm.” Toran looked at the two behind the Kittran. The big one would be a problem, but the Anatidae looked to be nothing special. “How about I give you back your little trinket and we call it even?” “My trinket?” Ranjaz shook his head. “I had to convince you it was worth the million I owed. Why would you think I’d trade it for thirty eight million credits? I’ll pay what I owe, take my trinket and my winnings and leave.” Toran folded his arms and looked across the dalcho board at Ranjaz. “And why would I let you do that?” The atmosphere in the room changed as the two security guards changed their stance. “Transfer the credits back to the house.” Ranjaz dropped the grin, replacing it with a defiant glare. “What happened to you running a straight game?” “The game was straight. You won, didn’t you?” He leaned forward, his eyes cold and hard. “You’re just in no position to collect.” The Kittran was about to argue when the door behind Toran opened. He looked up as Ripley entered, and his eyes widened in shock. She wasn’t alone. “Toran, you bastard! You sold me out!” “For ten million credits.” Toran stared hard at Ranjaz. “Care to make a better offer?” Eruwenn’s eyes blazed with anger as the grey-suited Niham pulled up a seat and sat down beside Toran. “Now, now, you lied to me about having the item before. Don’t double cross me.” Sentinel Krast placed his hands together on the table, interlacing his fingers. “I’m not somebody who forgives easily.” He looked directly at Eruwenn. “Isn’t that right, former Councillor? A little far from your new Ambassador position, aren’t you?” Ripley stood back against the wall. She had no idea who the newcomer was, but this most definitely was not the plan. The golden green Anatidae walked forward to stand behind Ranjaz. “Oh, I had a little vacation time saved up, and decided to spend it with my good friend here.” She placed a hand on the Kittrans shoulder. “And what brings a Sentinel here?” Krast’s lips curled in what might approximate a smile. “I’m also acquainted with Mr K’Lua. In fact, we go back a very long way.” He turned to look directly at Ranjaz. “Now, return what is mine.” Toran looked from Ranjaz to Krast. “Yours? You don’t look like the tiara wearing type.” The Sentinel didn’t turn his head. “Ah, so you hid the data chip inside some shiny bauble. As inventive as ever, Mr K’Lua.” The Niham finally acknowledged Toran by looking at him. “Bring. It. Here.” The Kah’Ree sucked air through his teeth. “Well, seems like we have something mighty important, and two very interested parties.” He stood and walked to his two security officers, who drew their weapons in unison. “Now then, I believe you” —he nodded to Krast— “offered ten million. How about it Ranjaz, old friend? What’s your counter offer?” The Kittran had been sitting, silently seething at his double cross being double crossed. He looked at Krast. “Were you the one?” Toran was surprised at being ignored, but before he could reply Krast answered, “The one?” Ranjaz’s eyes narrowed, his ears alert, his tail swishing aggressively. “The one who took my friend!” he snarled as he felt Eruwenn’s hand holding him back gently. Krast’s eyes glittered as he saw the impotent rage in his opponent’s eyes. “Ah, the poor deceased human?” He smiled his mannequin-esque smile. “And if I was?” Toran snatched a pistol from one of his men and fired a blast at the ceiling. “Your quarrel can wait. Let’s settle our business first and you can kill each other after I’m paid.” He paused, then added, “but, not in my casino. Body disposal costs extra.” Eruwenn’s hand gripped Ranjaz’s shoulder harder, and he braced himself. In one smooth move she both threw him backwards and to the right, and kicked the dalcho table up and forward into Krast's face. The Sentinel fell backwards as a blast from Toran struck the table, but Eruwenn was already on the move, sidestepping left and ducking forward into a cartwheel. Toran's gun had been following Ranjaz, but as her leg swept down it knocked the weapon from his grip. Once she stabilized, her fist, already primed with momentum from the cartwheel, struck Toran below the ribs and knocked the wind from him. The guard, whose gun the Kah'Ree had been holding, lunged forward to grab Eruwenn but she simply deflected his hand, pairing his forward momentum with her rising elbow to swiftly render him unconscious. The second guard had just begun to raise his weapon when a huge fist struck him in his chest, sending him careening backwards into the wall. Thor loomed over him, shaking his head as he retrieved the energy pistol. “Too slow.” Ripley helped Ranjaz to his feet as Krast pushed the table off his chest. Toran was coughing and struggling to breathe as Ranjaz pressed the retrieved energy pistol to his forehead. “Double cross me?” He dragged the Kah’Ree forward. “I want to see the item, then I’ll pay what I owe.” The two of them awkwardly made their way back towards Krast, so Ranjaz could point the gun in his face. “Then we can talk about your body disposal fee.” Krast stood, and his phony smile was gone. “You can’t kill me. The Sentinels will tear this place apart, hunt you down and kill you. You think I came alone? My ship is in orbit and waiting for my orders!” Ranjaz grabbed him by the jacket, pulling him down to his level, and struck him in the face with the butt of the pistol. Thor cooly kept his stolen pistol pointed at Toran and the one conscious guard. By the third blow Krast’s face was bloody, his nose broken and he began to struggle against Ranjaz’s assault. A muted boom caused everyone present to stop in their tracks. Alarms began to sound and Toran swore loudly. He pulled out his communicator, ignoring Thor’s pistol. “What the hell was that!” He held the device close as he listened. “My office?” He patted his pocket. Finding his key in place, he looked to Ranjaz and then Krast. “Seal the casino! And where is my brother?” Ripley suddenly understood why the Kittran had told her to leave his device on the safe door. After a brief further moment of shock, which she kept from showing on her face, she realized that she had been carrying an explosive without being told. If they survived, Ranjaz was going to need to explain himself. Thoroughly. Eruwenn, Thor and Ranjaz had backed away to the opposite side of the room, standing by the door. Krast stood alone, holding his profusely bleeding nose. The opposite door soon opened to reveal scrambling casino security, with Toran and his guard standing nearby. The unconscious guard was carried out without comment, and the Kah’Ree turned to Ripley. “Why are you still here?” She nodded and slipped out of the door, leaving one less concern for the remaining three. “Alright, which one of your skrolg-licking bastards broke into my private safe?” Krast spat blood onto the floor, pointing at Ranjaz. “He’s the thief. You and I had a deal.” The Kittran smirked. “I’m a better thief than blowing up a Tulseria-damned safe. If I wanted to steal it, I would have done just that. I would not have announced my arrival and sat down to a game of dalcho.” Toran looked between the two of them. “He’s got a point.” One of his men handed him a pistol, and he continued to talk a little distractedly into his communicator. “Well, check everywhere!” Ranjaz stirred the pot. “He’s the bastard who double crossed me, why would he honour your deal?” Eruwenn nodded. “A government agent can’t be seen working with criminals.” Krast's face contorted in rage. “Don’t be a damned fool, Toran!” He pointed at Ranjaz. “This is clearly some convoluted distraction.” Toran shook his head. “They had the upper hand. You were the one getting your face ruined.”
Cygna watched nervously as Alfor began to stir. Things were taking a lot longer than expected. Finally, her signal came; it was not as subtle as she had been led to believe. As soon as the explosion went off the two bodyguards quickly came into the room, glancing from Alfor’s sleeping body to her. She staggered forward, wine bottle in hand. “We need more drinkshh!” The guard ignored her as he saw the condition of his boss. “Not again,” he groaned. “Toran will kill us for letting him get like this.” The second guard stepped out into the corridor. “I’m not dressing him! Last time he tried to kiss me!” Cygna paused, not having expected it to go this way. The first bodyguard walked out as well. “He pissed on my new shoes the time before that. I’m not moving him.” Their communicators went off and their faces became more serious. Bodyguard two spoke first. “Damn it. Toran wants him.” The first turned to look at the increasingly bewildered Cygna. “You!” He smiled. “You got him undressed. You can dress him.” Cygna spotted Ripley running down the corridor towards them, causing her confusion to grow further. The Awakened shouted one word. “Sentinels!” The Fae’Dan’s mind raced. The plan was clearly blown, and they had to get out. Fast. As the guards were now facing Ripley, she took the opportunity to kick one in the back of the knee. He fell forward, and as the second turned he was met with the upward swing of a wine bottle. The first guard discovered first-hand the shocking truth of how hard the knee of an Awakened could be, and both were unconscious by the time they hit the ground. Cygna smiled at Ripley. "Thanks." The Awakened gave a swift nod of acknowledgement. “A Sentinel turned up, so Ranjaz set off the diversion he promised. The other brother is busy trying to figure out whether it’s us or the Sentinels robbing him.” Cygna took on board the new information quickly, knowing she needed to help the others. “I have an idea. Lie over there and look dead.” She ran back into the room, where Alfor was groaning and starting to move. She slipped the chain from his neck and dropped it into the ice bucket, where it sank out of sight below the dark Fae’Dan wine. She began to slowly shake him. “Huh,” he grumbled, and slowly opened his eyes. “Wha.. what happened?” Cygna clung to him tightly. “Oh thank goodness! I thought they killed you!” “Killed?” Alfor’s head was pounding, his memory blurry. “Who-” He caught sight of his downed guards in the open doorway. “What the hell happened?” He began pulling at his clothes, and swiftly checked that his trousers were dry. “While we were.. You know…” He nodded; he was buttoning up his clothes. He didn’t remember, but he knew. “Some scary men burst into the room and shot you! I was so scared.” She hugged him tight, pressing herself against him. He put his arm around her. “What men? Be brave, and tell me what happened.” She looked up at him, trying to make her eyes as big as possible, adding a lip tremble to really sell it. “I don’t know! They wore grey suits. And one of them took your necklace!” “My necklace.” He clutched at his chest where it should have been. “Damn Sentinels! I told Toran we couldn't trust them!” He stepped into the corridor, where Ripley lay on the ground with a terrible energy weapon burn on the side of her face. He pulled out his communicator. “Toran.” He instantly got hold of his brother. “I didn’t answer because I was knocked out. Damn Sentinels took my key, killed some of our guys.” He looked around. “Nobody important, just some waiter.” He finally pulled the underwear from his head. “I’ll go to the security room and look at the video.” He ended the call and turned back to Cygna. “You stay here.” She smiled. “Sorry, we can’t let you check the security footage.” “Wha-” Ripley struck him from behind and he crumpled to the ground, her fake burn melting from her face. The Awakened looked around, rechecking that all was clear. “I think that’s all we can do; we should get out of here. Come with me, my shuttle is in the staff bay.”
Toran closed his communicator and motioned to a guard. “Search him.” Eruwenn wished she had some way to capture the look on Krast’s face when the remote detonator was pulled from his pocket. She'd have to hug the light-fingered Kittran later. The Sentinel grit his teeth. “That’s not mine.” “Sure, sure,” Toran agreed, while simultaneously shaking his head at the Sentinel. “Looks like you really didn’t come alone.” Krast was furious, yelling, “I’m telling you-” He broke off when Ranjaz shot him in the leg, falling to the floor. The Kah’Ree pointed his pistol at the Kittran. “Can’t let you kill a Sentinel in my casino, even if they did just rob me.” Ranjaz was surprised the Kah’Ree had believed them so easily. “What about us?” Toran sighed, lowering his weapon. “Take your winnings and get out. If you stole the thing once, I’m sure you can steal it again.” Eruwenn and Thor both made to leave. Ranjaz paused, knowing he might not get another chance. “And him?” The Kah’Ree looked at the Sentinel holding his wounded leg. “We’ll send him back to his ship. As much as I hate it, the Sentinels are untouchable.” Ranjaz raised his pistol. “He took my friend.” “And we’ll get him back,” Eruwenn said softly. “Then we’ll all deal with him, and the rest of the Sentinels.” Krast sneered and spat blood once more. “Your human is dead.” Ranjaz fired. Krast screamed and grabbed his other leg. “You bastard!” Toran and his men raised their weapons as the Kah’Ree yelled, “Get the hell out of here!” Ranjaz turned and followed the others out of the door, but just as it was about to close he poked his head back in. “Oh, one last thing.” Toran could be seen looking up just as the Kittran fired again, but he ducked out of sight before the true outcome of his shot could be seen. The shrieks of agony, however, followed the trio down the corridor as they broke into a run. Eruwenn spared a glance down at Ranjaz during their retreat. “What did you do?” The full-fanged grin had never been larger. “Made sure we’ll see him again.” On the floor of the dalcho room Krast was screaming in agony. He turned over to stare at the closed door. “I’ll kill you! I will hunt you down and kill every last one of you!” Toran spoke into his communicator. “Tell the Sentinel ship to come get their man. And, bring a doctor. A really good doctor.” He nudged one of his guards and finally let out a chuckle. After all, the Sentinels had just robbed him. “You double-crossing scum always get what you deserve.” The J’Rami guard raised an eyebrow. “Not sure anyone deserves getting shot in the balls.”
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Sim Casino Gameplay Part 15 SimCasino Early Access The ...
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